Interview with Paul O'Kelly, 18 October 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Paul O'Kelly [PO] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Ingatestone on 18 October 1999. PO talks about singing in clubs and pubs in the Essex folk scene from the mid-1960s, and his musical interests.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] PO talks about his Irish origins and family; music at home; lack of access to radio in the 1950s, piano; singing when visiting family in Ireland, not singing himself.
[00:06:11] Music at school; playing tambourine at primary school; music and hymns at mass; not having singing lessons; school choir; country dancing; music lessons at primary and secondary school, traditional English songs.
[00:12:57] Listening to classical music and pop music in the 1950s; discovering folk music in Ireland, aged 13-14, Radio Train; difficulty of finding folk music in Dagenham; the appeal of folk music.
[00:17:43] Discovering folk clubs; Dubliners EP; hearing folk on the radio in the 1950s to 1960s; seeing a notice for Blackmore Folk Club while cycling, around 1965; attending Blackmore for the first time with his sister; the relationship between cycle clubs and folk singing; attending the Bull with his cycle club; his fear of singing in front of established folk singers; preferring informal folk singing; running a folk club in Harlow; clubs with paid guests in Stratford and East Ham.
[00:26:21] Buying records; buying books from Cecil Sharp House; his record collection; his folk listening preferences and love of the Chieftains, 'bog music'.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] PO continues talking about his love of the Chieftains.
[00:01:19] Attending Blackmore in the late 1960s and early 1970s, not having time; moving to Blackmore in 1981, rarely attending the folk club; musicians at Blackmore; reputation for singing in Blackmore pubs; always having sung, to non-folkies, repertoire; the appeal of singing in groups; folk music for entertaining ones-self; the philosophy of the folk tradition; the difference between individual listening and club listening.
[00:09:14] His dislike of 'dirge' music, desire for melody; the ethos of folk and singing; music he dislikes, the commercialisation of folk; songs collected by Vaughan Williams, classical versions; enjoying rock and roll, rock as folk.
[00:16:45] Dancing, Irish dancing; the relationship between Irish and English folk traditions, differences, other culture.
[00:19:06] Singing at cycle clubs; attending pub sessions; feeling out of place amongst folk musicians; having a small repertoire; performing on his own terms, the drama club, the Blackmore Players.

Recording note: Screensaver with barking can be heard in background.
Dates of Creation:
18 October 1999
56 minutes 9 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Paul O'Kelly (b.1947, Dagenham) was a regular attendee of folk clubs in Essex in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining a reputation in Blackmore's pubs for singing Irish songs.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
2 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassette]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/18/3
Dates of Description:
29 May 2022,,,
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk