Wedding Dress

It was the summer of 1972... I was living in Boston and one night I went out to a folk club to hear a banjo playing gal. I don’t remember her name, but I will never forget how she sang Wedding Dress.
Nine years later, I picked up the Anglo concertina and for decades, every year or two, I would try to play this song. I was never satisfied with how it sounded on my instrument until last year when I tried again and bingo! after 30 years of practice I was finally able to wrap my mind around how to play concertina along with my inner banjo. Without even trying really, I was now able to join the banjo playing in my minds ear.

Last fall I performed it all over the South of England at folk clubs and festivals and audiences seemed to enjoy Wedding Dress and even sing along. Here is a youtube link from a lovely evening at the Seaford Folk Club, UK.
Wedding Dress comes from the singing of songwriter/activist Aunt Molly Jackson of Clay County, Kentucky. Jackson sang it for Pete Seeger in the 1930’s and then Peggy Seeger heard it in 1953 at a campfire in Beacon, NY. She reports that it was one of her earliest banjo songs and I believe she was the first to record it; in 1957 for Folkways. Originally, the song was just a fragment. Peggy penned additional lines to fill out this haunting modal Appalachian song.

"She wouldn't say yes, She wouldn't say no,
All she'd do was sit and sew"