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Best Folk Club Performers

15 Aug 03 - 11:20 PM (#1003054)
Subject: Best Folk Club Performers (Traditional)
From: GUEST,Songbird

I'm interested in hearing what others think about the current crop of folk club performers who are making the rounds in the UK and Ireland nowadays. I'm talking about people who sing or perform traditional material, not singer/songwriters. Who gives a great performance and a memorable evening, and why? Any special sets that stand out in your mind? Sometimes you hear about somebody who's appearing and don't know whether to turn up or not because you don't know much about them. Any "must see's"? I'd like to hear people's opinions about different performers and get a sense of "who's who" and what they do.

16 Aug 03 - 04:42 AM (#1003113)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: a gud ole bwoy

Cor luv a duck your gone und started summut here ent yer. So i'll chip in me four penuth afor the deluge starts. If yer want trad English then goo und see MARY HUMPHRIES and ANAHATA. They does a lot a research, knows alot about what their singin about, sing and play tunes, play a lot a different instuments un all, chello, banjo, melodian, concertina. Marys allus enthusiastic and luves tu sing. Some folks und some folkies und all ave been eard tu say that Anahata dunt seem tu smile much. All I cun say is you try to play like e does and do anythin else. What with Marys singin and Anahatas playin yu wunt goo far wrong fur a really good evenin out.
Ah well gotta goo and teach me rabbits how tu multiply ( we did addition last weeek).

16 Aug 03 - 10:01 AM (#1003182)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Auldtimer

Show of Hands, have always impressed me every time I see them. Good material well performed and they know how to work with an audence. Last week I attended the Common Ground in Scotland festival and
realy enjoyed Chris Foster, who I last saw twenty years ago, his guitar work and singing is mesmerising. Also at Common Ground was Donal Maguire, a consumate singer mostly of material from the Irish tradition but he likes newer songs as well. cheers

16 Aug 03 - 10:14 AM (#1003184)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Morticia

Ian Bruce is great and I really like Geoff Higginbottam too, both are fabulous in a folk club environment.

16 Aug 03 - 02:26 PM (#1003263)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: The Borchester Echo

English traditional performers?

I second Mary Humphreys & Anahata, plus
*John Spiers & Jon Boden, obviously
*Pete Coe and any other Ryburns, any time
*members of Dr Faustus & English Acoustic Collective in any combination you can manage to book
*same goes for Demon Barbers & Witches of Elswick

Don't suppose you'll get any of them now for your autumn club programme though.

16 Aug 03 - 03:00 PM (#1003270)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Murray MacLeod

Ian Bruce a traditional singer, Morticia ?


16 Aug 03 - 06:31 PM (#1003341)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers

Has anybody seen Jez Lowe in a performance? I think he does a lot of traditional folk, or at least he used to.

16 Aug 03 - 07:28 PM (#1003355)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: harvey andrews

Ian Bruce, Show of hands, Jez Lowe...all great singer songwriters.
(Have to fight our corner sometimes!)

16 Aug 03 - 08:55 PM (#1003401)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: CraigS

That Geoff Higginbottom gets all my mates excited, but I like Nick Dow very much a lot, too, and Brian Peters

17 Aug 03 - 02:37 AM (#1003483)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: The Borchester Echo

Oh, Harvey Andrews! The original post asked for *traditional* performers but if we are allowed singer-songwriters, you'd be high on the list. Plus Leon Rosselson, Billy Bragg, Steve Tilston, Robb Johnson, Brian McNeill and Si Kahn (OK, that last one's American but what songs).

For a combination of both: Sandra Kerr, Peta Webb & Ken Hall, Jim Moray, both John and Benji Kirkpatrick and Jo Freya in any incarnation.

Missed (inexplicably) from my original list of traditional performers: Magpie Lane, Louis Killen, Dan Quinn & Will Duke, Chris Wood & Andy Cutting.

Programme full now?

17 Aug 03 - 03:07 AM (#1003487)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Little Robyn

We had Rob Fox on this side of the world in January and he was great. And last year we enjoyed Johnny Handle, Colin Ross and Ray Fisher. I don't know if they still do clubs in Britain though.

17 Aug 03 - 04:37 AM (#1003515)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: George Papavgeris

For traditional: Johnny Collins, Mary Humphries & Anahata, Jim Mageean(spelling?), Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman, Pete Coe, The Songwainers (as they once were), Moira Craig and our own HergaKitty Vernon. And you won't be disappointed by an evening with Graeme Knights.

Singer/songwriters: Harvey Andrews, Martyn Wyndham-Read singing Graham Miles, Mick Ryan & Pete Harris, Roy Bailey singing Len Rosselson, Robb Johnson, Jez Lowe, Vin Garbutt, Ben Campbell.

Bob Fox should also be somewhere, but I couldn't place him in the above categories, as he crosses them.

And I never heard Jimmy Nail, but anyone who wrote "The Big River" rates highly for me

And I do like what Bill Jones does, both trad and her own.

Heck, there are so many...They are the best kept secret of the UK music scene. Now, if you were asking about contemporary (pop/rock etc) acts, the ones that rake it in, I'd be hard-pressed to like half a dozen.

17 Aug 03 - 07:35 AM (#1003543)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Santa

Is there really any better traditional English act than Jane and Amanda Threllfall with Martin Ellison and Roger Edwards?

Well, maybe Waterson Carthy in various combinations.

17 Aug 03 - 07:45 AM (#1003545)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Blowzabella

Tim Laycock, Jim Eldon, Louis Killen, Forebitter (Liverpool)...

17 Aug 03 - 08:07 AM (#1003551)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: alanabit

You rate Mark Knopfler highly then, El Greko. I believe it was he who wrote "Big River". It's a good song alright.

17 Aug 03 - 08:51 AM (#1003556)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: The Borchester Echo

Sorry, no. Words & music for Big River by Jimmy Nail, published by Zomba Music.

Dedicated to his father, Jimmy Bradford.

17 Aug 03 - 10:11 AM (#1003572)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Zoot

How about "Sun Trap" and "Serious Kitchen" ? They're really good.


17 Aug 03 - 10:49 AM (#1003577)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,seamus T

Briege Murphy writes songs in the traditional style and I highly recommend her performances.

17 Aug 03 - 11:00 AM (#1003580)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Skipper Jack

Best Folk Club performers??

What about the many unsung heroes - the floor singers who keep the folk clubs going year in year out?

I have seen quite a few excellent floor singers in my time.

17 Aug 03 - 11:08 AM (#1003583)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Songbird

This thread is good - I hadn't heard of some of these people and now will go to see them if I have the opportunity.

17 Aug 03 - 11:14 AM (#1003587)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: rainbow_girl

i agree with zoot, sun trap and serious kitchen are really good

17 Aug 03 - 12:13 PM (#1003602)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Dipsodeb

The Folk Mob have booked Sun Trap and they will be playing at the Tudor Barn in Eltham in December, will post more details nearer the time. ...... Not to be missed though.

17 Aug 03 - 01:57 PM (#1003631)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: kendall


17 Aug 03 - 03:18 PM (#1003664)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Sheila

There is a fella called Mark somtin or other I'd like
ta see I think he's Scotish or somtin of the Planet
he's very good

17 Aug 03 - 07:05 PM (#1003764)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Sandy

The McCluskey Brothers.. catch them around Glasgow

18 Aug 03 - 09:17 AM (#1003992)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Re: the 'Traditional v. Contemporary' gubbins earlier on, the songs we call 'traditional' today were the 'contemporary' songs of their time. The best of today's 'Contemporary' songs will one day be acknowledged as 'Traditional'. 'Tradition' isn't something fixed in a particular period in the past, with a big full-stop after it - it's constantly developing and evolving. We HAVE to have songwriters today in order to ensure that the tradition continues and grows, and we should salute people like Harvey, Allan Taylor, Jez Lowe and many, many more, for their wonderful contributions.
Here Endeth The Lesson.

18 Aug 03 - 10:03 AM (#1004015)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Santa

Yes, but as of NOW, a contemporary song is just that, not traditional. As the opening post was a request for performers of traditional material, to list contemporary songwriters (however good) is irrelevant, illustrating your inattention to the matter at hand, or even insulting to the original poster. You know what's good for him, even if he doesn't.

There is the more serious point: now that we have extended copyright, artist's estates and a heavily bureaucratic culture, is there not a permanent division between traditional songs/music and that where the origins are known and protected? On theother hand. I know of a couple of current songwriters whose material has been declared traditional already.... I don't think that they're best pleased, generally.

18 Aug 03 - 11:47 AM (#1004071)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Well Santa, if you come down my chimney this Christmas you'll go straight back up it with your mince pie and Rudolph's carrot shoved firmly up your arse for that crock of shit.

Unlike you, I had absolutely no intention whatsoever of insulting anyone - I was merely expressing my view (as I'm perfectly entitled in this free forum) that a song is a song, period, and that just because it may have been composed by A. Non several centuries ago doesn't mean its any more or less relevant that some (and I repeat, some, not all by any means) of the songs that have been written in the past forty years.

However, I do confess to introducing an element of drift into the thread, so abuse me for that if you like, but don't abuse me for having an opinion.

I have no personal preference for either 'Traditional' or 'Contemporary' songs, I listen to and perform songs of both genres with equal enjoyment and respect for those whose work they are (including those by A. Non). Neither do I sneer at those who do have a preference - it's their right.

As regards the 'current songwriters whose material has been declared Traditional already... I don't think that they're best pleased generally', I suspect that one of them is a fine writer and performer from Grimsby whom I know personally, and I feel pretty confident that he, at least, doesn't give a bugger as long as his songs are performed and heard.

Happy Christmas.

18 Aug 03 - 12:05 PM (#1004081)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Songbird

Sincerly sorry for having started this thread, and I think I won't be joining or contributing anymore to this forum. The post by "Johnny" was inexcusable, containing profanity and personal insults without provocation. I asked about traditional performers because that's what I was interested in, not because of any value judgements about one type of music as opposed to another, but it seems one can't make a statement or ask a question on this forum without creating a controversy - although I thought my initial posting was innocent enough. "Santa" was just trying to keep the thread on topic and got trashed for it. Thanks to all who contributed but it turned out to be loaded and only created controversy as opposed to providing information for those who might want to know more about traditional performers they might want to go see, so might as well drop it. I won't be checking in anymore.

18 Aug 03 - 12:46 PM (#1004098)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Strollin Johnny

Sorry you feel that way Songbird - as I said in my last post I never intended to insult anyone, except Santa of course, whose abuse of me provoked my outburst, just make a point that Traditional isn't the only valid music that's around the clubs. I just wanted to expand the discussion a little - maybe find out why people are only interest in one genre, to the exclusion of other types of music. Certainly I had no intention of offending you, and I can only apologise for doing so.

It's a fact that threads drift, it's unavoidable, and people's feelings sometimes run high - hence they may resort to a form of language that may be perceived as extreme.

You clearly don't like what I have to say and you have the right, but I would ask you not to use that as a reason to blow out the entire forum. What sort of discussion is it where everyone agrees?


18 Aug 03 - 01:38 PM (#1004126)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: treewind

Not agreeing is one thing. Deliberately perverting the thread against something specific to the original question else is another, as in: someone asks for advice about what sort of guitar to buy and someone else says "get a clarinet"

If you want to talk about something else, start another thread.

I wish some of the posters here would say more about exactly why they enjoy an evening with whoever they recommend. The original message said:
"Who gives a great performance and a memorable evening, and why?
The "why" part of that is an interesting question. The second message in this thread, however seriously you may choose to take it, at least attempted to do that. There is something about a memorable folk club night that has nothing to do with how technically perfect the music was. That's what pulled me into the whole folk music thing in the first place - some sort of magic that happened outside of the performance itself, and why, for example, with a sophisticated classical musical background I could be stunned by the amount of musical feeling that could be expressed by a 1 row melodeon that could only play two chords, or by a singer who wasn't strictly in tune, or by a scratchy fdddle that still made you want to get up and dance.


18 Aug 03 - 03:38 PM (#1004182)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: harvey andrews

I feel a little guilty here for having posted earlier and started the hare! The point I was drawing attention to was the fact that three of those mentioned already in the thread wrote their own material too, and thus were not strictly "traditional".
For most of the working performers I know it matters not where the song comes from as long as it fits. Martin Carthy was recently on TV singing Elvis! It's others who build the pigeon holes and try to stuff the performers in.

18 Aug 03 - 04:57 PM (#1004206)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Malcolm Douglas

That's rather beside the point, surely? Some categorisation is necessary in order to make things manageable. If you advertised yourself just as "musician", for instance, I doubt if you'd find yourself terribly popular when you arrived at an event that thought they'd booked a string quartet; especially if you started talking dismissively about pigeon holes...

I'm quite sure that you've found youself in comparable (though perhaps less extreme) situations over the years, so you'll know what I mean. You needn't worry about having started the singer-songwriter diversion, though; it would have happened soon enough anyway. There are always people who will ignore the question asked and instead answer one of their own invention that they prefer (witness the current accordion thread); what's a bit depressing is that, when challenged, they sometimes cut up nasty like that fellow earlier. Oh well.

18 Aug 03 - 08:20 PM (#1004308)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: harvey andrews

"especially if you started talking dismissively about pigeon holes"

I take your point Malcolm, but I'll always talk dismissively about pigeon holes and the people who need them. They shrink the world and, as you rightly say "make it manageable". Had I paid them any attention in this short life I would have missed out on wonderful things that have always suprised me, and still do. I like unmanageable.

18 Aug 03 - 08:34 PM (#1004316)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Malcolm Douglas

Well, so do I; but I don't see it as pigeon-holing in this sort of context. More a question of finding a workable way of saying what you want so that you don't wind up with something that you don't. Ever asked for black coffee and been given white? "Hey, what's the problem? It's coffee, isn't it!" A job specification isn't necessarily a pigeon hole.

18 Aug 03 - 08:37 PM (#1004318)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: harvey andrews

Okay, we're in to semantics. I think we both take each others point.

18 Aug 03 - 08:45 PM (#1004323)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Malcolm Douglas

I'm sure we do.

18 Aug 03 - 09:12 PM (#1004337)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Maryrrf

If everybody will be tactful, I think this is a good thread and agree with treewind - I'd like more input as to why is a particular evening memorable, or why is a certain performer good. I think we have to "pigeonhole" to a certain extent - I for one love to hear traditional songs and would make a special effort to go and see someone who sings them. This doesn't mean I would boycott a singer/songwriter, however! People do have preferences and they want to have an idea of what they are going to see - nothing wrong with that. But I don't think anybody would get bent out of shape if a "traditional" performer threw in a few contemporary songs or vice versa.

18 Aug 03 - 10:07 PM (#1004358)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: akenaton

I have followed this thread with interest,listening to the arguments for Trad or Contemporary.    I assisted in the running of a very large Folk club. back in the 60s and I came to the conclusion that the most important ingredient in a folk performance was the"charisma" of the artist. I dont know if charisma is the correct word to use maybe sincerity might be better. Anyway to illustrate what I mean,we had booked Alex Campbell For the main spot ...Second half of the program...The audiance of over 500 were all pissed ...crates of beer under seats ect..and they were giving the other artists a real hard time.Alex was watching this disaster from the side of the stage,and when a young girl left the stage in tears,he said to me "put me on now". One of the most magical moments I ever witnessed happened next,Alex took the stage amidst all the heckling and noise and started to sing "I once loved a lass",a lovely quiet ballad, within ten seconds the hall was in complete silence,and what an ovation Alex received at the end of the song. It was a situation when the hair really did "stand up on the back of my neck"Iv never forgotten the power of that performance and its one of the reasons why Ill always be a folkie...Ake.

19 Aug 03 - 04:03 AM (#1004477)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Hamish

Meanwhile, back at the thread...

Spiers and Boden for their enthusiasm, energy and savvy

Kerr and Fagan for their musicianship and fun

Wood and Cutting for their less-is-more economical energy

Martin Simpson for his jaw-dropping technique.

19 Aug 03 - 04:15 AM (#1004479)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: treewind

Great story.
"one of the reasons why I'll always be a folkie" - that's exactly the kind of thing I meant.

One of the reasons I mentioned the "why" part of the original question was because that's one aspect that doesn't have to do with trad vs. songwriter material - the only difference is that being a traddie I'm probably more tolerant of a less charismatic trad. performer because there may still be something useful (to me) to learn from it, whereas a songwriter had better be good to get my attention.

I like the suggestion of "sincerity" - you have to really believe passionately in what you are doing (let's face it, folk music is a minority interest so there's no other reason...) and I think I do respond to that feeling in a performer. Also to be technically good playing an instrument requires a quite unnatural obsessiveness or you would never bother with doing the practice. As a performer, it's never enough just to be able to 'get through' a song or a tune - I'd like to feel that I've done everything in my power to do it justice, and of course there's always room for improvement and never enough time...

Another thought on charisma vs sincerity: is "charisma" the ability to sell yourself, while "sincerity" is the ability to sell your music? (in the sense of convincing others of its value because YOU believe in it)


19 Aug 03 - 06:18 AM (#1004528)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: harvey andrews

Alex was an inspiration. I'll never forget the first time I saw him. I thought.."That's it!" Charisma isn't an ability, I think, it's just something someone has when they do what they do.It's basically indefinable. You just know it when you see it. Sincerity though is essential. You can't fool an audience all of the time.

19 Aug 03 - 07:32 AM (#1004553)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Hamish

Ah, yes: always be sincere. Even if you don't mean it.

19 Aug 03 - 08:00 AM (#1004562)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Well, I got a good smacking for my unfortunate choice of language in my second post (incidentally Songbird, and we're on to semantics again here, they were not profanities, but certainly slang and maybe a bit rude), and a bit of a kicking for drifting the thread a bit.

I deserved both, but I'm not sorry for moving the discussion sideways a little - the postings from Harvey (hero-o, hero-o!), Treewind, Akenaton, Maryrrf and Malcolm have been excellent. I'm proud of you guys, I wish I had your debating skills, language and self-control.

A Suitably-Admonished But Unrepentant Johnny.

19 Aug 03 - 08:18 AM (#1004570)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Murray MacLeod

Charisma is indeed an undefinable quality, and the most talented musicians are not always the most charismatic.

In my young life up to date, the most charismatic performer I have ever seen, by some way, was David Bromberg. I am quite sure that anyone who saw him at his peak would agree with me.

Yet there were better guitarists around at the time (Dick Fegy who played in the Bromberg Band being one) and there were certainly better singers.

Bromberg however had (and may still have for all I know)) an unbelievable stage presence which far transcended his musical abilities.


19 Aug 03 - 08:46 AM (#1004586)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: Hamish

Charisma... needs confidence (as per the Alex Campbell quiet song to a rowdy audience anecdote above) but a degree of humility. I recently saw a Big Name (and you'll know who I mean, Anahata) who I thought was smug. And that's acharismatic in my book.

19 Aug 03 - 08:55 AM (#1004590)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: greg stephens

Dan Quinn and Will Duke(already mentioned earlier) seem to me to have a wonderfully informed,happy and humorous take on traditional English material,performed with great respect and aplomb. heartily recommended.
    On the extraneous subject matter in this thread, I should have thought a folk music discussion forum would be the sort of place you could discuss traditional music quietly and inoffensively without suffering obscene attacks, because you should have been discussing something else. But it seems I would have thought wrong.

19 Aug 03 - 09:14 AM (#1004597)
Subject: RE: Best Folk Club Performers
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)

Steppping aside from the more argumentative aspects of this thread, the acts that have impressed me most in last couple of years have been:

Serious Kitchen
Howden, Jones & Taffinder
Jiggerypipery (sp?)
FOS Brothers Band
Paul Buckley
Kate Rusby

And of course one Julie Ellison, who impressed me so much that I became involved in her album production, sound engineering etc.

None are really "traditional". Most are not singer/songwriters. All are simply superb!

Best regards
John Robinson