Folk Bands and Artists
David R. Rowe (or Doc, as he has always been known) was born in Torquay, Devon. He attended Torquay Boys Grammar School, followed by Newton Abbot College of Art, Leeds Regional College of Art and Hornsey College of Art where he gained a first degree in Fine Art, and finished a post-graduate year at University of London in 1971. His academic career has continued with teaching a wide range of subjects including film, drama, music and traditional culture.
With an early interest in traditional song – stemming largely from 1950s BBC radio broadcasts – from the 1960s Doc was concerned with collecting local folklore and folksong material. Performing on the folk club circuit from 1963, he met BBC producer Charles Parker who, with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, was working on the BBC "Radio Ballads" (1957-64) - probably the biggest influence on his life. This contact developed his personal credo regarding the relevance of the oral tradition, the importance and potential of recording technology and an overall concern to document popular culture and the vernacular ´folk arts´. A working relationship with Charles, Ewan and Peggy over a number of years included work on a variety of folksong and drama related projects including Philip Donnellan´s TV versions of the "Radio Ballads", as well as being a joint editorial advisor on "The Other Music" (BBC2, 1981).
An equally important and parallel experience was a visit to Padstow in Cornwall and its May Day in 1963 – which was the first of a regular annual visit and documentation of that event. This started an overwhelming involvement specifically with seasonal events and popular cultural traditions. An outcome of this was that in 1964 he founded the Devon Tradition Group with local people researching and collecting material on West Country traditions, history, songs and stories.
Doc Rowe was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from University of Sheffield in 2002 for his research work into vernacular culture and traditional music, and in 2005 was awarded the English Folk Dance and Song Society´s Gold Badge for his documentation of traditional Song and Dance.