Interview with Peter Chopping, 27 February 2000
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Peter Chopping [PC] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Dovercourt on 27 February 2000. PC talks about his early life, his relationship with Ewan MacColl and the Seeger family, his involvement in Dartford Folk Club and Farningham Folk Club, working in shipbuilding, and performing with Skinner's Rats and Pease Pudding.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] PC talks about his family; their involvement in the Second World War; being evacuated to Bangor, Wales; moving back to London; music in his family, father playing banjo and guitar; moving to Dartford aged nine, being bought a guitar; his father singing in a Welsh choir; his repertoire.
[00:05:15] Music at secondary school in Dartford; attending school with Mick Jagger in the mid-1950s; the 'music explosion', his interest in jazz; the jazz revival; being bought a banjo aged 15; jazz music he listened to.
[00:10:49] Discovering English folk music in America in 1958; meeting Alan Lomax, the archivist at the Library of Congress, recording Shirley Collins; his relationship with the Seeger family; folk music from the Cecil Sharp [CS] songbook featuring in school music lessons; the true origin of 'Freight Train'; folk artists in the US and their relationship with left-wing politics; attending the Ballads and Blues Club, run by Ewan MacColl [EM]; having banjo lessons with Peggy Seeger [PS]; playing with PS and EM around 1959.
[00:21:42] Skiffle as a gateway to the second folk revival; starting Dartford Folk Club aged 19; the acts they booked, including Jack Elliot [JE]; finances; anecdote about JE before the first folk club meeting; forming a folk band; playing double bass; switching bass for guitar.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] Playing Irish and English folk music; developing his repertoire through research; membership of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS); scholastic vs. popular tradition; playing songs by ear; being a resident artist at Dartford Folk Club; the club schedule; leaving the club in the mid-1960s; their best guests and genres performed; how songs become 'folk' songs, the definition of folk; pleasing the audience, EM for 'purists'.
[00:11:59] Defining folk music as music for the people; folk songs as memory; scholarship and folk, unnatural; young people; his parents's involvement in folk.
[00:15:39] Discovering Morris dancing in Farningham; the formation of Hartley Morris; playing for Morris but never dancing; singarounds; running Farningham Folk Club until 1979; working abroad; playing with Skinner's Rats.
[00:21:27] Working as a shipbuilder; running a shipbuilding business in Chatham Boatyard; yachts; interest in sea shanties; 'the folk process', oral tradition, folk as change; disagreeing with the CS quote, 'the alteration of folk music is an abomination'; the history of CS's collection; alterations and whitewashing during the first folk music revival; folk songs as workers songs; sea-shanties, capstan shanties, and halyard shanties; forebitter songs.

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00] Folk activities in the 1980s, playing in clubs; moving back to Kent, travelling to Farningham; founding the band Pease Pudding; mixing in folk clubs, changing with commercialisation; playing with Martin Carthy; taking bookings with Pease Pudding; playing with Skinner's Rats; playing barn dances.
[00:06:00] Having a heart attack in the early 1990s; moving to north Essex; playing Walton Folk Festival, moving after; relationship with Lifeboat Men, their repertoire; his relationship with Pam and John Fitzgerald; still singing and playing with Skinner's Rats at the time of interview; playing jazz; travelling between Kent and Essex; benefits of playing bass; the organisation of Walton Folk Festival; his preference for building boats, 'permanence'.
Dates of Creation:
27 February 2000
1 hour 19 minutes 5 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Peter Chopping (b.1941 in Barnet) ran Dartford Folk Club from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, ran Farningham Folk Club in Kent during the 1970s, and performed with Skinner's Rats and Pease Pudding. He also worked in shipbuilding, running a shipbuilding business in Chatham.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
3 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Dates of Description:
25 May 2022,,,
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk