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Roseville Fair

[Bill Staines]

Bill Staines sang his own song Roseville Fair in 1979 on his album The Whistle of the Jay. This video shows him singing it at the Franklin House Concert Series, Franklin, MA on May 2, 2010:

Debby McClatchy is possibly the first artist to cover Roseville Fair. She sang it in 1979 on her Green Linnet album Lady Luck. And Wendy M. Grossman recorded it in 1980 as the title track of her album Roseville Fair.

Chris Wood sang Roseville Fair in 1990 on his and Andy Cutting's eponymous album Chris Wood & Andy Cutting. This track was also included in 2009 on Wood's anthology Albion.

Jon Boden sang Roseville Fair as the May 21, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day, and he sang it in 2014 on the bonus CD of Bellowhead's album Revival.

Bill Zorn sang Les Barker's variant of Roseville Fair on The Mrs Ackroyd Band's 2003 CD Yelp!. June Tabor recorded the song too but it wasn't used then. It was finally included in 2005 on her anthology Always where she commented:

I first heard Chris Wood sing the original. Chris did Roseville Fair on that tape that he and Andy Cutting did that was their first recorded output. When Les' version arrived in his Irritable Bowwow Syndrome (1995) book, I knew I had to do it. The thing I love so much about singing it is that the first half of the song is just as the original, so people think, particularly in America where it's extremely well known, that you're going to sing the original. Then it changes… I love what Les has done and it says a lot about banjos really. Except in the hands of a certain Mr Simpson.

And Les Barker noted:

Roseville Fair was originally by Bill Staines. The first version I ever heard was by Chris Wood and Andy Cutting. It was a nice song but it seemed to suggest the ridiculous idea of hitting somebody over the head with a rosewood chair. The words fitted perfectly. But the idea of hitting someone with a banjo seemed even better.

At some point after I'd written it, someone in the States put me in touch with Bill Staines. He liked it. The first time I ever heard June do it was at a gig we did together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She did a version of it for part of the Mrs Ackroyd Band's Yelp! (2003). She offered to do There's a Hole in My Bodhrán but when the package turned up there was a solo version of Roseville Fair too in case I wanted it!

The Willows sang Roseville Fair in 2014 on their CD Amidst Fiery Skies. They commented:

Ben [Savage] first fell in love with Chris Wood and Andy Cutting's interpretation of this wonderful song by Bill Staines. For a band with husband, wife, fiddle and banjo this became all to appropriate to resist.

Gudrun Walther and Jürgen Treyz sang Roseville Fair on their 2017 CD Duo. They commented in their liner notes:

Roseville Fair is a country song written by Bill Staines. It has become a kind of folk classic, however, and there are many great versions around. Ours was inspired by the legendary English folk duo Chris Wood & Andy Cutting, who used to play the song live in the 90s […].

This video shows them live at the Pumpwerk in Hockenheim on March 25, 2017:

Lyrics

Bill Staines' Roseville Fair June Tabor sings Les Barker's Roseville Fair

Oh, the night was clear and the stars were shinin',
The moon came up so quiet in the sky.
All the people gathered round; the band was tunin'.
I can hear them now playin' “Comin' Through the Rye”.

Oh, the night was clear and stars were shinin',
And the moon rose quiet in the sky.
And the people gathered round as the band were tunin'.
I can hear them now, “Comin' Through the Rye”.

You were dressed in blue and you looked so lovely,
A gentle flower of a small town girl.
You took my hand and we stepped to the music
With a single smile you became my world.

She was dressed in blue and she looked so lovely,
Just a gentle flower of a small town girl.
And he took her by the hand and they danced to the music;
With a simple smile she became his girl.

And we danced all night to the fiddle and the banjo,
Their drifting tunes seemed to fill the air.
So long ago and we still remember
When we fell in love at the Roseville Fair.

And they danced all night to the fiddle and the banjo,
Drifting tunes filled the air.
So long ago now but I still remember
When we fell in love at the Roseville Fair.

We courted well; we courted dearly,
And we'd rock for hours in the front porch chair.
Then a year went by from the time I met you
And I made you mine at the Roseville Fair.

And they courted well and they courted dearly
Till the very next year at that self-same fair,
When she caught him holding hands with some floozy
And she smashed his skull with a rosewood chair.

And we danced all night to the fiddle and the banjo,
Their drifting tunes seemed to fill the air.
So long ago and we still remember
When we fell in love at the Roseville Fair.

And his head went clean through the middle of the banjo;
She left them both well beyond repair.
And the old fox said that's the way to treat a banjo,
And we danced all night at the Roseville Fair.

So here's a song for all of the lovers,
Here's a tune that they can share.
May they dance all night to the fiddle and the banjo
The way we did at the Roseville Fair.
May they dance all night to the fiddle and the banjo
The way we did at the Roseville Fair.

And we couldn't believe the improvement in the music;
Drifting tunes filled the air.
And the old fox said, yip, that's the way to treat a banjo,
And we danced all night at the Roseville Fair,
Yes we danced all night at the Roseville Fair.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Roseville Fair (Les Barker's parody).