Cambridge Folk Festival announces more top names

Shirley Collins at Cambridge Folk Festival

The latest names have been announced for Cambridge Folk Festival 2017, including legendary folk singer and respected song collector Shirley Collins, who recently returned to recording and performing after 38 years; a Festival exclusive from multi-platinum selling Indigo Girls, whose celebrated and influential career spans almost four decades and chart-topping, English country twin-sister duo Ward Thomas, all part of a completely female line-up on Main Stages 1 and 2 on the Friday.

International superstar and multiple Grammy Award-winner Olivia Newton-John, originally from Cambridge, Grammy nominee Beth Nielsen Chapman and SOCAN Award-winner Amy Sky bring their unique collaboration ‘Liv On’ exclusively to the Festival on Saturday evening. Acclaimed US singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, promises another awe-inspiring Festival performance on the Sunday.

LW3 at Cambridge Folk Festival

A line-up that sees a welcome return for Festival favourites plus innovative debuts will feature Irish accordion virtuoso Sharon Shannon; enchanting chanteuse Cara Dillon; Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party, described by Mojo as “One of folk music’s most pre-eminent modern voices”; sonically audacious and lyrically bewitching Admiral Fallow; Coven, featuring three of folk’s most formidable female acts O’Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie; the Isle of Tiree’s Skerryvore; exhilarating live performers CC Smugglers; folk-jazz pioneer and favourite of Ewan McGregor Blue Rose Code; UK Americana Emerging Artist winners 2017 Wildwood Kin; Jamie Smith’s Mabon, blending world music and Celtic roots; BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award nominees Fara; the aptlynamed Beoga (Gaelic for ‘lively’) and bluesy, indie Americana from William The Conqueror.

Adding to an eclectic bill bringing together the best in folk and roots music are: The Furrow Collective, featuring Rachel Newton, Lucy Farrell, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts; singer and harpist Rachel Newton; electronic Celtic fusion from Niteworks; Belshazzar’s Feast merging folk, classical, jazz, pop and music hall; fiddle singers The Rheingans Sisters; hotly tipped Americana band Orphan Colours; Southern gothic singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah; 2015 BBC Young Folk award winners Talisk; folk noir and gypsy jazz from The Eskies; Brian McNeill, leading the Festival Session; one of Liverpool’s most exciting new groups She Drew The Gun; up and coming folk-country duo Worry Dolls; Mawkin, described as a modern-day Fairport Convention; Roxanne De Bastion, at the forefront of the new singer-songwriter generation; ukulele-playing singer Amelia Coburn, famous for her remarkable cover versions; 12 strong female shanty band She Shanties; The Urban Folk Theory Ceilidh, where superb musicianship meets technology; the only UK performance this year of Chris T.T. Sings A.A. Milne and Anglo-Indian singer-songwriter Alluri.

This year’s prestigious Club Tent Showcases, awarded to artists the Festival sees as stars of the future like previous picks Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman and The Staves, go to: Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Robert Vincent; contemporary Scottish folk band Tannara; Australian singer-songwriter Juanita Stein and Canadian troubadour Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.

These new names join previously announced Jake Bugg, headlining Sunday night with an acoustic set, Oysterband (Sunday), Lau, featuring Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke (Saturday) and Hayseed Dixie (Sunday).

Guest Curator Jon Boden will perform over the Festival weekend with The Remnant Kings to preview his autumn 2017 album as well as guest curating elements of the line-up. More to be announced.

For further artist information and daily line-ups, please see www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

Tickets are now on sale:  Full Festival ticket: £167 Day tickets: £27.50 (Thu), £59.50 (Fri), £70 (Sun). Saturday Day Tickets Sold Out.

Camping at Cherry Hinton Hall and Coldham’s Common is available. Concession tickets (disabled access and carer, Under 21, Cambridge City Resident) are available. Please see the website for more information and full ticket prices:

 

COVEN live at the West End Centre, Aldershot

Coven
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

Coven aren’t so much a group as a collective made up of three elements. On the one hand there is the musical delicacy of Lady Maisery and on the other the homespun Yorkshire charm that O’Hooley & Tidow exploit. In the middle is Grace Petrie, a thorn between two roses, and more of her anon.

They originally came together three years ago to celebrate International Women’s Day, which coincidentally was the date of this event, and their show still has that as its central theme.  Lady Maisery opened with ‘Sing For The Morning’ from their latest album followed by ‘Portland Town’, a remarkable arrangement featuring fiddle and feet before finishing with ‘The Crow On The Cradle’.

Next came Grace Petrie who I hadn’t heard before. She’s something of a fire-brand and the wit of her stage chat carries over into her writing. Her first song, ‘A Revolutionary In The Wrong Time’, describes her career: “not folky enough for Whitby; not cool enough for Cambridge” is her self-deprecating description. The second song, written for her niece Ivy, describes rushing away from Glastonbury to be home for her arrival. It is probably the most unsentimental sentimental song you’ll hear and Grace wrapped up her set with her contender for the new national anthem, ‘God Save The Hungry’. I really liked her and her crusade to prove that there are still protest singers around – and that there is still a need for them.

Belinda and Heidi chose three songs about inspiring women: ‘Beryl’ and ‘The Pixie’ from Shadows and ‘Too Old To Dream’ from their first album. Three songs about three very different women in very different circumstances.

Coven only sang six songs as a unit, the six that appear on their EP, ‘Unholy Choir’, and I found that a little disappointing. The first of these closed the first half: Rowan Rheingans’ new setting of ‘Bread And Roses’ which dispenses with the martial rhythm of the more usual version.

The second set followed a slightly different pattern. O’Hooley & Tidow opened with ‘Gentleman Jack’ and ‘The Needle & The Hand’ before bringing the whole group together for ‘Coil & Spring’. Lady Maisery did likewise with ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’ and ‘Order And Chaos’ before ‘This Woman’s Work’. Grace’s two solos led into ‘If There’s A Fire In Your Heart’ to close the show.

Well, of course, there were two encores; The Roches’ ‘Quittin’ Time’ and ‘Never Turning Back’ and Coven really gave us our money’s worth with a show that lasted well over two hours and never outstayed its welcome. There are five gigs left on this tour and that will be it until next year unless the rumours of summer festivals are true. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ websites: http://ohooleyandtidow.com/
https://www.ladymaisery.com/about
http://gracepetrie.com/

Venue website: https://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/

‘This Woman’s Work’:

COVEN – Unholy Choir (own label COVENCD01)

Unholy ChoirIn case you haven’t been paying attention, let me explain. Coven combines the prodigious talents of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, Lady Maisery (Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans) and Grace Petrie. They have worked together, when commitments permit, for about three years having got together for International Women’s Day but Unholy Choir is the first time they have recorded. A word of warning, though, this six-track EP will only be available at gigs on their tour starting on March 1st.

Much of the material is drawn from back catalogues but these are all new recordings that combine the power of six voices and their instrumental skills. The opening track is ‘Coil & Spring’, written by O’Hooley and Tidow with the assistance of Boff Whalley about the Pussy Riot protest. I must have chosen itself as it gives the EP its title. Next is ‘Bread & Roses’. Rowan has given the song a new tune which makes it less of a march with a much more English feel. An inspired move.

‘This Woman’s Work’ is an obvious choice and Kate Bush’s song gives the group something to get their musical teeth into but, being old and male, I prefer ‘Quitting Time’ by the late Maggie Roche. Its footloose feel is enhanced by Belinda’s rolling piano but softened by the sweetness of six voices in harmony. Grace wrote ‘If There’s A Fire In Your Heart’ and she sings it an appropriately confrontational style. The message is simple: get out there and do something, however small.

The final track was recorded live. It’s Pat Humphries’ anthemic ‘Never Turning Back’. It’s a song I didn’t know from a writer I hadn’t heard of but I wasn’t surprised to learn that Pat knew Pete Seeger. Coven sing it a capella (the way Pat does) using the natural acoustics of Cooper Hall where they made the record and it brings the set to a rousing, optimistic close.

You have twelve chances this year to hear Coven live and acquire a copy of Unholy Choir. Don’t miss out.

Dai Jeffries

Tickets: www.ohooleyandtidow.com/gigs

‘This Woman’s Work’ live:

Aldershot’s West End Centre hosts award nominees

West End Centre

Aldershot showcases nominees for prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 as top UK and international folk artists perform at Aldershot’s West End Centre this season.

With almost half of the dozen nominees for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 performing this year or in the very recent past, Aldershot’s West End Centre is cementing its reputation as the top venue in the area to see some of the best folk artists in the world.

Following superb performances from nominees Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Kris Drever, Jim Moray, Nancy Kerr and The Furrow Collective in 2016, first on stage this year was 9Bach who played at West End Centre on 11 February.

Nominated for prestigious Best Group award, 9Bach formed in 2005 when Welsh singer-songwriter Lisa Jên met guitarist Martin Hoyland and they started to create music which has been credited as giving a ‘new voice to Welsh song’. Their second release was awarded ‘Best Album’ in the public vote at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Awards. If they were Scandinavian they would already be selling out stadiums so it’s great to see them receiving the recognition they deserve.

Coven
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Appearing as part of folk collective Coven, O’Hooley & Tidow  (nominated for the Best Duo) will be taking the stage at the West End Centre on 8 March in a special performance to celebrate International Women’s Day.  With a personal invite from Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, sessions on 6 Music and Radio 2, a five star live review and feature in The Guardian, O’Hooley & Tidow are regarded as ‘one of British folk’s mightiest combinations’ (Mojo). Their 2016 album, Shadows, was given a five-starred review in The Guardian and is the follow up to ground-breaking album The Hum, which earned them a place in Mojo’s Top 10 Folk Albums of 2014 and a nomination for ‘Best Duo’ in BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Looking further ahead, Rachel Newton Trio comes to the West End Centre on Wednesday 7 June. Rachel has been nominated for the Musician of the Year award. Founder member of The Furrow Collective, The Emily Portman Trio and The Shee, singer and harpist Rachel Newton is joined at the West End Centre by Lauren MacColl on fiddle and Mattie Foulds on percussion. Rachel released Here’s My Heart Come Take It in April 2016, a mix of English, Scottish Gaelic and original compositions. Her music has been called ‘the sound of modern Scotland’.

Daoiri Farrell was booked to play at the West End Centre on Wednesday 5 April, but as he’s been nominated for no less than three awards he’s rescheduling that gig for later in the season so he can attend the awards ceremony. A former electrician, who decided to change profession after seeing Christy Moore perform on TV, traditional singer and bouzouki player Daoirí Farrell has been nominated for Folk Singer of the Year, Horizon Award and Best Traditional Track.  He is being described as one of most important singers to come out of Ireland in recent years. In 2013 he won the All Ireland Champion Singer award, and in 2015 won the prestigious Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections with the line-up FourWinds. Last year he launched his solo live career through Celtic Connections with his new album True Born Irishman.

Barney Jeavons, Director of Aldershot’s West End Centre told us: ‘With four of this year’s nominees performing in the first half of 2017, we are absolutely knocked-out to present a programme that continues our tradition of showcasing top folk artists on tour today. It’s  your chance to see both up- and- coming and well known acts on stage at the Westy in a celebration of the  best of the UK and international folk scene.’

Tickets: www.westendcentre.co.uk or 01252 330040.

Belinda O’Hooley talks to Folking about Coven

Coven
Photograph by Elly Lucas

There’s a new gang in town and if their publicity photographs are any guide they mean business. Coven combines the talents of O’Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery (Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans) and singer Grace Petrie. Belinda O’Hooley explains how it all came about.

“We were introduced to Grace’s work by Huw Pudner at The Valley Folk Club in Pontardawe. He was raving about her, and around the same time, Jude Abbott from the No Masters Co-op was also singing her praises. We watched some of her stuff on YouTube and thought she was such a firebrand, standing up for what she believes in and doing great things for women. We spent a summer doing the same concerts at festivals as Lady Maisery and were blown away by their live show. We got to know them along the way. Heidi and Rowan chatted about doing something as a collective at some point, and here we all are!

“Coven was Heidi’s idea. She had previously set up a Women Make Music night in Huddersfield and had experience of this sort of thing. Both Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie were well up for forming a collective with us and celebrating International Women’s Day in a series of concerts. The first Coven tour was just three dates which all sold out. The second year, we played ten dates and this year, we’ve got twelve.”

The name could be something of a hostage to fortune. Whose idea was it?

“I can’t remember who thought the name up, it wasn’t me. I think it suits us; a gaggle of witches.”

I couldn’t possibly comment on that but the press photos seem to suggest that Belinda and Heidi are the dominant force. Either that or it’s a case of big’uns in the middle and little-uns on the ends.

Coven
Photograph by Elly Lucas

“Ha! I think it looks like me and Rowan have got married and the rest of Coven are our bridesmaids. Elly Lucas took the photo at Kellam Island in Sheffield. We love the way she utilises the background of a rusty metal fence with the sunlight, to create texture and atmosphere. She’s a bit good. Looking at that photo, I wouldn’t want to mess with any of us.”

Again, I couldn’t possibly comment but what can we expect from a Coven gig?

“The show consists of us performing separately in our bands and also collectively together on existing material and also songs that Coven members have brought to the group. Over the course of the last two tours, these songs have taken on a life of their own and it has been very rewarding and exciting to record them and make an EP.”

Having developed rather below the radar over the last couple of years, Coven are embarking on a fully-fledged tour in March. Can we take it that Coven will be an on-going project?

“I think all of us want Coven to be an ever developing project as we all have so much to give to it. We all seem to get on really well and there is room for creativity and expression both individually and as a collective. It helps that we all like vegan food too. Hannah James is the most wonderful vegan chef, and kept us all fed beautifully for the five days we spent at Cooper Hall, Frome recording the EP. Fay Goodridge invited us there, and through their bursary scheme, we were able to record in their extraordinary venue. This EP, recorded by me and Heidi and mixed and mastered by Neil Ferguson will be available initially exclusively on the tour”

And that’s something else to look forward to.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ websites: http://ohooleyandtidow.com/ https://www.ladymaisery.com/about
http://gracepetrie.com/

Coven – new supergroup tour in March

Coven

Three of the British folk scene’s finest, most formidable and forthright female acts take to the stage to celebrate International Women’s Day 2017. BBC 6 Music favourites and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 Best Duo nominees O’Hooley and Tidow will be joined by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Finalists Lady Maisery and the irrepressible Leicester songwriter Grace Petrie to form Coven. This is a rare opportunity to experience these thought provoking, heartfelt, entertaining and enthralling women in one unrepeatable performance.

Coven are recording an EP for sale on the tour.

O’Hooley and Tidow: “Defiant, robust, political, northern, poetical folk music for the times we live in.” Independent

Lady Maisery: “…are women with ideas, purpose and urgency. They create powerful, enthralling work.” Songlines

Grace Petrie: “A powerful new songwriting voice.” Guardian

Artists’ websites: http://ohooleyandtidow.com/ http://www.ladymaisery.com/ http://gracepetrie.com/

March Tour Dates

01 SHEFFIELD Greystones

02 SHEFFIELD Greystones

03 LEEDS All Hallows Church

04 HUDDERSFIELD Lawrence Batley Theatre

05 NEWCASTLE Cluny 2

07 LIVERPOOL Philharmonic Music Room

08 ALDERSHOT West End Centre

09 BRIDPORT Arts Centre

10 LONDON St John on Bethnal Green

11 LONDON The Ivy House Nunhead

12 FROME Cooper Hall

13 LEICESTER Guildhall