Vinyl Folk Record Auction for DEC Ukraine Appeal – and other events.

Hi everyone and I hope you are all keeping well. I have had Covid but not too badly and I’m ok now apart from being a bit more tired than usual and having a bit of a lingering cough – or maybe it’s just old age!

Anyway, I have been sorting out my vinyl record collection of which a substantial part is what might be called ‘folk’ though I am aware that I am straying into dangerous waters by categorising music in this way. For example, Sandy Denny and The Strawbs were undoubtedly (in my mind) a ‘folk’ act but at what point did The Strawbs become a Rock band? I would argue that happened when Rick Wakeman joined them, though I continued to love their music, so I have included only their album with Sandy and their next two albums in this listing. Early Al Stewart was also a classic ‘folkie’ who moved into rock and pop though his ‘transition’ point is less easily defined – so I have included all his vinyl records that I own in this ‘folk’ listing.

The main aim here is to raise money for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal so I hope you will forgive me if my idea of ‘folk’ doesn’t coincide with yours and it is a pretty eclectic collection in some respects as you will see if you take a look on the main unicornfolk.uk website and click on the icon for the auction list and instructions.

There are just over 100 records in the list and I have put a starting bid of £300 on the collection which would be a bargain. Ideally I would like to donate at least £500 from this first auction to the DEC appeal which at a little under £5 each would still be something of a bargain I think – some will be worth less but others may be worth a lot more. I haven’t researched the actual value of any of the records as that would delay the auction though I very much doubt whether there are any first pressings or other items of special value beyond their general rarity.

If you are interested please bid generously and if not please, please, share this blog as widely as you can on social media and elsewhere so that as much money can be raised as possible. If the auction is a success I will hold another for my collection of rock & pop vinyl records.

Other people raising money for the Ukraine include Village Voices, Towersey (see unicornfolk.uk front page listing), Winscombe, North Somerset, Ludlow, Shropshire, (all 14th May) & Doncaster Folk Festival on 29th May. Do support them if you happen to be in the area.

More locally, in the Unicorn area tonight (13th May) sees Royston Live host Linda Moylan & Ian Montague as part of their Showcase and Unicorn Ceilidhs feature Frog On A Bike and the following Friday 20th, Watford Folk Club provide one of your last chances to see Belshazzar’s Feast on their FINAL tour! More details for all of these events can be found on the main unicornfolk.uk website.

Thank you everyone for any help you can give with the auction and by the way there are now 90 festivals listed in the ‘Festival Finder‘ for 2022 on the main unicornfolk.uk website.

RIP Paddy Findlay

I was thinking of writing a blog today to cover the Easter weekend but yesterday heard the, frankly tragic, news of the death of Paddy Findlay, a wonderful young musician who, with his friend Lloyd Crowley formed the duo known more commonly as Paddy & Lloyd.

I won’t pretend to have really known Paddy but met him and Lloyd and chatted to them briefly on 2 or 3 occasions when they performed in Royston or nearby.

The first occasion was Royston Folk Club‘s Young Artists Competition in 2018 when I co-ordinated the judging partly because Royston Arts Festival put up the second prize money. I was on the point of thinking that Paddy & Lloyd were not actually going to turn up when they arrived with about 15 minutes to spare, having been delayed for a reason which now eludes me. During that 15 minutes I chatted to them both and I remember thinking afterwards that I had probably told them perhaps slightly more than I should have done about what the judges might be looking for. I think that can be put down to personal charm on the part of Paddy in particular who seemed entirely unfazed by their almost last-minute arrival and entirely free of the nerves that might have understandably affected some of the other young performers. They went on to impress the whole audience as well as the judges with a memorable performance of ‘Copacabana Girl’ and another song (which also eludes me!) which narrowly won them the competition beating the superb Lizzy Hardingham into second place which is quite an achievement!

Paddy & Lloyd turned up in Royston again in early 2019 to perform a supporting concert set for the folk club which was part of their prize and this time they wowed the audience with their versatility and fun approach to music. They took part in the folk club’s Summer Shindig in August of that year where they kindly agreed to perform at Royston MusicFest for me in the September during Royston Arts Festival. Not only did they perform at the usual two venues in the afternoon but they also stayed on to perform at the evening Gala Concert at the cost of making it a very long day!

That was the last time I saw Paddy & Lloyd largely for reasons that have affected us all, though they did put on another concert in Royston for Help for Heroesin November 2019. They made a big impression in Royston, in a small period of time, as I’m sure they did in many other places.

I don’t know the circumstances of Paddy’s passing and didn’t feel inclined to enquire at this particular time but it is always tragic when it happens to someone so young, more so when they have a particular talent for entertaining people and bringing them joy in a world where it is sometimes in short supply. Fortunately, I understand that Lloyd’s intention is to carry on performing and I wish him good luck with that as well feeling so sorry for his loss which must be very hard to bear.

I’m sure that you will all understand if I leave you to look up what’s going on over the weekend on the main Unicorn Folk website and just dedicate this blog to the memory of Paddy in gratitude for all the good music that he and Lloyd brought to everyone!

No Fools Here!

April 1st is not perhaps the best day on which to publish a blog as many will assume that there is a hidden joke somewhere but, despite the association of the Fool with Morris Dance, I can promise you that all the details herein are given in good faith! Honest!

The Stables at Milton Keynes is a regular venue for folk music as well as a range of other entertainments. This coming Sunday 3rd April you can see the acclaimed folk rockers Merry Hell in concert supported by Irish/English foursome Ranagri. Check out the What’s On at The Stables for tickets for this and other upcoming events.

Speaking of acclaimed musicians Belshazar’s Feast have announced their retirement as a duo after nearly 30 years of performing together but not before they embark on a UK tour during April and May including in this region at The Place, Bedford on May 19th. Full tour details can be found HERE and I am aiming to review their latest album ‘That’s All Folkies!’ very soon so keep your eye on our CD Reviews which you may want to have a look at anyway!

Elizabeth Jameson are running their own night to preview all the BRAND NEW material for their forthcoming EP at The Hollybush, Redbourn, on Friday 8th April, but you had better be quick if you want to get one or more of the last tickets for this limited capacity gig! Try HERE.

Katie Spencer has a new single out ‘Take Your Time’ from her new album which is out on 6th May and you can listen HERE on YouTube. As you might expect from Katie it is effortless and brilliant at the same time. She has lots of UK dates lined up already this year and you can find all the details HERE.

If Dulcimers are your thing you probably already know about Dan Evans and looking further ahead to the summer Dan has got two gigs lined up, one with Rebecca Hallworth. Both are ‘featured’ concerts on the front/home page of the main Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/ where you can find all the details.

Whilst you are looking at the front/home page of the main website you might like to know that our ‘Festival Finder’ now has 73 entries for 2022 and, even better, 70 of them are still in the future starting later this month. Do let us know if we have missed any by emailing carlfilby@unicornfolk.uk  or leaving a comment and you will find more details on some of them under our ‘Featured Festivals’ on the front/home page on the main Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/ Also to be found there is our Unicorn Diary which is a bit more local and immediate including 56 events at present in the period April to June. Hopefully that number will increase substantially as more Clubs & Venues come back with their spring/summer programmes.

Enjoy your April Folking!

Concert For Ukraine

This is something of a mini blog mainly to advertise the ‘Concert for Ukraine’ details of which you can find by checking out the information on the home/front page of the main Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/. Briefly, this is a Zoom concert taking place on Sunday 13th March at 8pm and organised to raise funds for Ukraine via UNHCR. Lots of artists are taking part and it should be an excellent concert and no need to say it is an immensely deserving cause.

Also on over the coming weekend locally are Thursday’s Band performing at the Royston Live Showcase at the Royal British Legion Club on Friday 11th March from 8pm. At Cambridge Folk Club on the same night are Knight & Spiers who started a tour in February which later on morphs into a Gigspanner Big Band tour. Details for both of these events and further links can again be found on the front/home page of the main Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/ and you can also find a Unicorn review of the latest Knight & Spiers album ‘Both In A Tune’ here: http://unicornfolk.uk/reviews/

You can find out what other folk events are happening soon or even some months ahead by checking out the Unicorn Diary and the Festival Finder both accessible from the main website home page.

Finally, a plug for Joshua Burnell who is trying to raise funds for his band tour later this year and has a variety of options to support this via a Kickstarter campaign – check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joshuaburnell/help-joshua-burnell-and-his-band-fund-their-2022-tours?ref=project_link Unicorn Folk will be supporting this campaign but at the same time offers apologies to the wonderful Lizzy Hardingham as I just noticed that her campaign to raise funds for her forthcoming album and tour ‘How Did We Get Here?’ has just ended. Very pleased to note though that she has deservedly reached her target of £6,000!

Banish the gloom!

Not the most auspicious day for a blog or maybe it’s good to remind ourselves what a joy music, especially live music, can be and there are few better ways of dispelling any gloom! So, here are a few suggestions. Royston Live (née Royston Folk Club) held their first concert in a larger space at their new home in the Royston Branch of the British Legion in January. Featuring Tin Giants with excellent support from That Blue Patch the evening was a triumph! They will be following up with a second concert this coming Friday 25th February with the fantastic Fred’s House supported by Anna Wells which promises to be equally good. However, if you fancy something a bit more ‘folky’ you are a bit spoilt for choice as Cambridge Folk Club will be featuring Miranda Sykes on the same night. Whichever you choose I am sure you will be in for a great night and all details can be found in the featured Clubs & Venues section on the front/home page of the main Unicorn Folk website.

If you want a mid-week night out then St Neots Folk Club is hosting Les Barker plus the Wandering Man on Tuesday 1st March and on the Wednesday of the following week (9thMarch) Baldock Folk Club is having the second of two Irish nights in the build up to St Patrick’s Day when Sons of the Seisun will re-form for a special appearance. Both St Neots and Baldock Folk Clubs take place fortnightly on the same nights.

I suppose one way for Show of Hands to spread their talents more widely is to embark on more solo gigs and Hitchin Folk Club, having recently hosted Steve Knightley, will on Sunday 6th March be playing host to Phil Beer. Earlier on the same day from 11.00am – 1pm you can catch the multifaceted, social consciousness of Red Velvet at the Smokehouse, Histon. If Sunday evenings are the time when you like to have a night out and Cambridge is more the centre of your orbit then you might want to check out the Black Fen Folk Club.

All the above folk clubs have taken advantage of our offer that advertisements for regular club programmes will be FREE of charge for the first 3 months of 2022.  It’s not too late if you want your club to take advantage as well and all you need to do is send an A4 size poster in .jpg or .pdf format showing your programme for January to March (or beyond) to carlfilby@unicornfolk.uk. You can also have your regular club events for the same period entered into the Unicorn Diary for FREE by using one or other of the UnicornDataEntryForm files in Word and Excel format that can be found on the main Unicorn Folk website HERE.

At the risk of being a bit clichéd and over-optimistic, let’s hope that Putin will ‘Give Peace A Chance’!

Boris must go . . .

… and take a look at the ‘featured’ clubs on the main Unicorn Folk website. There are some great evenings coming up and this Friday sees Royston Live (née Royston Folk Club) hold the first concert, featuring Tin Giants supported by Blue Patch, at their new home in a larger space at the Royston Branch of the British Legion. Organiser Chris Walls explained the name change by saying “Well, we don’t just present trad folk musicians, we enjoy an eclectic mix, though mostly acoustic, we see nothing wrong with a good electric guitar or keyboard player and a fresh new song”. They have nearly a full programme for the year on their website which you can check out via the links on the main Unicorn Folk website along with all the other ‘featured’ clubs including Hitchin Folk Club which has just been added.

He probably had other things to think about but if Boris had read our last blog he would have read about the relaunch of the Unicorn Folk website, the new ‘Festival Finder’ service and also the new prominence given to the Unicorn Diary on the home page. If you have a look at the latter you will see that there are lots of entries including 21 between now and the end of February.

If you have a look at the links on the main Unicorn Folk website homepage (in the right-hand column) you will see one to Folk London which is principally a magazine with an associated website. It has listings of concerts and events in the folk world in London; news reports; venue and regular event details; interviews, and lots of interesting CD Reviews. It’s only £12 per year to subscribe and I recommend that you take a look especially if you are London-based. (Ed: This is a personal view not a paid-for advert of any kind.)

We would also like to remind you about our aim to help folk and acoustic music clubs and similar cope with current uncertainties by providing advertisements for regular club programmes FREE of charge for the first 3 months of 2022.  All you need to do is send an A4 size poster in .jpg or .pdf format showing your programme for January to March to carlfilby@unicornfolk.uk. You can also have your regular club events for the same period entered into the Unicorn Diary for FREE by using one or other of the UnicornDataEntryForm files in Word and Excel format that can be found on the main Unicorn Folk website HERE.

Finally, a reminder that St Albans’ ‘New Roots’ competition will be closing on 31st January with the Final to be held on 27th March. More details can be found HERE on the main Unicorn Folk website.

Happy New Year for 2022!

In June 2021 that well-loved publication Unicorn Magazine turned into the Unicorn Folk website but unfortunately Covid contributed to a shortage of content and the slow start was compounded by a personal bereavement. These distractions made it difficult to review progress and action some desirable changes which had been identified but they will now be put into place over the course of the next few weeks. Hopefully, you will already have noticed the new ‘Festival Finder’ service on the homepage of the main Unicorn Folk website and also the new prominence given to the Unicorn Diary.

So, this is something of a relaunch and to help folk and acoustic music clubs and similar cope with the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, advertisements for regular club programmes will be FREE of charge for the first 3 months of 2022.  All you need to do is send an A4 size poster in .jpg or .pdf format showing your programme for January to March to carlfilby@unicornfolk.uk. You can also have your regular club events for the same period entered into the Unicorn Diary for FREE by using one or other of the UnicornDataEntryForm files in Word and Excel format that can be found on the main Unicorn Folk website HERE.

There is no further obligation to advertise beyond the 3-month period for FREE listings and the main aim of the Unicorn Folk website, as with the magazine, continues to be to provide an information service to the folk community.

We mentioned a Home Start workshop project featuring Martin Simpson in our November blog and they now have another called Folk Music, Poetry and the Environment for which they are asking people all across the country to write and send in their music and poetry creations addressing the climate crisis. These will be aired in a 45-minute weekly programme and for every entry they will plant a tree. Listeners will then vote for their favourite song & poem and the most popular will win £500 and an additional £500 will go to a charity of their choice. In addition, the artists with the most popular songs will have the opportunity to showcase their music/poem at a live event in 2022. Here’s a link if you want to check it out: https://www.home-stage.co.uk/folk-music-poetry-and-the-environment. On 10th January Home Start also kindly released the Martin Simpson project concert on YouTube for everyone to enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX4QN4f09bU

I must mention another very worthwhile project, the Street Arts Project, a non-profit charity working with the homeless and vulnerable of Stratford upon Avon. I received their new album ‘Wake Me Up Tomorrow’ which I hope to review soon even though it has perhaps more of a sixties style pop sound, but is very contemporary in the issues that the songs cover! They are also staging a free admission concert on Saturday 15th January, details here: https://www.streetartsproject.com/street-arts-music if you are in the vicinity.

In October we highlighted the fact that St Albans’ ‘New Roots’ competition had been rescheduled to 2022 with a new closing date of 31st January with the Final to be held on 27th March. So, this is a reminder and more details can be found HERE on the main Unicorn Folk website.

The rise of the Omicron variant of Covid is worrying but the effect on Folk Clubs seems to be mixed at the moment. For example, Baldock Folk Club has postponed its January events, but Royston Live! (née Royston Folk Club), St Neots, Black Fen & Ely Folk Clubs are carrying on as normal albeit with some safety precautions around social distancing in place. So, fingers crossed for a while yet but in the meantime I would like to wish everyone in the folk community a very Happy New Year and every success for musicians and club and event organisers in 2022.

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone.

Once again we are facing the possibility of some kind of lockdown which can only adversely affect the music industry. Hopefully though the early signs seem to be that Omicron, if not exactly benign, may at least be a milder variant of Covid.

We will no doubt find out what is in store when Boris and his cronies announce the latest restrictions in a couple of days time when they can claim that they did not ruin Christmas for everyone. Whatever we face we have survived once and can hopefully survive for a few weeks or whatever it takes and then come back again.

In the meantime, there is not much point in transmitting any news right now as it is quite likely to become inaccurate within days or even hours! Instead, I will point you towards a couple of newly available Christmas songs by my musical friends Jeremy Harmer: https://www.facebook.com/harmerj12  (or directly) on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqrZce8cYoU and Pat Crilly: https://www.facebook.com/patrick.crilly.98/videos/428695865617075

Watch out for a revamped Unicorn Folk website, hopefully early in the new year, with another more informed blog before then, and in the meantime, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Festive Fun

Christmas is getting closer and some of the folk clubs are putting on their Christmas Specials starting (TODAY!) with St Neot’s Folk Club on Tuesday 7th when BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST provide the entertainment and they follow that up with another the following week entitled ALL ON A WINTER’S NIGHT on Tuesday 14th featuring traditional carols, new songs, stories and folklore from folk–favourite Johnny Coppin and friends. The Song Loft feature the Melrose Quartet performing the Rudolph Variations and other seasonal favourites on Saturday 11th but if Milton Keynes is not in your direction you can also see The Melrose Quartet performing ‘A Bright New Year’ on 20th December at St Andrew’s Church in Hertford. Lots of festive fun to be had at Baldock Folk Club on Wednesday15th featuring Barry Goodman’s Brafront Guizers – meet father Christmas as you have never seen him before and see St George fight the Turkish Knight in this popular Xmas special. Last but not least, Cambridge Folk Club are hosting ‘A Christmas Gathering – When We Sing Together’ on Friday 17th with Emily Sanders, Pete Morton, Chris Parkinson and support Andy Wall. You can find out more details on all these events using the links on the main Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/
Like The Song Loft, The Stables is also based near Milton Keynes and they are preparing a number of courses running early next year for musicians and young people to enhance their experience of Ceilidhs. Here are the links to their Ceilidh Experience Course https://stables.org/workshop/ceilidh-course, their Youth Ceilidh Experience Course https://stables.org/workshop/youth-ceilidh-course and their Folk Dance Remixed Ceilidh ‘Jam’ https://stables.org/workshop/folk-dance-remixed-ceilidh-jam

Letchworth Morris are embarking on a recruitment drive in which they’re trying to lower their average age, and bring new enthusiasm to the side and as part of this drive they will be admitting women and girls to practise and dance with them, or to join the musicians if they prefer. More details: https://www.letchworthmorris.org.uk/

Sandra Lawes and Barry Guy have been busy kindly reviewing more CDs for Unicorn Folk including those from Joshua Burnell, Jenny Sturgeon, O’Hooley & Tidow, Chris Drever and Pete Nutkins amongst others. You can find them all on the main website http://unicornfolk.uk/ under ‘Music’ then ‘CD Reviews’ on the top menu.
Finally, going back to the festive season theme and as a bit of a warm up for that, here is a link to Jeremy Harmer’s wonderful collaborative 2020 Christmas song Lockdown Carol which is well worth another listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSswDbUQxb4 Rumour has it that there is another one coming soon for Christmas 2021.

Hot news

The hot news today, yes literally announced today, is that Royston Folk Club will be relocating to a new venue in Royston in the new year. Their new home is the Royal British Legion Club which has many attractions, not least of which are cheaper drinks for the audience. “But, I’m only here for the music!” I hear you say, and I believe you, because I only have a pint to be sociable! Well, you won’t be disappointed with the music either as there is a brand new programme booked with some outstanding acts and you know that they are going to be good anyway when you visit RFC. Check it out: http://www.roystonfolk.org/

There are a few more clubs up and running now including Black Fen Folk Club in Cambridge and the fabulous Katie Spencer appears there this coming Sunday 14th November. On the 5th December they have Alden & Patterson (see the review of their latest album on the main Unicorn Folk website http://unicornfolk.uk/reviews/ – look under ‘Music‘ on the top menu) and on other Sundays in-between and up to 12th December, they are running their Open Stage. See the website for further details: https://www.blackfenfolkclub.com/

Now, here is a great opportunity, aimed primarily at younger musicians but open to all ages, Martin Simpson is a hugely accomplished singer-songwriter and world recognised guitarist. He will host a workshop followed by a discussion about his career and will finish with a short concert. Have a look at the FLYER outlining this FREE event organised by Home Stage to be held at Blakeney Harbour Room on Sunday 28th November, 4:30pm – 9pm. More details, including how to book places, can be found HERE

More upcoming events this week include Jez Lowe appearing at St Neot’s Folk Club on Tuesday 16th whilst Baldock Folk Club features the launch of Brian Burke’s new book and CD of Baldock Ballads the following night, Wednesday 17th. More information on both events can be found via the posters for both clubs on the Home/Front page of the Unicorn Folk website: http://unicornfolk.uk/

Finally, Woburn Sands’Sessions‘ have relocated to the Station Tavern on the second Wednesday each month and Staplers Folk Dance CLUB (SFDC) have their next live event on Monday 15th November – details can be found HERE.