The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #171757 Message #4155287
Posted By: Vic Smith
16-Oct-22 - 01:27 PM
Thread Name: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
The funeral of my great friend and colleague of over 50 years Jim Marshall took place last month. He became interested in both folk and country music as an enthusiast and then as an organiser from the late 1950s. He was involved of running both folk and country music clubs in Brighton, particularly the long-running and highly successful folk club at the Stanford Arms. Also over decades he shared the presentation and production of both the Country music and Folk music weekly programmes on BBC Radio Sussex; the Country programme with Neil Coppendale and the Folk programme with myself. He was particularly interested in that "borderland" where folk merged into country.
I gave the eulogy at his funeral and here are three extracts that have a particular relevance here: -
In talking about the many aspects and ways that Jim gave his time freely to promote the music that he loved, I am only - in the time available - able to give you the headlines. There will be many aspects that I leave out. Jim was an ideas man and one of his early innovations was ‘Folk Voice’. This was a tape magazine club started by Jim and Mike Storey in the early 1960s. For many years it was the only link with American country music for many British fans had and he managed to attract well known performers to record items. In particular Jimmie Driftwood was a regular contributor.
Folk Voice also organised the annual festivals that were held initially at Cecil Sharp House in London, then Islington Town Hall, and provided an important meeting place for British country and folk musicians, as well as fans and other interested parties. One of the singers that was booked for these events is here today, Terry Masterson.
Jim’s first venture as an organiser was to be one of the four people to organise the first Brighton Country Music Clubs which met at the Springfield Hotel on Wednesdays. Another of the four was Brian Golbey, who was to become a close friend of Jim. Brian was a very talented singer and musician who was on the cusp of his very long and successful career in Country music. He began touring mainly folk clubs on his own and in partnership with the banjo player, Pete Stanley. It got to the stage where he needed someone to handle the paper work, contracts setting dates and so on. Who could he get to do this? You’ve guessed it….. Jim!
By the mid-1960s, folk clubs and pubs had become the life-blood of country music, but soon designated country music clubs started springing up enabling homegrown bands like the Frank Jennings Syndicate, Country Fever and Lincoln Park Inn to have a circuit to work on.
The scene was opened up further at this time with the formation of the British Country Music Association by Jim along with Mike Storey and Goff Greenwood. The B.C.M.A thrived as the focal point for all British country musicians, the thriving club scene and as an information network. The main source of this information in those pre-internet days was the beautifully produced British Country Music Year Books with all the information on clubs, bands, solo singers, record companies and so on collated and laid out by Jim.
One of the most ambitious aspects of the B.C.M.A. was the annual Country Music tours of many of Country Music’s high spots in the USA these were organised by Jim and Mike Storey starting in the early 1970s. Jim came back bursting with enthusiasm at the warm welcome they received everywhere, and in particular the reception that their Greyhound bus loads of British enthusiasts met at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry. The last show of the Grand Ole Opry was held on March 15, 1974. The next time their tour took them there it had become the Opryland Theme Park. Can you imagine what Jim’s reaction as to this? That’s right….. he hated it!