SlackFolk - Live acoustic music in Colchester

SlackFolk has been running in Colchester since 2010, on the second Saturday of every month between 2.00 and 4.15 pm. We run it as a “folk drop in centre” - the audience comes and goes across the afternoon, which makes for a very relaxed environment for playing and listening. It provides a platform for acoustic artists, bands and poets to showcase their material and offers a chance for everybody to escape the chores of Saturday afternoon and listen to great, local music and poetry. Admission is free.

SlackFolk was started by folk musicians, Tom and Emma Hardy and is now run by Richard Brazear, singer, guitarist and mandolin player with Colchester groups The Four Blokes Trio and Grasshopper.  Performers are booked in advance for sets from 15 to 30 minutes. There are no headline acts, but performers from across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire (even North Yorkshire) come to play. At many SlackFolk sessions, as well as music, there will be poetry, street theatre or spoken word.

East Creek Union play SlackFolk, Piatto Café, Colchester

SlackFolk developed from Slack Space - a not-for-profit, volunteer-run initiative that transformed empty shops and buildings into community art and entertainment spaces in the town centre. As well as SlackFolk, Slack Space had regular art exhibitions; French folk dance, tango and belly dancing sessions; poetry, art, computer and acting workshops; and was home to ‘Annie’s Fantasies’ Clog Morris Team. In 2015, Slack Space closed, because the landlord terminated the lease on the existing venue (the Old Police Station) and there were insuperable problems in finding a suitable new venue. It no longer exists as a formal organisation, although quite a few of the artists involved in it still maintain an informal Slack Space network.

SlackFolk continued at the Piatto Café, at the corner of Queen Street and the Priory Walk pedestrian precinct in Colchester town centre, initially on a temporary basis, but has been established there since. The performers and volunteers who manage the sound system and publicity provide their services for no fee, which enables free admission for the audience. Audiences usually run at around the 50 -70 level, often with over 100 people dropping in to the session over the course of the afternoon.

During the last two years, SlackFolk has additionally run mini acoustic festivals in the Spring and Autumn at the Firstsite Gallery in Colchester, which are progressively becoming more popular. The next one is scheduled for Saturday 6th October between 12.00 noon and 5.00 pm.

If you’d like to know more or would like to perform, contact:

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Richard Brazear on 07850 773291

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The Piatto Café is at 17-19 Priory Walk, Colchester CO1 1LG

Coffee, tea and food (as well as alcoholic drinks) are available at the Piatto Café at commercial prices.

Folk-electronic project

New EP from collaborative folk-electronic project, “Folkatron”

Upcycled Sounds Records have announced the upcoming release of our ‘Folkatron’ 2017 EP - ‘Mais c’est quoi maman?’. 10 musicians, 6 days and 4 folktronica tracks from scratch.


Folkatron is a new project from Upcycled Sounds, an independent sound production team based between Oxford and Paris. It brings together young folk and electronic musicians together for a week to produce experimental arrangements of traditional folk music.


The music video for the EP single, ‘Eleno Kerko’ will be released this Friday June 1st, followed by the full EP on all major digital platforms on June 15th, 2018. This marks the first day of the 2018 Folkatron edition. Llisten to a pre-release of the EP through Soundcloud using the link here. The lead single ‘Eleno Kerko’ and accompanying music video will be released on Friday, June 1st, followed by the full EP release on the first day of Folkatron 2018 - June 15th.

Watch the video for a taste of the project


Read more: Folk-electronic project

From Melodeon to Button Accordion

Having seen John Tams playing the melodeon in the Albion Dance Band in 1976, I decided that was the instrument for me. But where to buy one? At that time, Hobgoblin was a very small business selling second-hand concertinas from a garden-shed sized building somewhere in rural Sussex. I eventually tracked a one-row Hohner pokerwork instrument in C to a shop in Streatham, South London. I had to stop smoking to afford to pay the £30 they were asking for it! It wasn’t long before I progressed to a two-row G/D Hohner pokerwork instrument.

Read more: From Melodeon to Button Accordion

Upstairs at the Red Lion in Manningtree

A history of the Upstairs at the Red Lion Manningtree
The acoustic and roots music nights Upstairs at the Red Lion in Manningtree celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017. The music nights were established by a group of local music enthusiasts in January 1997 as a forum for top UK and international acoustic based musicians and singers to perform in intimate surroundings supported by the best in local talent.

Barry Carter, one of the founders explains: "The intention wasn't for it to be another folk club as the organisers shared a variety of musical tastes." The first gig took place on 17th Jan.1997 and featured the folk duo Steve Tilston and Maggie Boyle who fused traditional and contemporary music and were already making waves in the UK and across the Atlantic. This trend continued with the club's first major coup when Bert Jansch, the iconic guitarist from the 60's appeared to a packed house in May '97.

Read more: Upstairs at the Red Lion in Manningtree

Colchester Folk Club 1964 - 2018 - Elaine Barker

The folk club opened at The Recreation Hotel (‘The Rec’) in 1964 during the ‘Folk Revival’. It was the brainchild of the late Brian Hughes who had strong connections to CND and the sixties protest movement. That first night 16th March, the audience seemed to consist largely of Brian’s personal friends but by December that year membership stood at 300 and weekly audiences were between 80 and 100. Its first guest artist was a young Julie Felix who was about to become nationally known for her appearances on That Was the Week That Was. The following year, The Essex County Standard reported that Julie Felix had verbally agreed to play for the first birthday on 22nd March but in fact was booked by The Troubadour and Dave Moran of Chelmsford Folk Club to play in Colchester’s Moot Hall on the same night. After this mix-up the club went ahead and celebrated the first birthday with Sandy and Jeanie, Bob Davenport and other residents performing to an audience of 300. To the folk club’s delight, Julie Felix turned up (along with The Spinners) towards the end of the evening after the concert at the Moot Hall and treated the audience to a few songs. Organizer Brian Hughes claimed it as a triumph for the club pointing out that only 98 had attended the concert at The Moot Hall!! The third time Julie played, her agent phoned the organiser to say she’d like to play the club but there was to be no publicity and it was to be for members only. By then she was filling big concert halls. The fee was £50 so the ticket price had to be doubled. Many years later Julie returned (in 1999) to play for the club’s 35th birthday.

In the early years guests booked included Mike Harding (formerly of the BBC Radio Folk Programme), Arlo Guthrie (of Alice’s Restaurant fame), Long John Baldry, Jasper Carrot, Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger, Louis Killen, Alex Campbell (a regular visitor), Sandy and Jeanie, A.L. Lloyd, Anne Briggs, Nadia Catoose, Bob Davenport, The Strawbs, Alexis Korner, The Watersons and Martin Carthy. Many artists were repeatedly booked since there wasn’t the network of professional artists there is now and with the explosion of folk clubs starting up and down the country the few professionals were very much in demand.

Read more: Colchester Folk Club 1964 - 2018 - Elaine Barker