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PETE CASTLE - Folk Tales Of Song And Dance 

PETE CASTLE - Folk Tales Of Song And Dance 
The History Press ISBN: 9780750995092 

Pete made his mark as a folk scene singer in the 1970s and over the years he has broadened his approach to include story telling, which widened his scope as it became part of his appearances. His skills also include producing books, in this case for a very prodigious publisher.

The book reflects the title in that most of the stories have a musician, a singer or a song in them. Although each story clearly stands on its own, considerable skill is shown in the placing of the stories where, frequently, there are links in the story with its predecessor. Like many good books and songs, this one ends where it began, in this case with Glasgerion.

There are some ballad and story song lyrics amongst the stories, including The Raggle Taggle Gypsies, Jack Orion and King Orfeo, with the fragment from John Stickle of Unst which gave the song its only British tune filled out with what seems to be the version in The Oxford Book Of Ballads. It was good also to encounter different versions of The Minister’s Sheep and Orangey And Appley, previously heard from the mouths of the great Scots traveller storytellers.

Several things contribute to broaden the appeal of the book. It is a well-produced and bound hard back on high quality paper. Pete is responsible for all his own excellent illustrations which help us to see how the stories are in Pete’s mind. All, that is, except for the suitably dream-like cover which is by the lovely Katherine Soutar.

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 139 of The Living Tradition magazine