November 7th, 2016

We feel sure that our November session will make for new experiences, both for us and our guest performers, all songwriters with Sussex connections.

We are looking forward to listening to some accomplished musicians from outside the folk circuit  - and they will have the opportunity they richly deserve to be the focus of attention as opposed to providing background ambience from the corner of a raucous pub.

They are, in alphabetical order:

NEIL JOHNSEN, whose songs have been warmly received by his musical contemporaries and deserves huge respect for his recent odyssey to explore every possible bear pit of an open mic night in town. It’s not a challenge that he needed to undertake given that he has already been part of a prestigious bill alongside Kevin Montgomery.

HUBERT MURRAY, now resident in Lewes, is from County Galway. Since moving to England he has appeared at the Isle of Wight and Wilderness festivals and at many top London venues with Lands End and The Hot Rock Pilgrims, with whom he has recorded two albums.

HOLLIE ROGERS’ star is on the rise and we’re delighted that she wanted to play for us on her way to the top. “Astonishing!” was how The Sun described her and we can’t offer higher praise than that of two of her illustrious fans, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason: “Amazing voice, reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Carole King” and from Suzanne Vega "...a magnificent and powerful voice".

ALICE WESTERN is a 19 year-old songwriter and inventive guitarist, originally from West Sussex, now living in London. Her influences are deeply rooted in the composers who followed in the wake of the great folk revival, such as Nick Drake, Jackson C Frank and Joni Mitchell.

October 3, Rosie Hodgson & Rowan Piggott

Award-winning duo ROSIE HODGSON and ROWAN PIGGOTT have forged an intriguing musical partnership. Drawing upon their respective musical heritages their live performances are a fusion of the Irish and English traditions. This is hardly surprising since Rosie’s family is steeped in the songs and Morris dancing of Sussex, while Rowan’s father was a founder member of the Irish folk supergroup,  De Dannan.

To add to the mix, Rosie is the lead vocalist with Irish band Crossharbour  while Rowan was brought up in England and whose mother, Frances was an inspirational fiddle teacher.

Rosie is a songwriter, whose debut EP was well received but her engaging vocal style brings warmth and conviction to traditional ballads too. At her side Rowan’s wonderfully accomplished fiddle playing and vocal harmonies provide the perfect foil.

"Rosie & Rowan are at the forefront of the modern folk scene individually; together they form a powerful partnership that will surely accelerate their rise to the top. Songs crafted of the highest quality, sensitively delivered with haunting harmonies  -  and a cheeky smile!"

 Heard And Seen

Tim Broadbent & Christian Fromentin - September 5th

At one time Brighton had a folk club every day of the week - and all the now-famous names made an appearance. Essential to this thriving scene was the quality of the local resident singers and many’s the time that the likes of Tom Paxton and Ralph McTell had to work their socks after following the likes of this month’s guest TIM BROADBENT, Brighton born & bred (Hove, actually).

His precocious talents soon took him all round the world where his lightning-fast fingerpicking were matched only by his quickfire banter. Now resident in France he a fixture on the acoustic music scene across mainland Europe together with a superb fiddler from his adopted country, CHRISTIAN FROMENTIN.

With some great songs of his own plus an eclectic choice of the best of the rest, theirs is great package of great musicianship and humour.   


Born on his grandfather’s farm in Ifield Wood, Martyn took off with a guitar and a head full of Sussex songs to work on a sheep farm in Australia. Working alongside the station hands he became fascinated by their old bush songs, “My jaw dropped,” he later recalled.

When he returned to England he became hugely influential not only for the championing of the traditional songs of Australia but also those of its new wave of songwriters. With his newly-acquired repertoire, delivered in with his trademark virtuoso style, he soon became a fixture in the clubs and concert halls of the UK.

Since then, his many prestigious collaborations with the great and the good of British folk music have been hugely important in our understanding of the links between our native traditions and those throughout the English-speaking world. He has featured on over  40 albums and continues to tour extensively.

Living Tradition said of his most recent album, Starlit Skies, “Heavenly ... superb on all counts”

NAOMI BEDFORD - July 4, 2016

Such was the impact that NAOMI BEDFORD made on our audience last year we jumped at the chance to welcome her back to The Nelson again  -  a rare exception to our policy of not rebooking guests within three years.

Because: she is an enthralling singer - mellifluous and passionate - who wrings the last drop of drama and emotion from the great ballads of the transatlantic tradition.

          Let others add more superlatives:

"An English Emmylou"   -  Justin Currie (Del Amitri)
"Dreamy, fantastic voice"  -   Peter Buck (REM)
"What a voice!"  -  Mike Harding
"A favourite voice of mine I love to hear her sing"  -  Shirley Collins
"Intoxicating"  -   Chris Difford (10cc)
"Great voice"  -  Jools Holland
“We thought she had a fantastic voice"  -  Phil Hartnoll (Orbital)

And here are just some of the reviews of her most recent album, A History of Insolence

“Brilliant and original in equal parts”  -  The Independent
“Compelling ... impressive”  -  The Guardian
“Plenty of passion”  -  The Telegraph
“(Her voice) is easy to get besotted with”  -  Ian Anderson (fRoots)
"Unexpectedly wonderful"   -  Colin Irwin  (Mojo Magazine)
"Achingly expressive"  -   Maverick Magazine

Naomi will, as usual, be accompanied by legendary alt-folk stalwart PAUL SIMMONDS, driving force behind The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

June 6, 2016


This most accomplished quintet plays an astonishing collection of instruments, producing melodic textures which revitalise traditional tunes, as well as exploring the delightfully unfamiliar.

At its heart is the most unusual pairing of two hammered dulcimers, heard alongside guitar, concertina, small pipes and whistles (to name just a few).

They are all fine singers too, with great harmonies and some showstopping comedy routines.


Sussex resident Dave Arthur and his former partner Toni were top billing in the heydays of the folk revival. What set them apart from many of their contemporaries was their assiduous research into the cultures they encountered on their world travels and the way in which this was absorbed into their repertoire, at a time when interest in musics from outside the Anglo-Irish and American traditions was scarce.

Having spent many years performing English traditional material he began again to explore the transatlantic roots of old time American music. Equally adept as a player of the melodeon, banjo and guitar, these cross-cultural influences are the bedrock of his live performances.

His exhaustive research into multicultural customs and traditions was widely disseminated via The Folk Music Journal and his 20-year tenure as editor of England’s oldest folk music magazine, English Dance and Song.

When playing live his academic mantle is worn lightly; his engaging personality and warm humour is a magnet for the tales he has to tell and the songs that open doors to the rich folkloric traditions which we are heirs to. He will be joined on the night by multi-instrumentalist Dan Stewart, a stylish exponent of the same repertoire.