LARKS NEWS



March 2018

When Gerry Colvin and his band visited The Milkmaid on Friday, it was a great night to be part of. One to challenge preconceptions of folk clubs. A full house which included school children singing along to, applauding generously, even cheering an evening of almost exclusively original music. The nearest we got to Trad was the only cover song of the evening, our version of Crazy Man Micheal, pert of The Larks support set.
With another evening of new music at the Songwriting Final on Tuesday The Milkmaid is certainly not living in the past...

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January
2018

After our first set at Loughton Folk Club last Thursday, my Auntie Mary, a 70 year old folk club virgin, asked if all Folk Clubs are like this. Our answer was that they usually are and that, in our experience, Loughton always is.
I believe that she was thoroughly entertained by the two Johns, who performed before us with their songs of Gypsies, tales of dysfunctional Christmas and Peter’s poetry about the loss of another local pub.
The audience listened silently to all the performers, singing along when the chance arose and applauded generously, heckling MC Garry and at least one of the Johns in a good natured way.
One or two of them even bought some of our CDs when the banter paused at half time.
We thoroughly enjoyed entertaining this crew with songs ranging from The Lark in the Morning to In These Shoes ? And from the whimsy of our song Paxton’s Delight to the misery of The Death of Queen Jane and our song Nightingale. We finished with Big Yellow Taxi. Appropriate in hindsight, bearing in mind the fate of Peter’s local pub.
We look forward to returning.
I hope Aunty Mary does too....





December 2017


After 8 years we finally graduated to appearing on The Angel Hill Stage at The Christmas Fayre. We also had fun playing on The Haart Stage on Friday. We are grateful to all those who lobbed money into my guitar case for Myeloma UK. We raised £65.

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2017 - the Larks 10th Birthday

We celebrated 10 years of playing together with a couple of lovely evenings.

We invited Cambridge and Walker to play at Petrus in Bury St Edmunds and had a delightful evening of music and drink.

The we celebrated in our own village of Beyton at the White Horse, joined by Ross Burkett, local heroes Anslem and Kirsty, and then the Wilsons. It was well supported by the village and great fun.

Finally we put together a CD of live songs recorded at Colchester Folk Club, which is in a delightful church venue with lovely acoustics.




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2017

We have enjoyed a series of delightful gigs to start the year ...


supporting a rock band, the Outliars, at the Haymakers pub in Cambridge, where we found a receptive and chatty audience

a trip up to the Albatross to play on the boat - we were encourage to learn Dido's 'Thankyou' and it has become a setlist staple...

Folk All Dayer - a great full day of music where we found a warm audience in the Green Room

Chris' daughter's wedding - an honour to play for their first dance ...

Waltham le Willows Fundraiser - an eclectic evening of music where we found another delightful audience who discovered that they really rather enjoy a bit of folk ...

Petrus Wine Bar - always a good night - we busked request ' where do you go to my lovely ' and had the whole bar singing!

Open Stage at the White Horse - we ran a popular session - music continued late into the night and performers came from far and near

Cambridge Folk Club Showcase - a great pleasure to return to the Club and find the audience in good voice!

Shepreth Plough - Hurrah - a true music pub with good beer and food




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December 2016

We were honoured to be asked to "headline" a lovely evening of folk music in Woolpit on Saturday evening. David Scotford and Rory Sumerling managed to entice a roomful of people away from the dreaded X Factor on their tellies to listen to the songs and tunes played by the youthful Green Shoots. They were followed by the less youthful but equally expert Back in Tune ( or perhaps Mac In Tune bearing in mind the Scottish nature of the tunes that they played. ).
The Plimpies closed the first half with their exquisitely crafted original songs about Suffolk murders and other gruesome events that have come to David Scotford's eye.
Bex and Freda kicked things off nicely after the raffle with perfectly performed bittersweet original songs dwelling on relationships and  sunshine accompanied by Ukelele and percussion.
We closed the show, picking up from The Plimpies with songs about death. We then lightened things a little and had reports of a grown man being moved to tears by our rendition of The Smith's There is a Light.
Terry Walden later declared it to be "a brilliant night".
In your face X Factor !



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November 2016


The gift of The Bear Open Mic gave generously again last night. The Larks kicked things off at 9, including a freshly written song in our set. Kevin Cawser and most of his Celtam band mates followed, getting our feet tapping to some Chuck Berry tunes.

Eamonn Harvey then delivered several poems and most of a song he was in the process of writing in tribute to Leonard Cohen.
Jerry Lander, the second of the nights several Bear virgins, chose some fine songs to play. I'd never heard I Read A Lot by Nick Lowe. It was a treat to hear.
David Cambridge pretty much stole the show with his first song, John Martin's The Hurt is Gone. I loved it when I heard him play it acoustically in Oakes Barn, but his tasteful useful use of a delay pedal added a quality to it which had the bar maid in tears apparently.
The only person who could follow that would be Anselm. He transported us gleefully back to Eighties. He can now add Simple Mind's Don't You Forget About Me and Boy George's Do You Really Want to Hurt Me to his greatest hits. Kirsty joined us on stage for two more Eighties classics with the congregation singing along to Temptation and Don't You Want me Baby ? before giving us another top Russian lesson. After checking that we were past the watershed she left us with Cee Lo Green's F••k You, ably embellished by Simon the Sax Madden. Simon kept centre stage to join us on another Cee Lo Green song Crazy. He also played later with David Cambridge and joined us to revive Stand By Me, accompanied by Celtam's percussionist Jack. But not before the last Bear Virgin, Aiden McCusker, our first Manx citizen, had performed Allelulia.
Hannah the landlady quickly sorted Wednesday December 28th as the date for Christmas Open Mic. She is obviously looking forward to seeing and hearing what gifts will be unwrapped .....



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October 2016

Once again we were reminded of the glamour of gigging last night. We each dashed home early from work to get on the road at 5.20 to arrive in good time for our 8pm appearance at Loughton Folk Club. As news came that the M11 was blocked we tried to formulate a plan avoiding the numerous queues that were forming around the south bound arteries of Cambridgshire as darkness fell. After visiting a school car park in Saffron Walden by mistake and villages such as Arkesden, Clavering and Steventon End on purpose, we finally arrived in Loughton, only a few minutes late.
Happily, excellent floor singers were entertaining the audience in our absence. After enjoying their last song we played a short set which was well received, we settled down to enjoy Chris Ronald and John Ellis's set. This was a series of original songs and a beautifully played cover of Neil Young's Cowgirl in the Sand. After the raffle we managed get people singing along to Big Yellow Taxi during our second set, then gave way for Chris and John to treat us to songs like his one analogising the actions of fracking companies with malaria spreading mosquitoes. Their unamplified guitars sounded great together and I thoroughly enjoyed watching John performing the licks and leads that perfectly enhanced Chris's cleverly constructed songs.
Chris got his Ukelele to finish with a great singalong about retirement.
After chatting with happy audience members, including London based friends and family, we were happy to discover that our journey home was considerably more straight forward than our earlier cross country odyssey.




August 2016


We, and many other local music lovers, had a top time on the Sunday of FolkEast.

We had both been away from our music for over a week, spending more time cycling than plucking strings or singing. With this in mind our first job after collecting our wristbands was to run through our set in the out field away from the stages but attractively close for Liz to a Fire Engine.

After this we dumped our instruments behind the Grass Roots Stage, where we were excited to meet the legend that is Andy Irvine doing more or less the same thing.
We rambled off looking for food and also took in some songs by Doairi Farrell. We bought a programme and we're thrilled to gaze at our image lined up next to the great and the good of the National and Local Folk Music scene. We relaxed in The Soap Box Stage listening to Norwich folk supergroup Alden, Patterson and Dashwood's lovely combination of sounds including dobros, fiddle and harmonies, before returning to The Broad Roots Stage to catch as much of Andy Irvine's wonderful playing and singing before our own sound check.
We performed on The Broad Roots Club Stage to a good sized audience. We opened with The Death of Queen Jane, gave Tim Buckley's Song to the Siren its first festival outing in our hands and finished with Big Yelllow Taxi. We feel badly about not playing a song with a train in it, bearing in mind the steam whistle of the steam roller outside that contributed the the latter part of our set !

After chatting with head Plimpie David Scotford at the merchandise table we grabbed a longed for pint and sat on the grass to listen to Luke Jackson's tight set. Jackson boosted his sound with a bass drum while his bass player added harmonies. This, with, Luke's powerful, beautifully controlled voice filled the stage.
After dragging our instruments back to the car we returned for more beer and took in The John Ward Band's great set. The whole band balanced their sound perfectly but the complex but well judged runs and licks from John's guitarist caught my ear particularly.

A visit to the music stalls earned me a chance to play luthier Adrian Lucas's beautiful sounding guitar, such volume and quality of sound from a relatively small light body.
We finished our day bouncing around the mosh pit as Sam Kelly's band nursed him through his birthday hangover by ripping up trad and self penned tunes and blasting out Fleetwood Mac's The Chain.

We were only there for a day but it was lovely to see how much John and Rebecca Marshall~Potter have succeeded in growing FolkEast since our last visit in 2013. It is truly established on the British music scene .

Thanks to David Scotford for the on stage photo


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August 2016 - Cambridge Folk Festival

We had a busy time playing at Cambridge Folk Festival, but managed to catch some great acts and have a few carefully timed drinks while remaining sharp enough to play ( and drive home).

We started by meeting Les Ray at the Club Tent. After chatting to friends Emily Mae Winters and Jeremy Harmer, who had taken our usual spot at the head of the queue for a guest slot to play at the Cambridge Folk Club session, we were taken through some barriers to the media area. As media folk like Sue Marchant sipped their coffee nearby we performed Caistermen live on air for Cambridge 105 during a quiet spot in Megsons set, which was booming out on the main stage a few meters away. We then chatted on air with Les about our song and the joy of queueing ( outside the club tent ).

After chatting with the editor of FATEA online music magazine we repaired to the Guinness Tent, where people gathered to play Big Jenga and listen to music played by Irish Session musicians. We fell into conversation with a local Irish festival stalwart John Allen and ended up playing him our version of The Lark in the Morning. We hovered between The Den and The Club Stage for the rest of the afternoon, pausing at Stage 2 to heckle Chris Wood after he tried out an Irish song on us in preparation for playing it at a family wedding the next day. Thomas McCarthy sang some wonderful unaccompanied songs for The Black Fen Club in The Club Tent.

At 6.45 we were back stage with our friends from Cambridge Folk Club to tune our instruments in preparation for our set. Less nervous than in previous years, we enjoyed singing The Death of Queen Jane, got people singing along to Caistermen and delivered the only David Bowie tribute at the festival that we are aware of, our version of Ziggy Stardust. We finished the set with Glisten and made way for Brian McNeil and his many instruments to come on stage.
We grabbed a Cider as he began his set and made our way to catch KT Tunstall's last song. We left Glen Hansard and his huge band to see what else was on offer and found the glorious Vent du Nord rocking their Québécois diddly dee, getting Stage 2 bouncing. We returned to the Club tent in time to catch our friend Emma Mae Winter's set. She finished with a beautifully sung rendition of a Yeats poem, Down by Sally Gardens. Next up were our friends Bop House Blue. They got the Club Tent dancing with their blues standards punctuated by solos from Mike Clifford on Sax and Flute, Chris Newman and Brooks Williams on guitars.

We dashed backstage to grab our instruments and drag them back to the car, as we had been asked to play a Showcase Set at midnight on Terry Walden's Milkmaid stage at Coldham Common campsite. We were expecting to be playing a few up beat covers at the end of an open mic session, but we arrived to find that we were following some very good acts, with the superb Kevin Walford and Kelly Pritchard following us. The Georgia Shackleton Trio were billed to finish the night. After some consideration we kicked off our set with Jackson and Caistermen and finished with another rendition of Ziggy Stardust. We were rewarded with a beer from an audience member, whose friend had been calmed down by our music as he was verging on belligerent behavior under the influence !
Kev and Kelly ripped it up on stage and then joined us to watch Georgia and her mates dazzle us with their musicality.
We finished our beers and happily drove home through the rain, with a feeling that somehow we might come of age as folk musicians....







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You can hear our interview with Les Ray on Cambridge 105 here, along with us singing Caistermen - you can hear Stage 1 at Cambridge Folk Festival pretty clearly too!

https://soundcloud.com/hearks/the-larks-on-cambridge-105-at-cambridge-folk-festival



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July 2016 - Bury Folk Festival and Folk in a Field

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The Larks had the pleasure of playing at two folk festivals this weekend. They were different in many ways but were both charming in their settings and intent.

Saturday afternoon found us in the walled garden at Nowton Park for the second Bury Folk Festival. This was set up and run by the people of the Bury Folk Collective and their friends. A large marquee provided the main performance area, though most of the audience basked in the sunshine just outside, taking shelter or putting up brollies to defy the occasional shower. Ross Burkitt and his family stole the show in the afternoon with their tight harmonies and beautifully played arrangements of well chosen songs. Kate Bush would have loved their version of Running Up That Hill. We had the unenviable task of following the precise guitar playing and passionate voice of Richard Byers. Our harmonies helped us cope. The big guns of SoundTradition, Two Coats Colder, The Malingerers and The Bounty Hounds finished proceedings, with Hannah Sander's set shining out as the sun began to sink to the horizon.

On Sunday morning we wandered into the clearing in the woods north of Swaffham that is Folk in a Field. Like the Bury Festival, it was the second edition of this festival. Staging Bury festival was the hard work of a committee. In contrast Folk in a Field is the extraordinary dream of one man, Luke Horncastle, who, sure enough, was there to meet us at the entrance. He had been working away for months committing his time and money to making this event happen for the 500 or more festival goers who came this year. When we arrived most of them seemed to be sleeping off multiple hangovers brought on by frenetic partying to the headline set of Ferocious Dog the night before and late night drinking and singing around a massive firepit.
A small posse had gathered to catch Front Porch's breakfast set in the warm morning sunshine. We slipped back stage to get our voices into shape. The crowd had swollen by the time we took the stage and realised we were in for a treat performing our songs in glorious on stage sound to such a tranquil setting. As the chords of our last song, Chelsea Morning, still hung in the air, we were delighted to be approached by a couple from Hemsby asking if they could use our song Caister Men as part of the repertoire of their Community Choir.
We were joined by the bar by Moose and other members of Sound Tradition and later watched their set from the back of the clearing, near the baked potato wagon.
The expert guitar playing of Andy Wall entertained us as we relaxed and reflected on the festival weekend with our friends before heading home through the sunny Norfolk countryside, happy to have been part of two lovely events that were such chilled, beautiful experiences for festival goers and performers alike. Hats off to the organizers and special hats off to the sound guys who were awesome at both festivals.






April May 2016


Springtime has seen us continue busy ...

We were the filling in a Barbershop sandwich in Cambridge - 'Viva Las Vegas concert' with the Cambridge Chord Company and Viva A Cappella - we love singing in a church and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Met a lovely gentlemen who enlightened us about the Guernseys (should be gansey) of Lifeboatmen, knitted in particular family patterns to identify them should the need arise ...)

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We completed in a heat of the Bury Folk Songwriting Competition, but were beaten, later to be selected as Wild Cards for the final which we are finding very exciting ...



February 2016

We drove up to Norwich to take part in Jurnet Bar's Bowie Tribute Night, hosted by Andrew Taylor and Chad Mason. We'd put in a fair amount of work learning 3 now songs - Wild is the Wind, Golden Years and Ziggy Stardust. It was a stunning evening of music, and they have uploaded a number of performances onto Youtube so you can investigate - here is our clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJz_FU8Hods&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop



November 2015

We had our second performance of the Autumn in a church this week.
Colchester Folk Club meet in the converted church that is Colchester Arts Centre on Monday evenings. This week we were lucky enough to be supporting Anna Massey and Mairearad Green. Their sets sounded glorious, a wall of sound from only two instruments and two beautiful voices, managed by sound man Chris to make the most of the wonderful acoustic of the old church.
Happily Chris recorded our set for us. I've posted it below. You will be able to hear that if you get a chance to trust your sound to Chris at Colchester Arts Centre, you are in for a bit of a treat .

https://soundcloud.com/thelarks/colchester-folk-club




November 2015

Club Uniquity is an amazing place. Were it situated in a cool part of Camden, or down a side street near The Cavern in Liverpool it would still be an amazing place but the fact that it sits down the remote country lane to a riverside marina at the watery border between Norfolk and Suffolk ramps the amazingness up a few notches. What looks like a shed from the outside turns out to be a temple to live and usually original music, lit by multicoloured lights, lined with classic images from modern music and furnished with Zebra print furniture and mirrored tables. Having been there a couple of years ago we didn't have our breath taken away by the surprise on entering. That was done by the first artist of the night, Andrew Taylor. During relaxed banter with MC, sound man and general Mr Club Uniquity, Paul Johnson, he revealed that he barely gigs these days. I can't imagine how his performances are when he's in the gigging groove but his beautiful singing allied with original guitar work and words were about the best thing I've heard all year. It was as if Guy Garvey had dropped in to try out a few songs on his acoustic guitar.
Next up were 2 fifths of a band called Little Big Mouth who's guitar licks and bass runs were tight as a drum. Their harmony rich Americana must have gone down well when they played The Soapbox stage at Folkeast this summer.
The Larks were on next. We delivered a smorgasbord of original, contemporary and trad folk, taking in the misery of Nightingale and the fun of our new song On the Road. Following us were The Junk Shop Poets who are another original Norfolk gem. Hard to categorise, there was a hint of Jamie T to their sound. Their inter song banter and brutally honest lyrics made for top entertainment.
Finishing the evening were The Fools Moon who took us on a psychedelic acid trip back to the late sixties. Two lads played electric guitars and sang, supported by a cool long haired drummer and an upright bass player who looked like he might be descended from the petrol pump attendant in Deliverance. They played long rambling songs with names like Wizard's Hat and Magic Carpet.
Elsewhere this might have been surprising.
But not at Club Uniquity.



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October 2015


Liz and I reminded each other that we may never get used to the glamour of folk as we drove our dishevelled gig wagon through one of the less fashionable areas of Lowestoft, looking for the community centre that is the latest venue used by Waveney Folk Club. Apparently they had to move from the crumbling theatre they previously occupied for years before part of it crumbled onto one of their congregation. However, a folk club, like any other club, is not a building, but the people within and Waveney Folk Club is not crumbling. Peter and Mal, who greeted us when we stepped uncertainly into the hall, attracted a good sized audience for a night when there wasn't a big name artist pulling in occasional attendees. When the lights went down for the floor singers to entertain us with melodeons, guitars and unaccompanied singing the place became a fine venue with a wonderful acoustic, supporting Pete's assurance that amplification wasn't necessary. In fact, as we worked through our second set, after we had played a few songs that our audience could join us in the chorus we found that the quieter we played, the more magical the atmosphere became as the audience seemed to hang on each note we sang or played. If you can have that, why would you want glamour ?


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October 2015


It is difficult to think of a more picturesque setting than the Food Fayre
at Wimpole Hall on Saturday afternoon. Martin Kaszak had done all the hard
work setting his PA and we just wandered up and played 45 minutes of a
mixture of cheerful and miserable folk songs, finishing with a couple of
Joni Mitchell songs to reflect the warm sunny weather. It was lovely for our
sound to be so nicely looked after by Martin. He played a nice set
accompanied by a couple of his mates, one of whom builds cigar box guitars
and it was good to bump into Les and Deirdre of Red Velvet and catch the
beginning of The Morrower's set.

We look forward to returning in December.

Though it's bound to be a bit more chilly then...

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July 31

Cambridge Folk Festival. The Festival that keeps giving.

The sun shone in The Larks again this year at Cambridge Folk Festival. We pitched up at about noon to take our place at the head of the queue of artists intent on claiming a chance to play on the stage of The Club Tent. We had a four hour wait, but the time flew by as we made friends with our queue mates, Matthew, a young lad from Tasmania, Mark and Jeremy from Cambridge and young Zoe Wren. Liz disappeared to buy coffee and came back with our favourite sound man Steve Martin who, despite having a pass which gave him the run of the festival joined us chatting to the various folky friends who dropped by or who were in and out of the Club Tent back stage area. There was even another interview with Sue Marchant for BBC Radio as she chatted to the queuers about their music.
A brief interview with our friends at Cambridge Folk Club secured us the opening 15 minute slot at 6pm. This gave us time to dump our instruments back stage and head for The Den with a burrito and a shandy to catch SeaFret playing.
Shortly afterwards we were back stage again with The Sam Kelly Trio and Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. It was quite a line up on that stage on Friday.
After a bit of a warm up we performed three of our own songs Whistle and Ride, Nightingale and Bad Things, to a generous audience as the sound of Wilco Johnson bulged the side walls if the tent. After watching our new Aussie friend Matthew perform we went to catch Peggy Seeger singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
We returned to the Club Tent to see Josiene Clarke and Ben Walker's gorgeous set. Chris Smither's set was the perfect choice to follow the beautiful melancholy of Clarke and Walker. His Songs were full of well observed humour and honesty.
We caught some of Nick Mulvey's set, my only visit to the main stage all day, and hurried back to The Club Tent to catch The Sam Kelly Trio. They played some proper folk songs, including one from Sam's native Norfolk but I'm afraid it's their covers of The Sultans of Swing and The Chain I will remember best.
CCSmugglers were the last act we saw on the Cherry Hinton site. This young band had The Den throwing all sorts of Charleston like shapes to their mixture of Tunes.
We dragged our instruments back to the car and dropped into the Coldhams Common camp stage to follow Gavin Mitchell on stage for one last blow out, getting the campers singing along to Wagon Wheel.


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July 26 - the Albatross, Wells next to the Sea

We were due to entertain hundreds of happy holiday makers as they enjoyed the sunshine on the quayside of Wells Next to the Sea. Unfortunately, instead of churning out our crowd pleasing folky pop on the deck of The Albatross, the grim, wet, English summer weather forced us below deck, where we brought a little sunshine to the tourists feeding their families Dutch pancakes and playing connect 4 in their weather proof clothing. Happily when we chatted with them afterwards, they seemed suitably warmed by our sunshine. The highlight would have to be the cheer we got from a table of Spanish students after performing Over and Over by Hot Chip. The Spanish seem to be very good at percussion !



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July 4


We had a lovely time playing a set at the first Bury Folk Festival on Saturday. Congrats to The Bury Folk Collective for staging the event so skillfully and special thanks to Steve on the sound and his assistant Gavin for the great on stage sound. After Steve's "wakeover" night in the marquee in the company of a furious thunderstorm on Friday night he looked like the man in the world most in need of speed on Saturday afternoon. Sadly the festival drugs budget was apparently not big enough to accomodate his need. We hope the festival grows so that this doesn't happen next year.

Thanks to David Cambridge for the photo.


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June 2015


It's difficult to tell who stole the show at Last Nights Americana night upstairs at Oakes Barn, Bury St Edmunds. I'm fairly sure it wasn't The Larks with our rendition of Run DMC's Walk this Way, though we felt we at least amused the audience.

It could have been Pauline having the room join in on Where Does The Time Go, or Bunny Tan getting a similar response to John Denver's High Calypso.

Some would say Kelly and Wooley, with enough instruments between them to equip an orchestra, all beautifully played at some point in a 20 minute set.

Dave and Linda of Sound Tradition laid claim to the honour with beautifully sung and played classics such as Summertime but were rivaled by Derek Tookes sheer passion for the genre. The Lonesome Whipperwill was well supported by the by now warmed up and well oiled choir.

Toots finished with their wall of sound perfectly giving the rafters a lift as Copperhead Road and Jackson were given the full treatment. It doesn't matter who stole the show. It was a top night. Get in touch with Elizabeth Miller if you want to find about the next event like this.  



May 2015

The Larks had a trip through the depths of Norfolk and out the other side ... to the coast - to play at the Albatross in Wells next to the Sea …
What a find!

This is a beautiful boat on the quay selling delicious food and offering good beer (Wherry mmm) and music.

We were relieved to have taken our small PA set-up, as we negotiated the ladder down, and Liz bravely entered best view forward through the hatch, presenting herself to those assembled in the hold below.

Happily it was Chris' birthday weekend, and he arrived bearing cake so we made friends straightaway. The audience danced the night away making his night … thank you!


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April 2015

The Larks had a trip to Norfolk on Sunday to play a set on Folkspot Radio. We were a bit early so we stopped by Castle Acre Castle to warm our voices up, sitting in the sunshine. We recorded this on Liz's phone. For those of you who don't enjoy the sound of The Larks singing,listen to the end and you will hear some proper birdsong. I think its a blackbird. Please correct me if I'm wrong...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65buiI8-ys





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Bury Song Competitions 2015

The Larks are proud to announce that we did a little better than we thought in The Milkmaid Folk Songwriting Competition. Our song was apparently considered by the judges as one of the two best songs that didn’t win its heat and we have been asked to play as finalists on Saturday 11th April at The Milkmaid Folk Club.
Sadly the better looking member of this FolkyPop Duo will be at a family Wedding, so Liz has enlisted Ross Millard to step up and tickle guitar strings while she sings Nightingale, our song based on a story by Oscar Wilde. It’s not cheerful, but we like it. Happily, so did the judges

Normal service will be restored next Wednesday 15th April when we will both take the stage at The Hunter Club to perform another new song, “Boundaries “ in The Bury Song Writing Competition. We are looking forward to performing to a full audience in a top venue and sipping a pint while listening to top performers like Andrea King perform their new songs.



Bury Folk Song Competition 2015

I’m not sure what was on telly last night, but I am fairly sure it wasn’t as good as what The Larks watched as we prepared ourselves for, and recovered from our performance in The Milkmaid Folk Songwriting Competition.
We first witnessed Terence Blacker airing his considerable and well considered guitar skills as he sang three elegantly eloquent songs that were drenched in humour and well observed humanity.
After that The Tin Heart Troubadours showed that in the right hands a guitar, a cello, a dobro and three part harmonies can create a wall of noise that would sound perfectly at home on any of the Cambridge Folk Festival Stages. Happily, there was a break before we delivered our offering. Our Competition Song “Nightingale”, is based on Oscar Wilde’s truly miserable little fable about a nightingale giving its life in the name of love so that a student could give the object of his desire the right coloured rose. It is just my guitar and Liz’s voice. It seemed to be well received. At the very least everybody kept suitably silent for the duration. Finally Charlie Law delivered three songs, varying in volume and tempo, with a well judged protest song about religious intolerance providing a suitable finale to a top set, with clever, subtle use of dynamic guitar playing to embellish heart felt sentiment. The judges asked The Troubadours to progress to the final. It seemed a shame to name a winner, creating three “losers”. Though on the other hand, if there wasn’t a competition, we would all have probably been at home watching telly…..

March 2015

This Sunday morning we had the pleasure of appearing on stage at Cambridge Folk Club as part of Red Velvet's music marathon. It has become something of an institution and, as you can see from the T Shirt this year attracted a wonderful lineup of artists. We are proud to be on it. Les and Deirdre , Red Velvet , hope to raise £6000 for The Arthur Rank Hospice.
 It was a poignant moment when I realised that Marina Florence was performing her beautiful set in front of a photograph of Deirdre's brother Gerard, who spent the last days of a full, but cruelly shortened life in the comfort of the  care of The Rank Hospice.

If you are inspired to donate, here is the Just Giving page.


https://www.justgiving.com/RedVelvet2015/



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2015

We have started 2015 with some lovely performances.

In January we stepped in at the last music with a set for Wired Folk at Bury Folk Collective - as always a lovely evening at our local Folk Club.

We had a little foray to Oxford to help the Trophy Cabinet out with some recording, followed by an incredible trip to Rankin's photography studio for a Band portrait - as experience we will treasure …
Trophy Cabinet music available here if you are interested in something rather different!

http://youtu.be/Y-AOIgBmmrM
http://open.spotify.com/album/7xFNpRJs9T6jE0GSgPp6D3
 https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mesmerise-ep/id967929482?uo=4
http://thetrophycabinet.bandcamp.com/
 https://soundcloud.com/trophycabinet

Another trip to the big smoke saw us play at Club Icarus, Greenwich …. now here was some quality music from a selection of performers, and we were delighted to be invited back.


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We visited Waveney Folk Collective and enjoyed playing to a packed pub on a Sunday afternoon - lovely atmosphere and a real listening audience …

More recently we have showcased in the Cambridge Folk Club Open Stage for another attentive and supportive audience. The following night we entertained beer drinkers at Stowmarket Beer Festival, which asked for a completely different set list! Humpty Dumpty Hummingbird our top choice of beer for the night …


Wimpole Hall Farm

Our last full gig of the year was perfect for Christmas.
We played in a stable to families wrapped up against the cold, in the presence of a baby calf and a horse.
We had a youngster dancing on a straw bale to our version of Get Lucky but the highlight would have to be hearing our version of 2000 miles ringing around the ancient beams as the sun light coming through the open door dimmed


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December - the Flying Pig, Cambridge

We had the privilege of performing at The Flying Pig on Tuesday. The most poignant moment would have to be performing Big Yellow Taxi in a great place like The Pig, bearing in mind the petition to save it from property developers.
“ You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone "

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December - Bury Christmas fayre

We enjoyed our annual appearance on The Arc stage at Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre. 
We seemed to please the happy shoppers that stopped to hear what musical offerings we had for them. Small children danced to Jackson and we were quite excited to have apparently attracted a huge crowd by the end of our set.
Until we realized that the crowd was parents waiting to see their offspring perform with Stagecoach, who followed us on stage.
The glamour never ceases !



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Autumn Outings ...

We enjoyed our recent stage time at Brandon Creek and Cambridge Folk Club.
The harmonica mayhem continues.
It hasn't jumped out of the cradle lately but some interesting noises as I began playing the harmonica part for Shippea Hill alerted Liz to the probability that her guitarist had installed his harp the wrong way round. Much to her amusement the second chorus was more fruitful as I learned to play the harmonica back to front, on stage in front of a live audience while playing my guitar.
Who says men can't multitask ?
Happily our short set Cambridge Folk Club passed without similar incident.
We were treated to some lovely Gaelic singing from a lady called Barbara, and some lovely guitar work and traditional song from David Cambridge before we played.
We look forward to returning for a longer set in February.
We might get another outing this month. November looks much more busy with an Open Mic at The Bear and gigs at The Queens Head, Bury St Edmunds, Jurnet's Bar in Norwich, Folkspot Radio in Norfolk, a lunchtime gig on a boat, a Christmas Fayre and in December, a gig at The Flying Pig in Cambridge.


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Snape Proms


On Tuesday we had the pleasure of busking in the sunshine at Snape Maltings to the promenaders as they queued to get tickets to see Carolina Chocolate Drops. Our reward for playing some original songs and all the Americana we could muster were free seats to see the show.
We were treated to a guided tour of the African American view of music from about 1850 to 1950. Banjos, bones, guitars and a cello all got played beautifully, and Rhiannon Giddens sang beautifully when she wasn't tearing it up on her violin. She even managed some expert Old Time dancing in acknowledgment of the three or four audience members who danced their way through the entire show down at the front as everyone else sat tapping their feet.
The middle aged Suffolk White Folks audience rose and gave a standing ovation at the end.

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Weddings

Over the summer we have played at two weddings, both of which were really delightful.

The first was in a walled garden, a perfect venue, where we played in an open-sided marquee to guests relaxing on rugs.
We learned two songs specially for them and were thrilled that they found time to sit and listen. We had also provided our full song list, and all the song were ones that they had chosen.
An award-winning film-maker recorded the happy couple's day and we provided a recorded soundtrack - it is a stunning film and can be seen here…

http://rideoutfilms.com/wedding-blog/entry/luci-will-grow-old-with-me

The second was for friends and the party was in a local barn - the weather was delightful so we performed 2 sets outside while guests played and drank and chatted. The songs included plenty of folky numbers as the couple enjoy their folk music, and on this occasion we learnt 5 songs!


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1 August 2014
The Larks Big Day out at Cambridge Folk Festival.
The Larks had a top time yesterday on the Friday of the 50
th Cambridge Folk Festival. We queued in the sun for a slot on the club tent stage. Time moved fast as we tried to practice a song for next week’s wedding gig. We were interrupted so often by friends and incidents like doing a radio interview for BBC’s Sue Marchant that we barely got one run through before we found ourselves being signed up by our Cambridge Folk Club friends for an early evening slot.
Having spent our queue time wisely,  getting  through a couple of pints, a burrito and a coffee each, we were primed for a visit to The Den to see The Intermission Project, who had a singer who was like a cool teenage Block Party Kele  and effortlessly played original songs with four part harmonies before explaining that they don’t usually play acoustic sets and weren’t used to their instruments. I was watching closely. I can’t say I noticed.
We were first on the Cambridge Folk Club session on The Club Tent Stage, giving us the luxury of a sound check. Jackson, Field, The Lark in the Morning and Way over Yonder all were delivered to a generous audience before we returned backstage to dump our instruments and take our tankards to the bar to begin the luxurious wind down from playing at possibly the most prestigious folk festival there is.
WE caught the end of Cara Dillon’s main stage set and shuffled forward to get within pick throwing distance of the great Richard Thompson as he delivered a blistering set, sprinkled with pathos, humour, classics and singalong classics. WE eventually managed to crawl through the mass of deck chairs to The Den, via The Guinness tent to catch The Sam Lee Trio. Sam held the thing together with effortlessly good rhythm playing, while his mates the banjo player ( who must be Jake Bugg’s older brother, with better stage moves ) and a cool drummer who harmonised and absent mindedly adjusted his drum kit and signalled to the sound man between beats,  delivered harmonies to his lead vocal.
WE caught Sinead O’Connor from the deckchairs on the big screen. She sounded great but didn’t look like the photo in the programme.
Back to The Den for CoCo and The Butterfields who had the longest and most complex sound check I have ever witnessed. They all looked completely cool and managed to deliver complex instructions to the poor sound man while at the same time delivering jibes to band mates. Just as they were about to kick off, the banjo player, who seemed to be Orlando Bloom’s musically gifted, bearded long haired tall slim younger brother declared his banjo broken. The band played on with a wild mixture of hip hop folk originals and covers with banjo man rejoining with a banjo purchased/borrowed on site, complete with price tags hanging off the headstock. After following dance instruction to their wall of sound we recovered our instruments and trudged back to the gig wagon for the journey home.
On Sunday we discovered that Sue Marchant did indeed broadcast our interview and played 'Field'… thrilling to have music played and to speak alongside some Folk festival greats!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p023t7hd


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4 July 2014

The Larks made an appearance at Cambridge Folk Club on Friday.
Musically, Liz Cotton was the highlight of the first half, with her unique songs backed by lovely guitar playing.
Martin Kazak was the featured act for the evening. Howard Roscoe tastefully embellished with slide guitar and harmonica.
We ended the evening with our set including our first public rendition of The Lark in The Morning. We were pleased to get asked for one more song and played Whistle and Ride.
We look forward to the weekend when we play at a wedding in Saffron Walden


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22 May 2014

We had a trip to Abingdon last weekend to take part in a celebration of our friends 50th birthday. This was more significant bearing in mind that Phil was diagnosed with Myeloma 8 years ago. As you can see from the clip, he is fully qualified to wear the slogan on his T shirt,
 "Myeloma, my arse !"
Top fun.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv34J1fgAyw

The evening raised funds for Myeloma  Research
Here is a film about Myeloma:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4-2xw9efsuA

22 May 2014

The Larks had a lovely time playing to an appreciative audience at The Dobblers Inn, Cambridge on Thursday. We met Don , who used to run a dance troupe playing working men's clubs in the 60s, when he wasn't giving or having dancing lessons, boxing or working down the pit. 
We were invited to play on a boat, entertaining pub drinkers as we drift past, and were introduced to a Mancunian of Irish extraction, who likes a beer or three and happens to be a Professor of Catalan.
All in a nights work.
We're looking forward to going back !




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23 May 2014

Last Wednesday The Larks appeared on stage at The Cellar in Oxford as part of the wall of sound that is The Trophy Cabinet for their performance at Oxford Punt, a mini festival of gigs for the best of newish Oxford bands at five venues in Oxford City Centre.
There is a nice review and photo here in NightShift, the local music mag:

http://nightshift.oxfordmusic.net/2014/jun.pdf

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28 February 2014

The Larks busy little spell of gigs culminated in a lovely half hour on stage last night in the care of Steve the sound at the first Bury Folk Collective Show Case night at Oakes Barn Bury St Edmunds. We also had a top time at Brandon Creek on Friday. We pulled a couple of requests out of our bag of songs and aired our Nashville guilty pleasure Jolene. It went down so well we played it again last night and the Folk Collective sang along. A top moment...



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23 February 2014

Anyone that paid their fiver last night to get into The Jericho Tavern got their money's worth . Vienna Ditto were fantastic. They performed this song and were amazingly original throughout.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tFldSC6mtt4

We took our chance to play our favourite Radiohead song in their back yard and enjoyed adding to The Trophy Cabinet wall of sound after being entertained by Matt Midgely.

Pretty good value. Mind you, looking at the posters old and new, Oxford folk are used to getting good value when they visit Jericho Tavern :-)




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2 February 2014

Why would someone want to get up in stage in front of a listening audience after a hard nights partying and minimal sleep ?
We were reminded last night when we arrived in Cambridge, still in recovery the evening after entering into the spirit of the occasion of Liz's birthday party.

The first reminder was at as we pinned ourselves to the radiator for warmth in a cold Portland Arms gig room to witness Eleanor McEvoy oozing good natured Irish charm and stunning musicality as she and the wonderful sound man Rob went about making the most of her sound on Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Violin and Electric Piano. There was an interesting discussion about microphones ( honestly ! ). Her voice was peachy throughout the sound check, but through her own Neumann mic it was a level up. We only realised this after being treated to an Edith Piaf song, sung in perfect French at the piano.

Our second reminder was as we took the stage and allowed ourselves to be carried by the wonderful sound Rob was providing us with on stage and the warmth of the audience that had gathered to hear our set.

After a well earned pint ofTimothy Taylor, we relaxed as Eleanor produced a perfectly judged set of songs and anecdotes from various stages of her career, delivered in her lilting Irish accent, apart from the Piaf song. Her original songs dealt with the realities of life and were punctuated with covers, all beautifully delivered on her various instruments, on one occasion the only accompaniment the percussion of a box of matches. The encore finished with an unplugged version of Joni Mitchell's Carey, delivered as she wandered through the audience.

Better than dozing on the sofa ?

I think so...

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27 December 2013

Another night of variation and surprises at The Bear Open Mic last night.

One or two regulars couldn’t make it this time so we weren’t sure if there would be enough acts, or much of a crowd.

I turned up at 8.20 to find standing room only. We had a wonderful range of experiences. Arthur the Albanian’s rendition of Heart of Gold, Casey and Mark’s teenage Guitar off, Dan’s perfect late night version of Billy Braggs Sexuality, Rory and Jack ( the melodion boy ) father and son accordion and melodeon combo, the entire Gurney family ( Anselm teased the audience with more Cure and Smiths songs before blowing them up with his Sex Bomb ). Fintan blasted through some classics before bringing Casey on stage for a Stevie Ray Vaughn song, Cam’s various visits to the stage as a solo, duo and trio act with Zara and Zoe, and Ben’s first solo rendition of an original song last heard played by his band on the village Green.

There were two versions of Fairytale of New York to choose from and somebody even said The Larks should have played more. How very polite. Unusual for The Bear….

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13 December 2013

When we saw the publicity for our show case night at Cambridge Folk Club we thought we were going on second. I have to say, as we relaxed with a pint after having our 45 minute set gratifyingly well received, I was glad we were on first. To play my guitar to an audience that had just been listening to Ben Smith would have been a tough gig ! He really played some lovely stuff. Check out his High Barn recording at www.bensmithguitar.com

Freds House went down well too. Their cover of Waterloo Sunset was a high point.

We always enjoy our time at Cambridge Folk Club. It was lovely to have our songs appreciated and great to have our audience singing along to Fairytale of New York and Way Over Yonder.

Thanks to Helen Meissner and Robin Mansfield for the photos.

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December 2013

Having explored the fun of playing at The Christmas Fayre in Bury St Edmunds last Saturday and experienced the delights of playing at the gem that is Club Uniquity last Friday, The Larks look forward to a forty minute set at Cambridge Folk Club next Friday evening .
We share the stage with Fred’s House and Ben Smith

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November 2013

So it turns out Colchester Arts Centre is a delightful place to play. A converted church with great sound and a listening audience. What’s not to like ?
As a bonus we got to hear the main act as we supped our post set beer. Emma Sweeney was accompanied by Bury St Edmunds born Guitar hero Joseph Bardwell as she played a mixture of traditional and contemporary tunes. She also offered a beautiful performance of a John Prine song
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Autumn 2013

Our gig in Oxford's Jericho Tavern proved eventful, with the headline act having to pull out with laryngitis. We played with great pleasure, enjoying practising Fake Plastic Trees with guest keyboard Steve Burholt for our sound check. The performance itself was hampered by a power cut but we happily played on until closed down by Health and safety regs!We are also recording a new EP which we hope to have on sale by the end of the year. Only a couple of copies of Ruby remain so if you would like on get in touch! Mermaid and Field are ready to go - three more tracks to work on.For our blog and latest secret practice recordings check thelarks.tumblr.com…Room, Shippea Hill and Whistle and Ride will be making their way there soon ...









It would have been fine just to be allowed to play on the stage at The Portland Arms Cambridge, in the footsteps of such rising stars as The 1975. On Sunday, however, we had the complete pleasure of playing to a full house there. Almost bizarrely much of the audience chose to sit happily on the floor as we regailed them with our songs of Mermaids and Angels.We looked up at one stage and wondered if we’d been transported back to some dreamy former life, though the lack of pungent cigarette smoke betrayed the fact that a young Joni Mitchell probably wasn’t going to be appearing in the headline slot.Instead, after a lively set from Fred’s House had blown away any hippy cobwebs, the room bounced around to the glorious beardy country folk of Ahab. Glorious harmonies, crunchy guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica.
Our next outing is at Colchester Arts Centre supporting young folk musician award winner Emma Sweeney, on Monday November 4th.Our next pub visit is to The Old Ship Inn, Brandon Creek, on Friday 8th November. We will perform our song Shippea Hill, which was inspired by our last visit there.
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