What was the folk music scene really like in the Sixties?

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Martin Chilton writes as follows: A new book remembers the best of Britain's Sixties folk clubs and troubadours. It was a world of smoky entertainment, social freedom and suspected communism.

Ewan MacColl used to eat his home-made sandwiches on stage. “I put a stop to that,” recalls MacColl’s wife, Peggy Seeger. “Some of the audience hadn’t even had their dinner.” It’s hard to imagine Ed Sheeran doing the same these days.

A new history of British folk clubs, the first acquisition by Faber’s editor-at-large Jarvis Cocker, captures vividly, through more than a hundred interviews, the lives of musicians in the Sixties. There were around 3,000 clubs, though many were short-lived and run by those Dick Gaughan calls “fanatical amateurs”.

Few clubs had microphones (inexperienced singers soon learnt to make their voices carry) and most were packed, smoke-filled fire hazards.

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