Oxford Folk Weekend announces headline names

Oxford Folk Weekend

Drum roll please… Oxford’s favourite community based, volunteer-run festival is gearing up for its sixth year in big style! Folk Weekend: Oxford has grown steadily every year since its inception in 2012, with increasing support and collaborations from local and national folk artists and performing groups. Known for the strong representation of Oxfordshire’s folk groups, young performers, and emerging acoustic talent, this community festival is a hidden gem in the annual festival calendar, with unique opportunities to see top quality performers in intimate and beautiful settings around Oxford city centre. All tickets are now on sale, including Weekend season tickets at £67 (£62 concessions), day season tickets starting at £30, and tickets for individual events.

We are very excited to welcome Nancy Kerr and James Fagan back to Folk Weekend as our 2017 headliners. Twice winners of ‘Best Duo’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, their outstanding musicianship, acclaimed original compositions and a visceral chemistry between the two make Kerr and Fagan a perennial favourite at festivals and folk clubs across the country.

Joining our headliners will be Leveret – an exciting new collaboration featuring three of England’s finest folk musicians, the amazing Melrose Quartet, Ange Hardy (celebrated by the Telegraph as ‘one of Britain’s top folk musicians) and the incomparable Jim Moray who has been at the forefront of a new movement in English traditional music.

Folk Weekend also boasts an all-star cast of supporting acts including patrons Jackie Oates (with Megan Henwood and Pete Thomas in their new acoustic roots and folk trio) and John Spiers, one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation. Other artists include Dan Walsh, Dipper Malkin, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, The Emily Askew Band and The Discussion Topic.

The cream of Oxfordshire’s folk and acoustic scene can be spotted throughout the festival with the likes of Coldharbour, Edward Pope, Irwing-Brown-Acty, Shivelight, White Horse Whisperers, The Skeptics and land-locked shanty crew (and self-proclaimed darlings of the Oxfordshire Women’s Institute) Short Drag Roger.

Folk Weekend Director Cat Kelly is delighted with the line up of the 2017 festival: “I’m exceptionally proud of the fantastic programme we have pulled together this year. Our headline artists are award-winning performers, and they will be ably supported by a host of superb acts, including (as always) a large number of fantastic local artists.”

Alongside this varied concert line-up, the festival promises ceilidhs, workshops, European-style dancing, Morris dance displays, and many free family events. Folk Weekend is proud to be paving the way in accessible and inclusive music-making, and is building on the previous two years which have seen ‘relaxed’ and inclusive performances for people who may normally feel excluded from the folk arts. The ‘Special Saturday’ events include a Makaton-signed performance of folk songs and a ceilidh for people with Special Needs.

“There’s a real shared sense of engagement and history that ran through the whole weekend.” – Daily Info

“Three days of diverse and beautiful folk music of the highest calibre, intertwined with traditional dancing (Ceilidh! Morris!), workshops, storytelling and a thriving village fete.” – Oxford City Guide

“Folk Weekend Oxford isn’t just a series of gigs, it’s a colonisation of the city centre. [It] doesn’t just become omnipresent, it does everything it can to pull the public towards it… This was the precise opposite of elitism: joyously and enthusiastically inclusive, throwing music and dance out across the city with as much energy as possible.” – Music in Oxford

Tickets are available now via the website; the full programme will be available to download in March.

Festival website: http://www.folkweekendoxford.co.uk/

Imagined Isle Festival announces headline names

Imagined Isle

Birmingham music festival returns for second year.
Headliners include Fairport Convention and Jon Boden.

Fairport Convention, Jon Boden and The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are among the acts headlining folk and roots festival Imagined Isle, which returns to the Birmingham’s iconic Town Hall from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May 2017.

Formed in 1967, Fairport Convention are lauded as founding fathers of the British folk rock movement, with their seminal Liege And Lief considered one of the most influential albums of the 1960s. The band’s appearance (13 May 2017) is part of their year-long 50th anniversary celebrations, a landmark which is accompanied by new album, 50:50@50.

Acclaimed writer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Jon Boden (14 May 2017) was, until recently, lead singer with the multi-award winning Bellowhead. Away from the band, his career ranges from compositional work for the RSC and the theme to TV’s Count Arthur Strong, to the year-long A Folk Song A Day project, and collaborations with artists such as John Spiers and Eliza Carthy. His return as a solo artist is marked by the re-release of 2006’s debut, Painted Lady.

Hailing from Birmingham’s historic Conservatoire, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble headline the contemporary flavoured late night Urban Folk Night (12 May 2017), which also includes appearances from roots/ fusion combo The Urban Folk Quartet and cinematic septet The Fair Rain (both from Birmingham), Stafford’s banjo maestro Dan Walsh, and South Wales’ indie-fused Rusty Shackle.

Founded in 1997 by Joe Broughton (The UFQ, The Albion Band, Joss Stone), the 50-strong Conservatoire Folk Ensemble line-up features a 15-piece horn section, four cello players, five percussionists and five electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, double bass, even a harp! As they mark their 20th birthday, past members are to re-join the ranks for the ensemble’s biggest ever performance.

Other Imagined Isle highlights include a Family Ceilidh with Rabscallion (13 May, 10.30am), and appearances from Benji Kirkpatrick (Bellowhead, Faustus), and Boat To Row’s Michael King.

Weekend tickets, for all Imagined Isle performances, are on sale now for just £58. Individual concert tickets are also available. For more information and bookings, see: www.thsh.co.uk

Banjo wizard Dan Walsh announces UK tour dates

Dan Walsh

Nominated for best musician at last year’s BBC Folk Awards and touted as one of the finest banjo players in the UK as well as being a superb singer, songwriter and guitarist, Dan Walsh is described as ‘the real deal’ (UNCUT). 2017 sees the release of highly anticipated new solo album Verging On The Perpendicular after the success of critically acclaimed album Incidents And Accidents which was lauded as ‘absolutely terrific’ by Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2.

Describing what Dan does is no easy task but at the heart of it is British, Irish and American folk music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves – all performed with his unique and dazzling take on clawhammer style banjo. Add to all that poignant songs, astonishing musical departures and lively humour and the result is a truly memorable live show which has wowed audiences across the world from intimate seated rooms to huge dancing crowds in festival fields.

As well as many tours of the UK, Dan also has recent successful trips to the USA, Canada, Germany, India, Norway and New Zealand to his credit. Having made his name with duo Walsh and Pound, he is now an extremely busy performer touring throughout the world both solo and as a member of the award-winning Urban Folk Quartet. There have also been recent guest appearances, on stage or in the studio, with the likes of Imelda May, Joss Stone, Seth Lakeman, the Levellers, Duane Eddy and Martin Simpson.

His eclectic and innovative approach has led to many exciting collaborations alongside his solo work and the UFQ. The latest is with fellow banjoist John Dowling, combining beautiful harmonies with red-hot picking. Other work has included tours with North East concertina legend Alistair Anderson, sensational Indian sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, Canadian country singer Meaghan Blanchard and even London Sinfonia.  Dan also retains a passion for outreach work and through the prestigious Live Music Now scheme has performed throughout the UK in hospices, hospitals, special schools and care homes. He also teaches banjo both in person and over Skype and is the only international banjoist to be invited to teach at the Midwest Banjo Camp in the USA.

Artist’s website: http://www.danwalshbanjo.co.uk/

REMAINING UK TOUR DATES

April

22 OXFORD Folk Weekend
http://www.folk-arts-oxford.co.uk/

23 NAILSEA Tithe Barn
http://www.nailseafolkclub.co.uk/

27 STOURBRIDGE Katie Fitzgerald’s
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/378575

28 BURTON ON TRENT Brewtown Folk Club
https://www.brewtownfolkclub.co.uk/

29 BROMYARD Conquest Theatre
https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/EJLHIH

30 MALDON The Sunny Sailor
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/390301

MAY

01 LONDON The Green Note
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/383191

02 NORWICH The Bicycle Shop
https://www.thebicycleshopcafe.com/

03 HALESWORTH Cut Arts Centre
http://newcut.org/

05 THAMES DITTON Ram Folk Club
http://www.theramclub.co.uk/

06 CROYDON Stanley Halls
http://www.stanleyhalls.org.uk/events/dan-walsh/

09 STAFFORD Gatehouse Theatre
https://www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk/en-GB/shows/dan%20walsh%202017/info

10 SHREWSBURY The Hive
https://hiveonline.cloudvenue.co.uk/danwalsh

12 BIRMINGHAM Town Hall
https://www.thsh.co.uk/event/urban-folk-night

‘Time To Stay’:

Eddi Reader tops list of artists set for Beverley Folk Festival 2017

Eddi Reader - Beverley Folk Festival 2017
Further names have been announced for Beverley Folk Festival 2017, including renowned Scottish singer Eddi Reader.
Starting as a busker and folk club performer, Eddi has led a remarkable carrier, with membership of Fairground Attraction bringing her into the limelight, with the single ‘Perfect’ and parent album First Of A Million Kisses both topping the British charts.  Over the years she has assimilated a wide range of musical styles, making them her own. In 2003 she released an album of the classic Songs Of Robert Burns which garnered international acclaim and was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to singing.
Announcing this latest signing for 2017, chairman Matt Snowden said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Eddi Reader to Beverley. Every year we carry out surveys with festival revellers to find out what they liked about the event, what we could improve upon and who they would like to see perform at the festival in the future.  With this years feedback we kept seeing her name repeated where people were asked to suggest future bookings.  We are therefore proud to announce that ‘you asked – we listened’ and Eddi Reader will be one of our 2017 headliners.  We hope all those who asked for her will join us next year, and many more besides, to see this magnificent and naturally gifted singer perform on our main stage.”
But the latest festival sign-ups don’t stop there.  Alongside a whole host of previously announced names, such as folk legends Martin and Eliza Carthy, Henry Priestman, former Bellowhead front-man Jon Boden, False Lights and more, Beverley Folk Festival is also proud to announce the following exciting additions to the line-up:
Moore, Moss and Rutter are a trio of musicians who are reworking traditional native English tunes and songs into something far more contemporary. They aim to breathe life back into ancient material through complex arrangement, virtuosic musicianship, powerful aesthetic and an ear for detail. Individually the three are respected artists who have worked with some of the best in the business, but together they make music that is described by Songlines Magazine as ‘achingly beautiful’.
Dallahan are one of the fastest rising forces on the international folk circuit; heavily rooted in traditional Irish music, but with hugely diverse backgrounds and influences. They call on their mixed Irish, Scottish and Hungarian heritage to create a unique and seamless musical montage, drawing in influences from jazz, funk, pop and classical music.
Heidi Talbot has been described by the New York Times as having “a voice that is both awestruck and tender”.  The County Kildare singer / songwriter now resides in Scotland with her musical partner and husband John McCusker. She will be performing from her latest solo album ‘Here We Go, 1, 2, 3’, which traverses oceans and musical styles – from folk, through Americana, to classic pop, and back again.
Dan Walsh is one of the finest banjo players in the UK as well as being a superb singer, songwriter and guitarist, Dan Walsh is described as ‘the real deal’ (UNCUT). Nominated in 2016 for Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, his eclectic and innovative approach has led to many exciting collaborations alongside his solo work, with three critically acclaimed solo albums along the way.
Edwina Hayes is a Yorkshire based singer songwriter described by Nanci Griffith as “The Sweetest Voice in England”, with whom she has toured the UK by invitation three times. Her version of Randy Newman’s ‘Feels Like Home’ was featured in the major motion picture ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ earning her numerous new fans. With fans that include Michael Parkinson and Bob Harris, she has opened shows for many legends including Jools Holland, Van Morrison and Barbara Dickson.
Rachel Croft is a York-based musician and songwriter, who plays as one half of the Croft and Mullen jazz and soul band. Songwriting influences include Eva Cassidy, Joni Mitchell, Ray LaMontagne and Matt Corby to name a few, focusing on complex vocal melodies to a background of finger-picked acoustic guitar.
With a line-up of such talent already taking shape, festival organisers are urging audiences to buy their 2017 tickets now at a discounted price.
Mr Snowden explained: “We are currently running our Autumn Gold ticket deal, which means a full weekend ticket is available for £100 – at least £20 off the final price.  As with every year we aim to have not just world class music from outstanding professionals, but also many other artists, including new young voices and established folk clubs, alongside literature, poetry, film, dance and comedy.”
Festival organisers aim to have at least 100 artists performing at the Friday to Sunday event, totalling a collective 100-plus hours of entertainment across multiple stages. With this range available, they hope there will be something for everyone with a few surprises along the way.
Tickets for Beverley Folk Festival 2017 are currently on sale as part of a special Autumn Gold deal of £100 for a full weekend ticket via www.beverleyfestival.com.  Children aged under 12 get in free and individual day tickets will be released soon.  More names will be announced in the coming months as we get close to the festival.

Urban Folk Quartet – new album

Urban Folk Quartet Live III

Reflecting their reputation as a forceful and electric live act, The Urban Folk Quartet return with an extended tour and new live album.

As the title suggests, The Urban Folk Quartet: Live III is The UFQ’s third live album, and follows the previously released Live (2011) and Live II (2013).

Recorded in concert during their spring 2015/ 2016 tour – at venues in Chester (Alexander’s), Maldon (Town Hall), Stafford (Gatehouse Theatre), and Bristol (Folk House) – the nine tracks see the quartet revisiting material from 2014 studio album, The Escape, and road-testing new tunes.

A perfect showcase for the four-piece’s breath-taking musicianship, Live III embraces their full scope, from the full-on ‘Upward Spiral’, to quieter ‘Resiste’ and ‘The Language Barrier’.

New tracks (pencilled in for their 2018 studio album) underline the quartet’s quizzical restlessness and globe-spanning sense of adventure: inspired by a trip to India. ‘Whiplash Reel’ transports a classical Indian scale into a Celtic setting, while the grooving ‘Long Time Traveller’ presents a distinctly UFQ take on a song adapted from famed American 19th century tunebook, The Sacred Harp.

In the concert environment, tunes familiar from ‘The Escape’ (which featured in several prominent ‘best of 2015’ lists) take on a newfound power and direction, as The UFQ feed off the crowds’ enthusiasm and energy, extending and transforming their growing catalogue.

“The pieces are arranged to deliberately get the audience going, with improvised passages that respond to the audience’s reaction, the vibe,” explains fiddle-player Joe Broughton. “That’s the whole reason we like to do live albums. In ‘Control Zed’, Tom does a phenomenal percussion solo – it’s those special moments of interaction where we use the energy from the crowd …”

While other bands may use the live album format to fulfil contractual obligations or as a filler, the prolific UFQ see their in-concert releases as an integral part of their creative process – hence their plan to follow each studio album with a live counterpart (something which their growing international fan-base have now come to expect).

The UFQ’s sixth album over-all, Live III, however, takes a different approach to its predecessors, I and II.

“Our previous live albums have very much been presented as one night”, says percussionist Tom Chapman. “Even though Live II was recorded at two gigs, when you listen to it it’s easy to hear it as one gig. Live III is very definitely an album collected over months, with varied rooms and audiences giving the album its unique dynamic drive.”

The release arrives at a time of increased UFQ activity. 2016 saw the band perform a series of jaw-dropping sets at various UK and international festivals, including Green Man, Towersey, Cropready, Shrewsbury, Ringsted in Denmark, and Lakeland Festival, in Erlach, Switzerland. They were also personally invited by singer Joss Stone to appear at children’s charity Barnardo’s 150th anniversary concert at London’s The Roundhouse.

The Urban Folk Quartet have been dazzling audiences with their brand of ‘electrifying acoustic music’ since 2009. Galician fiddle player Paloma Trigás has shared stages and recorded with the likes of The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon and Altan, and toured the stadiums of the world with Spain’s biggest folk star, Carlos Nuñez. Long established on the folk scene as a fiery English fiddler and showman, Joe Broughton (Albion Band), is also an exceptional guitarist and mandolin player. Dan Walsh is regarded as one of the finest banjo players in the country, as well as being a gifted singer and guitarist, while percussionist Tom Chapman is widely considered to be the most accomplished and innovative cajón player the UK has to offer.

Artists’ website: http://www.theufq.com/

‘The Language Barrier’ live:

Welcome To The Folkies

With Oscar fever rising to a climax it’s time to say “Welcome To The Folkies” – the 2016 Folking Awards. We’ve sifted through the albums and performances of 2015 – always a long and difficult task punctuated by bouts of thumb-wrestling to settle disputes. Adopting the pattern followed by everyone else, here, in no order of precedence, are our nominations. With the exception of one category we have restricted our choices to British acts.

All nominations are 2016 Folking Awards winners.

Welcome To The Folkies

Soloist Of The Year

Steve Tilston
Sam Carter
Kathryn Roberts
Steve Knightley
Ange Hardy

Best Duo

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin
India Electric Co.
Show Of Hands
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
Clype

Best Band

Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Tradarrr
False Lights
Merry Hell

Best Live Act

The Demon Barbers XL
Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Tradarr
CC Smugglers

Best Album

Layers Of Ages – Peter Knight’s Gigspanner
Head Heart Hand – Megan Henwood
The Girl I Left Behind Me – India Electric Co.
It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice – Elle Osborne
Disco At The Tavern – The Demon Barbers

Best Musician

Dan Walsh
Peter Knight
P.J. Wright
Chris Leslie
Kris Drever

Folking’s Rising Star

Will Varley
Sam Kelly
Wes Finch
India Electric Co.
Chris Cleverley

Best International Artist

Gretchen Peters
Tom Russell
Gandalf Murphy And The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams
Justin Townes Earle
Los Lobos

To give the awards a further edge, we opened the vote to our visitors and run a public poll in all of the 8 categories (as listed above).

The Public Vote closed Sunday 28 February at 20.00 hours and “The Folking Winners” have now been announced here at: http://folking.com/the-folking-winners/


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