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Village Folk Clubrooms

at Derby Folk Festival

Dave Sudbury

Village Folk Clubrooms at Derby Folk FestivalSaturday 7th October

We are thrilled to announce that Dave Sudbury will be joining us to sing some of his original songs, in our Village Folk Clubroom as part of this year's 11th Derby Folk Festival.

Dave Sudbury is a Derby born folk singer and songwriter, possibly best known for his song, 'The King of Rome'. Dave was born in 1943 and started playing the guitar in his thirties while working on pipelines and power stations. 'The King of Rome' was recorded by folk singer June Tabor and has grown in popularity since. The song tells the true story of a racing pigeon, owned and bred by Charlie Hudson in Derby, who won a 1,001 mile race from Rome to England in 1913.

Other well known artists to have recorded the song include Ewan Robertson, Nigel Parry, Alun Rhys Jones, Vance Gilbert, Lucy Ward, Half Man Half Biscuit and also The Unthanks who performed the song with The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2012. See video below..

The King of Rome was first released in 1987 on the LP The Rough With The Smooth, with these original comments on the sleeve notes from Dave himself..

"In a glass case in Derby Museum there’s a pigeon called The King of Rome. In 1913 it flew from Italy back to its home loft in the West End of Derby. The Old West End used to be the rough side of town and Charlie Hudson, the man who bred The King lived there. I wrote the song because it’s about the kind of place I came from and the people I knew there."

Dave will be performing in our Village Folk Clubrooms at Derby Guildhall, The Market Place, Derby on Saturday 7th October - start time 5:30pm till 7pm. Purchase of a festival ticket is required for this event. More info about this year's Derby Folk Festival and how to buy day/evening/weekend tickets, can be found here. >>

Official 'The King of Rome' website...


Dave was interviewed in 2012 by the folk and alternative music webzine, Folk Radio UK - read the full article at the bottom of this page, or by following this link...

King of Rome - Dave Sudbury
King of Rome - The Unthanks


written by Alex Gallacher 27 April, 2012

I’m sure many of you who follow folk music like to read the liner notes of albums, curious about the origins of a song. Occasionally you become familiar with a songwriter’s name and even more ocasionally (rarely) they materialise from out of those sleeve notes to release an album. A good example is Sandy Wright who Kris Drever has covered a number of classic songs from including ‘Beads and Feathers’ and ‘Steel and Stone’, he released ‘The Songs of Sandy Wright’ on Navigator Records.


Now cast your mind back to the BBC Folk Awards when The Unthanks sang a great song called ‘The King of Rome’. I’m sure many of you know the song, most probably via June Tabor who made the song famous and let it take flight around the world. The man who wrote it was in fact Dave Sudbury and it was shortly after the BBC Folk Awards that his daughter contacted me and sent his album ‘King of Rome – Songs of Dave Sudury’. It was a self release and was recorded by Andrew Cronshaw. All of the songs on the album share the common wisdom of a natural born storyteller but they go a lot further thanks to Dave’s unique singing style. I’ll be honest, it was one of most heartwarming albums I’d heard in years!


Dave Sudbury is a rare breed in this day and age where most stories travel via technology. All that technology has speeded life up and that saddens me to be honest, the realisation that word of mouth is a dying concept or at least is being used less frequently as peoples ‘spare time’ diminishes thanks to the growing number of daily distractions. I can’t say anything, I’m writing this on a website but there is a balance to be had and hearing music like Dave’s also makes you appreciate why folk clubs / sessions and collectives are so important today in keeping that song-writing tradition alive.

Anyway, I loved the album and the songs and the stories that Dave told so I contacted him for an interview:

Dave Sudbury in his own words

"I was born in Derby in 1943 ( the first line of ‘ Dave Sudbury’s Blues’) into a warm working class family. Early memories of Christmas, get togethers at my Grandma’s and listening to old 78’s of Jimmy Rogers on a wind up gramophone. Singing around the piano and stories about the war from my Dad and Uncles.


I had a happy ‘backstreet’ childhood, secondary modern school and then a factory apprenticeship at 16. After serving my time I went working on the North Sea gas pipelines. I was married young and soon had a family to support. The music that inspired me was usually American rooted, Blues, Country and early Rock n Roll. Bob Dylan, who seemed to channel all this stuff, has always been an inspiration. I bought a cheap guitar in my early thirties and learned three chords. I wrote a few, easy to play songs, and nervously sang them in local folk clubs. People said they liked them.


The music I’d always loved seemed to have come out of authentic, personal experience, so I tried to keep mine the same. While still working on pipelines and powerstations, a friend told me about the ‘Northern Arts Council’ songsearch contest. I sent off a couple and the ‘King of Rome‘ made it through to the final. I sang it in front of an audience and panel of judges (a bit like X factor). I didn’t win but June Tabor, who was one of the judges, asked to record it. Since then it’s flown around the world.


Growing up working class in the 1940,50,60’s left me with a desire to express something inside. Writing those songs, especially the ‘King’, was my way of doing that. I recorded the CD in Andrew Cronshaws frontroom. I’d listened to so much ‘Americana’ he had to keep reminding me to drop the accent and ‘keep it Derby’.

So here I am nearly 70, happily married for the second time, loads of grandkids, and still listening to old recordings of Jimmy Rogers.


I later asked Dave if he still sang in folk clubs. He doesn’t very often do gigs but he explained “I’ve been employed by a local psychiatric unit to facilitate singing groups, so apart from an occasional invite to gig somewhere, the hospital’s where I do most of my performing".


I was incredibly moved by Dave’s story, He’s one of a Kind!

Thanks to the founder and editor-in-chief of FRUK, Alex Gallacher for giving us his kind permission to reproduce this article in full. 

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