At:The Merchant Bar, 25 Peckover Street, Little Germany, Bradford, BD1 5BD Tel: 01274 721100
Award winning fiddle player and singer Tom McConville, BBC Folk Musician of the Year in 2009, is internationally renowned for his fiery, heart-stopping performances which are a roller coaster of musical delights; from fast rhythmic dance tunes through beautiful slow airs and of course great singing - all presented with his inimitable sense of humour and style. Truly the most original fiddle player in the UK, Tom blends traditional music from his home town of Newcastle with Irish, American and Scottish influences to create a sound that has elements of jazz, folk, bluegrass and classical music. Over the years he has recorded with and appeared alongside performers as diverse as Stephane Grappelli, Barbara Dickson, Lindsifarne, Richard Thompson and many others on well over a hundred albums - and continues to be in huge demand.
Tony Wilson has toured the world as a fantastic singer, banjo, guitarist and ukulele player as well as a first class storyteller. As a duo Tom and Tony present an entertaining, rich and varied collection of music and song that they have absorbed, developed and written during their long and varied careers, bringing together all of their skills and expertise to display a refreshingly dynamic and unique take on folk music old and new.
In 2014 they successfully combined their talents to tour a collection of music and stories in schools, SONGS OF THE GREAT WAR, but it wasn't until the Winter of 2015 that they finally decided to combine their musical skills to perform as a musical duo at a few theatres.
After the great reception they received for the concerts, during 2016 they have rehearsed and refined their repertoire to include music from Ireland, Scotland and America and traditional, contemporary and original songs from all over the world. This year their performances have ranged from folk-clubs to large theatres and have been met with praise and a wonder that they didn't get back together sooner.
Expect to be amazed, amused and entertained by two of the North-East's finest sons.
Please note: start time of 8pm to finish at 10:30 pm
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.
Ragged Trousers are a vocal trio from the Merseyside area who sing a broad variety of unaccompanied traditional songs, with a strong emphasis on harmonies and arrangements that are not excessive in their complexity yet imaginative, while being conscious of the importance of communicating the meaning of the song. Their repertoire is varied and includes ballads, sea songs, work songs and shanties, and folk songs that express social consciousness.
If you like The Young Uns , The Wilsons and Coope Boyes & Simpson, you'll like this trio.
5th March Singers and musicians
A chance to sing a song or play a tune or just listen. Entry free.
12th March Bandersnatch
Bandersnatch perform a wide range of traditional and contemporary folk, roots and acoustic songs from the UK, North America and beyond.
The Band members originate from varied musical backgrounds, and have throughout their individual careers, been involved in all genres of music (opera withstanding). “Multi-instrumentalists” is an understatement: between them they play too many to mention here.
All five members contribute to the unique sound of the band playing a variety of instruments and seamlessly changing from lead vocal to harmonies, a strong feature of the band’s performances.
19th March Odette Michell
Odette Michell is a British folk singer-songwriter, guitarist and bouzouki player with a bold new take on the acoustic tradition and a voice capable of demonstrating the finer points of both folk and traditional song with genuine craftsmanship. Her vocal style has been described as "warm, intelligent and sitting comfortably amidst folk guitar in a timeless songwriting style" - and has been compared in similarity to the likes of Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell.
Things have been moving at something of a pace for Odette ever since she released her 2018 debut EP By Way of Night. The release garnered high praise and gained Odette her first national and international radio plays on both mainstream BBC Radio and Folk Radio stations.
Born in Yorkshire with an Irish heritage, Odette grew up in a musical household and first picked up the guitar at fifteen. Inspired by the resurgence of folk and acoustic songwriters at the time, she began writing her own songs at the tender age of sixteen.
Growing up in the vibrant city of Cambridge allowed Odette to take advantage of the many stages and performance venues there, which included two early club stage appearances at the Cambridge Folk Festival - her first appearance there was when she was just 22 years old. Now based on an 18th century dairy farm in the Hertfordshire countryside, Odette draws on these rich influences and life experience and weaves them together to form the basis of many of her songs.
A dynamic live performer, Odette has recently opened for Phil Beer, Martin Carthy, Reg Meuross and BBC R2 Folk Award Nominees Ninebarrow, and is currently embarking on her first national solo tour in support of her debut album.
True Lovers Farewell...is an absolute masterclass in how to deliver a traditional song... Odette Michell is one to watch - Northern Sky
One of the brightest new names to have emerged full-grown on the country’s folk scene in recent years – Folk Radio UK
Odette Michell has the potential to be one of this generation's comparison points... an inspiration – Fatea Magazine
26th March Steve Pledger
Born in Cambridge, England in1971, Steve Pledger grew up in the nearby market town of St Neots. From a very early age, one constant in his life has been music; a love for it, a need to express himself through it and - in more recent years - the opportunity to share his own songs with a growing, wider audience.
His musical influences are many, varied and not always obvious. They include - in no particular order - Graham Parker, Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, Rush, Sam Cooke, Martyn Joseph, Van Morrison, Don McLean, Elvis (both of them) and Bruce Springsteen. Add to this a liking for most musical styles - when executed well - and it would be fair to say that he has a wide spectrum of influences informing his own distinct style and approach.
As well as performing his own highly regarded solo shows, Steve has also had many opportunities of late to work with and open for artists such as Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Martyn Joseph, Luke Jackson, Willy Porter and others, and particularly with award-winning rising Folk star, Ange Hardy.
In February 2019, Steve launched On Trust Events, his live music initiative to help make gigs more affordable and accessible to people who may otherwise be prevented from attending gigs due to financial difficulty. You can find out more about this on the OT website. (OT is also on Facebook and Twitter.)
Someone to point out across a crowded room... (his songs are) so authentically expressed, in a voice with genuine appeal, they take a direct route to the heart. (R2
Unmissable – Fatea magazine
2nd April Singers & musicians
A chance to sing a song or play a tune or just listen. Entry free.
9th April Luke Daniels
Luke Daniels is a BBC award winning folk musician and former Riverdance band member who has performed with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Cara Dillon and De Dannan. Folk Musician in Residence of the Scottish National Museum of Rural Life and tutor on the traditional music course at Royal Conservatoire Scotland in Glasgow. His 2015 album of melodeon music transcribed from early wax cylinders and 78s was described in the Scotsman as “outstanding.” A soloist on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit soundtracks he performed at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival’s Assembly Rooms and on Broadway with Riverdance. His musical partnership with the School of Philosophy at Edinburgh University culminated in sell out shows at Celtic Connections Festival on two consecutive years with Songs of the Scottish Enlightenment. He recently sang and played live for Mark Radcliffe on his BBC Radion 2 folk programme and was described by Mark as a “master melodeon player.”
"Intense, poetical and oft dark yet recounted through pleasing melodies. A rich tapestry has been woven into the songs; like a thoughtful unpicking and re-stitching of life’s journey." R2 Magazine
16th April Christopher Mark Jones
In 2017 Americana songwriter Christopher Mark Jones released Incantations, his fifth album, and the book Smoke On The Meadow: Selected Lyrics 1977-2017. He has been playing and recording since his 1978 Transatlantic Records (UK) release No More Range to Roam. A former professional basketball player and French professor, Christopher spent his early career busking in Paris, touring the UK, Denmark, and Holland, and upon his return to the US, New England-area clubs. These days he tours from his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Christopher Mark Jones sees the world through song. He might adopt the point of view of a Salvadoran migrant ("Caravan"), a single mother ("I Work Hard For A Living"), an unemployed Montrealer ("Dans La Ville"), or an auto worker ("Lordstown"). What was a pure tenor is now “slightly rough around the edges” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), but still grabs the listener along with his “fascinating lyrics” (Melody Maker) and the “wide-ranging textures and exquisite instrumentation” (Saturday Light Brigade) of his recordings. Listeners hear echoes of “Greg Brown's pacing and a Lyle Lovett attitude” (Ben Shannon), as well as of John Prine, Bruce Coburn and Darrell Scott.
In 2017 he released Incantations--his fifth album since 1978’s No More Range To Roam--and the book Smoke On The Meadow: Selected Lyrics 1977-2017. He now tours solo from Pittsburgh, PA, and plays regionally in formats varying from solo to full band.
23rd April Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland
Fil Campbell and Tom McFarland from Co. Down, have been performing as a duo since the early 90s. The combination of two vocals, guitar and percussion, and a mix of original, contemporary and traditional songs, lots of choruses and the Irish gift of chat and craic, has brought them around the world many times.
Together, their latest CD, is a collection of self-penned, quirky original songs, from both Fil and Tom, reflecting the times we live in - both political and social - as well as stories from the road told in song. It was recorded in their own studio in Rostrevor.
Originally from Belleek in Co. Fermanagh, Fil has been gigging regularly since she was a teenager and together with Tom who hails from Belfast, they have performed all over Europe, Ireland, the USA, Australia and UK, at festivals and folk clubs, on radio and TV.
With 8 studio CDs to date, and several project recordings over the past few years, their repertoire is varied and eclectic. Fil is well known locally for her work presenting both TV and radio shows as well as for her passion for helping adult singers regain their voice through her community choir Singmarra.
Tom has played drums and percussion for singers as diverse as John Wright, David Knopfler (ex Dire Straits), Finbar Furey and Ben Sands and is demand as a bodhran tutor, session percussionist, producer and video editor.
His studio is much in demand for recording acoustic music and spoken word.
Captivating songs - Living Tradition
A great mix of songs, with the expert percussion skills of Tom perfectly complementing Fil’s exquisite vocals - Falkirk Folk Club
30th April Bill Jones
Based in England’s North East but with roots in Staffordshire and India, acclaimed singer/multi-instrumetalist Bill (Belinda) Jones grew up playing jigs and reels in her dad’s ceilidh band, while singing pop and rock round the house. Her 2000 debut Turn to Me swiftly won the BBC Radio 2’s Horizon Award, and as Bill’s reputation grew, Panchpuran (2001) and Two Year Winter (2003) followed. Through Bill’s heavy touring schedule and as a third of the American/Irish/British Faire Winds trio (with Anne Hills and Aoife Clancy) Bill built a reputation as a singer with an exceptional voice and an entertaining stage presence.
And now, fifteen years after taking a break, Bill is back, “with an exceptional album that confirms that this gifted performer still has so much to offer.” - Neil McFadyen, Folk Radio, April 2019
2020 will see Bill on tour across the UK, Europe and North America, while also spending time in the studio working on her fifth album.
7th May Singers & musicians
A chance to sing a song or play a tune or just listen. Entry free.
14th May The Mile Roses
Born out of a musical interest in both British folk and the transatlantic connections to new country and Americana, The Mile Roses are now fast gaining a reputation across the UK folk scene.
Their original songs and close three part harmonies are accompanied by guitars, fretless bass, cittern, mandolin and fiddles.
Kate Bramley, Simon Haworth & Kari Macleod are three singer songwriters with eclectic and diverse roots yet somehow they seamlessly come together to create an utterly original and joyful sound.
From haunting ballads to swinging country, celtic roots to driving folk choruses, this band are guaranteed to show audiences a good night out.
“Contemporary British Folk with a nod to Nashville”
The Mile Roses have built up a head of steam and are in demand…I have the greatest admiration for this line-up, unassuming and dedicated to what they are doing…the future looks bright – Folk North West
21st May Mishra
Mishra are a global folk outfit gathering momentum on the UK scene. Their tight web of intricate, Indian-influenced original music defies definition and is already bringing them awards recognition from just under two years of performing.
Led by Kate Griffin’s voice and inimitable clawhammer banjo and driven by Ford Collier’s continent-hopping instrumental skills (Indian tabla, African calabash, Irish whistle and guitar), they won Cambridge Folk Festival’s first ever Christian Raphael prize and in separate projects were both shortlisted for the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards. Both already accomplished folk musicians (The Drystones and The Unsung Roots) 2018 saw them play Sidmouth Folk Week, Cambridge Folk Festival, Priddy Folk Festival and many more.
Until 2019, Mishra performed as a duo under the name Kate Griffin and Ford Collier; their sound has now been further underpinned by the addition of versatile jazz-folk double-bassist and bouzouki player Joss Mann-Hazell.
Kate's a very talented banjo player – the instrument virtually an extension of her! -David O Hara, Cambridge Folk Festival
Incredibly executed folk -Christian Carlisle, BBC Radio Sheffield
28th May Geoff Lakeman
A Cornishman who has lived on Dartmoor for 40 years, Geoff Lakeman has been described as " A stalwart of the West Country Folk scene and the father of a virtual folk dynasty."
He's the dad of Sean, Sam and Seth Lakeman, who are all internationally renowned folk musicians.They began playing as children in a family band with Geoff and their violinist mum, Joy.
Geoff is a leading exponent of the rare Crane Duet concertina. He performs self-written and West Country songs, English, Irish and Scottish folk and other music as varied as Jimmie Rodgers,the Louvin Brothers, Richard Thompson and Randy Newman. He's also one of the few to play 1920's/ 30's jazz on an authentic 1920's instrument.
His smooth tenor vocals and unique concertina accompaniment have won him plaudits and fans over the years but it has only been since retiring from a long career as a Fleet Street Journalist that Geoff has truly spread his wings musically.
2017 sees the release of Geoff's debut album 'After All These Years'. With a stellar line up of musical family and friends it showcases his talents perfectly and illustrates the high regard and affection in which he is held.