Western Song Presentation
Sara Grey and Kieron Means
This presentation is a unique look at songs in the oral tradition of people who migrated and took them into the Panhandle, the Great Plains and the Western States.
There was so much happening in the west between the 1800s and the 1920s, and songs evolved to reflect all this activity, including
the gold rush, the outlaws, the ranchers, the cattle drives, the railroad, the Mormon tradition and the isolation, particularly of women, in the prairie.
With westward migration, people began to create songs that reflected the regions they settled in. They also sang the old songs that had come with them and these began to evolve due to their new environment. Black music and songs also had a great influence
This is not just a random collection of well known western songs. A great deal of research has gone into the songs and their background. It is a unique and rare collection of old songs and ballads from many sources.
Sara and Kieron sing these songs from the heart. Some are stark and unaccompanied and others are with Kieron on guitar and Sara on old-time banjo. They chat about the songs and their history, but not in a scripted narrative, they have good fun both playing as well as discussing their vast knowledge of traditional songs and encouraging audience participation
This will be illustrated throughout with a Power Point presentation of wonderful old photographs that bring to life the stories behind each song.

Tracing The Migration Of Songs Between Scotland & Ireland And North America
Sara Grey

Scots and Ulster Scots have emigrated in such numbers that no other European Nation has ever lost such a high proportion of it’s people. In the early days these were men and women who left behind them a homeland rich in the oral tradition of song and ballad singing; an inheritance which they carried with them wherever they went. Their legacy is apparent to this day.
I will trace the migration of songs from Northern Ireland and Scotland to North America by singing a song, or part of it, from its Celtic source and then singing the American or Canadian version showing the changes and the similarities. I like to make the workshop as interactive and informal as possible by encouraging the participants to sing on choruses and refrains, and ask any relevant questions.

Over the years people have asked for something tangible to take away from workshops that I have given on ballads and songs across the Atlantic so I first developed a 'working booklet' of some permutations of songs and ballads that have travelled from East to West - some that have come back - some where tunes change and text doesn't and vice versa. I had purposely chosen songs with wide, interesting links where big, sometimes humourous changes took place.

There was such an interest in the booklet that I decided to take it a step further and add an audio clip of each British and North American version. The result has been a tidy, sturdy working booklet that has a CD in the back with at least one, sometimes two, variants of the ballads and songs. Tom Spiers, from Aberdeen, a fine fiddler and singer of old songs has done the honours by singing most of the Scottish tracks and I have sung the American and Canadian versions. The CD is interspersed with source singers from Scotland.

Sara Grey

A journey in traditional songs from all around the United States of America. The journey starts in New England and moves  on to the Southern Appalachians, black songs of the Georgia coast, the Ozarks, the Mississippi Delta, the Panhandle of Texas, the Great Plains and finally to the great, rarely-sung traditional songs from the Western States.

Songs of The Western States
Sara Grey

Explore some of the older songs from the western states. These songs include ballads which have travelled to the west and songs which have been made up by the people of the west. There are cowboy songs, gold rush songs, outlaw ballads, Mormon songs and many others.

Songs from the Flanders Collection
Sara Grey

Helen Hartness Flanders was born and raised in Vermont across the river form my home in New Hampshire. She was on of the foremost collectors of songs and ballads in New England and also up into New Brunswick. The workshop looks at songs from the Flanders Collection and in particular ballads and songs from Vermont, New Hampshire and the Province of New Brunswick.

Jean Ritchie
Sara Grey & Kieron Means
Kieron and I are devoted to presenting Jean's written songs along with some traditional songs that she has adapted over the years. As a young girl in Viper, Kentucky, she wrote poetry and when my ex-husband, Charlie Grey, and I were living for a few years in the mid 60's in Port Washington, New York, where Jean lives, she asked Charlie to transcribe the music which became "A Celebration of Life" - a compilation of her poetry set to traditional tunes. They are so varied and command as much attention and interest as the songs she grew up with.

Sara Grey

5-string Banjo playing for students at beginners, intermediate and advanced levels.

Irish Immigration Songs And How They Change When They Reach America
Sara Grey

Traditional Songs From The Logging Camps Of Canada And The United States
Sara Grey

How, As Americans And Canadians, We Can Approach
Singing Dialect Songs From The Celtic Traditions

Sara Grey

Interpretation of Ballads & Songs - Choice Of Song, Phrasing, Dynamics, Etc
Sara Grey
This workshop won't be specifically about "how to sing"...breathing exercises, etc, although we will touch on using breathing to help tie phrases together. It will be a very interactive, hands-on workshop, so please come along with one or two songs or ballads that may have given you trouble over the years, and we will work through them to see what we can to do make them easier, more comfortable to sing, and hopefully, by the end of the day, you will approach the song in a different way.
We'll be discussing and working on ways of "bringing these songs and ballads to life".....It doesn't require a fabulous voice requires "getting inside and understanding what you're singing, and working on ways to interpret the story.
We'll work through ballads and songs in terms of finding the "natural built in dynamics, how to handle dialogue and narrative in a song so the listener can distinguish who is speaking, working on phrasing as you speak so that the song makes more sense, instead of just going along with the rhythm and not paying much attention about whether the song makes sense or not., and making the very most of vowels and consonants without over dramatising it.
By working with these tools, they will dramatically change the way you approach songs and ballads.

How We Use The Banjo To Accompany Songs.
Sara Grey


Cold Mountain
Sara Grey

The Cold Mountain workshop uses the book and film as a background for a presentation of the songs from the American Civil War. It looks at the power of song on a number levels, the power of song to convey news and information in a time when the only means of conveying these tragic events was by word of mouth. Song has the power to convey emotions and the depth of feelings at a time of division and conflict. It has the power to bring people together in times of trouble and to lift their spirits and give then a sense of belonging. Among the aspects of life addressed by the songs used in the workshop are the futility of war, the horror and tragedy of war, the role of women at a time when men were away fighting and often not returning, the strength of people facing insurmountable odds.