From the recording Heavy Wood
A Taoist Tale/Mcleod’s Farewell - Tucker Zimmerman/Donald Shaw
Jez - Vocals/Guitar
James Patrick Gavin - Fiddle
Nye Parsons - Double-bass
Dominic Henderson - Uillean Pipes
Tommie Black-Roff - Piano Accordion
In the summer of 2014, having just played a lovely afternoon gig Tommie and Dom, I made my way to London Fields to meet David Chen and Conor Prunty of The Muddy Basin Ramblers; old friends from Taiwan whom I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. We had a fine time in the park, catching up and playing a few songs, then decided to call a taxi and head up to Haringey for Whisky Moon Face and Turkish food. We went to the edge of the park to await the cab and they kindly helped me carry my instruments.
When the cab arrived, we all piled in and it was not until we arrived in Haringey that I realised my harmonica case way missing; we must have left it by the park. Conor had been carrying it and was mortified. He’s a fine harmonica player himself, and distraught, rushed back in the cab to retrace our steps. He searched for hours to no avail and could barely face me when he finally returned. For the next three days I sat around the park with a sign, playing guitar and trying to remain cheerful about the situation. As soon as Monday morning came around I trawled through every pawn-shop in the area, but no sign of them.
Over the next couple of weeks Jess Clynewood and Jess Langton, (Curly Jess and Little Jess respectively) organised a crowd-funding campaign to collect money to replace my harmonicas, and I was duly presented with nearly £1000 and whole lot of love from near and far. Not only did I find myself with a new set of instruments but an endorsement from Seydel harmonicas.
I first heard Chris Wood sing this song back in the 90s on one of Keith Neville’s fabled mix-tapes. It’s another tale of luck, with a payoff in the fourth verse which is a true joy to sing to an audience. “Macleod’s Farewell, composed by Argyll accordionist Donald Shaw, is commonly and apocryphally known as “The Wedding Reel”. I like to think that the boy in the story might have ended up getting married, hence the pairing.