We're big fans of Derbyshire's folk band Cupola - they were our first ever guests at the Poppy Folk Club and have revisited us more recently. In fact Cupola's fiddle player and singer Sarah Matthews has also been on the Poppy stage as a solo performer and as a member of the Moirai Trio.
Lucy Ward, also a Derbyshire lass through and through, has become a star of the folk world over the past few years, endearing herself to audiences at folk clubs and top festivals alike. She is a regular feature at the BBC Folk Awards (Horizon Award winner in 2012 and Folk Singer of the Year nomination in 2014) and has produced two acclaimed albums to date.
And so the collaboration that is Cupola:Ward was a concert we had been eagerly looking forward to. Their repertoire is drawn partly from the music of the constituent acts, but reworked to produce a new sound for the new band. Many of the songs, though, are unique and chosen for the combined voices and instrumental arrangements of the band, and give Cuplola:Ward an exciting, lively and different sound.The concert started with a lively version of the traditional 'Bone Lace Weaver' led by Lucy, then moved on to Sarah's 'Valley Song' from the Mills & Chimneys project. Next up, and just ever so slightly out of season (!) came the Derbyshire carol Jacob's Well - sung every Christmas in a handful of pubs in the hills above Sheffield) - led by Doug. The concert continued with a couple of songs from Cupola's forthcoming CD, before the first half was brought to a stunning close with Dave Sudbury's 'King of Rome'.
The second half got off to a rousing start with 'The Cotton Mills of Cromford' (another Mills and Chimneys song), then Lucy sang a great version of the Alison Krauss song 'When God Dips His Pen of Love in my Heart'. A seasonal song next - in the right season this time - in the shape of Tony Deane's song 'Following the Old 'Oss'. Great harmonies and chorus singing next, with 'Down the River'; followed by Lucy's terrific version of the Britney Spears song 'Hit me Baby One More Time'. 'Gower Wassail' followed, before Julie Matthews' 'Crane Driver' (from the BBC Radio Ballads) finished the concert in fine and lively fashion!
As a Grand Finale, and to our great delight, Cupola:Ward then invited the Poppy organisers up to the stage where we all sang what has become a bit of a Poppy Folk Club anthem - John Ball - the first song ever sung at the club. It was a very proud moment and a lovely end to a great concert.
To finish the evening we had a lovely sing-around and music session for those without a bed to go to. Many thanks to those who stayed and sang or played: Ian Price, Anna Pack, Bill Wilkes, Wil Walker, Pat Shore; and our guests Lucy, Doug, Sarah, Ollie.