Dave Bulmer Weekend 2018

In memory of Dave Bulmer 1950-2013


The Weekend

This year's Dave Bulmer Weekend will take place on the weekend of 16th - 18th November 2018. This will be the 6th annual weekend of the bringing together old and new friends to celebrate the traditional music and ethos that Dave spent his life working to preserve, and due to the growing numbers of musicians attending, we now have 2 venues which will welcome us over the course of the weekend.

The Old Royal Oak
7 Market Place,
Tel: 01423 865880

The Castle Inn,
23 Castlegate,
Tel: 01423 860423


The weekend is aimed at bringing people together to celebrate the music and ethos that Dave spent his life working to preserve. He called Irish Music, more particularly the pursuit of tunes, 'a disease'. Please spread the word to other musicians with this same disease, and to singers and friends who enjoy the craic - all welcome. Irish dancers are welcome too! Especially as Dave's 7 year old granddaughter Ellie is a keen student of Irish Dancing.

There is no formal plan as such for the weekend. However we do have the following brief outline.....

Friday 16th November

Currently the plan is to have a quiet pre-saturday session but depending on the number of musicians that turn up it could be less than quiet

Saturday 17th November

Sessions from lunch time all day, until night

Sunday 18th November

Sessions from lunch time all day, until night


Dave Bulmer came from South Shields, Tyneside and spent much of his adult life in Yorkshire. His interests in folk music go back to the 1960s when he was a pupil at South Shields High School and helped run the school folk club, although he played the accordion since the age of seven. The school club often featured the guests who were booked at the nearby Marsden Inn folk club, so as a teenager he would have seen some of the best musicians around at the time.

His personal development as a musician followed that of the typical folkie, but he probably dug a bit deeper than most. He was among the early group of enthusiasts who travelled to Ireland to attend various Fleadhs and there he met and made friends with some influential musicians.

Dave was at home in a session environment and throughout all his working life he still played regularly in his local pub. He also played for traditional dances, mainly in the North of England and together with John Doonan played in folk clubs throughout the UK. In those early days of interest in Irish music from people in the folk clubs and festivals, Dave was often asked if he had music for the tunes he was playing, as not much was available at that time. Initially he would give people photocopies or handwritten copies of tunes, but soon these were assembled in a simple spiral bound format and published in four volumes under the title Music Of Ireland. These were extremely useful and accessible sources of tunes for many players in Britain and Ireland at a time when you had to hunt out Irish tune books in obscure editions in hard to find outlets. They were a labour of love which made it possible for many to share the ‘latest tunes’ in sessions far and wide. Now that we have professionally produced books, easily available at the click of a mouse, it is easy to overlook this pioneering work which helped open up the music to a wider playing audience.

Dave ‘distributed’ these books as he travelled and was reaching an audience newly interested in traditional music. At that time there was little in the way of formal ‘distribution’ for folk music. Concurrently, Bill Leader was enthusiastically recording traditional musicians, particularly with his ‘grey label’ Leader series, but had few options to reach that specialist audience. He asked Dave if he would also take around some of his LPs on his travels. Dave then effectively became the first distributor for Leader / Trailer and this would lead later to him establishing C M Distribution. The music business at that time was very much London focussed. Dave believed strongly that the ‘centre of gravity’ of folk music was in the north and that the business side should also be in the hands of musicians rather than business people in the wider music industry. His success in distribution brought competitors and Dave’s passion probably contributed to his view that it was ‘him against the rest’. His business methods have been the subject of controversy, much of it ill informed, some probably justified. He did it ‘his way’, but to be fair to him, he did it. …

Pete Heywood, The Living Tradition - Read The Full Article Here