Benny Graham will turn his hand to most things musical and poetic. He started out in folk clubs in northeast England, which he calls home. One was the Birtley folk club which began in 1962, formed by folk-singer Jack Elliott and carried on by Jack’s daughter, Doreen, and her husband Bryan Henderson; it closed as recently as December 2014.

Then there was the Newcastle Folksong and Ballad Club – the High Level Ranters (mentioned on another page) were almost a fixture there at one time, and Benny was frequently to be heard there.

But that – astoundingly – was 50 years ago. The folk club scene isn’t what it was, and singers like Benny Graham had (and have) a choice: give up and open a post office; or keep the flame alive in whatever way, at whatever venue, and for whatever money, happens to suggest itself. That’s the route Benny took.

Benny Graham's StoryIn the early years, he was known as a solo act. Then, in 1970, he formed Pegleg Ferret (personnel on another page). He went to the Newcastle Playhouse and has worked with a number of theatre companies – singing, writing songs, acting (it helps that physically he closely resembles Captain Birdseye in the TV ads for the frozen fish dishes of that name; though Benny is – how to put this politely? – perhaps even larger around the waist than the eponymous captain) and as stage manager and production manager – that’s what being prepared to turn your hand to anything means in practice.

He also works in and with schools, teaching songwriting to the children and imparting aspects of local history they might not gain in the normal course of their education.

In 1993, Benny assembled a mixed voice chorus, the Tyneside Maritime Chorus, for the Tall Ships Race of that year. It was to be a six week project but, 23 years later, it’s still going and meets every Monday (except in August and at Bank Holidays) at 7.30 p.m. in Newcastle’s Tyneside Irish Center.

That’s what it means today to be a north-eastern folk singer.