Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Just Another Saturday Night: Sussex 1960 - An Introduction

The title of this Blog is taken from a CD of the same name, subtitled “Songs from country pubs”. First released in 2000 on the label Musical Traditions, the live recordings on this collection were originally made in 1959, 1960 and 1965 on a portable five-inch reel-to-reel tape recorder by local folk song enthusiast and collector Brian Matthews, then in his twenties and co-owner of the Ballard Tree Coffee Bar, Brighton.

The pubs, clustered in the central part of Sussex, in which Matthews made his recordings were The Abergavenny Arms (now closed) and the Cherry Tree, Copthorne; The Plough, Three Bridges (now a Sky Sports and Karaoke pub); The Oak Tree, Ardingly (now The Oak); Three Cups, Punnetts Town; and the Royal Oak at Milton Street (now renamed the Sussex Ox and on the cover of the 2013 Good Beer Guide). The renditions are given by George ‘Pop’ Maynard, Sarah Porter, George ‘Spike’ Spicer, Jim ‘Brick’ Harber, Harry Holman, Jim Wilson, Cyril Phillips, Lewis ‘Scan’ Tester, Louie Saunders, Jack Arnoll and Bill Agate.

For more detailed information on the singers, songs and the other pubs and clubs in which traditional singing took place, the CD liner notes can be accessed at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/saturday.htm

I became aware of the CD through investigating the World Marbles Championships, held at the Greyhound pub, Tinsley Green, Sussex. George ‘Pop’ Maynard (pictured) was captain of the 1948 champions, the Copthorne Spitfires; his several songs on the CD were recorded at his local, the Cherry Tree, Copthorne. Playing the CD on Saturday evenings after I had spent the day in Sussex pubs motivated me to begin researching the history of folk song in Sussex. I soon became aware that other collectors, notably Ken Stubbs and Bob Copper, had been active in the 1950s but in different parts of the county, finding other traditional songs and singers to preserve for posterity and that some of these recordings had also been publicly released on LP records.

Around the same time, 2009, I found myself in the unusual situation of having been invited to an academic conference in Vienna, yet ostensibly knowing very little about the theme of music scenes. The invitation could be called a ‘reciprocal arrangement’ and I found it impossible to simply refuse. In mounting desperation I protested my lack of specialised knowledge in this academic area, only for the conference organisers to find even more flattering terms in which to expect my attendance! Casting around desperately for some empirical example to hang upon the conceptual theme of the conference, I realised that I had one ready-made and to hand.
And so it was that, as an introduction to my half-hour paper on traditional folk song in Sussex pubs, George Spicer’s rendition of 'The Cunning Cobbler' was played on CD at the University of Applied Arts, in Vienna, nearly half a century after it was first recorded by Brian Matthews on 12th November 1959 at the Oak Tree, Ardingly. The conference papers were eventually published as a book, ‘They Say I’m Different’: Popularmusik, Szenen und ihre Akteruinnen, but only in the German language. My own contribution on the folk scene in Sussex is a modest one, even more so given the restrictions of a thirty minute talk and some 4700 words for the written version. Nonetheless, I thought it a pity that it was not publicly available in the English language, so think of this as an introduction to my releasing the chapter in instalments on this Blog over the remainder of the month. 


Muggleton, David (2011) Just another Saturday Night: Sussex 1960 – eine Folkmusikszene? In ‘They Say I’m Different’: Popularmusik, Szenen und ihre Akteruinnen (Edited by W. Fichna and R. Reitsamer), pp. 21-36. Wien: Löcker Verlag.

Musical Traditions Records (2000), Just Another Saturday Night, Sussex 1960: Songs From Country Pubs, Liner notes accompanying Double Compact Disc MTCD309-10, Stroud: Musical Traditions.

Musical Traditions, www.mustrad.org.uk, (accessed December 2009)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent - I look forward to it greatly.

    Martyn Cornell


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