Danny Spooner by Tony Martin
Danny Spooner arrived in Australia in 1962, and by the time I first heard and met the charismatic Cockney he had established himself both in Sydney and especially in the Melbourne Folk Scene (Frank Traynor’s Folk Club in Melbourne in the late 60s) .
Danny sang with passion, humour and conviction; he won the hearts (and more importantly the imagination) of his audiences who hung on every word of a rich variety of songs from the folk tradition of the British Isles, North America and Australia. We were drawn into fascinating narratives couched in potent and beautiful music from medieval times, through the Industrial Revolution to the modern songs arising from the post-WW2 Folk Revival. We in the audience came back for more, week in, year out. The songs found their place in our inner selves, imparting a sense of cultural connection, following the footsteps of Everyman.
Never content to be just a singer, Danny researched his songs. He gave them a living context. He brought a personal involvement to the narrative of every song, a unique talent that enabled the listener to recognise a connection for themselves.
The songs spoke simply and potently to us through Danny’s ability to transform words into powerful images always with conviction, often enthralling. As the songs unfolded the listener moved from the historical time and setting to make a connection to contemporary lives. This was a powerful aspect of the folk art of Danny Spooner.
Over five decades Danny took his talents and his music into interesting areas. He wrote and performed in Radio Ballads for ABC Radio (using folk song as a source for social history). He worked at the University of Melbourne and Deakin, bringing folk music as a vitalizing source material into English and History classes, and only later gained an Honours History degree. Danny taught secondary school history, English, singing - even horticulture and word processing - and through his classwork and his professional friendship circle he contributed to curriculum reform.
Throughout, Danny remained an active singer all round Australia and New Zealand, and in recent years has sung in Europe and North America.
In his singing career Danny has always shared his music, encouraged many, inspiring others. The Folk Group Canterbury Fair, his singing class in Daylesford, his scripted themed workshops at festivals, his invitation to join him up on stage, are all examples of Danny's enthusiasm embracing others. He gladly offered up his hoard of songs to Richard Tognetti, thrilling at their interpretation by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Danny has always striven to keep folk music alive and in our hearts – live performance is his forté, in big venues, country halls, tiny marquees or someone's front room.
Danny has enriched my life as he has many others, and when I listen to him sing I experience that same simple pleasure and profound connection to the songs that I met in those uncomplicated evenings at Traynors. I thank Danny for his thousands of songs – soul food for Everyman
Tony Martin, November 2006