Claire Hastings at The Seagull Theatre

Thursday 30 May 2019 at The Seagull Theatre, Pakefield

The sun came out to welcome former BBC Radio Scotland Young Musician of the Year, Claire Hastings and guitarist Aidan Moodie for a rare visit to the East of England.

This was the last date of a short tour south of the border to promote her excellent second solo release “Those Who Roam” which was launched in January to coincide with her appearance at Celtic Connections.

Songs from that album were featured heavily in the programme along with plenty from her debut CD, “Between River And Railway”.

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GOOD LOVELIES + Fortunate Ones

at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft – Tuesday 16th April 2019

     A double helping of great acts from Canada

The audience at the Seagull Theatre was treated to an evening of exceptional harmony singing from 2 of the top artists currently operating on the Canadian roots music scene.

JUNO and SOCAN award winners Good Lovelies were on a UK tour during April accompanied by Fortunate Ones

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Mile Twelve at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Stunning Virtuosity from US Bluegrass Band - Thursday 21st March 2019

A good sized audience at the Seagull Theatre was treated to an exceptional performance by a young multi-talented 5 piece band from Boston USA who came to Suffolk on their first ever tour of the UK.

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Strummers’ Birthday Bash

by Les Ray

Strummers’ 3rd Birthday Bash - CB2 Bistro, Norfolk Street, Cambridge, 26.1.19

Back in early 2016 Deirdre Murphy persuaded a group of like-minded musician friends to join us in setting up Strummers - with music with a social conscience as its tagline - as we felt there was a demand for a left-leaning club on the local folk scene. After two years, we made the tough decision to leave the club to devote our energies to our band Red Velvet, confident that we had left it in very capable hands.

It was therefore a great pleasure for me to go along to Strummers’ 3rd Birthday gig on 26th January, to catch up with old friends and - of course - to listen to some great music. The line-up for the evening was very strong: singer-songwriter Tony Phillips, exciting folk duo Causton and Walker and chocolate-voiced Norwich-based songster Marina Florance.

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Karen Tweed at Cambridge Folk Club

Strumming and Dreaming - Yarns and slow airs

by Les Ray


“For me life is a craft, music is a craft. So if I’m knitting, that’s got just as much influence and inspiration as my music, as has nature, as has colour, as have oceans or birds... or drawing. Everything’s all connected, and knitting is something that makes me calm. I love its regularity and rhythm ... the form, the shape, the contrast, the colour, and those are all things I talk about in music. I feel that my accordion could be a garment really, it’s something I wear; it’s part of me.” .

These are the words of Karen Tweed, virtuoso accordionist and Renaissance woman, spoken to me in an interview for my show on Cambridge 105 Radio a few days before her concert at Cambridge Folk Club on 22nd February.

I went along to the concert having never seen Karen perform live before, not even in previous guises, as a member of The Poozies or with Roger Wilson or Kathryn Tickell, who gave Karen her first break in folk music by inviting her to tour Sweden.

Speaking of Kathryn Tickell, support for the evening was ably provided by fellow Northumbrian pipe player Mike Nelson.

Northamptonshire born, like myself, now residing in the Orkneys, the much travelled Karen took us off on a musical journey. Starting the evening by playing her childhood instrument the melodica (“Everyone should play one”), she went on to entertain us with the story of the variable names of her mum from County Kerry and dad from Willesden, before performing the beautiful “Miss Hanoria McNamara of Ballybunion”, inspired by her mum.

The evening proceeded with Karen alternating between the role of raconteur and that of consummate musician, eyes closed, smiling serenely, delighting us with beautiful melodies and subtle syncopation.

My favourite piece in the first half was My Dear Julia, inspired by a photograph of John Herschel by pioneering 19th-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron; the piece is Karen’s imaginings in music of what Herschel’s letters to Julia might have contained.

The second half tended more towards the ebbs and flows of Karen’s music than to her storytelling, and included an ambitious 20-minute set of tunes that even took a dip into Moon River, with the audience gently singing along, before continuing on its musical journey.