Hitchin Folk Club

Monthly Newsletter - Hitchin Folkus

April 2017

Hi Folks

Before we get into Folkus is there anyone out there wanting to go to the Albert Hall on Easter Sunday to see Show of Hands?  One of our members has two tickets he finds he cannot use.  There are seats available on a coach picking up at Hitchin, Barton and St. Albans.

In case you missed it! Sunday 2nd we had two of our finest songwriters at the club as a duo, for the first time, Jez Lowe & Steve Tilston.  Jez’s double nomination in the 2015 BBC Folk Awards – for best singer and best new song – was a timely reminder of Jez Lowe’s standing in the UK folk and acoustic music scene. Not only he is one of the busiest live performers in the country, but his songs are among the most widely sung by other performers, whether by long-established acts like Fairport Convention, The Dubliners and Bob Fox, or by the new breed of stars like The Unthanks, The Young Uns and The Duhks.  His involvement in the award-winning BBC series The Radio Ballads continues, with his song The Wrong Bus singled out for inclusion on Radio 4’s Pick of the Year last December.  Steve is one of our most celebrated songsmiths, widely recognised within the world of folk and contemporary music; the words, arrangements and subtle, quite superb guitar playing could be no one else. Though known as a songwriter, Steve has always had an ear for the tradition and included new interpretations of old favourites on his original recordings, but it is as the writer of the classic, and much covered songs like The Slipjigs and Reels, Here’s to Tom Paine, The Naked Highwayman and the BBC Folk Award-winning The Reckoning, that Steve is best known.  Tonight was a masterclass in songwriting!

We have three young artists for you on Sunday 9th, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, supported by Elliott Morris.  Greg and Ciaran met in 2011. Quickly signing to Fellside Records, in July 2012 they released their debut album, The Queen’s Lover. The duo developed and honed their stage craft, becoming one of the most sought after young acts on the English Folk Scene.  In January 2013, the pair picked up the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award. Extensive touring followed despite still needing to complete school and University exams playing club venues and festivals such as Cambridge Folk Festival and Fairport Convention’s Cropredy.  After recording their second album in the November of 2013, they received the Horizon Award for Best breakthrough act at the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. The duo come from musical households and both began to develop their musical skills long before joining forces; Ciaran becoming All Ireland Fiddle Champion, and All Britain Champion on numerous occasions before the age of 16 and Greg had already begun a career as a solo musician. Powerful songs and searing instrumentals! With Ciaran at University, Greg has been involved in other projects recently, eg. Nancy Kerr’s Sweet Visitor Band and the Transports. Ciaran is also a member of Sam Kelly’s Lost Boys, one of the headline acts at Kimpton Folk Festival this year. YouTube.  With hundreds of gigs behind him – and a coveted Danny Kyle Award from Celtic Connections 2013 – Elliott has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene.  The singer-songwriter, featured in Acoustic magazine as ‘The Next Big Thing’, taps the strings and beats the guitar’s body to create an intricate spectacle, together with an original and unique sound integral to his songs. YouTube.

Our Easter concert on Sunday 16th will be, again, shared by Liz Simcock and Dave Ellis & Boo Howard. Liz writes songs and performs them in folk and acoustic clubs in and around the Southeast and beyond. In 1999 she featured on the Playpen Album of New Acoustic Music alongside Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Kathryn Williams. Since then she has trodden an independent path, gaining a growing reputation as a performer and songwriter. Liz counts Richard Thompson, Clive Gregson, Boo Hewerdine and Joni Mitchell amongst her main songwriting role models. For the past few years Liz has worked with the virtuoso backing of Dave Ellis on guitar and Boo Howard on bass. Tonight she will be back solo. YouTube  Dave Ellis came down from Liverpool for the London folk club scene in 1970. He released a solo album on Sonet records in 1973 which is considered by some to be a classic guitar record of the 70s and which gave him national exposure on the Old Grey Whistle Test and In Concert.
In 1979 Dave formed his electric band ‘The Reactors’ which incorporated guitar, drums and keyboards with Boo Howard playing bass and handling most of the vocals.  The band was eventually trimmed down and developed into an electric duo (comprising Dave and Boo) which was renamed ‘Brave Lucy’. There was a direction change for the duo in 1998, when Dave and Boo transformed themselves - combining Dave’s intricate guitar work with Boo’s mellow vocals to create something very different and entirely new for the folk and acoustic clubs. Their songs are intelligently constructed, elegantly articulated and never less than entertaining. The mix is eclectic (from folk to jazz to blues to bluegrass) but the songs are at the heart of it all, served by imaginative and stylish arrangements and by the singing and playing of two seasoned, wholly in tune musicians.

 A new, exciting act for Hitchin on Sunday 23rd, Calan. Calan bring together the remarkable talents of 5 young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing.  They blast their way through some of the old favourite reels, jigs and hornpipes with fast paced and uplifting arrangements before melting into some of the most beautiful and haunting songs.  The group, who’ve raised some eyebrows with a deliberate policy of eye-catching clothes and presentation, despite the ancient roots of their music, see themselves as a new generation of ambassadors, striving to take their new sound to new audiences, while raising the profile of Welsh traditional music on an international level.
With their unique instrumental blend fiddles, whistles, guitar and bagpipes and a traditional reed instrument from Wales called a pibgorn made from a wooden pipe and the horns of a bull.  Great fun, a sense of humour and step dancing from a champion dancer who dances in a style unique to Wales.  They have introduced a new generation of music fans to Welsh traditional music – in Wales and beyond.  Audiences in Belgium, Italy and France as well as all over the UK have given them a terrific reception they are now on their fourth tour of North America.
  The band began by busking in the streets of Cardiff raising money to pay for university fees. By 2015 they were performing alongside Bryn Terfel and Sting at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of Bryn Terfel’s 50th birthday party.  YouTube .  Calan’s guest support is Dan Wilde. Dan has been performing his own brand of richly observant folk both in the UK and around the world for the past five years. And in that time, he’s developed a growing fan-base and a reputation amongst those who know as "a fantastic songwriting talent who without a doubt will deserve and demand your attention(Eclectically Challenged). His profound lyrics, melded with a unique melodic sensibility that have led to comparisons with the likes of Paul Simon, Richard Thompson and Ron Sexsmith. Dan’s words have been described as, “deeply personal and introspective but engrossing and charismatic(Folkwords) and they reflect his peripatetic restlessness. YouTube

 We end the month with the wonderful Belinda O’Hooley & Heidi Tidow. With a personal invite from Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, sessions on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2, a five star live review and feature in The Guardian, culminating in a MOJO Folk Album of the Year award for groundbreaking album The Hum,  O’Hooley & Tidow are regarded as lionhearted trailblazers of contemporary music and songwriting. Having the originality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Belinda and Heidi’s powerful, deeply moving, and at times spine-tingling performances are infused with an honesty and empathy that will disarm even the hardest of heart.To make a business successful, they say, one needs a Unique Selling Point, and Belinda and Heidi have USPs in abundance!  Nobody else is doing anything quite like them, plus haunting harmonies, beautiful musicianship and a huge chunk of humour. YouTube

Ros Brady will be supporting. Ros writes songs from interviews with some of the world’s top environmentalists such as Jonathan Porrit and Vandana Shiva.  She is half of duo BarronBrady;  Si will be accompanying her tonight. Her album was produced by PJ Harvey’s producer Howard Bullivant. Ros plays dulcimer and harmonium, and composes her nature songs outdoors in the valley where she lives on Dartmoor. YouTube

 Tickets are now available for the autumn and winter all ticket shows. Slaid Cleaves on October 8th, Martyn Joseph on December 3rd, St Agnes Fountain on Dec 10th (to members only until September, as usual. 50 gone already!) and Albion Christmas on Dec 17th.

There are also advanced tickets available for Downes & Beer on September 3rd and Richard Digance plus the Broadside Boys on Sept 10th.

Keiron & Maureen Jones


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