Folk Sounds Best at Cecil Sharp House

Folk Sounds Best
The English Folk Dance and Song Society has unveiled its line up for the 2017 summer music and performance season at England’s national folk arts centre, Cecil Sharp House in London.

Luke Jackson with special guest Rebecca Loebe
Wednesday 3 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £14 | £10 under 26s

Luke jacksonA meeting in Kansas, USA led to a transatlantic partnership of two exceptional charismatic young songwriters.

Luke Jackson is a rising young Roots singer/songwriter from Canterbury in Kent.  2013 saw him nominated for both the Horizon Award for Best Emerging Talent and the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and in 2014 he was named Fatea’s Male Artist of the Year.

Rebecca Loebe is a young singer-songwriter known for her distinct voice, well-crafted songs and ability to bring an audience to her journeys, introducing them to the characters she meets and observations she makes as she travels.

Jon Boden
Thursday 18 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £20 | £10 under 26s

Jon BodenJon Boden has become the stand out performer of his generation of traditional folk artists, but one whose repertoire extends far beyond the boundaries of the genre.

As a total contrast to the eleven-piece Bellowhead, autumn 2016 saw Jon launch his first ever solo tour. The show promises to incorporate elements from the wide creative span of his career to date – from the self-penned pop songs of Painted Lady, to the funked-up power-pop arrangements of folk songs that characterised Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden, to the post-Apocalyptic song-world of Songs From The Floodplain, to unaccompanied ballads as featured on his mammoth A Folk Song A Day project in which he recorded and released 365 folk songs in one year across 2010-2011.

Through his solo work and his work with Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden Jon has won eleven BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – more than any other artist. His solo shows will provide an intimate insight into a man of many and various talents and promises to take the audience deeper into the song worlds of traditional music and of his own song writing.

Rosie Hodgson
Wednesday 24 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Rosie HodgsonAs a rising star of the English folk scene, Rosie Hodgson will present an evening of songs from her new album Rise Aurora, accompanied by fiddle-singer Rowan Piggott. Expect an eclectic mix of original and traditional material; beautiful inventive songs overlaid with delicate harmonies, driving fiddle, spell-binding guitar lullabies and maybe even some clog stepping! There is a very long and bright future dawning for this young duo.

“…audible magic woven with voice, fiddle and guitar; Rise Aurora is an impressive debut album by this young songwriter who has risen through the folk circuit to become a BBC Young Folk Awards finalist.”  fRoots

Heg & The Wolf Chorus
Wednesday 31 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Heg & The Wolf ChorusFollowing the hugely successful UK tour throughout the Autumn, Bristol four-piece Heg & The Wolf Chorus are back on the road in the spring 2017 performing their acclaimed debut album Raising The Fires.

The band performs the album’s enchanting story of a witch who was wrongfully burnt at the stake. The scorned woman casts a spell, ending the world as we know it and conjuring all the mythological creatures back to roam the Earth. Inspired by traditional Scottish folklore and written at the foothills of the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye, the vivid imagery and magnificent landscapes can be heard in every spine-tingling song. This release presents the band’s distinctive sound and Heg’s visionary songwriting on a scale unlike anything they have released before, bringing theatrical elements to their performance with a strong story-telling theme throughout.

Moya Brennan – The Voice of Clannad
Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm
Tickets:  £18 | £10 under 26s

Moya BrennanWhen Bono stated recently, “I think she has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced”, he was heralding what many people know already about The Voice of Clannad, Moya Brennan. She sings like nothing you’ve ever heard before! So it makes sense that her live solo shows – with all the musicality and power of Clannad but with added, heart-warming intimacy – should be such a rich and moving experience. Her effortless vocals and timeless music pay homage not only to her vibrant traditional Irish heritage but also her grasp of contemporary forms.

With Clannad she rose to prominence with a pioneering approach to traditional music, which has garnered them 15 million record sales worldwide and a string of awards, including a Grammy in 1998. Her career to date includes 25 albums, numerous film scores and she has sung with many great artists, including The Chieftains, Robert Plant, Paul Brady, Shane MacGowan and Bono.

Made In The Great War
Thursday 8 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £18 | £10 under 26s

Sam SweeneyEight years ago Sam Sweeney, fiddle player with folk big band Bellowhead, bought a violin with a label inside showing the date 1915, the name Richard S. Howard and the words “Violin No. 6, Made in the Great War”.  Research revealed that the violin had been started, but never finished, by a music hall performer from Leeds named Richard Spencer Howard who was conscripted in 1915 at the age of 35, and killed two years later at the battle of Messines near Ypres.

The pieces of the fiddle had lay in a manila envelope for nine decades and it was over ninety years after Richard S Howard began working on the fiddle that it was finally finished and placed in the shop of Roger Claridge. This is where Sam found it.

To mark the ongoing 100th anniversary of World War I and to retell the story of Richard S. Howard, Sam Sweeney (fiddle/viola), winner of the “Musician of the Year” Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015, has collaborated with award-winning storyteller Hugh Lupton, fellow Bellowhead band mate Paul Sartin (oboe/fiddle), and Rob Harbron (concertina/harmonium), to create a music and spoken word performance, featuring on stage the actual fiddle made by Richard S. Howard.

An Evening with The Seeger MacColl Family
Friday 9 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £18 | £10 under 26s

Peggy SeegerThe 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. Join these three exceptional musicians for a gloriously relaxed evening of great music and witty family banter. Expect to hear songs of love, politics and storytelling, including some from Peggy’s award-winning latest album alongside Ewan MacColl’s best loved songs. This is an intimate evening with a remarkable family that will linger long in the memory.

Rosie Hood – ‘The Beautiful and the Actual’ album launch
Wednesday 14 June, 7.30pm
​Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Rosie HoodRosie Hood is a young folk singer from Wiltshire, known for her strong, pure voice and engaging solo performance. In 2015 Rosie was a BBC Performing Arts Fellow with the English Folk Dance & Song Society and in 2016 she was nominated for the Horizon award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. 2017 will see Rosie release her first full-length solo album The Beautiful & The Actual, a collection of old and new folk songs.

Cecil Sharp House Choir and Alton Community Choir
Saturday 17 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 | £6 under 26s

Alton Community Choir

EFDSS is excited to be hosting special guests Alton Community Choir, under the expert direction of Carolyn Robson, for this collaborative concert. Since forming in 2008, Alton Community Choir’s numbers have grown steadily from an initial 12 members to almost 70.  The Choir delights in finding unique ways to celebrate the folk traditions, which so inspire their repertoire.  Cecil Sharp House Choir was formed by EFDSS in the same year. Led by the inspirational Sally Davies, the Choir has become known for its spirited and moving renditions of folk songs from England and the wider British Isles. Both choirs will sing selections of glorious a capella harmony arrangements.

Elliott Morris
Wednesday 21 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 | £10 under 26s

Elliott MorrisWith hundreds of gigs behind him Elliott Morris has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene.  The singer-songwriter, featured in Acoustic magazine as “The Next Big Thing”, taps the strings and beats the guitar’s body to create an intricate spectacle, together with an original and unique sound integral to his songs.

Elliott’s original compositions marry intricate guitar lines with heartfelt, honest vocals and clever wordplay, combining elements of folk, roots, jazz and country. Embracing the traditional and the contemporary – this is folk music for the 21st century.  Elliott’s versatile blend of folk, pop and rock has complemented a range of major artists he has supported including Frank Turner, Seth Lakeman, Lau, Big Country, and The Three Degrees, and revered folk veterans Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. He has also supported Paul Carrack (Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, Eric Clapton) on many of his UK tour dates.

“One of the most impressive guitarists to grace our studio for a very long time…a compelling listen – and mesmerising to watch!”  Dean Jackson – The Beat / BBC Introducing

The Takeover
Sunday 9 July, 7pm
​Tickets: £6

Showcasing talented young folk bands and musicians, this concert wraps up an evening of activities for young people, including ceilidh dancing and a jam session. The Takeover is curated, organised and hosted by EFDSS ‘​ Youth Forum and EFDSS’ resident folk collective, London Youth Folk Ensemble.

Venue website: www.cecilsharphouse.org/csh-whats-on.

FAY HIELD live at the West End Centre, Aldershot

31st March 2017

Fay Hield live
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party started their spring tour at a brisk pace – seventeen songs, including two encores, in a tight ninety minutes. I can imagine there being a bit of tension in this situation particular as Fay announced that ‘Fair Margaret And Sweet William’ had been arranged by Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and herself only that afternoon. We probably wouldn’t have known if nothing had been said but it is rather impressive to write an arrangement and play it from memory a few hours later. Still, I do think they need to relax a bit.

Fay began, as his her custom, with ‘Willow Glen’ accompanied only by Harbron. The rest of the band appeared (Ben Nicholls being fashionably late) for the unusually jolly ‘Tarry Trousers’ and ‘The Weaver’s Daughter’. Fay did promise us a fair share of misery later and had also promised that she would bring her banjo on this tour. She was as good as word and proved to be a melodic player in what I suppose we must call the English style.

After ‘Old Adam’ it got an outing on ‘The Old Grey Goose Is Dead’ with a new sombre tune. I suppose that it’s a generational thing but Fay was surprised to learn that most of us knew it from childhood as ‘Aunt Nancy’ or ‘Aunt Rhody’ and I was surprised to learn that she didn’t. The geese got another name check in ‘The Grey Goose And The Gander’ and the first set closed with ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’.

The second half began in upbeat fashion with ‘Pretty Nancy Of Yarmouth’ and got back to the misery with ‘Green Gravel’ and the aforementioned ‘Lady Margaret’. The band took its turn with a version of ‘Bold Princess Royal’ before ‘Go From My Window’ with Roger Wilson handling second vocal and Sweeney switching to nyckelharpa. ‘The Lover’s Ghost’ made a suitably mournful closer.

The first encore saw Fay solo and unaccompanied with ‘Young Maid Cut Down In Her Prime’ with the Hurricane Party returning for ‘Long Time Ago’. The music was as splendid as ever and sometimes us oldies like to get home at a decent time but please guys, slow things down a bit.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.fayhield.com

‘Raggle Taggle Gyspy’ live:

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

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 From Here: English Folk Field Recordings 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]

Artists’ website: www.stickinthewheel.com

Stew Simpson – ‘Eh Aww Ah Cud Hew’:

ELIZA CARTHY & THE WAYWARD BAND – Big Machine (Topic TSCD592P)

Big MachineFrom her debut solo album back in 1996, Carthy has never been predictable in her constant determination to both celebrate and reinvent the folk tradition and, while that may not have always endeared her to purists, it has produced a remarkable – and sometimes challenging – back catalogue. Her latest is no exception, here working with the big-band set up on her festival appearances, a 12-piece line –up that includes, among others, Beth Porter on cello, melodeonist Saul Rose, Mawkin’s David Delarre on guitar, bassist Barnaby Stradling from Blowzabella and former Bellowhead fiddler Sam Sweeney.

Aptly titled to reflect the sound, Carthy appearing on the front cover like some kind of folk Boudica leading her tooled-up army into battle, the material follows a similar pattern of self-penned originals, traditional reworks and covers, kicking off with a strident metronomic rhythm arrangement of one of ‘Fade & Fall (Love Not)’ complete with plucked cello and soaring brassy flourishes. It’s one of three Manchester Ballads, the others being equally strident shanty ‘The Sea’ with its martial beat and sweeping fiddle and, introduced with a cosmic keyboards whoosh, stumbling domestic violence number ‘Devil in the Woman’ with its repeated refrain chant ‘charming little woman”.

Staying in the traditional arena, the album’s longest and arguably most striking number sees her joined by Damien Dempsey for the eight-minute ‘I Wish That The Wars Were All Over’ (performed live onstage in the studio), a Roud ballad sung from the perspective of a soldier’s love, stemming from the American Revolution and referencing the Seven Years War, collected by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, from Dartmoor miner Sam Fone. Featuring a tinkling repeated piano pattern, melodeon, fiddle it has Carthy in tender vocal form, counterpointed by Dempsey’s keening longing. Interestingly, it has also been recorded by American folk artist Tim Eriksen with whom she made 2015’s Bottle album.

Ewan MacColl’s cabaret-like lurching shanty ‘The Fitter’s Song’ provides the title source, the melody a variation on ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’, with the third cover seeing her joined by the scion of another folk family dynasty, Teddy Thompson lending his voice to a rousing gospel-blues shaded treatment of Rory McLeod’s ‘Hug You Like A Mountain’ providing a showcase fiddle spotlight.

The remaining numbers are all Carthy originals, indeed the whale-themed shanty ‘Great Grey Back’ is a new treatment of a song that originally featured on Wayward Daughter, here with massed vocal backing rather than just one voice. One is an instrumental, the rousing part vocalised but wordless ‘Jack Warrell’s (Exerpt) – Love Lane’, while, another big sound, ‘Mrs. Dyer the Baby Farmer’, with its fiddle lament intro, is essentially a murder ballad concerning Victorian serial killer Amelia Elizabeth Dyer who took in babies that were unwanted or could not be cared for, ostensibly to be adopted, and despatched them to Jesus. ‘Epitaph’ closes the album on another murder ballad, here a cabaret-like tale of death by custard poisoning, Willy Molleson providing the thundering drums. The remaining track again underlines Carthy’s willingness and thirst to experiment and push the folk envelope, ‘You Know Me’ a commentary on hospitality and the refugee crisis (“the door is always open and the fires are blazing, no one ever turned away, the fruit in our garden is always good”) that, with a scratch intro and set against a dub-styled rhythm, features a rap by MC Dizraeli. Arguably her best work since 2008’s Dreams of Breathing Underwater, it further confirms her as one of the fiercest and most striking voices in contemporary folk music.

The album also comes as a deluxe edition that includes ‘Aleppo in the Sun As It Was’ from last year’s English Electric EP as well as the demo of ‘The Fitter’s Song’ and five extra tracks, including both a fiddle and vocal version of ‘Three Day Millionaire’.

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 ELIZA CARTHY & THE WAYWARD BAND – Big Machine 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]

ORDER – [VINYL]

Artist website: www.eliza-carthy.com

‘Fade And Fall (Love Not)’ – official video:

 

SAM CARTER – How The City Sings (Captain Records CAP005)

How The City SingsMaking good on his Best Newcomer gong in the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards , Carter went on to release his critically acclaimed No Testatment as well as collaborate with Jim Moray as False Lights on the Salvor album. The moment shows no sign of slacking with this, his third solo outing, produced by Dom Monks and Neil Cowley and recorded live to tap with musicians that, in addition to Cowley on piano, included his trio’s drummer Evan Jenkins, regular bassist Matt Ridley and award winning fiddler and viola player Sam Sweeney.

Opening with ‘From the South Bank to Soho’, an acoustic farewell love letter to both a romantic partner and London, Carter says the album is often unconsciously permeated by the city’s influences, the songs drawing on images and impressions, as on the piano-backed title track, but also more explicitly detailed as with ‘Haringey Lullaby’, a lament written in the wake of the Baby P case.

If those are all gentle melodies, then contrast can be found on the lurching Arabia meets carnival snake-charmer lope of ‘Dark Days’ with its marxophone and electric guitar, the gathering musical stridency of ‘Drop The Bomb’, its rock out guitar solo mirrored in the equally aggressive and dynamic sounds of ‘Taunting The Dog’, a number that underscores those Richard Thompson comparisons. Less angry in tone, the playful, organ-backed train rhythm scurry ‘One Last Clue’ is also a more uptempo affair, one which might even prompt loose thoughts of Chas ‘n’ Dave, or maybe Chris T-T.

It’s often the case that one style overshadows the other, but Carter has achieved a solid balance here on material that complements rather than contrasts, moving between the distorted ringing guitar and anthemic choral sound of ‘The Grieved Soul’ (a touch of Blake, perhaps), the bittersweet hushed ‘King For A Day’, the jazzy keyboards and acoustic guitars of ‘We Never Made It To The Lakes’ and the undiluted folksiness in which ‘Our Kind of Harmony’ swims without ever jarring.

This is the sound of a man supremely confident in his ability to craft and shape both words and music, never afraid to explore unknown territories, but equally happy to relax in familiar settings knowing it’s through choice not complacency. A sure thing for a Folk Awards album of the year nomination next time around, it’ll take some really stiff competition to challenge this.

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://samcartermusic.co.uk/

The making of How The City Sings:

Sam Carter – new album

Sam Carter
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

Since being named Best Newcomer at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Sam Carter has been stirring audiences from Camden to Canada, via an attention grabbing appearance on Laterwith Jools Holland and a dreamsreallydocometrue performance in a specially assembled band to back Richard Thompson at Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Continue reading Sam Carter – new album