Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 57 - June 2005.


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The Puzzle Hall Inn
Sowerby Bridge

FRI, SAT & SUNDAY 17th 18th & 19th June

Saturday 18th Times subject to alteration Sunday 19th

3pm Joe Stead Joe Stead 3pm
3.20pm Adrian Nation Monkey’s Fist 3.15pm
3.55pm Tim Broadbent Tim Broadbent 3.45pm
4.25pm Gina le Faux Shep Woolley 4.10pm
5.05pm Nigel Mazlyn Jones Adrian Nation 4.45pm
5.45pm Amazing Mr Smith Hot Rats 5.20pm
6.30pm Paul Downes Paul Downes 6.15pm
7.15pm Kimber’s Men Gina le Faux 6.55pm
8pm Shep Woolley Amazing Mr Smith 7.35pm
8.45pm Hot Rats Nigel Mazlyn Jones 8.10pm
Kimber’s Men 9pm


The tradition of Joe Stead’s Birthday Party
Some 25 years ago Joe Stead’s birthday parties became a part of South East London folk lore. It all came about by accident. Mark Ringwood at the London Borough of Greenwich asked me to organize a small folk festival on June 17th - the same day as my birthday. To my surprise over 1,000 people showed up on a picturesque island surrounded by a moat in the middle of a park in Eltham for what was billed as ‘Joe Stead’s Birthday Party’. Thames Television showed up as well and the event was filmed as a news event! Indeed the party was so successful that it became an integrated part of The Greenwich Festival for seven years, running continuously only culminating in 1985 when I moved to Sowerby Bridge. Over the years the mix of guests was eclectic; including Martin Carthy, The Arizona Smoke Review, Jake Thackray, Richard Digance, The Wilson Family and The Greatest Show on Legs. The Marybell Gospel Choir also came one year when to everyone’s amazement over 50 singers trouped off a double decked bus all wearing long flowing blue robes and then commenced to sing in the sunset with unbelievable harmonies.
Of this year’s guests Shep Woolley, Paul Downes, The Amazing Mr Smith, Tim Broadbent, Nigel Mazlyn Jones and Doug Hudson then of Tundra, but now fronting Hot Rats all appeared on numerous occasions. Indeed some came even when they weren’t invited!
You can expect two afternoons and evenings of hilarity and brilliant music from some of the leading performers on the folk circuit today. People are already booking B+B in the area. There is a party coming up from the Tolly in Greenwich. Rhonda, another who regularly came to the Greenwich birthday’s, is flying in from Tenerife. Hilary is traveling up from Llanfair Caerinion, Lee and Kath from Belper. My old sidekick Frank Embleton is threatening to come up from Norfolk. I’m sure all manner of people will show over the weekend.
It will of course also mark the fourth birthday of Kimber’s Men. We came together specially for the party Nora and I held in my garden for my 60th. The four years have absolutely flown by. Regrettably of course we lost Roger our cabin boy along the way. We have achieved a lot in four years. Our debut album ‘See you when the sun goes down’ was snapped up by the RNLI which has greatly enhanced sales. We seem to have visited most of the outposts of the country; from Maryport and Scarborough in the north to Portsmouth and Jersey in the south, Aberearon in the west to Rochester in the east. We’ve been asked back to festivals in Scarborough, Hull, Jersey, Bridgnorth, Rochester, Maryport and Portsmouth. Of course we very much value being asked back somewhere, its proof that we are popular. Folk clubs in Bradford, Uppermill, Failsworth, Manchester and Leeds have also booked us more than once. We are now currently working on our second album which will be released next summer. (Again the RNLI will distribute amongst its outlets).
On a personal front the last four years have seen me concentrating more on gigs with Kimber’s Men than solo. However recently I have had one glorious five week tour with Nora of the east coast of North America followed by two weeks in Chile when I was invited to the first Valparaiso Festival of the Sea. Watching the sun go down every evening over the Pacific Ocean and the incredible friendship shown to us by Luis Chirino Galvez and Pat Waggerman is an experience both Nora and I will remember forever. Luis, a gold mine in traditional music, fronted a wonderful Celtic group and showed Nora and I around Valparaiso with its mountainous hills and its ancient buildings. And he even took me to a football match, a wonderful evening joining in cheering and shouting with the home crowd – much to their amusement. Pat Waggerman, a slightly eccentric genius who has a satellite tracking business, had a palace we made home for a week just 30 yards from the beach. Valparaiso in the late spring, December, was glorious.

How many of you saw the whole of George Galloway’s speech to Congress earlier this month? More importantly perhaps; how many of my American readers saw it? When the live broadcast started I was concerned for George that he was going to get blown away by the might of America. They were throwing the book at him, his eyes were watering and I thought he was about to break down. It must have been anger because once George was allowed to speak he gave it to them in no uncertain terms. By the time he had finished, and made the American Congressmen look a pair of dumbo’s, I was jumping up and down in my seat in excitement. At last good honest thinking Americans watching the programme would know the truth! At last they might understand that their government had been lying to them! But then it dawned on me. It was 4 O’clock in the afternoon in Britain which meant that any American TV station showing the interview would be putting it out live at 11am East Coast and even earlier further west. How many Americans would be watching a news programme at 11am (or earlier) in the morning that would include such devastating material? And the answer I’m sure is precious few. Why even America’s two most prestigious newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, when pressed on the times he had met Saddam failed to mention that the reply was “As many times as Donald Rumsfeld and he went to sell weapons whilst I went to talk peace”. Well America had come out of it with a very bloody nose and over the years I’ve leant that ‘The land of the Free’ ain’t as free as those in power would like to make their occupants think. Pity, because for a fleeting minute, I actually thought that George G might bring George W crashing down. I could see the freedom marches and anti war marches streaming into Washington, with riot police manhandling the peace marchers. Then reality struck home and I realized most Americans wouldn’t even have seen/heard the speech. Pity because whether you like the man or loathe him you would have to admit that he walked into the Lions Den of his own accord, and under extreme pressure, simply destroyed the Americans at their own game in their own back yard. George Galloway delivered one of the most outstanding speeches in the last 100 years; not only because of its content but also the power, timing and the situation Galloway was in when he made it. George Galloway was defending himself in an extremely hostile environment. He was simply brilliant.

I’m sure in America there were brief news items relating to this, but the entire exchange took 60 minutes. Did anybody else anywhere see it all? What did you think?

Joint Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead.
Jun 1st (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall – Valparaiso round the Horn 10am!
Jun 4th (Joe) Maryport Festival of the Sea
Jun 5th (Joe) Maryport Festival of the Sea
Jun 17th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (Evening) Free
Jun 18th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day) Free
Jun 19th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day) Free
Jun 25th (KM) Jersey Festival of the Sea
Jun 26th (KM) Jersey Festival of the Sea
Jun 28th (Joe) The Queen’s Fleet Review, Portsmouth
Jul 1st (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 2nd (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 3rd (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 9th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 10th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 20th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
Jul 22nd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 23rd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 24th (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 26th (Joe) New Mill Probus Club – Valparaiso. 10am
Aug 26th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 7th (Joe) Guernsey Festival of the Sea (provisional)
Sep 8th (Joe) Guernsey Festival of the Sea (provisional)
Sep 24th (KM) Halifax Traditions – All day
Oct 10th (Joe) Harden WI, St Saviour’s, Harden, Bradford – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 13th (Joe) Notton W.I. – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Oct 21st (KM) Minstead Village Hall, New Forest, Hampshire.
Nov 18th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 19th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 20th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 23rd (Joe) Whitkirk Probus Club, Leeds (10.30am) – Valparaiso round the Horn
Dec 3rd (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Apr 29th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
Apr 30th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester


Dear Mr Stead.
I've just enjoyed reading your column in Folk on Tap, as I always do, including your review of the Radio 2 Folk Awards. I speak I suppose in my capacity as a BBC sound engineer, but also as a member of English Ceilidh Band Stomp, and a (very) long term listener of folk music.
I feel I ought to jump to Paul Long's defence, although as Audio Supervisor on the show I'm sure he would be perfectly able to stand up for himself. I've known Paul for many years, and he's one of the best of the best when it comes to music balancing. So I just thought I'd let you into the kind of problems we face when we record a show like Folk on 2.
The BBC obviously is recording an event and a performance, rather than trying to give a CD style representation of the music. To this end we put out microphones which 'hear' the audience's response to the music. And those are generally the only mics we are directly responsible for; the rest of the sound feeds we have to work with are those provided by the PA company. Obviously the audience don't wish to see a plethora of mics cluttering the stage, so this generally works well for all concerned. However if for any reason those mic feeds prove inadequate - believe me it's not unusual - either because the artists concerned are too far from them, or perhaps they have their stage monitors up too high - normal - there is little we can do to sort out the sound for our audience. The sound levels in the auditorium and onstage are the usual culprit, and that's why for many years the BBC did the PA itself, keeping the levels purposely low in the venue and aiming for the best possible recording quality. Those recordings done in previous years using that system stand up as exceptional even today. Check out the Peel sessions the Albion Band and Fiddler's Dram did in the late seventies at the Paris Theatre for example.
But now that most shows which we record are run by outside companies, and are co-productions due to the cost of putting on a modern concert performance, and audiences pay good money for their tickets - in the past they were always free - we have to basically get what we're given and work with it for the best possible compromise. And that in a nutshell is almost certainly the cause of the poor sound quality you experienced from the Folk Awards.
Paul has recorded several of my traditional music projects over the years and they always sound stunning, and he is incidentally an excellent guitarist and singer himself. If the recording was poor I would definitely be looking for a different underlying cause.
Best wishes
Martin Appleby
Senior Studio Manager
BBC Radio Resources,
Radio & Music.

I agree with your correspondent who says the last thing we need is a Tory government. Unfortunately, that’s what we got four years ago and if (as seems likely, three days before polling day) Tony Blair gets re-elected, it’s what we’ll have for five more years. The main difference between “New” Labour and the Tories is that the Tories wouldn’t have got away with half the things Blair has done since assuming office in 1997.
You may recall that I sang a song called ‘What we need is a new opposition’, at your birthday party in 2001. Nothing has changed.
Karl Dallas

Me father was a fireman, now what do ye think of that,
He wears gorblimey trousers and a little gorbliney hat,
He wears gorblimey stockings and a little gorblimey coat,
Me father is a fireman on an Elder Dempster boat.

I was a little Canadian boy when a singer performed the song onstage at the Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg. I re-wrote the song, the Smothers Brothers recorded it and performed it on the hugely popular "The Best of Johnny Carson". I was paid $8000 (U.S.). But I still would like to know:
What the hell is an Elder Dempster boat?
Does "gorblimey" mean "God bless me"?
Oscar Brand.
(I’ve already answered the fist question for Oscar – but I’m sure he would appreciate it if any readers can tell him what an ‘Elder Dempster Boat’ is).

Another Obituary for Cyril Tawney

Cyril Tawney English folk-music revivalist and a leading authority on maritime song, folk revival singer and songwriter, naval historian and broadcaster: born Gosport, Hampshire 12 October 1930, married 1966 Rosemary Radmore; died Wonford, Devon 21 April 2005.
It was Cyril Tawney's proud, unchallenged claim that he sang folksongs for a living longer than anyone else in Britain. When, at the end of the 1950s, Britain experienced its first flowering of what might honestly be called English chanson, where chanson conveys a sense of literate, intelligent song, the larger-than-life Tawney was at the forefront.
He sprinkled his songs with enduring images. In "The Ballad of Sammy's Bar" (1958), an encounter set in Malta, the sailor asks Marina how sand got in her hair, to be told that he is past history: the love-rival is "a better man by far / As he drives a Yankee car".
"Sally Free and Easy" (1958) is strewn with lines like, "Think I'll wait to sunset / See the Ensign down."
Tawney's songs entered the folk bloodstream, being covered over the years by the trio of Mary Black, Emmylou Harris and Dolores Keane (who sang his "The Grey Funnel Line" - slang for the Royal Navy), Bob Dylan, Davy Graham, Dorris Henderson, Carolyn Hester, Nic Jones, the Silly Sisters (Maddy Prior and June Tabor), Martin Simpson, Trees, the Watersons, the Yetties and the Young Tradition.
Tawney was born into a naval family in Gosport, Hampshire, in 1930. He joined the Navy at 16 and spent 12 years in the service working as a naval artificer (electrician), in naval slang a "tiffy", hence Tawney's song drolly winkled out of a Shakespearian quote, "A Lean and Unwashed Tiffy".
He made his radio début as a folk singer on the Home Service's Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year on Christmas Day 1957 - a broadcast that inspired the Radio 4 Archive Hour that I presented on Christmas Day 2004, by which time Tawney was too ill to participate, a pity since he helped my essay for its 2000 CD release enormously.
The original programme's anchor-man, the US musicologist and folk-song collector Alan Lomax, announced him, live on air, as "Petty Officer Tawney of HMS Murray". Earlier Home Service and Third Programme broadcasts by Lomax and Sing Christmas's Plymouth presenter Peter Kennedy had awakened Tawney's musical consciousness, weaning him off Frank Crumit, Elton Hayes, Burl Ives and Jimmie Rodgers onto "authentic folk music".
He bought himself out of the Navy in May 1959 to become a full-time, professional folk singer. In the days before the folk-club explosion, he made his living by broadcasting. Basing himself in London or Bristol would have been a wiser radio and television career move; but he picked Plymouth, in the process becoming a prime mover in the revival of interest in West Country folk culture.
As a former submariner, he had a keen appreciation of naval life, but he turned the particular into the universal in many of his songs. They entered song collections such as Songs for the Sixties (1961), The Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse (1983) and The Oxford Book of Sea Songs (1986).
Tawney became a leading authority on maritime song, singing on the important anthology Farewell Nancy (1964); acting as consultant to "provide authentic song material" for the television series Moonfleet; and writing Grey Funnel Lines: traditional song & verse of the Royal Navy 1900-1970 (1987).
He also specialised in West Country folk song - witness his album The Outlandish Knight (1969) - and the Sabine Baring-Gould collections.
Interviewed by the chronicler of folk-music history Eric Winter in 1972, Tawney said: “A folk singer must have a regional identity, be representative of the ordinary people of a certain area, be able to express their character and outlook on life not only in the songs, but also in the way he sings them. Although I was born in Hampshire, I had already put down roots in the Devon and Cornwall area through my naval service, so I settled in Plymouth and got on with the business of learning as much as I could about West Country songs”.
After ping-ponging between record labels, Tawney found relative stability with Argo. It released four albums and placed tracks on a handful of its budget compilations.
From 1988 onwards, Tawney put out his own material on his own label, Neptune Tapes, most on nautical themes. An exception was Down the Hatch (1994), themed mainly on beery matters - including John Mitchell's "A Pint of Contraception", Richard Thompson's "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" and the traditional "Sucking Cider from a Straw".
Many of his songs are riddled with innocent and not-so-innocent measures poured out from barroom and pub encounters. In "Monday Morning" he sang,
If only birds would booze
If only the sun was a party giver
If I could just lend someone else me liver
On a Monday morning.
He once told me that too many folk performers had leapt at the chance to join "big glam 'lectric groups". "It really is a bit niggling," he said: You think, "Maybe I should have gone with one of these groups for six months and got out of it. My name would have been made afterwards." People are quite indiscriminate about it, as if he's been with a group so he must be good.
One group he did join was the one the singer and composer Peter Bellamy put together for his "ballad-opera" The Transports (1977, reissued 2004). Bellamy created The Shantyman in his likeness. Ironically Tawney had worked on a ballad-opera as early as 1969.
The Scots singer Ray Fisher once remarked to me, "Cyril was something of an enigma." She was right. He never conformed to folk stereotypes of any sort, never touted his politics, just sang and made history come alive.
Ken Hunt


1.Start at Your House.
2.Make your way to London Heathrow Airport.
3.Catch flight from London Heathrow to Dallas Fort Worth Airport.
4.Hire car at Dallas Fort Worth Airport.
5.Proceed toward the "Airport Exit" on "International Parkway South" follow for 0.2 miles.
6.Bear left onto the highway toward "Terminal East Parking" - follow for 0.3 miles
7.Bear left onto "International Parkway North" toward "North Airport Exit" follow for 2.9 miles
8.Take the "Highway 114 west" exit toward "Fort Worth" - follow for29.2 miles
9.Continue on "US 287 north" - follow for 91.1 miles
10."US 287 north" becomes "Interstate-44 east" - follow for 0.7 miles
11.Take left fork onto "US-287 north" toward "Vernon" - follow for104.0 miles
12."US 287 north" becomes "Avenue F (US-287)" - follow for 2.8 miles
13.Continue to follow "US 287 north" - follow for 104.9 miles
14.Take left ramp onto "Interstate 40 west" toward "Dumas" - follow for 7.8 miles
15.Take "Exit 70" onto "US 60 east" toward "Dumas" - follow for 0.5miles
16.Take the "Buchanan Street" exit toward "Dumas/Pampa" - follow for1.7 miles
17.Turn right onto "Old Route 66 (Interstate 40)" - follow for 0.1miles
18.Arrive at the centre of "Amarillo, Texas"
....Now that's the way to Amarillo.


The following are some one liner’s that were sent to me from various comedians working in the London area. I’m going to have to remember one or two of them to use on stage myself!

1. A lady with a clipboard stopped me in the street the other day.
She said, "Can you spare a few minutes for cancer research?"
I said, "All right, but we're not going to get much done."
Jimmy Carr at the ICC

2. I realised I was dyslexic when I went to a toga party dressed as a goat.
Marcus Brigstocke at the Assembly Rooms

3. My dad's dying wish was to have his family around him.
I can't help thinking he would have been better off with more oxygen.
Jimmy Carr at the ICC

4. The world is a dangerous place; only yesterday I went into Boots and punched someone in the face.
Jeremy Limb, at the Trap

5. Cats have nine lives.
Which makes them ideal for experimentation.
Jimmy Carr

6. I saw that show, ‘50 Things to do Before You Die’.
I would have thought the obvious one was "Shout for Help".
Mark Watson, Rhod Gilbert at the Tron

7. Got a phone call today to do a gig at a fire station.
Went along.
Turned out it was a bloody hoax.
Adrian Poynton at the Pleasance

8.The right to bear arms is slightly less ludicrous than the right to arm bears.
Chris Addison at the Pleasance

9. My dad is Irish and my mum is Iranian, which meant that we spent most of our family holidays in Customs.
Patrick Monahan at the Gilded Balloon

10. Sleeping with prostitutes is like making your cat dance with you on its hind legs.
You know it's wrong, but you try to convince yourself that they're enjoying it as well.
Scott Capurro at the Pleasance

11. A dog goes into a hardware store and says: "I'd like a job please"
The hardware store owner says: "We don't hire dogs, why don't you go join the circus?" The dog replies: "What would the circus want with a plumber".
Steven Alan Green at C34

12. Hey - you want to feel really handsome?
Go shopping at Asda.
Brendon Burns at the Pleasance

13. It's easy to distract fat people.
It's a piece of cake
Chris Addison at the Pleasance

14. I enjoy using the comedy technique of self-deprecation - but I'm not very good at it.
Arnold Brown at The Stand

15. If you're being chased by a police dog, try not to go through a tunnel, then on to a little seesaw, then jump through a hoop of fire.
They're trained for that.
Milton Jones at the Underbelly

16. I was walking the streets of Glasgow the other week and I saw this sign: "This door is alarmed."
I said to myself: "How do you think I feel?"
Arnold Brown at The Stand


No one is sure exactly how this works, but it is amazingly accurate.
Read the full description before looking at the picture.

The picture below has 2 identical dolphins in it.
It was used in a case study on stress level at Johns Hopkins University in America.
Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water.

Except for minimal color variations, the dolphins are identical. A closely monitored, scientific study of business professionals revealed that in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical, a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins.

The more differences that are found between the dolphins, the more stress the person is believed to be experiencing.

Look at the photograph below, and if you find more than one or two slight differences, you may want to take a vacation.


If someone comes to your front door and says they are conducting a survey and asks you to show them your arse, DO NOT show them your arse.
This is a scam... they just want to see your arse.
I wish I'd got this email yesterday. I feel so stupid and cheap.

Keep smiling, keep singing

Joe Stead