Described as “one of the premier English folk groups of the 21st century” The Unthanks will headline the final night of FolkEast this August, organisers have announced.
The eclectic English line-up, built around the stand-out harmonies of Tyneside sisters Becky and Rachel Unthank, has built an unparalleled reputation with their fusion of traditional folk music and bold genre-hopping forays which has seen them perform with orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall.
Their distinctive, haunting music was heard at Christmas on BBC-TV’s enchanting re-imagining of the children’s story of talking scarecrow Worzel Gummidge and has also been heard on BBC-TV’s The Detectorists – both starring actor Mackenzie Crook.
But at FolkEast, England’s most easterly folk festival, the band will return to their roots with the Unthank sisters being joined by regular band member Niopha Keegan for a special unaccompanied vocal trio show, As We Are on the Moot Hall stage on Sunday night (August 23). An exploration of their rich vocal combinations it will include brand new material and arrangements alongside more familiar Unthanks material.
Seen as a highlight of the UK folk calendar, Suffolk’s distinct and quirky FolkEast festival – now in its eighth year – returns to the glorious grounds of Elizabethan Glemham Hall between August 21-23, offering diverse performances on no less than seven stages – from local acts to international stars.
Organisers John and Becky Marshall-Potter are also delighted to announce a strong contingent of artists from Canada for 2020. They will be led by Irish-Canadian award-winning songwriter and force of nature Irish Mythen, last seen at the festival in 2018 where she certainly made her presence felt.
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 and at venues including Sydney Opera House.
Also journeying from over the Atlantic will be Newfoundland trio The Once (Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale), particularly noted for their strong three part harmonies; the Juno-nominated, Winnipeg-based ‘powerhouse duo’ Small Glories (Cara Luft and JD Edwards) and Prince Edward Island poet and songwriter Bob Jensen.
Also heading to the East Anglian party will be two significant Irish talents – one a former electrician and another who juggles music with his career as a GP.
Hugely successful former Dublin electrician Daoiri Farrell is a traditional singer/bouzouki player who has never looked back since launching his solo live career at Celtic Connections in 2016. The next year Daoiri won two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – Best Newcomer and Best Traditional Track – and performed with a six piece line up at the awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall.
Another leading Irish light is Jarlath Henderson, the Tyrone born singer and multi-instrumentalist who was the youngest ever winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award (2003) and is a three times All-Ireland Champion uilleann piper. Jarlath will take to the FolkEast stage with his band.
Other UK acts just announced are inventive Bristol-based instrumental trio Three Cane Whale, Merseyside’s acoustic roots combo Elbow Jane and Lucy Farrell. Known for her exquisite renditions of traditional ballads and original songs, Lucy won a BBC Radio 2 Folk award with The Furrow Collective (Best Group).
Flying the flag for the East of England will be Suffolk duo Honey And The Bear who have supported The Shires and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys. The multi-instrumental pair of Jon and Lucy Hart combine delicate vocal harmonies with evocative songwriting as heard in recent debut album Made In The Aker.
From Essex will come singer songwriter MG Boulter whilst Norfolk-born Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith – one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk scene in recent years – will show how capable they are at making old songs sound current and new songs sound ancient.
Festival website: www.folkeast.co.uk
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