Shammick Acoustic programme
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 Afternoon workshop special. Narthen, who are the concert guests in the evening, will be running a carol-singing workshop during the afternoon, from 1:30pm to 5:00pm (including a 30 min, break with tea or coffee, etc.), investigating some of the lesser-known carols in the English tradition. You may have heard of the Sheffield carol tradition, or of West Gallery carols. Here's a rare opportunity to learn more and get involved in these wonderful old localised settings of carols - some of which will be familiar. You can download a booking form for the workshop (with or without the evening concert as well) by clicking HERE  
Dec 14 Narthen (Jim Causley, Barry Coope, Jo & Fi Fraser). Hark! HarkNarthen may be a name new to many – but not for long, I suspect.  They are a quartet of fine singers: Barry Coope 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, plus Devon's very own Jim Causley 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.
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.
Jan  25 Ian Anderson: Sorry to maybe disappoint you, but no, it’s not the flautist and vocalist from rock band Jethro Tull, but we can promise a skilled blues and world musician, with solid West Country roots.  Having retired from being a magazine editor, photographer, event producer, tour organiser, album producer and compiler, Ian is returning to being a solo musician, mixing a wide variety of songs from his 50+ year career within the folk, roots and world music field.  Over the years, he’s worked with Maggie Holland in the duo Hot Vultures, in the English Country Blues Band with some notable English traditional folk musicians, and with dance band Tiger Moth – to name just a few!  His influences are legion, starting with ancient folk blues records, to English traditional music and song from the likes of Bob Copper and Shirley Collins to various immigrant cultures, so who knows quite what we can expect from our guest on the night?  Whatever it is, it’s undoubtedly going to be interesting!
Feb 22 The Salts:This five-piece band perform shanties and sea songs, but not in quite the way we’re used to hearing.  Five seasoned musicians who produce a unique sound, described by Mike Harding as “rather like a Bellowhead reduction – more subtle, but just like a jus is reduced, they bring forward the essence of the key ingredients”.  The band members’ backgrounds vary from classical music training, the BBC’s Young Folk competition, blues, and other music genres, individually they have worked with a variety of well-known musicians such as 60s’ legend Arthur Brown, The Pasadenas, Ben E King and Keith Hancock & Clive Gregson.  When one talks about multi-instrumental, this lot take some beating, with mandolin, whistle, banjo, guitar, double bass – and usually drums, but that’s with the electric stage band, not in the confines of folk club venues.  What’s more, the playing is truly accomplished, with superbly arranged vocal harmonies. The Salts’  second album, Brave, is receiving rave revues across the board, and their live performances are impassioned and rousing with swashbuckling energy and fire-cracked enthusiasm, and guaranteed to get you singing along!
Mar 28 Carrivick Sisters: This is a welcome return from two very talented Devon ladies who specialise in bluegrass (or, as it’s Devon, maybe it’s greengrass) and old-timey American-style music.  Twins Laura and Charlotte play guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro and clawhammer banjo – although not all at the same time!  With traditional and original songs and tunes, and tight vocal harmonies, their virtuosity (and that word should never be used lightly) shines through, and there is no doubt that there is something very special about family members performing together.  The Carrivick Sisters first started performing as a duo in 2006, turning professional when they left school the following year.  Since then, individually and collectively they have won numerous awards, both here and in the USA, and played all over Britain, mainland Europe and North America, and released six albums to huge critical acclaim.  Their music may be in an American style, but their songs are firmly rooted in good Devon soil.  Come along and enjoy!
Apr 25 Alice Jones: Alice is a seriously impressive singer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer, deeply rooted in the English and American folk tradition.  There are few professional musicians who have been immersed as thoroughly in traditional song, music and dance as this young lady.  She has grown up in the very close-knit circle of Ryburn 3-Step, a community arts group based in Ripponden, West Yorkshire, created by Pete and Sue Coe, John Adams and Chris Coe, amongst other luminaries of the folk scene.  Her first public performances were as a dancer with Ryburn Longsword, and as an Appalachian clogger, taught by the legendary Ira Bernstein and Sue Coe.  At the age of just 12, she began to perform at festivals and teach workshops around the country.  That, and working with other musicians such as Vic Gammon, Gina Le Faux, John Dipper and Pete Coe in a variety of bands and projects has given her experience and maturity at a remarkably young age, and enormous variety in her solo performances.  Her main instrument is piano, but she might use clarinet or whistle, or even feet to create a unique characteristic yet seamless style, and ‘she doesn’t sing like a fake little girlie, she sings like a genuine adult’.  Refrains and choruses specifically intended to invite as much audience participation as possible can also be expected.  Can’t wait!
May 30 Magpie Lane:This 5-piece band from Oxford, who specialise in traditional English songs and music, have been delighting audiences for over 25 years with a combination of powerful vocals and vigorous dance tunes, performing inventive arrangements on a variety of instruments.  The fact that each member is not only a fine singer but also an instrumentalist makes the band quite unique.  In that time, they have produced numerous CDs, and were able to win fans outside the folk scene through the popular Past Times retailer.  All five members of the band have been thoroughly immersed in the music, and perform in other combinations as well as Magpie Lane.  Their sound is unmistakeably English, although they have moved on from their original focus of exclusively Oxfordshire material.  They use an eclectic range of instruments as well as vocal harmonies which are a joy to hear, offering a majestic swathe of sound.  This is a rare chance to see and hear a ‘big band’ in such intimate surroundings, so make the most of it.
Jun 27 Sandy Brechin & Ewan Wilkinson: This will be Sandy and Ewan’s third visit to Shammick Acoustic, and it’s always a delight to hear them!  Based in Edinburgh, over the last ten years of playing together they have regularly toured in the whole of the UK, as well as Australia, and such extremes as Bahrain and Sweden!  They play a mixture of Scottish, Irish and English traditional songs and tunes, together with modern and original compositions.  Ewan has a powerful baritone voice and a unique guitar technique, which combines with Sandy’s sensitive, adept and sometimes unbelievably fast accordion playing to produce exciting and moving performances.  So expect vibrant tune sets and both fervent and harrowing songs, caustic wit and general silliness.  Toe-tapping and tears guaranteed!
Jul 25 James Hickman & Dan Cassidy:James and Dan are a transatlantic duo who are inspired by the traditions of America and Britain, bursting with all the humour, heartbreak and excitement of both genres.  James comes from Shropshire where he was raised on a diet of folk and bluegrass music, and started performing at the age of thirteen, before attending music college, and taking up a full-time performing career.  On the other side of the pond, Dan Cassidy grew up in a musical family (which included his sister Eva, lost to this world far too early) in Maryland, and took up the violin at the age of ten, then absorbing a broad spectrum of music styles including classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, blues and rock.  The duo formed in Iceland in 2008, and Hickman’s emotive, soaring vocals and driving guitar combined with Cassidy’s ingenious and virtuosic fiddling have won them increasing audiences throughout the UK and further afield.  Their shows now incorporate both traditional and original material, which with their relaxed banter and unique musical style, ensures a dynamic and unforgettable transatlantic journey.
Aug 22 The Dovetail Trio: Performing England’s traditional songs with a new energy, The Dovetail Trio have been exploring folk narratives with musical skill and a passion for their heritage since forming in 2014.  With some years of experience behind them, the trio effortlessly combine the distinctive voices and acclaimed instrumental talents of Jamie Roberts, Rosie Hood and Matt Quinn, pointing up the songs with exquisite harmonies and guitar and duet concertina accompaniments.  Jamie is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who has gained recognition for his innovative and adaptive playing styles through his work with award-winning contemporary folk duo Gilmore & Roberts, traditional English band Kerfuffle, and more recently The Emily Askew Band.  BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated Rosie is a singer and songwriter from Wiltshire known for her strong, pure voice and captivating performances, who has been immersed in traditional music for most of her life.  Matt is a singer and multi-instrumentalist brought up since birth surrounded by English traditional music and song, and has more than ten years’ experience of performing everywhere from small folk clubs to Glastonbury and WOMAD festivals.  We can expect ‘richly rounded accented vocals, skin-tight harmonies and sparse yet polished instrumentation.  Who can wish for more?
Sept 26 Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby: International songwriters and performers, Cathryn and Brian are a world-class musical act, combining one of Nashville’s finest voices and one of the world’s greatest acoustic guitarists.  Individually they have worked with the likes of the Righteous Brothers, Shel Silverstein, Mary Hopkin, The Strawbs and Nanci Griffith.  They produce a wonderful weave of songs and stories and deliver them with an effortless stagecraft drawn from long roads travelled each in their own way and together.  Now firmly settled back in Brian’s home country in Newry, they continue to develop their music, inspired by their new surroundings.  Their ‘Alice’s Song’ was deservedly an Aled Jones ‘highlight of the year’ on BBC Radio 2, and there is no doubt that they make one of the best duos on the folk scene today.  So come along and be truly entertained by a show which will have you tapping your feet, joining in with the choruses, enjoying their stories and being in awe of great singing and inventive guitar playing.
Oct 24 Winter Wilson: Winter Wilson were a featured act at one of Shammick Acoustic’s Open Nights, and the first available date was booked for them to put on a concert for us.  Chosen by folk-rock legends Fairport Convention to tour with them, their popularity is such that finding that date wasn’t easy!  Born in West Germany, but firmly rooted in the Outer Hebrides, Kip Winter grew up living in a variety of European countries, and influenced by her musician father, sang and played from and early age, in a variety of musical genres, learning a number of different instruments along the way.  Dave Wilson is Lincolnshire born and bred, bought his first guitar in his ‘teens and started writing songs.  And what songs!  Dave draws his material from the full gamut of the human condition and experience, and then presents it in songs that speak simply and directly to the listener, with melodies that are anything but predictable – a rare skill in itself.  Add in fine harmonies and expert musicianship, and you can reckon on a memorable night!
Nov 28 Maire ni Chathasaigh & Chris Newman: Back by popular request – and no wonder!  The ‘doyenne of Irish harpers’ and ‘one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists’ might seem an unlikely combination, bringing together as it does a harpist steeped in the traditions of Irish music and a guitarist whose repertoire ranges from jazz, swing and ragtime to African high-life, latin and bluegrass and everything in between!  Does it work?  You bet it does - and has done for more than thirty years!  And it’s recognised in twenty-two countries and five continents, with numerous awards both individually and collectively.  I could go on, but what’s the point?  You’ll have got the idea.  Now just come and see them at work.  You’ll not be disappointed.
Dec 12 SAS Concert w. John Kirkpatrick: Carolling and Crumpets  We are lucky to have a really acclaimed show for our Christmas special this year.  For anyone who has the slightest interest in the folk scene, you’ll know that John Kirkpatrick is at the top of the tree when it comes to the very best of performers.  And even if you haven’t, you’ll probably have come across his music in the theatre from The Orchard Theatre Touring Company based here in Devon to the Victoria Theatre in Staffordshire to London’s National Theatre, and in TV series such as The Land Girls and Victorian Farm.  He has been a member of the Albion Country Band, Magic Lantern, The Richard Thompson Band, Steeleye Span and many others over the years, but still enjoys playing in intimate venues such as Shammick Acoustic, which to many who are used to audiences of thousands can be quite intimidating. John is known as the master of squeeze box playing, using melodeon, button accordion and anglo-concertina in a totally distinctive style.  John’s seasonal special includes traditional English songs and plenty of his inimitable original songs, some of which are quaranteed to have you in stitches.  If you want a feel-good start to your Christmas, this is where to find it!
Dec 20 The 19th Midwinter Carols Night (@ The Castle):  This is the nineteenth 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.