The Old Rope String Band

Joe Scurfield

Pete and Tim would like to thank everybody for the fantastic tributes to Joe. They all make a difference.

Harry Scurfield adds: "Joe's brothers, sister and the mum are all very grateful to all those who have contributed, are contributing and will still contribute to this list of memories and good thoughts. As Pete & Tim have said, it does all help. Thanks."

Here is a selection of the messages we have received from people who booked Joe and the Old Rope String Band. On other pages are messages from the miriads of people who remember Joe's appearances with the band, and people who knew him personally and in other fields.

I first met Joe, Pete and Tim in 1992 when the Old Rope String Band toured six Lincolnshire village halls for me, as part of that County's rural touring scheme. To the best of my knowledge, this was their debut onto the rural touring network.

I saw the first show that week, and the next and the next and the next.........the love affair began and has never ceased. I have toured the band over the past 15 years on other rural touring schemes in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and more recently in Worcestershire. Everyone was a winner: universally loved, Joe, Pete and Tim charmed and wooed audiences wherever they played making each audience feel like they were the most special people in the world. They gave their all, each and every performance, and kept their material fresh and renewed; Joe was obviously a big driver in this constant renewal.

The band is without doubt unique, inimitable, inspirational, life affirming, uplifting, exceptionally talented, always professional and utterly joyous; Joe will be missed and mourned by thousands upon thousands and we shall not quite see his like again. I am glad to have known you Joe, for like many others, I am a better person for the knowing. To Tim and Pete - you were an inimitable part of something that no one will ever, ever forget and together were the magic and the mystery that was The Old Rope String Band. Everyone felt better for seeing you - if what you produced could be bottled, the world would be a better place......

My love and may the singing, dancing, and laughter never leave us. Thank you Joe.

Sue Roberts

On behalf of everyone who has seen Joe at Preston on Stour (Warwickshire) on his own in I Fiddled My Way In and/or as part of the Old Rope String Band, I would like to express our condolences to Rianne (whom we met in April), his family and to the other members of the band. I only heard about the tragedy last night, via John Laidlaw, Warwickshire's Live and Local Supremo.

Joe performed brilliantly at Preston and we had a fantastic time afterwards drinking and talking about things he felt passionate about (a long list!). I agree with the sentiment expressed on your website, that he will be remembered with love by everyone who met him.

Mick Jennings
Chair of Three Parishes Millennium Hall
Preston on Stour, Warwickshire

Joe along with the rest of O R S B played to packed audience twice in the village of Cookley. Everyone who was there enjoyed a fantastic night's entertainment.

The band was unique in its approach, professional in its delivery and bloody funny to boot!!! My family & I had enjoyed the band for many years prior to me booking them and were delighted to be able to promote them to different audiences.

Joe's legacy is huge, and his sad, untimely and unnecessary death can not diminish his ability, passion, talent and contribution to bringing an extra ray of sunshine into our lives.

My thoughts are with those who loved him.

Martin de Vine

I first met Joe with ORSB on the Lincolnshire tour Sue Robert mentions — I was the promoter for one of those six gigs!

Over the years my wife, Glenys, and I, along with an uncountable number of friends, have wet ourselves with laughter at the antics of Joe and his colleagues. To say Joe will be sorely missed is an understatement. It has been an honour and privilege to perform at festivals on the same bill as Joe and his mates or just to sit in the audience being thoroughly entertained.

The folkey side of the arts world will never be the same again.

Chris Petz

What devastating news for Joe's family, friends and Tim and Pete, the premature death of Joe must represent. It seems to us that Joe is irreplaceable, not just as a special person, but in terms also of his talent. He represented a unique combination of musical talent and tomfoolery.

The Old Rope String Band performed in Wivenhoe (near Colchester, Essex) in each of the last three years and these performances will live forever in the memories of the many people here who had the privilege to see Joe on stage with Pete and Tim.

We all therefore share in the tragedy of Joe's death. It is a loss to us all. I hope these few simple thoughts will be of some comfort to those who were closest of all to Joe.

Peter Hill
Wivenhoe Town Mayor 2004/05

OSRB played the first ever gig on our new touring scheme in Worcestershire - I'd put a lot into setting the scheme up and arrived 2 hours early for the first show. Sick with nerves I did all I needed to, and then sat on the corners of the stage watching you unload a bizarre array of instruments and things that made all manner of noises. You all chatted to me about gigs you'd played, the power and importance of rural touring, how you should never set off on a long journey without a flask and many other pearls of wisdom. I forgot my nerves and enjoyed welcoming the visitors. And then I got to see all those instruments and crazy props put to use. I laughed, I cried, I sang along and then I laughed a bit more. Then I topped up your flasks and said goodbye. I couldn't wait to bring my family and friends to your next show and feel a huge loss that they won't get to share in the magic. I just wanted you to know that the briefest encounters can make a difference, your visit did for me in many ways. I hope that Pete and Tim (and their flasks) will be visiting us again soon.

My thoughts are with you all.

Anne Langford
Assistant County Arts Officer, Worcestershire

My brother Philip had put on the ORSB a few times in Newbury and these gigs were always a treat. I remember Joe trying to juggle the violins in Des Moulin gallery in Newbury where the ceiling height was only a few inches above his head. He did it of course and left us all in stitches. I was thinking that it must be getting round for them to be in Newbury again soon and what fun we would have. I think one thing that is very clear that Joe, Pete and Tim appealed to all ages very young to very old. The CD is always in the car for the long car journeys and I know brother Phil will miss Joe tremendously.

If you go to the session after the funeral please toast Joe from me. It was a privilege to have seen him perform. My thoughts to Joe,and his family and also to Keith Morris and his.

Mick Brown
Newbury, Berkshire

The Trustees of the Huntingdon Commemoration Hall Charity wish to express their sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Joe Scurfield on hearing the news of Joe's tragic death. The Old Rope String Band was due to make their debut here in Huntingdon on the 1 July as part of our Spring/Summer programme of professional arts at the Commemoration Hall. Although we never have the privilege to welcome the Band to our town we know through reading the wonderful tribute to Joe just what a wonderful night we would have had. Alas that pleasure has been cruelly taken away from us all following Joe's fatal accident in Newcastle. All our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this sad time.

Mike Kennedy
Town Clerk and Clerk to the Trustees of the Huntingdon Commemoration Hall Charity

We are sorry to hear of the tragic news about Joe, we really enjoyed the concert in our hall by The Old Rope String Band. The audience were crying with laughter and have requested that we bring The Old Rope String Band back to Yarm. The music world has lost a rare talent.

Peter J Monck
Yarm Fellowship Hall committee

I was so shocked to hear of Joe's death. How tragic.

As a member of Village Ventures our village has had the privilege of having TORSB visit us on several occasions. He always found time to talk to audience members and seemed to relish playing close up and personal. TORSB and especially Joe provided LIVE entertainment write large. On behalf of our village I on sincere and deep sympathy to his nearest and dearest. His memory will live long and large in all that met, heard and knew him.

Fred Payne
co-ordinator Village Ventures Sutton-cum Lound, Notts

We have just received that terrible news.

Zic Zazou met the Old Rope String Band in Newcastle a few years ago.

We immediately enjoyed their way of practising music and humour and their kindness. We invited them for La Fête dans la Ville in Amiens, very proud to offer our public the chance to discover them. At that occasion we had a very nice party after the festival and it remains in the mind of every one of us.

Our producer SICALINES and specially Stéphanie worked with them a lot, and every French organizer who chose the Old Ropes gave her lots of congratulations for the quality of their performance during the show and ..... after the show.

Our thoughts are with Joe' s family, Tim, Pete and all his friends

Amiens, France

Joe Scurfield n'est plus. J'ai appris la nouvelle hier soir. Un automobiliste les a percutés (lui et un ami) alors qu'ils se promenaient au bord de la route.

Joe était musicien et le créateur génial des OLD ROPE STRING BAND mais pas seulement...

Toute sa vie il a milité pour la justice sociale et la paix par ses chansons et ses activités politiques notamment au côté des mineures anglais pendant la grande grève.

Violoniste, danseur de claquettes, jongleur, joueur de mandoline, humoriste... très bon linguiste (il parlait le danois, l'allemand, le français, l'espagnol.. ) il avait toujours son violon pas loin, prêt à jouer, à partager des moments de fête avec des amis d'un soir ou d'une vie, d'ici et de partout ailleurs... c'était un homme fantastic.

En dépit de nos différences de cultures et d'àges, c'était un ami que j'appréciais beaucoup et de plus en plus, avec qui j'aurais aimé discuté davantage et partagé beaucoup plus ... quel dommage. Pour Tim et Pete (partenaires depuis près de 20 ans sur scène), sa famille et ses amis plus proches je pense que cela doit être très douloureux, insupportable.

Je me joins è eux pour partager ce triste événement.

Joe Scurfield is no more. I heard the news yesterday evening. He (and a friend) were hit by a car as they were walking along the road.

Joe was a musician and the brilliant creator of the OLD ROPE STRING BAND but he was more than that.

He worked all his life for peace and social justice, through his songs and his political activity, particularly alongside the miners during the great strike.

Fiddler, tap dancer, juggler, mandolin player, humourist ... an excellent linguist (he spoke Danish, German, French, Spanish), he always had his violin within reach, ready to play, to share moments of celebration with friends he had known for an evening or for a lifetime, from nearby or anywhere else ... he was a fantastic man.

Despite the difference in our ages and backgrounds, he was a friend I cared for greatly, and increasingly, someone with whom I would have liked to talk longer and share much more ... what a loss. For Tim and Pete (who had been his partners on stage for almost 20 years), his family and the friends who were closer to him, it must be very painful, almost unbearable.

I share their grief at this sad event.

Stéphanie Carpentier

We were delighted that we would receive you in our city next October, and were preparing for the event with enthusiasm. We have just learned the terrible news which touches us deeply Please accept our more sincere condolences and have the kindness to transmit them to the family of Mister Joe.

Centre culturel Bel Air

Today, the 21st of June, I heard of Joe's tragic departure ... I am shocked, that this friendly and very creative musician is gone and won't play his music and funny acts any more.

I remember Joe and his Old Rope-mates from a couple of gigs, they performed through the years in our theatre De Skâns in Gorredijk (Friesland). They were introduced to me by Marita Kruiswijk, who herself performs in a Frisian folk ensemble. The first performance that the Old Rope Stringband gave in De Skâns, was an eyeopener to me: what a fresh combination of traditional music, acrobatic movements and humourous delight it was. The public was stunned and overwhelmed by the energy of Joe, Pete and Tim. Joe and his friends came back to Gorredijk almost every time they did a tour through Holland. And they made more fans and friends through the years.

In the forthcoming theatrical season (2005/2006) they would perform again, here in Gorredijk. I was looking forward to meet the three of them again.

Alas, it won't happen and that makes me very sad.

A wonderful musician is gone and with him a special and refreshing musical group.

It makes one angry and powerless, when you realise what one man can do to another. But anger doesn't help, only remembrance can save us.

Joe, I will remember your laugh and above all, your wonderful music.

A salute to you, your family and friends from all of your Frisian fans in Holland.

Kor Konstapel
Theatre de Skâns, Gorredijk.

Joe stayed with Gillian, Sam and I in Toppesfield a year or so ago after The Old Rope String Band played at the village hall with Essex on Tour.

The evening I spent with Joe was inspirational. He was warm, charming, funny, shrewd, intelligent, gentle and just brilliant, brilliant company. He certainly marked our lives during that brief period.

A wonderful, wonderful man.

Andrew Colley,
Toppesfield, Essex.

We had the pleasure of The Old Rope String Band at our village hall in November 2004.

I booked with trepidation as I was unsure about the style of entertainment they provided. The evening was a great success. The group and Joe especially was hugely entertaining, with a style of comedy rarely seen these days. It was one of those shows that you wished would go on for hours.

I know everyone that saw the show from Rowney Green would like to pass on their condolences to Joe's family and friends. He is irreplaceable.

Judith McManus
Rowney Green

ORSB for us began about 8-9 years ago at the Bromyard Folk Fest. What a revelation! I always tell the sceptics that folk festivals are the best ever value for entertainment, they always offer such varied acts with unlimited skills.

ORSB epitomise that. From them you get everything you expect to see and hear at a folk est. — music, humour, stories, clowning — all in one act. So it was with some trepidation that we entered the marquee at Bridgnorth in August this year to hear how Pete and Tim were going to manage their unbelievable and recent loss.

It was never going to be the same; no-one expected that. But what ? We needn't have worried. Tim and Pete, ably assisted by Joe's girlfriend, treated us to a wonderful tribute to their late friend. It was cheerful, up-lifting, musical fun. And very brave. They all used the opportunity to remind us of Joe's unique talents and purpose. I'm sure we all thought he was still there; and he was really - in a life-size screen print unfurled on stage.

Whenever we have seen them we were always wiping tears of laughter from our eyes; this time, I have to confess, they were mainly tears of sorrow.

Heartfelt best wishes to the band, in whatever form, under whatever name you re-appear. Joe would be proud of you.

Charles & Jane,

last updated 28th September 2005