Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger  – Volume 175 - April 2015


Having been ignored by my local newspaper the Halifax Courier, Sky News suddenly and unexpectedly came up from London to film me for a series they have thus far shown only on the web under the title of "Going It Alone: Life of an Independent Candidate".  It is to be shown on TV in due course, indeed it might already have been shown by the time you read this.  So this is where Sky News goes on the road with independent candidates to film the highs and lows of the campaign trail as they try to woo voters.  It was an interesting and not un-entirely satisfactory experience as they failed to really show what I would have most liked.  This I guess is the pitfall most politicians experience. So they filmed my views about Tony Blair and that he is responsible for the Pandora's Box he opened with George W Bush in 2003, but to date that bit lies on the cutting room floor.  Apparently the director thought it too controversial.  So whilst I feel they completely missed the point I have at least been acknowledged by the media and all exposure is good.  I feel it might have been better; but at least another candidate shown in my news clip is a prostitute - so I'm in good company.  Apparently she is working hard to raise funds for her deposit and I admire her so much for that that I'm inclined to seek her out to give her a bit more help.  The problem here however is that I now have no testosterone in my body so I would be physically useless.  Something no doubt she would really appreciate.  Money without working for it.  Something perhaps I should have slipped into my manifesto.  Anyway; good luck to her and good luck to all the other independents.  The Halifax Courier finally, upon hearing that Sky News were on the case, did make contact and were kind enough to do a telephone interview.  So there you have it.  Sky News do an overall round trip of over 300 miles the local paper reached across the desk and picked up the telephone.


It was exactly 12 months ago that I discovered I had prostate cancer that was treatable but not curable and I have to say that whilst mentally I feel quite ok about the whole shebang physically I have aged considerably in the last 12 months.  The side effects of the drugs keeping me alive have slowed me to the point I now have a 73 year old brain walking around in a 93 year old body.  This is frustrating to say the least; but better I accept than the alternative.  But my body now creaks, and things are not helped by arthritis setting in to my fingers.  I walk upstairs.  I'm exhausted.  I walk the 100 yards to my local shop.  I'm exhausted.  Thus I'm reminded of the words of Pete Seeger. "And so I keep on whilst I live, until I have no more to give, and when these fingers can strum no longer, hand the old banjo to someone stronger".  Frustratingly  for me, but understandable for them I suppose the rest of Kimber's Men insist on keeping the band completely non-political, so perhaps the time has come for me to do one last solo tour playing folk clubs and venues that want to hear songs about peace, about working for a decent wage etc.  Is there an audience for this out there in Great Britain or am I still living in the 1950's when every folk venue demanded political songs?  Answers on a post card with no more that 20 words please.


Finally I am to appear banjo in hand (if appear is the correct word) on BBC Radio Leeds tomorrow morning (April 1st) at 8.30am in the breakfast show along with Liz Green.  No its not an April fools joke.



Fixture List for Kimber's Men and Joe Stead




Apr 1st (Joe) BBC Radio Leeds. 8.30am. The Liz Green Breakfast Show.

May 11th (Joe) The Morely Monday Club. 10.30am Paul Robeson

May 11th (KM) Beverley Folk Club, Rose and Crown, Beverley, East Yorkshire

May 15th (KM) Shepley Festival

May 16th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Northumberland.

May 17th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Northumberland.

May 23rd (KM) Met Studio, Gatehouse Theatre, Eastgate Street, Stafford.

May 28th (KM) Ostend Festival

May 29th (KM) Ostend Festival

May 30th (KM) Ostend Festival

May 31st (KM) Ostend Festival

Jun 12th (KM) Mylor - Venue to be confirmed

Jun 13th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea

Jun 14th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea.

Jul 22nd (Joe) Leeds - Lecture on Paul Robeson.

Jul 24th (KM) Penarth Pier Pavilion, South Wales

Jul 25th (KM) Shammick Acoustic’ Pack o’ Cards, Combe Martin. EX34 0ET

Jul 26th (KM) Village Pump Festival, Westbury, Wiltshire - Provisional

Sep 1st (Joe) Rochdale Masonic Buildings. Richard Street, Rochdale 2pm - Robeson.

Sep 7th (KM) Mansfield Folk Club, Black Bull, Woodhouse Rd, Mansfield

Sep 25th (KM) Keighley Folk Club - Provisional

Sep 26th (KM) Eyemouth RNLI - Provisional

Nov 20th (KM) Market Theatre, Market St, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 2AQ

Nov 21st (KM) Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire. SA43 2TW

Nov 28th (KM) Hepworth Live, Hepworth Village Hall, Towngate, HD9 1TE.

Dec 6th (KM) The Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Park Rd West, Southport

Feb 1st (KM) Barnsley Folk Club.

Feb 5th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire

Feb 6th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire

Feb 12th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire

Feb 13th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire

Feb 19th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire

Feb 20th (KM) Provisional date for Village Halls in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire




Kimber’s Men, The Spring, Havant by Mark Acheson.

Folk music has perhaps sometimes had a bad press, what with the dilly-dilly-dum-dilly-dum-dum-dillies and all that (and actually, we had such a line to sing along to at The Spring on Saturday night).

But I would challenge - no, entreat and cajole - anyone who thinks the genre is not quite for them to spend an evening in the engaging company of Kimber’s Men.

These five talented and personable singers kept the audience enthralled with their rich and powerful harmonies as, in most cases without any instrumental accompaniment, they told us stories of ships that had foundered - and of women who had suffered the same fate.

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In a seafaring area such as this, it was a joy to listen to shanties of old and imagine how in their own way they powered ships of oak. And the quintet brought us spirituals sung by slaves that inspired dreams of freedom and salvation.

As well as tunes from the depths of history, a good number of their songs have been written only recently, some self-penned, showing that this means of either gladdening or saddening the soul through the sheer power and beauty of the human voice is very much alive.

Throw in a good dose of between-songs humour (I commend to you the joke about the Yorkshire guide dog) and you have a wonderful way in which to while away an evening.





Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer became a friend of Kimber's Men about 18 month ago when we were fortunate enough to work with him at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  He later came to one of our bookings near his Malvern home when we performed in the Clifford Mesne Village Hall in Gloucestershire.  He joined in the choruses with much gusto and afterwards congratulated us on presenting sea songs and sea shanties in such an enjoyable way.  He said he hadn't enjoyed himself so much for years.  Indeed you can see the back of his head in the front row in the middle of the you tube clip


In an age of modernity and technology Roy Palmer delighted in ancient tales of ghosts, legends, witches, goblins and the "otherness" of the British Isles.  His publications were many and important, including Herefordshire Folklore and The Folklore of Gloucestershire.  He was also the editor of The Oxford Book of British Ballads.  In 1986 he issued The Oxford Book of Sea Songs; and it was this wonderful piece of song collection that connected him closest with Kimber's Men.  Apart from traditional shanties there was a section for song writers which included Shep Woolley's 'Royal Naval Anthem - Ram it I'm RDP'.  Thus it was in 2004, he received the Gold Badge, the British Folk, Dance and Song Society's highest honour, for his work on folklore.  At the time he had been a member of the EFDSS for over 30 years, and had been on the editorial board of Folk Music Journal for 20 years.


Upon hearing of the award he said: "I was very pleased. Some of the previous recipients are very distinguished people.  It's the highest honour, so I was thrilled to be offered it."  The award was presented at the Cheltenham Folk Festival, at which Roy was a frequent lecturer.


He  was born in Leicestershire and won a State Scholarship to Manchester University.

He qualified as a teacher and later became Headmaster of the Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School in Birmingham.  He took early retirement in order to concentrate on writing and lecturing, and earned himself an international reputation.  J.B. Priestley was an enthusiastic reader and reviewer of his books."


It falls to few to suspect that their words will endure, even after their death; but it is likely that Roy's words will be read possibly for as long as the English language is spoken.


He is survived by his wife and artistic collaborator, Pat, three sons and seven grand children.  


He died on February 26, aged 83.





John Renbourn

I knew John merely as a passer by.  Indeed the last time we met was in York sometime in the early 1980's on a bridge going in different directions.  He was hurrying to catch a train I was heading into the city centre to perform at a venue long lost in my memory of gigs.  We shook hands, said hello and after a few words hurried on.  I remember the first time too.  I went to a very early Pentangle gig long before they became famous at a pub somewhere in the vicinity of Battersea.  They insisted I did a floor spot and refused to start their second set until I had sung something.


He was regarded as one of the finest folk musicians in the world and achieved worldwide fame during the 70s and 80s touring both with the group and on his own.


He was found dead at his home in Hawick on Thursday 26th March after concerns were raised when he failed to turn up for a concert at The Ferry in Glasgow with Wizz Jones.   Police officers discovered his body when fears were raised over his wellbeing.  Although the exact cause of his death has not yet been revealed, officers said there were no suspicious circumstances; a heart attack being the most likely.  John was 70 years old.e was due to do a gig H




Peter Fyfe

Pete Fyfe exquisite banjo player died this last weekend from a heart attack.  Pete had been hospitalized for a long time dodging death by the week.  Thus it finally caught up with him.  I first met him with his twin brother Chris in the late 1960's when they popped in and out of folk cubs in south east London doing floor spots gaining recognition at the same time.  They were so identical we knew them as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  Indeed it was almost impossible to recognize who was who when apart.  Chris gave up the music scene and died at least 10 years ago.  In 1993 Pete formed a partnership with Gary Blakely after both had spent nearly twenty years on the Folk circuit playing in bands such as Eavesdropper, Collaboration, Brian Boru and Better Days, and supporting artists such as Steeleye Span and Christy Moore.  Eavesdropper incidentally recorded on my Greenwich Village label.  Together Pete and Garry performed goodtime Celtic music on a variety of instruments including guitars, fiddle, tenor banjo and mandolin and performed at a wide variety of venues at home and abroad including: festivals, arts centres, corporate functions, hotels, restaurants, parties and pubs.  In 1995 they produced an album “What You See…’, a recording featuring the duo’s most requested songs which received great acclaim in the Folk press, and in 1997 they supported Neighbours star Craig McLachlin.  The band played for P&O cruises, Guinness, Murphy’s and O’Neills.  Band Of Two also performed at The International Festival of the Sea, and in company with their Folkdance band Picture Palace, they played for Dawn French and Lenny Henry.  The two of them later teemed up with Shep Woolley to form the 'andsome cabinbouys with a repertoire as wide as any ocean.  Always willing to help anybody he possibly could Pete became a wonderful critique of folk songs and wrote for most of the folk music publications in Britain today.  He was always very kind to Kimber's Men.  He will be severely missed by everybody on the folk scene in Britain.







Oh, Joe!

I've gone through your statements and diatribes and political statements in your latest email and am, quite frankly, appalled at your lack of insight into the mind of the working man.

You do realise - don't you? - that by holding a banjo in full Public view on the CD sleeve that you are never going to get elected?

What on earth were you thinking, man?!

Lee Smith






Best news I've had in YEARS!


Margaret Walters

Sydney, Australia.



Dear Joe,

It was really good to see you last Saturday at Catsfield and I am sorry that we were not able to give you and your Kimber's men a nights board and lodging. I trust you were all served well in T/W.

I do wish you well in your efforts at the next General Election.

One thing is sure . You will be one of the most intelligent candidates in the whole of UK.  I doubt if people vote for intelligence though, looking at what we have in parliament at present!

I do hope that you keep well and that your voice holds for the coming year.  I do not know when we may meet again but keep us posted.

All the best,

Peter and Iris Sampson




Hi Joe
Your campaign seems to be gathering momentum
See you are planning to come our way in 2016 - Lincoln.
Will certainly pay a visit.
How about a village in Leicestershire.
Geoff Bone.




Hi Joe

Rather appropriate under the circumstances I thought and careful selection for forwarding.

Wishing you every success in your parliamentary campaign. Hope to see you at Falmouth if you've not been called to Westminster.

Good Luck

Quentin Hood





Hi Joe,

Your latest adventure has inspired me to write a campaign song for you. The lyric is attached here and I shall sing it into my phone and pass that on in case you want to use it. The tune is probably not mine but I can't think what it is and could be a bit of this and a bit of that - quite a few of my tunes are like that!

All the very best over the next three months. Are you putting up candidates in other constituencies or is it just a one off?


Jim Bartlett




World Peace Through Song

So Banjo Stead is standing for World Peace Through Song!

In Tory/Labour marginal that Calder’s been so long’

There never was a snowball's chance in hell he would get in;

There was no way enough would say “We’ll cast our vote for him.”


Refrain:  We’ll cast our vote for him; cast our vote for him;

There was no way enough would say “We’ll cast our vote for him.”


But if he were elected, gor blimey what a gas!

Just like the army’s cavalry, he’d lend a touch of class

To Question Time that otherwise would be a vulgar brawl;

That would have been a damascene experience for all.


Refrain:  Experience for all, experience for all; 

That would have been a damascene experience for all.


And when the house has risen in the Commons bar, a song;

Though paupers when elected sure they’ll not stay paupers long!

His banjo might convince them they should follow not deride

Where millionaires and paupers bare are drinking side by side.


Refrain:  Drinking side by side, drinking side by side; 

Where millionaires and paupers bare are drinking side by side.


Oh what a pity it is that was just the strangest dream!

But I’ll still wish for Joe success, in his ambitious scheme;

Reality’s deposit lost but even so we’ll pray

Tories collapse, Labour perhaps tomorrow if not today.


Refrain:  Tomorrow if not today, tomorrow if not today;

Tories collapse, Labour perhaps tomorrow if not today.

Tomorrow if not today, tomorrow if not today;

Tories collapse, Labour perhaps tomorrow if not today.








Jan, Sue and Mary haven't seen each other since leaving School. They rediscover each other via a reunion website and  arrange to meet for lunch in a wine bar.

Jan arrives first, wearing beige Versace dress. She orders a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Sue arrives shortly afterward, wearing a grey Chanel number. After the initial hugs and kisses she joins Jan in a glass of wine. Then Mary walks in, wearing a faded old tee-shirt, blue jeans and boots.  She too shares the wine.


Jan explains that after leaving school and attending Oxford University , she met and married Timothy, with whom she has a beautiful daughter. Timothy is a partner in one of London ’s leading law firms. They live in a 4000 sq ft apartment on Park Lane, where Susanna, the daughter, attends drama school. They have a second home in Portugal


Sue relates that she graduated from Cambridge University , studied to become a doctor and became a surgeon. Her husband, Clive, is a leading financial investment banker in the City. They live in the Surrey stockbroker belt and have a second home in Italy .


Mary explains that after she left school at 17, she ran off with her boyfriend, Mark. They run a tropical bird park in Essex and grow their own vegetables. Mark can stand five parrots, side by side, on his erect willy.


Halfway down the third bottle of wine and several hours later, Jan blurts out that her husband is really a cashier at Tesco’s. They live in a small apartment in Bromley and have a caravan parked on the front drive.


Sue, chastened and encouraged by her old friend's honesty, explains that she and Clive are both nursing care assistants in an old peoples home. They live in Peckham and take camping holidays in Kent .


Mary admits that the fifth parrot has to stand on one leg.








Dave Kenningham's photo.


A picture to make you smile. 







With The Wilson Family, Keith Hancock, Clive Gregson and Brian Snelling 1985



Keep smiling, keep singing.



Joe Stead