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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.

3 Dec 2020

Formal Notification of the Topic Folk Club AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Topic Folk Club will be held on Thursday 3rd December 2020 commencing at 7.30 pm. The meeting will be held via Zoom by the current members of the Committee

Given that the AGM cannot be held in the normal way, documents relating the AGM will be forwarded to members via e-mail. If you are a member and you have not received the e-mailed documents by Wednesday 25th November 2020, please advise to the e-mail address noted below and the documents will be forwarded to you. Please ensure that the e-mail address which you require the documents to be forwarded to is clearly noted.

Any additional nominations for membership of the committee which should be proposed and seconded should be e-mailed to the following address 7 days in advance of the AGM.

E-mail :

Please ensure that the nominee, proposer and seconder are all club members and are willing to sign paper nomination forms at such a time this can be implemented.

Neil Etherington

on behalf of the Topic Folk Club

November 2020


No 221
Nov 2020

Newsletter No 221  - November 2020    

Hello all, as always I hope you're all keeping well and safe. 

There are more uncertainties than ever as we speak, so it's possible that some of the items mentioned at the end may become out of date. It's a job to keep up with it all, but I'll plod on nevertheless.....

As I'm sure you'll be expecting, no programme news, but as mentioned last time a few extra items that may make the newsletter a little more interesting than it has been recently...

Firstly though, some very sad news. Many of you will know, but some may not have heard, that Kieran Halpin died suddenly on 5th October.

Kieran was a regular at the Topic, he was one of the most hard working artists on the folk circuit and many of his songs were covered by artists all over the world. He was an inspiration to many, both established and up and coming performers.

He will be sadly missed. He may not have had all the answers but he wouldn't have had it any other way: he most certainly had something to show for it all.


Firstly, all credit to the Beardy Festival who bit the bullet and put on a real folk festival in the summer. It was by all accounts a great success: you can read a review of it here,

It's far too long to reproduce in full, but it sounds as though it was a ray of sunlight piercing the gloom,and it featured many performers who have been guests at our club. Well worth a read.

Live Stream Review Show of Hands – Secret Garden Concert No 2

Earlier in the summer, Show of Hands streamed an excellent live concert from Abbotsbury in Dorset and after this success, in October, Secret Garden concert no 2 followed. Superbly recorded at the beautiful Sezincote Manor Estate in the Cotswolds, Steve Knightley and Phil Beer accompanied by guest Johnny Kalsi (Dhol Foundation/Afro Celts) on percussion, performed a varied selection of songs including some Show of Hands classics (Columbus and Exile as examples) alongside covers including Peter Gabriel (Secret World) and George Harrison(If I Needed Someone).

As you would expect everything is performed with the usual Show of Hands quality and originality in a setting which I will add to my must visit list. The whole crew involved in the production are to be congratulated in producing a fine showcase of music which extends well beyond a folk base. The concert proves why Show of Hands have remained so popular over 3 decades..

In a streaming arena which can seem a little overcrowded at times, this stands out and merits repeated watching. It is available via YouTube (as is the earlier Secret Garden concert) and , if you wish, there is opportunity to make a donation to support the production of this fine venture. 

CD Review  The Magpies  "Tidings|"

The Magpies are Bella Gaffney, Polly Bolton, Holly Brandon and Sarah Smout – and will be familiar to Topic regulars for guesting at one of the busiest nights in recent years. Although this, their debut album, was launched early in lockdown, it has already attracted very positive reviews from a number of quarters.

Describing themselves as Transatlantic Folk, they blend Folk, Americana and Bluegrass influences with all 10 tracks exuding quality in both musicianship and recording. Familiar tracks such as Galway Shawl sit comfortably alongside original compositions such as Holly Brandon’s Foss Island .

Tidings is a fine example of a band destined for greater things and it is unfortunate that circumstances have resulted in limited opportunity to showcase it live since it’s release.

Highly recommended if you enjoy Folk with significant influences from other genres and the opportunity to catch them live again is much anticipated,

The album is available in CD form via:

Thanks to Neil Etherington for the above 2 reviews.

Finally, for this section: Jim Jarrett will be a familiar name to many of you, as a prolific local songwriter and musician: he has asked to share this little video entitled "Chickened Out" that he put together for his 70th birthday event:


NEW!! Topic Facebook Concerts

The committee has decided to organise some Facebook artists' sessions just to keep Topic music alive and available to the wider world. The first one will be on Thursday 19th November at 8 pm: for this Jon Palmer has sent us a half hour video of songs to post on the Topic Facebook page. The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band will be playing as a trio and he will be online to say hello and answer any questions in the comment section of the page as the video plays. There will be a Tip Jar for donations, pay as you feel.

Topic Virtual S/M nights

Dates for this month's virtual singarounds (Topic version) are 12th November and 26th November.

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 at the latest one week 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 week 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 on the day.

Other Online Stuff

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, - has Damien Barber via Zoom on 25th November. 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" everyThursday, 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 are now open for audiences to attend plus they are continuing to stream the shows. Lots going on there.

HEART -Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre, Bennett Road Leeds LS6 3HN are presenting live music inside now on a weekly basis. They publish their programme at the beginning of each month, so go to their website for more information. Some of the acts that have appeared recently have also appeared at the Topic over the years. Numbers are of course limited, so check it out early. This month's performers include The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band (3rd November) who have been regulars at the Topic over the years. (Stop press: recent - very recent - government announcements may affect this).

Btw, there will be a Topic AGM, like everything else these days in a very different form: members will be advised accordingly. Soon.

Well that's it for another month, hope you'll have time to read it all before the next newsletter!

Take care all, be safe and well,

Best wishes,

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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