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

PAULINE SCANLON – Gossamer (own label)

GossamerIt doesn’t happen so much in England but there were singers, such as Gordon Hall, who considered that the only criterion for singing a song was “is it a good song?”.  The Irish seem to have stuck by that tenet which goes some way to explaining Pauline Scanlon’s album, Gossamer. Pauline has been featured vocalist with Sharon Shannon’s band as well as a soloist but this album seems to be the apotheosis of the blend of old and new.

The set opens with ‘The Poorest Company’ by John McCusker, Roddy Woomble and Kris Drever and epitomises the album’s approach. If you didn’t know better you might place it any time in the last couple of centuries although the setting is modern as are all the arrangements here. Next is the Scottish traditional ‘False False’ and ‘The Old Churchyard’, a hymn that may, in this version at least, originate in Arkansas. The title of the album begins to make sense now: the false love and the departed spirits are both intangibles.

Pauline now switches back to contemporary writers. L J Hill’s ‘Pretty Bird Tree’ is new to me but Leonard Cohen’s ‘Joan Of Arc’ – a superb version – is very familiar. There are songs from Lucy Kaplansky and James Keelaghan before Pauline returns to the tradition. I found ‘I Wonder What’s Keeping My Love This Night?’ a bit overdone but the story of Waterloo has a suitably military texture. That said, I would have been happier if ‘The Lover’s Ghost’ had been throttled back a bit.

Pauline has a fine band including producer John Reynolds, Donal O’Connor and Tim Edey. The powerful voice of Damien Dempsey duets on ‘Pretty Bird Tree’, making this one of the record’s strongest tracks. I have a couple of reservations as you can tell but this is an album that delivers a lot of pleasure.

Dai Jeffries

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.

Artist’s website: http://www.paulinescanlon.net/

‘False False’:

DAMIEN DEMPSEY – No Force On Earth (Clear Records CLEARCD01)

no force on earthTo mark the centenary of the 1916 uprising Damien Dempsey has recorded a short album of songs from and about the period. It’s probably just as well that No Force On Earth is only eight tracks because I can guarantee that you’ll be wrung out by the end. The power of these performances is palpable. I don’t believe that the English can fully understand the strength of feeling that surrounds the uprising but listen to this album and you might get a clue.

The first song, ‘Aunt Jenny’, is written by Damien and harks back three generations but to listen to it you’d think she was sitting with him, nodding in approval. Jinny Shanahan’s story is an incredible one but I suspect it isn’t so uncommon. She ran the women’s section of the Irish Citizen’s Army and fought in both the uprising and the War Of Independence.

Damien isn’t slavish about sources of these songs so ‘The King’s Shilling’ is Scottish but Damien uses it the remind us that eighty thousand Irish volunteers fought for the British in the Great War and were betrayed as the next song, ‘Paddy Ward’ explains. Ward was an Irish traveller who fought for the King and was murdered by an English landowner for poaching rabbits after the war was over. I can’t help thinking of ‘The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll’ when I listen to it.

‘Banna Strand’ and ‘James Connolly’ are both famous songs about the period and ‘The Death Of Cuchulain’ is the poem by William Butler Yeats set to music by Dempsey but then he casts his gaze further afield. ‘Wave Hill Walk Off’ celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal land rights movement, something that we’re only just beginning to learn about in the UK and the parallels with the Irish situation are obvious. Finally, Damien returns to Ireland with Ewan MacColl’s ‘The Island’.

The songs are deliberately “rough-hewn” as Damien describes them. He’s accompanied by Tim Edey and Eamonn de Barra with Clare Kenny and producer John Reynolds adding bass and drums to Damien’s voice, guitar and keyboards. Rough-hewn they might be and some listeners might find Damien’s approach strident but the force of history behind these songs can’t be denied.

Dai Jeffries

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.

Artist’s website: www.damiendempsey.com

‘James Connolly’ – live (different version):

Padraig Lalor: new album, Light Up

Padraig Lalor

With Light Up, Padraig Lalor has achieved a new level in his exploration of the modern Irish song. Based on his experiences and reflections of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, the album is a positive affirmation of the power of peace over prejudice.

On a richly layered collaboration with Tim Edey, Fyfe Dangerfield and the pure new voice of Sarah Passmore, Lalor has crafted a work of exceptionally high quality. Carrying an affirmative message for the generation who have grown up with the peace process. With the magical hand of Greig Stewart (Guillemots) on its production it rivals anything from the Celtic Gospel of Van Morrison.

‘Light Up Your Hearts’ is a heart warming first single from album. The single was made available for download on April 22nd and the album will be distributed on the UK’s Proper Label on June 23rd. The single has been co-written and sung by Padraig and Fyfe Dangerfield (Brit Award nominee and founder of Guillemots). It is an inspiring duet with rising talent, singer Sarah Passmore. It is truly a charming & uplifting song with a strong theme of reconciliation and positivity. The song is essentially about Ireland being led into the light of peace after centuries of turmoil.

This is brave song writing, never rhetorical, never hectoring, never polemic, yet always persuasive: at its heart is a universal set of truths about our condition. Lalor has a voice that demands to be heard. This is his best, most complete and uncompromising album to date.

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.

Artist’s website: http://www.padraiglalor.com/

‘Light Up Your Hearts’ – official video:

SEAMUS BEGLEY – The Bold Kerryman (IRL IRL093)

SEAMUS BEGLEY The Bold KerrymanI frequently have to remind myself that there is more music out there than any of us can ever listen to – which is my excuse for not having come across Seamus Begley before.

Seamus is well known as half of the Irish/Australian duo Ceolas and for his ongoing partnership with Jim Murray as singer and accordion player. I’ve tracked down about six albums of his work but he probably recorded many others over his forty year career. He’s also worked with Tim Edey who is his principal instrumental supporter on this set of mostly traditional material. The album opens with ‘Táimse Im Chodladh’ and ‘The Lough Tae Boat Song’, both unfamiliar to me. They are followed by a stately version of ‘The Banks Of The Sweet Primroses’ featuring a shared vocal by Damien Dempsey as the material becomes more familiar.

Seamus has a warm voice that brings an intimacy to his performances and the album is so very restful. Like many Irish singers, he seems to consider that a song worth singing should be sung no matter its source. So we have an old Fenian song ‘Wrap The Green Flag Around Me Boys’ followed by ‘Portland Town’ (nothing to do with Derroll Adams) and Annie Laurie. The album closes with John Denver’s ‘Today’ and Paul Metzer’s greatest hit ‘Farewell To The Gold’. In his hands ‘Today’ sounds like a traditional love song.

The Bold Kerryman is a sweet, gentle album which might have benefited from an instrumental interlude to give it a change of pace. It is, nevertheless, a splendid set of songs in both Irish and English that might just lull you into untroubled dreams.

Dai Jeffries

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.

An air and a song performed live by Seamus Begley and Tim Edey:

MARK NEVIN – Beautiful Guitars (Raresongs Recordings MARKNCD004)

Beautiful GuitarsWe’ve all done it, or know someone who has: gazed longingly in the window or gone inside for a closer look; maybe even asked to try a Strat or a Firebird (insert guitar of choice). That’s the premise of the title track of this album in which the writer portrays himself as a man with family responsibilities that keep him from the road and now teaches his son. But still he haunts Denmark Street looking wistfully in shop windows. How can you not love Mark E Nevin after a song like this?

‘Beautiful Guitars’ is not so much a song as a series of observations linked by a chorus and it’s this quirky way of writing that makes Mark so fascinating. Take ‘The Old Wound’ for example: all the way through it sounds as though he’s writing about a physical wound and he doesn’t deviate from that line. But you’re left with the feeling that this is really a psychological wound that “will never heal”. ‘Dangerous’ is a bit of soul-baring that comes out of a dream – real or imagined, who knows?

There is everything here from the fragile acoustic guitar of ‘Kiteflyer’s Hill’ to the glorious celebration of ‘Let’s Make Hay’ with The Kick Horns in full cry. It’s one of the album’s top tracks and is set against ‘Just In Time (To Be Too Late)’ which is Mark’s ‘Positively Fourth Street’ – soulful and vicious. Others in the supporting cast include fellow ex-Fairground Attraction Simon Edwards on bass, drummer Martyn Barker, pedal steel maestro B J Cole and Folk Award winner, Tim Edey.

Beautiful Guitars is fabulous album, full of original ideas and equally original execution. What more do you want?

Dai Jeffries

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.

Artist’s website: www.marknevin.com