Cambridge Folk Festival announces more top names

Shirley Collins at Cambridge Folk Festival

The latest names have been announced for Cambridge Folk Festival 2017, including legendary folk singer and respected song collector Shirley Collins, who recently returned to recording and performing after 38 years; a Festival exclusive from multi-platinum selling Indigo Girls, whose celebrated and influential career spans almost four decades and chart-topping, English country twin-sister duo Ward Thomas, all part of a completely female line-up on Main Stages 1 and 2 on the Friday.

International superstar and multiple Grammy Award-winner Olivia Newton-John, originally from Cambridge, Grammy nominee Beth Nielsen Chapman and SOCAN Award-winner Amy Sky bring their unique collaboration ‘Liv On’ exclusively to the Festival on Saturday evening. Acclaimed US singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, promises another awe-inspiring Festival performance on the Sunday.

LW3 at Cambridge Folk Festival

A line-up that sees a welcome return for Festival favourites plus innovative debuts will feature Irish accordion virtuoso Sharon Shannon; enchanting chanteuse Cara Dillon; Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party, described by Mojo as “One of folk music’s most pre-eminent modern voices”; sonically audacious and lyrically bewitching Admiral Fallow; Coven, featuring three of folk’s most formidable female acts O’Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie; the Isle of Tiree’s Skerryvore; exhilarating live performers CC Smugglers; folk-jazz pioneer and favourite of Ewan McGregor Blue Rose Code; UK Americana Emerging Artist winners 2017 Wildwood Kin; Jamie Smith’s Mabon, blending world music and Celtic roots; BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award nominees Fara; the aptlynamed Beoga (Gaelic for ‘lively’) and bluesy, indie Americana from William The Conqueror.

Adding to an eclectic bill bringing together the best in folk and roots music are: The Furrow Collective, featuring Rachel Newton, Lucy Farrell, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts; singer and harpist Rachel Newton; electronic Celtic fusion from Niteworks; Belshazzar’s Feast merging folk, classical, jazz, pop and music hall; fiddle singers The Rheingans Sisters; hotly tipped Americana band Orphan Colours; Southern gothic singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah; 2015 BBC Young Folk award winners Talisk; folk noir and gypsy jazz from The Eskies; Brian McNeill, leading the Festival Session; one of Liverpool’s most exciting new groups She Drew The Gun; up and coming folk-country duo Worry Dolls; Mawkin, described as a modern-day Fairport Convention; Roxanne De Bastion, at the forefront of the new singer-songwriter generation; ukulele-playing singer Amelia Coburn, famous for her remarkable cover versions; 12 strong female shanty band She Shanties; The Urban Folk Theory Ceilidh, where superb musicianship meets technology; the only UK performance this year of Chris T.T. Sings A.A. Milne and Anglo-Indian singer-songwriter Alluri.

This year’s prestigious Club Tent Showcases, awarded to artists the Festival sees as stars of the future like previous picks Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman and The Staves, go to: Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Robert Vincent; contemporary Scottish folk band Tannara; Australian singer-songwriter Juanita Stein and Canadian troubadour Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.

These new names join previously announced Jake Bugg, headlining Sunday night with an acoustic set, Oysterband (Sunday), Lau, featuring Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke (Saturday) and Hayseed Dixie (Sunday).

Guest Curator Jon Boden will perform over the Festival weekend with The Remnant Kings to preview his autumn 2017 album as well as guest curating elements of the line-up. More to be announced.

For further artist information and daily line-ups, please see www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

Tickets are now on sale:  Full Festival ticket: £167 Day tickets: £27.50 (Thu), £59.50 (Fri), £70 (Sun). Saturday Day Tickets Sold Out.

Camping at Cherry Hinton Hall and Coldham’s Common is available. Concession tickets (disabled access and carer, Under 21, Cambridge City Resident) are available. Please see the website for more information and full ticket prices:

 

Seth Lakeman and Wildwood Kin live at Derby Cathedral

Seth Lakeman live
Photograph by Simon Burch

If Seth Lakeman was feeling any road rage from having spent eight and a half hours in a car during a delayed journey to the Midlands – cancelling an appearance at a record store in nearby Nottingham along the way – then he wasn’t letting any of it show.

Indeed, he was apologetic that the start of the show had to be put back by a quarter of an hour, giving the audience a little longer to wait for the first chance to hear the songs from his long-awaited follow up to Word Of Mouth, Ballads Of The Broken Few, which was released that very day.

Shorn of his band – but with the trio Wildwood Kin waiting in the wings – Lakeman promised that the arrangement would enable him to play some songs that lent themselves to his solo performance and he gave a whistle-stop tour through his musical odyssey to date, taking in ‘The Herders’, ‘The Courier’, ‘Bold Knight’, ‘Lady Of The Sea’ and ‘Portrait Of My Wife’, for which he encouraged audience participation by helpfully running through the chorus beforehand.

About half way through the show he stopped to introduce Wildwood Kin, the young female trio featuring Beth and Emillie Key and their cousin Meghann Loney, who he had invited to jam with him after they released their first EP and then asked to share the top billing to support his change of musical direction with Ballads…

From the very first note their influence on the music was immediate, their Americana harmonies shifting the geography of the music across the Atlantic, and it was also clear in their faces how genuinely they were enjoying themselves – they didn’t stop smiling. The overall effect was akin to spreading honey onto the songs, smoothing the edges of Lakeman’s famously strident delivery.

Their first song was the only cover on the album – ‘Anna Lee’, written by Laurelyn Dosset – and it was followed by ‘Willow Tree’, ‘Stranger’, a beautiful performance of ‘Silver Threads’, ‘Innocent Child’ and ‘Pulling Hard Against The Stream’, the album’s last song which, we were told, nearly didn’t make it onto the record at all.

Ballads Of The Broken Few is simpler and more wistful than the barn-storming folk that has seen Lakeman step into the mainstream – although ‘Meet Me In The Twilight’, the next song, is currently enjoying daily airplay on BBC Radio Two – and the Cathedral, which is one of a number of churches lined up for the tour, lent itself well for the evening’s show, not least because the acoustics lent the delivery a gorgeous richness.

What helped was the effect the setting had on the audience who, sat bolt upright in their wooden pews, were hushed into reverential silence, allowing the music to fill the air and wash over them. It also meant that they were confined to head nodding and hand-clapping for most of the show’s more up-tempo numbers before casting aside their reservations to stand, bob and whoop through the crowd-pleasing ‘Kitty Jay’ and, the final number, the breathless ‘Last Rider’, which would still be better suited to the surroundings of a barn, with dust flying, rather than the ecclesiastical setting of Derby’s largest place of worship.

No matter, the concert was worth the wait and it was a coup for the Cathedral, whose claims to fame include the oldest ring of 10 bells in the world and the final resting place of Bess of Hardwick and a couple of former Dukes of Devonshire, who would doubtless have been tapping their ancient feet inside their crypt along to the songs of a modern-day Devonian very much at the top of his game.

Simon Burch

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 Seth Lakeman – Ballads Of The Broken Few 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’s website: http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

‘Willow Tree’ – official video:

For details of more events at Derby Cathedral go to:
http://www.derbyfolkfestival.co.uk/venue/derby-cathedral/

SETH LAKEMAN featuring WILDWOOD KIN – Ballads Of The Broken Few (Cooking Vinyl COOKCD644)

ballads of the broken fewIn keeping with his determination to record in unusual and inspiring locations, Lakeman set up shop in the Great Hall of an unnamed Jacobean Manor House, recording the tracks for Ballads Of The Broken Few as live. On top of which, he not only enlisted the services of legendary American producer Ethan Johns, but, having toured with them, invited Exeter based female trio Wildwood Kin (Emillie and Beth Key and cousin Meghann Loney) to be part of the project in providing harmonies.

The end result is arguably, if not necessarily his best (depending on your viewpoint), then certainly his most immediate and haunting work to date, the pared back approach proving the maxim that less can be more. The pacing throughout is slow and deliberate, imparting a reflective, melancholic air, the sound drawing on both English and Appalachian folk influences. Indeed, on the opening track, a slow march rhythm rework of the traditional ‘Willow Tree’ with percussive snaps and fiddle, the girls’ spooked cooing harmonies evoke Alison Krauss’s version of ‘Down To The River To Pray’.

It’s one of three traditional broadsides, the others being the equally stark and Appalachian coloured ‘Stranger’, and, backed just by fiddle drone and a percussive strummed guitar note, album closer ‘Pulling Hard Against The Stream’, a 19th Century moralistic song encouraging folk to support their fellows in times of trouble. There’s also a cover version, ‘Anna Lee’, the backwoods hymnal tale of a mother drowning after ignoring storm warnings written by Laurelyn Dossett and featured on Levon Helm’s Dirt Farmer,  that features just mournful fiddle, Lakeman and the girls’ harmonies.

The remaining seven songs are all originals, first up being the spiritual shaded ‘Silence Reigns’, featuring Johns on hurdy gurdy, one of the many striking numbers that suggest Southern Gothic tones, followed, in turn, by the strummed ‘Meet Me In The Twilight’, another track which, with its slow sway tempo and thematic content, conjures riverside revival tents.

Collapsing relationship number ‘Fading Sound’ harks more to the darker shades of English folk, a nervy, ominous number backed by a simple electric guitar riff with occasional burst of fiddle and the drums kicking in for the final seconds. The title track comes next, another spare, brooding listen, its bluesy chorus driven by a handclap worksong slow march rhythm, that again gathers power towards the end.

The final self-penned batch opens with the hypnotic thrum and mandolin-tinged ‘Innocent Child’, another steeped in the dank and dark corners of English folk, the girls’ harmonies reminiscent of The Smoke Fairies at their most fog-shrouded. Rather more restful and contemplative, accompanied by viola and fiddle, with understated Kin harmonies, the five-minute personal portrait ‘Whenever I’m Home’ is a yearningly poignant thoughts from the road ache. Which leaves the plucked fiddle accompanied ‘Silver Threads’, a song about enduring love as time passes, its naked vocal intermittently giving way to such full blooded refrains as “Every year that passes you will be an evergreen all etched against the sky, every day that’s granted for you and for me a tangle and twist of my twine.”

Raw, profound, simple yet resonantly complex, both a consolidation and a move forward, this surely has to be one of the leading serious contenders for album of the year at the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

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 Seth Lakeman – Ballads Of The Broken Few 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]

Artists’ website: http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

‘Stranger’ – official video:

Video Wall 2

Here’s another selection of videos that have come our way recently, mostly with albums in the offing. First on Video Wall 2 is Seth Lakeman from his forthcoming Ballad Of The Broken Few. This is the title track live from Torre Abbey featuring Wildwood Kin.

This is ‘Free Range’ by Nottingham band Gallery47. It comes from their album Clean which is released in November.

Here’s Bendith, a new collaboration between Welsh bands Colorama and Plu. ‘Danybanc’ is the single from their eponymous album which is absolutely wonderful but you’ll have to wait until October to get your hands on a copy.

Shovels & Rope are a duo from South Carolina. ‘I Know’ is from their new album Little Seeds which is also out in October. This is fun.

In October 2015, the record-breaking cyclist James Bowthorpe set out to build a boat from the debris and discarded materials found on the streets of Manhattan. He then took the boat to the source of the Hudson, a tiny pond called Lake Tear Of The Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains and sailed all 315 miles of the Hudson River, through ice, snow, and grade-four white water to return the boat, made solely from New York City’s waste, to its place of origin. This film uses the single ‘Tides’ by Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards to illustrate James’ not always trouble-free journey.

Finally, this is all we have as a taster for singer/harpist Georgia Ruth’s new album Fossil Scale, out in November. This is ‘The Doldrums’.

SINGLES BAR 9

A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Twinnie - SIngles Bar 9TWINNIE follows her two singles, ‘Home’ and ‘Cool’, with an eponymous debut EP which opens and closes with those two songs. Twinnie’s style is described as country-pop but the opening bars of ‘Home’ sound as though it’s looking to be a soul classic. The second track, ‘Lie To Me’ changes tack with solo piano and acoustic guitar but the backing vocals inexorably build to a climax before Twinnie pulls it back again. The third track, ‘Looking Out For You’ goes for vintage appeal with a touch of vinyl crackle before rocking acoustic guitar leads the song off into the distance. Finally, ‘Cool’ is really country-pop and possibly the best song in the set with its tumble of words and a backing that has everything.
http://www.abadgeoffriendship.com/artists/twinnie

Oates_HenwoodWell known and respected in their own right JACKIE OATES and MEGAN HENWOOD have joined forces for Wings, a five track EP of originals, traditional and covers. Although Oates provided harmonies on Henwood’s last album, here the two voices mostly blend beautifully together, as is the case with the opening track, the first of three covers, a melancholic acoustic reading of New Order’s Love Vigilantes. A cover also closes the album, Oates bringing her viola to bear on a faithful take on Lau’s ‘Ghosts’, the pair trading verses and coming together for the chorus. Henwood contributes the only self-penned number, ‘Bettystown’ a song about endings (“clearing out your daddy’s house”) and beginnings (a new relationship, a new home) on which she takes initial lead, the gentle fingerpicking gradually swelling to embrace their combined voices, viola and Pete Thomas’s double bass. The third cover is Brian Bedford’s wistful protest number ‘What’s The Use of Wings?’, the pair again trading verses, which just leaves Oates to take to the piano for her waltzing arrangement of the traditional west country ballad ‘Setting Of The Sun’, a typically upbeat tale (also covered by Seth Lakeman) in which the singer accidentally shoots and kills their true love having mistaken her for a swan. As you do. Given the pair are (along with Thomas) playing live dates, hopefully this promises to have an extended life beyond this release; a full album would be most welcome.
http://www.dharmarecords.co.uk/

Warrior DaughterDevon trio WILDWOOD KIN release a single, ‘Warrior Daughter’, in advance of two autumn tours supporting The Oh Hellos and Seth Lakeman. Seth has already recruited them for his new album on the strength of their exquisite harmonies and those harmonies are very much in evidence but this is a powerful song built on big percussion, strings and guitars. The song is about female empowerment, sung as from a mother to a daughter: “You are warrior, strength and courage lies within your heart” and here Beth, Emillie and Meghann are surely looking ahead to being able to reassure their daughters that the fight may not be so hard. ‘Warrior Daughter’ is scheduled for the trio’s next EP but surely a full-length album can’t be far away.
http://www.wildwoodkin.com/

TeaseroPABLO VASQUEZ is a New Zealand guitar duo comprising Jolyon Mulholland and Elroy Finn and the story of how the album from which this single, ‘Teasero’, is taken came to be recorded would take up most of a review. Even more surprisingly the track will be available as a free download from Welsh label, Cae Gwyn Records at the end of the month. The guys’ thing is nylon strung guitars and they are described as classically-styled but they also say that their music is best enjoyed over dinner. No flying fingers or flamenco footsteps here, just two guitars interweaving a melody.
http://recordiaucaegwyn.com/

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Folk Awards 2015 (Proper PROPERFOLK16)

FolkAwards2015It’s that time again when the folk world looks back and hands out gongs to the great and good while conspiracy theories abound. Actually there have been far fewer of those this year; the detractors must have finally decided that the BBC keeps the names of the voters secret to avoid them being showered by gifts of Rolexes and vintage champagne in attempts to win approval. As if!

All in all, we’re looking back on a vintage year. I listen to more new music than the average punter and I’d heard only ten of the twenty-three tracks chosen to represent 2014 in this collection, so I’m clearly not trying hard enough. As ever the double-CD is well programmed by the four compilers – this is not just an audio catalogue: it has to stand as a listenable collection in its own right, which it does.

The opener is the sprightly ‘Moorlough Mary’ by Cara Dillon which breaks the ice nicely. Next is ‘It Would Not Be A Rose’ from Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker sounding rather more bitter taken out of the context of their album. You might expect The Will Pound Band to rock the rafters but the selection here is the rather down-beat ‘Jimmy Ward’s’ given a bluesy, slightly jazzy persona. That eases into Jez Lowe’s almost lullaby ‘The Pitmen Poets’ and a traditional Gaelic song from Cruinn. By now you’re settled back into your armchair and drifting, only to snapped back to wakefullness by Nancy Kerr’s ‘Never Ever Lay Them Down’ a super song from an album that has somehow managed to elude me so far.

The first set closes with The Young’Uns’ ‘John Hill’ with its borrowed tune and piano sounding almost like a hymn and second opens with the similarly powerful but restrained ‘Waking Dreams (Awake, Awake)’ from Martin & Eliza Carthy. Then, from out of nowhere, comes Naomi Bedford with ‘The Spider And The Wolf’, a song written by her partner Paul Simmonds and taken from her album A History Of Insolence. The other in-yer-face track here is ‘Bedlam’ by Stick In The Wheel and if you haven’t heard them yet you’re in for treat and you won’t be able to forget ‘I Saw The Dead’ by Martin Green with Becky Unthank in a hurry either.

Finally we have the four nominees for The Young Folk Award: Talisk, Wildwood Kin, Roseanne Reid and Cup O’Joe. Impossible to say who the winner will be but I’d like to hear more of Roseanne Reid.

Dai Jeffries