The late Rev. Roger Dixon - first to recognise the importance of the songs and tunes of Norfolk's Walter Pardon
North Norfolk folk organiser and archivist Brian Gaudet recalls the remarkable discovery in 1974 of traditional Norfolk singer Walter Pardon at the age of 59 – and the role played by the late Roger Dixon.
A memorial service has been held for the retired East Anglian teacher and clergyman who played a vital role in the discovery of Norfolk source singer Walter Pardon.
The Rev Roger Dixon, who died after a long illness, aged 84, earlier this year, was the lucky link between Walter – his second cousin – and revival singer/musician Peter Bellamy who had once been one of Roger’s school pupils.
If you are going to Folk East this coming weekend (17-19 August at Glemham Hall), you may be looking forward to seeing nationally known acts such as The Oyster Band, or The Young'uns or local acts like Harbour Lights Trio or Capstan Full Strength. But whoever else you see, try not to miss Kath Tait, a singer-songwriter originally from New Zealand but now from London. You may have seen her last year on the Hadleigh Folk Club stage. This year she's appearing twice, first of all on the Broad Roots stage at 2.55 - 3.40 on Saturday afternoon and secondly, back by popular demand on the Hadleigh Folk Club stage (also Broad Roots) at 11.20 on Sunday morning. I predict you'll want to see both her performances.
The route to Wissett on Wednesday August 1 may have been tricky because of road closures, but the evening itself in the village hall was inspiring.
Megan Wisdom, who has been on the local East Anglian folk scene for many years now, lives in Wissett and has just released her first recording: an EP called Tracery, five tracks of traditional songs either unaccompanied or accompanied by a sweet-sounding table harmonium.
Extracts of Megan's songs accompanied by the table harmonium.
The little village hall was packed with Megan's friends, relatives and fellow local musicians all eager to hear the songs on Tracery. When guests arrived they were served coffee, tea or a cold drink by Megan's mum Tracey. Everyone milled around chatting for half an hour or so before Richard Cove explained how the evening was going to run and introduced Megan who then performed the five songs without amplification. Her voice has developed in strength in recent years and her words were perfectly audible even at the back of the hall. By the time she finished, to rapturous applause, it was almost dark outside.
There was then a break for more drinks and cake, of which there was a plentiful supply, all made by Tracey. People were also invited to purchase CDs during this break. There followed a joyous session involving musicians from the area who have followed Megan's career with great interest. Megan was persuaded to sing Betsy Bell, accompanied this time by Lou Beal's skillful step-dancing, then Will Podd, sang the great Stan Rogers' song, Barrett's Privateers - everyone in the room seemed to know the chorus and joined in with gusto. More chorus songs followed with a large number of those present standing at the front belting out Sydney Carter's song John Ball and other songs.
It was a great evening which, in my humble opinion, contrasted very favourably with the sometimes stodgy proceedings at traditional folk clubs and festivals. This was a community event celebrating the achievements of one member of that community who is making inroads into the national folk scene but who remains firmly rooted in her native Suffolk.
There is much more about Megan's life and music-making on her website.
UPDATE - 3 August The stepdance day duly took place in a not-very-big marquee behind The Ship in Blaxhall. This wouldn't have mattered too much if the warm weather had held, instead of which the rain set in and quite a few spectators had to stand outside the marquee and get wet to watch the show. Nevertheless the event went ahead as planned and both competitions were held with EATMT trustees Ivan Cutting and Lindsay Want-Beal and administrator Alex Bartholomew taking charge of proceedings. One or two of the dancers listed had to be called in from the bar to do their bit.
The competitions were followed by a great session in the bar with lively music and more step dancing.
Some photos of the afternoon:
Received from David Cain, the new Operations Manager of East Anglian Traditional Music Trust:
Don’t forget to join us at the Blaxhall Ship! Everyone welcome to dance, take your first steps go or just watch and enjoy some top stepping. As always the event is free, and there will be free parking at Blaxhall Village Hall. The Ship Inn is a short walk from the car parking area. The competitions and music take place in the marquee area behind The Ship Inn. The workshops this year are to be held in the Village Hall. This year please bring with you portable chairs and seating. Should it be wet the event will take place at the Village Hall.
Food will be available on the day from the fantastic kitchen at The Ship Inn. And of course the bar is open!