Colin Irwin obituary | Folk music

By | November 13, 2022

Whereas music journalist Colin Irwin, who died instantly on the age of 71, specialised in folks music, his writing spanned many genres, notably within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties when he labored for Melody journal Maker. There, his data was deemed encyclopaedic.

Later, as a freelancer, he was essentially the most prolific editor and reviewer for the people and roots commerce journal fRoots. His first contribution, when the journal was known as Southern Rag, got here in 1982, and he continued to put in writing in virtually each difficulty till it ceased publication in 2019. Editor, Ian A Anderson, recalled: “He was a beautiful man – his enthusiasm and huge data regularly impressed readers.

He has additionally written for the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph, Impartial, Mojo, Q and Time Out and was a decide for the Mercury Music Prize. His enthusiasm for people music shines by way of in his writing, and lots of performers are grateful for his assist.

Born in Chertsey, Surrey, Colin was the son of Gwen (née Hodges) and Invoice, a printer, jazz fan and common Melody Maker reader. From Strode Excessive Faculty (now Strode School, Egham), Colin went to Guildford School, aiming to develop into a journalist, and his first job was on the Slough Night Mail. Colin was drawn to folks by the music of Bob Dylan; As an everyday on the Star folks membership in Guildford, he heard all of the well-known singers throughout the top of the people revival of the 60s and 70s.

Colin Irwin, left, interviewing American blues musician Seasick Steve at the Cambridge Folk Festival, 2010
Colin Irwin, left, interviewing American blues musician Seasick Steve on the Cambridge Folks Pageant, 2010. Pictures: Phil Carter

When Melody Maker’s folks columnist Andrew Means left, Colin started writing for them as a freelancer, changing into a employees member in 1974. On the time, folks music had a number of pages every week: an interview plus information and opinions, and Colin relished the chance to put in writing concerning the artists he had seen dwell.

Different interview topics included Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney. Personnel adjustments throughout the journal led Colin to develop into editor after which affiliate editor. In 1987 he moved to edit the weekly pop journal Quantity One, and when it was purchased by the BBC Colin labored on numerous magazines masking music, sport and journey.

Going freelance, Colin was wanted by the brand new wave of music magazines, akin to Mojo and Q, which needed to characteristic established and rising folks artists. One in every of Mojo’s first interviews was with Irish singer Christy Moore, certainly one of Colin’s favorites.

His first books had been on Dire Straits (1994) and Abba (1996, with Tony Calder and former Rolling Stones supervisor Andrew Loog Oldham). Within the wake of books like Spherical Eire with a Fridge, Colin wrote a guide on Irish music, In Search of the Craic (2003). Subtitled One Man’s Pub Crawl By Irish Music, it was the anecdotal account of his journey to Eire seeking the essence of his music.

Colin used an identical strategy for In Search of Albion: From Cornwall to Cumbria, A Trip By England’s Hidden Soul (2005). As earlier than, the main target was on the characters encountered alongside the way in which. He additionally wrote books on the Freeway 61 album by Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Dylan.

A supporter of Woking Soccer Membership, in 2006 Colin introduced his two pursuits along with a guide of soccer songs and chants, Sing When You are Profitable.

In 2017, Colin was the narrator of She Moved By the Honest, a stage present about Irish Traveler singer Margaret Barry. Co-written with singer Mary McPartlan, it premiered on the Celtic Connections competition in Glasgow, however Mary’s sickness and premature loss of life restricted subsequent performances.

For the BBC, he has offered Radio 2’s Acoustic Roots sequence and TV packages on the Cambridge Folks Pageant, and acted as a guide for BBC 4’s Folks Britannia. One in every of his newest opinions was for this yr’s Cambridge Pageant for the Guardian. Lately he has been energetic as a humanist funeral celebrant.

In 1975, Colin married Val Fagence. She is survived by him, their sons, Kevin and Christy, and his brother Donald.

Colin Lester Irwin, journalist and folks music author, born Could 19, 1951; handed away on November 3, 2022