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Dick Miles and Stockton folk club

The Sandman 17 Jul 12 - 09:02 PM
GUEST,999 17 Jul 12 - 09:36 PM
nutty 18 Jul 12 - 05:11 AM
Northerner 18 Jul 12 - 08:33 AM
Charley Noble 18 Jul 12 - 08:42 AM
RoyH (Burl) 18 Jul 12 - 11:07 AM
Acme 18 Jul 12 - 11:48 AM
Will Fly 18 Jul 12 - 01:39 PM
The Sandman 19 Jul 12 - 12:43 PM
Valmai Goodyear 19 Jul 12 - 05:12 PM
The Sandman 15 Jan 13 - 04:09 AM
The Sandman 15 Jan 13 - 04:13 AM
Will Fly 15 Jan 13 - 04:56 AM
The Sandman 15 Jan 13 - 06:56 AM
The Sandman 15 Jan 13 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 15 Jan 13 - 08:59 AM
The Sandman 15 Jan 13 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 15 Jan 13 - 11:08 AM
Pete Jennings 15 Jan 13 - 11:18 AM
Pete Jennings 15 Jan 13 - 11:21 AM
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Subject: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 12 - 09:02 PM

I am extremely chuffed, I was given a present from Stockton folk Club, the club has been going 50 YEARS, and in that time the guest artist who was booked the most often was me.
I would like to thank Ron Angel, and the present organisers for their support for my music,and for their dedication in keeping the club going all that time.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Jul 12 - 09:36 PM

Dick, it doesn't get better than that. I think y'all say "Good on you."
I too say that: Good one!


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: nutty
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 05:11 AM

Ron Angel has been an amazing folk club organizer,
Not just keeping a record of club guest over the years but details of ever song that was sung in the club and the singers who performed them.

An archive that I would like to see published on line.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Northerner
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 08:33 AM

You're very welcome Dick. It was a very good evening. Hope the T-shirt fits.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 08:42 AM

Congratulations to all!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 11:07 AM

Congrats to Dick,the Stockton club, and the indefatigable Ron Angel. The folk scene needs people and clubs like these. I have played the club many times, always a pleasure. It has had the benefit of enthusiastic leaders which means their audience becomes enthusiastic too. 50 years is a tremendous record - here's to the next 50. ROY


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Acme
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 11:48 AM

"chuffed"? I guess that's a good thing?

Congratulations!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jul 12 - 01:39 PM

Well done Dick and Stockton! My congratulations!


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 12:43 PM

thankyou all


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 05:12 PM

Yes, a great achievement all round.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 04:09 AM

8. Guests
As noted above, right from the start Johnny Handle was bringing guests of the calibre
of Lou Killen and Ray Fisher from Tyneside. In a contrast of style, the first guest
recorded in the annals was bluesman Long John Baldry, a friend of "Gonk".
Among the luminaries of the folk world who made more than one visit to Stockton
were Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger; Cyril Tawney; Martin Carthy & Dave
Swarbrick; Christy Moore; Nic Jones (in The Halliard); Peter Bellamy; Fred Jordan
and Tony Rose. Of course, there were very many more guests ranging from the very
well known to some now forgotten, from local singers to transatlantic visitors. A lot
of them were the journeymen singers who often came for not a lot of money, who
came back because they enjoyed the atmosphere and audience-singing that you get in
a good folk club, and who built up a fan base in the process.
I've recently put together an index of guest artists from the record books, their names
and the dates they came. As already noted, two of the books are missing so this index
is incomplete but if anybody wants to inspect it, just ask. From the index I've put
together a list of the top ten most booked guests:
1 Dick Miles 26 visits recorded
2 Geoff Higginbottom 23
3 Eddie Walker 18 (21 if you include Jackaroo)
4 Gordon Tyrrall 16
5 Richard Grainger 15
6 Brian Peters 14
7 Marie Little 13
8= Vin Garbutt 12
8= Blue Anchor 12
10= Jez Lowe 11
10= Tom McConville 11
10= Gerry Hallom 11
10= Tony Wilson 11


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 04:13 AM

Fifty Years of Folk
An incomplete and inaccurate history of Stockton Folk Club
1962 – 2012
This is a work in progress. Incomplete because Stockton Folk Club is still
very much alive and because it has been necessary to leave out a lot of
detail. Inaccurate because the author's memory and research skills are
imperfect and because not all the source material is totally reliable. It
seemed important though to get something down on paper while we have
chance. It is hoped that this account will stimulate further recollections of
events and characters in the Club's history and that readers will respond
to correct the omissions and mistakes of the author and to add their own
stories.
John Lawson
March 2012
1. How it all started
Early in 1962 an advert in Melody Maker alerted readers to a folk night in Newman's
Coffee Bar in Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees. This was set up as a monthly (?)
venture by Tony Foxworthy, local EFDSS organiser. Stan Croft remembers meeting
Dave Manship there. Johnny Handle, who had recently started at ICI, recalls being
surprised and disappointed by the material performed "as it was only vaguely
anything to do with folk, and more like scout and girl-guide songs, with a few skiffle
and blues items!" An "excruciating rendering of 'Miss Otis Regrets'" made up his
mind to start a separate venue. Johnny already had experience of the Folk Song and
Ballad Club in Newcastle which he started with Louis Killen in 1958.
EARLY DAYS by Johnny Handle
(From the Club's first newsletter in July 1962)
My impressions of Stockton on arrival during the
winter of 1962, was that one meeting a month of the
English Folk Dance and Song Society was not
enough to encourage an active interest in folk music
on Teesside. So I decided to start a weekly club of
my own, after enrolling Ken Crawford and Dave
Manship as regular singers. An immense pub crawl
of Stockton produced few good sites for pub
premises, until at last I found the "Nut" or "King's
Head", tucked away down Lawson Street off Yarm
Lane.
Johnny Handle
The place seemed to have an atmosphere and cosiness so we started the club there in
April. I wondered at first what sort of people would come and listen, - at Newcastle
when we started four years ago, there was a large number of people who only came
once and then went back to Jazz Clubs which they preferred. Not so Stockton folk.
Most of the members now come regularly, many finding a new interest in folk music.
At first we had no definite policy, the ideas building up as we went along. I
concentrated on British and Geordie material. Ken sang both British and American,
while Dave kept the old spurs jinglin' with his popular mid-western songs. Having
several contacts with other singers I booked some guests including Lou Killen, Ray
Fisher, Laurie Charlton, Ron Duke and John Brennan. Their diversity of styles and
[material] helped to make the evenings more interesting and to prove what a fund of
British songs exists.
Colin Ross comes from Shields to play the fiddle, melodeon and pipes, while the local
lads keep up their end with rheumatic squeezebox and fancy banjo picking. The guest
spot from the floor proved popular and Graeme, our local bard, found a new audience
for his excellent songs.
On the now legendary "Blaydon Races Neet", food was provided for the members
including the traditional "Stotty Kyeks" (Teesside's fatty cakes), the munching of 95
pairs of jaws being a suitable accompaniment to the Tyneside music hall songs……
This newsletter also listed the Committee:
Johnny Handle (Jesmond); Ken Crawford (Faceby); Dave Manship (Ormsby);
Graeme Miles (No fixed abode!); John White (Marske)
Treasurer & Secretary John McCoy Middlesbrough
[There were two John McCoys. One is pictured below in the early Fettlers playing
left-handed guitar, usually known as Johnny or occasionally "Irish John". The other,
listed in the archives as "Gonk", had earlier started a Ballad and Blues Club at the
Leviathan Hotel in Middlesbrough and went on to lead successful R & B groups The
Crawdaddies, The Real McCoy etc. I'm told that the treasurer and secretary was Irish
John.]
For years there has been a question mark over exactly when the Folk Club started.
The 20th anniversary was celebrated on 22nd March with a visit from the Elliots and
the Birtley Club (which started in March 1962), and the 21st and 25th anniversaries,
too, were marked in March. A recent scan through the small ads in the Evening
Gazette for March-April 1962, however, revealed a series of ads for "The Folk Song
Club starting this Tuesday / tomorrow night / tonight King's Head, Stockton", where
"tonight" was Tuesday 3rd April. By the following February, when the record books
start, it was meeting on a Monday night, the slot it has occupied ever since.
[Incidentally, the club which met on Fridays in Newman's Coffee bar (fortnightly
according to Melody Maker) later moved to the Black Lion and became the Song
Swap Club. So far, I've been unable to find exactly when it started or what happened
to it after about June '62.]
2. Growth
Ron Angel continues the story (from his Introduction to "Sitting in the Sun", a
collection of songs and tunes written by members, 1992)
We were fortunate from the very beginning of the Club we had fine original songs
appearing. One of the founder members, Graeme Miles, single handedly started what
has become the Teesside Tradition; songs like "The Guisborough Road", "Greatham
Marshes", "Ring of Iron" and "The Baltic Taverners" (also known as "The
Procession") were just the forerunners of a phenomenal output of songs about urban
and rural Cleveland. The man who actually organised the Club, Johnny Handle, was
also producing original songs … in addition to making herculean efforts towards
keeping the fledgling club going. At one time he was learning three new songs a
week, and doing the first half-hour himself whilst hoping to be relieved by Dave
Manship, Graeme Miles, Ken Crawford and John White (known as the gang), who
used to come rolling in after about 45 minutes. Johnny Handle set the standards for
the new club, insisting on good order when someone was singing, urging people to
have a go, and giving praise and encouragement when they did so. He also started off
the instrumental tradition of the Club, learning to play traditional jigs and reels on the
melodeon, an instrument which most of us had never even seen before. It was a sad
day for the Club when he became redundant at ICI and had to go back up to Tyneside.
Deprived of its leading light and main driving force, the Club waned visibly, and
numbers dropped week by week until we were left with eleven members, two of
whom had just started.
After much discussion, we accepted the theory that part of the trouble was that no-one
would take responsibility for starting the night, so it was decided to form a Group
(wonderful new word for the 60s) for that express purpose. The group was named The
Fettlers (local iron-making tradition and also the general Northern English meaning of
[fettle] "to put something right") and had the duty of starting off the evening with
half-a-dozen songs and rounding off the night with a few resounding choruses, as well
as keeping order generally and leading any choruses that happened to come along in
the course of the evening.
Left to right: John White; Graeme Miles; Ken Crawford; Ron Angel; Johnny McCoy
(photo probably taken by Dave Manship who was also in the group, briefly, before he left to
go to sea)
This had the desired effect and attendances rapidly improved with remarkable
consistency, week after week, until the place (The King's Head) became so crowded
that we had to move to the Stork & Castle, a couple of streets away. This was a much
bigger place, with the bar curtained off in a recess in the back corner and a fine, big
stage. The audience continued to grow apace until it became quite normal to see a
queue of people 30 yards long waiting to get in at the beginning of the night.
At this time instrumentals were still very few and a fair proportion of Country and
Western songs were still being sung. We had become aware, however, of the English
Folk Song and Dance Society by this time, and that most of the fine traditional songs
we were hearing and singing had been made available courtesy of the EFDSS. We
also became aware of an attitude of mind known nowadays as Political Correctness.
Members argued interminably over what was allowable as "Folk Song" and what was
not: heated discussions and furious arguments became so common that the Society
was referred to familiarly as the "English Folk and Ding-dong". (And the years rolled
on and nothing changed.) Some of us joined, however, and remained fee-paying
members for nearly 30 years. [And some of us still are]


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 04:56 AM

Members argued interminably over what was allowable as "Folk Song" and what was not

Well, that strikes a chord...


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 06:56 AM

yeah, reminded me of mudcat


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 07:21 AM

Fifty Years of Folk
An incomplete and inaccurate history of Stockton Folk Club
1962 – 2012
This is a work in progress. Incomplete because Stockton Folk Club is still
very much alive and because it has been necessary to leave out a lot of
detail. Inaccurate because the author's memory and research skills are
imperfect and because not all the source material is totally reliable. It
seemed important though to get something down on paper while we have
chance. It is hoped that this account will stimulate further recollections of
events and characters in the Club's history and that readers will respond
to correct the omissions and mistakes of the author and to add their own
stories.
John Lawson
March 2012
1. How it all started
Early in 1962 an advert in Melody Maker alerted readers to a folk night in Newman's
Coffee Bar in Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees. This was set up as a monthly (?)
venture by Tony Foxworthy, local EFDSS organiser. Stan Croft remembers meeting
Dave Manship there. Johnny Handle, who had recently started at ICI, recalls being
surprised and disappointed by the material performed "as it was only vaguely
anything to do with folk, and more like scout and girl-guide songs, with a few skiffle
and blues items!" An "excruciating rendering of 'Miss Otis Regrets'" made up his
mind to start a separate venue. Johnny already had experience of the Folk Song and
Ballad Club in Newcastle which he started with Louis Killen in 1958.
EARLY DAYS by Johnny Handle
(From the Club's first newsletter in July 1962)
My impressions of Stockton on arrival during the
winter of 1962, was that one meeting a month of the
English Folk Dance and Song Society was not
enough to encourage an active interest in folk music
on Teesside. So I decided to start a weekly club of
my own, after enrolling Ken Crawford and Dave
Manship as regular singers. An immense pub crawl
of Stockton produced few good sites for pub
premises, until at last I found the "Nut" or "King's
Head", tucked away down Lawson Street off Yarm
Lane.
Johnny Handle
The place seemed to have an atmosphere and cosiness so we started the club there in
April. I wondered at first what sort of people would come and listen, - at Newcastle
when we started four years ago, there was a large number of people who only came
once and then went back to Jazz Clubs which they preferred. Not so Stockton folk.
Most of the members now come regularly, many finding a new interest in folk music.
At first we had no definite policy, the ideas building up as we went along. I
concentrated on British and Geordie material. Ken sang both British and American,
while Dave kept the old spurs jinglin' with his popular mid-western songs. Having
several contacts with other singers I booked some guests including Lou Killen, Ray
Fisher, Laurie Charlton, Ron Duke and John Brennan. Their diversity of styles and
[material] helped to make the evenings more interesting and to prove what a fund of
British songs exists.
Colin Ross comes from Shields to play the fiddle, melodeon and pipes, while the local
lads keep up their end with rheumatic squeezebox and fancy banjo picking. The guest
spot from the floor proved popular and Graeme, our local bard, found a new audience
for his excellent songs.
On the now legendary "Blaydon Races Neet", food was provided for the members
including the traditional "Stotty Kyeks" (Teesside's fatty cakes), the munching of 95
pairs of jaws being a suitable accompaniment to the Tyneside music hall songs……
This newsletter also listed the Committee:
Johnny Handle (Jesmond); Ken Crawford (Faceby); Dave Manship (Ormsby);
Graeme Miles (No fixed abode!); John White (Marske)
Treasurer & Secretary John McCoy Middlesbrough
[There were two John McCoys. One is pictured below in the early Fettlers playing
left-handed guitar, usually known as Johnny or occasionally "Irish John". The other,
listed in the archives as "Gonk", had earlier started a Ballad and Blues Club at the
Leviathan Hotel in Middlesbrough and went on to lead successful R & B groups The
Crawdaddies, The Real McCoy etc. I'm told that the treasurer and secretary was Irish
John.]
For years there has been a question mark over exactly when the Folk Club started.
The 20th anniversary was celebrated on 22nd March with a visit from the Elliots and
the Birtley Club (which started in March 1962), and the 21st and 25th anniversaries,
too, were marked in March. A recent scan through the small ads in the Evening
Gazette for March-April 1962, however, revealed a series of ads for "The Folk Song
Club starting this Tuesday / tomorrow night / tonight King's Head, Stockton", where
"tonight" was Tuesday 3rd April. By the following February, when the record books
start, it was meeting on a Monday night, the slot it has occupied ever since.
[Incidentally, the club which met on Fridays in Newman's Coffee bar (fortnightly
according to Melody Maker) later moved to the Black Lion and became the Song
Swap Club. So far, I've been unable to find exactly when it started or what happened
to it after about June '62.]
2. Growth
Ron Angel continues the story (from his Introduction to "Sitting in the Sun", a
collection of songs and tunes written by members, 1992)
We were fortunate from the very beginning of the Club we had fine original songs
appearing. One of the founder members, Graeme Miles, single handedly started what
has become the Teesside Tradition; songs like "The Guisborough Road", "Greatham
Marshes", "Ring of Iron" and "The Baltic Taverners" (also known as "The
Procession") were just the forerunners of a phenomenal output of songs about urban
and rural Cleveland. The man who actually organised the Club, Johnny Handle, was
also producing original songs … in addition to making herculean efforts towards
keeping the fledgling club going. At one time he was learning three new songs a
week, and doing the first half-hour himself whilst hoping to be relieved by Dave
Manship, Graeme Miles, Ken Crawford and John White (known as the gang), who
used to come rolling in after about 45 minutes. Johnny Handle set the standards for
the new club, insisting on good order when someone was singing, urging people to
have a go, and giving praise and encouragement when they did so. He also started off
the instrumental tradition of the Club, learning to play traditional jigs and reels on the
melodeon, an instrument which most of us had never even seen before. It was a sad
day for the Club when he became redundant at ICI and had to go back up to Tyneside.
Deprived of its leading light and main driving force, the Club waned visibly, and
numbers dropped week by week until we were left with eleven members, two of
whom had just started.
After much discussion, we accepted the theory that part of the trouble was that no-one
would take responsibility for starting the night, so it was decided to form a Group
(wonderful new word for the 60s) for that express purpose. The group was named The
Fettlers (local iron-making tradition and also the general Northern English meaning of
[fettle] "to put something right") and had the duty of starting off the evening with
half-a-dozen songs and rounding off the night with a few resounding choruses, as well
as keeping order generally and leading any choruses that happened to come along in
the course of the evening.
Left to right: John White; Graeme Miles; Ken Crawford; Ron Angel; Johnny McCoy
(photo probably taken by Dave Manship who was also in the group, briefly, before he left to
go to sea)
This had the desired effect and attendances rapidly improved with remarkable
consistency, week after week, until the place (The King's Head) became so crowded
that we had to move to the Stork & Castle, a couple of streets away. This was a much
bigger place, with the bar curtained off in a recess in the back corner and a fine, big
stage. The audience continued to grow apace until it became quite normal to see a
queue of people 30 yards long waiting to get in at the beginning of the night.
At this time instrumentals were still very few and a fair proportion of Country and
Western songs were still being sung. We had become aware, however, of the English
Folk Song and Dance Society by this time, and that most of the fine traditional songs
we were hearing and singing had been made available courtesy of the EFDSS. We
also became aware of an attitude of mind known nowadays as Political Correctness.
Members argued interminably over what was allowable as "Folk Song" and what was
not: heated discussions and furious arguments became so common that the Society
was referred to familiarly as the "English Folk and Ding-dong". (And the years rolled
on and nothing changed.) Some of us joined, however, and remained fee-paying
members for nearly 30 years. [And some of us still are]
3. The Venues
In its first ten years the Club moved frequently between the licensed premises of
Stockton. Here's a list with approximate dates from the archives:
April '62 The King's Head (Lawson St.) In the words of one of Johnny Handle's
songs, "They're knockin' 'em down, the old pubs, Around the town, the old pubs…" .
Sadly this one's long gone.
Dec. '63 The Stork and Castle (Brunswick St.) This was the Clubs' heyday with
audience numbers often reaching 150, occasionally 200. Another pub that's gone.
March '66 Columba House (Church Rd.) -- the Knights of St Columba were our
hosts. This is where I first found the Club [JL].
Sept. '66 The Buff's Club (Norton Rd.) – briefly.
Oct. '66 The Stork and Castle
Mar. 68 The Leeds Hotel (Bishopton Lane) -- only for two weeks
Mar. '68 The Talbot (Norton Rd.) A large room with a stage but the floor also
accommodated two snooker/billiards tables and we all had to cram into the spaces
between and around them. The Club received one week's notice when Fitzgeralds
planned to relaunch the venue for snooker. Renamed Manhattan's, this imposing
building now stands empty.
Around this time the Club occasionally decamped to the "Kirk" (the Kirk Levington
Country Club) which was owned by John "Gonk" McCoy and Ken Crawford. Nights
there included a gig by Johnny Silvo and the '68 Christmas party as well as some
memorable Club ceilidhs.
Sept. '69 The King's Head
Oct. '69 The Black Lion (High St.) Stockton's beautiful 18th century coaching
inn, together with its neighbour the Vane Arms, was an integral part of Old Stockton.
Tragically, they were demolished to make way for the Castlegate shopping centre.
Oct '69 Back to the King's Head for one week, then again to the Black Lion. It
was getting difficult to keep track of the Club!
Mar '70 The King's Head again, briefly, then the Sun Inn (Knowles St.).
Conveniently just off the High Street, the Sun Inn became home to the Club, but not
immediately. In the early days records show that the room was often "crammed to
suffocation" and it wasn't long before we returned to the Talbot and the snooker
tables.
May '71 The Talbot Nov. '71 The Sun Inn
Dec. '71 The Talbot
Feb. '72 The Sun Inn, and here we've stayed for more than 40 of our 50 years!
A decline in numbers means that suffocation is no longer a danger and the excellent
acoustics in the back room have contributed to the Club's continuing success. So too
has some excellent hand-pulled Bass (most of the time) and the good people (most of
the time) who served it: they are among the characters who help make the Club's
history. There were formidable landladies Megan (who once barred the Wilsons) and
her daughter-in-law Irene, while raucous and flamboyant barman Graham was
certainly unforgettable. He once turned up at a folk club Christmas party dressed as
Fatima the belly dancer!
Numbers fluctuated: late in '85 Megan
threatened the Club with an increase in rent or
eviction if attendance didn't increase.
Fortunately an appeal to members and an
article in The Evening Gazette turned things
round and a singaround in late November
attracted 60 people, including 28 singers.
Early in '86 the room was full to capacity for
Martin Carthy and for Vin Garbutt and things
were looking good again. Megan's successors
have generally had more Monday-night
customers in the Folk Club than in the front
bar even though numbers in both have
declined.
The Sun, incidentally, has been (and still is)
host to very different music nights, many of
them much louder than the Folk Club. In the
early days it was venue for a Friday night
bluegrass night which was attended by some of our members. This has led to
confusion between the two nights but I am assured by Dave Manship that they were
separate ventures and our books confirm that Monday night was folk night.
Just occasionally we've lost the room to a key, televised football match, say, so for
completeness (just in case anyone plans a pilgrimage to all our venues or their sites) I
should mention The Tilery (now gone), The Castle and Anchor and The Riverside
(now closed) where rooms echoed briefly to our choruses. But long may our
association with The Sun continue!
4. The Annals
Stockton Folk Club has a possibly unique record of who performed at the club, not
just guest artists and residents but floor singers, and of what they sang or played. This
has been written down in a series of hard-backed notebooks which go back to
February 1963. We are currently up to volume 31, although sadly two volumes are
missing: we're hoping they'll turn up one day in Ron's house!
As an historical archive the books often leave something to be desired. It is common
to find only a first name or nickname for a performer, although more recent books
have a separate list of regular performers which helps in identification. In particular,
the Fettlers were nearly always just listed as "Group", making it difficult to follow the
changing line-up (see below). Song and tune titles were sometimes guessed or
misheard (it still happens), so that a few years later even the performer has a job to
work out what he or she sang! The alternative titles can be very entertaining, though.
Just as a taster, here are some of the floor singers recorded in Book1:
Albert (Elliot); Alice (?); Burt (Spurrs); Colin (Mather); Dennis (Haynes?); Dot
(Angel); Ellis (Holliday); Fred (Osborne); Geoff (Atkinson?); Gonk; Harry (Lockey);
Jim (Wright); Lance (Vernon); Stan (Croft); Stan (Gee); Vell (?)
Sometimes, especially in the early days, the records broke down completely!
Footnotes such as, "…will be written up when I can find the bit of paper… "; "[the
scribe] went home early, records not completed"; "Sorry …. Too drunk to write", tell
their own stories. Often the scribe was just too engrossed in the music. Nevertheless,
the books make wonderful, nostalgic reading for those involved. The standard of the
records has improved over the years and, with a bit of digging and sifting, the
archaeologist can unearth a fascinating history of folk music in Stockton and the
people involved.
The scribes were anonymous, which is a shame as they too deserve recognition (and
in some cases should be held to account for the awful jokes and strange drawings with
which they enlivened the records!). It's worth mentioning a few who made regular
entries: Rita Angel, Ron, Les Richardson, Chris McGowan, Olive Elliot and currently
Joy Rennie, with apologies to the many others who contributed to the moderately
accurate annals.
5. The Teesside Fettlers
Graeme Miles is credited with coming up with the name, The Fettlers, for the group.
With many changes of personnel, the group was very much identified with the Club
which was popularly known as the Fettlers Folk Club. This changed in 1971 when
club and group amicably parted company, leaving Ron Angel and Frankie Porter, who
both remained part of the group, to run the Club.
Up to this point the line-up had at various times included Graeme, Ron, Ken
Crawford, Dave Manship, John White, Johnny McCoy, Ellis Holliday, Cliff Robson,
Geoff Atkinson, Alan Wilkinson, Alex McLean, Stewart "Mac" McFarlane, Vin
Garbutt and Frankie (and probably a few more along the way). Big Mac had also sung
with Creel, another group that did regular resident spots at the Club.
Ron, Mac, Frankie and Vin Garbutt made up the Group when they made it to the
Albert Hall but Vin moved on as a soloist and it was the line-up of Mac, Ron, Frankie,
Bob Skingle and Sean McManus who recorded the much-treasured albums "Ring of
Iron" and "Travelling the Tees" as the Teesside Fettlers in '74 and '75 (the first of
these with some help from Johnny Collins). The Teesside was added, I believe, by the
record company and the group went on to put the region on the folk music map with
original songs by Graeme, Ron, Bob and others, along with traditional songs from
Durham and Yorkshire. Sean McManus was replaced by Garth Flack, but when he in
turn left in 1977 the group disbanded leaving a lot of disappointed fans and two years
worth of unfulfilled bookings.
That's not the end of the story. Stew McFarlane and Bob Skingle revived the group
several times in the 80s and 90s to produce three more albums and it is still going
strong. Further participants have been Richard Grainger, Terry Dickinson, Brian
Edwards, Adrian Beadnall, Paul Ruane, Dave Hardy and Stan Gee. We look forward
to hearing the current line-up of Mac, Bob, Adrian and, latest addition, Dave
Hutchison as part of our anniversary season.
Those who never heard the Fettlers can learn more and listen to clips of their music
(from several embodiments of the group) on the website http://teessidefettlers.com
6. Alumni
The Fettlers weren't the only club regulars who went on to make a name for
themselves. We can't claim exclusive connections, but a number of artists can list
Stockton Folk Club as one of the places they honed their skills. Certainly the most
successful has been Vin Garbutt who regularly tours the world to great acclaim as
singer, songwriter and whistle player. His "Best Live Act" BBC Radio 2 Folk Award
also owes something to his hilarious patter. Others who have made it on the world
stage are Eddie Walker and Richard Grainger.
One of the mainstays and great characters of the Club in the King's Head and the
Stork and Castle was Jim Wright who is remembered as an inspiration to those who
heard him.
The Bond brothers, Peter, John, Nigel, and Trevor, were a big part of the Club in the
late 60s and early seventies, often in fine harmony as the Comfee Travellers. It was
Peter who went on to make his name as singer/songwriter. Other local groups who
made an impact at the Club included the young Distillers (Sandy Still, Alistair Russell
and Ian Stansfield) which was a springboard for Alistair to go on to spend 13 years as
part of Battlefield Band; residents Jackaroo were Rita Angel, Dave Milner and Dave
Lewis (later replaced by Eddie Walker), while Dave Martin's "Blue Anchor" had
various line-ups, the best being Dave, Nigel Bond and Colin Irvine. In their youth,
several of the Wilson Family were frequent performers, while Jean Haste was a
regular who could hold her own with the professionals.
All the above were later booked as paid guests. More recently, in the same category,
we can list Steve Dawes and Helen Pitt; Dogwatch (John & Joy Rennie); The
Raffleites (Mary Vipond, Alison Tasker, Alison Whittaker, Gill Bytheway-Rawlings
and Joy) and Steve Lane. The Young 'Uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael
Hughes) acquired their group name in the Sun, emphasising the age gap between them
and an ageing membership!
It would be remiss of me not to mention my colleagues in the Endeavour Shantymen.
Set up by Richard Grainger, the group also included at various times Ron Angel, John
Calvert, Sean Cooney, Steve Dawes, John Rennie, Mike Shorttle and Graham Walker.
The shantymen were never booked at the Club but could be relied upon to finish the
night with a nautical chorus or two whenever required.
This selection of performers is bound to have omissions but is in no way intended to
belittle the contributions made by the many other floor singers and instrumentalists
who have been vital to the club's success and to our enjoyment. Thank you all!
7. Ron Angel
Any history of Stockton Folk Club has to single out one man and that's Ron Angel.
He wasn't there from the very start. According to Graeme Miles, Ron's wife Rita
came first and brought him along shortly afterwards, although Ron had it that Johnny
McCoy told him about the new club. Whatever way he got there, he remained at the
heart of the Club for over 44 years.
He is remembered first as a performer. A fine
solo singer with a wonderful timbre to his
voice, he rapidly built up a great repertoire of
songs to which he added regularly over the
years. He also combined to great effect with
Rita, another fine singer, guesting at other clubs
in the area, and with the other resident group
singers. He was an expert whistle player who
could also blow a great tune out of a recorder,
piccolo, harmonica or the ocarina he wore like
a medallion. He was very active in teaching
local schoolchildren to play the penny whistle
and he also played in several ceilidh bands, for
the Cleveland Cloggies and for The Locos-in
Motion morris team.
Ron wasn't a prolific songwriter and was modest about his achievements. Dave
Turner noted how, when asked where a new song had come from, he'd answer
casually, "Oh, I found it in my bag". Yet these found songs included some of the best
to come out of Cleveland like The Chemical Worker's Song and Steelmen, and Ron
was always delighted when he heard that yet another group in Canada, say, had
recorded the former and cited it as traditional. Sadly, some of his later songs like the
wonderful Don't Go to Morpeth and Die haven't been published. His tunes are less
well known but the collection of his songs and tunes "Out of the Sun" in 1989
revealed some real gems like The Ayresome March and The Linthorpe Hornpipe and
there were more to follow. This little book also has more to tell about Ron's
background and activities than I can fit in here.
All these talents came together, of course, in the Teesside Fettlers but here I want to
concentrate on his role in the Folk Club. For it was Ron who did more than anyone to
keep the Club going through the 70s, 80s, 90s and into the new millennium. There
was the behind the scenes activity like booking guests, looking after the money and
being guardian of the annals. There was leading by example: Ron continued to start
the night off when there was no longer a resident group and carried on the tradition of
maintaining good order and good choruses. Ron did more than his share as MC, but
this wasn't something he was keen on, and he encouraged others to take on this
This section has again been very selective. In pursuit of brevity and objectivity I've
omitted several of my favourites and, no doubt, a lot of yours. Let's just say thankyou
to all the artists who have brought their songs and music to Stockton and shared
them with us over fifty years.
9. The 21st Century
The folk club scene is rather different these days to how it was in the late sixties.
Stockton shares the problem with most clubs of an ageing and decreasing membership
and of finding ways to attract a new audience. That is not to say that the Club is in
poor health: there is still a good mix of singers, songwriters, melodeon, concertina and
whistle players, pipers and storytellers keeping the tradition alive. Numbers typically
fluctuate in the range 20 to 40 but we can still occasionally fill the room. One such
occasion was in 2010 when we celebrated 40 years in The Sun with Johnny Handle
joining the party.
When Ron "retired" in 2007, the management passed to John & Joy Rennie and John
Lawson. This caretaker arrangement became long term so we hope members think the
caretakers are taking care of the Club. We are greatly assisted by a pool of stalwarts
who act as MCs on Monday nights: currently they are Steve Dawes, Steve Lane, Mike
Shorttle, Dave Turner and Cris Yelland (with the management doing their bit too).
New developments include the website and an e-mail newsletter. In the last few years
Denis Dunning has put hundreds of photos of our guests and regulars on his website
(see Links page on ours). The guest list includes some new names, encouraging the
next generation of performers, as well as keeping a place for established favourites.
We hope to pass on the club to a new generation of folk enthusiasts as somewhere
where they can keep the old songs and tunes alive, find an audience for their own,
new ones and share the great enjoyment we and our forebears have had over 50 years.
10. Acknowledgements
My thanks to Johnny Handle, Ron Angel, Graeme Miles, Dave Manship, Stan Croft,
Colin Mather, Tinker Dick, Ron Hampton, Albert Elliot, Trevor Lister and several of
my contemporaries in the club for sharing their memories and providing snippets of
information and contacts.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 08:59 AM

Nice to reflect on what was or wasn't as it were.

I have lots of memories of the club at the Sun in the late 1970s & early 1980s when I became a regular whilst working at both Middlesbrough and Northallerton.

Some of the tales might be saved for my best selling autobiography when it appears but I will share this one with you.

Ron had a very catholic booking policy and this could also cause some debate at times. He also had an operating policy of hiding his best floor singers on guest nights for some reason!

Any old how, one of Ron's guests on a fairly regular basis was Rosemary Hardman, who as most people will remember was a rather large lady specialising in self penned songs of unrequited love (hers!). She was a good singer and more than adequate guitarist.

On one particular evening she regaled us with fact that the guitar she had was one which she had only recently bought - and not cheaply!
She explained that she was still becoming familiar with the instrument and had not managed at that time to perfect accompaniments to a couple of her more recent songs.

That was alright though as the songs were eminently suitable for singing unaccompanied.

This she proceeded to do whilst having her new guitar in front of her with her hands resting on the top of the neck. About half way through the second song she leaned further forward and must have put more of her weight than she intended on the guitar.

There was a loud crack and there was her expensive guitar with the neck at a very strange angle.

She immediately burst into a flood of tears but, fair play to her, she borrowed someone's guitar (after promising not to lean on it) and finished the gig!


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 09:19 AM

in other words its not over till the not so thin lady sings.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 11:08 AM

Wish I had thought of that one Dick!


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 11:18 AM

Rosie once borrowed my Martin 000-18 in the Stonehouse (Bristol). Sounds like I was lucky...LOL.


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Subject: RE: Dick Miles and Stockton folk club
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 11:21 AM

Forgot to mention that I've kept a record of all the places, dates and songs I performed...stopped me from becoming, repetetive like some floor singers can be, and it's an interesting document. Sounds like the Stockton version will be fascinating.

Pete


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