”SUSSEX FOLK” written by Clive Bennett
A history of the evolution of folk song clubs in and around Brighton, Worthing,
Eastbourne and Lewes from 1961 to 2001 Published by Country Books at £14.95
Foreword by Shirley Collins and over 200 illustrations.
Reviewed in ‘The Folk Diary’ - No. 199 - February & March 2003
"Originally started as a pastime, those who saw Clive's original manuscript urged him to continue his work on the Sussex Folk scene, and glad we should be that he did. His 200 page book is a veritable feast of clubs, venues, events, characters and personalities that have made up the 'folk scene' in and around Brighton over the last forty years. Starting with the first seeds of interest in folk music and the fledgling clubs of the early 60's, through the boom years of the late Sixties and early Seventies, the book takes us on a nostalgic trip of clubs and their resident singers, the organisers, their guests and special events like the much-missed Lewes Folk Day, right up to clubs that have only recently started. Each section of the book is lavishly supported by illustrations and photographs of performers and the personalities of whom the book is really about. Indeed one of the most interesting parts is the last chapter which reminds us of the traditional singers who lived and sang in Sussex, most of whom are sadly no longer with us. If Santa didn't put a copy in your stocking then rush out and get a copy now. You simply won't put it down! Highly recommended and essential to anyone and everyone who's grown up on the Sussex folk scene." John Collyer.
Reviewed in ‘Musical Traditions’ - March/April 2003
" "Oh no! Not another book looking at folk song clubs and restricted to one county!" I have to admit that's what went through my mind when I saw this book. But how wrong I was ….
Not only is this book a good read, it is historically accurate and has social commitment. If you - like me - happened to be to be around during the period the book covers, you may have experienced the huge enjoyment I did when recalling the singers and musicians mentioned in these 198 pages. There are around 200 photographs - some dating back over 40 years - which add to the interest.
The author of this book - Clive Bennett - must have spent a great deal of time over the past 40 years visiting and photographing the Clubs and Festivals in Sussex, it looks like a full time job. However this wonderful book proves Clive's time was well spent doing his research.
The book is well planned and includes sections on:
· The First Clubs
· The Development of Brighton
· Expansion into the surrounding area
· Special Events - Concerts and Festivals
There are two sections I think are most important dealing with Individuals. One looks at the organisers of clubs and festivals and the other, which I found fascinating, deals with the traditional singers of Sussex. This section brought to mind many happy memories of people I've shared a beer and a song with on many occasions.
The phenomenon known as the Folk Song Revival in Sussex is fascinating - it started officially in 1961 with the formation of the Brighton Ballads and Blues Club. From this club a number of other clubs appeared in Brighton, dealing with Traditional Folk, Gospel and Country - a good all-round healthy participation of all aspects of folk music. Interesting that the early clubs started in coffee bars around the time the same thing was happening in America.
Like missionaries, they went forth from the Brighton Ballads and Blues Club, and started folk song and music clubs outside Brighton, first in Worthing then into Shoreham, Eastbourne, Lewes and Isfield and on and on. A great way to spread the word.
If you are a singer or musician or have any interest in folk song this book will be of interest to you and I assure you will not regret getting a copy."
Tony Foxworthy 28 March 2003
Available from Clive Bennett
This book is a real labour of love that shows Clive Bennett’s devotion to his subject. It’s an almost unbelievably detailed and fascinating account of the past forty years of folk music clubs in Sussex - and what memories it evokes! It tells of the comings and goings of venues and singers, and is a virtual Who’s Who of performers. We are fortunate that in our county we had - and thankfully still have - some of the finest traditional singers in England, and the pages devoted to them at the end of the book are a pleasure to read. It is heart-warming that the scene is still flourishing so strongly here in Sussex, and the credit for this must go to the organisers and the floor singers of the clubs. It is their hard work, their passion and their time, always freely given, that keeps the clubs alive.
Thanks, Clive. Thanks all. Shirley Collins, Hove 2001