New issue of FiddleOn

Well, that just says it all, really. There's a new issue, and I happened to have interviewed Tom Kitching and Oliver Wilson-Dickson for it. Let me know what you think!


Our last show of the year

November 11th is our last show of the year, so do come to witness 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees, Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts. If you do facebook, you can visit our event page here. They're fresh from the release of their second album, Up From The Deep, and I'm dying to witness their Anglo-American stylings in the flesh. I interviewed Katriona earlier this year for a piece in fRoots and she's a lovely lass, to boot!

In support will be The Daydream Club who are on a nationwide tour promoting their debut album which hits the shops tomorrow (Nov 1st).

And because the floor spots trial (sounds clinical, doesn't it?!) was such a success last time, we'd love you to share a song or two with us again this time! Interested? Email infoATforfolkssakeDOTorgDOTuk

7.30pm doors at the usual spot, upstairs in kro opposite the University of Manchester (not the glass one further down the road). As ever, it's an eye-wateringly-good £5 on the door (or three English pounds if you're a student or unemployed)

See you there!

Our second birthday party

We had an amazing time. After the clog dancing, the singing, the playing, the sharing, all that was left was a pile of crumbs and a lovely warm feeling. It seems that those great folks down at Manchester Music thought the same...

Manchester Literature Festival event

I only managed to get to one event this year, but I was mightily glad it was a Comma Press event. They're fab. Anyway, my guest blog post can be found here

Emma Sweeney on Mike Harding

I'm delighted that a tune from Emma's debut EP, The Other Crossing, was played on Mike Harding's show last night. Let's hope it's just the beginning of well-deserved interest in Emma's playing. I've been working with her to publicise the EP and, in exchange, she's teaching me Irish fiddle! The best skill swap I've ever been involved in, I can assure you.

Want to hear more? Get in touch and I can send you a review copy of the EP. Or head on over to Emma's website.

We are two.

Yes, For Folk's Sake has made it to two years old. I'm very proud at this milestone as - to be quite honest - I didn't think my nerves could take it for two whole years. I'm a rather nervous, cautious and oft pessimistic person at the best of times, so running a monthly night and all it entails has been quite a challenge, though the rewards have been massive.

Anyway, please do join us for our birthday celebrations in two days time - Wednesday 20th October, upstairs at Kro bar, doors at 7.30pm. We will be joined by the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated all-female six piece (phew!) The Shee, who are currently on a nationwide tour to promote their new album, Decadence. And we're promised clog dancing - bring it on!

In support will be We Are Willow, a new project from one half of FFS faves, Butler-Williams.

And a second birthday will also mark a new FFS feature - we're trialling floor spots! Come down at 7.30pm and witness some homegrown talent.

Oh, and did I mention there'll be cake?!

Johnny5thWheel&TheCowards, The Minnikins and A Harp And A Monkey on FFS TV!

If you weren't at KRO Bar, Manchester on October 7th, here's what you missed!

Last part of our Jim Causley session now up!

Hope you've enjoyed the series!

Don't forget to subscribe to For Folk's Sake TV to keep up with all our latest video offerings!

Folk TV

Last week I deleted the FFS myspace account.

This week I (with much help!) started a YouTube channel. Please subscribe to us so you can view videos from our previous For Folk's Sake nights. We've split Jim Causley's amazing set in to four parts, and the first part is up now. Keep checking back for the next three.

And see you next ... week! (I didn't want to say Thursday as that could be misinterpreted. But our next show is Thursday October 7, upstairs in Kro with The Minnikins, Harp And A Monkey and Johnny5thWheel&TheCowards)

Dreaming of folk

I dreamt last night that I was shoved into the tiny room of a packed venue and told to curate a FFS for a festival. I hadn't booked any bands, I had to charge on the door despite everyone having wristbands and there was a ruddy giant bed in the middle of the room that everyone was having to walk around. No bands were there, and there was a disappointed elderly couple imploring me to put some bands on. 'Where are they?' they kept asking. I just remembered looking at my watch and sweating profusely.

Thank god I woke up.

I will not mention sound systems ever again. It's a promise.

Things are never straightforward, are they?

After excellent consultation with Johnny Roadhouse and a good friend who knows his stuff, the PA (yes, I'm still banging on about it!) arrived and it was all very exciting. At its debut event, though, one of the speakers decided not to work.

At all.

For someone with a car, this is probably annoying, but for someone without a car, it means getting a taxi on my lunch break to nip to Johnny Roadhouse, in amongst the fresher madness, and get it sent back. No fault of anyone's, of course, and Johnny Roadhouse were fabulous in placing a new order.

But, honestly - PAs are the bane of my life.

Anyway, thanks to all who crammed into the basement at Postcards to listen to Maliika, Glass Ankle and Samson and Delilah. I must admit, I was a little worried that people wouldn't meander down from the top floor to us. I assumed bands would be playing to Chris and I. But thankfully, we were blessed with a large crowd (well, as large a crowd as the basement room can muster!) the entire time.

And, of course, the bands were fantastic. I hadn't seen Maliika before, but those two girls have the most incredible voices! I can't get enough of Glass Ankle, who have now augmented their lineup with a lovely, almost-shoegazey, chimey guitarist. The songs are sweet but without twee-ness, and anyone who rhymes 'Hovis' with 'pelvis' can safely assume my patronage. And it was great to have a sneak preview of Samson and Delilah's new material from their forthcoming second album: it was all very atmospheric.

You can read Cath's review of the event here.

As for other stuff, I've written a piece for Manchester's premier arts and culture 'What's On' site, Go See This. It was really fun to do, but there are sooo many more folk gigs on this autumn, this was just my personal pick.

I've also had the pleasure of interviewing Mabon's fiddle player, Oli Wilson-Dickson, for Fiddle On and have an interview scheduled with Athene from 3 Daft Monkeys. Their new album is on the way, and I had a good listen at the weekend - they've really run with the carnival idea, it's a great listen.

You can read my review of the Olof Arnalds gig last week at Dulcimer here. She's getting loads of airplay on 6music at the moment, and had a really lovely interview with Cerys Matthews on Sunday. And I think she's actually converted Chris to folk music...

And finally, I'm off to see Le Trio Joubran at Band On The Wall this Friday. Though I've never seen them before, I'm dying to see the masters of the oud take to the stage and blow me away. The trio consists of three generations of a renowned Palestinian oud maker family - imagine having that claim to fame? A friend of mine who is fascinated by the Israeli-Palestine conflict and their respective cultures is a big fan, so I'm sure she'll be able to tell me more when we're at the gig. I'll give a full write up afterwards.

It's the end of an era...

... I've deleted the FFS myspace account. My first foray into social networking. And I still think it's invaluable for bands, but for FFS, this blog and facebook is worker far harder and I keep letting people down by not responding to messages quick enough. Apologies if you've ever found yourself one of those people!

So what else is going on? Well, you might like to read my Her Name Is Calla review, and get your tickets for this Saturday's Postcards From Manchester festival which I'm very excited about. And it'll be the first outing for our brand new PA! (Right, I'll shut up about that now.) We're off to see Olof Arnalds at Dulcimer on Thursday, too, which should be ace.

It's getting off to a good start...

The first FFS of the season, with Jim Causley, was a brilliant night. I even got a little teary, but hopefully, no one noticed.

First of all, the Bailey Sisters - a locally based, close harmony group with whom I often converse on Twitter - turned up and volunteered to fill in for Chris Knowles who had to pull out due to illness. So, after a quick rehearsal in the ladies, up they got and sang four songs, encouraging the crowd to participate, too. It was a welcome and unexpected start.

Many of the audience had seen the respective bands of Daniel Land and Jayn Hanna, and had witnessed Daniel moonlighting in Jayn's The Steals, but few had seen them play together. They told us repeatedly that they were under rehearsed, but you couldn't guess - Jayn's voice is even more mesmerising when you're up close and Daniel's simple accompaniment of soundscape washes is simple but effective.

And then it was Jim. He abandoned the PA and took to the floor, to his audience on his level. He is like a master of ceremonies: he introduces his own act, his material and his thoughts and emotions with ease, confidence and authenticity. Did I say I got a bit teary?! I did.

Anyway, you might want to read a review from an outside agency, not from someone as biased as me - the promoter!


Now it's the weekend and Air Cav is recording our debut album. It's very exciting, even though I haven't yet played a note. We're at this fine establishment and I'm pleased as there's two horses in patting distance from the front door. As soon as we're done - I should imagine it'll be a while - I'll let you know where you can hear it.

Folk happenings this week...

There's only one folk happening this week in Manchester - For Folk's Sake on Thursday with Jim Causley!

I'm incredibly excited - as you might have gathered - as I'm a BIG fan of Jim. And then it turns out that Daniel Land, of psych shoegazers Daniel Land And The Modern Painters (and who travelled with Air Cav to Holland last year), grew up with Jim in Devon! I won't pretend that I wasn't starstruck... Hopefully I'll be able to conceal it on Thursday. Daniel Land will also be playing at the gig, with a helping hand from Jayn Hanna of The Steals. And to top it all off, my good friend, Christopher Knowles, will be back for a return visit. I'm looking forward to hearing some of his new material. (Kro Bar, Thursday 2nd September, £5 / £3, doors 7.30pm)

OK, so I lied. There are, of course, other folky happenings this week in Manchester. Bella Hardy, of whom I've gushed about here many a time, will be playing FOR FREE at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday. The only catch? It's at lunchtime, so be prepared to suck up to your boss to let you out...

And have a look at the latest copy of EDS, the magazine from the English Folk Dance and Song Society. (Though the latest copy hadn't been updated online at the time of writing - it should have a picture of Fay Hield on the cover.) There are a couple of reviews by me - Alasdair Roberts and Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys' new ones - and a great one about Twelfth Day's Northern Quarter: 'There can be no doubting their outstanding musicianship and the quality of their singing voices or the considerable hard work that has been put into these arrangements...'

See you on Thursday!

Where's me fashion knowledge?

As people who know me in the flesh will be able to testify, I know very little about fashion. However, I've found myself unexpectedly contacting some of the biggest (read - most daunting, scary ladies with exquisite quadruple-barrelled names) fashion houses in the land in order to let them know about the very latest in bespoke fashion, Wheres Me Jumper. (Yes, the lack of apostrophe is intentional - it's all about url speak, you know)

Wheres Me Jumper encourages customers to design their own jumper which will be forever immortalised in wool, handknitted in Manchester. Beki's had some very exciting commissions to date, including one from Bloc Party drummer, Matt Tong, which are showcased on her website

Unsurprisingly, fashionistas (OK, that word probably really irritates the REAL fashion set, but hey, I never get to use that word) have gone mad for WMJ, with coverage being generated on blogs and via social media. Watch this space...

Morris: A Life With Bells On

Morris is all too familiar with being the butt of jokes. But here, in Morris: A Life With Bells On, the jokes are very much welcomed, embraced and perpetuated.

In the style of the mockumentary, we meet Derecq Twist, one of the most revered dancers in the country and Squire of Millsham Morris. The narrator swiftly becomes attached to this man of simple pleasures: Morris, cider, tractor mechanics and cribbage. The Twist family are well known as a Morris dynasty, and we are soon introduced to the vigorous training regime in which Derecq and his fellow dancers are subject to. No wonder Millsham Morris are held in such high regard.

Training with basketball players and finely tuning their bells and weighted hankies are just part and parcel of their drills, where their commitment to Morris presides over day jobs and love lives.

But Derecq is also a boundary-pusher, much to The Morris Circle’s dismay, and he is not content with dancing the ‘prescribed dances’. His attempts to bring his dance into the twenty-first century soon bring about his side’s downfall.

Derecq finds himself on the other side of the Atlantic, reduced to dancing ‘the devil’s dance’.

Morris: A Life With Bells On knows Morris inside out. The writers, producers and possibly even the actors hold Morris dear, enjoying and revelling in its quirks. However, and more importantly, it understands perceptions of the dance, and its position in modern day Britain – and the oft-publicised challenges it faces longterm.

And the film tackles it with abandon, offering no solution but affection and hilarity.

It's my birthday so I have an announcement!

(One other than I'm now a quarter-of-a-century old... bleurgh.)

Anyway, For Folk's Sake will be curating our own stage at the very wonderful Postcards From Manchester festival on Saturday 18th September at the Deaf Institute. Organised by a collective of some of the finest promoters in the city, Postcards brings together local and national indiepop bands all under one roof.

Now, I'm certainly not au fait with indiepop, apart from the jangly slices I witness at some of the nights I frequent in Manchester, so I'm really looking forward to putting sounds to some of the names I hear my friends raving about. And bringing some folk-influenced music to the proceedings, of course.

Representing the folk world will be:


Samson and Delilah


Glass Ankle

And I'm told that our stage - the basement! whoop! - will also host an array of stalls with more indie merchandise than you can shake a stick at. Nice!

Get your tickets here, read more about it here and come along!

On The Fiddle

I don't know if you know, but as well as writing about folk music, putting on folk music and holding down a full time job, I also play the violin. I mainly play with Air Cav, a Manchester-based indie / psychedelic band, but over the years have had the fortune to play with lots of interesting musicians. I've recently had the pleasure of contributing some sounds to Junkboy's latest album, Koyo, which received 4 stars in Mojo. I'm not at all surprised as the album's really gorgeous, saturated with intricate melodies but not so over-the-top that it feels like arrangement and orchestration and nothing else. You know what I mean.

And the violin has crept into my latest round of book proposals. Now, I'm always thinking up book proposals - I could write a list of my ideas I've had since I was a small child - but I rarely get on with either proposing the book in question or writing the thing. But I was thinking - would a book about the violin, more importantly playing the violin, make a good book? I've interviewed loads and loads of violinists - mainly folk fiddle players - over the years, many for the inimitable FiddleOn magazine.

And I love the idea of collating some of these themes that come up time and time again into a book: why the violin attracted them in the first place, how they learnt, when they learnt, classical learning vs self-taught, etc, etc. I'd hope it'd be a nice, fat compendium focused on giving fiddle players the recognition they deserve whilst simultaneously exploring more about the role of the violin in folk and popular music. (I've recently interviewed Sarah Neufeld of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, and I'd kill to interview The National's violinist... I'd definitely have to branch out more to that side of the spectrum)

Anyway, the bottom line is - would anyone, save the fiddle massive, want to read such a book? Would it make for interesting reading? Or is this a case of my rather nice interests fuelling my book proposal list again?

Announcing our autumn and winter programme!

Bit weeny, that, isn't it? OK, here's the full run down:

Thursday September 2nd - Jim Causley, Christopher Knowles, Daniel Land and Jayn Hannah (The Steals)

Thursday October 7th - Harp And A Monkey, The Minnikins, Johnny5thWheel&thecowards

Wednesday 20th October - special 2nd birthday show with The Shee and We Are Willow Part Two

Thursday 11th November - Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts, The Daydream Club

Thursday December 2nd - A Very Ceilidh Christmas with Monster Ceilidh Band, Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys, and Marry Another

Aint she a cracker? We've got local musicians, musicians from Devon, Birmingham, Newcastle, Yorkshire, Canada, London, established acts, emerging acts, people we've never met before... we're very chuffed! And all will take place at our new home, upstairs in Kro Bar, opposite the University of Manchester.

Except for some very exciting news... FFS has been asked to curate a stage at the marvellous Postcards From Manchester festival on Saturday September 18th. We'll let you know all the details as soon as we do(!), but for now, here's a link to their facebook presence.

FFS autumn programme, London last week... and more

I'll be announcing the For Folk's Sake autumn programme and our new venue very, very shortly... so keep your eyes peeled! We've got some incredibly exciting artists coming over to Manchester from all over the place, and we're very excited indeed. Especially as we'll soon have our brand spanking new PA system courtesy of the Arts Council!

Thank you to all who came to For Folk's Sake's London debut last week, hosted by the indescribable Magpie's Nest crew. You've heard me whitter on about them already, but they really are worthy of such praise! We had a packed room upstairs at the Queen's Head and Ottersgear, Rebecca Sharp, Eliza And The Bear and Mama Rosin entertained delightfully. Let's hope they invite us back some time! hint hint wink wink.

And stepping away from folk for a second, I've recently had the pleasure of a phone conversation with Chuck from Crocodiles, as documented here at the The Quietus.

There's also a really exciting new initiative in Manchester: Manchester Scene Wipe. These guys produce high quality impromptu videos of visiting and local bands and artists. A great resource for all music lovers, really. To celebrate their 100th video, they're putting on their favourite acts at the Deaf Institute next Thursday (12th August) so do pop down and witness Cats In Paris, Denis Jones, Brown Brogues and With That Knife, plus a DJ set from the people responsible for the best night out in town, Underachievers.

London folkies : join us next Wednesday for FFS's London debut

Those wonderful chaps, The Magpie's Nest, have very kindly invited us down to their London HQ to showcase some fine Northwest acts next Wednesday (July 28th).

So come on down to hear folky sounds and spoken word from the rainy reason, alongside a headline set from the very dapper cajun band, Mama Rosin.

We will be presenting our good friends Ottersgear and Rebecca Sharp, as well as Eleanor Rees' poem 'Eliza And The Bear', which features a live harp score composed by Rebecca. Regular FFS-ers will know and love these acts, and we hope you Londoners will, too!

More information and reduced advanced tickets can be bought here

A bit of a catch-up

Here's some things I've been writing recently:

My interview with Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre's Sarah Neufeld

The latest Fiddle On magazine has my interviews with Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, and Emma Sweeney. It also contains my account of the Fiddle On Tenth Anniversary weekend. You can now join Fiddle On on facebook too:!/FiddleOn?ref=ts

My interview with Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts is in the latest issue of fRoots but I must admit that I haven't seen that myself yet!

Here's a scan of the PYT piece I did a little while back:

Coming up, I'll have an interview with Crocodiles available on The Quietus, plus a feature on Mark Chadwick.

Thank you

to all those who came to Twelfth Day's album launch last night. What a fantastic night - we could barely fit everyone in.We'll upload a video of the girls' set as soon as possible.

Cat and Esther have recently finished studying at the Royal Northern College of Music (I would say graduated, although they haven't yet) and it was great to see so many of their college peers attending the launch, many of them with instruments in hand having just finished their own rehearsals.

I think there is a stereotype that music colleges (perhaps all specialised arts colleges) breed real, bitter competitiveness. And that 'classical' music institutions are stuffy, constrained atmospheres where students are prevented from experimenting with other musical genres and styles.

But I've seen absolutely no evidence of this through my minute window in to Twelfth Day's world - musician friends have helped record and produce the album, even designing the artwork for the CD. The loudest whoops and cheers last night came from Twelfth Day's musical colleagues, and one of the support bands, Tawse, consisted of RNCM students and graduates.

Twelfth Day might make music very much bound to their trad Scots backgrounds, but their peers have embraced Rabbie Burns like Bartok. The Spotlight sessions at the RNCM actively encourage students to perform their own music in whatever format they choose.

Music colleges have always fascinated me - for the past couple of years I've been gathering sound bytes and interviews from those who have attended or teach at the Folk and Traditional Music course at the University of Newcastle - and it was lovely to experience such an open-minded, supportive atmosphere last night.

A Folk Song A Day

I absolutely love Jon Boden's voice, so I'm very pleased I'll be able to 'hear' it every day for the next year.

Yes, Jon Boden (of Spiers and Boden, Bellowhead and formerly one of Eliza's Ratcatchers) has begun a new project - to document a folk song every day to raise the profile of unaccompanied singing. Excellent!

My first piece for The Quietus

An interview with Soren Bonke of Klak Tik:

PYT folk

You may remember that I wrote a piece on the young British folk scene for indiepop zine, Pull Yourself Together, which is run by my good friends Dan and Hannah.

PYT is out now and my article - kindly edited, nay hacked - is on the back page.

I thought you might like to read the unabridged version here:
The mainstream music press would have you believe that Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale are the new folk acts we should all be raving about.

But these outfits are a far cry from the gifted, dynamic and – most importantly – exciting artists on the young British folk scene I know.

A young British folk scene that, apart from the occasional mention in The Guardian or Mojo, is largely consigned to the few specialist (and often hard to come by) magazines and websites that serve the genre – and will continue to be so.

Oh, unless you find yourself the token folk act in the Mercury nominations like Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (now known as The Unthanks) who can now count a genuine cross-genre audience following among their many successes.

And this is proof that folk music isn’t a niche, and can appeal to a wider audience – if two girls singing old songs from their native Northumberland, with a bit of clog dance in between, can play to a packed Night and Day café, why can’t any other musicians on the scene do the same?

Artists like Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts, a fiddle and guitar duo nominated for the Horizon Award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. They tend to play more of their own material than traditional, but incorporate English and American styles in their own work.

Or Edale’s Bella Hardy, a singer with a voice to die for: powerful yet tender, simple and without pretension. Bella has released her past two albums on her own label, producing the album and doing all PR herself, despite being one the British folk scene’s rising stars.

Speaking of voices, there’s Jim Causley. Only one or two years older than me, Jim possesses a voice that sounds like it’s been maturing in old caskets for decades. His collaboration with English dance band, Mawkin, has sadly come to a premature end – maybe it was something to do with them appearing nude on the cover of folk and world magazine fRoots – but his knowledge of songs and his distinct delivery makes him an exciting performer. (September’s installment of For Folk’s Sake in Manchester will see Jim headlining.)

Of course, the reason that the vast majority of the young folk musicians stick to the folk circuit, playing the country’s vast network of folk clubs and a summer full of specialist festivals, is because it pays. For the vast majority of professional young folkies, travel expenses and a few beers – the reward for the young indie band, for example – cannot suffice. And though the audiences at the folk clubs and festivals will be rapturously receptive, it is often the case that they are hardened folk fans and much, much older.

The situation is self-perpetuating – and it somehow seems a shame that these musicians, many in their early twenties, rarely play to people their own age.

Perhaps the inclusion of and collaboration with other genres may help this crossover and slowly bring other fans forward, thus raising folk’s profile.

Under One Sky is an original suite of Scottish-inspired music from fiddler and composer, John McCusker. Already working with musicians from other backgrounds, most notably Radiohead, John invited Graham Coxon and Norman Blake to contribute to the project and to go on tour when the opportunity arose.

Under One Sky is a varied and beautiful piece of music, but with the tour stopping off at arts centres such as The Lowry, rather than the more dingy rock venues I had hoped for, I very much doubt that anyone other than the most dedicated Blur and Teenage Fanclub fans made it to the gig to accompany the rows and rows of grey-haired folk devotees.

John McCusker is also a member of another project that aims to blur the genres: the not so imaginatively titled Drever McCusker Woomble, featuring Orcadian singer and guitarist, Kris Drever, best known for his work with Lau, and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. Sadly, though, I feel their album Before The Ruin doesn’t live up to the big names involved, showcasing instead a middle of the road, sentimentalised and rather plodding collection.

PBS6 is perhaps a more adventurous collaboration project, still in its early stages. Will Lang, a percussion tutor at the University of Newcastle’s Folk and Traditional Music course, decided to address his belief that hip hop is, in essence, a kind of folk music and assembled together a group of established folk and hip hop musicians. The resulting album is an unusual mix of accordion driven tunes and beatboxed beats, with MC Crystalize putting old songs into hip hop rhyme. Though it’s too early to tell whether hip hop enthusiasts like their rap with rapper dance, it is a brave undertaking nonetheless: attempting to step away from the negative, constrictive connotations of both genres even before the listener presses play.

So, carefully avoiding treading the murky waters of the ‘what IS folk?’ debate, please don’t fall under the spell of believing that Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale are the be all and end all – there’s some fantastic folk music out there; it just needs your support.

New outlet, new band

I'm excited - tomorrow I'll be interviewing the curiously named Klak Tik (and their even more curiously named frontman, Soren Bonke) for the wonderful The Quietus

Then on Tuesday I'm going on a tour of the underground myriad of tunnels in Manchester.

Wednesday is Glastonbury.

Though I won't be present, The Whitworth Art Gallery is presenting an ace Midsummer House Party on Thursday, the spoken word part of which was curated by FFS. So if you're in Manchester, get down there - it's free and Jackie Hagan and Gemma Lees will be in the kitchen, telling you some words. There was also be music and art - obviously.

Then the following Wednesday, 30th June, when Glastonbury is a mere hazy memory (and a sea of abandoned tents, no doubt) Twelfth Day take to the Kro Bar stage to launch their album, Northern Quarter. Come and join us!

Twelfth Day release album, hit the road AND have a launch party!


Yes, the very lovely Catriona Price and Esther Swift, fiddler and harpist respectively, will soon be hitting the road, the airwaves and all other kinds of cliches in celebration of their debut album, Northern Quarter.

And my, what an album it is - their trad Scottish roots meld seamlessly with technical precision and skill gleaned from their years of classical training. Please let me know if you're a writer / PR / presenter type and would like a copy and haven't been sent one already.

The album launch is being hosted by the one and only For Folk's Sake, plus Manchester legends, Friends of Mine. I think it's fair to say Friends of Mine haven't really delved into this kind of musical territory before, so it'll be interesting to see what the FOM massive make of Twelfth Day! Supporting will be a welcome return to the scene for Hannah Nicholson (Paperwives) and Ben Cashell. And the best thing? Tickets are a mere £3 in advance from here


English folk and who should we be looking to? Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons referred to again... I normally like Kitty's words, but this is just naive. There's so much more out there! My PYT article (I'll let you know when it's out) attempts to draw attention to this...

Play at Field Day

So many festivals run 'play our festival' competitions these days, supposedly aiming to discover new talent and give them a well deserved slot and a rung on the overcrowded ladder.

However, most involve public votes where the only bands even glanced at by the festival panel are those with 100 top friends on myspace and multiple IP addresses - perfect for increasing festival website traffic.

The folks at The Quietus, however, seem genuinely more altruistic. They're even honest about the nature of their judges: 'Bad Cop (Luke) and Even Worse Cop (John)'. Good on them.

500 words on folk?

The ever-lovely Dan and Hannah at PYT set me the ultimate challenge - to write something (anything!) about the folk scene... in 500 words. So it ended up 886. Quickly and smartly reduced to 700 by Hannah. Thanks, guys - if only everyone was as free and easy as you! I'll let you know when the next issue of Pull Yourself Together is out and where it can be found.

I've also had the pleasure of interviewing the delectable Hannah Peel for the High Voltage fanzine. I'd seen Hannah play as part of the expanded lineup with The Unthanks, but this was the first time I'd heard her solo stuff and my, what a voice.

Subscribe to the FFS playlist on Spotify

Some FFS-inspired listening here: For Folk's Sake's June 2010 playlist


He's a great writer, a firm friend of Air Cav and a supporter of For Folk's Sake. An all round nice guy. And here he mentions FFS on his rather excellent blog.

Pete Seeger's dad...

... seemed quite a character. In his The Purposes Of Music, he said:

‘the basis for the musical culture is the vernacular of the broad mass of the people – its traditional (often called ‘folk’) idiom; popular music and processional music are elaborate superstructures built upon the common base.'

Very sensible man.

Folk music enthusiasts wanted

Two of the most exciting British folk-orientated websites on the net, Spiral Earth and Bright Young Folk, need writers, bloggers and all-round folky enthusiasts to get involved. Please spread the word - they're such fantastic resources!

I thought I'd really like Trembling Bells...

... but I didn't. Not live, anyway.

Read my review here

Twelfth Day in the MEN ahead of tonight's gig

Twelfth Day in the MEN

I love Twelfth Day's promo photography.

It has to be said that I can rarely say that about folk musicians: they tend to adorn their CDs with inherently awful photos of themselves looking uncomfortable and geeky, with ill fitting clothes, or in cliche poses (looking to an invisible horizon, hair caught by a breeze).

But more of that another time. Manchester's music and fashion photographer extraordinaire, Shirlaine Forrest, captured Twelfth Day perfectly in unusual, eye catching yet honest shots.

And in yesterday's MEN, one of the suite was given full appreciation next to David Sue's article in City Life. Thanks, David! Of course, Twelfth Day are opening FFS tonight at Contact Theatre so do come down - it's going to be a great night.

If you're already missing Mawkin:Causley...

... have a listen to Dave Delarre's Blue Beginnings. It's a guitar-centric mini album from the M:C guitarist and jolly fine it is, too. You might want to have a read of my Spiral Earth review here:

A new PA will be winging its way...

... to For Folk's Sake!

Arts Council and National Lottery logos

Yes, I'm delighted to announce that the Arts Council has granted FFS an award to enable us to buy a brand new PA system. This is going to be a massive help to us, cutting down on overheads so that we can expand our reach by booking more established acts, extending our marketing activities and making sure all our acts are rewarded for their performance.

Thanks, Arts Council!

A tune inspired by a place I've never been to

[soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="" url=""] Portmeirion by forfolkssake

This is my first attempt at embedding a tune on Wordpress, so here goes!

Anyway, I was lucky enough to get to know Ric Sanders, fiddler extraordinaire with Fairport Convention, when I was a teenager and he taught me this tune he wrote. As tunes go, it's quite a simple ditty, but it's stuck with me ever since. And I've never even been to Portmeirion.

Chris and I recorded it in our flat - that's Chris on guitar. I was playing in the bathroom and I don't think it's too bad a sound, all things considered!

A folky few days

On Thursday, I had the joy of seeing PBS6 perform at Bury Met. OK, so I'm slightly biased - being involved in their PR, and all - but they were fantastic! It was so loud; far more like being in a club than at a gig. I think they should try getting some club and festival dance tent gigs - they'd go down a storm to folk and non-folk fans alike!

Then at the weekend, I took part in a fiddle weekend at Wilderhope Manor in Shropshire, courtesy of Fiddle On and in celebration of the magazine's tenth anniversary. I had a great workshop with Pete Cooper alongside 30 or so other fiddlers, and we went on walks and took part in sessions.

I must confess that Saturday night was my first ever session, despite playing the violin since I was 7 and loving folk music. Having very few folky friends, I've never summoned up the courage to go to a session by myself. I was hoping that I'd recognise a few tunes and quickly convert that to my fingers on the spot, but that didn't go quite to plan - I only knew a handful of tunes! But I really enjoyed myself nonetheless, and I've vowed to start going to the Jolly Angler and the Ducie in Manchester. eeek!

Folk isn't that scary - honest!

I like it when audience members at FFS don't quite know what to expect.

When audience members are pleasantly surprised (or perturbed and shocked). When audience members think that yes, they might listen to folk music again, or no, I won't always go outside for a fag when a spoken word artist is on.

I'm glad that audience members don't ever tend to feel indifferent to performers at FFS.

Here's a review of the most recent FFS from someone who wouldn't normally touch folk with a proverbial barge pole:

Red Shoes in the Birmingham Mail

And online it includes a video. Nice!

FFS is all booked up now until December!

I know, it's crazy!

Thank you all so much for getting in touch with requests for gigs. By all means, do still get in touch as it's always lovely to hear from interesting musicians and poets from all over - but we won't be looking to book anyone until February 2011 now.

Thanks again for your continued support. We'll release news of all forthcoming gigs asap.

And if you're in Manchester tonight, make sure you head down to Eighth Day from 7pm!

An egg-citing announcement

Yes, indeed. Though I think I've probably announced it before - I just wanted to get 'egg-citing' in there somehow.

Our May egg-stravaganza (sorry!) is booking now...

We're delighted to be hosting the Manchester leg of The Magpie's Nest's Two For Joy tour. In case you don't already know, the Magpie's Nest won Folk Club Of The Year at this year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and I see this tour as their celebratory lap of victory. Maybe I'm being over the top, but it's fantastic to see a folk club go on the road!

So on May 8th at Contact Theatre, The Long Notes and Plaster of Paris will perform, with our very own Twelfth Day opening. Tickets are £8/6 and you can get them in advance from here: For more details and to confirm your attendance, visit our event page on facebook:

See you at Eighth Day cafe on Thursday!

Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain

Wooo... I'm a little nervous. In two days' time, I'll be interviewing the legendary Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain ahead of their gig at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. In Scottish music, they're the masters! I'll be focussing on the duo for Fiddle On magazine, but I'm also really interested in the Scottish Studies department (incorporating traditional music) at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama which Phil heads up, so I'll be interrogating him about that.

Wish me luck! *gulp*

Close Up With Kevin Rowland

And it was pretty close up - I managed to exchange a few words with him after the event. My uncle was a roadie / light technician for Kevin's pre-Dexys band, The Killjoys, and I'm pleased to say that Kevin remembered him well. So much so that they've since exchanged a few emails!

Just a quickie...

... to show you some gorgeous photos from Thursday's FFS, courtesy of David Gee, Muoo Photography.

Head over here:

Keeping momentum

Wow. I'm truly exhausted. Last night's FFS at the Zion was fantastic - such a big, varied crowd and such fabulous performers. Thanks to everyone who came down and listened, performed, helped out, promoted, etc, etc. And wasn't the cake nice? Well, all except my second batch of shortbread which shouldn't even be fed to ducks - they'd break their beaks. Apologies if you got a piece of that.

But anyway, I'm delighted to announce the next FFS - April 8th at Eighth Day cafe. (Should be easy to remember, that one!) We're joined by musicians from all corners of the British Isles, so be sure to join us from 7pm.

Ahead of tonight's gig...

... you might want a sample of what FFS past has been like. Have a lookie at our video from FFS Feb:

And I'm thrilled that the Big Issue picked up on the Zion Centre gig tonight, placing us in their Top 10 Select feature. Whoop!

FFS on BBC Introducing - listen again

If you missed me on BBC Introducing on Sunday night and fancy a listen, have a listen here (I'm about 1 hour 38 in) You'll hear tracks from Irish fiddler player, Emma Sweeney (who is appearing at For Folk's Sake next month), and Anna Kashfi, at FFS at the Zion tomorrow.

I went to see Eliza last night at Band On The Wall. Lovely to see a big and relatively young audience! She was as fabulous as ever, and played mainly new stuff (one in particular was amazing, but the title escapes me!) and material from Dreams Of Breathing Underwater and Angels And Cigarettes. When she does the more chantreuse-y, sexy, bluesy self-penned stuff, the fiddle takes a little more of a back seat but I don't mind as that means she revels in her husky voice. You can tell she loves to sing those songs.

She said that her new album - also original music - will be written in a week and a half, compared to the last one which took seven years. I assume she was joking, but I'm looking forward to it already!

Little Red Rabbit - download for free

You're probably already familiar with Manchester collective / label, Little Red Rabbit, because a) they're fabulous,  b) they're the label behind Samson and Delilah who I love very much, and c) they are the label behind Anna Kashfi, who are performing at FFS at the Zion next week.

Anyway, if you'd like to hear more from their artists, head on over to their website and you can download their compilation, 'Trace', for free!

FFS on BBC Introducing this weekend...

I have been invited on to BBC Manchester's Introducing show this Sunday night to give a bit of an update about FFS' work. The show has been incredibly supportive since our beginning, and they very kindly dubbed me 'promoter of the week' this time last year. I'll be chatting about what's coming up in the next few months and playing a few tunes from FFS artists - and they never raise an eyebrow at my choices! Thanks guys!

Tune in at 11.20pm on Sunday night, or listen again from Monday via

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, Saturday 6th March, Bridgewater Hall

On Saturday, Catriona Price (the fiddling half of Twelfth Day) and I went along to the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra concert at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.

Prior to stumbling across their glossy flyer in a leaflet rack, I had never heard of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and was intrigued - would it be a hoard of fiddles playing rousing tunes? I hoped so, as I've become a real Scottish music fan.

The Bridgewater Hall was packed, and many of the audience were decked out in kilts and sporrans. Pipers were weaving their way through the crowd. The atmosphere was lively and the fact that I still had no idea what I was about to witness made for a rather exciting build up. I couldn't have cared less that we were the youngest by a long, long way - I'm used to this at folk gigs.

But as the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra took their seats, and a compere - apparently well known on the Scottish scene - began cracking jokes, I realised this was more of a nostalgia concert. The tunes were not frenetic and raw, but lazily over-romanticised in their arrangement. Guest solo singers were invited to the spotlight and warbled their way through like the opening of a football tournament.

It reminded me of the country dances we were taught at primary school - gentle music with just enough bounce to persuade young knees to participate. A kind of watered down, easy listening soundtrack.

However, Cat and I were the only ones who seemed bitterly disappointed. The audience were laughing heartily at the greetings-card-jokes and clapping in time with the music. To me, it didn't seem heartfelt or genuine and I was pleased to leave.

Lau-ving it

Ignore the awful pun. It just had to be done.

I've seen Lau several times and - though it might be a cliche to say it - they really do get better every time. And after's Friday's performance, I've officially promoted them to 'my favourite band' status.

Here's my review...

Future Fiddle On feature

I interviewed Emma Sweeney last night for a future issue of Fiddle On and what a lovely lady she is. Born and raised in Manchester to Irish parents, she has grown up playing in all the sessions the city has to offer. So many young folkies are 'born into' the folk world, with singing parents and forays to festivals in the summer which, of course, is wonderful, but Emma hasn't had any of that and has found the (Irish) folk scene herself. She's also careful not to put all her eggs in one basket - a phrase she used several times - and so studied theology at university and as well as teaching fiddle and whistle during the week, works at a college part time, too.

I like that - it shows that the folk scene is all-encompassing and open-minded. You just need to find it first.

Emma's got a new website: which I believe is still under construction, and she'll be playing the April FFS at the Eighth Day on, fittingly, April 8th.

For Folk's Sake Liverpool... next date, Monster Ceilidh Band!

For Folk's Sake is delighted to announced that Newcastle's - nay, the country's - finest young ceilidh band, Monster Ceilidh Band, will be arriving at the Leaf Tea Shop on Parliament Street on Friday March 12th.

Also appearing will be Lancaster's Dan Haywood's New Hawks and Rantum Scantum, all the way from Edinburgh. Make sure you get down early on so you get a good spot at the front!

Duotone - Work Harder & One Day You'll Find Her

A real beautiful album that's certainly a grower.

And the first review I put up myself on Spiral Earth. First person to spot a typo or missed bit of formatting wins a chocolate bar of their choice.

Celebrating ten years of Fiddle On - new issue

The new issue is out and as ever, there's lots of bits and pieces to get your teeth into. The cover piece is an interview with Natalie Haas about the finer points of accompanying fiddle players - very enlightening! I've got an interview with the lovely Charlie Heys, too.

Check out for subscription details. It's their tenth birthday - the perfect time to subscribe!

Inge Thomson - Shipwrecks And Static

My ears have been blown away by this album. It's not folk, but then I don't know what you'd call it. Apart from 'fantastic'.

For Folk's Sake takes part in Finding Zion

First Aid Kit at the Deaf Institute

I absolutely love First Aid Kit... and it's strange, as this is possibly the first time I find myself loving a band coveted by the mainstream music press. Perhaps I'm getting trendy in my old age?

Anyway, here's my review of their gig at the Deaf Institute on Tuesday night:

The Safires and Red Shoes...

... are both about to release their debut albums. Both are very different (the former is Massive Attack-inspired folky chillout; the latter very folk-rock) and I'm about to tell the media world about both. Let's hope they get the recognition they deserve!

Jonatha Brooke at Band On The Wall

This was a strange one. A gorgeous voice, an accomplished backing band, but I was bored... bored with cliche after cliche, cheesy riff after cheesy riff. But I feel unfair saying that when she's an enjoyable performer to watch.

Ah well, her adoring crowd really were very adoring, so I very much doubt she cares about what I think.

*%/! is a four letter word

For Folk's Sake is a pretty daft title, I concur, but I chose it because a) I thought it would imply that our nights wouldn't take themselves too seriously, that they were accessible, inviting to younger audience members, b) I also liked the connotation 'for the sake of folk', i.e. the future of folk

And it seems like others are doing the same:

What? The folk! - - another Manchester based collective putting on acoustic nights

Cool As Folk - A night at Odder bar in Manchester, playing 'the snazziest selection of nu-folk, indie-folk and folktronica!'

Folking Cool - - I only stumbled across this today, but it looks like a mix of old and new folk which is always nice.

Then there's the London-based For Folk's Sake ( who have a really beautiful site with lots going on.

Has anyone spotted any others?

Kris Drever's new album

The Fugitive Motel zine run a feature called 'I'd Marry That Voice' and I should get round to writing one about Kris Drever. There's no other like it. In terms of his new album, I'm not quite sure it beats Black Water, but perhaps it's more of a grower:

And anyone who is in the Lancashire area should get down to The Met in Bury on Friday night and witness Lau. Amazing!

For Folk's Sake mentioned in Drowned in Sound's Manchester guide

I'm delighted to see that For Folk's Sake has been mentioned in DiS. I read DiS on a daily basis and Mr. Catling certainly knows his stuff. Hurrah!

Review of O'Hooley & Tidow's Silent June

For Folk's Sake - it's Liverpool!

Fresh after its first show of the year, For Folk’s Sake is delighted to announce the popular folk and roots night will be launching in Liverpool on Friday 12 February.

Mikey Kenney – known as Ottersgear on stage – has performed at the Manchester night on two occasions and has been inspired to launch the night in Liverpool.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed performing at For Folk’s Sake in Manchester and feel it showcases a real high calibre of traditional and acoustic artists.

“Sometimes city centres miss out on this kind of music in such an intimate environment, so I approached Sophie, the promoter of For Folk’s Sake, and asked if she would mind whether I started a similar night in Liverpool under the same umbrella.”

Sophie Parkes, promoter of For Folk’s Sake, said: “I am honoured that Mikey has decided to take FFS to Liverpool and I will support him in any way I can. I am sure Liverpool audiences will be as receptive as they are here in Manchester.”

For Folk’s Sake has been running for almost a year and a half, and aims to bring traditional folk and language-led music to a city centre platform.

For Folk’s Sake launches in Liverpool on Friday 12 February at the Leaf Café. It will feature performances from The Existence Of Harvey Lord, Eliza And The Bear, Harp And A Monkey and Lewis Mason.

Finding Zion - For Folk's Sake!

Single Cell is a a fantastic multi-disciplinary collective based in Manchester. They've recently won a residency at the Zion Centre in Hulme, an arts centre which is determined to put itself on the map and become more involved in the Manchester arts scene.

Single Cell have put together a really varied programme of events throughout their residency which will appeal to all sorts of different people, and For Folk's Sake has been invited to host a special event in the main theatre (gulp!). This will take place on Thursday March 18th from 8pm, but you might like to know what else is going on...


Running from 26th February—27th March 2010, Finding Zion is a month long festival of events taking place in and around Zion Arts Centre, curated by Single Cell Collective.

We’ve chosen to stage events that promote the creative talent of Hulme while exploring the politics and culture of this unique area. There’s plenty of opportunities to get involved, whether it’s bringing your bike to the critical mass, siting down for a meal at the People’s Kitchen or taking a walk through Hulme’s psychogeography. The events culminate with Hulme Busking, a day of incredible musical performances throughout Hulme, ending with a special event at Zion Arts Centre.

At some events we ask for a donation rather than charge a ticket price to take into account personal circumstances. All donations go to the running of the events and/or funding future creative activity in Hulme.

Respond’ is Zion Arts Centre’s trilogy of residencies which ask for creative solutions to engaging communities. Finding Zion is Single Cell’s Response during which we aim to open up this resource to the community, bridging the gap between the vibrant creativity of Hulme and this amazing building that lies at its heart.

This programme is about providing opportunities for creative people in Hulme, so if you want to get involved get in touch.

Critical Mass comes to Hulme
18:00—00:00, Friday 26th February
What: Mass bike ride through Manchester followed by party at Zion Arts Centre including The Spokes Bicycle Dance Troupe, Pedal Powered Soundsystem, DJ’s including Sir Robin from Longshot playing reggae and 2 step, amazing bands and delicious food.
Where: Meet at the Central Library at 6pm for the ride and 7pm at Zion Arts Centre for the after-ride party.
Get involved: Bring a bike, wear orange, free bike valet parking at Zion!
Cost: Ride - free. Party - suggested donation £3
Organised by Manchester Critical Mass, I Bike Mcr (

Peoples’ History of Hulme
13:00, Sunday 7th March
What: Create a fantasy map and embark on a metaphysical treasure hunt, discovering performers, musicians, and random surprises on this pyschogeographic tour of Hulme exploring politics, regeneration and myth.
Get involved: The Peoples’ History of Hulme is suitable for people of all ages, some gentle walking outdoors is required so dress for the weather.
Where: Meet at 1pm at Kim By the Sea, Old Birley Street M15 5RF
Cost: Free of charge
Organised by the Loiterers Resistance Movement (

For Folk's Sake
20:00, Thursday 18th March
What: The very best in live folk music and spoken word featuring Little Red Rabbit’s Anna Kashfi, fresh from the release of their latest album, Survival ( plus performance poet, Mab Jones ( and Honeyfeet (
Where: Theatre space at Zion Arts Centre
Cost: £3 (available on night or in advance from venue)
Organised by For Folks Sake (

Workshop 14:00—17:00,  Performance 18:00—20:00, Saturday 20th March
What: An incredible opportunity for MCs, DJs and spoken word artists to collaborate with experimental electronica musicians. An afternoon workshop with music facilitators followed by an evening performance before a select crowd. All ages, all abilities welcome.
Where: Various spaces at Zion Arts Centre
Get involved: All noise-makers, word-shapers, beat-breakers and soundscapers!
Avant-garde electro pioneers come forth! Whatever your skills sign up.
Cost: Free but registration for the workshop is essential:
Organised by Single Cell Collective

People’s Kitchen Meal and Hulme Film Night
18:00-23:00, Tuesday 23rd March
What: A delicious communal meal* cooked on site by volunteers from that Hulme institution, People’s Kitchen. Followed by a selection of short films depicting the cultural history of Hulme, exploring issues such as politics, parties, housing and immigration, with guest speakers.
Where: Gallery space at Zion Arts Centre
Get involved: Contact us to book a place at the table:
Or get in touch if you have film footage of Hulme you want to share:
Cost: Suggested donation £3
Organised by People’s Kitchen of Bentley House TARA, Clearer Channel and Single Cell
*All dietary requirements catered for on request, food is vegan and where possible organic

Hulme Busking
12:00—19:00, Saturday 27th March
What: Finding Zion culminates with a day when Hulme reveals its true musical creativity. Featuring musical performances in spaces all around Hulme. Look out for some surprise acts in some unusual locations. The day ends with special performances from 6pm-9pm at the Zion Arts Centre.
Where: Meet at midday in Hulme Park outside the Zion Arts Centre. Midday-6pm, various locations tbc around Hulme, 6pm-9pm Zion Arts Centre
Get involved: Get in touch if you are a musician who would like to play or would you like to suggest a location or request a song:
Cost Daytime event: free; Evening event: suggested donation £3

More information

0161 226 1912

Being a gig promoter

Putting on gigs was always something I wanted to do, as I wanted to bring traditional and folk music to the city centre and to a younger crowd, but my lack of confidence prevented me. When I was asked to put on the first incarnation of For Folk's Sake for MAPS festival, I had the perfect excuse and my nerves were not going to hold me back.

However, even after almost a year and a half of putting on For Folk's Sake, I still get terrified before each one. On the eve of For Folk's Sake, I am usually melancholy: I expect a half-arsed crowd, bands to demand money as I am frog-marched to the cashpoint, and I always say to myself this is the  last one. Ever.

Though, I must admit, the nights have never gone disastrously wrong. In fact, far from it. PAs have turned up late, leads have been forgotten. There's been absent-minded poets and microphones balanced on egg-boxes, local drunkards destroying the furniture and there was one occasion when I tripped over a lead and shouted an expletive. But nevertheless, the artists have enjoyed performing - the vast majority asking to come back - and the support from the loyal following has been overwhelming.

For Folk's Sake has gone from strength to strength, and this year, is travelling to London, expanding to Liverpool, participating in a residency, launching a debut album and hosting a tour.

But even when I feel like my confidence is growing and I'm making headway, this week's For Folk's Sake was decidedly quiet and the nerves once again crept in. I found myself apologising to the bands and punters, exclaiming that it's never normally this quiet, and insisting that I've done the same amount of publicity that I've always done.

And then there was my biggest faux pas to date. After thanking first band, Kamal Arafa, for their outstanding performance, I declared them to be a tight outfit. Once I saw the violinist's face fall, I realised what I had said.

No, no, not clothes, I said, waving my hands frantically in the air.

I'm referring to how together they were, I insisted, stressing each syllable.

The crowd had grown by this stage, and now many were laughing uncomfortably.

Oh god, I sound like Alan Partridge, I said, in a vain attempt to salvage any reputation I had left, shuffling off stage and welcoming the setting of the stage for the next band.

Of course, I dwelled on this episode for a good half an hour before I realised it actually didn't matter and was soon forgotten by the crowd, the performers and everyone else, bar myself.

And the crowd had grown. It still was perhaps one of the smallest audiences I'd had, but it was still enough for the room to feel lively, attentive and snug.

After the gig, and by the time I had got home, I was already saying to myself everything's quiet at the beginning of the year. You've got loads going on this year, don't give up.

So I won't. There's video footage from Thursday being edited, there's tech specs being forwarded for our next gig - Thursday March 18th at the Zion Centre, there's artwork being prepared and I'm already booking September through to December.

Bring it on.

My K.C. McKanzie interview

She's a real character:

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards results...

I had the pleasure of voting at this year's Folk Awards as part of the panel and I'm delighted to see some of my votes come up trumps. But poor old Mawkin:Causley - I was rooting for you, boys!

Newsflash! Our first show of the year welcomes special guests...

We're honoured to introduce a treat for the ukelele lovers amongst you... You may have heard Alan Bates on Xfm this week, after sparking a major man hunt following his now infamous performances on match days at the City of Manchester Stadium. Have a sneaky listen here:

We're also delighted to announce Kamal Arafa will be performing, too. A string-heavy serendipity, make sure you head to the Bay Horse basement at 7.30pm to catch them:

And one more cheeky plug to vote for us in the Spirals:

See you at the Bay Horse this Thursday (4th Feb) from 7pm.

Lots of exciting news for 2010

Hello For Folk’s Sake-rs

Apologies it’s been a long old while, but I thought I’d gather up all our exciting news in one big go…

First of all, we start the year at the Bay Horse NEXT Thursday (Feb 4th) with:

  • Multiple slam champion, Ash Dickinson, with victories in Edinburgh (2007), Cheltenham (2008), the Museum of Scotland Slam (2005). Ash won the BBC Radio 4 Midlands Slam in July 2009. You can check out videos of his dynamic performances here, as well as his ‘Ashist Manifesto’.

  • And special guests

For Folk’s Sake has been nominated at the Spiral Awards for best folk club of the year. Voting closes on Feb 12th, so please click here to vote for us.

Then in March, we’re lucky enough to have been invited to participate in the wonderful Single Cell Collective’s residency at The Zion Arts Centre. If you haven’t heard of Manchester’s multidisciplinary arts collective, Single Cell, you might want to check them out

  • For Folk’s Sake will be in the MAIN THEATRE (gulp!) at the Zion on Thursday March 18th with Anna Kashfi, who have just released their latest album, Survival, on Little Red Rabbit records.

  • We are also delighted to be joined by Cardiff poet, Mab Jones, who was one of only six poets who made it through to the UK Farrago Slam Championships last year. What an achievement! You can check her out here:

  • Other guests will be announced shortly.

April 8th’s venue is currently yet to be confirmed, but we have a fantastic lineup planned, with artists from all over the UK:

The wonderful Northern Irish troubadour, Stephen MacCartney

Brummie poet and comedian, Claire Jones

Scotland’s songstress, Lindsay Sugden

And Manchester’s very own former BBC Young Folk Award finalist, fiddler Emma Sweeney

I don’t want to overwhelm you with ALL our news in great detail, but look out for further information about our date at Contact Theatre in May, with the Magpie’s Nest tour (the London folk club who have just won BBC Radio 2 Folk Club of the Year at the 2010 Folk Awards!)

As well as:

  • The Twelfth Day album launch in June

  • And our first ever London For Folk’s Sake in July!

Phew! What a year it is going to be!

So we’ll see you all next Thursday (Feb 4th) at the Bay Horse then? As ever, it’s £4 on the door (£2 concs), 7pm until the music dries up xx