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Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?

Gulliver 06 Jul 07 - 02:17 PM
The Borchester Echo 06 Jul 07 - 03:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jul 07 - 04:25 PM
Captain Ginger 06 Jul 07 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 06 Jul 07 - 06:03 PM
Nick E 06 Jul 07 - 06:31 PM
Gulliver 06 Jul 07 - 10:57 PM
Folk Form # 1 07 Jul 07 - 04:52 AM
Jim McLean 07 Jul 07 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 07 Jul 07 - 04:45 PM
The Borchester Echo 07 Jul 07 - 04:51 PM
Kevin Sheils 08 Jul 07 - 06:54 AM
Gulliver 08 Jul 07 - 02:16 PM
The Borchester Echo 08 Jul 07 - 02:21 PM
John MacKenzie 08 Jul 07 - 02:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Jul 07 - 02:36 PM
The Borchester Echo 08 Jul 07 - 02:50 PM
The Borchester Echo 08 Jul 07 - 03:02 PM
John MacKenzie 08 Jul 07 - 03:03 PM
Gulliver 08 Jul 07 - 07:04 PM
The Borchester Echo 09 Jul 07 - 04:56 AM
Kevin Sheils 09 Jul 07 - 05:46 AM
RoyH (Burl) 09 Jul 07 - 06:42 AM
The Borchester Echo 09 Jul 07 - 06:52 AM
RoyH (Burl) 09 Jul 07 - 08:25 AM
The Borchester Echo 09 Jul 07 - 08:42 AM
BB 09 Jul 07 - 02:26 PM
The Sandman 09 Jul 07 - 06:44 PM
Herga Kitty 09 Jul 07 - 07:06 PM
Kevin Sheils 10 Jul 07 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,guest 14 Jan 11 - 11:30 AM
NeilR 14 Jan 11 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Sean in Nenagh Co Tipperary 20 Apr 12 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,Charrington st 11 Oct 16 - 04:55 PM
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Subject: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Gulliver
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 02:17 PM

I'm looking for the name of a folk club in North (I think) London active in the mid-seventies. One singer, with an English country accent sang D-Day Dodgers and other songs about the Spanish Civil War, another singer was North American and sang St. James Infirmary. There was at least one veteran of the Spanish Civil War there regularly.

Could this have been the club at the Unity Theatre (unfortunately burned down in 1975)?

Many thanks in advance, Don


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 03:00 PM

Probably. I could never understand how it was the Unity caught fire as it was dripping with dampness.

It's still going, I think, sporadically as a singaround, somewhere near Mornington Crescent. It was very rapidly eclipsed after the fire by the Knave Of Clubs at Bethnal Green where various ex-Critics started up a marvellous agitprop theatre and song club. Involved were Sandra Kerr, John Faulkner, Mike Rosen, Terry Yarnell, Gordon McCulloch and those sort of usual suspects. 7:84 and Red Ladder put on productions in support of striking miners, shipyard and building workers and many a traditional musician used to just stop by.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 04:25 PM

Unity Theatre, Mornington Crescent - that was a great club, in come ways the best I've ever known. More of a song session really, because it didn't go in for guests. Had some cracking regulars, and a great atmosphere. Instinctively left-wing but never heavy about it. Never felt like agit-prop.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Captain Ginger
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 05:55 PM

Ah, Unity. I was last there (about five years back) at the Enterprise in Chalk Farm, with a lot of support from Sharp's regulars.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 06:03 PM

I once heard Leon Rosselson sing at a sort of Socialist club or centre in East Dulwich (c. 1980). I can't remember the exact name though.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Nick E
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 06:31 PM

Left wing and folk club seem redundant. But perhaps that is too simplistic, Kissinger played a mean dobro from what I've heard.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Gulliver
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 10:57 PM

Diane, McGrath: Yes, Unity would be the one.

I remember reading somewhere that "anti-working class elements" were responsible for burning the place down.

Thanks, Don


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 04:52 AM

A left wing folk club. Now what are the chances of that.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 07:57 AM

Unity Theatre Folk Club, Mornington Crescent, was run by Jack Firestein who noted down every song sung and details of singer/songwriter. Nigel Denver was frequent performer.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 04:45 PM

I would go with Countess Di's 'Knave of Clubs' but there was one with some of the same residents at 'The Railway' at Stratford east for a time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 04:51 PM

Ah yes Jim.
That was before I'd got a visa to cross over the River Lea . . .


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 06:54 AM

One of the old Unity Club regulars is a welcome visitor from time to time at Walthamstow, John Kane.

A year or so back he gave me some old folk (and related) magazines and, lo and behold, in from of me I have a copy of Anarchy issue 51 dated May 1965 and there's a fine article entitled "What have they done to the folk?" by a certain Kevin McGrath!

If it wasn't 6 and a half pages of A4 I'd post it here (with KM's permission of course) well worth reading.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Gulliver
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:16 PM

The Unity is the one I'm thinking of. I lived close by in Oakley Square for a while. I would have been noted by Jack Firestein as singing "Lonzo'n'Howard" there, late '74 (though not under my real name, as I lived in a squat and was also a member of the Republican Movement). I tried to encourage friends of mine to come along, but firstly we were all much younger (late teens to 20), than the clientele, and secondly the singers sang the same songs every week, so it got boring after a while. Still, I heard great songs and enjoyed it when I was there.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:21 PM

it got boring after a while

No, it was always quite boring.
You should have come a mile up the road to the Enterprise, Chalk Farm (resident: one Kevin Sheils, above) or over to the Knave of Clubs.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:21 PM

I'm trying to remember the club at or near Cambridge Circus, run by a Scots lad in the 60s, very left wing, Communist even?
Giok


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:36 PM

Jack Firestein - I'd forgotten the name, but remembered the man. He sat in the corner in the crowded room and unobtrusively controlled it by a kind of telepathy, so that the evening always somehow balanced itself, and the performers complemented each other.

That would have been around 1960. And I never found it boring.
..............
I remember that article I wrote. Can't remember what it said - I wonder if I'd still agree with it now? Post away if you like Kevin S, even iof it might make me cringe to read it...

And give my regards to John.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:50 PM

Perhaps 'boring' isn't the right work.' Prescriptive' it certainly was.

Giok might be thinking of The Roundhouse near Cambridge Circus when Jack Dunnet ran it.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 03:02 PM

Er . . . BRUCE Dunnet.
I just can't get the image of Jack Firestein out of my head.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 03:03 PM

That's the guy Diane, thanks for that, I was racking my brain cell trying to think of his name.
Giok


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Gulliver
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 07:04 PM

There's some mention of Bruce Dunnet in Karl Dallas's memoir of Peter Bellamy here.

Who would that English singer of the D-Day Dodgers in the Unity in 1974 have been? Dark complexion, stocky, with a powerful voice.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 04:56 AM

I'd forgotten about The Scots Hoose, another of Bruce Dunnet's clubs, even though I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at a matinee one day before going there.

I remember the Roundhouse particularly because of being under orders not to let in 'that American Bob' any more without paying.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 05:46 AM

I remember that article I wrote. Can't remember what it said - I wonder if I'd still agree with it now? Post away if you like Kevin S, even iof it might make me cringe to read it...

It mostly made sense to me Kevin M. It would probably be too lengthy to post here. I'll see if I can scan it and OCR it and get an idea then. It would probably work better in the collapse of the Folk Clubs or one of those type of threads but most of those are too long already.

OK off to reconnect my scanner now (running out of ports!) if it looks too lengthy I may put it on another site with a link from here.

Kevin S


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 06:42 AM

My name will be somewhere in Jack Firestein's notebooks for I spent many happy evenings at the Unity folk club in the early 1960's. I was working at the Glennifer Laundry on Bromley Road during the day,and eagerly spent my evenings at this new thing of 'Folk Clubs'. I never found it boring there,it was far too eclectic for that. I remember one evening a lady in a 'Mother Courage' costume sang Brechtian songs, followed by a bloke who said 'I don't know any songs but I'll do you a few conjuring tricks'. Which he did, to the great approval of the audience. I also remember a night when a young Scottish girl,shortly to record for Topic,got up to sing. Her name was Rae Fisher - whatever hapened to her? It was at the Unity that I first met John Foreman. And there was a chap named Jack Cooper writing a lot of songs. I believe I saw Tony McCarthy, concertina player, singer, and editor of 'Sanity' magazine there too. It was an inspirational place,and time,for me. The theatre itself was a training ground for many good actors, and it stood out because of it's left-wing policiy. I was saddened to hear of it's demise. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 06:52 AM

It's not demised.
Currently it hangs out at O'Reilly's in Kentish Town.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 08:25 AM

Thanks Diane, I'm glad to hear that. I thought the fire was the end of it. Is it functioning as a theatre once again, or as a folk session? Burl


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 08:42 AM

It's a pub session but I haven't been for years and years and it keeps changing pubs.
Here's an ad I found:

Unity Theatre Folk Club Meets 7.30 p.m. upstairs at the O'Reilly's, corner of Kentish Town Road and Holmes Road, London NW5 (Map) On the 4th Monday of the month.Singers welcome: £1 admission fee. Contact Gloria Lazenby for further details on 020 7485 8752.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: BB
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 02:26 PM

Kevin, just for a moment there, I read, 'Running out of port'! Now that *would* be terrible! :-)

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 06:44 PM

JimCarroll,I was involved in a folk club at Stratford east,in the mid 70s.
the premises was a theatre folk/workshop in Deanery road.
the name of the theatre company,has escaped my mind,but I do not think they were the same residents as the railway,the residents at this club were DaveSurman,DaveRoberts,Dick Miles,ChrisTimson, AnneGregson StellaQuinn,.
one of the organisers of the theatre workshop was Matt Matthews.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 07:06 PM

Dave Surman still performs in Kidlington, I think, Dave Roberts deceased, Dick Miles is Captain Birdseye, Chris and Anne are in Bradford on Avon (and Chris is concertinachap on Mudcat), don't know about Stella or Matt.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 03:53 AM

Kevin, just for a moment there, I read, 'Running out of port'! Now that *would* be terrible! :-)

Barbara


Terrible? Yes

Likely? Nooooo


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 11:30 AM

This is a bit of an old thread now I appreciate. I worked in London from about 1975 to 1981 and then went back to London in 1994 and again in 1996 until I retired in August 2010. From about 1996 to 2008 I worked at a legal firm firstly in Bow and then in Bethnal Green. I rented a room above "The Albert" Pub in Bow 2002-2004 and so was up and down Bethnal Green Road quite frequently. The "Knave of Clubs" is no longer a working class type pub but in common with the gentrification that has been going on in the area is (well it was the last time I saw it in 2008) an eatery called "Les Trois Garcons".

Pat O'Neill


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: NeilR
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 05:03 PM

Since people are still posting to this thread, it might be worth while updating Unity's contact details: we meet on the last Monday of every month, bank holiday or not (though we do avoid Christmas Day) at the Torriano Meeting House, 99 Torriano Avenue, NW5 - 8.00-11.00 pm. It's one of my favourite clubs, even in the months when I'm not MC, and you'd all be very welcome. Cost of entry has doubled since The Borchester Echo gave it as £1.00 in 2007!


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: GUEST,Sean in Nenagh Co Tipperary
Date: 20 Apr 12 - 08:31 AM

I squated in Charrington St,which was adjacent to the Old Unity Club. Every WED evening,I think, there was a great folk session. My mate Harry (R.I.P)used to sing "The Captains and the King" by Brendan Behan. There were great times when we were young, and I have fond memories of the Unity.


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Subject: RE: Left-wing folk club, London, mid-70's?
From: GUEST,Charrington st
Date: 11 Oct 16 - 04:55 PM

Sean, are you still reading this....or anyone. I am researching the early 1970s squats in Somers Town and wondered if anyone has memories. I saw a fabulous BBC doc from 1973 today and wish I could find out the names of those people interviewed in it.


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