Singer and player of spoons and Indian harmonium, I have been involved in performing music since my mid-teens; in recent years I have also written a few folk songs. On first hearing Young Tradition and Peter Bellamy c.1970 I felt a connection with English folk music. Having also been enthralled by Irish, Scottish, American and French folk through the years I’ve come back to traditional English folk. Why? – because it feels right, I love it and because it needs championing. It may not have the immediate appeal of other genres; it’s niche – and so am I. The a cappella harmony singing of folk stories with friends in Sound Tradition both transports and delights me. I believe that the human voice is a much-underrated folk instrument.
I’ve been a lover of harmonies as a singer and a listener for as long as I can remember, often singing along to the likes of Joni Mitchell, and picking up a harmony line before the actual melody. I started performing folk music in a duo when I was teaching in Copenhagen and I quickly saw the potential for harmonising. On my return to the UK I dabbled with other genres whilst in a function band, and did enjoy the freedom of expression of singing the blues in particular. However, I returned to folk because of its earthiness, story-telling and continuing relevance to the world around us. Plus, of course, it provides me with endless harmony opportunities.
Singing has been a part of my life since toddlerhood, and it took me a long time to realise that not everyone hears several tunes in their heads at the same time! Clever harmonies have always appealed, in everything from Bach to the Beatles. From the age of 11 I sang alto in the church choir (I only went for the singing) and at school. I still sing classical stuff with various choirs, 16th/17th century songs with an Early Music quartet, and Breton/French traditional music as part of a duo. Linda and David witnessed my first outing at a folk open mic night in 2010; they were looking for a replacement third member, and so my part in Sound Tradition’s story began. I love keeping the history and oral tradition of folk songs alive, and especially love surprising new audiences with all the variety that traditional harmony singing can offer.
I was a boy soprano in a church choir and dabbled in harmony singing during my teenage schooldays, when obliged so to do by my music teacher. Having joined Chingford Morris Men in the early seventies, I was surrounded by music, and very famous and important figures, from the folk revival, but took no active part, preferring to immerse myself in heavy rock, and it was not until I moved out to north Essex at the start of this century when, then in my forties, I started to sing after dance outs with Chelmsford Morris. This led to membership of Capstan Full Strength, at that time an excellent shanty crew looking for a bass harmony voice, with whom I enjoyed many years of performing, until invited to “guest” with Sound Tradition at Ely Folk Festival; I was instantly taken by their different take on harmony singing and have never looked back. I still sing solo from time to time, but there is little to beat being part of the musicianship that we enjoy bringing to our friends and audiences.