THEN & NOW
In the beginning we had nothing of musical use, my brother and I, until a soldier who had served in Italy gave us a mandolin he'd brought home. Michael had the banjo I had the mandolin, but no songs. Then we realised we did have something; the tunes we'd learned from the radio on a programme called "Singing for schools”, that our teacher tuned into weekly on a morning. Tunes from our own country such as, “Soldier, Soldier", or songs from America such as, "Shenandoah" and "John Brown's body".
Of course the thing we did not have was musical knowledge, we had no idea what a chord was, or a stave, or a crotchet but we did the tunes and for a start we managed by picking the melodies on the individual strings and singing along using the identical notes! This was of course most unsatisfactory, but it was a start and we built up quite a number of songs in the first six months or so. You have to realise that (1), Up to that point in history, no children or young people had ever played music just for audiences the same age as them, it simply had not happened to any previous generation (I'm talking about 12-16 year olds). And (2), There was precious little money going spare in the post-war years, our parents really did struggle. Then a remarkable thing happened, we were unaware as we tried hard to find new material, that here, in our own country, there was a treasure trove of thousands of songs, waiting to be discovered. These were the Library of Congress recordings and they were sitting in the American Embassy in London.
Fortunately for us, a group of young jazz musicians had discovered these recordings and were already using them and songs like "Gambin' man", "Jack o' Diamonds" and "Tom Dooley" were already being used by Ken Colyer and Lonnie Donegan. Then one day, during a rest in recording a New Orleans jazz session, Lonnie (guitar) Chris Barber (bass) and Beryl Bryden (washboard) recorded "Rock Island Line" and "John Henry" and that was the birth of what eventually became a multi-billion pound (and dollar) rock industry. Once the two titles made the charts, an incredibly swift movement occurred which carried the two songs (and more with them) from one town to another throughout the country and as if by magic, books suddenly appeared showing us the neck of the guitar, and where to place your fingers in order to form appropriate chords with which to accompany the melody. I don't think anyone could ever forget the moment they could do this and the smiles were many and wide.
As children, we'd spent our lives playing on and around what could be called by the "Ribble Delta" (the 'D' formed by the rivers Ribble and Darwen) and once we'd formed a four piece 'skiffle group' we became the 'Ramblin' Riversiders' no other name was even considered.
This year is the sixtieth anniversary of me forming the band and the long road has been a journey from playing in a shed my Dad built in the garden of our home on Hennel lane, Walton-le-dale to the festival stages of the American Mid-West and Deep South as well as Nashville, West Virginia and Ohio.
To celebrate, we are playing a concert at the Preston Playhouse Theatre, the first stage we ever played on at a Jazz Jamboree! It will start with an identical line-up to the 1956 band playing acoustically (as we did then) as well as a long set of the songs we've played throughout the years and continue to play today.
I have had a long musical journey playing in Rock, Jazz, Country, Blues and Ceilidh bands, but thanks mainly to the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist churches we've always had a regular supply of gigs at youth clubs, WI and Garden parties, so my grateful thanks go to the churches who kept the band going in the background to all the music I was playing. Now of course, Skiffle is called 'Roots' music and we're still busy playing set lists made up of American Folk music, Country, Gospel, Hillbilly and Blues just as the Ramblin' Riversiders did in their formative years.
The concert at the Playhouse is on Saturday 28th of May 2016 so watch out for the tickets going on sale and contact either me personally or the band's website if you have any problems. Harold Dearden. 0777 4508 123
For More Details Check our 'What's On' page
For more information about the 60th anniversary of the Ramblin’ Riversiders events, including gig dates and a brief history ‘from then ‘till now’, please click on the ‘Now & ‘Then’ button/link.