Special Anniversary Issue
September 2015 is a landmark
month for two reasons. Firstly it marks 14 years of non-stop Rambling;
which in itself is quite an achievement; but secondly and more importantly, it
marks my 50th anniversary of being a professional performer on the folk circuit
It was in the summer of
1958, in either late July or early August, that I met and sang with Paul
Robeson. With the McCarthy era of witch hunts abating slightly Paul had
just got his passport back from a paranoid American government and came to
So I guess I can safely say
that 50 years working professionally on the folk scene is quite a landmark;
albeit the early years were part time. Looking at the EFDSS Folk Directory
for 1965 shows the following singers already performing on the folk scene, these
have now died:- Davy Graham, Pete Sayers, Ewan MacColl, Steve Benbow, Alex
Campbell, Diz Dizley, Long
The first folk club I went
to was The Skiffle Cellar in
Then clubs started springing
up all over the place. In
I never really discovered
what happened to Tiny. Years later when playing in
I suppose the Downe Folk
Club in the George and Dragon was a very favourite haunt back in those early
years. That and the Orpington club run by Dave Plane. I had just
started a folk club at The Eleven Cricketers in
The beard appeared in 1967. Friday August 18th to be exact was the last time I shaved. So I suppose it really started on the 19th. In those days beards weren't exactly in fashion, certainly not like today. Beards had previously been worn by beatniks, but by 1967 the hippie generation had taken over and they were just slightly more popular than they had been previously. I didn't smoke cigarettes and I certainly didn't indulge in the green, green grass of the Caribbean Basin, and if anybody had talked about Afghanistan Black, or Lebanese Red I wouldn't have had a clue. The hippie generation passed me by. But that year (1967) I played 74 venues earning £525, at an average of approximately £7 a night. Believe me this was luxury and of course an amazing increase on the £2 pay packet I had first earned just 2 years previously in September 1965 with Ralph May who had by now changed his name to Ralph McTell. £525 was equivalent to £43.75 a month and was considerably more than I was earning as a qualified heating engineer looking after major heating and ventilating projects for Kent County Council.
By 1968 I was taking out full page adverts in the EFDSS Folk Directory. I had to turn down a short tour with Joe Brown and the Bruvvers because I was not a member of the Musicians Union. The MU was an expensive union to join, but appreciating I should at least be in a union I joined Equity; which was to prove extremely useful 30 years later. Joining Equity in those days was not an easy business. You had to show a contract with at least a six month stint somewhere or provide proof of 150 single bookings in any 12 month period. The latter, with engagements thanks to the EFDSS advert, now becoming even more frequent I was easily able to do; and thus I became a fully paid up member of Equity and stayed with Equity until 2007. I was never a musician anyway. I simply stood behind the banjo and sung, so Equity was more suited to my very limited talents.
You note the advert includes
television. Absolutely true. I had gone to the Downe Folk Club one
Sunday night in the summer of 1966 (June 20th) and talking with Jerry Lockran
afterwards he had told me it was easy to get a slot on the Westward Television
Local News programme in Plymouth if you happened to be touring in the area.
They paid £12 a song. Crikey that was worth a shot! At the time the
British Telephone Company had not installed a telephone at my home in Erith.
I was still using my parents telephone for evening calls (they took messages)
and EC Perry in Forest Hill, where I worked during the day, for daytime calls.
So, on the following Monday morning armed with four pence, I marched off down to
the telephone box in Avenue Road. Phoned up Westward Television, told them
I was on tour in
So I was keen, fit and as you can see from the drawing below provided by Jeff Dale of the Downe Folk Club, together with his photograph and a self portrait in the bottom right hand corner, incredibly thin. Why Jeff had drawn Martin Winsor hanging from the gallows I forget. Martin Winsor, who once told me how important it was to always have a guitar capo in your pocket to use as a knuckle duster, died in August 1992; and I'm enclosing an obituary written by Eric Winter to conclude this editorial section of the Ramblings. Not sure if the capo was buried with him.
Every month for the next 12 months I will reflect and recall certain episodes in 50 years of life on the road. We've sort of reached 1968.
Martin Winsor, folk-singer, born
IN THE late Fifties, skiffle performers like Lonnie Donnegan, Wally Whyton and
For British and foreign performers, the Troubadour on a Saturday was an obligatory stop. This ate into Winsor's and Sullivan's singing time. But on some less busy Tuesday nights, Winsor would do a diverse set - London songs, a sea shanty, one of his own settings of Kipling's 'Soldiers' Songs', a faultlessly sung Scottish traditional ballad - all delivered in a rich, sonorous, baritone voice that was the envy of many a comparable singer. Winsor also used his gift of mimicry and well-captured regional accents. His impressions of a jazz trumpet were unbelievable. And as a patter man and raconteur, he had few equals.
The dominant powers in the English Folk Dance and Song Society viewed the club movement as a bit common and Winsor as brash and too outspoken. It was therefore all the more extraordinary that he became a member of one of the society's councils, the British Federation of Folk Clubs. For many years he worked tirelessly for the federation. Also for the society, he directed the Loughborough folk festival for several years in the Seventies. He pursued an adventurous policy of choosing performers from different backgrounds and styles that gave the festival a sparkle and energy which reflected his own.
Winsor's life was greatly enhanced by his singing partnership with Jeannie Steel, whom he met in 1962 and later married. Virtually unknown in their own country, the couple toured western Europe many times, where they were an enormous success.
The record industry treated him poorly. There is little of that handsome voice
on disc or tape - a couple of early LPs with Redd Sullivan and others, a tape
with Jeannie Steel, a track here and there. Jeannie and Martin ran 'Nightride'
Martin Winsor was a great talker. Ideas and opinions, most of them sensible, poured out of him. He loved an argument and a stimulating discussion, and he would not readily accept those with pomp to puncture or pretentiousness to prick. Everything he said was straight from the shoulder. A lot of it found its way into the columns I was writing for Melody Maker and New Musical Express (with the highly colourful language edited out).
Fund-raising, conversation, organising festivals - none of these detracted in any way from Martin Winsor's ability as an entertainer. He was that par excellence. Less noticed, perhaps, than many less talented people, but a prince of good fellows, and a giant of the folk scene.
Special Anniversary Issue
Volume 2 follows next month.
Fixture List for Kimber's Men and
Aug 29th (KM) Sail Royal
Sep 1st (Joe) Rochdale
5th (KM) Great
6th (KM) Great
Sep 13th (KM) The Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival
Sep 25th (KM) Keighley Folk
Club, Ukrainian Club,
Oct 3rd (KM)
Oct 4th (KM)
Nov 13th (KM) Recording New
Nov 14th (KM) Recording New
Nov 15th (KM) Recording New
Nov 20th (KM) Market Theatre, Market St, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 2AQ
Nov 21st (KM) Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire. SA43 2TW
6th (KM) The Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club,
Dec 19th (KM) The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis.
Jan 6th (Joe) Pudsey Men's Forum
Jan 30th (KM)
Feb 1st (KM) Barnsley Folk
Feb 3rd (Joe)
Feb 5th (KM) West Deeping
Feb 6th (KM) Binbrook Village
Feb 12th (KM) Burton Joyce
Feb 13th (KM) Gunthorpe
Feb 19th (KM) Long Whatton Community Cente, The Green, Long Whatton.
Feb 20th (KM) Elmesthorpe
Feb 26th (KM) Morton Village
Feb 27th (KM) Market House,
Mar 18th (KM) Harmston
Mar 19th (KM) Frampton
May 13th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 20th (KM) Either: Shepley Folk Festival with Skelmanthorpe Brass Band
May 22nd (KM) Or: Shepley Folk Festival with Skelmanthorpe Brass Band
May 26th (KM)
May 27th (KM)
May 28th (KM)
May 29th (KM)
Jun 17th (KM) Mylor
World Peace through Song.
One of the
side effects of a General Election is that the electors become aware of a number
of colourful characters in new and interesting ways. In this case, it is
in CD form, by a jolly chap who subtitles himself 'The Singing Politician', and
who stood in the
Alright I know
that this isn't going to set the charts on fire - there are only 27 minutes of
music - but there is a lifetime of influences encapsulated herein. The
bulk of the tracks feature
THE LIVING TRADITION - ISSUE 109.
I find that particular advert meaningless.
The only thing I can say I found vaguely amusing was that in the run up to the election, some wag substituted the face of a certain prime minister whose name is not a million miles from Dave on the main character and posted it on the web.
Doug had an experience at Whitstable’s Oyster Festival when calling a Barn Dance on the harbour for Tim Edey on Sunday who thought it would be a great diversion from the Celtic concert. Doug began by instructing “Men on one side and Women on the other” and was immediately heckled at by two lesbians who declared “This is Whitstable mate…We’ll have no sexism here, we are all human beings.”….. !!!!
I guess a Dos se Dos wouldn’t be of much use to them either. !!!!
I like what your quoted psychologist says about her efforts with a glass of water but if she wants to appear rigorous in her research she needs to be a bit more precise about how she presents her findings. If she held up that glass for a week it would not become a single iota heavier, it might feel it but it certainly wouldn't become it.
And yes, the apostrophe is exactly where it should be
Thinking of psychology and
oldies as referred to in your blog (Vol 179 Aug 2015) all of which I approve of.
I suppose you ought to know that this one is not giving up anytime soon at 70. I
am too old to go offshore with the Tall Ships Youth Trust TSYT they will not
allow that after 65 so crossing the
Sailing from east to west against the winds and currents in a square rigger is not the easy option, note the shortest such passage was in 1938 when the four mast bark Priwall made 50/50 in 5 days 14 hours, the longest time off the Horn was the full rigger Susanna in 1905, 94 days 50/50. Wish us luck. www.barkeuropa.com
“So down along the southern
ocean sailing down around
I live in the state of
Wisconsin USA where our governor, Scott Walker has declared that he will run for
the Republican Party Presidential nomination. I mention this because your
"Ramblings" comment about some TV ads "turning your stomach" reminded me of much
of what is transpiring as Walker and the other Republicans attempt to convince
the voters that they are the "most patriotic", "most heterosexual", "most
militaristic", and most able to send all of the "illegals" back to their country
of origin. These politicians are appealing to the most primitive instincts of
human beings. I lost my wife of 40 years to metastatic breast cancer in 2009. I
guess that gives me the credentials to claim that I am not gay, although I have
always believed that our sexuality exists on a continuum with most people living
somewhere on the line between 100 percent gay or 100 percent heterosexual. That
aside, my stomach is churning as
I'm glad I was able to contribute something to your good newsletter this time. Always good to hear from you. I'm back in the hospital for another round of chemo, which so far is going well. I'm feeling stronger and, even if there are still no guarantees, more confident. I've been surrounded by caring staff and friends who come to visit -- hard to feel down and defeated with love like that coming in. Hoping all is well with you, my friend!
Christensen - NY
I got so drunk last night I lost my glasses. The rest is a blur.
A man is seeking to join the Glasgow Police force.
doing the interview says:
"Your qualifications all look good, but there is an attitude suitability test that you must take before you can be accepted."
Then, sliding a pistol and a box of ammo across the desk, he says:
"Take this pistol and go out and shoot six illegal immigrants, six drug dealers, six Muslim extremists, and a rabbit"
The man being interviewed asks,
"Excellent" says the Sergeant. "When can you start?"
A man joins a soccer team and his new teammates inform him, "At your first team dinner as the new guy, you will have to give us a talk about sex." The evening arrives and he gives a detailed, humorous account of his sex life. When he got home, his wife asked how the evening went and not wanting to lie, but also not wanting to explain exactly what happened, he said, "Oh, I had to make a talk about yachting," his wife thought this a little peculiar but said nothing more and went to sleep. The next day she bumped into one of his new teammates at the supermarket and asked, "I heard my husband had to make a speech last night. How did it go?" His mate said smiling, 'Oh, it was excellent! Your husband is clearly very experienced!." The wife looked confused and replied to his mate, "Strange, he has only done it twice and the second time he was sick."
It's game 7 of the NBA finals and a man makes his way to his seat at center court. He sits down and notices that the seat next to him is empty. He leans over and asks his neighbor if someone is sitting there. He responds, "No, the seat's empty." "The first man exclaims, "What?!? Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the NBA finals and not use it?" The neighbor responds, "Well the seat is mine, but my wife passed away and this is the first NBA finals we haven't been together." The first man responds," I'm sorry to hear that. Wasn't there anyone else, a friend or relative, that could've taken that seat?" The neighbor responds, "No, they're all at the funeral."
Keep smiling, keep singing.
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