EFDSS announce marathon autumn program at Cecil Sharp House

EFDSS

Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle
Thursday 21 September, 7.30pm
£18 | £10 under 26s

John Doyle, John McCusker and Mike McGoldrick first crossed paths as teenagers. A quarter of a century later, the fired-up folk live-wires are set to celebrate their musical kinship, with their first studio album, The Wishing Tree. A thrilling trip through traditional, contemporary and original jigs, reels, ballads and more, it sees them branch out musically, while tracing the roots of their tunes, and of their friendship.

Trad Night – Jim Causley
Wednesday 27 September, £10

Traditional song – entertaining, rewarding, and often overlooked as an essential part of our history and culture. EFDSS is delighted to announce a new programme of concerts featuring the songs that have been loved, sung and shared for generations. Tales of love and lust, incest and murder, humour and tragedy, sung by talented contemporary performers of the tradition.

Trad Nights will take place in our most compact performance venue, Storrow, creating a truly intimate environment for the audience of no more than fifty fans of traditional, unamplified folk music.

Jim Causley celebrates over a decade as an acclaimed solo artist and performer with his latest studio album Forgotten Kingdom, his first album of entirely self-penned material. A broad collection of songs inspired by his native West Country, Jim mixes ancient history with his own personal history and experience of the world.

Since the release of his debut album in 2005, Causley’s unique voice and persona have helped him become one of the most well-loved and respected figures of today’s contemporary roots and folk music scene.

Martin and Eliza Carthy with support from The Drystones

Saturday 30 September, 7.30pm
£20 | £10 under 26s

The good Doctor Martin Carthy and his twice Mercury nominated daughter Eliza Carthy, join forces to perform songs from their first duo album ever, a CD of traditional material entitled The Elephant, which was released in May 2014 on Topic Records.

The Drystones are two twenty-one year olds from Somerset playing a lively mix of their own interpretations of traditional folk tunes and original compositions. Very accomplished on violin, guitar and whistle, they were Steve Lamacq’s “recommendation of the day” at Glastonbury Festival 2013. For just two people they make a lot of sound!

Kings of the South Seas
Wednesday 4 October, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin departed on his ill-fated voyage in search of the North-West Passage. Within just the last few years, his HMS Erebus and Terror have been discovered at the bottom of the icy seas off Northern Canada. With the ‘Franklin’ album, Kings of The South Seas will bring to life the traditional and written music left by these events and their cultural fallout; from Canadian Voyageur paddling songs, English folk ballads and songs composed on-board ice-bound wintering ships to Victorian parlour pieces.

Tunes of the Munster Pipers

Thursday 5 October, 7.30pm

This performance tells the story of Canon James Goodman and the journey of this collection to the 21st century. Combining spoken word, curated imagery, and live musical performance, come and learn of the life and times of Canon Goodman, and the musical landscape of 19th century southwest Ireland.

Germa Adan
Wednesday 11 October, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Germa Adan writes and performs music that draws inspiration from Haitian, American & British folk music. She was recently awarded EFDSS Creative Seed Funding to write and arrange songs that explore narratives of the diasporic life.

Young Waters
Wednesday 18 October, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Young Waters’ twisted neo-folk is a tapestry of emotionally powerful vocals, stirring harmonies, lyrical violin solos and finely mastered acoustic guitar. Their combination of startling original material and traditional folk songs makes for a captivating stage presence.

Happy Traum: Coming of Age in the Greenwich Village Folk Revival and the Woodstock Scene (1954 – 1971)

Thursday 19 October, 7.30pm
£16 | £10 under 26s

With colourful anecdotes and incisive memories, and the aid of vintage photos and music clips, Happy Traum relates some of his adventures as an active member of the New York folk revival, and his friendships with some of the leading folk artists of the day, including Bob Dylan and Brownie McGhee. Happy punctuates his remembrances with powerful renditions of songs and guitar solos from the “folk era” and beyond.

Trad Night – Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp
Wednesday 25 October, 7.30pm, £10

Laura and Ted take a no-nonsense approach to traditional English folk song, taking their cues from revival singers such as Frankie Armstrong, Peter Bellamy and the Watersons. With repertoire drawn from their homes in the North West and East Anglia, expect strong vocals, tight harmonies and unfussy arrangements of songs sung with passion.

Pagoda Project
Wednesday 1 November, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

Paul Hutchinson, also known for Belshazzar’s Feast, and Karen Wimhurst, previously a member of the Cauld Blast Orchestra, have a wealth of musical experience in a diverse range of genres from classical to folk.

Tales & Tunes: Kathryn Tickell & David Almond with Amy Thatcher

Thursday 2 November, 7.30pm
£18 | £10 under 26s

These artists’ work grows from the landscape, language, history and strange beauty of the north. With the drive of David’s storytelling and Kathryn’s love of the traditions of her native Northumbria, the poetic power of language and music combine.

On stage Kathryn and David are joined by accordionist and clog dancer Amy Thatcher to bring you a memorable evening of stories, songs and, of course, irrepressible music. If you enjoyed Kathryn’s “Northumbrian Voices” this is an unmissable show for you!

Tilston and Lowe
Wednesday 8 November, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe, two of the UK acoustic/folk scene’s finest songwriters join forces for a concert filled with songs and music, chat and banter and intimate insights into their approach to their craft. Listen in as they rekindle the spontaneity of their late-night living-room song swaps.

 

An Evening with the Seeger MacColl Family
Thursday 16 November, 7.30pm
£18 | £10 under 26s

The Seeger MacColl family are one of folk music’s most loved dynasties. Singer, songwriter and feminist icon Peggy Seeger performs with Neill and Calum, her sons with Ewan MacColl.

Peggy long-awaited memoir, ‘First Time Ever’ will be published in October. To celebrate, Peggy, Neill and Calum will be touring a special related show in which she’ll mix extracts from the book with the songs that have meant the most to her over the years. Expect anecdotes from her long and remarkable career together with performances songs new and old.

The Stray Birds
Saturday 18 November, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 under 26s

The Stray Birds started as a duo of acoustic buskers when Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven met with their instruments, their voices, and their songs. It didn’t take much convincing to get bassist Charlie Muench on board, and with the addition of a third unique and powerful voice, the group began to define its captivating sound. Since taking America by storm in 2013 they have gone on to win a huge fan base following appearances at big festivals around the world.

Trad Night – Thomas McCarthy
Wednesday 22 November, 7.30pm, £10

Thomas McCarthy is a man steeped in the tradition of Irish song, intoxicated by the music and passionate in his sensitivity towards them. He comes from a considerable dynasty of traditional singers, song-makers and musicians, and grew up surrounded by the singing of his late mother, her father and aunts and uncles. Having spent his life learning the songs of his family, in 2008 Thomas sang publicly for the first time at the folk club at Cecil Sharp House. By the following year, he had sung at the most prominent folk festivals and clubs in Ireland and England and had appeared on BBC radio.

Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys
Wednesday 29 November, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

Sam is one of the most exciting young prospects in the folk scene, having gained a reputation for an incredibly high class and dynamic live show.

Coming from a family largely made up of Norfolk dairy farmers has left Sam with an unmatched experience of singing in front of hurtfully disinterested Friesians, and his meandering musical journey has ranged from reaching the final of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent as a teenager, to being selected for the first ever EFDSS Artist Development Scheme. Whether playing to 13 million people on prime-time television, or to 10 people in a tiny pub, Sam’s child-like fascination with music shines through.

Jess Morgan & Kitty Macfarlane
Wednesday 6 December, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Jess Morgan is a songwriter’s songwriter. Her performance is a tumbler of unfancied folk-roots music, with heart, passion and gusto.

Kitty Macfarlane’s songs are charged with a sense of place – more often than not her home county of Somerset – and her lyrics combine honest snapshots of everyday humanity with much bigger questions.

India Electric Co
Wednesday 13 December, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Sometimes folk, sometimes not. India Electric Company use traditional instruments in contemporary styles to explore diverse themes from Eastern Europe, Irish traditions and urban alienation to end up with something “quirky and glittery – a veritable musical magpie’s nest” (Mary Ann Kennedy, BBC Radio 3).

Belshazzar’s Feast

Thursday 14 December, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 youth

On tour with a Christmas-themed show that mixes traditional folk music, seasonal material, added to their usual touch of classical and jazz, with a bit of pop and music hall, all topped off with lashings of wry humour.  Paul Sartin (of Bellowhead and Faustus) and Paul Hutchinson (of Hoover The Dog) together wow audiences across the UK with their eclectic and eccentric mix of tunes and between songs chat that always sends audiences home with smiles on their faces.

Festive Gathering
Sunday 17 December, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 under 26s

Join for us our ever-popular, annual celebration of yuletide, with a chance to join in on the songs and merriment.

Cecil Sharp House Choir, led by Sally Davies, will perform joyful a cappella arrangements of traditional, seasonal songs, carols and wassails from the British Isles and beyond, sung in glorious harmony.  Folk dancers, singers and musicians will fill Kennedy Hall – the main space at Cecil Sharp House – with seasonal cheer.

For bookings go to: cecilsharphouse.org/csh-whats-on

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL, Skegness, 4th-7th December

The idea of holding a folk festival in Skegness in December probably raised a few eyebrows when it was first mooted. The suggestion that it should be held at Butlin’s may have caused a pursing of lips but it makes perfect economic sense. The artists have a major venue and a captive audience to add to a winter tour and the camp and its staff gets extra use and revenue. There are two main venues, both are very large and both were packed on Friday evening.

Friday

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL, Skegness, 4th-7th December
False Lights

Entering the Pleasure Dome, sorry, Skyline Pavilion trying to figure out where everything was it was nice to be greeted by the harmonies of Said The Maiden on the Introducing Stage – the third open venue in the middle of the pavilion. It was nearly the end of their set, unfortunately, but we stayed to hear Kings Of The South Seas before insinuating ourselves into the Centre Stage for False Lights. Live, they are less reliant on Jim Moray’s synth wizardry and proved themselves to be an exceptionally good folk-rock band in the classic style. They may prefer to think of themselves as mould breakers but they are actually doing what some bands seem to have forgotten how. Their attempt to perform ‘How Can I Keep From Singing’ without PA was not a success, however; the natural acoustics of the room are not as good as they believed.

Wayward Band 2
Eliza Carthy And The Wayward Band

At an event like this you can’t hear everything so I was now faced with a decision – Eliza Carthy And The Wayward Band or Billy Bragg? The fact that we now had decent seats settled it and we stayed put for the first half of Eliza’s set. Her twelve piece band are set to be the next Bellowhead (whatever anybody says) and are more than up to the task. As well as old favourites, including a “duelling fiddles” interlude with Sam Sweeney in ‘My Boy Billy’, there was a new song, ‘Devil In The Woman’, slated for their first studio album. Bragg called, however, and we arrived for what seemed like the mellow end of his set with ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’ and ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’. No! Amongst the polemic he sang ‘Between The Wars’, still powerful and relevant, and ‘There Is Power In A Union’. I reflected that the latter needs some revision with the unions battered down. We may discover that there is power in unity. ‘A New England’ wrapped up his set perfectly.

Richie Prynne 2
Richie Prynne

CC Smugglers followed with the sort of set that only a band as youthful as them could have the energy to play but shouldn’t have the chops to pull off. They have played so many gigs since I first saw them, even ones they weren’t invited to, and have become so tight and slick. Richie Prynne prowled his stage like a circus ringmaster, never still and rarely silent, cajoling and haranguing the audience, the songs and even his band-mates like a true showman. If the idea of the last set of the night was to wind the audience down then CC Smugglers were not the right choice.

Saturday

Moulettes
Moulettes

The first and last time I heard Moulettes was at very uncomfortable gig and I was looking forward to hearing them in a nice chair. Actually, the best seating for the band is a bean bag with a lava lamp, joss-sticks and a guy dishing out small squares of blotting paper. Sadly the only mind-altering substance available was a pint of Hobgoblin. This was the final gig of the Constellations tour and Moulettes were also previewing their new album, Preternatural, with songs which, for want of more specific titles, we’ll call ‘Octopus’, ‘Nematode’ and ‘Behemoth’. I love the sound of the band, I love their instrumentation and their style but I really don’t know what they are about a lot of the time. “Surreal dreamscapes” were mentioned and I guess that’s about right.

I chatted to Ruth Skipper after the set to ask her impressions of the festival. It turned out that they had only just arrived and gone straight on stage, which accounted for some of the sound man’s problems. At their simplest Moulettes can be two guitars, bass and fiddle but at various times will be added electric cello, bassoon, autoharp, some meaty drums and keyboards and a balance that’s right for the beginning of a song may be wrong by the end. I did discover that the band were looking forward to the water-slide and hearing more music later which proves that I have no future as an investigative reporter.

Chris Simpson
Chris Simpson

Next up were Magna Carta. Chris Simpson on-stage is pretty much the same as Chris Simpson off-stage – he’s a raconteur, discursive and philosophical and Doug Morter is his perfect right hand man. Chris has surrounded himself with some very fine musicians but the set felt loose and the decision to give Morter a solo of one of his own songs seems questionable. Back on the firmer ground of The Fields Of Eden things were much more sure-footed and ‘Airport Song’ was a nice encore.

Sam Carter
Sam Carter

The queue for Tom Robinson curled twice round the pavilion and things were clearly running late so what might have been another difficult decision was made easier and we settled in to hear Sam Carter. He opened his set with ‘Yellow Sign’, the song he began with when I first heard him, and I was shocked to realise that that was six years ago. He has grown as an artist so much. Just when we were settling into the style of his own songs he switched to ‘The Wife Of Ushers Well’, which he sings with False Lights, and ‘Rocking The Cradle’. He played a superb set which showed the power of one man and his guitar. Sam was probably the highlight of the weekend for me.

The Unthanks
The Unthanks

We got back just in time to catch the end of Tom Robinson’s set so I did get to sing ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ again before The Unthanks appeared on the Centre Stage. With the full ten-piece band on stage it’s easy to overlook the contribution of Niopha Keegan to the group but her trumpet playing was the fondant icing on several songs. The technical problems rolled on so The Demon Barbers XL were thirty-five minutes late on stage, almost taking the gloss off their excellent set which began with traditional songs and ended as a dance display featuring hip-hop, interpretative dance and a fearsomely fast rapper. It’s quite disconcerting to see a stage bare of wires, mic stands and other clutter but they needed all the space they could get. I got to bed by 2.00 am, more or less – it was a long day.

Sunday

By midday the pace was beginning to tell and the queues for the afternoon sessions were noticeably lighter and some people I spoke to were planning a power nap in preference to more music. No such luxury for your man on the spot.

TradArrr
TradArrr

TradArrr were excellent. They can really rock and with Marion Fleetwood on lead they can turn in a bittersweet ballad like ‘My Laggan Love’ or ‘Silver Dagger’. Between them they boast five lead vocalists, a full string quartet, a keyboard player who frequently added unexpected flourishes and two drummers, one of whom plays cornet. There were hints of high camp as PJ Wright planted a foot on the foldback and Guy Fletcher prowled the stage hunched over his mandolin but they restrained themselves well. It was then a choice between waiting for Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle or scurrying off to catch The Band From County Hell – sorry Jacqui.

The Band From County Hell
The Band From County Hell

The Band From County Hell are a Scots/Irish group from Lincolnshire and are huge fun – ‘The Day My Granny Died’ is a song everybody should hear at least once. They have been around for a quite a while, with six albums to their credit and it seems odd that they aren’t better known – although they don’t lack for support. The first notes played by Blazin’ Fiddles were on keyboard and guitar which is, I’m sure, their little joke. It’s not logical to find them restful but they are so tight and their music is so hypnotic. I promise that I didn’t nod off but I was definitely on a different plane of existence for a lot of their excellent set.

Chris Cleverley
Chris Cleverley

I returned to the Introduction Stage to hear Chris Cleverley whose debut album, Apparitions, I really like. His set, mixing traditional songs and his own compositions didn’t disappoint and he’s already working in new songs including ‘All I Want’ which will send me back to Joni Mitchell’s Blue as soon as time allows. I stayed for Polly And The Billets Doux, who won the day’s vote for a main stage slot next year, and The Black Feathers, who really needed a more sympathetic environment.

Vo Fletcher
Vo Fletcher

The Ric Sanders’ Trio have finally come out as a fun band with their new album and set of old blues, string band and swing numbers. It might be called the Vo Fletcher Trio since it is his guitar that forms the foundation and his voice that sings the songs but when the singing stops it is Ric’s flights of instrumental fancy that take their music to another place. The album is a lot of fun and their set reflected that. Then it was decision time again. I’d been told that Fotheringay would be playing the same set that they had toured all year “only better”. That was true but I missed the excitement of the earlier gigs when the band were still finding their way into, or back into, the music. Nevertheless, theirs was the set everyone wanted to hear.

Steeleye Span
Steeleye Span

Since they lost Messrs. Knight and Zorn I really wanted to hear what Steeleye Span would do. With two new musicians to induct the answer was to go back to first principles so ‘All Things Were Quite Silent’ was followed by ‘Blackleg Miner’ and ‘Weary Cutters’ was teamed with ‘New York Girls’ featuring Maddy Prior on ukulele. And they rocked. Julian Littman added a rap to ‘Boys Of Bedlam’ and Spud Sinclair played the sort of electric guitar that we haven’t heard in the band since Bob Johnson’s time. As a final touch they closed with an a capella version of Rick Kemp’s ‘Somewhere Along The Road’.

Nick Gibbs
Nick Gibbs

There is no getting away from the fact that playing the final set of a festival after Steeleye Span have gone off to rapturous applause is a daunting task but Folklaw threw themselves into it with energy and aplomb. Fiddler and songwriter Nick Gibbs was joined by Gaz Hunt on a minimalist drum kit, Martin Vogwell on bass and mandolin and Bryn Williams on guitar and bodhran – not to mention crossing the venue floor on the backs of chairs! They sent the crowd off exhausted but happy.

So does a December festival work once you get over the culture shock of rocking up at 5.00 pm on a Friday in the dark? This is still Skegness and with Storm Desmond blowing around us “bracing” just didn’t begin to describe it but when the wind dropped on Sunday it was mild and pleasant. The accommodation and facilities were excellent and the unsung stars of the weekend were the Butlin’s staff who were friendly and helpful and worked long hours. However, this was folk music adapting to Butlin’s not the other way round. The artists existed in a bubble of stage/backstage/ accommodation or arrived, performed and left and there were quite a few I would have liked to have spoken to so I apologise to them. A bulletin board for messages or to arrange meetings wouldn’t take much to set up and would be a big help, too. But, yes, it works and if you have considered going but not done so I can recommend it.

Dai Jeffries

KINGS OF THE SOUTH SEAS – Kings Of The South Seas (D.Wink DWINK CD12)

KOTSSYou may have strong views about the whaling industry and when it comes to the 21st century model I’d agree with you. But when it comes to the practices of two centuries ago go and read Moby-Dick and we’ll talk about it. The point is that all the songs on this album relate to whaling throughout the 19th century.

That fact may call to mind visions of horny-handed sons of the sea in sailor caps and roll-neck jerseys but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kings Of The South Seas are led by Ben Nicholls, best known for his rôle in Seth Lakeman’s band along with Richard Warren (The Hybrids, Echoboy, Starsailor) on guitar and Evan Jenkins (Neil Cowley Trio) on drums. Rock and jazz alongside modern folk – this is nothing like you were expecting.

To be fair, some of it is fairly conventional, with Ben’s duet concertina as the melody instrument and a few bars wouldn’t scare your granny. Some songs have been heavily re-written from broadsides and other sources and any bowdlerisations have been deftly removed. The traditional nature of the songs remains even when Richard’s guitar is doing its best to obscure it so ‘Weary Whaling Grounds’ is dark and grim, offering an entirely new view of the song. There are oddities, too. The opening ‘I Never Missed My Home’ comes from a broadside collected in West Wittering but sounds not unlike an American hymn. One highlight is ‘King Of The Cannibal Islands’, which I’d previously known only as a dance tune, rendered here in all its unlikely glory and which is followed by ‘The Great Sea Snake’, another improbable tale.

On the first hearing Kings Of The South Seas can come as a bit of a shock but familiarity breeds both acceptance and understanding. You really should get to hear it.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: https://www.facebook.com/kingsofthesouthseas/