Julie Felix Old Cinema Launderette Durham 28 September 2019

Screenshot felixI have many happy memories of the sadly missed Julie Felix. She first came to my attention in 1966, as the resident singer on the BBC television programme The Frost Report, presented by David Frost. Born in America, and of Mexican origin, Julie became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, Decca Records. In 1965, she was the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall, and was described by The Times as “Britain’s First Lady of Folk”. But I remember her best for her own TV shows for the BBC (1967 to 1970). Among those featured on her show were the Kinks, The Hollies, The Incredible String Band, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen and Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, who played the guitar solos “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side”. I have particularly fond memories of seeing Jimmy Page on her show.I also, of course, remember her for the children’s song “Going to the Zoo“.

julie felixI first got to see Julie Felix live at a free concert in Hyde Park in 1974, which was headlined by Roger McGuinn and also featured an epic performance by Roy Harper, accompanied by David Gilmour, John Paul Jones and Steve Broughton. Julie was just great that day in Hyde Park, singing a selection of folk songs and getting the crowd to sing along to “Going to the Zoo.” I went to the concert with my friend Will and have written about it in an earlier blog entry.

The next time I saw Julie Felix, again with Will, was at her 70th birthday concert at the Sage Gateshead. This time Julie did a much longer set than that which I had experienced in Hyde Park, reminiscing about her friend and protégé Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and other friends and fellow folk singers.

So when I saw she was appearing at the Old Cinema Launderette in Durham I couldn’t resist the opportunity of seeing her again in such an intimate venue. I arrived at the venue with my carer, Joanne, just after the doors opened and managed to get a place close to the front. First up for the evening was local folk singer Bethany Elen, who got the audience singing along and warmed us up nicely for the main performance. Julie performed two sets, singing a selection of folk songs from across the decades. Julie Felix had a unique, beautiful voice which remained strong, even though she was 81 at the time of this performance. felix debut

It was wonderful to see her again in such a small venue. Sadly, it came to an end all too soon, as my taxi arrived and Joanne and I had to leave the concert before the end, picking up Chris along the way to help me on my way into my bed.

Julie Felix sadly passed away on March 22, 2020 after a short illness, and we lost yet another of my 60s heroes.

The set list was probably something like this (to my shame, I can’t recall the exact songs she sang and I had to leave before the end anyway 😦 ): Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan); Masters of War (Bob Dylan); Pack Up Your Sorrows; Valenzuela; Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen); Chimes of Freedom (Bob Dylan); Anything Less Than Beautiful; Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie); Woman; El Condor Pasa (Simon & Garfunkel); We Wish You Love; Rock Me Goddess; Healing Hands; Going to the Zoo; This Land Is Your Land; Peace Is A River

 

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kevin Geraghty-Shewan on May 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

    She played at the festival I help organise a few years back and was meant to be headlining a Thursday night acoustic session at this year’s event (which we have had to cancel) – a sad loss

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on May 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      Yes a very underrated artist, I thought. She brought a lot of bands to my attention in the 60s through her TV show. Her legacy is much more than her music; through her TV show she brought bands like the Incredible String Band to a much wider audience. A great lady cheers Peter

      Reply

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