Home Feature Another Bloody Folk Club brings the British folk revival vibe to Toronto

Another Bloody Folk Club brings the British folk revival vibe to Toronto


A few months ago, a friend asked me if I had yet checked out a folk music club in Toronto, endearingly called Another Bloody Folk Club.

At that point. I had not and was more than intrigued because what is on offer is in great part influenced by the style of the British folk revival of the later 1950s into the 1960s.

Here one thinks of performers like Ewan MacColl, Martin Carthy, Ian Campbell, Shirley Collins and so many more.

Not only are many of the acts booked so influenced but, at each show, a few performers, mostly amateurs, come up from the floor via a pre-arranged sign-up to sing a song or two, which is very much a part of the British folk revival tradition.

By the way, before first going to the club and quite coincidently, I happened to be reading a great book on the era called Singing From The Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs by JP Bean. It’s structured as a series of interviews with those who were there and made it happen.

Reading about the history and then seeing a wonderful effort to honour that history was fascinating.

Another Bloody Folk Club had its start in 2013 and moved around amongst a few different venues before coming to its current site at Lab416 at 298 Brunswick Ave. just south of Bloor.

They run once a month, on the first Sunday from October to June. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. and generally runs to 10:00 p.m.

There is an organizing committee that consists of Paul and Mary Read, Rob Rohr, and Kevin Watson, which is also the lineup of the house band Sweet Felons All.

As you would imagine, they play in the traditional style, mostly English, and modern songs that fit the tradition. In the couple of shows I’ve attended, they started things off with a few tunes and then finished the night with some lovely sing-a-longs.

Nearly everyone seemed to know the words to everything, so that will tell you something about the folks who show up.

I should add that the organizing committee and other dedicated volunteers are very much involved in a labour of love.

As anyone who has ever presented music knows, there is a lot of work involved, though the suggested $20 cover goes entirely to the featured acts.

As for the kind of featured acts you might see, on March 3, Ian Bell and Allison Lupton performed. On April 7, Jackie Gilhooley with Jeff McLarnon, Ragged but Right, and Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost will take the stage.

Tom Leighton has performed in the past, as have Chris Coole and John Showman.

Each night includes three featured performers, who do a half-hour each. The club has a Facebook page if you want more information.

Other things to know about the club is that it is attached to Future’s Bistro, which owns the space so food is available, and there is a bar.

Behind that bar, Yulia does a splendid job of ensuring anyone inclined has a drink in their hand and is well fed.

If you are in town and looking to go, be warned that it is a smallish venue and fills up quickly.

Getting there when the doors open is not a bad idea.

Another Bloody Folk Club is a lovely look back at how things were once done but also recognition that this tradition is alive and well. What a great find.


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