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News: 2015 - 2016


We are always pleased to receive news items relating to folk arts in the region, but we cannot always guarantee to include them here. Concise, relevant copy with full contact details is particularly welcome, especially if you can also supply a photograph or other illustration.

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Search for members of new National Youth Folk Ensemble comes to Leeds

A nationwide search for talented young musicians to become the first members of the new National Youth Folk Ensemble will come to Leeds later this year.
Applications have opened for a Sampler Day organised by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) at Leeds College of Music on May 29 for young musicians aged 14 to 18.

Led by the Ensemble’s Artistic Director, BBC Radio 2’s Folk Musician of the Year 2015 Sam Sweeney, each Sampler Day will include creative workshops with a team of professional folk artists, individual auditions, and a question and answer session with Ensemble staff.

Selected musicians will be invited to a final audition in London in July. To register for the Leeds Sampler Day, musicians have to be aged between 14 and 18 on 1 September 2016, live in England, be able to play confidently on any instrument and have an interest in folk music.

Places on the Sampler Day are free but limited and booking is essential at www.efdss.org/nationalyouthfolkensemble.

EFDSS created the National Youth Folk Ensemble to increase opportunities for young people and audiences to discover folk music and raise the profile of folk music in England. The programme is supported by Arts Council England.

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said: “We are looking for excellent instrumentalists who are dedicated to developing as folk musicians and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion.

“This is a unique opportunity for young musicians and the first time a group of this kind has been established on a national basis. It offers a chance to develop in a nurturing environment with experienced and skilled musicians.

“We are hoping the Ensemble will discover, encourage and inspire the folk performers, educators and leaders of the future, and we would encourage as many young musicians as possible to sign up to the Sampler Day in Leeds.”
The National Youth Folk Ensemble will formally launch in October. Members will take part in four weeks of intensive residential courses around the country, receiving high quality tuition and guidance from leading professional folk artists. They will also develop skills in performance, arrangement, leadership and facilitation and give public performances.

Keep up to date with news about the ensemble at http://www.efdss.org/nationalyouthfolkensemble and tweet @theEFDSS #youthfolk

Communities invited to “call the tune” on forthcoming Young 'Uns tour

When popular Teesside trio The Young ‘uns embark on their biggest tour of the UK in April they aim to involve communities up and down the country in a series of free pre-gig grass roots events.

In their only UK tour of 2016, Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle, will set out to play 18 celebrated venues across England, Scotland and Wales. Their “Three For All” tour (April 13 - May 1) will take in venues including Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre, Salisbury City Hall and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

But on this tour they will be offering added value. Inviting members of the public to “call the tune” they will take time away from the concert hall stages to join forces with people and projects in the environs of their gig towns, with free events mirroring their all-inclusive tour title.

Says singer songwriter Sean Cooney: “We've decided to try to live up to the tour name. On as many afternoons as possible we'll be aiming to do something for free in or around the tour towns. We hope to celebrate the stories behind some of our songs in the places - and with the people - who inspired them, support the work of community groups and causes and sing in places of special local interest.”

Announcing the plan on Facebook the trio said they were open to ideas. “If you know of a good place to sing, a local cause to support, a community group who could use us for an hour or anything else we can do in or near Grantham, Kendal, York, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Cardiff, London, Bridgwater, New Milton, Bristol, Salisbury, Canterbury, East Suffolk, Warwick, Liverpool, Durham or Cockermouth give us a shout - we'd love to hear from you.”

Stockton Folk Club’s star graduates have proved themselves a unique proposition - writing and performing a capella or subtly accompanied songs that tell it how it is alongside traditional songs from their native North-East and further afield - songs of conscience, songs of warmth and wit, songs to provoke, songs to inspire.

In 2015 - a year crowned with their Best Group win at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - they performed an incredible 116 gigs in nine countries as well as hosting 20 school projects, three singing weekends and working with Aldeburgh Young Musicians. Renowned for their pitch perfect harmonies and rapid fire humour, their live show undeniably has the human touch.

Patrons of Suffolk’s fast growing FolkEast festival, the trio will be reaching audiences old and new on the April tour, kicking off at Grantham’s Guildhall Arts Centre in Lincolnshire on April 13 and ending at The Kirkgate in Cockermouth, Cumbria on May Day. As well as the shows in Scotland and Wales the tour will take in 11 English counties.

Item Added 3/2/16

EFDSS to receive international lifetime achievement award

National folk arts development agency, the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), has been named as one of the 2016 recipients of a prestigious international lifetime achievement award from Folk Alliance International.

Chief Executive Katy Spicer will receive The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of EFDSS during the opening evening of the 28th annual Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas, USA, on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.

The award is named for one of the founders of Folk Alliance International, which is the world’s largest gathering of the folk music industry. Each year, the awards are presented to a living recipient, a memorial recipient and an active organisation and are determined by a select international panel.

Past recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards include Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples, The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Robert Johnson, Bessie Jones, Alan Lomax, The Newport Folk Festival, Old Town School of Folk Music, National Council for Traditional Arts, and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, among others.

EFDSS Chief Executive Katy Spicer said: “As an organisation, we are thrilled to be recognised for our work in preserving, promoting and disseminating traditional English folk arts.

“To join such esteemed organisations such as the American Folklife Center and folk luminiaries as song collector Alan Lomax is a great honour.”

EFDSS has been showcasing English folk artists at Folk Alliance for the past four years? as part of its international programme,?The 2016 artists ?attending include Leveret, Nancy Kerr and Lady Maisery.

Item added 14/01/2016

Music charity awarding grants to young musicians

Are you a talented young instrumentalist? Do you need help with musical costs? You may be eligible to apply for up to £2,000.

Awards for Young Musicians (AYM) believe that all talented young people deserve the chance to progress in their music making. That’s why they’re awarding up to £100,000 in grants to exceptional young instrumentalists in need of support. AYM are inviting applications from instrumentalists aged 5-17 playing any musical genre to join their 2016 Awards Programme. As well as receiving flexible funding towards the costs of their musical development Award winners will benefit from individually tailored support, which may comprise mentoring, workshops and master classes with professional musicians, the chance to observe rehearsals with professional orchestras and other musical partners, and performance opportunities.

AYM’s key criteria are musical talent and financial need. To be considered for an Award the young musician must be recommended by their instrumental teacher and an organisation or group with whom they make music (e.g. an orchestra, band, music club). The young musicians’ parent/carer(s) also need to complete an application form, including a personal statement from the young musician and evidence of their musical ability. Whether they are studying classical Western music, classical Indian music, jazz, folk, blues, rock or commercial music they can evidence this ability in a number of ways; it is not essential to have taken formal exams.

Many AYM Award winners progress on to win prestigious music competitions or take up exciting careers in the music industry. For example in 2014, classical pianist Martin James Bartlett, whom AYM first supported when he was 9 years old, won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, with three other AYM award winners reaching the sectional finals.

The deadline for applications is Friday 18 March 2016 and Awards will be announced in May 2016. Those interested may wish to complete a simple online eligibility questionnaire before progressing with a full application. Full details of how to apply can be found at http://www.a-y-m.org.uk.

Across AYM’s annual Awards and other strategic programmes the charity has an ambition to reach 1,000 young musicians every year. In order to achieve this ambitious target AYM are continuously fundraising with the support of its dedicated team of volunteers, individual donors and patrons including: Paul Lewis, Shabaka Hutchings, Duncan Ward, Ksenija Sidorova, Zeb Soanes and Julian Lloyd Webber.

To get involved in fundraising or to find out about how to apply for a 2016 Award from AY M please visit their website www.a-y-m.org.uk. For enquiries about the Awards programme email enquiries@a-y-m.org.uk or call 0300 302 0023.

Item added 3/12/15

FiddleOn magazine merges with The Living Tradition

FiddleOn magazine, a specialist magazine devoted to the fiddle, is joining forces with The Living Tradition, the premier magazine for folk and traditional music with a primary focus on the UK and Ireland. This development, which brings further editorial expertise, additional subscribers and a wider reach is good news all round.

The fiddle is one of the dominant instruments in traditional folk music and is already well represented within the pages of The Living Tradition, a presence that is set to continue as contributors to FiddleOn join forces with existing Living Tradition writers and reviewers.

Jed Mugford, who has created and edited FiddleOn over the last 15 years, is delighted with the move. “The Living Tradition offers scope for enhanced fiddle related articles within its full colour A4 format and all subscriptions to FiddleOn will be honoured by The Living Tradition.”

Both The Living Tradition and FiddleOn have been fully committed to a physical printed magazine for a number of reasons, and that commitment is strengthened by this latest move. Over the last couple of years The Living Tradition magazine has been handed on to another generation, with Fiona Heywood and Jim Byrne taking over the reins from Pete Heywood. Both Pete Heywood and FiddleOn’s Jed Mugford will continue to have an interest in the future of the magazine, but both are now in a position to devote more time to other projects.

Since celebrating reaching its 100th issue back in February 2014, The Living Tradition magazine is going from strength to strength and, with this latest development, it is well placed to continue to deliver the best news, reviews and information from the traditional folk scene. If you are interested in this kind of music – The Living Tradition is the magazine for you!

If you would like to see a copy of this glossy, full colour, 68 page, A4 magazine, send the Living Tradition team your address and they will be happy to send you a sample copy. Email: admin@livingtradition.co.uk.

Subscription information and publication details are available from The Living Tradition website – www.livingtradition.co.uk

The FiddleOn website will remain live and various back issues are available - www.fiddleon.co.uk

Free online folk resources now available as the English Folk Dance and Song Society launches its Resource Bank

A free online resource to encourage more people to learn and teach folk related music, dance, drama and other arts has been launched by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). The charity has created its Resource Bank – which is freely available to anyone to browse at http://www.efdss.org/resourcebank - to encourage more people to learn about traditional music, dance, drama, other arts and customs.
The Resource Bank's vibrant and accessible guides to music, dance and culture will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about folk. It also includes an extensive range of learning materials, audio and video (for streaming or download) to be used in a range of subjects at different levels for teachers and educators.

The Resource Bank features three main components:

Beginners’ Guides – introductions to folk music, dance, song, drama, costume, customs and collectors

Resources and Teaching Tools – a variety of resource packs, many with audio and video resources,for use in educational, and other informal learning settings.

Jargon Buster – an easy reference guide for folk related terms and phrases.

The Resource Bank is the lasting legacy project of EFDSS' celebrated project, The Full English, which saw the digitisation of thousands of English folk manuscripts to create the world’s largest free online searchable database from some of the country’s most important folk music collections.
It also inspired a nationwide learning programme that has reached more than 13,000 people through workshops and learning events, including projects with 19 primary, secondary and special needs schools who developed their own projects inspired by material found in The Full English digital archive.

Rachel Elliott, EFDSS Education Director, said: “We create and manage diverse, high quality and imaginative projects working with folk material including music, dance, song, stories and crafts in a range of formal and informal learning settings including primary and secondary schools, with youth and community groups and adult learners. “The Resource Bank aims to bring all the knowledge and resources that are developed as part of our education programme and to allow anyone anywhere in the world access to it. “Sharing these resources will help us to safeguard the future of folk arts by stimulating more understanding and participation in traditional folk arts by a new audience and a new generation.”

Item Added June 2015

EFDSS invites applications for creative artist residencies

Dancers, poets, storytellers, musicians, visual, digital or multi media artists are being invited to apply for the 2015/16 round of creative artist bursaries offered by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

EFDSS, makes up to four awards annually to fund the research and development of new work linked to the folk arts.The creative artist residencies are part of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme that provides professional development support, both creative and business, to artists.

The Creative Bursary Award includes the daytime use of rehearsal rooms at Cecil Sharp House (but not 24 hour storage space), access to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, and a grant of up to £2,000 to cover costs and expenses.

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive said: “Since the creative artist bursaries programme was launched in 2012, we have supported contemporary and folk dance choreographers, storytellers, and classical and folk musicians and composers. “We have been delighted to see many artists go on to create full shows and new music for CDs from the research and development EFDSS has supported.

“We are always keen to hear from people who are interested in exploring the potential of the English folk arts from a cross-genre, cross-arts, or cross-culture creative view point.”

Application information

For guidelines and applications forms go to http://www.efdss.org/efdss-artists-development/artists-bursaries. The deadline for submitted applications is 9pm on 29 May 2015 for residencies to be taken between September 2015 and March 2016.

Completed applications should be sent via email to neil@efdss.org or posted to Neil Pearson, Artists’ Development Manager, Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London, NW1 7AY by the deadline. The successful candidates will be announced in late June.

For more information about EFDSS’ Artist Development programme, go to http://www.efdss.org/efdss-artists-development/aspire-programme.

Item Added 20 /4 /15

Music festival seeks new songwriters

Could you be the next Ed Sherran or Paul Simon? Then acoustic music festival organisers in North Yorkshire are looking for you.
A songwriting competition is held at BAMfest – Bedale Acoustic Music Festival - in North Yorkshire every year. Now organisers have announced changes to their 2015 competition.
The competition, which was launched in 2013 as part of the first-ever BAMfest, has been a huge success, with entries from songwriters young and old.
Festival Organiser John Knighton said: “We were amazed at the standard of entries at last year’s competition. For more than two hours the judges heard superb original songs and had almost an impossible job in deciding a single winner. So for 2015 we are launching a new Songwriting Competition for under-18’s. We think the youngsters richly deserve to have their own competition. So we will have two competitions – one for under-18’s and one for over-18’s.”
Last year the competition was won by Sound Tradition, a group of traditional singers from Suffolk, whose song about the Morecambe Bay Cockling Tragedy proved such a Festival hit. In 2013, the winner was singer songwriter David Swann from Pickering, North Yorkshire, with his song “Woven Through Herringbone”.
Winners are presented with The Harvey Blogg Cup, in memory of Harvey, who was a source of inspiration and encouragement to many local musicians in the Bedale area. There is also a cash prize.
Entries are invited from songwriters, who must supply three copies of their song lyrics. All songs must be singer’s original work and unrecorded.
Songwriters have to register details of their song on the BAMfest website - www.bamfest.co.uk - by noon on May 30 and all songs must be performed at the Festival.

A draw will be made to decide on the running order and this will be posted in Festival Office and the Festival website.
The competition will take place on Sunday May 31 between 10am and 1pm.
Mr Knighton said: “The Songwriting Competition has become an integral part of BAMfest and I would encourage anyone, young or old, if they have a song in them to share it.”
BAMfest is a three-day acoustic music festival that will see Bedale come alive with music over the weekend featuring artists such as Martin Stephenson & The Daintees, Henry Priestman, Blackbeard’s Tea Party Band, Babajack, Duncan McFarlane and The Young’uns.

Item added 20/04/15

Volunteers wanted to boost BAMfest 2015

Organisers of Bedale’s acoustic music festival – BAMfest – are calling on local people to get involved and help make this year’s festival even better than before.

An Open Evening for Volunteers is being organised for Tuesday February 24 at Big Sheep Little Cow Farm in Bedale between 7 and 8pm. Light refreshments will be served.

Festival volunteer co-ordinator Josh Waterton-Bailey said: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of the festival, without them we wouldn’t be able to make the festival happen. In exchange for a few hours of volunteering across the weekend, we will reward you with free festival tickets”

“We have organised this open evening to explain what is involved and give people an opportunity to meet the Festival team and other volunteers. We’d love to see even more people get the BAMfest buzz!”

Volunteers are required to assist in various areas - to help set up site/venues and clear site/venues, to steward on the festival campsite, the BAMfest ticket desk/info point, help to sell BAMfest merchandise/CD’s as well as venue stewarding.

Full details are on the BAMfest website - www.bamfest.co.uk. If you want more information call the BAMfest hotline on 07925 817116 or email volunteers@bamfest.co.uk.

BAMfest is now in its third year after being launched in 2013. The three-day event attracts hundreds of visitors to the market town, with local pubs and cafes all getting involved.

The2015 Festival will see appearances by Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Henry Priestman, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra, Babajack, Les Barker, Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby, The Young’Uns, The Jon Palmer Band, The Duncan McFarlane Band and many other acts from across the UK.

An extra Farm stage is being launched this year on the Festival site allowing organisers to bring dozens of new bands to Bedale.

Item added 17/2/2015

Malcolm Douglas 1955 - 2009

We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our number, Malcolm Douglas, an invaluable member of the Yorkshire Folk Arts' management team from its inception. In addition to designing, setting up and maintaining the YFA website Malcolm could always be relied upon to contribute thoughtful, knowledgeable and very sensible observations to all of our discussions and planning sessions. His fondness for good beer and debate were among the many other attributes that made for an enjoyable colleague and all-round excellent bloke. He will be sorely missed.

Three of Malcolm's good friends have written the following words which we are glad to reproduce below.

Martin Bull, Chairman, for all of YFA

Malcolm Douglas

Our friend Malcolm Douglas, who has died from cancer aged 54, had many talents, but two in particular brought him to national prominence. He had a compendious knowledge and understanding of traditional folk song (mainly, but not exclusively, English folk song), and he was a renowned illustrator and comic artist. He fell into these contrasting fields by accident, but he treated them with meticulous attention to detail and a professionalism that belied his lack of formal training.

He became an illustrator after volunteering to illustrate a student union newspaper at Sheffield University, and found that people were prepared to pay him to do what had hitherto been a hobby. His illustrations featured in a wide range of comics, of which the best known was Oink; he was also the illustrator of the footballing devilkin Fred the Red, for five years delighting both young and old readers of Manchester United match programmes.

For the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) he revised the evergreen song collection, The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, originally edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd in 1959. In his new edition, published as Classic English Folk Songs, he corrected previous errors and brought to the book a wealth of additional detail.

He did the same well-researched and comprehensive review of another of the EFDSS's most successful publications, Marrow Bones, a collection of folk songs from Dorset and Hampshire, originally edited by Frank Purslow. He was working on a third, The Wanton Seed, when he succumbed to illness. He was also well-known amongst folk music enthusiasts for his contributions to the on-line forum The Mudcat Café, where he hadposted almost 9000 detailed answers to questions about the most obscure aspects of folk song and music. He was happy to point people to the sources of his knowledge and help them to find answers for themselves.

Malcolm was born and brought up in South London, and after attending Trinity School of John Whitgift in Croydon, he came to Sheffield University to study French and English and stayed in the city, which he regarded as his home town.

Malcolm was committed to the principle of the people's ownership of their cultural heritage and was involved in many grassroots initiatives, even expressing concern about what he saw as the over-professionalisation of the folk arts. He was co-host at Sheffield's Red Deer folk club for a decade and was active in regional organisations such as the South Riding Folk Network (SRFN) and Yorkshire Folk Arts, bringing his literary and technological skills to bear in maintaining websites for both organisations, editing the SRFN magazine and designing the south Yorkshire folk magazine Stirrings.

Malcolm was also a performer, playing fiddle, mandolin and cittern with various concert and dance bands and was a familiar figure at music sessions in and around Sheffield. He never married, but is survived byhis mother and brother Ian.

Ron Day, Dave Eyre and Raymond Greenoaken.



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