Image of Dick singing and playing mandolin.
Headshot of Dick looking into the camera and smiling. He has facial hair and is in front of a brick wall.

Dick Holdstock

Dick Holdstock grew up in Sittingbourne, Kent, which is near Canterbury.  After WW2 in 1948 his family emigrated to southern Caliornia. Active in community service, Dick remains involved in progressive politics and civil rights. He is a veteran of the Korean War. He joined Martin Luther King on the March from Selma to Montgomery Alabama and Southern Christian Leadership’s Poor Peoples Campaign in Washington DC. Over the years, singing has been a major part of Dick’s life. In the mid 70’s he met Allan MacLeod, formed a duet and started performing mostly traditional Scottish and English folk music.  Holdstock and MacLeod performed extensively on US east and west coasts, and other parts of US and Canada.  They released five CD’s of their traditional songs – three of which are sea song albums.

Dick enjoys playing mandolin, bouzouki, and tenor banjo at local sessions, and in the Nauticus Sea Music Band that includes Riggy Rackin, Peter Kasin, and Shay Black. He also plays in Quite Carried Away, an English country dance band. Each of these bands have recorded CD’s.

In honor of California’s Sesquicentennial of the Gold Rush, Dick recorded his collection of Sea Songs of the Gold Rush with his wife Carol, and Tom Murphey. Carol performed during the 1960’s with Alan Arkin and Brooks Jones, and recorded an album called “Jeremy’s Friends.”  Since the early 80’s Carol and Dick have performed together as The Holdstocks in California, Canada, UK, Germany and New Zealand.  During a two month visit in 1992, Dick and Carol stayed in London where he collected broadside ballads at the Ralph Vaughn Williams Memorial Library in Cecil Sharpe House.  

He has continued to expand on the collection which has formed the basis of his recently published book “Again with One Voice – British Songs of Political Reform 1769 to 1868.”  The book contains 120 mostly broadside ballad songs with discussion of the tumultuous times that lead to the beginnings of British democracy. There are songs of the American, French, and Irish revolutions; songs of Wilkes and Liberty, United Irish, anti-slavery, Luddite, Captain Swing, Naval Mutiny, Anti War, Tollpuddle Martyrs, Chartist movements and passage of the British 1832 and 1867 Political Reform Bills.