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Desert Island Folk: (2) Sir Mark Rylance and a Paul Brady/Andy Irvine classic

Desert Island Folk: (1) did you hear the one about Christy Moore and Tony Capstick?

Christy  - 1
Buy this and/or other Christy Moore albums at the Salut! Live Amazon link by clicking anywhere on this caption

Salut! Live likes its series. Some take off, and I cannot begin to explain how gratifying it is to see Cover Story receiving so many hits; others attract little interest and quickly peter out.

Looking back over the archive - a quick scroll down the column on your right opens up Salut! Live's 10-year-old history - I came across a couple of early articles about Christy Moore's appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.

It gave me the idea of finding out whether other people from the folk world have served as guests of this fine radio series. I have asked the BBC, mentioning a few of the names that occur as possible past candidates, and will make my own search. I may extend it to people who have chosen great folk tracks to take with them, along with The Bible, The Complete Works of Shakespeare and maybe a case of Champagne into Robinson Crusoe exile.

But let's get the series rolling, whether it leads anywhere, with Christy, whose appearance produced just the sort of conversation with Kirsty Young that he and I have had on a few occasions. I am delighted to say a recording of the broadcast survives and you will find a link in the footnote.

Let me repeat the way I introduced the story back in 2007, followed by Christy's choice:

It used to be considered evidence of acquired respectability, since only the great and the good were supposed to be invited. Then the BBC started scouting around for any old riff-raff, provided they'd made a bob or two, to come on air and choose the records, favourite book and luxury they'd take to their Desert Island.

But thank goodness they've gone back to the old standards. An upcoming guest on Desert Island Discs will be our old friend Christy Moore.

I wondered whether Christy would choose anything by his old mate from early days slogging around the English folk clubs, the late and much lamented Tony Capstick.

The reason I ask is that news of the broadcast takes me back to one of my earlier encounters with Christy, and my only one with Tony.

Tony capstcik - 1
Tony's work can still be found and purchased at Amazon. Click this caption

"Shildon 2202," I said, answering the phone just as I was about to get ready for the Sunday evening folk club I co-founded and ran at the Aclet, a big pub on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland. The previous week's experience, when Christy had been our scheduled guest but failed to show, made me fear the worst: it would be Tony saying he was stuck in Sheffield.

It wasn't Tony. It was Christy. He'd arrived at Darlington station - I am at a loss to remember whether coach or railway station - and would I please come and pick him up.

No one will ever know who had messed it up. Bookings were often made several beers into an evening at someone else's club. Christy's diary said one date, mine the previous week.

The deal we reached was simple. We'd put up our prices for a double bill and hope for the best, with Christy pocketing everything beyond Tony's fee.

It worked a treat. From memory, no one had to endure my strangled attempt at High Germany that night, or be asked to applaud the shortcomings of other floor singers. We just had beginning-to-end class from two of the greatest entertainers I have ever witnessed on the folk circuit. See the compere Bill Taylor's comment below - says it all.

There was, mercifully, a bumper crowd, so no problems on the cash front, and it rests in the mind as one of the grandest live music experiences of my life.

These were not prissy times, and Christy was a long way from becoming the sober man we know today. Everyone, performers included, drank steadily through the evening. The perk for organisers and artists came in the form of free drinks during the stoppie-backie time as we cleared up the room.

Somehow, we got home in one piece. I have no illusions about the dangers of drink driving so will draw a veil over quite how this was achieved.

Christy and Tony then proceeded to drink my father's cocktail cabinet dry. We're talking 1970-ish County Durham here, so this was not a feat beyond the reach of an enthusiastic drinker. I recall few details, but can be sure that a fairly appalling array of tipples, from rum and Ruby wine to Babycham, was duly polished off.

And they both looked fine next morning. My father, on the other hand, didn't; I can only hope that in time he came to understand that his son had merely acted in the same professional way, looking after his artists' interests and needs, that he would have done as secretary of his workingmen's club.

And this is what Christy chose:

1 Ave Maria
Felicity Lott

2 A Stitch in Time
Christy Moore (live)

3 Lonely Boy
Paul Anka

4 Brennan On the Moor
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

5 Taimse Im’ Chodladh
Rec No: 79035

6 Joe Hill
Luke Kelly

7 The Joy of Living
Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger

8 The Raggle Taggle Gypsy
John Reilly
Composer Trad

One Record Taimse Im’ Chodladh
Book Collection of Popular Songs of England & Scotland –Francis Child
Luxury A set of Uillean Pipes

* Listen to Christy on Desert Island Discs at this link


Bill Taylor

As MC of the Aclet folk evenings, I recall that one as probably the best night we ever had - the energy level just kept growing, with Moore and Capstick feeding off one another and driving each other along. It was a beer-fueled (I used to drink bottled Strongarm at the Aclet and had way more than was good for me) binge of hilarity, risque humour and superb music. However much we coaxed the audience into paying, they got more than their money's worth.
I also seem to recall Moore mentioning the show in print once. Unfortunately, his memory placed it not in Bishop Auckland but West Hartlepool...

Colin Randall

He did. I think it may have been in his book. I have that somewhere (if Mick Sheehan has returned it from long loan) ...

Bill Taylor

Mick Sheehan... there's a name I haven't heard in a long, long time

Colin Randall

One of the best, Bill. Dodgy football tastes for a Darlo lad - first the Mags but for quite long time Boro - but I hope to see him when I get back up for the Tees-Wear derby in December, unwise a choice as that may well prove

Bill Taylor

I have a faint memory - possibly flawed - of him singing, "With me navvy boots on..."

Bill Taylor

Here's a turn-up! I just put Tony Capstick's name into Spotify and up came his 1973-79 "Folk Vault" live album, including Pete Betts' terrific "They Don't Write 'Em Like That Any More." Not as good as Vin Garbutt's version but very nice to hear it again.

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