The Travelling Folk
The Travelling Folk (TTF) is a travelling folk club for West Kent and East Sussex. We don't meet regularly in one venue but gather in pre-selected pubs around the area on the first and third Thursdays of each month to enjoy ourselves and to bring folk music to those who may not have had the opportunity of experiencing a live folk session before.
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About 35 years ago I was sitting next to the late John Smedley at a fairly wretched folk evening at Biggin Hill Airport and John enthused about his plans to launch a kind of mobile folk club in West Kent. A couple of months later I attended my first TTF session at a now defunct pub in Kemsing and I was hooked!
The very first session was held at The Man of Kent pub in Sevenoaks (alas turned into houses many years ago), which was also the venue for the 10th Anniversary Evening. In the very early days John was ably supported by the likes of Alan Austin, Jim Bennet and the late Ted Clark and such was the popularity that I recalled John sounding me out to possibly head parallel sessions in the west of the region.
Well before the 10th Anniversary John turned his attention to running Folk South East which involved regular concerts hosting big names in the folk world, often held at The Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells. He then handed over the TTF reins to myself and Joe Waters
For many years we ventured mid summer into Essex and then Isfield in Sussex for a relaxed folk weekend staying in our caravans, motor homes and tents in a field adjacent to the inns. Eventually however our core support was not sufficient to sustain the weekends thanks largely to emigration and demise. (We come together all too often these days for funerals!).
Some 10 years or so ago, inspired by Song and Ale weekends at Whittlebury and Pennymoor in Devon, the TTF Song and Ale, which takes place on the first full weekend in July at Upper Dicker in Sussex, was launched. Regular attenders voted this year’s S and A better than ever and once again it was sold out well in advance. Credit is due to Liz Randall who has for some time been the main organiser especially following the departure of Mary and Ian Barr to New Zealand.
Our ethos has always been to perform in the main areas of pubs rather than tucked away in a private room thereby making our song and music easily accessible to the general public. Sometimes the locals embrace us and occasionally are infected by the dreaded folk bug for which there is no cure!
Our approach is structured but informal with traditional, contemporary, Music Hall and other genre welcome. We try to keep a balance between serious and humorous material, lusty chorus songs and tunes which can be individually performed or “en masse.”
Apart from the regular pub gigs on the 1st and 2nd Thursdays we sometimes get involved in festivals as well as other special events.
Despite the loss of several key members, including the one and only Den Giddens who died in Cornwall amongst his family 6 years ago, we have continued to thrive. This is in no little measure due to the unerring presence of Roger Resch – the nearest thing to a one man folk club! Roger performs numerous tasks, fixes the venues and now leads more of the sessions than I do.
Apart from Roger, Myself and Liz, other stalwarts include my wife Steph - a constant rock and aide; Malcolm Ward, Dave Scott and Dave Auld. In addition Mick Wright is with us in spirit, but ill health has prevented his physical presence at sessions for a while now.
We will be holding our 35th Anniversary night at the Kentish Horse, Mark Beech TN8 5NT on Thursday 1st November from 8.00pm onwards and all who have been a cog in the TTF wheel over the last 35 years are heartily encouraged to join us for a special evening.
TERRY KING (Co organiser) - 28 October 2018
TTF stalwart Ted died on 10 June 2017 after many years of fragile health. For a good part of TTF’s existence Ted was our musical mainstay and often had his late wife Kath at his side for moral support.
Ted was a marvellous musician particularly on the melodian and concertina. One of the highlights of TTF sessions was always to enjoy him playing his boxes in that majestic flowing style he made his own.
A good number of us attended the funeral and the wake where we played some tunes in his memory.
Ted was also a very fine ceilidh band leading musician most prominently with The Fokus Band in the 1990s.
Like Graham and Fred before him, he will be greatly missed.
Terry King - 30 November 2017
TTF Organiser Terry King contributed an article to the Eden Valley Museum magazine about the history of the characterful Queen’s Arms at Cowden Pound where he hosts the second Tuesday of the month singing and music evening, and which has been a centre of folk activity for many years. Click here for PDF copy.
A short account of the walk from Upper Dicker...
Ten of us walked under a cloudy but promising sky, along the Wealdway towards Arlington. The view of the Weald north of the golf course was much admired but soon eclipsed by the even more stunning spectacle of the rolling Downs to the south.
We were able to drink up this view as we followed the Wealdway through fields and past a small fish-pond by the road we crossed. Then we wiggled along a stretch of the Cuckmere River which afforded us a chuckling weir and a cheery splash of kingcup or marsh marigold (yellow waterlilies).
Elizabeth - 5 July 2014