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Devon Folk Activities

Last updated on 31 January, 2021

Steve Thomason

It is with great sadness that I received news of the death of Steve Thomason,  who passed away in Chesterfield Hospital in  mid-October, only a few  weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.  For many years Steve and  his wife,Teresa,  lived in Pennsylvania in Exeter, and he was a well-respected member of the folk club circuit in the area for his singing and song-writing. Steve was very modest about his talents - as his feature in What's Afoot 109, (Winter 2015 page 42 Download PDF file) shows but several of his songs are being performed by other singers. As far as I am aware they have not been published in a book, though most are available here on Soundcloud. Steve only  moved back to his roots in North Derbyshire within the last two years but kept in touch with occasional visits to Devon and, more recently, in virtual zoom singaround sessions. Steve will be sadly missed on the folk scene but his songs will live on.
                                                                                                  Colin Andrews

Remembering David Mashford (Musician)
(02.09.50 - 09.10.20.)

Leader of Silver and Gold Country Dance band for 40 years, Dave will be very much missed by his many friends and associates, some of whom he has known since his Cornish Youth Team days in the 1960's.

Dave lived in Millbrook, on the Cornish side of the Devon/Cornwall border, all his life, apart from a short spell in Grenada in his teens. However, once Silver and Gold became popular he probably spent the majority of his time playing on the Devon side of the border. He played for social folk dance events (often fund raisers and family celebrations), Folk Dance Club dances, Folk Festivals at home and abroad and for the Devon based display team ISCA in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Throughout he has played by himself or within other groupings of musicians, (occasionally on the piano) and even recently continued to be in demand to provide his dependable, lively music for dancers whenever asked; sometimes by his friends from his youth team days who are now callers themselves!

Devon Folk event - 2020 Music Workshop
Saturday 28 March 2020 Postponed to the autumn
Community Hall, Primary School, Lawn Drive, Chudleigh TQ13 0LS
9.30 - 1.00pm followed by a Tea Dance 2.00 – 5.30 p.m.
Theme: Modern Playford-style Dances
Booking Forms from Mary Marker telephone 01626 854141
Tea Dance - Dance to the Workshop Big Band
Modern Playford-style Dances - Caller: Jean Foster
2.00 – 5.30 p.m.
£5.00 on the door
Tea and Cake

Zesty Playford - a letter from June Backway and printed in What's Afoot Edition 111

"In April I went to Halsway Manor for the weekend of Playford dancing.   This event was formerly the Devon Playford weekend, organised by the then Devon County Club, and up to this year it was well attended by members from our old club.   Sadly this year only four of us were there, following last year's weekend when some were less than happy with the differences we experienced. 

This was due to some changes in style, and certainly to the faster pace of the music, which did not go down well with everyone.  The faster pace does not allow for the graceful movements of these dances, and the more experienced dancers found it a little more tiring, thus less pleasurable.  The reason for changes is the claim that research had been done, and this was how it should be.  Did not Cecil Sharp do research ?

During this latest weekend the expression "Zesty Playford" was mentioned - which some of us had never heard before.  It seems to follow events such as "The Playford Liberation Front"  which advised experienced dancers to go with open minds...  and we are told, is intended to attract younger people to Playford dancing.  Personally I have my doubts, as speeding up the music will make no difference.  Young people are likely to do these dances only when they are taught in the right way and included in general folk dancing.  Many of us learned them in our youth, when the name Playford meant very little, if it was mentioned at all.  Unfortunately Playford dancing seems to have a "fuddy-duddy" image - so wrong.

Turning these dances into the romps seen at other events, will spoil them and turn older people away after having kept them alive for many years. I cannot help thinking Margaret Grant could be spinning in her grave! 

There is a mixture of age groups at many Playford events, and the newcomers benefit from the help from experienced dancers.  Many come to Playford dancing later in life, as somehow it is discovered by those who are newly retired.  Better late than never.

Cool Folk - Devon's Folk Arts page for the new mag for younger folk lovers in Devon. Know anything cool going on? Share it here. Thomas and Charlie White are taking over Cool Folk. Go to Cool Folk for more information or email Thomas

Cool Folk is the facebook presence for Devon Folk's Cool Folk magazine - a forum of special interest to younger people interest in all aspects of folk in Devon - projects, clubs, dance, music, song, sessions, artists, festivals, downloads etc etc. Its YOUR page - please like us and share cool stuff which is going on in Devon.

Devon Folk Award 2013 presented to Patricia Reid by Anne Gill, chairman of Devon Folk on Saturday 26th July 2014 during the afternoon dance at Teign Playford, Rydon Hall, Kingsteignton.

Patricia received the award in recognition and appreciation of her contribution to Folk in Devon over many years.

Patricia has been very active in promoting folk dancing in Devon, both for young people by working in schools and with Brownies in the Newton Abbot, Exeter and Exmouth areas, and also for adults. For many years Patricia organised both the Devon Playford Weekend held at Halsway Manor, and the Dartington Weekend held at Dartington Hall.
As well as visiting schools, Patricia organised an Education Day of Dance,   Music and Song held in 2002 for 10 to 11 year olds, and she was also instrumental in organising the visit of NYFTE in 2009 to Newton Abbot.  She also worked with children in Teignmouth primary schools teaching folk dancing and organised performances during Teignmouth Folk Festival. 
As Publicity Officer for Devon Folk, Patricia worked tirelessly to bring folk activities to the attention of the general public---through the press and through radio. Patricia also promoted the work of Devon Folk-in particular the Soundbeam appeal.

Devon Folk AGM 2013
The President of Devon Folk Terry Underhill presented Colin Andrews with a specially commissioned tankard made by Harry Juniper to mark the "100th" publication of the Devon Folk magazine What's Afoot.  Colin was thanked for all his dedication and hard work as Editor.  A Ceildh planned to mark this milestone in October last year had to be cancelled because of bad weather so the presentation was made at the Devon Folk A.G.M. on the 13th April 2013.
Go to Gallery page Devon Folk to see more pictures

Devon Folk Award 2012
The award was presented to Paul Wilson and Marilyn Tucker of "Wren" on Friday 26 Ocotber by Anne Gill and Terry Underhill

In 1983 Paul Wilson and Marilyn Tucker created the organisation now known as Wren Music, with the vision of taking the people’s music to the people of Devon.   Since then every year has seen major new projects, which have brought communities, large and small, together and they have touched the lives of tens of thousands of people.

There are a few strands that have run though their work during those years.   Their links with Newfoundland go back to the earliest days of the organisation, but they have now taken their music to many other countries.     Also they have made the collection of Devonshire song collector, Sabine Baring-Gould, a basis for many projects over the years.

Wren  has  grown  and  its  achievements  are  a  team  effort  drawing  on  the  expertise  of several musicians and other staff.   However,  it is the combination of Paul’s musical talent and creativity  combined  with  Marilyn’s  practical  business  skills  and  resilience that  have directed and ensured the success of the organisation, even when the going got tough.
It is those qualities that we recognise today by the presentation of the Devon Folk Award for 2012 to Paul Wilson and Marilyn Tucker – the visionary founders of Wren Music.