Baldock and Letchworth Blues, Folk and Roots

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

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

Club Programme 2018

Feb 7Gary Fletcher & Tom Leary £9/10/12

Gary Fletcher is known by many as the brilliant bass player in The Bluesband. He is oh so much more. A multi-instrumentalist and leader of The Gary Fletcher Band, his one-man show reveals his eclectic taste, with folk and Americana prominent in the mix.

Dave Kelly suggested Gary for the bass job when, together with Paul Jones and Tom McGuinesss (Manfred Mann), plus ex- John Mayall/Eric Clapton drummer Hughie Flint, The Blues Band first got together. The success of The Blues Band was almost instantaneous and they were soon playing to packed houses, releasing their first album, appearing on TV and radio regularly, including the celebrated Euro-wide Rockpalast, and headlining at Glastonbury. Twenty plus albums and countless tours later, the demand continues to grow for their special and personal interpretation of the blues; thousands of excellent reviews have appeared in a variety of publications and early editions of their first album are now collector’s items. They are still going strong.

Tom's teenage years were spent surrounded by electric guitars and motorbikes and playing lead guitar in local bands. He moved to London, learned fiddle, mandolin and flute and became entrenched in the London Irish scene, eventually ending up in Oxfordshire, where he still lives. His involvement in the folk rock scene followed meetings with Dave Pegg and Ric Sanders in the early 1980s. Tom's career has seen him play with the late John B Spencer, Phil Bates (ELO), Clem Clempson, Steve Gibbons, Kevin Dempsey, Little Johnny England, Tanna, Zeus, Albion Morris and many more. He received three-star reviews in Q Magazine for his solo albums, Calm Waters and Off the Rocks. Tom has been in Feast of Fiddles since the outset and says, 'I feel blessed to have been in this band for the last 20 years and be with great people. I have many happy memories.'

Tom has played with two lineups of Lindisfarne and the Gary Fletcher Band. He is a beautifully tender player with a great gift for writing melodic tunes. Famous within the band for his laugh, among other things; his mirth is highly infectious. Great fun to be with and hilariously funny, Tom is just the tonic you need after a long, bad day.

'Gary Fletcher’s truly inspiring album, wasquickly picked up by Radio 2’s Bob Harris. Tender and stirring in equal measure, revealing the emergence of a major solo talent. That oft-quoted Blues Band axiom “We don’t bother the music industry and they don’t bother us” may well have to be overhauled.' - Roy Bainton

'At long last Gary Fletcher has emerged from the shadow of the Blues Band and has proved that he is a seriously talented singer/songwriter in his own right' - Amazon review

'A collection of strong songs performed with taste, intelligence and dignity and, while it may not rock very hard (the acoustic rather than the electric guitar is to the fore here), there’s a nice sense of space and atmosphere throughout.' - Maverick Magazine

Feb 14Valentine's Day Session - free

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.Love songs not mandatory!

Feb 28Les Cailloux £8/9/10 youtube.lescailloux

A trio coming directly from their beloved Morvan (Burgundy, France) mountains, with only one mission: to share their love of traditional Morvan music on diatonic accordion and bagpipes. They bring with them friendship and good vibes. There will be space for dancing !

Mar 7Rag Mama Rag £8/9/10

Formed in 1991, the English duo Rag Mama Rag has consistently built up its reputation as one of Europe's finest Country Blues acts. Rag Mama Rag comprises ASHLEY DOW - Henderson acoustic guitar, National and Dobro resonator, bottleneck guitar, Weissenborn Acoustic Lap Steel, ukulele and vocals, and DEBORAH DOW - harmonica, washboard, percussion and backing vocals). Rag Mama Rag creates an exceptionally full and hard driving rhythmic sound which soon has audiences' feet tapping. The duo's repertoire is 20s and 30s blues-based, but extremely varied, encompassing Mississippi Blues, East Coast ragtime sounds, early white country tunes, original compositions and many other regional styles of the period. Touring non-stop, Rag Mama Rag has played at many major festivals in Europe and beyond.

'One word that was on everyone’s lips after their set was “Brilliant!”' - The Chicago music Network – Trevor Knightsmith

'One of the few acts we rebooked on the night of their first visit. Wonderful stuff.' - Al and Sue, Baldock FBR

Mar 21Chris Lord Blues Express £8/9/10

We are delighted to welcome back this powerful and raunchy rhythm and blues band, producing classic blues, R&B and blues rock with exuberance and joy. The band is driven by the superb voice of Chris Lord, supported by a heady mixture of tenor saxophone and guitar, all built upon a first-class rhythm section. Together the band merges to weave a magical spell wherever it performs. Influences range from early artists like Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton, to the golden years represented by the Three Kings, all the way to more modern exponents of the art like Etta James and Beth Hart; but don't expect the same old covers - The Express take pains to dig out some rare gems of lesser-known tracks which always keep the night interesting.

'Chris Lord and her band were witnessed by a discerning audience who appreciated the fine voice, great musicianship and an interesting selection of covers: some unusual, some familiar but done with a twist ... A fine performance from Chris Lord and her Blues Express, I shall look forward to catching them again.' - John Mitchell, Blues in Britain Magazine

Apr 4Chris Ronald Trio - British/Canadian £9/10/12

Chris Ronald is an international touring artist. In live performance, he draws on his abilities as a highly skilled singer, storyteller and musician (guitar, harmonica, ukulele) to deliver a show that is captivating and unique. In 2017, Ronald added another batch of 'refreshingly original' songs to his repertoire with his latest album, Fragments, released on esteemed Canadian folk label Borealis Records.

Now living in Vancouver, Canada, Chris emigrated from his native England in 2002. Influenced by countless British and North American artists of the 60s onward, Ronald’s music has been described as 'Canadian folk with British roots', and The Province likened it to 'the country and folk that came out of Laurel Canyon and the British Isles in the mid-seventies'.

'He has just been nominated for songwriter of the year by the Canadian Folk Music Awards; Ronald possesses a keenly luxuriant voice matched with immaculate songcraft and a superb sense of tonal variety.' - Ken Eisner (The Georgia Straight), October 2014

Apr 18Mark Harrison and Charles Benfield £8/9/10

Mark Harrison plays the Blues in the loosest meaning of the word. Playing a resonator guitar previously owned by Eric Bibb, Mark writes his own material which is a unique blend of blues and folk influences. With six albums notched up to date, Mark tours widely solo, with a full band and as a duo with the highly accomplished Charles Benfield on double bass.

'his music is both beguiling in content and authentic in tone' The Blues Magazine

'If you like acoustic masters such as Eric Bibb, you will love Mark Harrison. - Blues Blast US

'an original sound that is put together with class and cohesion' - Blues Matters

'Mark Harrison belongs to the kind of songwriters who are able to convey contemporary stories of life using classic musical elements and thereby bridging the gap between music from the early 20th and early 21st century.' - Wasser-Prawda Germany

‘One of Britain's great blues singers and guitarists …. totally and absolutely original’ - Live @ Eastwell

'UK-born song master is a revelation' - Justin Stone, Fatea Magazine/Roots & Blues Radio, March 2015

May 2The Malingerers £8/9/10

Dust Bowl-era country, jazz & blues and vintage Americana & folk are two of the phrases used to describe this wonderful four-piece band from the Fens. Hailing from the long-gone lonesome plains of East Anglia, The Malingerers’ music evokes a sound sometimes more at home in the south western states of America than the UK folk scene. However, while clearly influenced by a melting pot of traditional country, blues, folk and jazz (Hank Williams, Merle Travis, Leadbelly, Woodie Guthrie, Bob Wills etc), thw band's music somehow manages to combine these influences with typically British and Irish flavours, cynicism and a warped sense of humour and history.

‘For my money one of the best acts we have put on in our 18 years of doing this’ Al Hewson, Baldock & Letchworth Blues, Folk & Roots Club

'While these songs are good what comes next is exceptional; 'The Optimist' is simply one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.' Uncut magazine

'The latest in a seemingly never-ending line of British bands who do American music as well, if not better, than the natives. This Peterborough-based band majors in old-time and acoustic country-blues' - Americana UK

May 16Tildon Krautz £8/9/10

Originally from Brooklyn NYC, this old-time travelling band delivers a classy mixture of original and traditional rootsy sounds, encompassing bluegrass, oldtime folk, jazz and blues.

'There’s an integrity and intelligence at play here that one comes across so rarely and I really am in thrall to these hugely gifted people – true artists at work. Do yourself a favour and grab a listen, you won’t regret it.' - Bob Butler (Grapevine Music Agency, UK)

‘Several songs recall the Tin Pan Alley era when folk country and jazz collided with popular song...Nothing less than wonderful’ Paul Kerr (Americana UK)

Jne 6Jack Blackman £8/9/10

Jack Blackman is one of the UK's leading young blues guitarists, and we are delighted to have him return for his third visit. His guitar playing has been described as 'exquisite' (FATEA Magazine, 2013), and his songs have been generating a great deal of attention from many in the music industry.

Although always haunted by the ghosts of the blues, Jack's music fuses this with classy song writing and a folk sensibility. His voice has been described as sounding 'older and more careworn than his tender years should allow' (Acoustic Magazine, 2011), and he is also arguably the best slide guitar player of his generation. In summer 2013, Jack made his second trip to the Mississippi Delta in the US, the birthplace of the blues, and performed at venues including Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi and on King Biscuit Time Radio Hour on KFFA in Helena Arkansas.

'Blues has a bright future' – Maverick Magazine

'At last! A brilliant young guitarist coming through' - Martin Simpson

'On 'Whisky Grave', he picks up a slide, pulling out a barrage of licks that would make Robert Johnson proud' - Acoustic Magazine, November 2013

'River Town is a remarkable record and should win legions of admirers among blues fans and fans of roots and acoustic guitar playing, showcasing, as it does, the talents of an artist about whom we shall doubtlessly be hearing a lot more over the next few years' - Acoustic Magazine August 2011

Jne 20Oka Vanga £8/9/10

Oka Vanga comprises Angela Meyer and William Cox, an award-winning UK folk & roots duo. Whether singing, playing guitar, ukulele or mandolin, this husband and wide duo offer a strong set of original songs and well known tunes. Originally from Cape Town in South Africa, Angie is the creative driving force in the partnership and has been described as having “considerable vocal and songwriting talents” by fRoots. Performing at acoustic clubs and festivals, Oka Vanga was born after Will and Angie met by chance at an open mic night. A short EP of original guitar instrumentals became its calling card and in 2013 Oka Vanga was invited to represent the UK at the International Madame Guitar Festival in Italy, alongside Clive Carroll. Shortly thereafter, the duo released its debut album Pilgrim to critical acclaim. Described by Songlines as “beautifully pure”, it was awarded Best Instrumental Album by FATEA magazine.

Oka Vanga's much anticipated second album, Dance of the Copper Trail, has been hailed as its best work yet. Released in 2017 on Crazy Bird Records, it is described by Songlines as 'profound, concise and meticulous' with Angela’s lyrics displaying 'a talent for conveying emotion and joy.' Songs of faith and superstition, love and loss, death and everlasting hope are all seamlessly woven together and showcase all manner of musical influences. Described by fRoots as 'distinctly classy' and an album of 'serious accomplishment and musicality', it has secured Angie and Will a place in the hearts and minds of many fans with what RnR describe as its 'upbeat feel' and Celtic-deep universality.

Jly 4Americano – Independence Day Concert £8/9/10

Americano plays songs from the great American back catalogue from the 1930s onward with a style inspired by country blues, oldtime, bluegrass & contemporary music. The local trio, known for its Johnny Cash and Neil Young tribute shows, brings the songs of those famous and others to Baldock for a relaxed evening of music and fun, with plenty to join in with.

Al Hewson - vocals, guitar and percussion

In 2007, Al embarked on a solo voice & guitar project as John E Cash, playing his first gig at Broadstairs Folk Week on the Kent Coast. He has performed to thousands on national radio, at festivals, and in the most intimate of venues in every county in England and Scotland.

Viv Lucas - vocals, guitar, harmonica & percussion

After a medical career and family life sidelined musical ambition for a while, Viv emerged some years later performing in various venues and fundraising concerts from Letchworth Arts Centre to the Cottingham Springboard Festival in Hull.

Bob Smithson - vocals, upright bass & guitar

Bob was brought up in a musical household filled with of varying genres of music, including gospel. Known to club members as the finger-picking guitarist in the bluegrass band Buffalo, playing festivals and clubs around the UK including Edale, Mickleham, The Stables and Union Chapel.

‘Fabulous roots music – live in our studio!’ - Ernie Almond (BBC Radio)

‘I loved the choice of songs, particularly Wayfarin’ Stranger which I’ve had a hankering to try...your version is now on my phone!’ - Gary Fletcher – The Bluesband

‘Viv’s superb guitar playing and faithful imitation of Neil’s vocal style was truly amazing.’ - Open House, the Garden House Hospice newsletter

“Uncanny! He does really sounds like Cash!” - Andrew Noyes: guitarist KP’s Coup de Grass

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