Danny Spooner's passion is the expression of British and Australian
culture through folk music.
Born into a
working-class family in the East End of London prior to World War
2, Danny Spooner grew up with the traditions, music and folklore
of a typical Cockney family (singing round the piano, music hall, traditional English & Irish songs).
13 he left school and worked on a sailing barge which plied the
Thames and the south coast of England. Under the instructive eye
of Bob Roberts, Danny learned British songs and was enrolled in
libraries along the coast to read their stories. He was apprenticed
to the Thames as a Waterman and Lighterman, and after 6 years had
earned his Freeman of the Thames.
Over the next
10 years he held various jobs including salvage tug and trawler
skipper. This varied, almost nomadic life, has given Danny an all-too-rare
real-life education in the ways of working people.
Danny arrived in Australia in 1962, he realised that there was an
audience ready, interested, and willing to appreciate these sorts
of songs. He heard Declan Affley singing in the early folk scene
in Sydney, and at the fabled Frank Traynors in Melbourne Martyn
Wyndham-Read, Brian Mooney, David Lumsden, Trevor Lucas and Margret
RoadKnight. This was the engine room of the folk revival in Australia,
and made Danny want to learn those songs.
From Wendy Lowenstein and Gwenda Davey he understood the importance
of the social context of the songs and proper attribution.
Thanks to a
prodigious memory and a willingness to learn about his craft, Danny
Spooner quickly developed into one of the best singers of British
folksongs in Australia. Over the years he has augmented what he
learned "on the job" with a vast repertoire spanning almost
every part of the British tradition - as well as a respectable portion
of the Australian folk heritage. He's been please to add American material learned from new friends - and even a Canadian-French whaling song.
has performed in folk clubs all over Australia, New Zealand and
in Britain on his visits home. He has appeared at every major folk
festival in Australia, at which he has given a vast range of workshops
on aspects of folk songs of Britain and Australia. Many of these
presentations were recorded live by ABC national radio.
is getting people singing, and he has inspired and encouraged many
in developing their singing craft. Nothing gives him more pleasure
at a festival than getting a good singing session going, "That's
what folksong is about".
as "a living national treasure", Danny Spooner can make
traditional music seem new and make new songs seem old.