Interview with Sarah Graves, 1 November 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Sarah Graves [SG] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Maldon on 1 November 1999. SG talks about performing in the Essex folk scene with Lumps of Plum Pudding and Metric Foot, running Chelmsford Folk Club in the 1980s, and her experience of textiles and design.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] SG talks about her family; music in the family; listening to the radio and popular music in the 1950s; her father's role in the fire brigade in Southampton.
[00:04:14] Music at primary school; recorder, descant and treble; dancing at school, appearing on the television show 'All Your Own with Brian Johnson'; tarantella, ballet, and Maypole dancing; taking ballet classes outside school, aged 5 to 26; her early interest in art; her teacher's interest in Maypole dancing; her school choir, using Imogen Holst's folk songs; band competitions with recorder; being put off music after an experience with a teacher at secondary school; continuing ballet.
[00:12:05] Being introduced to folk music by a friend; attending Chelmsford Folk Club (CFC) aged around 14 or 15; seeing Martin Carthy [MC] and Dave Swarbrick; the appeal of folk, compared to pop music; singing aged 20 to 21; her husband Mick [MG] learning the fiddle.
[00:17:14] Going to Camberwell College of Art between 1968 and 1971; buying pop records and her first record player around 1969; buying MC's first album; the lack of availability of folk records; going to a singers club in Essex when back from college.
[00:19:57] Her involvement with Chelmsford Morris, founded by Gary Davis; interest from young people; tinkering with mandolin, singing, watching; playing the bodhran; her involvement in the ceilidh band, Lumps of Plum Pudding; her first time playing concertina.
[00:25:10] Her English concertina; how folk musicians learn tunes by ear; listening to fiddle music; inspiration from records, Irish music; pub sessions and singers clubs; singing with Judy Taylor at CFC, 1975-78.
[00:29:57] Learning step-clogging, classes at Cecil Sharp House; revival in the popularity of step-clogging in the late 1960s and early 1970s; relationship with Sam Sherry.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] Representing Essex at Cecil Sharp House in late 1970s in step-clogging; missing pop music, focus on folk.
[00:02:20] Running CFC; the loose committee of members in the early 1980s; schedule and organisation, floor singing; the ethos and appeal of folk music, being able to talk to folk singers, community, ownership.
[00:05:45] Preference for instrumented folk music; liking a variety of folk music; interest in traditional music; dominance of Irish and English folk until 'Morris On'.
[00:08:25] The professionalisation and commercialisation of folk in the 1980s; CFC preference for floor singers; the line-up of Lumps of Plum Pudding; duo with MG, playing guest spots at Essex folk clubs; starting the band Metric Foot in the 1980s, line-ups; downturn in bookings, decline in barn dancing; calling, enjoyment of teaching; gigs with Metric Foot; increase in private functions.
[00:14:57] Lumps of Plum Pudding repertoire; specificity of Morris dancing tunes; being inspired by music she listens to; the popularity of line dancing; writing music in the early 1990s; writing simple dances for audiences; the variety of Lumps' repertoire, English folk dances; bookings at the time of interview, millennium apprehension; American folk in repertoire; lack of interest in going to gigs from the public.
[00:23:04] The age range of the audience and dancers; the involvement of young people; the ageing of folk dance clubs; increase in pub sessions; the decline in folk clubs, benefits of access and exposure; differences between club and session songs; the commercialisation of folk music, increase in festivals.
[00:29:58] Making use of her textiles and design experience; garments for Morris teams; having to reproduce logos.

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00] SG continues talking about reproducing logos; Karen Cater's work; making use of her degree.
[00:02:06] Period of success, running CFC, satisfaction; using the DJ Discos room; inclusion of dancers, Seven Straw Braids, Blackmore; size of audience; finances; gaining trust of audience; variety of acts; booking Peter Roe; finding the right acts; being overworked and closing the club in the late 1980s; the lack of performers correlating with fewer clubs; folk clubs becoming obsolete due to commercialisation; increasing the public profile for folk.
Dates of Creation:
1 November 1999
1 hour 13 minutes 52 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Sarah Graves (b.1950, Chelmsford) performed on the Essex folk scene with the dance bands Lumps of Plum Pudding and Metric Foot, and in duos with Judy Taylor and her husband Mick. In the 1980s, she was involved in the running of Chelmsford Folk Club until it folded. She is also known for designing textiles for Morris teams throughout Essex.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
3 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/19/3
Dates of Description:
May 2022
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk