A first visit to the Topic Folk Club, Bradford, 22nd September 2016

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, we set off for our first port of call on what was to be a four day musical trip to Yorkshire.

Blessed by having family in the county, we headed for Rawden near Pudsey where a very welcome meal awaited us on arrival. Sadly, an accident on the A1 had delayed our arrival there by an hour - so we ate quickly, made our apologies and headed for the famous Topic Folk Club in central Bradford to perform a brief set in an evening headed by US folk singers Dana and Susan Robinson.

The Topic Folk Club takes place in a very pleasant, intimate, performance area on the ground floor in a fine old building (Glyde House) in the city centre. With no further interruptions, we found a nearby spot to park and arrived in good time to find the club already filling up in readiness for Dana and Susan Robinson’s performance. We were warmly greeted by club organiser Rahel Guzelian and introduced to MC for the evening, Rob, who showed us to an area behind the club room where we could tune up and get ready.

Very kindly, MC Rob allowed us to kick the evening off with three songs. These seemed to go down very well with club members and it was nice to chat about them with club members at the break and after the show. Dana and Susan then came on stage for their first set. Talented multi-instrumentalists, both blessed with excellent voices and the capacity for close harmony, their blend of self-penned material and traditional music was excellent and very much appreciated by a now full room.

We chatted briefly with both club members and with Dana and Susan at the break and were then treated to longstanding club member John Waller’s three part song, written to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Topic Folk Club. John had identified three historical events that had occurred within weeks of the first opening of the Topic folk Club in 1956, the Hungarian uprising, Suez Canal and the first expression of struggle over segregated buses in southern USA, and melded them together using a common link section. This cleverly assembled ten minute song was as epic in construction as it was interesting to listen to. Bravo.

Dana and Susan then took to the stage again and provided an excellent second set which again showed their immense versatility; humour and heartbreak, contemporary and traditional, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and a cappella harmony - a tour de force from a very lovely duo.

Many thanks to Rahel Guzelian and to MC Rob for their warm welcome to the Topic Folk Club. We sincerely hope to visit the club again in the future and we wish the club and all its members a very happy 60th birthday!