Unicorn Magazine supported folk music and dance since its foundation by Alan Creamer and Theo Thomas in 1983. Some 30 years later, new editors took over when Alan retired and until relatively recently Sandra Lawes ran the publication single-handed. A combination of Covid and a happy change in Sandra’s domestic circumstances meant that she found herself unable to commit the necessary time to the magazine and advertised for a replacement editor.
I have always picked up the Unicorn Magazine when possible and was sad to hear of its possible demise though was unable to contemplate becoming the editor of such a publication owing to my heavy involvement with Royston Arts Festival as its ‘Chair’. That was in early 2021 but after some discussion about the future of Unicorn Magazine Sandra kindly agreed to hand over the operation to me* in June 2021 to continue as a website under the rechristened name of Unicorn Folk. She continued to provide advice and nurse me through the first year or so of the new website for which I was very grateful.
Now, in my third year of running Unicorn Folk, I have finally stepped down as Chair of Royston Arts Festival and hope to be able to devote more time to running the website and generally promoting folk music in its various forms. The focus will remain on the traditional Unicorn catchment area of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and parts of north London. However, the online format will also make the website accessible to advertisers and folk enthusiasts in other parts of the UK.
One major development that has taken place over the last year is my regular presentation of a radio show on Royston Radio which is devoted to folk music both traditional and contemporary and in its various forms such as Folk Rock, Indie, Celtic and European folk. That show, Filby’s Folk, is sponsored by Unicorn Folk and goes out on Sundays at 6pm with a repeat on Tuesdays at 1pm.
Future aims:The arts industry, music in general and the folk world in particular have all been affected by the Covid pandemic. Finances are even tighter for folk organisations now and the viability of folk musicians and venues has been adversely affected. In order to counter one aspect of this unwelcome situation I am currently running Unicorn Folk as a not-for-profit organisation and anticipate that will continue as long as I am able to do so. Those listings that were ‘Free’ in the Unicorn Magazine will continue to be free on the Unicorn Folk website and have been extended in range. The cost of other advertisements has been cut substantially and for some events I have decided from 2024 that I will invite donations rather than charge a fee, principally folk clubs, on whose existence I believe the future of folk music depends. However, I am also trying to keep the principle of paid advertisements alive in order to fund the operation so that it may be handed over to someone else in due course as will be necessary at some stage given that I am now in my early 70s.
More information can be found in the Advertisers Agreement which you can read by clicking HERE.
If you have read this far then I would be very grateful to anyone who spreads the word about Unicorn Folk to potential viewers, folk audiences, musicians and Morris and Dance sides who are entitled to a FREE listing of their activities if they submit details in the requested format.
Thank you to anyone who supports Unicorn Folk in any way at all whether you be advertiser, reader, organiser, musician, dancer or general folk enthusiast!
Carl Filby, 2024
* Biographical note: I really did fall in love with folk music after listening to Fairport’s ‘Liege & Lief’ album, bought unheard on a whim from a friend. I Morris-danced my way through a Sociology course at Bath University in the ’70s organising numerous Ceilidhs, dance sessions and a summer tour of Jersey along the way. I started Royston MusicFest in 2016 as part of Royston Arts Festival and I have been the ‘Chair’ or Secretary of Creative Royston, the not-for-profit organisation which runs the arts festival for the last 12 years. I built and administer this and the Royston Arts Festival and MusicFest websites along with that of Royston Arts Society, the last three of which were part of the online Royston Arts Festival in 2020. I can often be found hanging around Royston Live (Royston Folk Club as was) and organised the judging of their Young Folk Artist Competitions in 2017 & 2018 both supported by Creative Royston which put up the second prize of £250. More recently, much of my time has been taken up by Royston Radio.