Folk singer recalls town’s past glories on the waves

Folk singer/songwriter John Conolly
Folk singer/songwriter John Conolly
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He sure plays a mean guitar – and a melodeon too.

And he sings about anything from saucy postcards and grumpy old men to tales about life in trawling communities when ports like Fleetwood had a major fishing industry.

He’s John Conolly and he’ll shatter any illusions you might have about folk singers being nerds in woolly jumpers.

During a tour of folk clubs in Lancashire and Yorkshire, John is making a guest appearance at Fleetwood’s weekly Thursday night folk club at the Strawberry Gardens pub on Poulton Road next week.

The Grimsby-based singer/songwriter has toured many countries from the USA to Poland but he’s more interested in sharing his art with an audience than he is about making big money.

Apart from that, Grimsby-based John has strong links with Fleetwood. He’s appeared at the club before and at the Fylde Folk Festival.

One time, he and fellow musicians from Lincolnshire worked with a team from Fleetwood to produce a joint show at Fylde about the trawling trade and the men and women who made it happen both ashore and afloat. He said: “There are so many links between the communities of Fleetwood and Grimsby and I always enjoy my visits to Lancashire.”

Over the years, John and his East Coast colleagues have done a lot to keep alive the history of the once mighty deep sea fishing industry. He has been commissioned to write material for TV and radio and worked on the highly-acclaimed Northern Trawl stage production in Hull.

And he is a big fan of Fleetwood wordsmith Ron Baxter who has penned some remarkable lyrics about the fishing scene and John has recorded some of them.

His own compositions have been recorded by big names in the folk world like The Dubliners, Roy Bailey and George Hamilton IV.

His most famous song is called Fiddler’s Green which pictures what heaven might be like for a fisherman. It’s often mistaken for a traditional folk song. Now, John has assembled some new material to launch his latest CD, The Man From Fiddler’s Green, at Whitby Folk festival later this summer.

Don’t miss him. The show starts at 8.30pm on Thursday, July 18 at just £3 to get in.