ACTION man Sam Lee is on a musical mission of discovery.

Trained by survival guru Ray Mears with a background in burlesque music, the folk singer songwriter devotes much of his time to saving the gipsy music tradition.

“I lived in the city but I was a nature-loving kid who always enjoyed the outdoors and Ray Mears was always a big inspiration to me,” he said.

“I trained as a survival instructor with him in Canada.

“We had a fire going in the forest to burn some rubbish and suddenly Ray whispered, ‘grizzly bear.’ “This huge animal had stalked us and was sat in the long grass a few feet away, pretending to be asleep.

“Suddenly, though, there was a giant roar, and Ray shouted, ‘Turn your back. Don’t look at it in the eye.’ “I did everything he said, and finally the bear went away.

“Ray has travelled the world, attacked by rhinos and tigers, but that encounter, he said, was the most frightening experience of his life.”

Lee enjoys living on the edge, and in his spare time he runs the Nest Collective, an organisation dedicated to reviving traditional folk and gipsy music.

He has also created a new dance band — The Ceilidh Liberation Front — and enjoys wild water swimming.

“When I heard gipsies sing and realised what an amazing community of singers, storytellers and yarn-spinners they are, I was hooked.

“What a wild spirit they all possess — so full of passion.

“Romanticism aside, they are a community with lots to learn from and a way of life that is as diverse as it is colourful and very much misunderstood.

“I reckon there is a massive cultural loss about to happen in the next 20 years where all of the last gipsy and traveller tradition-bearers will pass away and I am expecting very little of their songs and singing craft to be passed on to the next generation.

“Most of them prefer Adele to their grandfathers’ songs. To lose those songs would be a great loss.”

Lee admits he rarely listens to contemporary folk, but says he is full of admiration for many of the new artists who have emerged.

“I’m not a follower of main stream folk music.

“There’s some great talent out there, but I’d like to see it go further.

“The scene has got to forward and evolve.

“My passion is to be a musical pioneer.”

  • Sam Lee, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, Wednesday, May 14. Details from 01200 421599.