John Barleycorn Must Die—Songs to Bring the Harvest Home – Mariposa

“John Barleycorn Must Die—Songs to Bring the Harvest Home” Tony Barrand with Paul Eric Smith; Mariposa Museum, Peterborough

 On Saturday, September 7th at 7pm the Mariposa Museum will host acclaimed interpreter of English and American ballads and songs, Dr. Tony Barrand performing “John Barleycorn Must Die—Songs to Bring the Harvest Home.” He will be accompanied by premier accordionist, Dr. Paul Eric Smith.

The WHEAT is like a rich man, he’s sleek and well-to-do

The OATS are like a pack of girls, they’re thin and dancing too

The RYE is like a miser, he’s sulky lean and small

But the ripe and bearded BARLEY is monarch of them all

Why is Barley the monarch of all the grains? Because it’s the key ingredient of home-brewed ale.  Would you like to know how bread is made? Bread is made of wheat, (and also oats and rye) after the grains are ground “betwixt two stones” at the mill into flour. Bread and Beer were and still are the staples of the country diet. Personified as the rich man, the dancing girls, the miser and the King, the grains — that die in the fall as they are cut down each harvest and then are reborn after planting in the spring — have inspired countless songs about the common effort to “bring the Harvest Home”.

Many of the songs Tony and Paul Eric will sing have choruses that will be taught to the audience. Everyone will be encouraged to join in the singing with words provided in a special program.

Dr. Tony Barrand, widely acclaimed interpreter of English and American ballads and songs, is a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology from Boston University, where he taught the folklore of dance and song and seasonal customs. He is probably better known, however, as part of the singing team John Roberts and Tony Barrand who have delighted audiences across the USA for almost three decades with their “a capella” duets of English folk bawdry and balladry, morris and clog dancing, monologs and storytelling and perhaps best known locally for the popular annual Christmas pageant, “Nowell Sing We Clear”  More recently he biggest music project, in a collaboration with his neighbors with Keith Murphy and Beck Tracy, is a set of Vermont songs collected by Margaret MacArthur in the 1970s and by Edith Sturgis in 1919.

His collection of films and videos of Morris, sword and clog dancing was recently acquired by the Archive of American Folk Culture at the Library of Congress.

Admission to the Tony Barrand concert: Adult $12, Member $10.

The Mariposa is wheelchair accessible.