Baldock and Letchworth Blues, Folk and Roots

the club starts at 8.30pm every Wednesday at The Orange Tree, Baldock

Entry to the club is £8/9/10 unless otherwise shown

Club Programme 2017

May 31Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage £8/10/12

Hannah grew up travelling Europe singing unaccompanied folk songs in four-part harmony with her family band, The Dunns. She then left music to pursue a career as a cultural anthropologist, becoming a leading expert on contemporary witchcraft and popular culture. She lived in Boston, MA where she sung with Liz Simmons (Low Lily). In February last year she released her solo debut, Charms Against Sorrow, described in Helen’s Folk Radio UK album review as 'finely-crafted and beautifully realised'.

Ben Savage is the dobro player, guitarist and singer from The Willows. Ben was one of the backing musicians on Hannah's debut album.

"Spellbinding… Hannah and Ben were born to play and sing together." - fRoots

"They have created an excuisite soundscape, which is the result of passion, precision and unbridled intimacy… An album to venerate.” - R2 Magazine

Jne 7Bob Fox £9/10/12

Bob is supported by Supermoon. Supermoon comprises Griff Jameson of Fred's House and Hannah Elizabeth of Said the Maiden.

One of the best voices on the folk scene and a superb guitarist, Bob can boast having Fairport Convention as members of his fan club… Bob was enjoying great popularity as a solo artist and having much fun touring as a duo with Billy Mitchell and the new Pitmen Poets with Jez Lowe, Billy Mitchell and Benny Graham were all set to take the scene by storm, when a meeting with John Tams changed his life completely! John suggested that Bob would be an ideal Songman in the National Theatre's production of War Horse in the West End. Three months later, Bob was rehearsing in London with the new cast and travelling up and down to the North to fulfil Pitmen Poets gigs. He opened in the New London Theatre as Songman in October 2011. He became the longest serving Songman in the West End and has since been recruited to take Warhorse on tour.

Jne 14na-mara £8/9/10

na-mara comprises Paul McNamara and Rob Garcia. Since its inception ten years ago, na-mara has developed an enviable niche on the folk scene in England, with notable contributions abroad. From their early days performing traditional and contemporary folk song, Paul and Rob have expanded their repertoire with well-crafted songs in traditional vein written by Paul with music by Rob, alongside inspired translations of French material. Paul plays very nice guitar and has a lovely warm clear singing voice. Rob is a classically trained guitarist, but brings his considerable skills to na-mara playing mandolin, mandola and Irish bouzouki. Beyond this, the duo is highly respected and in demand here and in Spain for its peerless songs of the Spanish Civil War. Rob’s father was one of the 4,000 children escaping the war on the steamship Habana, arriving at Southampton Docks on 23 May 1937.

Jne 21 Open floor and song cycle floor spots £4/audience £6/under 16s free

Gary Woolley

The first part of the evening is open to floor singers; then our three performers take the stage and alternate in leading the music. Plenty of opportunity to listen, perform and/or join in the choruses. Spots can be booked in advance by calling or emailing Alan or Sue.

Jne 28Stella Hensley and Chris Newman £8/9/10

Blues, slide and ragtime guitarist Chris Newman and bluesy songstress Stella Hensley have toured extensively for many years. Between them they have recorded eight albums and guested on many others. Chris has an extensive musical CV, having worked with The Climax Blues Band, then going on to form The Mississippi Houndogs with Climax front man Colin Cooper. This band also featured Pick Withers (Dire Straits), Roger Innis (Chaka Khan) and Terry Butters (Sutherland Bros).

Chart success came in the early nineties with The Soul Survivors. Their recording of Woolly Bully featured the infamous Vinnie Jones, leading on to various TV shows and appearances. Later in the nineties, Chris toured with Russell Gilbrook (Uriah Heep) on a Mapex Drum Clinic tour. The recording of An Acoustic Tribute to Rory Gallagher went on to see him performing the length and breadth of Ireland, including the International Tribute Festival in Ballyshannon. He was then asked to perform at the Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival in Philadelphia, PA. Chris has composed music for film, TV and radio and is the UK demonstrator for Collings Guitars.

Stella Hensley is a powerful singer songwriter. She is often compared to Stevie Nicks and Alison Moyet. She has a smoky, sultry, velvet voice which draws the audience in. She trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in Wandsworth, studying acting, film and radio. She had a few cameo film parts and began singing professionally at 21. Stella has worked with Mark Shaw (then Jericho) and Ricki Wilde and as a session singer. She was the opening artist for Uriah Heep at The Shepherds Bush Empire at the Magicians Birthday Party Tour. She has been co-writing songs for many years. Her words are heartfelt, personal and able to move even the coldest of hearts. She is also a powerful front person for the blues funk band "The Barefoot Doctors" - a force to be reckoned with, travelling the country healing soles with their musical remedies.

July and August - closed for the summer

Sept 13Dave Kelly £10/£12/

If there is such a thing as a British 'blues pedigree', then Dave Kelly's sets the standard. Kelly is a blues craftsman - a journeyman who has served his time with the best.

In New York he jammed with Muddy Waters. He became a friend to Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker, who both felt the benefit of Dave's playing in their touring bands. It was Dave's big sister, the late Jo-Ann Kelly, who first opened his ears to the blues, although his passion for rock and roll - and especially the work of Buddy Holly - remains intact. In 1967 he joined The John Dummer Blues Band. After three albums and a solo project he continued to polish his style and technique throughout an adventurous career with some of Britain's finest players. When The Blues Band was formed in 1979, the post of slide guitarist and joint vocalist was a foregone conclusion - and bringing his friend, the bassist Gary Fletcher, along to that first rehearsal, was a bonus. Dave Kelly's guitar and vocals form the very backbone of The Blues Band's distinctive sound.

Today, after 40 years 'treading the boards' with the band, with his solo albums, duo tours with Paul Jones, and soundtrack work (for commercials and such projects as BBC TV's King of the Ghetto and the Comic Strip's Strike!), Dave Kelly is firmly established as Europe's premier blues performer.

Sept 20Session

Tonight's session will be driven by celtic band Tam Lin. A session is a gathering of musicians, singers and audience - all out for an evening of relaxed fun and music. Come along and join us, whether you sing, play, or just listen! Everyone welcome, all very informal - participate as much or as little as you like.

Oct 4The James Brothers £10/12/15

The James Brothers are not really outlaws, neither are they brothers and only one of them is called James.

They come from the lands down under – Australia and New Zealand to be precise; lands in which the traditional songs and tunes of the British Isles have evolved their own unique characteristics, like musical marsupials. It’s these songs and tunes and several of their own making that The James Brothers have united to play. The James Brother who is called James is Sydney-born James Fagan – best known as one half of Nancy Kerr and James Fagan (musically and maritally), but also spotted playing guitar and bouzouki in The Cara Dillon Band, the live circus that is Bellowhead and with his parents and sister as The Fagans, where his folk career began (in a decade which has only just become fashionable).

The James Brother who isn’t called James is Jamie McClennan – a Kiwi who found himself in a duo with Scotland’s BBC-award-winning Emily Smith (whom he also married), having chosen not to follow his first bandmates to Ireland, where they formed the much celebrated Gráda. Jamie has been sighted on fiddle, whistle and guitar next to the likes of Sharon Shannon, Beth Nielson Chapman, Jerry Douglas and his mum. He also likes to run barefoot, but that’s his own business.

Drawing from the folk, blues and bluegrass that inspired them, the Brothers’ repertoire includes such songs as The Voyage Of The Buffalo (an up-tempo NZ ballad written in the 1800s about a convict-transporting timber ship), Poison Train (a song by Mick O’Rourke about the closure of Australia’s rural railways, which James learned from his father), along with self-penned tunes like I Wallaby Free (inspired by a true-life attempt to catch the bouncing beast; its title the best of a groan-inducing bunch suggested by a concert audience) and even a cover of Six Months In A Leaky Boat by Split Enz (the band’s founders, Tim and Neil Finn, were teenage performers at Jamie’s dad’s folk club, before going on to form the multi-million-selling Crowded House).

For Fagan and McClennan, this is about bringing their distinct Antipodean-steeped folk to a new audience, with songs and tunes brought to life by a fraternal bond between two very silly, but captivatingly gifted musicians.

Oct 18Session

Tonight's session will be driven by local musician Brian Burke, Alan and Sue. A session is a gathering of musicians, singers and audience - all out for an evening of relaxed fun and music. Come along and join us, whether you sing, play, or just listen! Everyone welcome, all very informal - participate as much or as little as you like.

Nov 1 Mat Walklate and Paolo Fuschi £9/10/12

Mat and Sicilian blues guitarist and singer Paolo Fuschi met in Manchester in 2014. United by a love of all styles of blues from the 1950s onwards, they play a diverse, dynamic set illustrating all shades of blues and allowing each others' instrumental, vocal and improvisational qualities to shine. Each performance is rock-solid, yet full of inspiration and spontaneity.

Nov 15Session

Tonight's session will be driven by local musician Brian Burke, Alan and Sue. A session is a gathering of musicians, singers and audience - all out for an evening of relaxed fun and music. Come along and join us, whether you sing, play, or just listen! Everyone welcome, all very informal - participate as much or as little as you like.

Dec 6 Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer £8/9/10

Vicki and Jonny have been regular guests of the club for seventeen years. Through their tireless touring with hundreds of club and festival gigs and workshops every year, they have developed a strong reputation for delivering great performances time and time again. Their instrumental skills with Scottish smallpipes, accordion, custom gandola (guitar shaped octave mandola), Swedish nyckelharpa and flute have made them favourites from Sweden to Australia and they are now also accepted as impressive song arrangers and writers.

Vicki and Jonny effortlessly blend traditional material with contemporary interpretations while equally creating original self-penned tunes and songs that are entirely at home in the tradition.

"Free smiles with every performance"

Dec 20Chistmas party and session

Our usual Christmas party and session, with lots of food and musical fun. We hope that the Brafront Guisers will be treating us to a mummers' play (TBC). Come along and join us, whether you sing, play, or just listen! Everyone welcome, all very informal - participate as much or as little as you like.

** Underwritten by The Arts Council for North Herts

Floor spots and open night acts may be booked in advance by calling Alan or Sue on 01767 683583