Archive for Rhyl Folk Club

Memories of an ageing Folkie

Posted in The Good Old Days with tags on November 6, 2014 by Rhyl Folk Club

Memoirs of a Folksinging Man.

In the days before Rhyl Folk Club was born (i.e. back in the early sixties) a few local folkies used to get together for a singaround in the pub. I was not part of that pioneering group because I was, at that time, living in London and bluffing my way through a degree course. However, I was courting (now there’s a word you don’t hear nowadays) Carole, my future wife, whose family lived in Rhyl. Carole it was, who found out about those pioneers and took me along to one of their sessions which I think was at the Red Lion in Dyserth. Memory of those far off days can be a bit hazy now but I think those present included John Prys, Dick Davies, Keith Price and the late, great Ted Robshaw. We had a few pints and a few songs and it was a great session. I believe the year was 1964.

Fast forward now to 1968, by which time there was a fully fledged Folk Club at The Bee Hotel in Rhyl and I and my wife Carole had moved to Rhyl following a stint working for UNESCO in West Africa. Inevitably we found our way to the Bee and the first person I remember speaking to as we walked through the door was Haydn Smith. The aforementioned pioneers were also in evidence and the club was going from strength to strength as the popularity of folk music bloomed nationwide.

In the early seventies the club was very fortunate (in my opinion) when Haydn Smith, Keith Price and Ted Robshaw joined forces to form a group called Mint Julep. The majority of their repertoire comprised traditional English folk songs with strong tunes and strong choruses which the audience would join in with gusto. I’m thinking of stuff like ‘Dido Bendigo’, ‘Boston Harbour’ and ‘Liverpool Judies’. Mint Julep became popular on the North West folk scene generally and often went off gigging round other clubs and around the same time they made an L.P. (remember those?) called ‘Three Chains of Gold’ (some tracks from which are included on our club’s 50th anniversary club CD).

By 1975 the combination of day jobs, raising families and running the Rhyl Folk Club became onerous so Keith Price asked me to take over the organising of the club, which I did. Mint Julep still sang at the club as often as they could, in fact that was the main reason for shifting the club night from Friday to Sunday at that time. The logic was that they were much more likely to be away gigging on a Friday than a Sunday so the change would enable them to maintain their links with the club.

At first the change to Sunday did no harm at all and there was an extended period of high turnouts which enabled me to afford numerous guests including legendary names like Alex Campbell, Peter Bellamy, Cyril Tawney and Martin Carthy. We also ran for the first time a hugely popular series of ceilidhs at the Queen’s Hotel on the promenade with my friends from the Chester folk scene, ‘The Clog and Whippet Band’. Eventually, however, the numbers at the club dwindled and it was decided to switch back to Fridays. At the same time my job situation made it impossible for me to run the club any more and up stepped Dave Costello and Daryll Morley to take over. And so it goes on. The club has had its ups and downs but continues to survive and even to thrive and long may it do so.

Brian Bull