Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger - Volume 183 - December 2015


Special Anniversary Issue

Volume 4



Artiste unknown.


We left the last chapter of the Ramblings at the very end of 1972, which had been an exciting and exhilarating year, and I now realise that I had overlooked my good friend Jon Rennard who died in a car accident in 1971.  I had thought it was 1973.  I really should have mentioned him before now.  I first met Jon on a Sunday evening at Newbury Folk Club.  Jon had made his way by train from Leeds where he lived all the way to Newbury only to discover he had come a week early.  I was the guest.  With no place to sleep that night he came back to my place in Kent and thus started a vibrant if somewhat short friendship. 

Jon Rennard

We travelled around together a bit on the odd occasion.  I recall a long trip to The Ring of Bells Folk Club in Bath.  My memory tells me that Jon was on a tour of London and SE England clubs and had the Sunday night off.  I do recall with much candour too the tour he arranged for me of clubs in and around Leeds.  I remember it not so much for the actual concerts but for what happened after one of them.  Jon lived at the very top of a four story house in a long terraced street of houses.  It was November.  It was damp with rain and mist.  He shared the flat with his friend Marsh.  After an evening of drinking it came time to go to bed.  "You will have my bed" declared Jon.  "Where will you sleep then?" was my reply.  "Oh I think I'll sleep with the girl four houses down the road, she doesn't know it yet - but she won't mind." And with that he opened the skylight window of his bedroom and commenced to climb out onto the roof.  Despite the conditions he tiptoed across three houses before knocking on the skylight window of the young lady who, upon opening the window, hauled him in like you might a sack of coal. 


Jon Rennard was indeed a talented performer of traditional song.  He had a lovely guitar style, a lazy enveloping voice and a mischievous sense of humour.  He released two LP's (one posthumously) and was only 24 when he died along with Marsh on Halcyon Hill in Leeds coming home I understand from having had lunch in a Leeds hostelry.  If it was lunch it was evidently quite a long one.  Had he lived he would have become a 'super-star'.  England lost a fantastic singer of traditional song that Thursday afternoon in July 1971.  He taught me the song 'The Sheffield Apprentice' that first night we met and my version can be found on You Tube from a TV show I did in Philadelphia.


Fellside Records reissued both of Jon Rennard's albums in April 2015 as digital downloads, making them available to the public for the first time since 1971.  If you've not yet heard them, I urge you to do so.


The posthumous album



Back to 1973.  It was to prove to be no different from the previous year, insofar as I found myself doing an average of 4 bookings each week.  There was one run of nine consecutive nights in October of that year that went: Thursday - Polytechnic of North London; Friday - Whittlebury Folk Club in Northamptonshire (which I recorded for an LP); Saturday - Midhurst Folk Club in Sussex; Sunday - Sheffield Poly in South Yorkshire;  Monday - Tunbridge Wells in Kent; Tuesday - A Portsmouth venue in Hampshire; Wednesday - Park Gate Folk Club in The Wirral; Thursday - Mansfield Folk Club in Nottinghamshire and finally Friday - Lewisham Folk Club in South London.  Looking back on it I don't know how I physically managed it.  But I suppose aged 32 I had plenty of vigour and an incredible need to perform.


In August of 1973 there was one Saturday night I had off (Aug 4th) until the phone rang just before 7pm in the evening.  It was Dennis White the chief Oppo of The London Borough Greenwich Entertainments Department.  The conversation went a bit like this.......

"Hello Joe Stead?"


"Dennis White here Joe of the London Borough of Greenwich; we've got a contractual problem at The Open Air Theatre in Eltham.  Horselips, who are supporting Roy Harper, are refusing to perform.  Could you be on stage by 7.30pm?  It would do me a great favour if you could."


I had just over 30 minutes to drive from Erith to Eltham and be on stage.


And thus began a relationship that was to last for 12 years.  I had been chasing Dennis looking for work for about 3 or 4 years before this, and he had simply ignored my advances.  But suddenly he was in a hole and he remembered me.  Horselips had turned up like any self respecting folk group might do these days with their own sound engineer.  Unfortunately for them (and very fortunately for me) The Open Air Theatre in Eltham was at that time in the middle of a moated area in Pleasaunce Park, Well Hall.  A very picturesque spot, but very close to a whole bundle of residential properties and all artiste contracts quite clearly stated the performers had to use the sound equipment and the sound engineer supplied by the Borough.  Horselips thought by making a stand and going on strike that Dennis White would give in.  They were very wrong.  So Horselips got into their van and drove off, whilst I drove up in my Ford Cortina and got out.  The Open Air Theatre was to become a little haven for me during summer months for the next 12 years until vandals broke in one summer night in 1984 and burnt the stage to the ground.  Bastards.


Although I was working the clubs and occasional theatre at an average of 4 gigs a week I found myself decidedly idle during the day when at home.  The bathroom had been retiled and the window frames repainted right around the house with a little help from the blues singer Johnnie Winch.  So the thought struck me that perhaps I ought to open an agency.  I had become friendly with Christie Hennessy an incredibly talented entertainer who seemed to be scraping a living singing at nights and working on the building sites during the day as a labourer.  Christie had suddenly appeared in London from Tralee on the West Coast of Ireland when he was about 15 years old.  By 1973 he was married with a young daughter Hermione, whom I still know.  And thus the Sweet Folk All Agency was born.  Originally Stan Arnold and Dave Lewry also came on board along with The Wild Oats and The Southern Ramblers.  They were later to be joined by Paul Downes and Phil Beer.  All the acts understood that all bookings they undertook went through me.  This might seem a trifle harsh by today's standards but I promised them all a recording contract with Westwood Recordings, and that seemed to swing the deal.



The caricatures, all amazingly life like, were drawn by Mike Hibbs of the Southern Ramblers.  Mike is at the pinnacle of the triangle playing the double bass.  And thus it was that The Wild Oats and Christie Hennessy made their way to Camp Farm Montgomery, in what was then called Montgomeryshire, to make their debut albums on Westwood Records; the sane label that had recorded my debut album.  Christie's record, there were only 500 printed, was to become much sought after as the years rolled by especially when he became a superstar in Ireland.   My only copy was stolen from my house by somebody who should have known better during my 50th birthday party in 1991.  It has however been thankfully released on CD, and the CD image is shown below


Christie was just a wonderful man and everybody loved him.  Born in Tralee in 1945 he died in London on December 11th 2007; the victim of asbestosis that he must have contracted all those years earlier when working the building sites. He suffered from severe dyslexia which he cleverly kept as a secret from me.  He had left school in Tralee at the age of 12 to wander the hills of Kerry.  His headmaster at the time had told him he was useless and would be a failure.  Dyslexia was hardly understood in London during the 1950's when Christie was at school; in Tralee on the Irish west coast they probably didn't even know what the word meant.  But whatever, it was a terrible thing to be told by someone who should have known better.  Christie was in time to prove the man very, very wrong.  By the time I met him portable tape recorders were all the go and apparently he would sit in front of one constantly singing line after line of  'nonsense' (I use that word loosely) into the machine until he eventually had enough lines to turn into a song.  As a result Christies lyrics have always been very simple.  He often for example rhymed 'pain' with 'rain'.  But there is nothing wrong with simple lyrics.  Pete Seeger once told me any fool can write complicated stuff it takes a genius to keep it simple.  Christie might have been dyslexic, but he was nonetheless a genius.



I had absolutely no idea why he always traveled with his best friend Tony and why he always traveled by train.   I realise now that he stood no chance of passing his driving test (he couldn't even have done the eyesight test of reading a number plate) and traveling alone by train would have been a nightmare because he would never have known where he was or where he was going.  So road signs would have been a mystery to him and if he suddenly found himself on Leicester Railway Station how on earth could he have caught the right train to get to Sunderland?


Stan Arnold was the funniest man on the folk scene, ever; and it was Stan who, keen to make a long playing record, was determined to do it 'live' in concert.  Westwood Recordings were not prepared to move out of Camp Farm to record so Stan hunted round and found John Hassell who worked from his home in Barnes.  And thus "Sweet Folk All Recordings" was born.  I offered Stan a 50/50 share in the business, but being more interested in performing, song writing and appearing on BBC TV Playschool he declined.



John Hassell, an independent recording engineer who had worked with Decca, was nearly blind due to a war injury when the German's dropped a land mine just a wee bit too close.  Apparently the land mine blew John onto a nearby roof where he was found a couple of days later.  His workmate was never found; blown to smithereens.  Being Jewish John would tell the most outrageously hilarious Jewish jokes.  Quite unrepeatable and the sort of jokes a gentile should stay well clear of.  So as the next few years rolled by John would do the recording and then later back at John's house in Nassau Road Felicity his wife and myself would do the editing.  Lunch times I spent with John in the Sun Inn, just a couple of pints of Young's Special Ale you understand, along with a lot of Jewish yarns.


Suddenly I became a record manufacturing entrepreneur.  With Stan Arnold's record published I re-contacted Alan Green who had now moved from Cheadle Hulme to Llanfair Caereinion to see if he would handle the studio recording side of the business.  Alan had momentarily bought a small farm holding near Camp Farm in Montgomery, but no sooner had he signed the papers he was offered double the price by an unknown buyer who later turned out to be Julie Christie.  And thus it was that studio LP's of John Townsend, The Southern Ramblers and The Wild Geese were engineered by Alan Green whilst Pat Nelson, and Vera Johnson made one album each one long Monday evening at Stan Wigg's folk club: The Black Horse at Amberley; recorded of course by John Hassell.


By October 1973 I was ready to make a second LP and decided that it would best be recorded live in concert.  If there was one folk club I could turn to and know that I would be welcomed it was The Fox and Hounds in Whittlebury run by Matt Armour.  It was a club that I had played more times than any other.  The audience loved me and in turn I loved the audience.  Matt was a fabulous bloke a Scotsman who taught English in a school somewhere local to Milton Keynes.  Matt did an hilarious introduction likening me to Neanderthal Man.





Looking back at these photographs is interesting when you examine more closely the wall paper used in rural public houses at the time.  Quite hideous.  I was accompanied on the album by Ray Tassie on mandolin and Derek Smith on guitar who joined in with my peculiar and unique banjo style as best they could.  Indeed they did remarkably well considering we never rehearsed.


Derek Brimstone was kind enough to write a review



Sweet Folk All Recordings then gathered pace as 1973 swept into 1974.  Paul Downes and Phil Beer joined the agency and Shep Woolley, to my utter amazement at the time, broke all records for sales of SFA long playing records.


Special Anniversary Issue

Volume 4

The End


Meanwhile back in the real world the news is filled mainly with two items.   Syria and climate change.  I'm not certain that the destruction of ISIS (ISIL) by bombing or with land troops will bring about the end to terrorism.  Indeed in all honesty I don't think it will.  In the West we seem to have mainly overcome Al Qaeda, but all that has happened is that it has re-appeared as Boko Harem, ISIL and  Da'ish or Daesh; and in actual fact Al Qaeda has not exactly gone away.  It merely slumbers.  Global terrorism is here to stay I'm afraid and for quite a long period, indeed till long after I'm dead.  If I knew the answer for certain I would be Prime Minister; and that's not to suggest our present Prime Minister knows what he is doing because I fear he is as much blindfolded as anybody else.  My heart tells me we should rid ourselves of ISIS by force, my brain on the other hand tells me that force will never work; we must somehow use dialogue.  Just how you use dialogue to contain a movement that burns and beheads people, rapes women and considers the destruction of anybody with a differing view from them an essential way of a gay less life is difficult to even start to commence or understand.  Earlier this year I stood for Parliament under the party heading of 'World Peace through Song' and of course I understand that singing to them is not going to stop the advancement, but singing can bring the attention of people to world problems and by doing so help to solve them.  Pete Seeger believed this and I think him correct.  I'm of the opinion and have stated before now that there are already too many humans on the planet and as such terrorism now goes hand in hand with climate change and global warming.  Way back around 1968 Pete wrote a song called 'Quite Early Morning', a song he kept singing right up almost to the day he died.  It's an incredibly important song.  He kindly allowed me to change the title and the words slightly to have a more maritime feel to it and Kimber's Men perform it on the CD we recorded in concert - "Kimber's Men in Port".  Regrettably the rest of the band fail to understand the importance of the song and because of it's political element now refuse to sing it.  Which I consider to be more of a tragedy than simply a pity.  But at least it is documented and there is the chance that a more humane band, or a performer who with children of their own, cares about this planet and wants mankind to continue might yet pick the song up.  I can only live in hope.  My version is called Darkest before the Dawn.



Darkest before the dawn


They say it’s darkest before the dawn

This thought keeps us moving on

If we can heed these early warnings

We should make port before the morning

If we can heed these early warnings

We should make port before the morning


Some say this old ship won’t long endure

We ask what makes them feel so sure?

For there are those who hear our singing

Will keep our sails high in the rigging

For there are those who hear our singing

Will keep our sails high in the rigging


So we keep on while we live

Until we have no more to give

And when our voice can sing no longer

There will be others, younger, stronger

And when our voice can sing no longer

There will be others, younger, stronger


We’ll plot our charts, we’ll trim our sails

Through heavy seas and mighty gales

Until we reach that safer landing

Where there is peace and understanding.

Until we reach that safer landing

Where there is peace and understanding.


Don’t you know, it’s darkest before the dawn

This thought keeps us moving on

If we can heed these early warnings

We will make port before the morning

If we can heed these early warnings

We will make port before the morning


Melody – Pete Seeger – Used by permission – Royalty Network, 224 West 30th Street, New York. NY1001. USA



Fixture List for Kimber's Men and Joe Stead



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

Dec 19th (KM) The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis.


Jan 6th (Joe) Pudsey Men's Forum - Valparaiso round the Horn

Jan 30th (KM) Beeston Methodist Church, Chilwell Rd, Beeston, Notts. NG9 1EH

Feb 1st (KM) Barnsley Folk Club, Barnsley Trades Club, Racecommon Rd.

Feb 3rd (Joe) Bolton Methodist Church, Bolton Road Bradford BD2 4LB - Valparaiso

Feb 5th (KM) West Deeping Village Hall, King St, West Deeping, Lincs PE6 9HP

Feb 6th (KM) Afternoon workshop Caistor School - Provisional

Feb 6th (KM) Binbrook Village Hall, Kirmond Rd, Binbrook, Lincs PE10 0NR

Feb 12th (KM) Burton Joyce Village Hall, Trent Lane, Burton Joyce, NG14 5EY

Feb 13th (KM) Gunthorpe Village Hall, Davids Lane , Gunthorpe. NG14 7EW

Feb 19th (KM) Long Whatton Community Cente, The Green, Long Whatton.

Feb 20th (KM) Elmesthorpe Village Hall, Wilkinson Lane, Elmesthorpe. LE9 7SP

Feb 26th (KM) Morton Village Hall, High St, Morton, Lincolnshire PE10 0NR

Feb 27th (KM) Market House, Market Street, Long Sutton Spalding PE12 9DD

Mar 4th (KM) The Norbreck Castle Hotel, Bispham. With The Houghton Weavers

Mar 18th (KM) Harmston Memorial Hall, School Lane, Harmston. LN5 9SN

Mar 19th (KM) Frampton Village Hall, Middlegate Rd, Frampton, Boston PE20 1AR

Apr 25th (KM) Stavros S Niarchos

Apr 26th (KM) Stavros S Niarchos

Apr 27th (KM) Stavros S Niarchos

Apr 28th (KM) Stavros S Niarchos

Apr 29th (KM) Stavros S Niarchos

May 1st (KM) Rochester Sweeps Festival

May 2nd (KM) Rochester Sweeps Festival

May 8th (KM) Royal Traditions Shanty Workshop, Dungworth, Yorkshire

May 20th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival

May 21st (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival

May 22nd (KM) Shepley Folk Festival with The Skelmanthorpe Brass Band

May 26th (KM) Ostend at Anchor Festival, Belgium.

May 27th (KM) Ostend at Anchor Festival, Belgium.

May 28th (KM) Ostend at Anchor Festival, Belgium.

May 29th (KM) Ostend at Anchor Festival, Belgium.

Jun 17th (KM) Mylor

Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival

Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival

Aug 5th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival - Provisional

Aug 6th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival - Provisional

Aug 7th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival - Provisional

Aug 8th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival - Provisional

Oct 15th (KM) Churchdown Community Centre - Provisional

Nov 25th (KM) The Market Theatre, Sun Street, Hitchin.

Nov 26th (KM) Shaftesbury Art Centre, 13 Bell Street, Shaftesbury


Jan 20th (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival, County Clare - Provisional

Jan 21st (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival, County Clare - Provisional

Jan 22nd (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival, County Clare - Provisional

Apr 14th (KM) Greenwich Tall Ship's Festival - Provisional

Apr 15th (KM) Greenwich Tall Ship's Festival - Provisional

Apr 16th (KM) Greenwich Tall Ship's Festival - Provisional

Aug 17th (KM) Greenwich Tall Ship's Festival - Provisional







Having just finished reading your latest ramblings during and after a leisurely Wetherspoons breakfast - one of the pleasures of retirement - I was really pleased to read about Jon Isherwood. I bumped into him when he was running a folk club in Portsmouth.

It was either 1965 or 67. I can't be sure which but those were the two years, separated by a spell in Aden, that I was based at Eastney Barracks. I performed at Jon's club as a floor singer with one of my early creations, "The Pheasant Plucker" which went down rather well I remember. Unfortunately I can't remember either the lyric or the tune, only that it was inadvisable to be too drunk when singing it because mistakes with that sort of tongue-twister might have offended.

At the end of that first evening, as on several subsequent occasions, Jon pressed a 5 note into my hand. Now I have been told that money halves it's value every ten years. On that basis that fiver would be worth 120 today - as a floor singer, unbelievable!

Those were golden days and my one regret is that my service in the Royal Marines took me abroad for so much of that decade.

If any one of your readers remembers "The Pheasant Plucker" I'd love to hear from them. I will end this with the last line, which is about all I can remember.

"And there in the dust, with a final thrust, you gives the pheasant the pluck!"

Keep 'em coming, Joe.

Jim Bartlett





Church Ladies With Typewriters

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. Apparently these sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.


The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water. 'The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'


Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.


Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.


Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.


For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.


Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.


Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.


A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow..


At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.


Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.


Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.


Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..


The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.


Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.


The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.


This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.


The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.


Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.


The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM .. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.


Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.


The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.




Keep smiling, keep singing.



Joe Stead.

Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 43 – April 2004

Free Reed have released the Peter Bellamy Boxed Set of ‘The Transports’ on CD. As usual, with Free Reed, it is a superbly packaged collector’s item which will surely sell well all around the world. Peter Bellamy, whose sudden and unexpected death in 1991 when on a September evening after spending the day learning the song Farewell to Hardburdy walked along the Leeds Liverpool canal to a spot where he could see across the valley to his home and there took his own life, is a folk icon who will be remembered not only for his tragic death, but also for his fine interpretation of traditional song. He was a friend to any human in need, always there to offer a helping hand. He had a fine turn of phrase that sometimes bordered on the sardonic but never insulted.

The Transports is the story of the first fleet of convicts transported to Australia in 1787, and of the classic Ballad Opera that it inspired Peter to write. The boxed set comprises two CD’s and a magnificent book which includes paintings of the first transportation fleet, pictures and biographies of all singers involved, detailed scripts about each song and much, much more.

The first CD is the original four sided double LP released in 1977 featuring Nic Jones, Dave Swarbrick, AL Lloyd, Norma Waterson, Martin Winsor, Martin Carthy, Vic Legg, The Watersons, Cyril Tawney, June Tabor and of course Pete himself. The second CD is a duplication of the same material performed by Cockersdale, Jim Lawton, Simon Nichol, Chris Leslie, David Jones, Joel Griffiths, Grace Notes, The Witches of Elswick, Chris Sugden, Laura Hockenhull, Pete Morton, Tim Moon, Chris Sugden, Damien Barber, John Kirkpatrick, The Wilson Family, Mal Jardine, Jamie O’Dwyer, John Roberts, Coope Boyes + Simpson, Steve Tilston, Tom McConville, Fairport Convention and last - but hopefully not least - by Kimber’s Men. Phew! What a cast.

Having never heard the original I was very interested to discover the differences between the two discs and whilst comparisons between a recording made 25 years ago and another made today with up to date recording equipment might not be exactly fair it is certainly worth making a few observations. Whilst the original recordings have been digitally re-mastered and are therefore of a high quality it is interesting to note the changes in traditional singing styles since the mid-nineteen seventies. With the new CD it is possible to understand every word, syllable and annunciation which regrettably is not always the case on the original. But having said that singers like Bellamy and AL Lloyd had a style of their own which the purists amongst us loved then and probably still do today. So this is just a personal problem and should not deter those who read this review from buying it. Martin Carthy, the Watersons, Cyril Tawney and Martin Winsor on the ‘original’ CD are performers of true quality and I had no problem understanding their phrasing. Indeed I would go so far as to say that my favourite track of all 42 is from the original LP by that old rogue Martin Winsor. The detailed sleeve notes explain how the late Martin Winsor was one of the most feared faces around Soho and it is therefore fitting that it should be he who was asked to perform Norwich Gaol because it is done with what can only be described as a wicked richness bordering on the uncouth. Nobody, not even Carthy, could have bettered it and that should be considered praise indeed. Martin Winsor was certainly not a folk singer who trod an easy road and I well remember, even though I considered him to be friend, that he made my balls run cold one evening when I inadvertently paid him ten pounds when his fee was apparently ten guineas. (Only men reading this will understand that phraseology properly, but I’m sure women will have a good idea what I mean). I also remember that same evening that he explained in great detail why I should own a guitar capo and keep it with me at all times even though I didn’t play the guitar. The old fashioned guitar capo slipped very easily over the first three fingers and was an excellent knuckle duster. Apparently I would never know when I might need one! So those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Martin Winsor will now hopefully understand why he and Norwich Gaol make the most excellent of partnerships.
The standard of performance on the second CD is outstanding and to mention any name before another would be quite unfair. If I have a favourite track on the second CD it is The Green Fields of England by Coope Boyes and Simpson, but accolades go to every performer involved; and to Neil Wayne and Nigel Schofield – I take off my hat.
The recommended retail price is £29.99 and it’s worth every penny.

I’m not certain what to make of the new movie soon to be released in GB about the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ. I certainly will not be going to watch it and I have to say that I fail to understand how any sane person would feel inclined to pay money to watch what reviews indicate is little more than 2 hours of in-gratuitous violence. Apparently it is not a picture for the faint hearted and whilst my stomach is probably as strong as the next I fail to understand what can be enjoyable in seeing a human being flailed to within an inch of his life before being nailed to a tree. From what I have read and from the excerpts I have seen on television it is simply no more than another form of pornography. Especially so when you consider that the scriptures were written some 60/70 years after the event and what we are told actually happened is simply the figment of somebody’s vivid imagination, manifested and multiplied a couple of hundred times since. Now I’ve seen a few blue movies in my days and there is a chance that the moans of sexual pleasure are possibly exactly that and certainly more authentic than the cries of pain the Gibson film will portray. I would rather watch mankind make love than watch mankind make war. A penis is a thing of beauty, a whip is not.

I would imagine that a lot of moralists and certainly the Christians amongst my readers will be up in arms about this. But we all have our own standard of morals and enjoyment, so if you get pleasure from this movie – good luck to you.. Millions of viewers tune in to watch ‘Big Brother’ or ‘I’m a celebrity – get me out of here’, (two TV shows I always insist on missing), on the off chance that they might catch a quick glimpse of a bunk up, or the odd flash of genitalia, but throw up their arms in horror at the suggestion.

Recent events in Spain clearly demonstrate that the British attitude to sex and morals is completely at odds with the rest of the world. Until the Leicester City footballers are tried and found either guilty or innocent it would be unreasonable to comment specifically on their case. However it is interesting to note that some of the footballers have been charged with ‘failing to stop a crime’. That the Spanish consider doing nothing as a crime is a clear indication of the difference between our moral standards. We live in a society that happily tunes in to watch ‘Footballer’s Wives’ on television condoning and encouraging the public to continue misbehaving badly. If the average footballer is as stupid as the press make them out to be it is little wonder they misbehave with considerably more money in their pockets than brains in their heads.

Meanwhile if you are burgled in Britain it is a crime to take punitive action towards the burglar. The burglar gets off scot free whilst the homeowner goes to prison. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me.

Another obscene atrocity or form of pornography to hit this planet is the bombing of trains in Spain by Al Qa’eda. Although frankly I am not the least surprised. My only surprise is that the terrorists chose Spain before Great Britain. America like Britain, as I have said countless times previously, can also expect a similar attack. My greatest fear for my own family, most of who live in London, is that when terrorists do attack they will use chemical weapons that will wipe out half if not more of London’s population. Because if the terrorists really want to bring the Western World to its knees they have only to send in a suicide attacker with a chemical weapon and it’s goodbye to scones and cream teas for the rest of us.

Please correct me if I am wrong!
Is it not true that one of the male members of Peter Paul and Mary was arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for pedophilia? If so I find it interesting that a folk festival should be proud to announce that they have booked the group. I appreciate that a prison sentence is considered just punishment and under normal circumstances the released person should be able to face the public as a forgiven person – but pedophilia is surely another matter? Do pedophiles get better? Is this a case of double standards? The Americans get their knickers in a twist because Janet Jackson bares a breast but welcome pedophiles to family audiences with open arms. Anyway I received the following e mail …………

The 2004 Kerrville Folk Festival schedule is now posted on our website. A few artists have yet to confirm so the schedule isn't quite complete, but rather than make you wait any longer, we decided to post what we have ready.

In addition to the rest of the wonderful line-up that Dalis has cooking, we are proud to announce the return of PETER PAUL & MARY who will be joining us on Day 2 - Friday, May 28. Check the website often at for frequent updates. We'll have lots more surprises in store for you!

So just where can you see Joe Stead or Kimber’s Men in the coming months. We probably won’t be baring our breasts at the following gigs ……….

GIGS and DATES 2004
Mar 27th (KM) Recording second CD
Mar 28th (KM) Recording second CD
Apr 19th (Joe) The Green Dragon, St Helens, Lancashire.
May 1st (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester
May 3rd (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester
May 12th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
May 14th (KM) The Grove, Holbeck, Leeds
May 15th (Joe) Bradford Day/Dance – Life and Times of Paul Robeson (Lunchtime)
May 15th (KM) Stirk Bridge, Sowerby Bridge. (Evening)
May 22nd (Joe) Maryport Festival of the Sea
May 23rd (Joe) Maryport Festival of the Sea
Jun 2nd (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall - Life and Times of Paul Robeson 10am!
Jun 9th (Joe) Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford - Life and Times of Paul Robeson
Jun 12th (Joe) Laycock Village Hall, Nr Keighley – Valparaiso round the Horn 2pm
Jul 10th (KM) The Norwegian Church, Cardiff.
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgenorth Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgenorth Folk Festival
Oct 16th (Joe) Shep Woolley’s 60th Birthday Party
Oct 18th (Joe) The Three Tuns, Staines
Oct 23rd (KM) The Open Door Folk Club Folk festival, Manchester (3pm)
Nov 11th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford
Nov 20th (KM) The Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax
Nov 24th (Joe) Sandholme Fold Res Home, Hipperholme – Life +Times P Robeson
Dec 14th (Joe) Barwick in Elmet Probus Club- Valparaiso Round the Horn 10am!
Feb 5th (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Feb 10th (Joe The Square Chapel Halifax – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival

Dear Joe,
The US has just criticised several countries for breach of 'human rights'. This is rich coming from the country that runs a prison at Guantanamo Bay where prisoners have not been charged with a crime, have no access to legal advice and will be subjected to a trial that breaches international law. Further the Bush said yesterday that when prisoners were found not guilty by their illegal military tribunal they may still not be set free.
British intelligence bugging UN phone calls at request of CIA. What next? Old Proverb, A Blair in the hand is worth two for the Bush'. Old Greek Proverb : "It matters not to the egg whether the egg falls upon the stone or the stone falls upon the egg". Blair's duplicity is curiously uniting old Labour and Conservatives in their disgust at Blair's Presidential Premiership.
As a lifelong Tory I respected Wilson, Gaitskill, Callaghan; they were sincere men.
I exchange letters now with Tam Dalyell, Tony Benn, and others. I am amazed at our mutual agreement that Blair's Brood is corrupt. He is surrounded by rather amazing high levels of strange people. They must have a hold over him.
We have just finished recording another Shanty Album. We have also just released ‘Around The Harbour Town’ : Dick Miles. More soon.
Yours aye,
Eric Cowell

Hi Joe,
Billy here, nice to hear from you. The 'Death Row' ones are a bit hard to take for me but I still understand and sympathize. People out there seem to be on the job so that is a good thing. Great that you take time to get this kind of thing out to the public and make them aware. Keep it up and GOOD LUCK with all of your endevours.
Keep in touch, so long for now,
Billy Budd


Number One
Tony Blair is visiting an Edinburgh hospital. He enters a ward full of patients with no obvious sign of injury or illness. He greets the first patient and the patient replies:
"Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain of the puddin race,
Aboon them a you take your place,
As lang's my airm."

Tony is confused, so he just grins and moves on to the next patient and greets him.
The patient responds:
"Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit."

Even more confused, but trying not to show it, Tony moves on to the next patient who immediately begins to chant:
"Wee sleekit, cowerin, timerous beasty,
Thou needna start awa sae hastie
Wi bickering brattle."

Now alarmed, Tony turns to the accompanying doctor and asks, "What kind of facility is this? Is it a mental ward?"
"No," replies the doctor. "This is a serious Burns unit".
From Mick Tems

Number Two
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520

Law Enforcement
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.

I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.
With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.

1. I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.
2. I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
3. I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.
4. With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.

1. I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
2. I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
3. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.
4. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
5. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
6. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
7. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market. In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.
8. I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
9.I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.
10. I am the all-time U.S and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
11. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
12. My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the US. Supreme Court during my election decision.
13. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip- offs in history.
14. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.
15. I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
16. I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.
17. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.
18. I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.
19. I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.
20. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.
21. I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
22. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).
23. I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
24. I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.
25. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
26. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
27. I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.
28. I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.
29. I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in wartime.
30. In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq
and then blamed the lies on our British friends.
31. I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view
my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
32. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.
33. I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.
All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.


Number Three
President George Bush is visiting an elementary school. They are in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings and the teacher asks the President if he would like to lead the class in the discussion of the word, "tragedy."
One little boy stands up and offers, "If my best friend, who lives next door, is playing in the street and a car comes along and runs him over, that would be a tragedy."
"No," says Bush, "that would be an ACCIDENT."
A little girl raises her hand: "If the school bus carrying 50 children drove off a cliff, killing everyone involved, that would be a tragedy."
"I'm afraid not," explains Mr. President. "That's what we would call a GREAT LOSS.”
Finally, way in the back of the room, a small boy raises his hand. In a quiet voice he says, "If Air Force One, carrying Mr. & Mrs. Bush, were struck by a missile and blown up to smithereens, by a terrorist like Osama bin Laden, that would be a tragedy."
"Fantastic," exclaims Bush, "that's right. And can you tell me WHY that would be a TRAGEDY?"

"Well," says the boy, "because it wouldn't be an accident, and it certainly wouldn't be a great loss."

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead