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200 Lewes Saturday Folk Club workshops

Valmai Goodyear 19 Nov 14 - 02:51 AM
Will Fly 19 Nov 14 - 09:58 AM
Mo the caller 19 Nov 14 - 01:31 PM
Valmai Goodyear 22 Nov 14 - 08:06 PM
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Subject: 200 Lewes Saturday Folk Club workshops
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 19 Nov 14 - 02:51 AM

Two hundred Lewes Saturday Folk Club all-day traditional music workshops

Lewes Saturday Folk Club in Sussex holds its two hundredth all-day workshop on 29th. November 2014. It's a big achievement for a little folk club run by enthusiasts. Over the sixteen years we've run them, tutors have included Kevin Burke, Tommy Peoples, John Kirkpatrick, Martin Carthy, Alistair Anderson, Coope Boyes & Simpson, Belshazzar's Feast, Spiers & Boden, Tim Laycock, Sandra Kerr, Simon Mayor, Rob Harbron, Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Faye Hield, Shirley Collins, Frankie Armstrong, Jez Lowe, Craig Morgan Robson, and Tom McConville. Workshop number 200 is with Jerry O'Reilly on Irish songs translated from Gaelic and Irish broadsides.

In the evening, the tutors perform at the club. We also run every Saturday night as a folk club concentrating on traditional music from the British Isles, with occasional excursions to the USA, Australia and even France (Emmanuel Pariselle & Christian Maes). We've long put a lot of energy into running free monthly English tunes practice sessions - we publish the Lewes Favourites Tune Books - and monthly concertina sessions, also free, plus occasional all-day workshops on singing for beginners with a good local singing teacher.

Looking ahead

We finish off 2014 with a couple of workshops from Brian Peters (melodeon on Saturday 6th. December, ballad forum on Sunday 7th. December). 2015 looks exciting:

28 Mar Benny Graham, Barrie & Ingrid Temple Newcastle songs down the generations
25 Apr         Tom McConville        Fiddle
30 May   Martin & Shan Graebe    Vocal harmony & voice technique
7 June         Martin Carthy           Ballad forum
11 July Leon Rosselson           Songwriting
18 July           Pete Cooper                       Fiddle
18 July Dan Stewart                Banjo
18 July         Dave Arthur           Witchcraft in song & story
12 Sept Lady Maisery Vocal harmony
19 Sept Alma Fiddle Band   Fiddles in harmony
14 Nov         Sara Grey & Kieron Means Appalachian & blues accompaniment
21 Nov         Graeme Knights & Jim Magean    Shanties
28 & 29 Nov        Alistair Anderson        Hidden Hexham suite for any instrument


It started about sixteen years ago when Lewes Saturday Folk Club (then called Lewes Arms Folk Club, meeting every Saturday night) wanted to book Chris Bartram, the traditional fiddler and singer from Abingdon Morris. In those days the pub had no entertainments licence so we couldn't charge a set entrance fee, and we couldn't make it worth his while travelling to Sussex. He suggested doing a workshop for fiddlers in the daytime, and advertised it a little bit himself. About eight people came to that. We did it again a couple of years later. Then we wanted to book another musician from a distance away, and did the same thing.

One of the Committee got over-excited and suggested booking John Kirkpatrick to do a workshop and evening performance. We thought, being then a very small outfit surviving on hat collections, that his agent would give us a polite or even impolite refusal, but the agent saw the possibilities and took a chance on us. Naturally, the workshop sold out and so did the evening at the folk club. Everyone who came to the workshop was thrilled and inspired. We plucked up courage and asked other singers and players on the same terms. Once we'd advertised workshops with John Kirkpatrick, Tim Laycock, Andy Turner and Cockersdale within a short space of each other, musicians started calling us to offer their services.

Six years ago we moved to the Elephant & Castle in Lewes, which has a larger room with better acoustics. We're now putting on fifteen to eighteen all-day workshops a year with top-class musicians who are then the guests at the club in the evening. There's a full list of past tutors on our website and they've all been good, but the ones who stand out especially vividly are rarities such as Kevin Burke and Tommy Peoples, and others who have been several times such as Martin Carthy, Alistair Anderson, Coope Boyes & Simpson, Tim Laycock, Sandra Kerr, Rob Harbron, Shirley Collins, Craig Morgan Robson, Tom McConville and Brian Peters. John Kirkpatrick has done the most workshops for us - in September this year he did one on Modes in English Traditional Music on the Saturday and one on English Traditional Song on the Sunday, with a club performance on the Saturday night. On 29th. November 2014, Jerry O'Reilly leads our two hundredth all-day workshop.

A workshop day

People often make a round trip of a couple of hundred miles for a workshop, coming to the club in the evening and staying in Lewes overnight. Some even travel from abroad. The day runs from 10.45 to 4.45 with an hour for lunch and an afternoon tea break. Pupils spend the day in pleasant, enthusiastic company with a brilliant, inspiring musician. The inspiration that they take away with them is as valuable as the techniques and tips to develop their playing or singing. All our workshops are mixed ability and there is no pressure on anyone to do something they're not ready for, although they will certainly get ideas for things to aim at. Most of them cost £30 - £35 for a maximum of twenty people.

How we do it

We've gradually built up a mailing list of over nine hundred people who've come to workshops and might be interested in future ones. We've also built up a mailing list of folk clubs and music shops to send paper copies of our fliers, five hundred for each workshop, to reach people who haven't been before, and of course we advertise in Folk London and the Sussex Folk Diary. Facebook is useful but you can never be sure how many people see your posts.

We still run every Saturday night as a folk club, with a mixture of guests and come-all-ye nights. The workshops give us an extra string to our bow and we'd recommend anyone who runs a club on a Saturday or Sunday to try adding the occasional workshop.

Valmai (Lewes)

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Subject: RE: 200 Lewes Saturday Folk Club workshops
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Nov 14 - 09:58 AM

It's an inspiring and heartening story, Valmai - and a huge tribute to the energy of you and yours at the Club, for which many thanks. I've been to a few over the years - Ben Paley, Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick and, latterly, Chris Newman - and whether I've learned anything or not (lazy old sod that I am), they've been fun days and interesting days.

Long may they continue!

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Subject: RE: 200 Lewes Saturday Folk Club workshops
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Nov 14 - 01:31 PM

I always read your threads and wish we lived nearer. Sounds a really good club if that list of workshops and your Chippenham Festival tunes workshop are anything to go by.

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Subject: RE: 200 Lewes Saturday Folk Club workshops
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 22 Nov 14 - 08:06 PM

Another workshop to be added to the list for 2015 - John Spiers is doing an all-day melodeon workshop and solo evening performance on 11th. April.

Valmai (Lewes)

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