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2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)

Dave Sutherland 29 Jan 16 - 08:16 AM
MoorleyMan 29 Jan 16 - 12:16 PM
Acorn4 30 Jan 16 - 03:49 AM
Waddon Pete 31 Jan 16 - 12:06 PM
Peter the Squeezer 31 Jan 16 - 02:49 PM
OldNicKilby 01 Feb 16 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Dave Knight 11 Feb 16 - 07:26 AM
Dave Sutherland 11 Feb 16 - 04:48 PM
IanC 12 Feb 16 - 07:41 AM
IanC 12 Feb 16 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Guest - Chris Sweeney 12 Feb 16 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Gwenan 15 Feb 16 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Judy 16 Feb 16 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,Guest - Chris Sweeney 18 Feb 16 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,bradfordian 04 Mar 16 - 07:44 PM
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Subject: Obit: Gren Morris
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 29 Jan 16 - 08:16 AM

Gren Morris, one of the leading singers and musicians on the Nottingham/Leicestershire folk scene for over forty years sadly passed away early this morning. Although we were all prepared for the bad news it still comes as a great shock and not only have we lost a fine performer but also a valued friend. More information as it becomes available. RIP Gren.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Gren Morris
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 29 Jan 16 - 12:16 PM

Sad news indeed. RIP Gren.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: Acorn4
Date: 30 Jan 16 - 03:49 AM

Always enjoyed his singing. The really sad irony is that, or so I was told, he apparently gave up smoking but had unknowingly already contracted the cancer which led to his death.

RIP.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 31 Jan 16 - 12:06 PM

It is worth finding Gren and Sam's website. There is much interesting material to be read. I have added his name to the "In Memoriam" thread. My condolences to all his friends and family.

Peter


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: Peter the Squeezer
Date: 31 Jan 16 - 02:49 PM

Gren sang "Life of a Man" at Dave Glover's (Farmer Dave) funeral in Stanton by Dale Church. of course, all the folkies present joined in the chorus - very moving.

RIP Gren - we'll all miss you singing.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: OldNicKilby
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 06:55 AM

Gren was a a lovely Singer and a great Bloke. His "Life of a Man" was tender and wonderful at Dave's Funeral. As an aside it was us ( me and Jackie ) that got Farmer Dave into the wonderful Folkie World when he was really down, it transformed his life. Everyone of the Farmers in our village thanked us , and indirectly you, for what we did for Dave


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,Dave Knight
Date: 11 Feb 16 - 07:26 AM

GREN
It's not easy to cope with the passing of one of the very best singers and players on the Nottingham folk scene who, for many years, entertained everyone with his outstanding and completely self-taught talent, without ever being anything but a humorous, self-effacing and exceptionally witty friend and supporter.

The stories are many, most of which reflect his remarkable talent both for invention and wit. Even at nearly our last meeting, we were leaving a lunchtime restaurant when the good lady wife requested that one of us should put a coat over a puddle, which was between her and the car. Gren replied that he did not do coat-puddling. Upon reflection, he realized this might be a novel term and decided that he quite liked the idea of 'coat-puddling.'

Always a calm listener and steadying presence, he was ever ready to giggle and smile. It was, however, best not to make too many assumptions, as a number of audiences found out. Brought up in the Nottingham Tradition, especially the NTMC, his remarkably resonant voice would bring out the best in any song, with his clear and accurate diction and attention to its meaning. He was ever a stickler for correctness, however. I well remember being admonished, firmly but gently, for altering the words of "Caledonia" in the first verse from 'had a daughter who made good tea' to 'had a daughter made cracking tea'. Oh, and how he groaned, but quietly, when the great and the good got the later words to 'The Snow it Melts the Soonest' incorrect because they didn't know what a martlet is and instead sang 'martin'. He could have made a fantastic commentator and sage regarding these and many other songs.

Audiences, especially during the Omleiding years, when four of us (Gren, John Chapman, Phil Hind and myself) got together, were soon taught to expect the unexpected. Entirely at Gren's initiative, and sometimes to our own collective consternation as we practiced our set in his front room, we included such traditional numbers as 'Unchain my Heart,' Clapton's 'Wonderful Tonight' and 'Don't Jump', a remarkable number, arguably the first folk-punk song ever and written by Jim Woodland, a hero of Gren's. These came as something of a surprise following, as they did, passable versions of 'Napoleon' (two-part harmony, but with hand actions), 'Bellman' (the dog-crap version, again with hand and foot actions) and 'Merlin', more of which later. He was always polite when asked for requests: for example, 'Can I find that on Easy Listening?' referring to 'Wonderful Tonight (his reply: 'Not as such') and 'Can you do the Chicken Song?' ('Yes madam, but we prefer not to').

In these small diversions, (Omleiding means 'diversion' in Belgian, if you didn't know), Gren extended his talent to include learning to play an EWI (electronic wind instrument). Looking rather like a small grey saxophone, it produced a remarkable noise and augmented many a song in the process. 'It' he named 'Maria', after the lines from West Side Story, as he liked it so much. It did lead, somewhat to his discomfort as we said it quite often, to him being referred to as a potential "Rock God". Oh, how we laughed. While he never showed much in the way of disappointment or sadness, no matter what, he was certainly very miffed when one day Maria stopped working, after the pounding he had given her. He never did secure a replacement.
While clearly a man with opinions, he would rarely be overtly critical of anyone's performance, but rather would confine himself to gentle comments about projection and style and so on. Notable exceptions were those who clearly thought themselves superior to others: for such a talented yet modest man, this was not acceptable. In Gren's view, the members of the a**ehole club were few, but always remembered. He should have offered more advice for when he did, it was always sensible, kind and helpful and aimed at improving someone's performance, while not in any way putting them down. His own esteem when I first got to know him was a source of amusement: Eeee, 'e's the best melodeon player in the Three Counties, well, he was until Andy Cutting moved in, now he's the second best.' Oh, how he laughed at that as well. Still he probably did achieve his ambition to be as famous as Blind Lemon Clegg of the Erewash Delta.

Of course, music was not the only thing in his life: he had to make a living and this he did as a mechanical engineer, first in the machine shop at Boots in Beeston as a fifteen year-old and finally as an Instructor at Rolls-Royce in Derby and various Technical Colleges around the area, where his talents were much in demand in his later years. Like his music, he acquired a considerable body of knowledge and skill during his career. Once, we visited a Beam Engine museum in Darlington, and were greeted, if greeted is the word, by an exceptionally grumpy and glum old chap who had clearly had enough of visitors who knew nothing about the wonders that he was trying to describe and likely thought the thunderous machine whizzing around was 'pretty'. Gren at once ambled up to him and remarked that he thought it rather unusual to see a Yorkshire boiler attached to a Lancashire Beam Engine. Well, that was it – anoraks' delight ensued, the grump's face lit up like a beacon and there was no stopping them for at least half an hour. I still have very little idea what they were talking about.

I think he quite enjoyed his 'Uncle Bulgaria' image, especially with the flowing white beard in later life. However, considering that he led various ceilidh bands very much from the front (Gren's melodeon usually required no amplification), it was quite remarkable how often he escaped detection. He always maintained that people never noticed him. I well remember disagreeing with him over this during one of his gigs, only for the raffle ticket seller, who was clearly trying hard to nobble everyone, walked straight past Gren, despite the proffered fiver. This all just elicited a knowing smile. It did, however, save him a fortune in raffle ticket costs. One wonders how much his fame really spread and he never knew. I well remember taking some friends years ago to see the Major Oak and being surprised to hear the dulcet tones of a younger Gren booming out in the Visitors' Centre, where the recording by Sherwood Rise was a regular introduction to the Forest.

He was a highly inventive man as well, his talents going way beyond making a new interpretation of a song. The first visit to anyone ever paid by our first daughter was a walk in her pushchair across from Castle Donington to his nest on Hemington Hill. I can still see his delight in those flashing blue eyes. He subsequently wrote (and later forgot!) the most beautiful melody on his melodeon for her – 'Gwenan's Delight'; although now only somewhere in the ether, to this day, it has left an extraordinarily warm memory of listening to him play it, as does possibly the last song he ever sang in public, some thirty years later, at her wedding last July.

For someone, a typical engineer, to who the pen was not a particular friend, he had a remarkable way with words. Attempts to introduce some less than conventional guitar chords into a number we were practicing might well elicit comments such as "are we playing a disgruntled ninth there, or was it just the usual irritated thirteenth?" When something got broken, it was never broken, rather it was nadged or, if seriously bent, snadged, just like the flurgun on the shelf. There was scope here for a complete, alternative language. Despite never playing the guitar, he had some knowledge of it. During Omleiding practices, if ever we were struggling to find a key, which suited our collective voices, he would always opine of the proffered capo – "just put it on the third fret". One would demure, fiddle around with other sets of chords, we'd try to sing it, hit notes which were frankly dangerous, I'd change the chord shapes again, then find that it was too low a pitch, then alter the shapes again, put the capo on the third fret and – bingo – off we went and that was it. Again, the gentle smile and those blue eyes would shine. Omleiding sang a mixture of accompanied and unaccompanied material, a notable amongst the latter being a song called 'Merlin'. While not a difficult number, we always had trouble with the starting note, Gren not being much of a fan of those funny little things you blow into to set such a note, as he had the ability just to start right. The rest of us didn't. In the ensuing chaos of some sixteen different starting notes singing the first word ('Born'), Gren's voice would emerge and we'd be there. Happened quite a few times.

So many times things occurred, which others might have treated as serious or disruptive, but Gren would make light of it, if ever he could. I well remember us getting a booking as a duo and plonking away in the middle of the set on one particularly lengthy song, only for us to look at each other, exchange nods and with a cry of "I'm bored", simply stop, laugh and straight away go into something else more interesting. Typical Gren – not that he made light of things unreasonably; he just didn't make them heavy when they weren't. He thoroughly enjoyed exuding a grumpy image (in this, he was not alone) but, of course, it was all part of the fun. Oh, how we laughed.

For the past twenty years, as many of us moved away from Castle Donington, we have got together for a week's holiday during Easter. Music has always played an integral part and obviously Gren was central, thoroughly enjoying all the fun and stupidities that went on. This year will be very difficult, but we have the feeling that he is up there somewhere, looking down on us and smiling.

The only comfort is remembering the joy of knowing him.

Dave Knight.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 11 Feb 16 - 04:48 PM

Well done Dave - a very moving and accurate appraisal of Gren; do you mind if I pinch it for the next edition of Tatters (the newsletter of Tigerfolk)which will be dedicated to Gren. Or maybe you would like to send something similar to me dsutherland3@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: IanC
Date: 12 Feb 16 - 07:41 AM

Hi

Just wanted to add a little bit here.

Gren was a very good friend when we lived in Nottingham from 1975 to 1978. I probably only saw him about every 5-10 years since then, but we've kept in contact even if it was mainly through mutual friends. Gren was briefly a member of the 'Owd 'Oss Mummers with me and also of Sullivan's Sword in the early days. He hosted Bendigo's Folk Club in Arnold with Phil Barber and Idwal Jones (Collectively called "Scroggins") and also hosted the Nottingham Traditional Music Club (NTMC) for a while. We played music together, sang together and, along with several others, went to folk festivals together.

Lots of people will tell you about Gren's music and his singing and it was as good then as it continued to be thereafter. I don't need to say anything about this but, something quite important to me, Gren taught me to play the melodeon.

For much of the time we were in Nottingham, Liz, my wife, and I lived in a small 2-up 2-down house in Suez Street and Gren stayed with another good friend, Bob Barron, in Bob's house in Sherwood Rise, about 5 or 10 minutes walk away.

I had bought an inadequate German melodeon (in F) and was trying to teach myself how to play it. I needed something better to learn on and Gren was the best melodeon player I knew, so I asked him if he'd come round and teach me. We hit on a mutually suitable arrangement, which was that Gren, and sometimes Bob, would come round on Sunday morning. Gren would spend an hour with me and his Hohner Pokerwork melodeon while Liz made Sunday lunch, then we'd all eat together. As always, Gren was relaxed, generous and supportive. He showed me the works, we sorted out a few tunes together and then he left me to get on with it. His approach with the bass end was quite characteristic. "Just play anything till it sounds right" says he, once I'd got the basic 2 buttons going.

They were really good times, but it all ended when Liz and I moved to Belfast in September 1978 for work. In the December, though, I bought myself a melodeon the same as Gren's and he put the strap brackets on for me with Brazing Wire. I still have the melodeon and the brackets are still there.

I was never as good a musician as Gren and my style is much simpler than his - he was always experimenting with what he called the "Twiddly Bits" - but I still owe Gren a lot and my playing style owes a good deal to him. He taught himself to play, and then to sing with the instrument (something I've never mastered). He was always modest about his talent, but I loved his style of playing and thought of him as a master in the art.

I was fortunate to be able to visit him in hospital a week or so before he died. He was his usual self, though he spoke very quietly and tended to drift off (I think with the Morphine) and he still shared a joke. He was kind, thoughtful and always supportive and I'll miss him a lot.

Ian Chandler
Ashwell, Hertfordshire


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: IanC
Date: 12 Feb 16 - 10:18 AM

Sundays not Sunday! Sorry.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,Guest - Chris Sweeney
Date: 12 Feb 16 - 11:08 AM

To add to some of the things that Dave Knight, and others, have said….
…Many will write about Gren and his musical abilities and do so better than I. I shared a brief, but vastly amusing, time in a group called Effigy – because everything we sang was in F or G (Gren's joke of course). We only went out three times; twice to Rotherham – a suitable distance from home – and then once in Donington, as far as I can remember. Merlin's Song (again), Sam Jones, Sugar Trade (a cracking James Taylor song), Country Life (Watersons, not SoH), Tunnel Tigers and, of course, The Good Old Way. Memories.

However, Dave mentioned that Gren was a listener and I can endorse that wholeheartedly. A decade or more ago, I was in a fairly unpleasant place and off work for a protracted period. Gren was, I think, between jobs and he took it upon himself to be a part of my support. We lunched in several pubs and talked. We ate some pretty poor sandwiches once in The Turk's Head, and we talked. Or rather, I was probably encouraged to talk and Gren would listen.
Eventually, as he discovered that I knew little, but was keen to learn about canals, he proposed a walk down the length of the Erewash Canal. This, of course, involved getting one car to one end and another to the other. Having done that, we set off from the Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill and strolled – didn't want to over-exert ourselves – down through Cotmanhay and Ilkeston, through Stanton Ironworks (which wasn't by that time) and on down to the picturesque bit near Sandiacre. So engrossed were we by Gren's articulation of the workings of the lock and the construction of the bye-wash, together with his extolling the virtues of the Victorian builders of the factories and mills en route, that we entirely missed the only pub on the journey. By the time we reached Long Eaton, some 11 miles into the journey, we had had enough and called it a day. Many times thereafter, we smiled wondering how we missed our lunch. It was a day that I shall treasure. And there are those, both friends and family, who doubt that Gren ever walked 11 miles. Trust me; he did!


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,Gwenan
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 05:22 PM

I remember quiet moments.

I remember sitting with him in the chaos of Camelford's Easter house, finding a new sense of calm in life. Actually you don't have to run everywhere. And it's quite fun sitting with Gren and watching life. It's also even fun watching other people do jigsaws….

I always admired Gren's quiet confidence in himself – being a folkie but not a beer drinker, being a singer who was always happy to sing but much happier to volunteer someone else, laughing in the face of a short tempered Dad throwing cards (or gear stick covers!) and no, actually, I'm OK not to go for a walk.   

I remember asking him about love and life, and always getting a measured, wise, and reflective serious answer about problems and joys.

I remember trying to work out lyrics with him and Dad on holiday in France and trying to convince him to say "cracking tea".

I remember his wonderful voice, singing along with Dad on guitar, and squeezebox playing. My request was always "Garden of Love", a favourite (of ours, not his!) was "Unchain my heart" but it's "Caledonia" that's been going around my head.

He never did teach me about gears though…

I remember his chuckle, especially when discussing demented 5ths and ruined lyrics.



I remember him singing at our wedding, still not believing that we'd got him to use the word Banjo seriously, in the sunshine under a beautiful Oak. A wonderful last song.

I will miss his calm, surreal presence in my life and his wonderful voice. It was an amazing pleasure to know him and I will try to take forward his calm that nothing in life is ever completely snadged.


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,Judy
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 05:18 AM

Song for Gren

We shall think of you in song
Under Easter rains we'll return again
To the tunes where you belong

We never heard you softly enter
Through the chambers of our heart
Quiet and gentle Gren in a class apart

A music man, a folk made man
We wove a fabric with you there
Our Easter coat of many colours
Richly woven threaded tight

And you were always justly proud
Of all our children's growing skills
They were your Easter children
Growing up with songs and light

We never heard you softly enter
Through the chambers of our heart
But we shall hear the silence
of your passing
Like a shout across the hills
Our Easter friend, our Easter kin
We miss you Gren and always will

We never heard you softly enter
Through the chambers of our heart
But we will remember you are leaving
All the Easters yet to pass

We shall think of you in song
Under Easter rains we'll return again
To the tunes where you belong


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,Guest - Chris Sweeney
Date: 18 Feb 16 - 01:08 PM

On 99.2 Hermitage FM this evening, between 7-8, the second half of the Hermitage Folk programme is dedicated to the memory of Gren Morris, with some tracks by the man himself, some by his friends and a few more that influenced him over the years. www.hermitagefm.com between 6-8 GMT


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Subject: RE: 2016 Obit: Gren Morris (Nottingham/Leicestershire)
From: GUEST,bradfordian
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 07:44 PM

Anyone recommend a tune for the above lovely lyrics?

bradfordian


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