Bawdy Noise
Our new CD "Bawdy Noise" is finished recording and is now in the final mastering stages. We are preparing the packaging and lining up distribution etc.

The official release is January 25, 2009 - Robert Burns' 250th birthday, though you may be able to get it sooner... check back for updates.

PopFest 2008
I was really impressed that AthensExchange.com attempted to review all 80 or so performances of PopFest this year.

Here is their correspondent's account of our show at Cine on August 12, 2008.

The first thing you notice with Bob Hay is the guitars. Lots and lots of guitars. Or at least there was one. But the five-piece between them clutch a double bass, a violin, a mandolin (maybe, but at this point I am somewhat bluffing as my knowledge of stringed instruments is somewhat limited), a regular banged up old acoustic guitar and, satisfyingly enough, a banjo. Bob Hay clearly comes from the old Southern storytelling tradition, and his covering and toying with the poetry of Robert Burns' 16th century Scottish melodies is as innovative and exciting as it promises.

The narrative arc of the songs are brought to life by Hay's strange and alluring mimes. Later, he will produce a neon green flute from nowhere and the crowd will whistle. It is the kind of music that makes me want to collapse into foot-tappin' free-wheelin' word-abbreviatin' cliches whenever I talk about it. It is the kind of music that makes me want to wear a lumberjack shirt and a short denim skirt and dance in circles on dusty ground.

Appropriating Burns and restyling him in the American tradition of bluesy call and response refrains and ramshackle folk guitar melodies is inspired. And that is the point of folk music isn't it: it is designed to be passed down and rewritten and sung over and over again to new generations and new faces. And as far as storytellers go, you can't get much better than Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars.

- Fran McDonald

AthFest 2007
The Jolly Beggars had a big time at AthFest.

On Thursday night, June 21, our bass player Ken won the Sprockets Music Video Audience Choice Award for the video "Kathy" which is a song that Bob wrote.

Following that Bob and Bill played at the 40 Watt Club with Supercluster, Bob's wife Vanessa's new band.

And Friday night, the Jolly Beggars played the BEST GIG EVER at the Melting Point!

And what about 2007?
The year started off busy with seven shows in the last half of January. See this list for all the shows.

We continue to work on our Bawdy Noise project and have seven songs down at this point (May 15).

Our next live show will be at the wonderful Melting Point on Friday, June 22 during AthFest.

Mrs. Hay says "What about 2006?" Part II - the video
A friend suggested that we make a video for the AthFest Film:Athens Spockets Music+Video contest. I didn't think much of the idea at the time, since it seemed like it would require too much money and effort. A liitle after that I attended a contra dance and had a wonderful time dancing. A few weeks later the video idea came back to mind and I had the notion to make it a commemoration of the wonderful dance. In an incredible chain of good luck, I arranged a video shoot on April 6 and then an edit of the video on April 26, and "I Love my Jean - the video" was produced. You can see a webby version of it here. It has been entered in the contest. We shall see what happens.

Mrs. Hay says "What about 2006?"
In December 2005, Jorma Starratt, son of Ken the bass player, came home to find that Ken, the ultimate craftsman, had tranformed the old mushroom growing building into a studio suitable for recording. The G4 was set up and the Jolly Beggars set out to record their 2nd album. Thus "Tam Lin and More Songs by Robert Burns" was recorded. The resulting 23 tracks were whittled down to 18 and the new CD was born.

In the late nineties, a group of musicians began to gather and play acoustic instruments on Saturday nights in Ken's kitchen - mostly old timey folk and bluegrass songs. In a casual conversation about the origins of these songs, the name of Robert Burns was mentioned. Later when Bob was at the library he read some of Burns' work and was so intrigued that he learned to play some of Burns' songs on the guitar. One song lead to another and in a year he had learned about 20 songs.

January 25, 2002
On January 25, 2002, Bob played a dozen songs in a solo performance he presented as "Bobby Burns One" upstairs at The Globe in downtown Athens. His bandmates were supportive of his efforts. They learned the Burns material, contributed to the arrangements, and began playing them along with their folk and bluegrass songs at Athens pubs such as the Go Bar and Normaltown Cafe.

The songs Bob played solo on the acoustic guitar that night were: I am a bard of no regard, Bonnie Doon, Handsome Nell, O that I had ne'er been married, Contented wi' little, Caledonia, Hughie Graham, See the smoking bowl before us, Yestreen I had a pint o' wine, Willie brew'd a peck o' maut, The Lea-Rigg, For a' that and a' that and Winter - a dirge.

To see a Real Video of "Bonnie Doon" from this show, click here.

January 25, 2003
On January 25, 2003, they presented their 2nd annual Burns Night at the Go Bar.

Bob played one set solo: Bonnie Doon, Once I lov'd a bonnie lass, O that I had ne'er been married, He clench'd his pamphlets, Contented wi' little and canty wi' more, Collier Laddie, Yestreen I had a pint o' wine, Duncan Grey, Caledonia, and The Lea-rig.

In the second set the band played: Rantin' Rovin' Robin, Hughie Graham, O leave novels ye Mauchline belles, O Willie brew'd a peck o' maut, I am a bard of no regard, See the smoking bowl before us, Winter - a dirge, Is there for honest poverty, and O leave novels ye Mauchline belles.

Toils Obscure
Bob's wife Vanessa encouraged them to record some of the songs to make a CD. With the help of Full Moon Recording Studio owner Mark Cooper Smith, who had been the Squalls drummer, Bob recorded some of the songs solo playing acoustic guitar in May of '03. On September 12, Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars went to the studio and recorded eight songs. The recording was done live with no overdubs. Bob Hay played banjo and sang, accompanied by Bill David on mandolin, Ken Starratt on bass, Diana Torell on fiddle, and Dave Dowless on guitar. Brian Crum played brush percussion.The CD was then mastered at Rodney Mills Masterhouse. On March 4, 2004, the CD Toils Obscure. Songs by Robert Burns was released.

(Click photo for larger version.)
Photo by Rene Tewksbury, copyright 2004. L-R: Diana Torell, Bill David, Dave Dowless, Victoria Hay, Ken Starratt holding Gabriel Fricks, Bob Hay, Hana Hay.

Playing at AthFest 2003. L-R Dave, Ken, Bill, Bob, and Diana
(Click photo to enlarge)
Visit the Concertshots.com website for more pictures of Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars among the other performers.Copyright 2003 by Concertshots.com.
Athfest website

January 28, 2004, they presented the 3rd annual Burns Night at the Flicker Theater in Athens. On February 1, 2004 they played a Sunday afternoon show at the Athens Public Library.

To celebrate the release of Toils Obscure, they held a CD release party at the Go Bar on March 19, 2004.

Click on: Past Dates for other shows played in 2004.

Photo by Daniel Peiken. January 25, 2005 at Little Kings, Athens, GA. L to R Ken Starratt, Bill David, Dave Dowless, Bob Hay, Diana Torell.
(click the photo to enlarge).

In celebration of Robert Burns' 246th birthday, Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars performed a series of dates:
They performed for one full hour on It's Friday, a live show hosted by Robb Holmes on WUGA 91.7 fm in Athens, Georgia on January 21, 2005.
On Sunday, January 23, 2005 on WRFG in Atlanta, Georgia, The Celtic Show with hostess Siusaidh Ruadh featured selections of Burns' material by many different artists in honor of his birthday. Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars performed a short set of songs by the bard around 6 pm.
They presented the 4th Annual Burns Night on January 25, 2005 at the Little Kings space located at the corner of Hancock and Hull Street. Milton Leathers read two Burns' poems and a wonderful gentleman from Dumfries, Scotland recited Tam 'O Shanter from memory.
For other shows in 2005, click here: Past Dates.

2005 Athens Music Awards
Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars were nominated for and performed at the 2005 Athens Music Awards sponsored by Flagpole Magazine. Other nominees under the Folk Category included: Hope for a Golden Summer, Christian Lopez, Phosphorescent,and Susan Staley.
Congratulations to Hope for a Golden Summer for winning this award!

The Squalls
Members of Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars have been playing music together for over 25 years. Bob, Ken, and Diana were in the Squalls, a popular dance band in Athens throughout the 1980s. The Squalls made several tours up the East Coast and through the Midwest, and made a single, an EP, and two albums. They received national attention in the movie Athens, GA Inside/Out. In the early nineties, they were part of the short-lived but fondly remembered band, The YAMS, which included Bill.

Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars photo
(Click for 648 x 648 photo)
Photo by Rene Tewksbury, copyright 2004.
Current band members from left to right: Ken Starratt, Bob Hay, Diana Torell, Dave Dowless, Bill David.

© 2014 - Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars