Fairport’s Cropredy Convention announces Brian Wilson as headliner

Brian Wilson at Fairport's Cropredy Convention
Photograph courtesy of CNN

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival have announced that Brian Wilson will perform the legendary Beach Boys album Pet Sounds at Cropredy on Thursday 9 August 2018.

Acclaimed for its ambition and sophistication, Pet Sounds is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential albums of all time. Released in 1966, Wilson’s masterpiece is number 2 in the Rolling Stone ‘500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ list, only beaten to the top spot by The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper.

The festival will be held over three days (Thursday 9, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August 2018) at Cropredy near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Thursday opens with host band Fairport Convention who will play a short welcome set. Fairport are followed by Smith & Brewer, a talented Americana guitar duo featuring close harmony vocals. Police Dog Hogan deliver their own brand of exhilarating Country-tinged rock. Ever-popular folkrockers Oysterband will make their first appearance at Cropredy since 2004 and they will be followed by Thursday’s headliner, Brian Wilson.

On Friday,Cropredy will open with a set by the BBC Young Folk Award winner followed by newcomers Midnight Skyracer who describe their music as ‘Anglo-Irish girl-power Bluegrass’. Favourites of the Cropredy crowd The Travelling Band make a welcome return with their blend of Mancunian Americana and indie folkrock. Cregan & Co features Jim Cregan, best known for his associations with Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart. Le Vent du Nord will perform traditional Québécois music with infectious enthusiasm before former frontman of Marillion, Fish makes his second appearance at Cropredy. Mercury-nominee Kate Rusby (Folk Singer of the Year and Best Live Act winner at the BBC Folk Awards) makes her Cropredy debut before Friday’s headline act Levellers celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with a welcome return to Cropredy.

Saturday sees BAFTA nominee Richard Digance getting the day off to a flying start. Sets from Eric Sedge and The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican precede singer-songwriter Will Varley who makes his first appearance at Cropredy with his band.  Folk Award winner Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys are newcomers to the festival and so are Afro Celt Sound System who fuse traditional Irish and West African music in a thrilling mix. They will be followed by a solo set from Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart before Fairport Convention and guests take the stage for their traditional two-hour-plus Saturday headline show.

Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com/

‘God Only Knows’ – live:

The 2017 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Folking Awards. Last year’s inaugural poll was such a success that we had to do it again. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with sweat, tears and not a little blood by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have been featured in the pages of folking.com in 2016.

As with the format last year, all are winners in our eyes. However, its not just down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

Soloist Of The Year

Luke Jackson
Ralph McTell
Kelly Oliver
Steve Pledger
Alasdair Roberts

Best Duo

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater
O’Hooley & Tidow
Show Of Hands

Best Band

Afro Celt Sound System
Fairport Convention
Harp And A Monkey
Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitor Band
Merry Hell

Best Live Act

The James Brothers
Robb Johnson and the My Best Regards Band
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Mad Dog Mcrea

Best Album

Tall Tales & Rumours – Luke Jackson
Ballads Of The Broken Few – Seth Lakeman/Wildwood Kin
Preternatural – Moulettes
Somewhere Between – Steve Pledger
Dodgy Bastards – Steeleye Span

Best Musician

Ciaran Algar
Phil Beer
Rachel Newton
Gill Sandell
Kathryn Tickell

Rising Star Act

The Brewer’s Daughter
Hattie Briggs
Said The Maiden
Emily Mae Winters

Best International Act

Applewood Road
The Bills
David Francey
Michael McDermott
Eve Selis

Public Vote

The public vote closed Midday Saturday 22 April 2017 and the winners have now been announced HERE

If you would like to consider ordering a copy of an album for any of our award winners (in CD or Vinyl), download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected songs (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us


The SourceThe Source is the first new album from Afro Celt Sound System for ten years as they celebrate their twentieth anniversary and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Not, perhaps, a record that sounds as indefinably spiritual as this.

There are a huge number of musicians of this album in addition to the six core members of the band led by Simon Emmerson and the first voices we hear are those of Les Griottes, the female African group who appear on eight of the thirteen tracks. The opening track, ‘Calling In the Horses’ is a gentle sweeping piece that evokes the open land of West Africa with an accompaniment and is admirably restrained and features the Uilleann pipes and whistles of Davy Spillane and leads into ‘Beware Soul Brother’ which builds with the addition of Seaná Davey’s harp and the keyboards and bass of Richard Evans.

I like the way these two tracks morph into ‘The Magnificent Seven’ changing the mood into a decidedly Irish feel. ‘The Cascade’ finally blends the afro and the celt elements of the band completely with the modern electronica and beats for which they are probably best known. Four members of Shooglenifty appear on the track, as do The Dhol Foundation, and Griogair Labhruidh takes the lead vocal part while Les Griottes provide the African vibe. Kick Horns also join the company for this track and the next, ‘A Higher Love’, which includes the tune ‘Monkswell Road’ borrowed from Shooglenifty.

By now the styles and influences are thoroughly mixed. ‘Where Two Rivers Meet’ and ‘Mansani Cissé’ gives us a break from the excitement and N’Faly Kouyaté’s kora features here while Griogair’s pipes take the high road of the lead melody on the former. Pál Ó Siadhail reads an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Wonder And The Medicine Wheels on the Gaelic ‘Child Of Wonder’ which sounds like a waulking song and Johnny Kalsi lends his name to the final track, ‘Kalsi Breakbeat’.

The Source is a superb album and the implication of going back to the roots of the music is totally justified. This is Afro Celt Sound System, however, and there are always surprises.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk

‘The Magnificent Seven’ – live at Celtic Connections:

Afro Celt Sound System announce new album

Afro Celt Sound System
Photograph by Tom Oldham

With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System celebrate their 20th anniversary with a stunning new album, The Source.

This European and African based collective have been a ground-breaking force in music ever since they started, along the way finding kindred spirits across international talent and forging a reputation for exhilarating shows. Afro Celt Sound System have an accomplished catalogue of albums, dating back to their 1996 debut, Volume 1: Sound Magic and continue their adventures on ECC Records, with the band’s first studio recording for a decade: The Source.

As its title suggests, all 13 tracks on The Source summon the original Afro Celt energy, while simultaneously yielding fresh and creative inspiration. Grammy-nominated multi-instrumental founder and producer Simon Emmerson recalls the creative spark that occurred from his early-’90s work with celebrated singer and guitarist Baaba Maal in Senegal, and a meeting of minds with Dublin-born musician Davy Spillane. It led to a jam session of African and Irish musicians laced with electronic beats at Peter Gabriel’s Real World’s studios in Wiltshire (with the surreal backdrop of the likes of Johnny Depp, Kate Moss and Iggy Pop milling around), from which Afro Celt Sound System’s debut album took flight.

The Source, is perhaps the most expansive and exuberant Afro Celt Sound System work to date. Its track-listing brings together core members Simon Emmerson, Guinean vocalist, kora and balafon virtuoso N’Faly Kouyate and charismatic dhol master Johnny Kalsi, along with long-standing collaborators such as Davy Spillane and Emer Mayock on uillean pipes and whistles, Moussa Sissoko on djembe and talking drum, and members of Scottish folk fusion Shooglenifty (who contributed to the very first Afro Celt album).

There are also welcome newcomers to the family, including the gritty, witty rhymes of Gaelic rapper, musician and language activist Griogair (an exponent of “ghetto-croft”, with a nod to his off-grid base in the Scottish Highlands), and the hauntingly soulful delivery of Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Rioghnach Connolly (Realworld), who leads Beware Soul Brother, inspired by a homage to legendary Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe, with a powerful song about what happens when something you love is stolen.

The Source, is very much a collaborative effort, embracing devotional harmonies (notably the exquisite sound of Guinean female quintet Les Griottes, who contribute to songs including opener ‘Calling In The Horses’), with protest songs, rockabilly guitars (‘Desert Billy’) and powerful electronic rhythms.

The Source was recorded at various locations across Europe, including Davy Spillane’s own studio by the Cliffs of Moher, an experience which the band liken to a Game Of Thrones quest (“Go and seek out the wise man on the remote cliffs”). The adept mixing skills of David Bottrill and Mass are credited for their “alchemical art” in bringing the album’s varied elements together.

One of the most celebratory numbers is ‘The Magnificent Seven’, a stirring reunion with the mighty Dhol Foundation, with the vital percussion spurred along by a vocal chant which translates as “courage” in Kouyate’s native tongue of Mandinka. The Source also rounds things off in spirit-soaring style, with Kalsi Breakbeat.

The Source features artwork by Jamie Reid, highly regarded artist, best known for his designs for the Sex Pistols including the Anarchy In The U.K poster – a ripped and safety-pinned Union Flag and the God Save the Queen single.

The new album’s characteristic energy will certainly translate to Afro Celt Sound System’s latest live sets, which kicked off 2016 in style with a sell-out show at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk

‘The Magnificent Seven’ – live at Celtic Connections:

IARLA O’ LIONAIRD – Foxlight (Real World Records)

Ignorant peasant that I am, I hold my hands up and declare that I have never understood the Gaelic language or, more than likely never will do. Still, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it as an aural texture and in fact find it quite soothing in many of my more relaxed ‘mood’ moments. If you’re looking for a serious bit of ‘chill-out’ then this album will more than likely appeal to you as it did me. Many of the ‘folk’ world will know Iarla O’Lionaird having been the vocalist in the Afro Celt Sound System but here, accompanied by Leafcutter John, Simon Edwards and Neil McColl amongst others this recording is a far more relaxed affair. Utilising the main framework of Leo Abrahams electric guitar, piano, effects and programming the project might appear at first to be an indulgence by O’lionaird but repeated listening will be justly rewarded by those who enjoy their ‘folk’ music with a bit of class. PETE FYFE
Artist links: www.iarla.com