What a line up of artists we had for you this year! All was brought to you on your screens, via our YouTube and Facebook channels or via Zoom.
All of the streamed videos as part of #strawbearonline are still available here. As the current circumstances have heavily affected this sector please do visit our artists websites, purchase some fabulous merchandise.
Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (Melodeon, Concertina, Vocals), George Sansome (Guitar, Vocals) and Lewis Wood (Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals) – are a folk trio who play the tradition with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. These three young men are all exceptional musicians and fine singers and play English traditional and original music.
Formed in 2009, they have since played at clubs and festivals up and down the country, and have been heralded for their lively performances and maturity beyond their years in their delivery and selection of traditional songs.
After 17 years and seven solo albums Jackie Oates must surely be considered one of the mainstays of an accomplished, informed and stylistically individual English traditional music scene.
2020 saw the release of an entirely handmade (right down to the sleeves) duo album with former Bellowhead founder John Spiers, called Needle Pin. There was, of course, supposed to be an accompanying tour too. But if you were stuck at home with little people you may well have heard Jackie’s vocal and instrumental contributions to the CBeebies smash hit Nick Cope’s Popcast (with his whippet Norman, of course.)
It’s this variation of work, continual discovery, and these unique opportunities to bring elements of the English folk tradition to new people and places that gives Jackie Oates the most happiness in her music; in turn bringing a much needed calm and joy to those who hear it. http://www.jackieoates.co.uk
Brown Boots is Will Allen on melodeon and Martin Clarke on fiddle. Their musical background is rooted in playing music for dancing, as well as gaining inspiration from playing with their many talented musical friends at festivals and pub sessions across the country.
Will is a supremely talented multi-instrumentalist, although his primary focus is as a melodeon player and fiddler. He performs an extensive repertoire of folk dance tunes, mostly from the British Isles. His music takes influences from all corners of Western Europe and he has developed a unique take on traditional tunes. In 2015 he was shortlisted for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Competition. Will is also a proud member of electrifying ceilidh band Urban Folk Theory. with which he has performed at some of the UK’s biggest folk festivals.
Martin is a highly-skilled fiddle player, with musical roots in the North East of England, stemming from his time living in Durham. He plays music from across the British Isles with influences from the continent. He also has an interest in North American music traditions. Although originally classically trained, he has a wealth of experience at playing for dancing. He also plays for Silver Street Ceilidh Band and the award-winning Tower Ravens rapper sword dancers. All of this contributes to his unique style, producing soaring, lyrical melodies with rhythm that makes the listener want to move! http://www.brown-boots.co.uk/
Winner of the 2019 Oscar Preston competition with his song "Fen Blow", Ady has expanded his repertoire of locally inspired self-penned songs and has recently featured on BBC radio Cambridgeshire. Ady's songs are heavily inspired by the people, heritage, and landscape that forms The Fens where he was born and raised. With tales of the past and a mixture of both his own, and other traditional songs, you will be encapsulated and enchanted by his beautiful, soulful voice. You can follow his latest songs on Facebook through his page "Songs From the Fens and Yonder". Click here for his page
Brian first sang in public as a chorister at St Marys and St Cuthbert’s Church in Chester-le-Street, his home town. He became interested in Folk Music at the age of 15 when he attended the first club night of Chester-le-Street Folk Club and progressed to sing in the folk Clubs in Birtley and Durham. Brian danced with the Sallyport Sword dancers from 1970 until 1972 when he moved to Stevenage. Brian sang and helped organise the Stevenage folk club, sang at The Crown folk club and danced with Hoddesdon Crownsmen until founding Stevenage Sword dancers in 1973.
Brian moved to Whittlesey in 1979 and was a founder member of Peterborough Morris, instigated the Straw Bear revival in 1980, was a member of Dennis Cuddles Starlight Band and The Rag Bag Band. He instigated the formation of Whittlesey based Wype Doles Sword dancers and also Sir Harry’s Sword (junior team). For the past 10 years Brian has helped his wife, Christine, teach Molly Dance in Alderman Jacobs School and Sword Dance in Coates County Primary School, allowing these schools to contribute and perform in The Straw Bear Festival. He is a honorary member of White Rose Morris and support musician with Goathland Plough Stots.
Brian was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in 2013 for services to the community and music. All this time never losing his passion for singing.
Barry is well known as a singer, compere, caller, musician and dancer as well as being a writer of songs, dances and tunes. From 1983 to 2015 Barry was half of the folk song duo Life and Times, together with Graeme Meek. He is a musician for Rockhopper Morris and plays and calls in his own English ceilidh band, Time of Your Life, as well as calling with a number of other well-known bands, including Tickled Pink, Gas Mark Five, Chalktown, Banter, Peeping Tom, Hekety, The English String Band, Random, Polka Works, Out of Hand, Whapweasel and The Old Swan Band.
Active in folk song and dance since the early 1970s, Barry runs folk song, dance and melodeon workshops, promotes the English folk tradition in Education, and has been involved in the development of the New Roots competition, encouraging young folk talent from all over the UK.He is a regular MC at the Chippenham, Sidmouth and Towersey Festivals.
Barry presents illustrated talks on English customs, “Good Morning, Lords and Ladies” and “Traditional Treasures”, together with his wife, Gill. In 2006, Barry received the Bill Ranscombe Award from the Hertfordshire Folk Association for valuable services to English Folk Music, Dance and Song.
Barry was a member of Redbornstoke Morris from 1977 until their retirement in 2018 and was also a musician for The Outside Capering Crew.From 2009 – 2013 he was President of the Morris Federation, representing more than 450 Morris sides throughout the UK.
Recordings include Strawplait and Bonelace, Shropshire Iron, Charivari and Where The Working Boats Went (all with Graeme Meek as Life and Times).Barry’s tune, Four Up, appears on Ashley Hutchings’ Grandson of Morris On CD, and Time of Your Life feature on the EFDSS CD Keep Dancing.
Frog on a Bike has over 100 years of musicianship between them and look forward to entertaining you at your ceilidh, barn dance, wedding or festival.
Our repertoire is rooted in English folk music, both traditional and contemporary. We also boast two very talented tunesmiths of our own. However, plenty of Scottish, Irish and sometimes even French tunes are usually thrown into the mix just for good measure. We can also muster up a fine bit of harmony for some folk songs too!
All in all, we strive to play foot-stomping tunes with verve and vigour. We like to have as much fun up on stage as you do on the dance floor, so we can guarantee that you will not be able to resist getting on your feet. https://frogonabike.co.uk
SATURDAY STORY TELLER
Dave is a jobbing teller of tales, an itinerant journeyman who performs at museums, heritage sites and schools, from Lindisfarne Holy Island in the North of England, to Arundel Castle in the South. He works regularly for English Heritage and national museums like the Ashmolean and British Museum and has written three books, ‘Tudor Tales,’ ‘Norfolk Folk Tales for Children’ and ‘Medieval Tales for Children.’ He specialises in costumed historical storytelling of period rich and often irreverent tales shared by the poorer folk long ago. But of late he’s ditched his costume in favour of normal clothes and a fine trilby hat and can be heard at storytelling events including Taffy Thomas’s Tales in Trust and Festival at the Edge. That said, many of his performances still have an historical flavour with sets like Tavern Yard Tales and Dame Fortunes Wheel. theyarnsmithofnorwich.com
SATURDAY STORY TELLER
Hannah Brailsford has been described as ‘captivating, compelling, high-energy and fun. A storyteller of irresistible and charming tales.’ Her love of stories was cemented as a child when her mother told her a ‘magic’ story each night before bed.
Although, Hannah has been a professional performer for over two decades, she started her journey into and earning her living from storytelling in 2010. Telling stories to both young and old alike, she is driven by a passion to engage and inspire through storytelling and is thoroughly enjoying the experiences and lessons this path is providing.
Hannah loves to weave new worlds and adventures, taking her audience on a journey into both traditional folk and modern tales from around the world. She is particularly drawn to stories from Eastern Europe which she attributes to a life changing visit to Russia as a teenager.
She is the founder and owner of Tiny Tales Storytellers, a company that specialises in engaging children, schools and families through storytelling and holds storytelling residencies at Southend Theatres and Jacqson Diego Story Emporium. In 2016 she co-founded Spinning Yarns Theatre to bring storytelling to adult audiences through regular events in Southend on Sea where she lives.
Recognised as a first rate national caller with too many festival appearances to list, Martyn brings clear calling and an obvious enthusiasm for ceilidhs. He has written 60+ dances of his own and has a good rapport with the bands he works with.
A ceilidh dancer since primary school, a morris dancer since university, a rapper dancer since Crook FDG and a deep passion for several folk genre styles including American Contra, Playford, Fallibroome. His most fervent wish is that dancers have a great time.
Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie, who form the heart of Bayou Seco, have been researching and playing the music of the Southwest - from the Mississippi River to the deserts of Arizona - for thirty nine years. Respectfully drawing from these traditions and from their own ancestors, they present to the public an exciting and informative overview of Southwestern music on diatonic accordions, fiddles, guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica.
Jeanie has been a professional musician since 1962, performing in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with Sandy and Jeanie and The Delta Sisters and the Harmony Sisters. During the past 30 years, she has been the head of a school of fiddle instruction for children called ‘The Fiddling Friends,’ which focuses on an international repertoire of fiddle styles and music, with an emphasis on the sources of the music, including personal contact with traditional musicians.
Being from a very musical family from New Mexico, Arizona and California, Ken, a fourth generation Southwesterner, grew up with the music of the region, He has been a professional musician since 1972 and has performed all over North America and Europe. He is also a violin maker and, with his partner Peter White, has made over 150 instruments that are being played throughout the United States.
Bayou Seco's brand of Southwestern Chilegumbo - Cajun two-steps, waltzes, polkas and rancheras, chotis's, meringues and huapangos, and, perhaps a broom dance, is crosscultural, multi-lingual and transcends labels and pigeon holes. Bayou Seco's roots are in the deep south and southwest, but their branches reach far across the world. Find out a lot more at www.bayouseco.com
Pete Coe has had more than 50 years of music making on the English folk scene. His contributions include traditional song research, song writing in traditional style, the founding of several seminal bands (the founder member and visionary force behind The New Victory Band, Bandoggs and Red Shift) plus solo and duo performances, dance calling, recording, field research, local folk activism in Ryburn Three Step and teaching at various levels.
Together with his wife, Sue, he received theGold Badge Awardfrom the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) in 2016 for their outstanding contributions to folk dance, music or song.
Aka Doughboy Zydecajun, aka The Schlagerlouts- are well known throughout the UK playing a mixture of English, Latvian, Cajun and American roots music.
Their musical heritage emerges from the Baltic shores of Latvia, flies over the wild hills of Wannie, meanders through the quiet lanes of Northamptonshire and is absorbed into the steamy bayous of Louisiana.
Northamptonshire’s most versatile and long-lived folk band, who can play pretty much anything, with some justification lay claim to being the world’s only Anglo-Latvian Zydecajun Ceilidh band! Well known and hugely popular on the East Midland folk scene, Bob & Dace Fisher, Janis & Jo Zakis and Robin Hillman play a vast array of instruments, including fiddle, guitar, concertina, melodeon, percussion, clarinet, tenor & soprano saxophone, and above all piano accordion to create the famed Ock ‘n’ Dough wall of sound! www.ockndough.co.uk .With numerous albums under their belt, they released a new recordingComing Homein 2015 and in 2020 a free-to-download album of 1930’s Latvian dancehall music under The Schlagerlouts available on their website
A three part harmony group comprising Ruth Price and Terry & Linda Dix. Three powerful and authentic folk voices combined to chilling effect. There’s nothing sweet about these harmonies so prepare to feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck!
Ruth Price, Terry and Linda Dix got together in 2005 to form hex. They wanted to resurrect folk songs that have been neglected over recent years and to perform them at festivals and folk clubs.
Woody still sings the odd song. He mainly plays dance tunes on hammered dulcimer and melodeon and with wife, Maggie, leads local ceilidh band, The Fruitcakes.
Pre-Covid they ran the monthly traditional music concerts at The Barn in Baston and were regulars at local music sessions. For the last few years they have helped lead music and song sessions at the prestigious Shrewsbury Folk Festival and have attended most Strawbear weekends since 'the Old King died'.