Mic and Larry
Sometime, maybe as late as 1977, when I was part of a RnB group called ‘Sensible Shoes’ and gigging at the William the Fourth in Truro, a guy came over to me and asked if he could sing in the break. I asked him if he was any good: we didn’t want to subject our audience to some awful amateur, and he said he was OK. He was. When I heard his strong and husky, earthy, warm and melodious, voice I knew immediately (and told him as soon as he’d finished) that he should consider becoming a folk song singer. That was my first meeting with the guy who became my virtual brother and best friend, Larry Law. We swapped contact details and he stayed to have a pint with us after closing, nominated that very night and agreed upon by unanimous consent – for licensing regulations – as part of the band. No questions were asked about our newest ‘member’, that was the thing with Larry; he was instantly likeable, his genuine smile and easy, affable manner opened doors for him everywhere.
It was the custom in folk circles then that, if you thought someone was gifted or remarkable, or had some unique talent worthy of developing, then you’d ‘bring them on’ i.e. introduce them to like minded others so I began to take Larry with me when I visited the local folk clubs and in no time flat he’d established himself as a true talent in that genre. As he did in all things, Larry soon became totally immersed in traditional folk music as I introduced him to the music I was specialising in and experimenting with at that time and he, in turn, introduced me to the likes of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Neil Young, John Prine and many others. It was almost folk music perfection; our voices, his rough hewn deep and rich voice, complimented my melodic clearer tones and we harmonised effortlessly with one another depending on who was singing the lead or melody, we just blended so very naturally well together. Larry played a loud 12 string guitar mostly while I picked or strummed on my 6 string, mandolin or bouzouki. Our arrangements were subtle, considered, well rehearsed and, all were agreed, sounded gorgeous! Highly satisfying to us both and we got on so very well together it was virtually unbelievable. A marriage made in heaven to be sure! Thus it was that Larry became firm friends with all the local folk club crowd and legends like John The Fish, had banjo picking and frailing lessons in my front room from the brilliant Derek Brimstone, was taught the basics of tunings by none other than the celebrated Nik Jones and even had a set of Northumbrian bagpipes custom made for him by the amazing folk hero, Clive Palmer, and also took lessons in playing them from that fine, gifted and extremely generous musician!
As Larry and I began to work more and more together the bond between us strengthened and grew. When I moved to Camborne, Larry was already living there with his Auntie Gillian (Gill), we’d meet much more regularly and our musical partnership grew broader, stronger and developed further. We were always bosom buddies; Larry had a key to my house in Camborne as I did to his when he later moved to live and work in Plymouth where he trained as a police diver and we’d let ourselves in and treat things as though we were in our own home. When my daughter Emma was born in June of 1985 and I’d finally got home from the hospital to get some much needed sleep I was awoken by a noise in the room and there, large as life, stood Larry grinning from ear to ear as happy and proud as I was. The Police Diving Team had been sent to Penzance to carry out an underwater search for suspicious items on the undersides of the Royal Yacht Britannica but he’d somehow found the time to come up and congratulate me!
Our musical partnership became so productive, so good, that when I was invited to guest at a Folk Club, I’d invariably have Larry come with me to join in near the end. When he moved to Plymouth I’d go up most week ends and we’d get into sessions with other fine musicians in The Swan Inn at Devonport. This is where Larry first met with and struck up a long lasting friendship with Fiddler Jennings, and developed a style of playing accompaniment with that fine musician that was exciting and vibrant and a taste of things to come.
Larry and I explored our separate musical resources and influences to the full, there’s no doubting that; we didn’t limit ourselves strictly to the folk music genre either, we covered Country Music, Rock & Roll, bands like The Eagles, The Beatles, plus other more obscure artists, all got the McCreadie/Law Treatment.
He and I were in the thick of things at every opportunity, singing and playing anywhere we could, even busking on the streets of St Ives during some of the September Festivals run by that indefatigable, highly industrious Arts Promoter and Festival Organiser, Martin Val Baker.
The pinnacle of our musical collaboration came when we were booked to perform at a lot of the local festivals like, Polgooth Country Fayre and The Elephant Fayres and then from these we eventually graduated to play the Main Stage at the world renowned Cambridge Folk Festival in 1980!
When I did a few Folk Programme broadcasts on BBC Radio Cornwall in the mid eighties I was able to invite Larry to come into The Studio as my guest performer. Recordings of these broadcasts can be found on my YouTube page and some of our other recordings – plus Larry & Fiddler’s joint Folk CD: ‘To Air Is Humane.’ – are available from the shop.
Over time other musical alliances were also formed; Larry became a member of Slip Knot where he was performing with the redoubtable Fiddler Jennings and Pete Condor (a wizard banjo player) and Chris Maskell (vocalist and bass) and I took up with Tom Palmer as ‘Take Two’ – playing pubs and clubs mostly. It became a feature of our multiple musical socialising that many different line-ups could suddenly become available especially at my afternoon gigs in The Mermaid Inn at Porth, Newquay where sometimes I’d be joined by Slip Knot, with or without Pete Condor on occasion, the band temporarily renamed for these sessions as ‘The Fudbusters’, at other times it might be Larry, Tom Palmer and I in the line up known then as ‘Take Three’ and the lunchtime gig would stretch away into seemingly infinite afternoon helped along by our dear friends and landlords Colin and Terri Howe who lavished hospitality on us like there was no tomorrow. Since all of our respective partners and children could come along too it was just the best of times. When Larry decided to hang up his old guitar and give up public performances it was a very sad day for me and everyone else who so loved what we’d created together. The good thing is: we have the archive recordings to relive the pleasures again and again.