It was in the summer of 1965 that John Howarth and the brothers Larry and Gerry Kearns, then students, first met. They went on to take the name Oldham Tinkers, a notable name at the time which gets explained in the liner notes of their 1971 Topic release Oldham’s Burning Sands – Ballads Songs and daft Ditties:
Oldham has long had its share of travelling people , called ‘tinkers’, caravan or trailer dwellers knocking up a living mainly by knocking up scrap metal. Now and then the district gets excited about their presence and letters, angry and soothing, get written to the Oldham Chronicle. It was during one such campaign that Gerry and Larry Kearns and John Howarth, then all students, decided to form themselves into a musical trio called ‘The Oldham Tinkers’. Since then they’ve specialised in local songs, ballads and damnfool bits, sung in pubs, clubs and charity dos.
The notes also make the point that Harry Boardman encouraged them to look more deeply at the singing history of Lancashire. The examples of George Formby and Ken Dodd also reminded them not to ‘go over the top in presenting the Lancashire lad as a gormless twit.’ As well as releasing several albums on Topic they also featured on a number of compilations from the label including Owdham Edge: Popular Song & Verse of Lancashire and Deep Lancashire: Songs, Ballads and Verse from the Industrial North West of England which together brought the likes of Harry Boardman, Harvey and Mary Kershaw, Mike Harding, Harry Ogeden, Bernard Wrigley, Pete Smith and more together in a celebration of Lancashire’s singing roots. These are all digitally available thanks to Topic Records extensive digital reissues which you can find out more about here: http://www.topicrecords.co.uk/category/archive-digital-catalogue/
Now, fifty years later the Oldham Tinkers are on the road again:
They are performing at the Saddleworth Folk Weekend on Saturday 18th July 2015
On Saturday 25th July 2015 at The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 2AF (alongside late ’60s early ’70s English folk-rock band Hunter Muskett.
Oldham Tinkers – Oldham’s Burning Sands
On those dull damp doleful South Lancashire days, many a milIhand’s meditations take on exotic colouring, a kind of
Wilson, Keppel & Betty Orientalism, as in this masterpiece, learnt from an Oldham business man, Laurie Cassidy. On the
dream-coin, it’s the flip side to Valentino’s sheik.
Linernotes from Oldhams Burning Sands