Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Kerries

The Kerries
The Kerries

Line up
Kerry Todd plays guitar and sings in a range unattainable to the majority of singers. This with his uncanny sense of harmony and rhythm helps to make him the backbone of the group.

Ralph Overton aged 24, plays guitar, was originally a rhythm guitarist with a beat group until he became engaged to Kerry Todd's daughter when he was wooed from rock to folk.

Gill Thurlow 24-year-old singer and "Tin Whistle" player was associated with rock groups in her early singing career but had a strong leaning towards blues which led her to the Kerries.

Lennie McIlhone lead singer. Had a solid grounding in songs from Northern Ireland where he comes from, Lenny also plays guitar and sings group harmony.

Gibb Todd Versatile to say the least, plays banjo, tin whistle, mandolin and sings. He is the organiser/arranger of the group and is 27.

The Kerries were named after Kerry Todd, a Scotsman who settled in Coventry, England, in the 1950s.
They began as a family group with Father Kerry Todd and son Gibb Todd, son-in-law Ralph Overton, Lenny Mcllhone and the one and only but very female Gill Thurlow.

This Scottish group was formed when family sing songs in the Todd household led to pub sessions and an Irish social club before they started their own Folk Club, which in turn has booked every folk singer/group from Ireland, America and this country in the last two years. In 1966 they entered the "Killkenny Beer Festival" Folk Group Competition and won it out of 181 entrants.

 They changed their name from The Kerry Singers because it "sounded like that of a Concert Choir." They cut their teeth in an Irish Social Club, where they played for three hours a night twice a week. Later they decided to run their own folk club"

"In June 1964, the Tavern Folk Club opened and met every Sunday at the Swanswell Tavern. Ben Arnold was the compere and among the many acts establishing themselves were the Kerry Singers. The venue was short lived, although the club was successful; they moved to the Wine Lodge in the Burges and the club became known as Cofa's Tree, deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon name for the Coventry. The Kerries were the resident band and top guest artists were booked. In 1965 the Coventry Folk Club also moved, forsaking the Binley Oak for the larger and more centrally located Craven Arms in the High Street - know known as the Bear. However it only lasted at this venue for about a year, to be re-opened at the Queen's Inn, Primrose Hill St in September 1967. Trhis didn't last long either. As the folk scene developed and became more complex with a bigger choice of clubs facing the audience and more and more musicians getting involved with them, it was probably inevitable that some of the venues would change more rapidly. " Ben Arnold - Folk Crying Out Loud (Coventry folk magazine 1967) quote in Pete Willow's later Cov folk magazine Folks and viewable on this site here

"Kerry Todd himself played guitar and sang harmony; he was reluctant to take lead vocals as his voice "isn't what it used to be". The group's leader and arranger was Kerry's son Gibb Todd who played banjo, mandolin and whistle. Ralph Overton played guitar (and was engaged to Gibb's sister!). Singer Gill Thurlow was poached from rock and blues singing, and even played tin whistle when she wasn't singing. Finally, Ulsterman Lennie McIlhone completed the group, playing guitar and singing lead and harmony vocals." Gill Thurlow, who later married David McWilliams of "Days of Pearly Spencer" fame.

The Kerries recorded one LP that I know about on the Major Minor label in the summer of 1967. Gibb Todd remained in the folk scene, touring the world with various groups and ensembles. He has been a regular at Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival, hosting the Open Stage feature initiated by Danny Kyle. He released his first solo recording, Connected, in 1999, followed by Goin' Home in 2004.

Albums and Singles
The Kerries: The Kerries (Major Minor Records MMLP9, 1967)

Side One: Coulter's Candy; Big Mansion Hoose; McTaggart (The Kerries); He Wrapped Me In His Coat; The Gallows Tree; Bonny Laddy; Oh dear What Will I Do; Gallant Forty Twa
Side Two: A Gallon of Whisky and a Barrel of Beer (D Behan); Bonny Lass o' Fyvie O; Follow the Rovin' Ploughboy; Never Wed An Old Man; Coory Doon (McGinn); Will Ye Go Lassie Go; Bonny Lass; I'll Tell Me Ma.

The Kerries: Coulter's Candy (Major Minor Records MM541, 1967 - 45rpm single)
Side One: Coulter's Candy
Side Two: A Gallon of Whisky and a Barrel of Beer (D Behan);

Lochan: Lochan (Celtic Music CM018, 1983)
Side One: Someday We'll See Them (Alex Campbell)/Battle o' the Somme; O Gin I Were a Baron's Heir; Sandy Anderson; The Dark Island (MacLachlan)/MacLeod o' Mull/Barbara's Jig; The Man You Don't Meet Everyday
Side Two: Blue Bonnets Ower the Boder/Pibroch o' Donald Dhu; The Lea Rig; Songs o' Glencoe; Drummond Castle Laudry; Carraighdoun; Kate Dalrymple/Minnie Hynd; Scotland the Whitt??

Gibb Todd: Connected (Lochshore CDLDL1292, 2000)

Lonely Belnahua; Someday We'll See Them; No More Stravaigin'; My Love is Like a Red Red Rose; The Final Trawl; Do You Think I Do Not Know; Sister Maureens Waltz; The Last Of The Tinkler; George Campbell; Blackwaterside; Scarborough Settlers Lament; Carrickfergus; Will Ye No Come Back Again

Gibb Todd: Goin' Home (Compass Records 4374, 2004)

Bell of Byron Bay; Where the Bangelows Are; The Band Played Waltzing Matilda; The Last Trip Home; Don't Put Taxes on the Women; Canada; Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies; Goin' Home; Strong Women Rule Us All; Cape Cod Girls; Norlin' Wind.

Info and photo The Dubliner's site

Coventry Folk Clubs - Ben Arnold from an early Coventry folk magazine Folk Crying Out Loud 1967 - via a later article on Coventry folk History by Pete Willow in his magazine Folks c 1978 and reprodcued on this blog here
Lenny Mcllhone - Photo from Myra Butler Taken Glascote Lock Cottage Back Garden mid 90's

Tavern Folk Club - Swanswell Tavern, Coventry

Gill Thurlow married David McWilliams who recorded the single Days of Pearly Spencer. A biography of him can be found here

Between 1972 and 1974 three albums were released: "Lord Offally" (released on Pye in the US) with front
David McWilliams
Gill Thurlow (McWilliams)

and back cover artwork and inner sleeve photo by Gil McWilliams (Thurlow) (David's first wife, who met him while working as a singer with The Kerries).

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