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2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson

RTim 24 Jun 22 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,Dick Miles 25 Jun 22 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 25 Jun 22 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Jun 22 - 07:47 PM
banjoman 27 Jun 22 - 05:51 AM
The Sandman 29 Jun 22 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 29 Jun 22 - 04:49 AM
The Sandman 29 Jun 22 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,George Hawes 13 Jul 22 - 01:57 PM
Waddon Pete 14 Jul 22 - 11:03 AM
The Sandman 19 Jul 22 - 03:53 PM
Anne Lister 25 Jul 22 - 06:18 PM
Vic Smith 27 Jul 22 - 09:30 AM
The Sandman 27 Jul 22 - 05:00 PM
The Sandman 28 Jul 22 - 12:48 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 31 Jul 22 - 01:01 PM
The Sandman 01 Aug 22 - 05:00 AM
The Sandman 01 Aug 22 - 05:20 AM
Tattie Bogle 07 Aug 22 - 06:55 PM
The Sandman 08 Aug 22 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 08 Aug 22 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 08 Aug 22 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 09 Aug 22 - 05:03 AM
Tattie Bogle 10 Aug 22 - 06:15 PM
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Subject: Obit: Remembering Two UK Folk Stalwarts
From: RTim
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 07:49 PM

I am surprised I have not seen on Mudcat any Obits for two of the UK Folk World who we have lost recently.
First, we have lost the East Anglian Folk Stalwart - John Howson.
John was well known for his support for music and musicians from England's East Anglia, with his wife Katie......As well as being members of local bands, they were also responsible for Veteran Records - a wealth of English music.

In addition, we have now lost - Gwilym Davies (click for obit thread) from Gloucestershire. Gwilym was a Morris Dancer, Musician and Singer and Song Collector and leading light on the Glos Trad - http://glostrad.com/ website (Do take a look...)
Despite his name - Gwilym was born in Hampshire (my own home country) and he started collecting songs and tunes there before moving to Gloucestershire.

Both will be missed and I send regards to their family's....

Tim Radford



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Subject: RE: Obit: Remembering Folk Stalwarts
From: GUEST,Dick Miles
Date: 25 Jun 22 - 06:19 AM

Yes I met John in the late seventies when he moved to suffolk, we played with paddy and jan butcher and katie and sue miles in the Suffolk Bell and horseshoe band.
I was with john at many of his sessions with the old singers and musicians such as Billy Bennington and Reg Reeder. John worked very hard collecting and arranging tours for the suffolk singers and musicians, this is sad news.
condolences to Katie RIP John. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Obit: Remembering Folk Stalwarts
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 25 Jun 22 - 09:31 AM

I knew that John had passed away recently. Musician, singer, collector, writer, author, record producer and all-round good guy, John was a pleasure to know and to work with. We had joint collecting trips in Suffolk and Sussex and I remember these times as being highlights of my life.

Gwilym's death has come as a shock. I worked with him collecting in Gloucestershire and, like John Howson, he could not have been more helpful.

We are going to miss these two people and I send my deepest sympathies to their friends and families.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson & Gwilym Davies
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Jun 22 - 07:47 PM

Very sad news. We will miss them. Both have been a great help to me and I am forever grateful. RIP.
Nick


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: banjoman
Date: 27 Jun 22 - 05:51 AM

I remember John in his Liverpool days, especially at the Mitre on Saturday nights. He was very involved with |Bernie Davies and formed a duo called Oglet, named after local spot on the banks of the Mersey. as I recall, John had a serious injury to his hand which affected his playing and may have been the reason he started playing Banjo. Sadly missed such memories


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jun 22 - 04:04 AM

yes, he had previously been in a duo with Brbara Benyon?
He was a woodwork and metal works teacher and lost fingers in an accident.
I gave him an old Ferrograph tape recorder which i did not use which he used for song collecting in Suffolk.
His death came to me as a shock, i still cannot believe it


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 29 Jun 22 - 04:49 AM

Yes, John was in a duo with Barbara Benyon, now Barbara Snape. I believe the injury to John's hand was an industrial injury, and he later retrained as a teacher. I don't think he 'lost' any fingers.
His death is a great loss.
Derek


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jun 22 - 07:41 PM

i knew John well in the 1980s.
   I would describe him as a positive person who kept himself very busy. Along with Katie he organised many Music events, organised the Old Hat Concert Party, he played banjo with in The Suffolk Bell and Horseshoe Ceildh Band and Flashing Heels, he occasionally Called Dances he was at the same time collecting songs and tunes in Suffolk and Norfolk, and making and playing The Hammered Dulcimer, it was at that time that he told me he used to play guitar, but could not finger pick any more, so he played the four string banjo with a plectrum, and of course as Joe Offer said with Katie set up The East Anglian Traditional Music Trust in 2000.
He also set up with Katie, Veteran music
http://www.veteran.co.uk/About%20Veteran.htm


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,George Hawes
Date: 13 Jul 22 - 01:57 PM

Very sad. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that, for many years, John (with Katie) has curated the “In he Tradition” thread of Sidmouth festival - virtually a full week’s festival in itself, and something that continued virtually unchanged from the Mrs Casey days through into the present management regime.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 14 Jul 22 - 11:03 AM

John Howson was a great collector and will be greatly missed. Many stories abound. His books are worth reading too! I have added his name to the "In Memoriam" Thread and send my condolences to all those who know and love him.

RIP


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 22 - 03:53 PM

Condolences to Katie


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: Anne Lister
Date: 25 Jul 22 - 06:18 PM

There is an obituary in the Guardian by Derek Schofield, which turned up on my news page today. However, I hope John would be amused by the fact that between paragraphs there was a "related item" - which was a video about Beyonce's come-back album. I wonder what kind of strange brain associates John's wonderful contributions to traditional music with Beyonce.
We're losing far too many of the good guys. Many condolences to those who knew and loved John, who was definitely one of the good guys.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Jul 22 - 09:30 AM

The new, and very sadly the last, issue of The Living Tradition dropped through my letter box just now. It includes my obituary of John Howson -

JOHN HOWSON (22 September 1949 – 13 June 2022)
We have lost one of the most dedicated advocates and fiercest promulgators of the tradition in these islands. John Howson single-mindedly promoted song, music and dance in a wide variety of different ways. This quotation from the website of his record company sounds like a mission statement: -
Veteran eschew the scattergun approach of some labels who record just about anyone in the hope of hitting on a genuine talent. Instead they record only those artists whose music is instinctive, honest and earthy and whose music is crying out to be captured and made available. Nor will you find too many "star names" in their catalogue (although there are a few totemic performers on their books, and more power to Veteran for securing them!) - the label is more concerned with the quality of the goods on offer than on the place of the artist in some artificial pecking order."
Born and brought up in Liverpool. John started to go to folk clubs when he was still at school. Early on, he heard the likes of Packie Byrne and Christy Moore and this developed the affinity with Irish song and music. Soon, as well as clubs, he was visiting the likes of the Liverpool Irish Centre and he joined the Merseyside Folklore Research Association. He started performing in clubs in various duos and groups and before long he added dance caller to his growing list of involvements. In 1968 he was one of the three founders of Liverpool Folk Club and he started going to major festivals such as the ones at Whitby and Sidmouth as well as Fleadh Cheoils and other events in Ireland.
It was becoming apparent which area of the folk revival was exciting John and he formed the Liverpool Traditional Folk Club in 1970. Earning his living as a teacher, John was also doing gigs in various combinations in the increasingly large number of folk clubs in the environs of Liverpool and the north-west. A significant first around this time was a visit to see the fine singer Emma Vickers in her home in Burscough and making his first field recording.
By 1977 he was on a post-graduate education course and living in Southport and on a visit to the famed Bothy Folk Club towards the end of that year there was a meeting that changed the course of John’s life and makes the account of an individual much more difficult to tell because from then on it largely becomes the John and Katie Howson story. Few couples can have achieved as much collectively or individually with strong partner support as this couple have.
Around this time, Keith Summers had been able to record a number of singers and musicians in East Anglia and this was one of the inspirations for the Howsons’ move to the Stowmarket area in 1978. From then on it becomes a tale of many significant achievements in a range of fields; too many to name in detail here so this will really be just the headlines. In Mid-Suffolk they soon encountered several players such as fiddler Fred Whiting and melodeon players Oscar Woods, Dolly Curtis and Font Whatling. These and several others played in village pubs, often for step-dancers. The polkas and step-dance tunes learned there were to become the core of the local repertoire that Katie was learning on her melodeon and with a long-term musical partner, Reg Reader playing hammer dulcimer they formed the Old Hat Band to play for dances in 1980. This idea was extended to become the Old Hat Concert Party a couple of years later and they made memorable appearances at Sidmouth that year; the significance of Mid-Suffolk music was starting to be realised locally and nationally. A number of older musicians from that area would make occasional appearances in this company. From then on John and Katie’s activities started to multiply and diversify.
An unexpected bonus of being in East Anglia was the proximity at about 20 miles of the final home of Julia Clifford, the great fiddle from the Sliabh Luachra area and this also proved to be a fruitful meeting,
The first release on what was, at first, Veteran Tapes came in 1987 and these cassettes, and subsequent CDs, I predict will become John’s most important and lasting legacy. His keen ear for the authentic and meticulous attention to detail means that there is something to admire in each one of them – and there are very many! The cassettes are no longer available, but I daresay, there are quite a few households (including this one) where they are still to be found and treasured. Thirty cassettes are listed on the Musical Traditions website’s ‘Trad Disco’ pages. These are partly made up of John’s Suffolk recordings but also those from elsewhere – particularly Sussex but also the work of other collectors, notably Mike Yates.
John was early in the move to CDs which as well as offering a better sound quality, also enabled more space for booklet notes, photos and for attractive designs. The website lists sixty releases on CD with many gems amongst them. It would be invidious to single out any but worthy of a mention would be the four compilation albums of English traditional folk singers (VTC4CD to VTC7CD) which to my ears sound like an augmentation of the great Topic Songs of the People series. A personal favourite would be An audience with the Shepherds; John had searched out and restored live recordings of the three great Northumbrians Atkinson, Taylor and Hutton. An early release on CD was When The May Was All in Bloom; his recordings of six great singers from Sussex and I was honoured to have been asked to provide biographies of each of the singers as well as the story of the two great song collecting phases in that county.
Another important legacy will be the foundation by Katie and John of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust in 2000. They were joint Artistic Directors and Katie was General Manager from then up until 2017. So much was achieved in those years – workshops, community projects, conferences, school programmes on song, music and dance, themed social evenings in village communities and the lovely Stowmarket Traditional Music Days at the Museum of East Anglian Life. These became unmissable gatherings of step dancers, musicians and singers.
John took a central role in organising and programming the tradition content – a festival within a festival – at Sidmouth and this included the famed ‘gathering of the clans’ for the lunchtime sessions at the Volunteer hosted by John in partnership with Dan Quinn.
There are so many other things that could be mentioned; their contributions to and their hosting of English Country Music Weekends, John’s excellent programmes for BBC Radios 2 and 4, his great array of nearly 300 tapes of field recordings that are now stored and available in the British Library’s National Sound Archive.
On a personal note, many meetings with John and Katie all over the country have always been a pleasure; such a friendly, open, welcoming couple that always seemed to have time for their many friends. Highlights would include some of their visits to us in Lewes, one where John recorded (and passed on) recordings of Bob Copper’s 80th birthday at our folk club in Lewes; another of a great session around our kitchen table where Tina and I welcomed a few local musicians, John and Katie and Con 'Fada' Ó Drisceoil and his mates from the Four Star Trio. who were in town for a workshop and a concert. More surprising was the day when we were walking up Dykegate Street in Dingle, Co. Kerry and there was John and Katie walking down the pavement on the other side! A long chat was followed by my suggestion of a drink. For John, the pub had to be O'Flaherty's Bar, the Wren Boys’ pub. We also arranged to meet in Knocknagree at one of Johnny O’Leary’s weekly sessions – great memories!
VIC SMITH
http://www.veteran.co.uk/
https://www.eatmt.org.uk/


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Jul 22 - 05:00 PM

In relation to Vics comments
For the record,and the sake of accuracy.
When i first met John in Suffolk, he was not interested in collecting Irish music, his main interest was collecting Suffolk and Norfolk singers, and musicians who played in the style of Oscar Woods., rather than collecting Tunes from Julia Clifford.
This is not meant as a criticism.John was very positive and did a lot of good collecting and encouraging music and song in Suffolk,
John, was very busy collecting and recording, but his agenda [at that time] did not include collecting Irish music in East Anglia.
I played music with John in the Suffolk Bell and Horsehoe Band, the music was basically part of the No Reels style, Popularised by Rod Stradling.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jul 22 - 12:48 AM

A very good Obit.
John will be remembered for collecting and encouraging English Country Music.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 31 Jul 22 - 01:01 PM

I didn't know him well but immediately recognised a man who knew the real thing when he heard it - it didn't matter where it came from.- no messing & no pigeon holes...
   Sorry to read the news of his passing & much sympathy to Katie


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Aug 22 - 05:00 AM

like most song collectors, he did have a pigeon hole, it was English Country Music.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Aug 22 - 05:20 AM

He was good at coo0munication, talking to people, making singers feel at ease, an important attribute for a music collector.
I do remember him telling me about one old boy who had a reputation as a good musician but was also grumpy,John was surprised at this guys refusal to allow him to record, but that occasion was an exception. he generally scuceeded
The positives i remember about John, were his sense of humour his stories about liverpool and The Cavern, his love of fun and his enjoyment of life


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 07 Aug 22 - 06:55 PM

One of the concerts at the very recent Sidmouth Folk Festival was dedicated to his memory: but just a shame that it wasn’t in a bigger venue, as several people couldn’t get in.


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Aug 22 - 03:48 AM

Iremember he used to sing a song called Poison Beer


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 08 Aug 22 - 12:08 PM


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 08 Aug 22 - 12:10 PM

Sorry about the above - don't know what happened! John & myself recorded 'Poison Beer' from Suffolk singer Fred Whiting:


I stood there on the village green and heard what the preacher said;
He said, “If you go on drinking beer you'll very soon all be dead.”
He told us, “Beer is poison and it is the devil's brew;
If you carry on drinking that poison beer, It'll be the death of you.”

Chorus (after each verse):
Well now, fancy them calling it poison,
Nasty names called poison beer;
With them I can't agree.
For I've drunk barrels and barrels of beer,
And it never did poison me,
No, it never did poison me.
For I've drunk barrels and barrels of beer,
And it never did poison me.

My wife she listened to what he said, and she turned and said to me,
“There's no more beer for you, my lad, stay out of the Chestnut Tree!
I heard just what preacher said, and in case it might be true,
I don't want to be a widow yet and have to bury you.”

I asked my neighbour what he thought; he said, “If you'd like to know:
If beer is really poison, well, it must be awful slow.
For you remember my old father? Well, and between just you and me,
He drank his beer for many a year and he died at ninety-three.”


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 09 Aug 22 - 05:03 AM

Tattie Bogle ... the point of dedicating the Thursday evening 'Tradition' event in the Arts Centre to the memory of John was that this was an event that he was most closely associated with at the festival, particularly in recent years, done with Katie's agreement and featuring some of the performers who had known John well, including Barbara and Peter Snape and also including Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch. A bigger venue (which one?) would have lost the acoustic informal intimacy that John championed.
Derek


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Subject: RE: 2022 Obit: Remembering John Howson
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 Aug 22 - 06:15 PM

Well maybe, but there were others who perhaps attend more of the "Tradition" events at the Arts Centre than I do, but who were also left trying to listen outside through the windows. I think when there is is a special commemoration event, the size of venue as well as the expected ambience and atmosphere all need to be taken into account. 9Yes, it's a tough call!) And the line-up that night was bound to attract a large audience, whether people knew john Howson or not. (I did know of him, and have met Katie at other events).


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