The end of an era is a tired old phrase, a handy catchall, bled dry and diluted by over-application and misuse, a frayed and faded and wrung-out old dishcloth of a cliché. How then do we describe true turn-of-the-tide events, those final irrevocable, fin-de-siécle moments with no turning back, which change the colour of our lives forever? The death of a parent, our children leaving home, the sale of our childhood home, the destruction of a landmark building?
Geoff Turner was well known around the English club and festival scene. A singer of traditional and contemporary material with a particular fondness for the traditional style songs of writers like Keith Marsden and Graeme Miles, he was often to be found hosting singarounds at various festivals.
Tony Deane's early days in the folk clubs of South London were as part of the Laymen folk group, as a regular singer at the thriving 1960s club at the Railway Tavern in Catford and as organiser of the Nag's Head in Battersea, amongst others. Often with a humorous edge, his singing demonstrated great respect for the song tradition of south east England, but he also drew material from his lifelong love of all things Cornish. He became part of the community in Gorran, never missing the 'Obby 'Oss celebrations in Padstow, immersing himself in Cornish culture and spending as much time as possible in that county.
Sheila Stewart, who died in December aged 79, was one of Scotland's finest traditional singers, inheriting a rich oral culture of songs, ballads and folk tales that had survived as a living tradition among the Scottish Travellers. Last of the famous Perthshire Traveller family, The Stewarts of Blair, her father Alex Stewart, piper and storyteller, matriarch Belle Stewart and her two daughters, Sheila and Cathie, were welcomed by the folk revival of the 1960s and the family became well-known performers on the folk scene in Scotland and England, in Europe and the United States.
We were saddened to hear that, after her long battle with cancer, Maggie Boyle passed away on 6 November at the age of 57. Maggie was well known and well loved throughout the folk scene, known best for her work with her former husband, Steve Tilston, her singing trio, Grace Notes, and her recent duo work with Paul Downes, though she also worked and recorded with artists as diverse as John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, John Conolly, Les Barker, Damien Barber and Peter Bellamy, and even added her name to a couple of film soundtracks (Patriot Games and Legends Of The Fall).
A fine interpreter of traditional songs from her native area, Scotland and the US, South Shields born Betty passed away on 13 October 2014.
It was impossible, I think, for anyone to meet Pete Shutler without coming away from the experience a richer person, and his death on 21 September 2014, after a short period of illness, has left his family, friends and his beloved county of Dorset much poorer. It’s also left folk and traditional music and song without one of its most stalwart exponents over the last 50 years.
Hugh Allan MacMaster, or Buddy, as he was widely known, died after a heart attack at his home in Judique, Cape Breton at the age of 89 – just two months before his 90th birthday. He was very deservedly credited with helping to bring Cape Breton fiddle music to a wider world and had a particular interest in preserving the region’s musical traditions.
Rick Lee was a New York City born, Massachusetts-based old-time banjo and piano player, singer and songwriter with family roots in Appalachia and a great-grandmother from Scotland. He had been part of New England's traditional music scene since the early 1960s.
Jean Redpath died peacefully at a hospice in Arizona. She was 77. Born in Edinburgh in 1937, she grew up in Leven, Fife, where her family’s home resounded with music and an appreciation of Scottish culture. Her father played a hammered dulcimer. She was a major figure in Scottish music, although not too many people below a certain age will have seen her perform live back home as it was in the US where she established her reputation as an interpreter of Scottish folk songs, in live performance, on radio and on record. She was best known in her native country through her recordings, especially of the songs of Robert Burns.