Looking back on a varied year of folk in South Holland

John Dipper and Dave Malkin ANL-151229-094034001
John Dipper and Dave Malkin ANL-151229-094034001

We are on the cusp of a new Spalding Folk Club year and it is a time to glance back at the one just about to close before embarking on the new.

It has been a varied mix of single artists, duos and groups with styles ranging from the traditional through to modern singer/songwriter.

The year kicked off with veteran traditional concertina specialist Brian Peters. February’s guests were Alistair Russell and Chris Parkinson who entertained us with a brisk set of songs and tunes which showcased their musical talents on guitar, melodeon and accordion.

The concertina made another appearance in March, this time in the capable hands of American traditionalist Jeff Warner and he was equally adept on old-tyme banjo. Our April guests, Red Moon Road, also crossed the Atlantic but this time from Canada to start their European tour. What a brilliant night that was.

Both May and June’s performers had exceptional voices and guitar skills.

Twenty year old Luke Jackson wowed us with his sensitive songwriting delivered with such self-assurance and maturity while the next month seasoned folksinger Bob Fox, fresh from a long theatre season as the music man in War Horse, delighted us with some long-standing favourite songs.

In July established Spalding favourite Pete Morton dashed up from an afternoon concert in London at the very last minute to save the day when the published guests had to cancel through illness. Included in his set list that night were a few songs from his new album Land of Time which, coincidentally, found itself among my Christmas presents this year.

Acapella trio Artisan were our August visitors having dragged themselves out of retirement, yet again, for their second reunion tour and what a great time we had with quality songs ranging from the serious to the comic.

Youth was the accent in September with Fred’s House supplying mainly self-penned songs delivered with rich harmonies. October guests Chris Sherburn, previously of Last Night’s Fun and Scottish singer songwriter and guitarist Findlay Napier gave us a sparkling set of songs and tunes interspersed with hilarious comments from Chris.

The last two club nights of the year belonged to the ladies. Canadians Maria Dunn and Shannon Johnson also opened their European tours at Spalding. The November audience was treated to songs mainly related to the struggles and deprivations of the working classes employed in the factories and mills of Edmonton. Maria accompanied herself with either guitar or accordion and Shannon enhanced the proceedings with sensitive fiddle playing and harmony vocals.

Edwina Hayes neatly rounded off the year at December’s club night with a stunningly beautiful voice and a selection of her own songs mixed with others by writers such as Richard Thompson and Leonard Cohen.

The new club year starts on Wednesday, January 6 at the South Holland Centre (8.15pm) with duo John Dipper and Dave Malkin. John is a superb and established fiddle player and local man Dave is rapidly making a name for himself as a guitarist and vocalist. This promises to be a great evening.