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!

Herga Charity Evening for Australian Bushfire Recovery Fund

On Monday 2 March, at Herga at the Castle in Harrow, there will be a special ‘Australia’ themed charity evening to raise funds for

Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund

Cobargo is a small Australian village on the New South Wales coast which holds an annual folk festival. The village was overwhelmed by a massive firestorm on New Year’s Eve – three people died, at least 108 homes were lost (including two of the festival directors’ homes), 400 other properties damaged and thousands of animals killed. The heart of the village was razed to the ground.

So Cobargo has been identified by the team who run the folk club Herga at the Castle as the recipient of money collected at a benefit evening in recognition of the contributions that Australian folk song collectors and singers have made to the folk world.

The evening will be run as an Australian-themed singaround, with an earlier than usual start time of 19.30 so everyone gets the chance to sing. There will be special guests, including Doug Jenner’s Bush band and video messages from others unable to be there on the night. So polish up your Aussie songs and tunes now. 

Funds will be raised through a mega-raffle so come with loads of money to buy lots of  tickets! And please, please, please see what you can do to find prizes for the raffle and bring them along on the night.

More news later as plans for this special evening are firmed up.

Make a note of the date Monday 2 March – and head to:

Herga at the Castle, The Castle PH, 30 West Street, Harrow, HA1 3EF to make this special event a great success and help people who have lost everything.

For further information email Tim and Lesley Brooks on or see



Julie Felix and Gabriel Moreno at Harpenden Public Halls

Unicorn Magazine has just heard that Gabriel Moreno  – a very exciting singer songwriter, performer and lyricist will be supporting the legendary Julie Felix at Harpenden Public Halls on Wednesday 26 February at 7.30pm (doors open at 6.30pm).

Julie wowed Glastonbury Festival this summer and is entrancing audiences wherever she plays.


Gabriel has strong links to the London alternative Americana, Folk and singer songwriter scene and is curator of the acclaimed Lantern Society. With his band ‘The Quivering Poets’ they were voted best act on the Introducing Stage by the audience on Sunday 1st December at The Great British Folk Festival at Butlins Skegness in December 2019………..and boy did they deserve it! Find out more about Gabriel and the band on his website .

This gig is not to be missed! See you there!!

Phil Beer Band gig supports Northamptonshire music charity

On Saturday 28 March at 7.30pm, the Phil Beer Band will pay a gig in Roade Village Hall, Bailey Brooks Lane, Roade, Northampton, NN7 2LS. The concert is in aid of the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) – a charity that that took over the county council’s peripatetic music teaching in schools when the government pulled the plug on music funding.

Find out more and book your tickets via the Show of Hands website

The concert will help raise money to support the musical instrument library for the charity’s programme. Every pupil who shows enthusiasm or ability (regardless of their financial situation) can use the facility to borrow free of charge an instrument for the duration of their involvement.

You can find out more about the charity on the NMPAT website.

So if you fancy an evening of great music and the opportunity to help tomorrow’s musicians, make a date for 28 March and get your tickets asap!


London Folk Festival Returns to Cecil Sharp House, Camden

This just in from London Folk Festival:A Must For Music Fans: London Folk Festival Returns to Cecil Sharp House, Camden

Just a few days until the return of acclaimed ‘London Folk Festival’, to Cecil Sharp House, Camden for a day-long celebration of folk music on Satuday 7th September. It will be an impressive showcase of the current resurgence of top-quality folk and roots music that is happening around the UK.

This event takes place annually and is now in its sixth year. It is hosted by ‘Folk on Monday’, and features the best of the national and local folk scene, alongside workshops, singarounds and much more.

Festivalgoers will be able to participate in workshops, including spoons-playing, Folk Singing, Gaelic/Scots song and Step Dancing. 

South London folk club ‘The Goose is Out’ will be hosting an early-morning festival folk club Come along early on the day if you want to share a couple of tunes, songs or just to listen. 

 The festival line-up will include some of the very best and rousing established and new talents in the current British folk revival scene. 

Musical acts this year include Lady Maisery, Jim Moray and Lucy Ward

 In an English folk scene currently bursting with bold and innovative music, Lady Maisery shine brightly. In 2016 The Guardian described theirs as “some of the most exquisite, thrilling vocal harmony work in the English folk scene”. With their unique approach to harmony singing, intelligent and thoughtful arrangements of both traditional repertoire and original compositions, multi-instrumentalists and singers Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans harness and celebrate their united voice.

Jim Moray is amongst England’s finest interpreters of traditional song. His  relentlessly innovative recordings can truly be said to have changed the sound of folk music since the early 2000s, and he has won fans and admirers far outside of the folk scene without ever betraying his traditional roots.

A five-time BBC Folk Award winner, his songs have been featured in a season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, he has appeared on-screen singing a specially composed song for Dr Who spin-off Class as aliens attack the earth, and he has presented documentaries on traditional music for BBC Radio 3.

Lucy Ward is an impressive, original songwriter whose unique delivery and breath-taking voice has enchanted audiences the world over. Her music never fails to get to the heart of the human condition with her expressive, unflinching writing style and warm personality that radiates from the stage.

Having come up through the folk tradition, Ward’s music has a sense of rooted belonging. She is BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner and is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the prestigious BBC Folk Singer of the Year.

Other artists performing throughout the day include outstanding Scottish bands, Salt House and Tannara, London based vocal quartet The Norfolk Broads, up-and-coming folk singer Georgia Lewis and her trio, and acclaimed duo Dipper Malkin. The full lineup is available via the festival’s website at

‘The London Folk Festival’ takes place on Saturday 7th September. Doors open at 10:30am and events start at 10:45. The venue is family-friendly and fully accessible, has an onsite café and real-ale bar.

Ticket Booking and full details:

Tickets for the London Folk Festival can be purchased online via the festival website at . Advance tickets are £35 + booking fee, and tickets on the day (subject to availability) are £40

Watford Folk Club Supports FarmFest…

This just in from Watford Folk Club:

FarmFest is an annual music festival hosted at The Catholic Worker Farm. We have back to back musicians performing Rock, Pop, Blues, Country, Folk, Gospel and World Music.

FarmFest 2019 is going to be bigger and better than ever before! Our new stage is three times bigger with a whopping 6kW sound system, a dedicated food and drinks tent and a larger camping area.

As always, we’ll be serving our famous BBQ grill but now introducing The Burrito Bar, The Crêperie, and Mrs. Miggins’ Pie Shoppe… but the most important thing is our Real Ale!

The entry fee is £35 for the whole bank holiday weekend or £10 for day entry – under 16s pay half price, and under 5s enter for free. There will be camping space available so bring your tent!

The goal of our festival is to bring artists together with those who love music.  Why do we do this? To build up the beloved community, to foster the arts and to support the work of The Catholic Worker Farm.

As in previous years, Watford Folk Club are pleased to support FarmFest on Sunday 25th August and our regulars, Julian Mount , Tom Lavin, Jill Waterson & Ady Shaw, Linda Birmingham and Pete Nutkins will be joined by Lizzy Hardingham for the first time.

Linda will also be leading a Circle Dance Workshop.

Do come along and enjoy the great music, the wonderful atmosphere while supporting this really worthy cause.

Hope to see you there!


Watford Folk Club welcome Martin Carthy on 13th September 2019

This just in from Watford Folk Club:

Watford Folk Club are pleased to welcome Martin Carthy on 13th September 2019.



For more than 50 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it. //He’s a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic and electric-guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material. He always prefers to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position. Perhaps, most significant of all, are his settings of traditional songs with guitar, which have influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Look forward to seeing you for a great night with Martin!


The Watford Folk Club meets every Friday, 8-11 pm in the Colne River Room at The Pumphouse, Local Board Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD17 2JP.

Watford Folk Club welcomes Paul Downes on Friday June 21st (today!)

This just in:
Watford Folk Club welcomes Paul Downes on Friday June 21st.

Paul’s sensitive and yet fun approach to his live performances puts him among the most respected artists on the British acoustic music scene today.

He has been introduced (much to his embarrassment) as one of the greatest acoustic guitarists in the world. It is easy to see why when you see the dazzling array of styles he performs with effortless brilliance, but at the same time he considers himself as a singer of songs, rather than a guitar technician.

Paul has a rich musical background that has progressed through working with Phil BeerThe Arizona Smoke RevuePete Seeger and, currently, The Joyce Gang.

Eight albums with bands, three highly acclaimed solo albums and over one hundred and fifty session credits have still left time for Paul to tour every concert venue, theatre and festival in Britain, plus many tours in the USA and Europe. Cabaret in the West Indies and newsreading on US radio are but two other strings to his guitar.

A great performance guaranteed! Catch him live.

Paul spent his youth playing classical guitar, rugby, soccer, cricket, the field and looking at maps. He played a solo recital in Westminster Abbey at the age of sixteen and subsequently took up folk music.

From the age of 12, Paul’s best friend was Steve Knightley; then at 16, they met Phil Beer. However, despite these drawbacks, Paul was reasonably well-balanced until, after giving up a promising academic career, he went on the road as a professional muso. “Was it the women or the curry houses?”, Paul was once heard to rhetoricise.

A few years touring as Downes and Beer, all around Europe and the UK, playing sessions on hundreds of albums, four records of their own and two solo sets for Paul… and they met Bill Zorn and formed the now legendary Arizona Smoke Revue. A meteoric rise into TV, radio, major European festivals, world tours and four albums… that was enough! Paul was asked to stand in on a Joyce Gang gig (their first!) and the rest, as they say, is mystery.

Paul Downes now still gigs extensively in the UK and USA as a solo artist, made his third album, enjoys shopping and cooking, supporting Exeter Rugby Club and getting a suntan.

(One of the most able and talented, yet underrated singer/guitarists on the folk scene. The Folk Diary)

Watford Folk Club meets Fridays 8pm – 11pm  at

The Colne River Room

The Pump House,

Local Board Road,

Watford WD17 2JP

(entry by £10 minimum donation)

Website :

Facebook::Watford Folk Club

See you there!!!”