Urban Folk Quartet – new album

Urban Folk Quartet Live III

Reflecting their reputation as a forceful and electric live act, The Urban Folk Quartet return with an extended tour and new live album.

As the title suggests, The Urban Folk Quartet: Live III is The UFQ’s third live album, and follows the previously released Live (2011) and Live II (2013).

Recorded in concert during their spring 2015/ 2016 tour – at venues in Chester (Alexander’s), Maldon (Town Hall), Stafford (Gatehouse Theatre), and Bristol (Folk House) – the nine tracks see the quartet revisiting material from 2014 studio album, The Escape, and road-testing new tunes.

A perfect showcase for the four-piece’s breath-taking musicianship, Live III embraces their full scope, from the full-on ‘Upward Spiral’, to quieter ‘Resiste’ and ‘The Language Barrier’.

New tracks (pencilled in for their 2018 studio album) underline the quartet’s quizzical restlessness and globe-spanning sense of adventure: inspired by a trip to India. ‘Whiplash Reel’ transports a classical Indian scale into a Celtic setting, while the grooving ‘Long Time Traveller’ presents a distinctly UFQ take on a song adapted from famed American 19th century tunebook, The Sacred Harp.

In the concert environment, tunes familiar from ‘The Escape’ (which featured in several prominent ‘best of 2015’ lists) take on a newfound power and direction, as The UFQ feed off the crowds’ enthusiasm and energy, extending and transforming their growing catalogue.

“The pieces are arranged to deliberately get the audience going, with improvised passages that respond to the audience’s reaction, the vibe,” explains fiddle-player Joe Broughton. “That’s the whole reason we like to do live albums. In ‘Control Zed’, Tom does a phenomenal percussion solo – it’s those special moments of interaction where we use the energy from the crowd …”

While other bands may use the live album format to fulfil contractual obligations or as a filler, the prolific UFQ see their in-concert releases as an integral part of their creative process – hence their plan to follow each studio album with a live counterpart (something which their growing international fan-base have now come to expect).

The UFQ’s sixth album over-all, Live III, however, takes a different approach to its predecessors, I and II.

“Our previous live albums have very much been presented as one night”, says percussionist Tom Chapman. “Even though Live II was recorded at two gigs, when you listen to it it’s easy to hear it as one gig. Live III is very definitely an album collected over months, with varied rooms and audiences giving the album its unique dynamic drive.”

The release arrives at a time of increased UFQ activity. 2016 saw the band perform a series of jaw-dropping sets at various UK and international festivals, including Green Man, Towersey, Cropready, Shrewsbury, Ringsted in Denmark, and Lakeland Festival, in Erlach, Switzerland. They were also personally invited by singer Joss Stone to appear at children’s charity Barnardo’s 150th anniversary concert at London’s The Roundhouse.

The Urban Folk Quartet have been dazzling audiences with their brand of ‘electrifying acoustic music’ since 2009. Galician fiddle player Paloma Trigás has shared stages and recorded with the likes of The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon and Altan, and toured the stadiums of the world with Spain’s biggest folk star, Carlos Nuñez. Long established on the folk scene as a fiery English fiddler and showman, Joe Broughton (Albion Band), is also an exceptional guitarist and mandolin player. Dan Walsh is regarded as one of the finest banjo players in the country, as well as being a gifted singer and guitarist, while percussionist Tom Chapman is widely considered to be the most accomplished and innovative cajón player the UK has to offer.

Artists’ website: http://www.theufq.com/

‘The Language Barrier’ live:

Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys TWO FINE DAYS

“The Birmingham-based, Young Folk Awards-nominated duo’s free-spirited music sounds centuries old. It’s not, and their fresh guitar and violin set-up adds a rare sparkle to traditional hues.” Q Magazine

Jack and Charlie’s well-known idiosyncratic approach to folk music and song writing has earned them an enviable reputation as two of the most exciting, heartfelt and challenging musicians around. Writing songs that seem to grow out of the ground and tunes that tell stories in their own right, Jack and Charlie’s original music strings together the past, present and what might yet be of folk music. Their first two albums on Fellside, Light Up all the Beacons and The Northern Road followed them as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, and were met with critical acclaim; their fresh and compelling sound inspiring audiences up and down the country and being described in The Sunday Times as “real folk – not nu-folk, folktronica, or some other apologetically named subgenre – and it doesn’t seem to need reinventing.”

All the music and songs take inspiration from ever-changing landscapes, people and common traditions of hope, fear, love and home. Still feeling inspired and at the start of a growing musical career their enthusiasm resonates with an audience hungry for something new and exciting. For their new album TWO FINE DAYS the duo are joined by Hannah Phillips on Scottish harp (TMSA Young Trad Award Finalist), Sean Law on Double Bass and the renowned percussionist Tom Chapman (The Old Dance School, The Urban Folk Quartet, Chris While and Julie Matthews).

Expanding their musical language, creating beautiful and memorable textures while cooking up an instrumental, breaking storm, Jack and Charlie have come a long way since the folk awards; their live shows are packed with stories, good humour and most importantly, music to remember.

When it comes to the songs on TWO FINE DAYS who better to describe the story behind the songs than Jack McNeill himself; “Debatable Lands is about the bloody history concerning the people who lived in the border lands between England and Scotland. Much has been written and sung about this subject before where for 300 years families were subjected to brutal attacks from both sides, but perhaps the greatest harm would be inflicted upon each other. I was brought up with these stories and this song looks at the worrying question of why rather than unite at such times, people will sometimes destroy each other. In For the Want, ‘A kingdom was lost, all for the want of a nail’… a well-known story about small actions (or lack of) and their large consequences. In this song it’s the kingdom of friendship that is rescued by the knowledge that no-one is free of blame when things go wrong. You’ll find pieces of ‘seaglass’ all over this country’s coastline, bits of glass that have been tossed and tumbled in the waves to finally be thrown back to shore. The idea behind the song ‘Seaglass’ is that sometimes this process of breaking, produces unexpectedly beautiful things. The tune in the middle is called ‘left-boot clog’, it was written remembering a story about a relative of mine who fell overboard and was later identified by his two left shoes which had been hurriedly snatched up, unchecked after a period of time on shore. The title track is of course Two Fine Days. It’s often said that there can be a few small events which can change a whole life, that when we look back on the people, words and decisions shaping where we are now, the ones that really counted are few but unforgettable. Two Fine Days are just that.

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).

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For more information and the latest tour dates, please visit:
www.fellside.com

“Undeniably impressively talented…thoughtful and intelligent songs…brimful of interest and promise…this album will turn out to be rather a grower.” fRoots

“Delivered with commitment and passion, these highly descriptive sound-stories are beautifully set against [Jack’s] understated, melodic guitar playing and Charlie’s perfectly judged fiddle accompaniments.” R2 magazine