A video of the special night on 13th August 2013 which was a tribute to John Stoker is now available. Its has been filmed and edited to a very high standard.
Its costs £10.00, of which £4.50 goes to the Christie Hospital.
See Yvonne on the door or contact Dave Hughes.
There was a special night on 13th August 2013 which was a tribute to John Stoker. We had a great night and the club was packed out with faces old and new. It was a fitting tribute to John as performers and audience paid tribute to him and showed how much love, affection and respect there was for him. £270 was raised on the door which the club rounded off to £300 to donate to the Christie Hospital.
At the bottom of this page is the article describing the night written by Dave Hughes
Here is a video of John, Sue and myself taken by Phil Wyatt in June 2012. Watch it here
A Celebration of the Life of John Stoker 1952 - 2013
Recently, Sandbach Folk Club held a special evening to remember the musical life of John Stoker who died earlier in the year. John Stoker had a lifelong association with the folk club; he was there when the club first started at The George in 1981 and when it moved to its current venue at the Market Tavern in 2012.
The new function room at the Market Tavern was packed out with friends and family who, alongside those from such regulars as the Providence Jug Band, Sue Wyatt and Bob Stamp, enjoyed performances from over 20 singers, individually or in combination, to celebrate John’s musical time with the club. There was some great music and many kind words spoken to show how much love, affection and respect there was for him. Although sad and emotional at times, it was an occasion that John would have enjoyed and of which he would have been proud. The evening was a fitting tribute to John and raised over £400 for Cancer Research.
The evening opened with a version of Allan Taylor’s “It’s Good To See You” sung by a group of club regulars accompanied by Adrian Peever; Adrian was one of John’s singing partners and was over from America for the occasion. Other singers representing John’s musical past included: Alan Casey, who resurrected some songs from the old Brunswick Folk Club in Crewe; Brian Challinor and Phil Chisnall from Bromborough Folk Club, who sang some songs they thought John would have liked, and Michelle Noble, who sang “Let Me Down Easy” by Ralph McTell, a song which John had taught her many years ago. John’s daughter, Natalie, sang a version of Seth Lakeman’s “White Hare” accompanied by her brother Jonathan who was playing John’s very first guitar. The evening ended with the whole room joining in the chorus for Ralph McTell’s song “Clare to Here”, much sung at the club over the years and one of John’s all time favourites. With so many singers wishing to sing, the club organiser, Winston Baldwin, did a magnificent job to manage the evening.
John was a much loved member of the club. He had a wonderful rich voice and was a great singer and guitar player; either playing on his own or with other members of the folk club. He was a much respected organiser and contributor to music events throughout Crewe and Sandbach for over 40 years and was well known particularly for his rendition of Ralph McTell songs.
His musical beginnings were as lead vocalist in a band named Dust around 1970. Dust played in the local clubs around Crewe. After graduating from the University of York he returned to the area and became a teacher of chemistry at Sandbach School. Winston Baldwin at the club often joked that he had regenerated himself there! But it was during this time that he developed his musical skills as an acoustic guitar player and singer.
John loved music of all kinds. His early musical influences were wide ranging and included the Drifters, Cream, and the Beatles. Wishbone Ash became another great favourite. After hearing them play across a lake at York he developed a lifelong love of the band and all their subsequent reincarnations. When the latter performed at a local gig, taking his interest in their sound system a bit far, John offered to help hump their equipment on stage and got a hernia for his trouble! He went on to appreciate the music of Steeleye Span, Joan Armatrading and Judie Tzuke. Within the folk scene he loved the music of Ralph McTell, Allan Taylor, Dougie Maclean, Jez Lowe and Tim Wood.
In the 1970s the main folk club in the area was the Sing Out at the Brunswick in Crewe. John first played there 1979 and soon became a regular singer both there and at the Crown in Sandbach where there was a singaround session on a Tuesday night run by Nigel Stonier. When a more formal Sandbach Folk Club started in 1981 he joined Winston Baldwin, Phil Brightman, Sue Wyatt, Dave Hughes and Adrian Peever, amongst others, as a regular performer.
John’s repertoire included songs by Paul Simon, Carole King and Allan Taylor. He was also particularly keen on songs by Tim Wood. As well as playing on his own, he was always in great demand to accompany others singers; providing backing vocals and harmonies, and he was often accompanied himself by Dave Hughes on guitar. But John was probably best known for singing the songs of Ralph McTell. He had been introduced to the music at school by another fine guitar player called Phil Langley. Ralph McTell continued to be a major influence and, it might be said, provided the soundtrack to his life. From his early performances of "Michael in the Garden" and "Zimmerman Blues" to his later interpretations of “The Hiring Fair” and “Barges” John became a well respected figure on the local music scene. John was one of the best adverts for the music that Ralph McTell could have wished to have and he introduced many people to it over the years. Once, he managed to get a set of Ralph McTell’s used guitar strings with which he restrung his own guitar. It added to the performance! On one of his last journeys out, it was wonderful that John was able to meet Ralph McTell at the Clonter Opera last October.
We will not hear John’s rich voice again at Sandbach. John died on 2nd February 2013. He was 60; his life tragically cut short before he could enjoy more time with his music. John was a large part of Sandbach Folk Club and the future will be so much poorer without him. We will miss him but will remember him for all the musical good times we shared together.
The special evening to celebrate his musical life was recorded on video and has become known affectionately as “John’s Night”. Copies of the DVD are now being sold to raise more money for Cancer Research and can be obtained from Sandbach Folk Club. Please contact David Hughes on 01925 601601 or Yvonne@sandbachfolk.com for further information.