From our name you might imagine we are an Irish group, but I'm afraid you'd be mistaken because there is in fact only one Irishman amongst us. We take our name from my father's Christian name Kerry, who is also the, so to speak, "figurative father" of the group. Kerry came from Scotland originally, but for the past twelve or so years he has lived with his family in Coventry. Along with myself, Kerry and his son-in-law Ralph started a folk group, forming in the by now traditional manner of singing in pubs — traditionally also a way of life for both the Scottish and the Irish. The pub sessions were in fact an extension of the family singsongs which took place in the Todd household as far back as I can remember. So this in fact was the real beginning, but it wasn't for many years that we were to realise the value they might have.
The Kerries (or The Kerry Singers as we were called until someone whimsically observed that the name sounded like that of a Concert Choir, upon which the "singers" bit was rapidly dropped) then moved to an Irish Social Club where we gained the most invaluable experience having to sing for approximately three hours a night, two nights a week, to earn enough money to buy ourselves a beer. Some time later we took stock of the situation, and decided we would be as well off hiring a room in a pub and running our own folk club. Well, we did, and such was the success of the first club we had to move to bigger premises where we have gone from strength to strength having booked every major folk singer/group from this country, Ireland and America in the last two years. At the end of our first year we were joined by my cousin Denis for some months until he left for Canada to pursue his trade as a chemist. The group grew yet again that year in the shape of girl singer Gill Thurlow, who is a considerable asset to the group, both vocally and visually. Our numbers really swelled towards the end of last year with the addition of the formidable Lenny Mcllhone from Killyleagh, Northern Ireland, who is affectionately known as "The Body" — for reasons which are best observed when trying to share a seat on the bus with him! This then is The Kerries personnel as they stand. After much chopping and changing we think we have arrived at the ideal combination.
KERRY TODD — Namesake and founder member of the group. He plays guitar and sings in a range unattainable to the rest of the group. He is reluctant to sing lead as he insists his voice isn't what it used to be. He possesses an uncanny sense of harmony. He is also, you might say, the metronome of the group. His rhythm, to say the least, is solid … solid.
RALPH OVERTON — Age 24 years. Plays guitar. Ralph was originally a rhythm guitarist with a beat group, electrics, uniform and all, until he became engaged to my sister. Naturally their courtship resulted in his frequent visits to our home, during which time we wooed him from rock to folk. Basically he still plays rhythm guitar, and might be described as "the powerhouse" of the group — he has a vocal volume to match his guitar and is the undisputed string-breaking champion — often challenged but never beaten!
GILL THURLOW — Gill is the female member of the group, a statement which I suppose is totally unnecessary to make to anyone who has seen the group. Gill has a vocal power and sound which could be, I feel, likened to that of the great Edith Piaf. She also plays a tin whistle in all the songs where she isn't involved vocally. Gill is 24, or as she says 23 and a bit, but the bit is nearer 24 than 23. She also had an association with rock groups in her early singing career, with a strong leaning towards blues which inevitably led her to her natural forte.
LENNY MclLHONE — How do I start to describe Lenny? Well, he hails from Northern Ireland and has a solid grounding in the songs of his native land. He refuses to give his exact age, but admits to being between 20 and 30. He plays guitar and sings both lead and group harmony. He is often likened physically to Burl Ives and consequently refuses to sing "Froggy Went A-Courtin' ". He has been employed and sacked by various nationally known contractors, evidence of which is recorded in some of his songs — written shortly after the moment of truth!
GIBB TODD — It was easy enough for me to write about the rest of the group, but now I have to write about myself. Well I'm aged 26. I sing, play fairly basic banjo, tin whistle and a limited amount of mandolin. It could be said that I'm the slave driver of the group, as well as being the organiser/arranger. I have the greatest confidence in the group, but it becomes quite a sizeable task getting them all together when it's time for rehearsal, but on the whole I think it's well worth it and I must confess I wouldn't change my lot for anything.
So now listen to The Kerries.
GIBB TODD, August 1967