Tom will be cremated at a private service in Glasgow. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
A tribute to Tom by his long time friend Willie Sinclair
It’s sometimes hard to remember when you first met someone who became a friend.
Tom Hamilton was a regular fixture at Irvine Folk Club for years. I’m pretty sure he was doing floor spots before I started as MC, and that was long long ago, at the Redburn Hotel. I can’t remember if he came to the sessions at the Hip Flask in Saltcoats. Probably. He could have walked there. He certainly came to the Tuesday sessions when they moved to the Marina Inn. He used to remind us, quietly, when it was the anniversary of the session’s move to Irvine because it was on his birthday.
His Folk Club floor spot contributions became a fixture and he made a point of singing songs that he had just learned. I reckon of all us floor singers Tom repeated the fewest songs. Not all of them made the transition to his set-list.
When he was comfortable and knew a song well his voice was powerful and his guitar strumming style confident. Maybe the pressure of being first to play on club nights inhibited his persona but in a band or a session he came out of his shell. He played with us at many Rumplefyke gigs, in ceilidh band and festival formats. His voice amplified and projected really well and fitted into the harmonies we were doing. Because he played left-handed he was always on my right side in the band. His guitar would get tangled up with mine if we were the other way round. I remember a charity fundraiser at the Volunteer Rooms, compered by Danny Kyle. The sound system was great and we had on-stage monitors. Rumplefyke were playing a set. Charlie was doing one of his rare solo voice and guitar pieces, The Lakes of Ponchartrain, away over to my left and I was playing a simple whistle melody accompaniment, because Mike McCann was absent. As the song went on I became aware of the distant sound of another whistle in my monitor but with limited sideways vision I could see no-one else playing. The others were all sitting back from their microphones. I was slightly spooked but carried on and afterwards asked if anyone else had heard it? Nobody had. Years later I was retelling the story. With a grin, Tom said “Oh, that was me, whistling to myself”……. He and I had a private laugh when a session would play the set of hornpipes that included “Harvest Home”. There’s a run of notes that’s easier for the fiddle than the mandolin and I would always mess it up or simplify it and Tom would catch my eye and smile. Nobody else noticed, but he did. In a session he would sit with his big heavy songbook on the table and flick through it for inspiration, but there wasn’t any point in trying to guess what he would sing next because when he stopped turning the pages and reached for his guitar that just meant he had decided, on the basis of a song that had caught his eye. It might be The Leaving of Liverpool on the page but he would sing a Beatles song instead. We eventually learned not to pay any attention to the page!
For the past several years Tom and I would set up in a corner at the Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Hospital’s open day in June, and busk. Sometimes we had help: Dick and Maureen, Dawn, Ann and Stevie, my old pal Peter, but several times it was just the two of us for 3-4 hours. It’s hard work but we looked forward to it. This year it would have been the 14th of June but was cancelled, of course. I was remembering our previous jaunts not realising that Tom was ill.
Not all of his songs were cheerful, but that’s Folksongs for you, and sometimes the newest ones were a bit creaky but we’ve all been a bit shaky trying out songs for the first time.
My best memories of Tom will be his sneaky, cheeky, sly wee smile in a session and a photograph of him playing a gig at a Festival in Australia surrounded by PA gear and grinning from ear to ear.
I’ll miss him and Irvine Folk Club has lost a stalwart.
I am sorry to have to intimate the sudden death yesterday of Tom Hamilton. Tom has been a member of the Folk Club for more years than we can remember and he will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
Date changed to Thursday (tomorrow) BBC Scotland (Channel 9) 8.30pm
Irvine Folk Club are very proud that this poem was written by Willie Sinclair , one of our members. (No not Willie the Vet – Willie, Archie Comrie’s pal) Dennis Lawson will read it on BBC Scotland TV on Friday night 24th April at 10.30pm
Coronavirus Poem by Willie Sinclair
Twa months ago, we didna ken
yer name or ocht aboot ye.
But lots of things have changed since then
I really must salute ye
Yer spreading rate is quite intense.
Yer feeding like a gannet
Disruption caused, is so immense
Ye’ve shaken oor wee planet
Corona used tae be a beer.
They garnished it wae limes.
But noo its filled us awe wae fear.
These days are scary times.
Nae shakin hawns, or peckin lips.
It’s whit they awe advise
But scrub them weel richt tae the tips.
That’s how we’ll awe survive.
Just stay inside the hoose ye bide.
Nae sneakin oot for strolls.
Just check the lavvy every hoor
and stock-take your loo rolls.
Oor holidays have been pit aff
Noo that’s the Jet 2 patter
Pit oan yer thermals, have a laugh
and paddle ‘doon the waater’
Canary isles, no for a while.
Nae need for suntan cream.
and awe because o this wee bug
we ken tae be …19
The boredom surely will set in.
But have a read, or doodle.
or plan yer menu for the month
wi 95 pot noodles.
So dinny think ye’ll wipe us oot.
Aye true, a few have died.
Bubonic, Bird Flu and TB.
They came, they left, they tried.
Ye might be gallus noo ma freen
As ye jump fae cup tae cup.
But when we get oor vaccine made.
Yer number will be up.
Due to the Coronavirus the 53rd Marymass Folk Festival has unfortunately been cancelled.
Club Nights at Irvine Folk Club have been suspended until the end of May. This decision was made in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The next scheduled Club Night was Wednesday 25th March when the guest was to be Dan McKinnon from Canada. This will now NOT take place. All information on Irvine Folk Club is available at www.irvinefolkclub.org.u
On Wednesday 11th March Wilson McGladdery will be back topping the bill at Irvine Folk Club. And, for clarification, Wilson McGladdery is a duo – Gaynor Wilson & Paul McGladdery.
Gaynor & Paul stepped in last year at very short notice as the scheduled special guests were unable to be at Irvine due to illness. They went down so well that there was no hesitation in booking them in their own right. Wilson McGladdery is a folky-ish band. They have great humour and play in a relaxed style which all adds up to a very entertaining package.
Both Gaynor & Paul have each performed as solo artists and with bands. Six years ago, after meeting through fellow musicians, they realised that their voices blended well together and they were both keen on promoting original songs rather than covering well-known material. The duo have built up a healthy gig list in that time, playing the length and breadth of England with occasional forays into Scotland.
They live in Saddleworth in Oldham. Gaynor plays violin, piano and recorder but is best known for her powerful vocals. She particularly enjoys acoustic singing. Paul is a guitarist known for his prolific songwriting that reflects musical influences from folk to country to classic pop. His first love is writing ballads. Their most recent single Beans on Toast is available electronically and it’s a love song.
Wednesday 11th March, Wilson McGladdery at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road starts at 8pm. Go along, you’ll not be disappointed.
Skirlie – no, not the Scottish dish made from oatmeal fried with……..but Skirlie the four-piece band, and they are the welcome guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 26th February.
Rab Ferris, Kevin Patrick, Alison Tunnicliffe and Eddie McGlone are Skirlie. They play an eclectic mix of trad, celtic and transatlantic material which is reinterpreted using the Skirlification approach! Translated, that means they use their combined talents to enhance established songs and tunes.
The band features a range of instruments. Rab plays whistles and percussion, Kevin is on mandolin, dobro and guitar, Alison plays violin whilst Eddie plays bass and chapman stick. All four of them do vocals. Rab, Kevin and Alison all come from a background of and involvement with trad music from an early age whilst Eddie has played with various bands including a UK tour with the renowned Soul singer Ben E King.
The origins of Skirlie go back to 2003 when Kevin and Rab met at the Rowantree Folk Club in Uddingston and formed a duo called Quaich. A couple of evolutions in the line-up and in 2016 the present four-piece Skirlie emerged. They take Skirlification all over Scotland. This will be their first visit to the Irvine Club and that will vary from their other gigs in that Alison’s parents Anne & Gordon are members of the Irvine Club and will be in the audience.
Wednesday 26th February is when to hear Skirlie at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre. The Club starts at 8pm. The band say that the audience should be prepared ‘to stamp your hands and clap your feet’. All part of helping keep music live!
John Graham & Jim Jack are the special guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 12th February and that means a night of good singing with loads of familiar songs.
They are a popular duo and it’s not difficult to explain why that is. They are easy-on-the-ear and from their vast experience in folk music, unfailingly choose material that suits their audience. Having been a member of The Clydesiders, a five-piece band formed in the 70’s, when the band folded, and after a wheen of years had passed, ex-Clydesider John Graham teamed up with Jim Jack to form a duo. The years of being a Clydesider means that John brings a wealth of experience of what and what doesn’t work in folk clubs. John plays fiddle and Jim plays guitar
Since John & Jim topped the bill a couple of years back, they went down so well that they were invited to play at recent Marymass Folk Festivals. Expect them to play a mix of trad and contemporary material plus some jokes a bit on the corny side!
Wednesday 12th February at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre with guests John Graham & Jim Jack will be a night for joining in with well-known songs – and that’s always appreciated at the Irvine Club. 8pm is the start time and it’s BYOB.