Brick Harber

JIM “BRICK” HARBER

This biography is taken from the booklet notes of the 2001 album “Just Another Saturday Night”(Musical Traditions MT 309 – 310). The notes were complied by Rod Stradling and Vic Smith. “Brick” Harber contributed three songs to this album.

Jim was not truly a Sussex man, having been born in Worcestershire and moved to Tilgate Forest with his gamekeeper father when he was about six years old. He spent most of his working life as a charcoal-burner and in other timber-related trades in the Forest, but also worked for the Electricity Board in later years. Bob Lewis remembers that the Harber family [like the Testers] had a brickyard [1] and also a sawmill in the area between Crawley Down, Three Bridges and Worth. Old Perce Harber ran it and it eventually became a sort of industrial estate.

Brick’s speaking voice had no trace of a Midlands accent in later life, but his singing style was quite unlike the typical Wealden stereotype, particularly when singing his father’s songs. Jim Ward remembers that he used to sing in the Three Bridges pubs, but lived in Pease Pottage – and thinks that he had a little van that he used to travel around in. He had a deep voice and always tried out the notes before he started a song.

He had a ‘large repertoire’ according to Mervyn Plunkett, and four of his songs: The Bold Privateer, The Haymakers, ‘Twas in the Year of 1835 and Tom Block were published in Ethnic vol.1 no.2, Spring 1959. He also had an unusual quirk (shared with Bob Scarce) of singing certain notes ‘off-pitch’ – at least in terms of what the modern ear, attuned to the tempered scale, expects. He had a natural ability to sustain quarter tones and even smaller intervals extremely accurately throughout a long song, so that there was seldom any difference in pitch between the first and last verses. This is a very rare thing in unaccompanied singing.

Brick died in May 1960 after many years of ill-health.

(Vic Smith 2016)

[1] Was this where his nickname came from?

Profile of Brick Harber, by Vic Smith

profile-jim-brick-harber.pdf
pdf awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE

Six hundred standing warriors, of England's pride the best

Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade.pdf
pdf awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade.mid
mid awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

YOUNG BRICKLAYER, THE

Young bricklayer bold coming home from his work, A

LADY AND THE CABIN BOY, THE

Oh it's of a rich lady so gay

‘TWAS IN THE YEAR OF 1835

In was in the year eighteen hundred and thirty five

LITTLE CABIN BOY, THE

Oh it's of a rich lady so gay

CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, THE

Six hundred standing warriors, of England's pride ther best

SEEDS OF LOVE

Now I'm sowing my seeds of love

HAYMAKERS, THE

'Twas in the pleasant month of May

BOLD PRIVATEER (GRENADIER)

As I walked through the forest, through the forest one day

See all songs »