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Bob Davenport

+ {Bob Davenport And The Rakes}

Born 31 May 1932, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, traditional English folksinger BOB DAVENPORT and his band The Rakes (musicians Michael Plunkett, Reg Hall and Paul Gross) had been ploughing the fields of folk music since their inception in the mid-50s. Straight from National Service with the Royal Air Force to performing in and around London’s Camden Town folk club scene, DAVENPORT and Co spent several years on the circuit dividing time between recording the odd Northern-themed EP (`Geordie Songs’ and `Wor Geordie’). Around a year later in 1963, DAVENPORT and several others featured on A.L. LLOYD’s Panorama Of Industrial Folk Song: The Iron Muse, while there weren’t many other Brits who played at America’s annual Newport Folk Festival (and alongside DYLAN, BAEZ, PAXTON and OCHS, at that).
Together with Isla Cameron, Jack Armstrong and The Rakes, 1964 saw the release of long-player NORTHUMBRIAN MINSTRELSY {*5}; the first Columbia Records version of BOB DAVENPORT AND THE RAKES (1965) {*5} was – and is still – hard to come by.
While the first half the 70s produced two LPs for Bill Leader’s Trailer Records (BOB DAVENPORT AND THE MARSDEN RATTLERS (1971) {*6} and PAL OF MY CRADLE DAYS (1974) {*6}), the second half saw Topic Records deliver a couple themselves: DOWN THE LONG ROAD (1975) {*7}, POSTCARDS HOME (1977) {*6} and BOB DAVENPORT AND THE RAKES – 1977 (1977) {*7}), combining timeless solo a cappella and Celtic-band-style recordings that included `Whiskey In The Jar’ (think not THIN LIZZY), `Byker Hill – Blackleg Miner’ and `The Star Of The County Down’, the best from each; The Rakes would also moonlight with their own eponymous set.
Although continuing to work on the fringes of folk and appearing at the odd festival, DAVENPORT gradually downsized his workload, only to return with old retainers The Rakes on a rousing Northumbrian-Celtic effort, THE RED HAIRED LAD (1997) {*6}. Released to coincide with his 72rd birthday in 2004, DAVENPORT solo (but with help from a triumvirate of folk royalty, RICHARD THOMPSON, MARTIN CARTHY, NORMA WATERSON, and, er… CHUMBAWAMBA) delivered THE COMMON STONE {*6}, a record of two dozen tracks or so with room for William Blake’s `Jerusalem’, standard `You Are My Sunshine’, Brecht-Weill’s `Alabama Song’, Harry Lauder’s `The Summertime Is Come Again’, ANNA McGARRIGLE’s `Heart Like A Wheel’ and RT’s `Davenport’s Cakewalk’.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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