Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase Joe Stead

joe stead

Joe Stead started singing folk songs over 45 years ago at his rugby club the Old Askeans in South East London. As a disciple of Pete Seeger he had discovered folk music in the late 1950’s visiting the many now infamous folk clubs that had sprung up around Soho at the time.

In 1998, during one of his many tours of America, he performed for the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, which is probably the country’s most prestigious folk song society. Bob Cohen (who is currently the society president) wrote the following in the Philadelphia Folk Song Society News Letter prior to his arrival...........

"We are thrilled to start this year’s concert series with an evening's encounter with Joe Stead, one of Great Britain's greatest folk musicians, collectors, teachers, recorders and performers. He is truly one of the Godfathers of British music - a true world asset. Joe started singing professionally in 1966 and has not stopped since. He has played all the major festivals in Great Britain, illustrious venues such as The Albert Hall and Festival Hall and has toured America more times than he can remember. He ran Sweet Folk All Recordings from 1974-1989, recording such people as Pete Seeger, Martin Carthy, Martyn Wyndham Read, Phil Beer, Alex Campbell, Stan Hugill, Jeremy Taylor and Philadelphia's own Jim Couza. lk Song Society.

What follows will be a wonderful warm evening of wit, deep thought, sadness, humour laughter and every other emotion one can imagine - a true "musical feast”. If you miss this concert, you will be very sorry after you talk to those who attended. Short of travelling to England yourself this is your chance to see a real master”. Dr Bob Cohen - House Concert Chair, Philadelphia Folk Song Society.

Joe has now added two additional dimensions to his repertoire. ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’, which incorporates a trip from Liverpool to Valparaiso in 1860 in which he and the crew sing all the necessary shanties to complete the voyage. And the ‘Life and Times of Paul Robeson’ documenting his life from birth to death. ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’ has subsequently been commissioned by the RNLI and is available from all their outlets as a compact disc. A proportion of the profits from all sales are sent to the RNLI. The album, which in itself is a story in song, has received accolades from such luminaries in the folk world as Cyril Tawney and Roy Harris. The CD has been performed on stage at many festivals and clubs around Britain and in both North and South America including Chippenham, Cleckheaton, Bradford, Fylde, Letchworth, Maryport, Newcastle, Rochester, Shrewsbury, Tenterden, Whitby, Valparaiso and of course Philadelphia where it was premiered.

Joe is the founder member of ‘Kimber’s Men’ who are quickly becoming acclaimed as Britain’s premier shanty group.

Music by Joe Stead at

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