Rolling on Project

Rolling OnFrom Tony Phillips, Director, Real LIfe Trust

People involved in the Rolling On Project are visiting all the acoustic music sessions and venues in the UK they can find over the next few years for a book and film celebrating the movement we are all part of and checking out the health of community based folk-roots music making in the UK.


(Editor - The first two chapters of the book have now been written and we have agreed to include them as they are written on our website)


Chapter One

They say that folk music is in the blood whereas I know for sure that in my case its mainly in the beer. As I wait to go on stage in the grand final, all I can think of is that is was probably a mistake to have that third pint and dry roasted peanuts are probably not what singers at La Scala tuck into before they give it large on the Puccini. But then thats folk music for you. Ordinary people sharing everyday music. The voice of the people. Sharing rather than performance. Talent optional. Or, depending on your personal stance, thats just a description of bad folk music performed by mediocre musicians who don’t practice enough and have no understanding and less interest in the complexities and standards inherent in the folk tradition.

My own introduction to the folk world occured in the early 1970’s as long haired, split-knee loon wearing teenager tripping over to Hoddesden to catch the old boys in the pub singing dido, bendigo, gentry he was there O and the larks they sang melodious. Strung out on Lord of the Rings, Pink Floyd and the Incredible String Band, my dry soul soaked up the music, my brain letting me know that here was the bardic tradition still alive and kicking in an unbroken line reaching back to the dark ages and beyond, Now that I am grey bearded and old codger-like myself, I realise that these guys were really just blokes learning songs off the radio, cassette tapes or LP’s and it was my role as the younger generation to add the mythology that they were the real deal and I was a green and sappy incomer. I know this for certain because over the years, a number of our younger session members assume I was around at the beginning of the folk revival, asking what it was like and its only when I point out that I was still getting the hang of potty training when Ewan McColl was doing his stuff that they realise that being an old bloke is as much a state of mind as a chronological fact.

This brings me on to key issue no. 1 – the never ending saga called ‘The Death of Folk Music’. Ever since I can remember going to folk clubs and sessions, there has been a predominance of grey haired people of a certain age. When I look at pictures of folk club audiences from the 50’s and 60’s I see oodles of people looking like they have just taken a day off school. These people are now the grey haired brigade. But wait. A more detailed forensic review of the evidence shows clear signs of the grey hairs hanging out in the background or hiding behind the youngsters or even more likely, just out of shot getting another pint or popping out (again) for a leak.

I was young once, at least according to the photo album and I see young people all over the place at festivals, open mics, sessions and clubs but have to agree that the picture is patchy depending on where you go. So far on my travels round the sessions and singarounds, I can say with the researchers clipboard in hand that the average age of the punters is late 40’s plus. On the other hand, at our own sessions I can cite the case of exhibit A (Alice) who first started coming aged 10 and exhibit B, Blaise (more about him later), aged 15. A quick glance over my web based research files reveals that young folkies are to be found all over the UK in great numbers with a widespread but localised distribution.

My friend Cath who co-wrote the Rolling On song is a professional moth-botherer and tells me that it’s quite normal to send out a message to moth-botherers everywhere to record moth numbers and species in their own area followed up by a reporting session back to moth HQ. I suggest we do the same for young folkies and send the results, with details of species and habits, back to Rolling On HQ for analysis. To help you in your task, here is a list of the better known young folkie types:

The Lesser Spotted teenager: in the sense of being spotted hanging out with their folkie parents less and less at festivals as they get old enough to sneak off without a causing major panic and multiple announcements on the PA.

The Dalai-Lama: here’s where Blaise (remember him?) comes to mind. Writing and performing songs that sound like Pete Hammil or Leornard Cohen originals in 2015 when you are all of 15 is direct evidence of folkie reincarnation.

The Folk Mozart: mind-boggling multi-instrumenalists capable of playing 250 tunes at the drop of a hat with the ambition to know 2000 by the time they are 20. Scottish uber-professional folkie (and personal favourite of mine even though I don’t know a word of the Gaelic) Julie Fowlis says she has set a goal of knowing 500 songs by the time she is 50, by way of comparison.

The No-Beardie-Weirdie: young they may be but in every way including poor dress sense, love of good beer and a natural ability to sing like a moose with a sore throat, they are indistinguishable from the old lags, especially in dim lighting in a crowded pub after a few pints.

Do send in in your sightings of any of the above and include details of new species to add to the list.

Hospitality. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why people feel welcome. That’s why they come back. Works the same however old you are. Lilly came in with the family to our session recently. All of 6 years old. When we asked her if she had a song for us she said ‘No, but I can do a dance instead’…and did. How cool was that? The reverse is true too. For those of you who may be taking your first tentative steps into the world of sessions and singarounds, a word to the wise. So that it doesn’t come as a bit of a shock and puts you off ever going out again, here’s a couple of things to be prepared for.

1. Some (rare) sessions are set by Papal Decree that means only Irish tunes can be played. As Tarzan might say: You audience; me somewhere up the sharp end of folk muso autism

2. Some (rare) sessions are ruled by pretend-protestant Henry VIII’s Church of England’s Book of Common Bollocks that mean only English tunes may be played. Facing 47 melodeon players pumping out Shepherds Hey for the first time can be deeply disturbing.

This brings me back nicely to the scene I described way back in the opening paragraph. Here I am about to go on stage in the grand final of the Milkmaid Songwriting Competition. I am about to perform two songs one of which is my offical entry. Now, I am much happier sharing than performing. Let me explain. Performing a song is what you tend to have to do when someone sticks a microphone in your face and you enter into a contract with the audience to entertain them for which they agree to pay attention and either applaud at the end or throw a bottle or two. Sharing a song is what you do when you are sitting in a cosy pub and the rule of going round clockwise means it’s now your turn. Tis true enough that I have done plenty of performing in the past 40 years but I have always done it on the basis of imagining myself to be back in the pub, sharing a song or two with a mate or three over a pint or four. This works well if there are 200 people in the audience or just 2. Some people are in love with performing for it’s own sake but I am not one of them.

The last 10 years or so has seen a huge increase in performance-focused music making for which a lot of the blame can be placed on tacky TV shows like the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent but Open Mics have got a lot to answer for as well. Here’s the thing – I would sell my granny into slavery (only if she was willing of course, she’s a tough old bird) for the principle that anyone is welcome to have a go at sharing a song or a tune in a pub session, whether or not they have a morsel of talent. What I wouldn’t offer my Nan for sale for though is the right of a person without a morsel of talent to share a song LOUDLY down a microphone. Sharing equals anything goes. Performing equals a careful balance between talent and practice. 

So there I was, about to put myself yet again to the test of whether I have sufficient talent and have put in enough hours donkey work to entertain the audiences and the competition judges enough to get an honorable mention. If you have seen the website that goes along with this book you will know already that I got the first prize for ‘Rolling On’, the song we wrote in our own little pub telling the story of session singers and players down the ages. And yet…there I was, a living example of the sharing-performing paradigm. Think I need another pint while I chat it all over for the millionth time with the rest of the folk world.

Read more: Rolling on Project

Wind & Strings Folk Workshop Day

For any woodwind instrument, and bowed & plucked melody string instruments

DATE:             Saturday 7th May 2022            

TIME:              10.00am - 4.30pm  

WHERE:           The Locks Inn, Geldeston, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 0HW

TUTORS:          John Dipper (, Vicki Swan (

Fun, friendly and welcoming workshops for woodwind and string players, led by experienced professional musicians John Dipper (strings) and Vicki Swan (wind). The day offers an inspirational mix of tutored small group learning and mixed strings/wind playing together. 

  • Tunes and harmonies/accompaniments learnt by ear, with sheet music available.
  • Learn how to work out harmonies/accompaniments to enrich and enhance your favourite tunes.
  • Boost your playing confidence and technique, explore British and Swedish folk tunes.

BOOKING A PLACE: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.              Cost per person: £30 Limited number of places.

Sorry, but this workshop day is not suitable for beginner instrumentalists, or guitars


The Locks Inn is a delightfully tranquil and traditional riverside pub that is well known for its music nights and community events. Boats can be moored alongside. It began life as a mill-keepers cottage and has been an inn since the 17th century. It became a community owned pub in 2021.


  • 9.30 - 10.00                 Arrival and Registration/Coffee 
  • 10.00 - 11.30               1st Instrumental Workshop    (wind & strings in separate rooms)
  • 11.30 -11:45                Tea/Coffee Break
  • 11:45 -1 2:30               2nd Workshop - wind & strings together
  • 12.30-1.30                  LUNCH 
  • 1.30 - 3.00                   3rd Instrumental Workshop (wind & strings in separate rooms)
  • 3.00 – 3:15                  Tea/Coffee Break
  • 3:15 - 4.30                   4th Workshop - wind & strings together

 Evening playing session at The Locks Inn- open to workshop participants and local musicians & singers. Flexible start/finish time


  • East Anglian Traditional Music Trust                             
  • Terry Mann (maker of early & folk woodwind)            
  • Rod Ward (maker of traditional fiddles)                      

The pub will be open to the general public all day/evening serving food and drink as normal. There are tables inside and outside with views of the river. The menu will be available nearer the time and include vegan and vegetarian options. We wish to support The Locks Inn in its’ new role as a community pub, so if you prefer to bring your own food it should not be eaten on the pub premises. 

The postcode is NR34 0HW. There is a map/directions on
Geldeston is a village in Norfolk. The villages of Kirby Cane, Ellingham and Gillingham are close by. 

CAR: From Geldeston take Station Road south out of the village, and then turn left down Lock's Lane. This is a long lane that will take you down to the Inn, which lies alongside the River Waveney. Parking available.

PARKING: Disabled parking spaces are available outside the pub. A bigger car park is available just before the pub, about 2 minutes walk away.

TRAIN: Nearest station is Beccles on the Ipswich/Lowestoft (East Suffolk) line. Beccles railway station is approx 3 miles to Geldeston village. The bus service to Geldeston village is limited so a taxi is advised. Local local taxi firms include: Goldline 01502 711611, Kim’s Kabs 01502 712213, Waveney Taxis 01502 733733.

BUS: Although regular buses run to Beccles from Diss, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Norwich, the bus service from Beccles to Geldeston village (Simmonds bus 581) is limited, so a taxi from Beccles is advised. 

BOAT or CANOE: For something different, why not consider a river journey?
You can hire boats and canoes in Beccles and sail up the river to the The Locks Inn (
The bigdogferry runs between the The Locks Inn and Beccles Lido. Contact


  • The Three Rivers Campsite (motorhomes, campervans, tents etc) approx 10 mins walk from the Locks Inn and adjacent to the river.
  • Rowan Craft Marina includes a campsite by the river Waveney in Geldeston.

Beccles: has hotels and B&B. Hippersons Boatyard on the edge of the town has self-catering pods and houseboats and is approx 10 minutes drive to Geldeston village.

Wind Strings


This interview I did with Tony Hall appears in the current issue of Living Tradition magazine. It's a timely reminder, I'd say of Tony's various creative talents.
Simon HainesPage 1

Page 2

Captain Swing

Simon Haines

In 1979, quite out of the blue, I was asked to join a group of musicians who were working on a folk show. The group was called Poor Man’s Burden and the show was Captain Swing; I was asked to play melodeon as well as read the speeches of William Cobbett.

I joined after the group had had a break from rehearsals, so the music was already arranged. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was a time when I was into folk rock and was a massive fan of the Albion Band. For me, Poor Man’s Burden was like an Albion tribute band.

The group organiser and leader was Phil Manchester, a melodeon / fiddle player who conceived the idea of Captain Swing, wrote all the songs and researched the subject matter.

After the performances, Poor Man’s Burden morphed into The Hooligan Ceilidh Band which turned in Bass Instincts and eventually The Hosepipe Band.

You can listen to the whole show below, but there is a CD available. If you'd like one, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more: Captain Swing


REC COVFollowing interest in the recorder as a folk instrument from two articles on this website, Val Woollard has put together a compilation of tracks on which she has played her various recorders. The first is on the 1986 Bass Instincts album Strippers's Waltz, the last is on the 2017 Rosewood album Rife & Strife & Mirth & Fun.

For any further information about the tunes on this recording or her recorder playing, you can contact Val at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
You can listen to all the tracks on this recording by clicking the sound file under each track title, but if you'd like a physical CD version of the recording for £5.00 (*P&P incl.), contact Val as above.

For a review of this recording by Dawn Wakefield CLICK HERE