“A masterful weaver of songs whose deep, resonant voice rivals the best of his genre…”

Spirit of Change Magazine

“Beneath the friendly charisma is the heart of a purist gently leading us from the songs of our lives to the timeless traditional songs he knows so well…”

 

Globe Magazine

The Ancient Ballads

The American Folk Experience

The American Folk Experience is dedicated to collecting and curating the most enduring songs from our musical heritage.  Every performance and workshop is a celebration and exploration of the timeless songs and stories that have shaped and formed the musical history of America. John Fitzsimmons has been singing and performing these gems of the past for the past forty years, and he brings a folksy warmth, wry humor and massive repertoire of songs to any occasion. 

Festivals & Celebrations —Coffeehouses —School Assemblies — Library Presentations —Songwriting Workshops —Artist in Residence — House Concerts —Pub Singing — Irish & Celtic Performances —Poetry Readings — Campfires —Music Lessons —Senior Centers —Voiceovers & Recording

Ancient Ballads

Remembered Songs Passed through Time…

It is fine and rare night in a pub when a napkin with a song request is passed up to the stage, and I read the scrawled words and see the like of “Barbara Allen,” “The House Carpenter” or “Mattie Groves.”  For me it is like being given the go signal to move in a new direction, to take tar audience on a new journey down a road or river few of them have ever travelled—the road of the ancient ballads. The ancient ballads, as remembered and sung by the early colonists have their roots in the deepest—and often the darkest—recesses of in what is now Europe and Scandinavia. These ballads, while simple in structure and melody, are charged with an emotionally complex underlayment that has somehow managed to keep these songs alive in spite of the diaspora of moving to and settling in to a new world.

In my own recordings of The Ancient Ballads, I have tried to keep things simple—as simple as the ancient times dictated. Oftentimes, even the faint strum of a guitar seems more distractive than attractive; but, that is for you to decide.

This initial compilation of old ballads, is simply a scratching at the surface of the ballad tradition, but these are the ballads I know best; hence it seems like the best place to start.

And maybe for you, too…

Explore The Ancient Ballads…

More from John Fitzsimmons…

“When the eyes rest on the soul…that’s Fitzy…”

Lenny Megliola

WEEI Radio

All You Need is Love

    The day grew warm today, as did my mood. I did a couple of shows at my school’s diversity day. It was good to see girls there and the obvious racial differences. It was comforting to see a sea of color with a smattering of white instead of the other way around. My...
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True to my words of earlier this week, I finished this song last night, and at the time, I liked it--but in the clear light of day, too much of it seems forced, especially the rhymes. But that is part of the process. I think I am almost there. Let me get my saw and...
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Yesterday did not become a poem

Nothing became something else; No thoughts filled my head With wonder or wisdom. Listless sky. Jumbled frames. Fleeting images: Chattering squirrels, Distant rumbling Of rush hour traffic. Today I am more determined, But all that is left Is the promise Of...
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When you find yourself in the majority, it's time to join the minority ~Mark Twain I have to admit, Google is pretty impressive. The whole set of features that are offered to the public and to educators for free is pretty astounding: email, document creation and...
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The Silver Apples of the Moon.

Stories are a communal currency of humanity. ― Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights The most powerful and enduring connection we share as a human race is our desire and need to share stories. We engage in the art of storytelling more than most of us ever realize; whether we...
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Dad

Moaning like a lost whale the thin ice bellowed behind us then cracked and rang as if spit from a whip. The sharp steel of my over-sized skates etched unspeakable joy into the slate-grey, reptilian skin of Walden Pond. Our mismatched hands gripped together in the...
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Ring of Fire: The Power of Simplicity

In fifth grade my mother finally let me go to the Concord Music store and buy a "45" single.  I bought Johnny Cash’s version of “Ring of Fire” written by his future wife June Carter and Merle Kilgore, a noted country songwriter of his day. There was no doubt in my...
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Close Your Eyes and See

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A New Paradigm

     Sometimes, like right now, I long for a pile of papers on my lap that I could speed through, grade with a series of checks and circles, a few scribbled lines of praise or condemnation, and drop into a shoebox on my desk and say, "Here are your essays!" But I...
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On Writing with Rubrics

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The Snow

has dropped a seamlessness before the plows and children can patch it back to a jagged and arbitrary quilting putting borders to design and impulse. I imagine myself falling everywhere softly, whispering, I am here, and I am here.
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Welcome

I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land... ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden I’ve...
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Supermoon

Last night the August supermoon reminded me of the fickleness of time and how substance becomes shadow and memories begin to etch themselves immutably into the hardness of what is already lost.
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Somewhere North of Bangor

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on the run from Tennessee.
Lost in back scrub paper land
in section TR-3.
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a Georgia cracker’s son,
who killed a man in Nashville
with his daddies favorite gun.
It’s hit him with the loneliness
of wondering where you are
on a long ago railway
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Presenting…

"Anything worth succeeding in, is worth failing in."~by Edison?      A contractor friend showed up at my house a few weeks ago just after I finished making the hearth and installing my new wood/coal stove. He complimented me on how "awesome" it looked. I then lamented...
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I doubt I’d ever have taken this road
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at every bang on the oil pan.
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Cause I’m superman today.”
I scoop that boy right into my arms,
And this is what I say:

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Raccoon Welcome

Welcome
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New Ways

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The Fallacy of Philanthropy

There are thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one striking at the root. ~Henry David Thoreau     I just spent a long day deconstructing our backyard. EJ sold his alpacas, and so our fenced in pasture and barn can now return to its suburban origins as a shed...
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