Southport Nights at The Atkinson

Find out more about each night…


The Blackheart Orchestra

The Atkinson Studio, Southport

7:30pm – Thursday 1st July

Tickets £15.00 available to book on-line at or call the box office on 01704-533333.

Inspirational electronic folk pioneers The Blackheart Orchestra take music to a new, unexplored dimension. Described as “A mesmerizing powerhouse” “An avant-garde musical utopia” and “One of the most extraordinary voices singing anywhere today” vocalist Chrissy Mostyn along with multi-instrumentalist Rick Pilkington combine their classical influences with vintage synths and ultra contemporary electronica to create music that takes over the senses.

As emotionally charged as it is musically accomplished, expect sublime harmonies, virtuoso guitar, piano and synthesiser playing and songwriting and arrangements that take the audience ”from heartbreaking to uplifting in a single song”. With awards including Best British Duo, Limelight Progressive Music Award Nomination and being voted in the UK’s Top 4 Best New Bands of 2018, The Blackheart Orchestra are two voices and thirteen instruments that create a unique musical experience that is truly ground-breaking.

“Ethereal” – Daily Express
“A great band” – BBC Radio 2
“Their songs are all stand-alone masterpieces” – Fatea Magazine

Brian McNeill

The Atkinson Studio, Southport

7:30pm – Thursday 5th August

Tickets £14.00 available to book on-line at or call the box office on 01704-533333.

Brian McNeill’s career spans over 50 years and his music over that period has established him as one of the most acclaimed forces in Scottish music. Brian was born in 1950 in Falkirk and has been described as ‘Scotland’s most meaningful contemporary songwriter’ (The Scotsman). Add to that his work and influence as performer, composer, producer, teacher, musical director, band leader, novelist and interpreter of Scotland’s past, present and future and you have a man who has never stood still.

He has performed around the globe, both as a soloist and with some of the era’s most influential bands, including Battlefield Band, which he founded in 1969, Clan Alba and as a core member of the UK fiddle phenomenon, Feast of Fiddles. Brian performs and teaches regularly at many of the world’s major festivals and is the longest running booked artist at Cambridge Folk Festival.

Brian is a multi-instrumentalist – chiefly fiddle, bouzouki, mandocello, guitars and concertina – and the importance of his songwriting has long been recognised with such songs as The Yew Tree, The Lads O’ The Fair, The Snows of France and Holland, Strong Women Rule Us All With Their Tears, Any Mick’ll Do and No Gods and Precious Few Heroes. Many of his songs have been performed and recorded by artists worldwide.

Over the years Brian has become a true friend of Friends of Folk and one of the artists it is always a pleasure to invite to perform. It is a guaranteed evening of musical enjoyment from an artist who is not just talented, but also someone who relates closely with his audience. His rendition of ‘Bring The Lassie Hame’ and the story that goes with it will alone be worth the price of the ticket!


The Atkinson Studio, Southport

7:30pm – Thursday 9th September

Tickets £15.00 available to book on-line at or call the box office on 01704-533333.

Avondale – a true story, told in song and narration A few words from the writer Len Pentin:
“A writer is lucky if once in a lifetime a true-life story drops into his or her lap, that not only is fantastic in its detail but has not already been claimed and written up by someone else.

AVONDALE is such a story. Beyond a casual mention on a local history site, the full extended story of Kate Fitzpatrick, a mysterious inmate of Ormskirk Workhouse, has never seen the light of day on any stage or any page – that in itself is remarkable, never mind the events of the story themselves!

The story involves the last tragic voyage of The Lusitania, a dramatic search for a lost relative and much more besides. As soon as I came across this story, I knew I had to write it up. Yes it’s a local story but its themes, like any great story, are universal. Set in both the UK (Ormskirk) and the USA (Illinois and New York), it’s a story that connects two continents and two women whose paths would normally, under other circumstances, most likely never have crossed.

If the story around these two women was fiction, it would never be believed – it would be deemed fantastical – but, nonetheless, the remarkable events depicted in AVONDALE really did occur. While some crucial information around the story remains lost to time, what remains manifests into a tale that demands to be told and remembered for all sorts of reasons.”

AVONDALE is performed by Len Pentin, Chris Nelson, Siobhan Nelson, Mike Huddart and Don Palmer. It is a two act performance of narration and 18 original songs.

Ashley Hutchings ‘Paradise & Thorns’

The Atkinson Studio, Southport

7:30pm – Thursday 21st October

Tickets £15.00 available to book on-line at or call the box office on 01704-533333.

“The Guv’nor” of British folk-rock himself, Ashley Hutchings MBE, returns to The Atkinson with a brand new song & poetry show for 2021, accompanied by the renowned English singer-songwriter and accompanist Becky Mills.

Leading the audience through the subject of Love – “Man’s noblest frailty” – and drawing heavily from Ashley’s masterpiece albums “Paradise and Thorns” and “By Gloucester Docks I Sat Down and Wept”, the duo will present a sublime mix of traditional and modern folk, new songs and old, dramatic readings, sonnets, diary excerpts, and superb lyrics and musicianship.

Ashley Hutchings’ long and distinguished musical career includes being a founding member of three of the UK’s most influential folk acts: Fairport Convention, where he played on the band’s first four albums, including the pioneering folk-rock classic ‘Liege & Lief’; Steeleye Span, recording three successful albums with them before breaking away in 1971; and the Albion Country Band, which subsequently evolved into the Albion Dance Band and the Albion Band, with Hutchings remaining at the helm throughout.

Becky Mills is a former member of the critically acclaimed band Waking The Witch and guest vocalist on recent albums and tours by Ashley Hutchings and Ken Nicol (Steeleye Span). A solo artiste in her own right, and described as “a storyteller of immense talent and imagination” (FATEA), her recent solo album “Tall Tales & Home Truths” was praised for its “bewitching songs shot through with wisdom, imagining the lives of others with enormous sympathy” (The Musician).

“Ashley Hutchings is the single most important figure in English folk rock” – Bob Dylan.

Feast of Fiddles

The Atkinson Theatre, Southport

7:30pm – Sunday 10 April 2022

Tickets £22.00 available to book on-line at or call the box office on 01704-533333.

It was a massive disappointment when the 2020 night at the Atkinson had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus – it was almost sold out!  Now there is the equally sad news that the 2021 gig has also had to be postponed.  The good news is that a 2022 date has already been planned and after a two year break Friends of Folk anticipate a full house for what will be a memorable night.

Born in Nettlebed on Valentine’s Day 1994 as a one off special concert, Feast of Fiddles has done 25 spring tours, 24 festivals and has 7 CDs to its name. Not bad for a bunch of old folk-rockers!

This is a band of friends that puts on a show of huge dynamic range performed with passion, joy and a liberal dose of fun. Fiddlers Peter Knight (Gigspanner, Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Brian McNeill (Battlefield Band), Ian Cutler (Bully Wee), Tom Leary (Lindisfarne) and Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) add the large range of fiddle playing styles to the rock back-line of guitars, keyboards, sax and accordion – all held together by legendary drummer Dave Mattacks.

A live music entertainment like no other on the circuit which is guaranteed to be enjoyed by even the most doubting of friends dragged along!

“Absolutely awesome!” – Sue Marchant, BBC East
“Britain’s fiddling supergroup” – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2
“The best fiddle players of a generation” – fRoots
“Crabtree pumps his accordion as though he’s powering his own heartbeat and each and every violinist fiddles frantically. Impressive, high energy stuff” – Manchester Review

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