(Tuesday, September 5) Obituary: Geoff Harden - Death of paper's folk music critic

Long-serving News Letter folk columnist Geoff Harden has died after a short illness. He was 63.

The Kent-born folk entrepreneur was one of the best-known figures on the Northern Ireland arts scene and, over

the past 30 years, he was prominently involved in the organisation of many of the Province's community festivals.

Geoff Harden's weekly column in the News Letter over a period of 25 years comprehensively reflected the heartbeat of the folk music scene and his articles had a loyal following.

In addition to his News Letter work, he presented folk music programmes on Belfast Community Radio, and, ultimately, Citybeat, and also contributed to the BBC and Downtown Radio.

Mr Harden promoted many folk gigs across Northern Ireland and helped many individual artists in their careers. In 1981, he was instrumental in setting up the Belfast Folk Festival. He also formed the Ulster Federation of Folk Clubs.

He also helped organise the Shankill Festival in the 80s and the Mid-Ulster Folk Festival.

His organisational abilities were of the highest quality and, with his musical interests, he had a wide circle of friends and contacts.

He was also prominently

involved with the Sunflower Folk Club at Corporation Street in Belfast.

Latterly, he worked as arts and administrative manager for the new Belfast Community Arts Initiative.

Mr Harden came to Northern Ireland in 1966 after graduating as a chemist from St Andrew's University in Scotland and worked for a period at Gallaher cigarette factory.

He joined the BBC's audio unit in 1976 as a recording


Apart from folk, his interests extended to jazz, blues, country and instrumental guitar music.

Mr Harden, who lived in north Belfast, is survived by his wife Evelyn, sons Alastair and Niall and daughter Marina.

He will be buried after a funeral service in Roselawn Cemetery, Belfast, tomorrow at 11am.

Billy Kennedy