IN a week when the venerable Guardian newspaper declared, somewhat belatedly, that “Folk is hip again”, there are two notable events happening in the region, which should provide a strong attraction for folk fans and the general public alike.

Hartlepool welcomes the Tall Ships this weekend, undoubtedly an amazing spectacle that is worth a visit in itself, but we have the added attraction of four days of folk music, centred around the headland in Old Hartlepool.

From there, you can catch the best view of the ships themselves, and partake of concerts, sing-arounds and sessions, right in the town square, outside the Borough Hall. It’s been arranged by local group The Young ’Uns, and they’ve invited the likes of The Keelers, Benny Graham, Wendy Arrowsmith, The Askew Sisters and many more, including myself, to entertain the throng. It lasts right through until late Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Billingham International Folklore festival kicks off a week of dance and music from all around the world, starting on Saturday.

This has long been one of the most prestigious events of its kind, and is well worth a visit over the seven fun-packed days. Local folk clubs also have much to offer this week, starting with Dave Hardy at Skelton’s Duke William tonight, Anne Anderson at Swaledale Outward Bound Club in Richmond, for a cancer-charity benefit on Saturday, and Nebula at Stockton’s Sun Inn on Monday. Despite dire warnings otherwise earlier this year, the BBC has once again dug into its pockets to provide coverage of Cambridge Folk Festival, with coverage on Radio 2 and on the BBC website. Meanwhile, I hope you’ve got your tickets for our own Saltburn Folk Festival, which starts on August 13. See you all there I hope.