item9 item8 item7 thecollection aboutken

Field Recordings of Folk Songs and Traditional Music recorded by Ken Stubbs between 1959 and 1980


The Collection

Ken had made recordings since 1959 but did hardly any collecting after 1971, although he still ran his folk music parties. In 1980 he went to the USA to live and work on an organic farm and his friends Jean and Chris Addison took over the running of the 'Elsie's' evenings, which they continued for over twenty-five years.

Before he left Ken gave his tapes to Chris, knowing they would be in safe hands, with the wish that he should make the recordings available. He also gave Chris copyright to the recordings, in writing, should he wish to issue any of them in the future. Chris let people know that he had Ken's collection, hoping more would be issued from it, but was surprised and disappointed to discover there was no interest in doing so.

Whenever people wanted to listen to his recordings Ken was always willing to oblige. His tapes have been borrowed by a small number of people over the years, many of whom made copies of just the recordings they were interested in. Ken's generosity meant that many of the tapes were in a fragile state. The tapes were deteriorating so I offered to digitise them. Both Ken and Chris were delighted. I picked up the tapes in May 2008. Since then I worked sporadically on them in my 'spare-time'. It has been a long, intensive task. After spending many, many hours I have completed the digitising of all of Ken's collection - 21 reels of 4 track on 5 inch and 7 inch reels, some 1000 performances. This has been a labour of love, entirely self funded.

Ken's collection has taken a lot of sorting out. I worked from his hand-written book in which he lists the tapes by song title and performer, and his card-index of recordings in his collection, which gives some dates and locations. Ken did his best to answer any questions, but he was very ill and his memory was fading.

The majority of the recordings were made by Ken but amongst them are dubbings from other collectors. Some are known and have been issued but those that are identified but have not been issued will be made available.

Although I am the driving force it is a team effort: David Nuttall and Steve Pennells (both are old friends, who knew Ken and went with him to play and record in the pubs with musicians and singers in the 1960s), Chris and Jean Addison, Molly Barrett and, of course, Ken, who had been living in Norwich since his return from the USA in 1986 until his death in 2008, have all been involved to a greater or lesser degree from the outset. Paul Marsh.