I was given my first guitar (a Levin Goliath) when I was 14, but it was not until university that I finally settled on folk music as my genre of choice – at least for playing.
Shortly after moving to the North-East I joined Dave Martin and Nigel Bond (brother to Pete, Trevor and John) in the group Blue Anchor. We played all over the region, and occasionally further afield, and made two recordings – an album shared with Pete Beresford and Mick Sheehan called “Some Cleveland and Dales Folk” and our own album “Plenty Love and Bacon”. We also ran the Pied Piper Folk Club in Osmotherly.
In 1983 I moved to Tyneside. Then Dave moved to Cheshire, and practicing got a bit difficult, so Blue Anchor called it a day.
My local folk club now is The Davy Lamp Folk Club, held on the first Saturday of every month (except for the summer break) at the Arts Centre in Fatfield, Washington. Each night kicks off with a session, of which this is a typical example.
I play with a semi-professional group called Backshift, along with Terri and Eric Freeman and Ken Tonge. With a few other singers and musicians we also comprise the residents at the Davy Lamp. Between us we’ve made several CDs – this is the latest.
Several of us and our wives also play and dance with The Washington Downtown Cloggies – the Appalachian Clog Dancing troupe that has spun off the folk club.
Peggy Seeger is a consummate performer and true professional, but not above getting a local guitarist up on stage with her. One of my prouder moments!
Myself at the club, hoping that if I can only get the guitar (a Martin M36) in tune I will sound like a real singer. I used to play mostly ragtime, like the Dallas Rag (1,447 KB). This was recorded on my venerable (1966) Martin D18. If you’re familiar with Dave Liebman’s arrangement you’ll notice I’ve simplified a couple of bars! Since developing functional dystonia I can only use a plectrum – so when I’m playing on my own I stick with songs like the Brownsferry Blues (2,804 KB).
With Backshift I mostly play mandolin. I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to acquire a Sobell and a couple of Gibsons (1924 and 2004).
Amongst my other instruments are a really nice Weber Bridger Octave Mandolin (which I’m playing in the session above), a Hohner Musette IV accordian and a very old tenor banjo. Some of these can be heard on this home recording (4MB) on a friend’s 8-track.