The folk world, and music in general, lost one of its finest singers and performers on June 13, as briefly reported in this column at the time. Tony Berry was truly a giant among men, both in stature and charisma, with an uncanny knack of communication with his audience that many of his fellow performers so sadly lack these days. This is his story.

In the formative folk years of the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was one group (they were not called bands back then!) who were always at the forefront of the popular folk revival on TV and radio, another fab four to rival their more famous contemporaries on the Liverpool pop scene. These four 'likely lads' were The Spinners and, over a long and successful career, they brought folk music to thousands of people all over the world.

Almost, in parallel, albeit a couple of decades later, four other Lancashire lads calling themselves The Westhoughton Weavers (soon abbreviated to Houghton), no doubt after the legendary American band led by Pete Seeger in the 1950s (The Weavers), also brought joy to many thousands of folk fans with their own brand of folk music and folk humour.

Tony Berry was there from the start when, in 1975, he, Norman Prince, John Oliver and (on occasions) Alan Fawkes formed, The Houghton Weavers. There were inevitable line-up changes over the years but, by the end of the century the trio of Tony, David Littler and Steve Millington were well established only later to be brought back to a quartet by Jim Berry. Before taking-up show business as a full-time career, Tony had worked as a teacher in a school for the deaf, then as a social worker and, later, with adults with learning difficulties. Surely symptomatic of his selfless, "caring for others" attitude that he carried with him through life. He had performed in clubs as a solo singer before 'The Weavers'. But, after the band had taken part in the BBC talent show, We'll Call You, and, as a result, being given their own show, Sit Thi Deawn, it became obvious his career was to be in showbusiness for the rest of his life, and how well he took to it.

Sit Thi Deawn, continued for six series over the next seven years and achieved the highest viewing figures for any regional TV programme. As well as their own show they appeared on national TV including This Is Your Life and The Video Entertainers. The band also appeared on the same bill as artistes like Cannon & Ball, Ken Dodd, Rick Wakeman, Mike Connelly, Phil Cool, Jasper Carrot and Norman Wisdom amongst others. They have done many pantomimes, five of them being top of the bill slots, and their record output is nothing short of phenomenal. A record deal with EMI found them recording at the famous Abbey Road Studios and they currently have over 30 albums, singles and DVDs to their credit. Another landmark was when their recording of the Alan Bell classic song, The Blackpool Belle, reached number one in Tasmania and number three in New Zealand.

They have a fan club in excess of 2,000 members from all over the world who fully endorse their philosophy to 'Keep Smiling'. Although funny man and founder member, the band's original anchor, Norman Prince, left the band many years Tony Berry, David Littler, Steve Millington and Jim Berry have certainly "kept smiling", along with their audiences of packed houses wherever they have gone. Their blend of popular sing-along folk songs and Lancashire humour has delighted and entertained audiences for many a long year. Despite health scares for all three members over recent years they continued, like the troupers they are, to defy the ravages of time and have kept bringing the house down wherever they have played.

I am privileged to have known them all since I played, with my own band, at their West Houghton Folk Club, back in the 1970s and the finest tribute I can pay to Tony, and his fellow 'Weavers', is that, in all that time, and wherever our paths have crossed, be it the biggest concert stages in the world or the humblest back street pub rooms of Britain's folk clubs, they have always remained the same, down to earth, friendly, Lancashire lads that they started out as all those 40-odd years ago.

Tony leaves a wife, Andrea, and three children, Amy, Tom and Jack, together with a granddaughter, Thea. Our condolences and sympathies go to them all. We will all miss, the 'Big Man', his sense of humour, his stories, his friendship and his songs. Thanks for the memories Tony.

Fewer local events this week, as the holiday season takes its grip, but there are three recommendations for your diaries. The excellent All Styles Music Club that is Llandegla ASMC, The Memorial Hall, Llandegla holds its monthly Singers & Musicians Night on Monday (July 15) with, Barry Evans, raconteur, singer and "teller of tall tales", as your master of ceremonies and affable host for the evening. Please go along and support one of the smaller clubs in the area but, without a doubt, one of the friendliest and welcoming. On Thursday (July 18) I am afraid it is a choice between the Hungry Horse Acoustic, the Whitby Club, Chester Road, Ellesmere Port hosting a Big Spot, by Ever-loving Minds, at 8pm and Telford's Warehouse, Canal Street, Chester offering their monthly Folk Session with The Deportees and Vicar's Son at 8pm.

One good thing about any of the above is that they are all free entry.

Tonight (July 12), the Welsh Language venue, Saith Seren, in Wrexham continues to offer some great music with one of the best bands of their genre in the last 30 years, Bob Delyn a'r Ebillion, at 8pm. Admission is £9 on the door.

Finally, looking forward to the following weekend, there are two events in the Principality that have been eagerly awaited by their many fans. Following the recent International Eisteddfod, the valley town of Llangollen will welcome the Llangollen Fringe Festival (July 19-27) for its annual run whilst, over on the beautiful North Wales coast, the town of Dolgellau holds the often rumbustious, but never dull, Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau (July 19-21). I will have more about both in next week's column.

In the meantime, whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy your music.

By D.C.M.