Category Archives: Hopeless Music

Ominous Songs

We’re very excited to announce that The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine are recording an album. People have been asking us for CDs for a while now, and we started thinking in earnest about this back in the autumn and exploring what kind of space, studio, and technical support we were going to need.

We wanted to capture the sound of us live and we needed someone to work with who has the gear and also understands the sort of thing we’re trying to achieve. We needed a collaborator we could trust, and once we started looking at studios, and realised Lucas Drinkwater was emigrating, it all got a bit complicated. No one else locally was producing anything that meant we knew they could do what we needed.

And then it all became delightfully uncomplicated, because it turns out that we already had someone in the Hopeless, Maine family with the gear and the skills to help us do all of this. Keith Errington has been working with us on recording, and we’ve been using spaces at The Folk in Gloucester, exploring different soundscapes.

The album itself will mostly be songs that have been written for the Hopeless, Maine setting, plus some trad, and trad we’ve done over. We’re going to have song contributions from Keith Errington on the album – two songs he’s written for us, and extra verses for Show Me Your Tentacles. He’s also singing on some of the tracks, so I think we can say from here that The Ominous Folk project is five people, not four.

We’ve had an amazing time recording in The Folk in Gloucester, and we need to do another session to get everything, so there’s a little way to go, but its an exciting process and there will be an album later in the year.

We three things

We three things of Hopeless note,

Bearing stuff we found in a boat,

Field and graveyard

Frozen mud is hard,

Following yonder goat.

(Chorus)

O goat of malice, goat of fright,

Goat with glowing eyes so bright,

Might need feeding

So misleading

Will we live to see daylight.

Born a thing, a terrible bane

Golden scales coat him again,

King in yellow

Sinister fellow

Over us all to reign.

Tentacles to offer have I,

Baked in pastry  just like a pie

After braising

Hunger erasing

Served with a mournful sigh,

Oil is mine; it stinks out the room

Weird and fishy, do not consume

Pistons smearing

Engineering

Make something that goes boom,

Eldritch horrors soon will arise,

Will you be their sacrifice

Everyone screams that they will kill you

Let’s kill you the goat replies.

Spooky songs

Here are some more videos of The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine singing.

We sing at events partly because it’s fun and partly as a way to share the island with people and lure them in.

Lowlands is one of the first songs we took out on these terms – death and ghosts…

Here we are singing Anne Lister’s Moth song at Shrewsbury Steampunk Spooktacular. This one is part of this year’s show, which has a Hopeless romance theme. And anyway, moths.

Another one from our recent gig at Woodchester Mansion. Ravens, and death. ‘Nuf said.

Crazy Man Michael

Crazy Man Michael is a folk rock classic, written by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick. It could have been written for us. This is the simple story of a man who goes to the beach and gets angry with a raven and kills her, only to find out that she was really his true love.

Madness, magic and murder, a corvid and a beach. It’s very us.

I’ve been singing Crazy Man Michael since my teens, so, when we had to find a way of taking a graphic novel series to a book festival, I sang it as part of the set we put together to explore island life. This year, it’s in the Ominous Folk show.

The story in the show hangs between two songs – this one, and the equally beautiful and perplexing response to it written by Talis Kimberly.

Fear the prickle eye bush

I’ve taken a fairly sensible folk song and done terrible things to it! The chorus remains unmolested, but the verses… It’s one of those traditional songs where I like the tune and the chorus, but the verses are usually a bit on the dull and repetitive side. Also disappointingly short of anyone being stuck in a hedge!

The Hopeless, Maine version has an abundance of being stuck in a hedge, and you know that the eyes of the prickle eye bush are very present, and not an extra beat to make the words fit the tune. We had spiky pears all along so it seemed only reasonable to mention them.

It’s a bit of island silliness, and it featured in our 2021 show, where James Weaselgrease tried to get the spiky pears, but found himself trapped in the bush. Then, to assuage his desperate hunger, someone offered him live snails to eat once he got out.

Live action Dustcat

This year, award winning nature sculptor Martin Hayward-Harris made us a dustcat puppet. We’ve used it in a few videos so that you can see it in action.

This first video is a snippet from the show we were doing in 2021. In this story, young scientist James Weaselgrease is shipwrecked on the island and goes round trying to make sense of things. This doesn’t go well for him and the island slowly drives him mad!

In this second video, The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine are singing Fergus Ryan’s Dustcat song. Fergus wrote this for the online festival we did in January 2022, and we were smitten with it. It’s a lovely bit of strange whimsy ideal for bemusing audiences who have never seen a dustcat.

Hergest the dustcat is a large and heavy chap (a hefting chonky boi as the cat people would say) so we won’t always have him with us at events. There are lighter poles in his future though.

A little Hopeless Listening

Recently, Steven C. Davis put together a podcast of music that, for him, evokes the island of Hopeless Maine. We listened in when the show went out live and were delighted by the eclectic mix of material and the number of bands and songs we already knew and liked. Some of whom had written Hopeless Maine songs. There were also some excellent new-to-us moments.

For further delight and delectation, Keith Errington is also in the mix reading some of his highly entertaining Hopeless Maine material.

It gave us a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings.

We’ll be going to Steve’s real-world event in May, which we are decidedly excited about. This is a man who clearly gets the island, and with whom we are clearly going to be able to do some really interesting things.

The podcast is on mixcloud, and embedded below.

Ominous Folk

The first time that three of us went out to sing folk music (Tom, Nimue, James) we offered ourselves up as A Cupful of Tentacles. The MC said ‘testicles’ by accident and while that’s an amusing story, it doesn’t really work for singing out.

We’ve been developing a performance side to Hopeless, Maine for a while now, and have recently added Susie Roberts to the mix. Susie is an excellent harmony singer and rounds out the sound in wonderful ways. 

This weekend we took a Hopeless Maine show – stories and songs held together by a script – to Festival At The Edge. We were also busking at The Town That Never Was – a steampunk event. Raising questions of how on earth to present us, what to call us, what works in a program and has the flexibility to cover a multitude of sins.

‘Ominous Folk’ was a description I hit on for the steampunk programme. It works – it gets across the essence of what we’re about. It expands nicely – The Ominous Folk of Hopeless Maine. It also leaves us room for other things and could be wired into titles for other activities. For example, A Murder Mystery with the Ominous Folk of Hopeless Maine – which I’ve been wanting to do for years.