Shammick Acoustic programme
Dec 22

WINTER WARMER with Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer:  A welcome return to Vicki & Jonny, who were last guests at Shammick Acoustic way back in 2011.  This duo have impressive musical backgrounds, Vicki having studied at the Royal College of Music, and plays a huge variety of instruments, from various types of bagpipe to the nyckelharpa, a Swedish keyed fiddle, and is almost single-handedly responsible for the huge upsurge in the popularity of that instrument.   Jonny too shows outstanding technical ability on guitar and other stringed instruments, and on piano accordion.  His wide-ranging musical taste has made him a tireless and forceful musical innovator.  Rather than their usual traditional and original folk music, this time they come ready to charge everyone up for Christmas with their Winter Warmer show, a fun-filled festive evening of well-known singalong carols interspersed with famous Music Hall numbers and other seasonal favourites.  Performed in Victorian costume, this will appeal to everyone, young and old, as they present their light-hearted, humorous and fun show.  Come along and get in the mood!

The Castle Inn. from 7:30 - Function Room
Words and music supplied - bring your voices and instruments for a merry evening of well-known and less-well-known carols and traditional seasonal songs. With mince pies, sausage rolls and mulled wine.

Jez Lowe:  Always one of Shammick Acoustic’s favourite guest artists, it’s a treat to welcome back this brilliant North-Eastern songwriter.  Jez just goes from strength to strength, with nominations in the BBC’s Folk Awards for both Folksinger of the Year and Best New Song – and that, without being part of the ‘younger generation’, says an awful lot about him.  With a career that has lasted for at least forty years, his popularity shows no sign of abating, with tours all over the world, either solo, accompanying himself on guitar, cittern or harmonica, or with his band, The Bad Pennies; with James Keelaghan and Archie Fisher in the Men of Words tour in Canada and the USA; as part of The Pitmen Poets with Bob Fox, Benny Graham and Billy Mitchell; with fellow songwriter Steve Tilston; and with the quirky supergroup, The Broonzies.  As if this isn’t enough, he is also in constant demand to take part in a variety of song-writing projects such as The Radio Ballads (which earned him a Sony Radio Award) or Along the Wall.  His songs have been covered by a multitude of high-profile artists such as Fairport Convention, The Dubliners, The Unthanks, Wizz Jones, Mary Black, Bob Fox, The Young ‘Uns, The Clancys and many more.  With his distinctive voice, unmistakeable melodies, sensitive and humorous lyrics, and his trademark stripey tops, Jez Lowe is a real not-to-be-missed one-off!

Feb 23

Kimber's Men:  One of the most popular shanty and maritime groups in the country, Kimber’s Men make a welcome return to Shammick Acoustic.  Their use of harmonies is second to none, particularly with John Bromley, probably the finest bass singer on the British folk scene.  John has been singing folk songs since his teens, and has worked both as a solo artist and with several folk groups.  Neil Kimber likewise has a long history of singing, with a massive repertoire of songs – he’s also the only real sailor in the group!  The group is completed with the powerful and bluesy voice of Gareth Scott, and the high harmonies of Steve Smith.  Their various instruments – guitars, whistle, bodhran, etc. – give another dimension to the group’s performance.  Kimber’s Men have appeared at maritime festivals all over Europe as well as in the UK, and have featured on a number of TV programmes, including Gareth Malone’s ‘Sea Songs’ – BBC4’s most viewed programme of the year.  The audience can expect to have plenty to join in with, and to be thoroughly entertained by real quality singing.  There have been full houses for both their previous visits, so don’t miss out!

Mar 23

Granny's Attic:  One of the younger rising star groups on the folk scene, Granny’s Attic have been stunning audiences with their skilled singing and playing over the last few years.  Having started playing together at school in Worcester, all three of them went on to study music at degree level, although not the usual ‘folk’ degree at Newcastle.  In 2014 the group were nominated in the BBC’s Young Folk Award, and since then have been in huge demand at festivals and clubs all over the country in between studying.  Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne plays melodeon, concertina as well as singing. George Sansome also sings, and plays guitar – he also plays euphonium, but not in Granny’s Attic!  Lewis Wood provides fiddle and mandolin, and writes many of the tunes the group play.  In his other life, he is a composer, and also plays for dancing.  Such talent is exhibited by this ‘boy band’, and their enthusiasm is infectious!  We’re in for an exceptional night!

Apr 27

Jim Causley (OR Gym Cawsleigh):  Jim needs little introduction, as he is a Devon-grown talent, who relishes the songs, music and folklore of his native West Country.  His skill as a singer, songwriter, composer and musician is however recognised much further afield, as evidenced by his various awards and work for both radio and TV.  His relationship to the celebrated Cornish poet Charles Causley has resulted in him setting many of his poems to music, and to composing the soundtrack to the BBC4’s biographical film about him.  More recently, the Charles Causley Trust commissioned Jim to create a new album of the poet’s children’s poems set to music, which is a total delight.  As those who have heard Jim before, at Shammick Acoustic or elsewhere, will know, an evening with him will include beautiful singing, moving ballads, hilarious ditties and everything in between.  Often accompanied with accordion, and served with a gurt dollop of West Country humour, it’s one not to be missed.

Jun 22

Alison Frosdick & Jack Burnaby:  Alison and Jack were last at Shammick Acoustic as Open Night featured performers three years ago.  Since then, they have released a second excellent CD which shows the huge range of material they have in their repertoire.  Growing up respectively in Somerset and in Hampshire, both were well-rooted in the folk music of England, both counties having been central to some of the most prolific collectors of traditional songs.  Now based in London, they have been spreading their mix of traditional, music hall and original songs and music at clubs and festivals around the country, with delicate, considered playing on concertina and recorder, and beautiful singing.  A treat in store for anyone who enjoys sensitive interpretation.

Jul 27

Helen North:  This delightful Kent-based songmaker is gaining a growing reputation for her skilfully turned lyrics, strongly visual songs and beautiful, true voice.  Her ‘day job’ as a sailing instructor has informed much of her writing, and her debut CD ‘Shifting Sands’ has brought her songs to the attention of other artists such as Mick Ryan, renowned for his own songwriting – a real compliment in itself.  Helen was the winner of Towersey Festival’s open mic competition, opening more doors for her to perform at clubs and festivals nationwide.  Locally, some may remember her performances at Sea Ilfracombe a few years ago, much to the delight of many.  Her knowledge of musical forms is evident in the breadth of styles in her musical composition.  Singing both self-penned and traditional songs, her captivating performances have her audiences in gales of laughter one moment, and rapt attention the next.  This talented lady is well worth catching!

Aug 24

Nick Hennessey:  Have you ever heard anyone make the sound of a hand wiping the mist off a window – with no mist and no window?  Nick Hennessey can do that!  After years of trying, Shammick Acoustic has finally pinned down this acclaimed storyteller, playwright, singer, songwriter and musician to commit to a concert here.  His PhD in Cultural Geography led him to explore the relationship between landscape, communities and stories and tradition, devising and writing shows with the likes of Hugh Lupton and our recent guest artists, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer.  For more than a score of years, Nick has performed in venues from rural village halls to the Southbank Centre and the Royal Albert Hall, and internationally in Europe, Canada and Japan.  With accompaniment on harp, concertina, whistle or drum, Nick is a singer and storyteller of considerable ability and has been described as captivating, powerful – and perfect!

Sep 7 OPEN NIGHT (NB:This is a week earlier than usual!)  
Sep 28

Mike Wilson & Damien Barber:  These two are two of the UK’s finest exponents of traditional song, and much in demand outside of their usual musical combinations.  Mike Wilson is the youngest of the famed Wilson Family, the powerful Teeside singing sibllings who have raised many a rafter at festivals and folk clubs, not to mention the Royal Albert Hall and as part of Sting’s ‘The Last Ship’.  Mike’s musical heritage is emphatically that of the North East, rural and industrial, traditional and modern.  Damien was raised in Norfolk and was heavily influenced by earlier singers from that area, such as Walter Pardon and Peter Bellamy.  He is a stylish and distinctive singer, either unaccompanied or using guitar or concertina, and is probably best known these days for his roadshow ‘The Demon Barbers’, reaching out to new audiences through combining different styles of music and dance.  Mike and Damien have a rich shared repertoire of traditional songs plus the work of more modern writers like Bellamy, Ewan MacColl and Mike Waterson often sung in full-throated harmony.  An evening “chock full of nothing but great songs brilliantly sung” can be expected!

Oct 26

Bob & Gill Berry:  It’s hard to believe that it’s well over six years since Bob & Gill Berry last gave a concert at Shammick Acoustic – and it’s been far too long!  The duo have a long history within the folk movement, having run Chippenham Folk Festival for many years, sometimes to the detriment of their ability to take their own music around the country.  They’re now beginning to hand that job over to others, which means that many clubs and festivals will have the chance to hear more of them.  They also regularly run events at Sidmouth and Towersey Festivals.  They were honoured by the English Folk Dance and Song Society for their significant contributions to the development and continuity of traditional English folk music, song and dance.  But aside from all that, their strong voices with harmonies and some accompaniment on guitar, mandolin or bouzouki, are more than impressive!  Last year saw the release of their latest album, ‘Echoes of Alfred’ with songs from the Alfred Williams collection from Wiltshire and the surrounding counties.  Nothing fancy – just good, honest presentation of good, honest songs.  Can’t wait to welcome them back!

Nov 23

Rag Mama Rag:  Shammick Acoustic puts on a wide range of acoustic music, including blues when something worth booking comes along – and this duo is certainly that, so they’re back again!  Formed in 1991, Rag Mama Rag have built up a reputation as one of Europe’s finest country blues acts, making use of an interesting and interesting array of instruments from Dobro and ukulele to washboard and harmonica to accompany classic vocal renditions.  Touring non-stop, the duo of Ashley and Deborah Dow play at many major festivals throughout Europe and beyond, with their exceptionally full and hard-driving rhythmic sound which gets audiences’ feet tapping or even stomping!  Their repertoire is ‘20s and ‘30s blues based, but encompassing Mississippi Delta, East Coast ragtime, and white country tunes, as well as their own original compositions.  Presenting a huge range of material from slower melodies to fast-paced rocking blues, with superb finger-picking thrown in for good measure, this unassuming but multi-talented couple won’t leave anyone disappointed!

Dec 14 Narthen (Lester Simpson, Barry Coope, Jo & Fi Fraser). Also daytime Carol Workshop with Narthen:  Hark Hark  Narthen may be a name new to many – but not for long, I suspect.  They are a quartet of fine singers: Barry Coope and Lester Simpson, from the famed but now defunct Coope, Boyes & Simpson, with Jo Freya of Blowzabella and Moirai, and Fi Fraser of PolkaWorks and Old Swan Band, who got together to concentrate on a winter shows, but then took it further so that they could perform throughout the year.  So the pedigree is there for all the members of the band, but their Christmas show is not just a bunch of folk with good voices belting out traditional carols.  It’s a welcoming hotch-potch of stories, poetry and jokes threaded through with carolling and wassailing, both a capella and accompanied by a proper bagful of instruments, blown, plucked, bowed and struck.  The show is rich in Variety tradition – there are various nods to Music Hall – and steeped in folk’s past and present.  The way the show veers effortlessly between solemnity and silliness makes it a wonderful, and wonderfully warm, winter night out.  Narthen will also be running a carol-singing workshop during the afternoon, investigating some of the lesser-known carols in the English tradition.
Dec 22 The 18th Midwinter Carols Night (@ The Castle):  This is the eighteenth annual Combe Martin Midwinter Carols Night. We have carols (both common and unusual), wassail songs, local midwinter songs. Hand-out books of the songs are provided - with or without music. With punch, sausage rolls and mine pies. Accompanied by a motley miscellany of instrument players (a 15-piece band at the last count!). Just bring your voice (and instrument if you play) for an enjoyable singing evening in the Castle function room - with a bar.