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Mike Bosworth

Mike Bosworth - Biography

Mike Bosworth - Projects in Progress

Mike was born in Birmingham in 1948 and from an early age was encouraged to sing at home, in school and church choir. His first encounter with folk music was at junior school. In the mid 60’s he became a regular visitor to folk clubs in his native Birmingham. He started to sing, doing floor spots in the clubs in the city, and the surrounding area. Friday nights back in the 60’s would see Mike at the Birmingham Arms Folk Song Club, but when the Birmingham Arms changed hands the club found a new venue across the road in The Drover's Arms. With the change of venue, change of name of the club and Mike became a resident along with a few people you may know, Pete and Chris Coe, Mick Bramich and a couple you may not, Ron Wheeler and Les Ivall.

Due to a change of job and move abroad Mike left the folk scene in the early 70’s, only returning on odd occasions over the next 20 years.

In 1992 he returned to live in his wife’s native Cornwall. With ex Drover's resident Mick Bramich he formed Parsons Pleasure, a band using the Baring-Gould manuscripts for material. The band gigged for a couple of years, played at the Sidmouth Folk Festival then disbanded.

In 2003 Mike started gigging again locally in Cornwall and was at the Plymouth folk Festival. His most rewarding gig was at The Eden Project where they enjoyed it so much they booked him back for another gig in 2004.

Mike works at The Eden Project, which is where he got the inspiration to sing again. He is a distance-learning student with Exeter University on a Cornish Studies Degree Course, which is giving him immense background information on understanding the songs of his adopted home of Cornwall.

This web site is my humble celebration of the folk songs collected by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) in his native Devon and neighbouring Cornwall between 1888-1903. The suggestion for the site comes from Richard Douglas-Green, with whom I have spent many hours recording songs in concert performances or at my home in East Crinnis, Cornwall. Working with Richard, who is a gifted sound engineer, has given me the opportunity to not only work on recording some of Sabine's collection but to have been recorded by someone who, like myself, has a great love of our English Folk songs.

Someone else who can take responsibility is my friend and fellow member of the now disbanded group 'Parsons Pleasure', Bob Mann, a Devon Folklorist who some years ago suggested to me that a singer of the songs would perhaps be the best person to write about Sabine's exploits of song collecting. As Bob at the time pointed out, no one had written in great length about the project Sabine thought was the most important of his life. So after some years researching the stories and of course the songs, this is my story of the Rev. song collector who Bob Mann refers to as "A Most Remarkable Devonian", who was a pioneer in the field of Folk Song collecting.

As a singer it goes without saying that I look for a song that tells a story be it of work, play, love, war, good or bad times, sexual encounter, the seasons of the year or just a topic of the day, be it the exploits of a great sea battle or whatever took a writers thoughts to pen and paper. Over the years the social process has given us songs to rejoice and times to remember, these are the songs of the people 'Folk Songs'. To me these songs, since an early age (8), have given more pleasure than any thrown up by tin pan alley of the 'Pop' variety. In performance the folk singer can take his/her audience through times past on a journey that tells stories through song that the pop singer has not yet discovered.

Projects in Progress
As well as sifting through Songs of the West looking for new songs, other sources available have thrown up some interesting ideas.

"The Fowey River Singers"
Talking to Martin Graebe (who is an authoritative researcher into the Baring-Gould Manuscripts) at the Cheltenham Folk Festival last year about songs from Fowey has led me to more songs and a wider area to research. Martin sent me titles of some 20 songs, which I am currently researching. I am now looking at an area that stretches from Bodmin Moor to Liskeard, down the Fowey River to Golant, Fowey itself and west along the coast to the old Port of Charlestown.

This is an exciting project for me and there are some songs I hope to perform in the not to distant future.

Cornish Songs
Having spent a considerable amount of time researching songs from the Baring-Gould collection, the past year has seen me concentrating on songs he found that originated in Cornwall.
As well as the Baring-Gould collection I have been working on songs from other Cornish collectors who were active long after the vicar of Lewtrenchard travelled the lanes of Cornwall in his dog cart.

Adding the songs from other sources to those of Baring-Gould's has led me onto another research path regarding songs that appear to be solely from Cornwall. The Folk website Wovenwheatwhispers will soon be publishing an article on my idea that there are songs 'Unique to Cornwall'. This interest in Cornish songs has spawned the planning of a book of 20 Cornish songs which I hope to produce late this summer. In the autumn I plan to do gigs to promote the song book and hopefully the songs may get sung again.

There are already dates booked in October for venues in Cornwall but I would like to do gigs with the songs in Devon. So if you would like an evening of Cornish songs and the odd story please email for further information,

"Travel the Country Round"
At a carol workshop in October 2001 I met Irene Shettle from Guildford. I met her again at another Folk South West organised workshop at Bath in April 2002. From these two meetings came an idea for the two of us to work together. Irene is researching the Lucy Broadwood collection and as Lucy was in communication with Sabine it seemed a good idea to fuse the two. We now have ‘Travel the Country Round’, a concert of songs and stories from the two collections performed by us both. As our independent research continues, our joint efforts in concerts will always be fresh.

By Chance it Was
- Mike Bosworth's first CD recorded at The Eden Project , Cornwall and accompanied by John Kirkpatrick

This CD is a mixture of songs from The Rev Sabine Baring-Gould collection. Most of the songs are from Songs of the West (S.O.T.W.) and other sources associated with Sabine. Some of the songs I have been singing since the 1960's, the rest are quite recent additions to my repertoire.

For more information - visit Mike's website


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