Gate To Southwell Festival announces top names

Gate To Southwell Festival

The eleventh Gate To Southwell Festival is expected to attract five thousand visitors to the East Midlands in early June. With over sixty international, UK and local music acts, ceilidhs and dance displays, poets and storytellers, fantastic family entertainment, plus workshops, great food stalls, a beer and cider festival and a craft fair, this 2017 event looks certain to be the most eclectic, entertaining and exciting yet.

Running from Thursday June 8th to Sunday June 11th, in the beautiful rural setting near Southwell racecourse, the festival headliners include Kate Rusby, the much-loved leading lady of English folk (Friday 9th) and Jon Boden, charismatic frontman of the extraordinary Bellowhead (Saturday 10th). There’s also a great array of international stars including BOC from Mallorca – who were sensational at the 2015 event – plus top quality Canadian bands Le Vent Du Nord and The East Pointers.

Adding to this treasure chest of fine music, the legendary harmony supergroup Daphne’s Flight (first formed at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1995) are reuniting to appear at Southwell, and the Thursday night bill will feature the intoxicating Blazin’ Fiddles from Scotland and The Changing Room, an acclaimed modern folk collaboration between Sam Kelly and Tanya Brittain. There’ll also be welcome returns for much-loved artists such as the Californian ukulele-toting Ooks Of Hazzard (their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ was one of the highlights of 2016), the Glaswegian Americana of James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band and the folk roots cerebral singer-songwriting of Jess Morgan.

Adding to the warm atmosphere at this most family-friendly of festivals, the 2017 event will be hosting a Summer Of Love @ 50 celebration to mark fifty years since the US hippy movement in California broke through into the mainstream. Having led the house band for last year’s wonderful Dylan @ 75 tribute gig, the immensely-talented Jim Moray returns to fuel this flower-powered extravaganza.

Also on the ever-blossoming Gate To Southwell 2017 bill there’s American folk-blues guitar veteran Chris Smither, highly-acclaimed due Megson, flame-haired traditional star Megan Henwood, comedy veteran Les Barker, newly-formed double act Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Welsh singer-songwriter Jack Harris, Tyneside female vocal group She Shanties, Australia’s immensely popular harmony trio Cloudstreet, BBC Folk Award-winning Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Celtic contemporary music from Ranagri, the all-female gothic folk troubadours Wookalily, swing-folksters The BeauBowBelles along with a rare chance to see Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley.

Bringing drama and colour to both the festival and the streets of Southwell, in procession along King Street on Saturday morning, there’s a host of dance sides confirmed to perform including Slubbing Billy’s from Huddersfield, Thrales Rapper from London, Micklebarrow and Poacher and Bishops Morris (all from Lincolnshire), Anstey from Leicestershire, the Plough Morris of Rattlejag and the Cotswold Morris of Harlequin, plus Conroy’s Irish Dance and the Koyuki Tribal Belly Dancers. Last but not least, there are the Hells Angels of Morris Dancers, the magic menacing Witchmen.

Back on the festival site, there’ll be five venues for music over four days, including the newly-named boundary-pushing Frontier Stage will welcome diverse talents such as pioneer punk poet Atilla The Stockbroker and heiress to Billy Bragg, Leicester’s Grace Petrie. There’s something for everyone from the western-swing-meets-country-blues of Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra, the energetic European folk of Sheelanigig and the alt-country eccentricity of Dana Immanuel & the Stolen Band through to rising Scottish stars such as Tannara, Wayward Jane and Gnoss, The Vagaband and Alden Patterson & Dashwood from Norfolk, and Nottinghamshire’s own immensely-danceable Wholesome Fish!

With the new Robin Hood Energy Stage showcasing the best in traditional and contemporary folk music, the festival is also committed to promoting the work of East Midlands poets so there will be a Spoken Word Showcase featuring the rising stars of the Nottingham-based DIY Poets Collective, and The Southwell Slam – an open poetry and spoken word competition, for performers and writers of all ages and abilities, to find the Bard of the Gate To Southwell 2017. For more Slam details contact Southwellslam@gmail.com.

Gate To Southwell Festival tickets are now available from www.gtsf.uk

Kate Rusby and Jon Boden to star at Gate To Southwell 2017

kate rusby

British folk heroine Kate Rusby and former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden are among the first headline acts announced to appear at the Gate To Southwell Festival next June, and reduced price tickets are now available.

Widely regarded as “the first lady of English folk music”, Kate Rusby is famous for her Mercury-nominated debut Sleepless, her acclaimed collection The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly and her Xmas album Sweet Bells. From Penistone, near Barnsley, Kate’s latest album Life In A Paper Boat has just been released.

Jon Boden is one of the most charismatic singers, composers, arrangers, fiddlers and multi-instrumentalists on the acoustic and roots music scene. Having fronted Bellowhead for 10 years, Jon is also well known for his work with John Spiers, his band The Remnant Kings and also Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers.

Also lined up for Britain’s most eclectic acoustic and roots music events, there’s internationally-renowned Canadian acts such as Le Vent Du Nord (who were a huge hit at the 2012 festival) and the East Pointers from Prince Edward Island, plus acclaimed Californian ukulele band the Ooks Of Hazzard (among the highlights of 2016 with their wonderful cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’) and popular English husband-and-wife folk duo Megson.

Further adding to the diverse magic of the festival, which runs from June 8th to 12th 2017, the immensely entertaining and danceable Mallorcan World music band BOC make a welcome return, having played their first gig outside Spain at Gate To Southwell back in 2015.

Following the great success of this year’s on-stage gathering to mark Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday – described as “one of those never to be forgotten festival events” by Folk Radio UK – Jim Moray will return to curate a flower-powered 50th anniversary celebration of 1967’s Summer Of Love, the original blooming of the American underground hippy movement.

If all this is not enough for roots music hungry fans, Gate To Southwell has also booked legendary American folk blues artist Chris Smither and the wittily-named Whitley Bay female collective She Shanties. These are just the first of over 50 artists booked for 2017 with negotiations underway to book more major acts soon.

Set in a superb rural site close to the lovely market town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, the eleventh festival will showcase a mix of international acoustic and roots artists alongside local and up and coming talent, performing across four main undercover stages. With music workshops, dance displays and ceilidhs, street theatre and kids’ entertainment, great food outlets and a beer and cider festival, the Gate To Southwell 2017 is definitely a date for the diary. June 8th to 12th.

Advance tickets are on sale now via the website – www.gtsf.uk

 

KATE RUSBY – Life In A Paper Boat (Pure PRCD41)

life in a paper boatUnquestionably my favourite female folk singer of her generation, traditional or otherwise, dubbed the Barnsley Nightingale, her pure voice never seeking to disguise her Yorkshire vowels, Rusby has been plying her trade for 24 years. Life In A Paper Boat is her 14th studio album, one which, while hewing to familiar tropes, nevertheless sets sail for new boundaries. This time round, husband Damien O’Kane had more time to experiment with the production, adding in sounds and effects that could be reproduced on stage, most specifically in areas of non drum percussion, courtesy of Josh Clark, and in extensive use of moog by bassist Duncan Lyall, enrobing the traditional with the contemporary.

As ever, the material is a mix of originals and traditional numbers, the title track, like many a recent folk album, inspired by the migrant crisis, but also serving as a springboard for other images and themes. Her repository of ballads provides the source for the album’s 17th century opener, ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’, string section, bouzouki and diatonic accordion providing the backing for an rhythmically heady nonsense story of a tailor who fought for England with a horse made from a sheer board, a bridle of scissors and a needle as a spear, sometimes also known as ‘The Tailor And The Louse’, in which the flea represents his wife.

The first of the self-penned number, the yearningly delicate, slow waltzing ‘Hunters Moon’, takes on equally symbolic imagery, going cosmic in the use of the sun and the moon as metaphors for unrequited lovers, then it’s back to the traditional for her own musical setting of ‘The Ardent Shepherdess’, a dreamy, suitably pastoral arrangement that features a banjo interlude from Ron Block.

Maybe it’s because we’re a approaching Christmas, but the title track has a carol feel, O’Kane’s tenor electric guitar providing the tune’s foundation, Cooke’s accordion surfacing midway as Rusby sings of a widowed mother and her child, an ancient land “left behind in ruins” and a tentative note of hope in the prospect of the promised land to which they sail. The sea is at the heart of another of the originals, this time claiming the narrator’s life in the breathily-sung traditional coloured ‘The Mermaid’, one of the tracks to make extensive and effective use of moog and programming as well as featuring guest harmony vocals from Dan Tyminski.

Starting faintly before Anthony Davis’s keys enter the picture, Lyall’s double bass. O’Kane strummed acoustic and Steven Iveson’s electric guide Rusby’s melodic setting of the lover’s pledge ‘Hundred Hearts’. It’s credited as “words trad & K Rusby”, though, given Google failed to identify any folk song by that name or with similar lines, the traditional springboard in question may well be the anonymous valentine’s card epigram “A hundred hearts would be too few / To carry all my love for you.”

Firmly traditional in origin as well as sound, featuring accordion and Michael McGoldrick on whistle and flute, the mid-tempo ‘Pace Egging Song’ stems from the West Yorkshire Easter tradition (Pace derives from Pacha, the Latin for Easter) of performing Pace Egg Village plays wherein St George takes on all comers, here including Lord Nelson, Jolly Jack Tar and Old Miser and is, essentially, a beer begging number.

The last of the traditional numbers, another steeped in celestial imagery, ‘Night Lament’, again sees Rusby adapting the words and providing the tune, arranged for viola, fiddle and cello, and again one for which I cannot trace the source material.

Not traditional as such, but certainly getting on a few years, the longest track here, at over six minutes, is, accompanied solely by electric tenor, moog and double bass an atmospheric, a version of Archie Fisher’s epic narrative ‘The Witch of Westmoreland’, originally featured on his 1976 album. The Man With The Rhyme, and later popularised by Stan Rogers, which tells of a how a wounded knight is led by various animal guides to the witch who can heal him in both flesh and spirit.

The remaining two ‘official’ numbers are both by Rusby, the jaunty but reflective ‘Only Desire What You Have’ (which about not pursuing greed rather than about just accepting your lot) again featuring Tyminski, McGoldrick and Block, while, the most experimental sounding in its programming and percussion, ‘I’ll Be Wise’, a familiar tale of a girl beguiled and betrayed, plays out rather like a slow shanty sway.

There is, though, a bonus track, one on which Rusby’s playfulness sparks through, ‘Big Brave Bill’, which, set to a military beat with Yorkshire brass flourishes of cornet, flugel horn, French horn, tuba and euphonium, tells of Barnsley’s own super-hero performing such derring do feats as rescuing a lad from the mud, a trapped miner and, most notably, old Mrs Dobbins from Dearneside who found herself in Mallorca, served with a cup of warm water, lifeless tea bag and UHT milk until Bill swooped in with a kettle and some good old Yorkshire Tea. These adventures, as well as sending off a flying saucer, can be thoroughly enjoyed with the accompanying animation at www.bigbravebill.com. Kate Rusby, folk music’s proper brew.

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 KATE RUSBY – Life In A Paper Boat 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.katerusby.com

‘Only Desire What You Have’ – official video:

SINGLES BAR 12

A round-up of recent and forthcoming EPs and singles

gift-ep Singles Bar 12Friends and supporters of DARIA KULESH who pledged to support her forthcoming album, Long Lost Home, received a personalised EP, The Gift, containing four songs from the album. The opener, ‘Tamara’ may be related to ‘Tamara’s Wedding’ which opens Kara’s second album. Like all these songs it’s very Russian, dark and mysterious. ‘The Moon And The Pilot’ has been Daria’s live repertoire for some time. It’s a story from Stalin’s Russian, this version accompanied by almost solo piano but ‘Safely Wed’ is a new song, with guitar and accordion. Finally we have ‘Amanat’, another song we’ve heard live but this is its first recording and Jonny Dyer does a wonderful job with all the accompaniments. As a taster for the album it works like a charm; Daria is telling so many stories that we really haven’t heard before. Pre-orders for the album will be available soon.
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/longlosthome/updates

big-brave-bill‘Big Brave Bill’ is the new single from KATE RUSBY and is also available as a bonus track on her forthcoming album, Life In A Paper Boat. It’s humorous song of praise to Kate’s native county and, in particular, the benefits of Yorkshire tea that started life as a bedtime song for Kate’s daughters. It’s not quite what you expect from her but it’s fun with a brass quintet joining Nick Cooke and the core of Kate’s band Damien O’Kane and Duncan Lyall.
www.katerusby.com

fear-of-fearNEIL BROPHY BAND brings us a slice of agit-pop with ‘Fear Of Fear’ – the right-wing press is rightly becoming a target for protest. They are not quite a rock band but more than a folk band, despite the whistle, mandolin and banjo. Good as the song is as a newcomer to Neil’s music we do feel that this would have been better as an EP to give us something to get our teeth into.
http://www.neilbrophy.co.uk/

porcelain-doll‘Porcelain Doll’, the new single from FREJA FRANCES begins in an appropriately delicate fashion over sustained single guitar chords, then the strings tiptoe in followed by piano. Drums launch the song into a big chorus and you realise that there is power to Freja than you first thought. The song is a double-A-side with ‘Breathe’.
http://www.abadgeoffriendship.com/artists/freja

cloudy-leftoversPALENCO’s new single, ‘Cloudy Leftovers’ is available as a free download. The track is a bright poppy song with country overtones and the band is a collection of musicians including two members of the wonderful Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog and two from Eitha Tal Ffranco. It’s a nice happy sound that might have done better as a summer single.
www.recordiaucaegwyn.com

waiting-on-your-goodbye‘Waiting On Your Goodbye’ is the new single taken from the debut album by FINLAY LESLIE which will be released next year. It’s an upbeat rocky song but the subject matter is a complete contrast as the singer searches for the words to mend a damaged relationship. “Growing up shouldn’t feel this way” betrays Finlay’s youth but the writing is mature beyond her years.
https://www.facebook.com/Finlaylesliemusic/

Damien O’Kane talks to Dave Freak

Damien O'Kane 2

Hailing from Coleraine, Northern Ireland, banjo-playing singer and arranger Damien O’Kane certainly ruffled a few feathers with his recent solo album, Areas Of High Traffic. Featuring a selection of (as he rightly says) “great songs” they’re given a surprising sheen by O’Kane and his band, while the publicity images depict very urban, contemporary, scenes – all blurred traffic lights and graffiti. Very much rooted in the Celtic folk tradition it may musically be, but it doesn’t sound, or look, like your average folk album. Nonetheless, it’s deservedly wowed critics and listeners alike.

On stage since he was 13, performing with The O’Kane Family Band, Damien’s since gone on to partner with Shona Kilping and joined Flook (winning the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Group in 2006 with them), before embarking on a solo career, teaming up with David Kosky, and forming a professional and personal relationship with Yorkshire songstress Kate Rusby.

Prior to autumn dates with Kate, O’Kane’ll be playing with her, as well as appearing solo, at Oxfordshire’s Towersey Festival 2016, in August.

Areas Of High Traffic had some incredible reviews, and was (of course) nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award; any thoughts on why the album has made such an impact, and resonated with so many people?

Mmmmm. Sonically it is pretty different to most folk albums that came out last year, or at least the ones that I heard. I wanted a ‘big band’ sound for this album, with a kit and a more overall ‘modern’ sound to coat the fantastic traditional songs I’d chosen (bar one original song on the album). I have an eclectic taste in music having grown up listening to all sorts, from Techno/Dance Music right down to those classic Planxty albums or early Paul Brady material. I always wanted to try and marry the new with the old and I haven’t really had the courage until this album to do it. The album has more influences than just the aforementioned though. The other members of the band, Cormac Byrne on drums and percussion – Steven Iveson on electric guitar and Anthony Davis on keys/synths/pads and more, brought some of their musical experiences to the table and it resulted in a hugely enjoyable time in the studio. Together they cover blues, jazz, electronica and many more genres of traditional material. I brought all the material, all the chords and a shape for the songs, with a different sonic palette in mind for them and we all seemed to ‘pull on the same rope’, which was fantastic. I wanted an ambient, rocky, dancy feel to a lot of the material and I’m really chuffed how the album finished up.

I also think people are a lot more open minded to change these days. It is not such a shock anymore as there are so many interesting things going on in traditional music right now.

The theme of ‘family’ seems to link many of the songs, either in terms of subject or your decision to include – from ‘The Blacksmith’, which you remember hearing at an early age, to the more obvious ‘The Goddaughter’ and ‘Interlude For Mama’. Did you set out with that theme in mind when you were planning the album?

No, I didn’t set out with a ‘family’ theme, but I am hugely influenced and eternally grateful to my family who have supported and encouraged my music career from the very start. My folks introduced us (my three brothers, two sisters and I) to traditional music at a very early age and started sending us to classes. I have loved it since then. A huge number of children nowadays don’t even get the chance to play music and it is an ever declining ‘priority’ in schools from what I can see. That is a very sad thing. When I play music, Irish traditional music, I feel a huge sense of identity and family.

You’ve referred to the book Folk Singing in North Derry: Shamrock, Rose and Thistle as your “‘bible’ of folk songs” – when did you first come across the collection?

I first came across this book around 2008/2009 when I was introduced to a great collector of Irish traditional music and song, Jackie Devenney. Jackie hails from Coleraine in Co. Derry, like myself, and I was incredibly surprised to learn of Jackie and of the wealth of repertoire we boast in the north of Ireland. It is this material that excites me, songs with place names I recognise and places I played as a child. Shamrock, Rose and Thistle is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the songs but I feel attached to it as it was my first learning of all these homeland songs and I love to take the stories out and bring them to life.

What are some of the ‘interesting bits and bangy things’ that percussionist Cormac Byrne is credited as playing on the album?

Well, Cormac could make a pencil sharpener rhythmical! But he did some really interesting things on Areas Of High Traffic on triangles and weird shakers and washboards and other things that I didn’t even recognise! The most interesting bangy thing he used was a bucket! Yes a bucket. You can hear it on the second track ‘The Blacksmith’. It is literally a metal bucket turned upside down. Genius!

The album has a very distinctive urban look – graffiti and skyscrapers; what was the idea behind it? Was there a conscious decision to make it not look like ‘a folk album’?

There was definitely a conscious decision to make it look different. The music is very different to anything I’ve done before so I thought the look should be too. There’s hints of urban music influences throughout the album, it is overall a more mainstream sound and I wanted to depict that through the image as well. I am really not a fan of the ‘stand in a field with a guitar’ photo, which has almost become a stereotype of folk music, and it has always been, arguably more so now than ever, a lot more than this. The next generation are creating some incredible and new sounds with folk music and it’s a really great time to be a part of it. Folk music deserves as much press as any other genre of music but it is hugely difficult to compete with those big bands on big labels where copious amounts of money are spent on image, then comes the music!! So I guess the answer is yes, I didn’t want it to look like a stereotype. I wanted it to be more interesting and David Angel, the photographer for the album, is the king at being interesting. I gave him an idea and he brought it to life.

I understand that you’ve been working on a new album with guitarist David Kosky – will this be a direct follow-up to The Mystery Inch, or something different?

I can’t really say very much about this at the minute but I am indeed working on an album with David Kosky. But not just David! There is another key banjo player involved in the project who will be announced at some point over the net few months but there is a list of guests planned for the album I would never, ever have dreamt I would ever work with!

When do you think they’ll be another solo album to follow Areas Of High Traffic?

I am starting a new solo album in October and would like to have it finished before the end of the year. I waited so long between Summer Hill and Areas Of High Traffic, through no fault of my own, but I’d like to follow up with another. I had so much fun making Areas… and the other lads are excited to get going on another.

Any other plans, projects or collaborations coming up?

Actually, I’ve just finished Producing Kate Rusby’s new album. I have to say, and even though she’s my wife, this is a very, very exciting album and not one people will expect. It is called Life In A Paper Boat and will be released in October but I’m not telling you anymore! As for other plans/ projects/ collaborations coming up, they are all covered in the questions above! I need some time to spend with my family.

You’re appearing twice at Towersey Festival – have you played the festival before?

I think the last and only time I played at Towersey was back in 2007 when I was playing in a duo with piano accordion player extraordinaire, the brilliant Shona Kipling. I can just remember being quite nervous. At that point I wasn’t really used to playing at big festivals but I remember having a great time and having a few drinks after the gig! I’ve been back as a punter since and it’s one of those festivals that has a great festival atmosphere and there’s lots going on all day every day. I’m looking forward to this year where I get to perform with Kate Rusby on the Friday (26 Aug 2016) and my own band on the Saturday (27 Aug 2016).

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

Areas of High Traffic

Artist’s website: damienokane.co.uk

In case it passed you by – ‘The Mystery Inch’:

KATE RUSBY The Frost Is All Over (Pure PRCD40)

KATE RUSBY The Frost Is All OverAlthough it’s not one that comes round often enough, Rusby’s Christmas albums have become something of a tradition. Following on from 2008’s Sweet Bells and 2011’s While Mortals Sleep, this is her third and, once again, finds her rummaging through the South Yorkshire songbooks for their pub singalong variations of familiar carols and providing her own tunes or arrangements.

As you might imagine, it’s wonderful stuff, setting the festive feel with the brass tickled cascading ‘Bradfield’, which, named for the Berkshire village where it’s sung, is a sort of musical appropriation of ‘Joy To The World’. As before, several of the other carols are better known by more familiar names, ‘Sunny Bank’ is a regional variant of ‘I Saw Three Ships’ while ‘Little Bilberry’ is ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ set to a completely different tune, the banjo dappled (courtesy Damien O’Kane) ‘Dilly Carol’ is ‘Green Grow The Rushes Oh’ and the diatonic accordion wheezing ‘Mount Lyngham’ sets the words to’ While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night’ to a tune drawn from two carols, ‘Mount Mariah’ and ‘Lyngham’.

Likewise, the tinkling ‘Yorkshire Merry Christmas’ is still ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, Just transposed from its birthplace in the West Country, although clearly folk up north clearly believe it’s better to give than receive since the lyrics here don’t demand to be brought anything in return, figgy pudding or otherwise

Not strictly speaking a carol, ‘Christmas Goose’ unfolds in a Manchester pub and tells the witty story of a traveller who had his way with the pub chambermaid and gave her a guinea for her trouble, returning the following year to be given his change in the form of a baby. The remaining traditional numbers, ‘Cornish Wassailing’ and, dating back to around 1625, ‘Cold Winter’ (or, more strictly, ‘To Drive The Cold Winter Away’) are both songs she’s been performing in her seasonal live shows over the past couple of years and has finally got round to recording.

The two other songs here depart from the South Yorkshire template, Felix Bernard’s evergreen festive favourite ‘Winter Wonderland’ being given a big band swing feel while, inspired by the magical feeling of being out in the fields at home on Christmas Day, the title track closer is a gorgeous Rusby original, a pledge of love sprinkled with rimestone images of a crisp, fresh morn and a hymnal melody. Pour the mulled wine, crack open a mince pie and enjoy the best touch of wintry frost since old Robert stopped by the woods on a snowy evening.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

Artist’s website: http://www.katerusby.com/

Kate Rusby Live At Christmas: