Stan Ambrose,who passed away on 11th July, was,in many respects, a remarkable man. He was one of the true pioneers of the Folk Movement in Liverpool. He presented the "Folkscene" programme on BBC Radio Merseyside for an incredible forty nine years, making it the longest -running programme on local radio. Indeed, "Folkscene" was the very first folk music programme on local radio anywhere in the country.
In addition to this,Stan was one of the founders of the Bothy Folk Song Club in Southport in 1965. This club,of which I am proud to be a member, is still going strong,having celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year.
Stan, a humble and modest man, was also a performer, and in his later years learned to play the Celtic harp and anyone who heard him play would undoubtedly agree that this was indeed "music to soothe the soul".
Tonight Liverpool Acoustic [Graham Holland and Stuart Todd] arranged a fitting celebration of Stan's live, a man who meant so much to so many. Over the course of three hours, we had fifteen different artists paying tribute to Stan, both in music and words.
We had several solo singer songwriters,namely Alicia Rose, Derek King, Andrew Hesford, Mary McCombs and Rob Clarke [whose "Brown Paper Bag" sounds like a lost Beatles [or Rutles] song]. Jim Bob James, looking for all the world like a very young Bob Dylan,gave us a Dylanesque song about meeting beatniks in New York.
Jamie Clague is a most unconventional artist who plays balalaika and whose voice ranges from Tiny Tim to Operatic -extraordinary.
Stuart Todd [co-host of Liverpool Acoustic] gave us an emotional rendition of First World War Song "Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire",[a song frequently sung by Stan - Stuart's version would have made him proud] and Simon Bennett,who led audience participation on his a cappella version of "John The Revelator".
We had country blues from Herringbone John and rootsy Americana from The Southbound Attic Band, who recorded five sessions for Stan's radio show.
Geoghegan Jackson, a female guitar/vocal duo are Liverpool Acoustic favourites and they gave a typically polished performance but the undoubted highlight of the evening was a sensational performance by neo-classical guitarist Neil Campbell of two instrumental pieces "In And Out Of Day And Into Night" and "Solid Ground",which held the audience in raptures. Neil revealed that Stan had actually played on his Prog Rock Album. No one was in any doubt that Stan would have loved Neil's performance tonight.
Neil also accompanied the wonderful singer Perri Alleyne Hughes on a stunning version of the chilling "Strange Fruit". The combination of Perri's jazz vocals and Neil's flamenco-style guitar was outstanding.
Perhaps the last word should go to Stan's fellow Radio Merseyside presenter [and renowned author] Spencer Leigh who gave us some of personal memories of Stan and how he refused to play trails for other programmes on his radio show and how he refused to interview The Dubliners because they had had a chart hit! Spencer's best story however was about when Stan and his group played at Widnes Folk Club and were paid £15,whereas Paul Simon [yes,the Paul Simon] only received £12. Stan's comment was "I always knew I was worth more than Paul Simon!".
Thanks to Liverpool Acoustic for putting on a fitting tribute to a much-missed man.
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