Janet Elizabeth's folk activities

This is folkie Elizabeth's page containing local folk clubs, favourite folk festivals and other useful web sites.

Some of the folk clubs in Brighton, Lewes and Sussex

Elephant & Castle at Lewes This folkie goes mostly to the very traditional Lewes Saturday folk club at the Room in the Elephant and the Third Tuesday informal folk evening now at Sandra's house (see below). I occasionally go to the more eclectic Seaford folk song club at the Royal British Legion Seaford and the Brighton Singers' Club at Cellarfolk.

Also fairly local are Horsham Folk Club and the Croydon Folk Club, but sadly for me I would have to leave early to walk to the railway station for the train home.

You can now find the Sussex Folk Diary online again (August 2016 onwards). Thank you John Byng of the Horsham folk club for alerting me to its online presence.

Bryan Creer has created a wonderful automated list of traditional music sessions - free, participatory tune and song sessions happening in a loosely defined area roughly corresponding to Sussex, Kent and Surrey.

Third Tuesday Folk Evening with Sandra (no longer second Monday)

A sunset over Ashdown forest enjoyed by Sandra and me Sandra's informal folk session is now back to the Third Tuesday (15th-21st) of each month (except August). We meet at Sandra's home in Lewes. This small, friendly folk session was started by Sandra over 30 years ago to share folk songs, folk music and traditional storytelling. It gives an ideal opportunity to try out new folk songs or stories or if you have not performed before. We always welcome newcomers. For more information please e-mail or call Brighton 504506.

Shapenotes or Sacred Harp songs

Another good opportunity for singing with gusto is with Sacred Harp and Shapenote, such as can be experienced at Brighton Shapenotes twice a month or Lewes on Second Monday. a shapenote or fasola scale
The dots on the music stave are in four different shapes - fa, lah, sol, mi -and I for one certainly find these fa-so-la shape-notes easier to recognise and "read" than unshaped notes; there are only four different notes so I don't have to worry about different clefs or key signatures.

Tight Squeeze band The Brighton-based band Tight Squeeze play for ceilidhs or barn dances who pride themselves on versatility and good musicianship. They are also good fun to dance to.
Sussex Pistols The Sussex Pistols are a well established ceilidh and barn dance band based in Lewes & Brighton.

Special Events and Festivals, hooray!

it snowed that year - so check the weather tap on this train to visit the accessible Train Times site You can get to a lot of folk festivals by public transport - check online at Traveline SE large text and mobile (accessible) version, or the uncluttered and easy-to-use Accessible Train Times.

Royal Oak, Barcombe BN8 5BA Sussex all-day sing at the Royal Oak, Barcombe, BN8 5BA, on the middle Saturday in January. See Lewes Saturday folk club web site for confirmation.


The Sovereign Seas Folk Festival in Newhaven features a large proportion of sea-songs and shanties, so everyone can join in. The fourth festival, in 2017, was again held in Newhaven Lifeboat Station, raising finds for the RNLI Newhaven Lifeboat.

copy of the Chippenham fiddler.
Chippenham (easy by train!) offers festival-goers good song and folk club style sessions, talks on folk-song-related themes such as songs of the lumbermen, plus a number of dance workshops such as morris, Playford, contra, belly dancing, and sometimes sixteenth century or renaissance dancing.

Alcester folk festival Alcester folk festival, a singers' festival in the lovely Cotswolds (get a train to Evesham, then a bus).

Crawley festival is probably the nearest to me.

The Travelling Folk on Tom Pearce's grey mare Travelling Folk Song&Ale in Upper Dicker (a few miles from Berwick station) is a fairly informal, friendly and very popular event and includes a walk on Saturday morning.

"Laugh, drink and sing" with the middle bar singers in the Anchor at Sidmouth Folkweek. Oh no - I've been captured singing "Row On" in a weird, but thankfully short, clip on YouTube!

Whitby harbour, takes you to the Folk Week web site in a new page The Whitby Folk Week was well worth the trip - with Charles - when the first weekend was the weekend of the Regatta with tall ships and fireworks. Going by train via Middlesbrough takes 6h34 but Traveline Yorkshire recommends train to Scarborough then a one-hour bus journey, total 6h7.

singing at the late-night banquet at the Wail The Wail, previoulsy the Wareham Wail, moved from Wareham to Verwood several years ago, where we have unaccompanied singing in two marquees and on Saturday at Midnight we share a roast pork "banquet" in another.

the rafters that ring when we folkies sing at Whittlebury song and ale Barns are good not just for dances, you know ... at Whittlebury Song and Ale we did a lot singing in the barn. We made the rafters ring (see picture) in the four chorus-based "Big Sing" sessions but there are also three themed sessions where you could sing anything linked to the theme, tenuous links being allowed. The programmed singing was all unaccompanied singing (a capella) - no instruments.

Kent oast houses symbol for Tenterden Folk Festival At the Tenterden folk festival, as well as singing, dancing, making music and sitting in concerts, we also take a ride on the Kent & East Sussex Railway; I wonder what the other travellers think of it.

Bedworth Folk Festival In 2009 I went to Bedworth for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it - not least, thanks to Ali & Steve, the unexpected trip to the Village Carols at Dungworth.

Brighton has recently had excellent Pub Carols sessions in December, with rehearsals on November, organised by members of Brighton Morris. All good fun and grat songs from Sussex and beyond. My favourites are Blow Ye the Trumpet and Remember O Thou Man.

More festivals at Froots.

Other folkie sites

Sussex Folk Association badgeSussex Folk Association SUSFA lists just about all the folk groups that meet in Sussex. An excellent, well organised and comprehensive folk site.

Listen to A Folk Song A Day by Jon Boden, a project that Jon set out to do for a year. That was June 2010 and it's still going. You can download the songs in iTunes. A Folk Song A Day includes lots of information about each song too.

Les Barker's Mrs Ackroyd pages. The most famous collections of Les's poems are the Guide Cats for the Blind double CD of Mr Barker's work recorded by a multitude of more famous people. Les has included a lot of folk links as well.

You can listen at home to The Music Well folk radio.

Words, words, words!

Local songwriter Maria Cunningham is now remembered on a web site Sing4Maria where you can previously unpublished recordings of Maria's songs. Songs of Sussex folklore and history such as The Long Man (of Wilmington), Mad Jack (Fuller), Hastings' Jack in the Green festival, the Mary Stanford Disaster, the Hat in the Road and the windmills Jack and Jill.

visit the Mudcat Cafe discuss song meandings and provenence and find lyrics The best site to visit is Mudcat.org where you can find find folk song lyrics, discuss song meanings or provenance or ask people for lyrics and other information.

Other useful sites are Robokopp Folksleider with folk songs from across the world, the Contemplator's folk music search, Rod Stradling's mustrad musical traditions magazine, so-called "celtic" lyrics collection which includes a fair number of English traditional songs and even some recently written songs in English traditional style by English people.
There is a good list of many internet folk music resources at Martin Nail's site. Find all sorts of facts and figures about folk and a list of traditional songs at Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary by Bill Markwick - you can spend hours browsing there.
For sea songs and shanties (or chanteys) - those wonderfully rhythmic traditional songs - try Contemplator's songs of the sea. I quite like to browse Schoonerman's sailing terms too.
I have written some songs in traditional folk style too. See what you think of my song for September and my song for Wet May Bank Holiday .

Some local Morris sides

a morris man drinking Brighton Morris Men (mainly Cotswold), Cuckoo's nest for women, Sompting Village Morris (Cotswold, North-West, Sussex and Border Morris, ladies included), Old Star (Border) Morris who meet at dawn on May Day (that's 4am!) at the Hollingbury Hillfort and lunchtime on New Year's Day dance outside the Pump House in Brighton Lanes. The women's morris Knots of May were formed in Brighton but now practise in Lewes. Also in Sussex is Broadwood Morris (Cotswold) which Doug used to dance with.

Tap on JE to visit Elizabeth's  home page Janet Elizabeth
Last updated April 2017