Monday 23 July 2018

AN ACCIDENTAL MUSICIAN by Judy Dyble and Dave Thompson

AMAZON US $13.30 

1960s to Present Day

Judy Dyble (rhymes with 'libel' not 'scribble' – as she explains) is not exactly a household name and yet she was there at the beginning of one of Britain's finest bands: Fairport Convention.

From her early days in the Wood Green / Bounds Green suburbs of North London, she takes us on an honest journey through the folkscene of the late 1960's in a refreshing and understated style. She explains how Fairport were really just a bunch of friends with like-minded ideas who got together, leaving their own bands to do so. (Judy was at that time performing semi-regularly as Judy and the Folk Men). The boys in the band were not, at that time, confident of their own singing and so Judy was enlisted.

Yet Judy is much more than a folk singer - a chick in a band – for, after being disappointingly asked to leave the band, she recorded with Giles, Giles and Fripp (the forerunner of King Crimson), Jackie McAuley (formerly of  Van Morrison's Them) and penned and sang lyrics for Marc Swordfish of Astralasia amongst others.

For those who have heard Judy sing, they will know that she has a voice that is pure and clear, full of perfect diction and Englishness; like running your finger around the rim of a wettened wine glass producing a perfect tone. And so it is with this autobiography. She tells of the highs and the lows in a matter-of-fact style; no regrets, no glorification of her part in the revolutions occurring in the music scene. She explains how the industry soured for her to the point that she retired for over thirty years, and deals well with the tragic death of her husband. She dispels the rumours that Sandy Denny was lined up to replace her and tells us that they met only the once over 'a nice cup of tea'. And she confirms that the story of her sitting on the edge of the stage knitting, whilst Richard Thompson and Jimi Hendrix traded licks in an impromptu jam is no urban myth.

Each chapter is headed by extracts from her (modern day) diary – amusing, entertaining and full of wonderful examples of her unique penchant for 'making-words-upness', tales of woodlice, scruffy-eyed blackbirds and her beloved greyhounds.

Today, Judy has been persuaded out of retirement and has performed often at Cropredy (the annual festival organised by Fairport Convention in the village of the same name), reunion gigs with Jackie McAuley under their original name of Trader Horne and a number of gigs with her own Band of Perfect Strangers.

There is one word that I have not yet used, but will do so now: Delightful.

Highly recommended for those interested in Fairport Convention and the late 1960s music scene.

© Richard Tearle

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