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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Paul Roberts

    MICHAEL SETH::

    I’m Michael Seth and I’m interviewing Paul Roberts. There’s lots of stuff that I’ve heard that you actually do like play many instruments and you’ve got many degrees and stuff. I just want you to tell everybody what you actually do.

    PAUL ROBERTS:

    Do for a living like or musically?

    Everything.

    Right. Okay, well musically I play…I play lots of different kinds of music although they’re all related, in my head at least there are all various kinds of traditional or traditional derived music ranging from English traditional dance music, from as far back as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through to stars like ‘Western Swing’ and ‘Rockabilly’ from the mid-twentieth century. I don’t listen to much music that was recorded after about 1955 [laughing], nor do I play it. Oh and what instruments. Yeah, well these days I mostly play the fiddle until my arm started playing up I did anyway. I suppose since the age of thirty which is now thirty years I’ve mostly played the fiddle. That’s not the first instrument I learnt though. The first instrument I learnt was the highland bagpipes when I was sixteen. I played in a pipe band for a couple of years and then I went on to university and I learnt the guitar. I played blues guitar for several years, more the old country blues style rather than the Chicago style urban blues. Then I got very much into the white equivalent of that type of music, what they call old time, the old time string band music from 1930’s America, and from that I got into styles like blue grass and western swing. Again this is all on the guitar, but all the time I was very interested in English and other British Isles traditional music. The first music I really got heavily into was actually Irish music when I was about fourteen because a lot of our neighbours were Irish back then in the sixties you know, so I always toured around a bit with instruments like the tin whistle and the melodeon and the mouth organ. I got fed up with playing the guitar really towards the end of the seventies because it was too big and bulky to cart round all over the place, particularly hitch hiking and I was moving away from the American stuff, I was going through one of my phases, I was more into the British Isles stuff, particularly the English stuff so I started playing the tin whistle and the mouth organ mostly, and then I learnt the fiddle when I was twenty-nine or thirty. I’d always wanted to play the fiddle but I used to think ‘well I’ve stopped playing the pipes, I’ve stopped playing this and now I’ve stopped playing the guitar. If I start playing the fiddle everything will just go completely’…it was my dad that gave me the money to go out and buy one. He said to me one day ‘you’ve always said that you’d like to play the fiddle so here’s twenty-five quid, go and buy one’ and twenty-five quid was a lot of money in those days as well so you could. At that time I started playing the fiddle. What I didn’t know was apparently my grandma was a fiddle player – Dad’s mum was a fiddle player. I didn’t find this out till much later but that probably gave him some incentive to give me the money. And then I did – oh I should have mentioned – after I started playing the fiddle everything else as I thought did just go by the board, I stopped playing everything but a couple of years after I’d started playing the fiddle I did start playing an instrument called the border pipes, well it’s a kind of bagpipe that used to be widespread throughout northern Britain. The earliest pictures we have of people playing it are from seventeenth century Oxfordshire so it was…the last redoubts were up in Caithness and Aberdeen so it was a very widely played instrument. It’s had different names in different areas and at different times but nowadays people usually call them the border pipes. I played those for a couple of years and then they fell of the edge of the plank and I’ve just started playing them again in the last eighteen months.

    How come?

    How come? Well… as I say I played all these other instruments and they fell off the edge of the plank and I wasn’t really that bothered, but when I stopped playing the pipes I didn’t really want to stop playing them, it was just for reasons of time; I just couldn’t fit them into what was a very very busy life as a young parent. I kept on playing the fiddle because I got money playing the fiddle but the pipes were a bit sort of individualistic I suppose you know. The music I was playing on them was very obscure. Very few other people could play it. They were keyed in B flat which is not a key that most musicians, well not string musicians are happy with and I just didn’t have time basically to keep playing them and it was always in my head I’d like to pick them up again. I started playing them again in the last eighteen months because my children are now of an age where it become possible you know, the youngest is now seventeen and the eldest is twenty-seven, twenty-eight and I just thought it was time to start reclaiming some of these bits of my old life you know [laughing], so I started playing them again.

    Do you find it hard to carry on learning at an older age?

    In some respects yes. The problem all musicians have and it’s not just musicians, I think all human beings have, it’s a problem of life in general. As you get older you develop skills, wisdom, moderation and a refined taste in all sorts of different ways and as you’re improving your body is collapsing around you. I mean particularly now with the fiddle, I can’t play the fiddle at the moment. The doctor’s banned me because I’ve damaged the nerve in my left arm you know and I have arthritis in my fingers now and this is what happens, this is what happens to all of you, so I mean my knowledge about my instruments and the music I play you know is obviously way, way advanced from when I first learnt and potentially my skill in playing would be, it’s just your body that lets you down you know. Your brain goes as well, people don’t allow for that. When I started playing the pipes again actually the main thing I noticed was my fingers were fine, probably because I’d been playing the fiddle in the intervening years so I was still wriggling them about regularly yeah. The big problem I had was actually in my brain you know. I used to be able to just pick a tune up – you’d whistle me a tune and I’d play it, or I’d think of a tune and I could just play it straight off. I never ever forgot anything. I could play through a book of – back in the days when I played highland pipes I could play through a book of tunes and I’d virtually know them at the end of it you know, but all that kind of thing has gone, you get much slower, but your brain cuts out. I found that I’d be playing something and suddenly it’s just like something drops a plank across the road in your head, it just suddenly goes, it’s bizarre you know, so that’s more of a weakness than the physical thing I’d say.

    How did you get into the entire scene of folk and I hear that you’ve played with many big…big people, famous people throughout the years.

    Well, what’s famous? [laughing] I’ve played with people who are big fish in small ponds as the saying goes yeah. Within the genres I’ve been playing yeah. But like over the last decade I was lucky to play with several old American stars from the late forties, early fifties hillbilly/rockabilly era you know, touring over here. People you probably wouldn’t have heard of unless you were very into country music or rockabilly you know. Several of them I must have played with, it pretty might well have been their last performance. There was a guy called Hardrock Gunter, he died shortly after I did a gig with him, and Hank Thompson who was a big country star in the fifties and sixties, he did shortly after I played with him, you know these were all old guys. Some of them are still around I think. There’s a guy called Frankie Miller I think he still is, and Haden Thompson who was one of the sad rockabillies you know, there was Elvis and Carl Perkins and all these people who everyone has heard of, he’s still around, he’s still playing. I’ve met quite a few people who are very very good traditional musicians. I don’t mean by that people out of the folk scene but people who’ve grown up with traditional music as just as their natural everyday music, part of everyday life but…I suppose how far they’d be considered famous is I suppose some people would – yeah, I think people like the pipercWillie Clancy and members of t’other ceilidh band in West Clare, Peter O’Donell and Agnes White, I mean in Irish music terms you know you’d mention to people and ‘you didn’t meet them did you?’ I mean they were just dead ordinary people you know, they weren’t any kind of superstars, they were the sort of people who’ve become famous amongst a small coterie, you know, enthusiasts.

    How do you think Hebden Bridge has actually helped your knowledge and growing in the folk scene?

    I don’t know really, it’s just a nice place to live you know. I mean most my musical contacts are elsewhere you know and I have a lot of friends in Bradford, I play in a Cajun band that’s based in Bradford. I have a lot of musical contacts in Scotland, Cheshire and that way. I tend not to be so much around this area. I’m playing in a band at the moment that’s based in Blackpool in West Lancashire you know.

    Do you also compose music?

    I have done yeah. I don’t think of it as something that I do. I’ve written a few songs that just sort of came out, I never…I don’t sit down and think ‘right I’ll be a songwriter’ you know

    So it mainly comes from the top of your head.

    Just wandering along and it’s come off the top of my head yeah. I’ve written a couple of songs that I’ve tried to pass off as traditional songs…..not to a point successfully [laughing] I’ve had them come back to me you know, ‘yeah I heard this great old song’ and I’m thinking ‘I wrote that’ you know [laughing]. And also when I’m playing stars like the fifties, 1940’s, fifties hillbilly, western swing, string jazz from the thirties, all these improvisational styles and they were essentially sort of making it…you know, you’re composing as you go along really every time you play a break you never play it the same way twice. I’ve composed pipe and fiddle tunes too but I’ve probably forgotten them which is the nature of that kind of music really.

    Have you seen many differences round Hebden Bridge in the last twenty, thirty years since you started playing?

    Hebden Bridge has got a lot more gentrified hasn’t it I think. It’s gone, it’s gone through….it’s gone through this process that you see all over the country, usually in inner-city areas I think, but Hebden’s one of these rural areas I suppose like Stroud is similar I think, where the same thing’s happened. First of all you’ve got the so-called hippies, most of whom would not have called themselves hippies, and not only that – going back a bit to the sixties and seventies when I was young, it used to really irritate me that people would call me a hippy and it used to irritate all my friends. We didn’t regard ourselves as hippies, we regarded hippies as this particular sub-sect who to us were very defined, we knew who they were and they knew who we were, but to the older people, particularly the media we were all hippies. If you weren’t a normal person leading a normal life you were a hippy, so anyway when the so-called hippies moved into the Hebden Bridge area, this process begins I think where you can see the same thing happening in areas of the inner-city of Leeds where I once lived. They start improving the area because they’re fairly enterprising people, they start a lot of little businesses, they’re all going into self-employment because they don’t want to be hired by the capitalist wage machine, and so what was a depressed area which they…they moved into the area because it was run down you see, it was cheap and they could afford to live there, so what was a depressed area then starts to build up and it gets a vibe and there’s lots of things going on, and then the proper middle-classes sort of see it and think ‘what a nice place, they’ve got a health food store, ooh and there’s regular gigs at the pub, we’ll go there’ and then you get the proper gentrification where the media people and the solicitors and what not move in and house prices go through the roof, and every other building in town becomes a café selling food that you can’t afford.

    So really the music’s helped the economy to grow?

    I think it’s probably been part of it, yeah, yeah. It’s like the Trades Club is like a known venue with touring bands playing any kind of roots music from all over the world you know, and it’s just this little room in this little building in this little town you know, and the people who play there is phenomenal you know.

    Do you think it’s harder for my age group to actually get into the entire folk scene, cos some people would say it’s come and gone like the rock scene.

    No I would have thought it was easier if you want to. You’ve got to remember that when people like me got into this kind of music, or these kind of musics, it wasn’t that easily accessible you know, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have bargain bins in every supermarket and garage selling CDs and cassettes of every kind of music you could think of, you had to really hunt it out, you know when I got into western swing for example which was a style of country music, very jazz influenced, a style of country music that was big in the south west USA in the thirties and forties, when I got into that in the early seventies there were only about four of five LPS of it around and to get them, I had to hitch hike down to London to a specialist record shop, you know, it was like that then and you would find out – in this kind of hunting down you would find other styles of music you know, so we all kind of hunted this stuff and found it for ourselves, now it’s all on tap, so now I would think you could get into any kind of music you wanted very very easily you know.

    Do you have to be able to read music to actually

    No, no, no, not at all. My musical reading skills are very very poor indeed. I was bottom of the class at music at school, literally. I was….none of it made any sense to me, it didn’t relate to me, you know, I had no reason to read music then. They tried to teach us and it just didn’t relate to my life, although I listened to all manner of music you know. They tried to teach me the recorder and I was the only one that couldn’t do it. It was basically that I didn’t want to you know. I learnt to read music backwards, by learning to play and then associating what I’d played with what was written on the page, do you see what I mean? I’d move my fingers in this way and that relates…this is this tune I’m playing, it’s here on the piece of paper, when I move that finger that relates to that dot, that relates to that dot, then you see that the way the notes are arranged relates to the rhythm, the way you play it, and so I kind of learnt to read that way after the event.

    I do exactly the same thing with my instrument.

    I think a lot of people do that actually. In general with musical theory, I just find out what I need to know as I go along and I know quite a lot now actually, not just about being able to read music, I know a lot about musical theory, but it’s what I’ve taught myself as my curiosity has led me on to as I’ve needed to know it, you know.

    Don’t you have quite a few diplomas, like to do with music and stuff?

    To do with music? No, no, I was historian.

    A historian?

    I don’t know if that’s….I won some piping competitions in the eighties which I entered when I was first playing the border pipes, not that there was a great deal of competition in those days.

    So you say you was a historian?

    Well I still am really, it’s like being a Catholic – once a historian always a historian, it’s the way you start looking at the world really. Yes I was always interested in history at school. I went to Leeds University to study History in 1967. I went on to do a PhD, although I never finished it because I……basically I made the mistake….you know in those days you’d get the grant for three years to do the PhD and everyone would tell you ‘do it in the three years otherwise you’re sunk and of course I just wanted to do the best job possible, I was going to write this ultimate thing on the subject I was studying and I’d barely even finished the research after three years, let alone start writing and of course after that you’re on your own, you have to start making a living and it just gets pushed to one side, so I was still theoretically doing it when my first child was born and I agreed to stay at home to look after him and I thought ‘well I’ll just shelve this until he’s a bit older’ you know, and then I split up with my first wife and became a single dad and shortly after that I started up my own business selling World War II flying clothing and vintage clothing and I never picked up the threads of my PhD, but I am still basically a historian – I look at everything from a historical point of view including music and I do – I write stuff – I’ve written quite a bit about traditional music and country music, jazz and stuff and it’s always a kind of historical slant to it.

    So you say you go on tour quite a lot. Do you ever find that that gets in the way of you working?

    Well, playing music’s always been part of how I earn my living, you know, people say – to most people you’re a thing aren’t you, you know – you’re a sheet metal worker or you’re a solicitor or you’re an artist or whatever, but I’ve always done different things you know, so I’ve always made my living both by wheeler-dealing in the clothing, vintage clothing, and by playing music. That’s what kept me playing the fiddle actually, was the fact that through my years as dad, was that I was getting money playing the fiddle you know, and I could justify it whereas the pipes for example, the border pipes, I let them slip because I wasn’t getting money for them and I couldn’t justify the times I had to play them.

    So it’s a career as well as escapism.

    Oh yeah, yeah, it’s part of my living, yeah.

    What musical things are you involved in at the moment?

    I play in several bands. I play in a Cajun band in Bradford, they’re based in Bradford, called ‘The Cajun Aces’, which was probably the best Cajun band in the country in my opinion anyway, but it’s kind of fallen apart now, we just do the occasional gig. Someone phones up and says ‘do you still exist?’ we say ‘yes, yes, give us money!’ [laughing] you know. I play in a couple of English country dance bands based round this area. The main one is called ‘Tenterhooks’ and that’s just a trio. It’s an attempt to re-create the sound of a typical English village band round about the year 1800, the late 18th early 19th Century period, and we play a lot of music from that era. A lot of it is from old fiddlers’ manuscripts which one member of the band has done a lot of research on and the line-up is just a very basic trio which is like the basic English village band at the time – two fiddles and a cello, that was like you know, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass, the basic rock band you know, without those things you haven’t got it have you, you know, well it’s the same thing – a couple of fiddles and a cello and you’re off, you’ve got the old English village band so we do that and we play authentic music and play it authentic style. I also play in a band that’s based in West Lancashire called ‘The Del Rio Ramblers’. We play country music from the period about 1945 to 1955 and it’s country music, or hillbilly as it was called at the time, just as it’s turning into rockabilly or rock and roll, so it’s kind of like, it’s very up-tempo, a lot of boogy-woogy, up-tempo blues sort of thing you know.

    So do you still like go out touring quite a lot and whereabouts do you go touring?

    I haven’t done any touring for ages actually. I travel quite widely to gigs, you know. I play down in London fairly regularly, up in the north east to Newcastle, Scotland, I travel all over but we don’t usually do extended tours. It’s usually a question of, you know, you drive up to Glasgow for the night and you play, and then you drive back down, and fall asleep, and you could have been anywhere in the world for all you’ve actually seen of the place you know you’ve just been to, but actually funnily enough, I did a gig in Edinburgh this summer where we actually stopped overnight and that was brilliant because we spent the next morning just walking, the whole band, just walking round Edinburgh. You actually felt like you’d been somewhere because normally you just sort of you know, drive in, do the gig, drive out, you don’t really see much of where you’re going. It can get quite hectic as well you know, travelling really takes it out of you, you know.

    So your interest in music and history seem to be linked. Is there any modern music that you like?

    I like all sorts of music actually. There’s more what I’m really into than what I want to play. Yeah, yeah, I like a lot of hip-hop actually. My eldest son is a hip-hop DJ and my middle son’s very into it as well, and a lot of their stuff is brilliant. I mean my eldest son has got a band and he also operates solo, he’s got several albums out and it’s fantastic stuff, brilliant stuff, you know. Yeah, I like all sorts of things really. I’m into good music really. People say to me ‘what’s your favourite kinds of music’ and I’ll say ‘folk music, country music and jazz’ they say ‘what kinds of music do you hate?’ and I’ll say ‘folk music, country music and jazz’ [laughing]. In every genre there’s the good stuff and the bad stuff. Unfortunately, what most people meet first of all, the layer you have to get through, is the bad stuff and you’ll recognise that glimmer of something else and you hack your way through the bad stuff, and the good stuff is waiting behind for you. That’s the way I see it. But in terms of what actually I listen to for fun, it does tend to be older music. I listen to a lot of thirties and forties music. I probably listen to more jazz than anything actually, a lot of thirties forties jazz. I’m very into the string jazz of that era, what people now call gypsy jazz, you know – Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, all those kinds, I listen to a lot, The Ferry Brothers, and then, of course, whatever kind of music you get into leads you into others. From listening to 1930’s European string jazz I got straight into bal-musette you know, which is an older style of French urban dance music very much associated with the accordion and the city of Paris which is where all these guys like Django Reinhardt and The Ferry Brothers, that’s where they were coming from, that’s why their style is so different from American jazz players, typical American string jazz players you know, because they were coming out of this European tradition you know. I listen to a lot of the…I don’t know if you can call it folk music, but folk-like music, roots music is the word people use isn’t it – coming out of Europe in that period – rembatica which is a sort of Greek underworld music from the twenties thirties and forties. I love that, I listen to a lot of that, yeah. You discover these things and one thing just leads to another. I did this with country music you know, I sort of kind of went from listening to country blues into old type, listening to blue grass, listening to western swing and Cajun, it just keeps opening up you know, once you’ve broken through the barrier of the crap [laughing] and you’ve got through to the good stuff.

    So you say your son has a couple of albums, so would you say your entire family area quite musical?

    Yeah…everybody listens to music, everyone’s into music, I was going to say I’m the only one that plays an instrument but it’s not really true is it? Gerard, my eldest son, the DJ, is, well was, a very very good guitar player in a sort of jazz funk sort of style, but then he let that drop when he got into the turntabling, but then playing the turntables is playing an instrument, you know, so yes, he’s a musician, not just in the sense of people you know, understand being a DJ, and my wife plays the cello and tootles around with a mandolin and stuff, but my other two children listen to music but they’ve never expressed much of an interest to play, except when very young. All toddlers want to play an instrument, they hear an instrument, they wish to play it and when they find they can’t immediately produce the sound that you produce they give up [laughing] basically.

    I was very much the opposite. I wasn’t interested in instruments at all then I got to about thirteen and it was like ‘oh let’s get a guitar’

    Right, yeah – it’s about that age I think. Gerard, my eldest son, was like that. When he was twelve or thirteen it just sort of came on him and he wanted to learn the guitar and initially I taught him, and then he went to Pete Bolton who was a well-respected guitar player around Hebden at the time, he now lives in Bridlington, and Pete gave him a few lessons you know, and then he just took off by himself. And then as I say he got into the turntabling and stuff you know, but he’s a very good musician. He listens to lots of different kinds of music which I suppose is one of the things he’s picked up from living here, you know, he has no borders really I think. You hear it – and his friends are like that as well – you hear it in their music, the band that he had, ‘Stateless’ they were called and I mean their first album, the moment I heard it, I thought ‘hang on, there’s a little bit of Rathbone Williams, there’s a little bit of Duke Ellington, there’s a little bit…’ you could just hear all these influences coming out of it you know.

    I see that quite a lot in rock cos like a lot of the bands that I like are starting to get a dance influx and you get viking metal and more folky ones like that and there’s the darker ones that are going in a much more widespread kind of area.

    Yeah, you pick up things from all around you that influence – particularly nowadays because you’re exposed to so much, or you can be if you’ve got the ears

    Like you say, you’re able to just click on the internet and find everything.

    Yes I mean when I was your age music was terribly tribal, it used to really piss me off because even back then I was listening to lots of different kinds of music and the different tribes I was involved in wouldn’t speak to the other tribes, you know they were like – ‘oh you don’t listen to that shit as well do you?’ and I’d say ‘yeah I do actually, and this shit and this shit and this shit’ you know, and I think that’s died out a lot hasn’t it you now, people are a lot more open now because there’s so much music around

    No.

    You don’t think it has?

    No, I’ll walk through wearing a big leather coat and they’re all like ‘oh he must be a Gothic, let’s go and beat him up’

    Yeah that’s more to do with the style of clothing though isn’t it

    Well you say what kind of stuff you like and they just…they don’t like that.

    Yeah, maybe it’s just young people and that sort of tribal

    They just want to fight for the fun of it. What recommendations would you give any up-and-coming musicians?

    Don’t know really. The only thing I can say is just do it cos you like it, and if you don’t like it don’t do it you know, I think once you go down the road of just playing stuff that you’re not interested in just to make a living then it’s time to drop out of it.

    Don’t let anyone else influence you, just do what you want to do.

    Do what you want, yeah, I mean I’ve always played as part of how I earn my living and to some extent you’ll sometimes have to play stuff you don’t particularly feel like, but I’ve never gone down the road of just playing anything, you know, because I could make money out of it, I’ve always played styles of music that I was interested in.

    Do you find that there are less venues nowadays?

    Yes I think that probably is true actually, yeah. Yeah, a lot of the musics I am into because they were outside the mainstream, had their own sort of sub-culture, their own sort of clubs and festivals and weekenders and…and a lot of that’s seemed to have died down, probably for a variety of reasons I suppose, I mean, because there’s so much music people can have at home now, also because people are growing up. It’s like the people I know on the rockabilly scene are sort of mostly in their forties I suppose, people I know on the punk scene are mostly in their fifties and sixties, you know, and this sort of younger generation that’s coming after either haven’t got into that sort of music or haven’t created the same kind of self-contained sub-culture, you know, and then there’s other things aren’t there, like pubs, because pubs used to be very good for providing venues for minority music, and pubs are dropping like flies all around us aren’t they? So yeah, on the other hand, one thing that has not just survived but I think grown and that is the festivals and the weekenders, and I could see that happening in the seventies, say on the folk scene, when people go on about how good the folk clubs were in the past, I think they were finished by the end of the sixties. I never really liked them in the sixties to be honest, and I think by the seventies most folk clubs were just becoming this small clique of social misfits quite honestly [laughing], so you know, closing in on each other in this incestuous manner you know, but the folk festival thing was just expanding rapidly, and that’s where people were going to, not to the clubs but going to the festivals, and I’ve seen this happen with other musics, that’s what’s happened, like with rockabilly and country you know, they’d be creating their own festivals and weekenders and people would think ‘yeah, this is want’ and that would be growing cos it’s a kind of holiday isn’t it, you go away to something, so that is something that has continued to grow and as far as I can see will be with us for a long, long time

    Such as Glastonbury and stuff.

    Sorry?

    Such as Glastonbury and

    Yeah, yeah, yeah I think, but the small local clubs, that seems to have died out a lot with all different kinds of music. It’s still there, it’s still there.

    Do you think if they actually started to do more music in pubs that’s one way of reviving it?

    I don’t know really. There’s a very big difference now actually. When I played in pubs…you see I’ve never liked this thing – with traditional music – with other styles like jazz, rockabilly it’s a bit different. With traditional music I’ve never liked this thing where you go in an upstairs room of a pub…and you sit in reverence by candlelight and someone sings his songs, you’re suppose to listen to him and you’re not supposed to talk or anything, that’s completely artificial for that kind of music. Traditional music was something that lived in pubs or places like pubs, as part of a normal social gathering and everybody took part in it, right…so I kind of at an early age, I shooed the folk clubs and I hung around first in the Irish pubs where I was living, this was in the sixties, where these lads would be coming straight off the boat from West Clare and Kerry and on a Saturday night they’d all pile in and play you know, and take a turn singing and playing and couples would start dancing, and I started finding stuff like this in England as well, which there still was in the sixties and seventies – country pubs would have a regular Saturday night session with, and everybody would take part in it, that was, you know, it was just part of, you know, the expression of community etc etc you know, and some of us was kind of re-creating those kind of sessions in our own local pubs, and in the eighties it still worked you know, I mean me and a mate of mine, we’d go busking, you know, we’d just find a likely looking pub in the town we were playing in, in the markets area usually, and we’d just go in, and there’d always be some old guy who’d say ‘have you got an accordion? Give us a tune’ and we’d start playing and then there’d be some women would start to dance, someone would sing a song you know, that doesn’t happen now. People want you to play, but they want you to play as a performance, you know, you take a pub like The Fox and Goose, there’s a lot of live music; it still tends to be like that, it still tends to be like a performance. People come and they sit and they listen to you, you know, but they don’t join in anymore, and that’s the thing that’s changed….for the worst, definitely.

    I’ve seen it before when there’s been full rooms of guitarists and stuff, just playing for the fun of it.

    Yeah, but the thing – that is great, that’s what so wonderful about The Fox, that this happens there regularly, but the difference is that other people don’t join in anymore, which they would have done.

    It’s always the same people every time.

    Yes, and people will come and sit and listen and really enjoy – and come regularly you know, but people don’t join in, whereas when I was young in the sixties, seventies, eighties, there was still a culture around, particularly in working class areas where people would join in, and if there was music in the pub, then it was open house and then everyone had a party piece, probably several party pieces you know, and that kind of culture seems to have gone, probably another victim of Thatcherism I suppose, trashing the working class of this country you know, destroying their culture.

    That’s it now, thank you.

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About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Get in touch

Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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