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January 2019


“You ought to get out more often” appears to be a popular retort aimed at someone who is obsessed by some item of trivia and who makes a great show of letting everyone else know about it. I would be reluctant to put myself in that category but the statement could quite succinctly apply to me when I look back over 2018. Now I will be the first to admit that the last twelve months have been anything but normal, especially the last three months of the year, but even so apart from the monthly trip to Tigerfolk I can’t recall having been to another folk club, festival or folk event throughout the year.

This was brought home to me most poignantly in November when I learned of the death of Roy Bailey, someone who had been among my favourite singers for many years. I first encountered Roy live at Newcastle Festival in 1974 when he was in concert with Leon Rosselson and as expected it was a highly politically motivated performance which left me wanting more. Afterwards when I asked him if he had any more plans to visit the North East he explained that he hadn’t had a lot of offers from the clubs up there so we were among those who set about putting this right. The ensuing years saw me witnessing his performances more often and I even got him down to the Red Lion at Kegworth when his International commitments would allow. Although in the early stages he mixed social commentary with traditional material the last few gigs I saw him play he was pretty well 100% contemporary with some exceptionally thought provoking material.

So I am now left wondering with Roy gone who is singing and writing the political songs of the day? God knows there is plenty to write about at the moment! What a field day MacColl and the Critics Group would have had with Austerity, Brexit, Food Banks, Universal Credit and all the other evils of the present moment. That is where getting out more often comes into it; am I missing out? Are there young singers around the clubs railing against injustice and inequality? There is a tradition of protest throughout the years in folk song but is it being continued and if so where can I find it?

In July I will be among the crowd to see two such performers from the golden age of protest, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, when they play Hyde Park but is it that generation alone who are keeping the torch burning (and in Nottingham in 2016 Dylan was more prepared to visit the Great American Songbook than his far more worthy archive)?

On paper anyway I should have a bit more time on my hands from mid - January onwards so if anyone can point me in the right direction I would be most grateful.


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Sunday 6th January 2019

New Year Sing


Sunday 2nd December 2018

Martyn Wyndham-Read

“I associate stories with songs”

A quote from our December guest, Martyn Wyndham-Read, as he introduced “Away to Tintinara” written by Mike O’Connor. And, in a way, it summed up the consummate performance that we were privileged to experience on our December night. Hardly a wasted word issued from the lips of Martyn, well thought out introductions and accompaniments graced every song in each of the well-crafted sets presented to an appreciative and very attentive audience.

As is normal with Tigerfolk, our guest is asked for a 10 minute “Taster Spot” to close the first of the three halves of the evening and Martyn duly obliged. We were invited to go sailing round the world with Christy Farrell and maybe it was he who dropped anchor in Australia. For the first three songs were about reminiscences of that sailor, a farmer; “Across the Miles” and a worker in the outback; “The Aged Stockman”. The last two songs had us in the Antipodes and there we stayed with swag men, drunks, shearers, transportees and the lovelorn. Sure, we all know something of swag men but sundowners? We were enlightened after the singing of “The Reedy Lagoon”. A poem of “Dipso Dan” and his arthritis led us to a fascinating insight into the life of shearers and more snippets of information(Did you know that the record for the number of sheep shorn with hand shears in a day is over 300) and their way of life as described in “The Ryebuck Shearer”. Australia wouldn’t be where it is today if it hadn’t of been for transportation, something for you to ponder on, but again the life of the transported was brought to us with “The Far and Fatal Shore”. Although still in Down Under we were reminded, in the last song of this set, of the links that connect us with Australia with a version of “Barbara Allen” from there. Songs of the First World War; “Severn to the Somme”, Martin Graebe, “The Year of the Drum”, Wendy Joseph and “Farewell to Anzacs”, Cicely Fox Smith were offered for our delectation in the final session by Martyn. Fond memories were evoked for many with “The AW Song” by Tony Bayliss, a tribute and reflection on the larger than life Alfred Wainwright, one of the highlights of the night. Having said that, there wasn’t a fag paper between any of Martyn’s’ songs on this most memorable of nights and certainly “Come Walk with Me” by Liz Weston was up there with best. We were back in our guest’s beloved Sussex for “Fare Thee Well”, collected from Mrs. Verrall we hoped it wasn’t fare thee well and we were right for we travelled “Away to Tintinara”. One might say a biographical song of Marten's formative years in Australia penned by his old compatriot Mike O’Connor. What makes it just a bit special is the Tintinara is the aboriginal word for the Orion Constellation and was also the name of the ship that Martyn sailed out on to Australia. We couldn’t leave it at that and we were entertained with an encore of a Sussex ditty; “Perry Merry Winkle” (which you can find on YouTube”). What a night, it certainly ended our year on the highest of highs.

Many thanks to Sheila Bentham for steering the good ship Tigerfolk on a memorable evening. To all our contributors; Harriet Havers, Lyn Cooper, Al Atkinson, Andy Cooper, Bill Wilkes, Jack Crawford, John Chambers, John Ledbury, Paul Mansfield, Phil Hind, Sam Stephens and the residents thanks to each and every one of you. Also to our non-performing folk, without your support we would be a lot poorer. It was great to see a full room with old and new friends joined in a common love of song and to be party to a wonderful evening in the company of Martyn Wyndham-Read.


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Bendle’s Bit

Welcome to the start of what looks like being an interesting year, read into that what you will.

What I will say is that the forthcoming 12 months will certainly be entertaining and, I hope, informative and interesting for you all at Tigerfolk and this is for why. The “Conspirators” have worked long into the night over beer, nibbles and wine, an arduous task for anyone, to bring together a programme for your delectation. As is our policy, we wish to present traditional song as well as introducing you to artists who you may not of heard of or seen but who we feel are worthy carriers of the music.

We welcome for the first time to the club Stanley Accrington who will help us celebrate our birthday and who will, no doubt, bring a few smiles to our faces during the evening. Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman, long time favourites of many have been on our list for a booking for some time and it will be a pleasure to share an evening with them in July. Professor Will Kaufman, singer and multi-instrumentalist, is regarded as the world’s leading authority on Woody Guthrie and brings us his presentation “Woody Guthrie and Old Man Trump” which tells of the battle between Woody and his racist Brooklyn landlord Fred C. Trump, now that name rings a bell. From Devon we are pleased to introduce Bill Crawford who has long been a much respected singer on the folk scene in the south west not only as a soloist but as a member of The Claque, in fact, a good all round egg steeped in the traditions and lore of his beloved county. Our first guest at The Stumble Inn, in somewhat chaotic circumstances, was Judy Cook and grand it will be to see her back bringing us songs of from the American tradition. A few years ago we had a Lancastrian night which featured Sid Calderbank, Peter and Barbara Snape. Peter and Barbara have really been making a name for themselves since then and they will be bringing us, our second presentation of the year, all about the industries of Lancashire. Hours of research have gone into this show of songs, music, photos and quotes. When Pete Burnham lived in these parts he was a stalwart of the local folk scene which included ourselves and we regularly enjoyed his singing from the floor and as a guest when a member of GU4, a much missed local group. However, we have prised him out of Northumberland to pay us a much anticipated visit. Will Noble, then singing with John Cocking, was much delayed by the Tour de France on their last visit, so we hope that the roads will be quieter when he and the family come down in December. It is always a joy to listen to and be in the company of Will and Pippa who have been down on a number of occasions and what better way can there be than ending the year with old friends.

So, there you have it, the first part of the deal is done, what’s left to do is to welcome our guests and yourselves to Tigerfolk for another year of folk music at its best.

John Bentham



See you at the Stumble Inn for the first Singers Night of the New Year



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