Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar - 21st December 2017

December is both the time to stop to celebrate with family and friends as well as the natural time to take stock and look back at the year which is just about to sail over the horizon/disappear down the plughole* (*delete as applicable). What better way to end yet another triumphant year at Baston than to spent it in the musical company of Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, two of the most accomplished and friendly bods on the circuit today.



Whilst Baston Folk Club can celebrate a successful 2017 so can Greg and Ciaran. Greg has been an integral part of The Transports project (a 5-star reworking of Peter Bellamy’s work – look out for further shows and album early in 2018) as well as the leading light in the Shake The Chains project (songs of protest and social conscience debuted at the excellent Folk By The Oak day festival in Hatfield and also being toured in the new year). Shake The Chains is certainly an album to be searched for and listened to continuing, as it does, that fine tradition of songs of protest and anger at injustice. Greg’s Bunch Next Door is a tale of living next door to Nigel Farage! Shudder!

Added to that the solo album Inclined To Be Red, you can see that Greg’s feet have hardly touched the ground this year. Ciaran hasn’t been idle either. Last year he released an album The Final Waltz, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph’s top ten albums of the year and whose Martin Chilton described Ciaran as a ‘fiddle player with the ability to capture a song and make it whirl’. High praise indeed. Check out the track Until We Meet Again – stunning! Ciaran is also an integral part of Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, avid tourers and perhaps the next band to really hit the folkie big time. In addition to all of the above is the duo’s own acclaimed 2016 album The Silent Majority. I think you might get the picture – busy boys or what!



From the moment Greg and Ciaran step on stage we can tell they’re personable, accessible and infectious. They have a Morecambe and Wise likeability - Ciaran as Eric with his one-liner asides and gentle put downs of Greg who is more intense and determined to put across the ‘songs wot he’s wrote’. This is not to diminish their high level of skill. Greg’s guitar playing and singing is urgent and direct - he’s from Greenwich Village 1962, his songs full of stories of protest and burning social iniquities. Ciaran plays the fiddle with verve and precision, at times the bow in danger of setting the fiddle on fire.

Their repertoire is as wide as it is deep. Instrumental medleys abound (traditional and re-arranged), old favourites are revisited including a superb rendering of Star of the County Down. There’s a nod to Christmas with Bob Copper’s Shepherds Arise and plenty of original material.

Greg showcases his own E.G.A. (Elizabeth Garrett Anderson) – he’s mustard at picking out people or subjects that deserve greater recognition. The duo also covered Lionel McClelland’s Silent Majority, a tale of the nature of political power. Surely it won’t be long before Greg headlines at a huge rally highlighting some major cause or other – when he does I’ll be there! We also had a sneak preview of a new song from an upcoming album castigating HS2.

I suppose my favourites of the evening were The New Railroad and Rolling Down The Ryburn both of which are about as stirring and anthematic as it gets. We were certainly in the mood to be uplifted. Greg and Ciaran’s music is very welcome in these parts – they can return any time they wish!

And so The Barn at Baston’s year in the L-shaped room draws to a close. It’s been a vintage year and the programme for 2018 promises to be just as good if not better. I’ll leave the final word to Ciaran who, once again having won a raffle prize, stated ‘Make Raffles Not War’ ‘Nuff said.