History

Founded in 1974, Fingers and Frets were playing public concerts by 1977 and in March 1978 presented their first Festival of fretted instrument music to an audience of over 200.

Since that date Fingers and Frets have regularly performed and competed in both National and International Festivals in Germany, Denmark and Great Britain and have hosted and promoted visiting groups.

Several very successful recordings have been made of Fingers and Frets in concert, also with visiting players.

Background

Following the demise of the Bristol Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Club in the early 1970s; several ex-members maintained contact, playing together as the Neapolitan Ensemble with a variable line-up of Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Accordion and Percussion. Four members of this group joined with students of an adult Guitar Studies Class at Longwell Green Community Centre, Bristol to form Fingers and Frets.

The original Bristol BMG Club was founded in 1928 by a number of fretted instrument enthusiasts and continued to encourage and entertain right through World War II until the early 1970s. During this period there were a number of other fretted instrument groups in Bristol and district: –

Bath Balalaika Orchestra and Bath BMG Club – both directed by the great banjo exponent R.Tarrant Bailey Jnr.

Bristol [East] BMG Club.

The Craddy Brothers – Broadcasting Banjo Duo.

Percy Poole and his Serenaders – Mandolin and Guitar Quartet.

The Savante Mandoliers led by Madame Underdowne of Cotham.

The Weston Super Mare BMG Club.

Reaching back to the Turn of the Century there were numerous fretted instrument ensembles in the district from duos, trios, quartets to full orchestral groups, probably the result of a national upsurge of interest in fretted instrument playing and all creating a rich, fertile tradition.

1890 Francis and Day of London publish their 1st Banjo Annual.

1893 The Banjo World Journal first published monthly.

1894 The Cadenza – Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Magazine first published in the USA.

1901 1st Convention of the American Guild of BMG.

1903 The BMG Magazine first published nationally.

1905 Miss Alice Gardiner’s Banjo and Mandolin Band of Cheltenham annual concert with banjo soloist Mr Olly Oakley of London.

1906 The British Guild of Mandolinists and Guitarists inaugurated.

1906 The Mandolin and Guitar Magazine first published – price 3d.

1906 Madame Fiammetta Waldahoff made ‘Professor of Mandolin’ at the Guildhall School of Music London.

1907 Music Students’ Magazine and The Mandolin and Guitar now published as The Minstrel – Price 3d.

1907 John Alvey Turner of London published Keynotes Magazine.

1928 Bristol BMG Club founded.

1928 1st Festival/Rally of the British Federation of Banjo, Mandolin and Guitarists held in London.

Past personalities

Janet Ambrose, B Mus Goldsmiths, London – Mandolinist, ex-Chairperson of the British BMG Federation and long-time friend and associate of F&F.

Ray Andrews, Banjoist and Entertainer, F&F founder member and source of encouragement. Late exponent of the Classic English Finger Style Banjo.

John Bryant, Musician and Community Association Warden – great friend and supporter of F&F for many years.

‘Pepe’ Cappiello, Luthier of Sorrento, Italy. Late maker and restorer of fine stringed musical instruments.

Bob Cave, Mandola player and Guitarist, one-time F&F member. Special interest in Jazz and swing Guitar.

Ian Cave, Mandolin player with F&F for many years and winner of junior and senior National Trophies at BMG rallies. Mandolin soloist with the NYO European Tour 1997-8 season.

Bob Cooper, Mandolin and Founder Member. Sold his first mandolin to raise cash to entertain a girlfriend. Late long-time member of F&F and throughout many years of illness.

Jean Cooper, Percussion. Wife of Bob (above), also first percussionist and publicity officer in F&F.

Hugo D’alton, London. Professional Mandolinist & BMG Rally Adjudicator. Late friend and supporter of F&F.

Dott. Ciro de Falco, late of Frattelli di Falco, Napoli, Italy. Maker and supplier of fine Mandolins, Guitars and Accessories. Enthusiastic supporter of F&F.

Harry Hasler, Romford, Essex. Mandolinist and Composer of music for fretted groups. Friend of F&F that has played some of his compositions.

Jo Harris, no fixed abode. Most byootiful member of the orchestra, ever!! Designer of original website and this new one.

Magiba, Mandolin & Guitar orchestra of Ballerup, Denmark. Hosts on several F&F visits to the International Music Festival, Ballerup, Denmark. Made return visits to Bristol and London. Numerous shared performances and recordings.

Mandolinen Club Concordia of Konigslutter, Germany. Made several visits to Bristol and hosted F&F‘s first continental visit.

Eileen Pakenham, Mandolinist and Composer. F&F was one of the first groups to perform Miss Pakenham’s music in concert in England.

Sally Robinson, Mandolinist. Founder Member. First played at 13 years of age, formerly of the Bristol BMG Club and the Percy Poole Serenaders, then played with F&F until the age of 84 years.

Marco Roccia, Luthier, late of Clifford Essex & Co, London. Friend, enthusiast and ‘fount of knowledge’ regarding all things ‘fretted’.

Franco Sivieri, Piano di Sorrento, Italia. Late professional musician.

Don Shaddick, Fretted instrumentalist ‘extraordinaire’. Gentleman, Founder Member, Late player of Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Mandola and Bouzuki, maker of Banjo and Guitar.

Kurt Sondergaerd, Ballerup, Denmark. Luthier. Maker of fine mandolins and mandolas in the Danish Moller Style. Friend of F&F.

Bill Stone, Plectrum G Banjoist and Entertainer. Late F&F member. Speciality – Ragtime.

Prof. Raffaele Calace of Naples, 1863 – 1934 Innovator and Maker of fine stringed instruments of music in the classic Neapolitan style, also Composer and Performer of music for the Mandolin and Guitar. Introduced the Mandolin to Japan and was decorated for services by The Mikado in 1924. The company ‘Calace & Figlio’, Napoli is still producing fine instruments.

Sister Andrea Kelly, MMM. Mandolinist, Honary Member of F&F Club and personal friend of John Hopes. Learnt to play the Mandolin in Glasgow in the 1930s, and as a young lady played with the Jimmy Haynes Mandolin Orchestra. Trained as a Nurse and joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary, serving in Kenya for over 30 years. Wherever she travelled, her trusty and faithful friend a mandolin by Clifford Essex of London, was at her side. Having survived the heat and humidity of Central Africa it is still in good playing order to-day. Her first contact with F&F was through a BBC World Service broadcast featuring the mandolin, when on hearing its dulcet sound she contacted the BBC and was directed to John Hopes. During her next leave in the UK she visited and played with F&F and continues to maintain contact.

Angelo Mannello 1858-1922 Naples, emigrated to New York 1885. Maker of stunningly ornate mandolins, heavily embellished with ivory, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell inlays and gold & silver fittings. Examples of his finest work are on display in National Museum Collections.

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