St Albans Folk Festival starts Monday

THE ANNUAL St Albans Folk Festival gets underway next Monday, June 25, with two main events and plenty of other entertainment involving leading local performers, professional guests and New Roots competition finalists.

The two highlights are the Festival weekend on June 30 and July 1 and St Michael’s Street Folk evening on Wednesday, July 4.

The festival as a whole opens next Monday with an evening of Cotswold morris dancing by St Albans Morris Men and Appalachian-style step dancing by Tappalachian in the garden of the White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans.

Next Thursday, June 28, finds four of the young finalists in New Roots 2012, Danny Pedler and Rosie Butler-Hall, Jess & Tom, Katherine Hurdley and Kelly Wade appearing at a special showcase event at the Hollybush Folk Club in Redbourn.

A Day of Dance will be held in the city centre and a Day of Music in the Town Hall on Saturday, June 30, the latter leading into the Festival Concert in the same venue.

The Day of Dance will start with a display of morris dancing by all the groups in the Civic Centre outside the Alban Arena at 10.30am. From 11.45am, the dancers will tour the city centre including the Clock Tower, Christopher Place, The Maltings, and the west front of the Abbey, meeting up at Fighting Cocks at 4.15pm.

The Day of Music will offer a variety of songs and music in the Old Town Hall, with a programme of performances in the Court Room, singarounds in the cells, and informal sessions and a slide guitar workshop led by guest artist Phillip Henry in the Assembly Room.

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There will also be stalls with art and crafts by members of Herts Visual Arts and admission to the event is free.

The Folk Festival concert will feature a duo, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, who are rising names on the folk scene. Combining influences as diverse as English folk music, Indian classical music and American blues, they have played everywhere from Maida Vale Studios to Nashville, Tennessee, and are regulars on the festival circuit.

Support will be provided by New Roots 2012 finalists, The Beldons, from a family which has always sung together and have been regulars in local folk clubs in Newcastle for a while.

Tickets for the festival concert cost �12, �10 student concessions and are available from St Albans Tourist Information Centre, 01727 864511 or online at

The weekend will finish with a day of informal sessions and singarounds on Sunday, July 1, at the Boot, the Lower Red Lion and the Portland Arms.

The 25th annual St Michael’s Street folk evening is on Wednesday, July 4. Traffic will give way to music and dancing when St Michael’s Street will be closed from 8pm to 10pm. After the street re-opens, music and singing will continue until closing time in the four pubs.

The festival closes on Friday, July 6, when the Devine Family takes the stage at the Maltings Arts Theatre supported by New Roots 2011 finalist, Ollie King.

The Devine Family are John Devine on uilleann pipes, keyboards, whistles, vocals, drums and percussion, Caz Devine on saxophones, whistles, bass and percussion and Joe Devine on tenor banjo, guitar and bass. The trio plays original songs of love, loss and hope mixed with classic Irish songs and traditional Irish music.