I have been involved in folk music for over five decades, and have lived and
sung on Tyneside for 43 of them. I first got interested as a student in Sheffield
in the sixties, and of course bought a guitar in order to learn some songs.
Eventually some people paid me to sing, based in Sheffield and then Kingston,
where I was involved in the Fighting Cocks club along with people like Rod
Stradling, Arthur Knevett, and Paddy Marchant. When I realised that I'd never
be able to do what Nic Jones and Martin Carthy were doing with the guitar,
I took up concertina, and got more gigs. I was also on a couple of classical
folk recordings of the 1970s, but always had a day job, which restricted how
much music I could do (at least, that's the reason I choose to give.) I moved
to Tyneside in 1974, and whilst I'd sooner have gone to Delph, the music up
here has been phenomenal. I played with the Trimdon Folk band for a bit, then
got in with the Gosforth crowd (Jim Mageedan, Alan Fitzsimmons), and later
was asked to join the High Level Ranters, after Ali Anderson and Tom Gilfellon
left. I enjoyed that immensely, especially the Australian Tour of 1981, and
continued to play with Johnny Handle in his various bands for many years.
In 1986, to coincide with the first Newcastle Tall Ships Race, I helped set
up the Keelers, the renowned Tyneside shanty group, which went on to do a
lot of work in Poland, Germany, and other parts of Europe, and which continues
to thrive, of course. I have also used the keyboard to extend my repertoire,
I do more contemporary songs, (Keith Marsden, Graham Miles, Terry Conway)
and I anjoy playing fiddle regularly at sessions. Another claim to fame is
that of producer of several "folk shows". These started with "The Tale
of Ale", Vic Gammon's product of 1970, which I adapted to Tyneside later
in the 70s. In my dotage, I have taken to writing about folk music, including
to date three books.
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