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At: The Merchant Bar, 25 Peckover Street,
Little Germany, Bradford, BD1 5BD Tel: 01274 721100

Est: 1956



Coronavirus/ Covid-19: Club Suspension


Due to the novel coronavirus/ Covid-19 pandemic, The Topic has been closed since the 12th of March until further notice. 

See the Newsletters for information about various online folk-related activities instead.

Topic YouTube Channel

A dedicated Topic YouTube channel has now been set up.. You will be able to upload your own videos and of course view those that have been uploaded. Many thanks to Zbig Szafranski for setting this up.

1. Topic Folk Club YouTube Channel at

2. And any performers can submit a video on : Google Drive

with an account: . Use that email address to obtain the password.

Or send it on Facebook messenger or post in on Facebook - Zbig can usually pick it up from there. It will be included in that month's performers session. Hope all this makes sense: any problems let Tony Charnock know at and he'll relay them to Zbig.


No 223
Jan 2021

Newsletter No 223  - January 2021    

Hello all, I hope you're all keeping well and safe and managed to have an enjoyable Christmas despite the ongoing difficulties.

As previously, I'll list all the usual streaming stuff at the end: I keep an eye on most of it, but it's possible that some online performances have been discontinued for whatever reason, but there's plenty going on out there.


CD Review Jez Lowe – Crazy Pagan (Tantobie Records)

Current circumstances have resulted in the first genuine solo album by Jez in 40 years of recording. Unaided by other musicians, Jez writes, sings and plays a plethora of instruments with only the mixing skills of David de la Haye (from the Bad Pennies) to assist – suitably socially distanced, of course !

The outcome is a CD in no way diminished by the lack of other musicians, as Jez demonstrates his ample instrumental skills some way beyond what would typically be seen in a live setting.

Most of the songs were new to me, but quickly registered resulting in 12 quality songs, with standouts being This is Not My Tribe – a song very much for these times – Coal Mountain, The Corly Croons (sharing it’s title with Jez’s second novel) and the humorous Talk to me Dirty in Geordie.

Those familiar with Jez’s work will see this as an essential buy and anyone new to him will easily see why he is justifiably rated as one of the foremost songwriters and performers on the UK folk scene.

Crazy Pagan is available through Jez’s website:

Thanks to Neil Etherington for this review.




On 30th December the Topic put on a somewhat hastily arranged extra singers and musicians night via Zoom which featured a mummers' play written by John Waller and performed by Topic regulars. It was recorded for posterity: as we speak efforts are ongoing to adapt it to a more accessible format so we can share it with you all. So watch this space for more details....

Topic Facebook Concerts  

Two Topic Facebook artists' sessions this month: Katie Spencer on 14th and Bella Gaffney on 28th, both Thursdays at 8 pm.

Topic Virtual S/M nights

The dates for this month's virtual singarounds (Topic version) are 7th and 21st January.

For anyone new coming along it's important to note that when you apply to come to the meeting, either as a performer or just to listen, I will need to pass your email address on to the host, so implicit in your application to attend will be your agreement for me to share your email address. This is because of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

So newcomers, please email me a few days before the event indicating whether you would like to perform or just be part of the audience. 

(Those already on the list need only tell me if they wish to perform (again, a few days beforehand please), or if they wish to have their name removed).

I need the names well beforehand of those who wish to perform so that I can tell the host/MC in time for them to draft a running order.

Everyone will be informed of the meeting ID and password by the day of the session.



I hope those of you who wish to access the new Topic YouTube channel are able to do so without any problems. Details as advised in my separate newsletter of 20th December. [also, see above]



Dougie McLean does a series of online concerts, some free, some longer ones for which you have to book and pay to watch. He has lots of website/contact pages which you can find by googling him, but this one seems to give most of the info about these concerts:

Pete Coe's club - Ryburn Folk Club, - Not sure what's coming up online, but bound to be something. For details or to be put on their mailing list or to request a place in their current Zoom Folk Club send your request to 

There's the usual regular stuff going on online: NB some artists may be taking a rest from regular streaming, but by following the links you can usually watch past sessions.

Kath Reade, singer songwriter, has been using lockdown as an opportunity to broadcast her songs live on Facebook and they have been getting thousands of views. 

Kath has now set up a new facebook page, Kath Reade's Songs, so all her songs can be found in one place.  

Skinner & T'witch, a Leeds-based duo who have been to the Topic on a singers and musicians night, have a facebook page which is well worth visiting, they have different stuff going on regularly, eg "Pick & Mix" sessions with some well-known performers, and what they call "Garden Sessions", plus lots of other stuff.

The Grove Folk Club is running sessions every Friday on their group Facebook page at folkatthegrove. The club has contacted me to say anybody is welcome to send in a video to take part, see the fb page for details.

Karen Pfeiffer & Paul Walker continue to do a regular afternoon spot on  Fridays at 4pm.  

Honey & The Bear bring their excellent music every Sunday evening at 7.30 pm

Winter Wilson's "Live from the Lounge" every Thursday, 8.15 pm, see their facebook page. 

Eddie Lawler emailed me to say he has put a selection of his stuff on YouTube

Check out The Live Room Saltaire -  who have had to suspend their live concerts but are continuing to stream some excellent shows. Lots going on there.

HEART (Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre) in Leeds has been closed for the duration of the latest restrictions, but keep an eye on their website, there's sure to be something as soon as circumstances permit.

Well that's it for now... 

Take care all: it only remains for me to wish you all a Happy New Year on behalf of the Topic."Happy New Year" runs the risk of sounding a little trite this year, but it's not meant to. We've had difficult times in 2020 and there are no doubt more to come, but at least there's a glow of hope on the horizon. As we reach that horizon hopefully the problems that beset us now will recede into the past: when that happens we look forward to being able to start to organise bringing back - live - the music we all love. 

Best wishes to everybody

Tony Charnock

Topic Folk Club


A History of The Topic
An outline of
the History of The Topic from 1956

Topic Historic Photo Gallery
Pictures from the 50s, 60s, 70s and more on the website
in a single gallery here.

The Topic at 60
The view from 2016, by John Waller. This is not a comprehensive history - instead John has put together a snapshot of the Topic as it is now, telling the story of how those currently responsible for the club's running came to be involved.

Topic Club Membership
5 a year from 1st January. That gives you 1 off concert tickets, and you can get more involved with running the club too if you are interested.

Clicks since 03-2-2004:

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