Folk Sounds Best at Cecil Sharp House

Folk Sounds Best
The English Folk Dance and Song Society has unveiled its line up for the 2017 summer music and performance season at England’s national folk arts centre, Cecil Sharp House in London.

Luke Jackson with special guest Rebecca Loebe
Wednesday 3 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £14 | £10 under 26s

Luke jacksonA meeting in Kansas, USA led to a transatlantic partnership of two exceptional charismatic young songwriters.

Luke Jackson is a rising young Roots singer/songwriter from Canterbury in Kent.  2013 saw him nominated for both the Horizon Award for Best Emerging Talent and the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and in 2014 he was named Fatea’s Male Artist of the Year.

Rebecca Loebe is a young singer-songwriter known for her distinct voice, well-crafted songs and ability to bring an audience to her journeys, introducing them to the characters she meets and observations she makes as she travels.

Jon Boden
Thursday 18 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £20 | £10 under 26s

Jon BodenJon Boden has become the stand out performer of his generation of traditional folk artists, but one whose repertoire extends far beyond the boundaries of the genre.

As a total contrast to the eleven-piece Bellowhead, autumn 2016 saw Jon launch his first ever solo tour. The show promises to incorporate elements from the wide creative span of his career to date – from the self-penned pop songs of Painted Lady, to the funked-up power-pop arrangements of folk songs that characterised Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden, to the post-Apocalyptic song-world of Songs From The Floodplain, to unaccompanied ballads as featured on his mammoth A Folk Song A Day project in which he recorded and released 365 folk songs in one year across 2010-2011.

Through his solo work and his work with Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden Jon has won eleven BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – more than any other artist. His solo shows will provide an intimate insight into a man of many and various talents and promises to take the audience deeper into the song worlds of traditional music and of his own song writing.

Rosie Hodgson
Wednesday 24 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Rosie HodgsonAs a rising star of the English folk scene, Rosie Hodgson will present an evening of songs from her new album Rise Aurora, accompanied by fiddle-singer Rowan Piggott. Expect an eclectic mix of original and traditional material; beautiful inventive songs overlaid with delicate harmonies, driving fiddle, spell-binding guitar lullabies and maybe even some clog stepping! There is a very long and bright future dawning for this young duo.

“…audible magic woven with voice, fiddle and guitar; Rise Aurora is an impressive debut album by this young songwriter who has risen through the folk circuit to become a BBC Young Folk Awards finalist.”  fRoots

Heg & The Wolf Chorus
Wednesday 31 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Heg & The Wolf ChorusFollowing the hugely successful UK tour throughout the Autumn, Bristol four-piece Heg & The Wolf Chorus are back on the road in the spring 2017 performing their acclaimed debut album Raising The Fires.

The band performs the album’s enchanting story of a witch who was wrongfully burnt at the stake. The scorned woman casts a spell, ending the world as we know it and conjuring all the mythological creatures back to roam the Earth. Inspired by traditional Scottish folklore and written at the foothills of the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye, the vivid imagery and magnificent landscapes can be heard in every spine-tingling song. This release presents the band’s distinctive sound and Heg’s visionary songwriting on a scale unlike anything they have released before, bringing theatrical elements to their performance with a strong story-telling theme throughout.

Moya Brennan – The Voice of Clannad
Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm
Tickets:  £18 | £10 under 26s

Moya BrennanWhen Bono stated recently, “I think she has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced”, he was heralding what many people know already about The Voice of Clannad, Moya Brennan. She sings like nothing you’ve ever heard before! So it makes sense that her live solo shows – with all the musicality and power of Clannad but with added, heart-warming intimacy – should be such a rich and moving experience. Her effortless vocals and timeless music pay homage not only to her vibrant traditional Irish heritage but also her grasp of contemporary forms.

With Clannad she rose to prominence with a pioneering approach to traditional music, which has garnered them 15 million record sales worldwide and a string of awards, including a Grammy in 1998. Her career to date includes 25 albums, numerous film scores and she has sung with many great artists, including The Chieftains, Robert Plant, Paul Brady, Shane MacGowan and Bono.

Made In The Great War
Thursday 8 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £18 | £10 under 26s

Sam SweeneyEight years ago Sam Sweeney, fiddle player with folk big band Bellowhead, bought a violin with a label inside showing the date 1915, the name Richard S. Howard and the words “Violin No. 6, Made in the Great War”.  Research revealed that the violin had been started, but never finished, by a music hall performer from Leeds named Richard Spencer Howard who was conscripted in 1915 at the age of 35, and killed two years later at the battle of Messines near Ypres.

The pieces of the fiddle had lay in a manila envelope for nine decades and it was over ninety years after Richard S Howard began working on the fiddle that it was finally finished and placed in the shop of Roger Claridge. This is where Sam found it.

To mark the ongoing 100th anniversary of World War I and to retell the story of Richard S. Howard, Sam Sweeney (fiddle/viola), winner of the “Musician of the Year” Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015, has collaborated with award-winning storyteller Hugh Lupton, fellow Bellowhead band mate Paul Sartin (oboe/fiddle), and Rob Harbron (concertina/harmonium), to create a music and spoken word performance, featuring on stage the actual fiddle made by Richard S. Howard.

An Evening with The Seeger MacColl Family
Friday 9 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £18 | £10 under 26s

Peggy SeegerThe Seeger MacColl family are one of folk music’s most loved dynasties. Singer, songwriter and feminist icon Peggy Seeger performs with Neill and Calum, her sons with Ewan MacColl. Join these three exceptional musicians for a gloriously relaxed evening of great music and witty family banter. Expect to hear songs of love, politics and storytelling, including some from Peggy’s award-winning latest album alongside Ewan MacColl’s best loved songs. This is an intimate evening with a remarkable family that will linger long in the memory.

Rosie Hood – ‘The Beautiful and the Actual’ album launch
Wednesday 14 June, 7.30pm
​Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Rosie HoodRosie Hood is a young folk singer from Wiltshire, known for her strong, pure voice and engaging solo performance. In 2015 Rosie was a BBC Performing Arts Fellow with the English Folk Dance & Song Society and in 2016 she was nominated for the Horizon award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. 2017 will see Rosie release her first full-length solo album The Beautiful & The Actual, a collection of old and new folk songs.

Cecil Sharp House Choir and Alton Community Choir
Saturday 17 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 | £6 under 26s

Alton Community Choir

EFDSS is excited to be hosting special guests Alton Community Choir, under the expert direction of Carolyn Robson, for this collaborative concert. Since forming in 2008, Alton Community Choir’s numbers have grown steadily from an initial 12 members to almost 70.  The Choir delights in finding unique ways to celebrate the folk traditions, which so inspire their repertoire.  Cecil Sharp House Choir was formed by EFDSS in the same year. Led by the inspirational Sally Davies, the Choir has become known for its spirited and moving renditions of folk songs from England and the wider British Isles. Both choirs will sing selections of glorious a capella harmony arrangements.

Elliott Morris
Wednesday 21 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Elliott MorrisWith hundreds of gigs behind him Elliott Morris has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene.  The singer-songwriter, featured in Acoustic magazine as “The Next Big Thing”, taps the strings and beats the guitar’s body to create an intricate spectacle, together with an original and unique sound integral to his songs.

Elliott’s original compositions marry intricate guitar lines with heartfelt, honest vocals and clever wordplay, combining elements of folk, roots, jazz and country. Embracing the traditional and the contemporary – this is folk music for the 21st century.  Elliott’s versatile blend of folk, pop and rock has complemented a range of major artists he has supported including Frank Turner, Seth Lakeman, Lau, Big Country, and The Three Degrees, and revered folk veterans Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. He has also supported Paul Carrack (Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, Eric Clapton) on many of his UK tour dates.

“One of the most impressive guitarists to grace our studio for a very long time…a compelling listen – and mesmerising to watch!”  Dean Jackson – The Beat / BBC Introducing

The Takeover
Sunday 9 July, 7pm
​Tickets: £6

Showcasing talented young folk bands and musicians, this concert wraps up an evening of activities for young people, including ceilidh dancing and a jam session. The Takeover is curated, organised and hosted by EFDSS ‘​ Youth Forum and EFDSS’ resident folk collective, London Youth Folk Ensemble.

Venue website: www.cecilsharphouse.org/csh-whats-on.

April highlights at Cecil Sharp House

April

RANT
Saturday 29 Apr, 7.30pm ​Tickets: ​£12 / £10 under 26s

Nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2014, RANT is the meeting of four of Scotland’s finest fiddle players, two from the Shetland Islands and two from the Highlands.

Bethany Reid, Jenna Reid, Sarah-Jane Summers and Lauren MacColl join forces to create a sound rich and vibrant, evocative of the exciting scene they create music in. Using just their fiddles, they weave a tapestry of melodies, textures, layers and sounds. Known for their work as soloists and with various bands, this is a celebration of the instrument they all have a passion for. Four fiddles: one beautiful sound!

DARIA KULESH Live at Cecil Sharp House

Daria Kulesh live
Photograph by Tony Birch

February 23rd is a date that should be known in history.  On this day in 1944 the entire population of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, those who weren’t away at war fighting for the Soviet Union, were told they were being deported for alleged collaboration with the enemy.  Many were children and resistance was met with death.

Move forward to 2017 and February 23rd was the date chosen by Daria Kulesh to launch her second album Long Lost Home at Cecil Sharp House in London. The location was appropriate because, as Daria said, CSH collects and stores folk memories so that they are available for future generations and Long Lost Home is more than just an album of songs as Daria through her Grandmother, Fatima Akhrieva, is Ingushetian. The evening was a celebration of her journey to find that link to her past.

February 23rd 2017 will also be remembered for Storm Doris, which provided a suitably tumultuous backdrop to the event but unfortunately disrupted travel and meant some audience members were unable to attend. They missed an evening of powerful, moving emotion that was also uplifting with its message of hope for the future.

The evening began with two well received pieces from Timur Dzeytov, People’s Artist of Ingushetia, including a song about the deportations followed by a traditional tune.  He played the dakhchan pandar, a form of the balalaika, and it was obvious even to me that this was not “Russian” music.  There were resonances of the near- and middle-east in the sound.  It was a suitably exotic opening.

Daria then took to the stage wearing a most beautiful dress that had been hand made and decorated in traditional style. She opened, as does the album, with ‘Tamara’ a dark song about sorcery and death.  The simple accompaniment from Timur and Evan Carson (percussion) emphasised the words well.  Evan came in as an emergency replacement but it certainly didn’t look that way, the sign of a very talented musician.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen some of these songs before, at least one on its debut, often with just Daria accompanying herself on guitar or shruti.  For the album launch we were treated to a full backing band which allowed the music to be fully expressed.  At various points during the evening we were also introduced to Jonny Dyer (piano and guitar), Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer and piano), Vicki Swan (double bass, nyckelharpa and small pipes) and Phil Underwood (various accordions and guitar).

Daria Kulesh live
Photograph by Tony Birch

The evening followed the album so we were quckly enraptured with the ‘The Moon and The Pilot’, the story of Daria’s great-grandparents, Diba Posheva and Rashid Akhriev.  Diba was one of the deportees in 1944, two years after Rashid died a Hero of the Soviet Union in the battle for Leningrad.  It could not save his wife and their two young children, one of whom was Daria’s grandmother.  It was impossible not to be moved by Diba’s story of resilience and love for her children.

My personal favourite on the album came not long afterwards. ‘Amanat’ is the story of a relative even further back in time, Chakh Akhriev, who was born in 1850 and essentially fostered to Russian parents as a hostage.  It’s a story of a different time and place, yet of a man who never quite fitted in.  The song appeals to me, maybe for that reason, and it is also a fine example of Daria’s incredible vocal ability.  There’s so much power, range and control in her singing she entrances a room in the way very few other singers can.

This is not a review of the album so I will only mention one more song, ‘Heart’s Delight’.  This is Daria’s translation of the Ingush ‘Song of Mochkha’.  She also wrote the gloriously uplifting tune.  The first time I heard it I thought it was the Ingush National Anthem, and it possibly should be.

What is yours by right, May you always hold/May your heart’s delight become your fate.

To show how music can cross boundaries this was the tune where Vicki Swan played her small pipes, a suggestion which originally came from Timur Dzeytov.  It worked so very well; the drone of the pipes adding a frisson to the words that raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

For an encore we were treated to ‘Fata Morgana’, the opening track from debut album ‘Eternal Child’ and the start of Daria’s journey to her Long Lost Home in the Caucasus Mountains.  To complete the journey Timur Dzeytov returned to the stage to play a lezginka, a traditional dance from the Caucasus.  In the dance the man (on this occasion Anzor Aushev, who was one of Daria’s hosts in Ingushetia on her research trip for the album) is an eagle and the woman, whose name I don’t know, is a swan.  It was a beautiful insight to a different culture, the dance involved no contact between the partners but the courtship aspect was more than clear.  This is the dance which is also referred to in ‘Like A God’, the story of Daria’s great-great-uncle, and Diba’s brother, Aludin Poshev.  It was said he could dance like a god.

We also had a speech from Khairudin, the leader of the Vainakh (Ingush & Chechen) community in London  and I was left with the impression that Long Lost Home is a folk memory of Ingushetia that will become important to a country and people who are trying to reestablish their identity after many years of turbulence and suppression.

Tony Birch

Artist’s website: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/

‘The Moon And The Pilot’ – official video:

Review of Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, James Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters concert in aid of charity for musicians

AN EVENING WITH MARTIN CARTHY AND DAVE SWARBRICK, JAMES YORKSTON AND THE CARRIVICK SISTERS AT THE CECIL SHARPE HOUSE  REGENT’S PARK LONDON ON 18th DECEMBER 2012

At the outset let it be known that folk gatherings have never been top of my list in Winter, however,  I was very pleased to have had the good sense to attend this superb concert at the ‘Mecca’ of British Folk and to patronise such a worthy cause.   This concert was sponsored by the Musicians’  Benevolent Fund, was most ably hosted by the one and only “Whisperin’ Bob Harris” OBE, and portrayed the musical talent of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, John Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters. Continue reading Review of Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, James Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters concert in aid of charity for musicians

Cyril Tawney 80th Birthday Commemorative Display

Cyril Tawney[1930 – 2005]  was born on 12th October 1930 and there is currently a display in the foyer of Cecil Sharp House, the London headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, to commemorate his 80th birthday. The display, which will run until 6th January, consists of items from his archive including photographs, correspondence, documents, press cuttings and general folk memorabilia such as posters and badges.  The Cyril Tawney Collection will eventually be available for consultation, but there is a good deal of work to be done before this comes about Rosemary Tawney