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  • Writer's

New Year 2011

Every year I come to write about the months that have passed and every year it seems to have come round sooner than the last. 2010 has been a good year for new collaborations and friendships.

Charlie Barker on stage holding an acoustic guitar and Harriet Bartlett, to her left holding a black piano accordion.
Charlie Barker & Harriet Bartlett by Jim Lambert

It all started back on New Year's Eve 2009 when my friend, piano accordionist, Harriet Bartlett phoned to say she was making a trip to Sheffield for a folkie New Year's party and I was invited along. After a much festivity and a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, plans were underway for the Barker/ Bartlett duo. Simple as that! Rehearsals started in January and very soon Harriet had got us our first duo gig in February.

Little did I know she’d got talking to Adam Woodyatt (aka Ian Beale from Eastenders) and he’d invited us to play at a fundraising gig he was organising at the Coventry Ricoh Arena with the cast of Eastenders. No pressure then…

After what seemed like a slightly daunting prospect, Aid for Haiti was a very successful cause, which helped raised over £35,000 for the earthquake victims and it was a pleasure to be part of it. After all we did get to meet the stars of our favourite soap opera… but please don’t hold that against us!

Since then, we’ve played more shows around the country and have recorded some tracks for an EP to be released in the New Year. Recording for the new solo album Ghosts & Heroes started in April and it’s been a joy to work with Tom Sweeney and Chris Thornton-Smith.

It’s been good to get back recording and I’m really excited about the different sound we’ve achieved so far. We’re in the process of making the final touches now and it’s set for release in early 2011.

In the summer, I was fortunate to play a gig with my friends Breeze & Wilson, a duo from Staffordshire whilst they were on tour with Canadian musicians Rick Jones and Stan Carew for a tour in the UK.

Stan is a stalwart of broadcasting back in Canada for the CBC Network and he took a copy of my first album Sleeping at the Station back with him. I was over the moon when he played my version of Fields of Gold on his Weekend Mornings show. Thanks Stan!

I must also say a big thank you to the continuing support of the BBC regional stations once again, who’ve allowed me to come play live and promote to my hearts content this year. I’ve visited BBC Leeds, Humberside and Sheffield this year and also received great support from the local independents: Vixen 101, Sheffield Live, Sine FM and Krystal Radio.

It has been great to work alongside some great local and national charities this year, Emmaus, Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind and Aid For Haiti.

The Friday Folk Weekend Festival, held in September organised by myself and John raised £333 for the SRSB society for the blind in Sheffield and we were most grateful to everyone who came to perform and donate to such a good cause.

Sadly, the Friday Folk club which had been in residence at The Venue, Stocksbridge took a break after the event when we could no longer stay there. Fortunately, the Dearne Valley Folk club John and I launched at the Park Inn Rotherham, is going from strength to strength working in association with the hotel and Wath Festival to bring great live music to the region. We’ve got a full programme for 2011, so please come down and visit us sometime.

One of the highlights for me this year came right at the very end after meeting local musician, John Reilly and his band Boy On A Dolphin earlier in the year at Dronfield Music Festival. John and the band regularly play to sold out venues around the region and he asked if I’d like to be one of their special guests to open up for them at their Sheffield City Hall gig just before Christmas. I was thrilled to accept and we had a great night, with everyone dancing in the aisles!

See you in 2011!


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