Heading into its 7th year! The Great British Folk Festival 2017 promises to be the best yet, with an amazing line up of award-winning folk talent. Book early to get the best choice of accommodation and avoid missing out on this renowned festival which is now a staple in the folk calendar.
Shrewsbury Folk Festival has announced the first artists on its 2015 line up as it prepares for earlybird tickets to go on sale on December 1.
Canadian folk royalty La Bottine Souriante and top Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon will make their first appearances at the four-day event at the Greenhous West Mid Showground in Berwick Road from August 28 to 31.
Sharon, who has performed with The Waterboys, will join other headliners including Oysterband, Kate Rusby, John Jones & the Reluctant Ramblers, the high energy Peatbog Faeries, Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor Band, Mawkin, False Lights – the new band of Jim Moray and Sam Carter – and festival patron Steve Knightley from Show of Hands at the festival.
Other artists signed up include: O’Hooley & Tidow, world music duo Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, The Wilsons, The Young’uns, New Rope String Band, Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson, Lucy Ward, Patsy Reid, Jack Harris, The Willows, Gren Bartley, The Roaring Trowmen, Winter Wilson, Teacups, Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke, Granny’s Attic, Mary Humphreys & Anahata, The Boundless Brothers and Paula Ryan.
Special performances will come from Oysterband frontman and festival patron John Jones with The Oxford Girl show, and Folk Nations – a British Council musical collaboration featuring British and South Asian artists.
As ever, Shrewsbury will open its doors to a number of overseas artists with unique Australian group The Spooky Men’s Chorale making a welcome return. Canadian bands Ten Strings and a Goatskin and Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys have been signed up along with the Barra MacNeils.
Following on from the success of last year’s visiting venue The Peace Tent, there will be a special Peace concert during the festival weekend. Additional artists on the line up will be revealed in the coming months.
The festival has five music venues, a dance tent, runs more than 100 workshops, a popular children’s festival, a dedicated youth programme for 12 to 17-year-olds, onsite camping, a craft fair and food village.
Festival Director Alan Surtees said: “We are still working on the line up and will reveal more exciting artists in the coming months but we are delighted to already have a diverse and creative line up.
“We are very pleased to have secured La Bottine Souriante as their appearances in the UK are rare! It will be the first Shrewsbury festival for Sharon Shannon as well and it will be great to welcome back favourites like Kate Rusby and Oysterband.”
Mr Surtees added: “As our regular festivalgoers know, we aim to offer you old favourites alongside new names and mixes traditional and contemporary folk and acoustic music.
“Shrewsbury has a reputation for inventive programming and coupled with the excellent location and facilities we have and the added extras of the dance programme, and children and young people’s festivals, we can guarantee a great weekend for everyone.”
The earlybird offer ticket lasts until March 31. Adult weekend tickets are £125 until then. Day tickets start at £34 for adults.
Children under four go free and family tickets are available. Onsite camping is available to all weekend ticket holders at £25 per adult.
Well known on the folk circuit, but never having crossed over into the mainstream contemporary acoustic scene, Kip Winter and Dave Wilson have been working together since the 90s, initially as half of folk rock outfit Ragtrade. This is the sixth album, but the first as a full time, professional duo, though it remains very much the sort of thing you’d expect to hear down the local weekly club, complete with encouragement for the audience to join in the choruses. Other than two numbers, all the material’s written by Wilson, generally recognised as one of the finest songwriters on the English acoustic scene. and, although there’s a couple of exceptions, as a rule of thumb, he sings the social comment ones while she looks after the relationships. Save for Wilson taking lead on the a capella ‘Common Form’, with verses by him and Rudyard Kipling’s anti-war poem as its chorus, Winter also handles the traditional styled material with their drawn out vocal notes, bluesy murder ballad ‘Avons Bank’ and ‘The Field Behind Our House’, an a capella remembrance of her mother’s family croft in WW2 written by the late Nick Keir.
Wilson kicks things off with ‘Still Life In The Old Dog Yet’, a defiant tale of redundancy, retraining and trying to get a job after a certain age, one that places him very much in the same tradition as Harvey Andrews. On the other hand, the title track’s ode to shedding your chains and valuing the journey rather than the arrival, calls to mind the likes of Ralph McTell, Vin Garbutt and Duncan Browne.
Sticking to the social commentary, Wilson takes the lead on ‘A Door That Never Opens’, a poignant portrait of weekend fathers that could well serve as an anthem for Fathers4Justice, and the simple guitar and vocal ‘Cold Blow December Winds’, which counts the cost of having to work away from home in an attempt to make a living, while Winter steps up to the microphone for the fairly self-explanatory ‘I’ve Got The Consultation Bullshit Blues’, a ragtime lament for that endangered species, the public sector worker.
Her keen and slightly tremulous voice is well suited to squeezing the emotion out of the album’s melancholic snapshots of bruised relationships, the close harmony self-admonitory ‘We Still Get Along’ and the heart-aching weariness of ‘What Does It Take To Face The Morning?’. Mind you, Wilson does a pretty good job of wistful reflection too on the if only love story of the open tuned acoustic ‘It Was Never In My Hands’.
Not everything fits neatly into the pigeonholes I might have suggested. Written and played on banjo, ‘Been A Long Day’ is Wilson’s lovely backwoods-coloured, almost gospel tinged, reflection on the miles travelled as the path nears its end while Winter is upfront for ‘I’ll Not Sing Auld Lang Syne’, a jangly guitar strummed, shantyish account of the wreck of HMS Iolaire, 20 yards from shore, in 1919, with the loss of 205 lives, and the infectious guitar picking, country-blues ‘I Got A One-Way Ticket (But A Return State Of Mind)’ that also sees her strap on her accordion for a quick burst of Cajun swing.
Whether the decision to finally turn professional pays off commercially remains to be seen, but this album should present neither them nor you with any cause for regret.
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