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Hack-Poets Guild: Blackletter Garland

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Three people stood back to back

Marry Waterson, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann present a vivid new album and tour.

Three of the UK’s most innovative and prestigious folk artists present Blackletter Garland, a brand new album and live tour.

Inspired by historic broadside ballads – daily song sheets sold for pence from the 16th to 20th centuries – Marry, Lisa and Nathaniel rejuvenate and reinvent these stories. Fascinating interpretations and original compositions tell intricate tales of birth, love, conflict and death, with all the imagination of the folklore on which they’re based.

Arguably the forerunners of our modern news media, broadsides (also known as broadsheets) often contained ballads and rhymes, which were sung daily in Britain’s streets and inns. Although part of living traditions of folksong, popular art and literature, these illustrated printed sheets are now rare and preserved in only a few libraries. They offer a vivid insight into the past whilst striking a chord with universal themes still relevant today. Songs about love, loneliness and kindness are interwoven with intriguing, humanist and dark stories.

Delving into the inky archives at the Bodleian Libraries and beyond, Marry Waterson, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann lead a five-piece band bringing broadsides vividly to life for a new generation and offering a rare insight into Britain’s history.

Presented by Bristol Beacon

Produced by Sound UK. Commissioned by Sound UK and OCM.
Funded by Arts Council England. Supported by the Bodleian Libraries.

Seated event

Age: 14+ (Under 18s to be accompanied by an adult)



Marry Waterson – voice
Lisa Knapp – voice, fiddle, autoharp
Nathaniel Mann – voice, bowed banjo, electronics and meat cleaver
Barney Morse Brown – cello w/ pedals
Laurence Hunt – percussion

“I saw folk music’s future. It was an exciting glimpse of an alternative, fresh and vital approach to presenting traditional music”

Ken Hunt, Music Journalist, on the 2017 tour (named ‘Broadside Ballads’)

Also on the night….

Pre-concert talk – short film screening
A brief history of Broadside Ballads (18 mins)

Discover more about Broadside Ballads and the history of printing with a fascinating pre-concert talk between musician Lisa Knapp and historian Steve Roud, filmed at the Bodleian Printing Workshop.

Printing press demonstration

Bristol-based letterpress printer, Nick Hand, will cycle over The Printing Bike – a bike which carries an 8×5 Adana Press. To date, the printing bike has journeyed 3845 miles and printed over 3000 postcards.

Printing press demonstrations will be given before the show and during the interval and you can have a go at printing your own broadside memento.

The venue

Bristol Folk House

Getting to the venue

Location: Bristol Folk House is located near Bristol city centre off Park Street, 300m walk from Bristol Beacon or College Green.

Address: 40a Park St, Bristol BS1 5JG



Bicycle racks are available within the venue’s courtyard garden. Find your nearest cycle routes using Cycle Planner.

 Car parking

Limited on street parking is available on Park Street (100m). The closest multi-story car park is Trenchard Street Car Park (483m).

 Bristol Clean Air Zone

Bristol Folk House is inside the Bristol Clean Air Zone. View a map of the Zone and check if your vehicle will be charged.


College Green bus stops are 101m from the venue, with frequent services to and from the city centre. The nearest train station is Bristol Temple Meads (1931m).

Get directions



Unfortunately Bristol Folk House does not have level access or accessible facilities. There are a total of 14 steps and a slope between floors to access the entrance, foyer and performance space.


This venue does not have an accessible toilet.

Assistance Dogs

All assistance dogs are welcome in the venue and auditorium.

Hearing Facility

There is no induction loop facility at this venue.


Join our access register to help us, help you to have an enjoyable visit.

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