Looking for something to do over the Bank Holiday Weekend?

If you are looking for entertainment over the Bank Holiday weekend, there is plenty of online music for you to enjoy.

  • Starting on the evening of Friday 22 May and running right through until late evening on Monday 25 May, you have Chester Folk Festival online. There’s a jam-packed weekend waiting for you filled with online concerts, workshops, dancing, chance to meets and more. Download the programme here to see what is on. All the events are free of charge, all the organisers ask is that you make a donation if you can via the donate page
  • On Friday 22 May at 7.30pm, Downend Folk Club has a live guest interview and a performance, as they are doing every Friday. This week the online gig is called ‘An hour or so with ‘Jackie Oates‘. You can watch this session on the club’s Facebook page. Why not make it a regular Friday date?
  • Then at 10.00am on Saturday 23 May (yes that is 10 o’clock in the morning), Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing another live concert. This one is called ‘Live in the Headshed’ and the timing has been planned for their huge fan base in the Antipodes – who had to get up at or stay up till ‘silly o’clock’ to watch their previous concerts. Catch this one on their Facebook page
  • In the evening on Saturday 23 May at 7.30pm, Miranda Sykes is doing another concert from her living room. You can see this on her Facebook page and send her your requests too
  • Every Saturday at 8.00pm (and this week is no exception) Edwina Hayes is doing a Live Saturday Night Request Hour on her Facebook page
  • On Sunday 24 May at 6.00pm, Lyric Lounge Review presents Folk Special #5 featuring Jon Boden, Ciaran Algar, Edwina Hayes, Mohsen Amini and Skinner& Twitch. All funds raised go to the Trussell Trust who support a nationwide network of food banks and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK. This concert is also on Facebook on the Lyric Lounge Review page
  • And last – but most definitely not least – in response to popular demand, Folk on Foot are running Front Room Festival 2 on Monday 25 May starting at 2.00pm – with seven hours of amazing online music from: Cara Dillon and Sam LakemanChris WoodDuncan ChisholmEliza CarthyFrank Turner and Jess GuiseGwilym Bowen RhysJohn SmithJohnny FlynnKate Rusby and Damien O’KaneKathryn TickellKitty MacfarlaneO’Hooley and TidowRichard Thompson and Zara PhillipsRioghnach Connolly and Ellis Davies – all playing sets of 30 minutes each in their front rooms. Plus: the online premiere of a behind the scenes film of The Unthanks shot during their recent “Unaccompanied” tour and featuring beautiful performances at London’s Union Chapel.Relax in your front room and enjoy this on the Folk on Foot YouTube Channel and Facebook page. If you can, please donate to support musicians who’ve lost their livelihoods during the coronavirus lockdown. Half the money the Festival raises 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.

I’m sure there are other things happening that Unicorn doesn’t know about yet so please keep sending in details of events that you find out about and enjoy. And keep checking the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of your favourite artists.

Whatever you choose to do over the long weekend, stay safe, have a good time and keep supporting live music.

The Stables MK Needs Your Support Now!

Many of you will know that The Stables in Wavendon near Milton Keynes has been engaged in a  battle to protect its future from new housing developments being planned right on its boundary.

Disappointingly, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the public hearing previously offered by the Planning Inspectorate for the Abbey Homes appeal has been replaced with a written appeals procedure. This world class, much loved music venue has everything to lose and needs your support NOW!

The deadline for submissions is Friday 22 May.

If we make our voices heard, we can send the clearest message to the Planning Inspector that The Stables has overwhelming public support.

Please write NOW in support of The Stables and emphasise that the Council supported The Stables’ request for a deed of easement condition because it recognised the benefit of protecting both the venue and the future residents. Make your points strongly and concisely and demonstrate why it is vital to protect The Stables and why the appeal should be rejected. You might also want to express your personal experience of The Stables and focus on the personal impact it would have on you and the wider community or national music infrastructure if it were lost at some point in the future because the wrong decision was made now.

Submissions have to be made online on the PINS website – https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/  

You will need to register first to be able to comment on the appeal as an interested party, and then search for appeal ref:  3246822

You can either upload a pre-written letter or add comments in the text box provided.

If you are submitting a letter you must include the following three pieces of information to identify which case you are making representation about:

  • Appeal Reference:  APP/Y0435/W/20/3246822
  • Appeal by:  Abbey Development Ltd
  • Appeal Site Address:  Land North and West of Wavendon Business Park, Milton Keynes 

You may get a message along the way saying the deadline for submissions has passed – please ignore this and don’t be put off – we believe and hope that submissions can still be made.

Further information can be found here.

More Great Online Music

The pandemic is taking its toll on everyone but there is plenty of online music to help us get through it – and making a donation is a great way to support the musicians in these challenging times too!

Here are details of some of the gigs that are going on:

  • This evening (Friday 15 May) at 7.30pm, Show of Hands are presenting ‘Stairway to Devon’, a film about a day in the 1998 touring life of Steve and Phil with anecdotes and interviews plus rare footage from Glastonbury and India. See it on their Facebook page.
  • Also this evening but at 8.00pm, Faustus are doing ‘An Evening with Faustus’ on their Facebook page
  • On Sunday 17 May at 6.00pm, you can watch Folk Special #4, a Trussell Trust Fundraiser hosted by Lyric Lounge Review and 2 others featuring Nancy Kerr, David Eagle of the Young’Uns, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne of Granny’s Attic and Gilmore & Roberts on Facebook
  • Nancy Kerr is doing a Leon Rosselson song every day in May on her Facebook page
  • On Tuesday 19 May at 7.30pm BST, Flossie Malavialle will present her second ‘The Show must Go Home’ gig on her Facebook page
  • On Saturday 23 May at 7.30pm Miranda Sykes is planning another concert from her loving room. Find it on her Facebook page.  The donations from her last concert enabled her to donate £1300 to NHS Charities – a very generous gesture by a very inspirational woman
  • On Monday 25 May from 2.00pm, hot on the heels of their first very successful Front Room Festival, Folk on Foot are doing another one! The lineup: Cara Dillon and Sam LakemanChris WoodDuncan ChisholmEliza CarthyFrank Turner and Jess GuiseGwilym Bowen RhysJohn SmithJohnny FlynnKate Rusby and Damien O’KaneKathryn TickellKitty MacfarlaneO’Hooley and TidowRichard Thompson and Zara PhillipsRioghnach Connolly and Ellis Davies – all playing sets of 30 minutes each in their front rooms. Plus: the online premiere of a behind the scenes film of The Unthanks shot during their recent “Unaccompanied” tour and featuring beautiful performances at London’s Union Chapel. Over seven hours of unique music. If you can, please donate to support musicians who’ve lost their livelihoods during the coronavirus lockdown. Find the festival on the Folk on Foot YouTube channel and the Folk on Foot Facebook page
  • On Saturday 6 June at 7.30pm Ninebarrow will be doing their third concert live from their dining room. Catch this on their Facebook page
  • Very aware that Coronavirus is not only taking a toll on our physical health, it is also causing a massive strain on many people’s mental health, Ninebarrow have launched a charity single with Hart Voices & Chantry Singers – Guildford (mixed & mastered by Mark Tucker – Producer).  You can help them to support Mind in their fight against the uncertainty, loneliness & fear being experiencd by so many because of Covid-19 by downloading the full track for free & making donations to this incredible cause at: www.ninebarrow.co.uk/mind
  • Husband and wife duo Megson did an online concert on Wednesday 13 May which you can see on their Facebook page and they are planning more in the future
  • Simon Care  of Banter, Edward II, The Albion Band etc – is posting all sorts of interesting updates on his Facebook page including his Daily Jukebox at 6.00pm. He is taking requests for your favourite tracks
  • Ciaran Algar ran his amazing CCC Festival last weekend based on his ‘Ciaran’s Coronavirus Collaborations’ that he has been running since the start of the lockdown. I understand an album will come out of this initiative. You can find some background information about the festival including a fascinating piece by Redwood Photography about the video editing process for the collaborations on his Facebook page.

Phew! That’s probably enough for this blog. There is far more going on than I can detail here so keep watching your favourite artists’ Facebook pages and YouTube channels and donate as much as you can, as often as you can. Times are really tough for musicians through no fault of their own and they are doing a wonderful creative job in adapting to these strange circumstances and bringing us entertainment and solace.

Hope you are all well and staying safe.  Please do all you can to support live music.

Missing the live gigs? Why not try some online entertainment

Hi everyone. Hope you are all safe and well.

The lockdown goes on but the creativity and energy of folk musicians knows no bounds. From lone Morris dancers to full blown concert collaborations, music and dance are alive and well.

Sadly, there’s much too much going on for me to detail everything here. So go to the websites and Facebook pages of your favourite artists and bands for all the up-to-date information of what they are doing. There’s lots happening on YouTube too so have a look there to keep yourselves amused.

Most of the online gigs and events provide a way to give a donation to support the artists – most of whom have lost all their normal income through concerts and festivals. It’s not compulsory of course, but please be generous if you can.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Tonight (Saturday 2 May) we have a choice:

    • Miranda Sykes is doing a concert on 2 May at 7.30pm live via Facebook from her living room. Miranda is a great inspiration during these troubled times as not only is she coping with the lockdown like the rest of us, but she is doing these concerts between chemotherapy treatments – having been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.There will be a tip jar at www.paypal.me/sykesbass and Miranda has announced that she will be splitting the donations 50:50 with her 15 year old nephew Ted and his friends who were due to take part in the Ten Tors challenge which is (normally) run annually on Dartmoor and involves around 4000 youngsters navigating routes of 35, 45 or 55 miles (depending on age) across inhospitable terrain over 2 days, carrying almost 30lbs of kit and without adult support. This year’s event has been cancelled, but the lads have decided to turn it into a fundraiser for the NHS Charities Together. They are aiming to walk the 45 miles with full backpacks on in their gardens and local vicinity over 2 days.  

A great effort for a great cause. Miranda will be giving us an update on their progress during the gig.

      • Also on Saturday 2 May but at 7.00pm Ninebarrow are doing their 2nd livestream gig from their dining room via Facebook.
    • And then on Sunday 3 May at 7.30pm Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing their next ‘Live in the Lounge’ request show on Facebook.
    • On Friday 8 May at 7.30pm, Show of Hands are showing a never before seen movie about the band in 2008 ‘Hand Held – a feature length film’. Described by Phil and Steve as ‘an unseen gem’. Details on Facebook
    • On Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May, Ciaran Algar is running The CCC Festival showcasing artists from the amazing #ciaranscoronacollabs. Watch live on Facebook or YouTube (search ‘Ciaran Algar’)
    • On Sunday 10 May at 7.30pm BST Richard Thompson (who surely needs no introduction) will be doing a livestream from The Royal Albert Hall in London. See his Facebook page or the Royal Albert Hall website for details
    • And I’ve just been told about the online Leigh Folk Festival this weekend (2 and 3 May). Details on the website.

That’s all I’ve got time to post now – enjoy the music, stay safe and please support the musicians in any way you can.

May Day Kitchen Ceilidh with 3sticks and Andy Rouse

Hurry and buy your tickets for this online kitchen ceilidh organised by the lovely people at Oxford Folk Weekend and Oxford Ceilidhs.

It’s tonight Friday 1 May at 7.30pm and you can get your tickets here

Tickets must be purchased in advance.Please ensure that you read the instructions carefully to the end.

You can find a review of the first one they held on the Folk Camps website http://www.folkcamps.co.uk/newsletter/

More Great Music Online

Hope you are all well and keeping safe. Did you catch the wonderful online gigs over the weekend? The Show of Hands concert from the Minack Theatre (2018) was a high spot for me – helping me to forget my disappointment over the cancellation of the Costa del Folk Festival in Ibiza.

More wonderful music is coming up this week:

  • Tomorrow Tuesday 28 April at 7.30pm UK time (and 8.30pm French time) Flosssie Malavialle is doing a ‘The show must go home’ (geddit??) concert from her home in France via Facebook. Join her to help her celebrate her birthday. Free admission!! However you will have the option to put a (non compulsory) contribution in a paypal tip jar on the day.
  • On Saturday we have a choice (although you can of course catch up with the one you have to miss afterwards) with two concerts:
    • Miranda Sykes is doing her next Saturday concert on 2 May at 7.30pm live via Facebook from her living room. Miranda is a great inspiration during these troubled times as not only is she coping with the lockdown like the rest of us, but she is doing these concerts between chemotherapy treatments – having been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. There will be a tip jar at www.paypal.me/sykesbass and Miranda has announced that she will be splitting the donations 50:50 with her 15 year old nephew Ted and his friends who were due to take part in the Ten Tors challenge which is (normally) run annually on Dartmoor and involves around 4000 youngsters navigating routes of 35, 45 or 55 miles (depending on age) across inhospitable terrain over 2 days, carrying almost 30lbs of kit and without adult support. This year’s event has been cancelled, but the lads have decided to turn it into a fundraiser for the NHS Charities Together. They are aiming to walk the 45 miles with full backpacks on in their gardens and local vicinity over 2 days.  

A great effort for a great cause. Miranda will be giving us an update on their progress during the gig.

    • Also on Saturday 2 May but at 7.00pm Ninebarrow are doing their 2nd livestream gig from their dining room via Facebook.
  • And then on Sunday 3 May at 7.30pm Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing their next ‘Live in the Lounge’ request show on Facebook.
  • The joy of this online world is that distance is no barrier and organisations and venues all over the country (and indeed the world). You might like to look at the music workshops being run by The Tolbooth in Stirling (who are also promising art and ceramics courses later). I’m sure there are many others.
  • If you are a ukulele fan, The World of Ukes have a wealth of interesting things on their website – including two festivals (one past and one future) for only £12 each and online workshops with Andy Webster (well known to those of us who attend Costa del Folk).

More and more is happening online – many artists are posting events and news on their Facebook pages and YouTube.  Please support them in every way you can – and buy CDs direct from the artists and their websites rather than streaming or downloading the music (which generates very little income for the artists). And please let me know about events you come across so I can spread the word (unicornmagazine@hotmail.co.uk)

Stay safe and enjoy the music.

And yet more music……..!

No sooner have I written one blog than my inbox is full of more information about the creativity and ingenuity of the wonderful folk community. All these gigs are in addition to those I have posted about in earlier blogs.

  • Tonight (Sunday 19 April) at 7.00pm Daoiri Farrell presents another gig from his home on Facebook
  • On Friday 24 April at 7.30pm Christine Collister is presenting ‘CC Live in Lockdown’ from her Facebook page
  • On Tuesday 28 April at 7.30pm (UK time) Flossie Malavialle (beloved of many especially fans of Costa del Folk) is doing an online gig on her Facebook page
  • Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing a third ‘Live from the Lounge’ request show on Sunday 3 May at 7.30pm on their Facebbok page. Due to a technical hitch, show no 2 was not recorded but if all goes well for no 3, the show will also be available after the live session
  • Ciaran Algar is continuing his wonderful daily series of first class collaborations on his Facebook page and he has started his Kickstarter campaign today, to raise funds to have an album made within 2 months. Every musician appearing on the album will be paid Musician’s Union rates for their time, and every penny raised over the goal will go towards providing funds for as many musicians and people involved with the Folk scene as possible.Every penny counts, and all donations are hugely appreciated, however small.Please help if you can.  https://www.kickstarter.com/…/ciarans-corona-collaborations…
  • Every Saturday at 10.00pm Tim Edey does a two hour (plus) Facebook concert of soothing Celtic Music on acoustic guitar and other instruments called ‘The Sleeping Tunes’

And some more (sad) festival news:

  • St Albans Folk Festival has been postponed from June to 25 – 27 September.
  • Whitby Folk Week has been postponed until 21 to 27 August 2021
  • Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival has been postponed to 12-14 August 2021

Thank goodness I bought a 2021 diary just before the lockdown!!

That’s all for now folks.  Stay safe and enjoy the music.

More wonderful online entertainment

Just a quick blog today with news of more wonderful online entertainment:

  • Chris While and Julie Matthews are ‘Live from the Lounge’ at 7.30pm on Facebook this evening (Friday 17 April)
  • Join Richard Thompson this Sunday, April 19 for a Facebook Livestream event with a portion of the proceeds going to the NJ Food Bank. The show will begin at 9.00pm BST. You can donate to Richard at: paypal.me/richardthompsonlive
  • Show of Hands are streaming a show live from the openair Minack Theatre in Cornwall on Friday 24 April at 7.30pm. I’m sure this will help us get over our disappointment at the postponement of their wonderful day at Abbotsbury for 2020 (now rescheduled to 3 July 2021),
  • Megson are streaming a live concert direct from their house on Wednesday 22 April at 7.30pm on Facebook live. You can make donations at www.megsonmusic.co.uk

And although it ‘s certainly not folk music, you might like to know that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of Phantom of the Opera is being livestreamed tonight (Friday 17 April) and tomorrow (Saturday 18 April) direct from the Royal Albert Hall.See details on the Royal Albert Hall website.

Music and the arts are so vital to us all at the strange and worrying time.  Enjoy the shows and please do what you can to support the artists and the venues.

Stay safe and take care.

More online concerts and festival updates

I hope you all had a good Easter despite the lockdown. The online festivals (such as Folk on Foot which raised over £90,000 to help artists and Folks at Home) and concerts by superb artists including the wonderful and very brave Miranda Sykes certainly helped me cope over the weekend.

The thing that made me smile more than anything else was a highly creative video of dancing mice by Chris Short of The Churchfitters – using his time effectively while in lockdown in France. See this on Facebook

Here’s some more news about the folk world:

  • Today is the last day of the Gate to Southwell Festival fundraising campaign.You can donate here.  They are trying to cover the losses made because of the cancellation of the 2020 festival and if you donate, you’d be part of an amazing group of people helping the festival push forward to 2021. Their losses are actually higher than their fundraising target but they’re exploring other routes for funding (like the Arts Council) as they’re not eligible for any of the Government schemes because they are a not-for-profit organisation, and don’t have staff who could be furloughed (they’re all volunteers) or business premises
  • Towersey Festival (which is family run and the oldest festival in the country) also has a crowdfunder running (you can donate here).  They have already spent considerable amounts of money which they will not be able to recoup and for which there is no insurance cover in this global catastrophe
  • Chris While and Julie Matthews are doing a second online ‘Live in the Lounge’ concert on Facebook on Friday 17 April at 7.30pm (and have hinted that they will do a third one soon too)
  • Steve Knightley has numerous posts of performances, music lessons and even a glimpse of his lovely wife in a shortie nightie!! on his Facebook page, YouTube and the Official Show of Hands Page
  • Phil Beer has announced that he will be recording a performance for streaming soon (technology and internet issues prevent him doing a live gig just now)
  • Cormac Byrne is doing free online bodhran lessons via his Facebook page
  • Emily Slade, Simon Care, Tim Edey, Daria Kulesh and Daoiri Farrell are (separately!) doing concerts from their homes
  • Ciaran Algar launched his Patreon in late March – various tiers include access to exclusive videos of songs and tunes, fiddle tutorial videos, personalised shoutouts and even some hand-drawn artwork.  See his Facebook page for details and also news of his #ciaranscoronacollabs with many other talented musicians
  • Ninebarrow are doing a second concert from their dining room on Saturday 2 May on Facebook at 7.30pm BST.

Plus numerous other artists doing amazing things all over the internet – sadly too many to mention. Just look for your favourite artists on YouTube, Facebook etc and you will find more than enough music to lift your spirits.

I’m sorry to tell you that yet more festivals have been cancelled:

  • Warwick Folk Festival – postponed until 22-25 July 2021.
  • Wychwood Folk Festival – postponed until 4-6 June 2021
  • Cambridge Folk Festival – postponed until 2021

and sadly I fear they will not be the last to take this drastic but necessary step to safeguard everyone involved.

That’s all for now folks – if you have any news you want Unicorn Magazine to help publicise, please email me at unicornmagazine@hotmail.co.uk

Stay safe and keep yourselves and the music alive.

Music for the Easter Weekend and Beyond

The sun is shining and it’s a Bank Holiday weekend – but not as we know it!

Luckily as we are staying at home to protect ourselves and the NHS, there is plenty of wonderful music to keep us cheerful and entertained:

  • Steve Knightley has uploaded his show ‘A Musical Journey’ to the official Show of Hands Facebook page
  • Miranda Sykes is doing another of her wonderful living room concerts on Easter Saturday 11 April at 7.30pm.  See her Facebook page for details
  • Phil Beer has posted a session on the Vintage Viator 12 string guitar on his Facebook page
  • Ninebarrow have announced another concert from their dining room on Saturday 2 May. See Facebook for details

And there is so much more going on – see the previous blogs for information about Kirsty Merryn’s festival stating on Easter Saturday, Folks as Home Festival, Folk on Foot Festival and so many other events, too numerous to mention. And all to enjoy in the safety and comfort of your home.

Sadly but not unexpectedly, I also have to report that several of our favourite summer festivals have been postponed to 2021. The new dates have been published so you can put them in your diaries now:

  • Folk by the Oak – now 18 July 2021
  • Ely Folk Festival – now 9 to 11 July 2021
  • Shrewsbury Folk Festival – now 27 to 30 August 2021
  • Towersey Festival – now 27 to 30 August 2021

No news yet about Kimpton Festival or Warwick Folk Festival – their websites indicate that they are still planning to go ahead but are considering all options before making a decision.

As before, my best advice is to check with the organiser of any event or festival before taking any action or making plans.

In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and the online music and do all you can to keep music live and support the artists in this unprecedented time.

Best wishes and stay safe

Sandra Lawes (Editor)