DAVE HOWDEN - 1948 - 2022
“Do you want to come and join us”? Those were the first words I heard Dave utter, way back in the early 2000s. We were at the Black Bull Bender and were parked next to Dave & Ann. At that point we were strangers to each other and it’s testament to Dave’s outgoing, inclusive attitude that he befriended and included people all around him.
We got chatting and it transpired that we were very much of an age with virtually the same folksong reper- toire. We resolved any possible conflict immediately by agreeing that, when we were in each other’s company, usually at a singaround, or folk club, as neither of us
had an affinity for concerts, unless we were hosting them, whoever sang first would have first dibs on the songs we shared.
Soon afterwards, Dave came to my recording studio and put down an album of him singing some of these songs. It sold out.
Over the years that followed, Dave and I found our- selves increasingly sharing the same stage, at concerts & festivals. Dave scorned the idea of crib sheets (he didn’t read music and believed that the memory was the key to lyrics and melody and he would occasionally ad lib. I remember a gaff at Saddleworth during a set we were performing. We were in full throw with: “When All Men Sing” and I uttered the immortal line “When trees are seen and lambs spring green’. Dave never let me forget it.
Dave was also one of the hosts at the reception in 2006 when Marion and I were married aboard the Grand Turk (featured in the Hornblower series) and moored at that time at the Endeavour Wharfe in Whitby harbour.
Another time at the Thursday night pre-festival folk club Saltburn August 2007, with a shortage of floor singers, Festival Director, John Taylor, asked Dave if he could gather a couple of singers to entertain the audience. He collared, Arthur Marsden, Colin Kemp, and me and after a quick comparison of our respective repertoires, we bashed out a set of maritime songs, shanties and stuff, which according to John, saved the night.
When introducing us, MC Mary Webb, asked what we were calling ourselves. Dave shouts, off the cuff like, “Boomalot” and when asked why, “because we make a loud noise” he said. The name stuck and we lasted 10 years, singing at folk clubs, festivals and the Hartlepool tall ships festival, during which time, the line-up changed, to include Kevin Hall (no relation) due to the untimely death of Colin Kemp only 3 weeks after the first performance.
Dave had asked me to host his 60th birthday party, that took place in January 2008. We joked that over the years, we had gone from MCing, singarounds and con- certs, to hosting 60th birthday parties, retirement dos and wakes.
Dave also encouraged others to sing, not the least his wife Ann, who often appeared to be in the background. Not a bit of it. Ann was Dave’s focus in life and he al- ways encouraged her. When Ann started singing, she made a number of songs her own, particularly the one about equality of jobs between men and women.
Dave and Kevin Hall had started working together as “Son of a Gun” performing maritime material and widen- ing their repertoire to include a range of songs that they had sung as individuals.
Dave was friendly with everyone he met. He and Ann spent at least half the year, touring Folk Festivals in their motorhome and along with son David, were a fix- ture at Joe & Mo’s weeklong marathon sing-around at the Rifle Club, during Whitby FW. Besides the event at which we met up Dave and Ann spent time at festivals over in the North west and readers of this article will remember.
Dave liked his whisky and made short work of some cask strength 58% Laphroig ABV (Leapfrog) at my 70th. Dave shared a particular habit with our long-time friend, the late Matt Armour of Fife, who having opened a new bottle of scotch would throw away the stopper and continue to consume it in one sitting, in the belief that it would not improve with keeping, any longer.
Dave loved his songs and music and the craic of the gatherings. There was a song of Matt’s he was known to sing, that has a particular resonance with us gather- ing here today, the chorus of which goes:
And I’m glad that I have known you since the time when I was young,
The stories we have shared and the countless songs we’ve sung
“And if one day I’m missing here, as missing I shall be. Just raise your glass and sing an old, old song for me.
Slange Dave, We’ll miss you mate