In a packed week of gigs, all of which have their own singular attraction, it is difficult to pick out a winner but one name that sprang out to me from my calendar listings made my job just that bit easier. In fact, when I saw the name, Martin Carthy, staring at me from the page I knew that there was no need to look further.

My definite 'main man' of the week is appearing at The Hungry Horse Acoustic, The Whitby Club, Chester Road, Ellesmere Port on Thursday (March 14) at 8pm. The true legend that is Martin Carthy has a career spanning six decades and I would need the whole of this paper to list all his achievements in that time. If Joan Baez has been hailed as the Queen of American Folk Music then Martin is surely the King of British Folk Music and his family, wife Norma Waterson and daughter Eliza Carthy, have also been listed amongst Folk Royalty in the UK. His guitar style is unique, and his interpretation of traditional folk songs is similarly innovative. Like many of his generation he was a product of the 1950s with Lonnie Donegan having a great effect on him with his Rock Island Line. This prompted him to borrow his father's guitar and, by the early 1960s he was resident at The Troubadour Club in Earl's Court, London a then legendary venue for folk singers and musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. Martin, in turn, became the influence for many others of his generation, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. The story, by the way, of Paul Simon "borrowing" Martin's version of Rosemary & Thyme and subsequently recording and releasing it in the USA, making a fortune along the way, is true. After three very productive years with his great friend Dave Swarbrick Martin joined Steeleye Span (1970), The Albion Country Band (1973) and then The Watersons where he met his wife Norma. The 1980s saw him form the English Country band Brass Monkey but, in the early 1990s, he returned to that partnership with Swarb, whilst Waterson: Carthy (Martin, wife Norma and daughter Eliza) continued to wow audiences. It was fitting, though later than it should have been, that Martin was recognised for his contribution to the promotion and performance of traditional music when he was awarded the MBE in 1998. Norma, who has suffered from ill health in recent years, also received the OBE for her services to folk music a couple of years later.

The man is simply the best, so do not miss him. Tickets, at £8, will be like gold dust so telephone John Owens now on 0151 6789902 to book yours.

Back pedalling to this Friday (March 8) the latest Soundbox production at St Mary's Creative Space, Chester at 7.30pm features Nick Harper (who recently played a concert at Ty Pawb, Wrexham).

Nick, son of a famous father (Roy Harper), has carved his own niche in the music world. He is amongst the most extraordinary guitarists in the UK and became a highly accomplished player at a very early age, going on to achieve a level of quite astonishing virtuosity. Yet his guitar playing is only part of the story, for Nick is primarily distinguished as a highly original songwriter and singer of beautiful melodies and deeply personal lyrics.

His recording debut came in 1983 with an appearance on his father, Roy Harper's, Whatever Happened to Jugular, album. He then went on to tour and record regularly with his father and, within a short time, Roy's fans had become accustomed to young Nick's spry, good-natured contributions to his father's shows. It was no surprise when he began touring and recording in his own right. The first release came in 1994, an EP titled, Light at the End of the Kennel, followed in 1995 by his first album, Seed. Following tours in the UK, USA and Japan with Squeeze, Nick recorded his second album, Smithereens. It was this work and his subsequent 40-date solo tour, including devastating performances in New York and Glastonbury, that confirmed Nick Harper's position at the very forefront of a new generation of British acoustic performers. Tickets, at £16.50 each, can be booked through

On Sunday (March 10), The Raven Folk Club, Chester have the veteran singer songwriter Clive Gregson as their guest at 8.30pm. Clive Gregson was born and raised in Manchester, and his start in the music business was as the leader of Any Trouble, a band that made five albums and performed hundreds of gigs, but which broke up at the end of 1984. Clive then released his first solo record, Strange Persuasions, described by Hot Press as "a truly exceptional piece of work". The record featured the voice of Christine Collister, and between 1985 and 1992, Gregson & Collister formed a partnership that Rolling Stone called "the state of the art in British folk-rock". Their first four albums all achieved chart success and numerous tours of the UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan further established Clive's world-wide reputation as an innovative leader in the world of British folk-rock.

Throughout this period Clive was also a member of the Richard Thompson Band and in demand as a record producer and session musician. By October 1992 he was performing as a solo artist again and then developed a fruitful songwriting partnership with Boo Hewerdine. In September 1996 Clive travelled to Dublin to take part in sessions for a new Nanci Griffith CD, Other Voices, Too. The following February he was nominated for a Nashville Music Award in the Artist/Songwriter category and in March he undertook his first solo tour of Japan. He also toured Europe and recorded a CD with Plainsong, a four-piece group described as a "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for the 90's". The year 1998 ended with his appearance as a special guest on Nanci Griffiths' Other Voices tour. He lives in the USA, so this is a rare chance to see him on this side of the pond. Tickets, at £10 each, from Nick or Chris on 01244 677212/343788.

Moving into next week the Lancashire trio, Caffrey, McGurk, Madge, are at The Dragon's Breath Llanfynydd Folk Club, Treuddyn Village Hall, near Mold on Tuesday (March 12) at 8pm. With many years of experience between them in bands like Antique Roadshow, Litany, Blind Panic and Bandersnatch you are always guaranteed an entertaining evening. Pay on the door for this one.

Finally, our Parish Notice slot this week includes two events taking place next weekend. On Friday (March 15) the popular Anglo-Irish band Wet the Tea, from the Wirral, are launching their new EP in St Columba's Church Grounds, Newton Lane, Chester at 7.30pm. Visit their Facebook page for more details. On Saturday (March 16) at 7.30pm Trelawnyd Memorial Hall, near Rhyl present the Scottish duo, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton in concert with tickets available from the Folk at the Hall website.

As we go to press, I have just heard about a gig this Saturday (March 9) at Mollington Village Hall, near Chester, CH1 6NT at 7.30pm. Organiser, Meggi Silva, has booked the Breton-based band, The Churchfitters, for this rare, solo UK concert. They are, without doubt, one of the most musically innovative bands I have ever seen and the excellent acoustics of this great venue will show off their instrumental and vocal versatility at its best.

Tickets, at just £12 each, can be booked by phoning Meggi on 01244 371771 but, with only 90 tickets available, I would advise you to phone now if you do not want to miss a unique opportunity to see this tremendous trio.

As usual, whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy your music.

By D.C.M.