Associated Bands

Below is a list of U.K. bands with which I have had the pleasure of being associated,
some of the members of which have also ended up in the Ramblers.

For my later escapades (1979 onwards) with my wife Judi click HERE.
This may contain some phonography .... NO not pornography!!!
(phonography is an alternative name for field recording).
or for other bands Jerusalem Folk, Bluegrass Incident and Canaan Country.
You can click on most the photographs for a larger, higher resolution view
and links to newspaper cuttings (you may have to zoom in to be able read these).


"The Southern Ramblers"
Mick French (fiddle, mandolin & vocals) - briefly replaced by
Bob Winquist (fiddle) Lynn Lewis (guitar & vocals)
John Allam (banjo, Dobro & vocals)
Mike Hibbs (bass) founder member- replaced by
Dave Hatfield (bass & vocals)
Earlier members included:
John Harty (mandolin) founder member
Andy Grant (guitar) founder member
Dave Jones (autoharp) founder member
Cedric Thorose (guitar & fiddle)
Anita Blacker (fiddle)
Stan Blacker (banjo)
Graham Dyer (banjo)
Gerry Rolfe (banjo)
Keith Nelson (banjo)
Rick Adams (banjo)
John Boswell (guitar)



Mick, Lynn, Mike & John
For more photographs
go to the photographs page.


Mick, Lynn, Mike & John
at the Greenwich Borough Hall.

For more details go to the about the band page.

After making a studio recording at the B.B.C. on one occasion, the producer Bill Bebb informed us that as Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys were in the U.K., appearing at the big Country Festival held at the Wembly Stadium, he'd arranged to record them at the B.B.C.'s Paris Studio in Regent Street in front of a live audience. Despite this one drawback we volunteered to be part of the audience and twisted his arm until he gave us tickets. The Paris Studio is a very small, studio with a very low stage and has a very intimate atmosphere. Wally Whyton was the announcer and in his opening remarks mentioned that The Southern Ramblers were in the audience (which, being on national radio, was a good plug for the band) as well as several of our rival bands. Then Bill and the Bluegrass Boys played for about an hour and I think that was the best concert that I ever attended. But the day was not yet over ....

The London area Bluegrassers used to meet in a pub, The Gloucester Arms, for a weekly jam session and after the concert The Bluegrass Boys were invited back there for a few drinks and a pick and a sing. Unfortunately Bill himself didn't join us but that evening I got to jam with super fiddler Kenny Baker, Bob Black (banjo) and Ralph Lewis - no relation (guitar). Later in the evening, Ralph was playing "Train 45" on the mandolin and I slipped in a guitar run that I'd developed specifically for that tune. Ralph's head whipped round and afterwards made some quite flattering remarks about my playing which boosted my ego no end.

FlowerBar

"Barn Storm"
Details are too incestuously involved to show the details here
- so go to the Barnstorm page.

FlowerBar

"Stoney Ridge"

A rather short lived band formed when I moved back to my old stomping grounds and before joining the Ramblers - in fact the only gig I recall doing with them was a Pete Sayers production at the Odeon, Newmarket.

John Cowling (mandolin & vocals)
Bob Armstrong (banjo)
John Lamont (bass)
Gerry Alsford (fiddle)
Lynn Lewis (guitar & vocals)
and
John Allam (Dobro), at the time, a
member of "Rural Delivery", guested
with the band on several occasions.


Lynn, John, Bob & Gerry
Backstage at the Newmarket "Odeon"
Photograph by Judi Lewis ©


Pete Sayers
Photo by Mike Mayhew ©

FlowerBar

"High Country"
formerly "The Morriss Boys String Band"
Trevor Morriss (mandolin & vocals)
Dave Morriss (guitar & vocals)
Dave Hatfield (bass & vocals)
Gerry Alsford (fiddle)
Lynn Lewis (guitar,banjo & vocals)


The Morriss Boys String Band were made up of the three sons of Harry Morriss, a sound effects man for the B.B.C. - Trevor, Dave and Glyn plus Gerry Alsford and Dave Hatfield. When Glyn left to breed dogs in Cornwall they asked me to play banjo with them.

Gerry, Lynn, Dave,
Trevor & "Hattie"


High Country on Southend Pier



British Country Music Association's report on the Islington show - September 1971

I think that the height of our career was to play Sunday nights in the Pavilion - The Diamond Horseshoe Showbar, at the end of Southend Pier, a mile and a quarter out in the sea. The venue had been refurbished and was quite posh and we even had a dressing room. For this evening we'd dress in gold crushed velvet flaired trousers and black shirts with multi-coloured embroidery down the front. Dave M. didn't thick it was macho enough for him but we twisted his arm.

Gerry Alsford was quite an amazing musician. He was classically trained, played with the Southend Philharmonic Orchestra and didn't know much about Bluegrass. I used to sit with him and play a fiddle part on the guitar and he'd write down the notation and learn it. We once gave him the task of learning Bill Clifton's arrangement of "Saturday Night" ("Ragtime Annie") from the record. Gerry didn't know it was recorded with twin fiddles and incredibly he learned and played both parts simultaneously. We played it at a jam session at The Cambridge Folk Festival and were overheard by Bill Clifton & Pete Sayers and were given a spot in the "Opry Tent" on the strength of it.

The Morriss Boys were featured on Vol. 1 of Britain's 3rd. Country Music Festival (Allegro) - see below.

FlowerBar

"The Clay County Travellers"
This band was my all time favourite - once described in an interview in the BBMA Magazine, British Bluegrass News, as "..... the best British Bluegrass Band ..... ever" - who am I to argue?
Mick French (fiddle, mandolin & vocals)
Jeff Treadway (bass & vocals)
Lynn Lewis (guitar, Dobro & vocals)
Richie Bull (banjo)
replaced by
Rick Adams (banjo) but only briefly,
before the demise of the band in 1970.
Commander Stewart Reed (fiddle) and
John Cowling (mandolin) each only
participated for a short time.

Mick, Richie, Jeff & Lynn
Photograph by Roger Jackson © - all rights reserved
For more photographs
go to the CLICK HERE.

Click HERE for more details of the Clay County Travellers and click on the adjacent picture to hear some of our recordings.










No major recording contracts but "Footpints In The Snow" & "Cold Icey Fingers" were included on Vol. 2 of Britain's 3rd. Country Music Festival (Allegro) and was available at most branches of Woolworths.
UPDATE: The two albums of the festival are AGAIN available at eil.com.

The Clays made frequent appearances on BBC Radio's weekly country music programmes: "Country Meets Folk" & "Country Style" (which were hosted by Wally Whyton, founder of the legendary Vipers Skiffle Group) as well as "Night Ride" and on local stations such as BBC Radio Leeds. At the time the "funky chicken" was in vogue and Wally described us a "doin' the country chicken". On these programmes we got to share the stage with the likes of Ralph McTell, The Dubliners and Cliff Aungier to name but a few.

The band was often featured in local newspaper articles in the South Essex area BUT Jeff would get a wee bit peeved (not the word he used) when the line up was described as, "Richie Bull - banjo, Mick French - mandolin & fiddle, Lynn Lewis - guitar and a bass player".

Incidentally, Mick French was awarded the allocade Bluegrass Fiddler of the Year by The Bluegrass Club of London.

Richie and I, having acquired a bit of recording equipment between us, decided to go into business but we only ever got one job. Fiddler Janet Kerr, who was also an up and coming photographer (see photographs), had recently joined former New Lost City Rambler, Tom Paley and Joe Locker to form the New Deal String Band, so we got to produce their first demo disc before going into liquidation.












The band was featured in the December, 1969 edition of

(Vol.4 No.6).



FlowerBar

"The Malcolm Price Trio"
Malcolm Price (guitar & vocals)
Roger Churchyard (fiddle)
Lynn Lewis (Dobro)

I recorded an album with Malcolm back in 1967 but the producer got into financial difficulties and the master was "lost".

I also played with Malcolm & Roger on BBC Radio's "Cellar Full Of Folk" which at the time was hosted by Bill Clifton.

"The Malcolm Price Trio + 1"
Malcolm Price (guitar & vocals)
Carol Price (autoharp)
Mick North (mandolin)
John Field (banjo)

Malcolm Price
Photo by Mike Mayhew ©

FlowerBar

"The Gants Hill-Billies"
John Cowling (mandolin, fiddle & vocals)
Nol Cooper (banjo)
Stan Laundon (guitar & vocals)
replaced by
Norman Elvin (guitar & vocals)
Lynn Lewis (guitar, banjo, Dobro & vocals)
Gerry Francis (bass & autoharp)

My first bluegrass band was named after our local high spot, Gants Hill, near Ilford, Essex. The name originates from Richard le Gant, who is recorded as living in the area in 1285 so it should really be Gant's Hill - with an apostrophe.
We were resident performers at the "Berkynge Folke Club" (that's olde English for Barking) and later at The Toad Hall Folk Club at "The Central" in East Ham, which was where I later met up with the other members of the Clay County Travellers.

Just a quick word about Norman. He used to break me up when he played "Talking Blues" - he'd play guitar as though he had a capo on the first fret - but he didn't use a capo - the resultant discord (or is that dischord) and his dead-pan face had us rolling in the aisles - and never a smile appeared until he'd finished.

Red Lion
The Red Lion - home of the Berkynge Folk Club.

I vividly remember this gig at the Marquee. One of the other guest musicians had the most beautiful auburn hair which was being brushed when I went to the "gents" just before the show. I thought I'd gone into the "ladies" by mistake until the auburn haired person turned round and was sporting a matching beard and moustache. I think he was a blues harp player - anyone remember someone like that?


Stan, John & Lynn
& Nol (reflected in the mirror)
Photograph by Janet Kerr ©

There are more photos of
the Gants Hill-billies
HERE.



Norman, Gerry, Lynn & John





Melody Maker advert.
for the Marquee

We recorded a single; "Pluckin' The Gant/Dixieland For Me" for Decca/Keith Prowse Music - it was a non-starter due to the producer adding some very strange sound effects without our knowledge or permission!

Having a look at the Toad Hall web site reminded me of the famous people with whom we rubbed shoulders - I remember chatting with Sandy Denny at the bar of the Berkynge Folk Club and John Renbourne promised the Gant's Hill-Billies a gig!

Incidentally, Stan has just published a book, "Chasing Fireflies", about his first trip to Nashville back in the 70's. Go to his site for details.


This week (7-14 Aug. 2009) I read of the deaths of Les Paul and Mike Seeger. Back in the 1964 a traditional country music concert had been organised at the Albert Hall. Stan was writing for one of the British country music monthly magazines and had arranged to interview some of the artists and asked me if I'd like to go with him. So we took ourselves off to the Russell Hotel in London to meet The Stanley Brothers and The New Lost City Ramblers. So I got to shake hands with Carter and Ralph Stanley and their guitarist George Shuffler, who was my current hero as he was one of the few bluegrass guitarists at the time to play solos. Later we met up with Mike Seeger, Tracy Schwarz and John Cohen. After the interview we carried on chatting to Mike Seeger who asked if us if we were going to the concert, which of course we were. He said that there was room in their bus and we were welcome to ride with them to the Albert Hall. So we arrived in style and finished a great day with a great concert.

 
FlowerBar
"The Crystal Creek Trio"
Michelle Crystal (vocals)
Gerry Francis (mandolin, guitar, autoharp & vocals)
Lynn Lewis (guitar, banjo, Dobro & vocals)

Formed way back when both I and my guitar were young and beautiful - I'm still using it .... the guitar that is! We were resident at the Berkynge Folk Club (see above) - that means we got to play a few songs each week, didn't get paid but didn't have to pay to get in and got to see all the great performers who were booked for special nights at the club which was most weeks. Even Paul Simon on his first U.K. tour played there as well as Tom Paxton, Julie Felix, Sandy Denny, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick , The YoungTradition, The Strawberry Hill Boys (later known as The Strawbs) and Diz Dizley.


Gerry, Michelle & Lynn
Photograph by Bernie Rubin ©
all rights reserved



Phil Ochs

Ad. from
"Melody Maker"

Back in the '60's the "Marquee" was essentially a jazz club. They began having weekly folk orientated evenings and we were lucky enough to be asked to open for the legendary Phil Ochs.

During this early period in our careers we used to go round to all the folk clubs in the London area (there were a lot back then) and we'd do a few songs in the hope of getting a paid gig. I remember one week when we went to three different clubs and at each one met up with Al Stewart who was doing the same thing. Okay, so he was a little more successful than we but then we didn't sing songs with the dreaded four letter word in them.

Page design by Lynn Lewis © - 1999 All Rites, Writes, Wrights, Rights & Wrongs Reserved