Monday, June 13, 2011

Coventry's First Folk Club - at the Umbrella Club

According to an article in FOLKS magazine (edited by Pete Willow c 1979) and written by Ben Arnold, the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club hosted Coventry's very first folk club.

Ben Arnold
" It wasn't until 1962 that moves were made to organise a folk music venue where people who did want to hear folk singing could go in peace. The venue was the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club, which existed for the benefit of those who enjoyed art and music in general. It provided an opportunity for the pioneers of Coventry Folk including Ron Shutttleworth ( and Barry Skinner to generate an interest in folk music.

The regular get together's at the Umbrella Club only catered for a minority interest but it did serve as a starting point for dedicated individuals to plan Coventry's very first folk club. This was opened one Thursday in May 1963 at the Binley Oak, Paynes Lane and was called, suitably enough, the Coventry Folk Club.

Ron Shuttleworth
To quote Ben Arnold, "Coventry's first folk club was formed out of a common love of what at that time was an esoteric form of expression and desire to bring to the public at large something which had been theirs for hundreds of years." The hosts were the Troubadours, a group formed by Barry Skinner and consisting of John Allen, Lee Soloman, Pete and Marlene Roberts, Terry Illingworth, Brian Sutton and Bob Bruce, although not all at the same time. Also involved with the band were Brian Curtiss and Dick Newton who later joined the Down Country Boys."

Although the folk club went on to develop further at the Binley Oak in 1963, followed on by a range of clubs in the city in the 60's and 70's and beyond, a tradition Saturday club was still active at the Umbrella until 1970.

Of course up until the Umbrella closed at Queen Victoria Road back end of 1972, there were various combinations of folk and poetry sessions at the Umbrella blogged about in the post entitled Humpoesic Happening on this site.

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