THERE’S a sad and significant milestone for the North-East folk scene happening this week, when Birtley Folk Club closes its doors for the last time next Wednesday night.

After 52 years, the keepers of a long-burning flame, Doreen and Bryan Henderson, have decided to call it a day. The singing tradition that the club helped spawn however, continues with a legacy of songs and music that every new generation of folk singers should give heartfelt thanks for. The recordings made of Doreen’s father Jack Elliott are an invaluable resource, and many of us will remember seeing Melvin Bragg’s South Bank Show’s programme about the club in the mid-1970s, as well as treasuring our own visits to the club over the years. In folk circles, The Elliotts of Birtley will continue to be spoken of in hallowed tones.

Time moves on, however, and there’s still plenty of live music happening elsewhere around the region. Highlights this week start tonight with The John Wrightson Band at Darlington’s Copper Beech, and Eddie Walker and Frank Porter at The Beamish Mary in No Place. There’s a Christmas party at Sedgefield Cricket Club on Friday with The Happy Cats and Billingham Silver Band and on Sunday, choose between Lowp at South Shields Customs House, Judith Haswell and Trish MacLean at Guisborough Rugby Club, and Chris Wood at Durham’s Gala Theatre. On Monday, our choice is between Prelude at Newcastle’s Bridge, Eddie and Frank once again at The Iron Horse in Newton Aycliffe and Judith and Trish once more at Stockton’s Sun Inn.

There’s also another new CD to add to last week’s list of recommended releases, this one being Tom McConville’s new album, entitled “Back To Scotswood”, which is out now. Tom himself has a bunch of local appearances lined up for later in 2015.