Special Anniversary Issue
East Coker Folk Festival was in July 1971 and it brought me back into contact
with two very old friends of the folk scene, both now regrettably long dead, who
would eventually record on my record label. But I'll tell you about that
next month. John Isherwood and Pat Nelson both hailed from
showman certainly, but he too frequently drunk too much alcohol for his own
good. He nearly died shortly after these photographs were taken in an
horrendous car crash somewhere near
while Jon had a music shop in
One thing is certain I do know how he got it !!!!
6th 1968 I was back in the studios of Westward Television waiting to do another
live spot on Westward Diary. I don't remember now whether Rollo Gambol was
still the director, I think he was. Two years earlier on June 28th I had
made my television debut singing 'Jimmie Crack Corn' on the same programme.
Again I had arrived at about 10 o'clock in the morning and we had run through a
few songs and the director had chosen the song he wanted me to do. Then at
about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, or it might have been a couple of hours
earlier, all Hell broke loose. It was suddenly announced that Bobby
Kennedy had been assassinated in
later signed by Decca. But his singing career really came to an abrupt
halt that summer evening in
Nelson on the other hand was very different, like most of us he enjoyed a beer
or two, but he ran a very successful motorbike business in
Bookings in 1972 started on Sunday January 2nd, back at an old haunt 'The George and Dragon' in Downe, near Bromley where I had made my very first professional appearance with Ralph May (McTell) in 1965, and engagements continued at a rate of about 4 a week all year. It was to be an interesting year for many reasons.
My first long playing record was to be recorded in Manchester on the 24th, 25th and 26th of March in Manchester; or Cheadle Hume to be exact; and I had spent preceding weeks working diligently with Dave Plane, Dave Lewry and Lisa Turner who were to be backing musicians.
I was especially excited because in 1971 I had arranged with Peter Abnett to make, what I at the time considered, would be a unique instrument. I had seen something similar he had made for his son Dan who must have been about 4 at the time when calling at his home to have my banjo skin replaced. It had a banjo neck and a mandolin body. We weren't sure what to call it at first, but being half banjo and half mandolin it made sense to me to call it a 'Bandoline'. (Pronounced 'Bandolin').
To have called it a 'Manjo' would not have been wise; as I said many times at concerts "Somebody might have come up and eaten it during the interval; so I didn't". It appears from the label that he made it on Sunday February 20th 1972. And it was Number 1 of the model. I've always suspected it took him more than a day to make though.
The instrument cost the princely sum of £125 plus £25 for the case. It is without doubt an exquisite instrument, strung with light gauge guitar strings (10.28.20.16.12), the heaviest strings wound, it has a delightful a soft sound that was, and still is, ideal for songs where the banjo was obtrusive. It was ideal for me as I never learned the guitar. It's 2015 now and I still use it on occasions with Kimber's Men.
subsequently retired from making instruments. He is now in his late 70s,
and is apparently feeling his age. Several months ago, he decided not to
make any more instruments and was determined not be lured back into the workshop
so the doors are now permanently closed. It is time for Peter to enjoy his
retirement. But he was a prolific luthier with a client waiting list of
several years. I believe Peggy Seeger played an Abnett guitar and during
the 1970's the whole of the band Bully Wee played Abnett manufactured
instruments. I remember too in the late 1980's discussing Peter with
Gordon Tyrell at the Bradshaw Tavern Folk Club in
So let's get
back to 1972. Gordon Davies was a Welsh sheep farmer making a bit of a
noise on the folk scene with his wife Gwen when he decided to start his own
recording business. Previously, working mainly folk clubs in and around
Shropshire, West to Birmingham and North to Manchester billed simply as 'Gwen
and Gordon, they were picked up by 'Folk Heritage' a small independent record
label based in Cheadle Hulme. Note in this EFDSS magazine advert below
they have the delightful phone number of simply
Thus having already recorded with Folk Heritage, owned by Alan Green, Gordon had branched out into the recording business himself using Alan as the engineer. Alan had stripped his house in Cheadle Hulme bare of nearly all furniture with the walls bare of wall paper. One bedroom, the largest, was the music room, the smaller bedroom made up the control room. Alan slept in a sleeping bag on the sofa downstairs. Electric wiring seemed to be running on bare walls throughout the house. And so it was that I duly turned up with my merry band of musicians on Friday 24th March. By the evening Sunday March 26th I had my first LP in the bag along with Dave Plane who took the opportunity of recording a solo LP himself. Dave Lewry and the lovely Lisa Turner worked like demons. Alan, incidentally, had built his own mixing desk and (just like the Beatles) the recording was recorded two track. Multi track recording was still a thing of the future. This meant that every 'take' was an original with no 'drop ins'. All performers sung together at the same time and Alan mixed the recording onto quarter inch tape as it went down. That's how it was in those days. Primitive by the standards of today, but it worked and Alan Green was a wonderful recording engineer.
The album contained an eclectic mix of songs with only one of the 12 being traditional. The song writers were Nick Richardson, Arthur Hogg, Dave Goulder, Ewan MacColl, Pete Atkin, Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe, Jake Thackray, Bill Meek (two by him), JR Tolkien and not surprisingly Pete Seeger. My love affair with the last three writers of verse were to resurface at various intervals throughout my recording career. I might have been the first artiste since the 1940's to record "I am my own grandpa". Although to be honest I cannot remember where or exactly when I learnt the song, but I heard it from a recording by Phil Harris.
In the song, the narrator marries a widow with an adult daughter and his father marries the widow's daughter. This creates a comic tangle of relationships by a mixture of blood and marriage; for example, the narrator's father is now also his stepson-in-law. The situation is complicated further when both couples have children and eventually the narrator actually becomes "his own grandpa".
It works like this......The narrator marries the older woman and this results in the woman's daughter becoming his stepdaughter. Subsequently, the narrator's father marries the older woman's daughter. The woman's daughter, being the new wife of the narrator's father, is now both his stepdaughter and his stepmother. Concurrently, the narrator's father, being his stepdaughter's husband, is also his own stepson-in-law. The song now continues with The narrator and his wife having a son. This means the narrator's son immediately becomes the half-brother of his stepdaughter, as the narrator's wife is the mother of both. Since his stepdaughter is also his stepmother, then the narrator's son is also his own step-and/or half-uncle because he is the half-brother of his step-mother. The Narrator's son would then become a brother-in-law to the narrator's father, because he is the half-brother of the father's wife. Now this get further complicated when the narrator's father and his wife (the narrator's stepdaughter) then have a son of their own. The child would then become the narrator's grandson because he is the son of his step-daughter. The son would also become the half-brother of the narrator because they both have the same father. So finally the narrator's wife, being the mother of his stepmother, makes her both spouse and step-grandmother. The husband of the narrator's wife would then be the narrator's step-grandfather. Since the narrator is that person, he has managed to become his own (step-step)grandfather. The "step-step" concept applies because the step-father of your step-mother would be your step-step-grandfather, making a "double step" event possible. All very simple really. Anyway. It's on the LP.
In 1973 Alan
Green relocated to mid
Recordings were later to branch out solely into the Country and Western market
which really took off in
It was on the
15th July 1972 that I met
in October 1972 I was back on TV again. This time Greenwich Cablevision!!
Not as grand as it might sound. In those years, and for a period
thereafter of another 10 years or so, there was a part of
1972 ended with a gig at Matt Armour's club at the Whittlebury Folk Club Christmas shindig. The list of forthcoming guests for 1973 includes a few luminaries for sure; so I feel honoured to be listed as the most popular guest to play the club. It brings into perspective how things have changed. Membership of the folk club was arranged yearly and the cost in 1973 was to rise to 40p for the year.
So you must admit. 1972 was quite a year
Special Anniversary Issue
Volume 4 follows next month.
Fixture List for Kimber's Men and
(Joe) St Anne's School,
13th (KM) Recording New CD at
14th (KM) Recording New CD at
15th (KM) Recording New CD at
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
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)
May 2nd (KM)
May 20th (KM) Either Shepley or Clennell Hall Folk Festival pending planning
May 21st (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 22nd (KM) Either Shepley or Clennell Hall Folk Festival pending planning
May 26th (KM)
May 27th (KM)
May 28th (KM)
May 29th (KM)
Jun 17th (KM) Mylor
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
Nov 26th (KM) Shaftesbury - Provisional.
20th (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival,
21st (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival,
22nd (KM) Sixmilebridge Festival,
What a delight to read all the history of the last 2 Ramblings. I'm looking forward to the next one and you should write the book!
I've just been listening to your album Hearts on Fire. It's brilliant! That really is my favourite.
Love to you.
enjoyable read. Nice to see Mike Absalom’s name dropped here. “Save The Last
Gherkin For Me” a memorable title and album. I saw him once, the night of the
‘69 moon landing in a quite famous disco/club in
Mike lives and paints in
Bestest and see you and the boys soon,
As usual I had kept your ramblings to read when I was not busy ie when the grandchildren have gone back to school etc.
Anyway you may be slightly responsible for my husband and i getting together, a pretty good job as we are still living, talking and singing and playing together after 48 years.
tender age of 17 I went to City University straight from my convent, little did
my very proper and protective mother realise that as it was largely full of
engineers there were 20 men to every girl...it was a hard life! I met Dave at
the Folk Club and our first date was to see Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. He
went off to do his industrial period and we slightly lost touch. Then I saw a
favourite of mine was on at The Dartford Folk Club, this was early 1967,
probably the Easter Holidays. I didn't fancy going to the low dive of
Saw you last year at Swanage, a brilliant set! Pity I can't stand banjos either!
Congratulations on the production of your Anniversary Issues.
Iris and I have had a good laugh at some anecdotes as we remember the times and some of the songs and jokes.
Best of all is the memory of 21st June at the Albert Hall which we went to for Iris's birthday which is 22nd June. I believe we would have had the cheap 3/6 tickets in those days and we are not much better off now! It was a disappointment through the poor number attending but a memorable one.
As for" Shallow Brown" being racist, what nonsense. Who is the one who is PC in your group?
Keep smiling and keep singing, hope it is not too long before you come south again.
Like the drawing by Mark - it is a real likeness of when you were 40!!!
Interested in the letter from
In our current program, we are doing Sally Brown followed by Shallow Brown. We have always introduced Sally Brown by saying that political correctness causes 'Lady' to rhyme with 'Bigger'. I have never encountered any adverse reaction to our pointing out the shameful exploitation of black people, but our audience is usually white middle class.
Our audiences seem to generally appreciate that political correctness has bowdlerised many songs. I think that Stan Hugill writes 'the words were too filthy to record' at some point. It is a great pity that prissiness has meant that a lot of shanties have been lost in original form. It was part of maritime history ! Shame it seemed to be collected by Victorian vicars. I would love to say to an audience 'What do you want us to sing - from the white book or the blue book (a la Max Miller)'. We only do charity fundraisers - so it will never happen with the village hall crowds.
you seen the
See you !
Rob Townshend (Stormy Weather Boys)
About the 'racist' song.
Did you know that, when 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits came out, there was a large uproar about how Mark Knopfler was homophobic?
He was doing no such thing - he was simply piecing together some quotes he'd written down when he was in a Department Store of a salesman there who was commenting on the Music Industry. The song is obviously *anti* critical attitudes but it uses language that, apparently, people can't understand can be used in a positive manner against wrong ideas.
So, no matter what the song is about. Your song, I mean. It will probably be a good historical document that shows an event and a state of society way back when, at the time it was written and used. It tells us what sort of behaviour was prevalent and, because we are 'wiser' now (I hope), we learn what sort of behaviour is wrong and to be avoided.
You will obviously not be glorying in the actions in the song.
Unfortunately, society doesn't work this way. It thinks that people can't make a good choice and be warned by the errors of the past. People who think that way are destined to make the same errors in the present and future cos they have no idea what sorts of things happened and should be avoided.
Why, we'll soon remove all statements about the atrocities
of the wars at the rate we're going! And there are already dark clouds on the
horizon in the
You will come in for criticism for singing it. I'm sure you will. You can't avoid it. But the question is whether you bow to the pressure of society and axe it or continue to faithfully reproduce something from yesteryear that can warn us about our present lifestyle.
Finally you know how you had that 'Idiot' series of observations in this month's Ramblings?
Here's one that's just happened:
I received a pamphlet from the Wine Club we're in. They're promoting the wines by saying you get a free bottle that's worth up to £100. Fair enough.
But on the flyer that's loose it says 'Some worth up to £100...'. Obviously, what they mean you to think is that 'Some' are priced approaching £100 but that's not what they've written.
So I rang the helpline and pointed out that they were all worth up to £100 not just
some of them.
'Yes,' he said, 'they could be worth only a minimum of £7.99 but some can be worth up to £100'
'But they're all worth up to £100, even the £7.99 ones...'
Nope, he didn't get it...
...not sure basic English works anymore.
Very nice Joe -
But I am disappointed with the 'knock' at the pop stars - In the scheme of things all your heroes had the chance to be international stars and millionaires but no doubt chose the life of slogging the highways and bye ways and sleeping on other folks settees. I see the Bay City Rollers are about to make a comeback - more ammo for the Folkies I suppose.
Sherpo - pop star
By the way it was noo feaces - not hop nox
Most remiss of me not to thank you and the crew for such a superb night at Mansfield Folk Club last month.
Success with your recording session next month.
forward to catching up again when you are in the
World Peace through Song is a great recording Joe I have listened to it more than a
Great Songs and Great Voice
Subject: OBITUARY FROM THE
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2015 05:58:04 +1030
Today we mourn the
passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many
years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long
ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated
such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- And maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims and everything was politically correct.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I'm A Victim
- Pay me for Doing Nothing
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
A young woman walks into a supermarket. On her way round she sees the man with whom she had sex the previous evening, after they met in a pub.
He is stacking washing powder boxes on shelves.
"You lying sod!" she yells. "Last night you told me you were a stunt pilot!"
"No," he says, "I told you I was a member of the Ariel display team."
5,000 men were surveyed as to why they like to receive Oral Sex.
1% liked the warmth
2% liked the sensation
3% liked the eroticism
94% just like the peace and quiet.
Crikey. Now I'm in trouble.
Keep smiling, keep singing.