'Richard Grainger'is a folk singer in the truest sense'; a versatile singer of traditional and original songs, a guitarist with a unique style, and a highly accomplished exponent of unaccompanied song too. He made his recording debut on Fellside FE038 'Herbs on the Heart' in 1984 to much critical acclaim. Folk Roots hailed him as 'another Carthy or Nic Jones'.
However, Richard has steered his own path; addressing his songs toward his own local heritage, environment and to the cultural and industrial changes in his native Teesside and North Yorkshire on The North East Coast of England.
Richard Grainger writes songs with evocative and moving tunes and you feel that they are immersed in that part of the North east where he lives- Cleveland- the land of Moorland and Coast contrasted with heavily industrialised Teesside. Besides a large traditional repertoire including some original interpretations of songs such as 'Polly on the Shore' and 'Gatherin Rushes'. Grainger also possesses songs from his own pen such as the rousing 'Scarborough Fishermen', the beautiful 'Mary of the Dale' and the powerful 'Last Light on the Row'.
'Live' he draws from this vast and varied repertoire entertaining his audiences with true stories and his typically dry humour. Most of all he sings with power and passion and its difficult not to join in with some of his big choruses.
Richard was born in Middlesbrough, an industrial giant on the North east Coast of England. His parents often sang together. 'My Dad', he recalls 'played Ukelele George Formby style, and sang a great number of songs of that ilk. He also did one or two cowboy songs too. Ah!Those were the nights; around the fire at home with me brother on guitar, me on banjo, me Dad on his Uke and me Mam singin'. She had an amazing voice as he recalls. Richards first encounters with harmonies came at family do's or singing old Methodist Hymns and Gospel Songs. Particularly at Christmas he recalls, 'We'd have a family party on Boxing Day at my Nana's in Commondale'. There'd be our family and my Uncles John and Walter with their families too. Nana would play the harmonium and every body would be singin. Each one looking for their own harmony line. What a sound. Iíve heard nothing to rival that as long as Iíve lived'. Richards first interest in folk music came through Folk Blues and Skiffle. His brother Peter was a musician too and a singer with a local skiffle group.
Other influences were to follow through TV programmes such as Sydney Carters, ABC TV'Hallelujah' and the Folk and Blues programme 'Hullabaloo'. From that point Richard was inspired by rising musicans such as Martin Carthy and Davey Graham. His mentor for many years has been Ron Angel a one time member of the Teesside Fettlers who is still a partner in many of his musical projects today. Martin Carthy was to remain in Richards gallery of influences for many years to come although he always sites Bob Dylan as his biggest inspiration in many aspects of his work.
One of Richard's earliest partnerships in his long musical career was withCharles O'Connor. Fiddler O'Connor was later to become a founder member of the Irish Folk-Rock Legends 'Horslips'.
In the 80's Richard became a member of the long established 'Teesside Fettlers' Folk Group. Though he never recorded with them his songs had been recorded by the group on several occasions prior to his joining. One of his earliest and best known songs <'Whitby Whaler' appeared on Tradition LP 'Ring of Iron' and the anthem 'Teesside & Yorkshire' on Tradition LP 'Travelling the Tees'. The Fettlers were also to contribute a different version of the same song to an LP titled 'Yorkshire Heritage' produced by the then presenter of BBC Folk on 2 Jim Lloyd.
After leaving the Fettlers, Richard decided to pursue his solo career professionally in 1985.
His arrival on the folk club and festival scene didn't go unnoticed as Richard received many favourable reviews in the music magazines and in the national daily press.
Later he teamed up with a number of musicians and singers both 'live' and on record. Notably The Wilson Family and Dick Miles. They appeared on the album 'Darklands', and another released in the same year 'Home Routes'.
Richard Grainger is a folk singer in the truest sense.
Later Richard teamed up for several successful tours with House Band instrumentalist Chris Parkinson and some results from their partnership appear on the Folksound album 'Thunderwood'.
After almost constant touring for 10 years, Grainger was feeling the need to get back to his roots and the 1999 album project 'Town in Time'. Songs of the History of Middlesbrough was not only an opportunity for him to create many new songs but to help give his home region a more positive sense of identity. It strongly reaffirms the existence of a unique Teesside culture and tradition.
In '97 his Folk Opera 'Eye of the Wind' was performed for the first time at the Spa Theatre in Whitby, North Yorkshire to celebrate the arrival of ĎHM Bark Endeavour' replica from Australia. The work tells the story of James Cook and his first voyage on 'Endeavour'.
That first production included performances from Mike Waterson, Jill Pidd, The Wilson Family, Stormalong John and The Keelers with Richard playing the part of the ballad singer. 'Eye of the Wind' has been performed in many venues in the last few years and an established company of performers are regularly called upon. These include The Endeavour Shantymen - founded by Richard in '97. The latest line up (2003) has even included concertina virtuoso Keith Kendrick
In a recent adaptation for BBC Radio 'Eye of the Wind' is narrated by Sir David Attenborough - an attestation of the quality of Richards work. The voice of Sir David Attenborough also appears on the Klondike CD (KCD 002)'Eye of the Wind' released May 2004.
Klondike Folk Arts are busily finalising the publication of Richard's first song book colloection featuring 25 of his original songs.