Broom Bezzums – Guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 14th November

Broom Bezzums is a duo based in Germany, with their origins in England and  they are the guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 14th November.  Mark Bloomer and Andrew Caddie are Broom Bezzums.

With four albums to their name, these two talented multi-instrumentalists have a sound which might lead you to think that there were more than two people on the stage. Hands, feet and mouths are all used to create the Broom Bezzums’ sound.

From Northumberland, Andrew Caddie cites Alistair Anderson as one of his early musical influences when the great man came to Andrew’s first school to demonstrate the concertina and pipes. And it was Kathryn Tickell who taught Andrew fiddle and pipes. After busking around Europe, Andrew did a degree in Folk & Traditional Music at Newcastle and since then has been a much sought after musician.

Mark is a Brummie and his first love is drumming. He was a drummer with several Birmingham based punk, Indie and psychedelic rock outfits. From there he gravitated to more roots based music and left for a two week holiday in Ireland – he stayed four years!  Playing on the Cork session scene, he became a stalwart guitarist, and then hit the road again to travel Europe and ended up in Germany.

Between them, Mark and Andrew play Northumbrian Pipes, Guitars, Mandola, Fiddle and Bass Drum.  They both do vocals.  Their recently released fourth album Winterman has mostly traditional songs with a Winter or Christmas theme. They also do some self-penned material. For impressive musicianship, easy charm and good material then get along to Irvine Folk Club on 14th November to hear Broom Bezzums.

The Club meets at Vineburgh Community Centre. It starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Bram Taylor is the guest on Wednesday 31st October

Bram Taylor is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 31st October – a man who by common consent is a no-frills, down-to-earth, easy-on-the-ear performer.  Expect clear and strong vocals, an entertaining sense of humour and an excellent selection of material.

From Leigh in Lancashire, Bram’s parents were keen that their son play in the local Brass Band but somehow, young Bram moved to the guitar. Starting off playing with various duos and trios, Bram eventually went solo.  He now has ten albums to his name, the most recent being Jokers & Rogues released in January this year.

Bram is an experienced performer on both the UK and international folk music scene and has built up a reputation for his fine singing.  His touring takes him all over Europe, the USA and of course the UK. He has played at the Mariposa Festival in Ontario a couple of times and was particularly pleased when he was playing there alongside his heroes from the sixties Gordon Lightfoot and Don McLean.

Bram’s vocal strengths mean he is a confident acapella singer and his instrumental accompaniment is on duet concertina and acoustic guitar. His material is a mix of traditional and contemporary. Peggy Gordon, Ralph McTell’s Weather The Storm, Bogie’s Bonnie Belle and Sing Me A Song Mr Bloom might all feature in a Bram Taylor set. He describes himself as a collector and interpreter of songs – whatever their vintage.  His method of selection is simple – is it a good song?

So, after you’ve been guising, celebrate Hallow’een by listening to Bram Taylor at Irvine Folk Club.  All witches and warlocks welcome at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road for an 8pm start. It’s BYOB and that goes for Treacle Scones too!

Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer – Wednesday 17th October

Just when you thought most kind of musical combinations had been heard at Irvine Folk Club…think again.  Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer are the Club  guests on Wednesday 17th October and they are a unique duo combining a mastery of a variety of instruments, good harmony singing and an extremely varied repertoire.

Based in Essex, this husband and wife duo started off as a very talented instrumentals only partnership. They have since emerged as impressive songwriters and arrangers and singers.  Vicki Swan is half Swedish and a second generation piper who started out on the musical ladder as a five year old. She studied double bass at the Royal College of Music where she eventually became principal double bass.  Jonny Dyer had been singing choral music, soul and jazz for as long as he can remember and although offered a place at Colchester Institute to study music, elected to do a Masters in Historic Building Engineering.

Between them they excel at playing Scottish Smallpipes, the Nyckelharpa (a kind of keyed fiddle closely related to the Hurdy Gurdy), Flute, Double Bass, Guitars, Accordion, Piano and Low Whistle.  Expect to hear amazing jigs, murder ballads, Swedish songs, self-penned songs and traditional material with a modern interpretation.

Vicki and Jonny also do a range of workshops including guitar technique and repertoire; developing accompaniment skills and techniques for creating original tunes. Their most recent album is Stones On The Ground and like all of their releases, earned good coverage on national and local radio and good press reviews.

The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Ragged Glory at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 19th September

Strong harmony singing is always popular and is in short supply, so the guest appearance of Ragged Glory at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 19th September is doubly welcome.  It will be their first time at the Irvine Club.

Ragged Glory is a four-piece band. They met at Nitten Folk Club some six years ago – Nitten being the local name for Newtongrange inMidlothian. George Archibald is a Nitten resident, May & Jim Weatherston are in Edinburgh and Aberdonian Charlie Milne completes the line-up. Their whole purpose is to have fun and, singing good songs with strong harmonies certainly contributes to that!  Quiet Joys is the title of their CD and includes material from Burns, Karine Polwart, Phil Spector and Stan Rogers among others. They have two Edinburgh Folk Festival Fringe ‘Sell outGarlands’ to their name.  A ‘Garland’ is given to shows which sell-out at the international festival. Not bad going!

Ragged Glory is also part of Ian McCalman’s much acclaimed ‘Far, far from Ypres’  a story told in song about events of World War 1.  The production relies on strong singing and it therefore speaks volumes about Ragged Glory that Ian invited them to take their part in a line-up ofScotlands’ finest voices.

Reviews of Ragged Glory all make mention of their good choice of songs, strong harmonies and their evident enjoyment in what they do. Therefore, cut along to Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Roadon Wednesday 19th September for 8pm.  It’s going to be good.

Finally, two dates for your October diary.  On Wednesday the 10th October, The Whistlebinkies are playing at Irvine Burns Club. It starts at 8pm and admission is £10.  And on Friday the 12th October at Irvine Sports Club at Marress there will a Folk for Heroes Concert. It starts at 7.30pm, admission is £5 and it features a number of local folk musicians.  More details on both nights to follow. Irvine continues to help keep music live!


Next Club Night – Wed 27th June – Anthony John Clarke.

The guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 27th June is the internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter Anthony John Clarke.  Whilst he has played at the Club on several occasions, for anyone who has not heard Anthony John, make sure you put the 27th June in your diary.

The softly spoken, fast talking and very engaging Belfastborn Anthony John Clarke has been on the folk circuit for many years.  He has played at hundreds of Clubs and Festivals across the UK, Europe, Australasia and USA.  Anthony John has 12 CDs  and two Songbooks to his name –  Laughing at Clowns being his most recent CD.

Anthony John lists Al Stewart, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie and John Prine amongst his favourite songwriters. Songs by Anthony John  are Irish songs, storytelling songs, songs with an edge, songs of love, social comment and songs of everyday life.  His songs will make you sit up, listen to the words and think about the unfolding story they tell.

But don’t think it’s doom and gloom with hard-hitting messages in every song.  Anthony John sees entertaining the audience as his first responsibility. And this he does so very, very well.

Fans of Anthony John are many and loyal and the numerous tributes from his peers reflect his acknowledged talents and hard work…plus the fact that he is one of the nicest guys on the folk scene.

Anthony John Clarke being the guest at Irvine Folk Club on 27th June puts that night in the ‘not-to-be-missed’ category.  Make sure you are in the audience at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road to hear the man with the shiny red guitar – Anthony John Clarke.

The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Finally, look out soon for information leaflets for the 45th Marymass Folk Festival – the dates of which are Wednesday 22nd – Sunday 26th August.  A first class line-up of artists is in place – make sure you get a copy of the programme.

Cara Luft, Wednesday 13th June

All the way from Winnipeg, Cara Luft is the Irvine Folk Club guest on Wednesday 13th June – one of only two Scottish dates on her UK tour. Cara’s tour coincides with the release of her third solo album Darlingford.

.Photo of Cara Luft

Born into a folk music family in Calgary, Alberta, Cara preferred to play with dulcimers and autoharps rather than toys and games.  Music being integral to her growing up, she entered a talent contest the prize for which was studio time. She won!  Cara cites her main musical influences as Buddy Holly and Led Zeppelin.

A solo performer for a few years now, Cara was a former founder member of The Wallin’ Jennys and played with them for 10 years. She is a singer, a songwriter and is described as a guitarist extraordinaire – indeed, she was invited to play at the prestigious Guitar Festival in theUK.  Critics have drawn comparisons with her vocal talent to June Tabor and Linda Thompson. Add these talents to her insightful and evocative song writing and it’s easy to see why Cara Luft has wowed audiences across North America andEurope.   She plays a mix of styles drawing from roots, folk, rock and country music. She also likes to laugh. What’s not to like!

Cara also teaches various workshops on songwriting, harmony singing, guitar technique and ensemble playing. She also loves doing House Concerts – something that is growing in popularity where she comes from.

Cara Luft’s UKagent is former Artisan member Jaycee Bedford and she knows a thing or two about singing.  Therefore, get along to Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 13th June for 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre to hear the talented and engaging Cara Luft.

Jim Malcolm at Irvine Harbourside Festival and the two Ian’s at the folk club

Two guaranteed-to-be excellent folk nights are coming up in Irvinewithin the space of seven days.  On Wednesday 30th May it’s Ian Bruce & Ian Walker at Irvine Folk Club and on Saturday 2nd June Jim Malcolm tops the bill at the Harbour Arts Centre.  The three musicians make a welcome and always eagerly anticipated return to Irvine.

Ian Bruce now resident in Edinburgh and Bo’Ness based Ian Walker are two gifted songwriters and fine singers.  When they joined forces in 1987 as an occasional duo, they quickly established themselves as a winning musical combination.

It’s hard to pin down Ian B’s style – his repertoire includes traditional material, country plus some almost pop items. What’s certain is that his exceptional vocal range and fine guitar playing make him an artist that is hard to match.

The quiet man in the duo Ian W, plays banjo in an uncomplicated fashion and is known for his straightforward way of delivering songs.

The thoughtful and challenging songwriting style of both Ians continues to produce gems.  Ian W’s Hawks and Eagles Fly Like Doves was used on a CD to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade inBritain and the respect of other musicians is evident from the number of artists who cover material from both Ians.

Ian Bruce & Ian Walker are at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 30th May. The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre inQuarry Road and starts at 8pm.  Better get there in good time to make sure of a seat.

Three days later on Saturday 2nd June it will be Jim Malcolm at the Harbour Arts Centre inIrvine. It’s part of the new Irvine Harbourside Cultural Festival.

Jim from Perthshire sings traditional songs ofScotlandas well as his own material. He has a fine, clear voice and is an outstanding guitar player and accompanies himself on harmonica too. He was lead singer for eight years with Old Blind Dogs but is now back as a solo artist. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from the HAC on 01294 274059.

As part of the new Irvine Harbourside Festival, there will be a folk music session in The Ship Inn on Friday 1st June starting at 8pm.  And on Saturday 2nd June from 1pm and weather permitting, there will be busking at the Harbourside. Interested in playing? Then contact Joyce on 01294 551047.

Ian Bruce, Ian Walker and Jim Malcolm – three fine musicians of whom we should all be proud. Don’t miss them.

16 May The Outside track

Don’t miss this night with a wonderful group currently on tour.  This is a rare folk club date. A stunning synthesis of virtuosity and energy, The Outside Track’s marriage of Canadian, Scottish and Irish music and song has been rapturously received around the world. Hailing from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Vancouver, its five members are united by a love of traditional music and a commitment to creating new music on its foundation. Using fiddle, accordion, harp, guitar, flute, step-dance and vocals these five virtuosos blend boundless energy with unmistakable joie de vivre. Each player within The Outside Track is a master of their chosen instrument with the band stacking up an impressive amount of international awards. This amount of talent alone would be enough to recommend the band but in this case the end result is so much greater than the sum of the parts. The line up comprises Norah Rendell (Canadian Traditional Singer of the Year nominee), Mairi Rankin (Beolach), Ailie Robertson (Live Ireland Winner, BBC Young Trad Finalist), Fiona Black (BBC Fame Academy Winner) and Cillian O’Dalaigh. Members: Ailie Robertson (harp, Scotland), Cillian O’Dalaigh (guitar, Ireland), Fiona Black (piano accordion, Scotland), Norah Rendell (lead vocals, flute, Canada), Mairi Rankin (fiddle, vocals, Canada).

First Club night of 2012

NEW YEAR 2012 – Irvine Folk Club re-opened for 2012 on Wednesday 11th January with Arthur Johnstone & The Stars Band

PHOTO of Arthur Johnstone and the Stars Band
Arthur Johnstone and the Stars Band

We had a great start to 2012 with a guest appearance from Arthur Johnstone & The Stars Band. Arthur’s links with Irvine date back to the early ‘70s when he was with The Laggan. Since then, whether as a member of a band or as a soloist, Arthur has remained deservedly popular. As anticipated it turned out to be a very special evening with Arthur with Brian Miller and Charlie Soane – the Stars Band.  Excellent.