FolkEast announces first names for 2020

FolkEast

As Early Bird tickets go on sale for the eighth FolkEast, England’s most easterly folk festival, organisers have announced the awesome Afro Celt Sound System will headline Saturday night.

The Grammy Award-nominated supergroup are past masters at fusing electronica with traditional Irish and West African music, producing a scintillating, high energy stage set. Formed back in 1995 by producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson, they won Best Group at the 2017 Songlines Music Awards.

Explosively combining folk traditions from contrasting cultures to breath-taking effect their number includes The Dhol Foundation’s drumming sensation Johnny Kalsi (no stranger to FolkEast), vocalist, kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté, bodhrán player and percussionist Robbie Harris and Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Rioghnach Connolly (The Breath), winner of Folk Singer of the Year at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Now firmly established on the UK folk calendar, Suffolk’s decidedly quirky festival will return to the glorious Constable-esque grounds of Elizabethan Glemham Hall between August 21-23, offering diverse performances on no less than seven stages – from local acts to international stars. Early Bird tickets will be on sale right through the festive period, until January 6, representing great savings. https://folkeast.co.uk/2020tickets-3/

Alongside the festival’s hugely popular, multi award-winning patrons, The Young’ uns (Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle), FolkEast is delighted to announce eight top level acts from its highly anticipated line-up.

Heading for the main stage will be the sublime, seamless partnership of Welsh harpist Catrin Finch with Senegalese kora maestro Seckou Keita. The exquisite pair clinched the Best Duo/Group award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, with Keita also winning the coveted Musician of the Year title.

FolkEast loves its Celtic connections and this year will be no exception. Flying the flag for Scotland will be three superb acts. Pedigree triumvirate Drever, McCusker, Woomble sees master fiddler John McCusker joining forces with Orkney-born singer songwriter Kris Drever and Idlewild’s lead singer Roddy Woomble.

Named the Best Live Act at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2018, quintet Elephant Sessions will head to Suffolk from the Scottish Highlands with their unique brand of indie folk while the powerhouse sextet of female instrumentalists that is The Shee (including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year 2017, harpist Rachel Newton) are sure to have the wow factor with their adventurous blend of Scottish folk, Gaelic song and bluegrass.

Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band takes folk legend Knight’s original Gigspanner trio (himself, Roger Flack and Sacha Tronchet) and fuses them with the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’ winners Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin (Edgelarks) and erstwhile Bellowhead star John Spiers to make something truly special, bursting with invention, enigma and grace. Though all the musicians have played FolkEast in their separate guises (including the debut performance of Knight and Spiers as a duo) this is the first time the Big Band has headed to Glemham Hall.

Brighton’s big band with a difference, The Moulettes have also been confirmed – described as an “eclectic art rock band’ they journey their way through rock, prog, pop and psychedelic folk.

Finally new kids on the block The Trials of Cato will be coming to the party.

Formed whilst they were all living and working in Beirut, Tomas Williams, Will Addison and Robin Jones are one of the fast-rising acts in folk and earlier this year won the Best Album gong at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, for their hugely impressive debut CD, Hide and Hair.

One of the most singular events on the UK festival calendar, FolkEast was launched seven 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 celebrates Suffolk at every turn -from its locally sourced fare to its suppliers, arts and crafts.

Says Becky: “Our aim is to create three blissful, fun-packed days when the outside world can be forgotten, a community can be formed and quality time had with family and friends.

Whilst FolkEast may be one of the smaller, independent festivals, it’s an event with big ideas – and plenty of them. As well as the main Sunset and Moot Hall stages (programmed by The Young’uns Michael Hughes), four further stages are programmed by independent local promoters and music organisations – John and Lynne Ward’s Broad Roots stage, Fiona Davies’ dance tent, Xenia Horne’s Sanctuary Stage (at the Glemham Hall estate church) and Amy Wragg’s ‘Get Off The Soapbox’ stage, powered by a solar bus in a mystical woodland setting.

There is plenty on tap for children – the Folk Moot young folk club sessions, a Sports Day, animation workshops, den building, storybook making, a mud kitchen and a chance to create your own jellyfish for the Soapbox Sunday Jellyfish Parade.

The festival offers fine Suffolk fayre, two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving competitively-priced, locally sourced ales and ciders (including Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewery’s festival ale Green Jackalope) as well as the popular imaGINe gin bar and possibly the smallest pub in the UK, the 6 x 4’ Halfway Inn! This year will also see a return of Truly Traceable’s Jackalope pie – a salute to the festival’s mystical mascot The Jackalope (half antelope, half Jack Rabbit) which every year keeps a beady eye on the event from the centre of the site.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, ‘Instrumental’, featuring a wide range of instrument makers, a packed dance programme, archery, donkey rides, the Eastfolk Kinodrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by estate owner Major Philip Cobbold.

FolkEast continues to embrace green initiatives. Says John: “Right from the inception of the festival we have worked hard to be as sustainable as possible and we are proud to hold Suffolk’s Gold Charter Award. Our ongoing aim is to further reduce our carbon footprint and 2019 saw a huge reduction in single use plastic on the site and hardly a trace of litter at the clear-up.”

On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk.

The Early Bird Festive Ticket offer is now open until January 6, 2019. Advance weekend tickets are available price £120 (adult), £108 (full time students, 65+) 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 (and up to 3 under 11s) are £365. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping under canvas is £20 and camping on wheels £30. More information: info@folkeast.co.uk

Video Wall 10

Well, the thunder is rumbling, the rain is beating down and festivals anywhere near the sea are packing up early – a typical British summer. Maybe it’s best to stay at home and watch a few new videos. We’ll start with one from our good friends Merry Hell:

‘The Fire’ is a recent track by Jamie Freeman, written about the Grenfell disaster. Jamie has a new album, Dreams About Falling and is currently on tour.

The name of Roo Panes crops up on our pages quite frequently. ‘Warrior’ was written to support anti-slavery organisation, International Justice Mission.

Karine Polwart covers Big Country with her version of ‘Chance’ taken from her latest album, Scottish Songbook.

‘Flying Visit’ is the latest single by Ferris & Sylvester who have just announced a new headline tour.

Equal measures chaotic and comical is how the new single ‘No Fun’ by Declan Welsh And The Decadent West has been described. It’s released in advance of their debut album, Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold coming in October.

‘Uneven Days’ is the atmospheric new single by Ben Harper.

Finally, Elephant Sessions have just released the video of ‘Tyragarah’, the single released in support of World Elephant Day.

Elephant Sessions release digital single for World Elephant Day

Tyagarah

Elephant Sessions and Word Elephant Day release a single to raise funds for the charity on August 9th 2019.

The band from the Highlands of Scotland are famed for their unique brand of indie folk and have won Best Album and Best Live Act at the MG Alba Scots Trad Awards, in the past two years. Having traversed the globe over the past twenty odd months, they were keen to work with the World Elephant Day charity whose aim is to support the conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa. Bringing together some of the world’s leading elephant and conservation charities the day, which was originally, established in 2012, takes place on August 12th.

Alistair Taylor, from the band, says: “Over the past couple of years as a band, we have donated money to the cause, so it’s great to actually team up with World Elephant Day and release this single to help support elephants around the globe. We chose ‘Tyagarah’ from our latest album, (What Makes You) which we wrote after the first time we had played the beautiful site of Bluesfest in Byron Bay Australia. It’s got a world music kind of sound that we felt was a perfect fit for a single for this special day”

Footage from the award-winning feature documentary film When Elephants Were Young produced and directed by World Elephant Day Co-Founder Patricia Sims and co-film maker Michael Clark, has been edited by Michael, into a video, to accompany the track and will be available on 9th of August.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Elephant Sessions for the creation of the ‘Tyagarah’ video in support of World Elephant Day.  Elephant Sessions is demonstrating their commitment to elephant conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of their single ‘Tyagarah’ to World Elephant Day and our work of bringing awareness to the critical need to save elephants from the threats they are facing worldwide”, says Patricia Sims, the Founder and Executive Director of World Elephant Day. 

The digital single will be available world-wide from August 9th and can be bought online from i-tunes, Amazon and other stores.

Artists’ website: www.elephantsessions.com

‘Tyagarah’:

For more on World Elephant Day visit www.worldelephantday.org

ELEPHANT SESSIONS – What Makes You (Elephant Sessions)

What Makes YouSince the release of their last album, 2017’s All We Have Is Now, the five young Highlanders who are Elephant Sessions have toured around the world, garnering numerous awards and journalistic plaudits, and even had a pale ale named after them by Belhaven Brewery. So it’s a wonder they’ve managed to find the time to step back into the studios and lay down another fine album, What Makes You.

What Makes You sums up where the band is at, making the music they feel represents them, their experiences and musical interests. It’s such a tight fusion of many different influences including acid jazz, rock, funk and electro beats that it’s pointless trying to unpick it all – and it’s still all layered round that inescapably Scottish traditional heart.

If Euan Smillie’s fiddle and Alasdair Taylor’s mandolin embody tradition on the front line, writhing and tumbling around rhythmic, melodic and tempo variations, Mark Bruce ably throws rock shapes on guitar. Seth Tinsley parries with a full-funk bassline plus electronica, while Greg Barry’s sensitive percussion lends light and shade to the whole sonic picture.

The simple, mantra-like melody of the atmospheric ‘Intro’ segues into ‘What Makes You’ where it gets tossed lightly around in a swirl of variations – and it’s the fluid ease of this, as well as the skilful use of layering, that makes Elephant Sessions work so well.

The mellow chimes of ‘Colours’ slide in softly, before swishy percussion and driving guitar kick in, over which the fiddle soars and winds, counterpointed by an angular mandolin. ‘Search Party’ wakes up rocking, its jagged, flickering guitar giving the impression of sirens and flashing lights, while mandolin and bass riffs suggest a funky distant cousin of Another One Bites The Dust.

‘Loft Crofter’ sets a wriggly fiddle and mandolin over bright, jagged funk and a brittle snap track. Meanwhile, at ‘Tyagarah’ (named after the site of Australian Bluesfest where Elephant Sessions have twice played) there’s a more sinister, dry, insect-like clicking that evolves into a bubbling popcorn beat as the front line once more tangles and slides away.

The bare-arsed funk workout of ‘We Out Here Now’ is an instant party groove, so the quiet start of ‘Riverview Part 1’ comes in like the morning-after, its melancholy fiddle soaring over moody brass. Mirroring the start of the album, this penultimate track launches straight into its upbeat counterpart, ‘Riverview Part 2’, an electro-driven, acid-jazz folk tune with big blasts of brass like a ship leaving harbour.

As a band whose reputation is fast being cemented on their joyous live performances, that live energy was something they wanted to capture on this album. If success could be measured in the momentary surprise at the absence of an outburst of applause after each track, then What Makes You is a runaway success.

Su O’Brien

Artist website: www.elephantsessions.com

‘Colours’ – official video:

Elephant Sessions – new album

Elephant Sessions

Elephant Sessions transcend boundaries and shake the very foundations of expectation.

Hailing from the Highlands of Scotland, Elephant Sessions are set to release their new album What Makes You on May 10th 2019.

Exploding onto the indie folk scene to unparalleled effect with their last album All We Have Is Now, the band have since appeared at some of the world’s most notable venues and festivals with audiences crowd surfing their way through the summer and marquee floors breaking under the weight of bouncing fans.

The Mercury nominated Alt-J, along with BBC Radio 6, found themselves converted to the band’s unique brand of indie folk. Reviews from Rolling Stone Magazine sat alongside folk magazine coverage. Radio features accompanied documentaries and highlights shows on television stations.

Charting in the French download charts and selling bucket loads across Europe, All We Have Is Now firmly established this band as completely unique.

What Makes You promises to build on this success and sees the front line of mandolin and fiddle pushing their limits further, matching the percussive rhythm of drums, bass and guitar, whilst fusing with electronic dance beats. This is traditional music turned on its head, a re-invention of expectation, a brand new sound. It’s exciting.

What Makes You is a musical progression of the journey the band have been on since the last album” said mandolin player Alasdair Taylor. “We feel like our sound has matured and we’re playing and writing the music that we really want to be playing. Writing and performing the music from this new album has been so much fun so far and we can’t wait to release it for everyone to hear.”

2018 saw awards in abundance. Opening the year as winners of Album of the Year at the BBC Scotland Trad Awards, they went on to be finalists as Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 awards. In May, Belhaven Brewery got together with the band to award the first ever Belhaven Bursary for innovation in music. The bursary amount matches the Mercury Music prize and was awarded in recognition of their unique and outstanding sound. It was accompanied by the bands own beer ‘Elephant Sessions Ale’, which was launched in May 2018.

In August, the band also found themselves shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year – an award covering every genre of music from indie, blues and rock to pop, folk and the individual sound that is Elephant Sessions.

Closing 2018 by picking up the coveted Live Band of the Year award (BBC Scots Trad Awards) the band, who met on the Newcastle University Folk Degree, are set to do no less with What Makes You. They have transformed traditional music and opened 2019 with performances across Europe. In April they head over to the US to play at the Belhaven Brew celebrations at Tartan Week in New York, before appearing at Bluesfest in Australia as part of the 30th anniversary line up. Making a debut at Merlefest in the US on the way back to the UK the band begin their album tour in May.

Artists’ website: www.elephantsessions.com

‘What Makes You’ – official video:

ELEPHANT SESSIONS – All We Have Is Now (Elephant Sessions CDTES02)

All We Have Is NowThis CD, All We Have Is Now, recently released by Elephant Sessions has nine exceptional tracks. Each one is a masterpiece of arrangements and instrumental skills. Many of the tracks are over five minutes long and should be described as ‘productions’. However, I find it difficult to place their music. I don’t know if you need to, but I am afraid music does fall into categories. I am aware that Elephant Sessions play at folk festivals but the heavy drum accompaniment and jazz like arrangements do not fit into the folk world I love. Some of the tracks could be described as ‘drummer’ with musical accompaniment.

When I first listened to All We Have Is Now, I had lost interest by the time I had reached the fourth track. I then listened to the CD many times but only a few tracks at a time. The production of each track varies considerably from any others on the CD and as I said earlier, is brilliant. I love each track but I will never listen to the full CD in one hit.

I am struggling to fairly assess the album because it is obviously very good but it is a bit overpowering. The cover is, in my opinion, very poor. It gives us absolutely no information about the reasoning or the origins of each track. It is in black and white with a collage of photographs of very little interest to anybody.

Elephant Sessions fans will love this. The heavy drumming will delight young festival goers but out and out folkies will struggle with it. Still, it is a top-quality production and will, I am sure, do very well.

Fraser Bruce

Artists’ website: http://elephantsessions.com/

‘Wet Field Day’ – official video: