Maurice Condie: Biography
Maurice started singing in church choirs when he was six. He started playing guitar to accompany his and other peoples singing when he was 12 “because it was a really good way to meet girls”.
At 14, Maurice started playing regularly at folk clubs and by the time he was 17 he was playing in his first folk group “Halcyon Days” with his brother Reuben (Piano and vocals), along with Pam Wilson (vocal and bass) and Cherry Pearson (vocals). The group was named after a ship on which his father had sailed.
Over the next couple of years the group evolved and changed line up and eventually name to the slightly less naff “Crises” with Brian Littlefair on piano and David Bainbridge on another guitar.
By 1976, Crises had had all the crises it could cope with and disbanded. Over the next four years Maurice played at folk clubs (and at sessions when he could) as a solo act and as one half of a duo with Michael Linden. His favourite and most memorable gig over this period was as support for Bert Jansch at the (now sadly demolished) Byker Apollo.
In 1980, Maurice commenced a musical partnership with Viv Bell that was to last for ten years. In the early days they played as a duo at a range of venues including folk clubs, working men’s clubs (between the bingo and the stripper), pubs and restaurants. While this diverse work, along with some guitar teaching that Maurice had started doing in 1981, “paid the bills” neither Viv nor Maurice were satisfied. Folk clubs, the gigs they enjoyed most, were on the decline, while the other less enjoyable work was unfulfilling to say the least.
Viv’s song-writing skills were rapidly developing so Maurice went out and got a “day job” while Viv and he started to put together a rock band, which was briefly “White Wing” then “The Viv Bell Band” but became “7 to Midnight” in 1983. At last, a decent band name.
Between 1985 and 1990 the band produced 3 albums and gigged extensively in the North East.
Maurice left 7 to Midnight in 1990, having pursued some solo work since 1988.
Throughout the early 90’s the solo work in pubs and folk clubs continued alongside work in a four piece band “Broken Drum” with Julie Ann Souter, Frank Kay, and Rob Burn (who had also played in 7 to Midnight). The line up was later joined by Liz Law who with Julie Ann went on to become half of the four piece “Lucky Bags”.
Additionally he organised and ran a folk club for several years at the Cumberland Arms in Byker. Highlights from this period include hiring Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts to play at the folk club for £65 just as they were becoming very (and rightly) successful, and supporting Richard Thompson at the Riverside Club in Newcastle (the most frightening gig Maurice had or has ever played).
It was in this period (around 1996) that Maurice first met Gillian Tolfrey who nervously came in to the Cumberland Arms Wednesday night session and asked if she could join in. A couple of years later Maurice and Gillian started doing gigs together, on one occasion famously playing to the bar staff in an empty pub in Hartlepool. “We got paid and had a fine time anyway”.
In 2000 Maurice resumed teaching guitar, primarily for Folkworks at their Caedmon evening classes. “It was a real pleasure being a Folkworks tutor. It was really challenging and made me think about how I played, which vastly improved my technique. I also got to meet some fabulous people; students, fellow tutors and Folkworks staff. I’m grateful to David Oliver for giving me the opportunity to work for Folkworks.”.
In 2006 Maurice and Gillian recorded the album “Balanced Books”. The first recording Maurice had done since the 7 to Midnight releases. Maurice and Gillian gigged quite a lot through 2007 and early 2008 and, in July 2007, organised of the first, very successful Dulverton Folk Festival.
2008 saw the break up of Condie and Tolfrey, with Maurice continuing to teach and occasionally perform. Electronic lessons have been sent round the world. When the Sage Gateshead axed the Caedmon instrument classes in summer 2009, Maurice, with colleagues and friends from the old Caedmon programme at the Sage, set up Phoenix Folk, which continues to successfully carry the torch for folk music tuition in the North East of England. Phoenix is still going strong and not only runs classes but also workshops, a monthly folk night, concerts and regular informal sessions.
From March 2011 to the end of 2012 Maurice played guitar and cittern with The Angels of the North Ceilidh Band, which was tremendous fun.
In 2013 Maurice formed a duo with songwriter/guitarist Adam Holden, “Another Penny”. Their first album (also called “Another Penny”) was released in September 2014. Visit the Another Penny website here.
In 2018 Maurice started playing with Northumbrian Piper, David Creese, and fairly swiftly invited his friend and colleague Marina Dodgson (fiddle) to join them, forming The Sunday Trio. See more about The Sunday Trio here.
In 2018 Maurice and Marina also started a range of projects to create on line resources for fiddle players and guitar players. Recognising that this would lead to playing together live, they became Miggins Fiddle in 2019 and, when ceilidh work became an obvious extension to this work, formed the Miggins Fiddle Ceilidh Band with Adam playing piano and Julie Ann Souter calling.
- Teaching at Phoenix Folk Ltd (a project he also jointly manages)
- Teaching private lessons
- Performing with Adam Holden as “Another Penny”
- Performing with Miggins Fiddle, a duo with Marina Dodgson
- Performing with the Miggins Fiddle Ceilidh Band (Maurice, Adam, Marina and Julie Ann Souter)
- Performing solo
- Performing with Marina and David Creese in “The Sunday Trio”