THIRTY years ago, the UK was enjoying the so-called Second Summer of Love with the rise of acid house music and the euphoric explosion of unlicensed MDMA-fuelled rave parties. In the charts, Madonna was riding high with Like A Prayer and The Stone Roses released their generation-defining debut album.

Meanwhile, in a venue in Wrexham, another altogether quieter musical revolution was taking place, but one that would lead to the then Wrexham Leader commissioning the longest running newspaper folk column in the UK.

"I'm very proud," says Ian Chesterman, 74, who has written the column every week without fail since he was offered the job by former editor and folk enthusiast, Barrie Jones. "I feel very lucky I've been able to write it every week and not miss one throughout that time, even when I've been in hospital or on holiday.

"Barrie used to go to the Wrexham Folk Club and I was there playing one night when I saw him in the bar at the interval. He said: 'how do you fancy writing a folk column for the Wrexham Leader?' and I thought I'd give it a go. I suppose it proves you should never volunteer for anything!"

Ian, originally from Chester, but now lives in Wrexham, was a songwriter and performer of some note on the folk scene, but he admits the music was about as unfashionable as it could get in the late 80s.

"There were quite a few clubs still around, but it wasn't the scene it had been during the folk revival of the 1960s and on into the 1970s," he remembers. "Music comes and goes but it was a real transition period between the old-style folk clubs and the open mic night. Thankfully they both serve the same purpose and that is to get people playing and without them you would have nowhere to play.

"I started in folk clubs, getting off to the floor, playing with other singers and learning the trade in front of audience."

Ian was a teenager in the late 1950s when he first got into folk and like many young musicians of the time it was 'skiffle' - a combination of jazz, blues and folk played using a combination of manufactured and homemade instruments - that first introduced him to performing.

"I liked Lonnie Donnegan and my elder brother, who I tended to follow, was a very good musician and he formed a skiffle group before going on to play in London and eventually join The Strawbs," says Ian. "He recorded with Sandy Denny and was rated as one of the best double bass players in the country and he was a real inspiration.

"I formed a duo with my cousin in 1963 called The Cousins and we did alright playing popular folk music like Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton and Bob Dylan and we were on the TV and radio. Eventually we brought in Rosemary Price, who still organises the Soundbox gigs in Chester, but we split up in 1970."

Ian went on to join The Wild Geese, before going solo and then building his accountancy business, but he continued writing and recording well into the 1980s and fondly recalls some of the famous encounters he had along the way.

"I saw so many bands in the 60s who are now legends, like Fairport Convention, Pentangle and The Dubliners, who I played with once," he recalls. "I remember Ralph McTell turning up at The Tuning Fork in Chester one Friday back in the 60s. He had driven all the way up from London in this battered old van and didn't even take off his sheepskin coat because he was late on stage. He got up and played a song that no one had ever heard of and that was Streets of London.

"I also saw Paul Simon at the Tuning Fork. He played in 1965 and was paid £15 - he was brilliant, absolutely out of this world and I'd never heard anyone like him.

"He was a master of the Travis picking technique which very few people could play but he broke a couple of strings and he had to do an acapella song while my cousin restrung the guitar and give it back to him.

"He was that good we went to see him a few days later in Widnes and he actually ended up finishing the set with my cousin's guitar and then later that night he supposedly wrote Homeward Bound while sitting on the platform at Widnes train station."

Naturally Ian has seen many clubs come and go, as well as hundreds of artists.

"The best folk clubs were the ones with the best resident band," he reflects. "The Raven in Chester on a Sunday night is very good and the Wrexham Folk Club at the Nag's Head is a very long-lasting club. The Feathers Club in Ruthin is very successful too."

After a difficult period during the 1980s, a new generation of performers began to revive the genre in the 1990s. The arrival and sometimes mainstream success of acts like Kate Rusby, Bellowhead, Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Tickell, Jim Moray, Spiers and Boden, Seth Lakeman, Frank Turner, Laura Marling and Eliza Carthy, all largely concerned with acoustic performance of traditional material, marked a radical turn around in the fortunes of the tradition and Ian is pleased that more and more young people are both playing and listening to folk music including, ironically, The Trials of Cato, who feature the son of Barrie Jones - the editor who originally gave him the newspaper column 30 years ago.

"It will never be the same as the folk we were brought up on, but music changes and develops and you have to accept things for what they are," he adds. "It is strange that there are now modern folk bands in their 20s and they are playing songs that we were playing 50 years ago but they're putting their own spin on things and I find it very interesting.

"I think the future's looking good: things can't stand still and if they do they die. Traditional folk music has always been handed on to the next generation and for me folk music has always been the music of the people, written by the people, for the people and that will never change."