Sunderland musicians resurrect Sunderland blues club

George Shovlin (2nd left) with l-r Ged Cusking, Bruce Storey and Les Connelly singing at a new folk and blues night at the Harbour View, Roker on Wednesday night.
George Shovlin (2nd left) with l-r Ged Cusking, Bruce Storey and Les Connelly singing at a new folk and blues night at the Harbour View, Roker on Wednesday night.
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MUSICIANS who were instrumental in developing Sunderland’s live music scene in the 70s are singing the blues once more.

George Shovlin, who used to run the popular The Glebe Folk and Blues Club in Chester Road for more than 12 years, has started a similar night at The Harbour View in Roker.

After he started the club in 1973 with friends including Bruce Storey and Andy McClaghlan, it went on to become a leading provider of live music in the area.

Queues would regularly form outside The Royalty, now The Stumble Inn, to hear music from talented local, national and international performers.

The name Glebe came from the pub’s original name before The Royalty.

George, 66, of Roker, recalls: “It 
was deliberately called a ‘Folk and Blues Club’ to indicate the breadth 
of music considered acceptable, at a time when most live music clubs were ‘Folk’ clubs.

“We decided to break away from Belford House Folk Club and form our own club, reflecting our musical interests.”

He added: “The guest on the first night was Rae Fisher, a wonderful singer from the famous Scottish folk-singing family.

“She appeared on a number of later occasions, as did her brother Archie and sister Cilla.

“Rae would be the first of more than 400 guests at the club.

“Most guest nights were followed by residents’ nights, when locals 
performed.

“Door charges helped pay for the guests.

“Apart from one year when Northern Arts guaranteed against loss, the club financed itself.

“During the Miners Strike, the club allowed members who were striking miners, into the club free of charge.”

A flavour of the original club is being brought back to life at a monthly night at The Harbour View.

It has been attracting a number of favourites from The Glebe days, as well as emerging talent.

George, who has played in a number of blues bands over the years including The Biscuit Kings, said: “There’s a lot of good stuff going on in Sunderland with live music. “Places like The Smugglers do a great job, but we felt there was a gap there. The Harbour View is my local pub and it all just fitted into place.

“We have people performing traditional British folk to blues and everything in between.

“We’re pretty laid back about what people want to perform.”

l The next folk and blues 
night takes place at The Harbour View on Wednesday, September 18, from 8pm. Anyone is welcome to attend and play.