About the Dreg Song Project
In the nineteenth century, Scotsmen fished for oysters in the Firth of Forth by dragging dredges over the oyster 'scalps'. To maintain a steady speed they sang as they rowed. Overfishing brought the industry to a close near the turn of the twentieth century and with it, the use of the dreg songs. In the 1930s James Madison Carpenter gathered some of these songs on wax cylinders and typewritten pages. For years the songs were hidden away - lost. Now, with the work of the James Madison Carpenter Project these songs have come back to life first at Mystic Seaport Museum and, this summer, in their home waters of the Firth! Three Scottish Coast Rowing Clubs: Rowporty, Newhaven Coastal Rowing and Boatie Blest brought the songs home to the Firth at 7:30 pm on 20 June, 2012 near the Dalriada Bar. It was a memorable and historic evening!
What a thrilling day – the Dreg Songs are on their way ‘home’!
The rowing clubs from Newhaven, Portobello and (s00n) Port Seton met with me (online) to learn what I’ve discovered about the Dreg Songs (if you were at Mystic last June or the American Folklore Society meeting in Bloomington last October, you know what I mean). They now have access to musical transcriptions, sound files and historic images all of which they will use to reconstruct these songs on the water. Meeting online was a bit ethereal (Minneapolis, Portobello, Newhaven, Kent and Angus) but the enthusiasm was solid. The energy around this project is wonderful. Thanks everyone!