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At: Groove Pad, 48 Saltaire Road, Shipley BD18 3HN
Venue (not Club) Tel: 01274 586542

Est: 1956



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Topic Newsletter Archive

Newsletter No 260 - February 2024

Hello all, well, here we are in the shortest month, though not as short as usual. See An Interesting Statistic under Topic Stuff further on in this newsletter.

Short or not, we have a cracking line-up. As follows:

1st February: Singers and musicians   (1 entry)

8th February: Union Jill

Helen Turner and Sharon Jagger have been performing together since 2006. After discovering a shared love of folk and acoustic music they soon realised their voices were meant to be together. Both bring distinctive songwriting styles to Union Jill and achieve some spellbinding effects with their voices and instruments (mandola, guitar and anglo concertina.)

They've gained a reputation for quality performances and well-crafted songs. Their onstage presence is natural, funny and personable and, whilst their material touches on the darker side of life at times, they enjoy a natural rapport with each other and with the audience leading to banter delivered with a light touch.

Union Jill are now deservedly establishing themselves as a long-standing and growing presence in the acoustic/folk world.

Stunning duo, great musicianship, harmonies and presentation, songs both thought-provoking and entertaining. They will deservedly be going a long way. See them now! - Topic Folk Club

Accomplished guitarists and articulate songwriters although the first attribute to win over audiences is the intuitive harmony of their distinct yet complementary voices – Rock ‘n Reel


15th February: Singers and musicians   (1 entry)

22nd February: Tom Bliss with Den Miller

Tom Bliss, multi-instrumentalist and fine singer/songwriter (guitar, mandocello, dulcimer, whistle, concertina, harp and many highly-regarded story songs and tunes), who retired from the music scene some years ago, is back (briefly) to raise cash for MS research, because his daughter Ellie has this dreadful disease for which cures seem close at last. Tom has raised 7k so far (he hopes to make it 10k by spring). We are delighted that Tom has chosen the Topic for one of his current series of gigs:his set features his most popular and powerful work, and he is joined on this leg by fellow former Lost Lark, Den Miller (guitar,harmonica, autoharp etc), who is of course well-known to Topic audiences. They’ll be singing some of Den’s most powerful and popular songs too.

This will in effect be a charity night, pay as you feel on the door (subject to the usual entry prices as a minimum). For more information about Tom’s campaign see

For anyone who wishes to support Tom but is unable to attend the gig, you can visit

which also gives a moving account of Tom’s previous fundraising campaign and some more background detail.

There is a poster for this gig attached. If there are any places near you where posters can be displayed and you are willing, please print one out and put it up. This promises to be an excellent evening and is for an excellent cause, it's worth going an extra mile where we can.

29th February: Double Header: Maddie Morris and Abbey Thomas

Maddie Morris is an artist who strives to make a difference in the world. Bold, insightful and refreshingly unique, she takes traditional song in new directions to shine a light on contemporary issues, offering new perspectives about the world we live in today. After graduating with a first-class honours degree from Leeds Conservatoire, Maddie soon made waves by winning the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, as well as landing a grant from the Alan Surtees Trust. From these firm foundations, her career has gone from strength to strength, with recent performances including Cropredy and Cambridge Folk Festival.

Folk songs have always told stories, but how Maddie makes her mark is by turning this storytelling into action. Described by Jim Moray as “leading the next generation of socially conscious songwriters”, she uses her work to highlight inequality, challenge viewpoints and provide an inclusive space for shared experiences.

Whether she’s turning a centuries-old ballad on its head or writing something completely new, Maddie places her focus on drawing out true meaning rather than being true to tradition. From tweaking tunings to adding ornamentation, she’s never afraid to put her own stamp on things and create something distinctively her own.

Maddie Morris is an extremely accomplished young singer – not just the possessor of a haunting and delicately ornamented vocal style, but also a performer with serious insight into how to tell a story in song. Traditional ballads or inclusive social commentary – she always connects with the deepest meaning in her material. Not to be missed by any audience wanting to hear something new and passionate – Nancy Kerr

Abbey Thomas is an award-winning bluegrass/old time mandolin player. Growing up in the far corner of Cornwall, she had to travel far and wide to find the music she loved. She soon bought a mandolin and began to focus on American folk genres including bluegrass and old-time music, and now her mandolin playing is confident with a rich tone, and a style heavily inspired by the likes of John Reischman and Joe K Walsh. Mandolin in hand, she performs regularly with multiple bluegrass bands including Flats and Sharps, Old Baby Mackerel, and Blue Lass. Abbey also loves exploring British instrumental folk music, enjoying learning new tunes on the mandolin and melodeon, and learning to sing unaccompanied traditional ballads. Abbey’s performances are dynamic and varied, including a mixture of traditional and contemporary music alongside original pieces inspired by the nature where she grew up.


Joy Leach has submitted the following:


This is an invitation to join the February 19th Topic Zoom in the comfort of your own home. Performers and audience members from far and near are welcome. As previously, doors will open at 7.30 for an 8pm start & the programme will run till 10pm. Singers, musicians and poets can all take part. Any further enquiries about participating, pass codes for each evening etc, please email:

For anyone interested in recent history – we are now into the 4th year of Zooming. Many thanks to all those who contribute to make them happen, month by month


A reminder (there will be many!!) that we are involved in one of the cultural events in the run up to Bradford City of Culture 2025 as per the following:

Folk Songs for Bradford District - Person and Place: Creating Songs about People and Places of Bradford District.

See the attached flyer [text copied at bottom of this newsletter*] for full details of this ambitious project which is by no means limited to the usual participants in the acoustic music scene: if you know of anyone outside our orbit who might be interested in being involved, please let them know about it, nay, encourage them.


On Monday February 5th 2024, Liz Narey's First Monday Folk welcomes Steve Jones at The Ryshworth Club, Keighley Road,Crossflatts, BD16 2HD.

Doors 7 pm. No entry fee. Raffle and donation. Music from 7.30pm 

Steve is a great singer/songwriter who also plays in Buttered Peas Ceilidh band.. 

If you like John Spillane you'll like Steve Jones

As mentioned previously Cleckheaton Folk Festival is back this year,  with the usual star-studded line-up. make a note of the dates, 5th, 6th and 7th July 2024, visit for details and updates.

Buck Inn: Muppett's next Buck Inn session is back at the Buck Inn on 11th February. Visit

Dave Ellis & Boo Howard are playing at Black Dyke Mills Heritage Venue in Queensbury on Saturday 24th February at 7.30 pm.


An interesting statistic, provided by our webmaster Nicholas Waller:

This is only the second time that the Topic is known to have its Club Night fall on the Leap Day, 29th February.  

The last time was in 1980, which was when Club Night was on Friday. As this runs in a 28-year cycle, 1952 was the previous Friday 29th Feb, well before the club was founded, and the next was Friday 29th Feb 2008, by which time Club Night had moved (in 1994) to Thursday. The 29th February 1996 should have been a Club Night but oddly our record in the Gigs List is blank, even though by then our club night records were complete (well, almost). So it is possible something happened then. (?Did any member keep a diary back then and if so could they fill us in?).

2024 is the first since the ghost night of 1996, and if you miss this opportunity the next Club Night on the 29th February will be in 2052.


At the club's AGM held on 7th December the following were elected onto the committee for the coming year:

John Waller; Neil Etherington; Sue Gaffney; Martin Richards; Rahel Guzelian; Chris Hyland; Tony Charnock


As I'm sure you're now aware, guest nights as well as singers & musicians  nights are now held in the downstairs bar. Please note that doors will now open at 7 pm to enable the seating arrangements to be completed for the evening.

For those of you wishing to partake of drinks that are only available from the upstairs bar, would you please go upstairs to purchase them, as the bar staff are not able to leave their bar area. When doing so, it would be much appreciated if you would try to leave and come back between songs, as is normal folk club etiquette.

Remember that we now accept (indeed prefer) payment by card, but you can of course pay by cash if that suits you better.


Membership of the Topic Folk Club - still only 5 - runs from 1st January and entitles you the lower ticket prices shown in this newsletter as well as the chance to become more involved in the workings of the club if you would like to. You can join or renew your membership on any club night. 


For performers who may be thinking of approaching the club for a booking, please email:

If you’re visiting the club for the first time, be sure to come and say hello, and if anyone has any suggestions for the club, for example if you would like us to try to book a particular artist, we’d like to hear them.

The Topic runs on Thursdays at Groove Pad, 48 Saltaire Road, Shipley BD18 3HN, doors will open at 7 pm with a 7.30 pm start and a target time of 10pm to finish. Like all the clubs in the area, our aim is to provide good quality live entertainment to suit all tastes of those interested in folk music, and we are hoping we can count on you for your continued support.

Floor singers are always welcome (though may be limited if we have a booked support act - please check). Please arrive by 7.15 pm if you’d like a slot – it helps the MC to plan the evening. 

Please continue to take Covid precautions when visiting the club.

Tony Charnock

Topic Folk Club


*Folk Songs for Bradford District - Person and Place: Creating Songs about People and Places of Bradford District.

To mark Bradford City of Culture in 2025 the Topic Folk Club is gathering together new folk songs about the story of people and/or groups who work to make Bradford District a welcoming and supportive place. Songs about historical figures that have lived in Bradford District and helped to make it great are also welcomed.

The aim is to celebrate live original folk music and encourage people from all parts of the district to share what they find special. There are no age restrictions. Songs that have already been written that fit the criteria are also welcome.

We invite songwriters to write a song about a person, group or special place in the Bradford District. The songs would be in the British folk idiom and involve an acoustic performance by solo /duet.

To enable the Topic to keep a record of the song you are asked to send the Lyrics and a MP3 (if available) to

The singer /writer of the song is invited to perform it at the Topic folk club singers and musicians nights or as floor singers on Topic guest nights*starting in January 2024. The person who wrote the song can arrange for someone else to sing it.

The songs will be collected throughout 2024 and up to July 2025.

By agreement with the songwriter the songs may be broadcast on Bradford Community Broadcasting 106.6fm; possibly including an interview with the writer/performer.

Further opportunities to promote the songs, for example with recording and live performance throughout the district, will be pursued as the project progresses.

* The Topic meets on Thursday evenings at Groove Pad, Saltaire Road, Shipley. Please check on Topic Folk Club, Bradford, West Yorkshire ( for details of the guest artist and directions to Groove Pad.


Robbie Martin 01274 593585 Sue Gaffney 07720918947 Tony Charnock email

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