Saturday, August 25, 2012

Black Parrot Seaside

Black Parrot Seaside NEW website
Great new site and very comprehensive! All you want to know about Black Parrot Seaside

"Black Parrot Seaside began in Richmond Street in Coventry where a few members taped an extremely silly version of Marc Boland's Telegram Sam called Baggy Leaf Dwarf. The original line up consisted of drums, bass, lead, keyboards and two vocalists."

"Influences - Alex Harvey, Bonzos, Edgar Broughton, Heavy Metal Kids and Monty Python. Many line up changes (see below) and at the time of the recording the band moved from Rock to Folk. but the stage act remained out of the ordinary. It featured seashanties, monologues, Marston's Bitter, Rolf Harris impersonations, and much more."

Black Parrot Seaside are still performing after 38 years according to Geoff Veasey, who contacted me.
There is already a lot of material (including some Youtube) on their website and on the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands so i won't repeat it all here. This is the link

A Band Called George - Single NCB Man 1974

A Band Called George 1973
A Band Called George
Rock / Acoustic / Comedy

were formed in 1973 by Bob and Colin Young and managed by the Coventry Sunshine Music Agency in Gulson Road, recorded a single called NCB on the Bell label.

They were a Coventry folk rock comedy recording band.

A Band Called George Website

The band consisted of -
Roger Prince, Guitar, blues harp, Mandolin, Barley wine and vox
Colin Young, Bass, Hilariously funny cigarettes and Vox,
Bob Young, Guitar, Kazoo, keyboards, Bikers Grog (Light Ale with a Barley Wine in it. Quite lethal in the wrong hands) and Vox 
Basil Stephan Andruzko, on double meat pie and chips,who, was said by some to have played Bass and Accordion as well. He also sang. "Ahhhgh the pain".
Harry Heppingstall on drums. Replaced after the single NCB Man was released by  Nick Trevisick.

Roadies - Ricky and Dave



Here there music including their 1973 single NCB Man on My Space and a second

My Space HERE
Tracks - NCB Man / One More Brew / A Wonderful way to Die / Sing me Softly

Came out of Heavy rock band Sweeny Todd

Were planning a tour of Germany late August 73. Joe Reynolds (joined a reformed version of the band in

Original material in similar vein to Lindisfarne. Members from Coventry and Leamington area.

According to HOBO the BBC did not select the single, NCB Man, for airplay and this led to the band’s demise. CET described the song as a ‘ light hearted song about coal miners’

Appeared on Midland’s Today. (CET) ‘It’s a fun folk rock song, not quite representative of the band live’

Managed by Sunshine Agency (SAM) (Managers Craig Ward & Graham Wood). Sunshine Agency was set up to record Bob Young’s songs.


NCB Man (on Bell Records) released 24th August 1973.

The first line up of A Band Called George consisted of Roger Prince, Guitar, blues harp, Mandolin,
Barley winend Vox, Colin Young, Bass, Hilariously funny cigarettes and Vox, Bob Young, Guitar, Kazoo, keyboards, Bikers Grog (Light Ale with a Barley Wine in it. Quite lethal in the wrong hands) and Vox, Basil Stephan Andruzko, on double meat pie and chips,who, was said by some to have played Bass and Accordion as well. He also sang. "Ahhhgh the pain". Harry Heppingstall on drums.

A single NCB Man was released in 1973 on Bell Records published Island Music.

Harry was replaced by Nick Trevisick shortly after the single was released. We were all replaced by the Branch manager of the Midland Bank when the overdraft became due. Although He allegedly had a very fine tenor voice we believe he remains unsigned

Trev Teasdel remembers -
I met A Band Called George at the Sunshine Music Agency in Gulson Rd. Coventry in 1973 when I
breezed in to introduce myself and Hobo Magazine. Bob Young was one of the managers and there's quite a bit about Sunshine Music Agency on the Hobo Discos and venues blog. Previously some of the members had been in Sweeny Todd (I remember seeing them in the early 70's at the Colin Campbell. Baz Andruszko later played with the reformed Dando Shaft for a while. Nicky Trevisthick was the only one I knew previously - I'd met him at the Lanch and other places. According to Kevin Harrison he went on to play with American Housewives / Café Society / Tom Robinson Band / Moon / The Dukes. Bob Young has a My Space for A Band Called George which you can access at the top of this post.

In their My Space blog they say -

"A Band Called George came out of Sweeny Todd - Sweeney Todd was formed by Brothers Bob and Colin Young in Leamington Spa Warwickshire England in late 1969 early 1970. We got the idea and name Sweeney Todd from the 30s film, starring Todd Slaughter (what a name eh!!)The first lineup of Sweeney Todd consisted of My self (Bob Young) on lead Vox and guitar, Colin on Guitar and backing Vox, John Cirriani on bass and backing Vox and a drummer from Sunderland whose name I'm afraid I cant remember. (If any body remembers him please drop me a line.) Sweeney Todd used to rehearse in St Paul's church hall on Friars St Warwick just up the road from The Seven Stars Pub.( I apologize to the neighbours ).

By now the line up of Sweeney Todd consisted of Me on guitar, and kazoo, Colin on Bass, Roger
Prince on guitar, harmonica, and mandolin, Fat Bas on accordion and I think Harry Heppingstall on drumsThe name Sweeney Todd didn't seem to fit what we were doing we weren't a heavy rock band any more.So in a drunken stupor we decided to change the name Sweeney Todd to something more suitable..Some one produced a matchbox, one of those with the little sayings and proverbs on the back, this one was about a young lady trying to find a name for her baby she said to her husband that she would like to call the baby George he said No, every Tom, Dick and Harry's called George. Well we all fell about laughing. Believe me YOU HAD TO BE THERE. From then on we were called A BAND CALLED GEORGE a revolutionary name for the time. We dropped the SWEENEY TODD songs and changed the complete set and later that year released a single NCB Man on Bell Records (p) Island Music."

Read more:

The following are From Hobo Magazine (Edited and published by Trev Teasdel)

Issue 2 August 1973


"Released their first single on the 24th August entitled NCB MAN, which is out on the Bell label. their music,
which is self composed, is in similar vain to that of Lindisfarne. The members of the band hail from both Coventry and Leamington. They are Bob Young on lead vocals and guitar. Colin Young on bass; Roger Prince on guitar;Nicky Trevisick on drums and Baz Andruszko on accordion. Not forgetting Ricky and Dave the trusty roadies!). (both Ex Indian Summer roadies). ...

Another entry in the same issue....

Whilst on the subject of Indian Summer, the roadies from that long lost Coventry group are now with a Leamington based group. Their name is A Band Called George and their music in the vain of Lindisfarne. Their line up consists of an accordion / bass guitar / 2 guitars with Coventry's Nicky Trevisick on drums. All members contribute to vocals and they have a single released on July 27th called NCB MAN for Bell Records."
(You can hear this single on their My Space )

Hobo - Late News - Issue 2 August 1973

"Released their first single on the 24th August entitled NCB MAN, which is out on the Bell label. their music,
which is self composed, is in similar vain to that of Lindisfarne. The members of the band hail from both Coventry and Leamington. They are Bob Young on lead vocals and guitar. Colin Young on bass; Roger Prince on guitar;Nicky Trevisick on drums and Baz Andruszko on accordion. Not forgetting Ricky and Dave the trusty roadies!). (both Ex Indian Summer roadies). ...

Another entry in the same issue....

Whilst on the subject of Indian Summer, the roadies from that long lost Coventry group are now with a Leamington based group. Their name is A Band Called George and their music in the vain of Lindisfarne. Their line up consists of an accordion / bass guitar / 2 guitars with Coventry's Nicky Trevisick on drums. All members contribute to vocals and they have a single released on July 27th called NCB MAN for Bell Records."
(You can hear this single on their My Space )

Hobo - Late News - Issue 2 August 1973
Baz Andruszko, the accordionist with A BAND CALLED GEORGE has left the group. A replacement is
being sought.
(Ed's note - I think Baz left to join a reformed Dando Shaft to provide the sound track for a play - You Must Be Joking (on the history of the car industry in Coventry) at the Belgrade Theatre. Rod Felton also joined Dando on this occasion.


Issue 3 Unpublished Version - C January 1974


NCB MAN, released on the Bell Label by A Band Called George has not been selected for air play on the Beeb, despite it being a highly commercial song, hailed by discos. The reason however is not owing to the lyrics erupting the Mary Whithouses or the pulsing beat inciting couples to copulate in bus queues, but is, I'm told, the fate of 90% of the singles that are submitted to the BBC. So everyone bombarded the Beeb with requests for it!

The band have ceased live gigs for the time being, coming together for recording only. Bob Young is writing and producing at Snitterfield Recording studios. Rog has written and recorded a solo single for release on Bell called World War 1. Nick has joined Smack! and Baz is joining Dando Shaft.

Issue 4 (Unpublished Version scheduled for May 1974)

SHADES OF NIGHT - have split up and also WILLOW. Joe Reynolds and Willow's other saxophonist are to join a reformed version of A Band Called George.

Scotch Mist - Electric Folk band c1974

Scotch Mist were technically a Birmingham Electric Folk band but Coventry area connections. I came across them through Mike O'Hare of Coventry Virgin Records store and the band also played in the Coventry area, including the Digger's festival at Coventry Cathedral 1974. They were also featured in Hobo - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine in 1974.


Were featured in HOBO Magazine Streetnews column in 1974 -

SCOTCH MIST - From Hobo Magazine 1974
A Birmingham band, playing electric folk similar to Fairport Convention. This band, managed by Mike O'Hare of the
Coventry Virgin Records store, have been around a fair while, and Mike assures me that they are an exceptional band. The line up consists of Keith Jones fiddle / mandolin / dulicmer / Melodian. Ken Jones guitar / Melodian / dulcimer. Mike James lead vocals / guitar / banjo/ harmonica. Kevin Whitehouse bass / madolin / Lute.Steve Austin drums and percussion. They have gigs lined up at the Royal Collage of Art / Manchester University / Warwick University (2 gigs) and Coventry Cathedral Ruins for the Digger's concert Sat July 13th.

Ken Jones responded to an earlier mention of Scotch Mist on this site thus -

[this is good] Just a note of thanks for naming our old manager from Virgin Records.... I played in the 70's Scotch Mist folk rock band you've mentioned, and have struggled to recall his name for more years I care to remember! The Coventry Cathedral Ruins gig quoted was a pleasure to play at even though the rain did its best to spoil things. Great site by the way. Cheers! Ken Jones

Friday, August 24, 2012

April - Coventry Folk Rock Band 1969 / 70

APRIL were Coventry's answer to Fairport Convention c 1969 / 71. I got to know them and their music well as they practiced at the Coventry Arts Umbrella club and open up the Umbrella for some of their practice sessions. They did a range of material which included some of their own compositions, James Taylor's Carolina On My Mind, Fairport's Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

The band consisted of -
Bill Jackson (vocals/guitar/recorder/piano),
Mick Thompson (12 & 6 string guitars/steel guitar/vocals),
Ron Lawrence (8 string bass/guitar/vocals),
Gray Richardson (assorted percussion including congas/bongos/claves/drums),
Pat Lawrence (sound balancer extraordinaire).
The band played both rock and folk venues and the Warwick University Arts festival. Their manager was Stuart Urquhart of Warwick.Their blurb sheet read -


“We really like what APRIL are doing. Their approach to music is really original and their sound is a full and complete one.” Magna Carta

What is so different about APRIL’s approach to music? Basically the way they get such a beautiful mellow sound with an unusual electric line up.

“April are an ultra-contemporary group turning in their ideas and music towards a folk influence. 80% of their material is original and so is their approach to material written by others. As can be seen from their line up, the group comprises a great variety of instruments (& effects) which go together to form a very interesting show, with good music the aim in mind.”

April were the hosts every Tuesday at the Swan Folk & Kontemporary Klub, Yardley Birmingham and supported acts such as Cliff Aungier & Gerry Lockran.

Ron Lawrence lived out at Shilton on the Leicester road at the time and later formed another band with Roy Butterfield and Al Hatton (both ex Indian Summer), Al Docker (Ex Tsar), Ron Lawrence and Bill Jackson (Ex April) and called themselves Runestaff after the Michael Moorcock trilogy. I was living there at the time and watched them rehearse in the dining room. It was an attempt at a kind of Coventry Supergroup and it was sounding pretty good. Sadly the band split up before they had got to the gigging stage. I count myself lucky to have been one of the few to have heard them. Ron and Bill went on to play with another Coventry supergroup Monster Magnet and Moon In 1971 Ron Lawrence also played in another outfit based at the Umbrella club - Love Zeus with Loz Netto, Al Docker, Tony Cross. Ron Lawrence and Gray Richardson

By 1979 Ron Lawrence was playing along side another Coventry musician - Loz Netto in Sniff and the Tears who had a hit with Drivers Seat. Over the years Ron has sessioned for a lot of bands including the Kinks. Ron lawrence was featured on some tracks from the Kinks 1978 album Misfits -  A Rock n Roll Fantasy, Live life, Get Up  and on Come Dancing.

The band played all the usual venues and folk clubs in the Coventry and Midlands area including -

They also supported Birmingham band Tea & Symphony at the Coventry Arts Umbrella Friday 21st August 1970. Also down to play Club Caroline - Walsgrave (Pete Waterman’s venue) March 1971. although this was cancelled along with the Umbrella gig owing to the split. They also played the Walsgrave June 2nd 1970 with East Light. 1971 Warwick University Arts Festival saw them playing a folk concert (Saturday March 6th) with Jeremy Taylor and Jo-Anne-Kelly. They played The Village (Colin Campbell) sat 26th Dec 1970.

The band split up in autumn 1971, cancelling the gig I'd booked with them for the Coventry Arts Umbrella. It's a great pity we have no audio or videos for this band although i suspect some exists with band members.

New Addition - Brian Fawcus sent in this earlier photo of April with a slightly different line up which i think may have been from 1969.

In the above photo, left to right Unknown (Brian thought it was Roy Butterfield but it doesn't look like him - anyone know?), Bill Jackson - vocals, Ron Lawrence (holding the door open) bass, Mick Thompson (on the floor) guitar, Barry Fawcus (Brian's brother) drums and Grey Richardson percussion. So it looks like they had a drummer originally. The unknown person could have been part of the road team even.

April at Warwick University Arts Festival 1971

Comments from the Hobo Vox blog

[this is good]

Hi there , not quite sure what to say but my Dad is Michael Thompson From the group April.

I would be gratefull if you could let me know where you keep all this wonderful stuff as Id like to see it in the flesh. Dad found this website and I was so amazed to read it all. Is there any chance I could have a copy of anything as he has nothing from his band days and I would love to surprise him with somthing. Thanx.

Posted by: tracey cairns | 07/14/2008 at 11:41 AM

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Folk's Magazine Whatz on Guides 1978-80

These are the Whatz on Guides from Folks magazine 1978 - 80 regarding Coventry's folk clubs at the time - edited by Pete Willow.

Jan / Feb 1979

                               May / June 1979

Oct / Nov 1979

Dec / Jan 79 / 80

Monday, August 20, 2012

The History of Coventry Folk Clubs Part 1 - Pete Willow

The following excellent article was researched and written by Pete Willow in 1978 for his Coventry Folk Magazine - "Folks" and covers the history of the Coventry folk Scene from 1963 to 1978 - 15 years of which this is Part 1.
Coventry's first Folk Club - The Binley Oak

15 Folkin' Years
Late one evening, whilst loitering within tent, pitched in the middle of a folk festival campsite, i was listening to a cassette of an early Dando Shaft album, when i heard a knock on the canvas. "Excuse me" said the caller "but I couldn't help hearing the music. That's Dando Shaft isn't it?" "Yes" I replied "I haven't heard their stuff for ages, I wonder what they are up to now?" I asked him where he came from and he told me London. I told him I lived in Coventry and that several of the band were still living in the area, playing gigs as soloists, duos, trios or any other combination that seemed appropriate. We chatted about the band and their music and generally about the 'good old days' where many of today's big contemporary folk acts were still up and coming. That encounter got me thinking about the earlier days of the Coventry folk music scene. I don't mean the camp fire sing songs that undoubtedly took place when the city walls were being built and Royalists and Parliamentarians were knocking each other about; i mean the days within living memory of many of today's established folk musicians - 

....Barry Skinner, Sean Cannon, John and Beverley Martin, Hedgehog Pie are among many of the names connected with the Coventry club circuit and promising new acts are still evolving. Waterfall, who are becoming another well respected act throughout the country, and were even featured recently on Radio One's Kid Jensen programme (a supreme accolade), owe much of their stage experience to the relatively recent floor spot appearances at the Firkin, Magic Lamp and Lanchester Polytechnic Folk Clubs. The New Modern Idiot Grunt band is still going as strong as ever, much to the delight of club organisers throughout the country who had previously heard of them disbanding a few years back.

"Folk Crying Out Loud" - First Coventry Folk Magazine Published 1967
Ben Arnold
This is the first of a series of articles that will look back in detail over the past fifteen years (from 1978) of Coventry Folk Music (the only one of the articles that Hobo has incidentally!). Hopefully it will bring back a few memories for those dedicated local folkies who have attended every Coventry club's rise and demise, and provide some interesting facts for those more recently involved in local music. To glean as much information as possible I would obviously like to hear from anyone who was involved with any of the clubs that appeared in Coventry over the years and I would like to thank Dave Coburn for helping to set wheels in motion by providing many facts of interest and lending me copies of the first two issues of a short lived but excellent local folk music magazine Folk Crying Out Loud which was published in 1967.

An article by Ben Arnold in that publication pinpoints the exact beginnings of the present day format of folk clubs in the city. Of course, singing in pubs is a tradition that dates back tot he opening of the very first pub, although not everybody appreciated the vocal talents of these songwriters. It wasn't until 1962 that moves were made to organise a folk music venue where people who did want to hear folk singing could go in peace.

This was the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club, which existed for the benefit of those who enjoyed art and music in general. It provided an opportunity for the pioneers of Coventry Folk including Ron Shutttleworth (more recently a regular at the Colin Campbell's Monday night sessions) and Barry Skinner to generate an interest in folk music.

The regular get together's at the Umbrella Club only catered for a minority interest but it did serve as a starting point for dedicated individuals to plan Coventry's very first folk club. This was opened one Thursday in May 1963 at the Binley Oak, Paynes Lane and was called, suitably enough, the Coventry Folk Club. To quote Ben Arnold, "Coventry's first folk club was formed out of a common love of what at that time was an esoteric form of expression and desire to bring to the public at large something which had been theirs for hundreds of years.

The hosts were the Troubadours, a group formed by Barry Skinner and consisting of John Allen, Lee Soloman, Pete and Marlene Roberts, Terry Illingworth, Brian Sutton and Bob Bruce, although not all at the same time. Also involved with the band were Brian Curtiss and Dick Newton who later joined the Down Country Boys.

Barry Skinner however was the main driving force behind the formation of the Coventry Folk Club. Floor singers became a regular feature of the club, partly because the residents didn't have enough material to cover the whole evening every week without repeating themselves too often. Most of the music played was either traditional folk or skiffle. At the time there was a limited choice of traditional songs easily obtainable as few had been 'collected' and published in books or anthologies.

For well over a year, the Binley Oak was the only place in the city where one could go and listen to live folk music on a regular basis, although interest in folk music gradually spread as more and more enthusiasts and musicians visited the club. An attempt was made in August 1963 to start another club at the Cheylesmore Community Centre but this proved to be nowhere near as successful as the Coventry Folk Club. It met for a short while on Friday nights but lacked support due to its out of the way location, lck of beer and the fact visitors to the club had to become Community Centre Members. Nevertheless it helped to spread the word of folk in Coventry. (I was involved with a one-off concert at the centre in 1975 and we managed to sneak some beer in. The highspot of that evening was when the centre's drama club pulled off a "This is your life" stunt on the guest, Dave Bennett, whilst he was on stge. But that's another story!

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. (How ethnic can you get?). This became a very important club in the development of folk music in the city and was very well attended. The change of venue had been made to accomodate the growing numbers of audience which regularly topped 200. The Kerries, which included Gibb Todd and also Gill Thurlow, who later married David MacWilliam, were the resident band and top guest artists were booked. One young lady  who made regular appearences as a  singer / guitarist was a Beverley Kutner (later Beverley Martyn - John Martyn's wife). Also seen performing there on occasions were the Furies. The Kutners were the family that ran the Jewellery shop with the big clock , on the corner opposite the old school.

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. Perhaps the longest running meeting place for folkies first opened in 1966, this being the Old Dyers Arms, where the Coventry Folk  Workshop and Singers' club was formed as a place where local enthusiasts could get together, play and sing, discuss and give each other positive criticism and to plan new projects ranging from Morris Dancing to musical instrument classes.

In the same year, another much remembered club saw the light of day, namely the City Arms in Earlsdon, hosted (at first) by Paddy Roberts. Many more singers were becoming known and liked by Coventry audiences at this time. Dave Coburn, who had assisted Barry Skinner in the general running of the Coventry Folk Club, had become an established local singer as had two other relatively new faces appearing regulary at the City Arms, Rod Felton and Rob Armstrong. In 1967 Rod took over the running of the club, with the help of his mother who sat on the door.

An interesting article in Issue One of Folk Crying Out Loud reads as follows;


"Revived some months ago....the club started anew with a policy of pleasing everyone's taste in folk music. By introducing new faces tot he scene, we have built up a formidable body of singers ranging from unaccompanied traditional songs to the comedy of the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band.

To date we have had now nationally known folk artists except for my good friends The Young Tradition.. who insisted in doing a free gig for us; they of course went down splendidly. Among other artists who have appeared are...The Down Country Boys, Andy and Jan...and a few weeks ago a fine blues artist by the name of Dave Kelly. This club has given Bob and I (and many others) a chance to experiment with new material and new approaches, which has proved very successful to the point that I very rarely sing the blues unless requested.

Given this chance, I would like to thank Rob Armstrong, a good buddy and a fine musician, for his running about and organising without which I am sure the club would have never survived. Also I would like to thank those artists who have stuck with us through thich and thin and helped to make the City Arms Folk Club a good Sunday Night's folk entertainment."
Rod Felton

Rod had started out infact as a blues musician at a time when he and Dave Coburn, who used to do a lot of music hall material, were two of the very few "Contemporary" folk artists in the city.

Another regular at the club was a student, now a nationally known singer, June Tabor. Towards the end of 1967, she joined with a group called Cockade, which also consisted of Ken Woolfendon, Roger Bullen, Martin Jenkins and later Rob Armstrong. More of them later in the series.

1967 saw the birth of two more local clubs; - Oul Triangle, which met at the Admiral Codrington, and the Bandiere Rousseau at the Hen and Chickens. Oul Triangle gathered a large following  and by the end of 1967 had a membership  of  some 600 people. Its hosts were Liffeyside, consisting of Steve Nagle (more recently with Mulliners Rough), Mick Gallagher, Martin Griffin, who left later and was relaced with another new face, George Van Ristell. The Hen and Chickens was probably the first Coventry Club with a strong leaning towards contemporary folk, hosted by John Lake, monologue specialist and driving force behind the Coventry Folk Workshop, and Ron Shuttleworth. It was popular with those who equated folk with politics, conviently located across the road from the local Communist Party Headquarters and it's name meaning the Red Flag.

Another long running club first opened in January 1968, this being the Village Pump at the Bulls Head, Binley Rd. Many fine guest artists appeared here right up to its closure in 1976 but it was best known as a good place for folk dancing. It was also in 1968 that live folk music was first played at the Mercers Arms, where the club was hosted by Two's Company, who later went on to open the Bedworth Folk Club at Bulkington.

I've probably started missing out clubs laready, but its clear that in a period of about five years the Coventry folk scene evolved very quickly and a great new source of musical talent ws making itself known. There is little doubt that the general standard of folk music in the city was, and still is high. Along with Bristol and reading, Coventry was reputed as being one of the greatest centres of good folk music in the country and some people now look back at the late 60's with nostalgia, feeling that perhaps some of themagic has been lost in the local folk scene. In those days there seemed to be more enthusiasm with many well organised clubs regualry attended by many people, most of whom didn't play an instrument but jsut enjoyed listening. it's interesting to note that today the only city centre club is the Lanchester Polytechnic and the clubs that book nationally known artists tend to be located in the outskirts, making it more difficult for many enthusiasts to attend them regularly.

Next issue, I'll be dealing with clubs that started in the early 70's. Any useful information is welcome....
Pete Willow 1978

This article frist appeared on the Hobo Coventry Music Site on Vox blogs in 2007 - now closed down and so these comment are from that blog.

UPDATE - the mystery of who created the graphic above has been solved (see Pete Willow's comments below) - I discovered The Coventry Terrygraph blog via serendippity (while searching for something else!) although Terry says he tried to contact me - unfortunately I didn't get his message - not to worry - I found him anyway!! Maybe Terry might tell us a bit more about himself - his artwork and music involvements in Cov!!

Here's a link to Terry Sycamore's blog The Coventry Terrygraph and blow a screen shot of the message I found there!!
The wonders of the net!

[this is good] I remember researching this - and Dennis Clarke putting together the superb cartoon of the Binley Oak! The correction re: Beverley Jones was published in the subsequent edition of Folks which, if memory recalls, included a detailed delve into the archives and scrapbooks of Rod Felton. I should have a full set of Folks somewhere. I will have a look for them over Easter and send copies to Trev.

Posted by: Pete Willow | 04/01/2007 at 09:43 PM

Yes have a vague memory of a schoolmate organising a first visit to the folk at the Umbrella,(he was enticed into Mummers I think).as an alternative to going to a Young Socialist coffee and record evening (then Coundon road )
Nice to see a mention of Ron, who is very important to us weird folks that go around dressed as strange animals and have shouted "In come I" in some far flung places, and nice that has come up over a weekend that we have been out in the caps and bells. (synchronicity Lesley would say)
Also remember Barry Skinner., Beverley of course and a bloke called Carl, an ardent Communist who used to speak in the Precinct on a Saturday. he was quite elderly and I might have gor this wrong , but I think he may have fought in the Spanish Civil War.( and probably not with us anymore) He new a lot of Revolutionary songs  and his flat was overflowing with books you couldnt move. I am sure others will remember him, he rode a moped , and was one of the few people in those days to wear a crash helmet. On top of his he had a knight in armour made from a plastic kit, and holding a kids paper windmill. ( I do hope I wasn't imagining it)
I think it was him that gave me a book that introduced me to sea shanties, and encouraged me sing same. Embarassed at the time but since very appreciative.
There were a lot of Communists in Cov in those days and they took their folk very seriously, it didn't surprise anyone when the Hen and Chicks started
When Dylan "sold out " they followed him around the country hurling abuse and calling him a "traitor to the proletariat" I think the Mag mentioned may have been.around the same time as the schism.. The Young Communist League was quite active at the time and had there own newsheet/paper  which I think was duplicated at the TWGU  offices. 
 Over the years I have noticed ( and discussed privately) just how many of the Early Folkie/YCL er's names crop up, often in the  realms of higher education, although by now all most probably retired.  Without mentioning any names,  I do hear  of or from many who frequented both the Oak and the Tavern, although I never went very often myself., but mainly the Hen and Chicks    (handy for Hartford Arms' cheap cider)  One, a very good floorsinger is now in Thailand, another has recently returned from Australia.
According to another who has only recently left Cov, the Hen and Chicks was a good place for...( I deparaphrase)  for meeting persons of the opposite sex, who might have enough brain to talk to, as well, as being free of strange ideas about monogamous relationships.etc.
Is it still there. I remember the big golden carved sign that looked more like a duck!
I look forward to hearing about other issues and do a bit more name spotting. Its opened up yet another area of the long forgotten. Thanks.
Posted by: BroadgateGnome | 04/01/2007 at 10:51 PM

My memory's playing tricks on me. Apparently, the Binley Oak Folk Club cartoon wasn't by Dennis Carke (although he did some of the artwork for Folks Mag). Not sure whose it is - anyone recognise the style?

Posted by: Pete Willow | 04/15/2007 at 11:23 PM

Thanks Trev for tracking down the artist. Terry Sycamore - of course!!

Posted by: Pete Willow | 07/31/2007 at 03:33 PM

Desperately trying to locate Barry Skinner, can anyone help.Please

Posted by: Mary Shepherd | 02/20/2012 at 04:36 PM

The History of Coventry Folk Clubs - Part 2 - Pete Willow

Pete Willow in the 70's
This is part two of  Pete Willow's article on Coventry Folk clubs of the 60's and 70's from his Coventry Folk music magazine 'Folks', published in 1978 to 1980.

In this part, Pete deals with some of the feedback to the first part before moving on with the article..

(or how Rod Felton encountered the great Dylan/Donovan cliche)

I have been inundated with comments, some helpful, some critical, some complimentary and some not. So as a result of the 'Fifteen Folkin' Years'  feature (part one on here), I undertook a fairly detailed look at Coventry's folk heritage. I can only surmise from this reaction that the article has been a total success in what I was attempting to do. For the most part people who have been closely involved with the development of folk music in the city have have been extremely forthcoming with info and offers of assistance for future articles in the series, which means of course the task of building up a complete picture will be even more complicated than I first imagined. History is being made all the time so I don't imagine the series will ever be fully complete.

Before going any further, i'd like to try and clear up some of the statements in the last article that became subject to close scrutiny. For my own part, Covering the the mid to late 60's period was a purely historical exercise. Although I  was living in Coventry up until 1969, I was totally uninvolved with the folk music scene at the time and, to write the article, I had to rely on not only the word of others but also press cuttings, magazine articles etc., that came my way as evidence of what had happened. Since then I have been given access to more evidence, some of which seems to contradict the stuff I had seen or heard previously.

For example, i stated that the Coventry Folk Club first opened at the Binley Oak in May 1963. Many people disputed this; I heard from somebody who had checked with Barry Skinner himself that the date was 1961. And yet i had found the date in a magazine, published in 1967, only four or six years after the event. An historian's life is not a happy one!, particularly as I now have in front of me an article published in the Coventry Standard (I presume was written by Douggie Grosvenor who worked for them at the time) in 1965, stating categorically that the club was founded in March 1962!

Another point unresolved is exact beginning of the Tavern Folk Club. I said that it was open in June 1964 at the Swanswell Tavern and that the venue was 'short-lived' as the club transfered to the Wine Lodge to become the Cofa's Tree Folk Club. Some readers recall that in fact the tavern went on for quite a time after, at least a couple of years and I'd be grateful for any more information to throw light on this. For example, did the club at the Tavern continue under the same name or did someone else take it over when the Cofa's tree was formed?

I do have access to an article that appeared in the local press in 1964, stating that the club had been going successfully for about 6 months. A few quotations from that article should be of interest to those who remember the club:

"....In these commercial days, the venture is non-profitmaking, and the admission charge - two shillings for members and three shillings for visitors - goes towards paying for visits every month or six weeks by nationally famous singers like the Ian Campbell Folk Group, featured at the club on Nov 22nd. I asked Ben Arnold and Bernard Overton, two of the club's organisers, what they thought they had brought their members, now well over three hundred in all, and the answer seems undoubtedly to be the variety and the quality of the entertainment offered....I heard English and American ballads from Ben, Scotch and Irish songs from the Kerry singers, modern ballads, English, French and German from Bernard and Lesley, American ballads from the brothers and american blues from Rod Felton."

I would like especially thank the last person mentioned (Rod Felton) for his help with this issue's article. My original intention this issue has been to look at Coventry clubs in the early 70's, but I would like to postpone that for another issue or so. Roddy has very kindly lent me his famous scrapbooks, which contain a wealth of information on the local folk scene during the mid to late 60's, and more specifically on what rod himself was doing musically during this time, which is what I'd like to concentrate on for the main part of this article. Hopefully in future articles, I shall cover the same period of time as seen through the eyes of other local musicians who played different styles of music at different venues.
Rod Felton by Rod Felton 65 - 69

Above is an attempted reproduction of of a photo of Rod that appeared in the Coventry Standard in July 22nd 1965, accompanied by an article headed "Rod Felton - a newcomer in the Bob Dylan folk tradition." It went on:

"The name Rod Felton, a Coventry folk singer, could soon become a household word like Donovan or Bob Dylan - and all because of a Government decision not to go ahead with plans for the HS 681 military freight aircraft....Rod, a former commercial artist at Whitworth-Gloster Aircraft Ltd.' Bagington, was made redundant some 18 months....He had been folk singing in his spare time for two years. As he left the aircraft factory for the last time, thoughts of professional folk singing were already uppermost in his mind.

"Sipping coffee in the Sombrero, Coventry's currently fashionable coffee house with the 'in-crowd', he told be: 'I was at Whitworth-Gloster for five years and making some pocket money doing a bit of folk in the evenings. then when I was made redundant I decided to turn professional as soon as I could.....Recently he appeared at folk clubs in Coventry, Rugby, Leamington, Birmingham and London- and everywhere he goes he is approached with pleas for a return performance.

Diz Disley by Rod Felton
"Diz Disley, the well known jazz guitarist and vocalist, has been one of many to voice openly their approval of Rod's musical abilities. In fact he became such a popular fellow in Coventry that he recently shaved off his beard top escape recognition.....Rod's immediate plans include a summer season at a seaside holiday camp -  and then he is all set for the big time and a recording contract!"

Not a journalistic masterpiece, but at least the local press was showing more interest in local folk acts than they have of late.

Digressing if I may for a while, I referred in the last issue to the change of venue in 1965 of the Coventry Folk Club, from Binley Oak to the Craven Arms (now The Bear), High street. There is more detail of that in another cutting from the scrapbooks, headed "Folk Wave Hits City Scene". It describes a particular evening at the Coventry Folk Club and then runs through other folk events in the same area and mentions Rod's popularity as a popular singer. Articles like this appearing in the local press did much to bring the local folk scene to everyone's notice. Not only did the people of Coventry know that there was a growing movement of folk enthusiasm in the city, but they knew where to go to see it on stage. Local acts, like Rod, were given particular encouragement.

I hope journalists reading this take note.

Here are a few quotes from that article -
"The fact that the Coventry Folk Club at the Craven Arms was packed by 7.50 on Thursday night makes its own comment on the subtle change coming over the folk scene in this country."

"Sure enough the visitor was American, Tom Paxton. Sure enough he does sing a few protest songs. But Paxton is a vastly different kettle of fish to Bob Dylan....Donovan and their subsequent cult of demi-clad, hirsute 'folk poets' and revolutionaries"

The article describes Paxton as 'a  real professional' and implies he is not a weirdo like the others, then goes on:
"meanwhile folk music sessions are taking place in the city most nights of the week, including Sundays"
(and here is a list I could have done with when compiling the article last issue!).

"When fans congregate at the Weaver's Arms Hotel in Bell Green Road, the Cofa's Tree Folk....The Heart of England Folk Club at the Fox and Vivian, Leamington."

Then back tot he original theme when the article quotes The Heart of England F.C. chairman, Peter Farley: "...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 also makes reference to a club Roddy ran at the Market Tavern in Coventry on Wednesday evenings.

Whether it is journalistic flair or whatever, constant mention is made in these articles about the enthusiasm and the packed audiences at these clubs. 1965 seems to have been the year when folk was 'new wave' although the impression seems to be (from the newspapers' viewpoint at least) that this was due to the cult heroes Dylan and Donovan. American influence, including country music, and of course Irish traditional music appeared to be two main factors in the folk scene, skiffle becoming a thing of the past by this time. I mentioned last issue that anthologies of English traditional material were not so abundant in the early to mid 60's as they are today; publications such as Karl Dallas were still being prepared. It could be that the so called 'Traditional' folk Clubs, such as we know them today are, strangely  enough, a more recent innovation than clubs where more so-called 'contemporary' music is played. Please write in your thousands if  I'm wrong!

Roddy and Rob Armstrong formed the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band in the mid sixties and quickly achieved fame throughout Britain and Germany. A selection of quotes from various newspapers reveals a little of their past:

"Three Coventry folk singers plan to spend a fortnight in Germany, catering for this Teutonic taste in British folk music." 1968 "Two of the trio, Geoff Smedley and Rod Felton were with the Mummers in Keil last year. Third member of the group is Rob Armstrong....They plan to present German folk fans with just about every type of folk music - blues, English contemporary, traditional and so forth. Primarily the three are going as individualists, but will occasionally play together - Rod and Rob as 'The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band' and the three of them as 'Gentle Idea'." "Rob Armstrong and Rod Felton play a kind of 'new' modern folk music with a 'beat', which involves sustained grunting. And they call themselves 'idiots'. Which all adds up to their curious name...."

These Rod Felton cuttings from The Broadgate Gnome Lots of good Cov material on that site.

More extracts from the Felton scrapbooks are included here (although there wasn't space in the magazine for all the material). Suffice to say hey are packed full of letters, cuttings, photos and posters relating to people involved with the local and national folk scene from the mid 60's to the early 70's. 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. 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 fifteen. he teamed up with Beverley Kuter (Martyn) 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 stopped disbanded, Rod decided to build a solo career and recently signed management and recording contracts with 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 handled Mungo Jerry, Savoy Brown, Prelude, Peter Skellern, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock. Rod is currently working on his first album and single."

More on Rod Felton on this site - here -

More on The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band on this site here

Another local artist who received much attention in the local and national press was Beverley Kutner (later Martyn), or just plain Beverley. The Daily Sketch (Aug 23rd 1966) ran an article headed 'Now Beverley has the key to the top' which read:

Beverley Kutner (Martyn)  cuttings sources from The Broadgate Gnome 

" If there was an award for sheer will to win in the pop business it would this year to an 18 year old singer billed simply as Beverley. Just a year ago she came to London and Demmy Cordell, who makes discs for Georgie Fame and the Moody Blues, heard her sing in a club. Cordell told me: "I offered her a recording contract. She is the only person, other than Georgie and the Moodies, I've wanted to record. "But Beverley told him: 'I'm going away - i'll see you when i think I'm ready'..Beverley went back to her home in Coventry with a guitar - which Denny Laine of the Moody Blues had given her - and learned to play. Now she is rated by Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds, as ' the best girl guitarist' he's heard."

Here is a typical selection of other cuttings about the lady, proving the press moves in mysterious way:

"She's an 18 year old Chelsea-looking brunette from Coventry who has just cut her first record. The title is 'Happy new year' (Derem)." " Beverley......wore a cool black satin pajama suit - with enormous flapping trousers - at London airport yesterday. To keep away the chill winter breezes she wore a snug fox fur on top. Beverley was flying to Munich to make a broadcast and make promote her new record....""She admires Donovan's interpretations and was particularly thrilled when, in a London club recently, he stepped from the audience and offered to accompany her on guitar." " that at 20 she has at last found her real self thanks to the Love Thy neighbour hippies of San Francisco. Beverley has just returned from Hippie-land after taking part in the Monteray pop Festival."

It seemed for a while that Beverley was in the limelight of press attention and attracting a lot of interest in the national folk/rock scene. When she married and worked with John Martyn, interest in her from the music media fell lost much of  its previous intensity. The sleeve notes on John and Beverley's album Stormbringer simply refer to the fact that she once worked for a jug band in Coventry. Mentioning no names.