Coventry Folk News Archive

1st September 2021

Spoilt for choice!

After the famine comes a feast of fantastic,
home-grown folk music.

If anyone needed convincing of the superlative standard of music to be heard by local acts at local folk venues – here’s a mini tour of Coventry and Warwickshire clubs that we strongly recommend for checking out over the next fortnight.

Monday 6th September

…gives a chance to enjoy the irrepressible talent of Coventry singer-songwriter Rob Halligan when he makes his guest appearance at Lighthorne Folk at The Antelope, Lighthorne with fellow-musicians from his Homeward Hie band line-up, Ewan Cameron (whistles, flute), Aiden O’Hare (violin) and Chris Hunt (guitar).

Homeward Hie – L-R: Chris Hunt, Rob Halligan, Ewan Cameron, Aiden O’Hare

The gig was arranged, hot on the heels of the band’s impressive debut performance at CVFolk’s post-lockdown relaunch concert at the Albany Theatre last June. Playing support are resident Peter Reynolds and popular Warwickshire duo Hatstand, comprising harmonies, guitar and double bass from Kate Vassalos and Keith Nickless.

The show starts 7pm and admission is £5 plus jug collection donations. For more details, email peterreynolds.pbr@gmail.com.

Tuesday 7th September

All roads lead to Rugby on that date for the long-overdue opportunity to see Warwickshire folk-rockers Meet On The Ledge in action. Founder members Ron Holmes (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Allen Maslen (lead guitar) team up with keyboards-player Steve Bird and Bo Davies on drums for their unique full-on sound.

Al Maslen and Ron Holmes of Meet On The Ledge

Catch them at the Wurzel Bush Folk Club at Rugby West Indian Club on Railway Terrace from 8pm. Admission is free but audience members are invited to fill a chamber pot with cash!

Wednesday 8th September

…sees Coventry’s internationally acclaimed guitarist Kevin Dempsey performing his amazing jazz-tinged arrangements of songs, self-penned and traditional. His set list often includes classics from the repertoires of his former world-shaking line-ups, Dando Shaft and Whippersnapper.

Kevin Dempsey

He appears solo at Bedworth Folk Club which meets at the Trent Valley Club in Bedworth town centre. Hosted by Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan, the show starts 8pm and includes a support set from the recently extended line-up of Paper Circus (Jennian King on vocals, Suraj Nagar on guitar and Merlin on double bass) fresh from their success at Moira Folk Festival. The music kicks off at 8pm – again free admission with a jug collection.

Sunday 12th September

The new season of CVFolk’s own monthly schedule of ‘2nd Sunday’ events commences when three more of the region’s finest folk acts take the stage in the Albany Theatre Studio in Coventry,

Highly acclaimed and creative singer-songwriter Wes Finch will be there for what was to be a solo set but we’ve now learned that he’ll be joined by percussionist Ben Haines, and double bass-player and former Nizlopi member John Parker.

Wes Finch (photo Russell Whitehead)

With a repertoire that reflects the influences of folk, blues and Americana, this superb line-up would prove an impressive headline guest act in its own right. However, the evening also features the first public appearance in over 30 years of Mick Bisiker (guitar and bouzouki) and Al Romanov (gypsy fiddle)..

Front man for popular local folk-rock concert and ceilidh band Rack and Ruin, Mick made many well-received appearances on the club circuit with Al in the 1980s and their last album Bisiker and Romanov picked up the prestigious Music Retailers Best Folk Album award in 1989.

Bisiker & Romanov

The show opens at 7pm with some splendid three-part harmony by popular local exponents of the art of unaccompanied singing, Thrup’nny Bits featuring the voices of Barbara and Gareth Wyatt and Des Patalong. Admission is free – yet another jug collection!

Thrup’nny Bits – L-R: Des Patalong, Barbara Wyatt, Gareth Wyatt. Photos by John B.Smith

All proof, if needed, that the local folk circuit is back on track after the pandemic panic – here’s hoping for no further health-scare hiatus. Click here for more details and more things happening on the Coventry and Warwickshire folk circuit.

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15th August 2021

Leading local club under starter’s orders

New team puts Warwick Folk Club back on track
at The Racehorse

Warwick Folk Club launches its post-lockdown programme next month.

The fortnightly club reopens on Monday 13th September at its regular venue, The Racehorse on the town’s Stratford Road.  The programme, as before, will feature a mixture of guest and performers nights but the main difference is the new nine-person team of organisers following the retirement of its long-time host Norman Wheatley.

Warwick Folk Club’s new team of MCs. L-R: Laura Kisby, Dave Fry, Don Arthurson and Robin Kaye

There is now a cohort of three MCs – Laura Kisby, Dave Fry and Don Arthurson with club publicist Robin Kaye also stepping in as a reserve compere.

Other roles, including treasurer, organising the raffle, running the club website (http://warwickfolkclub.co.uk) and general help on the nights are taken on by club regulars Rob Watts, Mandy Watts, Sally Crompton, Dora Stoddard and Maggie Coleman.

More WFC team members – from top left: Sally Crompton, Rob Watts, Maggie Coleman, Mandy Watts and Dora Stoddard.

As for guests, the club has already booked Leamington’s own singer-songwriter and world-renowned comic genius Keith Donnelly who appears on October 11th ‘with friends’. November 22nd sees a joint guest night of two awesome local acts, As The Heron and Craig Sunderland. And watch out for more details of the club’s Christmas Party on Monday December 20th.

Forthcoming guests at Warwick, Keith Donnelly, Craig Sunderland and As The Heron (Gary Painting and Lauren South)

Robin tells us that they plan to re-book guests which had to be cancelled because of the lockdown and the club is also likely to continue its popular Theme Nights if attendances resume at their pre-COVID level. Among those staged before the outbreak were a ‘Top Twenty’ night and songs based on the theme of ‘Fool’.

For the rest of the programme leading up to Christmas, the club stages its Performers Nights, the first of which takes place for the Grand Reopening with singer, guitarist, experienced MC and teller of dubious jokes Dave Fry hosting the proceedings.

Robin explains, ‘Floor artists should book in advance to be assured of a spot during Performers Nights but, of course, they can come along on the night to see if there are any spaces. We do try to fit people in if we can.’

It looks like the club will continue its popularity as the place to play. At the time of writing – and with news of the club reopening only recently announced – over half of the available floor spots have already been booked for September 13th.

Robin recognises the club’s strong reputation built up over the years when Norman Wheatley was in charge. ‘Warwick Folk Club was kept active thanks to Norman’s dedication and enthusiasm and all the club regulars and guests are very grateful to him.’

Norman Wheatley compering the club’s ‘Fool’ Theme Night

The Folk Club team is working with The Racehorse to ensure that they can operate in a COVID-safe environment. This means that audience numbers may have to be restricted but the team will issue some further information plus any guidelines nearer the re-start.

North Warwickshire is also enjoying the re-emergence of live folk clubs with highly successful nights of music enjoyed by Nuneaton and Bedworth Folk Clubs and a grand night in store when Atherstone Folk Club reopens this Wednesday (18th August) at The Rose Inn, Baxterley, where resident band Finger In The Jar host a Singers Night.

For further details and updates on local club nights, check CVFolk’s ‘Cov & Warks Folk Diary’ on www.cvfolk.com/calendar.

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28th July 2021

Motor City Music

Wellerman singers and CVFolk add their voices
to new-look Coventry Motofest

New wave shanty group The Longest Johns, Americana duo Rosso, Nuneaton Folk Club residents Nunc, and Coventry singer-songwriter Rob Halligan are among the acts featured in a final musical flourish for this year’s new-style Motofest events.

The Longest Johns bring songs of the sea to the English Midlands.

CVFolk once again contributes to MotoFest Coventry which has switched to a new ‘MotoFest Month 2021’ programme, stretched out across three weekends and culminating in a display of motors and music on Saturday and Sunday, August 7-8.

The Saturday evening drive-in show takes place on the Nexus ICA Stage in Coventry’s Millennium Place from 7pm.

Headlined by ELO‘s Dave Scott-Morgan, the show includes a rousing performance by  internationally-acclaimed Bristol based harmony quartet The Longest Johns whose version of the classic Wellerman launched the surprising 2021 revival in the art of shanty singing.

The evening also features songs from Rob Halligan and a live interview with CVFolk’s Chair Pete Willow and Patron Pauline Black, world-famous 2 Tone singer whose musical career started out in the 1970s Coventry folk scene.

Pauline Black – CVFolk Patron

Tickets at £20 per vehicle can be booked on the Club MotoFest Portal here.

The free admission Saturday and Sunday daytime events also in Millennium Place, run from 10am to 5pm with Rosso and Nunc included in the Sunday afternoon programme.

Upcoming UK Americana-Country duo Rosso features voices and music of Emily Eglinton and Fiona Laycock who graduated from university straight into the gigging circuit and have already released three well-received singles.

Midlands alt-folk duo Rosso

Nunc’s 6-piece line-up is well-established on the Coventry and Warwickshire folk circuit through its performances at Nuneaton Folk Club, Ragged Bear Festival and CVFolk 2nd Sunday events among other venues. Performers of great versions of blues and folk-rock classics, they have become veteran and popular performers at Motofest since CVFolk first became involved in the event.

They are certainly hitting the ground running after the long lockdown layoff, when they host the reopening of their club in its completely revamped venue, the Queens Hall, Nuneaton on Wednesday August 4th, 8pm. Nunc are joined that evening by Adam Wilson, Craig Sunderland, Nigel Ward and Greenman Rising’s Steve Bentley and Andrew Wrigglesworth. Admission is free

Nunc – no strangers to the stage at CVFolk’s 2nd Sunday events

Details and timings are still being finalised at time of the writing this, so watch this site for updates. But it’s good to see the city’s celebration of its automotive heritage complemented by its strong foundations in folk music.

Stop press – update!

The show this Saturday evening (7th August) starts at 7.30pm in Millennium Place, Coventry by the Transport Museum. The Longest Johns perform their first set at 8pm, followed by the interview when BBC CWR’s Sandra Godley talks to Pete Willow and Pauline Black about the CVFolk project. The LJ’s are back on stage at 9pm.

Sunday afternoon (8th August) includes performances by Nunc at 2.30pm and a trio line-up of Rosso at 3.30pm.

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9th July 2021

Life after lockdown?

Folk is coming home.

The local folk scene is starting to get busier now that the government has decreed the – albeit delayed – end of lockdown and more local venues have announced reopening dates and guest lists.

Nunc – host band of Nuneaton Folk Club – bringing folk back home to Coventry this Sunday

First out of the trap was CVFolk’s Second Sunday monthly show in Coventry’s Albany Theatre Studio, when a delightful evening of live music took place on June 13th, featuring Rob Halligan’s new band Homeward Hie and support acts As The Heron and Craig Sunderland.

The ticketed socially-distanced event ran smoothly producing many social media comments on the high standard of music played by all artists and the joy of live music in front of a real audience! The venue immediately gave the go-ahead for a full-programme of 2nd Sunday events without the need for advance tickets, but keeping the social distancing and risk assessment procedures to remain Covid-compliant.

Ironically, the next event – this Sunday 11th July – clashes with a certain major football match!

Undaunted by England’s success in reaching the Euro 2020 Final, organisers were not able to reschedule the date or start time so have decided to go ahead with the music, kicking off at 7pm in the Albany Theatre Studio, on the basis that there are bound to be fans of live music seeking refuge from the ubiquitous presence of football. Or who just think the return of live music is more important.

The Hanksters are also back in the Albany Theatre this Sunday 11th July

Billed as ‘Beyond the Festival Fringe’ the event was meant to give a foretaste to fringe events at Warwick Folk Festival, sadly a late victim of the pandemic. Hosted by singer and 12-string guitarist Dave Fry, CVFolk’s evening features the first public appearance in months by Nuneaton Folk Club’s talented and popular 6-piece line-up of Nunc.

They share the billing with two acts associated with tireless instigator of so-many line-ups and musical projects Steve Boyer. He performs with singing partner Mike Cox as Under The Influence and then finishes the evening playing percussion for The Hanksters which specialises in songs by the legendary Hank Williams.

Admission is free but audience members will be invited to place spare bank notes into the caddy collection.

Sunday’s guest singer and MC, Dave Fry (L) and driving force behind Under The Influence and The Hanksters, Steve Boyer (R)

Guests lined up for future 2nd Sunday events at the Albany Theatre include the long-overdue reappearance on September 12th of powerhouse duo, Mick Bisiker on guitar and bouzouki, and Al Romanov on violin. They share the billing with Coventry’s highly acclaimed singer, guitarist and songwriter Wes Finch. Warwickshire folk-rock trio Meet On The Ledge appears in November and Wes Finch is back in full band mode in March 2022.

Meet On The Ledge also appear as opening guests when live music returns to the Wurzel Bush Folk Club’s venue, the West Indian Club, Railway Terrace Rugby on Tuesday September 7th.

Nuneaton Folk Club brings back live music hosted by Nunc to the recently refurbished Queens Club on Wednesday August 4th. Their published guest list includes Winter Wilson (September 1st), Pilgrim’s Way (October 6th) and the powerful sound of Greenman Rising (December 1st). Greenman Rising also host the popular Ragged Bear Festival at the same venue on Saturday October 30th where this year’s headliners are Fairport Convention.

Bedworth Folk Club is back in action on Wednesday August 11th in the town’s Trent Valley Club where ace songwriter John Richards appears with his quartet. Their guests also include Kevin Dempsey (September 8th), Nick Dow (October 13th) and Jez Lowe (November 10th).

Lighthorne Folk Club has rescheduled its date for Rob Halligan who now appears on the Marquee stage at the Antelope Inn, Lighthorne on Monday September 6th with support by Dave Faulkner and Hatstand. The club also meets on August 2nd when Craig Sunderland appears with As The Heron and Martin Hainsworth.

The local session scene is starting to pick up, with the Monday night traditional music sessions resuming at the Humber Hotel in Coventry, hosted by Nigel Ward and Jack Shuttleworth, and the weekly Hairy Folkers get-togethers reverting from zoom mode to live sessions in the garden (weather permitting) at the Old Windmill pub, Spon Street, Coventry from this Sunday 2.30-5pm.

Make the most of it folks – enjoy the live music while it’s still legal to meet in public.

And don’t let a small matter of a football match get in the way of your enjoyment of real folk musaic performed in front of a live audience.

#Folkiscominghome

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17th June 2021

Warwick Folk Festival postponed.

Lockdown delay puts paid to plans for new venue launch

Organisers of this year’s Warwick Folk Festival have announced with regret that the event is to be put back yet another year.

The decision was reached, following the Prime Minister’s announcement last Monday that the planned end-of-lockdown date of June 21st is to be put back for another four weeks.

All the sad times of old Warwick? Festival sessions put back another year. Photo by John Wright

After an emergency Festival Board meeting, WFF Director, Dick Dixon has issued this statement:

“Following extensive planning and discussion in light of the most recent government guidelines, with huge regret it has been decided that Warwick Folk Festival, which was due to take place 15 – 18 July, will be postponed until 21 – 24 July 2022.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, but with the current situation, our absolute priority is the safety of our staff, artists, traders, audience and the local community. We will ensure that our website includes detailed updates as soon as possible.

“As previously, tickets can be transferred to next year’s festival. Thank you to everybody for your continued support and efforts during this difficult time – we miss you very much.”

The festival statement goes on to explain why the decision to postpone was made at this point in time:

“We’ve been waiting for government guidance to be published on how is best to proceed. This has become more important after many in the scientific community have expressed serious concerns over the new COVID-19 Delta variant and the next step of the roadmap proceedings.

“We take the safety of everyone involved at our festival very seriously and feel we have a duty of care to ensure that our festival is a safe place. We also want to ensure that we protect the local community as much as we can.

“Another major concern is that there may be even more changes to the guidelines at the last minute, and many festivals including ourselves have to pay huge sums of money in advance to artists and infrastructure providers. This jeopardises the future of our festival.”

Now postponed two years running, the festival was due to mark the retirement of Dick as Festival Director, having been involved in the running of the event since it was launched in 1980. This year’s main events were to be staged in Castle Park, a greenfield site adjacent to Warwick Castle and a short walk from the town centre.

This year’s guest list had included such big names as Seth Lakeman, Show of Hands, Spiers & Boden and The Young-Uns and organisers hope to roll over as much as this year’s programme as possible to run next year.

Says Dick ‘The new site presents a great opportunity and it’s really sad that we won’t be experiencing it just yet. However, we are looking forward to making the 2022 festival better than ever – do put the dates in your diaries!’

For further information and updates, please check here for the festival website.

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27th March 2021 (updated 1st April)

Easter treat from Halligan and friends

Rob’s all-star Cathedral show augurs well for Coventry’s first post-lockdown folk concert 

Coventry singer-songwriter Rob Halligan has staged an Easter special concert video-recorded in Coventry Cathedral for release on April 1st.

With guitarist Chris Hunt and whistle-player Ewan Cameron, the 45-minute concert was filmed in front of the Cathedral’s world-famous Baptistry Window.

Rob Halligan performing in Coventry Cathedral

Available on YouTube from 7.30pm, the show features songs from Rob’s most recent widely-acclaimed album, Always Heading Home. See it here: https://tinyurl.com/4dmbabyy  

It also gives a foretaste of CVFolk’s new season of Second Sunday concerts, to be relaunched in June, with Rob’s new band, Homeward Hie topping the bill.

Taking place in the Albany Theatre Studio, Coventry on Sunday June 13th, the socially-distanced event is believed to be the first live folk show to take place in the city since lockdown.

Rob organised the Cathedral gig as ‘something different for Easter’.

He explains ‘last September, the band teamed up to perform a streamed gig from my living room. We wanted to do it again but this wasn’t going to be possible in current conditions.

Ewan Cameron at Coventry Cathedral

‘I had a word with the Dean at Coventry Cathedral. They’re very keen to have live music’.

Rob describes the performance as an awesome experience. ‘We had the whole building to ourselves and it was quite surreal. The ambience was great – not only did we get the huge reverb from the building itself but you can still hear the city sounds from outside in the background. It works really well on the recording’.

Rob Halligan and Chris Hunt

The recording was produced by James Norden of Upbeat Image. He has worked with Rob before and filmed his visit to Lebanon for the Coventry charity Global Care in May 2016.

An album of the concert, Always Heading Home – Coventry Cathedral 2021, comes out on Friday 2nd April, available via Rob’s website  https://robhalligan.co.uk.

As Homeward Hie, Rob, Chris and Ewan will be joined by fiddle and uilleann pipes player Aiden O’Hare to headline to the CVFolk concert.

It’s a fitting venue for the band’s first public live show. As Rob points out ‘I got to know Ewan at the CVFolk launch event in the Albany Theatre back in July 2018. And I first met Aiden the following year at one of CVFolk’s Sunday afternoon music sessions where he was playing fiddle and uilleann pipes.

‘Chris and I have worked on and off for over 25 years and he’s recorded on my albums, One Day and Psalm.’

Aiden O’Hare at CVFolk’s session in the Albany Theatre Studio

Starting 7pm, the CVFolk event kick-starts a new series of monthly Second Sunday events in the Studio. Playing support that evening is the highly talented duo As The Heron, featuring Gary Painting on guitar and Lauren South on fiddle, plus Coventry’s acclaimed singer-guitarist Craig Sunderland.

As social distancing rules will still apply on June 13th, admission will be by advance ticket only with the room laid out to accommodate household ‘bubbles’.  Says Chair of CVFolk, Pete Willow, ‘the venue has been fantastic in supporting the event with an excellent plan in place to ensure an enjoyable and convivial evening of top-class live music – and the bar will be open!’

Tickets are £11 each and now available from the theatre. on https://www.albanytheatre.co.uk/shows/homeward/.

Looking ahead to July 11th and assuming current restrictions are lifted as planned, CVFolk will host an informal ‘Warwick Fringe’ session as a prelude to Warwick Folk Festival which opens July 15th.

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5th March 2021

Memories of one magic night in Bergamo

UK release this week of live album
by Coventry’s Dando Shaft
 

A one-off 1989 gig in Italy by Coventry progressive folk legends Dando Shaft is officially released in the UK as a live album on March 12.

Shadows Across The Moon features the band in concert in Bergamo Old Town. Formed in 1968 and named after a 1960s satirical novel, Dando’s initial line-up of Kevin Dempsey, Dave Cooper, Martin Jenkins, Roger Bullen and Ted Kay was regarded as a major influence on the progressive side of the folk revival but had never played outside the UK in their five years of touring, apart from a festival in Germany.

CD ‘sleeping giants’ cover. Clockwise from left: Roger, Martin, Dave, Kevin and Ted

The gig was the result of the persistence of one Italian fan and music promoter, Gigi Bresciani who was determined to stage a reunion event and agreed to provide hotel accommodation for a week for the band to rehearse the one-off show. A recording of the event was released in Italy six years later, but it’s taken another 26 years for a high-quality mix to see light of day as a UK-released album, courtesy of the Talking Elephant label.

For singer and guitar wizard Kevin, the album recaptures a very special point in the history of the band: ‘There have been compilation releases of Dando tracks before but, thanks to Talking Elephant, this is the first time we’ve been directly involved in a release of our past music and have a say in the mix and cover design’.

More recent pic of Kevin Dempsey (photo by Pete Willow)

The album has been remastered from the original tapes and by the original engineer, Dario Ravelli. Kevin is justifiably delighted with the package and the overall sound quality. The songs come from all of the band’s previous albums but the arrangements are unique, with additional violin-playing by Chris Leslie, now a member of Fairport Convention.

Kevin explains: ‘At the time, Chris was working with Mart and me in Whippersnapper and it made sense for him to join us during this break in our schedule’.

Chris Leslie

Two of the tracks, Railway and Riverboat – written by Kevin and originally sung by Polly Bolton on the band’s eponymous 1971 album – feature Kev’s vocals on this recording.

This release of Shadows Across The Moon is dedicated to the memory of three of the band who have since left us. Percussionist Ted Kay died in 2007 and bass-player Roger Bullen passed away three years ago. As for Martin Jenkins, whose rich vocals and distinctive brilliance on mando-cello, flute and violin are well featured in the mix, his death by heart attack in 2011 left a large hole in the British and Bulgarian folk scenes. 

Martin Jenkins

Copies of the CD are available now from Kevin. Send him a message on Facebook – www.facebook.com/kevin.dempsey.9889 – or contact him on WhatsApp.

For those who grew up with the music of Dando Shaft, listening to this album will reconjure happy memories of hope, creativity and discovery of a fresh new sound, fusing folk with the rhythms of jazz and rock.

For those who never had that privilege, close your eyes, listen to Shadows and share the audience experience in Bergamo. You won’t regret it.

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22nd January 2021

Warwick Folk Festival will
happen this year …

… with a little bit of positive thinking! 

Glastonbury may be closed again this year but it’s still ‘all systems go’ for the Warwick Folk Festival team.

Festival guests Show of Hands and Seth Lakeman

Plans are well-established for four days of folk entertainment in mid-July and some world-class guests will be heading to the picturesque town in the heart of the country. Top of the bill on Thursday 15thJuly is fiddle-maestro and songwriter Seth Lakeman, while Friday’s headliners are the irrepressible Show Of Hands.

Widely acclaimed line-up The Young’Uns lead the Saturday line-up and highlight of Sunday’s programme is a reunion performance for squeezebox, fiddle and stomp-box virtuosos John Spiers and Jon Boden.

Festival guests Spiers & Boden and The Young’Uns

Other attractions include Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Steve Tilston and Hugh Bradbury, Reg Meuross, folk bard legend Les Barker,and the powerhouse duo of award-winning singer and musician Georgia Lewis and ace violinist Ross Grant, member of Inlay who are also appearing.

Festival patron and internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist Will Pound (above) appears in his own right to present a musical journey across the states of the European Union, A Day Will Come. And the locally written, performed and produced folk opera, The Undoing of Polly Button, featuring Daisybell and other local artists will get its long-awaited public airing after last year’s planned launch was cruelly cut short by the first lockdown. 

A year later than originally planned, the 41st Warwick Folk Festival will take place on its new Castle Park site, adjacent to Warwick Castle. Organisers also hope to offer the famous selection of Festival Fringe events in the historic town centre but this will be subject to whatever rules are in place at the time related to social distancing and the availability of venues.

Festival Director, Dick Dixon (above) expects to have a much better idea in March of the full festival format. He says ‘We should be able to set up in our new site to meet social distancing guidelines with more public facilities plus an extra field if needed.’

Dick was due to step back from his role as Director last year, having worked with the Festival throughout its entire 40-year history but agreed to stay on until this year to oversee the change of main site location.

His workload will be taken on by two new team members acting as Artistic Manager and Operational Manager. Says Dick, ‘We’ve already received some good applications for these volunteer roles but we’d be happy to receive more.’

For more information about scheduled artists, booking tickets and opportunities to join the Festival team, go to: warwickfolkfestival.co.uk 

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12th January 2021

Coventry singer-songwriter Wes Finch wins Arts Council support

Creative writer refocuses his innovative practice
as the gigs dry up

Wes Finch (photo by Russell Whitehead)

Already well-regarded for his onstage blend of folk, blues and Americana, Coventry’s Wes Finch has won Arts Council funding to produce a wider range of poetry and prose.

He has successfully applied for a Developing Your Creative Practice grant after the Council widened their funding remit as a response to the effects the pandemic is having on the arts. Wes impressed them with his case that the pandemic will provide an opportunity to write more, now that his chances of playing live music have been effectively wiped out for the moment.

He says that he long harboured a desire to write more and has been leaning towards it over recent years. ‘Now seems like the perfect time to refocus my energies with the opportunity that this funding provides’.

An avid reader, Wes has a strong background in studying literature, and the last few years have seen him engaging more in poetry while developing his acclaimed line-up, The Mechanicals Band.

Wes performing with members of the Mechanicals at CVFolk’s Second Sunday show, Albany Theatre, Coventry, May 2019. (photo by Pete Willow)

As he describes, ‘This group led me to co-writing a theatre and music show called The Righteous Jazz, based on the life and loves of Coventry poet Philip Larkin. This also received Arts Council money, which allowed us to produce and perform the show in Hull and Coventry’. The stage show had been encouraged and nurtured by Coventry’s Shoot Festival, big supporters of the band having featured them often. The songs are now available on a newly-released 8-track album.

The Mechanicals Band project had started in 2016 when Wes wrote a set of Shakespearean songs for a competition set by The RSC in Stratford on Avon. The BBC invited him to perform them at The Other Place theatre as part of the #Shakespeare400 celebrations and he established the original line-up with violinist Jools Street and percussionist Ben Haines.

L-R Ben Haines, Jools Street, John Parker, May 2019 (photos by Pete Willow)

The group was later joined by Katrin Gilbert on viola and John Parker on double bass and released its debut Shakespearean themed album Exit, Pursued by Bear in 2017.

Now, inspired by his involvement in the City Voices writing course staged last year by Theatre Absolute in Coventry, Wes’s current project involves producing poetry, prose and possibly song lyrics, based on three significant UK locations – his mother’s home county of Pembrokeshire, Wes’s (and his father’s) home town of Coventry, and the North Lincolnshire coast, an area that Wes has come to know well in the last 15 years.

Work is well-established as Wes explains: ‘I’ve been in touch with a few writers and poets that I like and they’ve agreed to mentor me. I also engaged with a couple of historians so that I can learn from them to inspire my writing. Local history fascinates me.

‘I don’t know how pandemic restrictions are going to affect travel to these locations but I’m looking forward to conversations with some very interesting and talented people. I want to learn as much as I can and hopefully produce a different kind of work that will be enjoyed and appreciated by others.

‘It’s all quite open-ended at the moment but I guess the final result will reflect a common theme of identity’.

While excited about the new venture, Wes is adamant that it doesn’t mean a farewell to playing live gigs. As he says, ‘Music is always my first love, even though you won’t see or hear me playing much next year. But watch this space, I will be blogging about it all’.

Wes Finch (photo by Holden Portrait)

Check out the Facebook pages for Wes – www.facebook.com/wesfinch – and The Mechanicals Band – www.facebook.com/WeAreTheMechanicals. And look out also for a new Wes Finch live album due for release next month.

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5th January 2021

Songwriter Nigel celebrates
all things Coventry

Histories and personal experiences of
City of Culture home

Nigel Ward (photo by John B.Smith)

Coventry multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Nigel Ward has captured stories and personal memories of his home city in music and song.

The outcome of this year-long project is his latest CD album, Coventry Kid (and other stories), featuring 14 tracks recorded with fellow-musician Mick Bisiker.

With the City of Culture status in mind, Nigel set out to write and record an album of Coventry-related songs and include some tunes about local landmarks already part of his repertoire.

He says, ‘There have been many traditional songs collected from different English counties and I am aware of a few industrial songs from the Midlands. But as far as I know, there haven’t been any songs written about Coventry’s past in a traditional folk style’. 

Mick Bisiker

After initial setbacks with project funding, Nigel spoke to Mick Bisiker, fellow member of folk-rock band, Rack and Ruin. Not only did Mick make his home studio available to record the material, he also added to arrangements with performances on piano, guitar, bass and harmony vocals.

Nigel explains, ‘The original plan was to include different local musicians, but ongoing restrictions made that impossible. We started recording in early March, but the lockdown forced us to postpone until July and we managed to complete by the end of the year’.

Tracks include reference to the city’s weaving industry, its role in the Civil War, the legend of Peeping Tom, the Blitz, the post-war boom times of the growing motor industry, and the disappearance of pubs that hosted music sessions around the city.

Coventry Kid album cover

It’s an impressive collection of songs and tunes and a worthy tribute to the city from a key and popular figure in the local music session, folk club and ceilidh circuits.

Nigel’s own reaction to the end-product? ‘Thanks to Mick’s great contributions, I must say I’m rather chuffed with the outcome!’

Rack and Ruin full line-up

Copies of the album are £10. To order, email Nigel on cosmicrhyme6@gmail.com.

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3rd November 2020

Total remix and relaunch for Joe O’Donnell’s celtic-rock masterpiece

The music of Rory Gallagher lives on in Gael’s Vision.

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Joe O’Donnell (photo by Chele Willow)

Coventry-based electric violinist Joe O’Donnell is celebrating the UK relaunch of his famous (and renamed) project, Gael’s Vision.

The 40th anniversary edition, complete with DVD of a live performance, is the remixed and enhanced version of Joe’s 1977 epic concept album Gaodhals’ Vision.  The new release features four additional tracks and previously unheard performances by Irish guitar maestro, the late Rory Gallagher, one of the guest musicians on the original album. 

The DVD presents a live performance of the complete opus at Coventry Belgrade Theatre in 2017 featuring Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla, with guest musicians, and Irish and Indian dancers. The package also includes a 16-page full colour booklet.

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Research on the original concept album was driven by Joe’s fascination with Irish history. It tells the story of the mythical migration of the Milesian people from Egypt to Spain and then to Ireland, providing the roots to Celtic culture.  The album embraces Indian and North African musical influences, blending orchestral music to driving progressive rock.

The original vinyl release was time-limited to ensure the best sound quality but Joe had written and recorded much more material at a 16-track studio on a Dutch barge in Little Venice in London run by Tom Newman, producer of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.

Thanks to digital technology, Joe was able to rescue the unused recordings. ‘I got them all transferred from the original tapes,’ he says. ‘I was told I could never play the tapes again as they were in such bad condition and they are! They’re in ribbons in the boxes’.

As a result, Joe was able to add 18 minutes of re-mastered material, including the rare contributions by Rory Gallagher on both electric and acoustic guitar.  

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Rory Gallagher

Joe recalls, ‘when Rory played at The Marquee in London, he’d invite me to get up and jam with him at the end of the night – a reasonably regular occurrence. I rang him up when I got the deal to record Gaodhal’s Vision and asked him if he’d play.

‘He arrived with his famous Strat and his equally famous Martin guitar. The Martin is only on six albums in the world, if that. It’s really rare. Anyway, I asked him what he’d like to get paid. And he said forget it. He wouldn’t take the money – he just really enjoyed doing it.’

Joe had built up an excellent reputation from his work on the Irish rock circuit in the 1970s and other musicians who joined him for the original recording included guitarist Steve Bolton (Atomic Rooster, The Who), keyboards-player David Lennox (Ginger Baker, Blodwyn Pig, The Equals), bass-player Bill Smith (Leo Sayer, Long John Baldry) and drummer Theodor Thunder (Alan Price Set, Leo Sayer).

As for the current line-up of Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla, Joe is proud to say they are all over the new version. The band comprises acclaimed Coventry and Warwickshire musicians Si Hayden (guitar), Martin Barter (keyboards), Adrian Litvinoff (bass) and Karen Milne (drums).

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Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla, L-R Karen, Joe, Adrian, Si, Martin (photo by Chele Willow)

Joe has found his adopted home of Coventry a good place to work musically. He had semi-retired in the Channel Islands when he received a call from Martin Jenkins, the late Coventry-based legend who had played mando-cello and flute for Dando Shaft, Whippersnapper and Hedgehog Pie.

Says Joe, ‘Martin had heard about me from Nina Szifris who I met at the Guernsey Folk Festival. She was instrumental in getting me back to England and raised some gigs for me.’  Joe formed the original version of Shkayla in 1998 with Martin and his guitarist son Ray Jenkins.

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(photo by Chele Willow)

While Joe believes he has now done all he can with Gael’s Vision, he has been busy on other projects, including another historical piece The Long Sobs which has involved recordings in the natural ambience of  local locations, including Coventry Cathedral and the unique circular gyrus in the Lunt Roman fort in Baginton.

With the support and encouragement of the Coventry 2021 team, he is now preparing an Arts Council bid to enable a recording and live performance incorporating pre-recorded choir and orchestra to provide stage space for band and actors.

Current pandemic conditions have thwarted plans to launch the latest edition of Gael’s Vision in Coventry, although Joe and the band did play some shows in Ireland when it was released there before the emergency.  However the package can be downloaded here https://joeodonnellsshkayla.com and you can see part of the composition here https://youtu.be/ZEd7IR_UjNo recorded at Warwick Folk Festival.

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20th March 2020

Logging into virus-free folk

Has Covid-19 killed off folk as we know it?

This week saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson advising the British public that social venues, including pubs, should be avoided in the light of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Large social gatherings, from the Grand National to the Boat Race have been cancelled along with football, rugby and hockey matches across the land. As for smaller social gatherings – like folk clubs – planned events have been dropping like flies.

Even though some of the usual homes for folk clubs, pubs, clubs and restaurants are still open (at this time of writing), the public in general – and folk fans in particular – are giving them a wide berth. Boris’s comments, combined with fears of inadvertent contamination and the likelihood of pre-existing ailments among the older demographic that tend to visit folk clubs, have resulted in a devastating and unprecedented collapse of this already beleaguered part of our culture.  At least for the next 3-4 months.

Where can the floorsingers go when the clubs are closed? This bunch have found slots in the newly formed Covideo Folk Club.

Virtually all the main folk clubs in the CV postcode area have let it be known that they are closing the doors against the virus. Some have announced cancellations, others that their events are merely postponed or suspended. Many club organisers, hosts and regulars are finding themselves incarcerated in enforced self-isolation – not just those older than 70. As for the guest artists, folk clubs may not offer much of a living but they do provide a stream of income which has now suddenly dried up.

It’s all looking very bleak at the moment. But there is a glimmer of hope for the folk circuit thanks to social media. It is now possible to experience the repertoire of folk clubs vicariously, thanks to clubs themselves or individual artists posting images of performances in their kitchens or lounges, anywhere deemed safe by the government to be safe from the culture-sapping virus.

In some cases, you are invited to donate money in a virtual jug collection, or purchase CDs online. It’s a valiant effort to keep the folk flag flying even if it only scratches the surface of the genuine folk club experience where you can interact, applaud, heckle, or join in with choruses. In the absence of the ‘real thing’, online folk is doing its best to keep the scene together and offer some compensation in these difficult times. Check out the Covideo Folk Club for a taste of how such sites could work: https://www.facebook.com/groups/142692067094518/

CVFolk is willing to help spread the word and inform folk fans of any performance pages being set up by venues and/or artists in the CV postcode area. Just let us know.

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6th March 2020

20 titles, 100+ covers…

Coventry welcomes back the man whose song made history at the Old Dyers Arms

One of Ireland’s leading singer-songwriters, Pat Cooksey is back in Coventry this weekend to perform up the road from the pub where he made folk history.

His first public airing of the song – then called Paddy and the Barrel – took place in a music session at the Dyers Arms, Spon End in 1969. The Dyers Arms music sessions themselves became world-famous throughout the 70s and 80s, hosted by the late guitar-wizard Dave Bennett and often visited by the original line-up of The Fureys – but that’s another story!

Pat Cooksey

Sung to the tune The Garden Where the Praties Grow, the song was adopted by Pat’s friend and Coventry-based singer Sean Cannon in 1972, many years before Sean became a member of The Dubliners and adding the song to their repertoire. By now the song had long taken on its more familiar title The Sick Note.

In fact the comedy classic has been recorded over 100 times worldwide under 20 alternative titles including Dear Boss by The Clancy Brothers, The Bricklayers Song by The Corries and Ray Stevens, and Murphy and the Bricks by Noel Murphy. Based on Gerard Hoffnung‘s address to the Oxford Union in 1958, the story dates back to the English music halls in the 1920s and appeared in the Readers Digest in 1937.

Also writer of The Fureys’ hit The Reason I Left Mullingar, Pat was born in Limerick and raised in Liverpool and Coventry. His introduction to Irish Music came via the late great singer Luke Kelly of The Dubliners, whom he first met in Ewan McColl‘s singers club in London. While living in Coventry, Pat wrote topical songs for BBC Radio Birmingham.

Now living in Germany, Pat describes himself as ‘very much at home amongst the towering mountains, fairy tale castles, and endless forests of Bavaria’, where he has become a considerable concert attraction. But he remains in close contact with Ireland and exchange visits of parties from Clare and Bavaria take place on a regular basis.

This month sees a mini-tour of local venues, including Bedworth Folk Club, the Wurzel Bush Folk Club and this weekend at CVFolk’s Second Sunday afternoon event on Sunday March 8th.

The free admission concert kicks off at 4pm in the Albany Theatre Studio with an opening set by The Boys of Ball Hill featuring former members of The Oddsods, Simon Lapworth, Bob Brooker, Nigel Ward and Pete Willow. There is also a solo set by the talented Coventry singer and guitarist Craig Sunderland currently making a big impact on the local club and festival circuit.

Craig Sunderland on the CVFolk stage at last year’s Motofest in Coventry

There will be the usual ‘caddy’ collection and families are welcome. A bar plus soft drinks and hot drinks are available. This will be the last time that the CVFolk Second Sunday events run in the afternoon. The programme resumes after Easter with a series of music, song and hopefully dance performances starting at 7pm and running until 9.30pm.

Postponed after last month’s bad weather, Michael Luntley’s trio Tricaorach will be performing their celebrated set piece of songs and poetry From This Ground in September, while Warwickshire’s folk band Starley Road will be playing support to Rob Halligan‘s band in a special ticketed concert in the Studio on Sunday 14th.

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URGENT NEWS – 9TH FEB 2020

CVFolk show at the Albany Theatre with Tricaorach and Starley Road POSTPONED because of potentially dangerous weather conditions.

For safety reasons – and in view of Met Office advice on Storm Ciara – we will reschedule.

Watch our social media pages and this website for further news. Do please spread the word to anyone you know was thinking of going. Many thanks and apologies.

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1st February 2020

Good Golly Miss Polly

Folk opera breathes life into local legend

Hot news from Nuneaton. Local man, John Danks has been found guilty for the brutal murder of Mary Green (a.k.a. Polly Button).

The murder and Danks’s subsequent execution actually took place in the 1830s, but the tragic story has inspired a folk opera, written by folksinger (and CVFolk panel member) Katherine Fear and to be premiered on Easter Saturday.

Katherine Fear (l) and Daisybell colleague Anya Fay performing some of the new Polly Button songs at CVFolk’s Second Sunday event in the Albany Theatre last month.

Inspired by Stephen Moore‘s acclaimed book The Undoing of Polly Button, Katherine has spent the last 18 months working on the folk opera, which will have the same title, and she has written 16 songs for the production.

She has used the Polly Button Folk Opera Facebook group for weekly announcements of cast members. So far we’ve learned that the show features singer Emilie Rackham, Midlands musician, singer and member of Crybb, Gary Painting and talented musician and arranger Sally-Ann Veasey.

Performers taking on the roles of Polly and Danks will be announced on Sunday February 16th during a fund-raising afternoon in Nuneaton’s Abbey Theatre, Pool Bank Street. This features performances by Kevin Dempsey, Brian Phillips, The Paper Circus, Maria Barham, Alkevan, Bill Bates, Crybb, K C Jones, Jan Richardson and John Kearney. With an exhibition of local photos in the Foyer plus tea and cakes, the 3-hour ‘hootenanny’ kicks off at 2pm and tickets are £5 – book tickets here.

The Folk Opera itself is premiered at the Abbey Theatre with matinee and evening shows on Saturday 11th April. The performance includes a narration of the story by George Eliot who would have been living in Nuneaton at the time of the events.

More celebration of Warwickshire past and present

Michael Luntley’s trio Tricaorach and Warwickshire’s all-star line-up Starley Road are joint attractions for this month’s CVFolk Second Sunday event, which takes place in the Studio of Coventry’s Albany Theatre, during the evening (NOT afternoon) of Sunday 9th February.

Tricaorach (pronounced ‘tree-currig’) are joined by local poet Olga Dermott-Bond to present From this Ground – a fascinating collection of stories, poems and songs of belonging, identity and migration, drawing on experiences of agricultural workers in late 19th century Warwickshire and beyond.

Tricaorach featuring Michael Luntley (R)

Starting at 7pm, the show is rounded off with a lively set of high-quality music by Starley Road comprising four of the county’s finest folk musicians, Pete GrassbyMartin TrewinnardMick Bisiker and Ewan Cameron.

Formed out of the renowned Grasshoppers Ceilidh Band, Starley Road also play folk clubs and concerts. Their repertoire ranges from slow airs to a capella songs, from traditional to original and with plenty of choruses to get stuck into as well!

Admission is free but you’ll be encouraged to contribute generously to the caddy collection with some of the funds going to charity.

Starley Road. L-R Ewan Cameron, Pete Grassby, Mick Bisiker, Martin Trewinnard

Former Coventry resident, Ireland’s world-famous singer-songwriter Pat Cooksey is CVFolk Second Sunday’s guest on the afternoon of Sunday March 8th with support by The Boys of Ball Hill.

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11th January 2020

Carole, Hank, Polly and Dave

Launching a year of changes at the Albany Theatre

Oh Carole! Bob Cooper, Mia Tee and Stephen Boyer

Two Leamington line-ups celebrate the contrasting but equally influential songs of two great composers at the Albany Theatre tomorrow (Sunday 12th) afternoon.

Both founded by tireless musician, mover and shaker Steve Boyer, The Hanksters perform the classic and simply constructed songs of Hank Williams, while Oh Carole! perform the more complex and wonderfully crafted songs of Carole King.

On Carole’s line-up features vocals from Mia Tee and Bob Cooper plus soloists Bill Gibbon on tenor sax and Simon Clarkson (aka Mr Picky) on banjo.

Both bands perform from 4 to 6.30pm in the Albany Theatre Studio, Coventry for the first of this year’s programme of CVFolk’s Second Sunday events – and launches a year of changes.

2020 will be seeing more evening events for CVFolk at this popular city-centre venue including ticketed stat-attraction concerts.

Admission for tomorrow’s family show is free although there will be a bucket collection of (hopefully) folding cash to cover artist and venue expenses. The bar will be open and hot drinks are also available.

The afternoon is hosted by veteran singer and 12-string guitarist Dave Fry and the afternoon also features a preview of songs from the forthcoming Folk Opera, The Undoing of Polly Bolton, performed by Daisybell’s Katherine Fear. Based on a notorious murder that took place in Nuneaton in the 19th century, the show itself will be premiered on Saturday 11th April 2020 at Nuneaton’s Abbey Theatre, and several local folk names take part in a fundraiser event on Sunday February 16th – details on http://www.cvfolk.com/event/polly-button-folk-opera-fundraising-concert.

Dave Fry – hosting and performing at January’s CVFolk event

February 9th’s Second Sunday event kicks off at the later time of 7pm and presents a celebration of Warwickshire’s past and present. The evening features songs, stories and poetry based on Warwickshire agricultural life in the 19th century, performed by Michael Luntley’s trio Tricaorach, rounded off by a performance by Starley Street featuring four of the county’s finest musicians, Pete GrassbyMartin TrewinnardMick Bisiker and Ewan Cameron.

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15th December 2019

Christmas is a-Mumming

and the Boys are coming back

(Please put a fiver in the old man’s hat!)

A tense moment in the Stoneleigh Play

It’s the season to be Mumming and there are three chances to enjoy the ancient and mysterious tradition of ‘English ritual drama’ in Warwickshire this Christmas.

Every year, the Coventry Mummers perform rediscovered Christmas Mummers Plays in and around the home villages where they were presented by the locals back in the mists of time. The plays of Harborough Magna, Newbold on Avon and Stoneleigh were originally performed by members of the village community in homes, halls, pubs or streets. While the plays evolved to be unique to each village, their common theme of death and resurrection is evident.

The Harborough Magna Christmas play was collected from Arthur Skeet, a former member of the Harborough Magna cast. It’s a short but lively play that’s been performed every year since 1978, usually on the Friday before Christmas in pubs in the Revel area of the county.

The play from Newbold on Avon (pictured below) was published in June 1899 in the journal of the Folk Lore Society and was revived by the Coventry Mummers in 1976 to be performed on the Sunday before Christmas in around private houses, the church and the village pub.

The local historian Mary Dormer Harris published the Stoneleigh Play in ‘Notes and Queries’, 1925. She collected the play from a man who had appeared in the play as the Doctor. The play was revived by the Coventry Mummers in 1975 and has been performed in the village ever since. It is also performed in Ashow followed by five venues in Stoneleigh on Boxing Day morning, culminating in grand lunchtime gathering of local folk fans outside the Stoneleigh Club.

Check out this year’s timetable of Christmas plays and take the opportunity to enjoy living history in your local community. (Times subject to last-minute changes)

Friday 20th, Harborough Magna Mummers Play

8:00 pm. The Raven, Brinklow, CV23 0LN.

8:30 pm. Golden Lion, Easenhall, CV23 0JA.

9:00 pm. The Old Lion, Harborough Magna, CV23 0HQ.

9:30 pm. Denbigh Arms, Monks Kirby, CV23 0QX followed by a music and song session.

Sunday 22nd, Newbold on Avon Mummers Play

10:30 am. Pantolf Place, Newbold on Avon, CV21 1HR.

11:00 am. Newbold Road, Newbold on Avon, CV21 1EF.

11:35 am. St Botolph’s Church, Newbold on Avon, CV21 1HH.

12:15 pm. Manor House Close, Newbold on Avon, CV21 1HB.

1.00 pm. The Barley Mow, Main Street, Newbold on Avon, CV21 1HW again followed by a music and song session

Thursday 26th, The Stoneleigh Mummers Play

10:15 am and 10:30 am. Ashow, CV8 2LE.

11:00 am. Stoneleigh Close, CV8 3DE.

11:30 am. ‘The Bank’, CV8 3DA.

12 noon Church Lane, CV8 3DN.

12:45 pm. Walkers Orchard, CV8 3JG.

1:15 pm. Stoneleigh Village Club, CV8 3DH.

For further details on the year-round activities of the Coventry Mummers, visit their website

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3rd November 2019

Awesome foursome celebrate the sounds of America

CVFolk’s ‘Second Sunday’ presents an afternoon of Americana with four home-grown acts

The Harvesters – L-R: Bob Powell, Ian & Sue Hartland

Four Coventry and Warwickshire acts are lined up for a lively afternoon of authentic American-inspired music when CVFolk hosts its November ‘Second Sunday’ event.

The music kicks off at 4pm on Sunday, 10 November in the Studio of the Albany Theatre, Albany Road, Coventry.

Two double-bass driven acts, Willow and Tool Band and Hatstand play the first half, followed by father-and-son duo Clive and Mat Ryder on slide guitar, fiddle, mandola and banjo, accompanied by ‘Cousin’ Pete Jackson on guitar.

Rounding off the afternoon, The Harvesters (pictured above) perform their acclaimed set of back-porch Americana, old time and good time songs and tunes, coupled with dynamic step-dancing.

Mat Ryder, Pete Jackson & Clive Rider

Admission is free although you will be encouraged to give generously to a folding-money jug collection.

Plans are still being finalised for the December ‘Second Sunday’ event but it looks like an entertaining afternoon will be presented by organisers and regulars of Nuneaton Folk Club.

Last month saw the selection of winners for the CVFolk Prize Draw survey. All winners have been notified although one of the prizes – tickets for the Legends of Folk and Rock concert at the Belgrade Theatre – had to be held back as one of the performers, Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee was taken ill just before the performance.

Watch this space for news of a new date or alternative event. And for the survey analysis – some interesting and helpful comments and suggestions were offered by respondents for building up a strong future for folk music and dance in the CV postcode area.

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26th October

News just in – Belgrade gig cancelled

News just posted on Facebook by Joe O’Donnell:

Bad news about tonight’s gig. It’s off. Jacqui McShee has been taken ill with pleurisy and cannot perform tonight. We have therefore decided to cancel. Please contact the Box Office tor request a refund on 02476 553055. Thanks.

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18th October 2019

Two all-star line-ups in one day. Could this be a record for Coventry’s Kev Dempsey?

Afternoon appearance at Nuneaton’s Ragged Bear Festival and evening Belgrade Theatre appearance with Jacqui McShee.

Kev Dempsey. Photo by Loz Moore

Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day for top-flight musicians. Or even days in a year.

Saturday, 26 October sees Coventry’s guitar virtuoso, Kevin Dempsey wowing audiences on opposite ends of the A444 for major festival and concert appearances in Warwickshire and Coventry.

The afternoon features Kev Dempsey & Guests in the Queens Hall, Nuneaton, main stage venue for the recently established and rapidly growing Ragged Bear Festival. He’ll be joined for the mid-afternoon set by singer and former Dando Shaft colleague Polly Bolton, and fiddle maestro Joe Broughton whose performance with Kev stunned the CVFolk Presents… audience at the Albany Theatre last March.

Then it’s off to the Belgrade’s B2 venue where Kevin appears as part the acclaimed new band Circle, formed by Pentangle’s singer Jacqui McShee, and also accompanied by former Pentangle colleague Mike Piggott on violin and Urban Folk Quartet founder member Tom Chapman on percussion.

Circle. L-R Mike PiggottJacqui McSheeKev DempseyTom Chapman

Billed as Legends of Folk and Rock, the concert also features the highly acclaimed Coventry-based Celtic-rock band, Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla. Leading Irish electric violinist, Joe worked in progressive line-ups East Of Eden and Headstone and has performed and recorded with guitar legend Rory Gallagher plus Henry McCullough, guitarist for Wings and Joe Cocker. Shkayla’s highly talented line-up comprises Coventry musicians Si Hayden (guitar) and Martin Barter (keyboard), Leamington bass-player Adrian Litvinoff and Birmingham-based drummer Karen Milne.

Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla.
L-R Karen MilneJoe O’Donnell, Adrian LitvinoffSi HaydenMartin Barter.
Photo by Chele Willow

This is the fourth year of the 2-day Ragged Bear event with a packed programme on both stages in the Queens Hall. Headliner guests include Mark Chadwick of The Levellers, Sweden’s Americana-folk specialists BaskeryThe MagpiesThe Trails of Cato and Man The Lifeboats alongside home-grown festival circuit stars Greenman Rising and Nuneaton Folk Club residents Drunk Monkey.

Friday 25 October is the Festival’s ‘Free Friday’ and includes a performance by popular Warwickshire trio Daisybell, performing songs from the forthcoming Polly Button Folk Opera, an exciting new musical project based on a true Nuneaton-based tale.

Daisybell. L-R Ginny White, Katherine FearAnya Fay

Organiser and Greenman Rising singer and percussionist Steve Bentley says the Festival is rapidly filling a gap left in the North Warwickshire festival scene with quality acts attracting audiences from across the country and boosting the local economy.

The Ragged Bear website is http://raggedbear.com/ and all-day tickets for the Saturday are £40. Or contact steve@raggedbear.com, tell him you read about the Festival on the CVFolk website and he’ll arrange a £5 discount!

The Belgrade Concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £14.50 with concessions available for group bookings. Contact the Box Office via www.belgrade.co.uk/event/legends-of-folk-and-rock.

And as a foretaste of this packed weekend, Kevin and Jacqui also make a duo appearance as guests of Rugby’s Wurzel Bush Folk Club on Tuesday 22 October, in the West Indian Club on Rugby’s Railway Terrace. Admission is free but you’ll be expected to make a generous contribution to the club’s famous ‘chamber pot’ collection. Details on www.wurzelbush.co.uk/

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19th September 2019

Basket of Delight at the Belgrade

Jacqui McShee and Joe O’Donnell to share one-off folk and rock concert billing

Former Pentangle singer Jacqui McShee and electric fiddle maestro Joe O’Donnell are to appear with their respective bands at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre on Saturday 26th October.

With support by Arts Council England and help from CVFolk, the one-off concert features Jacqui McShee‘s recently formed band Circle and Joe O’Donnell‘s acclaimed line-up Shkayla

Jacqui McShee

The concert highlights Coventry’s strong connections with international national folk and rock music. Limerick-born Joe O’Donnell now lives in Coventry while Circle’s all-star line-up includes highly acclaimed guitarist and Coventry resident, Kevin Dempsey.

Shkayla at Nuneaton Folk Club. L-R Adrian Litvinoff, Joe O’Donnell, Si Hayden
(photo by John B.Smith)

Founder member of Coventry’s famous progressive folk band Dando Shaft, Kevin has worked with many of the world’s top artists including Alice ColtraneDave Swarbrick and Mary Black and has recently toured and recorded as a duo with Jacqui.

Formed last year, Circle also features Mike Piggott (violin) and Tom Chapman (percussion). Mike Piggott has a long engagement with folk music (Ralph McTellBert Jansch), and joined Pentangle for a while in the 1980s. Tom Chapman is a founder member of the Urban Folk Quartet and he has also worked with Joss StoneCerys Matthews and Fairport Convention.

Circle. L-R Mike Piggott, Jacqui McShee, Kev Dempsey, Tom Chapman

Joe O’Donnell is renowned for his interpretation of Celtic folk and rock . His album, recently renamed Gael’s Vision blends original orchestral composition, traditional Celtic music and contemporary rock. Joe came to England in 1970, working with such big names as Rory GallagherEast of Eden and Thin Lizzie.

The current line-up of Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla comprises Coventry and Warwickshire musicians Si Hayden (guitar), Martin Barter (keyboard), Karen Milne (percussion) and Adrian Litvinoff (bass).

Says Adrian: ‘This will be a high-powered concert of the finest folk-related music from two veterans at the top of their game. We hope this will revive the profile of progressive folk music in Coventry.

‘This ties in with CVFolk’s campaign to promote the Coventry and Warwickshire folk music and dance scene as part of the City of Culture identity.’

The concert kicks off at 7.30pm and tickets (£16 – £14 concessions) can be booked at the Belgrade Box Office on 02476 553055 or on www.belgrade.co.uk/project/legends-of-folk-and-rock

Don’t forget the Prize Draw Survey…

Two tickets for the concert have been added to the prize list for CVFolk’s Prize Draw Survey. This remains open until early next month with other prizes including tickets for the 2020 Fairport Cropredy Convention and Warwick Folk FestivalWarwick Folk ClubCoventry Music Museum plus a signed copy of Pauline Black‘s autobiography Black By Design, and a band photo session with photographer John B.Smith.

Prize winners will be announced at the next CVFolk music event in the Albany Theatre Studio on Sunday 13th October – so there’s still a chance to win, just by providing your views and experiences of folk music and dance in the Coventry and Warwickshire area. Go to http://www.cvfolk.com/survey/ to take part.

The event itself is another chance to enjoy – or take part in – the Studio Mega-Music Session featuring many of the leading folk session musicians from across the county giving impromptu performances of lively tune seats in an informal and family-friendly setting. Musicians include members of Coventry Comhaltas and performers from regular and popular music sessions across the CV postcode area.

The free admission events runs from 4pm to 6.30pm and there will be the usual jug collection!

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4th June 2019

Going for a song!

Folk’s finest musical instrument, the human voice to raise the Albany Theatre rafters.

CVFolk celebrates the fine tradition of unaccompanied singing with an afternoon of shanties, ballads and chorus songs.

Sunday afternoon’s CVFolk Presents… turns the spotlight on rousing choruses with a maritime flavour, with Coventry’s answer to Fisherman’s Friends – and almost certainly the UK’s most landlocked shanty crew – The Hawkesbury Trawlermen

Hawkesbury is a junction on the Coventry and Oxford Canals. Few trawlers, whaling boats or three-masted schooners are ever seen there. You might see the occasional kayak and narrowboats still moor alongside the pub at Sutton Stop. There are no shoals of herring or mackerel in the immediate vicinity but in summer, the gudgeon and sticklebacks are mightily impressive.
    
The line-up was convened as a subsidiary of NADEGBDS. Nuneaton and District Elderly Gentlemen’s Binge Drinking Society (Folk Club Branch).

Highly organised, with their own badge, tour shirts and other corporate leisurewear, the Trawlermen meet twice monthly to dine, network, pick faults in each other’s solo performances or just work their way stolidly through the pump clips in The Felix Holt and Lord Hop hostelries. Despite living a long way from the sea, their repertoire is (predominantly) authentic versions of shanties, hollers and calls, sung unaccompanied, with crew members taking turns in lead and response. In addition, there may be a few other rousing maritime songs sprinkled in.

Membership is loose (sometimes very loose!), but can generally be liable to include Geoff VeaseyMalc Gurnham and Phil Benson who host Nuneaton, Bedworth and Atherstone Folk Clubs respectively. Other crew members include John DacombeDave WebbJohn MeechanBob Brooker and Wes Hall, all of whom perform locally – plus any additional crew members who can be clubbed on the head and dragged up the gangplank to add to the general noise.

Expect loud singing, many with enticing and irresistible choruses, missed cues, some shoving and jostling in the ranks and a great deal of hot air. They’re far too savvy to reveal their set list in advance but they promise a great deal of pushing hauling and heaving. After that they might even sing some shanties.

Thrup’nny Bits in fine voice on the CVFolk stage at last weekend’s Motofest

Starting at 4pm, the afternoon also features songs by talented harmony trio Thrup’nny Bits and the celebrated tenor voice of one of the finest singers in the area, John Morris. Admission as always is free although there will be the usual jug collection for spare banknotes!

Don’t forget…

CVFolk artist Kristy Gallacher makes another Coventry appearance the following weekend. She plays support in the main Albany Theatre on Saturday 8th June when Wet Wet Wet founding member Graeme Clarke and violinist Fiona Cuthill are in concert. Book your tickets here.

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1st June 2019

This is not just any Prize Draw Survey

Top Festival tickets, club tickets and even a photo session are among the fabulous prizes offered by CVFolk – just for telling us about you and folk

Weekend tickets and camping for next year’s Fairport’s Cropredy Convention and evening tickets for next year’s Warwick Folk Festival are among the amazing prizes on offer for respondents to CVFolk’s prize draw.

Family tickets for the 2020 Fairport’s Cropredy Convention – just one of the prizes on offer for taking part in the CVFolk survey!

Officially launched today at CVFolk’s Motofest stage in Broadgate, Coventry, the questionnaire survey can be completed online or on paper. (Click here for details of the CVFolk Motofxest programme this weekend.)

Prizes on offer so far are:

► One family pack of tickets for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention festival 2020. This consists of a pair of adult tickets plus up to three under-12 child tickets with a camping pass for one vehicle and the entire group.

► Two tickets for any evening of the 2020 Warwick Folk Festival

► Admission for two at the Coventry Music Museum plus goody bags

► A signed copy of our Patron, Pauline Black’s fascinating autobiography, ‘Black By Design’ (which includes some great insights in to Coventry’s early folk scene including the famous Old Dyers Arms sessions!)

► Two tickets for any one evening at Warwick Folk Club – check out their superb programme on http://www.warwickfolkclub.co.uk

► A promotional photo session with celebrated music photographer, John B.Smith.

More prizes will be announced over the next few weeks.

The prize draw will take place in the Albany Theatre Studio on the afternoon of Sunday 13th October, 2019. To be eligible, just fill in the questionnaire survey and tell us about your views and perspectives of folk music and dance in Coventry and Warwickshire.

The survey can be accessed and completed online at www.cvfolk.com/survey, or if you prefer paper and pen, collect a form from CVFolk’s stand at Motofest this weekend, or at Warwick Folk Festival, or at any forthcoming Sunday afternoon shows at the Albany Theatre.

CVFolk Chair, Pete Willow is delighted with the prizes offered so far: ‘People have been very generous in showing their support for the CVFolk project and I’d like to say a big thank you on behalf of the CVFolk team.

‘There’s plenty of time if ‘people want to offer further prizes – do please get in touch by emailing culture@cvfolk.com’.

And a reminder…

CVFolk artist Kristy Gallacher makes another Coventry appearance the following weekend. She plays support in the main Albany Theatre on Saturday 8th June when Wet Wet Wet founding member Graeme Clarke and violinist Fiona Cuthill are in concert. Book your tickets here.

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28th May 2019

Home-grown folk in the heart of the city.

Packed programme of first-class folk on the Broadgatestage for this weekend’s Motofest

Kristy Gallacher, Bisiker & Ward, Craig Sunderland, Rob Halligan among this weekend’s Motofest guests. Photos by John B.Smith and Pete Willow

Local folk takes centre stage for this weekend’s Motofest with a great selection of Coventry and Warwickshire acts performing on the CVFolk/Global Care stage.

The music opens at 12 noon on Saturday June 1st with a short set from singer-songwriter Pete Willowwho will then MC the day’s entertainment supplied by Nuneaton Folk Club host band Nunc, followed by bouzouki and fiddle duo Mick Bisiker and Nigel Ward with fellow musicians from The Band of Rack and RuinChris Radley on bass and Deb Gomme on sax.

Singer and fingerpick guitarist currently taking the local folk club scene by storm, Craig Sunderland is next, before Coventry’s highly acclaimed singer-songwriter and guitarist Kristy Gallacher plays her second Motofest set of the day.

There’s dancing on the street at 3.10pm when expert caller Jen Morgan invites the public to take part in some folk dancing to music by Ben Rowe on fiddle and Vic Smith on accordion.

Popular and talented Nuneaton duo KC Jones are next to perform before the afternoon is wound up with American traditional music and step-dancing from Ian and Sue Hartland of Warwickshire band The Harvesters.

KC Jones aka Colin Jones and Karen Killeen

Sunday kicks of with a lively set of songs from the day’s MC, Dave Fry. He then introduces the popular trio Greengrass, whose arrangements on fiddle, double bass and guitar have been making a fast impact on the folk circuit this year.

The Coventry Mummers present the first of two spectacular performances of English traditional drama on either side of two talented trios, purveyors of fine vocal harmonies Thrup’nny Bits and the recently expanded line-up of Poacher’s Pocket when guitarist Colin Squire and multi-instrumentalist Campbell Perry are complemented by the vocal talents of Carole Gillespie.

Boys of Ball Hill featuring Bob Brooker, Nigel Ward, Simon Lapworth and Pete Willow. Photo by John B.Smith

Powerful singer, songwriter and guitarist Rob Halligan takes the stage at 3.15pm and the afternoon is brought to a lively crescendo of traditional Irish and Scottish songs when former Oddsods members, The Boys of Blue Hill perform with fiddle, guitar, melodeon, banjo, bouzouki and bodhran.

Sponsored by the international children’s charity Global Care, the weekend also sees the launch of the CVFolk Prize Survey with tickets at next year’s Fairport’s Cropredy Convention and Warwick Folk Festival among the many prizes on offer. More on this later!

And a reminder…

CVFolk artist Kristy Gallacher makes another Coventry appearance the following weekend. She and Lucy May Walker are the support acts lined up in the main Albany Theatre on Saturday 8th Junewhen Wet Wet Wet founding member Graeme Clarke and violinist Fiona Cuthill are in concert. Book your tickets here.

The following afternoon sees a celebration of vocal harmony and shanty singing at the monthly CVFolk Presents… event in the Albany Theatre Studio. Performers include the Hawkesbury TrawlermenThrup’nny Bits and John Morris. Again – more later!

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6th May 2019

With a Little Help From Friends

Singer-songwriter Wes Finch brings all-star line-up to CVFolk’s Albany Theatre event


Coventry folk and Americana musician Wes Finch headlines ‘CVFolk Presents…’ this Sunday, May 12

Acclaimed singer, songwriter and guitarist Wes Finch plays on home territory this Sunday afternoon (May 12) as featured artist for the monthly CVFolk presentation in the Albany Theatre Studio.

Performing his own country-influenced material plus songs from the repertoire of the Rude Mechanicals – lyrics by Shakespeare to music inspired by folk and classical – Wes shares the stage with three highly talented musicians.

Photo: BBC

Coventry classically-trained violinist Jools Street (pictured above) is known for his distinctive rock and bluegrass sound with the Doc Brown Trio and Tile Hill Billy and the Grass Monkeys.

Percussionist Ben Haines (pictured below) has an excellent reputation with Coventry and Warwickshire musicians and is sought after to appear in many line-ups

Photo: BBC

Innovative jazz-rock bass-player John Parker (pictured below) became widely known as half of the chart-topping duo Nizlopi. He is currently kicking up a storm as part of Ward & Parker, alongside founder member of The WillowsCliff Ward.

The afternoon also features versatile songwriter and guitarist Dan Gascoigne who has built up a strong local following in his own right and as part of the duo Dr Bennett with whom he is representing Warwick Folk Festival later this year at its twin event Cork Folk Festival.

The music starts at 4pm with a lively set of songs from Under The Influence, comprising popular Leamington singers and guitarists Steve Boyer and Mike Cox.

As usual practice for these Studio events, admission is free although there will be a jug collection for banknotes! The monthly shows are designed to showcase the range of styles available in the Coventry and Warwickshire folk scene, a rich resource for the City of Culture celebrations coming up in 2021.

Next month (June 9th) sees the focus on unaccompanied singing, especially shanties with performances by Coventry’s landlocked answer to Fisherman’s friends, The Hawkesbury Trawlermen plus John Morris, Des Patalong and Thrup’nny Bits.

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25th March 2019

The Boys Are Back in Town

CVFolk stages a reunion ‘rare auld time’ for 4 former members of celebrated local folk band. 

The Boys of Ball Hall. L-R Bob Brooker, Nigel Ward, Simon Lapworth, Pete Willow
Photo by John B.Smith

Four ex-members of The Oddsods have joined forces under a new name to play a lively set of popular songs and tunes mainly from the Irish and Scots traditions.

The Boys of Ball Hill are to headline the forthcoming ‘CVFolk presents…’ afternoon concert in the Albany Theatre Studio on Sunday 14th April. Bob Brooker on bouzouki and banjo, Nigel Ward on fiddle, Pete Willow on guitar, and the voice of The Oddsods, Simon Lapworth on melodeon and bodhran all played a key part in establishing their old band’s reputation for performing ‘music for a rare auld time’.

The 20-year history of The Oddsods saw various line-up changes since it was formed in the early 1990s but this forthcoming appearance will only be the third time that this particular line-up has appeared in public.

Simon and Bob were founder members of the band, but Bob had left by the time Pete and Nigel joined. The Oddsods played their final gig in 2008, but a year later, Pete and Nigel teamed up with Bob to form Sly Old Dogs which still performs regularly and hosts monthly music sessions at The Barn in Willey, near Rugby.

In its lifetime, The Oddsods has featured several other multi-talented musicians including Richard ‘Doc’ Rider on guitar, euphonium and whistles, Paul Kenny on guitar, mandolin and bodhran, Michael Mahon on banjo, Louisa Davies on fiddle, and the late Mick Shaler on fiddle.

Glory days! Earlier Oddsods line-up celebrating St.Patrick’s night – L-R: Mick Shaler, Pete Willow, Simon Lapworth, Richard Rider and Paul Kenny.
Photo by Chele Willow.

Members were approached by Rugby’s Wurzel Bush Folk Club to play an Oddsods reunion gig last February and Simon, Bob, Nigel and Pete agreed to form a ‘scratch’ version of the band but under a new name – The Boys of Ball Hill. They also played a few warm-up numbers together during the January Sly Old Dogs session and went down a storm at both events.

Also Chair of CVFolk, Pete Willow said ‘We had a great time at the Wurzel Bush and couldn’t resist the opportunity to play a home-town gig at the Albany Theatre. It’s basically a fund-raiser for CVFolk’s campaign to ensure that folk music has a high profile in the City of Culture celebrations.’

The concert also features one of the Wurzel Bush residents, singer-guitarist Craig Sunderland and a return appearance by local duo Poacher’s Pocket who got a great response when they performed at CVFolk’s debut Albany Theatre show last October.

The music starts at 4pm and admission is free although there will be a jug collection for banknotes!

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24th January 2019

Celebration concert for Kev and Joe

CVFolk presents an afternoon of first-class folk from top international stars  Dempsey and Broughton.

Coventry’s world-renowned guitarist Kevin Dempsey celebrates 20 years of collaboration with highly acclaimed fiddle and mandolin-player Joe Broughton with a free admission concert in Kevin’s home city at the Albany Theatre.

The two ace musicians appear in the theatre’s Studio, Albany Road, on the afternoon of Sunday 10th March, winding up a storming tour of the UK. The music starts at 4pm. There’s no need to book tickets although the audience will be asked to contribute to a ‘jug collection’ during the show.

Since their first duo gig, Kevin and Joe have performed extensively together across 20 countries and released three albums. Their unrivalled musicianship, impromptu banter, and a spectacular high-energy stage shows never fail to impress. Their songs and instrumentals are rooted in ‘folk’ music but draw on sounds and styles from across the globe.

When they first met, Kevin had already made a name for himself as a founder member of Whippersnapper and Dando Shaft, and his worldwide appearances with artists as diverse as Percy Sledge, The Marvelettes, Alice Coltrane, and more recently Dave Swarbrick and Mary Black. He is currently playing some gigs with former Pentangle singer Jacqui McShee.

Joe was a member of leading UK folk line-up The Albion Band and is now the driving force of The Urban Folk Quartet and the powerful Conservatoire Folk Ensemble based at Birmingham City University.

The duo continues to reunite for annual summer fiddle/ guitar workshops and, when their schedules allow, live shows. Their current spring tour features a broad mix of material from across their career, along with new songs (mooted for their fourth album), and a few last-minute surprises.

‘It really doesn’t seem 20 years since Kevin and I first began playing together! Time really flies when we’re on stage … and off stage too it seems,’ laughs Joe. ‘I always look forward to our annual reunions – Kevin is one of the UK’s best acoustic guitarists and the shows are a joy to play.’

Says Kevin: ‘I can still remember the day I was first introduced to Joe, then a young musician whose reputation was growing. We really hit it off. His reputation has grown further since those early days and playing together is always great fun – for us and the audience.’

The Albany Theatre concert also features two popular local line-ups, Willow & Tool Band and Paper Circus. Doors open at 3.30pm. The show is one of a series of monthly events at the Theatre organised by campaign group CVFolk, formed to raise awareness of the high standard of folk music and dance to be found in Coventry and Warwickshire and to ensure a strong profile for the local folk scene during Coventry’s City of Culture celebration in 2021.

Says CVFolk chairman Pete Willow, ‘our monthly Sunday afternoon shows in the Studio are proving very popular with audiences of all ages and it’s a very special treat for us to be able to present such a high-quality act.

‘It’s a fabulous friendly venue but early arrival is recommended for the best seats!’

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5th January 2019

Tune up and turn up – the Studio is in Session

CVFolk stages a Sunday afternoon ‘Mega-Session’ of authentic back-room folk music.

The backbone of the folk scene – the music session – takes centre stage at the Albany Theatre Studio on Sunday 13th January.

Armed with fiddles, flutes, squeezeboxes, guitars, mandolins, banjos, bodhrans, bouzoukis and anything else melodious, musicians aged from 8 to 80 are expected to take part in a couple of lively hours of impromptu tune sets, starting at 4pm.

Experienced session performers from across the county have been invited to take part and participants will include members of the talented promoters of Irish traditional music Coventry Comhaltas and former members of The Oddsods,  melodeon-player Simon Lapworth and multi-instrumentalist Bob Brooker.

Led by tin whistle expert, Jarlath Mulhern, Comhaltas hosts instrument workshops and sessions for children and adults every Tuesday evening at the Hearsall Inn, Craven Street, Coventry.

This won’t be the first gathering of session musicians at the Albany. A lively and enjoyable performance was given by an all-star group of musicians led by Bob Brooker, and recorder and whistle maestro Ewan Cameron to wind up CVFolk’s public consultation event last June – see pictures below. Participants included acclaimed Moscow-born singer-songwriter Daria Kulesh, Warwick University folk society musicians Alan Brunier and Rowan Kodratoff, and local artists Mick BisikerNigel WardDan GascoigneSarah BennettAmelia Gascoigne-Roberts and Laurel McIntosh.

CVFolk presents an event on the second Sunday afternoon of each month, focusing on different aspects of folk and the wide range of folk activity in the area as part of its campaign to give prominence to the local folk scene during Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations. Admission is free but there is a jug collection (preferably for paper money!).

Forthcoming events include a focus on folk-blues with special guest Jack Blackman on February 10th, and a rare local duo performance by guitar and fiddle virtuosos Kevin Dempsey & Joe Broughton on March 10th.

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11th December 2018

In comes Christmas, courtesy of Coventry Mummers

Coventry’s guardians of three local mummers plays, bring them out for a festive airing.

This Friday 14th December, sees the start of this year’s tour of Christmas Mummers plays when a motley group of car park and bar-room thespians perform the Harborough Magna play in various Warwickshire pubs.

Like most mummers plays, this was originally performed by members of the local community and includes the ritual elements of death and rebirth. The 10-minute performance features the characters of Father Christmas, Prince George, a Turkish Knight, the Knight’s mother Moll Finney, a Doctor, Humpty Jack and Beelzebub.

Collected from a former member of the Harborough Magna cast, Arthur Skeet, its current version has been toured every Christmas since 1978. You can witness the spectacle at The Raven, Broad Street, Brinklow (8pm), The Golden Lion, Easenhall (8.30pm), The Old Lion, Harborough Magna (9.30pm and the Denbigh Arms, Monks Kirby at 10pm, followed by a lively music session.

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The Doctor at the Stoneleigh Play calls on his assistant to administer the cure.

A similar but extended variation of the script is performed as the Newbold-on-Avon Christmas Play on Sunday 16th December. Residents of Pantolf Place, Newbold will be roused by the sound of Father Christmas’s bell at 10.30am, with follow-up performances in a front garden on Newbold Road (11am), St.Botolph’s Church (11.25am), Manor House Close (12.15pm) and the Barley Mow public house at 1pm.

Published in 1899 in the journal of the Folk Lore Society, the play is mentioned in the David Lodge novel, Small World and was revived by the Coventry Mummers in 1976.

Boxing Day sees another morning and lunchtime tour when the famous Stoneleigh Play does the rounds of Ashow and Stoneleigh villages. Published in 1925 by local historian Mary Dormer Harris, the play was revived by the Mummers in 1975 and has been performed in the village ever since.

Following six performances at local addresses throughout the morning, the play is staged in the middle of the road outside the Stoneleigh Village Club, at 1.15pm, where a large crowd gathers for this much-loved festive ritual.

More dramatic scenes from Stoneleigh.

For further information on the Coventry Mummers and their activities throughout the year, visit their website.

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1st December 2018

Meet some inspired songsmiths for an afternoon of lyrical entertainment.

Bill Bates and Daisybell form part of a local songwriters’ show of music and humour in Coventry’s Albany Theatre Studio.

On Sunday 9th December, this month’s CVFolk get-together in the studio is hosted by the Coventry Singer-Songwriters group.

Writer and performer of excellent comic (and serious) songs, Bill Bates is performing alongside acclaimed three-piece line-up Daisybell whose repertoire includes material written by Coventry Singer-Songwriters member and guitarist Katherine Fear.

Bill Bates

Daisybell: L-R Ginny White, Katherine Fear, Anya Fay (photo John Wright)

The afternoon also features first-rate self-penned numbers from Mike Carter-Jones plus singer and guitarist Paul Monks, whose band The JPs also comprises Jane on ukulele and vocals plus Emily on violin.

The Coventry Singer-Songwriters group was launched in 2010 when like-minded musicians got together to give each other the inspiration and motivation to write songs. They set themselves the challenge of coming up with new compositions, based upon a set theme.

They have kept up the routine of meeting in each other’s houses (or a pub) one night a month and performing their newly-crafted songs to each other. At the end of the night they vote on a new theme for the following month – it’s as simple and demanding as that.

Not everyone attends the meetings in person. Some members email their songs to the group as MP3s from across the country and, in one case, the West Coast of the USA. The group regularly release CDs of their compositions and a good selection of their creativity can be heard on Soundclick.

Hosted by harmonica-player and group founder, Jon Harrington, Sunday’s CVFolk event starts at 4pm. Admission is free although there will be a ‘jug collection’ with recommended donations of £5.

Events lined up for CVFolk’s Sunday afternoons at the Albany Theatre for 2019 include appearances by Kevin Dempsey & Joe Broughton (March 10) and Wes Finch and the Rude Mechanicals (May 12). Organisers are also putting on a ‘super-session’ on January 13, featuring many of the top session musicians of the area performing lively and impromptu sets of tunes on a wide range of instruments including fiddles, guitars, squeezeboxes and whistles.

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15th November 2018

Heavy-duty Festival puts on a Pound

CVFolk team member and leading folk multi-instrumentalist WILL POUND is the new Patron for Warwick Folk Festival.

The Warwickshire-based musical wizard takes on the role in the year that the Festival prepares for its 40th year.

Born in Rugby, brought up in Whitnash and now living in Kenilworth, Will is best known as a world-class harmonica player but is also a fine melodeon exponent.

Member of leading folk band Inlay and founder of the Will Pound Ceilidh Band, Will was brought up in the Morris tradition and is also active with Warwickshire’s Chinewrde Morris and Earlsdon Morris. He had long held an ambition to record an album celebrating the music of Morris and folk dance and last May that came to fruition when he unveiled the CD Through the Seasons – A Year in Morris and Folk Dance, with a companion live show touring the UK, featuring Benji Kirkpatrick, Inlay colleague Ross Grant (pictured) and storyteller Debs Newbold.

Festival director Dick Dixon says: ‘Will was nurtured right here in the Warwickshire folk scene and continues to contribute fully to the local music and Morris dance circuit. As the county’s leading folk event, Warwick Folk Festival is delighted and proud that he has agreed to be our Patron.’

Will has been nominated for the coveted Musician of the Year title at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards three times. He was named Best Newcomer by Songlines Magazine in 2014 and won FATEA Magazine’s Musician of the Year title in both 2014 and 2015. He has also appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and his music has been played on Radios 2, 3 and 6 and the BBC World Service. Will also played harmonica on the Hillsborough charity single, joining a line-up of pop and football stars, on He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother which became the Christmas No 1 in 2012.

Describing himself as ‘very honoured to have been asked to become Patron’, Will says ‘I haven’t missed a Warwick Folk Festival in my lifetime and look forward to many more years to come at this brilliant festival.’

Will is set to tour the Through the Seasons show again next spring and will also be gigging once more with accordion maestro Eddy Jay. But from July 25-28, 2019 there is only one place he will be – back in his home county as he takes up his patronship of Warwick Folk Festival.

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26th October 2018

Free for all folk at festival conference

Four genre-busting bands lined up for free concert during AFO Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Four exciting contemporary folk bands will be onstage for an open door concert at the Stratford Manor Hotel on Saturday November 10.

The hotel is the venue for this year’s 3-day conference for the Association of Festival Organisers but you don’t need to be a delegate to enjoy an evening of music of folk fused with a wide range of other genres.

The line-up of artists consists of:

Hadrian’s Union – five piece folk rock band from across England and Scotland who combine folk with punk, rock, blues, Celtic and Ska into a highly infectious entertaining tapestry.

Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage – taking Americana to a new level with exquisite crystal clear vocals and masterful playing on mountain dulcimer, dobro and guitar.

PerKelt – blending Eastern European mediaeval and pagan influences to create a soundscape that moves from melancholy to fast, insanely fast! The Czech/UK four-piece combine rapid fire whistles, and recorders, tribal drums, guitar and frantic fiddle with haunting vocals.

Cut Throat Francis – only formed in the summer of 2017 but have already made a good impression on the festival scene and Bristol club scene with their blend of folk, swing and upbeat Eastern European flavours. Instruments include banjo, mandolin and melodica as well as rich four-part harmonies and a thumping beat from the cajon!

The free admission concert starts at 8.30pm – just turn up from 7.30pm at the Stratford Manor, Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 0PY.

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23rd October 2018

Memories of Hazel provide a snapshot of the Coventry folk scene in the 1980s

The late Derek Brimstone and Dave Bennett featured in resurrected BBC documentary

A 30-minute BBC1 documentary is proving to be a treasured archive of the Coventry folk scene in 1984.

A Song For Hazel reflects on the life of Hazel Lester, an active and popular member of the city’s folk circuit in the 1970s and 80s and who died of cancer in 1983 after giving birth to her son, Adam.  Her characteristic refusal to take any medical treatment for her own illness until she knew that Adam was safely born, attracted international attention with the tabloid press in particular making front-page stories of her ‘gift of life’. The documentary was produced to provide a more in-depth view of Hazel’s life, character and impact on the folk community.

Nationally acclaimed guitarist and singer Derek Brimstone, and Coventry’s own renowned ragtime guitarist Dave Bennett – both no longer with us – are among the interviewees and performers featured in the programme. Also included are Coventry-based musicians Kevin DempseyMargot BuchananMick CullenDennis ClarkePete WillowNigel Ward and Sue Ward performing at a one-day concert staged at the former Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry. Under the heading ‘Come Together’, the concert was organised by Pete WillowGraham Bradshaw and John Boocock to establish a trust fund for Adam’s future.

Fiddle-player, Nigel Ward rediscovered an old VHS recording of the programme and arranged for it to be transferred to a digital format and shared on Facebook. Its publication has prompted widespread interest with fond memories not only of Hazel herself but of the youthful faces (and hairstyles!) of many of the people who formed part of the Coventry folk scene in the 1980s!

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16th October 2018 

Concert acclaimed as ‘Storming start’ to CVFolk’s Albany Theatre programme

‘The Coventry All-Stars Folk Show’ has already earned one excellent review and many positive social media comments.

The Coventry events website Elementary What’s On praised the ‘space and ambiance’ of the venue where ‘a good audience turn-out’ was ‘treated to some of Coventry’s finest home-grown talent’.

Music was provided in the first half by Willow & Tool Band and Poacher’s Pocket, and in the second half by by singer-songwriter-guitarists Kristy Gallacher and Rob Halligan, with an impressive display of clog dancing in the interval by Nancy Sylvester. The afternoon finished with a few words of thanks and support from CVFolk’s Patron Pauline Black.

Here is a selection of photographs by John B.Smith which captured the atmosphere of the event:

 

 

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6th October 2018 

Top quality home-grown folk music launches new monthly CVFolk concerts at the Albany Theatre.

Coventry’s nationally-renowned stars Kristy Gallacher and Rob Halligan featured in informal Sunday afternoon show.

A cross-section of Coventry’s folk music talent shares the stage at the city’s Albany Theatre this weekend.

Singer-songwriters Kristy Gallacher and Rob Halligan, multi-instrumental duo Poacher’s Pocket, and Warwickshire 4-piece Willow & Tool Band are all taking part in an informal concert in the Albany’s Studio Theatre on the corner of The Butts and Albany Road to launch a series of monthly folk events in the city centre.

Billed as ‘The Coventry All-Stars Folk Show’, the concert runs from 4pm-7pm on Sunday 14th October. The event is part of a campaign by CVFolk, a group of local folk artists and organisers determined that folk music and dance has a high profile in the 2021 City of Culture celebrations.

The concert not only features songs performed by each act in their own right, but also a conversation between artists and with the audience to give some insight into the stories behind their material and their approach to music generally.

In addition to her own shows, Kristy Gallacher (pictured below) is a Coventry University music graduate who has gone on to play support to Ed Sheeran, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze and Show of Hands, among others. She won the LG Arena’s singer/songwriter competition and played before Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and John Mayer on separate nights at the Birmingham venue.

         

Rob Halligan (pictured above) has appeared at festivals and folk clubs across the country and has also had airplay on BBC1 Television, BBC Radio 2 and a host of local TV and radio stations. With a conviction to use his music to make a difference, Rob has supported the children’s charity, Global Care, visiting Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Lebanon to raise awareness and money for some of the world’s most disadvantaged children.

Poacher’s Pocket (pictured below – photo by John B.Smith) consists of Warwickshire singers and musicians Colin Squire on guitar and Campbell Perry on accordions.

         Willow & Tool Band (pictured above – photo by John Wright) features Pete Willow on guitar, John ‘Tool’ McIntosh on double-bass, Keith Eardley on harmonica, ukulele and percussion and Tool’s daughter Laurel McIntosh on flute.

Pete Willow, who is also Chair of CVFolk, sees the concert as the first step to revitalise folk music in the centre of Coventry. He says, ‘With Coventry’s huge pool of musical talent and its strong history of artists making it big on the international folk scene, it’s surprising that we only have one regular folk club within the city boundaries.

‘The Albany Theatre hosted our successful public consultation event last June and has kindly offered use of their Studio Theatre on the second Sunday of each month for folk events with a difference’, says Pete. ‘Over the year, we will present concerts, workshops, dance displays and sessions in a friendly and informal environment.  We aim to show how folk in all its formats can be accessible to all communities and age groups.’

Admission for this show is free but there will be a ‘jug collection’ for banknote contributions.

Next month’s show features young award-winning folk singer and musician Rosie Hood in concert. This will be a ticketed event starting at 7pm on Sunday November 11th.