Creepy-fabulous Cruel Mother video

In the spirit of the Hallowe’en season, here’s our epic take on the traditional folksong “Cruel Mother,” a tragic ghost story that only seems to get more relevant all the time. (Spoiler alert: she’s not actually cruel, just cruelly alone and trapped by patriarchal forces.)

The video features Oddeline & Robin kenny and a whole crew of stellar friends, live from a tunnel near the Kitchissippi River. We didn’t rehearse this as a group and this was only the second full take we got through.

To introduce them properly, for this very special night, the extra members of Wychwood were:
– Oddeline , dream-folk singer-songwriter
– Robin Kenny, bardess and keytar wielder
– Kim Farris-Manning from Paramorph Collective,
experimental composer, arbor-artist, drag performer
– Sarah Howard, singer-songwriter, slinger of simple chords and deep feelings
-Rebecca Norton and Rūta Auzina, badass choir nerds
– Haley Wolk, banjoist, murder balladeer, half of Rubber Roses
-Megan Jensen, practiced jam-maestro, practical philosopher, pal, part-time clown

Joshua John Kitz shot the video, wielding the (phone) camera artistic-like. We figure this is the beginning of his career as a videographer.

“Cruel Mother” is a folksong and traditional ballad from England that likely goes back to the 1600s in some form, with versions proliferating through much of the English-speaking world. The words we sing stitch together a few different versions collected by Francis James Child (it’s Child Ballad 20, for those who care). Musically, we were particularly inspired by the Frankie Armstrong’s raw and spine-tingling acapella version from her 1972 album Lovely on the Water. (

Our words and chords are in this google doc.

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