Friday, 28 April 2017

Friday Is Rock'n'Roll #London Day: The Roots of Rock'n'Roll in London

Friday is Rock'n'Roll London Day! Join the Rock'n'Roll London walk this (and every Friday) afternoon at 2:00p.m meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station

Adam writes…

Along the route of the Rock'n'Roll London Walk, we delve into what I like to call the "parent musics" as we go – blues, a little bit of jazz, some skiffle of course and also folk.

I picked up a copy of Spin magazine in the Muswell Hill books and records branch of Oxfam recently…


It's not, as you can see, the U.S Spin magazine founded in the mid 80s, which ceased printing in 2012 but continues as a website here:

Spin was a magazine for folk musicians and fans. This issue was published and printed in Cheshire in 1966 and featured articles on the history of folk, as well as music and lyrics…

… and ads for record shops such as the famous, long-gone Dobell's on the Charing Cross Road…

The 1964 edition featuring Bob Dylan on the cover can change hands online for daft amounts of money…

Which is why I was delighted to grab mine for £1.50. Dylan does not feature on the cover.

But Bob Dylan's mate Martin does.

The fellow on the right, in the cover photo at the top of this post, playing the guitar, is Martin Carthy.

There are periods in the narrative of popular music when even the mighty New York City bows before our own London. The early-to-mid 1960s is one such era, and I'm always reminded of Bob Dylan's line on English folkie Martin Carthy (from a Rolling Stone interview in 1984):

"I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs. Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin."

The aforementioned Carthy – brought up in Hampstead North London – influenced both Dylan and Paul Simon. Just one example of his influence can be heard in the short playlist below, which begins with Carthy's arrangement of the 17th century ballad Scarborough Fair. As you can hear, Paul Simon (track 3) lifted Carthy's arrangement wholesale. Track two is Dylan's reinterpretation of the melody with track four ending up in Nashville with Dylan and Johnny Cash on their lovingly ramshackle cut from 1969's Nashville Skyline album.

Carthy, I'm delighted to say, is still up on his hind legs and performing. His next London gig is at the Leytonstone Ex-Servicemens Club on Sunday 9th July. Catch up with Carthy on tour near you here:

The fellow on the fiddle on the cover of Spin is, of course, Dave Swarbrick, later famed for his work with Fairport Convention - I'll be returning to him in a later blog post. In the meantime, you can spend 40 minutes in the company of both men on Martin Carthy's 1965 debut album…

Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station every Friday.

The Rock'n'Roll London walk is the ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) you can buy a print copy on this afternoon's Rock'n'Roll London walk or download at the London Bookstore online:

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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