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Stephen James Baldwin (1873-1955) was born in Hereford, youngest son of Charles Baldwin, some of whose tunes were noted by Cecil Sharp. The family soon moved to Newent, which was his parents’ home town. He spent his working life as a railway plate layer, apart from army service in the 1st World War, from which he was invalided out after the Battle of the Somme. He played for a number of morris sides, as well as in pubs, at country dances and gypsy weddings. He ended his days at Upton Bishop, Herefordshire, where he was recorded twice. One recording was made by Peter Kennedy in 1952, and issued on Folktracks 45-115 “A Nutting we will Go”, reissued on CD as FTX-115, with 10 additional tracks, 31 to 40, which appear to have come from Russell Wortley. Where Mr Baldwin played in D or G for Peter Kennedy, the same tunes appear on Russell Wortley’s recording in C or F. His fiddle was tuned a tone flat, as reported by Rollo Woods. It appears likely that Peter Kennedy’s recordings were speeded up to bring them up to the usual pitch. Our mp3’s have been slowed down to compensate.
Musical Traditions have re-issued both sets of recordings on MT CD 334 “Here’s one you’ll like, I think ”, with extensive information on Charles and Stephen Baldwin (see the Musical Traditions website here).
Flowers of Edinburgh was widely known from about 1740. It may have been composed by James Oswald (1710-1769), who published it in his Caledonian Pocket Companion from 1745 onwards.
The Three-Handed Reel was performed at Bromsberrow Heath by three pairs of dancers, either with stick clashing or with stepping. (See RW’s article in EDS and Lionel Bacon’s book.) Both Stephen Baldwin and Beatrice Hill played tunes for it. RW published Jacko Robinson, though without mentioning the name, which Mrs Hill had told him. With some prompting she agreed that A-Nutting we will Go was also used for the dance. Mr Baldwin’s favourite was Cock of the North; he mentioned Flowers of Edinburgh as an alternative, while Peter Kennedy reported that he played Soldier’s Joy for the dance.