VARIOUS ARTISTS – Resound (Shrewsbury Folk Festival)

ResoundCurated by Hannah James and released by Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Resound is a multi-tasking album. Firstly, it’s a tribute to Alan Surtees, founder and organiser of the festival and secondly, it’s a fundraiser for the Alan Surtees Trust which aims to give grants to young musicians and new musical projects. All the music comes from artists who have been associated with Shrewsbury over the years, often through projects commissioned by the festival.

The album has been, for the most part, cleverly sequenced. It opens with Oysterband’s powerful acapella version of ‘Bright Morning Star’ which certainly makes you sit up and pay attention and follows that with Jon Boden’s mighty ‘Audabe’. The foot comes off the loud pedal just a little wiith Patsy Reid’s ‘Thugainn’. I like the way that ‘Song For Lola’ by Lucy Ward is followed by Fay Hield’s ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ – two unashamedly northern voices side by side. Perhaps living in those climes during my formative years has made me equate the accent with authenticity. I wish that Kefaya’s ‘Indignados’ had been placed beside Grace Petrie’s ‘They Shall Not Pass’ – two songs about Spanish politics, albeit separated by several decades should be available to compare and contrast. The Demon Barbers’ version of ‘Ranzo’ is as good as anything they do but perhaps it could have been saved for a big finish.

The album now turns to pastoral themes. ‘The Lincolnshire Song’ by Miranda Sykes is gorgeous (although I’m holding out for the Peak District, Miranda) and Leveret’s ‘Bagpipers’ is one of their gentler pieces. ‘Vanished Birds’, another fine song by Jack Harris is followed by the lightest version of ‘Neil Gow’s Lament’ I’ve ever heard. Hannah modestly saves her own contributions for late in the proceedings. First comes ‘Tuulikki’s Tune’ from her Jigdoll album and then ‘Order & Chaos’ by Lady Maisery.

Karine Polwart’s ‘We’re All Leaving’ makes for an appropriate ending although I can never decide if a record like this is better served with a period of reflection at the end or something rousing and defiant. Whatever you think, you should buy this album – you wiill enjoy it and you’ll be contributing to a good cause.

Dai Jeffries

Project website: www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/more/alan-surtees-trust/

‘Tuulikki’s Tune’ – live:

Folkeast announces its first guests for 2018

FolkEast

Growing in stature every year, East Anglia’s fast-rising FolkEast is back for the seventh 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 17-19.

And it will be packing a punch with probably its most impressive line-up to date led by two of the most enduring and legendary bands from the genre – Oysterband and Show of Hands who have an incredible eight BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards between them.

Oysterband, who will headline the Friday night, have been on the road with their high impact folk rock show for over 40 years, led by frontman John Jones, whilst Steve Knightley and Phil Beer of Show of Hands last year celebrated their 25th year with a fifth sell-out at the Royal Albert Hall. At FolkEast they will take to the Sunset stage as Saturday headliners, joined by their long-term third member – the acclaimed bassist and vocalist Miranda Sykes.

There will be a Scottish valedictory on Sunday night with Glasgow’s power trio The John Langan Band topping the bill. Award winners at the famous Celtic Connections Festival their music is rooted in Celtic folk but weaves in fascinating Balkan, Roma and flamenco threads.

One of the most exciting names in the line-up will be the phenomenal guitar and melodeon player Tim Edey, up for the coveted Musician of the Year title at next month’s 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – a title he has already won, back in 2012.

“Tim Edey is brilliant – in every which way. As a guitarist he has few peers. As a box player he’s a magician. As a character he’s off the scale – Colin Irwin, fRoots

“Utterly fantastic. Sheer, wonderful ebullient music” – Mike Harding

“Tim Edey plays a host of different instruments to a standard us mere mortals can only dream of. Listen and weep”– The Living Tradition

FolkEast is also delighted to welcome the Irish-Canadian award-winning songwriter and force of nature that is Irish Mythen. County Wexford-born but now living in Canada’s Prince Edward Island she may be diminutive in stature but is one of the most fearless and powerful performers out there and has appeared with both Rod Stewart and Gordon Lightfoot.

The five brothers of Co Durham’s big noise acapella singers The Wilsons and the triple talents of master musicians John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle will also be making their mark and the Gigspanner Big Band will see Peter Knight’s celebrated Gigspanner trio joined by Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, nominated for Best Duo for the third time at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (having won it in 2014).

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 – and nominated for Best Album (Strangers) and Best Original Song (Be The Man) this year promise another action-packed live podcast – one of the funniest, most enthralling highlights of last year’s festival.

Other confirmed artists include harmonica and melodeon wizard Will Pound, this time with his unique Through The Seasons Morris and folk dance show (with music performed by Pound, Benji Kirkpatrick and Ross Grant), ex Bellowhead cellist Rachael McShane with her new band The Cartographers and top young duo Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, twice winners at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and still only 24 and 22.

Texas-raised Londoner Rodney Branigan is bound to draw a crowd with his riveting songs and uncanny ability to play two guitars at once while other performers will include Somerset singer songwriter Reg Meuross, Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection, The Magnificent AK47, Luke Daniels & His Amazing Polyphon, Winter Wilson and Norwich-based Alden Patterson and Dashwood.

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

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, arts and crafts. This year festivalgoers will be able to see the Sae Wylfing – a half size replica of the famous Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon ship discovered in 1939 near Woodbridge in Suffolk – an undisturbed ship burial considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever. www.woodbridgeriversidetrust.org/sae-wylfing

“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 , with its mythical creature emblem The Jackalope, 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), with two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving competitively –priced festival ales plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, The Halfway Inn.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, packed dance programme, archery, donkey rides, a mini golf course, children’s activities (including den building, storybook making and a mud kitchen), yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by Major Philip Cobbold.

On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk.

Early Bird tickets for the festival are now sold out. Advance weekend tickets are available price £120 (adult), £108 (full time students, senior citizens) and £80 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 £360. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping is £15 per tent with a £25 charge for campervans and caravans.

Located close to the A12, 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

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention announces Brian Wilson as headliner

Brian Wilson at Fairport's Cropredy Convention
Photograph courtesy of CNN

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival have announced that Brian Wilson will perform the legendary Beach Boys album Pet Sounds at Cropredy on Thursday 9 August 2018.

Acclaimed for its ambition and sophistication, Pet Sounds is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential albums of all time. Released in 1966, Wilson’s masterpiece is number 2 in the Rolling Stone ‘500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ list, only beaten to the top spot by The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper.

The festival will be held over three days (Thursday 9, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August 2018) at Cropredy near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Thursday opens with host band Fairport Convention who will play a short welcome set. Fairport are followed by Smith & Brewer, a talented Americana guitar duo featuring close harmony vocals. Police Dog Hogan deliver their own brand of exhilarating Country-tinged rock. Ever-popular folkrockers Oysterband will make their first appearance at Cropredy since 2004 and they will be followed by Thursday’s headliner, Brian Wilson.

On Friday,Cropredy will open with a set by the BBC Young Folk Award winner followed by newcomers Midnight Skyracer who describe their music as ‘Anglo-Irish girl-power Bluegrass’. Favourites of the Cropredy crowd The Travelling Band make a welcome return with their blend of Mancunian Americana and indie folkrock. Cregan & Co features Jim Cregan, best known for his associations with Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart. Le Vent du Nord will perform traditional Québécois music with infectious enthusiasm before former frontman of Marillion, Fish makes his second appearance at Cropredy. Mercury-nominee Kate Rusby (Folk Singer of the Year and Best Live Act winner at the BBC Folk Awards) makes her Cropredy debut before Friday’s headline act Levellers celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with a welcome return to Cropredy.

Saturday sees BAFTA nominee Richard Digance getting the day off to a flying start. Sets from Eric Sedge and The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican precede singer-songwriter Will Varley who makes his first appearance at Cropredy with his band.  Folk Award winner Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys are newcomers to the festival and so are Afro Celt Sound System who fuse traditional Irish and West African music in a thrilling mix. They will be followed by a solo set from Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart before Fairport Convention and guests take the stage for their traditional two-hour-plus Saturday headline show.

Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com/

‘God Only Knows’ – live:

First news of this year’s Tønder Festival

Tønder FestivalFor 44 years now the European folk, country and Americana scene has been meeting in Tønder – a tranquil Danish city just a few kilometres behind the German border. In these 44 years, the originally small folk festival has become one of the biggest genre events in Europe. Year after year, about 70 acts mainly from America, Canada, Ireland, England and Scandinavia define the status quo of the folk, Americana country and traditional music scene. An average of 10,000 visitors attend the festival every year.

“70 percent of our guests are regulars. They come back every year,” says Maria Theessink, responsible for press relations and the programme at the Tønder Festival. Besides the quality of the musical contributions, it’s the fantastic ambience of the festival which keeps the crowds returning year on year. We do everything we can to make our visitors feel at home with us,” she says,” we don’t let stress and hectic pace arise. We want to celebrate a relaxed festival feeling with beautiful music and idyllic surroundings. We seem to be succeeding.”

This mix of high-quality acts, relaxed atmosphere and good sea air – the North Sea is only a few kilometres away – makes Tønder unique in the annual festival calendar. No wonder that the FlightNetwork website ranked the traditional event among the 34 best music festivals in Europe (one of two folk festivals in the cross-genre list).

On the four festival days from 23 to 26 August, Tønder visitors can look forward to a programme that is as varied as it is top-class. Among the most sonorous names that have already been confirmed are the following:

David Ramirez (the upcoming Americana star from Austin, Texas)

The Secret Sisters (Grammy-nominated Folk-Duo from Alabama)

Tyler Childers (the country musician/singer-songwriter from Kentucky is about to make a big breakthrough)

Oysterband (legendary folk band from GB)

Sharon Shannon (Ireland’s folk queen)

Guests with a special interest for British festival-goers include Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, Skipinnish and Allan Taylor.

More details at the festival website: www.tf.dk

Wickham 2017 Reviewed

Click on the photo below to see the full set…

Wickham 2017

‪Squelch… Wickham Festival finally kicked off to a great start with sets from ‪Low, Barker, Morris & Tunstall which sounds like a firm of solicitors instead of musical, dance and poetry partners in festival law; Andy Fairweather Low, Les Barker, the Wickham Morris Sides and KT Tunstall.

Now tell me… where are you going to get a “bend me, shake me, a sermon from the church of the holy undecided, a strip the willow and a black horse and a cherry tree all the the same place!

Here is the moment when the sun came out and everyone forgot about the thirteen days of rain that fell on the site the day before it opened which caused the “elf and safety” three hours delayed start.

The main Thursday night event on the All Time Grates Stage was 10CC, who played all their hits, which they performed as a masterclass in song-writing. They even offered us the following words of wisdom from their extensive mantra…

Life is a minestrone
Served up with parmesan cheese
Death is a cold Lasagne
Suspended in deep freeze …

Friday afternoon had a definite garden party feel that went off with a Wizz, bang and Spooky side-splitting Tickell. It all started with the legendary Wizz Jones who rolled out all his hits including ‘When I Leave Berlin’ which Bruce Springsteen covered.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale followed, the Antipodean Blue Mountain settlers, that worry local livestock to such a degree that the local farmers club together to pay for their international tours (so long as they agree to do reworked Abba and Bee Gees choral arrangements). Luckily, Kathryn Tickell was there to restore order, Northumbrian Pipe Style, who together with The Side brought Wickham back into the hear and now with evocative slow airs that could break your heart one minute and then fling you seamlessly into life-affirming jigs and reels the next.

In between Tickell and the Spookies (great idea for a band name!) I managed to dash across to the Hapi Stage to catch a bit of the fab Portsmouth based band Bemis. I also managed to grab a copy of their excellent new album A World of Difference that I encourage you all to go and check out for free here

There was barely enough time for a quick change over before it was pedal to metal down the West Country highway in search of Fishy Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands.  All three did the West Country proud and I think its was a great bit of programming to put Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands all on the same stage and evening bill.

Here is my favourite moment of Friday night, when Show of Hands treated us to a slowed down version of the Don Henley classic “Boys of Summer” . Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday opened with more Wickham Festival goodies… Alas, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie didn’t make it for the reunion but folk legends, Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe turned up on the All Time Grates Stage in the afternoon. Then it was a quick hop and skip across to the Hapi Stage for a blistering set from Gilmore & Roberts with festival energy in a bakers bun-dance. Then back again to the All Time Grates Stage as master Dhol drummer, Johnny Kalsi fired up the furnaces of the drums of the mighty Dhol Foundation to create a high-energy, pulsating folking brilliant musical soundscape of Punjabi beat, rhythm and intensity. ‬

‪If that was not enough excitement for one day, there was a just enough time to sponge down before the main evening event of the big punk-folk-rock 3. I’m sure you will all know who they all are, as the Saturday evening, three in a row line-up, for many, was one of the dream festival programming highlights of this year (dreamt up by the mind of that festival organising genius, Mr Peter Chegwyn) which even included a returning Chopper as part of the Oysterband mix. For those who have not worked it out, it was of course The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Oysterband and The Levellers. I also legged it across to the Hapi Stage to see some of my old mates Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley set with the lovely Emily.

Time had flown by and before anyone knew it, it was “Sunday folk fun-day” and the fourth day of Wickham.

I’ll start with Ray “Chopper” Cooper who opened on the Hapi stage…

Fay Hield then blew in with the Hurricane Party on the All Time Grates Stage and Glasgow boys Imar followed and got the main stage dancing. Wickham festival favourite Duncan Chisholm followed with his Gathering before the afternoon slot was brought to a riotous close with Tankus The Henge (a great festival band).

LAU opened the Sunday evening slot which felt like a kaleidoscope of colour washing over the All Time Grates Stage. The power went off at one point so we even got a couple of un-amped numbers.

‪The finale for me was the crowned Queen of the Wickham Festival crowd, Eliza Carthy with Sam Sweeney & the rest of her merry Wayward Band.‬ Unfortunately, I had to leave early so missed the Peatbog Faeries set but Eliza said that they tore the place apart, so I have been lamenting the early departure ever since.

I was bitten by a Ferocious Dog on the way out and am looking forward to repeating the experience at one of their other gigs soon.

Darren Beech

Festival website: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

Wickham Festival 2017 Interview

Wickham Festival site

Darren Beech caught up with Peter Chegwyn just before the festival and had a chat about what we could expect from Wickham this year.

Many of the UK’s finest traditional singers and musicians appeared at the Wickham Festival near Fareham which took place between Thursday 3rd and Sunday 6th August.

They included Seth Lakeman; Show of Hands; Oysterband: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band; Kathryn Tickell; The Peatbog Faeries; The Fisherman’s Friends; Lau; Edward II; Boo Hewerdine; The Dhol Foundation; The Spooky Mens Chorale; Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe; Wizz Jones; Talisk; Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party; Les Barker; TradArr plus many more.

Also appearing at Wickham 2017 were the 70s chart-toppers 10cc; top Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall; Festival favourites The Levellers; plus Andy Fairweather-Low & The Low Riders; John Otway; The Selecter plus many more well-known names.

The Wickham Festival was voted the UK’s Best Small Festival at the Live UK Music Awards in 2015 and has also been described as one of Britain’s top boutique and family-friendly festivals by The Guardian newspaper.

The festival featured live music on four stages plus a host of other attractions including storytelling, street theatre, dance displays, childrens entertainers, a digital funfair, laser arena, traditional crafts fayre, exotic foods fayre, real ale & cider festival and a late night festival club.

Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn says it’s “a real coup for a small village festival like Wickham to attract so many top artistes who have performed at major music festivals throughout the world.

“The Wickham Festival is known for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and the high quality of the music on offer. People travel from all over the UK and abroad to attend. This year’s ticket sales are running at a record level and we are confident that our 10th birthday festival at Wickham will be our best yet.”

I couldn’t finish without putting up one of Peters favourite videos from the Gosport and Fareham Easter festival back in 2010 when Alan Burke dedicating “I will go” to the man himself.

Wickham Podcast link: https://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/gallery/audio/

Festival website: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk