If there is one musician who embodies the dynamism and vitality of the current English folk revival, it’s Eliza Carthy. Beloved of staunch traditionalists and iconoclasts alike, Eliza’s music effortlessly crosses boundaries of genre and style. Whether performing a centuries-old ballad or a self-written song, her powerful, nuanced voice, fiercely beautiful fiddle playing and mesmerizing live performances have influenced a whole generation of young musicians.
Describing herself simply as a “modern English musician”, Eliza Carthy is one of the most recognisable faces in British folk. Born into a formidable musical dynasty, her mother Norma was one of The Watersons (whose tight harmony arrangements of traditional songs became one of the defining sounds of the 1960s folk revival) and her father Martin Carthy is a hugely influential singer and guitarist. Making music with her family has been a constant throughout her life, beginning when she joined The Waterdaughters at the age of 13 and continuing to this day. In recent years, she has released the award-winning album The Moral of the Elephant (2014) with her father, as well as Gift (2010) and Anchor (2018) with The Gift Band, a loose collective featuring many members of her extended family. She has also curated NormaFest, an annual celebration of her mother’s continuing contribution to the folk tradition.
Steeped in the folk traditions of England from an early age, the incredible range of traditional and contemporary musicians who were part of the extended Waterson/Carthy world helped her develop her own unique approach to this music.
Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) was formed in 2011, with support from the HLF-funded Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership.
The project set out with 2 aims:
- To research as far as possible, historic recordings of folk song and dance.
- To establish a youth folk band, with the aim of reviving some of this traditional music in a new generation of musicians
Over an initial 3-year funding period, over 80 songs, tunes and dances were uncovered by researcher Mike Bettison, bringing together for the first time recordings made over a 120 year period by the likes of Ralph Vaughn Williams, Joan Littlewood & Ewan MacColl and Alan Lomax.
During this period, M@HoT’s youth band Cream Tees was established. Led by Neil Diment with support from TCR Hub, Teesdale School, Durham Music Service and Newcastle University’s Folk & Traditional Music department, a fledgling group of young folkies emerged; soon establishing a now legendary fondness for biscuits and an inclusive workshop methodology that championed learning music by ear.
Since then, M@HoT has continued to grow, expanding our delivery of folk arts workshops across Teesdale & Weardale. As well as on-going research and our regular activity with Cream Tees, M@HoT delivers a varied programme of Longsword Dance workshops with local primary & secondary schools, intergenerational Rapper Dance workshops, public music masterclasses with guest tutors, and larger scale public events – like The Ceilidh Project.
Formed in 2011, Cream Tees are a youth folk band based in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Welcoming musicians aged 8+ the band champions local and regional folk music, with the occasional Scandi dance number or Scottish party tune thrown in for good measure. This would have been their 3rd year at Whitby Folk Week, and whilst all of us are missing the chips, tunes and ceilidh dancing – we’re delighted to share some new music with audiences that have been taught and recorded during Lockdown with Saul Rose via Zoom.
Ben & Sel are regulars at Whitby Folk Week, and folk festivals across the land as both musicians and dancers. They are familiar faces in the festival sessions. Ben plays fiddle with the band Jigfoot among others and dances with Berkshire Bedlam Morris. Sel has dances and plays with numerous morris teams and is an enthusiastic addition to a music session, playing the recorder, clarinet and Northumbrian pipes.
Chris Hendry is a Scottish singer who learnt many of her songs from such traditional singers as Jeannie Robertson, and the Stewart family. As a teenager
in the early 1960s she became part of the Fife folk club scene in St. Andrews, and was recorded by Hamish Henderson for the School of Scottish Studies at
Edinburgh. Later moving to North East England to study and teach, Chris joined the team of residents at the prestigious Folksong and Ballad Newcastle.
After working in the south of England, and performing regularly at Oxford and Bristol, she returned to Tyneside where she now lives with her husband, Johnny Handle. Regarded as one of the best singers in the region, Chris has a wide repertoire of material from the great ballads to farming and industrial songs. Her strong voice has all the characteristics of the great classic singers with a controlled use of decoration, breathing and volume.
Johnny Handle has been performing since 1953. He plays piano, banjo, bass, guitar, trumpet, Northumbrian pipes and Accordion. Moving from jazz and
popular music to folk in 1958 he founded the first folk song club on Tyneside, and has an interest in local material ever since. His research into North East
collections has enabled him to revive many old songs and inspired him to compose new ones. With the Piano Accordion as his main instrument, he has
encouraged many younger performers, who perform his tunes and songs.
He was a member of the High Level Ranters folk band from 1964, playing at venues throughout Britain, Europe, America and Australia.
With numerous CDs, and Radio and TV broadcasts to his credit, Johnny has gained a reputation as an outstanding entertainer, with his talented playing,
songs, recitations and patter. He has done much work in schools, passing on songs and dances to the next generation. The FARNE website has been brought
about due to his wide ranging study of North East Archives.
Chris and Johnny appear together regularly in Tyneside and Northumberland, and have performed at concerts, clubs and festivals in various parts this country and abroad over the last 25 years. Their exciting blend of music and song appeals to all audiences, presenting a display of our rich heritage.
Janet Russell first made a name for herself on the folk circuit in the ‘80’s as a young singer songwriter writing with hard-edged humour about issues affecting women. Her “Secretary’s Song” was the most requested song on “Folk on 2” in 1987/8.
Janet toured with Christine Kydd in the 80s and 90s, nationally and in Europe and the US. She worked with Sisters Unlimited (Sandra Kerr, Peta Webb, and Rosie Davis) from the 1990s until 2018. Continuing to perform solo, she also became a well respected harmony workshop and community choir leader. With Jim Woodland, her long term partner and father of her two sons, she has worked for Mikron Theatre, and with such national treasurers as Leon Rosselson, Robb Johnson, Frankie Armstrong, Reem Kelani, Sandra Kerr, Peggy Seeger and the much missed Roy Bailey in the Anti Capitalist Roadshow. Janet also formed a quartet with Frances Watt, Rosie Davis, and Kerry Fletcher which specialized in singing for dancing and made one album in 2013 called “doodle i doe”.
It must be more than 20 years since Janet’s first booking at Whitby Folk Week, and although we can’t be in the same room together this year, it is an honour and a pleasure to be invited to participate in Whitby@home this year.
Kate Palmer Heathman, Squire of Black Gate Morris, and Geoff Roberts, squire of Hexham Morris Men, were due to launch their book ‘Giddy Up in Whitby’ at Whitby Folk Week this year. Instead they have filmed a book reading, which will shown as part of our second storytelling session on Tuesday.
Join Ian for a virtual workshop in which you can be accompanied by whatever you fancy.
Here’s the chance to sing/play your heart out and no-one to mind. The carols are for all voices/instruments, whether or not you can read music. We’ll be sharing seven of the best liked carols from South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. All the carols will be taken from either The Sheffield Book of Village Carols* or The Derbyshire Book of Village Carols**. The words to the carols will be on the screen. If you need the music, please let us know in advance when booking.
Whether you’re on your own, in a twosome, with the family, in a bubble, or part of a ‘wandering circus’, this is just the place to be. So stoke up the fire, decant the wine, un-jug the beer, mash the tea, brew the coffee and join us in chorus! Let’s be transported to a very special time of music and celebration!
Carols: Good News*, Back Lane*, Liverpool*, Peace o’er the World**, Curly Hark**, Hail Smiling Morn*, Merry Christmas*
Hadrian Clog is based in Northumberland, and perform a wide variety of clog and hard shoe
dances from the North East of England and beyond. We take traditional steps, give them our
own 'Hadrian' twist, and pair them with our favourite folk tunes and songs.
While our dances are based on traditional steps we also enjoy creating and choreographing
our own unique dances.
We perform more than 20 different dances, mainly from the North of England, but also from
as far afield as Ottowa and Cape Breton, as well as Scotland and Ireland. Our own
musicians play concertina, fiddles, guitar and melodeon using traditional tunes and our own
We are delighted to be teaching our North East Waltz steps at Whitby@Home and look
forward to sharing our dancing with you.
Dave is a jobbing teller of tales, an itinerant journeyman who performs at museums, heritage sites and schools, from Lindisfarne Holy Island in the north to Arundel Castle in the south. He works regularly for English Heritage and national museums like the Ashmolean and has written three books, ‘Tudor Tales,’ ‘Norfolk Folk Tales for Children’ and ‘Medieval Tales for Children’ and is also working on a 4th, “Trickster Tales From Many Lands.’ He specialises in costumed historical storytelling of period rich and often irreverent tales shared by the poorer folk long ago, but of late he’s ditched his costume in favour of normal clothes and a fine trilby hat and can be heard at storytelling events including Taffy Thomas’s Tales in Trust and Festival at the Edge. That said, many of his performances still have an historical flavour with sets like Tavern Yard Tales and Dame Fortunes Wheel.
Melvin Samuel is a qualified tai chi instructor with the East West Taoist Association and would usually lead the highly successful Whitby Folk Week tai workshops. This year Melvin has prepared some online teaching sessions using simple exercises more appropriate for a home setting. These will give beginners an introduction to tai chi and will give more experienced practitioners an insight into the Lee Family system. This is the first time Melvin has filmed any tai chi and it is hoped that you enjoy them as much as he enjoyed making the videos (and will forgive any mistakes)
(Many thanks to Jon Ransom for filming and editing the videos)
Whitby Folk Week patrons Melrose Quartet are Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Jess & Richard Arrowsmith. Their rich repertoire combines traditional songs and tunes with more recent material that merges seamlessly into the folk canon. They deliver a capella and accompanied song in their strong and inimitable style, alongside dance-informed instrumental sets that both define and re-invigorate social dance rhythms from Britain and beyond. Bouzouki, box, two fiddles and four voices in sublime conjunction. Their most recent (and most seasonal!) album “The Rudolph Variations” is available alongside “Dominion” and “Fifty Verses” in their shop.
Rich, Jess, James and Nancy are all missing live, in person performance and are delighted to be part of this year’s special Whitby at Home programme.
Toby has been dancing since before he was born. This was mainly north west and Appalachian (thank you, Mum) but Dad (and grandad, and other grandad, and uncle, and godfather, etc) soon set him on the road to Cotswold. By the age of 10 he had kits for 5 different sides he had danced out with and he now has so many he has lost count.
Toby started attending the Morris Ring jigs instructional as soon as Mum could be convinced Dad wouldn’t let him stay in the pub too long past closing time. Triple jump training put a leap in his steps that few can match (without injury!) and he soon became a demonstrator and then an instructor at the jigs weekend. He now determines his own time to leave the pub!
Toby currently holds the Sidmouth John Gasson Jig trophy for the single jig as well as (once someone finds a way to post it to him) the Cliff Barstow jig trophy, having also won the double jig competition at Sidmouth in the very recent past. He is the only person to have won both festival jig competitions in the same 12 month period.
Georgia Leigh Woodhead is one of the founding members of Oakenhoof which started seven years ago. She plays several instruments, sings, clog dances and also does rapper, longsword and Morris dancing. She’s been involved with teaching clog dancing at Oakenhoof, and at various workshops and festivals for about the last seven years. She has also been involved in competitive clog dancing, rapper dancing, and music. She is studying for a degree at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Bob is a caller with a broad range of experience in ceilidh, contra and Playford. Having first got his start in Sheffield, he has called all over the country from Sidmouth to Aberdeen. He will be applying his accessible and friendly approach to a carefully-chosen selection of Playford dances most suited to ‘at home’ dancing.
Bearded Dragons is a modern folk duo featuring expert dance musicians Benjamin Rowe (fiddle) and Vic Smith (keys, synthesizers). Pioneers of Techno Contra and Techno Ceilidh in the UK, they provide anything ranging from savage analog synthesizer beats to beautiful and traditional sounds, always with a focus on danceability and excitement.
Martyn Wyndham-Read has had the pleasure of singing the songs he loves for well over 50 years with the same passion now as in the beginning. He was born in England being brought up on the family farm in Sussex. At 18, he left for Australia to work as a Jackeroo on a sheep and cattle station called Emu Springs with the nearest country town Tintinara, SA. He fell in love with the songs that the station hands sang. When he left there, he started singing in the Reata Coffee lounge in Melbourne and touring far and wide folk singing. He returned to England in 1967 and is still travelling, entertaining and returning to Australia regularly. During these difficult times, he has been adding songs to his YouTube channel.
Dubliner Jack Lynch has appeared regularly at Whitby with his performing partner Len Graham. A founder member of Storytellers of Ireland/Aos Scéal Éireann, he has told at folk and storytelling festivals throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the Caribbean and North America. Jack looks forward to returning to Whitby after this weird period of pestilence.
The formidable five Wilson Brothers, Tom, Chris, Steve, Ken & Mike are the accepted benchmark for powerhouse unaccompanied singing. Tom, Chris and Steve celebrated 40 continuous years of singing together during 2015, Ken and Mike joining them in the late 1970’s:
Sting has recently said of them: “They have a family sound and a natural, bone-deep understanding of music and harmony. And it’s quite something.”
Their influences have said of them:
“There`s a musical honesty about them that links past and present together. They are among the people who go about singing traditional songs that move me – which I really love, because that’s what I try to do. But what appeals to me about them, apart from their musical skill, is their honesty. They are what they are and do what they do and say what they say and it’s very direct and I love that. Theyre not pretenders.” – Dick Gaughan
“The Northern Wilsonia – a vocal orchestra!” – Peter Bellamy
“They have synthesised the qualities of all their major influences, which sets them apart as one of the foremost harmony groups entertaining folk audiences today”- Roy Harris
“Singing with the Wilson Family makes life a whole lot easier” – Louis Killen