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Devon Folk Activities

Last updated on 1 July, 2021

From Roy Wilcocks

I have for sale over 200 vinyl folk music albums from the 1970’s- 80’s which may be of interest to your readers.

Rather than sell to dealers, I would much prefer for them to go to someone who appreciates the genre and enjoys the music.
Most were collected by me in folk clubs and many are signed, they hold cherished memories for me but it is time for someone else to take care of them.
Apart from collectors, I think they are a wonderful source of new (old) material for newcomers to folk music to learn a different song or tune for their repertoire.

Many are by famous names, but there are also semi-pro artistes who were holding down a day job at the time and produced excellent music in the clubs.
Sadly, many are no longer with us and even the labels like Topic have also gone, so my collection is now quite rare.
I have researched the current retail prices of each album on websites and I am offering a huge discount on the dealers RRP’ in the hope that this will attract folk music enthusiasts.

Simply contact roymwilcock@outlook.com and I will forward an Excel spreadsheet with the current list of albums and their prices – just mention ‘Devon’ to get the discount.


OBITUARY
DAVID MARK ROBINS
13TH June 1943 – 30th March 2021

I first saw David in 1963 in ‘The Left Bank’, a trendy coffee bar above an equally trendy record shop, in Paris Street Exeter.  I wondered in on a Friday evening to find a crowd of people, some with Guitars, who were attempting to run a folk evening.  David was one of them.
He was born in Crediton, to Barbara and Dennis and later moved to Exeter living first in Cowley Bridge Road and then to Whitestone Cross, on the outskirts of Exeter.  He was the middle of three children, with elder sister Susan who died a couple of years ago and Gaynor who now lives in Cumbria.
He was educated at Exeter School where he met the late Tony Rose.  He became a member of the combined cadet force, was one of the first participants in Dartmoor’s ‘Ten Tors Expedition’ and also achieved the Queens Scout award.  He left Exeter to take up a Teacher training place at Goldsmith College, London but returned after one year.
Like many others he became interested in Skiffle in the 1950’s, taught himself to play guitar and progressed to folk.  In 1964 he was a cofounder of the Exeter Folk Song Club at The Jolly Porter St David’s and was a major driver in the move to it becoming one of the earliest ‘Traditional only’ clubs in the country a few years later.  He teamed up with the late Ken Penny as unaccompanied duo ‘The Journeymen’, which soon became a trio with the addition of Ged Higson.  They quickly established a name for themselves in the Westcountry and featured on Westward television’s ‘Sing Inn’, a folk programme hosted by Cyril Tawney.
During this time David worked for the EFDSS under the regional Manager Bill Rutter and was involved in staging the Sidmouth Folk Festival and hosting events at the newly established Halsway Manor in Somerset.  I recall one such event where we visited Ruth Tongue at her home in Crowcombe.
In 1966 he married his first wife, Janet Arscott, and they had two children, Simon and Jenni.  Sadly, they divorced a few years later.  In 1972 he married Barbara and together they had two children, Rachael and Toby.

David left the EFDSS and became a delivery driver for Boots Farm sales Ltd.  Visiting folk artists would often do Barnstaple on Monday, Exeter on Tuesday and Plymouth on Wednesday and David would provide accommodation and then take them on a tour of Devon in his delivery Lorry during the day and we would drive them to that night’s venue.
He transferred to Yeovil in 1972 and once again became a leading figure in the local folk scene.  However, not long after this he moved to Driffield in Yorkshire and became equally involved in the Beverley folk scene.
He then decided on a complete change of career, moved away from Driffield  and took up a post as an assistant manager of a turkey farm, eventually becoming manager at Bradesburton and later worked on a development and research farm near Thirsk.  Folk music took a back seat at this time and he became involved with Bridlington Road Runners, which at one stage involved taking part in a relay run from Bridlington to Bad Salzufen in Germany.  With Barbara he also completed many long-distance walks.
Sadly, in 2003 he suffered a debilitating stroke.  He worked in a voluntary capacity for the local tourist board for a while following his recovery but never regained his singing ability.
David’s interest in folk music was rekindled around 2008 and he became a regular attender at Whitby and other festivals.  Following a 50th anniversary reunion weekend at Halsway Manor, and subsequent annual traditional song weekends at that venue David once again started singing, and the look of joy and achievement on his face when he once again led a gathering in song will live with me for the rest of my life.
He died suddenly and peacefully on 30th March 2021 at The James Cook Hospital, Thirsk, following a heart attack.

Bill Crawford
April 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.
£10.00
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.