|They were . .. Mr. Kite Benefits|
Jump to 1997 and 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 ..... yes, over fifteen years - they said that we'd be finished within months!
Mr.Kite started and finished with a bang in 1997. There was only one benefit and it was Kate Rusby. My mate Bis thought that he'd been transported back to listen to Sandy Denny at the sound check. In the first half of 1998, Jim White turned in a superb solo show which was later named as the gig of the year by BBC Radio Lancashire's On The Wire. Not bad, eh? Later in the year, Bert Jansch came to Leyland where one audience member bent Mr.Kite's shell like ear to say that he never thought such a star would appear in the town.
There were benefits coming out of our ears...or is that into our ears. Kate Rusby returned. Chris While and Julie Matthews fell in love with The Worden Arts Centre on a special night where Christine Collister and Kellie While provided some guest vocals. Jez Lowe came along to accompany Bev Sanders which surprised the headlining Kristina Olsen. Christmas cheer was brought by Coope, Boyes and Simpson telling us the history of the carol.
Mr.Kite lay down in a darkened room after organising nine benefits pushing donations to charity beyond the £3000 mark. This was helped by a collection at the nights when Chris While and Julie Matthews recorded their 'Stages' CD live at The Worden Arts Centre. The Oldham Tinkers packed the place out and played a blinder. John Willie's ferret was all over the place. Only nineteen people turned up for Ramsay Midwood but fifteen CDs were sold which suggests that something went right. Similarly, some said who is Kathryn Williams? Then, she was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, played the Cambridge Folk Festival and was heard all over the BBC.
Yes, Mr.Kite was mad enough to organise even more benefits than in 2000 taking the total donations beyond £6000. Some old favourites returned as well as some new faces. Both Kate Rusby and Jim White were promoted in larger venues than in their past appearances for Mr.Kite. The appearance of Jim White was billed as the most anticipated gig in Manchester by City Life magazine. Other visitors from the US included Buddy Mondlock, Mary Gauthier and Kate Campbell playing what the UK calls Country but they call Folk and Mr.Kite calls just wonderful.
First up, the wacky world of Mr Kite was treated to the unbridled joy of Fred Eaglesmith picking the raffle numbers in the middle of his set. Fred loved it so much that he went straight into 'the raffle song' on his second appearance for us. What next, we ask. Well, Blue Tapestry is the answer. Followed by Freedy Johnston on a tour of capital cities....Cardiff, Dublin, London and, finally, Chorley. Show Of Hands were lower key. Indeed, on the level until their return on the big stage later in the year. Katy Moffatt, Kate Campbell and Tom Russell graced our shores with such fun being had by Tom in particular that his second 45 minute set turned into well over an hour. Finally, we can't leave you without reference to the triumphant The Music-Go-Round as organised by our good selves. Take a look.
In the first half of 2003, there was the return of conquering heroes like Tom Russell as well as old friends in different guises such as The Ridgeriders. Eliza Gilkyson with the illustrious Plank on guitar provided the nicest surprise as she did elsewhere in the country on her first tour of the UK. We were visited by old friends in new guises such as 'The Shamrock, The Thistle and The Rose' and 'A Celebration of the Cecil Sharp Centenary'. We made new friends with great acts like The Hot Club Of Cowtown and The Acoustic Strawbs. It was also the year when we expanded activities to other regions with a sold out show at Bury Met proving that Mr Kite can travel as well as fly.
A record year with more Benefits and more money given to charity with a tried and trusted pattern of a healthy mix of old and new friends forming the cornerstone of the music. The year started with a series of familiar folkies such as Show Of Hands before there was a run of Americans including new friends like Terry Allen and Slaid Cleaves. Later, back to back shows in Leyland and Bury with Vin Garbutt, Boo Hewerdine, John Tams and Barry Coope kept us busy as the year ran to its close. The year can't be allowed to pass without a big thanks to our new pals at The Met in Bury who have been very helpful, supportive and great folks to boot.
This was a year of consolidation with old friends and sought after acts like Chuck Prophet alongside legends like Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen. The set from Chris and Herb featured songs from The Byrds and Gram Parsons who Chris had encountered as an original member of both bands. Following this, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion showed that country duets are alive and kicking even when only the cognoscenti turn out. Keeping the folkies happy were Show of Hands, Steve Knightley and Martyn Joseph as well as....again....St Agnes Fountain.
The year had a number of larger Benefits at City Varieties in Leeds as well as The Lowry in Salford - but, don't worry, the great intimate nights continued a pace with the return of Dale Watson after a number of years without playing the area, the marvellous Caitlin Cary with Thad Cockrell and, back from the obituary columns, Dave Swarbrick with his Lazarus trio. Another tremendous year and, thanks to those bigger shows, a real boost to the charities supported by Mr Kite.
We'd got ourselves a sound pattern to the Benefits by this year mixing old favourites with new faces. With Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, it was a bit of both as Eric and I reminisced about the Tartan Bar at Leeds University in the late 70's. Totally new and adorable for us were The G'Earls who we just had to book twice in the year. Whilst New Yorker Lucy Kaplansky returned to the UK circuit with a Mr Kite Benefit and helped to provide one of those magic moments when she dueted with Sam Baker who'd opened the evening's entertainment - see picture above courtesy of our pal, Roger Liptrot. It was also great to see two of our favourites on the one stage when Show of Hands teamed up to tour with Slaid Cleaves. Quality, through and through.
It was a treat to get Sam Baker back headlining and venturing into the Brudenell Social Club ... but I guess the highlight of the front half of the year was North Carolina Month In Chorley. Up came Chatham County Line performing around one microphone before disappearing off to Jools Holland's Later programme and, then, the wonderful Tift Merritt turned in a spellbinding performance to complete our month of celebration - well, OK, it was only two Benefits but they were great. Towards the year end, 'Under One Sky' provided us with more stars than you can shake a stick at .... from Roddy Woomble of Idlewild to Graham Coxon from Blur including the lovable John Tams, Andy Cutting, Julie Fowlis and many more and all under the direction of the equally loveable John McCusker.
We were delighted in the front half of the year to capture a date with James McMurtry on his first UK tour which included Ian 'Mac' Maclagan of (Small) Faces fame in the band. He loved it so much, he came back later in 2009. In between, we captured a special show with Mary Gauthier and Carrie Rodriguez working up a storm together on stage at The Met in Bury. There were old friend like John Tams and Barry Coope as well as the lovely Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby but great to see new faces (to Mr Kite) with Eliza Carthy, Jon Boden and Eilen Jewell too.
There's a steady pattern of artists now - some old, some new, all good. Arriving on the up were the Carolina Chocolate Drops who played up a storm as did Crooked Still who surprised us with a guest appearance by Bruce Molsky - see the dressing room rehearsal above. Diana Jones, Raul Malo, Sara Watkins, Richmond Fontaine and Suzy Bogguss were all excellent and new to the mix but the intimate show with Denis Jones was a real treat for the handful in attendance. And, of course, old favourites like Tom Russell and Show of Hands continue to shine.
With a recession looming, we relied on some old favourites such as Sam Baker, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves and Diana Jones and aimed to be more imaginative with how we planned. Co-promoting a wonderful show with Bellowhead, matching Lau with The Deadly Gentlemen in a bill that blasted The Brudenell Social Club and picking up with Roddy Woomble to present him solo. Finally, we captured the splendid Richard Shindell in one of his rare visits to these shores from his Argentinean home.
Oh, yes, the year kicked off with Tom Russell before heading into a special date with 'The Cecil Sharp Project' featuring Steve Knightley, Jackie Oates, Andy Cutting, Caroline Herring, Jim Moray, Patsy Reid, Leonard Podolak and Kathryn Roberts paying tribute to the legendary song collector. The year also had two special Benefits with 'War Horse - The Concert' including a reading by its author Michael Morpurgo and songs from John Tams and Barry Coope. We had a range of old favourites including Show of Hands, Chuck Prophet, Suzy Bogguss and some new faces with Sarah Jarosz, Simone Felice and Dan Stuart of Green on Red.
Michael Morpurgo came up trumps again with 'The Best Christmas Present in The World' featuring Voices At The Door, an expanded Coope, Boyes and Simpson line up that delighted all. New to us were Cara Dillon, Sam Amidon, Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer as well as old friends such as Fred Eaglesmith, Diana Jones, Sara Watkins and Roddy Woomble. A rich tapestry for all.
Willie Watson, The Delines, The Sadies and the supporting Harp and a Monkey all turned heads to one degree or another in their first appearances for Mr Kite - hopefully, they'll be returning. Already returning with some fine wares for our ears were Mary Gauthier, Anaïs Mitchell, Chuck Prophet, Suzy Bogguss and, for her first solo release, Nancy Kerr. However, the big news of the year was that our total donations to charity went past the £100,000 barrier.
We continued adding to our donations to charity with the return of favourites such as Steve Knightley, Slaid Cleaves, John Tams and Barry Coope. There were some interesting joint projects with Boo Hewerdine teaming up with Kris Drever and who could forget I'm With Her featuring Sara Watkins, Sara Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan. After the closure of the popular St Bede's Club, we aimed at developing an audience over at Fox Lane Sports and Social Club where the likes of songwriting legend Chip Taylor appeared.
The year had some ups and downs. Having had the idea to team up the rising Ryley Walker with the legendary Danny Thompson, it was sad that Danny's health stopped him appearing at some of the tour dates. Similarly, it was great to have two fabulous Benefits from Richmond Fontaine but sad that their second was a farewell appearance as the band has broken up to follow other musical avenues. We enjoyed the return of I'm With Her in their individual parts with new solo records. There was a great triumph when we secured the double bill of Martin Carthy and Peggy Seeger whose combined contribution to the world of folk is inestimable - see them pictured above courtesy of Kerry Harvey-Piper.
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