North American stars kick off Town Hall roots season

Middlesbrough Town Hall is kicking off its 2020 international folk and country programme with two North American stars.

The historic venue plays host to Canadian fiddle-player Teilhard Frost on Thursday, January 30 and Texan folk musician Sam Baker on Friday, January 31.

As part of the Town Hall’s commitment to bringing diversity and alternative genres of music to its offering, The Courtroom Sessions proved a big hit with music fans last year, and both of the upcoming shows will be taking place in the venue’s intimate performance space.

Recently refurbished, the Courtroom is a historic hidden gem and will provide the perfect setting for these two outstanding artists.

Sam Baker has made a name for himself for his powerful live performances.

The characters in his songs face challenges as diverse as alcoholism, car wrecks, racism and drug addiction – but they persevere.

Baker’s journey to becoming an acclaimed singer-songwriter began with his loss of hearing. In 1986, Baker was travelling on a bus to Machu Picchu in Peru when a bomb in the luggage rack above his head was detonated, killing seven passengers including the three people he was sat with.

Miraculously, he survived, however the injuries he sustained resulted in complete hearing loss in his right ear and partial loss in his left, along with a permanent case of tinnitus. Baker also suffered injuries to his left hand, making it impossible to play a standard guitar.

Over time, he learned to hold the guitar with his right hand and battled his loss of hearing. Although he wrote songs before the horrific incident, it was only after this experience that he committed himself fully to telling stories through music.

He uses his upside-down guitar to write songs for everyday people who survive life’s daily challenges along with songs about his own life growing up on the Texan prairie.

Sam Baker has a dedicated fan base, many of whom will travel hours for his live shows, which are a celebration of the joy that comes from people gathering to listen to live music.

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Teilhard Frost captures the traditions of the Appalachian Mountains with his virtuosic fiddle playing, atmospheric vocals and mysterious lyrical themes.

With his latest album, As The Crow Flies, Frost also draws on traditional influences from this side of the Atlantic, injecting elements of ancient Scandinavian and northern Scottish modal tunings to his original compositions.

Commenting on his forthcoming concert at Middlesbrough Town Hall, Frost said: “The songs from my most recent album have a deep connection with the British Isles so I’m excited to perform them here for the first time.

“The tradition of folk music is so rich in the UK so it’s always a pleasure performing here to an audience who have a real appreciation and interest in the music.”

Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Culture & Communities, said: “The stories of Sam Baker and Teilhard Frost are nothing short of remarkable and we’re honoured to be able to host two inspirational individuals at the Town Hall.

“Their music is as ground-breaking as it is insightful and they represent the perfect start to our 2020 Courtroom Sessions programme.

“They’re both deeply respected in their own right and we’re all very proud to be bringing their live shows to the region.”

Teilhard Frost will perform at Middlesbrough Town Hall (The Courtroom) on Thursday, January 30.

Tickets can be purchased for £12 (plus booking fee) and are available to buy online via this link: https://www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk/event/teilhard-frost/

Sam Baker will perform on Friday, January 31. Tickets can be purchased for £16 (plus booking fee) and are available from the link:

https://www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk/event/the-courtroom-sessions-sam-baker/

All under 14s must be accompanied by an adult.