Jim Eldon is a musician living in East Hull who, I'm told, doesn't normally do interviews .... so a
rare request it was that was received by thisisUll.com, from Andy his agent, for someone to do the deed.
This email was passed on to me, as Jim is a singer and fiddle player, like myself,
and folk music if that's what you want to call it, is my kind of thing.
This is my first interview for thisisUll.com...
I don't normally do interviews either,
or music reviews, preferring to play music rather than talk about it.
But after some thought, I decided it would be a great experience and opportunity.
Interviews like these can be a pain in the neck for those who are none too keen on
people probing and possibly asking the same old questions:
Is folk music dead? What do we mean by 'folk' music anyway? And what the hell is 'anti-folk'?
I met Jim for a chat in Pave, always a good place for a natter.
I didn't know much about him, except for having seen him at last years Grassroots festival,
which I'm afraid was viewed mainly through slightly dazed vision having consumed rather too
many flagons of fine ale (well, cheap booze actually).
I expected maybe a friendly chat about the good old heady days of folk music in the 60s and 70s,
the state of the folk scene today, even a bit of free advice about finger positions...
I was surprised then, to meet an extremely complex and passionate character, who refuses
to be categorised and cares deeply about his music.
Jim started with his first instrument, a guitar at age 12, and didn't take up the fiddle until he was in
his twenties. He was influenced by the sea songs that he heard from being a boy.
Also, by the skiffle movement headed by Lonnie Donegan, which he sees as an important forerunner
to the folk music boom of the 60s.
I asked him when his folk career began. I first played in some folk clubs in the 1960s.
I went to sea from school - the merchant navy - so the first folk clubs I played, I think were in New Zealand.
During the seventies, he travelled around the East Riding collecting folk songs from local people.
He now has enough of these songs, which he calls his cherished repertoire, to do an entire evening.
I asked him what the folk scene was like in those days. Existent! he says, dryly.
He played with the Watersons at that time, I heard. Yes, not with the groupthe Watersons, but
with individual members of the group - Norma and Lal, and some singing on Mike Waterson's solo
album, in the early 70's.
What does he think influenced the popularity of folk music at that time?
I'm not quite sure
what started the boom on the folk scene then.
I think it may have been related to the Communist party, and what used to be the Worker's Music Association'.
What does Jim think of the folk scene at the moment? Well, I went to Nellie's (in Beverley)
last night, and it was quite cheering to see a roomful of people.
You get lacklustre performances, but also other times when things are really fizzing along.
I tell him about my fears for the future of sessions like these, as more pubs are refusing to
have live music, due to new licensing laws etc.
Nellie's, unfortunately, is one of these venues (their brewery have requested no more music,
Jim then informs me that their sessions are moving to the Foresters Arms pub in Beverley, which in his opinion is a better venue for live music. I breathe a sigh of relief, as all is not lost.
However, it has to be said that the folk scene is still dominated by the older generation. My recent experience of this on the local folk scene left me wondering if there would be anyone to carry on this tradition.
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