Category Archives: Hopeless Music

Magpies in a haunted house

The Magpie by Davey Dodds was one of the first songs we picked up when singing out as anything related to Hopeless, Maine. It pre-dates The Ominous Folk. I started singing it many years ago, and James picked it up from me as a child.

With the folklore and the corvids and decidedly Pagan vibes it was always a perfect match for the setting. It’s also easy to pick up the chorus and a song that can take having many voices on it.

This video was taken by Mark Hayes at Woodchester Mansion on the 30th April 2023. The mansion is a fantastic and gothic place – unfinished – with bats in the attic, an fabulous array of gargoyles, ghosts aplenty, and ravens in the grounds. It is therefore very much our natural habitat.

The big band are (from left to right) Robin Burton, Tom Brown, Susie Roberts, Jessica Law, Keith Errington and James Weaselgrease. We’re exploring ways of working with each other, musically and dramatically and who knows what else – not all of it Hopeless, Maine orientated.

We also sang The House is not Haunted by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing! The house seems to like it.

Hopeless Maine Massive

Created with GIMP

We’re delighted to be back at Woodchester Mansion for Beltain and to be part of a much bigger event there. Things are really building on the Steampunk side in Gloucestershire (we don’t actually live on a haunted island off the coast of Maine all the time) so we’re getting to do more events closer to home.

For our Woodchester set, we aren’t just going to be the regular four Ominous Folk. We’re going to end the evening in big band mode, with at least three of our local friends joining us on stage for the last few songs. It’s a delightful prospect. Watch this space as our collaborators become illustrated versions of themselves and we let on who is in the team.

Hopeless Family

Left to right… Tom Brown, Nimue Brown, Keith Errington, James Weaselgrease, Kat Delarus and, Susie Roberts

So here we were, in Susie’s kitchen, singing the new Hopeless, Maine anthem as written for us by Keith Errington. Previously, Keith’s been more involved with us on the book side – having written a Hopeless, Maine novella called The Oddatsea, which is published by Outland in the same volume as New England Gothic. He’s been a frequent contributor here on the blog and has performed with us at events.

Keith has been increasingly involved with The Ominous Folk for some months now, as he’s recording our album and has written us a couple of songs. As this photo indicates, he’s also now singing with us, at least sometimes. He’s very good at the comedy stuff, and has a different selection of musical influences while also being folk-affected, so he adds to our overall sound rather well.

The young human in the foreground is Keith’s daughter, Kat. She’s an incredibly multi-talented person with serious art skills, a fabulous singing voice and considerable word taming skills as well. Rumour has it that she’s also good at acting, so that’s something to explore in the future. We’re currently in the process of working out exactly how everything fits together, but I think it’s safe to say that you will be seeing more of her in assorted Hopeless, Maine projects, and here on the blog.

From the beginning, Hopeless was envisaged as a project people could get involved with. The community aspect of it has always been really important. Sometimes it feels more like a family, and this recording session was definitely one of those moments.

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.


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


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.