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

Happened at...
THE PARAMOUNT, Penistone, South Yorkshire


"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
All our albums will continue to be available by mail order

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

Brian now runs his Park Head Studio. He's concentrating on other people's recording projects. Details of Brian's studio are available at 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 Or her writing at

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 to let you know we had a great time on Sunday afternoon. It was all over too soon (for us anyway!) Thanks also for the performances over the years - Christmas will not be the same without your stuffing our turkey.

Malcolm Brumwell and members of Strings and Things


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.
Thanks again,
Veronica Brown


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  
Best wishes to the three of you
Jeff Jinks
(or in Hilarys case ... George) 

On Artisan's Announcement of the Imminent End...

Dear Artisan,
I feel priviledged to have been involved with you, as the wonderful entertainment group and also as people who have become friends. I hope that the young people of Little Paxton Primary School, over the last 20 years, are able to remember the lovely concerts and workshops that you did there. I particularly remember when you were working with the Yr.6 group and got them to join in with an extremely difficult round concerning an "expedition up the Nile"!! The children did it brilliantly. Then at the St. Neots Folk Club that evening, you suddenly dragged me into the line-up to do this same round!! I am extremely proud to say that I have sung on-stage with Artisan! We will miss you but wish you all the best for your future ventures.

Love from Di Rockett


Good Luck! Good laughs & tears & stunning singing! With you in spirit at all these Last Evers.......
love monocle xxx (Dorset)


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.  
Chris and Ann Merritt (Somerset)


Dear Artisan Members: Jacey, Brian, & Hilary:  
It is with deep regret that I see from your website that ARTISAN are going seperate ways.  My husband and I have enjoyed your shows over the years at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, USA very much. We had finally got to talk with you all last year and have you autograph your CD. Actually, my husband would have spent all afternoon talking recording with Brian! We also have a vocal group which does four-part harmonies to Ukrainian folk songs, and we have always appreciated the great sound that ARTISAN has. We do not perform full time since we all work day jobs, so we understand the hard work that groups like you and many others put into your craft.

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 of song!  
Sandy and Mike Duda
Members of KAZKA Ukrainian Folk Ensemble Lehighton PA, USA 


Dear Artisan
WE have been waiting patiently for you to reappear in Australia We saw you a number of years ago at the Port Fairy Folk Festival We were amazed with your wonderful voices and magnificent songs. It is a shame that we will miss out on hearing you all live together again We wish you all the best with your future projects and will always treasure the performances that we saw at Port Fairy Thank you
Best Wishes

Ross and Sue Hayward


Dear all,
As I said on the evening (at St Neots, Cambs), I have been wanting to catch an Artisan event for several years now, and yes, I do realise that I had left it 'a bit late'. But WOW, what an event.... I must thank you for the great pleasure which your show gave me. I regret wasting the years during which I have missed your appearances, but hope to catch at least one more before your 'final curtain'. Again, thank you for the privilege of such a pleasant evening, and the great pleasure which you give.
Best wishes to you all for the future.
Regards etc...



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.
Bethlehem, PA


Dear Artisan,  
Really sorry to hear that this is your last year performing together - I have thoroughly enjoyed every performance of yours that I've seen over the years.   I'd love to see you again one last time and was hoping that you'd be at Whitby festival this year, but I see you're away touring.  I was intending to come to your gig at Faversham Folk Club, but I live near Dover and was snowed in!  Will you be coming down to Kent again before you split?  If not, I'd like to thank you for your excellent concerts and CDs which have given me much pleasure.  
Thank you for the music (in the words of the song.........)!       
Kind Regards,    

Sue Watson


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?
Best regards Steve, Jaqui and Stuart Dingle


Hi, Jacey
Shattered that Artisan are not going to part of life after this autumn, but thank you for the pleasure you've given me and many friends in the past. Have you heard that Nellie's in Beverley is no longer hosting live performance? A year of sad endings! But look forward to seeing you in Cottingham and York

Best wishes
Liz Grove


"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 the music."
- Rob Henry, Rising Sun Folk Entertainment Club, Willington, Derbyshire


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?
See you soon
Annette Harris.


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.
Anne and Paul


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.  
Love to you all  

Margaret and Terry
The Official Barnsley Branch of the  Artisan Fan Club


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.
Angie Bladen - Four Fools Festival


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 undertake.  

Dave Hadley
An avid, appreciative fan 


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
Jim Marino
Freewheeling Folk Show 93.3 CFMU -or- -worldwide.


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