Hitchin Folk Club

Monthly Newsletter - Hitchin Folkus

ROUND-UP 2017 & JANUARY 2018


Hi Folks

Well, that’s 2017 over for the Folk Club, the celebration of Maureen’s 50 years running the club.  We had everything this year, from the power of the Tannahill Weavers, exuberance of the Urban Folk Quartet, exquisiteness of Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, the digital dexterity of Martin Simpson, gentleness of Edwina Hayes to the sheer beauty of Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker.  It was, however, tinged with sadness at the loss of Derek Brimstone and Vin Garbutt, two characters that kept us in stitches over the years.

A couple of new headline acts this year, one by design and one by fate! Young Welsh band, Calan, wowed us with high energy instrumentals and songs, many of which were in Welsh, plus Bethan’s clogging!  It is very unusual when an act has to cancel, more unusual than you would imagine, but it happened in June when both Chris and Kellie While succumbed to illness.  A bit of frantic ringing round on the Saturday, to see who was available resulted in a first visit to the club by Sam Carter.  What a night that was, absolutely superb.  We are hoping to get Sam back in 2018, with his partner in crime (or should that be rhyme?), Sam Sweeney, but we haven’t managed to tie down a date yet.

As usual, the main source of new acts came in the support department.  We had Steve Warner & Roly Taylor and the sensational Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage in February, then had to wait until November for The Foxglove Trio, who will be returning in May as a double header with Rosie Hood.  The last new act in 2017, but by no means least, was the hugely talented Hattie Briggs, who will be back just as soon as we can find a suitable date for her.

Highlights of the year? Shouldn’t really pick anything out from such a wonderful years’ entertainment but, probably the warmth and experience of the two veterans, Mike Silver & Johnny Coppin on Maureen’s actual anniversary.  Maybe everybody was so happy that night because we had charged 1963 prices to get in? They will be back in April.  Then there was the big, celebratory concert in May with Daphne’s Flight, what a treat that was!  They will be back in the autumn.

Thank you for your continued support, without you it would be impossible (and, quite frankly, pointless!).  Have a great Christmas break and, hopefully, see you in the New Year.



The first thing to mention is not at the club, but in Dunton where, on January 6th, Dunton Folk will hold their annual Wassail at Church Farm, 6.30pm and after, I’m sure, in the March Hare!  An evening of morris dancing, mulled cider, warming soup, a mummers play, singing and merriment.  You can also enjoy strange traditions, like hanging bits of toast in apple trees, and bashing pots and pans in the orchard!


At the club on Sunday 7th we have Barry Goodman & Friends to ease us into the New Year.  Unplugged, and held in the Ballroom Bar, Barry’s guests this year include Malcolm Hobbs, Julie Dawson and Gifford, Brookes  

Dorset -based duo, Ninebarrow, will be performing on Sunday 14th January, as part of an extensive national tour this winter.  They were nominees at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Award in the ’Horizon’ category for ‘Best Emerging Artist’. One of the highest accolades in their genre, it is made even more exceptional because it was only eighteen months ago that Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere gave-up careers in teaching and medicine to pursue their unique brand of folk music. Since the release of their debut album in 2014, Jon & Jay have been rapidly fulfilling Shire Folk Magazine’s prediction that they will ‘become a major force in English folk music’, having received high praise from the likes of Mike Harding and folk legends, Seth Lakeman and Kate Rusby.  YouTube.   Supporting tonight will be Zoe Wren. Since completing her degree, Zoe has decided to follow a career in music, full time. A regular performer at Hitchin, she continues to grow in stature at every visit. YouTube

Sunday 21st sees a return to the club by Jackie Oates & Tristan Seume.  Jackie is a singer and fiddle player hailing from Staffordshire. Her unique treatment of English ballads and songs, and pure, haunting singing style has established her at the forefront of the new English folk revival. Since appearing as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2003, she has performed extensively at festivals and venues across the country and beyond, in a solo capacity and with her band. 2008 saw Jackie walking away with two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards including the Horizon Award for best newcomer, plus nominations at the 2010 Folk Awards for Folk Singer of The Year, Album of the Year and Best Traditional Track for ‘Isle of France’.  Early in 2011 she was invited to take part in the Cecil Sharp Project, a song writing project, initiated by Shrewsbury Folk Festival, which brought together English and Appalachian musicians for an intensive week of song writing. In 2012 she began an extensive period of research into an area of song that is particularly close to her heart; lullabies. Collating material from England and beyond into a new collection to be housed at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House and, of course, an album, “Lullabies”.  With her uniquely beautiful vocals before you know it you have been completely sucked in.  As a soloist, accompanist, writer, teacher and session musician, Tristan is one of the UK’s leading acoustic guitarists. Strongly influenced by folk, jazz and country.  He has released two instrumental solo albums, featuring a mixture of original compositions, traditional tunes and a few choice covers. YouTube.         John Dipper & Dave Malkin will be supporting tonight. Dipper Malkin is the “potent combination” (Folk Radio UK) of two musicians that have spent their careers to date involved in ground-breaking projects. John Dipper (viola d’amore) was one third of The English Acoustic Collective alongside Chris Wood and Robert Harbron and currently works with string quartet Methera, while Dave Malkin (guitar, voice) was a founding member of trio Tandem, stylishly combining traditionally informed compositions with live electronics.  YouTube  

We end January on Sunday 28th with our annual visit by the Bully Wee Band.  Since their reformation in 2004, the Bully Wee Band have had no trouble proving that they are still a force to be reckoned with as one of Britain’s foremost exponents of acoustic folk/rock music.  Originally formed in the early 70s by brothers Jim and John Yardley, the Bully Wee Band successfully toured Britain, Europe and America through several line-ups until the last one of Ian Cutler, Fergus Feely, Colin Reece and Maartin Allcock finally called it a day in 1983.  20 years later a chance meeting between Messrs Cutler, Feely and Reece resulted in a very spirited jam session at Faversham Folk Club in Kent, and a subsequent decision to put a three piece Bully Wee Band back on the road in January 2004 “if only for the craic”. So successful was the 2004 tour that Colin, Ian and Fergus decided to repeat the experience the following January, only this time with the addition of Bully Wee founder member Jim Yardley. Thus the current line-up of Ian, Fergus, Colin and Jim was complete and reunited and have toured every January since. YouTube


A first shout out for the third Kimpton Folk Festival on 7th July, 2018.  Concerts at this lovely, local festival feature many club favourites, including Urban Folk Quartet, Chris & Kellie While & Julie Matthews, Greg Russel & Ciaran Algar, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Jackie Oates, The James Brothers, Luke Jackson, Kelly Oliver & Said The Maiden. Early bird tickets are now on sale.


 Keiron & Maureen Jones


Picture gallery
Who played when?(work in progress, now adding links)
Directions to the club