Shire Folk is a free, A5, bimonthly magazine covering folk, roots and acoustic music in and around the South Midlands. It has been produced for around 25 years on a not-for-profit basis, paid for by advertising revenue. Each issue includes news items, both local and national, artist interviews, festival and gig reviews, as well as reviews of about 30 new CDs.
From our base in Oxford, we distribute 1800–2000 copies through an intricate network of folk clubs, record shops, libraries, music venues, pubs, morris dancing teams, festivals and individuals. Click here to see a list of places that receive bulk copies of Shire Folk. We think you can safely assume that well over 4000 people read each issue.
If you want to make sure you get a copy of the magazine , then you can have it delivered at a charge of £10 for the next six issues. Full details are on the Subscribe page.
We accept advertising on all folk-related subjects; rates and copy dates can be found on the Advertise page. If you wish to see a sample copy please email us or write to us using the details on the Contact page.
Graham Hobbs & Jonathan Roscoe
Co-Editors, Shire Folk
Folk festivals aside, how do you like to watch folk music?
The classic way is the folk club, often in a room above a pub. These clubs range in size and quality, and can sometimes be daunting places to visit. I recently went to a club I hadn’t visited for a while and it was obvious everyone else knew each other. A lady approached me and without introduction said ‘Who are you?’ I explained I was one of the Editors of Shire Folk and we then had a marvellous conversation about all things folky. She tried to get me to sing in the floor spot, but believe me that would not have been a good idea.
Floor spots are one of the cornerstones of the folk club and you can discover some wonderful new acts. I recently saw Kirsty Bromley sing two songs at a local club and she was worth the admission price on her own. Others are perhaps not quite so accomplished and in my opinion floor spots should not take up an hour and a half, when you have paid to see the main act. Comfort can also be an issue at folk clubs. I went to one recently in the north of England that seated 60 people, but I swear every seat was different, ranging from what looked like a reproduction Chippendale to a plastic garden chair!
Custom built arts centres are springing up all over the country and folk music is finding a home in many of them. Unlike most folk clubs, you often get a numbered seat, there is a fixed start and finish time and a support act replaces the floor singer. However, you don’t get a raffle or the folk club banter and the whole experience can feel more clinical. It is good to see churches being used more for folk music. The acoustics can be brilliant, but the seating and restricted views can be an issue.
So, you pay your money and take your choice, but let’s all go to more live music and keep this brilliant tradition going.