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Nicholas Waller The Topic's gig list - back to 1960! (26) The Topic's gig list - back to 1960! 24 Jan 11

The guest Gigs List of The Topic Folk Club in Bradford now stretches way back into the 1960s! Take a look, if you're interested.

On February 5th 1960 Roy Harris played The Topic in Bradford, and again a few more times until his most recent appearance on 31st July 2003. The Spinners played The Topic on 12th September 1964, and Martin Carthy on the 20th November that year. Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (30/4), Bert Jansch (26/11), and Robin Williamson and The Incredible String Band (10/12) came in 1965. Noel Murphy (30/8), Maddy Prior and Tim Hart (27/9), and Christy Moore (20/12) were guests in 1968.

I look after the website of The Topic, the oldest continuously-operating weekly folk club in the world - established 1956 and still going strong. One of the pages on the site is the Gigs List 1960-2011 page, as comprehensive a listing of all the booked guests in the club's history as we can make at the moment.

From 1992 onwards we kept a well-maintained list, but earlier information was harder to come by. Then in 2004 former Committee member Trevor Charnock compiled a list of dates from a variety of historical sources, such as Tyke's News from 1975 and old flyers he had in his possession. But he could find little data from before October 1970 (except a date for The Humblebums in October 1968, from the club's 25th anniversary history pamphlet published in 1981), and the list was only really comprehensive from late 1972. Useful club Minutes and Treasurers' books had gone missing somewhere.

However, a little over a year ago Trevor was given a case containing some old club equipment, and in there he found missing club minutes covering September 1958 up to November 1986 and a Treasurer's book covering November 1968 to October 1974.

It turns out this was less useful than it could have been. For instance, in the minute books, in a lot of cases the guests were named but not the dates that they were booked for, and there are no recorded minutes at all from November 30th 1962 to January 29th 1964. The Treasurer's book had a period - around 1970-71 - where often the date and the amount that the guest was paid was entered (figures were generally 10, 12, 15, 20 and 26 at the time) - but not the actual name of the guest!

Still, Trevor was able to compile a lot of information from this and other sources (in one case, a photo at a club night showed a poster on the wall that gave him dates for four gigs). And now we have put it all together on the Gigs List 1960-2011 page (complete with a random digest of world newsy events in each year for a touch of context).

So, if you're wondering what sort of acts were touring 1960s folk clubs, go and have a look at our guest list. For instance, on July 18th 1969, Apollo 11 was half way to the moon and Bob and Carol Pegg were on at the Topic. The following week, the 25th, Jon Rennard (who was killed in a car crash three years later) was on the stage, by which time Armstrong and Aldrin had walked on the moon and come back to Earth.

We hope in time we might be able to fill in some of the remaining gaps - Trevor might steel himself to go into the Central Library and look through ancient back copies of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus for any ads placed by the club, for instance.

And if anybody out there in Mudcatland happens to have old flyers, info or diaries that might fill in some gaps, then let us know.

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