Houghton Weavers, Jenny Sings Lenny....what is folk?
In the right hands

In memorium

Peter Bellamy, courtesy Folk Images
From today, Salut! Live has a new feature. Down near the foot of the right hand column you will find a sub-heading Salut! Lives, which will build into an archive of obituaries I have written on folk singers and musicians who are no longer with us.

Obits on my former newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, are not signed, though people close to the subjects will often know - through the contacts necessarily made at the time the articles are prepared - the identity of the author.

I have so far reached back into the electronic library to extract my appreciations of the lives of Steve Benbow, Tony Capstick, Johnny Cunningham and, most recent of all, Tommy Makem.

More will be added as I remember or locate them. You will not, however, find the premature obit on Dave Swarbrick in my list. As those familiar with my recent Cropredy competition will know, I was not the writer (that was Colin Irwin, though he was blameless in the affair).

One limitation occurs to me that means my archive will not be a complete record of all the obituaries I have written for the Telegraph (while a member of staff until 2006 and subsequently as a freelance).

The electronic libraries of newspapers are naturally a development of relatively recent times. I have been writing about folk music since before they existed, so some of my earlier obituaries may prove difficult to trace.

Peter Bellamy, so fondly remembered from the Young Tradition among his many impressive projects, was the subject of one of my first such articles, and I do not know how easy it will be to dig it out.

I may in the end experiment with scanning or photographing cuttings, but be warned: my paper files are in a sorry state, having been moved from London to Paris to the south of France in the space of three years. This promises to be a protracted work in progress.

* Just located and photographed (Salut! Live has no scanner, I fear) the Peter Bellamy cutting, which may or may not seem legible.


Ken Josenhans

Peter Bellamy was probably my favorite live performer -- the only possible rival would be Richard Thompson. So many snatches of Peter's songs are fixed in my memory from his performances.

I was blessed with about a dozen opportunities to hear him at the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse in East Lansing, Michigan, usually in front of an audience ranging from 40 down to 10. I think he had friends in town; I don't know why else he continued to perform there, in spite of the small turnouts.

I still tear up a bit when I hear John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing one of Peter's Kipling arrangements, and I have trouble listening to the few albums of Peter's which I have.

It's sad to read in the obituary that he was unhappy in the Young Tradition.

Vicky Capstick

I read your obituary of my father Tony Capstick. I am interested to know why you chose only to focus on the negative and not to celebrate what was glorious? I read your article not long after my father died and was terribly upset. If you had spoken to those truly close to him as part of your researches you might have written a more balanced article. Or maybe that's not so interesting to a journalist?

Colin Randall

I did write to Vicky at the time, arguing as best I could that although obituaries are pointless if they do not deal with every important aspect of the deceased's life, warts and all, I tried to include much positive material in what I wrote after Tony Capstick's death. I considered him a superb entertainer and was very saddened by his passing. But I fully understand her point of view

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