January 8, 2018

10th Anniversary

We used to meet up at The Black Horse in Kemptown. The landlord and most of the customers were Irish and they all seemed to have a tune in them. We had some raucous, unforgettable nights there. Then one day the shutters went up and found ourselves at The Lord Nelson.  By this time we found we had more listeners than players so decided to relaunch in our new format. So, on January 8th 2008, it was Ray who stepped into the breach and gave us a night to remember.

In the intervening decade we have had the support of some folk A-Listers like Tom Paley, The Copper Family and Phil Beer. But we have also given bookings to emerging talent, some of whom were being paid to play for the first time. In the last year three quarters of our sessions have featured guest artists aged (around) 30 or younger.

So, our guest  is a multi-instrumentalist but the term doesn’t do justice to his virtuoso playing across a variety of settings and he is widely admired for his development of banjo playing techniques suited to English and Celtic tunes. This led to several appearances on Andy Kershaw’s world music programmes on BBC Radio 1 and 3.

He is a most engaging performer, with a bagful of traditional and music hall songs. And I will always remember the night in a bar full of noisy revellers when he took up his little wooden flute to play a haunting slow air and held the place in spellbound silence.

So, thank you so much for your loyalty and encouragement these past ten years. It’s what’s going to keep the club going. Thanks also for the personal goodwill messages  -  I hope to see you again in the coming months. If I can get a slot, I’ve learned some new jokes.


December 4 2017


Bluegrass, Country and old-timey folk from one the hottest bands in the south. Their much-admired songwriting adds a Celtic twist to the overall Americana sound.

BBC Radio2’s Bob Harris is a fan, as is Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music, together with producers, presenters, reviewers, promoters and bloggers up and down the country.

Here’s your checklist:

Murder ballads? CHECK!
Rip-roaring banjo tunes? CHECK!
Songs of broken hearts?  CHECK!
Haunting harmonies? CHECK! 

Fred Davies - Guitar, mandolin,vocals.
Scott Smith - Guitar, lapsteel, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, vocals.
Steve Bell - Banjo, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals.

Scott Warman  -  bass

November 6


This will be the first public outing as a duo for these very fine singers  -  lead vocalists in two of the UK’s highly regarded acoustic roots bands. In Laura’s case it’s The Long Hill Ramblers and Chloe performs with Hatful of Rain and writes many of the band’s songs too.

With a shared background in traditional music their repertoire is likely to draw on sources from both sides of the Atlantic. Be prepared for the occasional country classic and songs about “broken hearts, banjos and babies.”

October 2


This blog would run to many pages if it were to recount all the times spent at dreary pub gigs listening to try-hard musicians plodding robotically through their predictable setlists of blues numbers.
So chancing upon this dapper duo in a backstreet Brighton venue not unconnected with previous bad experiences was an unexpected delight. With superb harp player Alfie Bernardi at his side here was the extrovert HARRY HORNSEY breathing new life into old songs with wit and panache. His vivid vocals and dazzling guitar playing were showcased in an unusually broad repertoire ranging from prewar blues, ragtime and delta classics to country and early rock’n’roll.

More details at harryhornsey.com

An Evening with Phil Beer - September 4th

An Evening with PHIL BEER

Back in the day Phil was based in Brighton and played and recorded with many Sussex musicians. Since then he has worked with Mike Oldfield, The Rolling Stones, Steve Harley, The Albion Band, Feast of Fiddles and, for the past 25 years, with Steve Knightley in Show of Hands.

He came to national prominence in the duo he formed with Paul Downes, who will be making a guest appearance on the night.

From a personal perspective, I have to thank Phil for being a mentor to The Taverners, a band I used to be in, from its early days right to the end. He masterminded our first album, recorded in Brighton and he and Paul Downes subsequently produced our next two albums on the Folk Heritage label and he joined us, along with Steve Knightley, for our last ever gig in 2011.

He has played in huge arenas, not least on five occasions at The Albert Hall, so this will be a rare opportunity to see him in an intimate setting. Virtuoso fiddle and guitar playing are guaranteed but there is sure to be an insight of a life in music, laced with his trademark humour and anecdotes a-plenty.

This is a one-off advance booking event and tickets are £13.00 plus £1.30 booking fee, available only from WeGotTickets by clicking this link:


ELSIE FRANKLIN grew up in a home filled with music. Her Dad, Adam, is a musician of international repute who plays host to countless American roots players touring the UK, with whom she has shared sessions round the kitchen table from an early age.
Small wonder that, still in her teenage years, she has become a performer of astonishing maturity, not only in her interpretations of classic s from the country blues repertoire but also of her stylish original material.
Having played all over the UK, she came to the attention of the legendary Dave Kelly, of The Blues Band, whose sister, Jo Ann Kelly was an early inspiration.

He says: "Elsie Franklin is the most natural blues singer I've heard in years. Her guitar playing is pretty damn good too, uncluttered and tasteful, she really understands the genre - she's the whole package"

Having come from contrasting musical backgrounds Emily Hall and Josh Slowley came together to form THE NAUTICAL STRING SECTION. Drawing on such diverse influences as Martin Carthy, Stephane Grappelli and Wolf People, their music encompasses shanties and traditional songs to the music of 1930s Paris, with the odd stopover in the Appalachian mountains.

Emily plays and dances with The Cuckoo’s Nest morris side, while Josh is also a member of The Wellington Wailers shanty group.

July 3rd, 2017

Sidmouth-born  Ewan Wardrop grew up surrounded by the sights and the sounds of the town’s International Folk Festival. From there he developed a keen interest in American and British folk ballads, songs of the British music hall and more recently the songs of his adopted county of Sussex.

A multi-instrumentalist, He has worked all over the world as an actor, dancer and musician and is currently working on a project with Rob Harbron (Leveret), Ben Nicholls (The Full English) and fiddle player Ben Paley.

A love of George Formby led him to write the critically acclaimed play Formby for the Edinburgh festival in 2012 in which he plays the ukulele in Formby’s unmistakable style.

This summer he can be seen acting in Much Ado About Nothing at London’s Globe Theatre as well as dancing with his Morris side The Bo Diddlers.

Hamish Currie hails from the east coast of Scotland, where folk music was always part of the landscape.  Having moved south his repertoire is now taken from the traditions on both sides of the border, laced with some original and contemporary material.

He has appeared as the guest artist at clubs from Cumbria to Sussex and featured at countless festivals, including Towersey and Cambridge.

“A skilled guitarist and singer with an infectious sense of humour"  -  St. Neot's Folk Club

"Hamish's arrangements always cut through the mundane to get straight to the interesting...a Carthy-like precision to his guitar playing.”  -  George Papavgeris

“An accomplished performer, there was a hearfelt audience response.”  Swanage Festival