Pete Morton

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Pete Morton
Born (1964-07-30) 30 July 1964 (age 56)
Leicester, England
Genres Urban folk
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1984–present
LabelsHarbourtown Records, Fellside Records

Pete Morton (born 30 July 1964) is an English folk singer-songwriter who lives in London, England. According to fRoots , Morton "is amongst the best that the British roots music scene has produced in living memory." [1]



Morton was born in Leicester, England, on 30 July 1964. [2] He attended Countesthorpe Community College where he spent most of his time in the music block learning guitar and playing new wave and punk songs. He was lead singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist in his two school bands: The Mafia, and Tone Deaf. He left school at 16 in 1980. It was during this summer that he discovered folk music, when hearing a friend's father playing a Buffy Sainte-Marie record. [3] [4] This had a profound effect which led him to buy an acoustic guitar and learn songs from early 60s protest singers. [3]

Morton started busking and visiting folk clubs, travelling around the UK and Europe. He began learning traditional songs as well as writing his own songs mainly of social commentary. [5] In a 1987 interview Morton said "I don't want to be seen as a Political Songwriter. Lately I've wanted to write more about personal experiences, which is harder than writing about issues." [6]

Morton signed to Harbourtown Records in 1987, a label started by Gordon Jones and Bob Thomas of Scottish Folk Band, Silly Wizard. His first album, Frivolous Love was met with high critical acclaim, of which The Guardian called him "a revelation" and was voted the most promising newcomer by FRoots magazine the year after. His second album, One Big Joke (1988), was also positively received and he was referred to in a review by FRoots, as one of the best the British roots scene has produced in living memory. [1] The first album he released on CD was Mad World Blues (1992). Reviewing it, Billboard described him as a "Veteran folk singer-songwriter" whose work displayed "style and confidence", and compared him to Bob Dylan. [7]

Throughout the early nineties Pete toured extensively with Roger Wilson (fiddle, vocals and Guitar) and Simon Edwards (Button accordion and vocals) throughout Europe as 'Urban Folk', producing a powerful and unique rocky-folk sound and recorded a double CD of this collaboration on Harbourtown Records: Self Destructive Fools. [2]

With Courage, love and Grace (1994) Morton brought his songwriting back to public attention, as well as "utilizing his commanding, edgy voice to enhance the power of his songs". [8] He followed this with a collection of traditional songs on the CD, Trespass (1998). [9] Over the next decade Morton toured extensively in North America and Europe, and produced a CD with Jo Freya [10] as well as three more CDs of his own songs: Hunting the Heart (2000), [11] Swarthmoor (2003), [12] and Flying an Unknown Flag (2005). [13]

In 2007, Morton left Harbourtown Records to re-work his most requested songs with the album Napoleon Jukebox (2007), [14] followed a year later with Casa Abierta (2008). [15] This was a collection of songs in ten different languages, of which he had a teacher for each song, and the album was partly in aid of the Gambian schools trust. [16] [17] It was produced with Simon Squire in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. Economy (2011) was a CD of original songs, produced by Dawson Smith. [3] [18]

Morton has also performed as the dancer and singer, Geoff Chaucer Junior – a comedy character, performing A Random History of Rock n Roll in Middle English throughout the UK, [17] [19] and more recently as Master of Ceremonies in Mick Ryan's folk musical Here at the Fair which explores the lives of travelling show people. [20]

With Fellside Recordings Morton produced The Frappin’ and Ramblin’ Pete Morton (2014) which focused on his 'frap' (folk-rap) style, inspired by the ‘talking blues’ of Woody Guthrie and others. In 2015, again with Fellside, Morton produced The Land of Time. On it he creates "contemporary folk songs which aren’t afraid to face up to some of the more pressing issues of our time with wit, intelligence and nuance." [21] Instrumental backing includes Jon Brindley (guitar), James Budden (double bass), Ciaran Algar (fiddle, banjo, bouzouki) and Chris Parkinson (piano). [21] It was included in Folk Radio's 15 best albums of 2015. [22]

In Game Of Life (2016, Fellside Recordings) Morton worked with Chester-based band Full House to record a collection of both new songs and new versions of his most popular songs. As a result of working with the band, the familiar material is "revived, refreshed and reinvigorated" and in some cases deeply revisioned. [23]

A Golden Thread (2020) takes its title from a Pete Seeger song, ‘Oh Had I A Golden Thread’. It includes both traditional and modern songs. The album was recorded at Field Street Recording Studios, Leek, with Paul Yarrow. Morton worked with the Peace Through Folk Choir and its organiser, Malcolm Hawksworth. [24]


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  1. 1 2 Harris, Craig "Pete Morton Biography", Allmusic , Macrovision Corporation
  2. 1 2 Larkin, Colin (2006). "Urban Folk". The encyclopedia of popular music (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195313734 . Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 Gore, Will (24 January 2011). "Pete Morton's Economy drive..." Richmond and Twickenham Times. Richmond, London. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  4. "Pete Morton – Talkin' Farmers Boy Blues". The Demon Barbers. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  5. "World on Your Street – Musicians' Stories: Pete Morton (1)". BBC Radio 3. 25 June 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  6. Peters, Brian (autumn 1987) "Pete Morton" folk Buzz; no. 21; pp. 7–11
  7. "Album Reviews". Billboard. 8 May 1993. p. 51. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  8. McCarthy, Kevin. "A Review of the CD "Courage, Love and Grace" by Pete Morton". Kevin and Maxine's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  9. McCarthy, Kevin. "Pete Morton, Trespass (Harbourtown Records, 1999)". Rambles, a cultural arts magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  10. "Pete Morton: Nottingham-born singer-songwriter". Twickfolk. 9 December 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  11. "Pete Morton Hunting The Heart Harbourtown". Rootsworld. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  12. Beeby, Dave. "PETE MORTON "Swarthmoor" Harbourtown HARCD044". The Living Tradition (review). No. 54. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  13. Kidman, David. "PETE MORTON – Flying An Unknown Flag Harbourtown HARCD. 048". The Living Tradition (review). No. 66. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  14. Ziegler, John (25 September 2008). "Morton's 'Napoleon Jukebox' is folky masterpiece". Duluth Tribune. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  15. "Village Folk with Pete Morton". Canal Street Online. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  16. "Pete Morton – Casa Abierta". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  17. 1 2 Dakin, Melanie (1 June 2010). "Pete Morton wants to teach the world to sing in Swahili, Korean and German... (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)". Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  18. "Pete Morton – Economy". Fish Records. 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  19. O'Brien, Richard (27 August 2010). "Random History of Rock'n'Roll in Middle English, by Geoff Chaucer Junior". Broadway Baby. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  20. "Here At The Fair". Cornwall Folk Festival. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  21. 1 2 Gregory, Helen (20 October 2015). "Pete Morton – The Land of Time". Folk Radio. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  22. "Best Folk Music Albums of 2015 – The Full List". Folk Radio. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  23. Schofield, Nigel. "PETE MORTON WITH FULL HOUSE – Game Of Life Fellside Recordings FECD271". The Living Tradition. No. 115. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  24. 1 2 Jones, Simon (16 April 2020). "Interview with Pete Morton". Spiral Earth. Retrieved 31 August 2020.