The Topic Folk Club in Bradford (West Yorkshire, that is) (UK) will be 50 years old in September*.
There's no one-off big weekend concert as we had for the Silver Jubilee in 1981. Instead, this year there's a 50th Anniversary Season, starting this Thursday August 31st with Jim Malcolm (supported by Pillowfish) and continuing with, among others**, Vin Garbutt, Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Dana & Susan Robinson, Julie Felix, Wizz Jones and Allan Taylor. Tickets available in advance or at the door (if not sold out).
Take a look at the
club website for more details of the acts, links to 350 past-guest websites, a club history, including a list of gigs going back to 1970, plus details of how to buy tickets for any Anniversary Season guest night, and also how to buy anniversary T-shirts with a list of the Topic's Tour of Bradford Venues over the 50 years. And a map and directions to (and history of) the Cock & Bottle, the club's current venue.
We're not sure of exactly which Friday in September 1956 that founders Alex Eaton and friends first met in a dingy top room of Laycock's Rooms in Albion Court (formerly Laycock's Temperance Hotel, where Kropotkin and William Morris had once spoken), but it was one of them. The Club became more formalised - in terms of money - pretty quickly, when it started raising funds for refugees from the Hungarian Uprising of 22-24 October 1956. (Alex Eaton, btw, is still alive and kicking, though he doesn't come to the club any more).
Club night moved to Thursdays in 1994, and as far as we can tell the club has been open every week bar 33 occasions (usually Xmas or New Year) since it started; it was last not on at Xmas 2003. Guests in earlier years include Ewan MacColl, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the Humblebums, Bert Jansch, Shirley Collins, The Ian Campbell Folk Group, Jerry Silverman, Christy Moore and Alexis Korner and hundreds of others. More recently we've had the likes of CrossCurrent, Entropy and cloudstreet as well as hardy perennials Roy Bailey, Roger Sutcliffe and Vin Garbutt. And hundreds of others.
* Making it the oldest (continuously-operating, British-style, pub-based, weekly) folk club in the world.
**Here are all the booked acts for the Season:
Aug 31 Jim Malcolm. Leading Scottish acoustic guitarist and songwriter
Sept 7 Paul Downes. Incisive guitarist, smooth singing and estimable songwriting
Sept 14 Vin Garbutt. Outlandish humour, powerful songs: a must-see act
Sept 21 The Queensberry Rules. Three-piece band: harmonies and a double bass
Sept 28 Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen. Superb multi-instrumental US duo
Oct 5 Beck Sian. Kate Bush's cousin, and a clear original Celtic-influenced talent from Australia
Oct 12 A Double Header evening: Gordon Tyrrall and David Moss. Two of the finest, most original and sincere musicians on the local scene
Oct 19 Phil Hare. Great guitarist, and self-penned songs with a message
Oct 26 Eddie Walker. Accomplished N-East singer/songwriter, 40 years on tour
Nov 2 Allan Taylor. Precision guitar, well-crafted songs and a distinctive voice
Nov 9 Dana and Susan Robinson. Haunting Appalachian songs and music
Nov 16 Julie Felix. She can still fill the Albert Hall, but she's coming to the Topic... the "British Joan Baez", despite coming from Santa Barbara.
Nov 23 Singers and Musicians. Everyone welcome
Nov 30 Wizz Jones. Legendary blues guitarist who first played the Topic in 1958
Dec 6 Tom Kitching and Paul Sullivan. Exciting, original fiddle + guitar & songs
Dec 13 Kieran Halpin. Beautiful, deceptively simple songs of real emotion
Dec 20 Scarlet Heights (original duo). Pat Sherry, Nigel Broadbent and friends - Bradford's Irish band.
If you're in the area, come along and take part in a little history.