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Bob and Kathy Drage

Bob Drage sadly passed away just before 5.00p.m. on Sunday 10th December 2017 having only been admitted into Pilgrims Hospice on Friday. Bob was 67 in August and had been ill with cancer for a couple of years. We were all shocked exactly a week later on Sunday 17th December to hear that Kathy had also died alone at home. Bob and Kathy had been together since they were teenagers and had seldom, if ever, been apart. We think Kathy died of a broken heart.

Talking about Bob and Kathy, Doug Hudson said: “The folk scene has its many heroes and villains – artists who are the flavour of the month, agencies who explain the riders that their stars will require and festival organisers who continually strive to make their sums add up. None of this works, though, without what people might describe as the grass roots level - the people who run small local events and keep the flame of folk music alive. Bob and Kathy Drage were the epitome of this. Over some 40 years they organised and ran small folk clubs all over Kent, often self-financed, frequently sparsely attended, but always with an optimism and dedication to folk.”

“They ran singaround sessions for me at Rochester Sweeps Festival and were rightly proud when they could tell me there were no empty seats and they overran because so many people wanted to sing. Neither was ever in great health and when they called it a day at Rochester, they turned their attentions to Tenterden Folk Festival, becoming an important part of the set up.”

“Fourteen years ago, the editor of Around Kent Folk decided to give up the magazine, but Kathy said she would take it over. She said it had to continue for the benefit of Kent folk music. Few people believed she would have the technical knowhow or the endurance, for the chasing of people for copy and for owed money, but she proved those people wrong. The magazine came out on time each month, was delivered to clubs, libraries and individuals – again, often at their own expense – and kept the folk followers of Kent updated with dates, reviews and news.”

“Bob and Kathy were old fashioned in that they would talk to you on the phone – not by email or Facebook. You would get a Christmas card and always a birthday card. They had no family between them and, in some senses, only had each other to depend on. The fact is though, they did have a family; a family of so many friends on the folk scene - singers, musicians, poets, ordinary audience members - and that is the family that will mourn their untimely loss.”

Bob and Kathy were active members of the folk scene in Kent since moving to Westgate in the mid 1970s. Up until a few years ago they ran various well known and successful folk clubs in Broadstairs, Sandwich and Medway. At one point they had four clubs running at once! They had also been involved in organising festivals and running singarounds all over Kent. In more recent years Bob and Kathy took on the editorship of the local free folk magazine, Around Kent Folk, which reached its 84th issue in December /January.

I do not know when I first met Bob and Kathy, but it was well over 30 years ago, but I knew them best through their involvement as active committee members with Tenterden Folk Festival for around 20 years. Bob and Kathy did a lot of back office work for the festival including working on the compilation and printing of the programme and organising our stewards. During the festival they would always be found on the door at the Saddlery at the White Lion, or in the Barn at the Woolpack, and were prominent figures when shaking collecting buckets during the procession. The folk scene in Kent, and Tenterden Folk Festival in particular, will not be the same without them.

Alan Castle

Trustee and Festival Director
Tenterden Folk Festival