Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman announce new album and spring tour

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman

Duos come and duos go. And some nurture and fine tune their art and watch it grow into something totally original, captivating and award-winning. Bonded by an unseen alchemy, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have entwined their professional and personal relationship into an enviable class act of imaginative songwriting and musicianship.

The Dartmoor-based husband and wife have twice won the coveted Best Duo title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (2016 and 2013), consistently delivering assured, distinctive performances whether live or recorded.

Over two decades of performance they have never been trapped in a groove – always bold and innovative, mixing traditional song arrangements with (increasingly) their self-penned material which reels from the bitter to the sweet, the wry to the sad, the political to the passive, across folk, rock, country and blues genres.

A deft acoustic and electric guitarist and slick producer, Lakeman’s feted skills are matched by the exquisite voice and fluid piano and flute playing of Barnsley-born Roberts.

After a break to have their twin girls the former Equation band members returned in fine form with two acclaimed albums – Hidden People  (2012) followed by Tomorrow Will Follow Today (2015). The 2012 release included their outstanding song about the South Yorkshire 1980s miners’ strike ‘The Ballad Of Andy Jacobs’, nominated for Best Original Track at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Personae, their landmark fifth studio album is an eclectic emotional see-saw of material, melding ten tracks of traditional ballads and their own versatile material, not surprisingly produced by Sean.

The album opens with a rousing, percussive folk-rock version of the Child Ballad ‘The Knight’s Ghost’, with Sam Kelly on guest vocals.

It leads straight into one of the stand-out tracks of the album – the plaintive original song ‘Independence’, about the relationship between parent and child and finding your way in the world, with its Kate Bush echoes.

The inspiration for their songs is often unexpected and quirky. ‘Tribute Of Hands’ is a fast-moving original song for a city – the giant-killing legend of the founding of the Flemish city of Antwerp.

Kathryn’s sublime vocal tackles Sandy Denny’s strong and elusive torch song ‘Solo’ in the one cover on the album – her favourite Denny song from the time she joined the Fotheringay reunion line-up in 2015. The mood then flips completely with the jaunty tongue-in-cheek Roberts/Lakeman number ‘The Poison Club’ – shades of Sergeant Pepper delicately laced with cyanide, arsenic and hemlock!

The poetic Seasons is an arresting short journey mirroring love with the turn of the calendar and the duo again unearth unusual subject matter with ‘The Street Of The Cats Who Dance’, inspired by the true story of a change of Breton law in 1772 when they ceased using a pack of English Mastiffs to police the nightly curfew in St Malo after the grizzly death of a naval officer.

Two contrasting songs bound by a common theme follow – Kathryn’s multi-tracked voice telling the story of ‘Boney’s Defeat ‘before moving to the duo’s wonderful country-style song about another St Helena resident.

While Tomorrow Will Follow Today featured ‘52 Hertz’ a song about a lonely misfit whale -here they revisit the animal world with ‘Old, Old, Old’, a quirky anthem written from the perspective of the 185 year-old giant Seychelles tortoise Jonathan with Seth Lakeman adding his fiddling skills.

The album closes with the beautiful and enigmatic ‘Goddess Made Flesh’. Asking the question “was she an icon or was she a fraud?” it’s a pensive piece rueing the loss of many young talented performers and wondering how their lives may have unfolded.

Once again Roberts & Lakeman have created an album by turns curious, thought-provoking, moving and magical – a complete cornucopia astutely delivered by one of the most intriguing, uninhibited and popular duos on the scene. Most definitely not personae non gratae.

Personae is released on the Iscream label on March 9th and distributed by Proper Records.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artists’ website: https://www.kathrynrobertsandseanlakeman.com/

‘Solo’ – live:

Tour Dates


15 – Milton Keynes – The Stables – 01908 280800 / www.stables.org

16 – Banbury – The Mill Arts Centre – 01295 279002 / www.themillartscentre.co.uk

17 – Southport – The Atkinson – 01704 533333 / www.theatkinson.co.uk

18 – Scarborough – The Crescent – 01723 384500 / www.woodendcreative.co.uk

19 – Edinburgh – The Traverse Theatre – 0131 2283223 / www.traverse.co.uk

21 – Gateshead – The Sage – 0191 4434661 / www.sagegateshead.com

22 – Workington – The Carnegie Theatre – 01900 602122 / www.carnegietheatre.co.uk

23 – Barnsley – The Civic – 01226 327000 / www.barnsleycivic.co.uk

24 – Bury – The Met – 0161 7612216 / www.themet.biz

25 – Bristol – The Station – 0117 2034040 / www.colstonhall.org


19 – Birmingham – The Mac – 0121 4463232 / www.macbirmingham.co.uk

20 – Stamford – Arts Centre – 01780 763203 / www.stamfordartscentre.com

21 – London – Cecil Sharp House – 0207 74852206 / www.cecilsharphouse.org

22 – Alfriston – The Old Chapel – 01323 731750 / www.spyboy.co.uk

24 – Cambridge – Junction – 01223 511511 / www.junction.co.uk

25 – Aldershot – West End Centre – 01252 330040 / www.hampshireculturaltrust.co.uk

26 – Brighton – Komedia – 01273 647100 / www.komedia.co.uk

27 – Southampton – Hanger Farm Arts Centre – 023 8066 7683 / www.hangerfarm.co.uk

28 – Marlborough – Marlborough Folk and Roots – 01672 512465 /www.marlboroughfolk-roots.co.uk

29 – Barry – Barry Island Social Club – 01446 735173 / www.barryislandssc.co.uk


3 – Exeter – Phoenix – 01392 667080 / www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

4 – Falmouth – The Poly – 01326 319464 / www.thepoly.org

5 – Torrington – The Plough Arts – 01805 624624 / www.theploughartscentre.org.uk

6 – Street – Strode Theatre – 01458 442846 / http://www.strodetheatre.org.uk/

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 1

CamFF_FoxyA folking brilliant start to a truly stellar line-up at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival.

Now in its 49th Year, it remains a cornerstone event in the folk diary.

After finally getting the tent up, losing half my body weight in liquid from my newly erected sauna, I headed from Coldham’s Common campsite and caught the well organised and frequent bus to the main festival site.

The picture on the left really sums up the atmosphere of the place, a gathering of people of all ages who share a love of life, music and community.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jamie Smith’s Mabon opening the main event on the stage 2 and you will see from the video below that it was the perfect way to set the standard for the weekend.

Kat&SeanHusband-and-wife team, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman followed with performances from their superbly crafted album Hidden People. Kathryn’s sublime voice and effortless delivery and Sean’s masterly guitar arrangements wooed the Cambridge crowd as the sun beat down on folk town. The Ballard of Andy Jacobs was a particular highlight, made memorable by the solitary figure of Kathryn sitting on stage at her piano.

Rusty ShackleI then headed over to the club tent to catch Rusty Shackle. We’d featured them on folking last year so I was keen to see them in action.

Formed back in 2010 and with an infectious pulse and style, they are difficult to pigeon hole. That said, elements of folk, rock, bluegrass, Celtic rhythms and Delta blues are clearly present.

They are the sort of band that have even more fun than the audience and their rough and ready style grows on you, as you are left pondering, how a band can have the balls to bring two genuine Welsh lamps with them on stage.

Larkin Poe then brought the Thursday night club tent to a rocking climax. I was very much looking forward to seeing The Lovell Sisters in action as we had featured their album Thick as Thieves back in 2012 and this was the first chance I’d had to catch them since. A great end to a brilliant day.

The folkmaster

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Folk Awards 2013 (Proper Music Properfolk14)

Folk Awards 2013Glorious…there’s no other word to describe it. Opening with every folk fans favourite band of ragamuffins Bellowhead and “Roll The Woodpile Down” this 3 CD compilation of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards positively blasts forth heralding the achievements of all concerned. We in the folk world have a lot to be grateful for and the inclusion of (amongst others) Hannah James & Sam Sweeney, Gilmore & Roberts and Kathryn Tickell show how they can ‘acoustically’ kick butt along with ‘rock’ music’s finest. It brings a beaming smile to my face to feel privileged as I do that my enjoyment of this much maligned genre really can give every other form of music a run for its money and that recording’s like this will hopefully inspire the next generation to pick up the baton and run with it. Mind you…before I sign off (heartily recommending that you purchase a copy of the album) I’d like to credit Smooth Operations Jon Lewis on whose shoulders rest the unenviable task of selecting this compilation as it must have been an agonising decision choosing only one track from each of the featured artists plus the bonus ten track CD of the Young Folk Award contenders. Finally, Proper Music and the production team led by the legendary Brian Ledgard have to be congratulated for their support each year in allowing ‘our’ music such a fantastic shop window (and not a hint of Mary Portas in sight) in which to showcase such astonishing talent.


If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

HIDDEN PEOPLE – Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman

“HIDDEN PEOPLE” is an apt title for this long-anticipated debut CD from husband-and-wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman.  They have been lynchpins of the UK’s burgeoning folk-acoustic revival over the last two decades – but a case, perhaps, of always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Now, at last, it’s their turn to burst out from the shadows of their siblings and former musical partners to make a big noise in their own right.  This bold and superbly – crafted album includes eight self-penned songs, one traditional arrangement and a poignant cover version.    With Kathryn’s sublime voice and effortless delivery, Sean’s masterly guitar arrangements and the sonic quality of the production this CD, this is one the most eagerly awaited modern folk albums of the year.

The esteem in which they are held is reflected in the list of artists who queued up to make a contribution: Sean’s famous brother Seth Lakeman; the award-winning Irish singer Cara Dillon (who is married to another brother, musician and producer Sam Lakeman); Levellers’ lead singer Mark Chadwick; veteran folk troubadour Dave Burland, singer-songwriter Jim Moray, Megson’s Stu Hanna, Caroline Herring from the USA and Greta Bondesson from Sweden’s sister trio Baskery.

Steeped in the English tradition, Yorkshire-born Kathryn, 37, was a teenage sensation in a duo with Kate Rusby. They made the Folk Album of the Year in 1995, “Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts”, and Kathryn also won the first-ever BBC Young Folk Award as a solo singer.

They both teamed up with the three Lakeman brothers to form the folk -pop “supergroup”, Equation, which was signed to Warner Music’s cool ‘Blanco Y Negro’ label.  Rusby and Seth then left to begin successful solo careers.

Equation, with Kathryn and Sean at the head, spent more than five years touring in the USA and performed at top venues from New York to Los Angeles. They played the legendary Newport Folk Festival, the Golden Gate Festival inSan Francisco, the Strawberry Festival in California’s Yosemite National Park, the Rock ‘N’ Roll hall of fame in Cleveland and concerts from Arizona to Seattle, Chicago to Denver, Boston to El Paso.

“We must have seen more of America than most Americans” says Sean.” An incredible experience and a unique musical education.”

Meanwhile, Seth Lakeman wrote his seminal “Kitty Jay” album, which led to a Mercury Music Prize nomination – and a musical roller coaster ride. Sean was at his elbow, playing guitar as Seth achieved international fame with subsequent albums. Gold and silver albums sit on Sean’s walls, as producer of Seth’s groundbreaking CD’s, one of which (Poor Man’s Heaven) became the rarest of things, a folk album in the Top Ten.

Like Kathryn, Sean’s musical pedigree is formidable. After emerging on the English folk scene as one of ‘The Lakeman Brothers’ he studied jazz and contemporary music at Leeds College of Music. But he learned more by staying at the Yorkshire home of family friend and guitar maestro, Chris Newman, and touring the UK’s folk clubs with veteran folk fiddler Tom McConville.

Kathryn and Sean have had a low profile as a duo over the last eight years. As Sean toured the world with Seth’s band, Kathryn has been busy at their hideaway Dartmoor home raising twin girls, Poppy and Lily, who are now nearly five.  Now, finally, they have found breathing space to produce “Hidden People” for the Navigator label and will be heard performing live throughout the summer and autumn at festivals and gigs.

Kathryn’s vocals – lush, sultry and faultless – are the signature of the album. She has an extraordinary range, from husky to soaring. She also provides all the piano, keyboards, flute and woodwind. Sean contributes six-string guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, bouzouki and of all things “wooden ruler bass.”

The sonic quality of this CD is testimony to Sean’s impressive production and recording skills and demonstrates why other folk artists and bands like the Levellers have beaten a path to his door to employ his services as a producer.

The tracks on “Hidden People” range from Kathryn’s haunting lead vocals, to rousing a cappella harmony, mellow and heart-rending piano ballads, foot-tapping rockabilly beats, tunes with a world-music tinge and full-on folk-rock. Yet the core of the album is good old-fashioned story-telling.

“These are stories, first and foremost,” says Kathryn, but she warns, “My home-life is so ‘roses round the cottage door’, that I tend to prefer music with an edginess, so some of the tracks on the album are quite dark and brooding, to say the least.” The messages and meanings behind these songs belong to the “Hidden People.”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Latest festival and tour dates: http://www.kathrynrobertsandseanlakeman.com/gigs/