I have been involved in singing traditional songs since the 1960s. like many others I first got interested in folk song through skiffle and when a folk club opened in Surbiton, where I lived, I was one the first members. The main resident and organiser was Derek Sarjeant and he was the first person I heard singing English folk songs. Round about the same time Sean McCarthy opened a club in Clapham Junction specifically for new singers, I plucked up courage went along and made my singing debut. The encouragement I received boosted my confidence and I soon started attending and singing at other clubs in the London area and in particular The Fighting cocks Club in Kingtson upon Thames. It was here that I met Rod Stradling and a fine Scots singer, Drew Lees. The club closed for the summer and Rod and I attended the 1964 Sidmouth Folk Festival. We were both inspired by Louis Killen and Cyril Tawney singing Copper family songs and Rod proposed that we do the same. He also proposed that we re-open The Fighting Cocks club as a traditional club with Drew, Rod and myself as residents, we were later joined by Pete Wood. Our policy was to only book singers who performed traditional material. The club ran successfully for a number of years until each of us started to go our separate ways.
I completed my teacher training in 1972 and gained a Certificate in Education (FE) and In 1974 I moved to Lincolnshire to take up a teaching post and started to attend the Grimsby Folk club and in due course became a resident of the club and one of the organisers of the Cleethorpes Festival. When RADIO HUMBERSIDE launched its folk programme ‘Humberside Folk’ I was invited to contribute. I regularly gave record reviews and also a regular feature called ‘Songs Under the Microscope’ in which I researched the background and story of a particular song/ballad or song theme.
Over the years I have sung at many clubs and festivals but always working around the ‘day job’. I have also managed to fit in four degrees (BA; MA Educ.; MA History and a PhD) all of which I achieved while also being the Head of the Teacher Education Department at Grimsby University Centre. Now that I have more time available I am pursuing academic research, writing journal articles while also continuing with my great passion of singing traditional songs. I recently gave a talk to music students at Grimsby University Centre on folk song. As a follow up, the course tutor supervised students in the recording studio giving them experience using the equipment to record me. Hence the new CD – Simply Traditional.