Interview with Dave Vandoorn, 25 June 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Dave Vandoorn [DV] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Hornchurch on 25 June 1999. DV talks about founding and running the Toad Hall Folk Club, dancing with the Royal Liberty Morris, his interest in bagpipes, and playing craft fairs and medieval re-enactments with his band, the Drone Club.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] DV talks about his early life and family; music in the family; playing guitar aged 14; his grandfather playing music; nostalgia for pub music; repertoire; musicals; popular music in the 1920s; hymns and the City of London Grammar School music club; junior school folk songs; resistance to dancing at school; lack of resemblance to real folk, 'badly transcribed'; hearing jazz at school.
[00:07:28] Learning to play guitar from a book, within a week; forming a skiffle group with his school friends in the mid-1950s; playing Chislehurst Caves jazz club; the origin of skiffle, relationship to jazz; hearing folk at Chislehurst Caves, impressed by 'Darling'; travelling to Chislehurst; skiffle repertoire, Lonnie Donegan; origin of the word 'skiffle'; skiffle as an English phenomenon; leaving the skiffle group.
[00:16:20] Playing rock; working at Burns Guitar Company from 1962; band names, line-up and repertoire, 1960s pop, Merseybeat scene; meeting guitarists at Burns; introduction to folk through country and western; leaving Burns and working in electronics and telecoms at Brentwood radio station.
[00:21:34] Forming folk club with work colleagues, including Ken Brown, around 1966; starting at the Central, East Ham; the Toad Hall Folk Club; moving around different venues; benefiting from Barking audience, previous club folding; Monty Python taking his audience; the process of starting a folk club, booking acts, finances, impact of publicity; deciding on acts, lack of knowledge of folk; using agencies and floor singers.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] Story about Richard Digance trying to get started in folk; learning folk club etiquette; scouting other folk clubs; booking Ralph McTell [RM] around 1967; booking Peter Sarstedt and being disappointed with his television appearance. SC mentions the Young Tradition. Discuss John Renbourn. DV talks further about booking RM; the characteristics of the Toad Hall Folk Club; the audience of young 'non-folkies'; booking the Chingford Morris Men to perform in an upstairs room.
[00:14:09] The Toad Hall Folk Club folding in 1971; losing interest in running the club; relationships with landlords; family commitments, getting married in 1962 and having children; teaching guitar to the Scouts and his own children; listening to folk and attending Bampton Folk Festival.
[00:19:44] Attending Fairkytes Arts Centre folk evening, trying Morris dancing; getting involved in Royal Liberty Morris; different kits; dancing in 'motorbike leathers', bikers and Morris men; Royal Liberty dancing 'Swaggering Boney'; developing 'Swaggering Bonneville'; doing television work with the dance; the quality of dancing teachers; the irreverence of dancing and comradeship of Royal Liberty.

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00] DV continues talking about comradeship in Royal Liberty Morris; performing at festivals; accusations of not being 'proper' Morris dancers; the philosophy of Morris; legitimate Morris tradition; differences between historical recreation and continuing tradition; owing revivalists, but disagreeing with their principles; the youthfulness of border Morris.
[00:07:52] Playing bagpipes; being given pipes by his uncle, aged 16; asking bagpipe advice from Eric Driscoll, a supervisor at Brentwood radio station; the bagpipe revival in the 1980s; his Scottish pipes perishing when the man who gave them to his uncle died; differences between English and Scottish bagpipes; a pipe dug up in an archaeological dig; playing French pipes for Morris; making pipes; buying pipes from friend in 1983; Flemish pipes.
[00:20:07] Founding the English Bagpipe Society [later the Bagpipe Society] in 1985-86; starting a band, the Drones Club; playing craft fairs, festivals, and medieval re-enactments; trying to look distinctive; creating a fake 'English warpipe'; his interest in Appalachian music; being booked for a craft fair with an American theme; the formation and purpose of the Bagpipe Society; not needing membership of English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

Tape 2 Side B

[00:00:00] Musical interests other than folk at the time of interview; love of Appalachian Old Time; preference for banjo music, French contemporary folk; difference between French and French-Canadian folk music.
[00:05:57] Reflects on enjoyment of Morris dancing; doing television work; supporting Spinal Tap at the Albert Hall; leading the procession at medieval re-enactments with the Drones Club.
[00:09:04] Booking Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick at the Toad Hall Folk Club, around 1968; the biggest night at the Toad Hall Folk Club, with Noel Murphy, John Renbourn and Sandy Denny; booking the Watersons for their last public performance; folk club rules.
Dates of Creation:
25 June 1999
1 hour 45 minutes 36 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Dave Vandoorn (b.1941, Chadwell Heath) was involved in various areas of the Essex and East London folk scenes, despite not describing himself as a 'folkie'. Starting with skiffle in the mid-1950s, Dave then founded the Toad Hall Folk Club around 1966. After the club folded in 1971, he became involved in the Royal Liberty Morris team, which were known for their atypical costumes and TV appearances dressed as a biker gang. Dave also founded the English Bagpipe Society (later the Bagpipe Society) and the Drone Club.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
4 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/12/3
Dates of Description:
May 2022,,,
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk