Friday, 7 December 2012

FolkWorkshops at the Crown

‘We get together to sing folk songs and play instruments in a tolerant and relaxed atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support’.

Christmas at The Crown Inn, Longtown, Herefordshire,Tuesday 18th December 2012

With various troubadours, and supporters of Black Hill Folk, Black Hill Tune Club and the Black Mountain Blues Workshop in attendance.

Dining from 6pm with Music and Singing starting from approx 8pm.

This month’s Folk Night Special will be Turkey and Vegetable Pie at £7.95 for those wishing to limber up for the Festive Season. With all other Main Menu items, Specials and Vegetarian options to choose from you should not go hungry.

You can ring in your order in advance by ringing 01873 860217 or visit
Fine Real Ales also in attendance.

All singers, musicians and listeners, especially newcomers, welcome, as they should be, during this Season of Goodwill. Brush up that Christmas Party Piece but all styles and songs as welcome as ever.

How about this for a genuine unsolicited comment:
‘This is one of the most relaxed and enjoyable pub folk venues I have been to for a long time’

Collection in aid of Crisis

Sunday, 25 November 2012

FolkWorkshops Christmas Newsletter 2012

We get together to sing folk songs & play instruments in a tolerant & relaxed atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support.

As the Olympic Summer fades it would be rather good if someone remembered one element in the opening tableau. Did we really see some country dancing and Morris Men? Is this a sort of recognition of an old English Tradition? Why is it that the English are so embarrassed by their ju own heritage? The Scots, Irish and Welsh don’t seem to have these hang ups. Sadly, we suspect that the patronising attitudes towards our folklore will continue, not withstanding that many of England’s composers drew heavily upon this heritage and would no doubt be just as puzzled as we are. It seems that the new age of the petrol head, loud mouthed crass critique of tradition is more likely to be favoured and the BBC has not done itself any credit by shutting down local folk music programmes or ‘modernising’  Mike Harding’s programme by giving him the sack. They didn’t even offer a period during which he ‘stepped aside’. This is why we think that listener supported radio like Folk RadioUK is a welcome development. Whilst grants are all very nice the folk community has in the main not only survived but has thrived on self help and long may it continue to do so. It may have to.

Having been thinking about ‘folk heritage’ for a while it was a great pleasure to be invited by Mike Newell to join the Village Quire guest list as they took part in the centenary celebration of the publication of The Folk-lore of Herefordshire by Ella Mary Leather. Having been a friend of both Ralph Vaughan Williams and Cecil Sharp her book is part of the literature right at the beginning of the preservation and revival of English folk music and dance which eventually saw the founding of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the building of Cecil Sharpe House and the creation of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Our job was to try and record the events as part of our local and folk music history.

So, the 10th of November saw us following Leominster Morris and Foxwhelp Morris along the narrow roads between Weobley, Dilwyn and Leominster marking the day with dances outside Ella’s house in Weobley, the New Inn at Pembridge and at the Cross Inn at Eardisland. A Grand Morris and Ceilidh followed at Dilwyn Village Hall in the evening. A full account for the record will appear on Tales from Under Black Hill in due course. Our thanks go to all those who made the day such a great success, especially Tony Handy of Leominster Morris who organised the event, and folklorist Roy Palmer who read extracts from the book between songs from the Village Quire. The latter performing some new pieces in yet another brilliant performance. If all this were not enough, Hop Pickers Feast punctuated the evening with pieces from their wide and interesting repertoire and then,  just as we thought the day was over, the announcement was made, ‘And now it’s Ceilidh time’!

While preparing this Newsletter we realised that it was in November three years ago, prompted by our daughter Mary that we advertised and held our first Folk Workshop at Newton Church Room. The founding participants at that evening have gradually been joined by many new friends to make the folk music community which has developed. Here is a blog recording the event: Folk music workshop in hills

And finally Hobgoblin Music has circulated the following note marking a great success for common sense:
 ‘Many of you will be aware of the campaign against the music licensing elements of the 2003 Licensing Act, which made it illegal for venues to host any form of live music without a license. This replaced the previous '3 in a bar' rule, which wasn't much better.

This week saw a fantastic development in music licensing law, as it became legal for live unamplified music to be played in any location (without a license), and for amplified music to be played in unlicensed venues with a capacity of 200 or less.

We are very optimistic that this will help to reverse the trend of folk clubs and sessions being closed down by zealous local authorities, as has been happening for many, many years’

With such a good piece of news all that remains to be said is to thank John and Bridget for hosting Black Hill Folk and Sheila and all her staff at the Crown Inn Longtown for continuing to make us so welcome, and to wish all supporters a Happy and Musical Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. 
John and Jane Baxter

With so much dancing we were rather pleased to see this in our EFDSS magazine:
Dancing’, he said, ‘is most strengthening, livening, and courting movement, ‘specially with a little beverage added’!
Mr Spinks at the Tranters Christmas Party, Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy (1872)

Past Events: There has been quite a lot going on. We are happy to report that the Rapsqillian Workshop and Concert at St. Margaret’s Church was a great success. It was very heartening to see some new faces at both events.

We were greatly entertained by the Village Choir when we saw them perform their programme High Days and Holidays on the Welsh Marches with reader Phil Smith at the unspoilt church of St.James at Llangua back on 6th October.   Having seen the first performance of this programme back in April 20011 ( see Village Quire High Days  for a review) this was our third hearing and was delivered with the usual high standards under the direction of Dave Newell.  If you haven’t seen them see their Christmas schedule below.

FolkWorkshops supporters put a great deal of effort into making the Evening of Remembrance at St. Margaret’s Church on Saturday 10th  a moving experience for all attending this unique mixture of poetry, folk song, and meditations. We have had three really good Folk Nights at the Crown Inn sessions with good attendances for the pre-session meal and a variety of singers and players making it an entertaining evening. We had 30 people at the session on the 20th November and again it was great to see so many new faces. See below for next month’s details.

Black Hill Folk continue their weekly practices. Having performed at both of the events at St. Margaret’s Church they are currently rehearsing pieces from their Christmas and Wassail repertoire in readiness for the weeks ahead. For more details ring John Biggs 01981 510629.
Black Hill Tune Club: Judy Mabe reports s that seven musicians gathered at the Crown Inn, Longtown in the afternoon on Thursday 8th November. ‘This month we were developing harmonies within some of our existing tunes and working on some arrangements. We made a pretty good sound’, a view confirmed by Sheila, the landlady, who was doing her book work somewhere nearby.
Future Events: With things getting a bit busy just at the moment we thought a Christmas Newsletter might be a good option. If there is something which you think should be drawn to the attention of FolkWorkshops supporters please e-mail us. If there is an important event that has gone unnoticed we can always put out a brief e-mail message.

Black Hill Folk: next practice Tuesday 27th November at 800pm.
For details ring John Biggs 01981 510629

Black Mountain Blues:  Wednesday 12th December
This is the latest spin-off from 'Folkworkshops.'  Last Wednesday saw a gathering of nine for 'Blues Workshop  No1' . The event was kindly hosted by Bob Burson in Longtown.  Participants shared their early experiences of blues music and talked about how they hoped to develop their playing and vocal skills through the workshop model.  This was followed by some guitar, bass, and harmonica jamming, and some vocals, based mostly on simple 12 bar blues patterns.  The verdict? Ok, plenty of  work to be done but it was a lot of fun. More telling is that a date was set for 'Blues Workshop No2.
This will take place at Peterchurch Fire Station on Wednesday 12th December from 2pm -4pm.  There is an outline plan for the group to meet on the 2nd Wednesday of each month thereafter.
Players and vocalists of all abilities are welcome.  If you are interested in playing blues music but can't make the workshops we can put you in touch with others who also meet outside the workshop setting.
For more information please contact Alan McCardle  01981 510510.

Folk Nights at the Crown Inn, Longtown, Tuesday 18th December:  This is the time of year when a night out singing is so much more attractive than late night shopping, so venture out and sing and join us for our last session of 2012. While you are about it why not join the growing number of us who like to have a meal before the music starts? We aim to get the music started just after 8pm. You can ring in your order in advance by ringing 01873 860217 visit

Harpsongs: Phil Tipton, who is a loyal supporter of our sessions at the Crown, reports that at the session on 17th November the future of Harpsongs was discussed. There had been a very low turnout in the previous month and, as they had been running the sessions for 2 years, Phil thought it was time to take stock. Various ideas were put forward and adopted. We are very pleased to confirm that Harpsongs will continue as usual on every 3rd Saturday at 8.30pm but with various adjustments. So, like us, you will have to get along there to see what they are. Don’t forget to offer a car share if you can.

Black Hill Tune Club meets on the first Thursday of the month at the Crown Inn, Longtown at 2 pm and the next one (the 6th meeting) is on 6th December. Judy writes, ‘As we didn’t play any new tunes last month someone is bringing a new Welsh tune for us to learn. If anyone wants to have some idea what tunes we have been playing together, I’m happy to send them our Tune list.
I am in touch with another Tune Club in Ledbury and they are holding a Workshop led by John Kirkpatrick. He is very keen to help promote folk music workshops, and as long as they can attract about 20 people the ticket price should be quite modest. The possible dates being considered are March 2nd or 9th.  If you are  interested in this event or in Black Hill Tune Club please contact us.
Christmas Concerts with the Village Quire and actor Phil Smith

‘Imagine a Christmas before the inflatable plastic Santa was invented; before the flashing, LED-illuminated Rudolph and the fibre-optic Christmas tree.  Imagine a time of fable, folklore and time-honoured custom, when stories were told by candlelight and, by the glow of the blazing Yuletide brand, those gathered in hearthside’s ease could sing a good old tune in four-part harmony, fine and full. 
This Christmas The Village Quire and actor Phil Smith bring you songs and stories of mumming and wassailing, of misrule and mirth; rousing West Gallery anthems and intimate festive miniatures to melt your heart – an older Christmas, more stark, more true, glimpsed in the glimmering light of candle flames’

On Saturday 1st December we return to bring our Village Christmas to All Saints’ Church, Cwmbach, Glasbury.  This year’s show will have lots of new mid-winter songs and stories to melt your heart, plus a good smattering of real, old Village Quire favourites.  If you have never seen A Village Christmas before, then you are in for a treat; if you have, then we still hope to surprise and delight you.  All will be atmospheric and candlelit and rich with the aroma of Tony and LizAnn’s excellent mulled wine – a great way to get you in the mood for the festive season!   Full details are below and we look forward to seeing you there.  Don’t forget to buy your tickets early as this annual concert is very popular and seating is limited. Full details: Saturday 1st December, 7.30 pm at All Saints’ Church, Glasbury (Radnor).  Tickets £7 (£5 under 18s) to include mulled wine & mince pies, from Tony & LizAnn Laurie-Chiswell 01874 754308.
All proceeds to All Saints’ Church.

And if you can't make the 1st December then you've not missed us. 
Our full list of December dates are as follows:
14/12/12 Llanbedr Village Hall, 7.30 pm - tickets from 01873 810436
15/12/12 Glanfa Stage, Wales Millennium Centre (Glanfa Stage 6.15 - 7..15 pm (FREE performance)
22/12/12 Shammick Acoustic (folk club), Pack O' Cards, Combe Martin, Devon, 8 pm - tickets from 01271 882366 (well, you might be on holiday in Devon!)
23/12/12 The Globe, Hay on Wye, 7.30 pm - tickets from 01497 821762: The Holly Bears The Crown: by Candlelight Tickets £6/£7/£8 – 01497 821762 
Vital Spark at Clodock Church: Friday 28th December at 7 pm. Entrance free with hot punch and mince pies afterwards. However, there will be a retiring collection. Vital Spark is a large group of singers from Malvern who sing West Gallery music and have been coming to Clodock for some years to sing in the magnificent West Gallery. This is an excellent opportunity to hear old English Carol’s by candlelight as they would have been sung before the style was replaced due to changes in fashion, and, it must be admitted, the over- fondness by some choirs for long practice sessions in the pub. You can find an article on West Gallery singing on the blog by clicking: Folk music harmony singing and west

18th December, The King and Queen, Public House, London: Bob Dylan’s Tour,50 Years On: In December 1962 Bob Dylan was in London filming Madhouse on Castle Street for the BBC ( since wiped, the film, not the Beeb) and on 18th December he started a month long tour of London folk clubs. To mark this event Tim Chipping has organised an evening at one of the pubs he visited 50 years ago. Wizz Jones will be among the guests. We have it on good authority that when Bob got to the Troubadour in Earls Court he had to pay to get in as he was not a booked guest.

Nearby upcoming Festivals to note: Gloucester Cajun,25-27th January, Cheltenham 8th-10th Feb: Nic Jones has been booked: Porthcawl Interceltic Festival 1st-3rd March.
Clog Dancing Course in Lancashire: We thought you might like to plan something to look forward to in February should your head not have cleared. Take a look at this if you would like some cheering up before you start the dreaded run up to Christmas. Well worth checking out the Lancashire Wallopers Dancing Horse
Sacred Harp Singing:  With the Church of England having replaced West Gallery singing and other older forms in the mid 19th century, it will come as no surprise that similar forms of singing survived in parts of the United States. So, yes you’ve got it, it is now coming back to us. Our London correspondent spotted this and thought it would be of interest. As the site observes:
‘This singing tradition preserved forms, devices and harmonic tastes that were swept away in Europe as classical choral and sacred music evolved. In that way, I suppose it is a paradox and an anachronism – “early music” from the New World.’

Don't Forget: Pete Coe in Concert 16th March, 2013, Black Hill Tune Club and FolkWorkshops, in association with the Globe Hay on Wye present this veteran of the club and festival circuiet.
Not to be messed. Tickets £10. More details later when you all need reminding again.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

FolkWorkshops October Newsletter

It has been a busy month here in the hills and there are a lot of events coming up you should know about. You might also like to know what has been happening in this busy month.

But first, many thanks to those of you who have said how much you appreciate this e-Newsletter. Sometimes when we get asked what is going on or a disappointed individual has missed an event, we begin to wonder whether the attachment ever gets clicked. Many thanks also go to all those music shops we have visited. This month they include Hobgoblin Music in Birmingham, Fair Deal Music in Birmingham, Trefor Davies Music in Leominster and Marcus Music at Tredegar House. These are all excellent sources of instruments and advice, and what is more, they are welcoming places where you can buy in confidence. Marcus Music specialises in drums and makes a range of concertinas as well restoring and repairing instruments. If you are visiting the National Trust’s Tredegar House their workshop is in the row of shops near the ticket office.

Thanks also go to Sam Simmons, the editor of Folk Life, who has asked us to be correspondents for South West Herefordshire. Previously known as Folk Life West this re-launched publication is acquiring a wide circulation which currently covers the North West, Wales, the Midlands and the South West as far as the Scilly Isles. If you have any folk news please e-mail us.
Best wishes,
John and Jane Baxter

Past Events

On Thursday 6th September we went to our first session with the Black Hill Tune Club organised by Judy Mabe. Three flutes, a mandolin, guitar, banjo, a barum and wooden spoons combined to make a wonderful sound in a garden with a fine view of the Black Hill itself. Many thanks to Rhiannon for her hospitality and those who helped with the lunch. Subsequent sessions will be held at the Crown Inn, Longtown. For details of what instruments are played and the levels of ability please get in touch.
The following Sunday, singers from Black Hill Folk attended the St. Margaret’s Church, Family Harvest Festival, to sing the Guist Ploughman. With  singing from the Children’s Choir and a good mixture of Harvest hymns from the congregation, a very musical morning was  enjoyed by all.
We have also had two really good Folk Music Evenings at the Crown, Longtown, ( 3rd Tuesday of the month), the one on the 18th being attended by 21 singers and musicians. In a new departure several of us met up for a meal before the music started. By the time the first order was served there were nine of us dining together. It was agreed we would try to make this a regular option, possibly with a Folk Night Special being added for ordering in advance. More details will follow before our next session on October 16th.

We also had a different sort of Folk Music Evening at Newton Church Room on Tuesday September 11th. The evening started with the shock of the smoke alarm going off. Since there was no smoke to bring this about suspicion fell upon Bob’s Melodeon. Whatever the cause, tables had to be used to gain access to the stop button. With the result that to late comers it looked as though a meeting was being held. ‘Looks like a séance’, one was heard to remark. The tables did prove useful however since lyric sheets could be spread out and the appearance of the book, ‘101 Folk Songs for Buskers’ triggered an evening of singing down memory lane and generally ‘Goofing Around’. A most enjoyable evening was the verdict.

Finally, a small number attended the Black Hill Folk singing practice the following Tuesday at the same venue. Bob led the session very effectively by returning to our regular repertoire for general improvement in unison singing. Starting together and keeping time were emphasised and notes were taken so that all those attending next time will know where we have got to. For details of Black Hill Folk sessions ring John Biggs on 01981510629

Other Events: several supporters took part in the Craswall Fringe concert at Craswall Church where folk song was well represented among a variety of acts.
 Judy Mabe took part in the singing Flash Mob for hEnergy in High Town, Hereford on 22nd  September when 128 people gathered outside the Butter Market to entertain a large crowd with their harmony singing.
 Finally, Judy and Bob attended the music workshop at the Globe, Hay-on-Wye on Saturday 29th. A report will appear next month.

Future Events
Abergavenny Scottish Country Dancers Wednesday Evenings 7.30 - 9.15 started on 19th Sept. For details ring 01873 850847
Saturday 6th October THE VILLAGE QUIRE  will be performing their programme High Days And Holidays On the Welsh Marches with reader Phil Smith  7.30 p.m.  at  ST JAMES' CHURCH,  LLANGUA (just on the Welsh side of the Monnow Bridge near Pontrilas). Tickets  £10.00, to include a glass of wine during the interval. Further details and tickets from Eric Locke, 01981 241084. For full details of this and other Village Quire events visit

Monday 8th October: ‘House Concert Abergavenny’. starting at around 7.30 pm.
Saskia Tomkins and Brandon Scott Besharah ( are on tour. They play a range of instruments which include violin, nyckelharpa, guitar and hurdy gurdy and one description of their music is “heavy wood”.
If you are new to the idea of a house concert, it is a social evening where the focus is a concert.  People come prepared to make a “donation” (all proceeds will go to the performers) of around £10.00 per each. You can put in more or less per head as you choose as this isn’t as formal ‘proper’ concert and we’ll provide the space, a range of chairs and some light refreshments (to include a glass of wine or soft drinks).  Saskia and Brandon will no doubt have some CDs for sale.

Saturday 13th October: The Lock in Dance Show in Brecon, Theatr Brycheinioga, Brecon.
Billed as English Folk’s answer to Riverdance this show is coming to Brecon early in its long National Tour so now is your opportunity to see where modern folk dance is going. For tour dates click

October 16th: Folk at the Crown Inn, Longtown. Starts from 8pm onwards but why not come early for a meal. Look out for the Folk Night Special from the Specials Board. Details to follow.

Saturday 20th October at 7.30 pm: Rapsquillian: A concert at St Margaret's Church in aid of church funds. Featuring this well known Shropshire based folk singing group performing songs from many lands, some with a harvest theme. They have had a busy summer on the festival circuit and we are fortunate to have them with us on this date. Tickets: £8

During the afternoon before the concert they will be holding a SINGING WORKSHOP from 2.30 pm in the School Room at Upper Maescoed Methodist Chapel which will be open to all. Tickets: £3
If you intend staying on after the Workshop to attend the Concert at 7.30 there will be a light supper available. There will be no charge but a donation would be much appreciated.
Please ring  01981 510629 to reserve tickets, book supper or for further details.

Tuesday 23 October, 7.30pm: Maddy Prior, Giles Lewin and Hannah James A  grouping which in its pedigree includes Steeleye Span, The Carnival Band, After Hours, Kerfuffle, Demon Barbers and Hannah James and Sam Sweeney.  A folk song and music evening with clogs on!  £16 / £15  Box Office 01584 878141

Wanted and For Sale: e-mail us, and we’ll put you in touch

Wanted: Affordable Hard Case for a student’s dreadnought acoustic guitar

For Sale: Old, fully restored 4/4 violin complete with a new bow and hard case. Available for inspection in Longtown

For sale: unpadded guitar bag suitable for up to dreadnought size. £8.  It keeps the dust off!  Likewise a 5 String Banjo bag, £5.

Friday, 31 August 2012

FolkWorkshops Early September Newsletter

Being born in the town or country doesn’t always mean your preference will remain with your birthplace. There are however a lot of people who don’t like the countryside at all or don’t want to stay there for long. Like medical emergencies often happening after 4 am, the urban itch usually kicks in after a predictable 18 months to two years. Many of our folk songs are about the countryside but many are now about every kind of place and person. You will see where this is going if you have a look at this:  By the time you read this nonsense we should have written and performed our first draft of a song based on this story.

That said, whether town or country, not enough people get out and do things together as part of a community. Are we losing the knack of living together in a community? Judging by some of the dormitory villages we seem to have acquired in recent years that could be happening. Surely TV isn’t that good to keep you away from a good pub, choir, WI, or other communal activity? Sadly it often is, especially when some people will have spent up to 4 hours a day commuting to Cardiff, Swansea, or Worcester. Not mention the demands on those who work locally and especially during lambing, hay making and harvest times. The chance to get out for an evening would be a luxury. So, whether you live in a town or the country, we all need to get out more. Provided we can drive or can get a lift our rural location doesn’t stop us getting to all sorts of folk events of the sort listed below.

John and Jane

PS: this newsletter has taken so long to prepare it is going out now! Look out for the low flying typos.


Jim Neale tells us of a Food and Craft Fair at Broome Farm
: on Sunday 2nd September, starts at 10.00am Free Entry Take the A49 towards Ross-on-Wye . Enter the village of Peterstow; the first LEFT turn (immediate) is to Peterstow Church; the second Left Turn (30 metres) is to Broome Farm. Down the lane for 200m and turn Right into the Farm...Stewards on duty. The Food and Craft fair A Swing Band plays mid morning. Fiddle Guitar and Double Bass.It was brilliant in previous years.

Singing Lessons in Garway
    Individual tuition with experienced teacher
    All ages and levels of ability welcome
    Piano lessons (to Grade 3) and music theory (to Grade 5) also offered
    For further information, or to arrange a no-obligation introductory lesson, contact: Jane Bovell, BA(Hons), Dip ABRSM Tel: 01600 750700 Mob: 07904 530641

Folk Evenings at the Crown Inn, Longtown
: 3rd Tuesday of the month from All singers and musicians will be made very welcome at this sing around session. The next meet is Tuesday 18th September.

Harp Songs: Harp Inn, Glasbury 3rd Saturday of the Month: Next meeting 15th September:with a good contact through Phill Tipton and his visits to the Crown Inn Longtown every 3rd Tuesday, there are regular visits from this side of the boarder. Their Basque Musicians Evening  achieved full house. All those who were there said it was a great evening and were brilliant. Four of us went this last Saturday and had a very pleasant evening with a few other singers just dropping in for the first time. An excellent landlord and good lighting.
Many thanks to Phil for making contact with us for the sessions at the Crown Inn. He always has new and interesting songs and his methods of getting to Longtown have gained everyone’s respect. He has also kindly passed on all the details of this FolkWorkshops Newletter, our Blogs and our @FolkWorkshops twitter feed on his own e-circular for Harp Songs regulars.
Rapsqillian: publicity has now been placed in several outlets and posters will soon be available. John Biggs writes, ‘On the evening of SATURDAY OCTOBER 20TH  we shall be holding a concert in St Margaret's Church which will feature the well known Shropshire based folk singing group, 'RAPSQUILLION'. Seven singers and instrumentalists will perform songs from many lands loosely based around the theme of harvest. They will have had a busy summer on the music festival circuit and we are indeed fortunate to have them with us on this date.
All proceeds will go towards the proposed improvements to facilities at St Margaret's Church.
During the afternoon before the concert they have agreed to hold a SINGING WORKSHOP in the School Room at Upper Maescoed Methodist Chapel which will be open to all.
Further details of times and charges of both of these events will appear in the September FolkWorkshops Newsletter. If however you want to reserve tickets in advance please telephone  01981 510629 .

Flash Mob for hEnergy High Town, Hereford 22nd  September

Look out for a massive harmony singing flash mob for High Town on Saturday 22 Sep as part of a hEnergy event.  There will be a free two hour workshop 10am to 12 mid day at the Shire Hall, led by Neil Pigott and Jess Ryan-Phillips, to teach a four part song which will then appear in High Town as a flash mob at 12.30 (just after the clock strikes!).
While we would like to have members from local singing groups involved we also want it to be entirely open to anyone who fancies a go.
Any ideas you have that could assist us in spreading the word would be welcome and please do come and join us in any case.  We will be singing a very beautiful and powerful four part harmony piece reflecting the local environment and landscapes. Neil Pigott

The Courtyard Hereford: Spiers and Boden, 25th September at 8pm. It looks as though Nightjar has survived and is back for the winter, so check the publicity from the Courtyard.
The Globe, Hay on Wye: 29th September There is going to be a Welsh Tune Workshop at the Globe Theatre in Hay on Saturday 29 September.  (2 classes: Beginners and more advanced)   The workshop will be in the afternoon and this will be followed by an ‘open’ evening session.  Gary Northeast, melodeon player is probably going to run the beginners class; this is to be confirmed. This looks like it will be a big event for those learning an instrument within the range of instruments being catered for. More details later’

Early Notice:  PETE COE  at the Globe, Hay on Wye Saturday 16th March 2013: With a session after. More details later but keep this evening clear if you want to hear a true troubadour from the club and festival scene. This event is a joint promotion by Black Hill Tunes and FolkWorkshops in association with the Globe, Hay on Wye.

Black Hill Folk: continue to get together for group singing rehearsals and for the sessions at the Crown Inn, Longtown every 3rd Tuesday of the month. New singers always welcome. For details ring John Biggs on 01981510629

The Black Hill Tune Club meets on the first Thursday of the month. This is a fast growing group attracting several supporters wanting to develop their playing skills for playing instruments together. The next meeting will be at Rhiannon and Simon Taylor’s house near Longtown on Thursday 6, September at the earlier time of 11.30.  (Light lunch provided £3.  Wine £1.50) Subsequent Thursday meetings will be at The Crown, Longtown 2-4pm. For details of what instruments are played and the levels of ability.

EFDSS: Why not sign up for their e-Newsletter. Lots of interesting things going on this winter especially if you are planning a pre-Christmas trip to London. We have just received our quarterly magazine from HQ & there is so much going on it reinforces what has just been said about any plans you might have for venturing forth, whether locally or further afield.

Halsway Manor: A National Study Centre: check this place out on Google if you would like a weekend residential folk music course of some kind. Details are on the internet and we now follow each other on twitter.

@FolkWorkshops For those who might have any interest, our twitter feed, has now reached over 100 followers. For those who don’t ‘get’ twitter a good deal of information is available to folk enthusiasts via this medium as an examination of our followers list will show. It is up to the subscriber what they want to use it for and how much they want from it.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

FolkWorkshops August Newsletter

We get together to sing folk songs & play instruments in a tolerant & relaxed atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support.

Stop Press: Earth Oven Building 8th to 10th of August at Trewern Outdoor Centre.

It has been a rather odd ‘summer’ both as to strange weather, never ending sporting and Jubilee events and various missing or flooded out Folk Festivals. We are now planning for autumn and beyond and thinking of what musical activities could be undertaken. As well as the usual sessions and practices it is hoped to organise some special events but individuals who have ideas for sessions should not be slow in coming forward. Prime movers always welcome.

As far as teaching yourself something musical the Internet provides incredible resources to those who want to develop their skills. A quick look at Amazon’s book holdings is a good example. We recently did searches for books on Learning to Sing, Learning to play Slide Guitar, and various other topics and were spoilt for choice. At least with the books on singing you already have your instrument! So if you have any musical ambitions now is the time to start planning what you want to do when the dark evenings return. In our household both the English Concertina and the Anglo Concertina are currently being learnt. We both fear that the slimness of each tutor book does not indicate ease of  learning. Things are a bit noisy at times.

We are always interested to hear from others trying to learn a folk instrument or from those who teach an instrument or are singing teachers. We already have a small network of contacts with about 8 people learning. More details of those offering to teach would be most welcome. Should you be such a person please get in touch stating your terms and we will add you to our growing list of contacts.
FolkWorkshops is a network of people who want to enjoy folk music in its various forms and the internet makes possible the achievement of its full potential. It is therefore very pleasing that our twitter feed, @FolkWorkshops, is approaching 100 followers, that the FolkWorkshops Mailing List continues to grow steadily and that regular visits to Folk Music blogs continue within an overall page viewing rate of over 500 last month. Submissions for publication are always welcome.

So now is the time to make your autumn and winter plans. Here are some if the many activities which are currently on offer more locally:

Folk Evenings at the Crown Inn, Longtown:
3rd Tuesday of the month from All singers and musicians will be made very welcome at this sing around session. The next meet is Tuesday 21st August

Folk Sessions at Newton Church Room and Upper Maes Coed Chapel Room: Next session at Newton Church Room, Tuesday 14th August  8.00 p.m.

Harp Songs at the Harp, Glasbury on Wye, sing around sessions are held on the 3rd Saturday of each month. That means that this month it will be on Saturday 18th August, starting at about 8.30 p.m.  All singers and instrumentalists welcome.

STOP PRESS: EXTRA HARP EVENT:  SATURDAY 11th AUGUST Three young players from the Basque country will be performing their special brand of fiery music, with some interesting and unusual instruments on show. They were appearing at a small festival near Merthyr Tydfil a few weeks ago and had such a good time they came back. Phil says, ‘I've seen them twice now and been left breathless each time!’
There will also be support from a group of Welsh musicians. Please bring a supporting donation.

Black Hill Folk Singers: Our next get together will be at the Folk Session Newton Church Room, Tuesday 14th August  8.00 p.m.  All welcome.

Foxwhelp Morris
ended their summer tour round the pubs of Herefordshire by returning to their base at The Yew Tree, Preston on Wye, on Tuesday 24th. It was a most enjoyable evening in this traditional country pub made all the more enjoyable by some excellent well kept real ale and complimentary roasted potato and sausage snacks from the landlord. With many thanks to the landlord.

Regular practice evenings are held on Tuesday evenings in Moccas so the Yew Tree is almost their local. If you have any interest in taking up the activity or have an interest in Morris tunes check them out on Google.

The Black Hill Tune Club
meets on the first Thursday of the month.  The next meeting will be at Rhiannon and Simon Taylor’s house near Longtown on Thursday 6, September at the earlier time of 11.30.  (Light lunch provided £3.  Wine £1.50) 

Subsequent Thursday meetings will be at The Crown, Longtown 2-4pm.  To get in touch leave your contact details in the Comments box. These will be passed on and not published.

Clera Traditional Welsh Tune Workshops at The Globe Theatre, Hay on Wye
£7.50 (Student £5, Family £12)
Donald Stewart plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and whistle. Class for less experienced players
Bernard Kilbride, fiddle player. Class for more experienced melody players
Further details on; pleasetelephone 029 20628300 for a booking form
£7.50 (Student £5 and Family £12)
1.30pm Registration
2.00pm - 4.30pm Workshops
5.30pm - 6.30 Whole Group Session
7.00pm Evening Session in the Globe Theatre main bar


On the evening of SATURDAY OCTOBER 20TH  we shall be holding a concert in St Margaret's Church which will feature the well known Shropshire based folk singing group, 'RAPSQUILLION'. Seven singers and instrumentalists will perform songs from many lands loosely based around the theme of harvest. They will have had a busy summer on the music festival circuit and we are indeed fortunate to have them with us on this date.

All proceeds will go towards the proposed improvements to facilities at St Margaret's Church.
During the afternoon before the concert they have agreed to hold a SINGING WORKSHOP in the School Room at Upper Maescoed Methodist Chapel which will be open to all.

Further details of times and charges of both of these events will appear in the September FolkWorkshops Newsletter. If however you want to reserve tickets in advance  please leave contact details in Comments box.These will not be published.

Hope to see you at some of the above. In the meantime we hope to make a leisurely trip down south to do some folk music things.
Hoping for an Indian summer,

John and Jane Baxter

Friday, 22 June 2012

STOP PRESS FOR 22nd/23rd June:Summer Solstice Event

Dear Supporters,

Stop Press

The Summer Solstice event is still going ahead but with a change of venue as it looks as though the weather has forgotten which season we are in. Please bring a donation towards the cost of hiring the hall and refreshments. There will be a lot of new faces from far and wide, weather permitting, including Anne Lister and many others.

John and Bridget at the Griggs have been following the weather all week and here is their conclusion:

‘It will probably come as no surprise when I tell you that, due to the appalling weather and arctic temperatures, we have decided to abandon the plan for a mid-summer barbeque in the garden tomorrow night, and have moved the venue for the evenings singing to the nearby School Room at Upper Maes Coed Chapel where our May Day evening was so successful.

In place of the b.b.q., we plan to make refreshments available throughout the evening, along with beer, wine, soft drinks, tea and coffee, so any contributions of refreshments will be most welcome.

The Room will be open from 7.00 p.m. and we hope to get started by 7.30 p.m. as we have a lot of singers to fit in.
This will be an evening to remember,  See you there,

John and Bridget’

Our thanks go to John and Bridget for taking on the organisation of what will be a great evening. We also, will see you there!

John and Jane Baxter

DIRECTIONS: Leave the B4348 at Vowchurch at the turning signposted for Turnastone and Michaelchurch. This road climbs up out of the valley for approximately 3 miles to Upper Maescoed Chapel which is on your left on the second turning you come to after crossing a common on your right.

Please also see the above attachments regarding a Cajun Cruise on the River Severn on Sunday 8th July.

Also on 8th July there will be a A Service of Evening Prayer as Thomas Hardy would have known it. This will take place at 6.30pm at Clodock Church, just down the valley from Longtown. Vital Spark, a group of singers and musicians from Malvern who specialise in re-creating the West Gallery style of church music, will be taking the musical lead as part of a traditional service on Evening Prayer. Clodock Church has a particularly fine surviving West Gallery which makes this the ideal setting for the performance of a style of church music phased out during the 19th century. The church organ, congregational singing and the more formal polyphonic singing developed from pre-reformation traditions replaced the more rustic style of the West Gallery Choirs. This is a rare opportunity to hear this style of church singing as part of a church service and from an authentic West Gallery.

Monday, 14 May 2012

FolkWorkshops May/ June Newsletter

We get together to sing folk songs & play instruments in a tolerant & relaxed atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support.

A word of explanation is probably overdue for new readers of this e-Newsletter regarding what FolkWorkshops is about and what it is. The answer may seem rather unfocussed to some because it really can be all things to all people. If you want it to be no more than a way of keeping in touch with other folk music enthusiasts along the Welsh Marches and beyond, then that’s what it is. If you want it to be a way of getting a group of singers or musicians together for an informal session then it can be that as well. If you want to find a group of people with a particular musical interest then this could be the starting point for your search. We could go on but suffice it to say if you have an idea you want to develop you just might find some fellow spirits here. Or, you might like to come along to one of our Folk Club Nights or give group singing a go with Black Hill Folk. We have no membership, and no committee, but through our collective efforts we all have a musical future.

Support Your Local Music Shops: Living a good few miles from large towns the Internet with all its tempting content is a great resource for singers and musicians. However, we can’t help feeling guilty when buying on-line when local record shops and music shops are closing, so one or two of us try to share out our modest expenditures between net and neighbour, so to speak. We also avoid a long round trip of up to 30 miles, but, Hannah’s Music Shop in Abergavenny closed earlier this year, so we should not take the existence of specialist shops for granted. We do of course still have the excellent Davron Music in Abergavenny Market Hall every Tuesday and Saturday, and three music shops in Hereford.

Without local shops there would be no personal service and advice or trying or reading the goods before you buy. Having visited all the music and independent record shops in the area from time to time we are very lucky to have them. We are therefore very pleased to tell you one of them, Nilam Music, in Aubrey Street, Hereford (, now receives this e-Newsletter. Please let us know if you find any other music retailers or individuals who would like to be added to the list. All you have to do is ask & if they don’t like it we can easily take them off the list.

Things Past: We have had so many enjoyable evenings recently at the Crown Inn Longtown and at the church and chapel rooms in Newton and St. Margarets it is difficult to know where to start. To cut a long report short there were two highlights. Firstly the visit of Rapsquillian complete with a mini-workshop and a good bit of singing from them and from Black Hill Folk. Black Hill Folk learnt a lot from the evening and are now thinking of what’s next in their development. A return visit by Rapsquillian is being planned so watch this space.

The other highlight was May Day. John Biggs was a true FolkWorkshops hero and joined the intrepid Foxwhelp Morris at Arthur’s Stone on Dorstone Hill for what was rumoured to be a sunrise somewhere among the horizontal rain causing floods in the Golden Valley below.

By the evening a fine collection of folk had assembled at the Upper Maes Chapel Room in St.Margarets for a May Day Sing Around. Many thanks to all those who travelled from far and wide through some terrible driving conditions and who made the evening such a success. If we had a prizes for the longest travelled supporter the contestants would be Susie Stockton-Link from Builth, Sally Stamford from Almeley and Sue from Abergavenny. Perhaps we should set such a prize up for special occasions.

Many thanks to all for all the appreciative e-mails and messages on Facebook. As John Biggs commented, ‘We must be doing something right’.

Things Future:
The festival season is now well and truly under way. Should you need to keep up with all that is going on, Colin Mathews @folkorbit is an excellent source of information. In our own part of the world those wanting to develop their singing and have a bit of a change should investigate:
  • Hereford Harmony Singing Camp in Tenbury Wells on 15th to 18th June see  Adult ticket £110, Child £40, Non-camping £80 
  • Rise Up Singing, Dartmoor July 21st-29th: This covers a wide range of singing and covers all sorts of things from writing songs through to performance led by experienced teachers. Full details on
Black Hill Folk: singing practice continues regularly at the Griggs. Full details on 0191 510629. If weather allows practices will be in the garden. All at 8pm. Please bring a donation towards funds.

Singing Practices will be held on 26th June, 10th July, and  31st July. 

Folk Club Nights at Newton Church Room and Upper Maes Coed Chapel Room:
Please bring a donation towards funds/ hire of the hall.
  • 22nd June  (Friday) Summer Solstice Sing Around, in the garden at The Griggs (Upper Maescoed Chapel Room if wet)
  • 3rd July     Folk Club Night,  Newton Church Room.
  • 7th  August  Folk Club Night, Newton Church Room. 8 pm

Folk Nights at the Crown Inn, Longtown: Every third Tuesday in the month: Next sessions 15th May, 19th June and 17th July. Starting at 8pm. NB, 24th June below

Foxwhelp Morris at the Crown Inn, Longtown:  24th July Starting at 7.30. See for a full list of fixtures.

Things Instrumental:

Lessons and Workshops: Jim Neale is now available to give lessons in guitar, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass guitar. For more details ring him on his mobile 07909524171.

Please get in touch if you are able to offer singing or instrumental lessons.

Folk Music Tune Club
If you’d like to learn new tunes, improve your skills, and have fun playing music with others. Please come along to the new Tune Club on:

Thursday 31 May at 2 pm at Upper Maescoed Chapel Room, St.Margarets.

All abilities welcome. Cost £2 (to cover the cost of hiring the room)
(MP3 files and sheet music for 3 simple Welsh tunes can be sent to you beforehand)

Thinking of taking up a Folk Instrument (or starting again):

Introductions to Folk Instruments: We can arrange short introductions as to what is involved, where to buy and what problems are common with a particular instrument. We have several instruments available to try during the session. All ages welcome but juniors to bring a parent. The costs is £3 towards FolkWorkshops funds. These sessions can happen subject to mutual convenience and again might be something to do on a evening or afternoon.

Jam Sessions? Those of musicians who are interested in playing instruments together for a change and personal development, rather than conventional sing arounds or club singing,  might be inspired by the Tune Club above to start some occasional instrumental sessions, whether folk, blues, or anything else. We seem to be gradually collecting a list of venues where you could get together and they need only be occasional to start with. We are already doing our bit in supporting two local halls and a pub, but there is always room for more types of event and venue. Prime mover needed.

Country Dancing? Anyone with the enthusiasm, knowledge is invited to make use of our network to get this started on occasional evenings during the winter. There is a convenient venue off the B4348 which might do for this or even a Ceilidh, although a supporting team would be need to get this organised. Prime mover needed.

Got something to say? Why not write something for our blog. A short series on Memories of  Pubs before the ‘Improvements’ is being prepared so if you have a story about such places and venues send an e-mail to us with it attached. A folk music connection is not essential as many of these old houses have already passed into the folk memory. All submissions welcome.

Got an event you would like mentioned? This came to us from Cas of the brilliant Gigs Guide. See attachment above. Anyone feel like doing one for this side of the Border, or is there one already and we have missed it?

Join us for a regular informal singaround at The Harp Inn, Glasbury near Hay on Wye
3rd Saturday each month at 8.30 p.m. Admission free. Bring your own songs, join in or just listen. Acoustic instruments welcome.