THE MANIACS – The Maniacs (own label)

The ManiacsIf there is a band more miss-named than The Maniacs then I’ve yet to discover them, although those who know him will testify that Paul Hutchinson can be quite eccentric. Paul has spent many years working with old tunes from all over the country and this album may be the culmination of his sterling efforts. The ten pieces here come from three 18th century tune books which have been newly published as 60 Country Dance Tunes For The Year 1786 – 1800. To avoid further confusion; one volume is from 1786 and two are from 1800.

Paul, as you must know, plays accordion and he’s joined here by Seona Pritchard on violin and viola, cellist Gill Redmond and Paul’s partner in the Pagoda Project, Karen Wimhurst, on clarinets. The music was recorded live in an old Dorset church and would make a fine accompaniment to reading some Thomas Hardy.

Paul says that this album is dance music to listen to because it isn’t simply two As and two Bs four times through. So the opening track, ‘Admiral Mitchel’s Reel’, begins with slow and stately accordion and clarinet until, about half-way through, it bursts into a more familiar danceable rhythm. ‘Hopeless Love’, is set up in the same way, this time opening with cello before bursting out at about the ninety second mark. Your favourite track might depend on what sets your toes tapping; for me it’s ‘Jackson’s Dream/Jackson’s Nightmare’.

The arrangements employ a great deal of improvisation but it’s not clear how much was worked out in advance. I have to say, though, that you can’t make an arrangement like ‘Roodulum’ up as you go along. As to the band’s name, it actually comes from a tune, ‘The Maniac’, which is paired here with ‘The Loon’.  It could have been worse, I suppose.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

No video from The Maniacs available yet but here’s Paul and Sheona with ‘Jul’:

JOHN CEE STANNARD – Moving On (Cast Iron CIRCD 030)

Moving OnJohn Cee Stannard’s new album, Moving On, was conceived as a successor to his recently relaunched debut – see link below. It’s another big band album featuring, among others, Spencer Couzens, Matt Winch, Nick Pentelow, Richard Cox-Smith and Paul Hutchinson together with his regular sidesmen Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore.

If you didn’t already know that John comes from Reading, Berkshire in the UK and the opener, ‘Cemetery Junction’ should be enough to remind you. It’s a monster of a track, laden with brass and what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in energy. The next two tracks are, relatively speaking, a bit more laid-back. ‘Price Of Your Sin’ is led by Craig Broadfoot’s keyboards – he is a constant presence – and features a stunning solo by Couzens. ‘Someone Is Knocking’ is the first of two non-original songs. It’s written by Julia Titus who sings backing vocals here and spends much of her time channelling Bessie Smith.

‘Evenin’ Sun’ leans rather more towards rock’n’roll and ‘Call Of Duty’ follows the same path with undertones of Ronnie Lane tackling Chuck Berry. It’s a definite high point of the record. ‘Someone Told Me’ starts off slowly, again speaking relatively, but doesn’t stay that way and ‘Seventeen’ is about a bus route and not at all what you thought. Val Cowell’s backing vocals on this track are stunning.

The other non-original song is Jimmy Witherspoon’s ‘Tougher Than Tough’ and the closer is the guitar-driven ‘You Took Me By Surprise’ – Cox-Smith playing slide and Hutchinson on accordion. It’s a bit of a departure after the big brass of the other songs but it’s also a great finisher.

John has stayed true to his love of the blues with Moving On but, as always, he’s direct and honest and to be truthful he’s not moving on too far.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Call Of Duty’ – official video:

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of The “Doob Doo” Album here:

FOLKLAW – We Will Rise (Fiddle of 8 Records – FO8R02CD)

We Will RiseFolklaw are a folk rock band made up of Nick Gibbs, vocals, fiddle and strings, Bryn Williams, vocals and guitar, Martin Vogwell, vocals, mandolin electric guitar and banjo, Jon Dowling vocals and bass guitar, Gaz Hunt, vocals, drums and percussion, Jacquelyn Hynes Irish flute and whistle and Emi McDade, vocals and piano. They are joined on We Will Rise by Lyndon Webb on mandolin and guitars and Paul Hutchinson on accordion.

The album starts as it means to go on with the title track ‘We Will Rise’ with its upbeat tempo. There is a chance to slow down for a moment with ‘Love Again’, then it’s back to the upbeat tempo again.

Subject matter for the album is a good folk mix of suffragettes, the environment, stories of the heart, mental health and life on tour. Song writing and vocal duties are shared amongst Nick, Bryn and Martin, though I must say I think my preference edged towards Nick’s songs, especially ‘Rocks Of The Burren’ and ‘Angels Wings’.

The album is nicely produced and if you’re a fan of fiddle driven foot tapping songs, then this is an album for you.

Duncan Chappell

Artist’s website:

‘Folky Pirates’ – official video:

FolkLaw announce new album


Paul Hutchinson – The Old Push & Pull / Belshazzar’s Feast (with Paul Sartin – Faustus / Bellowhead) Lyndon Webb (The Gerry Colvin Band), Jacquelyn Hynes (EFDSS / Morley College Folk & Flute lecturer) and Emi McDade a fellow rising act who’s gig experience so far takes in everything from Ronnie Scott’s to BBC stages; all join forces as guests on FolkLaw’s latest album.

Penned in the year of the 100th anniversary of votes for women, We Will Rise is FolkLaw’s latest release. The title track charts the life and times of Mary Macarthur, who campaigned for the rights of suffragettes, and also for the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath and the countries first ever minimum wage. Like all good folk albums it then follows a journey, taking in stories of love and loss, the environment, and life on the road as a band – something familiar to these touring musicians who perform in concert across the U.K. and Europe.

FolkLaw are current rising stars in the folk, rock & roots scene, and pull off a rare thing in music – they are a true cross-genre band. Equally at home in music venues as they are in folk cubs, the festival scene and almost anything in between!

Uniquely, both the song writing and lead vocals are shared amongst the core band as the album progresses, and there is a depth and intensity to the vocal harmonies and instrumentation throughout the album. It’s a reflection of the bond between the band members, which envelops FolkLaw and its committed fans.

That core band have already gone from strength to strength with previous releases The Tales That They Tell and Smokey Joe, and are considered even stronger with the addition of such well respected guest musicians on this latest release. It has the band tipped for similar accolades and awards with We Will Rise.

The accordion and flute weave through the album adding a sea-faring feel to ‘Folky Pirates’, and an Irish lilt to ‘The Rocks Of The Burren’, with Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Jacquelyn Hynes (flute/whistle) bringing nuance and glitter to these and other tracks across the album.

The composition skills of lead frontman and songwriter Nick Gibbs and producer come musical contributor, Lyndon Webb, are demonstrated in the subtle instrumentation behind tracks throughout the album.

It will come as no surprise to those that have followed the band over their ten-year career, that every voice and instrument form the “mighty wall of folk” that FolkLaw are famous for is apparent in title track ‘We Will Rise’. It’s an inspiring anthem with all the bands usual virtuoso performance, and even the mild-mannered mandolin and acoustic guitarist, Bewellian frontman, Martin Vogwell is let loose as the electric guitar soars across the instrumental break of the song.

The band don’t forgo their sensitivity and soul as the album moves on, with songs such as ‘Love Again’ and the ‘Last Days Of Summer’. Both are more acoustic in style. ‘Love Again’ is one of three songs penned and sung by Bryn Williams, and the ‘Last Days Of Summer’ sees the first use of Martin Vogwell’s voice in the lead vocal role.

Music press and music fans alike have become accustomed to the solid rhythm section upon which the unique FolkLaw sound is built. We Will Rise doesn’t disappoint in that area either with long time performer and contributor Jon Dowling playing bass guitar to Gaz Hunt’s percussion; the platform from which Hunt also sends his soaring backing vocals.

The bands coming of age is highlighted by the inclusion on the album of the final song, the other writing contribution of Martin Vogwell’s, ‘One Day At A Time’. Less secure bands might have left the track on the cutting room floor. FolkLaw however don’t shy away from either the topic of the song, mental health, or its stripped back nature. It’s a testament to the passion, ethics, and subject matters that mean so much to this band, that they can’t leave them unsung. It shows the confidence of the band in their music and their listeners, as they switch between thoughtful song and throw-yourself-about folk. They say after all that FolkLaw’s music is to get your feet tapping and your mind thinking.

We Will Rise is surely to become classic FolkLaw and seems likely to see the band do as the album suggests – and Rise.

Artists’ website:

‘Last Days Of Summer’ – official video:

The English Folk Dance and Song Society announces its autumn education programme


The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has unveiled its programme of activities for the autumn season (September to December) at Cecil Sharp House in London.

Activities on offer include classes, courses and workshops based on traditional English folk arts for children, young people, adults and families.

Highlights of the season are:

·      The chance to try a sampler session for the London Youth Folk Ensemble on September 17

·      An Introduction to Folk Song in England workshop on November 19

·      October half term folk music making and dance courses for children and young people

·      A youth ceilidh for 12 to 19-year-olds on November 12

·      A chance to dance the night away and see in the New Year with a ceilidh on December 31

·      Regular music and dance classes, catering for all ages and skill levels

Cecil Sharp House, England’s national folk arts centre and home of EFDSS, is located between Camden and Primrose Hill within easy reach of public transport. It has step free access to all levels.

A full list of classes and courses at Cecil Sharp House can be found at:

Children & Young People

For more information about all the summer holiday courses and booking:

Fun With Folk

A lively day of folk dance, music and song for 6 – 8 year olds
Monday 23 Oct, 10.30am – 4pm
Course fee: £30 | £20 concessions (advance booking required)

Enjoy a lively day exploring folk dance, music and song.  The course ends with a chance to perform your new skills to family and friends.  No previous experience of folk dance or music required.

Get Your Folk On! Juniors

An exciting introduction to all things folk for 9 – 12 year olds
24 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Course fee: £30 | £20 concessions (advance booking required)

Musicians of all instruments and levels are welcome to come and enjoy playing, singing, dancing and creating fantastic folk music. The course ends with a chance to perform your new skills to family and friends. No previous experience of folk music or dance needed.

Get Your Folk On!

A creative folk course for 12 – 19 year olds
25 – 27 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Course fee: £90 | £60 concessions (advance booking required)

Explore traditional folk music and dance from the British Isles with inspiring professional folk musicians.  Choose your sessions, with options to try new skills and instruments, learn and arrange tunes, songs or dances and much more. The course ends with an informal concert for family and friends. No previous experience of folk dance or music required.

Get Your Folk On! Plus

A creative folk workshop for disabled 12 – 24 year olds, their siblings and friends
26 October 2pm – 4pm
Course fee: £12 | £8 concessions (advance booking required)

Explore and create folk music and song together in an inclusive, sensory environment. All abilities and levels of experience welcome. No prior experience of playing music required.

London Youth Folk Ensemble Sampler Session

Sunday September 17, 2 – 5pm
Free but pre-booking necessary, as places are limited

If you are interested in joining the London Youth Folk Ensemble come to the sampler session, the first of the year. Meet the tutors, learn some tunes, and find out more about the coming year’s plans and events.

London Youth Folk Ensemble 2017 – 18

Various Sundays 2 – 5pm (17 weeks including Sampler Session)
For 12 – 19 year olds
For more details visit:

Welcoming young musicians who want to create and perform amazing folk music together! The Ensemble meets regularly from September to July, led by professional folk musicians, and performs at exciting events across London and beyond. Open for improver to advanced level musicians of any instrument. London Youth Folk Ensemble is an annual commitment, for which there is a fee.

Youth Forum

For 14-21 year olds (disabled young people up to 24 years old)
Various Wednesdays 5 – 7pm

Are you passionate about the folk arts? Join us and get your voice heard at EFDSS and Cecil Sharp House!  Gain experience in producing and marketing youth events, meet folk artists, attend gigs and tell us what you think.  The Youth Forum meets monthly at Cecil Sharp House.

Membership of the Youth Forum is free but places are limited. Apply to join at:

Youth Ceilidh

Sunday 12 Nov, 6–8pm
For 12–19 year olds
Tickets: £6

Dance your socks off to some energetic English ceilidh music with musicians Nick Hart and Dave Delarre and caller Gwennie Chatfield. Come with your friends or on your own. Suitable for all levels of experience as a caller will show you the moves and the dances will be walked through. Refreshments available.


Family Barn Dance

Sundays 8 Oct | 12 Nov | 10 Dec, 3-5pm
Tickets: £7 adult | £5 children | £2 for under 2s

Bring the entire family and take part in lively dances from the British Isles in a supportive and fun environment! Live music inspires the dancing and expert callers guide the moves with simple instructions.

Groups should include a minimum of one adult for every four children. Children under 5 should be partnered by an adult and may need guiding or carrying through the dances. No unaccompanied children or adults!

Advance booking recommended.


New Year’s Eve Ceilidh

Sunday 31 December, 8pm – 1am
£30 | £20 under 26s (tickets available in advance only)

Dance away the old year and welcome in 2018 to the irresistible sounds and lively dances of an English ceilidh! With driving music from the Will Pound Band, caller Sheena Masson will show you the moves as the dances are walked through and called. Come with your friends or on your own—suitable for all levels of experience. Recommended for everyone over 10 years (not suitable for young children). Bar open and refreshments available.

Classes, Courses & Workshops

Monday Folk Choir Workshops

Mondays 18 Sept | 2, 16 Oct | 6, 20 Nov | 4 Dec, 7 – 9pm
Term fee: £60 | £48 concessions
(advance booking required)

Explore choral folk song arrangements in a relaxed and friendly environment. These 6 sessions are suitable for singers of all abilities, without the pressure and commitment of public performance. All material is taught by ear.

Morris Dancing

Tuesdays 19 Sept – 12 Dec
Beginners: 6.30 – 8pm
Improvers and advanced: 7 – 9pm
Term fee: £91 | £71.50 concessions (advance booking required)
Carnet of 8 tickets: £60 | £48 concessions (advance booking required)
Drop-in: £8 | £6.50 concessions (payable on the night)

This mixed level class is based on the popular and lively Cotswold morris tradition, in which dancers perform with handkerchiefs and sticks. Led by tutor Andy Richards.

Please note: these classes are designed to overlap. This allows beginners to be taught on their own first, and then learn from more experienced dancers in a mixed session from 7 – 8pm

Cecil Sharp House Choir

Wednesdays 20 Sept – 13 Dec (no session 25 Oct), 7- 9pm
Term fee: £82 | £66 concessions (advance booking required)
Sing traditional songs from the British Isles and beyond, in a cappella harmony arrangements, by choir leader Sally Davies. For confident singers, who can hold a tune and are keen to perform.

English Country Dancing

Thursdays 14 Sept – 14 Dec, 7.30-10pm
Term fee: £98 | £77 concessions (advance booking required)
Carnet of 8 tickets: £60 | £48 concessions (advance booking required)
Drop-in: £8 | £6.50 concessions (payable on the night)

Learn the steps for English social folk dancing with tutor and caller Mike Ruff – country, ceilidh and barn dancing – and related styles from further afield such as American Contra. Musicians welcome to join the live band led by Ian Cutts. No need to bring a partner and open to dancers of all levels of experience including absolute beginners!

Saturday Folk Music Workshops

9, 23, 30 Sept | 14, 21 Oct | 4, 18 Nov | 2, 16 Dec, (the course continues Jan – April 2018); times vary depending on workshop
Term fee per workshop: £131 | £90 concessions (9 week term, advance booking required)

Discover your inner folk! Fun, welcoming and expertly taught workshops at different levels in accordion, banjo, fiddle, guitar, melodeon, penny whistle and mixed instrument classes, led by our team of expert folk artist tutors including Hazel Askew, David Delarre, Beth Gifford, Ed Hicks, Paul Hutchinson, Jacquelyn Hines and Laurel Swift.

An Introduction to Folk Song in England

Sun 19 Nov, 10.30am – 4.30pm
£45 / £36 concessions

Internationally published folklorist Steve Roud presents with Laura Smyth, EFDSS’ Library and Archive Director, this popular introductory level day exploring the history of English folk song. Topics will include: the many possible definitions of ‘folk’, the songs themselves, the singers, the places and times for singing, the music, cheap printed broadsides and other sources from which people learned songs, the folksong collectors, the scholars and the beginnings of the post-War revival. The course is aimed at beginners and will not presume any previous experience or knowledge.


Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs: History and Transmission

Friday 6 – Saturday 7 October, 9am–5pm, £45 full weekend | £30 one day

Researchers have long been fascinated by the recurrence of tunes in all manner of musical styles and genres, performance contexts, levels of society, historical periods, and geographical locations. But how are we to understand this phenomenon?

The 21st century has seen a renewal of interest in the history and comparative study of melody, and the study of musical perception and memory. This conference brings together those working on ‘traditional’ and ‘popular’ tunes across multiple contexts. Topics include: tunebooks ; composers, arrangers and collectors ; song tunes in performance ; melodic traditions ; dance tunes, and much more.


Kissing the Shuttle by Caitlin Hinshelwood

27 September 2017 – 28 January 2018

An exhibition of new large-scale textile banners created in response to research from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, the Working Class Movement Library and the People’s History Museum.

The work explores the qualities of protest and resistance present in working and industrial song and union and protest banners, as well as drawing on the folk practices, sense of community and forms of communication that come from work and the work place.

Imagery touches upon the use of gestures, signs, symbolism, speech ways, and customs performed primarily in the textile trades and industries of the North West and Northern Ireland, alongside folk traditions that came directly from the mills or were closely connected to those communities.

The banners are screen-printed on silk using embellishments of rosettes, ribbons, ruffles and fringing, adopting the visual language and craftsmanship of historic banners and associated folk costumes.

Caitlin Hinshelwood is a London based artist and textile designer interested in the narrative possibilities of textiles; how textiles can be used to communicate and how they act as repositories of personal or social history.

Entry: Free during opening times of the building

Booking information:

Advance booking is generally required for courses and workshops. Please visit to pay and enrol. (There are no transaction fees for classes and courses).

To pay for drop-in classes, pay the tutor cash on the night.

Tickets for events can be purchased from the reception desk at Cecil Sharp House (in person only), Monday – Friday, 9.30 – 5.30pm, with no transaction fee.

Adult Learning

Unless stated otherwise, classes are open to everyone over the age of 16 years. Advance booking is required for some courses and drop-in is possible for others – please check the details against each relevant course.


All youth courses must be booked in advance. Concessions are available to young people in receipt of free school meals.

Refund policy

All EFDSS courses are non-refundable unless the course is cancelled by EFDSS.

Concessionary Policy

You may apply for the concessionary fee for any EFDSS classes and courses if you are:

In full-time education
In receipt of Job Seekers Allowance
In receipt of Income-Based Benefit (including Income Support, Housing or Council Tax Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Pension Credit)

PAGODA PROJECT Clarion (Sylvafield SYLVA001)

PAGODA PROJECT ClarionPaul Hutchinson is a man who frequently confuses the piano-accordion with a musical instrument. No, that isn’t a joke or a dig – if you’ve heard him play you’ll know what I mean. He plays so well that with Balshazzar’s Feast he can play badly without missing a note, take a tune off somewhere else before you’ve noticed what he’s doing and crack the audience and his musical partner up mercilessly. Karen Wimhurst is a clarinettist and composer who works in opera, theatre, jazz and folk with a huge body of work to her credit.

After a short introductory solo by Karen, the majority of the tracks are written by Paul although Karen gets the final word with ‘Wish List’. One of two of his compositions might have found a home with Belshazzar’s and ‘Lichfield Gamble’ might suit Hoover The Dog but these tunes frequently stray into Karen’s sphere of influence. ‘Bouzurka Waltz’ is a charming pastoral piece that claims to be a 3/2 hornpipe and ‘Shelley’s Waltz’ has something of a middle-European feel. In complete contrast ‘Irwins’, dedicated to Colin of that ilk, begins as a folky melody but expands into something wild and jazzy when Karen gets her hands on it.

Paul restricts his humour to titles although ‘It Takes Three To Tango’ is a bit weird but if the idea of accordion and clarinet duets makes your blood run cold, fear not. Clarion is very satisfying listening.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: