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.

A Weekend of Women and Wonder

by Holly D Johnston

I am always surprised when people talk about Suffolk as a sleepy quiet place.  My own experience is that on any given night I have to choose between events to go to and wonderful experiences to have.  I personally lean towards folk and acoustic music, but I try as many different genres as I can and have noticed that when I chat to people at folk clubs, they are just as open.  This past weekend I have loved the variety on offer and have been to two events I feel inspired to write about.

Friday 8th March 2019 marked International Women’s Day and there were a number of events going on around Suffolk to mark the occasion.  I took myself off to the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket where the Soapbox was hosting an evening of performance, poetry and debate.

Read more: A Weekend of Women and Wonder

Phil Beer at The Canopy Theatre Beccles

Friday 8 February 2019    Phil Beer 10, Storm Erik 0  !

Phil had to overcome both the elements and a major road closure to perform at the Canopy Theatre in Hungate Church, Beccles on 8th February.

Read more: Phil Beer at The Canopy Theatre Beccles

Edwina Hayes at The Seagull Theatre, Pakefield

An intimate performance by the acclaimed singer/songwriter - Monday 28 January 2019

A dismal, cold and frosty night on the East coast was forgotten for a few hours in the company of the wonderful Edwina Hayes, who had driven all the way down from the East Riding of Yorkshire to the most easterly town of the UK to entertain fans old and new.

Concentrating on songs from her two independently released solo albums “Pour Me A Drink” and “Good Things Happen Over Coffee” plus many from the album she is currently recording, Edwina delivered soaring vocals underpinned by unfussy but effective backing from her trusty Takamine acoustic guitar.

Read more: Edwina Hayes at The Seagull Theatre, Pakefield

Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe at The Seagull Theatre


Seagull Theatre, Pakefield – Saturday 24 November 2018

An intimate performance by two of the UK’s finest songwriters.

Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe – both known across the globe in their own right as brilliant writers, singers and instrumentalists – were first paired together while on a tour of the USA a number of years ago.

They were pleasantly surprised to find how easily their styles of playing worked together and complemented each other’s songs, so they decided that they would continue the collaboration back in the UK.

Both of them are so busy with their own careers (and in Jez’s case with many other collaborative ventures) that it took until 2016 to record their debut CD together.

It was well worth the wait, however, as “The Janus Game", full of great new original joint

Read more: Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe at The Seagull Theatre