Jon and Hilary McNamara (no relation) have given long and dedicated service to the promotion of folk music in and around Hertfordshire for over forty years. Sadly, as the lease runs out on the Royal British Legion club in Windhill, Bishop's Stortford where the club takes place, it looks like Stortfolk will be closing in July this year.
We have always enjoyed our trips to Barnet Folk Club. Organiser JJ Dunne and his partner Jenny have always been most welcoming and their enthusiasm for the widest range of folk music has been evident throughout the time we have known them.
What a great evening it was last night at Redbourn Folk Club; an intimate space, packed to the rafters. As Na-Mara starts a busy sequence of gigs over the coming weeks and months, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Redbourn Folk Club, run by Malcolm Hobbs, Jenny McNaught and others has been a big supporter of our music ever since we started and it is always a pleasure to return there. Its proximity to where we live also means that a lot of our friends and local followers can get along quite easily.
It was a real pleasure to return to Cambridge Folk Club last Friday evening and to see so many old friends.
We were there to support Brooks Williams. Brooks has a widespread reputation for excellent guitar playing, finely wrought songs and for being a very friendly guy and we certainly experienced all of that. He was generous with his time and comments and was clearly and rightly loved by his many followers there to see him.
Nearly all of the musicians involved in the 80th Anniversary concert commemorating the Battle of Jarama were up early on Saturday morning (18th February). There was a full and stimulating day ahead.
A small fleet of taxis was waiting to whisk us away to the area in Rivas-Vaciamadrid where the Charlie Donnelly memorial stands. Arriving well ahead of members of the Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland and other fellow attendees for the monument’s rededication ceremony, we were able to grab a coffee and something to eat in a swish new sports centre nearby.
Below is an account of the first of two dayd in Madrid when we were honoured by the Friends of the International Brigades In Ireland (FIBI) with an invitation to perform two concerts in Rivas-Vaciamadrid to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, where, alongside Republican forces, the British, Irish, Garibaldi, Dmitrov, 6th February and Thalmann Battalions, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and many others fought heroically to halt the advance of fascist forces on Madrid.
Those who know our music will be aware that we do a lot of work with the International Brigades Memorial Trust. As such, it was a great honour to be invited to participate in one of a series of events to commemorate and remember the courage and sacrifice of the brave men and women who went to fight and to care for fighters in the battle against Franco's fascists in the second half of the 1930s.
You can’t beat spending an evening with friends and that is what we had last night in our home town of St Albans, courtesy of Folk at the Maltings and event organiser, Alison MacFarlane.
As can be seen from the accompanying photos (with many thanks to our pal Ray Smith for taking them and sending them over), the Maltings is an intimate auditorium that invites a listening atmosphere. This is ideal for us and the stories we tell.
For the final day of our four day trip to Yorkshire we had been invited to perform at an event to raise funds for a more fitting memorial than currently exists to eight International Brigaders who left the city to fight in the Spanish Civil War. It was an honour to be invited to perform and we very much looked forward to performing alongside punk folk hero Joe Solo.
After two excellent nights at the Topic Folk Club in Bradford and Folk at the Grove in Leeds, we set off in good time from our base in Rawden to travel, first, to have something to eat in Saltburn with senior club member at The White Hart Folk Club, Kevin Hall, and then to travel on to the club itself.