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83f


‘The Everlasting Circle’ – traditional performers (and a few others) sing and chat on the Sunday morning. 1) Jeannie Robertson, 2) Fred Jordan, 3) Packie Byrne, 4) Felix Doran, 5) Tomás Ó Canainn, 6) Ann Briggs, 7) Alec Stewart, 8) Jimmy MacBeath, 9) Leslie Howarth, 10) John Dunkerley, 11) Zena Stewart, 12) Flora MacNeil, 13) Isabel Sutherland, 14) Belle Stewart, 15) Michael Gorman, 16) Margaret Barry.


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n London, we felt that we were at the hub of the folk club universe, but gradually news trickled through from outposts of empire. Stan Crowther was active in Rother- ham, Harry Boardman and others were running a club in Manchester, Alex Eaton was busy in the Topic Club (named after the record label) in Bradford. In Oxford there was the university’s Heritage Society and at Cambridge, Stan Kelly and Rory McEwen were among those who were building the St. Lawrence Society (called for the patron saint of folk music). Out- side the university, Kelly had a skiffle club where (among others) I and later Gillian Cook, now of Collets Folk Record Shop, played from time to time. Meanwhile, back in the metropolis, Bruce Dunnet and Douglas Moncrief had started a club called Folksong Unlimited, which provided a platform for Stan Kelly, Robin Hall, Isabel Sutherland and a relatively unknown Irishman called Dominic Behan.


I sometimes wonder if we appreciated our folk music more when clubs were rarer. But it’s an idle speculation. Before long, there were clubs in Newcastle and Nottingham, Surbiton and Swindon, Ply- mouth and Putney… the magazine Sing had brought out three club directories but, when the number of clubs grew to more than two hundred, Sing gave up gracefully and the EFDSS Folk Service took


up the job of providing a directory. Despite the increased activity on the scene and the more efficient communications lines, it’s anybody’s guess just how many clubs there are now, but many of the peo- ple I’ve mentioned above are still singing and playing folk music in them.


By August, the dust had settled and Hugh Rippon wrote a celebratory Editorial in English Dance & Song magazine, titled The Day We Went To Keele.


he first Keele Folk Festival was an historic occasion. Organised by the Society at just the right time, it followed a series of closely connected moves in the right direction, starting with the Royal Festival Hall Concert, the setting-up of the Folk Service, the Folk Directory, the Folk Classic series of records, the Marrowbones book, the opening of Halsway Manor, the new look to this magazine, etc. There are tremendous stirrings in the world of ‘folk’ and although it has appeared to be main- ly song this year, dance will inevitably become involved.


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One was aware of an electric spirit among the 550 or so residents at the Festi- val, an excitement in the air. There was not only the serious academic aspect of the event on the one hand, but also the meet- ing of the Tradition and the Revival for the


first time and, most important of all, the feeling of participation by everyone there in the music on the other. In fact people had so much music in them that they spent till the early hours of both mornings get- ting it out of their systems, and it finished on the Sunday afternoon with an upsurge of spontaneous jigging around to the dance music.


By far the largest part of those there, were so, because folk music has come to mean so much in their lives in its own right and not because it is a vehicle for political or religious protest. Thus the Dylan/Dono- van/Pop Folk Boom is largely irrelevant to the real folk music revival which involves a rapidly growing number of quite ordinary people, young and old, from all walks of life, who feel that the real ‘Folk Idiom’ is something for them and who want to feel their part in the pattern of human continu- ity. Indeed, no one who seriously claims to be interested in the ‘Folk Idiom’ can afford to ignore any future Festival of this kind.


The Society has gained much with this Festival and now seems to have arrived at a watershed – the main battle with the public is over, leaving only many, admit- tedly difficult, details to work out. The crucial thing is that the Society should recognise what it achieved at Keele and not allow narrow-mindedness to mar future progress.


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