Call for Folk Musicians at St Albans Xmas Market

This just in from Jo Askham,  Arts Development Manager for St Albans Arts Team:

One of my responsibilities is programming the entertainment at the St Albans Christmas Market – I wonder if you could put the word out amongst the folk community. During the day time we are looking for school choirs, buskers, etc but there are some opportunities for fee paying performances for selected bands during late night opening and over weekends. I want a good mix of genres but we have four weeks to cover so there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. Generally I will be looking for bands at weekends rather than soloists.

Improvements this year include: 

  • An open sided event ‘event shelter’ to keep the rain off – this will include lighting – I’m not sure how many children you will be able to squeeze underneath it so coats, hats and possibly umbrellas are still required
  • The opportunity to use amplification.  In order to control noise levels this will probably be limited to battery powered equipment, for example small busking amps although we might be able to supply a micro amp.

Oh, and there is a requirement for a festive element in the set!



Jo Askham

Arts Development Manager    |    |    01727 819 303  Mob: 07766 423 033

St Albans Arts Team, District Council Offices, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts AL1 3JE

Unicorn Magazine Issue 128 is now out…

Our latest issue of the magazine is now out:


You can also download the full-colour A4 poster for 128 here, designed to encourage people to take a copy of the magazine… (or just collect the set for your wall!)


Dylan Thomas returns – to St Albans

Simon Bowden, Press Officer for the Ver Poets has sent us this information for an event coming up on 16th Ocotber (just too late for us to get it in issue 128 unfortunately). Not folk music-related possibly, but a bit of cross-over stuff here and there doesn’t hurt.

(He is also organising an evening of folks songs, music and poetry at the Maltings Arts Theatre at 7.30 pm on Saturday November 1st:  We will post details of this event up once they are a bit more formalised)

Dylan Thomas returns – to St Albans

The rumours have started.  A dead poet has been spotted late at night, stumbling through the Maltings. “Dylan Thomas is still alive,” it’s whispered.  “Surely that was Elvis?” comes the reply. But the witness knows what they saw.

         Dylan Thomas was born 100 years ago – and died prematurely in New York in 1953. He’s remembered for a small body of masterpieces  – notably Under Milk Wood , A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and miraculous poems like Fern Hill, Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night and The Force that through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower.

      His boozing and womanising on tour in the United States made him something of a legend – a caricature of the doomed poet, wrestling with the curse of celebrity and the desperate need to make a few bucks. To many he was a romantic figure like Keats, his splendid enthusiasm and vitality refusing to grow old gracefully in the grey, post-war world.

     Flawed and occasionally ridiculous though he was, he inspired a generation of poets and writers, among them, of course, Bob Dylan who took his name. Later his poetry went out of fashion as the pendulum swung back towards the laconic truths of Larkin. The idea of the poet as a bard – a person with a Vision – came to seem old fashioned, overly grandiose.

        But his fizzing words, like the lager, touched parts that ordinary modern verse fails to reach. His legacy lives on. On Thursday October 16 the chairman of the Ver Poets Society, Terry Jones, will give a talk on the dead poet in St Albans library at 7.30 pm. People are invited to come along – and just listen or read a favourite poem. A recording of Dylan’s own voice will be played.

     And with the event happening just days from the poet’s 100th birthday on October 27th, if the moon is right, if the atmosphere is right, the druids at Ver Poets believe it’s possible that the man’s ghost will walk again between the bookshelves of the library in the Maltings. Come along and see for yourself if they’re right.

Thursday October 16, 7.30 pm at St Albans Library in the Maltings Shopping Centre

Dylan Thomas Evening

Entry: £4 includes refreshments.

Contact: Simon Bowden

Press officer, Ver Poets, 07812 172824

Late addition to the next magazine – Folkstock event 27th October

We just missed getting this event into the new edition of the magazine (due out any day now!)

27th October in Harpenden Public Halls sees a Folkstock fundraiser with a dream line up of fresher faced folk bursting on the UK scene: Maz O’Connor, Luke Jackson, (both nominated for BBC Folk awards, and with Jess Morgan attracting BBC2 airplay), and local acts Said the Maiden and Kelly Oliver (for whom this is her debut album launch party).

Show starts at 7pm, tickets £10 from

Last minute places on (our very own) Clive Batkin’s guitar course

This just in from Halsway manor…..


 With Clive Batkin

Calling all guitarists! Clive Batkin comes to Halsway Manor shortly to lead an intensive – but fun! – workshop weekend for beginner and intermediate level guitarists. Maybe that’s you? And maybe a last-minute, late-summer break at Halsway is exactly what you need…Fri 12 – Sun 14 SeptACOUSTIC MISCELLANY: GUITAR WORKSHOP WEEKEND

A fun and interactive weekend, Clive will teach a wide variety of guitar techniques which quickly open up lots of new sounds, possibilities and approaches to playing the acoustic guitar. Many of the techniques look and sound very impressive and participants get a sense of ‘accelerated learning’. This is not a tune-based workshop, instead focussing on how you can use techniques in your own playing. There will be a group composition worked upon over the weekend, to help put the techniques explored into practice. There will also be opportunities for informal chatting, playing and swapping of ideas and knowledge, as well as some time for individual tuition if required.

This course is for guitarists of all ages, at either beginner or intermediate level. You’ll need a basic grasp of your instrument and to be open to trying new approaches. It is not necessary to be able to read music as all the techniques will be taught by visual and hands-on means. The techniques range in difficulty but the workshop can be tailored to suit the ability range and interests of the group. The techniques are applicable to both finger-style and plectrum users alike, and may even be of interest to players of other fretted instruments such as mandolin and mandola.

Clive Batkin – – is an experienced player, performer and teacher, specialising in acoustic folk / roots music. As well as acoustic guitar, he also plays mandolin and electric and bass guitar, plus homemade instruments such as the balalaika and his unique ‘harpguitar’. Clive has performed on Channel 4 and Channel 5, at the Queen’s Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace and at Proms in the Park to an audience of 40,000, as well as performing at the National Theatre, The Stables at Wavendon,and supported such acts as Karine Polwart, James Kerr & Nancy Fagan,and Fairport Convention to name but a few. You may have bumped into him recently at one of his guitar workshops at Towersey Festival?!

Interested? We still have limited accomodation available, and there is also the option to bring a tent / caravan / campervan and stay in the grounds of the the Manor.

Prices range from £160-£190 for full board (accomodation, all meals, tuition and activities). Camping costs just £120 per person (including all meals and tuition), with discounted options available for non-residents. You can also bring a non-participating friend / partner to share your room and enjoy a short break in this lovely area.


Halsway Manor, National Centre for the Folk Arts
Halsway Lane, Crowcombe, Somerset TA4 4BD
T: 01984 618274