Crew:- Alan Clifford
On the 16th October 1955 a momentous event occurred at Neath General Hospital’s maternity wing – Alan was born. Dad was a GWR fireman while Mam was a full time housewife with 2 other children to look after.
Alan was Born into and brought up by a very musical family indeed. Grandparents, Dad, Uncles and Aunts were all blessed with musical genes. So it was inevitable that sooner or later music would rear its head and become an integral part of his life.
It all started with Mandolin lessons with Grandad (who was a virtuoso on Mandolin and Banjo). It was hoped (assumed) that he would learn to read the music. However, after hearing the tune once, he found that he could play it without needing to look at the dots. This ‘talent’ didn’t do his ears much good because they were soundly boxed by Grandad when he didn’t know what note he had just played.
“Stop! What note did you just play?”
“I don’t know.”
Alan never did learn to read the dots – much to his continued regret.
Secondary school lead to Alan meeting and making new friends, some of whom played guitar. And so began his life-long love affair with the guitar. Initially he played bass guitar and was most certainly going to be the next Jack Bruce in a band that would eventually be better than ‘Cream’. That dream didn’t last long. Alan eventually moved onto 6 string. Got some lessons on the art of finger picking and have been developing knowledge ever since. He meandered through a musical career that didn’t amount to much at all really. A few dabbles with acoustic groups while in college training to be a Primary School Teacher that never took off.
And then – fate intervened! As a teacher Alan booked his class onto a ‘Ships and Shanties’ workshop at Swansea Museum. The workshop was run by a Mr Dave Robinson. I don’t know how much the children enjoyed the session but he was hooked. He began enjoying and singing folk songs and songs about the sea.
Some 10 years ago Alan was asked by a cricket team-mate to drop in on the rehearsal session of a shanty group based in Swansea called Baggyrinkle. The group had been formed by the same David Robinson from the museum. Alan went along to the rehearsal – listened and joined in whenever and wherever he could – not expecting to be asked to return.
The rest is History