Tuesday, July 26, 2011

John Shanahan - Coventry guitar player songwriter

John Shanahan was an outstanding guitar player songwriter / stylist in the style of John Martyn.

John Shanahan on the right
While I was running Hobo Magazine in the early / mid 70's. I used to look forward to John's floor spots at the Hand in Heart (Rod Felton and Dave Coburn's folk club) and  many other venues. Later in the 70's Pete Willow and his co-editors interviewed John (who was then living in Berlin) for Folks magazine. The article is featured below -

JOHN SHANAHAN   Spotlight on Shanners

" John Shanahan, much respected guitarist and songwriter by anyone who's seen him perform, paid a visit to his home town for a couple of weeks over Christmas.

Before returning to his new found life in Berlin, he called round to the Folk's HQ to tell us a little of what he's up to these days.

I sometimes feel
That the Berlin Wheel
Swings between the angels
and the Devil's heel..

Thus runs the chorus of the only song that John has completed since first moving to Berlin over a year ago. Entitled BERLIN WHEEL, it records his impressions of the city, setting the lyrics to typical Shanahan chord sequences, catchy, unusual and seemingly impossible for most other guitarist to play.

John Shanahan 1974
Although John still plays a lot of his own material, he confesses to being fed up with some of the earlier numbers. He demonstrated what was for him a departure in guitar style by using a flat pick and drop-D tuning and running off a medley of jigs and reels and Lennon / McCartney compositions, mainly by picking out the melody and harmony simultaneously on adjacent strings and throwing in the occasional standard (and instantly identifiable!) B Minor or G chord. The guitar work on some of his own material may have been more complex but he showed his expertise as a guitarist with these relatively simpler pieces by making them sound neat and professional: each string fully stopped or pulled where required, no hesitation and no hint of a duff note. John is undoubtedly one of the finest guitarists to emerge from the Coventry folk scene and puts many professional folk guitarists in this country to shame. How come then, he has to go abroad to find regular work.

Actually, it was partly chance that John visited Berlin in the first place. The opportunity arose when Alan McBride, fiddle player for that well traveled folk band Tara, and Dyers Arms drinking colleague, was going and there was some room in Folk at the Pitts the van. This was September 1977. Alan only stayed in Berlin for a week, but John met up with some people who introduced him to the local music clubs, so he stayed on. Up until this time, although much acclaimed as a folk artist in Coventry (and Manchester where he lived for a while), John was getting few bookings elsewhere.

His first club appearence had been at the Three Tuns in Coventry, over six years ago, and his only real break occurred in 1976 when he was given theopportunity to record an album. Perhaps 'given' isn't the right word, but anyway the chance arose from a meeting with Stead, driving force behind the Sweet Folk All Organisation, and guest  one Friday evening at the Magic Lamp folk club where John had turned up to do one of his frequent floor spots.

The Album, Dance of Flies, was recorded in November that year and consisted of 10 Shanahan classics, including Every man Jack, Full Circle Round, All on a Windy Night,. He was accompanied by classical guitarist Steve Gordon, whom he'd met in Manchester.

Many copies of the album were sold though it came under criticism from people who had seen John perform live. Some said the mix was poor in that John's characteristic guitar style did not really come over at all; others said said that rich quality of his voice was lost in the recording. However it contained a good selection of songs (even if it didn't include My Garden Swing) and a worthwhile record to have particularly as John is rarely seen around these days.

Copies of the record were sent to local radio stations, newspapers and music magazines, mostly at John's own expense, but apart from a good review in the Evening Jellymould by their enlightened reporter John Palmer, a dedicated Shanahan fan, the record did little to further John's career as a full time musician.

The format of English folk clubs is such that it is virtually impossible for an artist to get regular work int he area unless he resorts to Pub Singing which at best can be a thankless task. Venues in Berlin are different; folk clubs as we know them don't exist and singers like John, usually play in bars or music clubs who generally pay about five to eight pounds for a reasonable half hour set. English and Irish folk music is very popular at these places.

John averages abut four gigs a week. He obtains them by simply doing the rounds of the Berlin club circuit and asking for them. Once established he's virtually assured of regular work in this way. The proprietor or organiser pays him as soon as he's finished the set and walked offstage. Usually John works as a soloist but he occasionally accompanies others such as Northumbrian singer Ken Davidson with whom he worked for a short while.

One disadvantage of working in Berlin is the high cost of living compared with here, but as long as John continues to make his Mark (perpetrators of any more puns like that will be severly pun-ished - Ed) he finds one consolatory factor; the bars don't close till the last customer goes home.

H.L. / B.U / Pete Willow. 1979 - Folks Magazine

From the web Spreewaldtor I learnt that - "In 2004 he was playing in Euro Camp with the Max McColgan Trio (pictured here with John on guitar) The third member was Jimmy Dee from Glasgow. Euro Camp Spreewaldtor - The page (in German) says - John Shanahan is of Irish-English descent born in Coventry/England .

Since he was 18, was a singer/songwriter with an unusual style of guitar playing. He played in the clubs, on the stages and festivals of the British islands at home. When it visited the western part of Berlin in 1977, he decided to remain in the city. Meeting and joining in sessions with friendly Irish and English  musicians he discovered his love for Irish-English folklore, to which he finally dedicated himself from now on. From his original style of the Fingerpicking he turned to the interpretation of the fast dance melodies to the Flatpicking, in which he is a master of its subject."

Unfortunately we have no audio or videos of John Shanahan and his music. (UPDATE - John has seen this note and sent me five tracks which I've uploaded to Youtube and are posted here - well worth waiting for - enjoy - and thanks John!)

Track one from 1975 The Matter of the Matter

Track 2 from 1979 Berlin Wheel

Track 3 The Wind she Blew Through Her hair - 1980

Track 4 Kepler Song - 2010

Track 5 - Blessed are the Money Lenders 2010

Some more of John's Music can be found on You tube on this site

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gilly Darbey - A Coventry Singer's International Success


My Space (hear some of the songs Gilly sings ) - Hallelujah, Just Like a Woman, All Night long, Cravin' a Man's Blues, I Miss My Son, I Envy the Wind, Hurricane Blowin' Through.

I grew up over the road from Gilly Darbey, in Willenhall Wood, Coventry. I hardly knew her, she was more my younger sister's age. By the time Hobo Magazine was up and running in the early to mid 70's she was playing Coventry folk clubs. It was at the Charterhouse pub, Terry Rd. in Coventry I first saw her perform with her guitar to great acclaim for her young voice. Around 1974 her name cropped up in many of the folk club posts in Hobo.

For a while, in 1974, she was managed by Craig Ward of the Coventry Sunshine Music agency. Craig says "  I managed Gill for a short while back in the 70's at Sunshine. She had the purest voice I have ever heard in my life. Seem to remember hawking a demo round the record companies for her, but folk wasn't really happening commercially at the time and we got nowhere. A real talent though and no surprise she did as well as she did." There is now a poster bleow that came from Craig from when Gill  was on the bill with Jake Thackery in 1974.

At the time she was a rising star on the local folk club circuit but I never knew what became of her until recent years, I came across her website and e mailed her. Gilly now lives in New Zealand and her website biography makes interesting reading.

Gilly says her singing career started in school, joining various groups and then forming her own all girl group called Mosaic.

Gilly also started to "perform solo at local folk clubs in her home town of Coventry, she was still only 14. Gilly was a rebellious pupil and left school as soon as was possible, to join an Irish showband of all things. She had a great time learning the ropes, and was well chaperoned by the boys in the band."

At 16, she answered an ad in Melody Maker "for girl singers to form an English equivalent of the "Three Degrees". Gilly got the job! Along with two others, she underwent the star treatment doled out by "MCA" records and "Bell" records. However, as with a lot of these record company fiascos,(at one point Gilly was the only one singing all of the parts and the other two were just to create a three girl image), it all went botty up and Gilly was once again solo.

After that Gilly returned to the folk scene and joined Streetband who were about to do a busking tour of Europe. She had a great time despite being arrested twice (busking was illegal then)! Eventually she returned to England as a soloist and the Streetband became the One Eyed Jacks with bass player Martin Allcocks.

Gilly Darbey in Waterfall
Soon she would hear " Waterfall", Keith Donnelly and Martyn Oram, perform at the Lanchester Poly in Coventry. She fell in love with the songs (mostly written by Keith Donnelly), This started a new chapter in Gilly's life and career, and a partnership with Keith that lasted for nearly 20 years.Though they no longer perform together Gilly and Keith are still great friends, and Gilly still performs a lot of his material.

They became very popular on the folk scene both here and abroad. A highlight at this time was to open Cambridge Festival on Main Stage1. Gilly remembers it particularly well as she had taken up skydiving and had to be helped on stage with crutches due to a slightly mistimed landing!

Waterfall toured constantly throughout Europe and further afield, including trips to Belize, Cyprus and the Falklands. They also did a T.V. special for the BBC called "This Is Waterfall." (Watch it on You Tube here Definitely worth seeing for the ridiculous outfits that they came up with on a shopping spree in London! The trio released two albums to much acclaim, "Three Birds" produced by Johnny Coppin, and "Beneath The Stars" produced by Phillip Goodhand-Tait.

After Martyn Oram left Gilly and Keith toyed with several new names and for a while were called "Little Aeroplane", releasing an album of the same name, this time produced by Richard Digance. Then they changed the name again and became "Nothing By Chance", the name of a Richard Bach book that Gilly was reading at the time.

Once again a new chapter began as "Nothing By Chance" were taken on by Jasper Carrotts' management company, after a succesful tour with him. They went on to support such noticeables as Van Morrison, The Hollies, and Tori Amos, to name but a few. During which time they appeared at almost every major venue throughout Britain and Ireland, with numerous T.V. appearances, including several on "Pebble Mill At One".
(More tracks by Waterfall on You Tube if you click back to the site.)

They were spotted by a BBC producer whilst doing a Phil Cool support, who loved what he saw and wanted to turn them into huge, and I mean huuuwwwwwwwwg T.V. stars.
They had their own T.V. special for the Beeb which received critical acclaim, (a clip was shown on "Points of View") and was swiftly shown again at a prime time on BBC1. Gilly and Keith then spent 6 months working with the people at BBC Pebble Mill on a six part series. At the last minute politics between London and Pebble Mill meant that the TV series was vetoed.

Undaunted Gilly and Keith then made an album called "Ghosts Of Love". The album was produced by John "Bonny" Acock and Mick Dolan at Stevie Winwood's fantastic studio down in Gloucestershire, and features many fine guest musicians including Phil Beer of "Show of Hands" fame and Al Marnie, bass player with Chris de Burgh, This was swiftly taken up by "Chrysalis" records. They started a 90 date country wide tour in their own right. The album was receiving rave reviews, and receiving radio 1 and 2 air play. Unfortunately "Chrysalis" were being bought out by big bad nasties "EMI", Nothing By Chance became tiny, tiny fishes in a huge sea, got sucked through some other fishes gills, and ceased to exist!

Gilly returned once more to a solo career which she is still doing, including some major festivals around the world.

Her first solo CD "One", is really a showcase CD, trying to show some of these differing sides to her voice, though mostly aimed at the "folk scene". It was recorded totally live at the famous Red Lion folk club in Kings Heath, Birmingham. The infamous Jim Mcphee who ran the Red Lion F.C. signed Gilly up for his agency, Acorn Entertainments, as soon as he heard her doing a resident spot at the club. This is what he had to say about her first appearance there:

She had everyone so captivated that-
1. I forgot to start recording untill she'd nearly finished the first set.
2. The audience were spellbound - you could hear a pin drop.
3.The latecomers entered the room and stood silently, transfixed until she'd finished her song - AND THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!
4. I forgot to start the recording for her second set.
All in all I was so gobsmacked that I said I would try and get her some work.
Unfortunately Jim underwent a major operation and decided to end the agency.

Gilly incorporates many different genres of music into her sets, believing that a beautiful song is a beautiful song no matter what genre it comes from, and that if she believes the words the audience will too. With her ability to "feel" a song and to pass that feeling on to her audience, genre is often transcended.
Her haunting voice was used for the title track, and incidental music for the BBC drama "The Tennant Of Wildfell Hall" which has been shown worldwide, and by the same composer, Richard G. Mitchel, for a video of the World Cup,(The Coupe de la Gloire-also available on CD) during which he referred to her as Gilly te Kanawa!! Listen out for her Kiri impression on track 6, "Sunday Prayer".

More recently Gilly has joined up with Maart Allcock for some gigs. The few they have done so far have really taken the audience by storm, including The Mill, Banbury, Godiva Festival, Coventry, and Warwick Festivals.

The demo Maart and Gilly did for the BBC producer was made MP3 of the month for October 2001 on This is what they wrote...

MP3 Of The Month...Gilly Darbey- "Ain't No Use Baby"

"Dim the lights, I want to set the scene. It's August and we're at the Cropredy festival, Fairport Convention has just gone off stage and the chatter of well contented, happy people are all around us. Most people are heading out of the main site for either their tents or transport home. We're not leaving the field - We're going to wait for something magical to happen. We walk to the left hand of the stage and pass through the security gate. At the back of the stage there is a tent. Artists and their friends are milling around outside it and the sound of the blues floats out. Inside the tent is "Sugarland Slim" cranking out an impromptu session featuring the extraordinary voice of Gilly Darbey who we have chosen as our MP3 of the Month for October. "Ain't no use now baby" features the talents of Martin Allcock and hopefully will be included as one of the tracks on a planned collaboration album in the not too distant future. Sugarland Slim have also hinted that Gilly may guest with them on their next release."

And indeed she appears on Sugarlands new CD "Texan Calypso". A song Sean wrote especially to duet with Gilly, called "Dirty girl, Lousy Guy". After recording the track Sugarland had a gig locally and invited Gilly along. This is a review from Relayer. A web site dedicated to bands in and around Bedford, though the reviewer had travelled much further afield to see Sugarland Slim.

".... and then the singer announces a short break .... and invites Gilly Darbey to get up and entertain us. Gilly and Sugarland Slim got together in the small hours at the Cropedy Festival, and they were equally knocked out with each other.... playing and singing through the night. Gilly has been invited to duet with Sean on a number on the new CD.... I'm looking forward to that - she has a superb voice with an incredible range, and treated us to a short set, mostly solo's (guitar/vocal) ...... Jeff solo's on a couple.... great sound! "You'll have to excuse me, I'm a crap guitarist!" she says, before playing very well indeed! Loud applause, from a smallish, but very appreciative crowd ...Wow, what a singer ..... very enjoyable indeed!" The CD is now due out, so check the guys web site for release details.

The year 2000 saw her expanding her horizons with a successful tour to Australia and New Zealand. Since that first tour Gilly has returned several times to growing enthusiam from the audiences in the southern hemisphere. Appearing at some of the countries most prestigeous folk and blues festivals and venues.

Spring 2004 saw the release of her second solo CD...."Blues Movin' In", which is more bluesey than the first solo CD and has really captured the essence of Gilly's voice.
Spring 2004 was spent touring in Australia and New Zealand, with the prestigeous Australian National Folk Festival over Easter in Canberra, and a live appearance on National Radio in NZ. Gilly went down a storm at the National, especially the huge 3000 seater Badewang Hall where she sold out of CD's at the first concert.
Then a return to the UK for more gigs.
Summer 2004 was spent moving to NZ where Gilly now resides.
Autumn gigs included Hong Kong Festival and the end of the year saw her at the huge and wonderful Woodford Festival in Queensland, Australia

2006 saw Gilly recording some songs for Gordon Giltrap and performing them as his guest at the Symphony Hall, London in March. Gordon Wrote of her.......

"You are and always will be one of the finest singers I have ever had the privilege to listen to"

2006 saw her embark on another tour of New Zealand, including a live spot on TVNZ "Good Morning Show". Then back to Australia for the National Festival in Canberra.

2007 and Gilly is now making a name for herself in her new home New Zealand, with great reviews for her appearance at the Queenstown International Jazz Festival, Waipara Wine and Food Festival, and the Alexandra Blossom festival, one of the largest festivals in the South Island, she has also just been confirmed to appear at the Parihaka International Peace Festival in 2008, which is a real honour. Check out their website at Parihaka Festival.

Her new CD recorded in Australia at Rob Longs wonderful studio in Newcastle, with Rob playing guitars and drums and Liz Frencham of Jigzag playing double bass, has received rave reviews in NZ Musician.
October 07 sees her embarking on a tour of NZ with her band to promote the new CD, see date sheet for details.
Gilly has recently joined up with Dunedin based Texan musician Terry Ebeling and the band are starting to get gigs around the wine and food festival, corporate circuit.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mick Stuart - Coventry Acoustic Blues player

Mick Stuart playing at the Pitts Head in late 1970's

I used to watch and enjoy Mick Stuart play in Coventry folk clubs in the 70's. I first saw him at Rod Felton's Rude Bare folk club at the Boatyard, Gosford Green. A recent enquiry by Andrew Clark which I fielded to to folk singer and Coventry Telegraph folk columnist - Pete Willow resulted is some further information and a link to some videos of Mick Stuart.

Pete Willow's update suggests that  -
"Mick Stuart, who was very active on the Coventry
folk scene for many years played a mixture of classic blues songs (with impressive guitar arrangements), including 'Nobody Knows You When You're
Down and Out' and his own songs (including 'Sweet Young and Lovely' if I remember the title correctly). 

Mick moved away from Coventry for a few years to live 
near family in Devon, then returned and ran his own club here for several years. He left again around three years ago although the club (Styvechale Folk Club) is still run 

by former regulars. It's a shame he never made a bigger name for himself. But he did record a few cassettes with the help of local fans and home studios." (Photo shows Mick Stuart Swain outside Gretna Street Coventry May 1967 Photo by Paul Kennelly).

Tony (Mojo) Morgan ( of Cov Ska band EMF and Travelling Riverside Blues Band etc) commented - 

" Mick Stuart is another friend of mine from the Tuesday Coventry fok night at the Freemasons Tavern in Harnal Lane, where Jan Budd used to run it. It was a great night out there with the Marston Pedergre. Martin Jenkins played every week there with a band.... Roddy Felton was always there holding the bar up.

On a Thursday it was the Coventry Blues Club, which i ran for about three years. 

I played with The Traveling Riverside Blues Band there lots of times, and we use to pack the place out, and so did The DT's plus a few blues solo artists like Mick Stuart.......... They were great times........Mojo. "

More recently Marko Krnjulac has put some videos of  Mick Stuart on Youtube.



Marko Krnjulac Taken in 1994 when we played at the Coombe Abbey Folk Festival, Prince (the real star) with Mick and me. We went out as 'Final Fling' at that time and this was the Coombe Abbey programme write up we had.

From Folks magazine

Thanks to Rebecca Ward for alerting me to an album that Mick Stuart made of his own compositions called Ghosts and released in 2001. Rebecca has supplied a photo of the front and back covers.

Rebecca Ward asks - if you can put a note on asking if anyone has a good copy of it, can they make me a new one from it please. ...Thank you so much for your help

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dave Bennett - Coventry Ragtime Guitarist

Dave Bennett was another Coventry Folk Scene legend who sadly passed away 28th March 2010. Dave was an energetic figure on the Coventry folk for about 40 years! Apart from his amazing talent for playing ragtime numbers at breakneck speed, Dave assisted with or ran his own folk clubs, encouraging new talent along the way, including Pauline Vickers (who later became better known as Pauline Black - lead singer with the Selecter.) and more recently Kristy Gallacher, whom he also gave guitar lessons too.

From his My Space biography -

Rod Felton's folk club - Hobo 1974
"Dave started playing years ago when he was living in Aberystwyth and, influenced by Dylan, Tom Paxton,Joan Baez, et al, he concentrated entirely on fingerstyle guitar and became part of a folk group called the Pennyfarthing! While completing his PhD in Insect Physiology at the University College of Wales. In 1970 moved to Coventry and continued playing in folk clubs and music sessions. Was Sean Cannon's guitarist for a short while and even appeared on TV with him and made a cassette tape based on the TV programme. Met the Furey Brothers at "The Old Dyer's Arms" and developed his love of Irish music. Throughout the 70's and the 80's and 90's he played many solo/combo gigs throughout the UK and Europe. Many Solo/Duo/ Rock Band /Irish Showband/Country Band gigs and played until minutes before his demise!! Played with his partner Brenda, an unaccompanied traditional singer.
John James; John Hurt; Rev Gary Davis; Libba Cotton; Ralph McTell; Renbourne/Jansch; Stefan Grossman; Joan Baez; Bob Dylan; Bach; Beethoven; Debussy; Delius; Rachmaninov:Martin Carthy; Nic Jones; The Fureys; Sean Cannon"

I met Dave at the Rude Bear Folk at the Three Tons in Coventry in 1972. The club, run by Rod Felton and Dave Coburn, soon moved to the Boatyard in Gosford St. and Dave was a regular. His accomplished Ragtime style influenced many a guitarist. It was a style hard to emulate easily but nonetheless caused many to work harder at their picking. Dave went on to establish his own club at the Old Dyers Arms and encouraged so many players including a young Pauline black who used to play under the name Pauline Vickers at the Old Dyers Arms. Pauline has acknowledged that Dave 'kickstarted' her entire career before  Selecter. I remember seeing her play there circa 1978, doing a Stones and Joan Armatrading song and going over to give her the thumbs up. I never imagined that that was the start of a disguised musical career that would span Two Tone, TV and Radio and much else. A year later I saw her again at the Lanch Poly with Selecter who were just starting off.- the rest is history!.

Dave Bennett
Dave used to place small ads in my magazine Hobo c 1974 -

Dave was advertised in Hobo several times.  One ad he did for Hobo read "Blind Drunk Dave Bennett -  five fast fingers flashing up and down the fretboard" Dave was a highly popular artist on the Coventry folk scene. In 1971 he performed at a major folk concert as part Warwick university's arts festival.

In issue 3 Feb 1974 - a small ad in Hobo ran -
"Dave Bennett, 8, Oxford St. Hillfields, Cov - Ragtime idiot; fool; PHD Zooology. Available for most things, preferably work!"

More recently - Dave played with Rod Felton in a Grunt band style as Im and Im

I was lucky to see Dave one last time in 2009 when I went back to Coventry. He was supporting his daughter Sarah Bennett, also an impressive guitar player at Janine's Acoustic Escape session. Dave invited me to another one of his folk club initiatives (somewhere near the Belgrade) but unfortunately I had to return home before that.

Advert from Hobo magazine 1975
To the end he was an influential personality and player on the Coventry music scene, running clubs, playing and encouraging a whole new generation of acoustic players. Practically every one remembers him as a nice ,friendly and encouraging bloke and an amazing guitar player.

Dave's place in these annals of the Coventry music scene are more than well earned / deserved. Above there are some samples of his amazing playing.


 Recorded by Marko Krnjulac in the late 70's at The Old Dyers Arms, Son End, Coventry. This live Ragtime Medley includes a fast version Anji and Men of Harlech.

"you are the man who kick started my entire career at the 'old dyers arms' in coventry....those were the days" Pauline Black - The Selecter

And here's Dave's daughter Sarah Bennett with some amazing guitar work of her own.

Interview with Sarah Bennett from It's All About Coventry.

And his son Stephen Bennett

Dave Bennett with Penny Farthing

Comments from the Hobo Vox blog - now closed.

It looks like that I started on the Leicester scene about the same time as you, Dave. Rod Felton used to come to Tony Savages' club in Leicester which I remember. Steve Tilston and Dave Evans used to come over from Loughborough.I played at The Couriers and various venues before plugging in and joining a working mens club band called The Warlocks who, I believe are still going. People who used to play on the Leicester scene were Geoff Halford, Mark Newman, Christa Maine, who later played in my band Pageant and Harvey ????? I remember seeing Joni Mitchel ar The Couriers and Paul Simon. The good old days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: PETE METCALFE | 03/12/2009 at 06:39 PM

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rod Felton

ROD FELTON - Coventry Legend, Folk Rock Maverick and One Half of the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band.

UPDATED 2nd June 2014
Since writing this post in July 2011, Rod Felton has sadly passed away in 2014, in his 70's. The tribute have flown in. Rod touched so many people's lives with music, his humanity, his eccentricity and his sense of humour. There could only ever be one Rod Felton, he was a genre all of his own! As a result of the all the material that has emerged since writing this post and since his passing, this post has got a little untidy as I've tried to keep up with the material!  So I've revised the post and tried to reorganise it in hopefully a more coherent way.



Also a link to Rod Felton's The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band

Revised introduction

Pete Waterman and Rod Felton - Trev Teasdel's Story.

I was introduced to Rod Felton one Tuesday evening in the summer of 1970 by Pete Waterman, who The only star Coventry has produced". Quite an accolade from the man who would, much later be judging would be pop stars on Pop Heroes! Pete and I worked in the same section at GEC Stoke in Coventry - Telecommunications. In fact Pete was my shop steward and ironically i used to be scribbling down my song lyrics while he was holding Union meetings! One day one of my work mates sawRoy Harper with his long hair and moustache. Rod played at the Walsgrave a couple of times and also with the New Modern Idiot Grunt band.  The tickets are below. On one of the nights that Rod played  (Electric!) - Tuesday September 1st 1970, Pete had got up on stage with Gypsy's Kiss, and sang a raucous R & B number  - Rock Me Baby, adding some Jethro Tull like flute. It was pretty impressive and Earlsdon Cottage, where Rod was later the guest. It was only about 7pm and Rod and everyone were sitting in the garden behind the cottage playing informally before the club began. Pete had come to collect his flute, but before we left Pete joined in on one of Rod's numbers, on flute, playing a very melodic flute this time. Sadly it was long before the days of Mobile cameras and videos, so no footage of this exists and i could myself lucky to have heard them play together. So that was my introduction to Rod! Rod of course wasn't new to the scene in 1970, his  story as we shall see began in the 60's but by 1972 Rod was running the Rude Bear Folk club at the Three Tons in the bull yard, later moving to the Hand and Heart in Gosford street until 1974. I'd learnt guitar by then, and Rod gave me my first floors spots. It meant i got in free and witnessed on many occasions Rod's performances - always original and uniquely Rod. In February 1974 I was producing Hobo - Coventry's Music and Arts Magazine, and Rod paid for and designed a full page ad for Hobo for the Rude Bear Folk club. It was then i became aware of the range of Rod's talent. He'd began as a graphic artist and it showed in his design of the ad and his own flyers, both for his solo act and for the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band. (There is a separate page on here for the Grunt Band here)  
Rod had borrowed Pete's flute. The next week when I arrived early to help the bands load their gear, Pete talk me on a walkabout - we went to his house to get some bits of disco equipment and then up to the
described him to me as "
me writing and suggested I tell Pete about my lyric writing. Pete wasn't famous outside of Coventry back then but he had been the singer and guitarist in a couple of R & B bands in the 60's and was now the top soul DJ in Coventry, based at the Locarno, as well running a couple of Progressive music venues for Friars Promotions. Pete approached me in fact and tool a lyric I was writing while the boss was out - A Lotta Rain is Fallin' and put acoustic music too. Pete also persuaded me to come down to the Walsgrave Pub each Tuesday evening and do the door for his main Progressive venue. On one of the occasions Rod came in, looking a little like 
and, as Texas Dave McGarry has recently reminded me - his artistic leather work. I never met Rod's sister - Jan Felton, but I know she was studying drama at Coventry's Brookland's Annex in the late 70's, so he came from quite a talented family."

Before we move on to Pete Willow's article on Rod Felton, here are a couple of  press cuttings from the mid 1960's via Ian Green's Broadgate Gnome site.

This article from the Coventry Standard  gives a good outline of his early career.
The cutting, from 1965, announces him as a 'newcomer in the tradition of Bob Dylan'. Rod was 22
and had become a professional singer songwriter, after being made redundant from Whitworth-Gloster Aircraft at Baginton (just outside Coventry) where he had been a Commercial artist. He had been on the folk circuit  for a good two years before that gaining  valuable performing experience". and Rod had clearly become a popular artist on the Midlands folk circuit, even playing in Birmingham and London. Rod even shaved his beard off to avoid being recognised in the street according the Coventry Standard! In between Rod had kept himself going with a number of jobs in between, as a warehouseman, Bread Salesman and Painter.

In the second cutting we see Rod taking off to Germany to perform -

"Rod took off to Germany for a tour with Geoff Smedley of the Coventry Mummers and Rob Armstrong, performing solo and as The Idiot Grunt Band (Rod and Rob) and as the The Gentle Idea (all three of them)."

Rod Felton's drawing of Diz Disley

" A brief rundown of Rod’s career up to the age of 25 appears in the programme of the concert at the Playhouse, Harlow, one of the venues where he appeared with Julie Felix;

“He has played guitar since the age of twelve and started playing in clubs at the age of 15. He teamed up with Beverley Kutner who later married and partnered John Martyn.

He then formed the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band which was a great success in Northern England and Germany. When they disbanded, Rod decided to build a solo career and recently signed management and recording contracts with Barry Murray and Harry Simmonds – managers and producers of Mungo Jerry, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack etc. who in turn signed him with the newly formed British Talent International Agency who handle Mungo Jerry. Savoy. Prelude, Peter Skellern, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock. Rod is currently working on his first Album and single.”

So somewhere there must be some recordings. I also seem to remember Rod telling me he was recording in America c 1974 but I saw no evidence.

Pete willow tells us " extracts from the Felton scrapbooks are included (here), although there isn't space to include everything in them. Suffice it to say they are packed with letters, cuttings, photos and posters relating to people involved in the local and national folk scene from the mid sixties to the early seventies. They also contain many details of Rod’s own career as a folk singer, including tickets, ads, posters and other publicity of concerts he has performed along with Savoy Brown, 10cc, Bronx Cheer and Julie Felix. "

Pete willow quotes from another cutting entitled " “Folk Wave Hits City Scene” The Heart of England F.C. Chairman Pete Fairley “…One of our most popular resident singers is a Coventrian. He is Rod Felton, the blues artist, who has shown interest in the club since our formation 18 months ago.” The article makes reference to a club Roddy ran at the Market Tavern in Coventry on Wednesday evenings.

Rod Felton is one of top solo performers from Coventry - a powerhouse of a performer who, apart from following his own career, has encourage local acts through a number of folk clubs he has hosted over the years including the Rude Bear Folk Club at the three tons and later the Boatyard in the early 70's.

In spite of playing all over the country and abroad, Rod has never stopped gigging oR doing numerous floor spots in Coventry folk clubs and events."
At one stage, a year or two after the break up of Dando Shaft, the band reformed briefly c 1974 with the
addition of Baz Andruszko on bass and Rod Felton on guitar. Dando reformed and performed in tent outside the Belgrade Theatre.
At the time I reported this in Hobo - Coventry's Music and Arts Magazine 1974

"Dando Shaft - may be reformed in the near future with some of the original members - Martin Jenkins on
fiddle, flute and mandola and vocals; Ted Kaye on Congas and percussion, Polly Boulton on vocals, Rod Felton on Guitar and Baz Andruszko (of a Band Called George) on bass and accordion.

At the moment they are fulfilling other commitments. Martin, who recently wrote and played the music for the Belgrade's production Little Red Riding Hood, has another production in London. Rod Felton, meanwhile, is due for another tour of Germany I believe."

Rod Felton designed and paid for the advert in Hobo for the Rude Bear Folk club, utilising the skills that he used as a commercial artist for his new purposes.

Some more pieces by Rod Felton that came from Pete Willow's Folks magazine c1979 - the lyrics to one of his songs.

There is a limited amount of material on Rod Felton's My Space

AND I LOVE YOU by Rod Felton
One of his most popular songs of the early 70's was "And I Love You" and was played in open D tuning. He'd sing the verses soft as if singing to his lover and then for the chorus would bring in his considerable vocal power. Pete Willow tells me that several Coventry singers covered this popular Coventry song. First published in Folks - Pete Willow's Coventry folk magazine 1979.

Here is the tablature from Folks Magazine -

And the youtube of the song And I Love You and My Lady - recorded live at the Three Tuns c 1972 by MARKO KRNJULAC


On the 6th Jan 1974 Rod Felton played the Marquee Club with Bronx Cheer.
See programme below.

Rod also worked with Barry Kingstone who produced recordings of Rod on Spark records
and Pye Records.
Rod Felton at the Marquee London in 1974

One of his most popular songs of the early 70's - "And I Love You" ( played in open D tuning. He'd sing the verses soft as if singing to his lover and then for the chorus would bring in his considerable vocal power. Pete Willow tells me that several Coventry singers covered this popular Coventry song. First published in Folks - Pete Willow's Coventry folk magazine 1979.
MARKO KRNJULAC recorded another Rod Felton song at the Three Tuns c 1972 - the lively Desert Rock

and some recent floor spots can be found on You Tube.

There's more of Rod if you follow through to You tube.

From Folks Magazine 1979

Dave Cooper (of Dando Shaft) "Writing down my observations tell them this and that Think i'll walk to Riddy's Army Surplice Stores and buy me a hat" Rod Felton "My Day Story" 68?

Norman Wheatley recently played Rod Felton's brilliant song Curley on his Gentle Folk radio show. It's the second track if you follow the link. It's a podcast so you can listen to it at any time.

Shortly before Rod felton passed away, I assisted Pete Clemons with information and contacts for a two part article on Rod for Coventry Telegraph. Pete had been intended to do the article for a while having grown up near where Rod lived and luckily Rod got to see the article before he passed from what we've been told  Here are the two recent articles. I've broken them up a bit for ease of reading.

Dave Cooper of  Dando Shaft has recently uploaded some further tracks by Rod on Sound Cloud.

These are unfinished songs - the first is the excellent Folkin' Superstar Dave Cooper says  I have copies of 9 tracks. I spoke to Rod he was happy to put them on Raremusez. I just never got round to it.

There's another track on there called - It Takes Some Time - click back to Dave's Soundcloud to hear it.

The hunt has been on to trace the 'lost Album' tracks of Rod Felton and 'live audio'. Some live recordings have already surfaced and are linked on here. Steve Ashwell has a longstanding thread on Rod Felton on which there has been much discussion about his lost recordings from such as Ian Green, Geoff Thompson and many others the link to the facebook thread is HERE

Graham Bradshaw "It's time for a dig through all the old tapes. I have some cassette recordings from the Freemasons, which definitely contain some by Rod. I also have all the tapes from the Come Together concert in 1983 in memory of Hazel Lester. There is a complete set of Grunt Band recordings there, but I don't think Rod did a solo set. We'll see. - People have talked about Rod's legendary album from the 70s. It definitely DID exist. I can remember Rod telling me all about it at the time, although you always had to take Rod's stories with a certain pinch of salt. The story goes that he recorded it in London for Pye Records, and it was pressed up ready for release, and then the A&R man at Pye left and the new regime weren't interested, so it got cancelled. There were apparently boxes of them in the Pye vaults never issued. However, a few pre-release copies did escape, and I remember seeing one in Coventry in the 70s, so I know it existed. Somebody somewhere must have one. Maybe Rod had one, but I doubt it. There was a galaxy of star musicians (of the day) on it, one of which was Bruce Rowlands (then of the Grease band and later drummer with Fairport)....More recently, I believe Malc Gurnham recorded some stuff with him for a CD release. Roddy showed me the artwork for the sleeve, but I never got to hear the results. No doubt, Malc still has these tapes, unless in true Rody fashion, they never got finished!!" 

Sadly Rod Felton passed away March 29th 2014. So many tributes on Facebook - he touched so many people's lives - so many affectionate memories and laughs left behind alongside the songs and many many performances.

Geoff Veasey of Black Parrot Seaside has done a terrific tribute to Rod Felton on his Bold Parrot blogspot - worth a read - 
" That cheeky grin, that trademark long hair, the ponytail, the tie-backs and headscarves. Those biceps, the earrings, the onstage (and offstage) outbreaks of cussing. The funny voices, the timbre, the way he would drop a vocal down and then rasp it across a big room without any amplification. The infectious laugh-the mix of sad, sweet, funny and downright brilliant songs-we've lost them all." READ MORE HERE

Tributes from Facebook
Rod Felton still up to tricks in his old age!

Texas Dave McGarry (Dave used to work in Virgin records Coventry in the 70's - now promotes Texas music in Australia) " Just found out my old friend Rod Felton passed away. This guy was the original midnight cowboy that walked the streets of Coventry, England, back in the 1960's/70's. Guitar in hand, he'd play a song for anyone, anytime. He made great leather work too, and wore his craft for all the world to see. He was crazee, and beautiful. Cops shook their heads as he walked by. A true legend. RIP Amigo."

I had forgotten Rod's leather work - pouches etc. Another of his many talents.

And Pete Willow's tribute in Coventry Telegraph

Among the many artists and friends / relatives at Rod's funeral, was the clawpicking folk raconteur Derek Brimstone, now in his 80's and according to reports, still looking good.

Christopher Sidwell I spoke to Roger Lomas who reckons that he still has the 2 songs that he recorded of Rod in London and 'Curley' sounded wonderful when it was played at the funeral today. The funeral was as lovely as a funeral could be and there were masses of people and love.

This another excellent tribute and review of Rod Felton's Funeral by Geoff Vasey of Black Parrot Seaside. A must read...

Comments from the Hobo site on Vox blogs from 2007 /8 (site now closed)
Hey, my old friend Rod Felton, we used to go to a lot of parties together, and get right out of our heads. He
use to come with me down to Banbury to a place called the Lampet Arms in Tad Martin, and the landlady give us beds for the night. A lot of weekends we spent down there, because the pub never closed.
I could tell you some stories, but i don't think i should.......Peace...Mojo.
mojomorgan | 03/02/2007 at 01:30 PM

[this is good]
Got an e mail from John Silver - of Coventry who now runs the Falcon Hotel in BromYard -
"Early January 1968, or 1969 the dates merge, Rod Felton on the busy stairs at the Umbrella Club doing
full justice to 'My Name aint Tarzan'. Watching on Roy & Colin Potter, Sylvia Baines and many others including I think Maurice Deacon and Margaret nee? now in Somerset.

Jazz fan then and now following Dud Clews (Mercers Arms), Tieano?(Sp) Bueno(Cottage Earlsdon, Monday) put well off Folk by Ian Cambell gig in Coventry which I found very boring and with Ross Patterson and Ray Fiddler? were thrown out by the heavies for not showing respect.

Interesting times long gone. Now live in Bromyard and find there is good Folk music after all having done the best ever Bromyard Folk Festival 2007. Don't think Rod ever got here.
John Silver, Freeman of Coventry."

The only recording of the incredible Grunt Band. Live at The Three Crowns at Barwell. Download the whole01/19/2008 at 05:43 PM
collection at from Coopz Posted by: coopz |

[this is good] Memories, memories, of young drunken, but always beautifully enjoyed, times in the Coventry/Nuneaton/Warwickshire area in 1965 to many lovely,sometimes unrepeatable,good times, love to all involved
Posted by: michael scott | 01/12/2010 at 07:28 PM

[this is good]
Hi Rod, I just discovered this site via Google. It is wonderful to see you are still active!
I have been telling my wife about the times I would go to the pub in Earlsdon and hear, even record, your
act. That club was my awakening musically.

I started learning guitar, inspired by you, and the recording I did there started me learning the skills etc of recording music and producing tapes and so on. Never in Pete's league it is amazing to read here that I rubbed shoulders with him, maybe, one of those Sunday nights? I just want to add that I respect and admire your work and that I still have those recordings, somewhere.

I need to dig them out to list the artists I recorded but if you remember those you featured, I might have a copy of their early work? I remember June Tabor at least and have dim recollection of others. All the best Rod, many happy years of music may you enjoy.
John Posted by: John | 02/25/2010 at 09:31 AM

Comments from Facebook 2013
Geoff Veasey "Curly" - Felton writing honestly and movingly about fatherhood will always be my favourite.

There was another one that is mentioned on a BBC Radio site
"Lady, baby, gypsy queen
muffins on the ground.
Lady, baby, gypsy queen
Now you're not around." based on a Cherry stones counting rhyme. It rings a bell.

Dave Cooper "Lady Baby Gypsy Queen my feet on the ground Lady Baby Gypsy Queen Now you're not around." I think as i recall the lyric. So many fond memories and great songs of His Rodnes.

Jon Freeman Sunbathing was a "Tongue in cheek" favorite of the regulars, Chorus was "Sunbathing, sunbathing that's what the sun is for, out you go as white as snow 'till you turn like a lobster thermador, out in the sun like a hot cross bun, "this is the life" you say, 'till you burn you're arse on a promenade rail that's been in the sun all day!! Recent live version here