(1972) Bonnie Dobson – Bonnie Dobson
Produced by: Kevin Daly
Recorded by: Iain Churches
Availability: re-released on CD by Dutton Vocalion, 2006 and again in 2010 by Bear Family Records.
Bonnie Dobson – vocals, guitar
(other musicans and singers appear on several tracks, playing mandolin, fiddle, electric guitar, whistle and singing chorus vocals. Don’t know who they are, but at times they sound suspiciously like the Druids)
1 Thyme (Trad arr Dobson)
2 Long River (Lightfoot)
3 Farewell to Nova Scotia (Trad arr Dobson)
4 Un Canadien Errant (Trad arr Dobson)
5 Poor Little Girl of Ontario (Trad arr Dobson)
6 Four Strong Winds (Tyson)
1 Vive La Canadienne (Trad arr Dobson)
2 Land of the Silver Birch (Trad arr Dobson)
3 Ise the Bye (Trad arr Dobson)
4 Sixteen Miles to Seven Lakes (Lightfoot)
5 A La Claire Fontaine (Trad arr Dobson)
6 Someday Soon (Tyson)
By the time she moved permanently to London in 1970, Canadian Bonnie Dobson had a pretty susbtantial career under her belt: four albums on the Prestige label – including the song for which she’s best known ‘(Walk me out in the) Morning Dew’ – plus two on RCA Victor.
Born in Toronto in 1940, she got into folk seriously as a teenager on summer camps where people like Pete Seeger and Leon Bibb would turn up to give concerts. She got her break in 1960, left university and started touring in the States.
“I did my first tour with Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry who had been my idols and then I was playing with them,” she recalled in 1993. “And then I went off to Los Angeles. There was a festival up in Idlewild, the University of California had this arts festival every summer and I taught Canadian folk songs. I never got back to University. I just kept going and eventually I hit New York.”
Grief over theft
What followed were those six albums, years of touring and lots of grief over her song Morning Dew being stolen by Tim Rose. In November 1969 she made her London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and settled in the city the following year.
Lost Ladies of Folk
She recorded just this one album for Argo, then one for Polydor in 1976 (Morning Dew), followed by a few singles in the early eighties. Since then it’s been pretty much reissues, retrospectives and compilations.
She had in fact called it quits – “I didn’t feel I was growing, I didn’t feel I was doing anything. I just seemed to be doing the same things over and over again and I thought some people are happy to do that, I wasn’t. So I thought I’ll go back and get my degree”. Once back in the university world, she stayed, working as an administrator in the Philosophy Department of Birkbeck College, London.
In 2007, 28 years after she made her UK debut there, she was persuaded back on to the stage at Queen Elizabeth Hall by Jarvis Cocker, who was running a ‘Lost Ladies of Folk’ night as part of his Meltdown curatorship. By all accounts she was on fine form.
For a full discography of Bonnie Dobson, click here.