Folk - Bob Lewis

Did you know that Sussex much like Scotland and Ireland has its own indigenous folk music? I didn’t either, but Bob Lewis, who plays the Royal Oak tonight, tells me Sussex has produced 800 identifiable songs unique to the county. “When folk started to be collected and catalogued in the 20th Century, researchers found that the folk scene in Sussex had one of the richest histories,” he tells me. Often esoteric aspects of local knowledge are preserved in the music, which Bob has been performing without musical accompaniment for over 40 years. “I sing songs about wars, sailors, transportation, farming,” he says, “and some of them are 200 years old and refer to people and events that have been largely forgotten.” His songs also preserve a language that would otherwise be lost. “Do you know what a wimbrel is,” he asks. I don’t really need to answer. But he only knows it’s a tool for tying bales of hay because someone put it into a song once. And then that song was handed down, and handed down. No wonder then, that the current resurgence in family and local history has seen Bob find a new source of fans.

A local folk legend, Bob is full of praise for Vic and Tina who put ‘heart and soul’ into Folk at the Oak. “They go to a lot of effort to bring people from all over the country, and all over the world, and that means they’ve got a loyal, appreciative audience. And that makes it a lovely place to play.” JM

Bob Lewis: knows his wimbrels

Royal Oak, Station St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50
Royal Oak Folk Club
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