My interest in folk music was first awakened at school listening to Blues and Country singers from the US when the American folk revival hit Britain in the 1960’s. The roots, at least of the white music, were soon apparent when I had the chance to see live English traditional singers and revivalists who were doing the folk clubs and by the 70’s I’d taken to having a go at performing myself. Throughout that decade, living in the East Midlands, I developed my repertoire of English folk songs and, as a singer and guitarist, performed both solo and with the Nottingham based group Notts Alliance (still going strong!), at the same time starting to play fiddle.
In the 1980’s, having moved to Wales, I concentrated more on playing dance music and was a member of the Mid Wales based ceilidh band Crabapple for some 20 years. In the 1990’s I was introduced to French music through a dedicated group of dancers in the Newtown area and after playing informally with different musicians, met Annette and Geoff about 10 years ago and we began sharing our material and working on our own repertoire – Kantref grew from there.
I still have that fascination for my early influences, particularly what happened to British song and dance music when it went to the New World, how it was reinterpreted and what still remains of the way it might have been performed at the time of emigration. I now play old time fiddle and banjo for the Appalachian Step Dance side, Raise the Dust and I also keep my hand in playing British music for ceilidhs with the band Stray Away.
I’m also a trustee of the Mid Wales based charity TASC, which seeks to encourage and facilitate the performance of folk music through community involvement.
Folk music from every corner of the world continues to fascinate and I’m constantly surprised at the innovative and downright weird things that ordinary people do musically when isolated from commercial influence and what may be considered right or wrong within concert hall convention, making music that’s part of their character and culture, invariably idiosyncratic, often beautiful and sometimes unnerving – long may it continue.