VARIOUS – From Here: English Folk Field Recordings (From Here Sitw005)

From HereThey may be newcomers to the scene, but Stick In The Wheel are certainly making their mark, not just with their own recordings and associated artifacts, but in their involvement with the folk world in general, and the traditional in particular.

Band members Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey serve as curators, collaborators and producers for this collection of new live recordings by both the great and good and some of the lesser known luminaries in the genre. The remit for those involved was to record songs that explored either place or their musical identity, culminating in a gathering of field recordings captured in locations as diverse as a stone cottage in Edale, a bank vault and a garden at Robin Hood’s Bay using just two stereo microphones and with no subsequent overdubs.

As you would imagine, the tracks are stark and raw, first up being ‘Bedfordshire May Carol’, chosen by performer Jack Sharp, leader of psych-folk outfit Wolf People, as it supposedly originated just a few miles from where he grew up. Next up, Eliza Carthy leads a flurry of more familiar names with a self-penned number, ‘The Sea’, a new setting of the broadside ballad found in Manchester’s Chetham Library and featuring on her current album, the initial pizzicato fiddle giving way to more robust playing. She’s followed by one of the veterans of English folk, John Kirkpatrick, applying his accordion to a song from his lengthy repertoire and a folk club staple ‘Here’s Adieu To Old England’, while his sometimes musical partner, Martin Carthy, also chose a number he’s recently reintroduced back into his sets, ‘The Bedmaking’, a familiar tale of the abused and cast aside servant girl. fingerpicked here to a halting rhythm.

Sandwiched in-between is one of the rising stars of the few folk firmament, the Peak District’s Bella Hardy, who went to 19th century collection The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire for ‘The Ballad of Hugh Stenson’, setting it to a more upbeat tune than the hymnal adapted by Jon Tams, while, another member of folk royalty, Jon Boden puts his squeezebox to work on a contemplative take on 19th century drinking song ‘Fathom The Bowl’.

There’s a couple of spokes from the Wheel, both unaccompanied, Kearey delivering glottal version of the much covered ‘Georgie’ and Fran Foote ‘The Irish Girl’. They’re not the only numbers to be sung naked as it were. BritFolk alumnus Lisa Knapp has a lovely treatment of the tumblingly melodious ‘Lavender Song’, while, also from the female side, Fay Hield tips the hat to Annie Briggs with her choice of ‘Bonny Boy’.

On the other side of a capella gender fence, Geordie folkie Stew Simpson mines his Newcastle roots for ‘Eh Aww Ah Cud Hew’ (which the accompanying booklet helpfully translates as “Oh Yes, I Could Pick At The Coals”), Sam Lee turns the evergreen ‘Wild Rover’ on its head to transform it into a slow, sad lament rather than more familiar rollicking rouser of Dubliners and Pogues note, and, from Wales, a deep-voiced Men Diamler closes the album with ‘1848 (Sunset Beauregard)’, a self-penned political protest ballad about Tory policies. The remaining unaccompanied track is actually a duet, Peta Webb and Ken Hall joining voices for an Irish in London in the 50s marriage of Ewan MacColl’s ‘Just A Note’, about the building of the M1, and Bob Davenport’s account of the dangers of ‘Wild Wild Whiskey’.

The three remaining tracks are all instrumentals. Bristol’s acoustic instrumental quartet Spiro are the only band on the collection and provide their self-penned ‘Lost In Fishponds’, apparently about getting lost en route to a gig, joined here by North Wales violinist Madame Česki, while Sam Sweeney brings his fiddle to bear on two tunes. ‘Bagpipers’, one of the first things he played with his band Leveret, and ‘Mount Hills’, an English dance tune from the 17th century. Which leaves Cumbrian concertina maestro Rob Harbron to provide the third with a pairing of ‘Young Collins’, a Costwolds’ tune learned from Alistair Anderson, and, another from the Morris tradition, ‘Getting Up The Stairs’, which, by way of a pleasing synchronicity, he actually learned by way of John Kirkpatrick on the influential Morris On album.

It more than does the job it set out to achieve, and, likely to loom large in end of year awards, fully warrants a place in any traditional folk fan’s collection.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.stickinthewheel.com

Stew Simpson – ‘Eh Aww Ah Cud Hew’:

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

Towersey Festival announces headline acts

KT Tunstall Towersey

KT Tunstall, Newton Faulkner, Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden, are set to headline the 53rd Towersey Festival (25-28 August 2017, Thame, Oxfordshire). They’re joined by Show Of Hands, Lindisfarne, The Blockheads and Foy Vance, amongst others.

Scotland-born and Los Angeles-based, KT Tunstall came to prominence with her 2004 debut Eye To The Telescope, which earned her BRIT and Ivor Novello awards, in additional to Grammy and Mercury Prize nominations.

Her recent album, 2016’s Kin, exemplifies the very best of guitar pop. The diverse collection includes a duet with KT fan James Bay, the raucous rebellion of ‘It Took Me So Long To Get Here, But Here I Am’, the call to arms of ‘Hard Girls’, and lilting album closer ‘Love Is An Ocean’.

Newton Faulkner boasts two number one albums. His debut, Hand Built By Robots, knocked Amy Winehouse off the top spot in 2007, and he returned to the top again in 2012 with Write In Your Skin. His recent fifth album, Human Love, saw the once dreadlocked troubadour expanding his classic singer-songwriter influences with sounds from other cultures.

Eliza Carthy’s The Wayward Band line-up features some of the UK’s very best acoustic and roots players, including musicians associated with the mighty Bellowhead, Mawkin, Blowzabella, Emily Portman Trio, and more. Their just-out debut album, Big Machine, is a big album from a big band, earning Eliza her highest chart placing!

Jon Boden is perhaps most recognisable as the lead singer (and one of the principal arrangers) of the multi-award winning Bellowhead, one of the most exciting live acts of recent years. The band played their last ever music festival show at Towersey in 2015 before retiring last year, allowing Jon to continue with his lauded and diverse solo career.

With founder member Rod Clements still at the helm, 1970’s folk rock pioneers Lindisfarne’s songbook features such tracks as ‘Meet Me On The Corner’, ‘Run For Home’, ‘Lady Eleanor’ and ‘Fog On The Tyne’, while The Blockheads’ many hits include ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3’, ‘What A Waste’, and ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’.

Irish singer/songwriter Foy Vance has worked with such artists as Sheryl Crow and Ed Sheeran (co-writing several songs on Ed’s X album). Recorded in Nashville, Foy’s latest collection, The Wild Swan, was released via Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records, and lists Elton John as executive producer.

Other Towersey 2017 highlights include Gary Stewart’s stunning recreation of Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland album, and appearances from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 nominees Megson (Best Duo) and Jim Causley (Singer Of The Year), plus a guaranteed slot for the winner of the Young Folk Award category.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “We have another great mix of artists this year, including BBC Radio 2 favourite KT Tunstall, as well as such Towersey stalwarts as Jon Boden, Eliza Carthy and Show Of Hands, who have visited the festival many times over the years.

“We’re very excited by our full line-up,” continued Joe, adding that there’s been a real buzz around the festival this year. “Off the back of a successful 2016, we’ve already sold out of both our Tier One and Tier Two tickets, so we know our audience is really looking forward to Towersey 2017 as much as we are.”

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from 25-28 August 2017 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now with Adult Day Tickets from £30, Youth £21, Child £14, under 5 free. Tickets for the full festival are £126-£57 (Tier 3). For further information, and to book tickets, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

Folk East 2017 announces first headline acts

Folk East 2017

Growing in stature every year, East Anglia’s fast-rising FolkEast is back for the sixth time this August, proving why it is nothing like other music festivals.

The three day festival will return to the glorious 300-acre Suffolk estate of 16th century Glemham Hall, the home of Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, between August 18-20.

And it will be packing a punch with a plethora of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners and nominees including folk legend Jon Boden and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys.

Jon Boden is one of the outstanding folk performers of his generation – having won 11 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, more than any other artist. This is a chance to see him striking out on his own after the Bellowhead juggernaut shuddered to a halt last year. One of his first solo festival performances, he will headline the main Sunset stage on Friday night in a genre-hopping set that promises to get FolkEast off to a buoyant start.

Winner of the Horizon (Best Emerging Act) award at the 2016 Folk Awards, East Anglian-born Sam Kelly will bring his Lost Boys band and unmistakable voice to the main stage on Saturday night, building on their success last year.

With a third headliner still to be announced, the line-up will also include acclaimed singer guitarist Michael Chapman, esteemed veteran duo Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick and another outstanding duo from the younger generation, Will Pound and Eddy Jay, who made waves with their debut album Ignite last year. Lau, three times winners of Best Group at the Folk Awards, have also been announced. The acclaimed trio comprises Martin Green, Aidan O’Rourke and Kris Drever, whose song ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ is nominated for Best Original Track at the 2017 Folk Awards.

Another duo making their first appearance at FolkEast will be Dorset’s Ninebarrow (Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere), their songwriting skills and perfect harmonies having won them a nomination for the 2017 Folk Awards Horizon Award (Best New Act).

Nominated in the same category is former Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr, for her song ‘Fragile Water’ ; Nancy will be heading to FolkEast in the star-studded trio of Simpson, Cutting and Kerr.

Keeping the Irish flag flying will be the stand out Damien O’Kane Band. Coleraine-born Damien’s exciting modern spin on traditional Irish folk music saw his latest album Areas Of High Traffic nominated for Best Album at the 2016 Folk Awards.

Irish traditional folk band Beoga, also from Ulster, are also Suffolk-bound. The Antrim five piece is collaborating with Ed Sheeran on his upcoming album. They reportedly joined Sheeran at studios in Suffolk last June to record two trad folk tracks, one about Galway and one about Wexford, where Ed has strong family roots.

FolkEast’s irrepressible patrons The Young’uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes), popular winners of the 2016 and 2015 Best Group title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be headlining the Broad Roots stage and promise another action-packed live podcast.

One of the most singular events on the UK festival calendar, FolkEast was launched five years ago by husband and wife John and Becky Marshall-Potter.

What the artists say about FolkEast

“One of my very favourite festivals”- great location, organisers, atmosphere and sound” – Eliza Carthy

“I love this festival” – Sam Carter

“FolkEast has become one of those amazing, unique festivals” – John Spiers

“FolkEast is something else – very special. A warm feeling just like a family” – O’Hooley & Tidow

Rekindling the ancient Eastfolk moots on the Glemham Hall estate where for three days a year the folk from the East would meet kith and kin at harvest time for “a bit of a do”, this gathering has Suffolk running through it like letters in a stick of rock – from its locally sourced fare in The Imagined Suffolk Food Village to its suppliers, its arts and crafts, its own newspaper The Eastfolk Chronicle and its Suffolk Punch horses.

“Rather like a cross between Cambridge Folk Festival and a very large village fete – it feels like something that has been there since the Middle Ages. The mythical, magical land of the Eastfolk has materialised here in Suffolk’s big sky heartland” Folkcast

The festival offers a refreshingly different line-up across six stages (including St Andrew’s Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland Soapbox Stage), Suffolk food fare, two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving festival ales plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, The Halfway Inn.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, packed dance programme, donkey rides, children’s activities, yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by Major Philip Cobbold.

“Yes it’s a music festival with folk music at its core but be careful how you interpret that – there’s a lot more going on besides music. FolkEast just feels right – in 10 years’ time I reckon you’ll wish you’d have been there from the start.” – Grapevine Magazine

Suffolk performers will include The Broadside Boys, John Ward Band and the duo Shorelark. The Soapbox Stage, curated by local promoter Amy Wragg will introduce up-and-coming musicians and poets from the region.

On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk. And this year’s event will see the return of one of the big successes – Instrumental, a festival within a festival. Bigger and better for 2017, it will bring together some of the country’s top instruments makers.

Jon Boden’s erstwhile duo partner and Bellowhead colleague John Spiers is also returning, not just as a performer, but as a green-fingered panellist in the Gardeners’ Question Time event, Gardeners Cornered!

Early Bird tickets for the festival are now sold out. Advance weekend tickets are available price £115(adult), £100 (full time students, senior citizens) and £70 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £342. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping is £12 per tent with a £24 charge for campervans and caravans.

Located close to the A12 (from where the famous FolkEast decorated tree can be seen), the festival will also be running shuttle buses to the site from Wickham Market station. More performers and a launch event will be announced soon.

Festival website: www.folkeast.co.uk

First names for Cambridge 2017 announced

Jake Bugg - Cambridge

Cambridge Folk Festival is delighted to reveal the first artists for next year’s bill including one of Britain’s most exciting talents Jake Bugg, who the Festival have invited to return to headline Sunday night with an acoustic set.

Jake’s progress from performing in 2012 at the Festival’s smallest stage, The Den, to headlining Stage 1 is a feat matched only by one other artist, Passenger.

Also confirmed are: folk and roots pioneers Oysterband (Sunday), celebrating their 40th anniversary; multi-award winning, visionary folk trio Lau (Saturday), featuring Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke and US ‘rockgrass’ favourites Hayseed Dixie (Sunday).

They join previously announced Guest Curator Jon Boden, who 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.

Tickets are now on sale:

Full Festival ticket: £167
Day tickets: £27.50 (Thu), £59.50 (Fri), £70 (Sat), £70 (Sun)

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: www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

Cambridge Folk Festival is held over four days in the picturesque grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall. Celebrated for its relaxed atmosphere, excellent facilities and diverse programme, the Festival brings together the best of folk in its broadest sense, from international stars to breakthrough new artists and special one-off performances, talks and workshops across several stages. Previous headliners have included: Joan Baez, Nick Cave, Ray Davies, Buddy Guy, Christy Moore, Van Morrison, James Taylor and The Waterboys amongst many others.

Cambridge Folk Festival is promoted by Cambridge Live with support from Cambridge City Council.

First names revealed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2017

shrewsbury folk festival 2017

The first acts to be signed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival have been revealed as tickets go on sale for the 2017 event.

Loudon Wainwright III, Eric Bibb, former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden, The Unthanks, Oysterband, The Young’uns, Le Vent Du Nord and Seth Lakeman are among the headliners due to top the bill during the festival next August.

Other acts signed up so far include Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders featuring the Hi Riders Special Soul Review, Jim Moray’s Upcetera Ensemble, Sarah Jarosz, John Kirkpatrick, Skipinnish, Sam Carter, Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, The Wilsons, National Youth Folk Ensemble, The East Pointers, Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys, Coven (Lady Maisery, O’Hooley & Tidow, and Grace Petrie), Mick Ryan and Paul Downes, The Fitzgeralds, Daphne’s Flight, Chris While and Julie Matthews, Maz O’Connor, Alma, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Greg Russell (solo), Ragged Union, Moirai, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, Jamie Huddlestone, Na-Mara, Wood, Wire and Words, and the Roaring Trowmen.

The event will also host the only 2017 festival appearance of Peter Bellamy’s groundbreaking folk opera The Transports featuring The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Matthew Crampton, Greg Russell and Rachael McShane.

Dance bands will include Glorystrokes, Jabadaw, Steamchicken, Boldwood, Lasair and Contrasaurus.

Next year’s festival marks 20 years since it began in Bridgnorth in 1997 and it will be the 21st event organised by directors Alan and Sandra Surtees. It will run from August 25 to 28 at the West Mid Showground in Berwick Rd, Shrewsbury.

Festival Director Alan Surtees said: “We are very excited to have secured some great musicians for 2017 at this very early stage and are in detailed negotiations with many others that we will confirm as planning progresses.

“2016 was a vintage year but with an already strong line up and our ongoing commitment to extremely high production values, we’re pretty sure that 2017 will top it!”

Adult weekend ticket prices have been held at 2016 rates. Adult weekend concession tickets are also now tiered. The festival operates a tiered system with four different price levels so people who book early, including those who are eligible for concession tickets, get the best deal. There are also day tickets on sale.

The festival has four music stages, a dance tent and runs more than 100 workshops and dedicated children and youth programmes. There is onsite camping, a craft fair, real ale, wine and cocktail bars, and a food village.

Alan added: “The feedback we had from this year was phenomenal from visitors and artists alike. The BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 presenter Mark Radcliffe described it as ‘a little bit of heaven’ and that sums it up.

“We are anticipating a very high demand for the first tier of tickets. Last year, the cheapest tickets sold out very quickly so our advice is to be prepared!”

In a change to previous years, the site will open from 7am on Friday August 25 for people with camping tickets.

Weekend, camping and day tickets can be booked through  http://shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/ or direct at  www.gigantic.com/shrewsbury-folk-festival-tickets.