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FOLK COLLECTED: Weekly look at the folk scene in Bury St Edmunds (February 20-27)

The article this week is from the lead singer and multi instrumentalist in the band Invisible Navvies of Utopia, Joe Scanlan.

The Navvies as they are affectionately known are a local six piece band who play a mixture of traditional and modern folk music from Scotland, Ireland and, of course, England. The line-up is Joe on guitar and vocals, Steve Martin on bass, Brendan Routledge on bouzouki, Sarah Moss on fiddle, Ann Harvey plays whistles and recorder and Birgitta Campbell-Johnson who is the ceilidh caller and plays fiddle. For more information contact Joe (01284 760835) or Brendan (07865 070322).

The Navvies can be seen at the Bury Folk Collective, Oakes Barn, Bury St Edmunds, on March 29. Not to be missed. BK

Folk music: What’s that?

Folk music is not as easy to to describe as one might first think. What is it anyway? Broadly speaking it is the music of the people by the people and for the people. Folk music is often thought of as traditional, old and probably dying out, but what about modern songwriters, are they to be called folk songwriters? I would argue that they are. What about world music, blues, country, gospel, or pop music that is showing some signs of ageing?

Some traditionalists would argue that this is not folk music at all but what about those traditional songs a day or two after they were written? Were they not as much folk songs then as they are now.

There still remains plenty of quality instrumental folk music, traditional dance, rural and local accompanied and unaccompanied singing – truly beautiful old songs about life, its ups, downs and trials and tribulations, but you’ll have to track this down, put prejudice aside and enjoy it for what it is. You may even have a go at singing along yourself as most of the songs have infectious choruses.

One grassroots movement enjoying a revival is a capella Shape Note Singing – a simplified American participatory four part harmony notation system dating back to 1800. Despite its religious origins it is finding a new and unlikely home among young urbanites in a secular world fed up with fakery and the arts as a spectator sport. Its appeal lies in its non-commercial ethos, shared food, powerful harmonies and accessibility.

“I’d go a thousand miles to sing this music, I wouldn’t cross the street to hear it,” says a veteran shape note singer.

If there are any shape note singers out there it would be worth a meet up at the Bury Folk Collective. JS

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – Milkmaid Folk Club: Constitutional Club, Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds. Concert by Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts.

Support by Tilly Dalglish. Doors 7.45pm. Friends £10, non-members £12.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – Learn to play the Bodhran, for complete beginners: The Centre, St John’s Street, Bury. Five-week course. 7.15-9pm. £75. To book a place call 07917 624 381 or email sue_szymanski@hotmail.com

Drum can be provided.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – Poets Aloud: Bay Tree Café, St John’s Street, Bury. 7.30pm.£2 on door. Offers a sympathetic platform to local poets. First time readersvery welcome. Contact Rob on 01284 701947 or visit


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – Milkmaid Folk Club: Constitutional

Club, Bury. Showcase. 8pm. Roger Gamble with support.


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