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.

Lots More Online Concerts

We may not be able to go to concerts but lots of musicians are doing online concerts to help us get through this difficult time and to earn some money if they can. Tip jars will be available for the concerts – please donate to help the artists if you can.

All this wonderful entertainment makes me wonder how on earth we would have coped with the pandemic and the lockdown without the internet!!

  • On Thursday 11 June at 8.30pm UK time, Robbie K. Jones (of Track Dogs) is doing an at home birthday concert. Details on his Facebook page
  • On Friday 12 June at 6.30pm Broom Bezzums are streaming a concert on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Having been unable to meet up together since early March, Broom Bezzums have finally found a way to play a gig together online, despite still being unable to meet up. So they have pre-recorded this brand new show in isolation, with an added new dimension to their on-stage banter. Tune in to find out how.
  • Also on Friday 12 June but at the later time of 8.00pm, Greg Russell will be doing an hour’s set as the guest of the Downend Folk Club. Go to the club’s Facebook page for more details
  • On Saturday 13 June at 7.30pm, Miranda Sykes will be doing her latest Facebook live Concert – the second Requests Show. She had so many requests for the first Request Show that this set list is already written! Miranda is an amazing musician and her concerts are sheer joy – all the more inspirational when we know she is undergoing chemotherapy at the moment.
  • On Wednesday 17 June at 7.45pm you are invited to join Gilmore and Roberts for an hour for their first Facebook Live gig on their Facebook page! They aren’t charging for ‘tickets’ but if you’d like to make a donation, there’ll be a virtual tip jar and they’ll be sending 50% of any proceeds to Oliver Stephenson’s JustGiving page (Oliver is a little boy who is fighting to beat Neuroblastoma )
  • On Friday 26 June at 7.30pm, Christine Collister is doing an online event ‘CC in Lockdown III’. Details are on her Facebook page. It’s another chance to hang out with Christine while she gets very excited about all those hearts that float around the screen! And of course there will be a new songs re-learned and brought up to date.

Looking a bit further ahead:

  • On Saturday 11 July at 7.00pm, Ninebarrrow will be doing another live online concert – this time of requests only! You only have until this Sunday 14 June to get your requests in so don’t hang around!. Just click here to get voting! The poll closes at midnight on Sunday 14th June. They promise STUDIO QUALITY SOUND, FULL HD ADAPTIVE STREAMING and the whole thing will be LIVE ON FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE & at WWW.NINEBARROW.CO.UK/LIVE
  • On Sunday 12 July at 8.00pm Sam Carter is doing a live Zoom concert. Details on his Facebook page.

Hope you enjoy the music – do let me know about events that you hear about so I can help to publicise them. Let’s do all we can to support musicians and venues in these challenging times.

Meanwhile stay safe and take care.

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.

More News of Wonderful Online Folk Music

I’d only just pressed the ‘Publish’ button on the last blog earlier today when I found out about two more great events which I just had to pass on to you all:

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  1. At 8.00pm on Friday 5 May, Folk Weekend: Oxford are putting on the latest of their great events – an online concert on Zoom by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, two of the most versatile musicians of the folk circuit today. Their performances showcase new interpretations of old songs alongside original self penned tunes and new contemporary songs that are entirely at home in the tradition. You need a ticket for the concert and Folk Weekend:Oxford are trialling a novel ticket system to help make the events more accessible to more people, and to allow those who would happily pay a bit more to do so easily, helping them to subsidise tickets for those who can’t afford them. You can find full details and buy your ticket here. You only need one ticket per household

On Sunday 7 June at 7.30pm Show of Hands will be showing the complete 2001 concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. As well as Steve and Phil, there will be special guests Ralph McTell, Fishermens Friends, Polly Bolton, Matt Clifford, Vladimir Vega, Paul Downes, Gareth Turner, Ian Cutler and The Albion Morris. (And of course that never-to-be forgotten proposal!). See their Facebook page for more information.

Well that’s my weekend entertainment sorted out!

More Great Music Coming Up

Lockdown is being eased slightly but there’s still no indication of when live concerts and dances will be allowed. Luckily, there’s plenty of online entertainment to keep us amused and provide revenue for musicians.

  1. At 8.00pm on Friday 5 June, The Online Theatre is presenting the live Facebook video from Simon and Garfunkel Through The Years. Critically acclaimed as one of the greatest tribute shows anywhere in the world, Simon & Garfunkel Through The Years has toured the globe extensively receiving standing ovations and selling out theatres night after night. And you can see the show in the comfort and safety of your home for just £6.99. But tickets must be bought in advance so hurry and get yours now. As you only need one ticket per household it’s a real bargain to hear such a wonderful duo!
  2. FolkRoom Records are holding the Pillow Fort Folk Festival – their first stay-at-home afternoon of live music at 12.30pm on Saturday 6 June. Pillow Fort Folk Festival will bring musicians and fans closer together for a magical day streamed live from some of the folk scene’s finest musicians’ own pillow forts, all accompanied by renowned author and artist Chris Riddell’s exquisite live-drawn illustrations. The line up includes Edeglarks, Sam Lee, Jack Harris, Kirsty Merryn and many more. The festival is free to watch, but audience members are encouraged to donate via the GoFundMe account here. Donations will go towards supporting both the artists performing and The Trussell Trust. Watch the festival on their Facebook and YouTube pages!
  3. For those of you with a penchant for men in kilts, Skerryvore have declared that they’re not going to let a wee thing like lockdown get in the way of a good party! They invite you to join them at 4.00pm on Saturday 6 June for a seven hour online show ’15 Years Live’ for choruses, cocktails, quizzes and, quite possibly, a few secret stories from the past 15 years of Skerryvore. Details of the schedule coming soon…… Watch their Facebook page for more information
  4. At 7.00pm on Saturday 6 June, Ninebarrow are doing their third live streaming concert which will be available on Facebook and YouTube. The first two have been widely acclaimed and I’m really looking forward to this one
  5. If sea shanties are your thing, there’s a treat in store at 7.30pm on Saturday 6 June when you can watch the very first Oban International Shanty Festival ‘at Home’ via Zoom. The event is free but you need to register via Eventbrite in advance to get the link. Professional Sea Shanty bands will be performing interspersed with open mic spots. Please email Tom Malone at if you would like an open mic spot
  6. I feel bound to mention some of the other artists who continue to provide wonderful music and inspiration – Nancy Kerr with her Leon Rosselson Song a Day project, Simon Care who has raised thousands of pounds to help beleaguered artists, Tim Edey, Robbbie K. Jones, Daoiri Farrell – the list goes on and on. Head to your favourite artists’ Facebook pages, websites and YouTube channels to catch up with all that is going on. There’s far too much for me to keep track of!
  7. And finally, although it is not strictly musical entertainment, you might like to have a look at the fabulous Folk Talk on the English Folk Expo website – it’s a video series giving personal insights into the working practices of artists and industry across the folk, roots and acoustic music world.  Brilliant advice for performers of all levels from experienced performers like Jon Boden, Nancy, Kerr, Jacky Oates and Sam Carter – to name but a few. And the rest of the English Folk Expo website is pretty useful too – whether you are a folk fan, a performer or involved in some other way in the folk world.

Well that’s all for now – stay safe, enjoy the entertainment and keep supporting live music!

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.