News and Views

Nic Jones

The Enigma of Nic Jones – Return of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero

BBC 4 at 10:00pm Friday 27 September


The Enigma of Nic Jones - Return of Britain‘s Lost Folk Hero

Having seen Nic perform at the Shepherd’s building in Bowness shortly before his road accident, this documentary is not to be missed.

The programme follows the return to performing of the celebrated folk musician Nic Jones, whose career was cruelly cut short after a car crash in 1982.

Apart from a couple of tribute concerts, Nic Jones disappeared from the public eye for thirty years. Then in the summer of 2012, encouraged by friends and family, Nic returned to the stage to play several festival performances accompanied by his guitarist son, Joe Jones and keyboard player Belinda O’Hooley. The concerts were a resounding success and for his old and new fans, a moving comeback for their musical hero.

Featuring contributions from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Sam Carter and Blair Dunlop, plus American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell, folk legends Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Chris Wood and ex Fairport Convention founder Ashley Hutchings.

It is also being repeated on September 28th at 2.00 am and the 30th at 2.30 am, so set your recorders.

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Summer Festivals

For most people the summer holidays are now over and the kids have gone back to school. Did you go to any festivals during the summer? What was your opinion of them? What did you think of the facilities? Which acts did you enjoy the most? Which acts did you not enjoy?


To answer my own questions, I went to the Green Man Festival in Wales. The loos and showers were an improvement on any that I’ve experienced in previous years at other festivals. Patti Smith and Roy Harper were excellent – he’s mellowed with age. I also enjoyed Johnny Flynn,  Sam Amidon, Rachel Zeffira, Fernhill, Dan Bettridge and Lau. If you like American folk rock you will like Band of Horses. I was really knocked out by the Urban Folk Quartet who I’d never seen before. I was underwhelmed by the Kings of Convenience who struck me as a watered down version of Simon and Garfunkel.

Now let’s hear your views.


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Louisa Jo – Louis Killen

louis-killenLouisa Jo better known to most in the folk world as Louis Killen passed away late last week on August 9th. Lou went through a gender change a few years ago; according to a tribute by Heather Wood in SingOut this was an almost lifelong desire.

Lou was a Geordie, born and bred in Gateshead, Tyneside. The family sang at home – hymns, cowboy songs, ballads, music hall, opera, and everything in between. Getting involved in the skiffle craze of the early ‘sixties, he then went on to become one of the founders of the Bridge Folk Club, in Newcastle upon Tyne.  He became one of the major singers of the 60’s folk revival.  Lou had a great repertoire of maritime songs, ballads, songs from his Irish ancestry, and of course the songs of Tyneside – mining, fox-hunting, etc. One cannot overstate the influence of Lou’s singing on a whole generation of revival singers of English traditional folk songs. His playing of the English concertina (he pioneered it as an accompanying instrument) was a prime example of how it should be done – never overpowering the song.

In 1966, he moved to America. For a few years, he sang with the Clancy Brothers. Louis’s first-hand experience working aboard brigs, brigantines, schooners and sloops in the late ’60s and early ’70s put him in the forefront of the revival of maritime music on both sides of the Atlantic.  A few years back, he returned to Gateshead. I remember him singing The Rose In June at Dalton Folk Club in the late 90s.

RIP Lou (10 January 1934 – 9 August 2013)

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Folk Song in England: Regional Tour

Each region of England will be celebrated in a series of day-long courses exploring a wealth of traditional folk songs, from ballads to shanties. Folk Song in England will explore the history, development and purpose of folk songs collected in England, led by renowned folklorist Steve Roud.

The courses begin in September 2013 and will be held in Lincoln, Leeds, London, Bury, Gateshead, Bristol, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Sheffield. In each region there will be a local guest speaker with specific knowledge on each region’s folk song collections. There will also be opportunities to hear rarely played archival recordings of singers from across England, as well as the chance to see archival film. The Folk Song in England courses are aimed at beginners interested in finding out about the history of folk song and the part it played in everyday life in England up to about the 1950s. The course will examine how these songs originated and got passed around communities. It will also look at how songs were constructed and whether they actually reflected real life but no singing is required. Sessions will be informal with plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions.


Frances Watt, The Full English Learning Manager, said: “Folk Song in England is a great opportunity to explore folk song, its history and the part it has played in our lives. For people who know the well-known favourites like ‘Scarborough Fair’ – this is a chance to explore and discover other hidden gems and get an insight into the context and tradition of how folk songs were enjoyed, and why they were collected.”


Steve Roud said: “Folk music continues to fascinate people on a variety of levels, from the singer or enthusiast to the social history researcher, and it is a particularly exciting time for folk song studies as huge amounts of material is becoming newly available in sound and manuscript archives that were previously only accessible to a few. With so much more evidence available we can at last get an overall view of the subject and ask questions which eluded our predecessors, and in particular we can start to understand how ‘folk song’ fitted into the wider musical world of everyday life in the past.”


The course is part of The Full English, an English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) project supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Folk Music Fund and The Folklore Society. The project created the most comprehensive free searchable digital archive in the world and includes a nationwide community and schools learning programme. The Full English digital archive is brimming with songs of battle, of love, of rural life, of disaster and celebration, and all collected from the late 1800s onwards.


Folk Song in England dates are:


Saturday 7 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Ruairidh Greig

Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln | 01522 873894


Saturday 14 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud and Steve Gardham

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds | 020 7241 8953


Saturday 21 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Julia Bishop

British Library, London | 01937 546546


Saturday 12 October, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Sue Allan

The Met, Bury | 0161 761 2216


Saturday 19 October, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Peter Wood

The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Quays, Tyne and Wear | 0191 443 4661


Sunday 27 Oct, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Martin Graebe

Colston Hall, Bristol | 0117 922 3686


Saturday 2 November, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Roy Palmer

mac birmingham, Birmingham | 0121 446 3232


Saturday 16 November, 9.30am – 4pm

Steve Roud with John Howson

The Stables, Milton Keynes | 01908 280800


Saturday 30 November, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with John Howson

The Gillespie Centre, Cambridge | 020 7241 8953


Saturday 1 February 2014, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Julia Bishop

Sheffield University


Tickets for all dates are £10 per person, and this includes lunch and light refreshments throughout the day. For more about The Full English and access to the archive go

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