Derwent Kites and Medlock Buzzards

Red KIte (Milvus milvus) in flight, with a halo of light, in Sierra de Gredos, in Avila, Spain.    Buzzard_UK

Buzzard By Aviceda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This tune, named after the iconic birds of my native north east, and my adopted city Manchester, reflects my affection for both these facets of the North.

Glacken’s Pack


My gt gt granda, John Glacken was a peddler, from the west of Ireland who settled on Tyneside in the 1840s. The law required that peddlers must have their name and address stenciled in italics on the back of their packs.


The Fairies’ Hornpipe (trad)

At a session in the Cotton Tree, Withington 6 or 7 years ago, I asked the friendly man, a fine uilleann piper, who had sat down next to me, if he knew a tune called ‘The Fairies’ Hornpipe. He said he was sure he did, but ‘How does it go? You start & I’ll join in’. I did so and so did he, it turned out to the great Michael McGoldrick.

Passengers from Watchet

A couple of summers ago we had a great folk summer school at Halsway (off there again end of Aug – beginning of Sept), took a steam train trip from Stogumber to Minehead. En route I heard the guard shout ‘Passengers from Watchet’ and I thought, right, that’ll have to have a tune. So here it is played one-handed on the melodeon. Copyright Michael Burns April 2016

Miss Joan Shorrocks & Barbara and Bill’s (waltzes)” frameborder=”no” scrolling=”no” width=”100%” height=”166″>
Music by Michael Burns
Copyright 2010 Michael Burns


Great Aunty Joan, (aka GAJ), lived until 2011, when she was 92.

This picture shows Joan’s father Alfred Shorrock and Gilbert? (the family had 2 horses, one after the other).  After Alfred came out of the pit he opened a hardware shop in Walkden, west of Manchester.  He would go out on the round selling hardware while his wife ran the shop.

This tune in waltz time was inspired by the Gracie Fields’ song, ‘She’s a Lassie from Lancashire’, it’s followed by ‘Barbara & Bill’s’ a waltz for the golden wedding of my friends, the Scholes of West Haughton.

Joan Shorrocks dots part 1
Joan Shorrocks dots part 2

Mrs May Anderson

A tune for one of a pair of inspirational whistle teachers at Whitby Folk Week

The Little Count

JB's memorial stone


I wrote this tune to celebrate the life of Józef Boruwłaski (1739–1837), perhaps the first of many Polish people to enhance life in Britain. Jozef was a Polish-born dwarf born near Halicz in Poland in November 1739. At his full height he measured 99 cm (39 inches). Joseph was a good violinist, guitarist and dancer. He embarked of several musical tours on the Continent and in Britain. In the course of one tour, on the road back from Edinburgh to London, he arrived at Durham and liked it so much that he stayed.

In a letter to one lady friend, Boruwłaski included a short poem explaining his love for Durham.
It read: “Poland was my cradle, England is my nest; Durham is my quiet place where my weary bones shall rest.” He was friends with Stephen Kemble, an enormous, oversized actor, an activist against slavery and Durham resident, and their contrasting appearances caused much amusement as they strolled the banks of the Wear together. Joseph died, after 47 years in Durham, on September 5, 1837, at the age of 97. He was buried in Durham in the Cathedral beside friend Stephen Kemble, his grave can be seen near the main door, marked by a stone slab 15 inches square. It simply reads “JB”
There is a life-size statue of him in the Town Hall at Durham, together with a small display of his personal effects, including a suit, hat, cane, chair and violin. The Town Hall also has a large oil-painting of Joseph as an old man. A tetrastyle Greek temple, restored in 2007, stands on the banks of the River Wear at Durham: this is called the ‘Count’s House’ and its position suggests that it may have been an ornamental folly in the Count’s garden. There is a collection of documents relating to the man Durham people called ‘the Little Count’ at the Palace Green library of Durham University.

I’m grateful to Maurice Condie for his flawless guitar accompaniment on the recording.

Hils and Mike’s

A tune celebrating the wedding of two friends. Copyright MB 12 April 2015