A short bio.
After leaving the Royal Navy as a Weapons Control Artificer, John worked as a computer engineer with Honeywell and there taught himself programming;
moving on to work with Bechtel International as senior scientific programmer using Fortran V.
It was here that he and Audrey had both the time and money to take over the Nags Head Folk Club in Battersea which served as a proving ground to test out new material and book guests of a high standard; helping them to learn their craft.
Within a year, John Timpany & Audrey Smith were semi-professional, often working each weekend in Lancashire or Yorkshire then driving home in the early hours of Monday morning to get up 3 hours later to go to work.
Fate stepped in and a resident of Bunjies Coffee House in Litchfield Street, Soho, left and Ron Simmonds asked them if they would like to take over the residency.
It was one of the most prestigious clubs to be a resident at, with Big Theo Johnson on the door and well known artists frequently turning up for floor spots.
Two advantages that Bunjies had over the Nag's Head, which they were now able to hand over to someone else, were that firstly it was on a week day so it was more convenient and secondly that the audience changed each week, so when a new song or tune needed 'trying out' it could be performed every session.
Eventually the day came when they felt they were not only experienced enough, but had sufficient material to go 'on the road'.
They took the gamble of booking up three months of tours, each lasting around 14 days; handed in their notices at work, and jumped feet first into the unknown.
The first month was a disaster. Not from the point of view of their performance, but that half the clubs had double booked or ceased to exist. If it hadn't been for the fact that they had a further two months booked up, it could well have been the tour that ended all future tours. From this they learned to tighten up commitment, and the next tour, and all later tours went well.
Within a short time they were being booked at festivals and concerts with such artists as Steeleye Span, John Williams, and many others as well as heading the bill themselves.
Folk music isn't a profession you go into to make money, and to help their income John began to make and repair musical instruments, which not only did well, but later became a full time business when he stopped playing music professionally.
Together, John & Audrey produced two albums: Come All Ye Tender Hearted Christian and The Turtle Dove and during this time John wrote an English fiddle tutor called "And out of his knapsack he drew a fine fiddle" which was published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
The two aspects that the duo were most known for was John's English style fiddling and their close harmonies in which Audrey used 3rds, 4ths and 5ths.
Audrey and John remained active on the folk circuit and close friends until her death on 9th February 2007. She is sadly missed, not just by John, but many folk enthusiasts who knew her as a kind, generous and warm hearted person as well as a dedicated folk singer.
John has been involved with the Woburn Sands Folk Festival for the first three years as part of their organizing committee but recently retired though he continues to play as fiddler for the women's morris side Old Mother Redcaps.
John has written many songs in the folk idiom describing the lives and cultures of Railway Navvies and Romanies as well as many fiddle tunes. Two of his songs, "Abbey Boswell's Lurcher" and "Whistling Jacket" are still sung around the clubs and players have picked up on his tunes too.
On 'facebook' John describes his career as 'Music. The rest of the time I wasted'.