Ian Chesterman SingerSongwriter

Ian’s Story – Through All Those Years

1963 to 1970: “The Cousins” (Ian & Ken Chesterman) (1962 – 1968).

“The Cousins & Rosemary” (Ian & Ken Chesterman and Rose Price) (1968 – 1970).

First gig was November 1963. Played on BBC Radio shows, “Blackpool Night”, “North West Tonight”, and BBC Wales TV show, “The Singing Barn” (with The Hennessys) in 1969.

1970 to 1972: Ian & John (Ian Chesterman & John Chester).

Residents at The Little Theatre Folk Club, Chester and The Cellar Folk Club, Chester.

It was in the early 1970’s that Ian came across a certain Brian Jones from The Wirral, subsequently playing at his folk clubs at both The British Legion, Moreton and The Wayfarers Club, Moreton in the following years. 

1972 to 1976: “The Wild Geese” (Paddy Nagle, Sean Gilligan and Ian Chesterman).

Won the Song for Wales (Can I Gymru) in August 1972 (as Paddy, Sean & Ian) with Harri Webb’s lyrics put to music by Ian.

Appeared as guests on BBC Radio “Folk on Two” show.

Recorded Ian’s song, “The Men Who Make the Steel” in 1973 to raise funds for Shotton Steelworks campaign against closure (and the possible loss of 6,000 jobs) with 6,000 EP’s being pressed to raise funds for the campaign.

Recorded the album, “Songs for Tomorrow if not Today”, on Joe Stead’s “Sweet Folk All” label in 1974, featuring 5 of Ian’s songs, including the title track.

1976 to 1980: Solo and, on occasion, as a duo with Brian Jones.

Sang own song, “Over the Moors”, on BBC Wales TV show featuring Max Boyce in 1976.

Played on local Radio, including Radio Deeside.

1981 to 1985: A period away from music, in general, whilst building up a self-employed business.

Only occasional gigs, solo and in duo with Brian Jones.

1985 to 1986: “Pedigree” (John Evans, Dave Russell & Ian Chesterman).

A short-lived collaboration that came to a premature end due to health problems.

1987 to 1990: Solo and duo with Brian Jones.

After returning from ill health, Ian achieved a long-held ambition by recording a solo album of his own songs called “Over the Moors”. His good friend, and sometimes musical partner, Brian Jones produced, engineered and played on the album that was recorded at Brian’s Openhouse Studio in The Wirral. It was released in March 1988 and well-received by the folk press. As a result, BBC Wales took the track, “Candles to Caplamps”, from the album to include on their “Children in Need” compilation album that year.

In a short space of time, Ian wrote a song for Plaid Cymru’s campaign for election to the European Parliament that appeared on a compilation Welsh album called, Llais Cymru and was commissioned by BBC Wales to write a song for the international Eisteddfod in Llangollen. That song, “The ladies of Llangollen”, was sung by Ian in a BBC live outside broadcast from the Eisteddfod field and has been played every year since during the BBC’s Eisteddfod coverage in July.

Ian was asked by the editor of The Wrexham Leader to write a folk column, “Folklore” in the paper every week. This started in May 1989 and he never missed a deadline over the next 30 years plus – see below.

Ian also wrote articles and reviews in the quarterly folk magazine, “Folk North West”.

1990 to 2017: Offa (Goff Jones, Ken Prydderch, Drew Hurley, John Evans, Brian Jones and Ian Chesterman in various line-ups). 

After playing at Wrexham Folk Club on a regular basis during 1988 and 1989, Ian was invited to join Wrexham Folk Club resident band Offa. He accepted and, from January 1990 a 28-year long association with the band and the club started.

During this period Offa recorded the album, “Offa”, (1990) at Brian Jones’ Openhouse Studio, Wirral, featuring 5 of Ian’s songs. They also played on BBC Radio Wales.

During the short-lived Wrexham FM Community Radio station in 1995, Goff & Ian produced and presented a 2-hour weekly folk programme, “Folk at Eight”.

In 2001 tragedy befell Offa when John Evans was diagnosed with cancer. The band recorded the “Yardarm/Offa” album, “Once Upon a Winter’s Night”, a live recording at Wrexham Folk Club, The Nag’s Head at Christmas that year. It remains a fitting tribute to a great singer and good friend as John, sadly, died the following year.

After a 12-month break through illness, Ian decided to leave the band in May 2017.

2017: Solo, recording and in duo with Brian Jones.

Since leaving Offa a long-term project of recording and archiving songs was continued with Brian Jones with the odd gig played now and then. Ian’s folk column, “Folklore”, in The Leader, a Wrexham daily paper, came to an end on 03/01/2020 after an unbroken weekly run of 30 years 7 months. However, Ian continued to write articles and reviews in the quarterly folk magazine, “Folk North West”. 

Monday 3rd January 2022

Our very good friend; Ian, sadly left us in January 2022. Ian was a lovely man and a gifted singer-songwriter who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. We are very fortunate that through his music, songs and friendship, he will always be with us.

Ian Chesterman with Brian Jones

 Last Live Recording – November 2021

Ian’s Story from Brian…

As I write I am wishing I had Ian’s chronological memory and perhaps a sprinkling of his amazing talent with words so I could tell this story more eloquently and maybe even be able to finish it before bedtime! 

Ian always said (whilst waggling his glasses up and down in the style of Eric Morecambe) ‘We should both do what we’re best at, so I’ll write the songs then you arse about with them like you do’. It would appear all that arsing about has now come back to bite me on the backside as I sit, staring at my computer screen remembering all the wonderful times we spent together hoping that what is in my head will soon make its way to the two fingers I use to type with.

We both shared the same views and influences so were always drawn together when we met at one of the many folk clubs in Wirral or North Wales. Consequently, our repertoires, at that time, were similar so an impromptu jam together to finish a night was never difficult.

I first met Ian in the early 70’s when he was working with Paddy Nagle and Sean Gilligan as The Wild Geese. In fact, I was to stand in for him on a few gigs during a short illness.

When Ian went solo my dad booked him to appear at our club held on Friday nights at The Moreton British Legion, in the upstairs room. Ian was a firm favourite and would go on to make regular appearances at the club. Ian and his wife Ann became firm family friends, and we would go back to Mum and Dad’s house after the club to partake in more than one helping of my Mum’s scouse, which she had prepared earlier! Next time Ian sang at the club he couldn’t wait to perform his new song called ‘Mrs Jones’ Scouse’, and of course like all of Ian’s songs, the audience were in there from the first chorus.

Fast forward to 1979. I started The Wayfarers Folk Club with the idea that local artists would provide the entertainment. It was a great success and a joy to run, the audience and singers became a community. They were good times and even though Ian had the furthest to travel, he would always be there to support the club with his songs and good humour. 

He inevitably wrote the anthemic ‘Wayfarers Song’ for the club which I know has a special place in the memories of all who ever joined in with that big chorus back then.

By the late eighties Openhouse Studio was born in a 12-foot square room at the front of our house. Ian’s ‘Over the Moors’ album was the first project and has stood the test of time. A huge learning curve for us both, of which I have always been very proud. 

I am privileged to be able to say Ian trusted me with arranging and recording his songs for the next thirty-five years. A collaboration, that for me, has always been a labour of love.

My long-time close friend Ian Thomas Chesterman sadly passed away on 3rd January 2022 leaving us with a wonderful musical legacy. Ian wrote more songs than there was ever time to record so my labour of love will continue to ensure that his words will carry on painting pictures in our imagination and his catchy and memorable tunes will always naturally guide us to that moment where we can’t help but join in and raise the roof!

‘But it all comes around, whoever you are, wherever you’re bound,

here’s to deja vu I’ll be seeing you next time around’

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