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.

TOM PALEY - April 4th

Because The Lord Nelson will not reopen until March 11th we have had to cancel once again. Rowan & Rosie have been rescheduled for October. We resume on April 4th when TOM PALEY will be joined by his son, BEN, on fiddle and vocals.

A pivotal figure of the great American folk revival, he influenced Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan and gave lessons to Ry Cooder and Gerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.

After leaving Yale he took the New York folk scene by storm, “ if John The Baptist had flown into town!” according to one reviewer. And Happy Traum remembers how, “Tom Paley became one of the best guitar and banjo pickers in the city, and was the inspiration of many, many other aspiring folk musicians.”

He formed a duo with Woody Guthrie, who praised his “slick, fine expert music”   and he was a regular at the jam sessions at Leadbelly’s house, along with Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.

“Tom Paley was one nifty dude,” says fiddler Peter Stamphel. “More than anyone else he introduced the modern acoustic guitar and banjo-picking styles to New York. Before him, nearly everybody thrashed grossly on the nylon stringed guitar. Paley brought Travis and Scruggs to the Big Apple, clear as a bell.”

Later, Tom formed The New Lost City Ramblers, of whom Bob Dylan wrote: “Everything about them appealed to me  -   their style, their singing, their sound. I liked the way they looked, the way they dressed and especially I liked their name. Their songs ran the gamut in styles, everything from mountain ballads to fiddle tunes and railroad blues.”

“The New Lost City Ramblers pioneered the renaissance of southern mountain music and brought many traditional musicians into the mainstream folk music scene. They played music as used to be sung. In Tom Paley they had a superb guitarist and banjoist whose sardonic wit had become a hallmark of the Ramblers' stage shows.”    Ray Allen, Folkways Magazine

March 7, 2016


Rosie Hodgson was a finalist for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and is also the lead singer for Irish band Crossharbour, described by the Irish Times as “formidable” and by the Daily Telegraph as, "A fine example of how traditional Irish music is thriving in a modern way."

“Her voice possesses a naturalness and maturity, bringing a ruby-richness to lyrics new and old.”    - Folk Radio UK 

Bright Young Folk said of her debut album, “superb vocals  -  compelling and skilfully assembled.”

Rowan Piggott grew up in Co. Galway Ireland, surrounded by traditional music  -  his father Charlie was founder the legendary De Dannan. He studied classical violin and trained as a chorister before undertaking a diploma in Jazz at Trinity College of Music.

"...the future of folk is safe in their hands!"   -  Watford Folk Club

"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

February 2016

The Lord Nelson is undergoing major refurbishment in January so our monthly session has had to be cancelled. We hope to reschedule Ewan Wardrop later in the year.

Our February session provides a rare opportunity, both for us and our booked guests, to listen to some very fine local songwriters performing in a folk club setting, instead of the bear pits of the open mic circuit where they usually ply their trade.

Neil Johnsen
NEIL JOHNSEN deserves a special mention, not only for having ploughed a sometimes lonely furrow to sow the seeds of his sensitive songs in raucous pubs but also for having battled to overcome serious hand injuries which prevented him from playing for many years.

Alice Western

19-year old ALICE WESTERN says the likes of Nick Drake, Jackson C Frank, Joni Mitchell have provided her with inspiration and, with her soulful vocals and deft guitar playing, seems assured of a bright future.

Having sat (literally) at the feet of some of America’s finest roots musicians who dropped in to visit her dad (a professional blues musician) while on tour in the UK ELSIE FRANKLIN has developed into a formidable fingerpicking guitarist with a distinctive vocal style. Still only a teenager, she is already making a name for herself on the Sussex music scene. And The Blues Band’s Dave Kelly described her thus, “the most natural blues singer I've heard in years  -  and her guitar playing is pretty damn good too.”

Elsie Franklin


Also on the bill is JODIE MUNDAY.