Famous Folk Stars of Tomorrow Arrive in Barney

Press Release, 16 February 2015

Some of freshest faces in folk music will be raising the rafters at one of Teesdale’s most historic venues later this month. Final year students from Newcastle University’s Folk and Traditional Music degree course have teamed up with Teesdale’s youth folk band Cream Tees to perform at The Witham, Barnard Castle, on Friday, February 27th.

Guitarists Graeme Armstrong and Alasdair Paul, fiddlers Grace Smith and Niles Krieger, singer Rachel Hamer, flutist Sam Partridge, bodhran player Callum Young and mandolin player Tom Kimber

Guitarists Graeme Armstrong and Alasdair Paul, fiddlers Grace Smith and Niles Krieger, singer Rachel Hamer, flutist Sam Partridge, bodhran player Callum Young, and mandolin player Tom Kimber gearing up for their Showcase concert at The Witham on Friday, 27 February 2015.

The show, organised as part of the Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) project, will bring together some of the UK’s youngest talent in what promises to be rip-roaring gig in the recently refurbished venue. M@HoT researcher Mike Bettison said,“The concert is a fantastic opportunity for audiences to see how successfully both the students and the youngsters involved with the project have worked together. The aim of M@HoT is to revive the folk music, song and dance scene in Teesdale and I think everyone will agree that these talented youngsters have managed to do just that.”

“We are really delighted to introduce these fine young musicians to the Witham’s audience,” said Katy Taylor, Programming Manager at The Witham.“We’re looking forward to a varied programme performed by these highly talented musicians and performers.” Among them are fiddler Grace Smith and flautist Sam Partridge who have been working with Cream Tees this year. In fact they are no strangers to the Witham’s stage as they also appeared at the “Rooted” concert last November which saw the première of the band’s own “Teesdale Suite”.

Sam Partridge and Grace Smith at The Witham

Sam Partridge and Grace Smith on stage at the “Rooted” concert at The Witham, 28 November 2014. (Photo by Neil Diment.)

The students are already beginning to make a name for themselves in different bands. Grace plays with the Lindie Quartet who have just released their first CD, while Sam plays with “Pons Aelius” a newly formed band named after the Roman fort that the “new castle” was later built on. Described as a “contemporary instrumental folk sextet” they perform music influenced by the traditional repertoires of Britain and Ireland and recently wowed audiences and won awards at the “Celtic Connections” festival in Glasgow. Sam and Grace have also played together with the Rachel Hamer Band since 2013, and they too are getting great reviews for their performances in folk clubs and festivals in and around the region. These three will be joined on the Witham stage by guitarists Graeme Armstrong and Alasdair Paul, fiddlers Niles Krieger and Jennie Beasty, singer Jennie Lascelles, Callum Younger on bodhran and Tom Kimber on mandolin—all of them names to look out for in the future!

Before the concert the students will also be leading a workshop with Cream Tees in the music hall. “I’m really enjoying working with Cream Tees and the M@HoT project,” said Grace.“I’ve been so impressed by the playing and composing skills of the group. It is a privilege to work with such enthusiastic young musicians.” M@HoT project co-ordinator Neil Diment added,“It’s great how The Witham are not only putting on some top folk acts now but are also championing young folk musicians right here in Barnard Castle.”

Cream Tees will be opening the concert with a couple of the tunes that the students have been teaching them.“Grace and Sam have been teaching our young musicians some tunes—and a song—that Mike has discovered as part of his work delving into the heritage of folk songs and tunes from Teesdale,” explained Neil. “Among these are a couple of tunes called the Liverpool and Steamboat Hornpipes, which Mike found a recording by Peter Kennedy of Sam Fawcett playing up in Baldersdale in 1953. It’s great to see the different parts of the project now starting to come together. Mike’s research is being fed into the repertoire of our young musicians.”

The M@HoT project has recently won two awards for its work over its first three years—first the Teesdale Mercury’s Pride of Teesdale “Young Achievers” award and most recently as finalist in the Teesdale Business Awards for “Best Community Engagement” project. Speaking after the TBA ceremony, Neil said,“It is fantastic to get this recognition for all the hard work and effort that has gone into getting the project going—from the project team, our tutors, parents, friends, supporters and volunteers and, not least of course, from our wonderful young musicians and dancers. I do hope people will come out on the night and support that work, and The Witham, and see for themselves these emerging musical talents—before they become famous!—and that these awards were well-deserved.”

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8/£6, available in person from the Witham, tel. 01833 631107 or online at: www.thewitham.org.uk.