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jfaa: About!

"...The band's musical journey weaves its way along the narrow roads of Ireland, past beautiful coastline to small, quaint pubs that serve as community gathering (and watering) holes. Just like the varied scenery of the Emerald Isle, Johnny Faa's music incorporates the considerable diversity provided by jigs, slides, reels, hornpipes, polkas, airs, and songs..."
"...Their sounds mix like two glasses of water poured into a single bowl."

Who was Johnny Faa?

Prior to 1540 and the reign of King James V, English common law recognized the separate judicial rights of “Johnny Faa,” the “lord and earl of Egypt” (e.g., the “king” of the itinerant sub-group known as “gypsies”). As the English kings gradually reinforced their control of public life, space, and laws, the gypsies, who represented a threat to all these, were expelled, persecuted, and occasionally prosecuted or hung.

By the mid-17th century, it was a felony for free men to be “known as consorting with the Egyptians.” Versions of the ballad known as Child #200, or “Davy Faw,” “The Egyptian Laddie,” or the “Gypsy Davy,” which was equally closely related to “The Seven Yellow Gypsies” and other ballads of seduction, abduction, and bewitchment, were printed as early as 1720, and the tune appears in Scotland’s Skene manuscript.

Around 1788, the earlier ballad was adapted to tell the tale of Lady Jean Hamilton, wife of the sixth Earl of Cassilis, who prior to her marriage was alleged to have been in love with a “Johnny Faa of Dunbar.” Years later, as the mother of two children, she was persuaded by the returned Johnny Faa to elope. Upon capture, Johnny and seven companions were hanged, and the Lady confined to a tower for the rest of her life.

But the oldest extant mention of John is a letter, reportedly conveyed to Baron Wedderburn of Scotland, “by the hand of Johnny Faa, captain of a band of Gypsies,” in 1470.

Johnny Faa is thus a very old symbol of everyone who slipped along the roads and lanes, the boundaries of the imagination and past the corners of our eyes, who sang the songs and tunes, who might be killed but rose again.

Da Band - Who was Johnny Faa? (Nov 9, 2007)