Folk scene news with Martin Browne.

Peter Coe, who will be performing at Spalding Folk Club
Peter Coe, who will be performing at Spalding Folk Club
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I recently had the pleasure of attending the concert opening this year’s famous 38th Straw Bear Festival in Whittlesey, near Peterborough.

The line-up of Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis, Flossie Malavialle and Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar had all previously appeared as guests at Spalding Folk Club.

Flossie was her usual Franco-Geordie, inimitable self. Her lovely voice and infectious patter delivered a set of familiar songs and she also provided a hilarious cameo role in assisting with the evening’s raffle.

The main act of Greg and Ciaran was a whirl of passionate and energetic musical expertise. These young lads have come a long way in a very short time and improve exponentially each time I see them. Superficially they are bright, witty and fetchingly enthusiastic but underneath there is a hard, substantial core built upon hard work, considerable skill and natural ability. They live their music and for me, in particular, Greg’s rendition of Silent Majority was a poignant comment on the present political climate.

Strangely enough the act that made the greatest impression on me was the opening one of Sam Kelly. He has a terrific voice with a wide range of pitch, tone and power and his guitar playing has a maturity beyond his years. Add to this the sympathetic, virtuosic banjo accompaniment of Jamie Francis and you have a class act. Full marks to the Straw Bear Festival organisers for a great concert.

Events to look forward to in the near future include Lindsay Lou and The Flatbellys at the South Holland Centre on Sunday (Jan 29) at 7.30pm. The four-piece bluegrass band features Lindsay Lou on vocals and guitar, Joshua Rilko on banjo and vocals, PJ George on mandolin and vocals and Mark Lavengood on upright bass.

Spalding Folk Club’s next guest on Wednesday February 1 is veteran folk performer Pete Coe. This year, Pete celebrates 50 years of making music. He is a favourite at Spalding Folk Club and, if past experiences are anything to go by, we will be in for a great evening at the South Holland Centre’s Lounge Bar (8pm).