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Bert Lloyd Tribute - Cecil Sharp House 15 November 2008

From Martyn Wyndham-Read (27 November 2008)

The date Saturday 15th November 2008, the venue Cecil Sharp House, London, the reason a Memorial day to honour the incomparable Bert Lloyd.

It was such an honour for Iris bishop, my wife Danni and myself Martyn Wyndham-Read to be invited as part of this and to be involved in this event. Suffice to say that Cecil Sharp House was full and the atmosphere fantastic as everyone was there for the same purpose and bent on remembering Bert Lloyd. The anecdotes flowed freely and each one showed the human touch that Bert had. The venue was spot on and at this point I must mention and congratulate both Peta Webb and Malcolm Taylor for having the foresight for the idea of this day and organising it in such a thoughtful and efficient manner. The music was diverse as it was enjoyable and there were many highlights.The inclusion of the Balkan singer Dessislava Stefanova during Frankie Armstrong's set was electric as were all of the performers. It was good to be able to present the Australian side of Bert’s life, through some songs that Bert had collected during his stay there. It was also so good to see Kevin Bradley of the NLA there and enjoy the music with him.

Fellside Records have done a terrific job compiling a double CD of Bert's singing, one CD of English songs and the other Classic Australian ones.

Dave Arthur’s talk on Bert was fascinating and I look forward to his book on Bert coming out in the Spring of 2009.

I first met Bert when I came back from Australia to England in the end part of the 1960’s and one of the many aspects of his personality and character that I admired so much was his generosity with the music. There were many times that I had been stumped to find an extra verse or some background to a song and I knew that this information would be just a phone call away. I well remember going to visit Charlotte and Bert once at their house in Greenwich and being welcomed by Charlotte. I heard this sound coming from upstairs that sounded if someone was ironing a cat Charlotte just smiled at me and pointed upstairs indicating that I should go up. Sure enough through a half open door I saw Bert listening entranced to this sound, in reality it was some wonderful and exotic music and song from Albania. On noticing me Bert waved to me and motioned for me to take a seat, and wait till it was over which I did. Immediately the song stopped, Bert said to me without taking a pause, "the answer to your query behind the song in question is ……………". He could just switch from one type of music to the other with total ease, and was only too happy to share his knowledge.

One of my other memorable experiences with Bert was a concert I did with him in, I believe Stoke on Trent, and in a theatre which was designed in the round. This was crammed full with an audience of folk enthusiasts. I vividly remember, to this day, listening and watching Bert perform Tam Lin. Most people in the audience would have known this ballad word for word, but everyone was on the edge of their seats as the master ballad singer Bert Lloyd wove his magic. His performance was just gripping and memorable, just another facet of this truly remarkable man. How honoured I feel to have known him and spend time with him in many different circumstances.

It was good to see Caroline and Ted there soaking up the many tributes to Bert. Just a memorable wonderful Memorial day.


Many thanks to Martyn Wyndham-Read for permission to add this review to the Australian Folk Songs website


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory