The Medlars *

The Medlars *

6th December 2021

The Medlars formed in the late 2000s out of a desire to play and perform tunes and songs from the English tradition. Using The Penguin Book of English Folksong as a source of material the aim was to revisit and create new arrangements of classic English folk songs with a 21st century feel. The initial line-up comprised Emma (fiddle/vocals) and Tom Hardy (vocals/guitar) with initially Jim May, then Bruce Deacon (Band of Fools) on Double Bass. In the 2010s, The Medlars expanded and teamed up with Gwendal Moele (vocals), specialising in French and Breton songs and tunes for dancing, resulting in the spin-off group Trio Saozon.

A chance encounter at Folk East in 2018 prompted Emma and Tom to join forces with Alie Barnes (vocals) drawing on their collective experiences, and influences, and renewing their focus on the English repertoire. Whilst original influences remain, these have expanded, drawing in ideas from within and outside the tradition. This latest evolution of The Medlars has performed at festivals, such as Bobbing Barn and Upton, and Folk Clubs including Colchester, Great Bardfield, Hadleigh and Royston. They are in the process of recording a CD of their most recent material!

Alie grew up with the influences of the East Anglian fens in her blood and has been performing and running folk clubs since the mid-1980s. She ventured first into Blackmore Folk Club as a schoolgirl and her love affair with folk and traditional song began. Alie worked first with Gill Cawley (McCutcheon at the time) in the popular a capella duo Panzie Potter and went on to play festivals and folk clubs with Steve Robinson and Ken Wilkinson in “12‘n’6”. Back in East Anglia, she also hooked up with Suffolk singer-guitarist Chris King and in this duo played folk clubs from Aberdeen to London throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Having helped her husband Russ set up Red Fox Brewery, Alie is delighted to return to an exploration of traditional source material with Tom and Emma in new interpretations and arrangements of the songs we love.

Emma studied classical and contemporary music at Manchester University where she majored in the cello. She was first introduced to the English folk scene by her (now) husband Tom in the 1990s, and immediately fell in love with the energy, melodies and rhythms, and beauty of the songs, and she set about finding her style and voice on the fiddle, attending workshops by Dave Shepherd, Nancy Kerr, and Sam Sweeney. Emma still maintains her classical routes through playing the cello with the Ipswich Symphony Orchestra.

Tom started playing guitar at 15 and is self taught. He has been interested in traditional folk music since he first went to the Wivenhoe Folk Club as a teenager in the 1970s. Although diversifying his playing from punk to bossa his main interest and love is still with English and European traditional music. More recently, Tom has played in indie band Out of Nowhere, prog/folk band Fishclaw and improvisational music/noise/poetry trio The Wingless Heron.

Together, Emma and Tom host a monthly traditional session at their local pub, play and dance for Pret-a-Danser, and perform as part of the french music dance group Les Hirondelles.

The Medlars are Alie Barnes - vocals, Emma Hardy - fiddle/vocals, Tom Hardy guitar/vocals.

Support is from RESONATE - group of 12 singers who specialise in "Sacred Harp" (a musical tradition of the late eighteenth century that originates in the southern United States), traditional Slavic songs, and traditional songs of South Africa as well as other African countries.

Their repertoire is not limited to these three styles: expect songs from other parts of the world, as well as Bluegrass, Gospel, and prison work songs.

Tickets £10 / £8 concessions.
Doors open 7.45pm

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