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his voice as he did so. We used to Said Follow That Van! Nobody with inspiring him. So, once we I’ve nothing but praise for it, it’s
call them the washing-up shanties! from outside ever realised all the started the Pack, I started to meet such a good thing. There’s a real
We joined in the whole time. I love singing that went on at Edale more and more folkies. It was need to cater for this love people
the buzz I get from singing, I can’t Primary when we should have a slow 10-year build up. I love have of traditional music, and
help myself!” been studying – we loved it!” the folk scene. It’s where all my being located as it is, the degree
friends are!” course has brought musicians like
Was Bella aware of a lot of folk Bella has been on the folk scene Jim Causley up north all the way
music when she was younger? for about 11 years now. She “At York University I was also in a from Devon, and musicians from
Scotland down to England. Lots
from Ireland too. Bands like The
Shee got together there of course.
And they’re a huge social force in
Newcastle!”
Bella found herself at a ‘crunch’
point after she left university. One
of her friends, the Sheffield-based
musician John Brenner, told her
that unless she had a need to be
a folk scene performer, then she
shouldn’t do it due to the lack of
job security, and the difficulty of
making it pay. Bella’s decision
was soon made, however: “I
worked in an office in London for
six months and decided it was a
need! I want to make and share
music, it’s as simple as that.”

Bella has worked for the past
six years as Children & Youth
Coordinator at Cambridge Folk
Festival, which basically means
that she organises The Hub. “I
go up on the Wednesday which
I love because I get an extra day
at the festival! We’ve introduced
the Hub Band Project which is a
Photo by Beth Hardy
competition for 12 to 18 year olds,
the prize being a set on the Club
‘... Dad did the dishwashing, singing at the
Tent stage. The participants do
two Progressive Band workshops
a day with tutors. We had 60
top of his voice as he did so. We used to
entries this year, and we whittled
it down to about 25 participants,
after listening to their demo
call them the washing-up shanties! We
recordings.” She’s a regular
at Whitby Folk Week too, and
joined in the whole time. I love the buzz I
compered the Family Club for
them last year.

get from singing, I can’t help myself!’
Her raised profile on the English
circuit in particular means that she
is getting a lot of bookings these
days, and she now has an agent.
“Not really. Dad is originally from joined a band called The Pack Trio called Ola with Michael Jary She plays whenever and wherever
Hull and he was very inspired by at 13 years of age, a band that and Helen Bell. Michael was in she can, and acknowledges
the Bluebell Folk Club there, and sprang up naturally out of the the Pack too! I was a student the fact that without her many
by the Watersons, Steeleye Span, Folkworks Summer Schools, there too, I really enjoyed the friends and contacts, she wouldn’t
Fairport Convention and so on. gatherings at Whitby Folk Week, Black Swan Folk Club. The best have made such progress. The
But I didn’t listen to that much and so on. “We were all mates ceilidh dance scenes for me are in highlight of Bella’s career to date
folk music. We made up a lot of who were just trying to work out Sheffield and Newcastle though.” is clearly her recent invite to the
songs. Dad has a lovely recording a way to get into festivals for free, Every year for the past 10 years, BBC Prom. She happily described
he made of us when we were all because we loved them so much! the Pack held an annual Christmas herself as ‘giddily excited’ about
small, I must dig it out some time. So we formed a band, and played concert at Carver Village Hall in the prospect. She’s just finished
We were all singing traditional five or six festivals a year. The Derbyshire. “But we decided to a teaching project in Newcastle
songs, and there’s this lovely bit Pack included musicians like Sam call it a day because of everyone’s and all her focus is now on 20th
where dad pauses to tell me to Pirt, Ian Stephenson – all of 422 commitments, and the last one July. “I cannot wait, especially to
get out of the washing machine!” Dance Band were in The Pack! took place last year. We always do the afternoon slot. Folkestra
At Bella’s primary school, the Emily and Sophie, 422’s fiddlers, booked a local band too, and our will also be down from Newcastle,
headteacher was a jazz singer are from Hope in Derbyshire. musician friends from Norway and but I have been asked to do three
from London with a strong music The school ceilidh band was Sweden and so on would join us unaccompanied songs - no fiddle
hall background. “He was run by their mum Jane. She’s too.” - which I really love to do. They’ve
always singing too,” laughed an accordion player, and was requested three Vaughan Williams
Bella. “We’d be singing away also my Biology teacher. David She has nothing but good things collected songs, but it’s lovely
in our maths lesson, all the old Wood, who performs with Tom to say about Newcastle University: because they’ve left me to choose
London classics like My Old Man McConville of course, credits Jane “The folk degree is incredible. my own source, to personalise
The Living Tradition - Page 2
Issue80.indd 26 14/7/08 14:49:55
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