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Rolling On

TP Speakout Festival

  the music keeps

 

50 years folking about: Dave Henderson

In 1970 , I went to Manchester, Didsbury College of Education, to be a teacher but then Music really unfolded. I helped with the college folk club and there were just so many people to book who, at the time , I was sadly unaware of their talents. Mike Harding sang weekly in a pub in the village and he was a fount of artists , many of whom kipped on his floor. Christy Moore came, bringing with him his sister – wonderful - and we didn't really appreciate it. Keith Christmas came and played, a week after he had done Whistle Test. He kipped in our student house overnight.......and stayed for 6 weeks! The Ian Campbell Folk Group and so many more.

 

There were clubs in Manchester, where you weren't allowed in carrying a guitar cos it wasn't trad folk you were going to play. Yep, the Folk Police were about. Then of course the weekends at the Manchester Uni Union scratching my other itch with bands like Free, Humble Pie, Edgar Broughton, Vinegar Joe, Steppenwolf, etc  for the princely sum of 50p and a curry at 2 in the morning on the walk home. Bands like, Incredible String Band and Deep Purple at the Free Trade Hall. Music is just music.

 

In 1969 , I sat on the floor of my bedroom with my trusty Dansette and played a borrowed album from a mate at school and heard the Fairport's playing A Sailors Life it was a Damascene moment. I loved that band; Sandy's voice, RT's guitar, Swarb's fiddle and DM's drumming (which literally made folk rock possible) and ofcourse Mr Hutchings which led to seeing Lark Rise and the Mysteries at the National Theatre and finding John Tams.

 

So......for the next 40 years , I was a fan of whatever folk/folk-rock is. Lots of gigs, festivals, regular yearly visits to Cropredy and a lifelong urge to discover new stuff. I love crossovers, experimentation, the Afro Celts, Lau, Peatbog Faeries, Jim Moray, False Lights, Imagined Village, Rails, Blackbeards Tea Party and so many more. Put music under glass in a museum and it dies , as did the folk clubs of the 50's and 60's revival. Music has to grow and morph.

 

And then in my retirement from my proper job I found myself, by serendipity, playing with a very good folk/folk rock band, way out of my class.....but it makes you work and learn. As a real bonus, I started to meet my heroes. Playing a festival and sitting and eating back stage with Phil Beer, Steve Knightly, Miranda Sykes, Chris Leslie, Maddy Prior , PJ Wright, Joe Broughton....I thought what on earth am I doing here and they are talking to me as if it is a perfectly normal thing to do!

 

In 2015 , I compèred the wonderful Langdale Charity Folk Festival in Cumbria at the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub. A bunch of organisers and musicians who put on a festival twice a year, no one gets paid, no expenses, to raise money for Cumbria Air Ambulance and Mountain Search Dogs. In 2009 to 2017 they raised well over £50,000. Some great musicians, sound men giving their time for free;  just lovely people. I have made some real friends from that festival. The vibe of that fest sums up for me the essence of whatever folk music is; people playing together, for fun, for the joy, for the craic.

 

So 50 plus years of searching out new music....what was that all about then? I have made a lot of friends and I have done a lot of things, been to places I would never have done without music. I have heard some truly wonderful performers and songs. I continue to want to 'discover' new talent even though they may already be known to others. In the last few years; Lowri Evans, Lucy Ward, Ange Hardy, Luke Jackson, Kenneth J Nash, Chapin Wickwar, Phantom Voices, the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band and many more and this summer we'll do it again. Gigs and fests with my present band, gigs and fests as a member of the audience, gigs and fests just to be with friends, singarounds, open mics and always that search for that one new voice that started at Egremont Folk Club 51 years ago.

 

Contact Dave at davidghenderson@btinternet.com 

 

For more about the band, visit the Whale website at www.facebook.com/pg/whalebanduk

 

DaveH3

When you are 15 in 1967 and living on the West Coast of Cumbria your dreams can seem a long way away , particularly when they are not centred on rugby league or punching someone with gloves on. Don't get me wrong , it wasn't a town where we suddenly launched attacks on unexpecting glove-wearing pensioners , more a mining town; boxing culture.

 

My escape had always been in walking up mountains,climbing bits of rock and then in 1967 ,

I was introduced to Egremont Folk Club in, of all places, the Rugby League Club . 5 miles from my home, it involved a bus but none ran on the way back....so a walk or a hitch. I was trying to grow my hair and wore a slightly oversize RAF coat. Not many people stopped!

 

So, first time in the club and it was like the beginning of my musical education. Old boys taking me under my wing. 'Have a listen to this. Have a listen to this! Do you know who Martin Carthy is? Do you know who Robert Johnson is? To list who I saw would be impossible , certainly Barbara Dickson and a Manchester duo I loved called Therapy , I won their album in the raffle and wandered up to claim it trying to belie the number of Newcy Brown's I had had. Another burgeoning part of my education.......

Finding my Voice: Peter 'Seashanty Pete' Edwards

I arrived with my parents in a small village called Newton near Cambridge from South Africa in 1960, after a period of acceptance by the villagers and school children, I became friends with among others another a young man called Robin from Sawston who convinced me that going to a folk club called ‘The Rob Roy’ upstairs room and sitting on cushions with the Cambridge Crofters performing was the best way to meet young girls especially foreign ones keen to learn English.

 

This was my introduction into the ‘Folk World’; I enjoyed joining in with all the chorus songs even if I didn’t know the words or the songs message. The visits to ‘The Rob Roy’ continued until Robin went to UEA as a mature student, I visited him occasionally and we always seemed to end up in pubs with ‘singarounds’ where we were routinely be  asked if we would like to sing which certainly terrified me, but also made me feel guilty that I was listening to others and not contributing, a feeling that stayed with me.

 

Years passed with no contact with the ‘Folk world’ with the exception of yearly visits to the Cambridge folk festival. Still interested in folk music, but married now with young children, my wife Ruth suggested I go to a Folk Club at Fulbourn to see it was my cup of tea so I enlisted a friend to go with me and enjoyed the evening and heard about the Cherryhinton Folk club and became a regular visitor.

 

About this time Robin had moved to the Wye valley and had started to collect sea shanty recorded music from The Shanty Crew, Johnny Collins and others. He invited us to join him and his family camping at the Bromyard Folk festival, I joined in with the Johnny Collins and friends sessions choruses at every opportunity, we went for a few years but our children were growing up. My wife Ruth decided to go to a Singing in Tune workshops in Cambridge and I followed later, I didn’t mind singing in a group but was still terrified to sing on my own but it did begin to build up my confidence.

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While doing the workshops I decided to learn some songs inevitably from the shanty crew and Johnny Collins tapes, learning on journeys to and from work. I made a tape of me singing not knowing what my voice sounded like and played it to my 14 year old daughter Hannah who said it was ok! so emboldened I decided to sing at a  Cherryhinton folk club visit hosted by the lovely Barry and Rose I plucked up courage (by way of a number of pints of beer) and when asked if I would like to sing by Rose  I answered faulting yes and that was my wobbly start to singing in public.

 

This shaky start inspired me to learn new songs and then try them out at the Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn folk clubs and latterly The Red Lion at Whittlesford . As my confidence grew I branched out with a small selection of songs, I researched for venues in my local area as well as those at my holiday destinations and folk festivals. I stuck fairly rigidly to singarounds but did end up on stage a few times as well as singing at the front but much preferred singarounds.

 

I was now feeling a lot more comfortable in singarounds, I started to take more notice of others and the huge amount of musical talent that exists at singarounds. Unfortunately all my ‘go to’ folk clubs closed so I was without a regular venue, Ruth (My wife) mentioned she had met a certain Tony Phillips through her work on a bike project ‘You Can Bike Too’ Tony, she told me ran music festivals and regular singarounds at The Plough and Fleece Horningsea (soon to become a community pub).

I was made for music:  Chris Walls (Cee Dub)

I believe we probably come into this world fully formed and if life allows, we follow our path – though sometimes life gets in the way…I remember as a small kid growing up in Enfield North London, listening to music on the transistor radio I had saved for. We had a tape recorder to send and listen to messages with friends in Australia. I would record songs from the radio and I would record my voice.

 

My father noodled on guitar, he sucked and blowed a harmonica and he had friends who skiffled with him. He took me to local productions of every musical of the time; Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific etc etc. I have ever since loved all the cheesy musicals that have come along there after. I failed 11 plus and went to a secondary modern. I was bullied and hated the school, but a teacher took me under his wing and gave me a job looking after the stage. I set up mics for assembly, lighting for events. I made scenery. I was safe on my stage with a few like minded others. The same teacher married a teacher, who played guitar and taught me how to play. I borrowed a school guitar.a I played and sung in groups, sung in choirs and recorded on 3 albums of folk music.

 

I loved woodwork and in the workshop was a technician who made violins. Everybody else made plant pot stands etc … So did I - but I also made a speaker to enhance my transistor radio and I copied the school guitar. At home I made an electric guitar and I bolted a little 5 watt amp from Tottenham Court Rd onto a speaker in a box. At lunch time with two turntables from jumble sales and old PA equipment bits found on the stage I ran lunch time discos ….

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I left school to start an engineering apprenticeship, the wages were crap, but I was DJing as much as possible using equipment I designed and made. From 18 I shared a flat with a great guy, who was a much better guitarist than me and had a great record collection. I sold my guitars to fund my DJing. It was the 70s and all I needed was ‘Saturday night Fever’ to make a profit in those disco days. I listened to everything and anything, early Peter Green, Reggae, Motown, Funk, Soul, early synth, prog rock, folk rock, singer songwriters, US FM but maybe my greatest loves were Carol King and James Taylor. Then came punk and music polarized … I found as a DJ I could satisfy births deaths and marriages but I could not find my niche and without a niche and with work opportunities flourishing I buried myself in work for too many years. My DJ equipment sold to buy a nice Hi Fi with too many buttons playing vanilla records. My musically wasted 30s.

 

The last company I worked for was Soundcraft, a leading sound mixing manufacturer. I was an engineer but musically I had lost my way. The mixing desks were to me just products. I found the company the building that they now operate from and set up the plan for them to move to it. In return they made me redundant. I set my mind to never work for a company again – I never have. (But I do now use a Soundcraft mixing desk!).

 

It was the early 90s I did anything that paid more than £5 an hour and I partied. Watching a DJ one night I was amazed as the beats were mixed into one continuous euphoric dance. I was with gay friends and the music scene was rich. I had found my niche. I made scenery, costumes, show tapes for cabaret and I helped promote gay nightclub nights. With rudimentary computer skills learnt from my time working for Amstrad, I started publicity and marketing nightclubs, cabaret artists, drag acts. My introduction to the internet was very early. I sang. I toured. I did 180 shows in one year. Yes that old love of musicals; Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific etc (and all that followed (Cabaret, Rocky Horror, Little shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Grease...  sure fed the imagination for material to perform.

 

In 2005 I lost a very good friend. He was just 40 years old. At the time of his death I had the vague opportunity to design and build our own home near Royston. At the same time my promotion and marketing had hit a wall as web sites took over the marketing budgets.. As my friend died he said “follow your dream build your ranch. Life is short don’t wait”. For three years I put all my effort into building our home and when it was finished I expected to drive back and forward, to my contacts and interests in London. After twice falling asleep driving home late at night I knew it was time to make a new life near to my new home.

 

My builder and music hero friend who is my closest neighbor said one day – “I was working in Enfield  and mentioned you to my client – they said they knew you and that you sang an played guitar – I didn’t know you played guitar?” I told him I hadn’t played since I was 20. He said “you should start playing again”. I asked him what kind of guitar I should get. He said “you will know it when you play it”/ It took me a further 3 years to find that guitar and a teacher to get me over many bad habits and inhibitions. The guitar I now play, I made from scratch. During those 3 years I put a PA in my bungalow that had been built to party in and I hosted ill conceived jams.  My guitar teacher one day invited me to the launch of Royston Folk Club by one of his students. I went and was inspired to help. My internet, promotion, booking, marketing and sound engineering skills were soon employed. Sadly the founder of the club moved away and the guitar teacher got ill. Bloody cancer again. Before he died he encouraged me to keep the Folk Club going and introduced to me to another of his students. He told us both to keep each other going. That teachers name was Tony Buch (pronounced Buck) and Richard and I named our duo ‘Pass the Buch’ to take forward his name. I think he would be proud to know we are still together, making steady progress, finding our songs, enjoying practicing and entertaining.

 

Our house has now hosted many parties and concerts. I have made SO many wonderful musician friends through my voluntary work with Royston Folk Club. I have booked acts for our concerts working closely with the rest of the team that I have gathered round me. I can truly say that the things that came naturally to me as a kid are now the foundation of all I hold dear today. My home is a house of music. I make and set up instruments, I share my tools with others that make instruments. I have friends drop in to practice and try things through the PA.

 

Why do musicians, promoters, technicians, do what we do? It sure as hell ain't the money. NO It's because music is like a faith. It can't be explained. You either have it or you don't.  It brings us together. It gives us our community. We know a secret that can't be shared with others, that don’t know music, like we know music. That’s why we just have to make music and to share music …..

 

 

Check out Chris, Mark and Lesley's great work at the Royston Folk Club here

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Like the other contributors to this page, my life has had its own musical soundtrack. In my case the songs were those to be heard as I was growing up in a Northamptonshire village, losing my innocence at Reading University, spending a decade in exile in Italy and Argentina, to then return to the UK in the 1990s and embark on my own musical adventures with a band and a radio show.

 

I'm currently working on a writing project, which is part personal memoir, part family and village history and part ruminations on life, but the theme running through is of course music. Below are a couple of my stories that will eventually end up in the book in some form.

The Birth of Wanderlust: Listening to America

 

 

It was a Christmas present I think, as I don’t think I was old enough to buy it for myself. A couple of years later I would regularly take the bus to Kettering and visit Alf Bailey’s shop in Gold Street to buy or order an LP or a single. In previous decades the shop used to specialise in selling sheet music and 78s; the owner at that time was founder Alf’s grandson Graham, who, dressed in his garish dicky bow tie, wasn’t exactly a fashion icon for the kids, but his was the only record shop in town, so it was truly Mecca for us. Alf’s mostly didn’t have the music I wanted so I’d have to order it and patiently wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive and then go back to experience the joy of holding the precious object in my hands and complete the pilgrimage by returning home to place it on the sacred turntable.

 

But this was before then; this was the time of my awakening, my discovery through music that there was a big wide world out there. Of course we sang folk songs by the radio and hymns in assembly at school, and mum and dad had their own music, Elvis for mum and Lonnie Donegan for dad; I even remember seeing Jimi Hendrix - who I later came to love - on Top of the Pops, but it was only when I found Simon & Garfunkel that I truly had my very own music. I can’t remember where I first heard them; I imagine it was “Bridge over Troubled Water”, again on Top of the Pops, being danced to inappropriately by Pan’s People, although it might have been from my older cousin Penny, who had the most amazing record collection ever. It might even have been from my friend Brian, whom I would later reject as not being cool enough, as my other “cooler” friends didn’t like him much. In any event, how I came to know of them is now lost to my memory.

 

What I do remember is that wintertime - as I say, probably at Christmas. I would have been 13 years old, I guess. We had moved house - from 17 to 25 High Street, so not far - when my brother Martin was born in 1967. Our new home was bigger, two small houses knocked into one, and mum and dad spent a couple of years slowly renovating the parts of the house that had fallen into disrepair, including what became their bedroom. When they moved into it, I got their old room, much bigger than mine, which then became my brother’s. Ray family pecking order.

 

My new bedroom had a great view across the road to the rising and falling meadows of what had once been the site of the old castle. My parents gave me their record player, as they weren’t using it, and I would sit on the painted wooden inside windowsill and look out across the fields as I listened to my favourite LPs. I only had a few at that time. The first was a Top of the Pops LP, which I had asked for as a present and then was horrified to find that the songs on it weren’t by the original artists, but were copies: a cruel introduction to the ways of the world. I got rid of it quite soon after that. Pity, it would be very valuable today, as apparently they’re very collectable now. It had “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by someone pretending to be Joan Baez. Wikipedia tells me the original was released in 1971, so yes I would have been 13 or so.

 

But I’m getting sidetracked.

 

The cover tells you all you need to know. A black and white photo of two sensitive, intelligent-looking young men dressed in dark turtle-neck sweaters. They must have something important to say. And they did. Paul Simon was the songwriter, and Art Garfunkel had the voice of an angel, and when they sang harmony ... heaven!

 

Simon’s words took me travelling with him. “America” is the story of his journey to look for America with his girlfriend Kathy. Turns out Kathy is from Barking, Essex - just down the road really - and Simon fell in love with her when he was touring England in 1964, but I only found that out much later. Here are a couple of verses:

 

“Kathy”, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburg, “Michigan seems like a dream to me now. It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw. I’ve come to look for America”.    

[...]

“Kathy, I’m lost”, I said, though I knew she was sleeping. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why. Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all come to look for America”.

 

It was from those verses that I caught the Wanderlust that would stay with me for most of my life. I can’t really convey in words how exotic those place names were to my child’s mind. They don’t have that magic now, just the vague memory of it, like an aroma from a former time that you can’t quite place, but I do remember how magical they felt to me then. I wanted to visit all those strange-sounding places, ideally with a girlfriend to love and hold close. All this was to come, after a fashion, but I was becoming impatient. The village couldn’t hold me forever.

 

Now I write my own songs and still hold Paul Simon up as one of the greatest songwriters of all. That song is often cited as one of his finest, with the very literary line “the moon rose over an open field” given as an excellent example of assonance in many learned books on poetic verse. I can appreciate the greatness of the writing now, but I can’t possibly be moved as powerfully now as I was then.

 

A couple of years passed. I and a small group of friends formed a band and a clique based around the music we loved: The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead. Simon & Garfunkel were no longer considered cool and so met the same fate as Brian - rejection. I swapped their LPs for some other music - who knows what? - that at the time I thought was more acceptable. More fool I. Sometimes we are so desperate to fit in that we completely lose sight of who we are. Years later, in my early 20s, I went to live in Italy and soon spent my evenings playing guitar and singing in clubs and bars with my friend Gianni. Turns out Gianni had a love for the music of Simon & Garfunkel, so they were back in favour again...

 

And my travels had begun. From that seed planted many years earlier by Paul Simon.

 

 

The Jack of Both Sides

(Reading 1980)

 

In the summer of 1980 I was living in Reading, in Radstock Road, near Cemetery Junction, sharing a house with four friends from university. We’d all just graduated and were stepping cautiously into the world of work.

 

I’d found a job at British Telecom. In the interview - which I passed - I was told I would be a “Telecommunications Traffic Officer”, which sounded rather grand, so imagine my consternation when I turned up in my shiny only suit and new shoes for my first day at work, only to find that I was to be employed in the complaints department; oh sorry, that’s customer services department. My new line manager - who I seem to remember was called Geoff - showed me to my desk in the large open plan office. My consternation increased exponentially when I saw the huge pile of files in the inbox on the desk. Noting my shock, Geoff said: “Oh yes, this was poor John Wentworth’s desk, sadly he committed suicide a couple of months ago, and no one else has had time to take on the cases he was dealing with”. “Mum, I want to come home”, I thought.

 

BT has the shrewd policy of employing graduates in the complaints department, rather than telecoms engineers. Telecoms engineers understood telephones, but although graduates knew nothing about telephones, they had voices that sounded polite and intelligent over the phone... and they were cheaper. The light on the top of my phone flashed for an incoming call...

 

But that’s not the story I want to tell you. That will do for another time. I want to tell you about the Jack of Both Sides.

 

My housemates were Rupert, who had found the place for us, Simon and Debbie, a couple, and Graham, who I hadn’t known before but who when I moved in made it discreetly clear to me that he was gay by showing me around the house; in his room, laid casually on the bed, there was a copy of Gay News. “Very stylishly done”, I thought to myself.

 

Simon and I both played guitar and sang. Simon was the bassist in a band, but they were on a bit of a hiatus, so we decided to work on some songs together with a view to earning a bit of extra cash by playing in pubs. It just so happened that our local was the Jack of Both Sides, where every Saturday night they had a live act playing country and western. “We can do that”, we confidently decided.

 

The “Jack” was our local mainly because it was the closest. It wasn’t a student pub, much more a working man’s boozer. The beer was cheaper than a lot of places, and the staff were friendly enough, so we kind of liked it, partly because students didn’t tend to go there and we could convince ourselves we were more integrated. It didn’t have sawdust on the floor exactly, but it was far from plush.

 

Simon and I were really fond of country music, which had become popular with younger audiences in recent years. Dylan had done a couple of country albums, one with the legendary Johnny Cash joining him. But it was Emmylou Harris who had made country cool; her musical partner and mentor Gram Parsons had turned her onto some of the greats of previous eras, such as George Jones, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. After Gram died in mysterious circumstances in 1973, Emmylou went on to form her own band and toured the UK, building up a big following among students such as us. Bob Harris loved her, and that was recommendation enough.

 

So we worked on our repertoire, taking our favourites by Dylan, the Eagles, the Everly Brothers, and of course Emmylou. We put together arrangements for two guitars, and nice vocal harmonies. One evening we tentatively enquired with the landlady at the Jack if we could play there sometime, and to our amazement she said yes, so we agreed on a date a couple of weeks hence. I guess she was interested in getting more students into the pub, as in those days they had more money with their grants to spend.

 

The big day came. We had some form of amplification, but I can’t remember what it was, so I suppose the pub must have provided it. We got there early and set up, did a quick sound check and waited for the punters to arrive.

 

The public bar began to fill; soon several tables were abuzz with conversation. “Now’s the time”, we agreed. Nerves made the first song a bit of a mess, but by the second we were in our stride. By five songs in we were starting to enjoy ourselves, yet the locals weren’t applauding much at all; just a smattering, most were ignoring us. That didn’t bother us much though; we were too engrossed in what we were doing.

 

Then, as we were drawing towards the end of our set, a man got up from one of the tables and walked towards us. Any detailed memories of what he looked like have been lost in the mists of time, but I do remember he was a lot older than us - when you’re 20 anyone over 35 looks old - and that he was quite smartly dressed. He will have been of the generation who get dressed up in suit and tie to go out on a Saturday night. Anyway, we’re between songs and we watch in trepidation as he approaches us. “Play the Crystal Chandeliers”. We had no idea what that was. A band? A song? “I’m afraid we can’t”, we confessed. “Call yourselves a country band and you can’t play the Crystal Chandeliers! You’re rubbish”, he pronounced. And with that he returned to his seat and resumed his conversation with his friends, no doubt telling them how rubbish we were.

 

We had a short break, then played our second set, not to universal acclaim, it must be said. The landlady didn’t rebook us. When we summoned up the courage to ask her why, she said they hadn’t liked us much, as we didn’t play the right songs.

 

That was nearly 40 years ago, and I now know what the Crystal Chandeliers is. It’s a song recorded by Charlie Pride in 1965 about a poor guy who falls for a society lady. Charlie Pride himself is unusual as he’s a black country and western singer adored by redneck audiences. I guess our not knowing the song confirmed everything the man who requested it thought about élitist students.

 

Jack of Both Sides

 

School was out, bright and bushy tailed we went to sing our songs

To the weekend crowd at the Jack, where we hoped we’d belong.

We played Eagles, Dylan, Everlys, then this guy drew near

Asked if we could play him “Crystal Chandeliers”

 

It was Saturday night, he wore suit and tie, we t-shirt and jeans

He was a working man, he was middle-aged, we’d just left our teens

We said we didn’t know the song, which spoiled the atmosphere

But we couldn’t play him “Crystal Chandeliers”

 

Now I’m older than that guy, that night is distant past

He’s likely dead, the pub is gone, but all the songs will last

And it’s music that still cheers us and moves us to tears

And now I can play you “Crystal Chandeliers”.

 

Oh the crystal chandeliers light up the paintings on your wall

The marble statuettes are standing stately in the hall

But will the timely crowd that has you laughing loud help you dry your tears

When the new wears off of your crystal chandeliers?

 

Les Ray presents 'Strummers and Dreamers' on Cambridge 105

https://cambridge105.co.uk/shows/strummers-and-dreamers

Musical Wanderlust:     Les Ray

Les_Oxjam2

I'm now 71 years of age have been addicted to guitars since the age of 14, when I was misled by Bert Weedon into thinking that you can learn to play in a day. With 3 chords under my finger tips I formed a pop group with a school friend on lead guitar, my pal over the road bought a set of drums, a school friend of his played bass guitar and the first Roman Catholic I came into contact with, became the singer. We called ourselves The Stonemakers. This name became a little embarrassing later on when the Rolling Stones suddenly came on the scene. I played rhythm guitar on a second hand Harmony Meteor arch top guitar that I bought in Charing Cross Road, down in London.

 

At this point in my life being in a band was a great way to avoid dancing, something I didn't particularly like doing, but gave you a huge advantage in terms of attracting the attention of members of the opposite sex. The band was one of the most popular bands in Bedford at that time and we had a large and loyal following over a period of about 4 years. We disbanded when players like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix began to completely change our direction, but it was careers and higher education that led to the end of the Stonemakers. Those of us who are still alive continue to meet up every so often. Friendships forged both on stage and in the group van seem to endure for ever.

Guitar Addict:           Philip Rundall

I went to art school and then gained a post-graduate teaching qualification. I taught in a boys school in Lambeth and then moved to Cambridge, where I became a senior lecturer at Homerton College. While at College I didn't get musically involved with anyone but when I moved to Cambridge I played bass guitar with a folk band very briefly. It was then that I got to know Jon Betmead, a folk singer I've long admired. We've played together on and off since those early days. Jon used to teach folk guitar to Primary students at Homerton and he also played guitar for the childrens' music club musicals. I was asked to take over the latter role and this got me back into playing in bands.

 

I was invited to play in bands for adult shows too and through this played alongside an old guitar hero of mine, Dave King, like me, from Bedford. This led to my playing second guitar in Dave's band, Safety Valve for, I think, 3 years. After this I was addicted to being in a band and the most significant one after Safety Valve was the Backyard Band, in which I played lead guitar. It was essentially a rhythm and blues band. This band went through some personnel changes and kept going for well over 12 years. It lasted about a year after I decided to leave due to hearing loss. I formed an acoustic blues band with the Backyard Band singer and the sax player. We called ourselves Free Agents and recruited a double bass player and a very quiet drummer, the latter only playing with us occasionally. The singer / rhythm guitarist and I in fact went out as a duo, playing every week in local restaurants. I loved this as you can be so much more responsive and spontaneous with just the two of you. When this came to an end I joined forces with Jon Betmead, Dave Olney the double bass player and his wife and Nick Barraclough and formed the acoustic band, The Famous Four + One.

 

When I left TFF+O, I didn't go out and play but focused on multi-track recording, both alone and with Jon Betmead. I believe I have the best recordings Jon has ever made as he felt completely relaxed up in my loft studio, unlike commercial studios where one tends to feel under pressure. What got me to go out and pay again? It was bumping into John Mead who helps run Cambridge Acoustic Nights at CB2. He urged me to try playing solo with an acoustic guitar.

 

So, my diary entry for 16th April 2011 says, "Played 2 songs. Very nervous, not having played guitar for ages, forgot 'Saratoga' and had to start again. Despite this I really wanted to try again!"

 

Nerves for a long time were a big issue and I have always been determined to deal with this and the only way I could see my getting over this was to play in public as often as possible. So, as well as CB2 I regularly played at the Cambridge Folk Club. A major move was to join Bryan Sutton's ArtistWorks on-line School of Bluegrass Flatpicking Guitar and then later, Mike Marshall's ArtistWorks Mandolin School. Having lessons with players of this calibre, and going to music camps in the US and Sore Fingers, here in the UK, has moved me on considerably as a player and this has helped build up my confidence.

 

I first played at the Plough and Fleece in Horningsea in 2012.  I have since played in many settings but The Plough and Fleece remains my favourite. Why do I enjoy it so much? I love the fact that players of whatever level of ability are welcome. There are no big egos, the atmosphere is relaxed and fun and a wide variety of music is played. Even poems and stories are read along with the songs and instrumental tunes. It's a situation where you don't feel the pressure of being on stage, you all sit at a long table taking turns and you can accompany others if you feel you can add something. On occasions it feels as if the TransAtlantic Sessions house band is in town! I find playing with others a most rewarding experience. I earned money from playing music in semi-pro bands until I started going out on my own. Making music purely for pleasure and not being paid is immensely satisfying and being part of a musical community is what it's all about for me now.

pr4 anniew

Session Poet:           Annie Wilkins

Oh why when it’s my turn to sing

I can never think of anything.

Use the internet to broaden my choice,

What can I find to suit my voice?

 

Here I go again and again

Searching for that illusive strain

Of song that will delight and amuse.

Oh help is there not one I can choose?

 

Maybe go for the quirky and strange

Something which will suit my range.

Not too high and not too low

Not too fast and not too slow.

 

Something jazzy or something folk

A song for a dive bar full of smoke.

A song that Drew can play for me

So not in that E flat minor key.

 

A song with a chorus would be good

For folks to join in, as they should.

Then they might not notice I can’t really sing

I’m just quite good at doing my thing.

 

Tempus fugit, a week flies by

Doubt creeps in and I stifle a sigh

As I again step up to the crease

On a Thursday night at … The Plough and Fleece.

The Travelling Life: David and June Wendon

Concertina players. David and June spend their time touring clubs and sessions all over the UK:

 

We have to-day returned from another month away in which time we have been in twelve counties from Essex along the south of England to Somerset and been singing our way along, or as our van is named 'Meander' along.

 

We have been to four folk clubs and four sessions, its my way of fighting dementia but some will say its too late! Surprise is that we have been welcomed every time considering our limited ability.It's good fun and of course we are meeting like minded people and even asked back probably because they know the distance and that it is not likely to happen!.

 

Then we are going to Suffolk Song and Ale, Sussex SA and The Wail at Verwood with days with the Folk section of the Camping and Caravanning Club and then off to France in September for a couple of months and I have lined up three folk clubs over there. If only we could have started this life style earlier but you can see we are making the most of it now.

djw

This was just what I was looking for, so I plucked up courage and went along. I had never been to such a welcoming singaround, Tony was outstanding in his approach of inclusivity. So still clinging desperately to my songsheets I started singing at my new base, I started to feel even more confident than I was before, so much so that Ruth told me to try standing up when singing and this coupled with the great support and encouragement of Tony and others I started remembering words to songs and now rarely need the songsheets.

 

After several years of singarounds and festivals at the Plough and Fleece Tony decided to start the ‘Rolling on project’ visiting as many venues in the UK as possible and he has very kindly invited me to go along with him. I would encourage anyone reading this to refer to the places visited as I think it is a great resource for keeping music alive.

Peter.small

My Folk Family:        Maggie Culver

Hello, my name is Maggie, and I live in a small village in Leicesershire. For the first 26 years of marriage, my life centred around bringing up 2 children, and my social scene was motor bike rallies, race meetings and club meetings. At the age of 54, my husband and I were driving through a village near to where I live, and we saw a sign outside a pub which said “FOLK MUSIC ON SUNDAY 8.30. We decided to give it a try, and that was my very first introduction to “Folk Music” .

 

It was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and we were made to feel most welcome. The organisers were a trio who did a few songs, and then people took it in turns to do a spot .I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening, but unfortunately my husband wasn't keen. For me. the seed was sewn, I just wanted more; little did I know just how much it would grow.

 

A few months later I went to my 1st Folk Festival “The National Folk Festival” held at Sutton Bonnington Nr. Loughborough (1994) I didn't know anybody, but the music was wonderful. I remember seeing Vin Garbutt on stage, and people wearing T - shirts with his name on, and also Martin Carthy- neither of whom I 'd ever heard of.

There was a very large lounge/bar where people gathered to drink and chat. and this particular year, there were a lot of Irish visitors, some of whom got together in small groups in the lounge and played “tune sessions”- I'd never heard Irish music before-but it “blew me away” - it was just magical – also in the bar, groups of singers got together to share songs. I saw a bodhran for the first time, and immediately went to the crafr fair and bought one together with an instruction tape by Stefan Hannigan. Also in the lounge/bar, I encountered a Banjo player; what's that instrument”?- “It' s a 5 string Banjo” he said, and promptly played and sang me a tune. It turned out that he was born in Ireland and came to England when he was 15, and lived locally

It was an incredible week end and one I will never forget. I bought a Chieftans tape and practiced by bodhran playing every day.

 

I continued to visit my 1st folk club, and also another one not too far from where I live. It was there that a week or so later, that the Banjo Player turned up; we got chatting and he told me about more folk clubs in existence, which of course, I went to. I subsequently learned to play penny whistle, and began singing unaccompanied. To cut a long story short, we became friends, and visited many folk clubs and festivals all over he country, including Ireland and Scotland.

 

24 years later I'm on my own, still going to folk clubs, singing and playing, though not travelling far these days. 10 years ago I started learning to play the flute, and I am also just starting the concertina. Last year at the Moira Furnace Folk Festival, I ran 2 works shops for tin whistle, beginners and improvers and had a total of 32 people which pleased me greatly. My folk music friends are my family, where I feel I belong,

maggiebusking

I wanted to be a concert pianist:    Andrew Martin

But as I couldn’t manage the 4 hours daily practice, I decided to become a drummer.

 

The mid sixties were an exciting time for British music. I was a boarder at King Edward VI School at Bury St Edmunds where I remember the first two Beatles albums being played to death in the common room. As the sixties advanced music became ever more sophisticated especially when pirate radio was able to broadcast it to the nation while the BBC limited it to about one hour a week.

 

My entry to the world of drumming started by having to pass an audition. I had to play Wipeout by the Surfaris on a drum that consisted of a biscuit tin covered by a yellow duster. I got the gig. The band consisted of two acoustic guitars with very basic pickups and me. The only other song I can remember that was in our repertoire was Poison Ivy by The Coasters recently covered by the Stones.

 

College in 68/69 resulted in no qualifications but some amazing musical experiences. Live concerts by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and Cream’s last concert to mention a few. While at college I bought some bongos and provided some percussion to a college folk trio.

Moved to Exeter in 1970 and joined folk/blues group based initially on John Mayall’s album Turning Point which ironically has no percussion. After a complicated personal life, I moved to Muswell Hill in 1974. Purchased a pair of Natal Congas and for a short time played in an Afro-Rock band. Then I joined a duo consisting of two scousers who were guitarists who wrote their own material. This duo were friends with John Peel, who bought me a pint of Guinness when we met him one night. Somehow, we managed to get a gig at the famous Marquee club In Soho as a support act. The group was known as Big Sur, the coastal area in California but the name was misheard by the Melody Maker and printed as Big Fir!

 

Then moved back to Exeter in 1974 to join band No Mere Nosebleed where I played a standard drum kit. This was a band inspired by bands such as Yes so, most songs had unusual time signatures. Great bunch of musicians who played keyboards, guitars, saxophone, bass and percussion. Also, the band experimented with tape loops and special effects. I also worked with the guitarist in the band to provide music for a local dance.  In 1976 the band split and I started a band, Junkyard Angels with guitarist and bass player. This was a blues rock band covering West Coast American music and Derek and Dominos songs etc. We managed to get lots of gigs around the college and pub circuit. The outstanding gig was as support to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band at Taunton Odeon. This band is still going today led by Julian Piper who is a great blues guitarist.

andrewm junks

Moved to Exeter in 1970 and joined folk/blues group based initially on John Mayall’s album Turning Point which ironically has no percussion. After a complicated personal life, I moved to Muswell Hill in 1974. Purchased a pair of Natal Congas and for a short time played in an Afro-Rock band. Then I joined a duo consisting of two scousers who were guitarists who wrote their own material. This duo were friends with John Peel, who bought me a pint of Guinness when we met him one night. Somehow, we managed to get a gig at the famous Marquee club In Soho as a support act. The group was known as Big Sur, the coastal area in California but the name was misheard by the Melody Maker and printed as Big Fir!

 

At this time, I became interested in recording music. I bought what was the state-of-the-art equipment at the time, a very large reel to reel tape machine, mixer and microphones. I also took a course in electronic engineering for a year. After is couple of years I regarded myself as a recording engineer, so I applied for a job with Virgin Music. Unbelievably I was given the interview at The Manor studio, however despite borrowing a very cool leather jacket I didn’t get the job.

In 1978 I went into disco mode after a spell as a DJ in a small nightclub in Exeter. The nightclub put on live bands at the beginning of the evening, so we put together a parody punk band named the Stoats. Our repertoire included a very fast version of Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall and an original song named Bondage Tango (some punks actually believed we were the real thing for a while!).  I then moved to Oxford and ran a mobile disco for 3 years. You find out very rapidly that your clients do not always share your taste in music.  I returned to university in 1982 at Swansea. I concentrated on my studies for three years and was not involved in any music apart from one night’s DJ’ing when Gary Glitter was booked at the college. This was several years before he went out of fashion!

 

After college in 1986 I bought a standard drum kit and joined a band that played a regular weekly gig in a pub in North London. The style was rock/jazz. Occasionally the sax player in the band would pay for a guest instrumentalist to join us for the gig.

Australia beckoned in 1989. For some reason I decided to purchase an alto saxophone. I then had lessons with Percy, an Afro-American sax player from San Francisco who gave me a basic grounding. I then attended a few workshops to give me a little more confidence.  Returning to the UK in 1990 I now regarded myself as a saxophone player.  I therefore put an ad in a local music shop offering myself as a sax player.  This was a bit ambitious as my experience was just slightly more than zero.  However, I got the job with a newly formed band called Brass Roots.  This was a band based on the Blues Brothers and The Commitments. I managed to survive by learning the sax riffs by heart. I was now living in Chester and the band managed to get lots of gigs in the Manchester/Liverpool area.

 

We then emigrated to Australia in 1996. For the next 15 years I turned to choral singing with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and an a capella group Laanysta. With the Sydney Philharmonia we sang Tenor and later Bass in Handel’s Messiah every year in the Opera House. Also, Carmina Borana, Verdi’s Requiem etc. With Laanysta we sang world music, folk, pop, gospel, standards etc

 

In 2010 we purchased a piece of land on Magnetic Island which is off Townsville in North Queensland. Every year on the island they have an event called Music on Magnetic. This is an event where you can learn how to write songs, join in percussion with homemade instruments learn live looping and even Bollywood dancing so to be involved in this I thought I better take an instrument and as I didn't have much room to carry it I thought I would buy a ukulele so I learned a few chords, and so started my association with the instrument.

 

Returning to UK in 2012 I soon discovered the Plough and Fleece and its Thursday night music event. I added a few more songs to my repertoire of three songs and braved the room full of performers. Along with others I discovered the fear and excitement of solo performance. Recently I joined Alison White in a choir called Vocal Remix, which performs mashups of pop from the last 40 years. Never thought I would be singing Taylor Swift at my age!

 

Over the last couple of years Tony Philips and Peter Edwards have invented “Plough and Fleece on Tour”.  So far 5 of us have visited folk festivals in Dunkeld and Derby. This year we are going to Sheffield and Filey. It’s great to play our music in other people’s pubs and join in with their songs. Derby reintroduced me to percussion where I discovered the fun of playing the cajon.

 

Just to square the circle I obtained a piano recently. Maybe if I have lessons and spend 4 hours practicing each day …. “The Music Keeps Rolling On”

In search of Duende:    Penny Waterhouse

I sing because I am. At that moment of stillness, before the music starts, I am waiting for something to arrive. Something transformative. To take me, other musicians and the audience to another place. Something that is of me, and not me. What am I waiting for?

 

Duende or tener duende ("having duende") loosely means having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, often connected with flamenco. The artistic and especially musical term was derived from the duende, a fairy or goblin-like creature in Spanish mythology. The Spanish poet and writer, Lorca, talked in detail about Duende.

 

There is something here, I thought. The characteristics of Duende speak to the heart of the “something” I was aware of, lurking in the shadows. Something elusive that keeps slipping out of sight but which on occasion appears.

 

'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet’

 

Duende is dark. Its qualities consist of conflict, “the other”, capriciousness and death. It is enriched by diaspora and hardship. It speaks to the human conditions of authentic joy and sorrow. It is the well from which creativity and insight is drawn. “Duende doesn’t show up unless there is a possibility of death – it loves the fringe, the wound, places where shapes melt into desire. Its presence in the blood smarts like ground glass.”

The duende loves the rim of the wound. It draws near places where forms fuse together into a yearning. In the healing of that wound, which never closes, lie the strange, invented qualities of human expression. Duende lives in blue notes, in the break in a singer's voice. A point of possible extinction. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.

 

It is not a question of ability. Lorca writes: "The duende, then, is a force not a labour. It is a struggle, not a thought. The true fight is with the duende. No emotion is possible unless the duende comes. There are neither maps nor exercises to help us find the duende. One must awaken the duende in the remotest mansions of the blood. Every artist climbs each step in the tower of their perfection by fighting their duende. A mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains."

 

According to Christopher Maurer, editor of "In Search of Duende", at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca's vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. The duende shows the limits of intelligence, reminding us that ants can eat us or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on our heads. The duende is seen by Lorca as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity. Not that the artist simply surrenders to the duende; they have to battle it skillfully, in "hand-to-hand combat". With idea, sound, or gesture, the duende enjoys fighting the creator on the very rim of the well.

 

Duende is shape-shifting. The duende's arrival always means a radical change in forms. It brings to old planes feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created. A sense of first-timeness which can never be repeated, any more than do the forms of the sea during a squall. The trouble with duende is that it is too dark, too serious to be the star of the show. I am not only waiting to sing the profound and the harrowing. I am waiting for Joy and celebration. To express brightness which does not depend on sorrow. To find the sparkle that comes from a naughty fairy. To value ephemera as well as substance.

 

Perhaps I am simply waiting for my brain to fire up its oxytocin wash. The chemical which is pumped out when humans listen to and make music. The chemical which assists birth and social bonding, mends wounds, reduces fear and increases libido and trust.

A cocktail of Duende and Oxytocin is a heady mixture. But the other trouble with Duende is its potential for elitism and exclusivity: what about us mere mortals who, despite our aspirations, fail to meet this illustrious visitor. Is our music and expression of less value?

 

Perhaps I’ll lower my sights and simply hope to find the work-a-day joy and communion of making music with others.

 

pennwaterhouse