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Len Davies the Bonesman

GUEST,Louisa 09 Apr 01 - 11:58 AM
nutty 09 Apr 01 - 02:09 PM
Manitas 09 Apr 01 - 03:13 PM
Murray MacLeod 09 Apr 01 - 03:25 PM
Jacob B 09 Apr 01 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,Louisa 10 Apr 01 - 09:35 AM
English Jon 10 Apr 01 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Louisa 10 Apr 01 - 11:00 AM
Louisa 10 Apr 01 - 12:23 PM
Murray MacLeod 10 Apr 01 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Bedridden Barry on Sis's laptop 10 Apr 01 - 03:03 PM
roopoo 11 Apr 01 - 03:01 AM
English Jon 11 Apr 01 - 03:21 AM
Jacob B 11 Apr 01 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Louisa 16 Apr 01 - 01:02 PM
Louisa 19 Apr 01 - 05:21 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Apr 01 - 05:40 AM
English Jon 20 Apr 01 - 07:06 AM
Louisa 20 Apr 01 - 08:51 AM
roopoo 21 Apr 01 - 04:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 22 Apr 01 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Doc Rowe 06 Apr 11 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 07 Apr 11 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Louisa 07 Apr 11 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 07 Apr 11 - 02:48 PM
GUEST 07 Apr 11 - 07:31 PM
Surreysinger 08 Apr 11 - 04:18 PM
Wolfhound person 08 Apr 11 - 04:59 PM
Dave Hunt 10 Apr 12 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 10 Apr 12 - 03:39 PM
Surreysinger 10 Apr 12 - 05:56 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 17 - 06:48 PM
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Subject: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Louisa
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 11:58 AM

Hi everyone

I've already posted on the discussion thread 'Who are you related to? Any musicians?' and had a few responses.

My dad Len Davies who was well known on the English festival scene for playing and teaching the bones died last July.

I expect most people who knew him already know this as there was a picture in Folk Roots, and messages in the Sidmouth and Whitby newsletters. Anyway, the reason for this posting is to say that I would be very interested to hear from anyone who knew my Dad and has any good stories, clippings or photographs as I would like to get a collection together to show my children (when I have some!) so they will be able to see who their grandfather was. I have some stuff already but if anyone can help I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks very much

Louisa Davies


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: nutty
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 02:09 PM

Much as I would like to - sorry Louise I can't help but GOOD LUCK with the collection


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Manitas
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 03:13 PM

I'm sorry to hear about Len's death. I knew him at Chippenham and Poynton festivals. There's not many characters like him left.


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 03:25 PM

Loisa, one suggestion I can make is to go to www.google.com and search for "Len Davies". I did this and found your Dad (and a picture of him, I think) , on the first few hits.

I didn't know there was such an instrument as the electric bones ! As Matt-R would say, way cool...

Murray


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Jacob B
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 05:54 PM

My condolences, Louisa.

In 1986, your father was visiting the Boston, Massachusetts, musician who was known as Mister Bones, who lived down the street from me. Your father was kind enough to come over one evening and give me a lesson in playing bones, and he also came and played for my 35th birthday dance a few days later.

Jacob


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Louisa
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 09:35 AM

Thanks everyone

Found the site from Google that you refered to, Murray. I remember my dad playing with Trunkles back in the 80s. However, I don't know quite what this reference to electric bones is about!? Someone once suggested making some bones with built in mics but the general feeling was they were loud enough already! Anyway will contact Trunkles and see if they've got any good pics of dad in action.

Great to hear from you Jacob. My dad loved visiting America and I remember him writing to Mr Bones in Boston - he showed me some photos of the two of them together.

Thanks again

Louisa


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: English Jon
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 10:45 AM

I never met him, but he was the reason for my mate Steve taking up the bones. Steve saw him at broadstairs when he was still in short trousers. Subsequently, I learned to play bones off Steve.

Jon Loomes


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Louisa
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 11:00 AM

Hi Jon

I'm the same Louisa who's posted on the eliza carthy page about my MA.

Also met you at Saffron Walden?!

Are you sure it was Len Davies that you friend met? Don't really remember him ever wearing short trousers? Or did you did not mean it in the literal sense?

Louisa


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Louisa
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 12:23 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 12:30 PM

Maybe it was his mate Steve who wore the short trousers .............

Murray


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Bedridden Barry on Sis's laptop
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 03:03 PM

Hi Louisa, I noticed Jacob's timing of your father's visit. If this occurred in April of that year it may be that a master himself, bones player Steve Brown may have had him help on a bones worshop at the NEFFA festival that year. I do remember John Burrage aka Mr. Bones, Percy Danforth, Mance Grady, a polish polka master of the bones (can't remember his name & oe other person, possibly your father being part of this workshop & Steve couldn't get over having such talent on bones in one workshop. I do believe this was to Steve the highlight of his musical life. Anyway here is a way to Steve's e-mail, he's gem of a man & I'm sure would be very willing to communicate with you about your Dad. Again I very sorry for your loss. Barry
http://www.ultranet.com/~neffa/grid/perfs/Stephen_Brown.html


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: roopoo
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 03:01 AM

I'll reiterate what I said on the other thread: I met him a couple of times at Whitby about 5 or 6 years ago, and while chatting one day it turned out that we were both going to the final ceilidh at the Spa. My other half was in Iran or Kyrghzstan, or somewhere equally distant, so he offered to be my escort for the evening (my kids didn't want to be around me of course!) He told me of his trips to the States in the Winter months, playing (I think - correct me if I'm wrong) with a Dixieland band, and/or a band in New Orleans. He was the most fascinating companion. He was also a very skilled man, having been (if I remember right) a scientific instrument maker. I went to see him at a concert, and it was amazing!

I remember you, Louisa, because you had been on a PGL week and had met my older daughter, Eleanor, who was a year or so younger than you.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: English Jon
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 03:21 AM

Steve wore the shorts, although that was a figure of speech really, I didn't meet Steve 'till he was well into long trousers. So, you're MA ing then? Marvellous - must keep in touch about that. What a truly fabulous subject. One upon which I can be incredibly boring for prolonged periods of time. Great! Walden was a jolly good weekend. (A while ago now, thinking about it.) PM me if you want to catch up.

Did your father also play the spoons? If so, he has a lot to answer for... Steve has been developing a veritable canteen of percussion recently. Spoons for different tempos, keys (really!!!) etc.

Quite mad, that boy.

Speak soon, Jon


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Jacob B
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 06:21 PM

The visit I was referring to was in September of 1986. Here are some details I remember from it.

He played the bones two-handed, and said that he played the rhythm with his left hand, and counterrhythms with his right hand.

He held one bone between the first and second fingers, and the other between the third and fourth fingers (rather than the usual second and third fingers) so as to make a larger soundbox out of his hand.

He had needed a supply of inexpensive bones to distribute to people in bones workshops, so he did some experimenting. He knew of a construction material that came in the right width and thickness, and which could be easily cut to the right length. The only problem was that it was straight rather than curved, and it couldn't be bent (it would break if you tried to bend it.) He found a way to bend this unbendable substance, and that's what he made his give-away bones out of. (Maybe someone on the list has a pair of them, or knows what he made them out of.)

He spoke about how there were many good musicians playing at folk clubs and ceilidhs, and said that he had just gotten lucky.

I was impressed by his humility as well as his musicianship.

Jacob


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Louisa
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:02 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Louisa
Date: 19 Apr 01 - 05:21 AM

Hi

Me again

Well, since I last posted my brother had an exciting visit the other day from Tim Walker of the Sadie Green Sales Ragtime Jugband who my Dad used to visit and play with in Pennsylvannia in the late 80s - and who was responsible for my Dad being in America in the first place on the times you've mentioned.

He happened to be in England visiting relatives and decided to pop in on my brother at my mum's home in Reading (and I went home the following day, and just missed him!). He gave my brother a video of my Dad playing in the Idlewood Inn back in 1986, and the video also has footage of my Dad explaining how he played the bones - in a kind of 'Learn to play the bones with this video' format. Pretty sure this is the only video of my Dad in existence so it's great to have a copy.

Oh yes the other thing - my Dad didn't play the spoons. But glad to hear Steve is developing a canteen of percussion instruments!

Bye

Louisa


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Apr 01 - 05:40 AM

I have a pair of Len Davies bones, Jacob. Bought them of Len at a workshop he was running in Fleetwood some years ago. He told us they were a 'composite', which I took to mean some sort of hardened resin but I could be wrong.

Other bits of useful advice he gave us included wrapping an elastic band around the finger end of the bone that moves to stop it slipping out of your fingers. I once tried cutting a notch in the material and super-glueing a length of leather around the end but I applied it to the 'wrong' end so took it off and stuck to the elastic band since!

Len's special bones were also marked with a I and a II on the ends. You held the bones with the marks at the top (held) end. The number I was held as the 'anvil' (as Len called it) between thumb and palm and the number II between middle and ring finger as the 'clapper'.

If you got good enough to play a second pair in the other hand they were 'tuned' to a lower pitch and marked III and IV on the ends with III being the 'anvil' in this case. As said before Len played this lower pair to mark time and followed (or more often led!) the tune with the first pair.

I never got that good so I never got the other pair. If anyone would like the I and II pair (slightly damaged as I said unfortunately) I would gladly send them to someone who would make good use of them. PM me on the 'cat if you would like them - I will stand the postage. All I ask is that they are used well in memory of Len.

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: English Jon
Date: 20 Apr 01 - 07:06 AM

Steve would absoluteley LOVE them.

English Jon


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Louisa
Date: 20 Apr 01 - 08:51 AM

The 'learner' bones that my Dad used and sold at his workshops were made from a material called 'ureaformeldehyde resin' which was supposed to be unbendable! My dad figured out a way of bending it.

I used to help him make the bones - usually filing and sanding - and then I often helped at workshops by teaching the latecomers in the corner and dishing out elastic bands!

Putting the notches on the bones was the last part of the process. When all the bones were finished Dad would spend hours playing them all with each other to decide how to pair them up.


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: roopoo
Date: 21 Apr 01 - 04:09 AM

I have a pair too, but I only managed one or two workshops and never quite got the hang of them. I do remember him saying that they were to be "played" and not "shaken" as so many people do. And this is what he taught. Also that they were to be regarded as a treble instrument: If you hear a session from a distance, the bones will stand out above the rest of the instruments as their sound carries further. Therefore it is important to get it right!

And mine also have elastic bands on them, as recommended by the master.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Apr 01 - 08:10 AM

I'm away for a couple of days and not easily contactable but the offer still stands. If anyone wants to put my Len Davies bones to better use than I can they are ready to be posted. They are in the original plastic bag as well! PM me here or email me at dpolshaw@btinternet.com

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Doc Rowe
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 07:54 PM

I don't know whether Louisa will see this ... but I have just put some photos of Len at Sidmouth on Ralph Jordan's Facebook page - I think they will be visible via mine anyway. Should anyone be in touch with her - please pass on this message as it now 2011!!


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:48 AM

As Doc says, a couple of nice shots of Len on Facebook.
Len was a pivotal member of the extended ERIC big band that played the Late Night Extra dance one silly night at Sidmouth in 1984.
Included a 6 piece trombone section, and Ian Blake on Soprano Sax too...


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Louisa
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 02:38 PM

Just to say the message has got through, and I'm really pleased to see the pictures. I've also read the thread on concertina.net.

Ralphie - I also met you at my aunt's (Rosie Turner-Bisset) funeral, and played some tunes with you at the wake.

I'll be running bones workshops at Bristol Folk Festival in a few weeks.


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 02:48 PM

Louisa...Hey! Yes I remember, just didn't get the connection. Isn't life strange?
Doc Rowe has said that he might have some audio of that Sidmouth gig buried away somewhere in one of his thousands of boxes. God knows what it will sound like!
E Mail me at eloisecd@hotmail.co.uk and we can stay in touch...Good luck with the workshop!
Ralphie x


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:31 PM

Hi all just seen this thread I'm Philip, Len's son & Louisa's brother great to know that Dad is still so highly thought of almost 11 years after he died. I'm also involved in the folk scene but more on the dancing side than the music side I dance with 2 Morris teams I do also play music but more classical than folk!


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Surreysinger
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 04:18 PM

There really are times when the internet can do good things. I'm glad I put the concertina.net link up on Facebook ... and have just realised that this means that I must have met you as well, Louisa, as I was at Rosie's wake with Ralphie. What a small world we inhabit !
Regards to you.
Irene


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 04:59 PM

Len stayed with us in Norfolk several times in the early 80s, and we gave him a lift to Edale Bluegrass Festival a couple of times.
He made me a heavy rosewood bodhran tipper (a drum playing friend has that now)
He was a right character. I might have a few photos stashed away somewhere - I'll have a look when I'm next in that box.
He was the only bones player I've ever seen who could play different hands so well.

Paws


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 07:15 AM

We had some splendid times with Len playing with us (Old Swan Band) - and I met him at lots of festivals too - and I still meet Phil at various ceilidhs.
Another good two handed player was Eric 'Happy' Illot from Bristol


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 03:39 PM

I remember Len well, I saw him at several workshops and I've a memory of playing with him at an after-hours bash at some festival or other. A fine player and a real character.

I remember his bones workshop at Sidmouth to which someone, with no apparent sense of irony, brought a dog.


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: Surreysinger
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 05:56 PM

Aha ... I suspect this may have been resurrected as a result of my putting the link up on Facebook yesterday, due to a picture with Len being posted by Ian Anderson ?
Just in case it is of interest I also posted up the following picture from a website I found yesterday which had pictures of East Anglian Fairs in the late 70's and early 80's. There were one or two photos of Len up there, but this black and white one was a rather interesting one.

Photo of Len Davies and his stall


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Subject: RE: Len Davies the Bonesman
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 17 - 06:48 PM

Hi Louise

Just so happens I was shared a pic recently on Facebook of your dad in 1997 at our weekly sessions in The Dove Pub in Reading. I cannot download it for some reason but allowed to share via email. However sending it to a Virgin email address I had for you failed. If you are still interested in it I could s email it to you given your correct address?
I had an agreement with the landlords at our weekly sessions in 1997 to pay for a taxi to pick him up and return him to Woodley (Howth Rd where I visited several times). I was at his funeral too. Sorry for you loss and hope your children get to see this.

Colm Daly
Newtchaser@gmail.com


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