b. Little Sutton, Cheshire, England. Although he is often remembered for the series of traditional albums he recorded in the late 60s with his then wife Toni Arthur, this UK folk singer, guitarist and banjo player is also an acclaimed writer, broadcaster and folklorist.
Arthur spent the majority of his childhood in London, where he was a scholarship student at St. Olave’s Grammar School. Although he originally set out to be a painter, Arthur’s love of folk and trad jazz saw him inexorably gravitate to the capital’s burgeoning club scene. He learned to play the guitar and banjo and by the mid-60s was a regular performer at Nigel Denver’s folk nights at the Unity Theatre. While training as an academic bookseller he met his future wife Toni, a trainee nurse who had originally studied voice and piano at the Royal Academy of Music. The couple married and relocated to Oxford to run a university bookshop, where they began performing together at the local folk clubs. In the late 60s and early 70s they recorded a number of excellent traditional albums for the Transatlantic and Topic Records labels, most notably 1970’s Hearken To The Witches’ Rune, on which Toni’s multi-octave voice and Dave’s spoken word interludes combined to great effect. During the 70s the couple toured the world with their impressive live show, which combined song, dance, drama, and storytelling. They also performed children’s concerts and lectured on varying aspects of folklore. When Toni Arthur landed jobs presenting the BBC children’s programmes Playschool and Play Away, her husband made occasional appearances and helped out with music and research, a role that reached its natural fruition in 1976 when Toni launched her own series, Take A Ticket To ….
In the late 60s Dave Arthur joined the editorial board of the Folk Music Journal, acting as a representative for the new wave of young folk singers. In 1978 he took up the editorship of English Dance And Song, a position he held until 2000. He also briefly edited two other national magazines, Storylines and Animations. During this time Arthur also worked as a freelance writer, researcher, broadcaster, folklorist, theatre performer, storyteller and puppeteer, collaborating regularly with Toni and later on their son Tim. In 1997, he teamed up with fellow folk veteran Barry Murphy in the Rufus Crisp Experience, releasing the rollicking old-time music album Chickens Are A-Crowing. The 2003 release Return Journey saw Arthur and collaborators Pete Cooper (fiddle/viola) and Chris Moreton ((b. 1954, Surrey, England; guitar) tackling a number of traditional American tunes, although as the extensive liner notes explained many of these had originally originated in Britain. To illustrate the shared heritage Arthur and his cohorts reworked many of the American songs to included traditional British melodies. In the same year Arthur was awarded the Gold Badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.