Mummers song turns 25

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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ST. JOHN'S - Don't swing Granny hard in celebration, but Christmas 2007 brings a milestone for "The Mummers Song."

Bud Davidge's tune that begins with a knock and the classic yell 'Any mummers 'lowed in?' is turning 25 this Christmas.

"I never had any inkling that it would be as popular and the different things would have happened to it as they did," he says.

Davidge is the 'I' in the popular Newfoundland music duo Simani, which is pronounced "Sim and I."

The other member is Sim Savory.

They recorded and released the song as a 45 in 1982 and, a quarter century later, for many it doesn't seem like Christmas if "The Mummers Song" is not there.

The song - originally known as "Any Mummers Allowed In" - has spawned a children's book, has been credited with reviving Newfoundland and Labrador's mummering tradition and is a seasonal staple on radio stations and during children's concerts, parades and parties.

As well, CBC-TV has played an episode of "Land and Sea" featuring the song and highlighting the province's mummering tradition for more than 20 straight years.

"We've had correspondence from all over the place and country," Davidge says.
Sam Whiffen has too.

He hosts the traditional music show "Homebrew" on K-Rock Sunday mornings.

He figures "The Mummers Song" is probably the most popular Newfoundland and Labrador Christmas tune of all time.

Once Dec. 1 hits, he says requests for it start pouring in from this province and around the world.

This past Sunday, for example, a woman originally from Labrador phoned from Australia.
Listening to "Homebrew" on the internet, she was trying to explain the mummering tradition to some Aussie friends and requested "The Mummers Song."

He put her on the air live to talk about it.

Whiffen thinks the tune is so popular because of its theme.

"When you think of Christmas in Newfoundland and Labrador," he says, "mummering is one of the first things that comes to mind."

Hearing "The Mummers Song" today brings back memories and makes Davidge feel nostalgic.

"And it makes me feel pretty good, considering the fact it came out in 1982 and it is still being played every year," he says, noting that media calls come in every year around Christmastime.

Last week, for example, he even had a call from the CTV station in Ottawa. A reporter there wanted to do a story about it.

Simani - which recorded a number of popular Newfoundland tunes, including "Music and Friends" and "Saltwater Cowboys" - stopped playing live in 1997, the same year they recorded their last album.

As the band's records and CDs are still moving, Davidge says they still keep an eye on the business side of things.

He says people continue to tap on the door of his home in English Harbour West at Christmas wondering if mummers are allowed in.

"One family there they still traditional mummering every Christmas just the same as they always did."

Organizations: CBC, CTV

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, ST. JOHN'S, Australia Ottawa English Harbour West

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