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Island Mist (2001)

by Bob Bickerton

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Of all the seasons in the year, I love the autumn best, Ere winter comes with giant strength and Flora gangs to rest, When scented breezes fill the air, when distant echoes croon, And o’er the hill peeps lazily the bonny harvest moon. I love to hear the gentle breeze that rustles ‘mang the corn, When Ceres comes with graceful step, and spreads her crooked horn, When golden waves sweep o’er the fields, when thistles shed their down, And o’er the hill peeps lazily the bonny harvest moon. I love to hear the reaper’s song, to me ’tis greater far, Than all the songs that e’er were sung in praise of cruel war, When brother sheds his brother’s blood, when despots grasp the crown, And burning villages obscure the bonny harvest moon. Oh may sweet peace with gentle sway reign o’er Otago shores, May beauty smile in all her halls and plenty fill her stores, May still her boast be honest men and as each year gangs round, May grateful hearts rejoice to see the bonny harvest moon.
Come gather round you diggers who work the goldfields rare, It’s of a trick was played on me which caused me to despair, I came to town the other day my hard earned gold to trade, ‘Twas there I met a pretty maid, who did my heart betray. Her lips were red as roses, her eyes a deep sky blue, Her hair as yellow as the gold, she stole from me and you. She took me to a public house and there we did imbibe, In whiskey and strong porter, and dreadful stuff besides, It’s then she asked me up to bed, to which I did agree, But truth to tell I fell asleep, before she earned her fee. When I awoke next morning, no trousers could I find, But scattered all around me were women’s clothes so fine. My jacket, shoes and gold had gone, and all that’s left behind, Is a woman’s dress, a yellow wig and a shaving kit, not mine. Why did she need the wig? Why did she need to shave? It’s then the truth it struck me, in a fit of blinding rage. My pretty maid’s a man I cried, be thanks I fell asleep, I’d rather lose a bag of gold, than face that dirty creep. To venture in the street again, I cautiously inclined, I had a shave, put on the wig, and wore the dress so fine, And as I walked along the road, a digger gave a wink. I thought of all the gold he had, so I offered him a drink. Now you might think it sinful, oh you might think it bold, To take advantage of the lads who struggle for the gold. It’s easy putting on a dress and drinking whiskey neat, But leave your shaving kit behind when they are fast asleep.
Breton Tunes 03:45
It’s of a fine huntsman, young Thady by name, He’s master of hounds at the famous Scarteen. His black and tan hounds were the best you could see, They were feared by the fox up to the Galties. On a cold winter’s morning the earths they were stopped, The field gathered round to take stirrup cup. They rode past Knocklong to the Knocktoran Bog, The finest of coverts that e’er held a fox. The huntsman drew covert in hopes of a find, The field were restless some distance behind, Then came a holler, the fox he did run, “Gone Away” shouted Thady, the hunt it was on. Ride on, Thady, Ride on o’er the fields. Kick on to Villain, Tom Tallo or Spring, Your bold ‘Tally Ho’ will echo around, With the cry of the black and tan hounds. And it’s down Ballycahill and through by Kilfrush, The hounds on the scent of the sly little brush, Around Ballyhoulihan, down by Byrne’s Bog, ‘Twas a beautiful sight of the hounds and the fox. And the fox he stood still with his ears in the air, The hounds were closer, he trembled with fear. Oh where could he go where hounds would not tread, Then he thought of the Lady who lived by the Dead. So he ran down to Cullen with hounds in pursuit, He went through the farmyard and into the house. The geese and the hens did make such a row, That the Lady came out for to see who’s about. Then Thady drew up with hounds and the field, “Did you head the fox?” “We were close it seemed.” Said the lady “Young Thady you are very bold, To cause such commotion on a morning so cold.” “If you wish you may cast your hounds all around, But I doubt that the quarry you seek will be found.” Now Thady was raging for hounds they were checked, He blew ‘Going Home’ and the field they went back. Said the Lady to Thady “Now won’t you have tea?” Said Thady “My dear I’m bound to agree”, And after a sup his rage did subside, And he looked at the lady with different eyes. So it was through the fox this couple were met, Their courtship it blossomed and soon they were wed, And who would you guess was there by the church, But the little red fox the lady had spared.
Dunny Jigs 03:18
Where the island meets the sea, on a wild Atlantic shore, To the sound of the breaker, to the peat fire I was born. And as a child I’d run to the rock pools at the heads, To watch the currachmen return from the fishing beds, And if their heads were low, the women they’d run down, To look the jersey o’er, to see whose son had drowned, And the keening that I heard, I never would forget, Until the time they keen for me, when my time I’ve met. My father taught me well of the seas and fishing trade, How to build the currach strong, how to build it safe, How to form the hull, how to work the oar, To stretch the canvas tight, and paint it with hot tar. And many’s a dark night, without so much a care, I’ve ridden out the storm on canvas and a prayer, And the smell of fish and tar, I never will forget, Until the time they keen for me, when my time I’ve met. Many years have passed, the island’s met its fate, Not conquered by the nor-west gale, just closed down by the state. They’ve moved us all offshore, it’s better so they say, So I’m living with my daughter now in Ameri-kay. And though the sun is warm and on golden sands I stray, I long to feel the island mist, to taste Atlantic spray. And in my twilight years, I dream of what’s to come, I wonder who will keen for me, now my time is done. So now I’ll start the work; the final boat I’ll make, I’ll sharpen up my tools and carve the laths again. I’ll pull the canvas tight and paint it with hot tar, And the smell will take me back to the strand on afar. And when I die no funeral, no casket or no grave, Just lash me down to the hull and push me to the waves, And if the wind proves fair and the currents they prove strong, They’ll take me to that far off land, the land where I belong.


Bob Bickerton moved to Dunedin, New Zealand from his native Birmingham in 1974 and developed an interest in Celtic music through the Gaelic Society Of New Zealand as well as the folk music scene. An ex-director of the Nelson School Of Music, he has been a full time professional musician for seven years and has performed extensively throughout New Zealand at festivals and in concerts.

Thanks to Evey McAuliffe, Ceara Bickerton, David Bowater, Tristan Blount, Robbie Burton, Shane Clayton, Alex Davidson, Leon Delorenzo, Alain Fromont, Lynda Gardiner, Anna Heinz, Feargal Mac Amhlaoibh, Roy McCormick, Brendan McMahon, Declan Masterson, Liz Merton, Cillian O’Briain, Pete Rainey, Tom Rainey, Rachael Ryan, Thady Ryan, Kate Sherwood, Davy Stuart and Peter Walton.

© Bob Bickerton 2001
All rights of the producer and the owner of the recorded work reserved.


released January 1, 2001

Produced by Bob Bickerton.
Engineered and Mastered by Bob Bickerton at BB Sound, Todd’s Valley, RD1, Nelson, New Zealand.
Photography: Front Cover – Marion Van Dijk/Nelson Mail, Bob’s Big Band – Bruce King, other – Bob Bickerton.
Artwork: Bob Bickerton, Robbie Burton.


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Bob Bickerton Nelson, New Zealand

Bob Bickerton is based in Nelson, New Zealand and has had a long career as a music manager, sound engineer and performing artist.

His earlier albums specialised in traditional and self-penned Celtic music, but in more recent times he has collaborated with other artists as a kaiwhakatangitangi or practitioner of taonga pūoro, the traditional instruments of Māori.
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