Events and Happenings in the World of Folk Music

Here’s some news and updates from the world of folk music:-

  • We’re all missing our festivals – not just the music, but also the chance to buy some merchandise, especially CDs to add to our collections. So if you haven’t been able to find the albums you are looking for, try the Veteran Virtual Festival CD Stall which went live on 31 July and will be open throughout August and September.
  • Have you seen the Show of Hands‘ ‘Secret Garden’ film from Abbotsbury? Recently recorded, this great show where Steve and Phil play together for the first time this year in the breathtaking setting of Dorset’s sub-tropical Gardens, is going down a storm. Find it here and please contribute to the tip jar if you can.
  • And talking of Show of Hands, Phil Beer has been doing some very popular chats online. This week he has an online gig on Tuesday 11 August at 6.30pm. You can see it here.
  • Tomorrow Saturday 8 August at 7.30pm, Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing another online gig ‘Live in the Headshed’. Tip jar available (no obligation). See details here.
  • On Tuesday 12 August at 7.30pm Miranda Sykes will be performing another concert from her home. There will be a tip jar for donations. Miranda has been entertaining us with some wonderful music in these challenging months, despite undergoing a course of chemotherapy. She has also been raising money for the NHS during this time. This concert may be the last one for a while as she is going into hospital the next day for a mastectomy and she may not be able to play again until she has fully recovered. She has done so much to inspire and support others during the pandemic – so now its our turn to support her. We all wish her and her family well and send her lots of positive vibes for a speedy and complete recovery. You can find the concert on her Facebook page and you can pre-order her new CD ‘The Farmhouse Sessions’ at
  • On Thursday 13 August, there is the exciting online Folk on the Hill Festival.
  • FolkWeekend:Oxford are continuing with their series of great online concerts. You must purchase tickets in advance. See their website for details.
  • On Saturday 15 August at 7.00pm, Ninebarrow are live streaming an outdoor concert. They’ve decided to bring the field to us as we are all missing our festivals. Singing LIVE at sunset, they promise to transport us through the magical landscapes that shape their music in a brand new, multi-media concert. Tickets must be purchased in advance and you can find full details here.They’re really confident their online concerts will go-off without a hitch – but if for any reason they can’t broadcast in full, they will refund your eTicket.
  • Many folk clubs have mastered the technology and are doing Zoom meetings – I know this is happening at Bedford, Cambridge, Chesham and Herga and I’m sure there must be others. Why not visit a club that is normally too far away for you to attend? At least you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam!! Check on the clubs’ websites and Facebook pages for details of what they are doing.

Keep on eye on the blog for more information – especially about the wonderful online festivals planned for the end of August. And please send me information about events and gigs you hear about and I will do what I can to help publicise them.

In the meantime, stay safe and support live music.

No Edition of Unicorn Magazine This Autumn

It is with a heavy heart and much sadness that I have to announce that for the first time since its launch in 1983, Unicorn Magazine will not be published this Autumn. This is entirely due to the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the world of folk music and dance.

However, I will continue to publish blog posts as often as possible, so please keep sending me information about what is happening in your neck of the woods. I will also be including some CD reviews in the blogs.

I knew I could not afford to repeat the popular online edition I published in June which was free of charge to all contributors. So I conducted a survey of all the key advertisers and organisations who regularly support Unicorn to seek their views on a way forward.

Almost half the people responded (43%) but their feedback made depressing reading as almost half of them (47%) had either cancelled all events for 2020 or had no clear plans for the rest of the year.

Although the idea of an online issue was popular – with two thirds of people preferring this to a hard copy issue or no issue at all – only 5 people said they would definitely take advertising at full price and, even worse, only 8 said they would buy advertising space even at a 50% discount! And only 13 people said they would contribute editorial. No-one came up with any ideas for producing the magazine that would generate the necessary revenue to fund it.

So I have no choice but to put the regular issues of Unicorn on ice and cross my fingers that things improve by late autumn, when I will review the situation.

On a more positive note, 82% of the respondents said they find the Unicorn blog useful – so that will continue. There were also some very positive comments about Unicorn Magazine – which were much appreciated.

“Unicorn Magazine is immensely important to the local folk scene.”

“Fantastic what you do.”

“It’s very respected in the folk world so keep it up!”

More news, events and online gigs coming soon – watch this space!

More Great Music for You to Enjoy

Positive news!! Some live music is coming back and there are some wonderful online events planned for the next few weeks.

  • On Friday 7 August, Show of Hands are performing at a Drive-In Picnic Gig organised by Wickham Festival. Tickets have sold out but I’m told that a second day may be possible. Keep watching the Show of Hands Facebook page
  • The Beardy Folk Festival will now take place on 17 – 20 September at Hopton Court, near Cleo Mortimer, Shropshire. See the website for details
Keith Donnelly
  • This Thursday 23 July, Keith Donnelly will do two back-to-back shows – the first at 6.00pm BST, aimed primarily at children (but of course suitable for all ages) and the second longer set at 7.30pm BST for the more mature members of the audience. He did his first online ‘Who Needs Money When You’re Funny?’ show a couple of weeks or so ago and I loved every minute – hilarious at times, poignant at others – professional throughout. Don’t miss this one and please remember the tip jar. See Keith’s Facebook page for details
Sidmouth Festival Online
  • We are all sad that the iconic Sidmouth Folk Festival has had to be cancelled for 2020 but I’m delighted to tell you (in case you didn’t already know) that plans are coming together for a memorable Online Sidmouth Folk Festival on Saturday 1st August and Sunday 2nd August  5-9pm. Central to it will be four hour ‘live’ shows from a secret location in Sidmouth, hosted by Matthew Crampton and Kitty Macfarlane, the shows will feature live appearances by Steve Knightley and Jim Causley and specially recorded performances by Martin Simpson, Brighde Chaimbeul, Jez Lowe, Talisk, Yves Lambert, Ewan McLennan, Jackie Oates & John Spiers, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Cohen Braithwaite- Kilcoyne and many more
  • I’m also delighted to tell you that the 2nd Annual Folk on the Hill festival is to go ahead (normally based in Harrow but online for 2020). On Thursday 13 August at 3.00pm BST, the 2nd Annual Folk on the Hill festival – “We’re back, and this time it’s not personal” will be streaming six videos, each of around one hour featuring more than 15 artists. These will be FREE to view but you can donate either directly to the artists, or to “Help for Musicians”. They guarantee that no money will be going to Folk in the Hill – only to artists. Please donate if you are in a position to do so. The artists include :   Beans on Toast, Bernard Hoskin, CHaS, Craig Joiner, Man The Lifeboats, Marilyn Middleton, Odette Michell, Pauline Vallance, Steve and Julie, Tom Reid, Findlay Napier, Harbottle and Jonas, John McCutcheon, Reg Meuross, Jamie McCoan, Phillip Green, Tim Brooks and others tbc. The website is and the website for “Help for Musicians” benevolent fund is can also find some ‘invitations’ from some of the artists on the YouTube Channel

As always, stay safe, support the music in any way you can and please let me know about events and gigs that you think would interest Unicorn Magazine readers so that I can spread the word.

More News of Online Festivals and Concerts

The creativity and energy of musicians is astounding and lots of things are happening on the folk scene while we come to terms with the pandemic and keep ourselves safe ready for a return to something approaching ‘normal’!

  • If you were busy on Saturday 11 August and missed their Live from the Headshed gig, you can still catch Chris While and Julie Matthews on their Facebook page
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is family-nest-fest.jpg
  • On Sunday 19 July, at 5pm, we have the exciting Folk by the Oak’s ‘Family Nest’ Fest (full line-up listed above). Find full details and donate here
  • News is just coming in about a FREE virtual Folk on the Hill Festival on Thursday 13 August, featuring artists including Findlay Napier, John McCutcheon, Reg Meuross, Odette Michell, Harbottle & Jonas and many other, with support from Herga Folk Club. Donations are invited to support the artists and the ‘Help For Musicians’ fund. Full details on the Folk on the Hill Facebook page
  • On Saturday 25 July at 10.00am Christine Collister will perform her fourth concert in lockdown (weather permitting from her garden!). Details on her Facebook page
  • And later that same day, Saturday 25 July at 7.30pm, Miranda Sykes will perform a Jazzy/Bluesy set. Details on her Facebook page
  • On Wednesday 5 August at 8.00pm Greg Russell will present a show hosted by Folkweekend:Oxford. Tickets must be purchased in advance and cost just £14 per household (not per person) – excellent value! Details and tickets here
  • Folkweekend:Oxford are also hosting some other great shows, too numerous to mention in full here – such as Belshazzar’s Feat on 26 July and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman on 1 August.Check out the list on their website
  • Although we have had the sad but not unexpected news that both Tenterden and Hartlepool Festivals have now been cancelled for 2020, we do have the Shrewsbury Virtual Folk Festival to look forward to on 29 and 30 August. T-shirts are on sale now (for a limited time) and full details can be found on their Facebook page.

That’s all for now – check on the websites and Facebook pages of your favourite artists and bands for details of all their activities – and keep supporting them in any way you can.#LetTheMusicPlay.

Online Music for the Weekend….and Beyond

Here are details of some great music coming up soon…..

The music industry has had some good news from the government this week but for most musicians the situation is still dire and online gigs are their only way of earning a crust! Please support them through donations and where possible by buying their CDs too. Sadly, downloading and streaming only generates a pittance for the artists!. If you want details of this, have a look at the table Simon Care posted on his Facebook page recently. Shocking!!

  • On Saturday 11 July at 7.00pm BST Ninebarrow are presenting ‘The 4th Ninebarrow Live-Stream: The Hit Parade!’. The boys have really got the technology side of these gigs sorted (no pressure there!) and if the previous gigs are anything to go by, we are in for a real treat. Unusually for them, they have compiled the set list entirely from requests – 15 great tracks to look forward to. Details on their Facebook page (and the show will also be on their website and YouTube.)
  • On Saturday 11 July at 7.30pm BST Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing another ‘Live from the Headshed’ gig. Full details on their Facebook page.
  • Also on Saturday 11 July but at 9.00pm BST, Tim Edey will present the latest show in his wonderful ‘The Sleeping Tunes’ series. Details on his Facebook page.
  • On Monday 13 July at 8.00pm Hannah Martin and Phillip Henry (aka Edgelarks) are doing a special show for Nettlebed Folk Club. Now is the time to get your requests in! Details on their Facebook page and tickets available by clicking here.
  • On Wednesday 15 July at 8.00pm BST the ‘Godfather of Grunge Folk’ himself Wild Willy Barrett is doing an Open Air Live show. See his website for more information.

Well, hopefully that’s enough for a ‘fix of folk’ for the next few days.

I’ll be back soon with news of Folk by the Oak’s Family Nest Fest on 19 July, Miranda Sykes’ Jazz/Bluesy show on 25 July, and Christine Collister in Lockdown also on 25 July – and probably others too!

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

Collaborative Finale of the New Roots Final 2020

I don’t know how many of you were able to watch the wonderful New Roots footage online from St Albans, Hertfordshire last weekend (8 ½ hours of great music – it was amazing!). You might like to know that the collaborative John Ball that was the finale is now online as a separate video.

Enjoy this performance by these talented young people here.

Well done to everyone who organised and participated in this year’s event. Fingers crossed that we can all be together to celebrate the New Roots Final in 2021.

Lots More Lovely Online Music

The effects of Covid-19 continue to ravage the live music sector but the creativity and energy of artists and event organisers shine through and there are many excellent online gigs to look forward to:

  • Tonight (Thursday 2 July) at 7.30pm Miranda Sykes is doing an online Q&A session via her Facebook page
  • On Friday 3 July at 7.30pm BST Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham will play an hour’s set with the Royal National Orchestra of Scotland to celebrate Friday Night Club Finale: St Andrew’s Celebration. Free of charge. See details on Facebook
  • Also on Friday 3 July at 7.30pm BST Hannah Martin and Phil Henry (Edgelarks) will be doing their first full length online concert. They will play 2 x 45 minute sets. You can get tickets here: Further details and links for joining will be sent to ticket holders just before the gig. They are keeping it user friendly, and you won’t have to download any software to watch. However, so that they can get the links out to everyone, ticket sales do close at midday on the day of the concert – you can’t buy ‘on the door’ for this one
  • Spoiling us for choice, also on Friday 3 July but at 8.00pm BST, Downend Folk Club are hosting ‘An Hour Or So with Ciaran Algar‘ – a mixture of chat and some tracks performed by this very talented artist. You can ask questions in the comments, so it is very interactive… the more people watch and engage, the better it will be for everyone. The events are free, although there is a PayPal donations box, with 100 per cent of the donations going direct to Ciaran Algar. You can find that here:
  • On Saturday 4 July at 7.00pm BST Jackie Oates & John Spiers are doing their LIVE album launch concert hosted by Folk Weekend: Oxford Details on Facebook and tickets available at £14 per household (not per person) at
  • On Sunday 5 July at 8.00pm BST Jess and Richard Arrowsmith are doing a Zoom concert hosted by Folk Weekend:Oxford. You can get full details and find out where to get your tickets here.
  • Sidmouth Folk Festival (which has been cancelled for 2020 due to the pandemic) has launched its Crowdfunder. Now’s your chance to be a Sidmouth Champion: Act now to secure the future of this unique folk arts event.
  • On Saturday 11 July at 7.00pm BST Ninebarrow are doing their 4th Ninebarrow Live-Stream: The Hit Parade! on YouTube, Facebook and See their Facebook page. They don’t often do requests – not because they are miserable – but because of the complexities of the different instruments and tunings they use. BUT in this concert, for one-time-only, they’ve let US choose the set list. Not just one song…but ALL OF THEM. They created a poll of all the songs played in their previous 3 concerts, and on the 11th July, they’ll be performing THE NINEBARROW HIT PARADE: the top 15 tracks, as chosen by you! 😎 And if you’ve never seen them before…what better time to start, than with the top 15 favourite songs from the last 8 years of Ninebarrow music! 😉
  • Hot off the press – On Sunday 19 July at 5.00pm BST the wonderful festival Folk by the Oak will be beaming a digital offering of distilled Folk by the Oakness straight to you, for a great cause! Nancy Kerr and Jess Arrowsmith join other great artists including Richard Thompson, Kris Drever, Talisk, Seckou Keita and many more. More information here.

As always please let me know of any gigs or other events of interest to folk music and dance enthusiasts. There are many more things happening than I know about and I’m keen to do what I can to publicise events and support music in the folk world.

Meanwhile, stay safe and enjoy the music.#LetTheMusicPlay



Please get involved and help with #LetTheMusicPlay.

Today, the live music industry has launched a huge campaign to create awareness of the plight of the sector due to Covid-19. Currently all live performances including festivals are prohibited for an indefinite period.

While we understand that it is vital to keep everyone as safe as possible, if musicians cannot work and venues cannot generate any revenue, the sector needs substantial government support to avoid a catastrophe. Venues of all sizes are in danger of closing and up to 50% of the live music industry’s workforce is facing unemployment, leading to a devastating loss of skills.

New research shows the live music sector added £4.5 billion to Britain’s economy in 2019, and supports 210,000 jobs. Music festivals alone support 84,000 jobs but with all events cancelled this summer, many are facing collapse. While the UK is the fourth-largest music market in the world by value of ticket sales – and the second-biggest per capita – state support for live music lags behind other countries, with other European governments such as France and Germany who are using public money to kickstart their concert industries post-Covid-19.

The sector needs an injection of some £50 million to survive – just over 1% of the revenue it contributed to the economy last year. Surely that’s not too much to ask to protect something that brings generates so much for the economy and so much pleasure to so many people as well as contributing massively to good mental health??

Life without live music is merely existence. Imagine a future with no folk clubs, no orchestral concerts, no music festivals, no live performances in theatres or concert halls. It does not bear thinking about!

Please support this campaign using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. Posting images of the latest gig you performed at or attended, and giving your reasons for supporting live music, please share on social media, contact your MP, lobby the government etc. Do whatever you can to help musicians and secure support for live music to keep it alive for the future.

Thank you.

A Musical Treat for All Ages

On Thursday 25 June, Keith Donnelly will be performing a two-part show on his Facebook page via Facebook Live.

Many of you will know Keith as a very funny and talented musician but you may not know that he now finds himself unable to claim any of the government help for the self employed during the coronavirus pandemic due to an error made by his accountant!!

So he’s doing this gig as a fundraiser and there will be a PayPal tip jar. PayPal.Me/KrazyKeithDonnelly

Please put some money in if you possibly can. Any contribution really helps and the gig will be worth every penny!

Keith prides himself that just about every show he does is suitable for everyone aged 2 to 122. But he’ll be aiming the first 45 minute set at 6.00pm more at families/kids and the second longer set starting at 7.30pm for the more ‘mature/discerning’ audience.

He is determined to make this event a bit more special than ‘Uh-oh, another front-room concert!’. So he will be using a quality Streaming Studio for the performance (with massive thanks to Simon at nn1audio #nn1audio @nn1audio).

More Musical Delights Online🎶

Here is some more online music for you to enjoy:

  • Tonight (Thursday 18 June) at 8.30pm BST you can watch the first live online Track Dogs gig from the comfort of your own home with your own YouTube link. There will be a 45 minute set, then a ten minute break followed by a second 45 minute set. Tickets are £14 PER HOUSEHOLD not per person. You will also be sent a Zoom link so you can participate in a catch up with Track Dogs after the gig if you wish.You must buy your tickets in advance and you can find details on the Track Dogs Facebook page.
Track Dogs Reunite!
  • On Tuesday 23 June at 8.00pm until 9.45pm Nancy Kerr and James Fagan will be doing a live Zoom concert hosted by Folk Weekend:Oxford. Tickets are £14 per household and you can find details on the Folk Weekend: Oxford Facebook page. You can also find details of other concerts in June and early July hosted by Folk Weekend:Oxford featuring Rowan Rheingans, Matthew Byrne, Jackie Oates &John Spiers and Jess & Richard Arrowsmith on the website.
Nancy Kerr and James Fagan
  • On Wednesday 24 June at 8.00pm for a couple of hours you can watch a selection of your favourite singer-songwriters performing ‘in the round’… streamed live from their homes to yours! The event features a transatlantic bill with guitarist’s guitarist (Top 100), and soulful singer ‘ and his unique blend of Americana and country blues; Finalist of The Voice 2014, SALLY BARKER, who has supported Sir Tom Jones, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant amongst others during 30+ years as a fiercely independent respected folk-blues singer/songwriter; and genuine folk, rock and blues icon FREEBO who, after over 40 years of recording and touring with many of the great artists of our time (Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Maria Muldaur, John Mayall, Ringo Starr, Dr. John, Neil Young, & many more) is regarded as one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of today. If you watch this show (and are able to) please make a donation via the PayPal link and support the musicians during this difficult time. All the money raised for each show, will be divided four ways, between the venue and the three artists playing on this date. Suggested donation £10, but any donation will be much appreciated. You can donate here.
FREEBO, Sally Barker and Brooks Williams
  • And a definite date for next month’s diary for me is Sunday 26 July at 8.00pm when Belshazzar’s Feast (aka Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson) will perform a live Zoom concert hosted by Folk Weekend:Oxford. Tickets are £14 per household and details can be found on Facebook.
Belshazzar’s Feast aka Paul Hutchinson (left) and Paul Sartin

The creativity and energy of musicians in these challenging times is a real inspiration and they all deserve our support. There is much more happening than I can detail here but please let me know of any events you are participating in or organising and I will do my best to publicise them.

In the meantime, stay safe and keep supporting live music.