Music on 27 November and a Correction

  • On Friday 27 November at 8.00pm Folk at the Maltings, St Albans, Herts presents an online concert with two award winning singers, James Findlay and Maddie Morris. Tickets are £14 for individuals, £25 for two people using the same device, £35 for three or more people using the same device. Book tickets here. James won the 2010 BBC Young Folk award. Coming from a family of folk singers, his enthusiasm lies firmly within the English tradition and he is particularly passionate about songs from his home counties of Dorset and Somerset. James has made three highly acclaimed solo albums and an album of songs with Lucy Ward, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters and Jackie Oates. Since 2015, his distinguished career in touring theatre has limited his time on the folk scene, so this concert is a rare chance to hear him sing. Maddie Morris is a contemporary folk musician, who is heavily influenced by traditional protest song and won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award in 2019. Originally from Bedfordshire and currently based in Leeds, Maddie is a strong believer that ‘the personal is political’ and uses her own experiences to raise discussions around contemporary issues within society. In 2020 she graduated from Leeds Conservatoire’s Folk course and won the Peter Roberts CBE memorial prize for the highest undergraduate mark in the Leeds City Region as well as the Conservatoire prize for the highest mark on the folk course 3 years running.
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  • Also on Friday 27 November at 7.30pm, John Kirkpatrick presents a one-off online gig ‘Tunes From The Trenches – Songs from the First and Second World Wars’ Tickets are £10 and are available here.
  • And finally a correction to the information I posted last week about Robert Mott. I’m grateful to Roger Comley for telling me that Roger was a member of Icknield Way Morris Men, not Ickenham Morris as stated in the blog. Apologies for any confusion or upset this misunderstanding may have caused.

There is a great deal of wonderful music coming up over the festive season so keep your eye on the blog for details and dates for your diary.

Meanwhile, stay safe, keep well and enjoy the music.

So Much Wonderful (online) Music

Lockdown is even harder since the clocks went back so here are some wonderful online concerts to cheer you.

To make this blog a manageable length, I have just listed the events and highlighted how you can get more information/tickets, rather than giving full details.

  • Several local folk clubs are putting on events. You can find details on their websites or social media – St Neots Folk Club, Chesham Folk Club, Cambridge Folk Club and Hitchin Folk Club.
  • Live to Your Living Room have a series of great concerts coming up – starting with Martin Simpson on Sunday 22 November. You have to book tickets in advance. Full details on their website here.
  • Reg Meuross has been very active throughout the pandemic and has now recorded a series of concerts in Dartington Hall. See his Facebook page for details.
  • The Young’Uns air Episode 4 of their incomparable YTV series on Friday 20 November at 8pm. Details on their Facebook page here.
  • On Saturday 28 November, you have a choice of viewing. Show of Hands stream the recording of their last live concert before Lockdown 2 ‘Now We are Four’ (Phil Beer, Steve Knightley, Miranda Sykes and Cormac Byrne). Buy tickets in advance and get the new double album too. And also on 28 November there is a live online show by the tribute duo ‘Simon & Garfunkel Through the Years’. Full details here. And Martyn Joseph has an online concert on the same day hosted by The Studio at TPS. Details and tickets here.
  • On Sunday 29 November, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan perform a virtual house concert ‘Live at Sam’s’. Details here. And the Melrose Quartet online gig (postponed from 18 November due to Covid issues at their children’s schools) will now air on Sunday 13 December. Details here.
  • Simon Care has restarted his Sunday evening concerts – raising money to help people in need. Details here. Simon has been a star and a stalwart throughout the pandemic quietly helping so many people and bringing great music to our screens.
  • Megson will be doing a Yuletide Live Stream on Friday 4 December. Details here.
  • Saturday 12 December again offers a choice of concerts. Kate Rusby’s full-length Christmas gig HAPPY HOLLY DAY will be streamed worldwide at 7.30pm UK time. Tickets available here. And on the same day,the duo Ninebarrow become a five piece band for their concert recorded live at @Lighthouse Poole. E-tickets now on sale and details here.
  • Tim Edey has been producing some wonderful concerts throughout the pandemic (despite battling with poor internet connection in his neck of the woods) and his weekly concerts continue. See his Facebook page for more information. And on Christmas Eve, Tim is doing a two hour show ‘Celtic Christmas Eve with Tim Edey’. Tickets and information here.
  • And finally, if you are looking around for Christmas presents, look no further than #FolkForChristmas This brilliant initiative is encouraging people to buy products or services directly from folk artists. You can find all sorts of recommendations, music and merchandise with the proceeds going to artists most of whom have had their income drastically reduced in 2020.

Hope you find something in this long list to brighten the dark evenings.

Stay safe and keep the music alive.

Morris News

Here’s some news likely to be of special interest to Morris dancers:

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  • As soon as lockdown is over, you can see a new exhibition ‘Innovation & Tradition:Forty years of Morris’ at the Higgins Museum, Castle Lane, Bedford MK40 3XD. The focus of the display is not the history of Morris Dance, nor of Morris dancing in Bedfordshire – nor even a history of Bedfordshire Lace and Redbornstoke Morris. Rather it seeks to use their stories to raise questions about what we understand as Tradition, who determines what it is, how it can change over time and the role innovation has in driving that change. You can view more details here. Entrance is free but because of Covid-19 restrictions you will need to pre-book your visit which you can do on the website www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/Visit_us/ The exhibition runs until the end of October 2021.
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  • If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present for the Morris dancer in your life, here’s an idea that might just fit the bill. Barry Care has published a book ‘The Morris – according to Barry Care’. A bargain at £10 including postage, it is described as a fascinating account of his memories, experiences and observation on our Morris heritage with plenty to take seriously and reflect about. Barry, who was awarded an MBE for his community work and Morris dancing activities in 2004, is the father of Simon Care (of Banter, Edward II and the Albion Band to name but a few of his activities). You can order your copy at barrycare024@gmail.com and pay by Paypal or cheque. Barry’s address is 9 Alibone Close, Moulton, Northampton, NN3 7WR.
  • On a much more sombre note, our sincere condolences go to the family and friends of Robert Mott, who died recently. Robert was a dancer with Letchworth Morris and in his youth, with Hammersmith & Ickenham Morris. He will be sadly missed by his Morris side and all who knew him.

More News Hot Off the Press!

Hot news of two local artists has just hit the Unicorn desk.

  • On Friday 30 October, Red Velvet will be playing a concert upstairs at The Golden Hind, 355 Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 1SP to launch their new EP “If Hawks Were Doves”. Doors open 7pm, music starts 7.30 and will finish before 9.30. Red Velvet is Deirdre Murphy (lead vocals) and Les Ray (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), with Gene Thunderbolt (electric guitar, keyboard), Mike Udin (bass, backing vocals) and Colin R. Smith (drums and percussion).They perform the songs of the outsiders, the outlaws and the dispossessed from the folk tradition that these times demand (the “red” part), along with a selection of songs of the heart with a jazzy, edgy, bluesy feel (the “velvet” part). The support act will be Naomi Randall, who designed the cover and produced two videos of songs on the EP. Social distancing and sanitising measures will be in place, with tables appropriately spaced and sanitising gel available at various points in the pub. Masks will need to be worn when moving around the venue; they can be provided if you’ve forgotten to bring yours. The volume of the music will be kept relatively low to avoid the need for raised voices and they have devised special mic shields for our singers, which will prevent aerosol transmission while singing. Entry is free, but places must be pre-booked. Please book asap as places are limited due to safety guidelines. Email Les Ray on lesliealexray@gmail.com or phone 07903 521412.
  • On Friday 6 November at 7.30pm, Lizzy Hardingham is putting on what she calls a ‘cheeky Corona Concert’ – online, on the night when she should have been playing a headline show at her hometown folk club in Watford. Tune in on Facebook for an hour of Lizzy Hardingham classics and maybe even a few completely new numbers too! The concert will be free but if you feel you can contribute, please click this link: www.paypal.com/paypalme/lizzyhardinghamor https://lizzyhardingham.bandcamp.com/…/corona-concert…

Apologies for sending out two blogs on the same day, but I hope you agree it is important to spread news about our local artists.

All the best.

Let The Music Play…..

There’s some great music coming your way – starting this evening!

At 7.30pm today (Wednesday 28 October) Steve Knightley is doing an online concert of 15 Bob Dylan songs. See his Facebook page for details. It’s free to watch but please donate if you can.

Also today at 8.00pm, Eliza Carthy is doing an online gig Live to Your Living Room. You need to buy tickets in advance and you can get those and full details here.

And again today at 9.00pm UK time, Robbie K. Jones of Track Dogs will do an online show. He promises new songs, Track Dogs tracks, trad songs, an Arlo Guthrie tune and a train talk. Details here.

On Friday 6 November at 8.00pm, Le Vent du Nord are doing a virtual show. Details here. I first came across this amazing band at the Gate to Southwell Festival. This online event gives you the chance to experience one of the most-exciting Quebecois bands in the world! Le Vent du Nord is a leading force in Québec’s progressive francophone folk movement. The group’s vast repertoire draws from both traditional sources and original compositions, while enhancing its hard-driving soulful music with a broad range of global influences.

On Saturday 7 November at 7.30pm, Miranda Sykes will do a solo online gig featuring her latest album ‘Borrowed Places’. She has now finished her treatment for breast cancer and is looking forward to performing again with Steve, Phil and Cormac in the next few weeks. (I understand that their live gig will be recorded – so news of that later).

On Sunday 8 November at 4.00pm, Cormac Byrne is offering Part 2 of his free Facebook Live Bodhran workshop. Find out more here.

On Wednesday 11 November at 8.00pm, Will Pound is doing an online show Live to Your Living Room. Tickets must be bought in advance and you can find details here.

On Sunday 29 November at 7.30pm, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan will perform an online Zoom duo gig hosted by Sam Hindley. Details here – which is also the place you need to register your interest and reserve your place.

And here’s something else to brighten the dark days of Autumn – Les Barker now has a YouTube channel. Search for ‘Guide Cats for the Blind’ on YouTube and give yourselves a treat. At the moment there are only 37 subscribers – let’s see if we can boost that number for this well-loved poet and performer.

And finally – another date for your December diary – on Saturday 12 December Ninebarrow have scheduled their next online concert. The previous ones have been amazing, so save the date and watch their website and Facebook page for more details soon.

Other artists are doing wonderful work online and even in person (socially distanced of course). I know that Tim Edey, Daoiri Farrell, Reg Meuross, Phil Beer, Emily Slade, Edwina Hayes and probably many, many others are doing this and I hope they will forgive me for not giving them individual mentions in this blog. Please check out your favourite artists’ websites and social media and support everyone in the music sector in whatever way you can during this challenging time. Thank you.

Stay safe and do all you can to keep music alive.

Lots of activity in the folk world

I’m sure you’re all missing live music so I’m delighted to tell you that St Neots Folk Club has reopened its doors. On Tuesday 17 November starting at 7.30pm GMT, you can see the excellent trio Alden Patterson and Dashwood and there is an Open Stage event on Tuesday 3 November.You need to book a seat in advance and the audience will be smaller than usual to allow for social distancing. Contact stneotsfolkclub@aol.com or ring Roger & Patti Pitt – 01234 376278

But if St Neots is too far for you to travel, there are lots of things happening in the virtual folk world to keep you going until we can return to something like normal. Musicians and everyone associated with the arts are suffering very badly because of Covid-19. Please do what you can to support them by donating for viewing the online gigs and buying CDs and merchandise direct from the artists.

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Megson
  • Tonight (Friday 16 October) at 7.30pm BST Megson are streaming their live show. See it on their Facebook page or buy VIP tickets in advance which include FREE downloads of their new single and the whole live show from their website.
  • Also tonight at 7.30pm BST Jackie Oates is doing a full length solo set from Downend Folk Club. Details on her Facebook page here.
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The Spooky Men’s Chorale
  • On Saturday 17 October at 10am BST, we have a rare treat SPZOOMKY – an online show from The Spooky Men’s Chorale, performed live from Sydney, Australia. Tickets are limited so get in quick and reserve yours. They are free but please donate if you can – details of how to do this will be sent with the email confirmation of your ticket.
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Ninebarrow
  • Also on Saturday 17 September at 7.00pm BST, Ninebarrow will stream their latest online concert – this time from the beautiful St Nicholas Church in Dorset with amazing acoustics and candlelit atmosphere. Jay and Jon have really raised the bar in their presentation of these online concerts and the quality of their performance is superb. Get your tickets in advance from here.
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Faustus
  • On Sunday 18 October at 7.30pm BST, Faustus (Saul, Benji and Paul) are doing the first of three online Sunday concerts plus an online discussion – each one focusing on one of their albums. Details and tickets here.

Looking a bit further ahead – here are some more dates for your diary:-

  • On Wednesday 18 November at 7.00pm, you can share An hour or so with the Melrose Quartet #LiveToYourLivingRoom. Melrose Quartet are Nancy Kerr & James Fagan with Jess & Richard Arrowsmith. Get your tickets at the livetoyourlivingroom.com Facebook page
  • On Saturday 5 December at 8.00pm, there is BELLOWHEAD – A special one-off worldwide online concert.For early access to tickets to this special reunion concert, & limited edition merchandise you can sign up here: bit.ly/bellowhead2020.

Hope you are all safe and well and that the news I publish in these blogs helps to relieve the gloom and brighten your days. Thank you for your support – please do all you can to support live music, the musicians and everyone involved with music in the arts.And please let me know about events in the folk world so I can help to promote them.

Virtually Tenterden starts on Thursday 1 October

The first virtual Tenterden Festival offering four days of folk song, music, dance, crafts and tradition starts on Thursday 1 October. Just the thing to brighten up your Autumn days, you can find full details on their website. Or on their Facebook page, YouTube, Zoom, Twitter and Tumblr.

There is so much to enjoy – please support this festival and everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen.

More news of online folk happenings soon.

Two virtual folk festivals and an online catalogue of guitar music

Hi everyone – hope you are all keeping well! Here are details of two online festivals that are coming up shortly – Tenterden and St Albans and information about a fascinating online catalogue of guitar music published by Michael Raven Publications.

Preview in new tab

  • St Albans Folk Festival (postponed from June) will take place from September 25 -27. It will mainly be online and will include a live-streamed concert featuring leading singer Fay Hield. Support will be by Alison Raymond, winner of last year’s Watford Folk Club song writing competition with her song, ‘King of the Meadow’. Tickets for the festival concert can be booked through the Abbey Theatre website https://www.abbeytheatre.org.uk/whats-on/fay-hield/.There will also be a new and well-reviewed documentary film ‘All my life’s buried here’ about the composer, folk song collector and Morris dancer, George Butterworth which can be viewed online any time from 9am on Friday September 25 to midnight on Sunday September 27, as well as an online discussion with the producer, Stewart Morgan Hajdukiewicz at 5pm on Sunday September 27. Tickets are available at www.ticketsource.co.uk/stalbansfolkmusic/ and admit to both the film and the discussion. The day of music, with showcase performances by local singers and musicians, which usually takes place in local pubs, will be on YouTube. There will also be a chance to take part in music sessions and singarounds on Zoom.The events will be free but there will be invitations to donate via gofundme. The link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/st-albans-folk-festival-2020. Further information from Alison Macfarlane, Tel 01727 852111, 0770 801 2991 (mobile) or info@stalbansfolkmusic.org.uk or www.stalbansfolkmusic.org.uk
  • Plans are now well advanced for the first virtual Tenterden Folk Festival on 1st – 4th October on Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr. Online sing-a-rounds and music and song sessions will feature pre-booked guests and well known local performers. The popular Cinque Ports Sea Songs and Shanties Session will also take place via Zoom. You can even try a Zoom dance! Events will be live streamed on Zoom and Facebook and posted to YouTube so that you can watch them again later.  The festival organisers will also be posting new video concerts from some of the festival guests past present and future on YouTube.  You can also visit a virtual photograph exhibition  and see selected photos from Tenterden Folk Festival 2019 and previous events related to the festival. Guests will include: Barrie and Ingrid Temple, Barry Goodman, Bob Kenward, Brian Peters, Broomdasher, G&G Morris, Gavin and Julie Atkin, Graeme Knights and Family, Highworth Folk Band, Jeff Warner, Jez Lowe, JIB, Jim Mageean, John and Di Cullen, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham, Morrigan, Nick Dow, Nunhead Folk Circle, Pete Castle, Peter Collins, Pete Luscombe, Peter and Barbara Snape, Roses are Red Morris, Scold Bridle, Tom Patterson, Travelling Folk, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer and The Wilson Family. Lots more information on their website.
  • And for the guitar players among you – Michael Raven Publications invite you to visit their online catalogue where you will find many guitar music books in a variety of styles. All the books contain excellent arrangements and original compositions by Mike Raven of English Country Dance Tunes, Reconnaissance and Classical Music and Flamenco Dances. They also publish a guitar tutor and a recorder book. Full details on the website or from Eve Raven on 07840 138300.

That’s all for now. Please let me know about events and concerts that you come across so I can help to promote them. Thank you.

Stay safe and keep supporting music and musicians in any way you can.

Let the Music Play On …..

Time for another update on some events on the folk music scene. If you enjoy these updates or want to give me any feedback – please email unicornmagazine@hotmail.co.uk. It would be great to hear from you.

And so in no particular order………………………………………….

  • Miranda Sykes is recovering well from her recent surgery and is launching her new album ‘The Farmhouse Sessions’ at Ipplepen Village Hall on Saturday 26 September. Tickets for the live gig are now sold out but she is live streaming the evening and you can buy a ticket here. The digital version of the CD is available here and you can pre-order the album on Miranda’s Facebook page
  • Phil Beer is doing another online concert on Saturday 5 September – this time with Paul Downs. Details on his Facebook page
  • If you are pining for real live music (rather than on screen), Benslow Music in Hitchin, Herts has a Moonrakers Garden Prom on Saturday 12 September at 6.30pm – Eleanor Dunsdon on Celtic harp, Sarah Fell on vocals and Jon Bennett on guitar and vocals. Tickets are £15 and full details of how to get them and all their Covid -19 precautions are available on the website or by phoning 01462 459446
  • There will be more real live music at the Four Rivers Folk Club at the Hertford Club, Bull Plain, Hertford, SG14 1DT organised by Pat Crilly on Wednesday 16 September. If not rainy it will be outside in the garden, if rainy it will be inside. There will only be waitress service and the club and a risk assessment is being done to ascertain the logistics. See details on Pat’s Facebook page
  • Oxford meets Cambridge! Cambridgeshire ceilidh band Frog on a Bike are playing for a Zoom ceilidh hosted by Oxfolk Ceilidhs and in support of Wallingford Bunkfest – Oxfolk will donate the profits from this ceilidh to BunkFest, to help make sure that this wonderful festival happens again next year. Gather your household together in your kitchen, living room, garden, wherever there is room, log into Zoom and enjoy the fantastic music of Frog on a Bike. The fabulous Fee Lock is the caller, and will be adapting dances for couples, small groups and solo dancers. Fee always explains the dance moves clearly, whilst simultaneously channelling rock goddess class in a cut-glass accent! Optional dress code of anything green, with bonus points for frog-related outfits! Tickets are available here and you can find more details on Facebook  
  • Louise Jordan has been very active during the pandemic and has just published a newsletter with details of her future plans. You can find details here and on her Facebook page
  • The mighty Skerryvore (if you were at their 2019 closing gig at Shrewsbury Folk Festival​ or recent Costa del Folk Festivals, you will know what I am talking about!) are playing together for the first time in six months on Saturday 5 September and you can watch it live in your living room. See website for details
  • Ninebarrow have scheduled another amazing online concert – this time from an ancient church – on Saturday 17 October at 7.00pm BST. Details on Facebook. You need to buy a ticket in advance but this will allow the whole household to view (special arrangements for people watching on their own) and you can watch it on the night or for a whole week afterwards.
  • News is just coming in of three exciting concerts streamed LIVE from London by the redoubtable Richard Thompson. They are on 13 September, 27 September and 11 October and each one will have a different theme and an entirely different set list. For tickets and more information click here
  • And last but definitely not least, plans are being finalised for the live streaming of the St Albans Folk Festival concert with Fay Hield on Sunday 27 September. Tickets are available on the Abbey Theatre website. There will also be an online showing of the film ‘All my life’s buried here. The story of George Butterworth’ about singer, composer and morris dancer, George Butterworth, who died in 1916 on the Somme. Tickets will be available on the St Albans Folk Music website shortly.

Sorry I didn’t have time to put pictures on the blog today – so much to do, so little time!!

Stay safe and keep supporting folk music!

Music for the August Bank Holiday Weekend and Beyond

At this time of year we would normally be attending festivals. But of course there is nothing normal about 2020!

However, the creativity of musicians and event organisers shines through and we still have access to some wonderful music:

  • On Sunday 23 August ‘virtual’ FolkEast’ took place. A few hundred people braved the weather to attend but you can watch it in the comfort of your home via the wonders of Facebook. The great line-up of artists was topped by the inimitable, multi-award winning FolkEast patrons The Young’ uns, the bill also included performances by festival favourite Sam Kelly (together with Evan Carson and Toby Shaer from his Lost Boys band), the brilliant John Spiers (Bellowhead, Knight and Spiers, Gigspanner Big Band); instrumental duo The Hut People (Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond), new folk singer-songwriter sensation Katherine Priddy and local Suffolk duo Honey & The Bear (Jon & Lucy Hart). And the legendary Peter Knight contributed a song to the day from his home in France.
  • The official festival programme for Whitby@Home 2020 (23 – 28 August) is available on Facebook. There are a huge number of events – some of which you need to book in advance. Enjoy!

  • Shrewsbury Virtually Folk Festival will be held on 29 and 30 August bringing us an amazing two days of music, dance, workshops and more.View the full programme here.
  • The online 2020 Towersey Festival takes place on Saturday 29 August 9.00am – 11.00pm. You can find details here.

Half the money we raise will go to the charity Help Musicians – which supports musicians undergoing financial hardship – and the other half will be divided equally between the artists who take part in the Festival.

Full details of the festival and how to donate (and get your T-shirt) can be found here.

  • After a short, well-deserved break, Cambridge Folk Club resumes its virtual meetings on Friday 28 August with a showcase featuring Liz Simcock. Details here.
  • Folk Weekend:Oxford’s wonderful series of online concerts continues to delight us. Jack Rutter is performing on Friday 28 August. See details of this and all the other events here.
  • And on Saturday 5 September at 7.30pm, Chris While and Julie Matthews will present an other concert ‘Live from the Headshed’. This talented duo have worked hard to perfect their sound and vision during the pandemic and have given us some superb performances. Tip jar available (please give generously) but no obligation. Details here.
  • And those of you who like sunshine and 4*/5* hotels with your music will be thrilled to know that Costa del Folk (an innocent and much lamented victim of the global pandemic) has risen like a phoenix and two festivals are now planned for 2021 – Ibiza in April/May and Portugal in September/October. See the Costa del Folk website for full details.

Many other musicians and artists are doing live shows via Facebook, Zoom etc – sadly, there are far too many to mention individually here. Please continue to support your favourite artists and to seek out new ones. These are tough times for many people. The pandemic will be over one day and we all want the music to play on……..

Stay safe and keep supporting live music and dance.