John and his wife, Cheryl, were firmly rooted in northern England / Scotland, but in 1972 moved to Cornwall. “No more than two years,” they said......and they are still here.
Soon after arriving in Cornwall, they discovered the Napoleon Inn with Charlie Jose and co in full voice in Fun’s bar, packed with village residents, all singing for the joy of it. Charlie would encourage John and Cheryl to sing, with the words, “I’m a bit short of wind, come on you young uns – give us one of your songs!”
“It was an exchange of traditions,” said John, “We learned Cornish songs and Charlie learned ours.” The warm welcome they received, coupled with the mild winters, made them feel that this was their home and Ben, Anna and Emily completed the family. (with the photo of John singing)
John and Cheryl were at school together and they both were told they couldn’t sing but Boscastle changed all that. Taking this new-found confidence and a love of folk music, John ran the folk club at the Tree Inn, Stratton and over the years had house guests such as Kate Rusby, Vin Garbutt, Dave Swarbrick, The Poozies, Tom Paxton and John Kirkpatrick.
In 1990, John, Ben(accordian), Morgy(guitar), Martin (fiddle) and Cheryl and Julie (harmonies), formed the Damnbuskers. Playing raucous good time folk music they had great fun and were a fantastic live experience performing in various venues including The Golden Lion in Port Isaac, The Welly in Boscastle, The Royal Cornwall Show and Wadebridge Folk Festival (where Morgy caused chaos!)
Birth of the Busker
In the late 1990s, John's very good friend and fellow Damnbusker, Morgy, was taken ill and admitted to Mount Edgecumbe Hospice with terminal cancer. Ever the optimist, he proclaimed, 'These people have looked after me so well - they do a blooming good job. When I get out of here, we'll raise £1000 for this place!'
Sadly, Morgy didn’t survive to carry out this pledge. A year later, John decided he would fulfil this promise and raise the money. He went down to Boscastle harbour and busked for the first time, wearing the hat Morgy left him. The promise to raise £1000 was surpassed that summer. He still wears the hat as he busks every summer Sunday by the bridge in Boscastle to raise funds for Cornwall Hospice Care.
Following on from the success of his first CD, it soon became obvious that there was a demand for a follow up.
A second cd was planned but the infamous Boscastle flooding in August 2004 delayed the recording as the local community rallied together to rebuild the devastated village.
Throughout the months of reconstruction, the Boscastle locals would congregate outside the remains of the wrecked 'Welly' pub every Wednesday evening to sing and keep the previously popular singers night alive.
'The Mary Ellen Carter' or 'Rise Again' as it was known in the village became almost an anthem as that was exactly what the villagers had to do in the aftermath of the flood. It became an obvious and relevant title for the second Boscastle Busker album.
John is very much a live performer and after having started the singers night at the 'Welly' before the flood, decided that 'Rise Again' should be recorded live from there.
'Rise Again' was recorded on 31st January 2007, live from the Minstrels Gallery in the Wellington, Boscastle.
It captures all the atmosphere of a live Wednesday night session with John being aided and abetted by Ben on accordion, Cheryl, Roger and Julie on harmonies, Mike on guitar and Martin on fiddle along with vocals from the rest of the pub!