performs English and Appalachian Old Time songs, ballads, and
instrumental music on 5-string banjo, guitar, melodeon, and whistle,
around the world, in folk clubs, theatres, arts centres, festivals,
schools and colleges.
His CD Return Journey (WildGoose Recordings WGS 313 CD)
was released in 2003.
Apart from his solo work Dave is part of the Old Time trio Rattle
On the Stove-pipe, with Pete Cooper, fiddle, viola, and Dan Stewart, guitar, banjo. Their first CD 8 More Miles was released in 2006.
Dave also works as historical music advisor, composer, and performer
in theatre, TV and radio, and lectures and runs workshops on Old
Time Banjo, British Magical Ballads, Gypsy stories/music and dance, and
the life of singer/folklorist A.L. ‘Bert’ Lloyd.
In November 2003 he was awarded the Gold Badge of the English
Folk Dance and Song Society, for services to folk music.
The original liine up of Rattle On The Stovepipe. Chris Moreton,
Pete Cooper and Dave Arthur. Folkestone 2003
The Rufus Crisp Experience.
Barry Murphy and Dave Arthur.
Dave started out in the early folk clubs and coffee
houses of Soho, London, performing a mixture of American and British
folk music, being influenced as a teenager by such singers as
Woody Guthrie, Rambling Jack Elliot, Leadbelly, A.L. ‘Bert’
Lloyd, Ewan McColl, and Alfred Deller (!). Always interested in
folksong research he spent a lot of time in his teens in the sound
library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the BBC Archives,
and the library of the American Embassy. Whilst searching for
the roots of the American folk and blues that he loved he discovered
that much of it had its origins in the British Isles, and he was
soon absorbing the field recordings and early studio recordings
of such seminal British traditional singers as Harry Cox, the
Copper Family, Phil Tanner, Joseph Taylor, Sam Larner, the Stewarts
of Blair, Jeanie Robertson, Sean McDonagh, Joe Heaney, and dozens
He met his future wife, Toni, while he was running
a musical coffee house in London. They soon started to sing together,
and became at that time, according to Bert Lloyd,
‘the most admired duo on the folk scene’, respected
for their research into all aspects of folklore. They recorded
albums of English traditional songs for Topic, Transatlantic,
and Leader, working with fiddlers Kevin Burke, Barry Dransfield,
Nic Jones and ex-Watersons bass-singer/fiddler John Harrison.
They spent a number of years touring the length
and breadth of the British Isles, as well as Russia, Africa, and
the USA, using the opportunity the travel provided to collect
songs, stories, life histories, and folklore from the people
they met, and to conduct research in libraries, museums, and folklore
institutes. They did a lot of research into witchcraft, fairgrounds,
gypsies, poaching, droving, folktales, traditional dancing, and
seasonal customs. Much of their collecting appeared in their song
repertoire (their 1970s ‘witchcraft’ album Hearken
to the Witches' Rune was recently described as a ‘seminal
neo-pagan milestone’ (!)), and later in their radio, TV,
and theatre writing and performing, and journalism.
Storytelling and puppetry tour, Hong
Dave went on to become the youngest member of the
Editorial Board of the Folk Music Journal, and for twenty
years edited England’s oldest folk music magazine, English
Dance and Song.
In the early 1990s after many years
performing English traditional material, Dave re-discovered Anglo-American
Old Time music, and started playing 5-string banjo with another
banjo payer, Barry Murphy, as the Old Time duo ‘The Rufus
Crisp Experience’. Together and separately they made regular
trips to the Appalachian mountains, playing with, recording, and
listening to, many of the best revival and traditional Old Time
players. Over the last couple of years, Dave has made three trips
to Hong Kong as puppeteer and storyteller.
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