Club recordings made during our 30th anniversary year 2011 (sample tracks
Double CD available on the door for £8 or CONTACT US
John was a regular member of the Somers Traditional Folk Club for a number of years. His stirring renditions of a fine range of sea-shanties, together with more reflective ballads and contemporary songs were a feature of many memorable meetings. His strong baritone and steady guitar playing could also be heard as part of Foxtail Soup, alongside father and daughter duo Bob and Rebecca Fox, delivering lovely vocal and instrumental arrangements of mostly traditional material. John was also a prominent presence at numerous local sessions, becoming a friend and collaborator in many ad hoc groupings.
More recently his time and energies were given over to promoting acoustic music acts and events on a wider and more professional basis, especially through his organising role for The Worcester Music Festival and its associated fundraising for charity. He also co-ordinated the performers and sound production for the popular "Earth Fest" days at The Fold in Bransford. John was passionate about raising the profile of folk and acoustic music in general, leading, supporting and encouraging sessions of all styles in pubs and venues across a wide area. Many will know him from the invaluable monthly emails he sent out to an ever growing number of recipients giving detailed listings of clubs, sessions, gigs, and related musical events in the Worcester and Hereford area. He will be missed by many.
After our original booking had to pull out due to illness, we were very pleased and relieved that The James Findlay Trio were able to step into the breach at very short notice. We were already considering booking them for the following year, and they did not disappoint. The Somers members are a pretty knowledgeable bunch when it comes to folk singing, so it was refreshing to be treated to a lovely range of lesser known songs, many of them from Dorset and West Country traditions. It was all delivered with excellent musicianship on an array of instruments, and also with energy and obvious enjoyment from all three. Plenty of humour and lots of informative - and sometimes surreal - intros from James and banter between the band members brought a youthful feel to the performance. The excellent food (as always at our Harvest Suppers) evidently appealed to the band too. James said they wouldn't mind something similar at every gig (agents take note - lashings of Steak Diane and Chicken Provençale as a standard rider!) Its easy to see why they are rising stars on the folk festival scene: lovely arrangements with drive, sensitivity and fluidity as each song demands, tight playing, intelligent instrumental interplay, great chops, great vocals, a deep knowledge of folk music and song, plus an obvious desire to communicate the richness, beauty and enjoyment of the British tradition to another generation. Yet another successful Harvest Supper was enjoyed by all.
By kind permission of the band the evening was recorded and the two band sets are available on the links below:
This long overdue feature from long-standing club member Selwyn was well recieved. His easy-going and melodius delivery draws from a rich fund of (generally unaccompanied) traditional material, including many fine shanties and Napoleonic ballads, as well as American spirituals. His performance often showcases an impressive memory for complex lyrics. His love of word-play is also evident in his self-penned songs, which can be intricately poetic seasonal meditations or witty and irreverent parodies. For the feature night he delivered a carefully chosen programme that varied in mood, spirit and tempo. Opener "Free and Easy" was followed by "The Trees They Do Grow High". "The Gallant Frigate Araldite" (a parody, of course, of "The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite/Rounding The Horn") was greeted with much amusement and mirth. His stirring version of "Let Your Light From The Lighthouse Shine On Me" - the requested encore to close the evening - shook the rafters and sent everyone home singing, which is what we are all about!
Singer-songwriter Colin has been an occasional visitor to the club over the years. Making a welcome comeback after illness, his assured guitar style and rich fund of melodic, self-penned material, often with a local (Evesham) slant, wove a gentle magic around the room with singable choruses and insightful lyrics. Among others, we were treated to favourites such as "Evesham Fair","Living in Waltz Time" and a song that documents his father's wartime navy experiences, "The Rolling Ramillies".
Some of the older guard have been worried that interest in traditional music is dying off among younger generations. Never fear. Folk music is positively alive and kicking among the under 30s. Not only do we have Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2014 nominees, local band GRANNY'S ATTIC among our members, but we had the absolute delight of having the 2013 winners of the Radio 2 Young Folk Awards for our annual concert. We knew they'd be good, but everyone was blown away by the sheer virtusoity and power of the dynamic duo - and Ciaran has not even left school! Greg's singing and playing have an authenticity and maturity that brings the songs to life in a way that engaged as well as entertained. And depsite suffering from a cold, Ciaran's natural ability on the violin took flight on every number and stunned the room into rapturous applause throughout the sets. His candid confession that a couple of numbers had never been rehearsed as a duo only served to reveal his endless ability to improvise. Music just seems to flow through him. Comparison's to Peter Knight and Dave Swarbrick are not hyperbolic. A roaring success.
After retiring from education, Jim found time to return to his early love of singing folk songs. His rich bass voice with its Cornish burr has been a welcome addition to the clubs weekly meetings. Jim's main repertoire includes many songs with a Cornish theme or reference, some lovely interpretations of Martin Wyndham-Read numbers and, of course, his signature delivery of "Jim The Carter Lad". For his feature night, Jim chose to include some different material too, which was also well received. His duo singing with Roger Tyler (the act is currently named "Fifty Shades of Gray", altough other options are being considered!) was well represented. Since then Jim has also joined forces with Eric and Eileen Payne as "Shepherds' Purse" to produce very impressive three-part harmony. Warmth, wit and heartfelt emotion are what we've come to expect from Jim's singing, and his feature night was no exception.
"The best Harvest Supper we have ever had: the floor singing was good, the food was excellent and the band was just wonderful!". That was the verdict of our MC on the night, and the assembled crowd wholeheartedly and vocally agreed. Over sixty members and guests packed out Rushwick Village Hall for a memorable night of feasting and singing. Both these essential ingredients of 'pastime with good company' were prepared with consummate skill and enjoyed by all with great gusto. The band were indeed wonderful. Fiddle, concertina, cello, mandola, guitar, side drum, and five brilliant folk voices delivered two perfectly balanced sets of traditional songs and tunes. Plenty of opportunity for audience participation won approval in turn from the band, who offered to "send the bus round" to take the club with them on future bookings. Uptempo drinking songs, elegiac love ballads, familiar choruses and delightful rarities performed with tightly wrought harmonies, plus cleverly arranged instrumentals and infectious dances were all woven together with a tremendous sense of energy and fun. It's fair to say that a good time was had by all.
By kind permission of the band the evening was recorded and the two band sets are available on the links below:
Mitch has been singing and playing folk music for over 30 years. For 10 years she sang with a sea shanty group and played with a ceilidh band in her native North East. Living now in the West Midlands she is a regular part of the Somers' weekly singers nights. Her expressive contralto voice, with a tonality similar to June Tabor, delivered a fine collection of sea shanties and ballads, plus a growing repertoire of her own songs in the traditional mode and lovely tunes for recorder or whistle. She has recorded two CDs of this material which she sells for Cancer Relief. Her singing and playing is always a highlight of ordinary club nights, it was a special pleasure to hear an extended set from her, ably supported by Bob Fox on guitar and bouzouki for a few numbers.
Steve is not one to blow his own trumpet (although he has been known to blow Saxophones and clarinets in other musical contexts, and is also a respected maker of early stringed instruments), but his clear and immediately engaging singing voice, and his superior technique on melodeons and concertinas are always a highlight of club nights. Sadly Steve is leaving us soon and moving to Devon, so we could not let him go without a farewell feature. His material, drawn from traditional, contemporary and music hall genres, is always melodic and uplifting, often tender, wistful and full of infectious humour. His version of Stephen Foster's Nellie Was a Lady is a club treasure, as too is his wonderful reading of Harry Robertson's Little Pot Stove (Wee Dark Engine Room). His songs are mostly underpinned by a variety of sqeezeboxes. Fully thought out bass lines, counter melodies and complex fills seem to come effortlessly, and he can wring gorgeous and technically "impossible" sounding polychords from an Anglo that give the effect of a whole band performing with him. Instrumental dance tunes played together with our own Morris fiddle aficionado Bill Smith, and a reprise of his duo with Roger Tyler ended a wonderful farewell session. Happily, Steve is not leaving us just yet due to delays in domestic arrangements. We will miss him when he does go.
For the members' concert this year we were treated to the contrasting and complementary skills of two folk couples. Jess and Richard Arrowsmith are well known on the folk scene for their evocative and educational delivery of traditional English music and song. Richard, a virtuoso on the melodeon, was called on to carry much of the second set as Jess was sadly suffering from voice problems on the night. But with careful choice of material and impressive professionalism she still gave us a fine set of songs, including some very entertaining audience participation.
Martin and Emma Vogwell are a rising talent on the local folk scene. Martin has an impressively fluid and intricate flat picking technique on folk "open" tuned guitars (rooted in his equally fluid mandolin playing). He uses it to underpin a repertoire of traditional and self-penned songs and tunes, many of which draw on folk tales and traditions of his native Gloucester City. Emma's vocals add another dimension and an increased range to the performance.
Both acts were well received and enjoyed by a full and enthusiastic club room.
Kay is a passionate exponent of unaccompanied folk singing, performing plaintive ballads and humour filled songs that often explore the feminine voice in the tradition. We know her spine-tingling delivery of Clark Saunders from the Club CD for example, and her version of Sorry The Day I Was Married which is always delivered with a twinkle in the eye. What many people didn't know (although they do now!) is that she also an ardent fan of Bob Dylan. Alone or with her musical partner Tony on guitar, she treated us to both sides of her repertoire, including the later Dylan song Make Me Feel Your Love, and extending her contemporary set list further with Richard Thompson's Waltzing's for Dreamers. All these songs gained a fresh slant from the engaging combination of both strength and fragility in her voice, and of course her evident love of folk singing in all its forms.
Graham is increasingly in demand on the Worcester and West Midlands music scene, delivering singer/songwriter material by Paul Simon, Ralph McTell, Richard Thompson and other contemporary folk artists, plus some impressive interpretations of traditional ballads like Willie of Wednesbury and One Misty Moisty Morning. Supported by a fine finger-picked guitar style, Graham draws the audience into the songs with a delicacy of touch, sincerity of delivery, and a quietly self-deprecating humour. However, it's his version of Loreena McKennitt's setting of the Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman that steals the show every time. It's not just a remarkable feat of memory with the lyrics, but Graham manages to project the unfolding drama of the narrative and hold the audience in rapt attention right up to the tragic but romantic dénouement. Graham has often been a guest at the Somers, now a full member, we were happy and pleased to be treated to this extended feature of his music.
"Just what we wanted for a harvest supper" said our MC for the night. And the room full of satisfied diners and singers heartily agreed.
Notts Alliance gave us two well balanced sets of tightly delivered harmony singing with plenty of opportunity for chorus singing and spontaneous harmony from the members ("You know you're good, I don't need to tell you that" quipped Chris Orme), and band performance pieces. The trio delivered some little known traditional and modern material, all of it excellent, as well as familiar classics and a positively quirky and very entertaining closer.
Plenty of good humour and audience engagement rounded out a polished and popular performance. Add to that lashings of excellent home cooked food, plenty of good beer and other beverages, and of course, pastime with good company, and it all added up to another successful Somers Harvest Supper.
The night was recorded and by kind permission of the band MP3s are available below:
“Can we have them again next year please?” was one member’s comment after a highly enjoyable concert with guest duos Sara Grey and Kieron Means, and Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer. And the guests seemed to enjoy themselves too (see comments on the home page).
Sara and Kieron specialise in American roots music, weaving sensitive and hypnotic patterns on frailing banjo and bluesy guitar (yes the words "sensitive" and "banjo" can go together!) with wonderful, warm singing of spirituals and country ballads - much of it little heard gems from North Carolina.
Vicky and Jonny deliver their own take on traditional British material with consummate skill and gentle humour. Tight vocal harmonies are matched with multi instrumental accompaniments, including a variety of bagpipes and the Swedish nyckelharpa, which looks like a cross between a hurdy gurdy and a sitar, and sounds like a cross between a fiddle and bowed psaltery.
An evening of high standard performances and fascinatingly varied material.
The Somers has no professional performers on ordinary club nights, but with Rebecca's wonderful voice regularly contributing to singer's nights, we often feel like we do. Sadly for us, but happily for her, Rebecca is moving to Canada as she begins a new chapter in her life, as a married woman. Her farewell feature was full of her trademark interpretations of plaintive and melodic traditional ballads, many of them on her critically acclaimed CD "ONE STAR AWAKE".
Collaborations with her father Bob and also as a trio with John Taylor (Foxtail Soup) showcased the fuller range of her repertoire with lovely harmonies and powerful singing. Other performers turned it into a bit of a tribute night for Rebecca, full of our usual banter and good humour. We will miss her, and wish her every success in Canada.
Rebecca's performance that night was recorded with her permission and is available on the link below.
Julia's strong, clear voice and her engaging delivery is well known on the festival circuit, winning the Saltburn Folk Festival Fred Jordon Trophy. Her member's feature spot at the Somers was based around a maritime theme: "the sea, ships, and people who went to sea".
Mixing traditional, music hall and contemporary songs, she gave us a very entertaining set. Julia accompanied herself on concertinas, and was joined on several songs by her sister Bridget with Appalachian dulcimer, and at other times by Barry Walmsley (guitar) and Malcolm Myatt (violin). An excellent evening.
(Picture by Eileen Payne)
"This is some of the best chorus singing we've ever heard, and we've played nearly all the folk clubs in Britain ". That was what Tom Bliss said about the Somers crowd who gathered for the annual Harvest Supper at Rushwick village hall in October. It's not often that the audience gets a rave revue form the performers, but the spontaneous harmonies are one of the things that make the Somers so attractive to regular members.
The two Toms (Napper & Bliss) gave us the benefit of one of their last performances together, as Tom Bliss now concentrates on TV production and academic work, and Tom Napper has recently moved to Scotland. A lovely mix of self penned songs and traditional instrumentals (including Scottish pibrochs played on the Banjo! - actually it works really well) made for an evening of gentle harmony, evocative lyrics and lively toe tapping.
With kind permission of the artists, recordings (two large MP3s) of the Napper & Bliss sets are available on the links below.
The usual crop of floor singers - including an excellent, one-off, a Capella collaboration from two regular duos - with good food and fine beer, made for a successful evening.
Great songs, great singing, impressive, professional performance on a whole range of instruments. That's what those in the know on the folk circuit have come to expect from Pete Coe. He delivered on all of these with added good humour, obviously at home with the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Somers audience.
Graham Kendrick and Sylvia Needham gave us a beautiful and varied set of songs and tunes from Derbyshire and beyond. Like so many visitors, they were bowled over by the spontaneous harmonies that the club provides at the drop of a hat. No need to teach us a chorus twice!
A thoroughly enjoyable evening that reminded us just why we love traditional folk music.
The first official meeting of the club was at the Somers Arms in Leigh Sinton, Worcestershire in January 1981. The club has moved premises a number of times since then, but retained the name of the original pub, (no longer in existence) - that's tradition for you!
On January 21 2011 in The Albion, Worcester we celebrated our 30th birthday in style with a packed house, a cake, party food, a free drink at the bar, a giant birthday card, and, of course, wall to wall singing and playing of folk songs and music of every kind. Thanks to everyone who made it a success. A number of previous members returned to join us. It was good to see you. Do come again ...
John Taylor, Rebecca and Bob Fox formed as a trio at the Somers where they perform either collectively or individually on most Friday nights. They are also regulars at Folk at the Fold and a seemingly increasing number of sessions around Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Playing to their 'home crowd', they performed a couple of sets of traditional songs and shanties, mixed with contemporary material, both a Capella and accompanied - going from strength to strength.
GUESTS: THE WILSON FAMILY
“The Northern Wilsonia - a vocal orchestra …” Peter Bellamy.
Held at Rushwick Village Hall, the Harvest Supper is marked by agricultural songs, home cooked food and good beer. We were joined again by members of the BLACK DIAMOND FOLK CLUB in Birmingham. The harmonies were mighty - and The Wilsons were pretty good too!
Photo by Phil Cross
Steve Minett (Worcester) and Roger Tyler (Bromsgrove), formed as a duo in 2007, founded on a friendship that goes back more than 20 years. Rogers background is in English traditional song which he has sung since infancy and researched in adulthood to build a wide and varied repertoire around the songs of his home county of Wiltshire. He plays guitar and concertina. Born in the Black Country, Steves background is more widely grounded in classical music and jazz as well as folk. He also brings a long history of acclaimed solo singing to the partnership while leading the accompaniment with his subtle work on concertina. It is, however, the blend of voices that produces the synergy that their audiences enjoy most. Rogers strong lead coupled with Steves well-thought harmonies produce a resonance that compels you to listen.