Violin inspires war folk show

Sam Sweeney with Richard Howard's fiddle in Belgium
Sam Sweeney with Richard Howard's fiddle in Belgium

Nottingham-born folk musician Sam Sweeney is bringing his new show based on a true and tragic First World War story to the stage in Mansfield this month.

Sam, a fiddle player with multi-award winning folk act Bellowhead, was inspired to create ‘Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made in the Great War’ after buying a violin from an Oxford shop.

“It looked completely brand new,” he said.

“It was completely unscratched. There were no marks of it ever being played before.”

It was only when Sam got the fiddle home that he found that it was inscribed with the date 1915, the name Richard Howard and the place Harehills, Leeds.

“How could this instrument be completely brand new if it was made in 1915?,” Sam asked.

He set about researching the violin’s origins with help his dad and found what he called a ‘quite remarkable’ story.

“This is the last fiddle that Richard Howard ever made and to put its incredible story on the stage I have had the amazing Hugh Lupton put all the information we could find into the story,” explained Sam.

“He has written the story and will be telling it on stage.”

The show of course coincides with the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and Sam says that its emotion is likely to have audience members in tears.

In bringing it to the stage, Sam has also collaborated with fellow Bellowhead band mate Paul Sartin and acclaimed concertina player Rob Harbron.

Bellowhead lighting designer Emma Thompson has developed set, projections and lighting for the show.

Made in the Great War comes to Mansfield Palace Theatre on Sunday 21st September. Tickets cost £15.38 full price. Concessions are £13.33. See