Artisan's farewell concert - 20th November 2005...
(Of course this doesn't take the reunion tours in 2010 and 2015 intro account.)
Artisan Final Concert Review
Well, it finally happened, the last concert, Artisan is no more - at least not as a regularly gigging trio - but there are still CDs to buy and the DVD of the final concert is a fantastic memento of Artisan live. It's got great sound and we're delighted to say that we didn't break the camera lenses, so it looks good too.
People ask us why we decided to quit and move on. There's nothing complicated to the decision... Twenty years is a long time and we reckoned our twentieth year was a good time to finish on a high. We all moved forward to other projects.
We had a ball at the last gigs, especially - as you can imagine - on the Sunday. People kept asking whether we felt sad and whether we were going to manage to get through the concert without breaking out in floods of blubbing, but truth to tell, though the audience admitted to a bit of blubbing themselves, we were all fine. I guess the mechanics of organising the concerts and the DVD filming was taking up the portion of our mind reserved for dwelling on the occasion. We had such a good time seeing all our friends there that it was like a great big party and send-off combined.
We'd particularly like to thank all those people who travelled so far to see us. The furthest travellers came from Seattle, USA (though that was a bit of a cheat as our friends William and Felicia were coming over anyway, so they just came over a week early). Our UK fans travelled down from Scotland (the furthest being Aberdeen) and from Northumberland and Durham. Some came up from Devon, Somerset, Kent, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands and many from counties much closer to home.
And do we feel sad now that it's all over? 'Sad' is not the right word. Privileged describes it better. Privileged to have been part of something like Artisan with so many good friends and fans on both sides of the Atlantic and Australia too. We're proud of our achievements and hope you all continue to enjoy our music, because while CDs and DVDs exist Artisan is still out there somewhere.
Artisan's Farewell Concert
REVIEW BY DAVID KIDMAN
"Sunday 20th November 2005 The glorious weather on this cold November day was tinged with a degree of sadness for lovers of fine three-part harmony singing, for one of the genre's most accomplished exponents was to "call it a day" with a pair of farewell concerts, bringing to a close the trio's last-ever tour and at the same time bringing down the curtain on over 20 immensely successful years as a performing unit. For most if not all of that time, Artisan (Jacey and Brian Bedford, and Hilary Spencer) have been a benchmark for aspiring harmony singers, supremely polished and professional (almost to a fault, some have said!), and Troopers to the last. So you wouldn't ever expect anything but a proper Show (in the true meaning of the word) from them! And so it proved - totally typical of everything Artisan have stood for over their lengthy and successful innings. A formal yet informal concert-style presentation, laced with enough of that characteristic friendliness, genial familiarity and genuine bonhomie to compensate for the very occasional whiff of stageyness. The three performers who stood up there on the Penistone stage struck up an immediate rapport with the capacity audience (something they're so very skilled in!). Much of the linkperson role fell to Jacey, who sadly was suffering from a throat infection (it happens to us all just when we least need it!) - but luckily for us this affliction was only noticeable in her speech (and then only just - for there, let's be honest, it didn't matter nearly so much) and not in her singing. We were treated to a pair of generous sets together comprising nearly twenty songs, which made up a kind of whistle-stop tour through the finest of Brian's own compositions. Running the gamut from breathless (yes, that's meant literally, as Jacey and Hilary are quick to point out!) patter songs of often hilarious bent through to deeply moving meditations on life and love, with everything sung clearly and supremely harmoniously. The afternoon was a veritable parade of deservedly well-loved, solid-gold-classic Artisan songs, from Breathing Space to Mabel to What's The Use Of Wings? to White Horses . all guaranteed to bring a smile to the face or a tear or two to the corner of the eye (sometimes more, and sometimes both in the same song - not an easy trick to pull off!). Even if we'd heard some or much of the clever linking narrative or partially-scripted ad-libs before, that didn't matter, for the sense of occasion was what counted here. The "planned encore" just had to be a rousing, roof-raising rendition of Stan Rogers' celebrated Mary Ellen Carter, which for many years has been Artisan's regular "evening-finisher". Then, after the hearty applause had died down, Artisan launched gently into The Farewell Song, a veritable tearjerker to send us all quietly weeping to the car-park. The concert had been a real occasion; in a way the end of an era, for it certainly felt as though we were bidding farewell to some very dear friends. That is, until we remembered that of course, the three singers who comprise Artisan have all been involved in other projects and activities throughout the tenure of the group's life, and will continue to do everything they already do best (including sing!), the only difference being that they'll no longer do so together as Artisan. So, I'm happy to say, this particular cloud does have a brightly glistening silver lining: Jacey and Brian will join with three other excellent performers (duo William Pint & Felicia Dale and multi- instrumentalist Ben Walker) in the newly-formed Brian Bedford Band, whereas Hilary will continue tickling our sensibilities with the fabulous guitarist and singer/writer Grant Baynham in the duo QuickSilver and as but one of the multi-talented madcap troupe of Les Barker's mighty Mrs Ackroyd Band. So hallelujah! for we are saved!."
The final concert is available as a DVD on our albums page.
We have lots of thank yous to venue managers, festival artistic directors and folk club and concert organisers. It wouldn't be possible to list everyone - but we thank you all. Without you we couldn't have done all we have done. To audiences we say a huge thank you because without you this would all have been... a rehearsal. We're going to name one name, though, as we have an enormous thank-you to Phil Vickers of AVLS, our sound man of choice and friend for so many years. He's toured with us for Christmas Shows, done sound for us at special events and festivals and definitely been 'our rock in shifting sands.' Though every gig has been different the quality of Phil's sound has been a constant, as has his unfailingly calm and reassuring personality, sprinkled liberally with a good dollop of Yorkshire humour.
Albums - CDs and DVDs
See our albums page for details
So what's next?
Hilary continues to perform as half of the duo QuickSilver with Grant Baynham - with voices and guitar performing an eclectic mix of songs alongside Grant's own amazing compositions. You can keep up to speed with her goings on by visiting www.hilaryspencer.com
Brian now runs his Park Head Studio. He's concentrating on other people's recording projects. Details of Brian's studio are available at www.parkheadstudio.co.uk and we'd be delighted for Artisan supporters to come and record with us.
Jacey is keeping tabs on the folk world via her agency, Jacey Bedford Tour Management, which arranges tours for great folk acts from homer and abroad such as Les Barker, Ritchie Parrish Ritchie (lately of Tanglefoot), Zulu Tradition, Dan McKinnon, and Union Jill (amongst others). Away from the folk world she also writes science fiction and fantasy and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines . her novels are published by DAW in thre USA - part of the Penguin Group. You can keep up with her music activities by visiting www.jacey-bedford.com. Or her writing at www.jaceybedford.co.uk
And for Artisan?
Hugely successful reunion tours in 2010 and 2015, showed that there was still fun to be had. See Jacey Bedford's agency page for details.
What you say...
On the Last Concert...
Dear Jacey, Hilary and Brian,
Just had to write and say that this afternoon was fantastic. I
have followed you since I first heard you at one of the Garden Festivals - The
Welsh one I think, as I get older things just merge! It could have been Glasgow!
Anyway you were superb, My friends and I brought my sister-in-law who was
blown away and has become an instant fan. Thank God for CD's. I shall try to
follow your varied careers and hope that we shall meet again.
I would like to thank the three of you for the pleasure that you
have given me over the last (scary!!) fifteen odd years. During that time I
have been to your concerts in many places and have enjoyed every one. I would
also like to thank you for your patience and willingness to talk and discuss
your music and various other things over the years, also going out of your way
to help out my acquaintances. I also (regretfully) thoroughly enjoyed the very
last concert. Thank you. I look forward to seeing you in your new guises
at sometime in the not too distant future
On Artisan's Announcement of the Imminent End...
Good Luck! Good laughs & tears & stunning singing! With you
in spirit at all these Last Evers.......
The very BEST of luck to all 3 of you - it has been a great pleasure
listening to and seeing you at a number of different venues over about the last 8-9-10
years (we first "happened on you"/heard you at the Crawley Folk
Festival in about 1995/96/97?)........and we still have several cassettes of
yours, which will continue to give us pleasure and enjoyment for a long time to
come (and who knows, we may even update to CDs in the not-too-far-distant
future and so buy some of those from you!!). May success crown all your
individual/separate ventures from hereon in. Thank you all again - it's
been a lot of fun/happiness seeing and listening to you.
Dear Artisan Members: Jacey, Brian, & Hilary:
Our group has also been performing at Musikfest for the last 13 years in the Volksplatz tent. I was really excited to see that this year you were not only going to be at Musikfest, but that on the day our folk ensemble is performing, we will be on the same stage. We are on right before you on Aug. 14th at Volksplatz and I am looking forward to enjoying the sounds of ARTISAN right after our performance. Usually we run to wherever you're performing to get to see you. I hope we may get to chat with you all between our performances.
I am sorry to see it end and wish you good luck and success in all your future endeavors. I will watch for you in the future with your new groups (hopefully you'll get to Musikfest).
ARTISAN has definately touched
alot of people with their music and I'm sure that it will go on for a long time
to come. Few groups have a "feel" for their music or are
able to get a "groove" going on stage during a live performance.
ARTISAN has both. As we say in Ukrainian, "Mnohaya Lita"
or "Many Happy Years" to all of you! Thanks for your gift
Let me start by saying thank you, thank you, thank you. I
believe I saw you for the first time about ten years ago at Musikfest in
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. You opened my ears and renewed my faith that
there are actually wonderful musicians who care and still feel their music. Thoughtful
lyrics and soaring harmonies. What musicians could learn by listening to
your music today. Being a musician myself, one of two things happen when
I am overwhelmed by such great talent. I get a silly grin on my face or I
am moved so deeply, I am on the verge of breaking down into tears. I
must say, your music brought out both emotions in me. You also have
another great admirer in my household. My three year old daughter
Martina. She simply loves The Hammer Ghost song and can sing quite a
few other songs off your album Breathing Space. Thank you again and will you be
coming to Musikfest 2005? I hope so. I would love for my
daughter to see you.
Very sorry to read that the end is in sight. We have been followers
for many years, and your music and songs got our young son completely hooked on
traditional music. The lyrics and harmonies are always very moving, funny and
wonderful. Hope to see you at our local club in Corsham in April and at
Bromyard later in the year. Good luck in your future ventures. Maybe a reunion
tour in the future?
"I think I will remember Artisan as the group that raised the
standard in folk clubs. You have been so very professional in your approach to
I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear that Artisan are
finishing. I cannot begin to tell you how much pleasure you have given me,
and many of my friends over the years. I first saw you at the Lock Stock and
Barrel, near Kidderminster, 1991. When you began to sing I was mesmerized and
have been hooked ever since. You have traveled miles with me in my car, me
being the fourth member of Artisan (but thank God no one else could hear me!).
My friend and I have always marveled at the songs you turn out, sometime funny,
sometimes sad, sometime reflecting, always original! The talent you three have,
put together is just outstanding! I will REALLY miss your concerts, but, if you
are going to go, then it's best going while you are at the top. Where ever else
I see you this year I WILL BE AT THE PARAMOUNT ON THE 20TH NOVEMBER, I reckon it
will be quite a night! Good Luck in whatever you decide to do in the future?
My first Artisan encounter was hearing Vin Garbutt sing "Wings"
in a freezing cold hall in Swansea. Later I had my first live Artisan
experience and was able to meet Brian and thank him for writing one of my
favourite songs. It never fails to touch me so much that I always cry. Artisan,
you've given us so much pleasure over the years. A very special evening was
when the power failed in Newport folk club and you sang almost in the dark
without mics, it was perfect. We'll see you for the last time when you come to
Llantrisant to say a big thank you in person.
Bummer. I get it, but BUMMER.
Devastated to hear the News, however, many many thanks for all the
enjoyment over the years, for the laughs the tears, the pantomimes and most of
all the friendship.
Am really sorry in one way to hear of Artisan's decision, though I
know people need to move on. You have been a great source of delight and help
to a very wide percentage of the folk scene, with your songs, your songwriting
and your performance. Congratulations and thanks for 20 wonderful years.
I hope all of you will be very happy and successful in your new, independent futures and endeavors. Selfishly, I, along with several of my friends, will be sad not to have your performances to attend any more. We attended your performances at Bethlehem, PA (USA)'s Musikfest and Godfrey Daniels. Artisan was unquestionably our favorite entertainment. We loved Brian's lyrics, tunes, and rhythms; we loved the harmonies, the singing, and the down-to-earth audience interaction. We scheduled our activities around being able to hear you perform. We were incredibly disappointed that you did not perform at Musikfest last year; we certainly hope that your current talks with Musikfest 2005 organizers are fruitful, and that we will be able to see you one last time. We listen often to your CDs.
I won't exactly wish you "good luck", because you certainly do not
need good luck (though an absence of bad luck will certainly be helpful).
I will, however, wish you all health, happiness, and success in all you
At first, I was so sad -- but as I read your future plans, I became
thrilled with the idea of moving on to other things -- How refreshing it
sounds. I'm excited for all of you and wish you the best. Jacey -- I would
be SOoooo honoured if during your visit to Canada you could squeeze in a "live"
appearance some Sat. morning on the Freewheeling Folk Show in Hamilton. I know
it depends on other factors -- but at least maybe a "live" phone call
could be arranged. All my best and love to Hilary and Brian as well. By the
way, the idea of Pint and Dale (love'em) joining up is truly marvellous!! I
truly look forward to watching your future
Back to Artisan Site Index * Jacey Bedford Tour Management * Jacey Bedford, Author