The Lowestoft Longshoremen

The Lowestoft Longshoremen were formed about 10 years ago when a group of like-minded individuals joined together, once a week, to indulge in their passion for ‘songs of the sea’.

The aim of the group, at that time, was to enjoy each other’s company and make occasional performances at local public houses.

As the years rolled by, members came and went and they now have only 2 of the original group, one of whom left for some years, before recently returning to the fold.

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Alan Bearman - all round folk enthusiast

Interview by Simon Haines
Unless you are a folk performer, you may not have heard of Alan Bearman, but he has been involved in the English folk scene for over 40 years, starting as a folk club organiser, moving on to being heavily involved in organising the Sidmouth Folk Festival. He is currently Artistic and Marketing Director of the festival, now in its 65th year, as well as running Alan Bearman Music (ABM), an agency representing major artists on the folk, roots and acoustic music scene. He is also one of the few holders of the EFDSS Gold Badge, awarded for services to English folk music. Alan has famiy connections with the area and is a regular at Folk East Festival and at pub sessions in our area.  Here is my recent interview with Alan.

Could I start by asking you about your connections with Suffolk? Were your family from this part of the world?
My family were from Essex, but moved to Leiston in Suffolk in the early 1970s as I was leaving for Teacher Training College in North London. I spent many weekends and school holidays in Leiston through to the late 1980’s. Some of that time coincided with Taffy Thomas and Magic Lantern being very active in the area so we got quite involved with them and went to sessions and events around the area. We have been regular visitors to the area ever since and always expected to return permanently at some point.

Would you say the folk scene in the area is special in any way? Is it different from any other rural area?
It’s hard to compare with other rural areas as Suffolk and London are the main areas that I’ve been familiar with. Suffolk’s sessions have always seemed special to me and it was listening to the likes of Oscar Woods, The Ling Family and Percy Webb that deepened my interest in traditional music. For years, it seemed to me that despite the rich traditions and great sessions there was a severe lack of concert and club activity with honourable exceptions like The Everyman. That has changed dramatically in the last few years, largely through the impact of Folk East.

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Playing together workshop - Norwich, 13 April 2019

by Jill Parson

Since Suffolk Folk ‘morphed’ into in 2017 the idea of putting on events in East Anglia was always near the top of the agenda for the steering committee. Enter Vintage Squeeze! a group of enthusiastic melodeon players based in Norwich who will travel almost anywhere  to reach a workshop that would help them improve their mastery of the instrument.

Through a mutual contact, the idea was raised that as a first venture into organising a folk-related event putting on a day of melodeon workshops in Norwich would be a good place to start. It was! And it was a good collaboration too.

The melodeon players themselves decided on the format and level of the day. They researched and found a brilliant venue in St Luke’s Church, Norwich and did a great job of spreading the word in the local area.

In the meanwhile, were getting on with publicity material, sourcing the course tutors - the wonderful Mary Humphreys and Anahata - and setting up a system for handling tickets sales, advertising and general ‘official’ things that are always associated with putting on a public event.

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Harwich International Shanty Festival

This year’s HARWICH INTERNATIONAL SHANTY FESTIVAL takes place on the 11th, 12th and 13th of OCTOBER and will soon be only six months away!  Once more the narrow streets and alleyways of this old town will resound to the rousing sounds of shanties and songs of the sea as befits its rich maritime history. The guest list is filling fast with many artists already confirmed from Canada, France, Denmark, Poland and Germany as well as all over the UK - and more to come.  Much of the entertainment is free! Here are some of the exciting acts to look forward to!

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The story so far

by Sally Barrett

It was after tutoring for The West Country Concertina Players (WCCP) for several years at their workshops held alongside Sidmouth Folk Festival and at their annual ‘beginners’ weekend held at Kilve Court in Somerset that I thought it was time I did something about my ambition to start a new group here in Norfolk. My experience was in teaching very-nearly-absolute beginners, through to those becoming a little more confident, post-beginners/intermediate players.

Together with my husband, I had previously belonged to The East Anglia Concertina Players, a group formed in the early 90s with members travelling here monthly from as far away as Ipswich and Stamford, but this group had diminished in number and eventually folded. The group had, however, set up and run an annual ‘Play in a concertina band for a day’ event called SqueezEast, held in Stamford Arts Centre, and conducted by my husband, Paul.


Suffolk Folk

Norfolk Folk Association