Cara Dillon Live at Cooper Hall

by Simon Haines

CaraDillon8.20I have followed the fortunes of the Derry singer Cara Dillon for about 30 years, in fact since I first saw her as a teenager in the group Oige, at Colchester Arts Centre. Her voice and her treatment of songs was mesmerizing and I became an instant fan. Cara appeared next in The Equation, a pop-folk band, where she replaced Kate Rusby who had left to start her solo career. The other members of the Equation were Kathryn Roberts and the Lakeman brothers: Sam, Sean and Seth.  

Fast forward a few years and Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman formed a duo. Rumour has it that the recordings they made for Warner Brothers were never released, so they walked away and started an independent musical life. Eventually Cara Dillon released a solo album and has since gone on from strength to strength to become an internationally acclaimed singer of traditional Irish songs. She has performed her repertoire in a duo with Sam Lakeman but also with other formations of traditional musicians. She has appeared regularly on TV in Transatlantic Sessions. 

Read more: Cara Dillon Live at Cooper Hall

The Recorder in Folk Music

Article by Dawn Wakefield with contributions from Finn Collinson

Emily AskewEmily AskewThis article was originally written for the Recorder Magazine which is distributed nationally to members of the Society of Recorder Players (SRP) and also members of The European Recorder Teachers Association (ERTA). As a member of ERTA, I wrote this as an invitation to teachers and students to explore more folk music. Adapting it slightly for Mardles, I realise you are already fans of folk music, but you may need some encouraging to appreciate the recorder! It often has a bad press because of people’s memories of beginner primary school classes on mass descant recorders, often with inexperienced teachers. However do read on as there is much more to the recorder than that! For a start there are different sizes and shapes of recorder: sopranino, descant, treble, tenor and bass, all with their individual beautiful sound qualities and in experienced hands they do sound good.  Although this article focuses a lot on printed material, learning tunes by ear is more traditional and is still very much an option, one that was not always made clear in school muisc lessons in the past. Personally though, I find the ability to read music opens up such a wide range of material that I can learn independently, so I would recommend it as a skill, but others I know work more easily by ear. The main thing is to enjoy music and play whatever attracts you.

Whether you are learning ‘just for fun’ or looking for plenty of varied good tunes in between grade exams, folk music both from the British Isles and further afield provides a rich and rewarding source of varied music. I personally have been both a ‘classical’ and a folk player for many years. I run a monthly folk session in a local pub here in North Norfolk and attend others in the area; I have many happy memories of playing for dance while fronting a ceilidh band on descant recorder, and also playing with various informal groups for Balkan folk dancing.

Read more: The Recorder in Folk Music

Ode to a Road

It’s an odd story, but I think one worth telling, as it has to do with folk music and it concerns musicians who lived and played in East Anglia. BOG5It began in Bog2March 2000 when I came across a photograph in a newspaper of a Dutch man lying across a main road in the middle of Sussex, an area I had been brought up in. It turned out that the road was the A272, stretches of which I was quite familiar with. The road starts near Mayfield where my parents used to live, runs through dozens of towns and villages including Newick where ceilidh bands I’ve been in played, and ended up in Wiltshire where I lived for a few years

The Dutch man lying in the road turned out to be Pieter Boogaart and amazingly, almost incomprehensibly, he’d written a book about this old east-west main road: A272 Ode to a Road. His wife Rita, an art historian, was responsible for the photography. It’s a travel book of sorts, but one like no other I had come across. The pages are divided into different sections -  a central part which is the basic narrative travelogue along the A272, and around this, there are notes and photos of places of interest on either side of the road. Pieter's interesting design helps to make this a unique publication.

Read more: Ode to a Road

Press release from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

MAGIC!! - Received this Press release from BBC Cambridgeshire - 21 July

BBC Press Release

Folk returns to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with weekend of music

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s weekly folk show is set to return - and it will kick off with a special weekend of music as part of the Cambridge Folk Festival At Home.

Sue Marchant’s popular show has been off air for the past three months after the station moved to a simplified schedule to better report the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting August 9, Sue’s show will return to the airwaves every Sunday from 7 to 10pm.

And the weekend before (Thursday, July 30, to Sunday, August 2) the station will feature a series of special shows during what would have been the Cambridge Folk Festival.

Over nine hours of special programmes, Sue will chat to some of the country’s biggest folk acts, with exclusive pre-recorded sessions and interviews. Acts appearing at the Cambridge Folk Festival At Home, include Seth Lakeman, Le Vent du Nord, Brian McNeill, O’Hooley & Tidow, The Chair, Maddie Morris and many more.

Sue said: “Like everyone who has loved and attended this Cambridgeshire tradition over many years, I’m disappointed that we can’t all be together at Cherry Hinton Hall. I hope that this opportunity to enjoy the artists who were invited to appear live, will be a consolation for festival goers and those who just enjoy great music.

“I know loads of people have missed BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s weekly folk show and I can’t wait to get back presenting it!”

David Harvey, Editor at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, said: “Folk is a huge part of Cambridgeshire’s heritage and music scene and I’m delighted that we’re now in a position to bring back the folk show on Sunday nights.

“And what better way to kick it off than with Cambridge Folk Festival At Home?”

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities at Cambridge City Council, which organises the annual folk festival, added: “The Folk Festival has been a highlight of Cambridge’s summer calendar every year since 1965.

“It's certainly been a highlight of my summer for years. I know fellow folkies from Cambridge and much further afield will be missing the chance to be there in person at Cherry Hinton Hall. So I'm delighted the Cambridge Folk Festival at home and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire are planning to give us a weekend of great music, and I'm looking forward to hearing old favourites and discovering new ones.”

The special Cambridge Folk Festival At Home shows can be heard at 8 to 10pm on Thursday, July 30; 8 to 10pm on Friday, July 31; 4 to 6pm on Saturday, August 1, and 7 to 10pm on, Sunday, August 2. 

You can listen on online, on DAB, on the BBC Sounds app and on 95.7 to 96FM.




The Mardles Steering group sent the following email to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on July 20 (not including the photo of course)

BBC Cambs 

Dear David Harvey,

We understand that BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is planning to cut folk music from its programming from the end of this month. For many years now, your station and the excellent Sue Marchant and Nicky Stockman have supported folk music in East Anglia, a lone voice after the demise of folk shows on BBC Radio Essex and BBC Radio Suffolk. 

At the same time as this, live folk music has thrived in pubs, clubs and festivals throughout East Anglia. In recent years, the long-established and successful Cambridge Folk Festival has been joined by the wonderful Folk East Festival in Suffolk as well as a host of more modest events celebrating the especially rich traditional folk music, song, dance and customs found in East Anglia. To date your radio station's folk team has done a valuable community job in publicising many of these events. Sue Marchant herself has been involved with and given significant promotion to Ely Folk Festival, Cromer’s Folk On The Pier, Sheringham’s Potties Festival and the nascent Aylsham Festival.

In view of this, we would have hoped that the folk music content of local radio would have expanded rather than declined, especially in view of the gradual shrinking of the provision of folk music on BBC Radio 2. We recognize that folk music is a minority interest and that cutting it from your programming may enable you to play more popular mainstream music even though this genre is already well served by BBC and other national and local radio stations and online. In our experience a significant number of people of all ages still come across folk music for the first time on broadcast radio. Many can’t believe how varied our music is as  the variety of 21st century folk music extends well beyond the hackneyed stereotypes. is an organization which promotes folk music and dance across the counties of East Anglia. A visit to our website will show you a wide range of activities related to our music. In addition to promoting live events, we have consistently drawn attention to folk music on local and national radio. 

In view of the above, we would urge you to reconsider your decision to cut folk music from your station’s programming.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Evans. Brian Gaudet, Simon Haines, Val Haines, John Heaser, Sue Lawrence, Jill Parson, Mike Rudge, Peter Rushmer, Dawn Wakefield

The steering group

Lockdown: Don't let it bring you down

Strumming and Dreaming - from Les Ray

On the Crosby Stills Nash & Young album 4 Way Street, when introducing his song, Neil Young says: “Here is a new song, it's guaranteed to bring you right down; it's called ‘Don't Let It Bring You Down’”.

In contrast, this issue’s Strumming and Dreaming is genuinely designed not to bring you down, after all, there are plenty of other things that are doing that right now. That’s the aim, and the means is by telling you about a couple of very positive initiatives intended to bring you live music during the lockdown. Hopefully it will succeed.

Of course, the Mardles website includes lots of other pointers to where to find great music online coming from our region, but I thought I’d focus on a couple of initiatives that are close to my heart... and my home. 

Read more: Lockdown: Don't let it bring you down

Getting a Life

I wrote this article for Living Tradition Magazine in early 2020 - pre-virus. Maybe the prolonged lockdown and cancellation of festivals, folk clubs and related events and the effect this is having on the lives of many folk musicians make my thoughts even more relevant than I had anticipated. (Sorry - you may have to get out a magnfying  glass to read this clearly.)

LT 2020