New Roots 21st anniversary event online on Sunday June 28

The annual New Roots event for young folk and roots musicians and singers first took place in 2000. Since then, over 200 young musicians and singers from all over the country have taken part in New Roots finals in St Albans. They included performers whose style was traditional or contemporary folk, roots or world music and those who performed traditional material and those who wrote their own. On the day, they got feedback from judges with considerable experience of various aspects of the folk scene and won performance opportunities to enhance develop their experience. Some have gone on to make a career in music, in some cases becoming major names nationally, while others have carried on playing and singing while working in other jobs.

Originally, the organisers started to contact past New Roots finalists to organise a 21st anniversary live event on June 28 as part of the St Albans Folk Festival. The world changed as they did this and they have now organised an online New Roots 21st anniversary event on the original date, Sunday June 28, starting at 2pm. Past finalists will be contributing video recordings of the music they are performing now and coming online to talk about it. Names of performers will be published nearer the time.

So put Sunday June 28 in your diary and join the New Roots anniversary event online at

Further details: email: or ring 01727852111.

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.…/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 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

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)

More news of cancellations -sorry!

We are living in unprecedented times and I’m sorry to bring you bad news. But I guess you won’t be surprised to learn that Unicorn Magazine has been told about a number of cancellations over the next few months:

  • The Gate to Southwell Festival has been cancelled but the organisers have spent significant amounts on the 2020 event, and if you can help them cover some of these costs, they would be very grateful.  Whether you choose to or not is up to you of course.  You can access their fundraising page here Planning has already started for the event in 2021
  • Sidmouth Folk Festival has been cancelled, breaking an uninterrupted run of 65 festivals. The organisers know this may feel devastating, but the well-being of all involved in attending and running the Festival is paramount. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic clearly makes it impossible to proceed with the 2020 event. Plans are already underway for the 2021 Festival
  • Due to the impact of Covid-19, the 2020 Ely Folk Festival has been postponed until 9-11 July 2021. The organisers will publish more details on this shortly
  • St Neots Folk Festival has been cancelled and St Neots Folk Club is not meeting currently until 16 June, as the Priory Centre is closed
  • Chesham Folk Club has cancelled all gigs in April and will review the situation after Easter
  • Hitchin Folk Club has cancelled its gigs in April and May.  See their website for information about the scheduled June gig with Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver in due course
  • In common with so many artists, Na-Mara have cancelled their concerts including the one in Welwyn Garden City on 10 May. Dates will be rescheduled but we don’t yet know when
  • Benslow Music in Hitchin is closed but online courses are still running – see their website for details.

I’m sure there are many other changes and cancellations that I don’t know about – please let me know if you hear of others.  And don’t forget the many excellent online music events that are being run – bringing us great music and helping the artists too.  Please check websites, Facebook pages etc to keep up to date with everything and let me know if there is anything you would like mentioned in a Unicorn blog. I’ll do what I can to help.

Please stay home (if you can), stay safe and keep supporting live music and dance. We will get through this!

Great folk music online during the lockdown

Hi everyone! Hope you are safe and coping.

We all love our music and it’s really hard not to be able to go to gigs and festivals while the virus rages.  So here are some links to online music to help during the crisis – and if you can afford to send the artists a donation, you will be helping them at a very difficult time too!

  • At 7.30pm this evening Friday 3 April, Chris While and Julie Matthews are performing a ‘Live in the Lounge’ gig.


Maddy Prior MBE and Ashley Hutchings MBE are the patrons of Folks At Home, the world’s first online folk festival featuring exclusive video footage of 25 of Britain’s top folk acts plus workshops, tutorials, interviews, merchandise and market stalls. The headliners are Steeleye Span, Fotheringay, Ashley Hutchings Morris On and Feast of Fiddles. For more information please visit

  • On Easter Bank Holiday Monday 13 April at 2pm, you can attend the amazing Folk On Foot Front Room Festival (over six hours of unique music) on the Folk on Foot YouTube Channel and Facebook page – direct to your front room.  And support musicians who’ve lost their livelihoods during the coronavirus lockdown.

    The Lineup: Bella Hardy, Beth Porter plus the Bookshop Band, Jon Boden, Julie Fowlis and Éamon Doorley, Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Lisa Knapp, Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Peggy Seeger, Rachel Newton, Sam Lee, Seth Lakeman and Steve Knightley – all playing sets of up to 30 minutes each in their front rooms.

    See the website for details and costs. You can see a video by Matthew Bannister the host of the Folk on Foot programme on the Folk on Foot Facebook page.

  • Emily Slade is playing some wonderful music on her Facebook page

  • Podcasts of Mike Harding’s folk show are available online via his website The archive contains shows going right back to 2012.
  • Keiron Jones of HITCHIN FOLK CLUB is offering audio concert downloads for £5 per concert to help our beleaguered musician friends. Visit the club’s webpage for details.

I don’t claim that this is a comprehensive list of what’s going on out there – but it’s a start and if you know of other events/happenings, please email me at and I will do what I can to get the word out.

In the meantime, stay safe and help to keep music alive by supporting these events. Enjoy!

More music news and events

Since yesterday’s blog post about ways to get your fix of music during the lockdown, quite a few more things have floated into the Unicorn office and I’d like to share them with you. Some are free and some of the artists are asking for a contribution (paid online) to help them through these very challenging times.

Once again in no particular order:

  • On Saturday 28 March and Sunday 29 March  you can see a livestream of the Global Village Concert. Daria Kulesh is performing and you can see details on her Facebook page.
  • On Sunday 29 March (tomorrow) Richard Thompson is doing a Facebook Live concert at 9pm. See his Facebook page for details.
  • Having had to postpone the April performance of ‘Ordinary Giants’, a fabulous stage show that I was lucky enough to see last year, Robb Johnson has arranged for a solo version of the show to be filmed and released on YouTube on Sunday 29 March. Search for Robb’s page on YouTube.
  • On Sunday 29 March at 3.30pm Three Daft Monkeys are streaming a concert from their cottage. See their Facebook page for details.
  • On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March you can view The Isolation Festival – with amazing artists (not all strictly folk but great nevertheless).
  • On Saturday 28 March at 9.00pm Conrad and Ruth of Holy Moly and the Crackers are streaming a performance of their first album’First Avenue’. See their Facebook page for details.
  • At 8.00pm on Saturday 28 March, (as he says ‘because things aren’t strange enough’) John Otway is streaming a show from his living room. Details on his Facebook page
  • Having had to cancel their tour, Jackie Oates and John Spiers are performing on YouTube from their living room.
  • Emily Slade is making beautiful music from her home that you can see on her Facebook page.
  • Simon Care (of Banter, Edward II, Albion Band etc) has launched his Musical Jukebox on his Facebook page. He’d like people to request Morris and English ceilidh tunes which he’ll endeavour to record himself playing one and post to Facebook with the name of the person who requested it.  He’s not going to charge anything but suggests we might make a donation to any artist that has a crowdfunding page running.
  • I’ve also heard a rumour that Phil Beer is doing music online – but can’t find the details at the moment. Let me know if you discover what this wonderful musician is sharing.

Phew! That’s probably more than enough for now. Best wishes from Unicorn Magazine – supporting folk and acoustic music even in difficult times like these.

Tell me about folk and acoustic music happening where you are and I’ll do what I can to publicise it. Enjoy your music and stay safe.

Sandra Lawes (Editor)

Getting your folk music fix while social distancing

Now that theatres and music/dance clubs have had to close, we’re all missing our folk music as we try to stay safe and maintain social distancing. So in no particular order, here are some ways that Unicorn Magazine has found out about to get your ‘fix’ online.

Some of the musicians are doing it for free, some are putting a ‘tip jar’ out to receive donations and others are seeking a fee which can be paid online.  Check out the Facebook pages and websites of your favourite artists and look on YouTube to see what else you can find. And please support these artists with a donation or by buying a CD/merchandise if you possibly can – life is extremely tough for them in the current situation.

  • Kirsty Merryn is running an amazing two day online festival on 11 and 12 April. It’s £20 to join for both days and £10 for either the Saturday or the Sunday. You can also find information about this on her Facebook page. The current lineup is as follows with more to follow:
    • Saturday 4pm Lukas Drinkwater, 5pm Robert Lane, 6pm Gitta de Ridder, 7pm Iona Fyfe, 8pm Luke Jackson
    • Sunday 4pm Polly Paulusma, 5pm Kirsty Merryn, 6pm Katie Spencer, 7pm Ciaran and Greg (2xsolo slots), 8pm Alden, Patterson and Dashwood
  • Chris While and Julie Matthews will be ‘Live in the Lounge’ at 7.30pm on Friday 3 April. See their Facebook page for more details.
  • Ninebarrow are doing a live concert on Facebook at 7.00pm on Saturday 4 April.
  • Steve Knightley has been doing ‘Lick the Lockdown’ instrument lessons on his Facebook page – the one I saw was on ‘fingerpicking’ and he has promised others.
  • Ciaran Algar is performing some amazing tunes on Facebook.
  • Miranda Sykes (who is having chemotherapy to fight her recently diagnosed breast cancer), gave a  wonderful online concert last Saturday which you can see from her Facebook page. She has also said that she will be performing requests on Facebook over the next few weeks. She did the first one – Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Me and My Sister the Moon’ – yesterday.
  • Andy Webster of the League of Ukulele Gentlemen (well known to those of us who go to the ukulele workshops at Costa del Folk) has a brilliant website where you will find details of courses. I think he is offering one for children for £20 in early April. He is also performing songs on his Facebook page.
  • Keiron Jones of Hitchin Folk Club is working very hard to make available many of the audio recordings of gigs at the club over the many years he and his wife Maureen have run it. Sign up to the club’s mailing list and/or keep an eye on the Facebook page for more information.
  • Gareth Malone is running an international online choir on YouTube at 5.30pm each weekday. Click here to register. It’s free! Although it’s not folk music, it is singing which is good for us all at times like these.
  • Finally for this blog post, although it is not folk music, there is a Facebook group called ‘Rock the Lock Down’ which is promoting some amazing live online music.

If you have information about other events that people can ‘attend’ while staying safe, please email and I will do my best to publicise it.

This is a fast moving crisis and things are changing all the time. Sadly, I know that The Gate to Southwell Festival has been cancelled as has the Show of Hands tour in may and all the events from Northampton Ceilidhs until September. The best advice is to check online, on Facebook or direct with the organisation if you are planning to attend/view anything in the next few months.

Stay safe, stay home and stay well!