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Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'

GUEST,twm 909 25 Feb 24 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Feb 24 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 25 Feb 24 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Feb 24 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,twm 909 25 Feb 24 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,twm 909 24 Feb 24 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 24 Feb 24 - 04:33 PM
GUEST,twm 909 24 Feb 24 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 24 - 07:19 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 24 Feb 24 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,twm 909 24 Feb 24 - 04:20 AM
GUEST 23 Feb 24 - 08:31 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 23 Feb 24 - 03:59 PM
GUEST 23 Feb 24 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,twm909 23 Feb 24 - 12:01 PM
The Sandman 16 Feb 24 - 01:12 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Feb 24 - 12:13 PM
The Sandman 16 Feb 24 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Johnny Fewings 11 Feb 24 - 06:58 AM
The Borchester Echo 30 Aug 09 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 30 Aug 09 - 07:01 AM
The Borchester Echo 30 Aug 09 - 02:59 AM
Fidjit 30 Aug 09 - 02:23 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 Aug 09 - 07:12 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Aug 09 - 06:07 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 Aug 09 - 05:19 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Aug 09 - 04:07 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Aug 09 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 Aug 09 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Tom 29 Aug 09 - 02:13 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Aug 09 - 09:14 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Aug 09 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 Aug 09 - 05:48 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Aug 09 - 05:19 AM
Fidjit 29 Aug 09 - 02:39 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 05:23 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Winger 28 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Aug 09 - 03:30 PM
greg stephens 28 Aug 09 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Aug 09 - 02:43 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 09 - 12:15 PM
GUEST, Sminky 28 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM
greg stephens 28 Aug 09 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Aug 09 - 09:42 AM
greg stephens 28 Aug 09 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 28 Aug 09 - 06:52 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 09 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Aug 09 - 06:08 AM
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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm 909
Date: 25 Feb 24 - 12:58 PM

How do you post photos on this website?

And is there a limit as to the size of the file?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Feb 24 - 12:30 PM

Princess Louise, Holborn. I recognise the wallpaper.

I have a shot of E & P at around the same time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 25 Feb 24 - 06:46 AM

I am aware of this photo of some club hosted by EM and his group. There were others from the same venue that included Heaney, I seem to recall. What I unfortunately can't recall is the venue where these were taken.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Feb 24 - 06:03 AM

twm99

You have probably already done so but I just put Dean Gitter's name into my search engine and it comes up with a number of postings, profiles, obituary etc plus photographs from later in life.

Quite an interesting man.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm 909
Date: 25 Feb 24 - 05:10 AM

OOPS! mea culpa. I got some dates mixed up in the third paragraph of the previous posting. It was 1958 not 1953.

The EVENING STANDARD article was published on Monday 17 March 1958, as an IN LONDIN LAST NIGHT piece, so Dean Gitter was at the Ballads and Blues on 16 March 1958.

Not sure how that happened - maybe a mix up with articles on the "Ballads and Blues" radio programmes in March/April 1953.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm 909
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 06:50 PM

I am not researching London folk clubs in the 1960s. I was looking into a related matter and this 'thread' came to my attention. Reading through it, I saw the Ballads & Blues mentioned and, since I had some of the relevant materials to hand, I thought I might contribute something. It was serendipity, I suppose.

The last name that I expected to see was Dean Gitter. His name had come up 10 or 15 years ago, to do with some film proposal he had in 1973. That proposal was peripherally connected to a Peckinpah film, an aspect of which a friend of mine has been looking into. While giving some help, Dean Gitter popped into my mind. And then his name was in this thread. Another stroke of serendipity.

I simply had not previously known that Dean Gitter had been in London folk clubs back then. I only knew the name because of that 1973 film proposal. I have since found his name in a March 1953 EVENING STANDARD article about the Ballads and Blues. So I now know that he performed there on 12 March 1953. It said he came from Boston, so, more out of curiosity than anything, I looked for newspaper reports in that general area and found quite a bit about him. A 1971 article said he got a scholarship to LAMDA and met his future wife, who ws British, in London. Apart from that and that one B&B appearance, I know nothing more of his time in London.

In the States, he recorded an LP ("Ghost Songs") and managed Odetta. Indeed, he wrote the notes for her 1956 Tradition LP, "Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues".

I wonder where he got that title from.

If you, or anyone here, can add anything else about Gitter's time in London, it would fun to learn more.

Yes, MELODY MAKER's "Folk Forum" column is an excellent research source and, some years back, I did a little digging at the British Library - perhaps I'll do some more some time. I also have quite a bit of "stuff" from the 1960s - folk mags and the like, old club membership cards, tickets, and some of my old pocket diaries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 04:33 PM

If you are researching London folk clubs of that era you would be better researching the Melody Maker small ads. than Sing. Melody Maker's Folk Forum was written by Eric Winter too. But personally never found that to be of much importance either.

The EFDSS was more interested in dance than song and I doubt that they had space or interest in the large number of clubs in the capital. I doubt that many of the B and B audience would have subscribed to their magazine. Some of Ewan & Peggy's club probably(?) did.

Dean Gitter? He was at the club when I first started attending. Another American among the several that came over in the early days of the Folk Scare: Peggy Seeger, Guy Carawan, Ralph Rinzler, Alan Lomax, Fred Gerlach, Sandy Paton and his wife, Jack Elliott, Derrol Adams and from Canada Winston and Mary Jane Young plus of course Pete Seeger when the Ballads and Blues put on a concert at At Pancras Town Hall (which was recorded and issued on vinyl) when he was first allowed to travel.
I have two or three photographs from the Princess Louise days one of which is of Ewan & Penny at the Mic (I am sure this is the night that the BBC recorded proceedings) Seated behind Ewan is Dean Gitter but his face is partly hidden.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm 909
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 10:51 AM

Yes, you are right about SING's September 1961 "directory of folk songs clubs". It was trailed in the August 1961 issue, which said that the September issue of the magazine would be "on sale AUGUST 21". Eric Winter must have assumed it would be at the Soho Square venue.

Curiously, it was next mentioned in the November 1961 issue, at the top of a list of "NEW CLUBS". This listing says that it was open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (at both 7.30 and 11.00 pm on the Saturday) but, on Sundays, it opened at 6.00 pm as a members club.

SING did folk club listing inserts with its September 1961 and its May 1962 issues. I believe it did a third but I don't have that.

Come the April 1964 issue, there was a listing of folk clubs in Britain included in its printed pages. However, this list had been compiled by the EFDSS and did not include the Ballads & Blues.

Thereafter, SING ceded this compilation task to the EFDSS, so perhaps there's the place to go check.

The EFDSS did publish a "FOLK DIRECTORY" for 1965, probably at the end of 1964 or early in 1965. This included a list of folk clubs, as submitted by club organisers. Again, there is no mention of the Ballads & Blues, even though the club was placing small ads in MELODY MAKER, which leads me to this.

In respect of the Black Horse, this is the venue given for "Hootenanny, Ballads & Blues" in MELODY MAKER's "FOLK FORUM" column in both the 12 September 1964 issue (Malcolm Price and Sandy & Jeanie were the listed performers) and 13 February 1965 issue (Sandy & Jeanie - again - plus Rena Swankie and Joanne Hindley Smith). I cannot say what the venue was after that date.

ON A SEPARATE MATTER, what can anyone tell me about Dean Gitter? His name came up in something from early 1973 and it meant nothing to me. He was evidently an American in London but what else should I know? Can anyone provide more information about him?.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 07:19 AM

joe heaney did indeed sing at the singers club before he left for america.he had four children in clydebank two of which are alive today and are close friends of myself.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 06:29 AM

Apologies if I mis-read your comments. Easily done.

Just to clarify where my knowledge comes from.

I attended the Ballads and Blues at The Princess Louise each week from around 1956/57, can't remember the exact date.I took guitar lessons from Peggy Seeger until she had to skip off briefly to France in 1959.

Malcolm Nixon asked me to take on the booking and running of the Ballads and Blues from September 1961 at the Seven Down (Eric Winter's SING magazine was probably printed before he knew of the new venue) which I did until we closed down in May 1965 at The King of Corsica in Berwick Street as stated above. NOT The Black Horse. After we left the Black Horse and before the King of Corsica we were at The Porcupine just off Charing Cross Road.

Other venues post Princess Louise included The Coram Hotel in Fitzrovia and The Horse Shoes next to The Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm 909
Date: 24 Feb 24 - 04:20 AM

Sorry about the typo -"and" should read "under" in the penultimate sentence of the previous post.

To be even clearer, the use of "Hootenannies" in place of Ballads and Blues (at least as listed in SING) occurred in 1959 but the use of "Hootenannies" in connection with the Ballads and Blues earlier than that.

Eric Winter wrote an article about the Ballads and Blues in the 3 May 1958 issue of THE GIARDIAN (then THE MANCHESTER GUARDIAN, of course). In it, he said that "The programmes are called 'Hootenannies'" - and goes on to explain what that means.

That particular paragraph ends with the following sentence:-

"'One rule', says Ewan MacColl, who acts as informal master of ceremonies: 'English people sing English songs, Americans sing American songs, and Scots sing Scottish songs'".

Perhaps this, from the last paragraph of Eric Winter's article, may be of interest, too:

"Folk-song is no longer the exclusive province of cycling parsons and genteel schoolmistresses. It has become successful entertainment and a profitable commercial venture in the West End of London".

The Ballads and Blues, a "profitable commercial venture"? Bring back the cycling parsons and the genteeel schoolmistresses.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 24 - 08:31 PM

I was not wrong, Hootenanny. You misread what I wrote.

In my first post, I said the Ballads and Blues stopped after the summer break in 1962, not in 1961. Malcolm Nixon did not restart it after the 1962 summer break.

And, in my second post, I said I had omitted to mention that the club had moved to the Sevendown by the end of 1961.

SING magazine's "Directory of Folk Song Clubs" (September 1961) still gave the venue as the ACTT premises in Soho Square, so it must have moved to the Sevendown later that year.

And, when you refer to the "Hootenanny Ballads and Blues" heading for the club's small ads in MELODY MAKER, this was in 1964-1965 period, not the period I was discussing. So that heading was not "always".

And you are mistaken as to the venue of the Ballads and Blues in that 1964-1965 "season". It was the Black Horse in Rathbone Place, not the venue you mentioned, which may, perhaps, have been later.

Finally, my reference to "Hootenannies" was to a much earlier period still. In late 1959. SING named the club as "Hootenannies", with no mention of Ballads and Blues at all. But the night, the venue and the residents at "Hootenannies" were the same as for the Ballads and Blues. It was just being run and a different name.

All of the above comes from contemporary publications, not memory, so unlikely to be wrong, let alone "plain wrong".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 23 Feb 24 - 03:59 PM

Guest twm is plain wrong.

The Ballads and Blues Club continued after the Summer break of 1961 in September at the Seven Down in the premises previously operating as The Partisan coffee bar at number 7 Carlisle Street. The next venue we moved to and certainly the best was The Black Horse pub in Rathbone Place. Sadly Danny the Irish landlord died at quite a young age and we moved to one or two other pubs in the West End.

Jill Cook of Collett's Record shop also ran a Monday night club at The Black Horse after we had been there for a while using singers such as Bert Jansch.

The Ballads and Blues club continued until May 1965. The venue at that time was The King of Corsica in Brewer Street.

The ads in Melody Maker every week were always headed Hootenanny at the Ballads & Blues.

Over a number of years there have been quite a few postings here with mis-information re The Singer's Club run by Ewan and Peggy, and The Ballads and Blues Club, usually as in the case above spouted by someone was not there. Ewan and Peggy left their Ballads and Blues residency in order to have a club where they could dictate the policy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 24 - 12:33 PM

Turning now to the King & Queen, there were three music evenings there in late-1962.

"The King & Queen Folk Club" ran on Mondays. Performers mentioned include Steve Benbow, Alex Campbell and Stan Kelly. Pete Fisher was the organiser. In late 1961, Jenny Barton (she of Saturday Night At The Troubadour) reported that, the night she was present, "Alex Campbell was in charge" and there were "five singers, ten audience and a black cat".

Then on Wednesdays, there was "Russell Quay's CITY RAMBLERS Spasm Band", with Hylda Sims and Hennessey among those mentioned.

Finally, every Friday, there was "THE THAMES-SIDE 4 Folk Club". Their opening night had been on 9 January 1962. The four members at that time were Martin Carthy, Marian Gray, Pete Maynard and Redd Sullivan. Marian Gray was handling their bookings and they also had a residency at the Witches Cauldron in Belsize Park at the time.

______________________________________________________________________


In my previous post, I should have mentioned that the Ballads & Blues had moved to The Sevendown in Carlisle Street before the end of 1961.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,twm909
Date: 23 Feb 24 - 12:01 PM

The Singers Club's first meeting was at the ACTT premises in Soho Square on 25 June 1961, which was a Sunday (initially it met there on alternate Sundays). Malcolm Nixon continued the B&B there (every Saturday) for about a year thereafter but did not restart following the summer break in 1962. Since at least late-1959, the B&B had run under the title HOOTENANNIES (sometimes varying that title a bit, I believe).

The Singers Club moved to the Pindar of Wakefield around September 1962, presumably following its summer break, and ran on two nights a week. Saturday evenings were mainly for individual singers, Sundays for groups.

The above information comes from contemporary issues of SING and from their occasional club listings inserts (and from the Folk Forum column of MELODY MAKER in late 1962).

I believe the next Singers Club venue was the Royal Hotel on Southampton Row. I still have my ticket for 15 February 1964, which I think was the opening night there. I didn't find it that friendly a place but did return a month later. The person who impressed me most was Tom Paley, though I can't say which of the two nights that was.

When the Singers Club first started, Ewan MacColl wrote an article for SING entitled "Why I am opening a new club". It consisted of five numbered paragraphs. Here is the first of those:

“It is necessary to rescue a large number of young people, all of whom have the right instincts, from those influences that have appeared on the folk scene during the past two or three years – influences that are doing their best to debase the meaning of folk song. The only notes that some people care about are bank notes”.

He continues in a similar vein.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 24 - 01:12 PM

I decided to avoid the Singers Club, I had an encounter with Ewan, and i thought it unlikely to be good craic, Jim described me once, on this forum as a talentless moron.
If i had gone to the singers club, WHO KNOWS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Feb 24 - 12:13 PM

“Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven.”


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 24 - 04:15 AM

why not contacr jim carroll, he does not come to mudcat anymore, he is on facebook or riddlesjimatgmail.com


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Johnny Fewings
Date: 11 Feb 24 - 06:58 AM

Anyone remember where the room at the Pinder Of Wakefield was in the pub. Currently music is at the back. (Water Rats). But was that the same room? Pictures of the old room show windows. So maybe upstairs??


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:05 AM

The Hootenanny person is quite right is noting that I haven't a clue who he is. We have all, however, observed him badmouthing Ewan MacColl on the most convoluted of pretexts and, indeed, we all know plenty like him who do likewise without ever even having seen Ewan perform nor even having met him. They hear something here and read something there and leap to their wildly off-beam conclusions. H claims, however, to have known Ewan. Not all that well, it would seem and I'm not about to start smiling at duplicitous people who malign the departed who they allege were "friends" in this life.

However, this self-deluding individual now tries to pretend that he had a forerunner CCTV device on the door of the Princess Louise which proves categorically that I never entered its portals. Must have been out of order on quite a few Saturdays then. None of which has anything to do with the topic which is, after all, the Singers, not the B&B.

Maybe H should climb into a time machine and ask the serried ranks at the K&Q party he wasn't invited to where I was throughout the late 50s, the 60s, the 70s . . . 'Twould be quite hard to "get out" more than I do / have done. Where do I live?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 07:01 AM

I'm sorry Borchester but you really do seem to enjoy spouting off vehemently about observations that you made at a club which you didn't attend and now you are telling me that I "resented Ewan's wisdom". As far as I am aware our paths have never crossed and you did not know me then and you do not know me now but still you pass judgement.

As I have already suggested you should calm down a little and learn to smile and perhaps get out a little more.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 02:59 AM

All I did was reproduce a statement made by Peggy Seeger about why policy among members and residents was formulated as it was, and how. The only thing you and Jim Carroll seem to agree on is that she got her dates slightly wrong but now you seem to be accusing me as well as PS of not knowing what building we were in on Saturday nights. I think it hardly likely that Peggy would confuse one club with another, but know that I certainly did not and am not in need of your "correction". Bert Lloyd used to send me reams of single-spaced, manual-typed rewrites of my reviews which I greatly appreciated. Scatter-gun snarlings from you (whoever you are) are not.

Ewan helped and encouraged me greatly and I only wish I'd had the foresight to hang on in longer. You, on the other hand, resented his wisdom and example and wanted to be left to continue "your" establishment in a downmarket, GEFFish fashion. You got your wish when E&P left to found the Singers. Which is what the OP was inquiring about.

The B&B (from what I observed) was dominated by a bunch of tedious bearded leftover misfits from the jazz and skiffle era, whereas the Singers was a vibrant hotbed of innovation and interpretation (that is until Sandra Kerr and others took off to Bethnal Green to pursue the goal of agitprop song and theatre even more forcefully at the Knave of Clubs).

You are presumably still sitting round your virtual campfire in your knotted Y-fronts railing at any hint of musical progression. It's not funny and it's not clever to slag off Ewan at the drop of a pork-pie hat, still less so to distort his teaching and philosophy. You didn't like his methods? Fine, no one ever forced you to take part. Carry on with Kumbaya but out of vision, please.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Fidjit
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 02:23 AM

Jim Carroll

Crap voice. . . . .

I'm sure it's all relative.

Pretty sure that someday, somewhere, somewhen, someone will say that I have a crap voice. test for yourself

I presume that this "M.O.O. Chacun á son goút " is some form of garlic swearing. Pun intended.

Stay well

Chas


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 07:12 PM

Ms B E
I have never had a feud with Ewan. As I have said before I very much enjoyed much but not all of what he did. I have no idea where you get your ridiculous ideas from. Some people make mistakes when posting items on this thread confusing The Ballads & Blues Club with The Singers Club mainly because Peggy and Ewan appeared at both. In my humble way I try to correct the points that I know about.
I really do think you should lighten up a bit Life is far too short to keep getting your knickers in a twist every time someone tries to correct you. Not everyone spends their life trying to score points.

Keep Smilng

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 06:07 PM

Actually I found what went on in the B&B a bit of a popularist mish-mash run by ancient 30+ Good Enough For F*lk beardies. Not like the "proper" sessions I'd wormed my way into after school and orchestra practice in Newcastle. As far as I can remember, I only went to the Princess Louise which certainly sold beer and continued to do so in all the years I subsequently attended NUJ meetings there.

Ha! So "Hootenanny" wasn't invited to the K&Q party then? Or perhaps couldn't find the pub. Talking of "immaturity", isn't it time you dropped your ridiculous feud of 50 years duration with a man who is 20 years dead and whose musical contribution and legacy is massive? Jim Carroll is right, Ewan didn't tell you or anyone else what they should be doing. He went off and set an example, and did what he did. Well.

Oh. What was the question?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 05:19 PM

Jim,
I obviously misunderstand you. I got the impression that you along with several other singers joined the critics group and were helped greatly by what Ewan and Peggy taught you, is that not what you are saying in your postings. Perhaps "told us how to do it" was an unfortunate choice of words. I also get the impression from your various postings that you do hero-worship Ewan that isn't snide in my book or critical, many of us have heroes.


Borchester Echo,

So the answer to my question is NO. Yes I do know the King & Queen in Foley Street and remember it from the days when Curly Simon ran it but there is/was more than one pub with that name in London one of which happened to be in Paddington Green I don't know if it still exists. You seem also to be mis-informed if you thought that the B&BA was run by old codgers the oldest at the time of which I speak was in his thirties, others in their twenties. At least three venues where the B&BA held their get togethers did not serve alcohol so your immaturity would not have mattered at that time.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 04:07 PM

Hoot
"Do you seriously think that the people in the present-day folk scene would be interested in purchasing Ewan and Peggy's seminars"
No, of course I don't; why should you think they should be sold? But some of the work we did may be of some use to singers, so why not make them available, on the internet say?
The Critics Group spent around ten years working on singing; whenever a problem is raised on this forum: voice production, pitch, range... whatever, quite often my reaction is - we did that in the C.G.
It may well be that other groups were doing similar work, but if ours is useful for singers - what's your problem?
"The music existed long before Ewan and Peggy told us all how to do it."
Perhaps you might tell us where to find "Ewan and Peggy telling us how to do it".
I gave the presentation on The Critics Group at the symposium held for his 70th birthday, and my main criticism of the group and Ewan was that, in spite of all the shit thrown at him, or the misrepresentation of the group's work, or John Brune's efforts to sabotage the radio ballad 'The Travelling People', (don't suppose you were at The John Snow meeting, were you?) and all the rest of the crap surrounding Ewan, his ideas and his work, he or they never publicly commented about what was happening in the folk scene, never criticised or analysed other clubs or performers, but just got on with what they were doing.
The ironic thing about all this is, of course is that people who snide about Ewan telling people how to sing, what to sing, (even chucking gypsies off his non-existant property), are behaving exactly as they accuse him of behaving.
"Ewan may be your personal hero....
He isn't/wasn't.
I knew him, enjoyed his company, liked his singing, respected his work and was grateful for the time he devoted to me and other less experienced singers while the rest of the revival 'stars' were getting on with their careers, but in spite of your snide accusation of hero-worship, I recognised him as a flawed human being with loads of faults, some of them serious.
My problem is that I would like to see an open debate on the work and ideas that came about through the Critics Group, but each time the opportunity arises we have to scramble a shit-mountain (finger-in-ear, Jimmy Miller, war record...... yatta-yatta-yattata, and it just never happens.
If I had to choose between MacColl, warts-and-all, and all this bollocks - sorry, no contest.
Jim Carroll
PS I was hoping for a response to my earlier question from Greg Stephens


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 03:45 PM

I think you will find that I mentioned having dropped by the Princess Louise, Cousins and the Troubadour and wherever the Singers happened to be during my teenage years while on the run from school and then university. Of course I was never a Ballads & Blues member, that would have been illegal and would have got some of those old codgers locked up (which might have been A Good Thing).

Ewan used to get mildly pissed off when I pretended to be a visiting Finnish au pair or whatever and eventually suggested I came along to the Critics, which I did a few times, believing that it could do no harm, which it didn't. I recall Anne Briggs being asked at the same time but she refused. I certainly needed the advice more than she did. Ewan was unfailingly pleasant and encouraging and for many years afterwards whenever our paths crossed he always inquired what I was doing musically.

The King & Queen (which is in Foley Street, Fitzrovia) had an anniversary party a couple of years ago hosted by Martin Carthy and Pete Stanley. Anniversary of what I can't remember . . . 50 years? Surely not. I got invited and Martin Nail (who was on the door) said he'd been told not to charge me. So there. Come to think of it, it was there that Tony Engle told me to go and pester Rod about Oak recordings.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 03:14 PM

Dear Ms Borchseter Echo,
I can assure you that I have interest at all regarding your drinking habits. My reason for asking at what period you frequented the Ballads and Blues Club is that I got the impression from your various contributions that you had been a member or at least attended as a visitor. The fact that you haven't answered but told us about your 1960 holiday instead would indicate that you never did. Therefore much of what you post would appear to be hearsay or something you once read. You refer to Peggy's writings and as Jim says and I agree she does get some dates wrong something that is quite easy to do and is no big crime. I have no axe to grind with Peggy or Ewan. I knew Peggy more than Ewan through taking lessons (NOT ON HOW TO SING) from her and the last time we met we had quite an enjoyable time recalling those days upstairs in the Greek restaurant in Coram Street.
I usually get involved in these postings because people constantly seem to confuse the Ballads & Blues Club and the later Singers Club and I try in my humble way to correct things that I beleieve to be incorrect.
I believe that Rod Stradling and Tony Engle both do a great service for the folk music world but no matter how well you do a job there is always someone who knows better just how it should be done.

To return to the oriiginal query, as far as I am aware the Ballads & Blues Club never was in Kilburn, certainly not while I was involved. I believe the farthest north west in London that we got was at The King & Queen at Paddington Green and at the risk of starting another argument it was there where I first saw Alex Campbell perform and Ewan took offence because Alex recited a Glasgow kids poem about farting. Most peopl found it mildly amusing.

On that low note I will close.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 02:13 PM

Yes Borchester, the discussion has "diverted" somewhat from my original question but, it has led to a most interesting discourse, certainly for me. Of course I hope that all posters do end up as the friends and acquaintances that they were starting out. It's been fascinating.
The question arose from the assertion in a recent publication concerning Heaney , Ennis and the "Singer's Club" and that the club had been venued in Kilburn in the 50s.
I think now , in the light of this forum's discussion, that this is incorrect. Is there any possibility that the "Singer's Club" was ever held in a Camden Town pub. That isn't very far from Cecil Sharpe House is it ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 09:14 AM

The thread's yomped a million miles from the OP's original innocent query about whether the Singers ever met in Kilburn in the 1950s, to which the answer is that we don't think it did until the 1980s.

"Hootenanny" has an unseemly interest in trying to expose my under-age pub-frequenting but suffice it to say that the only bar I've ever been ejected from by reason of youth is the Bedford when we were sent as a junior clogging team to Sidmouth in, I think, 1959. I know it wasn't 1960 as we were in Rome not watching the Olympics. We simply crossed the road and kicked up a racket on the promenade, possibly inventing the practice for all I know. I'd already been getting into the Bridge after school with the rest of the La Sagesse bratpack since the age of about 13 so it was puzzling.

Topic is a fine thing to have and here's to the next 70 years and let's not forget about Gerry Sharp, Mr Engle's eminent predecessor, nor additionally forget that Topic too have a huge hiden archive that's not commercially available. Said Mr Engle got so pissed off at my agitation for a remastering of his own Oak recordings that he rold me to have a go at Rod Stradling instead. Result. Musical Traditions re-released it. Same with Robin Dransfield. His only solo Topic recording together with live unreleased material came out on a similar double CD quite recently. Hurrah for those who slave away with Pro-Tools on their kitchen tables. They're today's equivalent of Ewan, Peggy & Charles Parker with tape reels and razor blades preserving the People's Voices.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 05:51 AM

Undoubtedly one of best voices ever on the Scene - but I have observed not to the taste of a younger generation, who prefer the popstyle tremolo of La Rusby which does zilch for me. Not only chacun à son gout, but things they do alter as the time do go along...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 05:48 AM

Jim,

Do you seriously think that the people in the present-day folk scene would be interested in purchasing Ewan and Peggy's seminars in order to obtain a much needed transfusion of life and ability?
What do you mean by that?

The music existed long before Ewan and Peggy told us all how to do it. Of all the people that you have recorded I wonder how many learnt how to sing and play from seminars.

Ewan certainly made huge contributions to the folk scene but he was not the be-all and end-all. If he had been then I think that folk song and folk music would be even more of a minority interest than it already is.

In my humble opinion Topic Records and Tony Engle should be congratulated on putting out the material that they do and keeping it in catalogue. They I believe have made and continue to make a far larger contribution to the scene. Ewan may be your persoanl hero but like it or not there are many others worthy of praise.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 05:19 AM

Chas
"Crap voice."
M.O.O. Chacun á son goút
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Fidjit
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 02:39 AM

Greg, Jim, Mthe GM and all.

Know what you all mean.

I'm compiling my own, "Best of" album right now. Fortunately I can't come up with anything..

Jimmy was a goodly man. Crap voice.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 05:23 PM

I only hope that when I pop my clogs people don't start digging up things I said and did thirty years ago.quote Jim Carroll.
no dont worry ,Jim,We wouldnt do that to you,we are far too kind,last weeks remarks will suffice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM

Been thinking about what you wrote Greg - I have to say the idea of putting out an album to have a mild snigger at somebody who is 20 years dead as an act of revenge is one of the most groteque ideas I have come across - sorry - with friends like these..... as the saying goes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM

I'm baffled as to why Topic's re-release of early MacColl material should generate so much such wringing of hands.

MacColl (or Lloyd or anyone else for that matter) wasn't born a fully developed ballad singer. They went through various stages of development and that development has been preserved on record. Granted, some of that early stuff doesn't actually make for great listening but it serves to illustrate how the early folk revival found its way by trial and error. For instance, the Topic compilation BOLD SPORTSMEN ALL: GAMBLERS & SPORTING BLADES has MacColl singing "Football Crazy" and "Galway Races" in a most embarrassing Oirish accent, so perhaps, on reflection, we can see why he later became such an avid advocate of the infamous Singers' Club policy of singing songs from your own tradition.

I would imagine that any serious student of the folk revival would be anxious to hear these early recordings. Topic is possibly the only company with the will and knowledge to let younger generations hear how influential performers evolved over the years. Equally, I'm sure that the likes of Martin Carthy and Christy Moore wouldn't like to be judged solely on their earliest recordings but that's what happens when you embark on a career as a professional singer, musician or entertainer. At a given time you offer your wares to the public in the knowledge that this reflects what you were doing at that time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 03:30 PM

"And he and Peggy were prepared to sneer at lesser mortals derisively and hurtfully sometimes,"
When - perhaps you can provide some examples
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 02:46 PM

Jim, I have an admiration for Ewan M's work bordering on adulation. But he was pretty silly at times. And he and Peggy were prepared to sneer at lesser mortals derisively and hurtfully sometimes, so I don't think a mild snigger at his expense is totally out of order.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 02:43 PM

"I think the time is ripe for a compilation CD of Ewan singing songs "not from his own culture"
No - no - no.
It seems to me ludicrous to suggest such an idea - isn't it time we let him RIP? There are enough ghouls still more than happy to give his corpse a kicking (if he hadn't been cremated).
He would have hated the idea, just as he would have been desperately unhappy at the lastest Topic venture of releasing selections from his and Bert's Riverside series of ballads, albums he couldn't bear to listen to.
To me, the use of Sixteen Tons on the Topic series is reminiscent of those dreadful'Before They Were Famous' series.
I only hope that when I pop my clogs people don't start digging up things I said and did thirty years ago.
If anybody wants to get Ewan at his best, try digging out his research on singing and putting them to use. There are loads of seminars he and Peggy did and 250 plus tapes of Critics Group workshops (housed in Birmingham Central Library) which, I have no doubt whatever, would give the present-day folk scene a much needed transfusion of life and ability.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 12:15 PM

Yes, now I come to think of it, I still have somewhere a beat-up softback booklet called 'The Skiffle Album - Alan Lomax And The Ramblers', with pic on cover of Alan & Ewan & Peggy & Shirley et·al -- which wasn't really a skiffle album at all, any more than the group was; but both represented a worthy attempt to persuade the then-popular skifflers to perform British material, rather then the ubiquitous Broonzy and Leadbelly & ElizabethCotten which was their staple. Contained such songs as The Day We Went To Rothesay-o, as well as ones mentioned above. In fact, the skiffle-boom died out before the idea could really catch on; & THAT was the point at which Ballads&Blues took over the Princess Louise from Nancy Whiskey, & other British-style folk clubs began gradually to proliferate — nationwide, as well as in London: Roy Harris's Traditional Music Club in Nottingham, High Level Ranters in Newcastle, &c.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM

To answer the OP's original question - Joe Heaney appeared with Robin Williamson(!) at the Singers Club sometime between March '63 and the end of '64. I forget the venue (?Twickenham).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:22 AM

Hoot: I have a rare Decca 45 single of that line-up, doing "Dirty Old Town" and "Hard Case". A very treasured possession. But those tracks are very definitely from Ewan's "own culture", couldn't be closer to home.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:42 AM

There was an EP I seem to remember from the fifties of an Alan Lomax Skiffle group The Ramblers which included Ewan and Peggy, Bruce Turner plus I believe Brian Daly, Shirley Collins and Jim Bray. Titles included Oh Lula and Railroad Man both of course "words and music arranged by Alan Lomax" plus one of McColl's own songs Hard Case. So, two there for starters.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:50 AM

I think the time is ripe for a compilation CD of Ewan singing songs "not from his own culture" (whatever that may have been). I know he recorded John Henry and Sixteen Tons. Are there any other tracks knocking about like those?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM

To MtheGM,

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I was not knocking Jack, Derrol, Dean or Fred, far from it.I greatly appreciated what they did very much so and of course they have a right to sing whatever they like from wherever they like and fortunately they did and in Jack's case still do. I remember several occasions when Jack would sing "I belong to Glasgow"

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:52 AM

I recall attending the "Hootenanny" evenings with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger but for the life of me I cannot identify the pub. It cannot have been too far from Charing Cross. What I do remember though is the excellent contribution to the occasions given by Fitzroy Coleman.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:29 AM

A bit of thread-wobble which nevertheless seems appropriate here in view of above post. One of most influential songs of the Revival was Margaret Barry's wonderful, heartbreaking rendition of She Moved Thru The Fair, which everyone, but everyone, was singing in fine traditional style in the late50s-early60s [despite its traditionality being disputed, whatever Wiki sez]. When ultimately asked in an interview [by Karl Dallas if memory serves, but if not I beg his pardon] where she had learned it - on the road? from parents? from other travellers? - she replied cheerfully, "Oh no, I learned it from a gramophone record by Count John McCormack".

Incidentally - more relevantly perhaps - re above post: isn't it a bit over-dismissive to call Rambling Jack & his buddy Derroll Adams, or even Dean Gitter &c, who were indeed Americans and so singing from their own tradition, fake cowboys and cottonpickers - Rambling J had after all travelled with Woody in his early days?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'The Singer's Club'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:08 AM

Jim,
I don't see any problem with Topic issuing a track by Ewan doing Sixteen Tons. I am sure that you are as aware as any "collector" that many highly respected "traditional" singers - probably most, also sang a variety of other material including music hall and "pop" songs. Walter Pardon for instance? Sixteen Tons was a pretty good song written by a Kentuckian about slaving your guts out to dig coal and always finishng up in debt to the coal owners, surely the subject matter would appeal to Ewan. The fact that most people then only knew the Tennessee Ernie Ford popular version may have put some "folkies" off.
I heard tell by a collector in Suffolk once who had been recording a box player. The musician played a tune which the collector thought he had not heard previously. When told that it was an unusual tune and asked the title back came the reply "Well around here we call it 'I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts'".

I have to agree with you that the Singers Club policy opened up the doors to British traditions and it was a good thing but don't forget that Harry Cox, Sam Larner, Bob and Ron Copper, Dominic Behan, the McPeakes, Seamus Ennis etc all appeared at the Ballads & Blues so we we weren't only exposed to fake cowboys and cotton pickers like Rambling Jack, Derrol Adams, Dean Gitter, Fred Gerlach.

Hoot


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