Kevin has written over twenty songs for Living Archive productions and performed its music in community documentary dramas and various other local LAMK projects since 1992. He has also recorded and produced four CDs of LAMK’s large catalogue of songs - his and other composers’ - that emerged from these projects.
Many of Kevin’s songs are based on the experiences of local people, individually and collectively, past and present. All of them are based on documentary evidence - from verbatim reminiscences, or written accounts such as diaries, letters and newspaper articles. He feels Milton Keynes is fortunate to have a vast repository of such material in the collections of the Living Archive. As a song-writer, he says, ‘It has been both a joy and a challenge to compose to such a precise brief of what a song was to be about. There is a sense of great responsibility towards the subject(s) of the song, to be true to their stories.’
Playing guitar, fiddle and mandolin, Kevin has performed and recorded widely across the UK and abroad, and has produced four solo albums. Since becoming disabled by MS he is writing and recording at home, and is currently working on an extended piece about Bletchley Park.
Kevin Adams has been fundamental to the music created for Living Archive documentary dramas over the last quarter century. His compositions are widely acclaimed for both integrity of feeling and variety of form; his live performances – on the fiddle, guitar, mandola, mandolin and vocals – have energised Living Archive songs; and his studio production of the music has achieved the highest quality sound.
Brad moved to Milton Keynes in 1973, first joining Hemlock, which subsequently became The Cock and Bull Band; and then, as a dancer and musician, ‘playing dubious melodeon’ with Stony Stratford Morris. His first acting performance was in Living Archive’s Days of Pride (1981). Brad was an actor and musician in a further six LAMK shows: The Jovial Priest, All Change, Sheltered Lives, Worker by Name, Your Loving Brother Albert and Nellie.
In 1996 he won a Sony Award for his one-man show I’ll Tell You What Happened based on the stories of New Bradwell resident, Hawtin Mundy. This show was toured nationwide including the Edinburgh Festival. In 1998, he performed Mr. Worker’s Walkabout around Stony Stratford as local resident Tom Worker. Brad has also toured the show A Glance from a Train across the UK with Eric Thompson – a show telling the story of the coming of the railway to Wolverton
Brad has appeared at numerous UK Folk Festivals; acted in nearly 30 plays and directed three; made several radio broadcasts, written five music scores and performed in many bands, including the Living Archive Band. His other current band, Kobold, is featured on www.kobold.org.uk
Brad works at The Redway School in Milton Keynes for children with learning difficulties as the school’s ICT technician and systems manager – and also as a musician for the children.
Paul Clark 1941-2015
Paul Clark was involved with Living Archive projects from 1977 with All Change! for which he composed and performed songs – as he did for the next 35 years.
He also served as Chair of Living Archive’s Board (from 1984) and as its Vice-Chair, whilst simultaneously pursuing a high-powered career in education taking him to the top echelons of his profession.
Canadian by birth, Paul came to England in the 1960s with a doctorate in Theoretical Physics. He became the Open University’s Dean of Science; HE Funding Councils Director for both England and Scotland; and author of multi-media course materials in his field. Paul was ultimately OU Pro Vice-Chancellor until he retired (2008). As a Visiting Professor, he spoke at conferences across the world. Yet it is at LAMK where Paul’s special qualities endure, in the musicianship of his songs – 20 of them - written about, and for, the people of Milton Keynes.
Paul said: ‘Being given a particular function by Living Archive can be quite liberating. It gives you a framework to start, rather than just sitting down and waiting for inspiration.’
Fellow band members comment:
‘Paul’s songs are wonderful to sing…
‘They’re full of pathos with beautiful melodies that embed themselves…
‘Once sung, they can never be forgotten.’
Paul played piano, clarinet, string bass, and electric bass, with the acoustic guitar his principal instrument. He played in jazz bands; and in the Living Archive Band, one of its 1992 founder members.
Dr Paul Mowbray Clark became Living Archive’s First Honorary Trustee of the Board in 2012; but it is his songs that are enduring memorials to the unique musician that was Paul Clark.
John Close 1947-2003
John Close was born in Middlesex and spent his early life in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. A Royal Latin Grammar Schoolboy, he dropped out of college to work in London various jobs - as a painter, for Social Security, in furniture stores and warehouses, in hospitals and an off-licence… But John also developed his musicianship, through joining groups – such as Splinter and the Sasoon Band; through writing his own songs and poems; and through performing at venues like the Edinburgh Fringe.
In 1988 he wrote: ‘Finally (1976) I came to live in Milton Keynes. I stayed with a mate who had the idea that we should be rock stars so I played bass and he played lead and we got a drummer. It didn't last long, but I'd got a job of sorts with British Rail in Wolverton and a house all of my own, with real curtains and a separate bedroom, in Bradville MK… Then I wandered into the OU one day to meet a chap who needed some bog-standard clerical assistance for a month. That was 1978 and I've been here ever since.’
As can be seen on the website created by his sister, Lesley Close, John’s musical output has been prolific and the range of his song writing talent is vast: he leaves behind a rich legacy which sadly now lies mainly unsung (http://onefivenine.info/johnclose.htm). He composed songs for only one LAMK show – Sheltered Lives (1983). In March 2001 he was diagnosed with motor-neurone disease. Lesley says: ‘During 2002 his condition slowly deteriorated and by February 2003 he felt the quality of his life was so poor that he contacted Dignitas in Switzerland and asked them to help him die. John died, age 55, in Zurich on 26th May 2003.’
Sue Malleson was born in St Albans, moved to Stewkley as a young child and from thence to Bow Brickhill in 1970; as a hobby, she runs the Bow Brickhill village website.
Sue was a group secretary at Milton Keynes Development Corporation, later becoming a PR consultant (now semi-retired); but her main interest has been folk-singing and dancing.
Having attended Folk Camps since the early 1960s, Sue served for several years on the Folk Camps Council of Management. ‘After my first folk camp I decided to play guitar, but I stopped when I encountered the chord of Bm! It was time to learn the spoons instead…”
Inspired by her brother Jonathan, a folk-fiddling legend, Sue has been learning folk fiddle for the past eight years because, as she says, “The tunes are all in my head already; I just need to find some way of expressing them.”
Sue’s family was steeped in the pre and post-war folk revival; her father, mother, aunts and uncles all playing a part, so it was inevitable that folk songs were the repertoire for her 1960s three-girl harmony group, The Cedarfolk. In the ‘70s she sang with Poachers Folly and ran a folk club. Sue has been a folk dance ‘caller’ for over 45 years.’
A memorable experience for Sue was at the new MK Theatre performing in Living Archive’s 1999 production All Change! – and she has been with the Living Archive Band ever since.
www.bowbrickhill.com www.folkcamps.co.uk www.livingarchive.org.uk
Godfrey Yeomans lives in rural Milton Keynes Borough – once North Buckinghamshire. He spends his time ‘walking in the countryside, allotment pottering, drawing and painting and pursuing my main interest which is music.’
Godfrey is primarily a bass player – both bass guitar and ‘electric double bass in electro-acoustic’; but he also plays ‘a bit of tenor guitar and bouzouki’. He is a songwriter too, for folk, folk-rock, country and ceilidh music. He has a small home studio set-up for creating and recording his music.
Godfrey’s first musical efforts were in the sixties, briefly with drums before switching to bass. He played in local bands around Bucks and Beds and moved to London to play professionally in a blues band. ‘When that came to an end, for various reasons I gave up playing for quite a few years.’
He started again at the beginning of 2000, to achieve a long-held personal ambition: ‘Take music lessons and learn about bass and music theory properly.’ Inevitably, he was drawn into music projects, including for folk-rock and ceilidh.
Godfrey has played with The Living Archive Band since 2010 and composed five songs for the LAMK project, The Horse and the Tractor, all of which are in the LAMK song archive, with four featured on the eponymous radio ballad CD. He regularly performs with Kobold and occasionally with The Sherington Ceilidh Band and folk singer Mark Kesby.
Godfrey Yeomans is also a self-taught water-colour artist: ‘I'm quite literally an 'armchair artist'; so my pictures are always small, created with mediums that are not too messy - drawing pens, brush pens and watercolour pencils.’
Jeremy (‘J’) Cunningham
J Cunningham took an early interest in the piano, in ‘easy classics like Chopin, Mozart and Strauss waltzes’, in opera and in the guitar. Inspired by 1960s’ singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, he started writing his own songs, sang in folk clubs and discovered traditional English folk music. After university, he travelled in North and Central America and Japan, writing ‘about seventy songs, most of them pretty unmemorable’; he arrived in Milton Keynes in 1976 to teach at Stantonbury Campus.
J was inevitably caught up in the excitement of Milton Keynes’ first-ever, home-grown, large-scale community musical documentary play then fermenting the Stantonbury Campus Drama Group under Roy Nevitt – All Change! The Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger workshop at the time was a formative experience when he learned the ‘building technique’ where each verse gets longer. The witty Wolverton Refreshment Room emerged from this - out of seven songs J wrote for the production. He used the technique again for Ambulance Train in Days of Pride – one of five songs he composed for the play. Three other shows – Your Loving Brother Albert, The Jovial Priest and Nellie inspired a further 13 songs; all 25 are in the LAMK song archive, and all are a delight.
Roy Nevitt, Living Archive Co-founder, documentary theatre writer and producer, voiced what many feel about J’s songs for Living Archive productions:
‘J Cunningham is one of the most brilliant, prolific and reliable song-writers (whose) unmistakeable style, original and full of surprises and delights, readily adapted to the needs of the plays… J produced songs that were always disciplined, sharp, fresh, witty and unforgettable.’
Neil Mercer was Musical Director for Living Archive theatre productions throughout the 1990s. His shows included Worker By Name, The Pride of Wolverton, Days of Pride, Bigger Brighter Better and The Fabric of Milton Keynes. For these he has been composer, musical director, playing guitar, mandolin, trumpet and pipes. About composing for the shows, he says: ‘I read all the info from the interviews with local people and talked to the playwright. … Writing songs for Living Archive has been very satisfying. I’d always found it quite hard to write songs, because I never knew what to write about. The Living Archive resources give you plots, people, and key phrases, all ready-made.’
The personal perspective has been a hallmark of Neil’s LAMK songs – the young woman yearning for a home of her own in ‘I want a little more from life’; the excitement of a teenager in The Night the Stones Rolled into Town; the Stony Stratford resident who knows hardship but loves his time off in A Few Coppers.
Neil grew up in the Lake District, which is where he first got involved in folk music. For his day job, he is Emeritus Professor of Education and Director of the centre Oracy Cambridge at the University of Cambridge [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Mercer]. Musically, he plays with Phil Riley [http://www.philriley.org.uk] as a duo and in the band Borderline Crossing.
Born in Harrow, and brought up in Yorkshire and Liverpool, Rod Hall first joined the merchant navy, then Trinity House as a lighthouse keeper, including at Wolf Rock - the most remote lighthouse in England. Here, Rod taught himself classical guitar and music theory. Later, he settled in Stony Stratford and became a music student at Bletchley Park, studying guitar, mandolin and double bass, eventually acquiring a music degree.
A primary school teacher in Milton Keynes in the 1970s Rod was involved in Living Archive’s first staging of Days of Pride (1981). He composed new songs and musical arrangements, conducting a large community-sourced orchestra for the production. More music was composed for The Jovial Priest in 1982; and even in 2012 after he returned to Yorkshire, Rod wrote music for the Calverton Manor Farm project, recorded for The Horse and the Tractor. All Rod’s 22 Milton Keynes compositions are in the LAMK song archive.
In 1995, Rod joined Fourum Folk. Having become Deputy Headteacher for a North Yorkshire school where the band was due to perform a concert, he asked if he could play with them for the night. From their first rehearsal, ‘Rod became a permanent member of Fourum, with his Victorian double bass and adding extra harmony to some of the songs (and) some melodic playing on his old nylon string guitar or mandolin.’ (www.fourumfolk.co.uk)
Eileen Rafferty was born in London and went school and University there. She became a Primary school teacher and taught for more than 30 years.
Eileen has always loved and been involved in a wide variety of music genres including Classical, Jazz, Folk and Early Music. She also loves contemporary dance and folk dance. She has sung in choirs performing in London and in European concert halls.
As a teacher Eileen has written many songs for school productions. As a singer /songwriter she has worked with numerous Folk and Jazz musicians.
While living in Stony Stratford in the 1990s, Eileen worked on Living Archive’s production of Worker By Name, choreographing dance scenes, writing songs and singing with the Living Archive Band. Eileen composed two songs for this production – On the Breadline and Stony Stratford, a Country Town – for which she was also the lead singer.
In addition, Eileen was involved in a Living Archive co-production with BBC radio, The Fabric of Milton Keynes. This unique programme culminated in an unforgettable event at Christ the Cornerstone Church in Central Milton Keynes, recorded live on BBC 3CR. People from all over the new city came with their tapestries, dance, sculptures, paintings, and specially commissioned songs from the Living Archive Band – to celebrate the city’s varied communities. Eileen’s song was a celebration of the city’s working community at Camp Hill in Willen Park Milton Keynes, for adults with learning difficulties but ‘with sufficient independence to benefit from an urban situation’: she wrote and performed with the Living Archive Band the Camp Hill Blues.
Eileen now lives in Sussex where she sings with a Jazz guitarist, performing her own songs.