Many of the people who were very important when I was hanging around the pro/semi-pro folk scene in the 1970s have left the stage through retirement, changes of direction, or – all too often – the ministrations of the Grim Reaper. Though it’s (pleasantly) surprising how often I see names from that era still popping up on festival bills and folk club listings. Miriam Backhouse and her husband moved to South Africa – where she’s better known as Miriam Erasmus – at the end of the 1970s, but has continued to record and tour.
Right now she’s well into her 70th Birthday Tour of Europe, which includes gigs at Bedworth Folk Club on the 11th July and the Bromsgrove Folk Festival between the 12th and 15th July before a series of appearances further North. And she’s back in the Sabrinaflu-ish area on September 18th for a gig at the Wurzel Bush in Brinklow.
Sadly, I’ve not had the chance to hear Miriam live in recent years – one of the less happy consequences of living so far West that if I went much further I’d be in the Isles of Scilly – but I’m still hoping to catch up with her at some point on this tour, and anticipate some fine, expressive singing of largely traditional material, hopefully with a sprinkling of her own songs. If you can, get to one of her shows and see why some call still call her the ‘First Lady of Folk’ or ‘the African Rose’.