English Folk Dance and Song Society awards funding for new music

Creative Bursary

Seven projects will create new music rooted in the English folk tradition following the latest round of funding awards by England’s national development agency for the folk arts.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has made four awards under its 2017 Creative Bursary scheme and three through its Creative Seed Funding programme.

Both initiatives are funded through the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development Partner scheme. They come under the umbrella of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme, which provides professional development support, both creative and business, to artists at all levels of their career.

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said: “All the successful applications are rooted in the folk arts but will bring a fresh take on their subject matter.

“By its very nature, folk music has always evolved and reflected the issues of its generation and these awards will help to develop some very innovative and relevant proposals. We look forward to supporting and working with the artists as their ideas take shape.

“Our bursary and funding schemes are designed to kickstart projects, giving the recipients time to bring their ideas to life. A great example is Sam Sweeney’s Made in the Great War music and storytelling project which began thanks to an EFDSS Creative Bursary.”

The Creative Bursary scheme invited applications from more established artists for an award of up to £2,000 to support creative research and development, together with use of rehearsal space at Cecil Sharp House and access to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. They have been made to:

·       Alex Vann (Spiro) to create an instrumental concert trio using traditional English tunes as the basis for improvisation where each performance is one piece of improvised music using traditional tunes as the cornerstones

·       Tom Moore and Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore Moss Rutter) to develop and produce an album of new art-music based compositions and devised improvisations with their roots in local English folk tune traditions

·       Alma (John Dipper, Emily Askew & Adrian Lever) and Nick Hennessey to devise a new multi media experience including lighting, data projectors and other technology to enhance the performance and build bridges between inherited traditions and modern media experiences

·       Fiddler Rowan Piggott to explore traditional and contemporary folk songs highlighting the decline and environmental threats to our native honeybee and bumblebees.

The Creative Seed Funding Programme was open to emerging artists and involves a £750 bursary to research and develop new work linked to the English folk arts. The awards have been made to:

·       Emily Mae Winters to research, record and tour new songs dealing with modern socio-political issues including the movement of people, feminism, fake news, global warming, war and social media

·       Heg Brignall (Heg & The Wolf Chorus) to research new material based on modern day myths or myths and legends that have found their way back into our culture, leading to a single/EP release and finished studio album in 2018

·       India Electric Company to research, write, record and release the second in a series of releases for 2017 with the theme of country and the city on a six track EP/album.

More information: https://www.efdss.org

EMILY MAE WINTERS – Siren Serenade (own label EMW 02)

Siren SerenadeCo-produced by Josienne Clarke’s musical other half, Ben Walker, and Laura Marling knob-twiddler Lauren Deakin-Davies, following on from her Foreign Waters EP (which Walker also produced and which earned her a Folking Awards Rising Star nomination), Siren Serenade is the debut album from Cambridge-based singer-songwriter, poetry enthusiast and sometime theatre critic Emily Mae Winters.

Featuring musical contributions from, among others, Lukas Drinkwater on double bass, Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage as well as both producers, the twelve tracks highlight both her slightly vibrato vocals and the influences in her music, Gillian Welch, Kate Rusby, The Unthanks, Alison Krauss and Sarah Jarosz among them.

There’s a couple of folk chestnuts here, Jenny Lee Ridley’s flute introing a crowd swayalong version of John Connolly’s fisherman’s farewell shanty ‘Fiddler’s Green’ featuring Jack Pout on bodhran, a strummed guitar and fiddle providing the instrumental playout. The second nods to her love of poetry with a haunting drone setting of WB Yeats’ ‘Down By The Salley Gardens’.

The album opens with the ripplingly lovely self-penned reflective ballad ‘Blackberry Lane’ featuring Savage on dobro and nodding to the rootsy Americana in her musical DNA. Maya McCourt who played cello on the EP reprises duties on the gently circling acoustic guitar melody of Anchor, while Winters takes to the piano for ‘As If You Read My Mind’, a soaring vocal pop tinged ballad that, coloured by strings, draws on the classic 60s sound of Carole King but also suggests hints of Joan Baez.

If all these have been relatively sedate, ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ ups the tempo for, with Savage again on dobro, a catchy slice of strummed rootsy pop, an equally live paced being set on the scurrying Irish-tinted, whistle backed story-song ‘The Ghost Of The Pirate Queen’ showing a more muscular side to her voice.

Mostly though, the mood is quietly bucolic, beautifully rendered on the lullaby-like ‘Miles To Go’ (which, like ‘Anchor’, appeared on the EP) and moody piano and cello ballad ‘The Star’, the former a nod to the poet Robert Frost, the latter to John Keats.

Although her vocals are mesmerising throughout, the remaining two numbers really see them come into the glory. ‘Reprise’, the album closer, is a piano accompanied almost chorale-like stentorian duet with Sanders. And, accompanied only by clicking fingers and hummed vocals, she sings a capella, the title track itself, for me the album stand out, which echoes the Appalachian revivalist feel of ‘Down To The River To Pray’ and ‘Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby’ from Oh Brother Where Art Thou. In Greek mythology, sirens lured sailors on to the rocks with their singing; Winters can wreck me any time.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the EMILY MAE WINTERS – Siren Serenade link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist’s website: www.emilymaewinters.com

‘Blackberry Lane’ – the Oak Sessions video:

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
Ninebarrow
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
Megson


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
Sunjay
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 order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl) of any of the artists featured here, download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above to be taken to that relevant page via our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

SINGLES BAR 15 – Merry Christmas Everybody

A round-up of festive EPs and singles

Singles Bar 15It’s been a busy few months for THE CHANGING ROOM, aka Cornish duo Sam Kelly and Tanya Brittain. Having released both their Names On A Wall EP for Armistice Day and the Picking Up The Pieces album, featuring mandolin and accordion, they now return for Christmas special, The Magic Of Christmas. Two of the three tracks are sung in Cornish by Kelly, opening with a lovely snowflake waltzing version of The Pretenders’ 1994 festive hit, ‘2000 Miles’ and closing with a chiming frosty air arrangement of the traditional carol ‘Silent Night’. There’s also a snatch of its melody on ‘There’s Magic In Christmas Eve’, which, sandwiched in-between, is penned by Brittain, who, singing in English, accompanies herself on piano as the song swells midway on drums and strings before a gentle fade.
www.thechangingroommusic.com

its-christmas-timeIf you’re more a “Bah Humbug” sort of person JOHN CEE STANNARD’s EP, It’s Christmas Time, should be just up your street. Of course, Christmas can be a sad and lonely time for a lot of people and we shouldn’t take that lightly but the blues does seem to lend itself to the season. Black Ace’s ‘Beggin’ Santa Claus’, first recorded in 1937, is the perfect example of how low things can get while Shifty Henry’s ‘Let Me Go Home – It’s Christmas’ is a plea to whiskey to allow a barfly to get home while he still can. The other three songs are by Stannard and, starting with the title track, they get progressively happier and the closing ‘Winter Love’ is almost soppy. We reckon John’s an old softie really.
www.johnceestannard.co.uk

god-rest‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ is a more traditional Christmas single from JOSHUA BURNELL. That said, we’re told that it’s a 15th century protest song – the protest being against the Latin dirges of the church. Joshua gives it an appropriate folk-rock vibe – he usually performs in a trio or a seven-piece band in which Hammond organ features heavily. The second track is ‘The Official Brawle’, a 16th century French dance tune taken at a tasty lick. The tune was, as you all know, co-opted by the church as ‘Ding-Dong Merrily On High’ but Joshua returns it to its original form. Good stuff.
www.joshuaburnell.co.uk

marys-boy-child‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was originally written as a calypso so ANDREW JOHN & LISSA decided to record the backing tracks in Trinidad, adding the vocals back home in Denmark while Jime Hoke recorded his flute part in Nashville. It’s very pretty but I can’t help but I do think that an opportunity to do something really original has been missed. Turn up the steel drums and add a Caribbean choir and think on what it could be.
www.anyon.co

the-starEMILY MAE WINTERS’ single ‘The Star’ was inspired by lines from John Keats and having a star named after her as a birthday present. It doesn’t actually mention Christmas but it has a nicely seasonal feel. It’s a big, piano-driven song awash with strings. It is available only as a digital download at the moment but it will appear on Emily Mae’s debut album next spring.
www.emilymaewinters.com/

Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage launch new album

Before The Sun

Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage

Huddled round a single microphone, singing intimate duets with just mountain dulcimer, dobro and guitar Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage are a folk duo that look & sound classically timeless, yet feel refreshingly unique. Fleetingly, they may evoke a memory of Gram & Emmylou, Shirley & Davey, or Gillian & David but their warm distilling of influences from both sides of the big pond produces a refined sound that is decidedly their own. Both hailing from folk singing families in the flatlands of East Anglia, Hannah spent much of her formative years touring Europe with her family band in a converted school bus, singing folk songs acapella in the street in order to make enough money to move to the next city. However, a sea change and relocation to the US saw her soak up the influences from the American North East and take up the dulcimer. Meanwhile Ben was writing and touring with celebrated UK folk band The Willows whose albums Beneath Our Humble Soil and Amidst Fiery Skies were championed by the likes of the BBC’s Bob Harris and Mike Harding.

Within weeks of moving back to the UK, Hannah braved her first time out solo at The Black Fen Folk Club, Cambridge and as fate would have it, Ben had just returned from tour. Ben went on to produce Hannah’s solo debut Charms Against Sorrow, released in early 2015 to critical acclaim.

The album was launched at the The Green Note, 106 Parkway, LONDON NW1 7AN on Monday 5 September 2016. Support came from Emily Mae Winters.

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

ORDER – [CD]

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

‘The Fall’ – official video:

SINGLES BAR

A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar - PostcardsFRAN WYBURN AND THE INDIGOS are a Yorkshire-based trio whose second EP, Postcards, is out now. Here are five tracks of acoustic folk characterised by complex arrangements with lots of instrumental textures, rich harmonies from Rosie Evans and George Birkett, melodically strong songs and good lyrics. The opener, ‘Blue Sky’ is happily upbeat after a pensive start but the top track is probably ‘Snakes And Ladders’, nicely miserable with a heavenly choir and what? – accordion? harmonium? synthesiser? Not sure. George is a very fine classical style guitarist and it’s his virtuosity that makes the group’s sound – listen to that delicious little break on ‘Spend Our Days’.
http://www.franwyburn.com/

Foreign WatersForeign Waters is the first commercial release from EMILY MAE WINTERS whose songs are as much influenced by her love of poetry as of music. The fine opening track, ‘Anchor’ is a step beyond the familiar verse-chorus-bridge format and is an award-winner as is the second song, ‘Miles To Go’, but the title track and ‘Until The Light’ are the ones that really show off Emily’s powerful and flexible voice. The EP was produced by Ben Walker who also plays steel guitar and mandolin, while Emily plays both guitar and piano.
http://www.emilymaewinters.com/

WolfKAT HEALY is a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who really should be much better known notwithstanding her victory at this year’s CalMac Music Awards. Her latest EP, Wolf, comes out of the death of her father and it’s stripped down and raw, built on cello, harmonium and piano. There’s a perfect moment at the end of ‘Beautiful Peace’ with just her voice and a few notes at the top end of the keyboard as the song fades away. Kat has a gift for melody which isn’t always found in outpourings of deeply-felt emotion and that is reflected in the choice of the traditional ‘Highland Lullaby’ as the final track.

YCHWYL‘You Can’t Help Who You Love’ is the first single from Cactacus, the fourth album by RUTH THEODORE. Ruth is an artist who does things her way; originally a violinist she taught herself guitar while busking and still uses odd tunings. Her music is characterised by rich instrumentation spanning the rock band and the orchestra. This song is built on a chunky rhythm with lots of voices on the choruses and a lyric that tumbles over itself in its explanation of the vagaries of love. This bodes well for the album.
https://ruththeodore.com/

Candi's DogWe’re a little late with this one but CANDI’S DOG are always on the road; ‘I Couldn’t Ask For More’ is their current single and they’ll certainly sell it to you if you ask nicely. Candi’s Dog are an acoustic trio from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a solid basis of fretless bass and drums and featuring guitar, banjo, melodica and kazoo if ‘Crossing The Line’ is any guide. Their songs are up-tempo and upbeat even when the lyrics concentrate on the heartbreak of lost love.
https://candisdog.com/

Not Her OwnNot Her Own is the new EP from YVONNE MCDONNELL. It leads with ‘I’m Not This Layer Of Skin’, a protest about the objectification of women delivered without a trace of anger. It’s a statement of principle as is ‘My Own Advice’. The title track turns Yvonne’s attention outwards to a woman who is finally able to break out from the restraints of society. ‘Not Her Own’ refers to the choices she’s heretofore been forced to make and the theme is again internalised in ‘The Savages’. Maria Kroon features on violin alongside Yvonne and there is cello and possibly synthesiser adding more textures.
http://www.abadgeoffriendship.com/artists/yvonne-mcdonnell