Fifty Years of Folk!

The CVFolk Treasury

Here’s an article by Pete Clemons, published in the Coventry Telegraph in 2013 and recalling 50 years of folk clubs in Coventry and surrounding areas.

Some of the info is now (inevitably) out of date but it offers a superb snapshot view of the history of folk clubs in Coventry since the folk revival first made its mark on the city.

The article also acknowledges a series of articles by Pete Willow published in Folks Magazine back in the 70s, offering an account of Fifteen Folkin’ Years from Issues 4 through to 7.

Click here to read the article

And a response…

Here’s a press cutting from the Coventry Evening Telegraph in 1971 by the late John Lake, and brought to light by Ron Shuttleworth, founder of the Coventry Mummers and profound influencer on the establishment of the Coventry folk scene in the 1960s.
Ron draws attention to one key factor the development of local folk clubs that arguably deserves greater credit in local folk history – the Coventry Folk Workshops I and II, which took place respectively in the Old Dyers Arms and Summerland Tavern, in the city’s Spon End area.
We will be inviting Ron to provide more information on the role of the Coventry Folk Workshops in creating a strong foundation to subsequent folk music, song and dance in the city – watch this space!

Transcript of John Lake’s article…

Workshop II gets behind scene.

We are now entering the era of the second Coventry Folk Workshop.

During the past decade, Coventry has produced many folk clubs. Workshops go much deeper than ordinary clubs – they provide a service to the folk movement as a whole by encouraging new singers and musicians, providing a platform for discussions and lectures and stimulating investigation of the origins and meanings of folk songs and customs.

The first Coventry Folk Workshop ran from 1966 to 1968. The venue, the Old Dyers Arms at Spon End, was the virtual centre of folk in Coventry during this period and many of the singers who new staff local clubs gained their first singing experience at the “Dyers.”

From Workshop I sprung such fixtures as The Village Pump Folk Dance and Song Club and Coventry Mummers.

Many people can run a folk club but it requires a very special talent for organisation and a certain amount of original thought to run such a workshop. The brains behind the Workshop I was Ron Shuttleworth.

Ron is one of the most distinctive singers in the district and has, as his speciality, chorus and drinking songs. He also has an extensive knowledge in folk in all its aspects and so under his guidance the first workshop fulfilled a great need at the time.

Not all the activities were of a serious nature and many times the “Dyers” has echoed with the voice of Ron Shuttleworth in such comic songs as “The Cuckoo’s Nest”, “The Screw Song” and “The Old Dun Cow.”

The second folk workshop was initiated in Autumn, 1970 and meets every Friday evening at the Summerland Tavern and so, by coincidence, folk studies have returned to Spon End.

The prime mover behind this latest venture is Ken Wolfenden, a product of the Workshop I.

Ken is a fine singer of traditional ballads which he performs with sensitivity and feeling.

He always manages to leave his imprint on a song and this illustrated by his rendition of such ballads as “Creeping Jane”, “Reynardine” and “The Manchester Angel.” The latter is an example of Ken’s extensive repertoire of his native Lancashire songs.

Ken and his wife live on a narrow boat and it is not surprising that he takes a keen interest in songs of the water.

He is the finest singer of sea shanties in the city, and, with a chorus backing consisting of other workshop singers, he makes these maritime work songs really live.

Since its inception, the new Coventry workshop has devoted special evenings to the folk aspects of such calendar days as Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. They have also organised several lectures including a talk on folk customs by one of the foremost authorities in Britain – Tony Foxworthy, from Cornwall.

The future policy of Workshop II is to take up where the first left off and so make a substantial contribution to the Coventry folk scene.

John Lake