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Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs

GUEST,North Country Primitive 14 Oct 22 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 14 Oct 22 - 11:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 22 - 11:48 AM
The Sandman 14 Oct 22 - 12:59 PM
John MacKenzie 14 Oct 22 - 02:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 22 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,North Country Primitive 14 Oct 22 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Lang Johnnie More 14 Oct 22 - 05:38 PM
Backwoodsman 14 Oct 22 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,North Country Primitive 14 Oct 22 - 06:53 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 22 - 09:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 22 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,Oriel 15 Oct 22 - 03:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Oct 22 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 15 Oct 22 - 05:54 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Oct 22 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Graham Bradshaw 15 Oct 22 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,North Country Primitive 15 Oct 22 - 09:25 AM
John MacKenzie 15 Oct 22 - 10:54 AM
Tony Rees 15 Oct 22 - 02:06 PM
The Sandman 15 Oct 22 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Oct 22 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Oct 22 - 04:16 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Oct 22 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,The Sandman 16 Oct 22 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 16 Oct 22 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,The Sandman 16 Oct 22 - 12:33 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Oct 22 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,The Sandman 16 Oct 22 - 12:58 PM
Mark Ross 16 Oct 22 - 01:20 PM
Vic Smith 16 Oct 22 - 01:27 PM
Tony Rees 16 Oct 22 - 01:40 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Oct 22 - 02:00 PM
The Sandman 16 Oct 22 - 02:14 PM
Newport Boy 17 Oct 22 - 01:15 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Oct 22 - 06:41 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 22 - 03:08 PM
The Sandman 22 Oct 22 - 03:29 PM
The Sandman 22 Oct 22 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,Roger Knowles 23 Oct 22 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,North Country Primitive 23 Oct 22 - 07:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Oct 22 - 12:57 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 22 - 02:23 AM
Dave the Gnome 24 Oct 22 - 05:38 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 22 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 24 Oct 22 - 09:16 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Oct 22 - 07:14 AM
Bonzo3legs 25 Oct 22 - 08:12 AM
Backwoodsman 25 Oct 22 - 08:36 AM
Tony Rees 25 Oct 22 - 01:35 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,North Country Primitive
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 10:52 AM

This is one for UK Mudcatters a few years older than me, as I spent the 70s being between 6 and 16 years old, so know nothing.

I’ve been going down a bit of a rabbit hole of UK folk albums from the 70s that were either self released or released on independent/specialist labels. One thing I noticed is that many of these labels - Westwood, Midas, Folk Heritage, Sweet Folk & Country (which has a clue in the name) also released UK country albums as well as traditional and contemporary folk.

What was going on here? Is it simply that Alan Green & co saw a gap in the market that wasn’t being filled by existing labels and filled it, or were these country bands part of the folk scene? Did country acts play at folk clubs in the 70s or did they have their own separate circuit - but shared the same record labels? Was there a sub set of folk clubs that had a broader repertoire of acts - I am aware some clubs booked comedians and entertainers, so I guess why not country bands? Or were you more likely to see these acts at working men’s clubs and other venues?

I’m not trying to start a discussion about whether country bands should play folk clubs, or what is a folk club etc. I’m just intrigued about whether there was a folk club/country music crossover in the 70s and would love to hear from people who were part of it, if it existed. Thanks in advance for your insights and memories!

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 11:17 AM

It was Joe Steads' label. Originally 'Sweet Folk all' Joe was a massive fan of Pete Seeger and started distributing and I think recording American acoustic (I think again) country singers as 'Sweet Folk and Country'. I do not remember any acts touring the folk clubs, but that is not reliable. I quite like some country music, but would not have paid money to see them. There is a full listing of FSA recordings on line. I saw Joe just before he died and was able to thank him again for supplying me with the contacts for two successful tours of the USA in the 1980's.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 11:48 AM

I was very much part of that scene.
When I moved to Tamworth in 1973 Andy Dwyer was a young hopeful on the folkscene. He had won the Melody Maker folk rock competition and ran three folk clubs locally.
However Andy came from a pretty blue collar background and wasn't on the same wavelength as the Ewan MacColl brigade down at old Crown FC in Digbeth or the Brits Out gang down the Star.
Andy was offered work in Working Mens Clubs and Miners Welfares and the odd golf club.
The pop scene was disco and pub rock, neither of which Andy could do as a solo acoustic guitarist. So seeing an opening I offered to play bass behind Andy and doing Johnny Cash type stuff. Thus having swapped an old lawn mower for an Antoria bass I became a semi professional musician.
Andy frankly hated country music and couldn't be prevailed upon to listen to or learn any country music - so the main vocal work devolved to me.
However just at that point the disco fever had come to Ireland in a big way putting dozens of showband musicians out of work. They came and played our country circuit which was vast. Prior to Thatcher there were a lot of coal mines and miners loved country music , whilst few miners would have known Blackleg Miner or Tommy Armstrong songs - they all knew Merle Travis's Dark as a Dungeon (down in the mine. All the miners welfares had country music evenings. Butlins did huge country music festivals. I won a competition to sing at Mervyn Conn's Country Music festival at Wembley. The mainstage had Don Williams, Don Everly, and other top US stars.

Mean while Andy and I were jogging along. Our mates from the folkscene Paul Downes and Phil Beer played on over 90 'road albums. I was offered a deal to do such an album, but it wasn't really where I wanted to be. Later on in the 1980's I fronted a country music band for about a year, but after Thatcher the mines and much of the work was gone. I worked solo for a while and met some great musicians on my travels. Finally I had my hit record in Germany - so I had to break off gigging and try to write a follow up. I still love singing country music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 12:59 PM

I recorded several albums for his labels. The majority of his recordings were folk. there were a minority of country albums such as Bryan Chalker, and then there was Dave Plane who did a mixture of both. Bryan Chalker played green street green folk club[ one folk club that was run by Dave Plane. it was an exception Downes And Beer recorded with him Dick and Sue Miles, Dick Miles, Wild Oats , The Amazing Mr Smith jim mageaan johnny collins, Wilson Family, all classified generally as folk not country


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 02:43 PM

There used to be a radio programme called Country Meets Folk known affectionately to many as Country Swamps Folk. I could never understand how the two genres became associated like that as I never heard any country music in a folk club, and I've been to few. We did have some Bluegrass bands around, The Strawbs started off as a Bluegrass band, but the only place around my part of London that had country music that I knew of, was the Red Lion in Brentford. As Al said the Irish show bands were the main source of country music back then and they played the Irish venues over here too but not the folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 03:10 PM

The late Jack Hudson had one of the finest country music voices I ever heard. As the traddie thing gathered strength, Jack's devotion to Americana got squeezed out of the UK folk music movement.   Which was a shame and ultimately the UK folk music's loss. Not only did it deprive the movement of a great talent, and the American strand in English folk music has certainly been there since the popularity of American music hall artists in the 1880's.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,North Country Primitive
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 04:03 PM

I’ll come back with a more detailed reply, but just wanted to say for now that Jack Hudson’s 4 and 20 - the only song of his I know- is a belter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Lang Johnnie More
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 05:38 PM

Depends very much on your definition of "country", but I would say in the folk clubs in Scotland from the early 1970s, very, very seldom.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 06:34 PM

”The late Jack Hudson had one of the finest country music voices I ever heard. As the traddie thing gathered strength, Jack's devotion to Americana got squeezed out of the UK folk music movement.   Which was a shame and ultimately the UK folk music's loss. Not only did it deprive the movement of a great talent, and the American strand in English folk music has certainly been there since the popularity of American music hall artists in the 1880's.”

Amen, Amen, AMEN to that, Al. Jack was one of the earliest ‘booked’ artists I ever saw in a folk club (Nigel Denver was the first), and Jack was one of the best I’ve ever seen, if not the best. With that magnificent voice, he truly could ‘sing anything’ (and he was a bloody good guitar-player too)!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,North Country Primitive
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 06:53 PM

Thanks all for your responses.

Al, I’m going to bug you with more questions if you don’t mind…

What became of Andy Dwyer? Did he ever record?

I think I’ve heard that before, about the miners welfare clubs being bastions of country music. Anecdotally the ex-miners I know are mad country fans. I’d heard that about the discos finishing off the show bands too - I just didn’t realise some of them dealt with the situation by moving to England…

I’m going to have to confess my ignorance and ask what are road albums? Are they albums recorded to mainly sell at gigs?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 09:08 PM

road albums - the deal was you got a day in the studio.
you got two hundred albums to sell at gigs.
the first hundred you charged two quid a piece - the money all went to the company.
the next hundred were yours to sell for whatever profit you wanted.

Andy Dwyer is still around. He made a road album with Rockfield. There were other companies doing the same sort of deal....Tank was one. Westwood was another.

The Irish lads were fantastic musicians. They all had terrific equipment and stage uniforms etc - the Irish professional music scene must have been quite something prior to the 1970's.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 22 - 09:24 PM

http://www.tamworthbands.com/idlevice/index.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Oriel
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 03:30 AM

There was a magazine called something like 'Folk and Country'. Unfortunately it was mostly country . . . well, that's what I thought. My work colleague who liked country music thought it was mostly folk. There was no cross-over.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 04:49 AM

The crossover was and is everywhere. Apart from the traddies who thought country music was for the plebs and that they had the inside track on stylistically what folk music was about.

Artists like Roger Whittaker, Daniel O'Donnell and Val Doonican were mainstream artists and freely mixed folksongs with country music in their shows and recordings. As song like The Lakes of Ponchatrain was done by artists of of all kinds.

Dozens of Irish artists covered Peggy Seeger's song about Irish da's being absent working on the motorways. Was there a folk club where Tom Paxton's songs weren't covered, and of course the biggest selling version of LastThing on My Mind was by Dolly Parton.

I suppose living in Nottinghamshire at the time - the place was full of miners and ex- miners and our local folk club in Sutton in AShfield always kicked off the session with A Boy named Sue!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 05:54 AM

Yes I well remember Dolly Parton singing in the UK folk clubs but didn't never hear her use material by a singer/songwriter. She was strictly folk then.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 06:11 AM

Easy to miss Hootenanny - she was working under the name Martin Carthy at the time.

When she decided to ditch the commercial stuff like Famous Flower of Serving Men, she went back to her roots.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 07:50 AM

Actually, I think there was quite a bit of what you might call Country in SOME of the folk clubs in the 60s, stretching into the 70s.
I've just had a look through the guest list for the Surbiton Club (which was particularly eclectic at the time) - I'm surprised John Mackenzie doesn't remember as he was around quite a bit in those days. It's true that a lot was at the Bluegrass end of the spectrum - Southern Ramblers, Orange Blossom Sound, Pete Stanley, Malcolm Price etc. - but I also found some names that were more mainstream Country - Johnny Duncan & Pete Sayers, George Hamilton 1V, Bill Clifton, Doc Watson & Ralph Rinzler, Mike Seeger, Hedy West, and quite a lot of the visiting Americans of the day had influences more from Country than what you might call American folk. People like the Carter Family influenced many folksingers of the day.
I was just this Summer talking to somebody about how much more eclectic things were back then. We, at Surbiton, had all of the above, plus a lot of Blues - JoAnn Kelly, Rev Gary Davis, Champion Jack Dupree, Jesse Fuller, Gerry Loughran, - and Jazz - Ken Colyer Jazzmen, Diz Disley, Stephane Grapelli. As well as all the singer/songwriters and strictly Trad - Stewarts of Blairgowrie, Isabel Sutherland, McPeakes - and all the revivalists doing trad material.
I venture to suggest that you wouldn't get this nowadays.
Many of the performers fell into multiple 'camps' and it is quite difficult to say where the boundaries between, folk, country and bluegrass actually lay, but I still think this was a remarkable scene back then. We all learnt so much about the rich sources of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,North Country Primitive
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 09:25 AM

Sounds like it was all happening in Surbiton! I forever associate it with the Good Life but really you were frugging away to Doc Watson and the Rev Gary Davis!

(An aside - are you the same Graham Bradshaw who had the Oblivion label with releases from Salmontails, Martin Jenkins etc?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 10:54 AM

Indeed Graham you are quite right I had forgotten how eclectic Surbiton club was. All one had to do was look through all those wonderful photographs, now sadly gone, that Derek had on his web site.
Saw Dizley there many times, even had an argument with him over something or other, he could be a little bumptious :)
Not sure about the inclusion of Hedy West whom I booked for my own club in Kew, I think of her more as an American roots singer. Mountain music mostly derived from old Scottish and Irish traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Tony Rees
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 02:06 PM

I think it depends a bit what you call "country" - country/roots/Americana (think Doc Watson, Peggy Seeger, Carter Family, Bluegrass at a stretch) did crop up in folk clubs / folk singer repertoires to a degree in those times; more "commercial country" (think 40s/50s/60s tastes) generally not, in my experience at least, except perhaps that U.S. singer songwriter material (Tom Paxton as mentioned earlier, others later such as Steve Goodman and John Prine) certainly did, although I would really consider these more at the "folk" end of the country spectrum, if they belong there at all.

Some of the "new country" 70s/80s acts and singer songwriters (Emmylou, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice etc.) also appealed to my more "folky" (but fairly catholic) tastes of the day but in general would have been too "big" by then to have played the folk club circuit, although the odd one might be included in a "folk" festival lineup.

Speaking of the latter, the Cambridge Folk Festival was the main one of those I attended to have a bit of a home for "country" (and country-ish) local and U.S. acts - possibly Nick Barraclough's influence?? - as Festival programmes of the day will attest, so maybe there was a bit more cross fertilisation in the clubs in that area - others will know better than me.

Check out Cambridge Folk Festival: Past Artists for a full listing of these.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 03:48 PM

Yes it all depends on how you are defining country, i remember, pete stanley. Wizz Jones Gerry Lockran[ note spelling] Ralph McTell sang blues, not country, the only people i can tHink of who were country and western singers was Bryan Chalker    Dave Plane this is hardly countryhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42oYh-Rwvao

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 04:06 PM

In Brighton during the 60s / 70s there a popular Sunday folk club in the Stanford Arms pub. at Preston Circus. With Brighton YHA Group we’d go out for a long cycle ride through the Sussex lanes, and end up at the Stanford for the evening. We parked our bikes under the stairs at the side entrance. The drink of choice was Merrydown Apple Wine (from Sussex) and blackcurrant. A guy one Jim Marshall ran the club for decades. Regular hosts were Tim Broadbent and Miles Wooton, but frequent guests were country and western musicians Brian Golby (fiddle) and Stan. Rogers (banjo). I believe that every Sunday the sessions were taped on reel-reel; what a cornucopia of folk and country music and song they would hold.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 04:16 PM

BBC T’Discs

Country Meets Folk

====


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Oct 22 - 05:49 PM

Gerry did a lot of country music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 10:34 AM

I saw Gerry LOCKRAN alot in the sixties and he did blues.from wiki no mention of country music

Lockran discovered skiffle music and for three years played in skiffle group 'The Hornets',[1] at well known venues such as the Skiffle Cellar. Lockran also appeared at the Finsbury Park Empire, London with Wally Whyton and The Vipers.

Towards the end of the 1950s, Lockran met and become lifelong friends with two other young blues musicians: Cliff Aungier,[2] another singer/guitarist and Royd Rivers, who played blues harmonica and 12-string guitar. Lockran and Rivers worked as a duo until 1963, playing live in pubs and clubs throughout Southern England, including the Red Lion in Sutton, Surrey which was one of England's first folk clubs.

In 1961, Lockran acquired the guitar he was most associated with: a Martin D-28 as played by his biggest influence, Big Bill Broonzy.[1] Lockran continued to perform solo throughout the early 1960s, and his live work included tours of France, Germany, Italy and Sicily.

Fellow guitarist John Renbourn has cited Lockran as a key influence on his career: "He was a great player and a great guy who took me under his wing and gave me a platform"

In 1964, he also began an association with Jersey in the Channel Islands, performing extensively on television and radio there. Around April 1965, he changed the spelling of his surname from Loughran to Lockran for stage purposes. His British live schedule at this time included a package tour called 'Kings of the Blues' with Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner and Duffy Power.

On 6 August 1965, Lockran, together with Aungier and Rivers, founded 'Folksville', a folk and blues club at the Half Moon, Putney in west London which remains a thriving music venue. In 1966, Lockran secured a recording contract which resulted in the release of his first album Hold On - I'm Coming!, featuring Danny Thompson, Terry Cox and Ray Warleigh.

He followed this release with Blues Vendetta in 1967, featuring "Jason's Blues", written for his three-year-old son. In 1969, The Essential Gerry Lockran was released, and he also featured on the Blues at Sunrise compilation album with Redd Sullivan,[3] and Dave Travis.[4]

In the early 1970s, his career was managed by Nigel Thomas, who also represented Joe Cocker, The Grease Band, Faces, Chris Stainton and Juicy Lucy. During 1972 and 1973, Lockran toured the U.S., Canada and Europe as part of package of tours featuring these artists.[1] The U.S. and Canadian tour headlined by Joe Cocker lasted three months, and involved 40 concerts at venues including Madison Square Garden in New York and The Forum in Los Angeles. This was followed by a two-month European tour through France, Holland, Italy, Germany and England.

Lockran recorded further albums during this period, Wun (released in 1972),Pinup (released 1973) with Henry McCulloch, Neil Hubbard and others, then Rags to Gladrags (released in 1976) with musicians including Ronnie Wood, Mick Ralphs, Henry McCulloch, Neil Hubbard, Alan Spenner, Philip Chen, Pete Wingfield, Mel Collins, Bruce Rowland and Cliff Aungier.

He then concentrated on touring in Europe, performing in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Italy, working with blues harmonica players Matt Walsh and Walter Liniger, Hans Theessink and Ian Hunt, with whom he recorded The Shattered Eye (1979) and Total (1980). Around this time he also started to use the relatively new Ovation Legend guitar. During a tour of Belgium and Holland in 1981, he started suffering heart problems, which culminated in a heart attack and stroke, depriving him of the use of his left hand and effectively ending his career as a professional musician.[1]

Lockran never played guitar again, but turned to photography and poetry. He took promotional portraits of other musicians including Ralph McTell, Cliff Aungier and the psychedelic indie-group Ozric Tentacles which featured Gerry's nephew, Paul Hankin on percussion. In 1983, a private collection of his poems, Smiles and Tears was privately published by Waddling Duck Press.[1]
Discography

    Hold On - I'm Coming! (1966)
    Blues Vendetta (1967)
    The Essential Gerry Lockran (1969)
    Blues at Sunrise - with Redd Sullivan and Dave Travis (1969)
    Wun (1972)
    Pinup ( Bellaphon Ear 5008 1973 )
    Blues Blast Off! (1976)
    Rags to Gladrags (1976)
    No more cane on the brazos(1976) (munich records)- with Dave Travis, Ted Hatton, Jeff Witthington and Lloyd Ryan
    Rally Round the Flag - Live in Germany, featuring Matt Walsh (1976)
    The Shattered Eye - with Ian Hunt (1979)
    Total - with Ian Hunt (1979)
    Across the Tracks (1982)
    Cushioned for a Soft Ride Inside - with Hans Theesink (1982)[5][6]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 11:35 AM

Just for clarity and nitpickers a correction to the above.

Big Bill Broonzy's guitar was a Martin 00028 and not a D28.

Gerry did used to sing one country song "I'm My Own Granpa"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 12:33 PM

with respect to all , one country song is not a lot he was primarily a blues singer


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 12:47 PM

I assure you he did play country music as well. In fact I can remember asking him not to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 12:58 PM

I can only talk from my own experience and i saw him regularly, however we agree he was a fine perfomer particularly of blues, i was obviously luckier than you, in that i did not have to ask him to desist from singing ciuntry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Mark Ross
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 01:20 PM

When Utah Phillips returned from a tour of the UK in 1972, he was talking about a club he played where they dressed up in western clothes and wore cap guns and loved American Country Music. Anyone know about this place?

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 01:27 PM

The funeral of my great friend and colleague of over 50 years Jim Marshall took place last month. He became interested in both folk and country music as an enthusiast and then as an organiser from the late 1950s. He was involved of running both folk and country music clubs in Brighton, particularly the long-running and highly successful folk club at the Stanford Arms. Also over decades he shared the presentation and production of both the Country music and Folk music weekly programmes on BBC Radio Sussex; the Country programme with Neil Coppendale and the Folk programme with myself. He was particularly interested in that "borderland" where folk merged into country.
I gave the eulogy at his funeral and here are three extracts that have a particular relevance here: -
In talking about the many aspects and ways that Jim gave his time freely to promote the music that he loved, I am only - in the time available - able to give you the headlines. There will be many aspects that I leave out. Jim was an ideas man and one of his early innovations was ‘Folk Voice’. This was a tape magazine club started by Jim and Mike Storey in the early 1960s. For many years it was the only link with American country music for many British fans had and he managed to attract well known performers to record items. In particular Jimmie Driftwood was a regular contributor.
Folk Voice also organised the annual festivals that were held initially at Cecil Sharp House in London, then Islington Town Hall, and provided an important meeting place for British country and folk musicians, as well as fans and other interested parties. One of the singers that was booked for these events is here today, Terry Masterson.


and

Jim’s first venture as an organiser was to be one of the four people to organise the first Brighton Country Music Clubs which met at the Springfield Hotel on Wednesdays. Another of the four was Brian Golbey, who was to become a close friend of Jim. Brian was a very talented singer and musician who was on the cusp of his very long and successful career in Country music. He began touring mainly folk clubs on his own and in partnership with the banjo player, Pete Stanley. It got to the stage where he needed someone to handle the paper work, contracts setting dates and so on. Who could he get to do this? You’ve guessed it….. Jim!


and


By the mid-1960s, folk clubs and pubs had become the life-blood of country music, but soon designated country music clubs started springing up enabling homegrown bands like the Frank Jennings Syndicate, Country Fever and Lincoln Park Inn to have a circuit to work on.
The scene was opened up further at this time with the formation of the British Country Music Association by Jim along with Mike Storey and Goff Greenwood. The B.C.M.A thrived as the focal point for all British country musicians, the thriving club scene and as an information network. The main source of this information in those pre-internet days was the beautifully produced British Country Music Year Books with all the information on clubs, bands, solo singers, record companies and so on collated and laid out by Jim.
One of the most ambitious aspects of the B.C.M.A. was the annual Country Music tours of many of Country Music’s high spots in the USA these were organised by Jim and Mike Storey starting in the early 1970s. Jim came back bursting with enthusiasm at the warm welcome they received everywhere, and in particular the reception that their Greyhound bus loads of British enthusiasts met at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry. The last show of the Grand Ole Opry was held on March 15, 1974. The next time their tour took them there it had become the Opryland Theme Park. Can you imagine what Jim’s reaction as to this? That’s right….. he hated it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Tony Rees
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 01:40 PM

Just out of interest... UK country music fans seem to "love [and follow] American Country Music" as per the post above in the main, and I never really came across it (or them) in my 15+ years following the UK folk scene. By contrast Australia (where I have resided since 1986) seems mostly to create its own country music, something of a hybrid between U.S. country and folk in style, which occasionally also crosses over into popular music and also the folk music scene to a slightly greater degree, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_country_music ... mind you there is still a big Oz country music crowd (much bigger commercially than the folk scene) that would not be seen in folk clubs but have their own festivals, songwriting competitions, awards etc., all very successful over here (and lots of big hats and line dancing...) - more like the U.S. than the U.K. in that respect I guess. But the bottom line is that the "folkier" end of the Oz country scene does grade a bit more inmperceptibly into the "countrier" end of the folk scene over here, I would say.

- Tony


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 02:00 PM

Mark Ross
There were many such clubs in England, the music was pretty secondary as the cowboys showed off their western gear , blank firing guns, gunbeltsetc.It was a regular source of work for English and Irish musicians. An actual American was celebrity status - and usually got you an interview on local radio.

Like I say when Thatcher closed the coalmines in England, that was pretty much the end.

There were great 'traditions in these clubs. One was that they fired their guns in Ghost Riders in the Sky. There was a quick draw competition in the interval. All the cowboys had 'handles' - they called themselves The Denver Kid, Doc Holliday, etc.Some even had a gallows. One place you had to do your music act standing on the gallows!

It was insane....I loved it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 22 - 02:14 PM

yes Mark Ross, there was a place like that in Stowmarket called The Ponderosa Club


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Newport Boy
Date: 17 Oct 22 - 01:15 PM

I was involved with Thornbury Folk Club in the late 60s/70s. We met weekly and had mainly local regular singers, including Kelvin Henderson & Dave Gould. They played with us most weeks when they were free. Kelvin had a great voice and his Country Band were very well respected.

Maybe Thornbury wasn't typical - we also booked Michael Chapman in the same period.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Oct 22 - 06:41 PM

Kelvin was a terrific talent,   and his band were immense. His album was rarely off my turntable. Really rocky in a Waylon Jennings sort of way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 22 - 03:08 PM

"Sounds like it was all happening in Surbiton! I forever associate it with the Good Life"
The guitar God Eric Clapton went to school in Surbiton!
Less than 5 miles away was Eel pie island that started as a jazz venue, then folk was tried briefly. After that all the big names from the 60s appeared there- Clapton, The Stones(with a five month residency), The Who, Rod Stewert, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple. Black Sabbath to name a few


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Oct 22 - 03:29 PM

and at Kingston on ThamesM, TheFightingC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Oct 22 - 03:30 PM

and at Kingston on Thames, The Fighting Cocks, a great club


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Roger Knowles
Date: 23 Oct 22 - 08:53 AM

I did a lot of old-times, Bluegrass and straight country in folk clubs with, first, Robin Dransfield, then Nick Strutt and, finally Pete Stanley!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,North Country Primitive
Date: 23 Oct 22 - 07:38 PM

I’m going to have to add your albums with Pete Stanley & Natchez Trace to my Discogs wants list!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Oct 22 - 12:57 AM

Country music must have had quite a few fans in Scotland.

I remember Sydney Devine, who did one of the first covers of Streets of London. He was pretty popular. And Frankie Miller who had a big hit with 'Darlin'

Those guys must have been working somewhere.

I often wonder what happened to all the brilliant musicians in Kelvin Henderson's band. Great memory of Kelvin and his Levin!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 22 - 02:23 AM

This should really be turned on its head. Folk played in Country Music Clubs.   During the 70's-early 90's.. country had many followers, and a huge club scene. In some clubs, there were the idiots with 'guns' and southern flags, cowboy hats etc. which was a horrid stereotype. But they were social hubs for couples to meet. Country was also heavily featured on TV when it was at its peak.   CM Festivals were big until the promoters overstretched themselves and went bust. What has this to do with folk? Many country artists included Celtic and folk crossover songs in their acts. Some of the oldie names started in Skiffle groups. I think it went out of fashion when new country came along, when line dancing, and Karaoke nights divided the audience. Some clubs are still going - but the heyday of country clubs in the UK is long gone.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Oct 22 - 05:38 AM

And for a bit of light relief...

Why was line dancing invented?

To give Morris dancers something to laugh at :-D


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 22 - 08:01 AM

"I remember Sydney Devine, who did one of the first covers of Streets of London. He was pretty popular. And Frankie Miller who had a big hit with 'Darlin'

Those guys must have been working somewhere".
Certainly not in any folk club. Anyone who thinks Frankie Miller was a country singer hasn't been listening too hard.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 24 Oct 22 - 09:16 AM

I don't recall hearing any country music in the folk clubs I went to in the 1970s. They were mainly British trad, with a sprinkling of singer-songwriter "contemporary folk". Not much American music of any genre, although of course floor singers would do Dylan and I recall seing a few American guests such as Derroll Adams, Holly Tannen and Jim Couza.

Most of my circle had a low opinion of Country, regarding it as fake-cowboy, formulaic and over-sentimental. I don't the BBC's "Country meets Folk" programme satisfied either camp.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Oct 22 - 07:14 AM

There were many points of confluence.

I suppose the main point of confluence is the British intolerance which screws up so much of our culture.

That's not what I call country. That's not what I call folk. That's not what I call trad jazz....

These buggers are a weariness of the flesh. Lets hope they all go to heaven where they can moan to the almighty , world without about having to share their living quarters with the culturally impure.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 25 Oct 22 - 08:12 AM

No mention, all the wear and tear on an old honkey tonker's heart
I might a known it, but nobody told me about this part

Jesse Winchester


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 25 Oct 22 - 08:36 AM

”I suppose the main point of confluence is the British intolerance which screws up so much of our culture.

That's not what I call country. That's not what I call folk. That's not what I call trad jazz....

These buggers are a weariness of the flesh. Lets hope they all go to heaven where they can moan to the almighty , world without about having to share their living quarters with the culturally impure.”


Hear, hear! Amen to that, Al.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country music in 1970s UK folk clubs
From: Tony Rees
Date: 25 Oct 22 - 01:35 PM

Country music famously is "3 chords and the truth" ... mind you, folk music has 0 chords, at least when sung unaccompanied...

I'm currently fooling around with "The Old Home Place", a country (alright, bluegrass) song by Mitch Jayne & Dean Webb which has 5 chords - luxury!

- Tony


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