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Jack in a Barrel

Jack in a Barrel

Seven-piece acapella folk

Jack in a Barrel are a seven-piece acapella group based in Bedfordshire. They have been performing regularly at folk clubs and festivals since forming in 2018, and recorded their debut album, “I Know Not Where I Live” in 2019. JiaB sing a range of traditional and “sounds traditional” songs from standards like John Ball to more reflective numbers like John Tams’ Devonshire Carol, taking in the odd shanty and music hall number along the way.

They make the most of the seven voices in their arrangements, whether it’s to create a Wall of Sound or to produce close, squishy harmonies.
There are always plenty of opportunities to join in, so come ready to sing. And watch out for their Spotty Dick.

News

Stop Press!

We're very proud and excited to announce that Tim's song "Don't" has been selected for the finals of the Milkmaid Songwriting Competition 2024. The finals are on Friday 26th April in Bury Saint Edmunds, so wish us luck and please come along to support us and all the other finalists if you can.
See below for a bit of background to the song, and a sneak preview.

New songs from Tim

A sneak preview of a couple of new songs especially appropriate for 2024, a general election year.

Party Line

Combining two well established folk genres, Party Line came out as a protest shanty. Written as the Partygate saga was unfolding, it could have had many more verses and could still be a work in progress. In the event, the party did end, at least for one individual. Sadly for the country the behaviours continued. Good for songwriting, though, as the wackiness which ensued gave rise to Don't.

Don't

Don’t was written in 2023 as we all started to realise how our expectations for ordinary life had been systematically lowered by those in power. Things like clean rivers, dental care and the right to protest were no longer for the likes of us. In sharp contrast, those dishing out the advice had their own ‘rules’. Entitlement, lying and corruption had become normal, and no longer caused any comment, let alone outrage. Regardless of your political persuasion, seeing any elected representatives behave in this way should make you furious. Or terrified. Or both. To lighten the gloom, Don’t is written in the niche “protest-music-hall” genre. But don’t allow that to make you too jolly. Every line in the song is attributable. Yes, our Lords and Masters actually said and did this stuff, and continue to do so.

Did we mention it’s a general election year?

Album

I Know Not Where I Live

I Know Not Where I Live - album cover

Our first album I Know Not Where I Live was released on 26th July 2019. CD available from the band at gigs or email jackinabarrel@gmail.com. Digital download available from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.

"Highly recommended debut album... Acapella folk at its best" - Invisible Folk Club

Song Clips

Music and Words for Remembrance

An online concert of songs and archive material for Remembrance, released on Friday 11th November 2022. It includes our new version of Home, Lad, Home, for which we went back to the original words of the poem Homeward by Cicely Fox Smith. The melody is by Sarah Morgan, arranged by Tim Brewster.

Making music during Lockdown

I Know Not Where I Live - album cover

We really missed being able to rehearse together during lockdown, but we still kept singing! Check out our YouTube channel for a couple of lockdown recordings.

Christmas online

We had hopes for our Great Knight Christmas gig at the end of 2021, but the inevitable happened, and that was also cancelled. So we drank a bit of gin and decided to put on a little live stream gig instead. Please have a watch: Jack in a Carol - live.

Brickmaking (Graeme Meek), featured in 'The Bricks that Built a Community' a film commissioned by Higgins Museum (Bedford), 2019

The Last Hoffmans (Graeme Meek), featured in 'The Bricks that Built a Community' a film commissioned by Higgins Museum (Bedford), 2019

Devonshire Carol/Stand To (John Tams, arr. Tim Brewster), Great War commemoration concert, North Crawley, 16th November 2018

John Ball (Sydney Carter) 'Turvey Sings' 30th June 2018

See our YouTube Channel for more clips.

Gigs

Sun 13th October 2024
(two performances)
Living archive 40th anniversary concert, Milton Keynes
Details TBA
Fri 15th November 2024 8.00pm Main guest at Dunton Folk.
The Bigg Theatre, 36 High St, Biggleswade SG18 0JL

Biog

Jack in a Barrel are a 7-piece acapella group based in Bedfordshire.

JiaB came together in 2018 as an offshoot of their larger, multi-instrument incarnation and occasional ceilidh band, Twangling Jack. The motivation may have had something to do with the appeal of rocking up to gigs with only a concertina to get notes from (compared with TJ’s van-load of kit), but whatever the reason they all agreed that this was a Good Thing.

From the outset, something clicked about the sound. Having seven voices has so much scope. The Wall of Sound is pretty much expected, but still impresses when it hits you. Less expected is the detail in the harmonies. Arranging for seven voices allows close harmony with a squishiness you can’t get with a smaller group, and JiaB make the most of this.

JiaB released their debut album, “I Know Not Where I Live” in 2019, just in time for their appearance at Warwick Folk Festival, where a lifetime ambition was achieved by appearing on the same bill as Billy Bragg (albeit in a somewhat smaller font).

The Barrellers all bring something different to the band. Some are time-served folkies with 40+ years on the scene, some have a background in music for the theatre, some are writers, some are composers and arrangers. Some are smart-arses who do several of the above. They’ve all worked together in lots of combinations in the past, which all adds to the mix.

Jack in a Barrel rehearse every week with the aid of a child’s Casio keyboard and gin.

Gigs Archive

Fri 26th April 2024 8.00pm The Milkmaid Songwriting Competition 2024 Final
We're singing Tim's song "Don't" in the competition final.
The Milkmaid Folk Club, Risbygate Sports Club, Westley Road, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3RR
Wed 17th April 2024 8.00pm Main guest at Chequers Folk Club, High Wycombe, Bucks
Thurs 14th April 2024 8.00pm The Milkmaid Folk Club
The Milkmaid 2024 Songwriting Competition - singing Tim's song "Don't" in the first round heat. Risbygate Sports Club, Bury Saint Edmunds
Sat 6th Jan 2024 6.30pm Dunton Wassail
Dunton Folk - Wassail 2024 - followed by music in the March Hare pub, Dunton
Fri 22nd Dec 2023
8.45pm (approx)
"Jack in a Carol" - folk music for Christmas
The Three Cranes, Turvey, MK43 8EP
Sat 17th June 2023 8.00pm Evening concert, featuring Granny's Attic
Turvey Day of Folk, Bedfordshire
Sat 10th June 2023 7.30pm St Neots Folk Festival, Cambridgeshire
Fri 5th May 2023 7.30pm Performers' night
The Song Loft, Stony Stratford
Mon 19th Dec 2022
8pm
Carols at The Hare
The March Hare Public House, Dunton, Bedfordshire, SG18 8RN
Sun 12th June 2022 7.30pm Final festival concert, featuring Granny's Attic
St Neots Folk Festival, Cambridgeshire
Tues 17 May 2022
Doors open 8pm
Main guest
Great Knight Folk Club, The Old White Hart, Far Cotton, Northampton, NN4 8BS
Mon 25 April 2022 8.00pm Main guest
Chesham Folk Club, White Hill Centre, Chesham, Bucks. HP5 1AG
Sat 8th Jan 2022 Dunton Wassail
Dunton Folk - Wassail 2022
Sun 5th Dec 2022
1pm
Turvey Christmas Fayre
Three Cranes, Turvey, Beds
March 2020 - Nov 2022 All gigs cancelled due to Covid
Sat 4th Jan 2020 Dunton Wassail
Dunton Folk - Wassail 2020
Sat 21st Dec 2019, 8.30pm (approx) "Jack in a Carol", Folk music for Christmas, The Three Cranes, Turvey
Fri 6th Dec 2019, 7.30pm Stoke Goldington Charity Christmas Concert, in aid of Willen Hospice
Stoke Goldington Village Hall
Tues 3rd Dec 2019 Carols at The Hare
The March Hare Public House, Dunton
Tues 3rd Dec 2019, 1.30 - 2pm Bedford SoupFest, fundraising for Bedford's homeless
Harpur Square, Bedford
Sat 16th Nov 2019 Music and Words for Remembrance (in association with The Living Archive Band)
Turvey History Society, at All Saints Church, Turvey
6th April - 29th Sept 2019 Two songs feature in a short film commisioned for The Journey From Bunyan to the Brickworks
The Higgins, Bedford
25th - 28th July 2019 Warwick Folk Festival - Concert spots, sessions, West Gallery workshop
Tues 2nd July 2019 Main Guest
Great Knight Folk Club, Northampton
Fri 14th June 2019, 8.00pm Showcase
Royston Folk Club, Herts
Fri 7th June 2019, 8.00pm St Neots Folk Festival, Cambridgeshire
Sat 25th May 2019, 11.00am Courtyard performance to open the Brickworks Open Day and Invisible Folk Club Festival, The Higgins, Bedford
The Higgins, Bedford
Sat 23rd February 2019 Filming for Bedfordshire heritage exhibtion
The Journey From Bunyan to the Brickworks
19th January 2019 Podcast recording, Invisible Folk Club
15th January 2019 Open Stage spot, St Neots Folk Club, Cambridgeshire
4th January 2019 Main Guest, The Song Loft, Stony Stratford
22nd December 2018 "Jack in a Carol", Folk music for Christmas, The Three Cranes, Turvey
16th November 2018 WW1 Commemoration, an evening of readings, songs and poetry to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. North Crawley.
20th October 2018 Apple Day, Turvey Village Hall, Turvey, Beds.
16th October 2018 Support to The Shackleton Trio, Great Knight Folk Club, Northampton
5th October 2018 Featured artist, The Song Loft, Stony Stratford
30th June 2018 "Turvey Sings", Turvey Choir Festival