Sunday, December 29, 2013

Andy and Jan Smith (The Smith Family)

Dave Cooper (Dando Shaft) writes " Anyone who frequented Acoustic, Folk and Country Music Clubs
around Coventry and Warwickshire throughout the 60's and 70's would know Andy Smith. Multi instrumentalist and fabled bluegrass banjo player. With his sister Jan, The Smith Family and various ensembles including Down County Boys and the Ian Campbell Folk Group all featuring Andy's dynamic musical fluency across banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle. He also had one of the best high and lonesome vocals ever, creating with Jan those harmonies that only siblings can. His untimley death aged 61 in 2007 after more than twelve years with Lewy Bodies Disease took away a unique talent. We are delighted to offer this collection of songs from Andy's wife Barbara."  On his Rare Music site here

On Dave Cooper's Raremusez site you can download13 tracks by Andy and Jan for 55p each -
The tracks they offer are -

Little Birdie
Soul of A Man
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Hey Boys
Got Put A Rainbow In The Sky
Twin Banjo
Fly Around Cherokee
Hello City Limits
End Of A Long Lonely Day
Hesitation Blues
Baltimore Fire
Walloping Window Blind

Andy Smith- Guitar, Banjo,Mandolin,Vocals
Mike Smith- Guitar,Banjo,Uke,Vocals
Jan Smith- Fiddle,Mandolin,Bottle-neck Guitar,Vocals
Steve Allcutt- String Base
John Fields- Fiddle, Mandolin

Meanwhile, Marko Krnjulap has sent some live tracks by Andy and Jan recorded in the Old Dyers Arms folk club in Coventry in the 70's - My Love and I / Who's Gonna be your Man?.

Here they are - (and there may be some more coming later from Marko)

In 1969, Andy and Jan were guests (along with Jackie and Bridie) at the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club's Music Marathon in November 1969.

Friday, October 25, 2013


03/16/2007 (transferred fromthe Hobo Vox blog - now closed)


The club is thriving as ever, recent guests being Mick Stuart, who included a lot of early blues and ragtime pieces

Folk at the Pitts with Mick Stuart playing that we don't often hear him play. He coped admirably with some
wild, but enthusiastic chorus singing from the audience. That was October 2nd. A fortnight later we had Kevin Demsey playing to packed room, having arrived at ten because of having to cope with football match traffic on his way back from his guitar class in Kenilworth. Kev was as good as ever, supported in some numbers by Dave Cooper. Dave Bennett was guest on October 30th and again the room was crowded after initial fears that some might be tempted to stay and watch Monty Python which was on the box that night! It was good to see Dave doing two excellent spots (or blemishes) instead of just hearing him play just the occasional number in between others acts at the Dyers Arms. All three acts will definitely be re-booked to appear in the near future.

Singer's nights have had a good atmosphere lately although it would be nice to see more singers and audience there. We usually find that the first hour is shared only by two or three singers and then by 9.30 we have to fit a lot in. Nevertheless the standard of the music is very good, but that's no surprise when regular singers include Mick Stuart, Pete Rigg, Rod Felton etc.


Nov 13th - Black Parrot Seaside - innovators of Dull Wave, a shattering new artform as portrayed by this trilogy of combined etherialism, cosmic musicology and silly poetry.

Nov 20th - Singers Night / Workshop

Nov 27th - Tom Patterson and Dave Moreton, talented duo from Birmingham, specialising in traditional style music and original songs. Tom, born in Newcastle, plays guitar and sings and Dave plays some good instrumental guitar. They also play classical material. Visitors last year to the Woolpack Folk Club in Rugby may remember Tom as an occasional floor singer of unsurpassed excellence.

Dec 4th - Singers night / workshop.

Dec 11th - Special concert night featuring Inchiquin. A new local band with impressive line up; Lernie MIlhone Vocals, guitar, whistle. Cathie Keenan - Vocals, guitar, keyboards. Pat Kiely - fiddle, guitar, banourria, meleodian. Brendan McGranaghan - Mandolin, Bouzouki, guitar. Tommy Connolly - step dancing, whistle, fiddle. John Freeman - bass, vocals, guitar, mandolin.

Dec 18th - Party Night.

Dec 25th - Closed for Christmas.

Jan 1st - Closed for New Year Hangover!

Jan 8th - Gibb Todd (To Be Confirmed).

Folk at the Pitts meets every Monday Night at the Pitts Head, Far Gosford St. Coventry. The club is usually run on an informal basis with no stage or PA system. Admission being 30p each evening. December 11th will be an experimental concert night, using a stage and PA with admission being 50p. If the concert is successful, we'll probably try three or four a year, booking name acts.

Pete Willow

More of these editorials about the Pitts head can be found in the pdf copies of Folks magazine which can be found on this site.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Bull's Head Folk Club

Article from FOLKS magazine Issue 4 Nov / Dec 1978 by Pete Willow and Jane.
Brinklow fortnightly - Friday Nights -

The club opened on Friday 13th October, which far from being unlucky, proved to be an excellent singers
night with some high quality music being played to a packed room. Singers included Mick Stuart, Rod Felton, Al Wright, Pete Willow and Mick Tiernan. All in all a promising start for the club and it's nice to see that interest hasn't waned since the opening night.

On the 27th the guests were Pete and Sheila Rigg and the room was full to capacity, so that we had to put up Full House signs by 9.30pm! The atmosphere was very relaxed with Pete and Sheila on top form, playing some of their classic numbers, including Coalsmoke, The Owl and the Pussycat, He was Craze and some nice solo performances by each of them. Sheila singing her beautiful version of For Free and Pete playing an excellent ragtime guitar piece called Grace and Beauty. The variety of instruments they'd bought with them, mix and seven string guitars, mandolin, quindolin and double bass, meant that they'd had to ensure that thirty five strings were in tune before they began their set!

Some nice floor singing that evening included singer-songwriter Steve (Ollie) Barson, Maurice Kenny, Rob Armstrong Jill from Stafford and the very talented Karen Kileen from Nuneaton Folk Club, who, at ten years of age, must be the youngest folk club organiser and singer in the country.

We're very thrilled with the way the club has progressed so far and we're grateful to all musicians, singers and audience who have made it so successful. More superb evenings to come, we're sure, with Country Life appearing on 24th November (local trio with good arrangements of unaccompanied singing using traditional and modern material), Martin Jenkins (to be confirmed) on the 8th December and a Christmas Party on the 22nd December, featuring the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band, with food, goodies and a special Christmas prize for the raffle.

Into the new year, we have amazing Downes and Beer on January 5th. Floor singers are advised to come early if they want to play on this evening!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


“Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome the Midland's first bluegrass band, the
Down County Boys”. There was a smattering of applause as the four twenty-something's launched into their first number in a seedy Coventry pub back in the mid Sixties."

The full history (and much more) of the Down Country Boys is on their website above.

Music Marathon, Coventry Arts Umbrella Nov 1969

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tribute to Folk-Comedian Dave Turner - The original British comedy folk performer

This post, like many on here was originally the Hobo Vox blog 09/17/2008 and then archived on Typepad when that blog shut down. It's now on here! Dave Turner was from Nottingham but had close associations with the Coventry folk scene...Thanks to Carol Dickens some of the material here.

Tribute to Folk-Comedian Dave Turner - The original British comedy folk performer

"Now Maggie Thatcher tells me

You gotta make some money

If you want to live in this land of milk and honey

But honey dried up

and the milk's gone sour

It's very hard to make the bread without the flour

Sometime I wonder what I'm a gonna do

Cos there's only one wheel on my wheelie bin blues."

To the Tune of Eddie Cochran's - Summertime Blues

By Dave Turner (From his My Space -

Influential folk comedian Dave Turner, author of many hilarious clawpicked satirical songs, passed away at
66 early in  September 2008. "He was the original British comedy folk performer," says brother Pete Turner. Although Dave was from Nottingham, not Coventry, Dave had associations with the Coventry folk circuit and was a friend of Coventry's top folk artist and guitar maker -Rob Armstrong (known for his own comedy song via The Modern Idiot Grunt Band - duo with Rod Felton in the 70's. This a small tribute to man and his music and I do recommend you have a listen to some of Dave Turner's songs on the new My Space site - they are very well performed and hilarious! you can visit the site HERE .

As didn't know Dave personally, the material in this tribute has come from his partner - Carol Dickens and from his My Space site, but having listened to his songs on My Space, this is the passing of a very special comedy and folk talent who will be well known to many Coventry folkies.


TRIBUTES have been paid to a pioneer of the comedy folk scene.

Dave Turner, who died at the weekend aged 66, influenced the likes of Billy Connolly, Jasper Carrott
and Mike Harding during the 60s and 70s as one of the first folk musicians to introduce comedy into his live shows.

"There will be a bit of Dave that will carry on forever," says folk singer Fred Wedlock, the man behind the 1981 hit The Oldest Swinger In Town.

"They'll sing his songs forever and even if they don't sing his songs people will be listening to singers who were influenced by Dave. People like Jasper Carrot, Mike Harding and Billy Connolly. And myself."

Wedlock, who recorded two of his songs – The British Bobby and Robin Hood – met him in the mid-70s on the folk circuit. Click here!

"He stayed with me when he played in Bristol and I'd stay at his flat above a launderette in Hyson Green when I played in Nottingham."

He adds: "He wrote some very funny songs and he was a lovely, friendly, generous, gentle bloke. And a bit of a hippy, really."

Friends and contemporaries also included Jake Thackray, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch.

"He was the original British comedy folk performer," says brother Pete Turner.

Dave Turner was born in The Meadows and lived in Canada from the age of 10 -15. He worked as a miner for a number of years at Wollaton Colliery.

"He wrote songs down there," says Pete.

"I remember one about a pit pony that he looked after that he thought was being mistreated.

"But that was more of his serious ones. He was better known for his comedy songs.

"He started doing comedy folk on stage after listening to a record by an American called Jimmy Driftwood called Very Unfortunate Man."

He was already performing in folk clubs as part of a duet but was too nervous to go solo. During a gig at the Nottingham Folk Workshop in Heathcote Street in the early 60s, his musical partner left the stage.

"He said 'and now Dave will do a few solo songs'. He was bricking it," laughs Pete.

"But he did Very Unfortunate Man and everyone loved it. That was it."

As well as being a regular on the local circuit, Dave would tour the UK's folk clubs, playing the same clubs as Connolly, Harding and Carrott.

He also appeared on a bill with Tom Jones.

"Jasper Carrott banned him from the club he ran in Birmingham because he was too popular," says Pete.

Dave, who suffered ill-health from the early 90s, ran the Folk, Blues & Beyond night at the Running Horse for years and would introduce acts at the Golden Fleece's open mic night up until six years ago.

"About four years ago he contracted shingles in his right arm and, due to severe nerve damage, was unable to play the guitar again,"

And From Carol Dickens

Dave was a popular 'folk comedian extraordinaire' of the 60s and 70s, a friend and contemporary of Jake
Thackeray,  Fred Wedlock, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Anne Briggs, Billy Connelly and many more.

He supported some major bands of his era, including 'Spirit' and 'the Crazy World of Arthur Brown'. A brilliant self-taught guitarist and artist, he influenced many other musicians.
Later he ran 'folk, blues and beyond' at the Running Horse and at the Golden Fleece. He was still introducing acts at the 'Fleece' open mic night up until about 6 years ago. Sadly about 4 years ago he contracted shingles in his right arm and ,due to severe nerve damage, was unable to play the guitar again.

If anyone has any 'Dave Turner' stories to tell or photographs to show you can contact us on here and we'll pass a message on to Carol or you can leave a comment below.

41 mins of live Dave Turner


I knew Dave very well when we lived in Nottingham back in the late '60s. I tried a few years back to get in contact with Dave but I couldn't find any way to get hold of him, and now that I have just found this site I am really sad that he is no longer with us, and that I never will. I have many lovely memories of Dave, and a great deal of material about him including live recordings that I made of some of his performances. I will be most happy to expand on all this if Carol or anyone else who is interested would like to get in touch with me at

Posted by: PeteJurassic | 01/07/2012 at 05:15 PM

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fifty years of Coventry Folk - Pete Clemons

Fellow Coventry music historian - Pete Clemons with one of his latest and excellent articles for the Coventry Telegraph, sourced in part from this blog and the folk history articles of Pete Willow in Folks magazine, along with his own research.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Folks No 10 December 1979 / January 1980

This was the final issue of  the Coventry Folks Magazine as editor Pete Willow had new commitments for 1980 and inspite of a request for people to continue the magazine, it obviously didn't happen.

Folks Magazine No 9 Oct / Nov 1979

Coventry Folks magazine October / November 1979  - Edited by Pete Willow 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Folks Magazine No 8 July / August 1979

This is Folks Magazine - the Coventry folk magazine edited by Pete Willow issue No 8, published July / August 1979. It features a great article on Coventry Luthier - Rob Armstrong. Some of the latter pages are missing from this issue but the article on Rob Armstrong is in full along with diagrams and photos of Rob.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No6 March / April. 1979

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No6 March / April. 1979

Edited by Pete Willow.
It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge

or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No5 Jan / Feb. 1979

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No5 Jan / Feb. 1979

Edited by Pete Willow.
It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge
or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No4 Nov / Dec. 1978

Folks - Magazine of the Coventry Folk Club - The Pitts Head No4 November / December 1978 - Edited by Pete Willow.
It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No3 Oct. 1978

Folks - Magazine of the Coventry Folk Club - The Pitts Head No3 October 1978 - Edited by Pete Willow.

It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Folks was originally posted on the Hobo site on Vox blogs c 2007 before it closed. They are now posted on this new hobo blog - the Folk section and here are some of the comments from the original site - although mostly now out of date. eg Pete Willow discovering his magazine Folks was mentioned and promising to send copies of the magazine - well here they are in successive posts.

Comments from Hobo on Vox blogs c 2007 / 8

[this is good] Amazed to come across this! I still have hard copies of every edition of Folks - somewhere in
Pete Willow in the 70's
the attic! I will see if I can dig them out. Arol and I were jointly responsible for the serialised story, The Adventures of Joe Folkie, featuring cartoons by Dennis Clarke - a ruthless expose of the sordid world behind the scenes of the glamorous, razzle-dazzle world of folk music. Incidentally, one of the covers depicted in this blog was a drawing by the late Hazel Lester who introduced me to the Coventry folk scene when I moved back to the city from London in the early 70s - I wonder of any reader of this blog remembers her!

Posted by: Pete Willow | 01/20/2007 

Oh I remember Hazel. She was pally with one of the Gnome Crew, Tony (?),There were negotiations to
expand our folk content and at her behest Tony took me out to a folk gig out in the country somewhere, could it have been Braunstone or Brinklow?
I can date this very well to the time we were thinking of relaunching as a monthly after some of the inner core burnt out (British Gnome store period)
I can visualise her now telling me something and raising my enthusiasm.
I know I filed the review but it never got into print.
Do dig out those issues, Pete and let me see something of them for the first time. If you can get them online somehow I can surprise Arol and this year's Christmas dinner and catch up.

Posted by: BroadgateGnome | 01/20/2007


There's an evening of musical nostalgia on Sunday 22nd April when people who were active in the Cov folk scene in the 1970s play in a free concert at the Maudsley Hotel, Allesley Old Road, Coventry. The idea is for artisst to play the songs they used to perform then (although in some cases that probably hasn't changed that much!)

It's organised by Pete Grassby following a successful event last year. Guests include Rob Armstrong,Sean Cannon, Ninepenny Marl, Malc Gurnham, Ron Shuttleworth and yours truly - I'll be including one song with me old mucker Dennis Clarke.

It starts at 7.30pm. There's a charity raffle for cancer research.

Posted by: Pete Willow | 04/15/2007  


 [this is good]

Unfortunately I'm too far from Cov to come and watch this but a review, some piccys and some audio for the site would be welcome if the spirit is willing Pete! Will be uploading some more soon (grabbing globuals of time at the moment!).
Trev Teasdel

Posted by: HOBO - Coventry Music Magazine | 04/15/2007

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No2 Sept. 1978

Folks - Magazine of the Coventry Folk Club - The Pitts Head No2 September 1978 - Edited by Pete Willow.

It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Folks - Coventry Folk Club Magazine No1 Aug 1978

Folks No1 August 1978 - The magazine of the Coventry Folk Club - The Pitts Head  - edited by Pete Willow. PDF file

It was the late 70's and Coventry's folk club scene had been thriving since the early 1960's. Folks magazine is a good reflection of that scene and its culture, guests and artists, history and humour. Presented here as historic documents.

Use navigation buttons on the pdf below to enlarge or arrow to go to Google Drive to download free.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Furey Brothers and the Old Dyers Arms

The Furey Brothers and the Old Dyers Arms

"Often a couple of the Fureys, a famous radical Irish band, would turn up in the back room of the
Old Dyers' Arms lineup in the early 70s.Davey Arthur, second left, with the
 Fureys: Paul, Finbar, Eddie
Old Dyers Arms for the Sunday afternoon folk session and wow everyone with their pro-republican songs. Mavis always allowed a drinking 'stayback' when they played, because invariably the room would be heaving with Guinness drinkers, which meant more money in her till. It was an exciting place to be in the mid 70's
." Pauline Black from Black by Design

"The Fureys are an Irish male folk band of four brothers - Eddie, Finbar, Paul and George, from Ballyfermot, Dublin, and of Irish Traveller heritage. They have also been credited as The Fureys and Davey Arthur.

The group formed in 1978 and consisted initially of four brothers.Prior to the band two of the brothers
Finbar and Eddie Furey
toured as a duo known simply by their names as Eddie and Finbar Furey. Their brother Paul Furey had, together with Davey Arthur and Brendan Leeson, a band called The Buskers. Both were part of a successful tour through Germany called the "Irish Folk Festival", first in 1974, where they performed as The Furey Brothers and later as The Furey Family. Here they were joined by their father Ted, a famous fiddler, who was 73 at that time. Ted Furey had recorded a solo fiddle album Toss the Feathers released by the Outlet label in 1973.

In 1981, The Fureys released their most successful single "When You Were Sweet Sixteen", becoming a worldwide hit, reaching #14 on the UK Singles Chart, #1 on the Irish Singles Chart and #9 on the Australian Singles Chart. "The Green Fields of France" also gave them an Irish #1, remaining in the single charts for twenty eight weeks. They also had two Top 40 British albums called Golden Days and At the End of the Day.

Other notable songs include "Gallipoli", "The Red Rose Cafe", and "Steal Away". As of January 2008, the band is still recording and touring. In 2008 the band celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Finbar left the band to begin his own solo career and Eddie, George and Paul reformed with Davey Arthur to became a successful band. Paul Furey died suddenly in June 2002."

Seeing folk hero's free gigs at the Old Dyers in Coventry
Coventry Telegraph

THE return of folk legend Davey Arthur to Coventry for a gig in Chapelfields was a reminder of the halcyon

days when he performed free at the Old Dyers’ Arms just down the road in Spon End.

Davey and the Furey brothers cut their musical teeth at the renowned pub in the early 70s after decamping from their native Ireland. They went on to global fame, had hit records and played at some of the most famous venues in the world including Carnegie Hall in New York. But for their old Coventry pal Eddie McNulty, who put them up at his Coundon home and remained a lifelong friend, the memory of the Dyers’ sessions lingers as if it were yesterday.

The music they played was amazing and musicians came from all over the country and Europe even to play with them,” he said.
“But for all the success they have had they are still the same great guys they were back then Eddie, now 66
and living in Tile Hill Village, first met Finbar Furey at a folk gig at the Cedars pub in Coundon in the late sixties and was “blown away” by the sound of the Irish pipes.

Finbar’s brother Eddie also came over and they lodged with their new found friend in Cedars Avenue. The others, including Davey Arther, soon followed and the house became the unofficial HQ for passing folkies, while the Dyres had taken on the mantle of spiritual home. At one point Davey Arthur combined both and lived in a caravan parked outside the pub.

As their fame grew, Eddie McNulty found himself on tour with the boys.
“I even played the bodhran – a one-sided drum – on one track recorded in Hamburg,” he recalled.
Eddie, a former Jaguar worker, is still in touch with the band members and was instrumental in getting Davey Arthur to bring his “Evening with” show to the Maudslay Hotel in Allesley Old Road. Like the old days, Davey stayed over and the two pals dropped in at the Dyres to share a pint and memories."

Pauline Black on the Coventry Folk Scene

This may be a surprise to those who only know Pauline Black as the lead singer of the Selecter, but Pauline Vickers (as she was known then) began her singing career on the Coventry Folk Scene -

- largely encouraged by the legendary Coventry ragtime guitar-player and folk club organiser - Dave Bennett.
Pauline (then known as Pauline Vickers).

First - Some extracts from Pauline's excellent and very revealing autobiography - Black by Design.
Available from Amazon here and well written and well worth a read!

"My singing career began in 1976, a few months after my adoptive dad died......I returned to Coventry to pour my grief into my new hobby, singing"  - (armed with a Spanish guitar.).

Pauline gives an evocative description of the Old Dyers Arms from that time in Black by Design....

"The Old Dyers arms in Spon End was run by Mavis, ably assisted by her long suffering husband Barry. Mavis was a Yorkshire women of ample girth, whose backcombed beehive stood up proud as the foam on her pints. She ruled her clientele with an iron fist and pulled pints with the muscular dexterity of a wrestler, but most of all she was fun. Mavis and Barry were an entertaining double act, just like the sit com characters George and Mildred.

Often a couple of the Fureys, a famous radical Irish band, would turn up in the back room for the Sunday afternoon folk session and wow everyone with their pro-republican songs. Mavis always allowed a drinking 'stayback' when they played, because invariably the room would be heaving with Guinness drinkers, which meant more money in her till. It was an exciting place to be in the mid 70's."

Enter Dave Bennett
"The bloke who ran the backroom folk club was Dave Bennett. he was an excellent guitar player, with a penchant for John Martyn songs. During one Sunday evening session, he asked his girlfriend, who sported a blond, pudding bowl hairdo reminiscent of comedienne Victoria Wood, to sing. She chose a Donovan song, Colours (Yellow is the Colour of my True Love's Hair). As soon as she began, i knew i could sing as well as her, if not better. The blokes in the pub lapped it up. I decided then and there that the following week I would attempt a song at the Sunday afternoon session. probably a surfeit of bitter shandy influenced my decision. I spent the following week practising singing while accompanying myself on guitar......"

Pauline begins with Bob Dylan
" The first song i sang in public was Bob Dylan's 'Blowing in the wind'. I had typed the words out on a piece of paper and written in the relevant chord changes. My hands shook and my voice wobbled for the opening stanzas, but then i just forgot the audience was there and performed. i loved it. Polite applause greeted my rendition, but I could see that I had impressed Dave Bennett and Terry (her boyfriend). I didn't much care about the others in the room.

The following week I turned up to the session again. Dave smiled knowingly at me and said 'Bang one out Pauline'.

I'd chosen Bob Dylan's Girl from the North Country, complete with complicated finger picking. Dave winked at me after i finished and said the immortal words: "Yeah, you can stay".

My musical career began with those four words!

Tim Crowe
"Soon after my debut, I got to know another male singer who had an anarchic streak to his performance that I found captivating. His name was Tim Crowe. His after-hours party piece was a mean version of Brown Sugar; ...Tim had an idiosyncratic style of playing and singing that was beautiful to listen to. He had the knack of the best performers, the unique ablility to take a song and make it his own. His version of Leopard Skin Pill Box hat easily rivalled that of Dylan. I liked him - he was a maverick. Musically we supported each other. Sometimes he would get so raucous he would get thrown out of the pub. On those occasions i would leave too in solidarity..."

Expanding the Territory
"By the end of 1977, i outgrew the Dyers Arms. I was offered a gig in a folk club at the Golden Cup on Far Gosford Street. (we think this was the Pitts Head not the Golden Cup - see Folks magazine below - Ed) They needed a support act quickly, because somebody else had cancelled. I think I was chosen out of desperation, because no one else was available. I wasn't sure what was expected of me, until the guy who ran the evening and booked the acts said that ten songs would be enough and would i accept £10 for the performance? Ten songs! For ten pounds! A pound a song, what a result.

Ever the optimist, I dug out my songbook and settled my first set list: a few of mine, a couple of Joni Mitchell, some Bob Dylan and some Joan Armatrading. Most of them were far beyond my capabilities but I carried on, oblivious to any technical deficiencies that i had."

"My self confidence night i was pauline the singer / guitarist, clad in yellow linen shirt and brown corduroy dungarees, performing at any folk club that gave me a gig. i didn't try too hard to be anything very much. i just enjoyed myself.

I can't remember exactly how my first gig went, mainly because I was so nervous. there wasn't any PA system, so no enhancement was offered to my vocals or guitar playing. About 30 people sat quietly and dutifully applauded when I finished each song. What I hadn't reckoned on was what you're meant to say between songs during a set. I'd never played a whole set before.....the slick patter of a professional was replaced with innumerable 'ums and ahh's'....probably my novice stagecraft became very monotonous after the third song...but nobody complained be honest the audience was waiting for the main attraction......Bert Jansch."


Below - Pauline Black going acoustic more recently.

One of Pauline's numbers was a self-penned macabre song called 'A Whore's Life' about the dreadful spate of killings around Bradford.

Pauline then goes on to described the path that led her to meet Charlie 'Aitch' Bembridge and her eventual recruitment into the Selecter.

From Pete Willow's Folks magazine
Issue 1 August 1978
"A frequent visitor to the Pitts Head folk club, Far Gosford Street, is Pauline Vickers (Later Black), who
Pitts head up for sale!
will be making her first guest appearance at any club on September 14th, and I'm sure it will be the first of many. A nice lady with a voice that will make you sit up and take notice, she has in no time at all, progressed from a slightly nervous floorsinger to a highly competent artist. And with good looks thrown in she can't go fail."
September 4th - PAULINE VICKERS - First guest appearance of a local lady with a beautiful voice.
Well that prediction certainly didn't fail!

In Pauline's book she mentions the first gig as being at the Golden Cup, Far Gosford Street. Looking at Folks Magazine, it looks like this was the Pitts head instead as its advertised as her first paid gig. She's advertised as the main artist - no mention of Bert Jansch. Donald Gregory suggests the same thing in response to the article
"Donald Gregory I remember seeing her at the Old Dyers Arms. Then I saw her at the Pitts Head in Far Gosford St., which was apparently her first paid gig. It was the Pitts Head and not the Golden Cup (unless they were 2 separate events)  I definitely saw her at the Pitts Head. I don't remember Bert Jansch but I could have missed him.."

Trev Teasdel's Memories.
"About 1978 my friend Sue came up to visit and i took her to the Old Dyers Arms - Dave Bennett's folk club. Pauline got up to do a floor spot. I'd never seen her before but she seemed to break the mould in more than one way. Folk clubs back then were largely male dominated and white and often traditional. Pauline was none of those and bravely got up to sing not just the usual contemporary songs played in folk clubs but tackled numbers by the Stones and Joan Armatrading. I'd never heard a Stones number or a Joan Armatrading song played in a folk club before. I was most impressed as I loved the music of Joan Armatrading. As far as i remember she played Paint it Black but may have done Brown Sugar too. I thought it was very brave as some folk clubs are not tolerant of material from the rock or pop arena. Sue and I went over to give her the thumbs up, thinking she had good potential but never imagining that in a year's time she would become the queen of Ska!.

About a year or so later i went to a Lanchester Polytech gig. Neol Davies had a new band called Selecter I'd known Neol since the Umbrella club some 10 years before and went along to catch his latest band. I was surprised to see not only Pauline there but Neol talking to her. Things had clearly progressed and i assumed he'd persuaded her to do a solo spot. It was a great surprise then to see Pauline get upon stage with the band and without the guitar!  It was just prior to the release of On My Radio and although the songs had the Neol Davies sound I remembered from earlier bands like Mead they had this new sound and very danceable pulse we've come to know as Ska. In the past, in a student environment, you just listened to the band but this new music insisted that everyone move - it was impossible to stay still however self-conscious you felt! Pauline had dramatically upstaged her folk singing alter ego and soon On My Radio would be racing up the charts. The rest of course is history!"

 This is Pauline Black's Selecter with a song that returns to folk roots, based on a Woody Guthrie song -

Below, Pauline Black's first live solo appearence at Folk at the Pitts in Coventry, then known as Pauline Vickers.

Fresh Maggots

Fresh Maggots  (circa 1969 - 1971 ) Acoustic / Electro-acoustic /
Folk Rock -

Mick Burgoyne - vocals, lead guitar, 12-string guitar, glockenspeil, tambourines, tin whistles, violin
Leigh Dolphin - acoustic guitar

Influences: Led Zepplin, Taste, Deep Purple, Pentangle, Magna Carta, etc

Single: A: Car Song / B: What Would You Do (RCA 2150 1971)
Album - Fresh Maggots (RCA SF8205 Album:1971)
Re-released - Artist: Fresh MaggotsHatched  Label: Sunbeam

"Fresh Maggots are going to be very, very big indeed, take it from me" Peter Jones - Record Mirror.

"Their range is incredible - their sound is amazingly full - they are good and very different" Caroline Boucher - Disc and Music Echo

01 Dole Song (0:00 - 3:27)
02 Rosemary Hill (3:28 - 7:02)
03 Quickie (7:03 - 8:24)
04 Everyone's Gone To War (8:25 - 12:19)
05 And When She Laughs (12:20 - 15:08)
06 Spring (15:09 - 18:32)
07 Balloon Song (18:33 - 22:28)
08 Guzz Up (22:29 - 24:06)
09 Who's To Die (24:07 - 28:02)
10 Elisabeth R (28:03 - 30:56)
11 Frustration (30:57 - 36:57)

"Fresh Maggots were a short-lived folk duo from Nuneaton, Warwickshire in England. It comprised Mick
Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin, playing a variety of instruments including guitars, glockenspiel, tin whistles and strings.

The pair signed to Sparta Florida and released their only album through RCA (Neon) Victor, eponymously titled, in 1971 - when they were nineteen years of age. Although its release was preceded by some degree of anticipation, delays in publishing gradually saw interest wane. Upon its release, it was met with amicable reviews, however record sales did not reflect this, and pressing was de-commissioned soon after.

The resurgent popularity of folk music over the last decade reawakened interest in the band and Fresh Maggots was released on CD in 2006, under the Sunbeam label in the UK and Amber Soundroom in Germany, gaining a modest reputation in folk music circles and through internet radio.

Trev Teasdel's memories of Fresh Maggots

I booked Fresh Maggots for the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club to play the Friday night band spot from
10pm in the upstairs room. They were an unusual outfit - a duo as opposed to a band but they were no ordinary acoustic duo! For a start, the range of instruments they involved in their set was impressive and evocative and the use of fuzz electric guitar more than blurred the edges of  pre-conceived musical expectations. The band told me later they also had an early synthesizer version of the band in the style of Kraftwerk. In 1971 this was indeed innovative! However, I never got to hear the synth version of the band.
The song that stayed with me over the years until i heard their work again on Youtube was Rosemary Hill - written on site at Kenilworth's Rosemary Hill - a beautiful song but the all of the songs and the blurring of categories made the duo stand out. At that stage they were promoting their first and only album.

Not long after, in march of 1971, i went to Warwick University Arts festival, both to enjoy the music and also to read as one of the
Umbrella Poets. It was my first poetry reading and I was the youngest - dressed like a hippy while the other older poets were in tuxedos! I felt quite out of place and back then poetry readings involved silent respectful audiences. Even if you read a funny poem, there was mostly no laughter or applause. It was quite scary as you had no way to gauge the response to your work! After my reading, I decided not to stay and head into the main hall for the bands - wondering if my first ever reading was a success or failure! On the way out of the room I was pulled over by the girlfriends of Fresh Maggots who gave me some positive feedback - much appreciated at the time. We went off then to see the bands. The atmosphere outside the poetry room (Airport lounge) wasn't anywhere near as quiet and there was a fun - even carnival atmosphere - with street theatre - Pinter plays and music.

The reports of the festival at Warwick given by there girlfriends were so good Mick and Leigh wrote to me to ask me to help get them a gig at Warwick (see letter) and i remember going over to the student union office to sing their praises!  It wasn't any kind of burden as I really loved the music of Fresh Maggots and still do.We went off to see the bands and they told me they had come to try and get a gig at the University of Warwick for Fresh Maggots. I took them down to the Student Union office and told them about how well they had gone down at the Umbrella Club.

A year later I met Dennis Burns (Flood guitarist) at Shilton who, living in Nuneaton, not only knew the guys but roadied for them and played with them in other outfits. Much much later in 2007 Dennis found the Hobo site and on behalf of the guys created a Vox blog for Fresh Maggots. Some of the material here came from that site - now sadly closed down.

.................... more tracks on youtube.

The blurb in Umbrella News read “A rock group from Nuneaton as outrageous as their name, which promises good entertainment for devotees”.

Backbeat: Folk duo Fresh Maggots' album now sells for hundreds by Pete chambers - Coventry Telegraph Dec 13th 2012
"FORTY years ago a Nuneaton prog-folk duo released a single in Europe that effectively signalled the end of
their career. The record was 'The Car Song' by the deliciously titled Fresh Maggots, consisting of lifelong friends Leigh Dolphin and Mick Burgoyne. The band got their interesting name when reading the Tribune and spotting an advert for Riley's Sports shop proclaiming "Fresh maggots always available".

They got a lucky break while playing a gig in Wolvey Village Hall. 
In the audience that night was Mike Berry from Sparta Florida Music Company. He liked what he had heard and offered them a chance to demo their material in London. Just a week later the guys were signing a publishing contract in his Oxford Street office.

"It took a while before we got an actual recording contract," admits Leigh. Mike takes up the story. "We were playing a gig in Coventry when during the set there was a power cut. I had a transistor amplifier that ran on batteries, which I used to tune up with so we carried on the set. Afterwards two blokes came and told us they were from
RCA. A week later we were in London signing the record contract."

Their one and only album was recorded over a period of several months at The Radio Luxembourg studios in London.

What came out of those sessions was a unique blend of melodic acoustic folk juxtaposed with screaming fuzzed electric guitar all topped off by Mick's pure vocal style. It may sound a recipe for disaster but the whole thing worked perfectly, stunning guitar work providing the perfect crescendo for the quieter thought-provoking passages.

It's often hard to believe there are only two people making this music. The album cost 1,500 pounds to make (including 700 pounds for the string section).

The cover was shot in Blackwater Park in Buckinghamshire and designed by prog-rock cover-king 'Keef'. It hit the streets in autumn 1971. It included the song 'Who's to Die' which was inspired by a near fatal car accident in Coventry's Eagle Street, and the title of the song Rosemary Hill was inspired by the Kenilworth road of the same name.

The album gained some rave reviews and they supported the likes of Peter Hammill's Van der Graaf

Generator, Medicine Head and John Martyn. They also played two live Radio One shows and the famous Marquee Club supporting Wild Turkey.

Despite their success they were reluctant to leave their day jobs, which had a negative effect on their career. The single was released in the UK at the end of 1971, and in Europe in 1972 and that really should have been the last anyone would hear of them.

That happily wasn't the case, many years later the band were regularly being played on American radio, prompting the release of the album on CD in 1995 on Amber-sound.

Look on the net, and re-release versions (entitled 'Hatched') are selling for silly prices (around 25 pounds); the original 1971 album (if you can find it) goes for even sillier money, with some places asking the likes of 500 to 600 pounds!

Leigh remembers seeing them in the sale bin in Nuneaton's Woollies for 50p. "I can't believe I never bought any" he says!"

Read more:

Although Fresh Maggots were short-lived and the album didn't sell first time around - it has become cult in the psychedelic / acid-folk circles as revealed on one of the sites with this review by Mason Jones
As a reviewer, having one's expectations dashed can be either a very sad affair or a pleasant surprise.
Fresh Maggots – a pair of young lads from Nuneaton, England – can be placed firmly in the latter camp. Hatched was many, many years ahead of its time with its combination of folk and fuzz-driven psych rock. Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin met as teenagers during the late '60s, both already gigging – Dolphin as an accomplished acoustic guitarist, Burgoyne on electric guitar, glockenspiel, and more – and teamed up to combine the rock and folk sounds they enjoyed. After only their second show as Fresh Maggots, they were signed to a management contract and proceeded to record their one and only album at the end of 1970. It took a year for the album to be released, and then, despite critical praise, it failed to sell primarily due to RCA's poor support and lack of promotion. And there ends the story, aside from the ever-escalating collector prices fetched by copies of the album and ongoing interest from fans who discover the band.

What makes the album stand out from the crowd is difficult to summarize. Dolphin's aptitude on the acoustic guitar, and Burgoyne's smooth vocals, are a good part of it, but clearly they were not alone in those departments at that time and place. Burgoyne's interjections of unexpectedly searing fuzz guitar could have felt gimmicky, but instead add a much-appreciated edge and energy to the songs, and his playing fits in tightly rather than feeling out of place. A song like "Balloon Song" could have been a light-hearted throw-away; instead, it's that most unusual of things, a rocking folk song.

"Rosemary Hill" is the album's strongest song: clear, chiming acoustic guitar and gorgeous vocals with
carefully orchestrated strings and glockenspiel that will lead you to sing along. It's odd that this is one of the cleaner songs, no electric guitar to be found, but it's also one that doesn't need anything more. "Dole Song" opens the album with strummed acoustic and a thick electric lead, a protest song of sorts – it even has a flute-led chorus – but it's no flower-power lament. "Frustration," as suits its name, contains some of the most memorable guitar interplay, with Dolphin's frenzied acoustic strumming interlocking with fast fuzzed leads by Burgoyne.

 Thanks to Sunbeam, the Fresh Maggots should now reach another new audience, and the label's done a very nice job with the reissue. Liner notes discuss the band's history and the songs, and the booklet also includes scanned press clippings, photos, and the original press release from 1971. As if that weren't enough (it's certainly more than most reissue labels manage), the CD includes seven bonus tracks that are anything but filler. The single B-sides are obvious choices, but it's the five live recordings that shine, demonstrating that the duo was more than able to do the songs justice at their shows."
By Mason Jones

Fresh Maggots invited were also invited to play Windsor Free Festival with Trilogy & A Band Called George a bit later on in 1973 / 4

These are the sleeve notes from the album “Fresh Maggots” (RCA Victor SRMC 1039), released in 1971)
"Fresh Maggots are just two people – 19 year olds Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England – and long before this album was conceived they were inspiring music journalists to the sort of fulsome praise usually reserved for established stars.

Mick plays electric guitar with remarkable virtuosity and adds to their sound, glockenspiel, tambourine, violin and two tin whistles in harmony. Leigh contributes his considerable talent on acoustic guitar and writes the music to match Mick’s lyrics.

Between them and producer Mike Berry they have made an album which brings new life to the area of today’s music we call folk/ rock."

The tracks from our album have since been re-released, together with our single "Car Song/ What would you say" and seven bonus tracks, by Sunbeam Records on a CD entitled "Hatched" (SBRCD5002) and can be purchased from the following link:

Hope you like our music.  Mick & Leigh .

Dennis Burns wrote one of their lyrics in my communications book in 1972 (although he doesn't now remember!)


When she laughs her face lights up
Face lights up
When she laughs her face lights up
Face lights up
When she laughs the sun and moon
Are put to shame by the brightness of her smile
Of  her smile
And I love her, she’s all mine.

When she laughs she makes life worth while
Life worth while
When she laughs she makes life worth while
Life worth while
When she laughs all my problems swept away
By the brightness of her smile
Of her smile
And I love her she’s all mine.

When I’m sad she makes me laugh
Makes me laugh
When I’m sad she makes me laugh
Makes me laugh
When she laughs all my problems
Are swept away by the brightness of her smile
Of her smile
And I love her, she’s all mine.

Fresh Maggots are working on a new album for 2017-
You can keep up to date via their Facebook page HERE

As they are today...

Their place in the Coventry Music Museum

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rob Armstrong - Coventry Folk Musician and Luthier

Rob Armstrong - Coventry Folk Musician and Luthier

Rob Armstrong has built guitars and instruments for George Harrison, Gordon Giltrap, Bert Jansch, Martin Jenkins and Dave Cooper and Kevin Dempsey of  Dando Shaft, Alvin Lee, Joe Brown, Dave Swarbrick, Mark (Bedders) Bedford (Madness), Martin Barre (of Jethro Tull)

This article is republished from FOLKS MAGAZINE - COVENTRY 1979 Issue No 8 July - August - by Pete Willow


Special report by Pete Willow on the Coventry folk musician who (in the 70's and well beyond) was gaining a world wide reputation as a builder of fine guitars.

On August 4th 1976, Coventry Evening Telegraph reporter, Martin Swain, published a feature entitled "Bob carves melody from Wood". He had visited Rob Armstrong at this flat and workshop in Brays Lane and had evidently been impressed by the fine craftsmanship that went into the instrument Rob was producing; particularly the six string mahogany guitar that he'd made as a present for his wife, Lynn, standing alongside another he'd built to celebrate the birth of his son, Nathan.

Recently, I visited Rob's new home in Stratford St., and the first guitar he showed me was the one he'd built
Rob Armstrong with Bert Jansch
for his second son, Thomas. The distinctive "A" symbol was displayed as usual on the headstock, beneath which were the letters "T.A." . As one might expect,it was shorter in length than the average acoustic guitar but the shape of the soundbox was unique - disproportionately narrow but with plenty of depth, creating a 'squashed' effect that was never the less pleasing to the eye.

One would have imagined such an instrument to have a thin unmelodic sound, but Rob played a chord that had as much, if not more depth and resonance than one would expect from any good quality, commercially built guitar. All of the more unorthodox looking instruments that Rob produced in the past seem to measure up to his more standard models in some quality; it seems he is able to produce exquisite tone from almost any shape of soundbox, as if by magic.

One wonders, when talking to Rob, whether he is concealing some great trade secret in the design of his guitars, a certain inner knowledge coveted by other guitar builders that enables him to continue to producing instruments, two of which are never the same, yet with a consistent sound quality. For exactly a year now he has been operating from his workshop in Spon End.

Before then, his reputation was good. Since then it has steadily improved as the standard of his finished instruments has progressed along the seemingly infinite road towards perfection; he states profoundly but without conceit "There just isn't a bad guitar coming out of the workshop now" As for the "great secret", Rob can't put his finger on it either:

"They are just bits of wood' but its only when you are working on them and you feel confident that you are
making progress...You can just be starting another guitar and say "As long as I can make another one as good as the last one, I'll be quite happy". Generally something happens half way through, usually an accident or a thought that's never occurred to you before. It just hits you and really knocks you sideways to think that you've done this job so many times, even if it's only something in order to get it more perfect.

"The theory part of it all seems to be one vast mystery that is destined to remain a mystery. That little guitar..." he points to the one he's built for young Thomas,".. you predict it's going to be a tinny, thin sound. You put the strings on and it's got more bass than a standard Eko. It's great mystery; it's like being able to feel your way round in the dark, but never quite being able to see where you are - just having the capacity to move about within darkness."

Rob gave me a couple of examples of discoveries he has made simply through experience of building guitars. One was with back strutting, the basic purpose of which is to keep the the back of the guitar rigid and to stop it splitting. Rob discovered that there had to be something else he could do with these triangular strips of wood to contribute towards the overall sound of the guitar. So in his latest instrument the strutting is angles so that the main face is directed towards the sound hole. ( see the diagram). Another example was the bridge saddle, a small piece of material holding the strings up from the bridge
that has quite an effect upon the guitar's general sound. Having considered the use of different materials; bone, ivory; plastics, brass; Rob turned his thoughts to other aspects that could easily be overlooked; the depth of the saddle in the wood, the tightness of the fit.

No matter how small the detail within the overall construction of the instrument, Rob is always seeking ways
to progress from ideas used in previous instruments. That not only means that each guitar is unique in its construction, but also is, in essence, the 'great secret', simply that each new guitar is innovative in (sometimes) the smallest detail. As Rob says, "Each little bit of the guitar, the things that you disregard, all of a sudden become very important and worth investigating" In order to prove the contribution towards the total effect of each new idea, he would have build identical instruments, one with and one without the idea being tested. But by the time Rb starts work on his next guitar, new ideas strike him that he has to incorporate. And so it goes on. The only test is the ultimate one, the sound produced by the finished instrument. By then it's impossible to say which innovation has done more to add to that sound; the important thing is that the guitar itself is right.

Rob had been playing guitars long before he considered building them, and had spent a lot of time working with Rod Felton in the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band. One day he looked at his Gibson J45 guitar and decided that there was no reason why he could not produce one himself. As Martin Swain's article points out, the decision to start building guitars was a brave one, as Rob's knowledge then was limited to what chords could be played. He had even failed woodwork at school.

In May 1971, the first Armstrong guitar was ready. No 023/571, it was constructed from red fibreglass and Rob sold it for £42. Over the next four years he produced another thirty-seven fibreglass guitars, before moving into wood. He built two guitars from plywood and then began using solid woods, the types that he uses today; rosewood, walnut, cedar, mahogany, bird's eye maple and ebony.

Dando Shaft guitarist Dave Cooper croons through an old standard at luthier Rob Armstrong's house in Coventry, October 2006, on one of Rob's guitars.

 Up until this time there had been little discipline in his approach to the work. Rob had very few orders; he
 just made the instruments and found he was able to sell them when they were ready. In 1973 he married Lynn and found it necessary to become more organised in order to gain financial security.

For six months, he took a job, boat building in Rugby and soon realised that the discipline of being employed could easily be applied to the thing he was really interested in. So he applied it. In the winter he works at least 9 to 5; in the summer the hours are longer. He doesn't bother with lunch or coffee breaks, but just eats and drinks while he's working. He says that he feels he should give himself the sack if he turns up late at the workshop. In the past he has been described as a perfect rebel  in that what he does is unorthodox  yet he still uses orthodox principles to be successful in his work.

As he built more instruments, orders started to come in regularly and now many folk musicians,local and national now possess Armstrong guitars. Bert Jansch now has two Armstrong's  a six string acoustic (no.100, which is Rob's pride and joy and one he put a lot of effort into building), and an acoustic cutaway. (Previously, Jansch was reputed to have said that he'd never own more than one guitar.) Kevin Demsey owns a hollowneck acoustic guitar made by Rob and Eddie Furey has an Armstrong double neck guitar.

But orders were not only for folk guitars. Rob had been doing some repair work for Fairport Convention bassist, Dave Pegg. Dave called to collect the instruments and tried out one of Rob's electric guitars that was in the workshop at the time. He immediately commissioned Rob to build him an electric bass, the first one in fact that Rob had ever made. Up until now, Rob has also built mandolins, double-necked acoustic guitars, semi-acoustics, a "Quindolin" and more recently acoustic bass guitars. He is presently working on a new mandocello for Martin Jenkins.

Rob moved out of Brays Lane last yer to set up his new workshop at Spon St. This was part of a scheme to Dave Cooper, who also started doing various jobs and now specialises in repairs to the recent batch of instruments. The two of them, along with Chris, who got involved with the workshop six months ago through the job opportunities shame and ended up building his own electric with nothing by verbal advice from Rob, have just set up in yet another workshop.
provide work opportunity for young people and a few lads have since helped out there with the more uncomplicated tasks. At the time the new workshop was set up, Rob was joined by guitarist

This is part of a Crafts Complex that is being organised at Hill St. near the Belgrade Theatre and promises to fulfill a great ideal as far as Rob is concerned. The complex is a row of four preserved cottages, converted in to eight workshops, each one of which will be occupied by someone who specialises in a particular craft. Out of about a thousand applicants, Rob, Dave and Chris were accepted to join the complex, which is part of a tourist route in the city, along with places like old Bablake and Ford's Hospital  At the moment Rob is spending his spare time making miniature reproductions of his acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos to sell as souvenirs. Like the real thing, these are intricately detailed and quite beautiful.

Rob Armstrong with a guitar for Bert Jansch
With the help of Dave and Chris Rob has been able to improve the general organisation and efficiency within the workshop settling. Long gone are the days he built one guitar at a time; there are now several on the go at a time; some to meet specific orders and others to build up stock of available instruments. He is beginning to receive orders now from shops as well as from private individuals and has just completed two; one for a shop in Denmark the other for a shop in Japan.

He ensures that he has enough fittings and raw material to keep him busy, reordering items like trussrods (which can be infuriatingly difficult to get hold of) when he's down to his last twenty or thirty, and owning enough wood at present to build another two hundred instruments. His aim is to produce four instruments a month without skimping in any way on quality.

His latest, no 159, stands resplendent in the front room of his house. The front of the sound box is cedar, the sides and back are rosewood, spliced on the back with bird's eye maple, producing an unusual and dramatic effect. The shape of the sound box follows a recent line Rob has been working on; the curves on the side appear to be tighter ans drawn up to an almost straight top, leaving the overall shape to be both modern and graceful in appearance  The fretboard is rosewood, as is the headstock which is narrow and appears elongated, a very simple but eye catching shape. The bridge is equally simple: flat on one side and convex on the other, looking good but uncomplicated. The finish is immaculate and without blemish, and the sound, needless to say, is incredible.
(This is Phil Lewis playing my Rob Armstrong acoustic guitar I've owned for around 9 years. The guitar was previously owned by Gordon Giltrap. The song I'm playing is my own and is called 'Fairy Tale'. )
From listening to Rob talking about his guitars, it is easy to get involved with in the enthusiasm he generates. We were going to discuss his work in terms of past, present and future, but really the future is obvious; he'll just keep building more and more instruments. By adopting the attitude, however, that each guitar is special" he has no plans to fall into the rut of mass-production. Even if he is fulfilled in his work and even if he feels one hundred % satisfied with each guitar, the innovator within him will always take over as he starts on his next one. Thus each new musical instrument that comes out of the Armstrong Workshop is a progression towards perfection.

Bert Jansch and Dando Shaft's Martin Jenkins both used Rob Armstrong instruments and bert has one in this video .
According to Pete Chambers in his Ultimate Guide Coventry Music Old and New - Godiva Rocks - Rob has built guitars for George Harrison, Alvin Lee, Joe Brown, Gordan Giltrap, Martin Jenkins,(Dando Shaft), Mark (Bedders) Bedford (Madness), Martin Barre (of Jethro Tull who who studied architecture at the Lanch in the sixties), Dave Swarbrick (of Fairport Convention)

Rob Armstrong has played with Rod Felton in the New Modern Idiot Grunt band (see separate entries on the Grunt band and Rod Felton), Music Box with Colin Armstrong (see press cutting), Quiet Riot with Martin Jenkins, and with a host of famous /semi famous musicians including Bubs White (Bonzo Dog Band).

Read about Rob Armstrong's own musical career on this blog -
New Modern Idiot Grunt Band (with Rod Felton )

Music Box (with Colin Armstrong and Pip

'I am proud to put my name to this guitar

and for it to be part of my musical legacy'.

– Gordon Giltrap
Highly regarded as one of the worlds greatest guitar players, Gordon has been at the forefront of acoustic guitar playing since the late 1960's and has released more than thirty albums in his four decades in the music business. Designed in conjunction with respected master luthier Rob Armstrong and Gordon himself, the crossover Grand Auditorium/000 style Vintage VE2000GG Gordon Giltrap Signature electro-acoustic is based on a hand-crafted instrument that Rob made back in 1980 and Gordon plays today. Featuring a high grade solid North American cedar top, with mahogany back and sides, the signature ‘small waist’ body is complemented by Rob’s trademark headstock design.

The bridge is high grade rosewood, with a gradually compensated natural bone saddle providing excellent intonation, whilst the mahogany neck comes with a top quality rosewood fingerboard, with genuine abalone inlays and side dot markers. Electrics are provided via a Fishman Presys Blend preamp and Sonicore pickup system, which features a built in-microphone with mic blend control, notch -– anti feedback control, phase control button, three band EQ and volume control as well as a built-in guitar tuner, with flip-top easy battery access.

Gordon comments "My original guitar has a very strong treble with a sort of springy and expressive sound to the bass end. The new Vintage guitar has all of this combined with an overall warmth and balance to its tonality."

Comments from the Hobo site on Vox (now closed)

get in touch if u remember us.u used to live

Posted by: alan&sonia | 02/22/2010 at 03:47 PM