logo Deaths and Obituaries

Since this page is now getting very large, I have decided to move the longer obits
onto their own individual pages, linked to this one.

Joe Bussard

Legendary record collector 86-year-old Joseph Edward "Joe" Bussard died on 26th September 2022.  Bussard collected some 15, 000 78rpm records of blues, old-timey music and jazz.  Many of the records were only-known copies.  He was loath to sell any of his collection, but the sale of one 78rpm blues record raised enough money for Joe to build a swimming pool in his garden!  Joe would also record visiting musicians and many of these recordings were issued on his Fonotone label - the last label to issue 78rpm recordings.  Over 100 Fonotone tracks were reissued in a boxed set by Dust-to-Digital (DTD-03), which also includes a weighty booklet of notes and historic photographs.  The performers recorded by Bussard include Bob Coltman, John Fahey, Mike Stewart, The Birchfield Family, Mike Seeger, Stefan Grossman and Miles Kranssen.  There is also a fascinating Cube Media DVD - 'Desperate Man Blues - Discovering the Roots of American Music', which is based around Joe's career.

A larger-than-life character, Joe Bussard will be missed by his many friends around the world.

Mike Yates - 6.10.22

Norma Waterson

Died on 30 January 2022 aged 92.  There's an Appreciation of this wonderful singer, together with 12 sound-clips here.



Tony MacMahon

Died on 8 October 2021 aged 82.  There's a fine Appreciation of this wonderful box player by Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker here.





Jock Duncan

Jock Duncan, the legendary traditional singer, passed away yesterday morning in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, at the grand age of 95.  Jock has been treasured as a great source of knowledge and inspiration to all in the traditional singing world - a man who has made an essential contribution to Scottish culture, music and song.  Condolences to all his family

Pete Shepheard - 26.3.21

There is now a mini-biography, courtesy of The Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame here.


Jim Irvine

Singer, musician, MC and ceilidh caller Jim Irvine passed away on September 5, 2020, at the age of 82, after a long struggle years with MND.

Jim was a major part of the Tyneside folk revival in the 1960s, as MC of the Marsden Inn club in South Shields, with the Marsden Rattlers band which emerged from that club, and more recently the Harvesters band.  His driving personality and humour were a great asset as a ceilidh caller, and many a reluctant dancer has Jim to thank for guidance through the Cumberland Square Eight or Strip the Willow on a hectic dance floor.

As an MC, he always had a touch of sometimes abrasive humour, with plenty of jokes and stories, but he took his music seriously, and was soon inspired by the traditional singers and musicians who guested at the Marsden.  He was a great promoter of the local repertoire, including the Geordie bible stories, later taken up by such as Lou Killen.  Always a guitarist, he quickly learned to play whistle and to rattle his giant serving spoons.  Later on, he took up melodeon, mouth organ and fiddle, but his eclectic tastes also extended to American writers like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Games People Play was a perennial favourite of his, sitting easily alongside Wor Nanny's a Mazer on a Sunday night at the Marsden Inn.

So goodbye Jim, after over fifty years of friendship and so many happy times.  We singers often have a repertoire of industrial songs, with no real experience of industry, but Jim's real life included time as a shipyard worker, miner, seagoing engineer, factory worker and also front-line youth leader in a deprived area.  So he had the background to sing the old songs - many a current folk star owes a lot to Jim Irvine, and they know it ...

He will be seriously missed in his home town of South Shields and much further afield.

Jim Bainbridge & the Marsden Rattlers - 26.9.20
with help from another old friend, Ed Pickford

Chris Droney

Chris Droney, the legendary Clare concertina player has died on 9 September 2020 at the age of 95.  He was born in Bellharbour in North County Clare into a musical dynasty; his father Jim and grandfather Michael were both concertina players of note.  Chris worked the family farm in Bellharbour and played as a solo performer and with most of the great ceili bands of the mid 20th century such as the Aughrim Slopes and Kilfenora, as well as the Four Courts in more recent years.

A recognised and highly regarded stylist on the concertina, he won his first All Ireland in 1956 and was immortalised in Robbie McMahon's song The Fleadh down in Ennis.  Droney held the All Ireland title every year until 1967.  Ciaran MacMathuna recorded him and his father playing in duet in 1956.  He was recorded by Topic records in the early '70s and in 1995 and 2006 by Clo Iar Connachta.  There are a couple of cassette recording of the Four Courts as well.  His son Francis won the All Ireland concertina title in 1985 and, in more recent years, Chris played regularly in concerts with his granddaughter.  He was TG4's Gradam Saoil lifetime award recipient in 2014.  His musical legacy continues through his records and his family.

Our sympathies go to his family and friends.

Ken Ricketts & Marya Parker - 10.9.20

Brendan Mulkere

More sad news for the Irish music community with the death today, 28 August 2020, of fiddle player and teacher Brendan Mulkere.  Born in 1947 to Jack and Angela Mulkere, Brendan's life was steeped in music.  He spent a long time in London nurturing the music among Irish immigrants and their children as well as recording important Irish musicians resident in London in the 1970s for his Inchecronin record label.

In 2019 he returned to his native Crusheen and was honoured by the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards that same year.

He is survived by his partner Sharon, his brothers Des and Enda and his sisters Hilda, Florence and Frances as well as a large number of wider family members.  A restricted funeral will take place in Ennis Cathedral on Sunday.

Our sympathies go to all his family, friends and pupils.

Ken Ricketts & Marya Parker - 29.8.20

Sheila Mainwaring

On the morning of the 12th, I was told of the death of Sheila Mainwaring, former editor of Shreds and Patches folk magazine, and renowned caller for ceilidhs and contra-dances.  Over the past five years or so in her care home, her identity has gradually faded.  On the evening of the 11th, she passed away.  Morris Care inform me that Telford & Wrekin Council's Safeguard Team have assumed responsibility, and have called in Harry Edwards & Sons, a local firm of Funeral Directors.

I got a phone call announcing that the funeral would take place at 12:30 on the 22nd, in the Wellington Burial Ground.  There's no such place on the map, so I assume they mean All Saint's Cemetery.

Sheila wanted there to be no service of any description, nobody in black.  Just the song "Fare You Well, My Dearest Dear", and a fiddle to play "Da Shlokicht Nicht".  And, ideally, everyone to dress as clowns, get drunk and have a monster ceilidh.

Flos, P J Headford - 15.7.20

There is now a full obituary, by Flos Headford, here.

Chris Morley

Chris Morley died in Manchester on April 24th after a full life and a very musical one.  Whether it was sawing a lorry in half to make a bigger campervan, spotting an antique going for less that its value, acting as a Tour Manager or, most of all, making wonderful music alone or with others, Chris did it all with style and enthusiasm!

Rod Stradling said of him recently: 'He was the leader of the East Suffolk Country Band, and probably did more to give outsiders access to the traditional music and song of east Suffolk than any of the better-known, and later, activists there.'

Alongside Suzie and Bobby Hanna, he and Karen made up Red Herrings and played many years and many places and gave many audiences an evening to remember.  The precision of his melodeon playing never got in the way of the spirit of whatever kind of music he was playing and as a ceilidh band Red Herrings were a Caller's delight in the way they lifted the dancers' feet all evening.

Chris was a trained chef who had worked in a top London kitchen and you were always well fed if lucky enough to be invited to eat with him.  He took great pride in producing beautiful meals right up to the time the tumour and the treatments robbed him of his sight.

Another non-musical delight was his and Karen's allotments, in first Norwich and then Glossop.  Here, like everything else in his life, all was ordered, well-tended and produced excellent results that he was delighted to share.

He was diagnosed as having a brain tumour late last year and, typical of the man, decided to fight it rather than give in.  Chris fought long and hard against his failing health and the effects of radiation therapy, but was unable to repeat his remarkable recovery from throat cancer of a few years ago.  He spent his last few weeks in a Hospice in Manchester, visited every day by Karen despite traffic and then Lockdown.

Fiddle and melodeon, mandolin and voice, saucepan and spade, Chris Morley wielded them all with tremendous skill - but his playing, singing, growing and cooking days are over; service is ended and we are all the richer, however we remember him.

Alan Helsdon - 25.4.20

Ben Lennon: 1928-2020

Ben Lennon was a master of the North Leitrim style of fiddle playing.  A gentleman in every sense, as a teacher he was well known for his generosity and sympathy with younger musicians.

Born in the border village of Kiltyclogher, North Leitrim, he still lived in nearby Rossinver.  He was a veteran of the London Irish music scene, and in recent years was a regular at local sessions and traditional festivals all over Ireland.  He had a stylish and leisurely approach to the music, with a varied repertoire of tunes, with hornpipes and barn dances, not just reels!  Many of Leitrim origin, with some from the pen of his brother Charlie, and some learned from older musicians along the border country in his younger days.

I had the privilege of meeting and playing alongside Ben during my years in North Leitrim, and he was highly respected by everyone, not just musicians.  I remember one afternoon session of about twenty musicians in Manorhamilton when he left early, but made a point of a handshake with all present before leaving- a mark of the man.

There are several CDs of his lovely music, with various other quality players, and his life was celebrated in 2011 by the Irish TV station TG4, which awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award.  The passing of Ben Lennon is a huge loss, and marks the end of an era in North Leitrim music, one of the regional centres of the Irish tradition.

Jim Bainbridge - 1.4.20

Joe Rae - 1937-2019

I'm sad to have to pass on the news that Joe Rae, singer, storyteller, joiner and tradition bearer of repute, died on Friday 13th December.  The family don't have contact details for many of his folk friends and would appreciate it if people could share this appropriately.  His funeral is on Friday the 20th, at 1.30pm, in Sorn kirk, Ayrshire.  It would be good for his family to meet some of those he spent so much time with.

Pete Heywood and Pete Shepheard - 16.12.19

I've only just got this sad news.  I met him two or three times at various events and found him to be a lovely man, a good singer with a wide and interesting repertoire, and an absolutely cracking storyteller.  I also owe him for the inspiration to construct my own version of The Green Wedding.

Musical Traditions Records has a 15-track CD of Joe: The Broom Blooms Bonny (MTCD313).  It was recorded by Mike Yates, in Joe's house in 2001.  Lovely stuff, including three of his stories.

Rod Stradling - 17.12.19

Colin Ross - 1934-2019

One of the modern legends in the world of Northumbrian Piping and traditional music.  His influence has been extraordinary as a musician, maker and teacher. Colin's enthusiasm for our instrument and its music knew no limits, inspiring countless people to get involved in our wonderful traditions by his encouragement and support.  His legacy is immense.

The funeral will be a private family affair on Friday June 14th, but there will be a music session at Briardene, Whitley Bay, starting at 2 pm.

Peter Wood - 10.6.19

There is now a full obituary, by Johnny Handle, here.

Tim Lyons

One of the truly great Irish singers, Tim Lyons died on 3rd January.  I heard him first on that superb album on the Trailer label, The Green Linnet.  I was overwhelmed by the quality of the singing on that album - and even more so when I heard him live on the occasions that we booked him at our folk club in Lewes.

Jim Bainbridge has this to say:

Vic Smith - 11.1.19

Tim was a dear personal friend of ours from the mid-sixties onwards, when he lived in England and we had the pleasure of hearing his glorious singing on so many occasions.  When he went back home to live, we saw him less frequently - and I had developed the notion, based entirely on their 'Irish schoolboy history' ideas, that I would never set foot in Ireland as an Englishman, unless I was invited by an Irishman, living in Ireland.  So it was with great joy that we encountered him again at one of Roly Brown's The Downs Singing Weekends ... and one of the first things he said was "Ah, but you must came and stay."

We did - and returned to Roscam several times.  Jim has mentioned his box playing, which reminds me of an evening spent with Tim and Éamonn Ó Bróithe, where the two of them played together for hours.  Obviously the pipe drones and the box basses sound a little different, but it was almost impossible to tell if the melody was being played by one of them alone, or by both together, so similar was their sound, and so perfect their unison.  An experience I shall remember for ever.  They both sang quite nicely, too!

On top of all the rest, that first invitation ... I owe him for countless subsequent days of delight in Ireland, North and South, which I shall never forget.

Rod Stradling - 11.1.19

Brian Watson

Dear Friends,

You may know already, but Brian Watson, 'one of the greatest singers of Tyneside/Northumbrian songs' died recently at his daughter's home in County Durham.  He will be much missed by all who knew him for his unassuming friendliness, for his singing and his wonderful knowledge of North East song and all things related, as well as his knowledge and expertise particularly on wildlife and the countryside.

His funeral will take place at Durham Crematorium (DH1 3TQ) at 1030 on Thursday 29th November.

Good wishes,

Vic Gammon - 25.11 18

Alec Finn

More sad news from Ireland. Alec Finn, artist, bouzouki player and founding member of De Dannan has died at the age of 74.

While he wasn't the first musician to introduce the bouzouki to Irish music, his approach to playing a rhythmic counter melody, rather than the strumming style favoured by Donal Lunny and others, was revolutionary.  He gave the De Dannan records their distinctive sound.  On many recordings by solo musicians and singers he provided more lightness and freedom in the backing than conventional accompaniment could ever provide.  His playing with Frankie Gavin on the Shanachie LP back in 1977 was simply perfect and a recent new CD by those two musicians, launched in October 2018 will have extra meaning for his friends and admirers.

A recent TG4 edition of Se Mo Laoch showcased his life and career.  This prgramme is currently still available on the TG4 website https://www.tg4.ie/en/player/home/?pid=5858348933001&teideal=Alec%20Finn&series=S%C3%A9%20Mo%20Laoch%20&dlft=31

Our sympathies go to his wife and children.

Ken Ricketts & Marya Parker - 17.11.18

Keith Glover

It was with great sadness that we heard the news of Keith Glover's death on Wednesday 3rd October.  Seen here in his Gloucestershire Old Spot Morris Dancers kit, this is how many in the wider folk world will have seen him, back in the days when giants walked the earth.  But for those of us living in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas, he was so much more than that.

He was the central figure in the Cheltenham Folk Club(s) down the decades, ran the Randick Wap and countless other events, rarely missed a Bampton Day of Dance ... He was ubiquitous!  In more recent times, when a problem with his foot eventually led to a partial amputation, he still got about more than almost anyone else in the area.  Virtually every public folk event in this part of the world was brightened by Keith's presence - and if he hadn't managed to get there, most people were asking "Seen Keith about today?".

Totally unassuming, he was a friend to everyone.  Enormously likeable, friendly and helpful, he never had a bad word for anyone ... and nor did anyone for him.  He will be hugely missed!

>Keith's funeral will be at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Stroud GL5 4AA, on November 8th at 1:45, followed by drinks and sandwiches at The Prince Albert, Stroud GL5 3SS.

Rod Stradling - 20.10.18

Bob Patten

Martin Graebe, of the Traditional Song Forum, wrote yesterday:

I am sorry to tell you that one of our longest serving members, Bob Patten, passed away at the weekend.  His wife, Jackie, tells me that:

Bob collected folklore, songs and carols of North Devon and Somerset, usually in association with Jackie and, as well as their publications, a large body of their recordings can be heard in the British Library Sound Archive.

Bob was unfailingly helpful to other folk enthusiasts, and always good company.  Our thoughts go to Jackie and to their family and friends.  He will be greatly missed.

Martin Graebe - 10.10.18

It was a great pleasure to work with Bob and Jackie on turning their 1987 book and cassette publication A Somerset Scrapbook, into our third CD-ROM digital book with embedded sound files (MTCD252) back in 2013.  Nothing was too much trouble for them and the whole project went smoothly and quickly from inception to publication.

Rod Stradling - 10.10.18

Sue Blakeney-Edwards

Anyone who had the privilege of attending a Fairlands Ale back in the Seventies will, like me, be very sorry to hear of the death, last week, of Sue Blakeney-Edwards - the dynamo behind the events, the house, the family, the band.  More to follow when I know anything.

Rod Stradling - 20.8.18

Sue Beer (formerly Sue Blakeney-Edwards) had two important roles in the musical and social community that centred on The Bristol Folk Tradition club in the 1970s.

Sue was classically trained at the London Guildhall, was a highly accomplished pianist and formal singer with the gift of perfect pitch.  She encouraged all her family to play music and this lead to the formation of The Fairlands Family Band where Sue, playing piano accordion, was joined by her husband Piers and their four children of whom at least two were still at primary school.  The eldest son Andrew became a highly accomplished Anglo player whose life was cut short at the age of 18 in a road traffic accident whilst doing Voluntary Service in Kenya.

The family lived in a large rambling farm house in Cheddar with large grounds and many outbuildings.  When the Folk Tradition club mooted the idea of a social and musical weekend, Sue was quick to offer Fairlands Farm as the venue and so began a series of annual 'Fairlands Ales'.  My band, Flowers and Frolics, then in its infancy, was invited to lead the music in the first few years.  Gradually the farm and the band developed a social role in the village also, hosting Mayday celebrations and other music and dance events, all made possible by Sue's easy-going and efficient hospitality.

Soon after Andrew's death, Sue married David Beer and they moved to South Wales into a castle where the extensive grounds and rambling building closely resembled Fairlands.  In 2014 this was the scene for a recreation of Fairlands Ale, bringing together many old friends and prompting the reformation of Flowers and Frolics for the weekend.  Sue's hospitality was, as always, outstanding.  Her place in the community was exemplified by her vigorous commitment to her role as organist in the village church, though she no longer played the accordion.

She will be remembered for her warmth, generosity and musical enthusiasm.

Roger Digby - 4.9.18

Tommy Peoples

Hi Rod,

More sad news.  The death has been announced today August 4th, of fiddle player and composer Tommy Peoples at his home in Co Donegal.  His funeral will take place in Ennis Co Clare next Tuesday 7th August.

Tommy was for many Irish music fans the finest fiddle player of his generation, his unique blend of Donegal and Clare influences combined with an incredibly creative mind made his music a constant delight.  Twice recognised by TG4s Gradam Cheoil as both player and composer, he had been ill for a few years and was honoured only a couple of weeks ago with a special tribute at the Willie Clancy Summer School.

For a number of years when he lived in Clare we met him and played music with him and he will always be remembered as an inspirational and generous musician.


Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker - 5.8.18

A full Appreciation by Ken and Marya appears here.

Steve Harrison

I am sorry to tell you that Steve Harrison died on Friday the 27th of July.  He died comfortably at home as was his wish.  Annie and his close family were with him.

Sincere thanks to all those friends who have sent good wishes and kept Steve in their thoughts over the past 8 years of his illness.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be made.

Annie Dearman

Although expected, this is dreadfully sad news.  Steve was the nicest, kindest and most generous man you could ever wish to meet.

Also a teriffic mouthorgan player and greatly valued member of the Phoenix Dance Band - for all kinds of reasons.  He will be hugely missed - and the band will not continue without him.

Rod Stradling - 29.7.18

We are sad to report that our former chairman, the indefatigable Steve Harrison, died on Friday July 27th of the cancer that he had suffered for some time.  During his illness he continued guesting at folk clubs accompanying the wonderful singing of his wife Annie Dearman, and he played for dances with his Black Box Band and with The Phoenix Dance Band.  He was a valued resident at our Ryburn Folk Club and a regular at our weekly tune session at The Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden.  His voice also mysteriously came from the character of The Doctor in the Long Company Mummers Play each New Year.

The definition of 'indefatigable' is 'persisting tirelessly' and that describes Steve perfectly.  He performed his duties as Chair with humour and professionalism.  His last gig was to lead the Black Box Big Band for our annual New Years Eve dance at Waring Green.

We will miss him, his music, erudition, humour and most of all his friendship, very much indeed.

Ryburn 3 Step - 30.7.18

We now have details regarding Steve's funeral.  It will take place on Thurs 16th August 12:30pm at Huddersfield Crematorium, Fixby Road, Fixby, Huddersfield, HD2 2JF.

No flowers by request.  Any donations will be shared between Kirkwood Hospice, The Welcome Centre and Amnesty International for which a plate will be available at the service, or through Pearson Funeral Service, Marsden, tel: 01484 844289, (info@pearson-funerals.co.uk).

There is only going to be a small gathering for the family afterwards.  There is a possibility that a musical commemoration may be organised in the autumn with all welcome.

Annie Dearman

Roger Dixon

Roger Dixon, died in April 2018.  While Walter Pardon's name is well-known, that of his cousin Roger Dixon is not, but he was responsible for telling Peter Bellamy about his singing relative which led to the world being enriched by Walter's repertoire and performances.  I for one was captivated by Walter's self-effacing delivery and kindly character and enjoyed meeting and hearing him at North Walsham in 1976 - 7 and at Norwich Folk Club in 1984 and 1987.

Even less well-known are the tunes Walter played at home on his melodeon, but here again we have Roger Dixon to thank as he recorded Walter in July 1975.  At Roger's Service of Thanksgiving on June 29th at Brandeston, Suffolk where he was Rector for many years, I was pleased to be able to play several of Walter's melodeon tunes to the congregation after the ceremony by way of expressing the gratitude of those who value the melody, the history and the people involved.

Alan Helsdon - 30.6.18

Paul Marsh

I am sorry to have to tell you that Paul Marsh died suddenly early this morning.  Paul and I were close friends for many years and you may be aware that since 1999 I had collaborated with him at Forest Tracks.  His death has come as a great shock and his wife Paddi, understandably, is devastated.  She has a lot on her plate at the moment and I don't wish to bother her unduly.  So I said I would pass the news to those in the folk music world who knew Paul.

Ron Coe - 23.4.18

Paul was an old friend of mine, and without his willing help in the first few years of MT Records' existance, it's entirely possible that none of our CD productions would have ever materialised.  Some years later he spent countless hours helping me get the three Keith Summers productions, The Hardy Sons of Dan, A Story to Tell and I Pray you Pay Attention ready for publication.

Apparently he was suffering with a pain in his leg, was admitted to hospital - and died the next day!  More details when we have them.

Rod Stradling - 23.4.18

Paul Marsh - a Personal Recollection

It was a complete shock to everyone in our field when Paul's death was announced on 23rd April 2018, at the age of only 67.  He was a stalwart of the traditional music scene in Hampshire for decades, a founder member of the TSF, and liked and respected by everyone he came in contact with.

I first met Paul when I moved to Hampshire in 1975, and we very quickly became firm friends and comrades.  I was particularly interested in Mumming Plays at the time, and as his uncle Tom had been in the Otterbourne gang, we started a project to collect all we could find about the custom in the county.  Paul instigated the revival of the play, and performances still take place every year.

We met Mervyn Plunkett, at that time a 'retired' collector (although there was nothing 'retiring' about him) and a few years in his company provided a baptism of fire in all things traditional for both of us.  Paul got on well with everyone, and older traditional musicians in particular recognised him as a kindred spirit.  He was a fine singer, melodeon, mouthorgan and bones player.

Paul soon realised that his particular area of interest and expertise was sound recordings.  Not only did he make recordings of numerous sessions when the rest of us were too busy making a noise, but he made strenuous efforts to gather other collections that were in danger of being lost or forgotten.  He was acutely aware of the fact that traditional song and music exists in the moment, and if not recorded in some way is lost forever.

For me, most of his tangible legacy is therefore in the soundscape of our field, although so often working in the background that his contribution is easy to miss.  He revived the local record label Forest Tracks, did digitisation work for Musical Traditions and Topic, carried out most of the work for the Topic tribute to Harry Cox, The Bonny Labouring Boy, which involved extensive research into Harry's life.  And many people trusted him to look after their old tapes and their memories.

The last thing we worked on together was digitising and cataloguing Ken Stubbs' collection for VWML Online, and Brian Matthews' tapes for Sussex Traditions, and we had great plans to make safe allthe private sound collections from southern England and make them available.

These are just the things I was involved in, but there were countless other projects with other people, and his digitisation skills were in constant demand - too constant, perhaps, as he never felt he was achieving enough.  But he has let me down at last.  We often joked about what he would say (and what embarrassing recordings he would play) at my funeral, and I was relying on him to remember those great times we had.  We will miss him on many levels.

Steve Roud - 24.4.18

Liam Ó Flynn

Very sad news on RTÉ this morning (14/3/18) that uilleann piper Liam Ó Flynn has died at the age of 72 following a long illness.

One of the best known and well loved pipers, he was a key member of Planxty and pioneered the use of the pipes in an orchestral setting with Sean Davey.

He was born into a musical family and took early lessons from Leo Rowsome.  He visited Willie Clancy regularly and later shared a flat with Seamus Ennis, who encouraged him to widen the appeal of the pipes by playing and arranging songs with Planxty.  His command of the pipes and the tone he was able to produce were instantly recongisable and he was an inspriation to many would-be pipers in the '70s and '80s.

He leaves a legacy of recorded music and many happy memories of a man always willing to share his passion for traditional music.


Ken Ricketts - 14.3.18

He leaves an important and lasting legacy, through his music, but also through his generous, uplifting and committed approach to the role of music in Ireland's cultural heritage, contributing to composition and performance with orchestras and in film.

As one of the sources of inspiration behind the founding, in 1968, of Na Píobairí Uilleann, Liam Ó Flynn can be credited with having contributed to the revival of the uilleann pipers, and it must to him have been a source of great pride and satisfaction that Unesco, the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, recently added the uilleann pipes to its register of important and unique cultural heritage symbols.

Liam Ó Flynn will be remembered for his performances and recordings - many of them on the Claddagh Records label founded by his lifelong friend Garech de Brún - with groups and artists such as Planxty, Seán Ó Ríada, the Chieftains, Shaun Davy, Seamus Heaney and countless others who shared his love for music, in all its wonderful forms.

As President of Ireland I pay tribute to his work and legacy and offer my deepest sympathies with members of his family, his friends, colleagues and all those who enjoy and support Irish music.

President Michael D Higgins - 14.3.18

Finbar Boyle

Our old friend and comrade has left this world.

One of my best days was with him and my late da having a pint and banter in the Palace Bar, Dublin.  They were delighted with each other and talked about how the world was, and how it could be.

Finbar, when he worked with Claddagh Records, was behind that recording we made some years ago, The Tap Room Trio.

He knew the music and the song and he loved and respected the people it came from.  A friend to young and old everywhere, besides lining up many recordings of music and organising epic music nights back in the day.

He had nothing to lose but his chains, and dared to dream of a Republic for all.

Resist in peace,

Harry Bradley - 10.3.18

Ted Poole

Just a few of the many comments on Facebook today:

Such very sad news today. We've known Ted and Ivy for nearly 40 years, and had great fun times with them with the Old Hat Concert Party.  Not only a wonderful singer in a quiet understated way - Lakes of Coolfin never bettered in my opinion - but a mover and shaker in traditional music and a principled and knowledgeable man who it was always a pleasure to spend time with. - Katie Howson

Swindon Folksingers Club has been Ted and Ivy's baby, from when they set it up in January 1960.  Ted will leave a huge hole in our lives.  Ivy's niece rang me to let me know, and said that Ivy and the family want as many people involved with the funeral as possible from the club and from the folk world.  She will be letting me know more details as they are arranged which we will publish on here. - Swindon Folksingers Club

So sorry to hear this news; Ted and Ivy - two of the most warm hearted kind and genuine people you could wish to meet. - Carole Prior

Really sorry to hear the very sad news that Ted Poole has died he will be massively missed by all of us in Bampton. - Craig Godwin

We're very sad to report the passing at 92 of Ted Poole, who with his wife Ivy co-founded one of England's oldest folk clubs, Swindon Folksingers Club in 1960 and ran it for many years.  RIP Ted. - fROOTS Magazine

I also just got the news of Ted Poole's death.  No better Christian in Communist guise (wonderful, loony stories too). - Roly Brown

I first met Ted and Ivy during my first visit to Sidmouth in 1964, and we've kept in touch ever since - particularly since we moved to Wiltshire in 1973.  Ted was tireless in running the club, welcoming all comers, supporting socialism, and being an all-round good guy.  His singing has improved year-on year, to the point that his songs were often the highlight of an evening at Swindon - whoever the guest might be!  His support and enthusiasm will never be forgotten at Bampton ... or, indeed, by anyone who knew him.

Rod Stradling - 7.3.18

Ted's Funeral will be on 18th April, 1:30, at Kingsdown Crematorium.  Please advise Bob West (http://facebook.com/BobWest69) if you intend to come, and how many will be in your party.

There is now a very full obituary, by Andrew Bathe, here.

Rod Stradling - 26.3.18

Rollo Woods

I am sorry to pass on the sad news of the death of Rollo on Jan 29th.

Funeral arrangements: The family and friends will say goodbye to Rollo at the Crematorium in Weymouth on Friday Feb 9th at 9-15 am.  There will then be a Thanksgiving service: at 12 noon on Feb 9th at the United Reform church Swanage BH19 2LZ (top of High St opposite Arkwrights) followed by refreshments at Purbeck House Hotel 91 High St BH19 2 LZ

You can park at the Purbeck House Hotel before the church service, it is a 5 mins walk UPHILL to the church.  The hotel will arrange disabled access if required.  The car park is on a one way system.  Enter from the High St and exit onto Manor Way and go left down hill to the town.

Family flowers only.  Donations to Swanage Lifeboat Crew Fund or Christian Aid via James Smith Funeral directors or online www.Funeraldirectors.co.uk/Rollo-Woods

On April 7th there will be a celebration of Rollo's life, at Swanage School.  Details here.

Colin Ablitt - 12.3.18

Peader O'Loughlin

News on Clare FM this morning announced the death yesterday 23/10/2017 of Kilmaley flute, fiddle and pipes player Peader O'Loughlin.  He was a founding member of the Tulla Ceili band and played on the the first LP of Irish music with Paddy Canny and P Joe Hayes (reviewed in these pages when reissued on CD a few years ago).

Last year his friend and recording partner Ronan Browne produced a CD of Peader's playing on fiddle flute and pipes from the 1950s onwards.  Peader was one of the last of his generation for whom music was a natural part of their lives and he shared his love of music with hundreds of students at the annual Willie Clancy Summer School over the years.

He leaves a wonderful legacy of recordings but will be greatly missed by those who knew him, met him or just listened to him play.  His funeral will be on Thursday 26 October.

This picture courtesy of Clare Library was among pictures taken in Peader's home for the recent CD A Musical Life.


Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker - 25.10.17

Tom Paley

We heard the sad news yesterday (30 September 2017) that Tom Paley has died.  Sad, but not unexpected.  He had been ill in the last few months and unable to get to his round of folk clubs which he had done so indomitably, determined to play to the end.  There are many heartfelt tributes on Facebook.

This is more about practical arrangements, useful to keep in touch by email.

He died in a care home in Brighton, son Ben was in touch with us: ben.paley@benpaley.com  Ben is now gigging in China, so his wife Sam has been in touch about funeral arrangements: sam@spooty.net, expected to be at Islington crematorium in 2-3 weeks.

They want to have a celebration afterwards, Robin Denselow is involved, hoping to book Cecil Sharp House (where Tom was a weekly fixture at Sharp's for many years - as well as at many London clubs, including Musical Traditions).

We are going to suggest a further celebration some time ahead so that fellow folk luminaries can be involved, including some from America, not just those who happen to be in London just now.  Robin Denselow will be writing an obituary.

All the best,

Peta Webb and Ken Hall - 2.10.17

Another of our friends has joined the past: Tom Paley.

I first met him when I was 19, at Yale College and we bonded quickly.  We played together for decades.  Six to be exact.  Now he has died at age 89.  These things are to be expected but of course when they happen we are taken by surprise.

I will miss his rock-steady guitar and banjo playing.  I'll miss his true-heart voice harmonising in Perfect Paley Pitch.  I'll miss his wry, laconic humour.  I'll miss the sight of him walking with that big camera box always slung from his shoulder.  He never would tell me what was in it.

I won't miss his endless tuning - but it was always worth it when he got there!

Peggy Seeger - 4.10.17

For Tom Paley's friends and admirers, from Ben Paley:

"My dad's funeral will be at Golders Green Crematorium at three o'clock in the afternoon on the 24th of October.  Afterwards there will be a celebration of his life at Cecil Sharp House, from five to eight o'clock.  These will be public events, with no dress code: come as casual or as dressy as you feel appropriate.  Please tell others who you think would like to come - I know there are many people who would like to attend whose email addresses I don't have.  There will be a session at Cecil Sharp House, so do bring instruments if you fancy playing."

Ian Anderson - 10.10.17

Peter Wheeler

Hi Rod.

Unfortunately I have to report that my uncle Peter Wheeler passed away today.  He was 82.  He suffered a severe stroke a couple of months back whilst on holiday in Ireland.

Whilst he is not a name that many people will be familiar with, apart from regular visitors to Bampton, he was the last surviving member of the 1951 'Festival of Britain' side.  With the sad death of Colin Knight a few months back our living links with the Jingy Wells/Bertie Clark era become ever fewer.

Jamie Wheeler - 26.9.17

Jim Coughlan - 03.9.33 - 13.1.17

Jim was a longstanding member of the Swindon Folksingers Club, where there will be an evening to celebrate his life on Friday 7th April.

His repertoire of traditional Irish songs have delighted many, and have been recorded on CD, as 'The Songs of a Limerick Man.'

A Tribute to Jim Coughlan can be read here.


Don Shepherd

Hi Rod,

I expect you have heard that, sadly, Don Shepherd died on 19th September 2016.  He released just two albums that I know of - The Sun and the Moon in 1975 and Adnams Ales in 1978.  I had the pleasure of being one of the musicians on the latter album recorded at his then home in Fressingfield, Suffolk.  He had polio and in those days used a wheelchair.  He had one of the biggest voices on the folk club scene and a wonderful way of putting people at ease.  His advice to people wanting to sing harmonies was "Sing any note then move it up and down until people stop staring at you."

He and Deidre celebrated 40 years of marriage in April 2013 and can boast 3 children and 7 grandchildren.  For medical reasons, he was no longer able to sing or play the guitar but still maintained an interest in all performing arts.  In that they were very lucky, as Bungay, a small Suffolk market town where we lived, had the thriving independent Fisher Theatre which hosts a wide range of the performing arts.  Our thoughts go out to his family.

Marya Parker [nee Rauscher] - 7.10.16

Bill Ochs

It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the news that Bill Ochs has died.  A fine uilleann piper, whistle player, teacher, scholar, collector, and a pillar of Irish traditional music in New York City.  You may remember him for his work putting out the recordings of Micho Russell.

No obit yet, but Paul Keating wrote a tribute to him a few years back.

Patrick Hutchinson - 6.10.16

A short obituary and notice of a memorial celebration is available here.

Roy Harris

Roy Harris sadly died on 9th February 2016.  We remember him as a great singer with a real love for the tradition.  He was Director of The National Folk Music Festival at Loughborough in the early '70s where so many of our generation first had the chance to hear, and sing in the company of, traditional singers from England, Scotland and Ireland.  He also founded the Tiger Club, Nottingham to enable these singers to be heard and for us to appreciate their skills.  His own singing was thoughtful and always in keeping with its source.  He was a great example to us, and to so many more, as you can see from the tributes on Mudcat.

Condolences to his wife Elaine and son Neil.

Peta Webb and Ken Hall - 18.2.16

Roy Harris's funeral will take place on Tuesday 1st March at 11am at Thornhill Crematorium (Wenallt Chapel), Thornhill Rd, Cardiff CF14 9UA.  There will be a celebration of his life afterwards from 12 at The West End Social Club, 348 Cowbridge Rd West, Cardiff CF5 5BY.  Phone:029 2059 4004

Donations in lieu of flowers to the NSPCC please.  There will be a box for donations on the day.

There is no dress code so come casual, come formal, come as you are comfortable, but please come.  We’ve booked the concert hall in the club which we can have until 6pm but we can use the lounge bar after that if we want to.  The family want to create a folk club atmosphere so please bring a song, an instrument, a memory.  However, to organise refreshments it would be helpful (though not compulsory) if you could let us know if you are planning to attend.  On a practical note, there is a small car park behind the club, also there is a small Tesco opposite with a little car park and a block away there is a Lidl/Homebargains with a huge car park.  There is also some street parking nearby.

Neil Harris - 18.2.16

Fred McCormick 1946-2015

If you've read the News Page recently, you'll perhaps not be surprised, but I'm very sorry to tell you that my friend - and one time deputy editor of this magazine - Fred McCormick, died in hospital on 15th November at 21:10.  His writings have been absent from these pages for some years as he became involved in numerous other projects that took up much of his time but, looking back, I can find over 60 reviews and six articles he wrote for us.  You can find them via the Search facility on the Home Page.

It would be unreasonable for me to suggest the 'best' examples of his always informed and often passionate writing, but I found a phrase in his review of a couple of Irish sean nós CDs which was so typical of the man - 'Don't be put off by the language barrier.  Music is its own form of empathy and it transcends all the difficulties of human communication.'  I would also recommend Fred's contribution to the Ten Records that Changed My Life article, which tells you a lot about the man, and the whole of his Introduction section to the Joe Heaney Interview is a fine example of his academic writings.

To me, he was a constant paradigm for how to write well about traditional music.  I will miss him enormously.

Peta Webb has written a proper obituary for Fred, which is available here.

Rod Stradling - 17.11.15

Fred McCormick Celebration of Life

Fred died in hospital on Sunday 15th November 2015.  He had been suffering from a lung/heart condition.

The celebration of Fred’s life will be held at Landican Cemetery and Crematorium, Arrowe Park Road, Woodchurch, Wirral, CH49 5LW, on Monday 7th December at 2:30pm.  The Wirral Council website page shows a small Google map.

Fred's niece Gill Barrie writes : 'Can I suggest people might like to wear something red (ties, scarves) because of his socialist views.  After the cremation we will be going to Misty Blues in Liscard, Wallasey CH44 1BY . I hope people will bring their instruments etc., I know our Fred loved a good wake and we want to send him off in style'.  Cards etc. may be sent to Gill Barrie at 23 Frobisher Road, Leasowe, Wirral CH46 2RB

Peta Webb - 21.11.15

Percy O'Connor

I am very sorry to have to pass on news of the death on Saturday 25th July of step dancer Percy O'Connor (West) at the age of 70, having been ill for a while with pancreatic cancer.

Percy was born into a large travelling family in 1944 and learned to dance at an early age.  In 1956 Peter Kennedy recorded the O'Connor family at Friday Bridge near Wisbech: Percy's father Frank singing, diddling and step dancing and various of Frank's children step dancing, including twelve year old Percy.

More recently Percy and his wife Doreen - another great step dancer - settled down in Palgrave, near Diss, with their son Matthew.  Percy and Doreen were regulars at a great many gatherings of traditional music making across Norfolk and Suffolk, with Percy also winning several prizes for his dancing.  He was always the life and soul of any event, with his exuberant personality and flashy, highly percussive dancing.  Always encouraging and positive, he was aptly described by fellow step dancer Lenny Whiting as "one of nature's gentlemen."

Percy was given a fitting funeral in a packed St Mary's Church, Diss, on Thursday, with an appropriate wake afterwards packed with music and dancing.  He will be sorely missed and long remembered, both for his warm personality and his wonderful step dancing.

Chris Holderness - 8.8.15

Micil Ned Quinn

Mick Quinn, singer and storyteller of Mullaghbawn, Co Antrim, is the latest member to join the ranks of those that's gone before.

He died on Saturday May 31st, aged 89, I gather, and had been very ill for some time.  I don't know the precise details, beyond the fact that he had throat cancer and he was very unhappy that this prevented him from singing.

His funeral was massive, quite possibly the biggest that Mullaghbawn had ever seen and of course we gave him a great send off at the GAA club afterwards.

I'm afraid I don't know much about his family details, except that he leaves a lot of grieving relatives, and a lot of grieving friends.

For myself, I can only say that, as well as enjoying his singing and storytelling, he was one of the loveliest blokes I ever had the pleasure of knowing - and one of the funniest.  He leaves a great big hole in the Mullaghbawn community, and in the traditional song scene.  He will be greatly missed and for the life of me I still can't believe that he is gone.

Fred McCormick - 4.6.15

A wonderful human being - hugely missed here, too.  I never thought of him as a 'storyteller' - more a sharer of yarns.  They were never the same in different tellings, and he often strung two or three together to keep them fresh.  I can't think of anyone else who did the job so well - and everyone's eyes lit up when he walked into a room.

Rod Stradling - 4.6.15

Jean Ritchie : 1922-2015

Jean Ritchie was born in Viper, Perry County, in the Cumberland Mountains of south eastern Kentucky.  The Ritchies of Perry County were one of the two 'great ballad-singing families' of Kentucky.  As the youngest of 14 siblings, Jean was one of ten girls who slept in one room of the farming family's farm house.  She was quick to memorize songs and, with two friends, performed at local dances and at county fairs, where they repeatedly won blue ribbons in Hazard, the county seat.  Jean recalled that when the family acquired a radio in the late 1940s they discovered that what they had been singing was hillbilly music, a word they had never heard before.

After graduating she got a job as a social worker at the Henry Street Settlement, where she taught music to children.  There she befriended Alan Lomax, who recorded her extensively for the Library of Congress.  She also met her future husband, George Pickow, there at a square dance in 1948, and they married in 1950.  Together they went on a Fulbright Scholarship to collect folksongs in Britain and Ireland.

Ritchie preferred to sing without instrumental accompaniment, but occasionally she also accompanied herself on autoharp, guitar and mountain dulcimer, an instrument her father had played, and which she may be credited with introducing to the folk scene.  Over a 50-year long career she recorded some 33 albums of songs.

For many years, Ritchie lived in Port Washington, New York.  In 2009, after a stoke, she moved back to Kentucky, to the town of Berea, where she died on 1st June 2015.


Packie Manus Byrne

I am sorry to let you know that Packie Manus Byrne - singer, musician, storyteller, dancer, song-writer, actor, author amongst his many talents - died peacefully at the hospital in Killybegs yesterday afternoon (12 May) at the age of 98.

Mike Yates writes: I spent a lot of time with Packie when he was living in England and found him a wonderful man.  I have said before that his Topic album Songs of a Donegal Man was the best album that I ever worked on ... and I still think that this is true.  He was a marvellous singer and whistle player ... and he had a great sense of humour.  Packie enriched all our lives and we are all the better for having known him.

Dave Hunt writes: When we were over in Ardara for his 95th birthday, he was in fine form ... and it concluded with him saying "Well now ... there'll be another party in five years time".  Sadly he didn't quite make it.  I've known him since 1965 and always enjoyed the company of a wonderful singer and whistle player, who bought such joy to so many along the way.  A real gentleman, and a sad loss to us all.

Funeral on Friday 15th May at Church of The Holy Family, Ardara, 11am Requiem Mass with burial afterwards in the family plot at Bruckless Cemetery.  Family flowers only please, donations, if desired, to Killybegs Community Hospital, c/o Seamus Shovlin and Sons or any family member.


Roy Palmer

It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of the prolific writer on folk song and folklore, Roy Palmer, on 26th February 2015.

As well as owning a few of his countless books on songs and traditions, I was privileged to have worked with him on the George Dunn and Cecilia Costello double-CD projects.  He was always utterly helpful and vastly knowledgeable.  As may others have said: a complete gentleman.

In the English Folk Music Collection at the British Library we find: Number of items in collection: 1,549.  Approximately 140 hours of field recordings ... from the 1960s to the present day.  As well as that, I can find more than 30 books of his on the Net.  Not bad for one man's contribution!

And I can think of few people who remained so completely enthusiastic about songs and singers for so long - his energy never belied his age.  He will be much missed.

Rod Stradling - 28.2.15

Dear Rod,

May I add personal tribute to Roy Palmer ...  As you point out, he was ever the gentleman and over some thirty odd years has been, for me, a very present help in research, generous with his time, providing material and, in addition, being so very kind as to send me books not only about songs and singing and broadside matters but others on subjects in which he knew I was interested - some pretty weighty tomes on Napoleon, for instance.

He and his wife, Pat, even took the trouble to visit me here in France during one of their holidays.  Roy was also one of the first visitors to the Downs festival of Traditional Singing way back in the early 1980s and thereby gave us great encouragement.

Like you and many, many others, I shall miss his scholarship and his care and attention, even at a distance; and my sympathies go out to Pat and to the family.

Roly Brown

Sheila Stewart 1937-2014

We had very sad news yesterday that Sheila Stewart ­ last of the Stewarts Of Blair ­ passed away (Tuesday 9 December 2014) after a short illness.  Such a stalwart of the Scottish tradition: her contribution both as a wonderful ballad singer and as a storyteller ­ inheriting her tradition from her mother Belle and from her father Alex and other family ­ will live long in the memory of all who heard her and those who have known her as a friend over many years.

Funeral Arrangements

Sheila’s son Hamish Macgregor and his wife Bonnie and other family will welcome all friends from the folk and traditional music scene to the funeral which will take place on Tuesday 16th December at 10:00 am in the Town Hall, Blairgowrie.

The Commital and Interment will follow at 11.00 am in the Blairgowrie Cemetery.

Hamish plans that a Celebration of Sheila’s Life will then take place in the Town Hall from around 12:00 midday along with refreshments.  The celebration will continue as a Ceilidh to which all musicians are invited to bring their instruments, songs and reminiscences along so that personal tributes to her folk singing can be enjoyed by all.

Where would the ballad singing tradition in Scotland be today without the unbroken continuity of the tradition passed on to us by Sheila and other members of her extended family?  I well remember how she won the traditional singing cup at the very first TMSA competitions held in Blairgowrie (in August 1967 if I remember correctly) and so set the standard for other singers to follow – with her magnificent family version of the ancient ballad The Twa Brothers.

An era passes.  Condolences to all the family.

Peter Shepheard - 11.12.14

Jean Redpath

Jean Redpath, a great inspiration to my generation of folk enthusiasts - particularly those interested in the Scottish tradition - died yesterday, 21 August 2014, in an Arizona hospice.  there's an appreciation in HeraldScotland.

The article fails to mention her total commitment to the Scots traditional singers.  She came from a different background - an academic one - but was totally at ease with them.

Her recordings of the complete Burns songs to accompaniments by the Russian/American Serge Hovey were also quite inspired.

Vic Smith - 22.8.14

Hugh Allan (Buddy) MacMaster 1925-2014

Buddy MacMaster died at his home in rural western Cape Breton in Nova Scotia around 9 p.m. Wednesday, 20th August 2014, at the age of 89.

A longer obituary can be found here.


John (Jack) Eaglesham 1938-2014

John passed away in Glasgow on April 5, 2014, after a long illness.  A founder member of the influential 'Clutha' group in 1964, he was a fine exponent of the bothy ballad and music hall song alike, as well as an excellent concertina player and songwriter, his songs having enlivened many a session at Scottish festivals over the years.

In the 1980s, he formed part of another important Glasgow-based group, 'Stramash' where his own songs played an important part.  He was always willing to pass on songs, whether traditional or his own, and he is a great loss to traditional music in Scotland.  As his longterm partner 'Biff' Carmichael said to me 'It's like end of an auld sang'.

Jim Bainbridge - 22.5.14

Reg Reader

Courtesy John HowsonVery sad news.  We have just heard that Reg Reader passed away in the early hours of this morning.

Katie Howson - 6.4.14

Reg was well-known as a hammer dulcimer player in Suffolk, and examples of his playing can be found on A Story to Tell (MTCD339-0), several of the Veteran and Old Hat Concert Party recordings, and in Chapter 8 of Sing, Say or Pay! amongst these pages.  Many readers will, I'm sure, remember his attending numerous English Country Music Weekends over the years.

Rod Stradling - 6.4.14

Reg's funeral is on Wednesday 16th April at 1pm in Yoxford Church (just off the A12 near Saxmundham) followed by tea & music (please bring instruments) in the Village Hall.  No flowers but donations to British Heart Foundation or Cancer Research are appreciated.

Katie Howson - 8.4.14

A fuller obituary by Katie & John Howson can be found here.


Simon Evans: 1952-2014

Simon Evans has died aged 61 following a brain tumour diagnosed last Spring.  Simon was best known as a radio producer, but was also active as a social worker and photographer through his own 'Open Productions' umbrella.

Simon, through his work with the late Charlie Jacobs interviewed some of the old mummers, bringing to life the 'Seven Champions' plays of the Darent Valley between Westerham and Dartford in Kent, on behalf of the Hartley Morris Men of whom he was a member.  He was also active in recording many of Kent's travellers, notably that of Ambrose Cooper.  The fruits of this research and his involvement with BBC Radio Kent, led him to broadcast many of his findings in Radio Four documentaries.  Others were collaborations with Chris Wood overdubbing his fiddle to Simon's recordings on Champions' plays and one on the River Medway.  In 2004, his work was published by the University of Hertfordshire under the title 'Stopping Places'.

His 'folk' programme also nurtured many a raw and eclectic talent in both folk and acoustic music.  He also acted as producer for the Millen Family in recording their CD.

His front room at his cottage in West Peckham doubled as his library, and he would often disappear upstairs to return with some recording of interest.  On a personal note, I well recall the long conversations, usually in the pub car park after Seven Champions practices whilst he was returning from Chatham after his Radio Kent duties - these would often go well into the small hours!

His published output as a producer seemed minimal, and it is hoped that some of his many recordings can be broadcast to a wider audience.

George Frampton - 22.1.14

Gordon Easton: 1924-2014

Gordon Easton of Tyrie, Aberdeenshire, has passed away aged 91 - a wonderful singer and a great character, who also played fiddle, jew's harp and was an excellent diddler, and had latterly taken up the melodeon.  Gordon's funeral will take place in Tyrie Kirk at Tyrie just off the A98, 5 miles SW of Fraserburgh on Monday at 1.00pm.

I am so glad he had the chance to become so well known in his latter years - and that we were able to record him when he was a guest at the FifeSing Festivals.  Thanks to Steve Byrne for putting up the link to his majestic performance of the Barnyards of Delgaty.

Pete Shepheard - 11.1.14

Bill Daniels: 1933-2013

I'm very sorry to have to tell you that William Ernest John Daniels died of cancer on the morning of 9.12.13.  Bill had been ill for quite a while, and faced it bravely and with the dignity that all who knew him would have expected.

Anyone who attended Bampton's Day of Dance from the 1960s through to the turn of this century will certainly remember Bill - clearly the most stylish dancer in the side, and many would say the best.  Moreover, he always managed to make time for anyone interested in the dance, and was a fund of local information ... his family having been in the village since the 16th century!

He was a wonderful dancer, a delightful man, and a true friend to Danny and me over the 47 years we knew him.  He will not be forgotten.

Bill's funeral will be at St Mary's Church, Bampton, on Friday 20th December at 2:30pm.

Rod Stradling - 13.12.13

Brian Dawson

It is with great regret that, on behalf of my family, I must announce that Brian Dawson (my Uncle) passed away early this morning, Friday 22nd Nov.  Brian had remained deeply unconscious after his heart attack on 9th Nov.

I will communicate funeral arrangements in the next few days and thank you all for your kind thoughts and wishes.

Richard Smith - 22.11.13
Brian Dawson’s nephew


Like most of us, I suspect, Brian Dawson was a smallish part of my life for more years than I care to remember.  Scarcely an event in the English musical calendar would pass without him being present - quiet and unobtrusive, but always willing to give us a song ... and one which rarely disappointed.  In recent years, it was often as a guest performer, and it was most pleasing to find that his understated skills were at last beginning to be recognised.

I last saw him this September, at the most recent Stroud Sing & Stroll event, where he'd been a regular for many years and, coming from another rural county, he fitted in perfectly ... and obviously felt himself to be amongst friends.  I'll never forget the time he first treated us to one of his Tennyson dialect story-poems, and made us realise that Geordie is not the hardest dialect for a southern ear to negotiate!

This quiet, gentle man, with his store of hugely interesting songs and stories will be sorely missed.  I only wish I'd got to know him better ... sooner.

Rod Stradling - 25.11.13

Funeral details are as follows - anyone who knew Brian is welcome to attend.

Tuesday 10th December, 1.50 pm - Lincoln Crematorium, Washingborough Rd, Lincoln, LN4 1EF.  2.30 pm - Celebratory Service at St John's Church, High St, Washingborough, LN4 1EJ

Afterwards - Refreshments at the Jubilee Hall, High St, Heighington, LN4 1JS (next village to Washingborough)  Songs will be sung!

A longer obituary, by John Conolly, can be found here.


Tom Crean

Tom Crean, ex member of the seminal Irish group The Press Gang, An Góilín Singers Club stalwart and founder member of The Clé Club, passed away today Sunday September 8th after a short illness.

He was deeply involved in The Tradition Club in Slatterys in Capel Street during the halcyon days of the club in the '70s and '80s and was responsible for giving a platform to lots of traditional musicians and singers who would never have come to national notice otherwise.

He is survived by his wife Mag, daughters Lucy and Katie and son Aengus.

A longer obituary, by Roly Brown, can be found here.

Jerry O'Reilly - 9.9.13

John Wright

We were saddened to hear today (4th September 2013) of the death of John Wright, a talented musician and instrument maker who moved to France in the 1960s and married traditional singer Catherine Perrier.  We had the news from his brother Michael Wright, both of whom were recorded playing jew's harp (with brother Dave) by Topic on The Lark in the Clear Air in 1974.  Topic also put out a solo release in 1977 John Wright Unaccompanied, with John's vocals, jew's harp, fiddle,and mouth organ.  He made several recordings in France, some with Catherine Perrier, with whom he founded the influential club in Paris, Le Bourdon.  As well as performing and playing fiddle for dancing, John was a great enthusiast for mediaeval instruments which he repaired and reconstructed.

We well remember John and Catherine performing at The National Folk Music Festival and at our Musical Traditions Club.  He will be greatly missed.  No news of the funeral yet but we will pass on news as we hear it.

Peta Webb & Ken Hall - 4.9.13

Jane Turriff, Roy Shergold and Bobby Ritchie

It's always saddening, and sometimes a shock, to get news of the death of someone you know - but to get three in one day seems almost outrageous.

Jane Turriff, certainly one of the greatest of the Traveller singers of the last generation, died a couple of weeks ago, in her 90s.  Her funeral has already taken place, but we now have an obituary by Vic Smith here.

Roy Shergold, one of the last members of Bampton's great 1950s side, died at 2am today, 23rd August - he would have been 87 next month.  He was in hospital for Whitsun this year and, although he did come home for a while and was active for a very brief period, the prognosis was never great and he finally had to go back into hospital about 6 or 7 weeks ago.

I've just been told that the funeral will be on Thursday 5th September, at 14.30 at Bampton Church.  Continuing at The Talbot afterwards.

Keith Chandler deeply regrets causing distress to some members of Roy Shergold's family in his published obituary, which has now been removed from this site.

Both Jane and Roy had good, long, eventful lives - and many of us will be able to remember them very fondly.  But while these two deaths can hardly be called unexpected, to lose Bobby Ritchie in the prime of her life is a cruel shock.  She was present at almost all the 'events' of the traditional music year, and meeting her was always a gladdening experience.  She was unfailingly happy, funny, enthusiastic ... unforgettable.  Our deepest sympathies go to Simon and their children.

For those who didn't know already, Bobby had been suffering from leukemia for the past three months and had been in intensive care for most of this time.  Simon had been up to the hospital every day for all of this period and had been told that there were signs of improvement.  Tragically this proved not to be the case and she died on Wednesday 21st August.

The funeral will be held at Thaxted Village Church on Friday 6th September from 11am.  This will be followed by a gathering in the home at 25 Town Street opposite the Guild Hall.    An obituary can be found here.

Rod Stradling - 28.8.13

Louis / Louisa Jo Killen

Louisa Jo Killen died last Friday, 9th August, 2013.  We had known Lou for most of our musical lives, and in the spring of 2010 were pleased to host what was probably Louisa Jo's first gig in England as a woman.  A wonderful person and a fabulous singer - we hope that a fuller obit will appear here shortly.

Many readers will, I think, have been aware of Lou's health problems over a number of years, but these got far worse in 2011 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and things have been very up and down since that point.  Very recently it became apparent that she might not live for too much longer, and she was in the process of writing something to send to all her friends.  This was being edited prior to publication when she died - her ex-wife Margaret, who has been at her side throughout all her recent troubles, was able to complete the editing, and put the following on Louisa Jo's Facebook page yesterday.

Margaret has asked to let you know that Louisa Jo's funeral will be held this coming Friday, 16th August, 10.30 am, Saltwell Park Crematorium, Gateshead.  There will, of course, be afters.

Rod and Danny Stradling - 13.8.13

Alex McKie 1929-2012

Alex McKie, singer, musician and dance caller, passed away quietly in his winter abode in southern Spain with a glass of whisky in his hand in the last week of November 2012.  An obituary can be found here.

For many years, photos taken at Scottish festivals like Kinross had Alex in them - if not all of him, then an elbow, back of the head, a knee ... concrete evidence that he was always at the centre of the crack - Brian Miller

Sorry to hear about dear old Alex - Christy Moore

I've only to hear the word 'Dingle' and I'm off with his voice in my head "As I went down to the Fair at Dingle" - Rab Noakes

I was just talking about him with Cathy Watt and Mary Stewart... with a smile on our faces, of course - Alison Farrow

He had the best version of the Galway Shawl I've ever heard ... if there is a hereafter, the rave-up gets better all the time - Jimmy Hutchison

Clive Stevens

Died on Friday 16th November, Clive Stevens, one of those many unsung heroes who did and do so much to organise and support events, individuals and, indeed, causes.  An obituary can be found here.

Roly Brown - 26.11.12
Oradour sur Vayres, France.

Bobby Robb

An era in folk music and superior humanity has passed with the death of Bobby Robb, son of Ayrshire and founder member of Girvan Folk Club 48 years ago.  Bobby aged 82 died at his home in Girvan on 20th October 2012.

Anyone who has known Bobby - and there are many - have had the privilege of acquaintance with one of the finest human beings on the planet.  “They don’t make them like that any more” has been most aptly said of him.  Apart from being a superb exponent of folk song, Bobby was an outright gentle family man whose glass was always half full amid the adversities of life; a genuine friend and wise counsellor to all; one who always saw the best side of people, never rushing to judgement; one who provided father figure encouragement to many aspiring folk musicians young and old.

Pat Lappin - 24.10.12

Gerry O'Hanlon - 1946-2012 Gerry O'Hanlon. Photo courtesy ITMA.

Gerry O'Hanlon, one of the organisers of the Forkhill Festival of Traditional Singing, a former member and Treasurer of the Board of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, and himself a fine singer, died this evening after a long struggle with lung disease.  Many of those from Britain who attended the singing weekend at the Tí Chulainn Cultural Centre in Mullaghbawn will remember him with affection and his organising abilities with admiration.  Condolences are due to his wife Rita and their children and the wider family.

The funeral arrangements are as follows.  Removal from his home on Thursday to the Community Centre Mullaghbawn to arrive at 12.30pm to celebrate his life with a humanist ceremony.  Burial after in the local cemetery.

John Moulden and Fred McCormick - 6.10.12

There is now an excellent obitury to Gerry in the Irish Times.

Paul Carter

Paul may be best known as a recordist/collector for Topic Records in the 1960s, working on, amongst other things, the Willett Family, Sarah Makem, Paddy Tunney, Pop Maynard and Phoebe Smith LPs.  He died, aged 80, quickly and painlessly on Sunday 23 September, whilst on a train day-trip to Cornwall with his partner Janet Temple.  An obituary can be found here.


Stan Seaman 1919-2012

Stan Seaman, traditional melodeon player and skilled rope-worker, died on 9th June at the age of 93 in Southampton hospital after a bout of pneumonia.  An obituary can be found here.

Paul Marsh 10.6.2012

Jack Coen and John McGann

Sad to report another fine musician gone.  Flute player Jack Coen, from Woodford, Co Galway and the Bronx, N.Y. has died.

Biog here.   There's and interview from 2010 here.

And John McGann, Boston mandolin player too: Obit here.

Patrick Hutchinson - 9.4.12

Dave Parry Dave Parry

Dave Parry [melodeon player and singer with The Blades and Geckoes] passed away last night.  As you'll know, he was diagnosed with cancer of the brain in December 2010 and, although we all hoped for some kind of miracle cure, to be honest the outlook was always bleak.  We have known for a few weeks now that Dave's time was short, but he was able to remain at home, cared for by Gill and visiting nurses.  In the end he passed away peacefully and apparently without pain.

Andy Turner - 2.4.12

I'm now able to give you some details regarding Dave's funeral:  It will be held at noon on April 16th in St James the Great church in West Hanney.  Here is a web link which has a map http://www.achurchnearyou.com/west-hanney-st-james-the-great/   There will be a service followed by the burial and then a big party in the church to celebrate Dave's wonderful, varied but too-short life.  I really want this to be joyful event, respectful but reflecting his many interests, so those of you that play instruments, please bring them along prepared to play at the party!  Despite this being in the church there will be food and drink of various types including alcohol and if you want to continue afterwards, the pub over the road (The Plough) is opening specially for the event and will also allow us to use their other facilities.

Gill - 4.4.12

Janey Buchan

Janey Buchan, who died on January 14, was very much her own woman, though for her forty-five years of marriage she was part of the team known as Norman and Janey Buchan.  An obituary can be found here.

Adam McNaughtan - 20.1.12

Len Berry 1929-2011

I am sorry to bring you the sad news of the death of Len Berry.  He died in hospital in Wrexham on Christmas Day from pneumonia.nbsp; An obituary can be found here.

Nigel Holt - 16.1.12
Squire Kirtlington Morris Men

John WattJohn Watt

I'm sorry to bring you bad news but, sadly, dear old John passed away this morning in Perth Royal Infirmary.  As you know he had been particularly poorly this last while and has been hospitalised since away before 'Muchty.  I was in to see him on Saturday but he was not aware that there was anybody in the room.  I could tell on that visit that there would be no way back from where he was and I think it's for the best that he made a fairly quick exit.

The funeral is next Tuesday, 8th November, at Dunfermline Crematorium at 11.30 am.

I think all our lives would have been a lot duller if we hadn't met this great character and I know that you will be like me and be thankful for some fantastic memories.

Jimmy Hutchison - 31.10.11

Gaetano Salvini in dancer's costume, and the wooden mask he carved for himself.Gaetano Salvini

I'm sorry to pass on the sad news of the death, on Wednesday 11th September, of Gaetano Salvini, wood sculptor, and capo of I Compagnia Sonadùr e Balari di Ponte Caffaro - the traditional carnevale dancers of Ponte Caffaro, Brescia, northern Italy.  It's my belief that Gaetano was, almost single-handedly, responsible for developing the small carnevale tradition I first encountered in 1990, into the exciting whole-town event that it is today.

As noted above, he was also a very talented wood sculptor, whose house was almost as intricately carved as the hundreds of pieces of wooden sculpture it contained!

He will be warmly remembered, and very much missed.

You can read two articles on the Ponte Caffaro carnevale tradition, and Gaetano's part in it, here:

Ponte Caffaro Carnevale
Ponte Caffaro revisited

Rod Stradling - 18.9.11

Mike RaffertyMike Rafferty

Hello Rod,

You may have read this already, but Mike Rafferty passed away on Monday.  A great flute player from Ballinakill, lately of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, USA.

Biog can be found here.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, as they say.

All the best,

Patrick Hutchinson - 15.9.11

Ray Fisher

(We left home for a birthday visit to our daughter just after hearing of Ray's death, after a long battle with cancer.
Because of this, were unable to upload anything until today - my apologies - Ed
The following is from Sheila Miller:)

I received the bad news on Wednesday afternoon (31st August) that Ray Fisher had died at 11am that day.  Ray's death is not unexpected, but it's still very sad news.  An obituary can be found here.

Sheila Miller - 3.10.11

Colin Bathe

Colin Bathe, a musician who for half a century deftly positioned himself astride the faultline separating self-conscious revival from survivals of authentic tradition, died on 8 May 2011 at his native Swindon, aged 73.  An obituary can be found here.

Andrew Bathe - 5.8.11

Mike Waterson

Mike Waterson The most upsetting and saddest news that I’ve ever been asked to pass on is the fact that our dear friend Mike Waterson left us in the early hours.  He died at 3:00 a.m. today 22nd June.  We’ll miss him - a great man!

Doc Rowe - 22.6.11

My mind is filled with so many images and memories of Michael: from the glorious days of the early sixties and the decade just past, interspersed with the rare visits from abroad.  I don’t think it ever occurred to either of us that the periods of separation between interfered with our friendship.  We just took up where we’d left off.  Now that separation is permanent.  No more hearing the ideas, the snippets of songs in the making, the jokes, the gossip - all of which seemed to pour out of him - especially on long car journeys.  I did occasionally get a word in, but I found his passion for people, songs, boats, politics, and just plain life so entertaining I was happy to listen.

I feel honoured to have been his friend, honoured to have been one of his singing partners, honoured to have shared a bit of his life.  That I’ll miss him, there is no doubt.  That I’ll forget him - never!

Louisa Killen - 7.7.11

When discussing her brother's death, Norma said to me "Sad days."  Well, Michael's funeral was the very best sad day I have ever experienced.  Doc Rowe did an astounding 'service' at the crematorium, informative, funny and very moving, saying everything that we hadn't even realised needed saying, and sending Michael off in the finest style.  The most wonderful moment was when the family led the congregation in Sleep on Beloved - and after a little reticence, the voice of Norma, not heard since she went into hospital, soared above the rest and sent her brother away as he would have wanted.  Sad days indeed, but welcome back Norma Waterson, and a fond farewell Michael.  We will meet and we will miss you.

Danny Stradling - 10.7.11

Benton Flippen. Photo by Mike Yates

James Benton Flippen. 18th July, 1920 - 29th June, 2011

Sorry to say that I have just heard that Benton is no longer with us.  He was influenced as a fiddler by an uncle from Thomasville, NC, who used to visit his parent's home.

From 1948 onwards Benton played regularly on WPAQ, often with the legendary fiddler Esker Hutchins, who passed on many local tunes to Benton.  He also led the well-known Smokey Valley Boys and many of his best recordings can be heard on the Rounder CD old time, new times (Rounder CD 0326).

There are also a few tracks on the Musical Traditions double CD Far in the Mountains, volumes 3 & 4 (MTCD503-4)

Mike Yates - 29.6.11

David Kettlewell (1946 - 2011)

I'm very sad to report that David Kettlewell, harper, hammered dulcimer player, poet, humanist, academic and author of the first PhD on dulcimers and related instruments, passed away on Monday 4th April at his home in Bollstabruk, Sweden.  The probable cause of death was heart failure.  An obituary can be found here.

Paul Marsh - 15.4.11

J P Fraley

We have just been informed by Richard Blaustein, that:

Paul Burgess - 21.2.11

Anne O'Reilly

Anne (wife of Jerry) O'Reilly died peacefully yesterday, November 29th.  We shall all miss her.

The funeral will be on Thursday afternoon at Newland’s Cross Crematorium, where there will be a celebration of Anne's life at 2pm.  Family flowers only, please.  Donations, if desired, to Post Polio Support Group or Irish Hospice Foundation.

John Moulden - 30.11.10

Mighty Arrow of Montserrat

The Mighty Arrow died in the morning of Wednesday, 15th September, 2010, at his home in Montserrat.


Joe Whelan

I'm sorry to have to report that Joe Whelan (69) died unexpectedly in his sleep on Tuesday, 20 July.  Joe, from Co Offaly, was a self-taught accordeon player with a highly individual style.  He came to London fifty-odd years ago and was one of the most highly regarded musicians over here.  He led the resident ceili band in the Galtymore Irish dancehall in Cricklewood back in the 1960s and for many years he partnered the banjo player Liam Farrell on Saturday nights in a few specific pubs in Croydon and Penge.

Readers of Musical Traditions might know them from their appearances at Sidmouth and South Zeal and from the CD they made for Veteran in 2001.  The funeral is 11.00, Friday 6 August at St Edwards RC Church, Keymer, Sussex [near Lewes].  Bridie is expecting music in the pub afterwards.

Reg Hall - 22.7.10

Mr Peters

A sad postscript to the piece in Musical Traditions.

I am so sad to report that one of the three kings... Wilfred Peters... who is Belize's icon of the traditional Brukdown Music (which forms part of the 'Creole' culture of Belize), passed away this week from a heart attack.  For many years he had what was named the Boom and Chime Band, which played jawbones (from cattle), the accordion, Turtle Shells, and other rudimentary instruments.

He performed at the Toledo Cacao Fest, and that was his very last live performance.   Marta.

Ian Anderson - 15.6.10

Richard Davies

Photo courtesy Chris Holderness Richard Davies, former Cromer fisherman and lifeboat coxswain, as well as singer and step dancer, died on Wednesday 5 May, at the age of 65, after losing his battle against a brain tumour.

A highly respected member of his local community, he hailed from a long line of fishermen and lifeboatmen in the town, becoming coxswain of the lifeboat in 1976, a position he held until his retirement in 1999.  This distinguished service included the winning of a bronze medal in 1993 and being chosen to carry the RNLI standard at the annual Festival of Remembrance in London.

Together with many other members of his family he kept up the local tradition of step dancing in the Davies' unique style, one that family memory recalls was passed on from a coastguard from Lancashire.  An energetic and entertaining performer, Richard Davies could also be relied upon to provide the audience with his own unique versions of songs such as The Foggy Dew and The Worst Old Ship.

Despite his illness, he kept very positive and cheerful.  His last performance was in Cromer on 6 March, showing none of the effects of being seriously ill, at a memorable night of music, song and step dancing.

Richard Davies leaves a wife, Julie, son John, daughter Fiona, and four grandchildren.  The funeral is to take place in Cromer parish church on Wednesday 19 May, at 2.00pm.

Chris Holderness - 10.5.10

Ciarán MacMathúna

Hi Rod,

I see from the site you haven’t anything yet on the death of Ciarán MacMathúna - he died on Friday 11th December.  I well remember listening to his programmes on my transistor radio in the '70s early '80s - it was one of the few places you could here real traditional Irish music as well as lots of other 'non-real' but very interesting, and often very stimulating material.

There’s an article about him from the Irish Independent: www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-the-rebirth-of-irish-music-is-ciaran-mac-mathunas-legacy-1975179.html

Paul Burgess - 5.1.10

Ruth Askew 1929-2009

Ruth Askew was born in 1929, the daughter of the village blacksmith at Chagford, on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon.  She started to play the melodeon at five years old, after one of her father's customers left an instrument at the forge.  From this sprang a lifetime's love of and association with the instrument.  An obituary can be found here.

Paul Marsh - 27.09.09

Stanley Robertson (1940-2009)

Stanley Robertson died on 2 August.  A famed traditional Traveller singer, nephew of the late Jeannie Robertson, writer and playwright, he made numerous television and radio appearances in Britain, Holland and the USA; in 1993 the BBC Radio 4 Kaleidoscope programme had him as special guest.  An internationally renowned traveller story-teller, he taught in schools throughout Britain, Denmark, and in Paris and was the guest artist at storytelling festivals from Tenessee to Devon.  He lectured and taught in colleges and universities worldwide, including Harvard, Princeton, Utah, Idaho, New Hampshire, East Tennessee and Brandice universities in the States, as well as Napier, Edinburgh and Aberdeen universities in Scotland.  This last honoured him with the degree of Master of the University last November.

An Honorary Founder of the Scottish Storytelling Forum, he was the Keyworker for the Heritage Lottery funded ‘Oral and Cultural Traditions of Scottish Travellers’ project from April 2002 until April 2005, promoting and expounding Traveller life, lore and singing.  His many books, such as Exodus to Alford (1988), as well as his plays such as Scruffie Uggie (1998), dealt both with that way of life and his many trades, especially as a fish filleter in the Aberdeen fish hooses.

Ian Olson - 3.8.09

Sandy Paton

Charles Alexander (Sandy) Paton was born on January 22, 1929.  Due to his father's work in the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the family moved quite a bit.  Sandy eventually found himself in Washington D.C. where he studied art, but the classroom wasn't for him and soon he was in Seattle where he continued to paint and also took up acting.  While in Seattle during the late 1940s, Sandy was introduced to folk music and got hooked.  An obituary can be found here.

Dick Greenhaus - 3.8.09

Jim Reid

Jim Reid - a man who many will consider as one of Scotland's finest folksingers - passed away on Monday 6th July after a long illness.  His contribution to Scotland's singing tradition has been immense and, in 2005, he was voted Scots Singer of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards.  His love of the poetry of Tayside and Angus and, in particular, his inspired setting to music of poems by Violet Jacob and Helen Cruickshank have given us a lasting legacy.  His setting of Violet Jacob's Wild Geese (or Norland Wind) has become a classic of the folk song repertoire.

It was at Jim's suggestion that some of the musicians from the regular sessions at Arbroath's Foundry Bar got together, entered and won the 1971 Ceilidh Band competition at the Kinross Festival - and so was born the hugely influential and very enjoyable Foundry Bar Band who played at festivals, ceilidhs and dances for almost another 30 years.

Funeral service will be held in Letham Parish Church, Letham, Angus on Monday 13th July at 12 noon, thereafter to Dunnichen Cemetery to which all family and friends are respectfully invited.  Family flowers only but donations may be made at the church in aid of Alzheimer Scotland.

Some of Jim Reid's songs may be listened to or freely downloaded from the following link, where donations may also be made direct to Alzheimer Scotland: www.springthyme.co.uk/album15/15go.html

Peter Shepheard - 9.7.09

Rita Keane

The traditional singer Rita Keane died in University College Hospital, Galway, on Saturday 27th June.  She was 86.

Rita Keane and her elder sister Sarah, who survives her, are seen as two of the most significant collectors and performers of songs in Irish and English from East Galway.  They began their careers in the 1930s, playing and singing with the Keane's Ceilí­ Band, a family concern.

In the 1960s Sarah and Rita recorded a highly acclaimed LP collection entitled Once I Loved, in which they sang together - this is unusual in the Irish tradition.  They released a second CD, At the Setting of the Sun, in 1985.

The sisters had a major impact on several generations of traditional singers and, in 2006, they received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Irish language TV Channel, TG4, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to traditional music and song.

Rita Keane was an aunt of the singers Dolores and Sean Keane.

John Moulden - 3.7.09

George WithersPhoto courtesy Veteran Records

News from deepest Somerset is that sadly George Withers passed away last night Mon 29th after a long period of illness.  He was 85 and up to 6 weeks ago was still attending social functions in our village in Isle Abbotts where he farmed for so many years.  He read some of his poetry and was good company as ever.

His wife Avril is not able to contact all his folk friends but asks me to put the word out.  He was much respected as a singer and kept singing till the very end.

A service of thanksgiving will be held on Wed July 8th at 2pm at Horton church near Ilminster.  No further info at this time.

David Sutcliffe - 1.7.09

John Vincent Harrison 2.12.27 - 4.6.09

Vincent Harrison, who has died aged 82, was a master Leitrim fiddle-player whose expertise and extensive musical connections linked him with a golden era in Irish fiddle music.  An obituary can be found here.

Neillidh Mulligan and Liam O'Connor - 30.6.09

Jacky JordanJack Jordan (centre) in Wells Ship

Jack Jordan - commonly known as 'Jacky' - renowned step dancer from Wells-next-the-Sea passed away on 28 February, 2009, at Courtney House nursing home, Tittleshall, Norfolk, after a period of illness, at the age of 84.

Born in 1924, he saw service throughout the Second World War with the Chindits in India and Burma.  Upon leaving the forces in 1946, he continued to live in his native Wells and was a regular participant in the nights of music in the many pubs of the area.  Jack Jordan learned to step dance from his father William and is well remembered for his agile dancing.  A common party trick was to leap up onto the bar of a pub in mid step dance, in particular onto the long bar of Wells Railway Hotel.  He was also an accomplished bones player.

Both Jack and his wife Edna were keen dancers in various styles and travelled widely throughout the county to various events in village halls and other venues, often several times a week.  Both talk about the local dances in Musical Traditions article MT196.

A true local character, Jack Jordan's athletic prowess as a step dancer is still widely remembered by a great many people in and around Wells-next-the-Sea.  He is greatly missed by family, friends and all those who recall the nights of traditional music making in the pubs across this area of Norfolk.

Chris Holderness - 20.3.09

Séamus Creagh

We mourn the passing earlier today of Séamus Creagh: fiddler, singer, storyteller, friend, gentleman and gentle man - Paul de Grae.  An obituary can be found here.


Photo by John Howson

Geoff Ling

I write to tell you that Geoff Ling of Blaxhall died on Monday 16th February. He died, aged 92, peacefully after a few months of poor health.

A robust singer and lively stepdancer, he was the last link with the 'good old days' of Blaxhall Ship.  We went to his 90th birthday party, and although rather unsteady on his feet by then, he still couldn't resist 'giving a step', albeit holding onto the back of a chair for support!  A short article about him is to be found on the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust website at www.eatmt.org.uk/new_page_4.htm and Keith Summers article Sing, Say or Pay on the Musical Traditions website provides further information.

The funeral is to be held at 2pm at Blaxhall Church on Tuesday 24th February.

Katie Howson - 20.2 .09

Matt Armour

Matt Armour (Scots singer-songwriter and folk club organiser, long resident in Bucks, well known for Generations of Change and other songs) has died.  Some of you will know this already, as it happened a few days ago, but I only heard last night, and, having missed one friend's funeral recently because no-one told me, I think it's better to risk duplication than not to tell people.

His funeral is on the 26th, Ray Fisher told me.  If anyone wants to write a letter of condolence to Jane, the address is 99 Mallett's Close, Stony Stratford, Bucks MK11 1DG.

Sheila Miller - 20.2.09

Betty Campbell

Betty Campbell, traditional singer from Aberdeenshire, mother of Ian and Lorna Campbell and grandmother of David, Robin, Duncan and Ali (the last three of UB40), died last Tuesday night (6th Jan) in Birmingham, where she had lived for very many years.  She was 95 and had not been well for a while.  Those of you in the south are most likely to have seen her at festivals (Sidmouth, the National, etc) or at the Islington folk club (most notably on the night in October 1987 when Bob Dylan turned up to see her and her husband, Dave, who died a year or two after that).  She was a great character.

The funeral is at 2pm this Wednesday at the Yardley Crematorium in Birmingham.

Excuse the brevity: I'm at work, and very busy.

Sheila Miller - 12.1.09

Son Townsend

Son Townsend was the last link to the old Bampton Morris and his death, on Christmas Eve 2008, marks the end of an era.  Although all his life he was known as Son, Sonner or Sonny he was born Thomas Albert Townsend on 24th May 1914, his father Albert kept the Elephant and Castle in Bampton which was the HQ for the Bampton Morris.  He first danced at Whitsun in 1925 aged 11, on the 'instruction' of his grandfather, Thomas Porlock, one of three brothers who danced in the last half of the 19th Century.  Many of the old team were related to each other and Thomas Porlock was married to Elizabeth, sister of Harry Radband, one time team Squire, and she was also aunt to William 'Jinky' Wells.

His Bampton dancing was from the old team days of the Tanners before the team split up in the late 1920s.  He was fascinating to talk to about those days.  After the Second World War the two teams came together for a short period, but then in the 1950s Sonny helped Arnold Woodley rebuild the old traditional team and he was the Clown for Arnold's team for many years.  He remained close friends with him until Arnold's death.  He kept up his dancing until well into his eighties.

The funeral will be on Monday 5th January at 12:30pm in Bampton Parish Church.  The family are happy for kit to be worn by Morris men if they wish to do so.  Son was the Clown for the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers, and they will be in their whites.

Barry Care - 30.12 08

Francis Shergold

Francis Shergold died on November 27th, just two months shy of his 90th birthday.  He was widely known in the folk world as long-time leader of the morris dance side at Bampton in Oxfordshire, a position honoured some years ago by the EFDSS when awarding him their Gold Badge.  An obituary can be found here.

Keith Chandler - 28.11.08

James Byrne

James, 'An Beirneach Mór' left us last night.  Apparently ... he had a huge heart attack - Finbar Boyle

James's only solo recording was The Road To Glenlough - James Byrne, with Dermot McLoughlin, Dermot Byrne, Peter Carr & Sean Byrne - Claddagh 4CC52 / CC52 / CC52CD.  From the notes of which:

James Byrne is one of the greatest fiddlers living in Ireland today.  He learned his music from his father and his neighbours in Glencolmcille, southwest Donegal.  His record includes much rare music from a tradition little known outside his home county.  Highlands and barndances, now common only in Donegal, take their place beside the more popular jigs and reels.  A legendary figure in fiddle circles, his only other appearance on record is on The Brass Fiddle.

Joe Madden

Joe Madden has also died: As the result of an accident in his home, Joe, one of the best-loved traditional musicians anywhere, suffered severe spinal injuries and passed away on November 14th, 2008.

Someone has set up a memorial website for him at: www.qmcorp.net/joe_madden/

Paul Burgess - 24.11.08

Ken Stubbs

Ken Stubbs, a personal friend for over 40 years, and one of the major folk song collectors of the '60s & '70s, passed away on 3rd November in his adopted home of Norwich.  He was 84 and had been ill for a short while.

Ken was a collector active in West Kent and the Ashdown Forest, as well as other places. He compiled The Life of a Man in 1970 for EFDS Publications from the singing of local people, raising the profile of George Spicer, Pop Maynard and many more.

Always one to share, many are in his debt for making available to them, both live and recorded, the music he loved.  It is such a pity that he will not see the release of material from his collection, which is in the process of being digitised for that purpose. 

A very nice man, who will be missed.

David Nuttall & Vic Smith - 14.11.08

David Hammond (1928-2008)

Photo: BBC NI.The Board of the Irish Traditional Music Archive deeply regrets the death on 25 August 2008, after a long illness, of David Hammond, a founding Board member of the Archive (1987-89).  He made a valued contribution to the formation of the Archive and its ethos, and represented particularly the perspective of the English-language song tradition of Ulster.  His easy-going and humorous good company will be missed.  The Board extends its sympathy to his wife Eileen, his children Catherine, Fiona, Conor and Mary Anne, and his other relatives, colleagues and friends.

David Hammond, born in Belfast, was a distinguished radio and television producer with BBC Northern Ireland, an independent film-maker from 1986 with his company Flying Fox, a writer, and a director of the Field Day theatre company.  He was a pioneer of an informal style of broadcasting with a new interest in the everyday life of working people and the arts.  In 2003 he was the recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Dublin City University.

From the 1950s Davy was also a recognised collector and singer of traditional songs, especially the street songs of his native city.  He had a long broadcasting career as a singer to his own guitar accompaniment on radio and television, and made several long-playing records, including I am the Wee Falorie Man (New York, 1959, 1997, 1998, 2007), David Hammond Sings Belfast Street Songs (New York, 1967), David Hammond Sings Songs of Ireland (New York, c. 1968), and The Singer's House (Dublin, 1978; Chicago 1980).  Traditional song was also the focus of many of his radio and television productions.  They included his award-winning films Dusty Bluebells (1973) on children's street games and songs, and Ulster in Focus: Sarah Makem (1977) on the Armagh traditional singer.  In 1974 he produced for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland an anthology of children's street songs from Belfast, Green Peas and Barley O.

ITMA - 27.8.08

Photo courtesy ITMA

Hugh Shields

Hugh Shields, song collector, friend and mentor of a generation of singers and students of song in Ireland, passed away this morning, 16th July 2008.  He was born in 1929.  Funeral arrangements are not yet clear but the service of thanksgiving for his life will take place at St Bartholomew's Parish Church, Dublin with cremation at Mount Jerome, Dublin on Friday or Saturday.

Hugh Shields was the most incisive commentator on Irish song of the last century.  He combined a love of songs and singers with great intuitive understanding of the workings of tradition and its contributors.  His capacity for analysis was unsurpassed and his work is beautifully and concisely descriptive; every sentence deserves repeated reading.

His books together with the recordings of traditional singers he was instrumental in issuing will be his memorial.  No student of song should neglect his Narrative Singing in Ireland.

John Moulden - 16.7.08

Marty O'Malley

Photo © Peter Laban, Miltown MalbayWord is coming in of the death of Marty O'Malley in Miltown Malbay.  Marty Malley (the 'O' was generally omitted in familiar speech) was born and lived all his life in rural west Clare.  A small farmer, Marty was a traditional singer and a maker of ballads, but was best known for his elegant style of dancing and his generous outgoing nature.  He loved good music and had a keen appreciation of its beauty.  He was one of a generation that excelled in its welcome to strangers and many of us who first went to west Clare as poverty-stricken youngsters at a time when there were no eating-houses in the area have reason to remember nights when we were given a bed and fed the best of food without any question of payment.  Marty, who would never have had much of the world's wealth, equalled any of his neighbours in his generosity.

He had known all of the great west Clare musicians of the twentieth century and danced to most of them, but he had a deep interest in music from outside his own environs and could discuss music from all over Ireland.  And he exulted in discussion - it's from talking to such people that younger folks learn, and such discussion can form the habits and attitudes of a lifetime.  In conversation he had an eloquence and fluidity of speech that was common among his generation - this can be witnessed in a well -known piece of film footage that is often replayed on TV; the Dublin HQ of Comhaltas had decided to ban 'battering' in competitions of set-dancing, and Marty, who was comfortable and confident in his enjoyment of the tradition, came to its defence on Irish television.  It's an impassioned and heated defence, but beautiful in its integrity.

When younger Marty travelled all over Ireland to fleadhanna, and he had thousands of friends.  The establishment of The Willie Clancy Summer School widened further his circle of friends by bringing tens of thousands of new people into his own milieu, and his passing will be regretted in almost every part of the world.

Finbar Boyle - 5.7.08

Kitty Hayes

I have the news of the death of concertina player Kitty Hayes from Shanaway West on the morning of Saturday May 17th.  She had phoned me just the day before; we were to play tonight at a CD launch and she was looking forward to going, play a few tunes and sing a few songs and she wondered if I was up for 'a practice'.  An obituary can be found here.

Peter Laban - 17.5.08

Bernard Fishlock

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Bernard Fishlock, leader of the Marshfield Mummers, the Old Time Paper Boys.  Bernard died peacefully at home in Marshfield early on Saturday.

Many of you will remember Bernard’s wonderful description of his childhood and how he became a Mummer at the Here we come: traditional and contemporary folk performances in Britain conference here in Aberystwyth in 2006.  He was already seriously ill at that time but was eager to contribute his particular experiences of traditional practice.

It was a real pleasure to see him performing King William with such gusto last Boxing Day.  And it was his suggestion that King William should take on all-comers in the final performance, resulting in a series of energetic, improvised combats that left a pile of colourful, paper-decked figures in the street.  I think perhaps he knew that this would be his last…

Bernard will be greatly missed – by his family, by his friends, by his community.  But he will linger in the performances of the Mummers.  Older members say that it takes many years for them to stop imagining their departed colleague still there in a role.  And every time Tenpenny Nit strikes himself on the head - to show his ‘little wit’ - Bernard will be present: this action was his invention when for many years he played that character.  And when at 11 o’clock in the square we hear these words, it’s Bernard’s voice we’ll remember:

‘Room, room, a gallant room I say ...’

Mike Pearson - 22.5.08
Professor of Performance Studies
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University

Dennis Crowther

I heard last night from Terry Tandler that Dennis Crowther of Clee Hill passed away last Sunday (20th).  Dennis was perhaps known most widely as the source of the tune known as Clee Hill, but he was a singer, storyteller, poet, musician and a much-loved all-round entertainer.  His funeral will be held at Coreley next Wednesday (30th April).  Terry was a little unsure of the time but thinks it will be at 12 noon.

John Messenger - 24.4.08

Joe Ryan

Photo © Peter Laban, Miltown MalbayJoe Ryan, of Inagh, Co Clare, passed away on Monday, March 10, at the age of 80.  I am sure that many a head was bowed, or a glass raised, in greater Dublin and London as well, where the genial fiddler was very active and had many friends through a long lifetime in the music scene.  Joe was one of the giants of the Clare - indeed the universal Irish music scene - whose innate gift for the music spoke volumes for the humble but highly respected musician who won many prizes, including the All-Ireland senior fiddle in 1969.

At age 11, he took up the fiddle in Inagh, a crossroads village between Ennis and Ennistymon where one could shorten the road towards the West Clare village of Miltown Malbay. He took up carpentry as a trade, working first in Ennis, then Dublin, London and back again in Dublin where as a foreman he trained many a trainee joiner.

The fiddle and Irish music and Clare were always important parts of his life wherever he traveled, as he shared tunes with Bobby Casey in London, John Kelly in Dublin at O’Donoghues on Merrion Row and the Four Seasons and Slatterys on Capel Street and with Junior Crehan in Miltown Malbay. He was a regular tutor at the Willie Clancy Summer School and was even listed for Miltown this July.

Ryan was part of that seminal scene of musicians who literally recreated the Banner County in Dublin at the Mrs. Crotty’s Club on Church Street in the early 1960s.  Out of that milieu came one of the most exciting ceili bands in Irish music, the Castle Ceili Band that featured Ryan, Kelly, Liam Rowesome, Sean Keane, John Dwyer on fiddles, Mick O’Connor and Michael Tubridy on flutes, James Keane on accordion, Bridie Laverty on piano and Bennie Carey on drums.  They won the senior All-Ireland in 1965, and Ryan could still be seen proudly wearing his blue blazer from those halcyon days at special occasions many years later.

His music was recorded and documented in a variety of settings like the Castle Ceili Band; Crossroads, a Green Linnet cassette that he made with harmonica player Eddie Clarke from Cavan; Ceol An Chlar: Traditional Fiddle Music from West Clare, a CCE recording featuring Ryan, Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, John Kelly and Patrick Kelly from Cree, and his own solo album, An Buachaill Dreoite.

Paul Keating - 26.3.08
Excerpted from his obit in The Irish Voice

Duncan Williamson

Photo by Doc RoweStoryteller and ballad singer: Born April 11, 1928, Died November 8, 2007 age 79.  Many will already have heard the sad news that Scotland's great ballad singer and storyteller Duncan Williamson has died after a stroke.  Duncan was in hospital in Kirkcaldy for a few days after suffering the stroke which affected his right side and lost him the power of speech, and he passed away early in the morning of Thursday 8th November.

His funeral will take place in Strathmiglo Church, Kirk Wynd, Strathmiglo, Fife on Tuesday 13 November at 2:00pm.

Duncan's contribution to the storytelling revival has been immense and he had an important repertoire of traditional Scots ballads and folksongs.  Numerous books of traditional tales compiled by Duncan and his second wife Linda have been published worldwide.  He has travelled widely since the 1970s taking his storytelling and ballad singing throughout Europe and to the USA.

A obituary has appeared in The Herald: www.theherald.co.uk/features/obituaries/

Fourteen books of folktales by Duncan Williamson are listed by Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/

Duncan has lived in Ladybank in Fife for the last few years and has been a guest at the annual Fife Traditional Singing Weekend in nearby Collessie every year since 2004 with songs on several CDs: www.springthyme.co.uk/fifesing

Scottish Storytelling Centre: www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk/

Peter Shepheard - 11.11.07

Dr Tom Munnelly

The Board of the Irish Traditional Music Archive deeply regrets the death on Thursday 30 August 2007, after a long illness, of Dr Tom Munnelly, its founding Chairman from 1987 to 1993 and a world authority on Irish traditional song.  An obituary can be found here.

Irish Traditional Music Archive - 30.8.07

Frank Purslow

The English Folk Dance and Song Society will be presenting Frank’s Gold Badge to his brother Mike, at Mike’s request, after Frank’s funeral, which will take place on Friday June 15 at 2.00 pm at St Mary’s Church, Bampton.  The wake and presentation will be at the Romany Inn, Bampton.

If you would like to attend the funeral, please phone Don Rowse on 01993 850297 to assist with the catering.


Sophie Legg

Vic Legg phoned to say that his mother, Sophie, died early this morning.  She had been ill for a couple of months, and he said that in the end it was a release.  He asked that I spread the word.

The funeral is on Thursday 14th at 1:30pm, at St Petroc's Church, Bodmin.  Family flowers only, but any donations in lieu to Athelstan House Care Home, Bodmin.

Lyn Murfin - 8.6.07

(Back at the begining of 1989, Vic interviewed Sophie about her life and family, which made a nice little article for MT, including a couple of sound clips.  As it was so long ago there are doubtless many of you who've not seen it - click here to do so now.  Ed.)

'Peerie' Willie Johnson

In the late afternoon of Tuesday 22 May 2007, Shetland lost a true musical legend with the quiet passing of 'Peerie' Willie Johnson at the age of 86.

Born in Yell, before moving to Lerwick, 'Peerie' Willie was our very own home-grown guitar genius, equally at home trading tunes, chords and licks in his 'local' with anyone who cared (or dared) to join in, or modestly, even reluctantly, sharing the stage with some great musical names, occasionally in front of massive TV or radio audiences.

An illustration of his modesty can be left to Willie himself.  When world-renowned guitarist Martin Taylor invited Willie to the front of the stage to offer his own personal debt of gratitude during a concert in Lerwick, Willie was seen to whisper something in Martin's ear by way of a reply.  "That was a great moment, what did he say to you", I asked Martin after the concert.  Martin laughed and shook his head.  He told me "Never mind a yon nonsense boy, is du going to da Lounge for a tune when dis is all ower?"  That was Willie for you in a nutshell.

(Excerpted from Davie Gardner's obituary in The Shetland News at: www.shetland-news.co.uk/opinion/Peerie%20Willie%20-%20a%20musical%20giant.htm )

Davie Gardner - 25.5.07

John L MacDonald

The Cape Breton violinist John L MacDonald passed away on April 12, 2007 in Whitby, Ontario.  His autobiography can be found in our articles and his music can be heard on Rounder CD7051.

Mark Wilson - 9.5.07

Frank Purslow

Frank Purslow's brother Mike Chapman has just phoned me.  Frank was found dead at home this morning.  Apparently he had phoned for an ambulance, but they arrived too late.  You may already know he had a heart attack a week or so and had just come back home after a few days in hospital.

Reg Hall - 25.4.07

Frank was due to be awarded the EFDSS Gold Badge at the Beyond Marrow Bones event on Sunday 13th May, to coincide with the launch of the new edition of his book Marrow BonesThis event has now been CANCELLED.

Peta Webb - 26.4.07

Barry Callaghan

Barry's funeral will be held on Wednesday 25th April at 1.15 at Grenoside Crematorium, Sheffiled.  This will be followed by a celebration of his life to be held from 2.00 at Thundercliffe Grange, Rotherham.

We are conscious that so very many people loved Barry but are aware that the chapel only holds 120 people.  We would ask you to to consider whether you wish to attend the ceremony or could go directly to Thundercliffe.  We'd like you to dress in the way Barry would expect you to, something that would be fitting for a very colourful man!  Rather than flowers, we'd be grateful if you would make a donation in Barry's name to the English Folk Dance and Song Society.  For those of you who are musicians, please bring along your instruments to Thundercliffe.

Addresses for both the crematorium and Thundercliffe are as follows: Grenoside Crematorium, Sheffield S35 8RZ; Thundercliffe Grange, Grange Lane, Rotherham.  Grange Lane is the B6086 which passes under the M1 near J35

Johnny Adams - 22.4.07


I have just received the very sad news that Barry died of a heart attack on Tuesday 10th April, whilst playing for his local sword team at a festival in Majorca.

To all who knew him, Sheffield musician, collector and film maker Barry Callaghan was pivotal in the Sheffield music scene, endlessly enthusiastic and deeply knowledgable.

Prior to his trip to Majorca, he and Johnny Adams were engaged in finalising the details of his book and CD of English tunes compiled with the help of many of the musicians and bands on the scene.  He was very pleased with the selection of tunes and also with the selection of tracks on the companion CD that is to be released at the same time.  His pleasure was increased by the fact that it was a collaborative effort by us all.

The EFDSS book and CD, Hardcore English will make a fitting memorial to a man whose infectious enthusiasm for traditional music in general, and English traditional music in particular, was a tonic for everyone who was exposed to it.


I'm Barry's brother-in-law.  Just so you know, we - Barry, Linda and I along with Cathy Burke and her two daughters Rowan and Anna (pretty mean musicians all) were in Palma at the world Folkdance Festival - as the self styled Majorca (sic) Orchestra - playing for a group of dancers from the Northern Lights Dance School in Skipton.  I was with Linda when it happened.  We flew home yesterday and she's now in the safe hands of her and Barry's kids who will give all the support she needs.

A lovely man and a great ambassador for traditional music, dance and song.  Do get in touch if I can be of any further help.

Malcolm Woods - 17.4.07

Tony Wales

Sorry to be the he bearer of sad news.  I have just been informed by Tony's daughter that Tony Wales died yesterday.  He had been unwell for some time, and died of heart failure after surgery to remove a blocked bowel.

Among other things, Tony was a previous editor of English Dance and Song, a collector of song and stories (mainly from Sussex and Surrey), and the author of numerous books relating to the customs and traditions of Sussex.

Tony's funeral is this Friday, 23 March at 10.00, St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, Springfield Road. Horsham RH12 2PJ.  The church is between the Green Dragon and The Malt Shovel, about half a mile from the railway station.

There is an expectation from the family that there will some music and singing after the service in the Parish Hall.

Sean Goddard - 15.3.07

Packie McKeaney

I've just heard from Rosie Stewart to say that her father, Packie McKeaney, passed away this morning.  Packie can be heard singing Adieu to Lovely Garrison and Bonny Wood Green on the MT CD The Hardy Sons of Dan.

Rod Stradling - 24.2.07

Nigel Hudleston

I am sorry to inform you all that Nigel Hudleston passed away this morning.  In his nineties, he had been ill for some time.  Daphne, his housekeeper, rang this morning at 9:15 to tell me that he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Funeral service will take place at St Wilfred's church, South Stainley, Monday Dec 11th at 2 p.m. followed by internment in the churchyard.  No flowers please.  Donations in memory of Nigel will be received at the service for The English Folk Dance and Song Society.  Enquiries to W Bowers, Harrogate 01423 770258.

Steve Gardham - 8.12.06

Michael Hicks

It was with sadness and surprise that I learned of the death, some three weeks ago, of Michael Hicks of Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh.  Along with his wife, Jenny, both will be remembered as folk club organisers in England from the late '60s to early '80s, before their moving to the north of Ireland.

Moving into Jenny's mother's house and farm, they quickly established themselves as respected stalwarts of the local community - particularly its cultural aspects.  MT readers will recall, from the booklet notes to The Hardy Sons of Dan double CDs, Keith Summers' statement: 'I have to stress now - without Michael and Jenny's input and assistance for my project, none of these recordings would ever have been made'.

It was typical of the man that, when I was discussing the Hardy Sons project with Mike - and the need for haste in getting it finished while Keith was still with us - he made no mention of the fact that he was, like Keith, also struggling with cancer.  Sadly, that struggle is now over.

I understand that hundreds came to his funeral, and only wish that Danny and I had known about it - we would certainly have wished to pay our last respects.  The task of compiling and releasing the companion volume to The Hardy Sons of Dan, and certainly its booklet, will be all the harder now that two of the main protagonists are no longer with us.

Rod Stradling - 23.11.06

Doug Fowell, 2000. Photo by Doc Rowe

Doug Fowell

I awoke to sad news.  Doug Fowell, long time horn dancer, musician and leader of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers in Staffordshire died around 1.00 a.m. this morning (19.11.06).  Although not entirely well, he was out playing the melodeon for the dancers this year in September, his 71st Horn Dance Day.  Derek Schofield wrote a fine piece in EDS Winter 2005 on Doug’s 70th outing.

A lovely man who I’ll miss greatly.  My own heartfelt sympathy goes to the family as does, I’m sure, kind thoughts from many of your readers and friends of the Horn Dancers.

Just heard last night funeral arrangements as follows: Tues 28th Nov at Abbots Bromley Church 1.15.  2.30 at Stafford Crematorium for those who wish to join the family, then after at "The Crown" in Abbots Bromley.  The family are keen that as many people as possible get to hear about it.

Doc Rowe - 25.11.06

Henry Townsend

Henry Townsend, who died on 24th September 2006, was one of the last survivors of those who recorded traditional downhome blues in the pre-war era, his recording career stretching back to 1929.  He was also, almost certainly, the last remaining artist who recorded for the great Paramount label, which was responsible for such an important legacy of outstanding blues records; in fact, he died during a trip to the former headquarters of the company, in Grafton, Wisconsin, to headline a festival in its honour.  Townsend was born in Mississippi on 27th October 1909, but lived most of his life in St Louis.  He recorded, playing guitar or piano, in his own right or as an accompanist, in every decade from the 1920s onwards, from 78s for Columbia, Paramount and Victor to LPs and CDs for labels like Bluesville and Nighthawk.

Ray Templeton - 10.10.06

Etta Baker

Another of the last direct links with the history of American traditional music is severed with the death of Etta Baker on 23rd September 2006.  Born in North Carolina in 1913, she first came to wider notice through her tracks on a 1956 album of field recordings Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians, where she played fingerpicked guitar instrumental versions of songs like John Henry and Bully Of The Town, which were to prove influential on the emerging guitar styles of the folk revival.  Only after her retirement from work, nearly twenty years later, did she get an opportunity to take her music out more to concerts and festivals, and it was to be many more years before she recorded an album under her own name, for Rounder (One Dime Blues, 1991); she subsequently recorded further albums for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, including one with her sister Cora Phillips, and one with Taj Mahal.  Her style mixed elements of the Piedmont blues with strong influences from the white traditions of her home area.

Ray Templeton - 10.10.06

John Campbell. Photo by Doc Rowe

John Campbell

John Campbell - storyteller, singer, lilter, trump player and really great man, died at 7:15am this morning.

The funeral will take place tomorrow in Mullaghbawn.  Removal from the house at 11.45am to arrive at the church at 12.00 noon.  Burial immediately after in the adjoining cemetery.

Jerry O'Reilly - 3.10.06

Geoff Harden

It is with much sadness that I inform you that my cousin, Geoff Harden, died yesterday (4th September) following a long struggle against cancer.  Geoff was an experienced organiser of music events and had worked with Belfast Festival, Belfast Harpers' Bicentenary '94.  In addition he was a freelance writer on folk, jazz and blues and had a regular column in the Belfast Newsletter.  Before he moved to Belfast he ran a very successful folk club (the Yew Tree) in Chatham in the late '60s and early '70s.

The funeral is being held tomorrow in Belfast.

Peter Ingram - 5.9.06

Mícheál Ó Domhnaill

The singer and guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, who died suddenly at his Dublin flat on 9th July, had an illustrious career in Irish music which spanned almost forty of his 54 years.

Geoff Wallis - 16.8.06

Anne Reid

Seems no-one has mentioned to you that Anne Reid died at the end of June.  Widow of Tam Reid, Anne took on the Cullerlie Festival in Aberdeenshire after Tam's death.  She was also a good singer herself.  A chronic asthma sufferer, she died after a sudden attack.

I understand that Cullerlie Festival, due to be held in late July, has been cancelled.

Derek Schofield - 13.7.06


Anne Reid of Cullerlie Farm Park, Echt, Aberdeenshire, died on 25 June 2006.  She was a fine traditional singer and widow of the late 'Tam' Reid, 'the Bothy Ballad King' (d. 2003).

Her legacy is great.  Some highlights are:

We will all miss her.

Ian Russell - 18.7.06

Mícheál Ó Domhnaill

I have been told that Mícheál Ó Domhnaill has died at his home in Dublin on Saturday 8th July 2006.  He was a pivotal figure in the development of the modern approach to traditional Irish music through his work with Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, and duet recordings with Paddy Glackin and Kevin Burke.  An obituary can be found here.

Ken Ricketts - 10.7.06

Peter Kennedy

I regret to inform you that Peter Kennedy died yesterday, Saturday 10th June, at the Sue Ryder Home, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, after a long illness.

Given the small size of the Cemetery facilities, the Kennedy family has requested that funeral attendance is restricted to family members and a few close friends, so unless you're specifically invited you won't be expected to turn up.  There will be some sort of event in due course to commemorate his life's work.

Gwilym Davies -13.6.06

Maggie Murphy

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of that splendid singer, Maggie Murphy, of Tempo, Co Fermanagh, who died last week.  An obituary can be found here.


Proinsías Ó Maonaigh

The fiddler Proinsías Ó Maonaigh (known to many as Francie Mooney) died at his home in Gweedore, County Donegal on Tuesday, 28th March, after a long illness.  He took up the fiddle at a young age, inspired by his mother Rose, an accomplished concertina and melodeon player, from whom he acquired much of his distinctly local repertoire.  By his teens Francie had become an accomplished player and was a regular feature at céilí dances in the Gweedore area.  After studying to become a teacher, he was first employed at Ramelton before taking up a post in Gweedore and soon began running classes in fiddle and whistle tuition.  Over the subsequent fifty years Francie taught a huge number of young Donegal musicians, including, not least, his own daughter Mairéad and grandson Ciarán, thus ensuring the endurance of the county's fiddle tradition.

He formed a band of his own, called Ceoltóirí Altan (named after the lough which sits beneath Errigal Mountain) and the name would be passed on to his daughter Mairéad's own hugely successful band.  Apart from music, Francie was a notable footballer and actor (in his seventies he regularly appeared as the local postman in a TG4 soap opera), but the focal points of his life were always his family and music.  He and his wife Kitty were always extremely proud of the achievements of their children (in addition to Mairéad, Gearóid is a notable guitarist and Anna a superb singer who was once a member of Macalla) and overjoyed by Ciarán's achievement in being named TG4's Young Musician of the Year in 2003 - the whole family made a notable on-stage appearance at the awards ceremony concert.  He was also a mine of information about local musical traditions and ever helpful in passing on his knowledge and experiences gleaned from playing with the likes of John Doherty and Danny O'Donnell.

For many visitors to Gweedore, however, it was the Monday night session at Hugh Gallagher's pub in Bunbeg which will forever be associated with Francie.  His chair was always set on the righthand edge of the tables reserved for musicians, as viewed from the bar, and Gearóid would be sat down opposite him.  As the session leader, he usually set the agenda for the first few tunes, but was then always willing to allow others to take the lead on others.  However, if he didn't appreciate someone's rendition or selection, then once the 'interloper's' choice had ended, there'd be a nod to the right and across to Gearóid and a sudden dash into a set of highly elaborate and very rapid tunes - highlands and strathspeys, impossibly complex reels.  Such was never done from malice, but more to emphasize that this was a Donegal pub where Donegal tunes took precedence and Francie was always happy to talk to the newcomer afterwards.

Kitty and her children buried Francie at Magheragallon Cemetery yesterday.

Geoff Wallis - 31.3.06

Howard Evans

It is with great sadness that today (17/3/06) we received the news that Howard Evans has lost his long battle with cancer.  He died early this morning.

The Folk scene has lost the best trumpeter and brass arranger it has ever had.  The music world has lost a great friend, musician, negotiator (his MU day job) and all round good bloke.  Our deepest sympathy to his family.

Officials at the Musicians Union will publicise details of funeral and/or memorial if that is what Howard's family wishes.

Steve Heap - 18.3.06

Nibs Matthews

Nibs Matthews - photo by Doc Rowe It is with great sadness that I report the death this morning of Nibs Matthews, former Director of the EFDSS and Squire of the Morris Ring 1960-2.  Nibs had suffered from Parkinson’s for some years and died in hospital after a fall at home at the weekend.  He was 85.

The funeral arrangements are as follows:

Friday 24 March, 1pm at West London Crematorium, Kensal Green, Harrow Rd, W10 4RA.  The crematorium is to the west of the ‘circle’ in the middle of the cemetery.  Afterwards in the WIV pub (formerly known as the William IV) on the Harrow Road within walking distance for ‘a drink on Nibs’.

Nearest station: Kensal Green Station - on the Bakerloo Line and the Euston/Watford Line.  Car Parking within the Crematorium Grounds.  No flowers by request.  It is suggested that morris kit should not be worn.

Donations to ‘The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library’ (c/o Malcolm Taylor, EFDSS, 2 Regents Park Rd London NW1 7AY)

Derek Schofield - 11.3.06

Marie MacLellan and John Neil MacLean

Marie MacLellan, the well-known Cape Breton pianist, died in Sydney on February 10 of cancer.  The daughter of one of the island's most celebrated violinists, Big Ronald MacLellan, Marie played piano on many of the great Celtic LPs of the 1950s and '60s.  She is particularly remembered for the wonderful discs she made with her brother Donald and sister Theresa, both individually and as the MacLellan Trio.  Her warm good nature will be greatly missed.

Another old style Cape Breton fiddler, the under-recorded John Neil MacLean, passed away in January.

Mark Wilson - 23.2.06
Pittsburgh PA

Charles Wolfe

With sadness I wish to inform you that we lost Charles Wolfe tonight.  Charles passed away at MTMC at approximately 9:00 pm, after an extended battle with diabetes and attendant complications, with his wife, Mary Dean, and his daughters Stacey and Cindy and Cindy's husband Mark at his side.

Charles was a gentle giant, a prolific scholar and beloved colleague whose presence in the English Department and in the University gave new and unique meaning to the term 'professor'.  Certainly with his prolific productivity, including nineteen scholarly books (with others still in the offing) and hundreds of articles on music, folklore, and popular culture, Charles could have gone to any institution in the land, but his feet were deep in the Tennessee soil.  He was Missouri born and bred - and Blue Raider to the core, having joined MTSU in 1970, where he remained until his retirement just this past year.

Though nationally and internationally known for his accomplishments, Charles never ventured far from heart and home, from family and friends.  Unpretentious, dedicated, mentor to countless students and friend to all who knew him, Charles has left an indelible imprint.  He will be missed by those who did not know him personally, and even so much more by those who did.

John McDaniel - 9.2.06
Dean, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro TN.

Tony Harvey

We're very sad to report the death on Sunday 15th January 2006 of Tony Harvey, singer and gentleman, of Tannington, Suffolk.  Tony was a well-known figure on the traditional song scene, and part of the Old Hat Concert Party for the last twenty years.  When we founded the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust in 2000, there was no more natural person to ask to be our patron than Tony.

In late 2005 Tony became extremely ill and was in hospital for a long spell, but before Christmas he had appeared to be making a good recovery, and had been out and about just the day before he died.  His death came as all the more of a shock because of this.

The funeral is to be held in Tannington on Tuesday 31st January, and it is to be expected that many more will turn up than will be able to fit in the church.

Katie Howson - 28.1.06
East Anglian Traditional Music Trust

Gill Cook

Gillian Cook, who for many years ran Collet's Record Shop's folk department, died on Monday 16th January, 2006.

Obituary to be published in The Independent written by Ken Hunt.  I don't know about funeral arrangements.

Hans Fried - 19.1.06

Pat Elliott dies

Further to our message that Pat Elliott was terminally ill with cancer - I'm sorry to tell you that she died earlier today.

The funeral is to be at Sunderland Crematorium, on Tuesday (17th), at 2:30, afterwards at The Buffs, Birtley.


Keith Summers (pictured with the biggest fish he ever caught: a 17½ pound skate.  Photo by John Howson, I think) off Felixstowe, 1997.Keith Summers dies

An Obituary, by Paul Marsh, is now online in these pages.

I am particularly sorry to have to announce the death, earlier this morning (30.3.04), of my friend and co-editor, Keith Summers.  Many of you will have known that Keith has been ill for several years; fewer, I think, will know that he was diagnosed with cancer some 18 months ago.

Keith will be remembered for the wonderful work he did collecting songs in East Anglia and Fermanagh, and as the founding editor of the Musical Traditions Magazine.  Southend United Football Club have also lost their number one fan.

Those readers who have bought, or seen the booklet notes to The Hardy Sons of Dan, may have noted the unusually large number of names in the Credits section; this was because there was an all-out effort to get the CDs published while Keith was alive to see them.  My thanks to all concerned that the job was accomplished with a couple of weeks to spare - and Keith was absolutely delighted with the result.

The cremation will be on Thursday 8th April at 11.40 a.m at Sutton Road Crematorium, Southend - after which you are invited to adjourn to The Spreadeagle, Victoria Avenue, Southend (near the football ground) (this venue tbc).

Keith never mentioned a religious service but one involving music.  We would like friends to pay tribute in the form of short speeches or musical contributions, or by suggesting relevant CD tracks to be played.  John Bath has already suggested Abide with Me from the football fraternity.  Please send suggestions to Peta and Ken (Petawebken@aol.com) so that we can get them into some sort of order.

Keith expressed a wish for his football friends and music friends "to get together for a good piss-up".  No doubt we can all manage that!

Peta Webb, Ken Hall and Rod Stradling - 2.4.04

There is now a Keith Summers Memorial page, with a link on the Home Page, for memories, stories, appreciations and comments from people who knew the man who started Musical Traditions.  Please feel free to e-mail me your own contribution.  Photos welcome - Ed.


Rod Stradling - e-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk  Tel: 01453 759475
snail-mail: 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK

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