FolkEast announces 2019 line-up

FolkEast

It’s ‘lucky seven’ time for East Anglia’s unique, fast-rising FolkEast – England’s most easterly folk music festival. Not only is it the seventh year the event has been held in the glorious grounds of Suffolk’s 16th century festival but this year it will offer diverse performances on no less than seven stages.

The 2019 festival will be staged between August 16-18 and has all the promise of being the best yet with an enviable line-up of artists from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Poland, Canada and USA.

Keeping to the Seven theme, FolkEast is delighted to announce seven confirmed top level acts from its highly anticipated line-up as Early Bird tickets go on sale with a special festive season offer. https://folkeast.co.uk/tickets-3/

Leading the way will be formidable folk legend Richard Thompson – a revered singer songwriter and jaw dropping guitarist– who takes to the main Sunset stage as Sunday night headliner. A co-founder of trailblazing folk rockers Fairport Convention, Thompson has carved himself a high class career bringing iconic international status, with anthemic songs like ‘Persuasion,’ ‘Beeswing’ and ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ becoming classics. Named as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” he has been honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville, and the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – as well as garnering an OBE (personally bestowed upon him by the Queen at Buckingham Palace)

FolkEast will also field some of folk’s finest female artists – opening night headliner will be the brilliantly inspired Scottish singer songwriter and hot property Karine Polwart performing with her Trio (Stephen Polwart and Inge Thomson). Karine (2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Folk Singer of the Year) is on a roll having released two hugely successful albums in quick succession – A Pocket Of Wind Resistance and Laws Of Motion and also migrated into the acting world including a role in Radio 4’s drama ‘A Faraway Back Of Beyond Place’, a two hander with Bill Paterson. A songwriter with heart and soul, Stirlingshire-born Karine is a wonderful wordsmith and captivating performer sure to get the festival off to a grand start.

Cara DillonSaturday night at FolkEast will see a very special headline event as the peerless Irish songstress Cara Dillon (“quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice” – Mojo) takes to the stage with ‘Cara Dillon and Friends’ celebrating the 10th anniversary of her landmark album Hill Of Thieves which won the coveted Album Of The Year at the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Derry-born Cara will be joined by the class line-up of husband Sam Lakeman (piano, guitar), Jarlath Henderson (uillean pipes, whistle), Ed Boyd (guitar). James Fagan (bouzouki), Toby Shaer (fiddle, whistles) and Ben Nicholls (bass).

Also from Ireland, the mighty Sharon Shannon Band will be heading to Suffolk. Born in County Clare, Sharon is a show stopping accordionist whose career is soaked in the Irish tradition but takes so many more influences on board. Sharon has played for Presidents Clinton and Obama in The White House, received a Lifetime Achievement Meteor award in 2009, and was honoured for ‘outstanding contributions in music’ at the Irish Books, Arts and Music (IBAM) awards in Chicago to say nothing of her 1991 self-titled debut CD being the best-selling album ever of instrumental traditional Irish music.

Keeping up the Celtic connection, the line-up will be enhanced by Scots-Irish trio Ross Ainslie (Scottish bagpipes, whistles), Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes, whistles) and Perthshire’s Ali Hutton whose combined talents create a sound that pushes the boundaries of what Scottish and Irish instruments normally achieve. Dubbed “the new stars of Celtic music,” they’ve crafted music that bursts with fresh energy.

Photograph by Warren Orchard

FolkEast is also thrilled to announce that the eloquent and exquisite English singer-songwriter/guitarist John Smith will join the 2019 line up. Born in Essex, raised by the Devon seaside, and kicking off in the bars and clubs of Liverpool, John has released six albums including his most recent Hummingbird, with over 10 million Spotify streams. His distinctive, gravelly voice has been heard by audiences all over the world in living rooms, festival tents and sold-out concert halls. Steeped in the lineage of British folk, taking his cue from Richard Thompson and John Martyn, Smith has evolved a transatlantic blend of fingerstyle and slide guitar techniques and a repertoire of up close, no hiding place songs of life and love. He has opened for folk greats including John Martyn, Davy Graham and John Renbourn, who called Smith “the future of folk music”.

CalanFlying the flag for Wales will be the effervescent five-piece revivalist traditional band Calan, who sing in both Welsh and English. The band formed in early 2006 when its members ages ranged from just 13 to 22. In 2008, they created great excitement at the Inter Celtic Festival, becoming the only Welsh band to win the coveted international folk band award. They also won best group at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany. Playing accordion, harp, guitar, fiddle and Welsh bagpipes, they also have their own champion step dancer.

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 to its suppliers, arts and crafts.

The festival, with its ever present mythical emblem The Jackalope, offers a refreshingly different line-up across its seven stages (including the ‘Sanctuary’ stage at St Andrew’s Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland solar-powered Soapbox Stage), with two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving competitively-priced ales (including Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewery’s festival ale Green Jackalope) plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, the 6 x 4’ Halfway Inn.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, packed dance programme, archery, donkey rides, children’s activities (including den building, storybook making and a mud kitchen linked together in a special new children’s trail) yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by estate owner Major Philip Cobbold.

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 £110 (adult), £99 (full time students, 65+ ) and £75 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 £340. 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

As a seasonal bonus those buying tickets by December 16 will be entered into a Santa’s Folk Stocking competition with two goody-filled FolkEast stockings up for grabs.

Located close to the A12, the festival will also be running shuttle buses to the site from Wickham Market station.

Festival website: www.folkeast.co.uk

“In a world where there are hundreds of festivals, FolkEast prospers by doing something unique and doing it brilliantly” – RnR Magazine

JOHN SMITH – Hummingbird (Commoner COMM01CD)

HummingbirdJohn Smith is a name I’ve been circling around for some time without actually hearing him so I was delighted when his new album, Hummingbird, his sixth, fell into my lap. I now have some serious catching up to do. If you haven’t encountered him yet you should know that John is a fine fingerpicking guitarist and songwriter with a very individual take on traditional songs.

John names his influences as John Renbourn and Richard Thompson. The former is obvious from his guitar style and the latter becomes so with the opening song in this set. ‘Hummingbird’ is a beautiful song of love yearned for, gained and lost and also a middle class homage to ‘Beeswing’. If you’re not immediately grabbed by it you should be listening to some other music. The second original song here is the fiery ‘Boudica’, the story of Iceni queen bolstered by strings and the third is the long modern murder ballad, ‘Axe Mountain (Revisited)’, which comes straight after the traditional ‘Willy Moore’. Whether this is actually a murder ballad is hard to say, although the set-up of the first three verses suggests it, but it feels more like a story of thwarted love and suicide.

It’s John’s approach to traditional songs that really engaged me, though. He approaches them as though they were modern with a changed note here and there and a contemporary inflection in his voice. ‘Hares On The Mountain’ has more recorded versions than you can shake a stick at but he makes you listen to it afresh as he does with ‘Lord Franklin’, a favourite of mine, I must admit.

The odd man out is Anne Briggs’ ‘The Time Has Come’ performed in the style of a sixties guitar player which is entirely appropriate given that John learned it via Renbourn. His band is used sparingly; there is lovely bass from Ben Nicholls and fiddle and whistle from John McCusker with Cara Dillon adding vocals to the closing ‘Unquiet Grave’. Sam Lakeman’s production is perfectly restrained and perfectly judged even when a song like ‘Axe Mountain’ is a temptation to pile on the drama.

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.johnsmithjohnsmith.com

‘Hummingbird’:

John Smith – new album

John Smith

John Smith talks about Hummingbird

Ever since my teenage epiphany at the altar of folk music, hearing Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn for the first time, I have been a devotee. The six strings of my guitar have granted me access to a sacred space between things, the unconscious interweaving sensations that allow us that gentle buzz on hearing a good folk song.

I’ve been immeasurably fortunate to open for and even play with some of my heroes and influences in the folk world; John Renbourn, Davy Graham, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Nic Jones, Joan Baez, Wizz Jones, John Martyn, Danny Thompson, Martin Simpson and Paul Brady.

Their work and their generosity of spirit has been a constant reminder that I must keep playing, recording and touring, no matter the cost. There is always work to be done in the service of good music.

It was with this in mind that I returned to Sam Lakeman’s Somerset studio in March of 2018, two years since recording ‘Headlong’ in that same place, to commit six of my favourite folk songs to tape, alongside one cover version and three original songs.

With my guitars and notebook, I sat for a week and dug into these songs, some of which I have performed hundreds of times, but never recorded. I always chose instead to concentrate on my own writing. If I didn’t record these songs now, representing the Folk Music that I love, I felt I was going to regret it.

The tracks quickly took on their own shape in Sam’s able hands. I invited several good friends to join me in this process: Cara Dillon, John McCusker and Ben Nicholls. Each a giant in their own right, they offered subtle and deeply nuanced performances to what I feel are my most restrained recordings so far.

Sam and I adopted the motto ‘less is more’. We all know that a Folk Song’s clarity of purpose is exactly the reason why it has been played in pubs, living rooms and concert halls for hundreds of years.

I made this record for myself, for my heroes and for you.

John Smith

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: https://www.johnsmithjohnsmith.com/

Hummingbird
A love song in the key of D, for someone I used to know. ‘Here She Comes, There She Flies.’

Lowlands Of Holland
Roud 484. Widely thought to originate in the British Isles and Ireland in the early 19th century.

As soon as I started playing Lowlands Of Holland I realised this was a powerful love song, the context simply a marker on a map, with different versions found all over Britain and Ireland. The song is about love, loss and devotion.

Boudica
This formidable woman was the rebel queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe, who exacted a terrible and brutal revenge upon the Romans for the degradation and abuse of her and her daughters. She is an English folk hero, her likeness immortalised in stone, but a terrifying proposition nonetheless. ‘Eighty thousand, dead and burned.’

Hares On The Mountain
Roud 329. Collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset, thought to originate in the 18th century.

Sam introduced me to this song. There is potent and romantic imagery in this song, unnerving and pagan. I heard it once and have been hearing it ever since, like the call of some wild animal.

Lord Franklin
Roud 487. First appeared as the broadside ballad ‘Lady Franklin’s Lament’ in the mid-19th century.

Lord Franklin is a song I heard John Renbourn play many times, one that my Dad also plays in his honour. I’ve been playing this live, since I started out.

Master Kilby
Roud 1434. Collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset, 1904.

I first heard Master Kilby in a pub session in Liverpool, a song that has stuck with me ever since. The lyric ‘Her skin shines like silver in every part’ is surely one of the best. Cecil Sharp collected this song in 1904, in Somerset.

The Time Has Come
I first heard Anne Briggs’ classic song on the Bert & John LP. Succinct and bittersweet, this is one of my favourite songs. I hope John Renbourn would have approved of my first-take guitar parts, flying by the seat of my pants!

Willy Moore
Collected in Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. No-one knows who wrote it, but it’s probably from the early 20th century. I first heard this performed by the gentleman genius Wizz Jones. It’s a heart-breaking account of two young lovers’ tragedy.

Axe Mountain (Revisited)
One of my favourite songs to play, this murder ballad tells the tale of a young woman who rids the world of a murderer using an elemental instrument of death. I wrote this under the Black Mountains in Wales, thinking on the Dartmoor I grew up with. The moral of the story; don’t mess with a Devon woman.

Unquiet Grave
Child Ballad 78. Thought to originate in the 15th century.

This is the oldest song on the album, a strange and beautiful tale of a young lover whose grief is preventing his true love’s peace in death; an idea held by many over the years to be true.

I loved the idea of presenting this story as a duet. Who better to ask than Cara Dillon?

‘Willy Moore’ – official video:

John Smith unveils debut single from new album

John Smith

John Smith had just announced the release of his new album Hummingbird.  It features appearances from Cara Dillon, John McCusker and Ben Nicholls, and will be released on October 5th on his own Commoner Records (via Thirty Tigers worldwide).  He had also announced a huge UK headline tour (29 dates throughout October & November), and made the track ‘Willy Moore’, taken from Hummingbird, available to stream now.

An independent musician who has toured the world for almost fifteen years with his guitar and suitcase, he has independently released five albums, supported the likes of Ben Howard and Damien Rice, won critical acclaim in the UK and abroad, and performed a session guitarist and singer for the likes of Joan Baez, Lisa Hannigan and Martin Simpson.

Following his performance last weekend at the Cambridge Folk Festival, and having been played for the first time last night by Mark Radcliffe on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, John Smith can today reveal ‘Willy Moore’, the first song from his soon to be announced new album.

Recorded at Sam Lakeman’s Somerset studio in March, John explains how the track came into his life.

“Collected in Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music, no-one knows who wrote it, but it’s probably from the early 20th century.  I first heard this performed by the gentleman genius Wizz Jones. It’s a heart-breaking account of two young lovers’ tragedy.”

Listen to ‘Willy Moore’ here:

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: https://www.johnsmithjohnsmith.com/

Live Dates

04 October Aberdeen The Lemon Tree
05 October Ullapool Guitar Festival
10 October Cork  IE Coughlan’s
11 October Cork IE Coughlan’s
12 October Limerick IE Dolan’s
13 October Dublin IE Unitarian Church
14 October Bangor NI Studio Theatre
17 October Chipping Norton The Theatre
20 October Whitby Musicport Festival
21 October Liverpool St George’s Hall
22 October Gateshead Sage Gateshead
24 October Leeds The Wardrobe
25 October Sheffield Picture House Social
26 October Thames Ditton The Ram Club
30 October Newbury Arlington Arts Centre

01 November Bury The Met Arts Centre
02 November Scunthorpe Cafe Indiependent
03 November Halifax Square Chapel
04 November York The Crescent
07 November Middlesbrough Town Hall
09 November Bristol Rough Trade
10 November Plymouth Barbican Theatre
11 November Dartmouth The Flavel
12 November Exeter Phoenix
14 November Southampton The Brook
15 November London St Pancras NEW Church (Bloomsbury)
16 November Brighton Unitarian Church
17 November Guildford St Mary’s Church

CARA DILLON – Wanderer (Charcoal CHARCD009)

WandererFollowing last year’s release of her first Christmas album, Upon A Winter’s Night, Dillon returns to secular form with a predominantly traditional collection, again produced by and featuring husband Sam Lakeman.

Pivoting around an underlying theme of transition and departure, whether that be through emigration or the search for love, it keeps the instrumentation spare and intimate, predominantly built around Lakeman’s piano and/or acoustic guitar, but also with occasional contributions from Ben Nicholls on double bass, Niall Murphy on fiddle and both John Smith and Justin Adams on acoustic and electric guitar, respectively.

There are two original numbers, the first up being the piano-accompanied ‘The Leaving Song’, inspired by “living wakes” held for those about to emigrate in pre-war Co.Derry with its lyric about a mother bidding farewell to a son seeking his fortunes in some other land, with a reminder that he can always find his way home. The other, the penultimate track, the simply styled metaphorical ‘Lakeside Swans’ touches a similar note, here concerning migrants and refugees and the decision to leave their homes.

There’s also a cover, the album’s final track being their dreamily lovely piano-led arrangement of ‘Dubhdara’, the slow-swaying sailing out Celtic anthem written by Shaun Davey for his 1985 album Granuaile.

The remaining seven numbers are all traditional, some familiar, others less so, case in point being the opening Ulster thoughts of home folk song ‘The Tern And The Swallow’ with its references to Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Northern Ireland, and Slieve Gallion, the mountain in Co. Londonderry. Also with their roots in Derry and nostalgia for home, ‘The Banks Of The Foyle’ concerns a girl forced to leave her true love by cruel misfortune but then learning he’s remained constant in her absence, while, featuring just Dillon and Lakeman’s guitar, ‘The Faughan Side’ conjures memories of an emigrant to America of happy days spent by the bridge of Drumahoe over the titular river.

A fine, yearningly crestfallen reading of the much recorded ‘Blackwater Side’ leads the charge for the better known songs, with its tale of a young lad lying his way into a maiden’s bed with false promises. This is complemented by ‘Both Sides Of The Tweed’, a traditional number given a makeover by Dick Gaughan, here presented in simple style with Dillon’s pure vocals and Lakeman’s piano. She’s joined by Kris Drever who duets and plays guitar for ‘Sailor Boy’, the album’s obligatory death song (you know the plot, maiden dies from grief when her sailor lover drowns) with Murphy on wheezing fiddle. Which just leaves a haunted interpretation of ‘The Banks Of The Bann’, which, combining emigration and thwarted love and arranged for piano and fiddle, is fittingly set to the tune of ‘Lord Of All Hopefulness’.

Her most reflective and most musically introspective album to date, the spare arrangements putting the spotlight on her warm, crystal clear vocals, it is arguably also the best of her career.

Mike Davies

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.caradillon.co.uk

Promo video:

MARTIN SIMPSON – Trails & Tribulations (Topic TSCD593)

Trails & TribulationsMartin Simpson never disappoints, whether live or on record, but rarely does he surprise. Rather he evolves over time and emerges with something new and different as he has here. Trails & Tribulations is his 20th solo album in a career going back to the early seventies. You sort of know what to expect – Martin is equally drawn to the English and American traditions; he will have borrowed a song or two and written a couple more; there will be a variety of guitars plus banjo and ukulele and it will probably all come together with a fine group of musicians supporting him. And, of course, you’ll be absolutely right.

What’s new is a richness to the music which I suspect comes from working with The Full English and Simpson Cutting Kerr. Both Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr feature here as does percussionist Toby Kearney, guitarist John Smith, Ben Nicholls on bass and Martin’s daughter Molly on vocals. Toby is generally restrained but the percussion is more noticeable than I remember. Take the first track, Jackson C Frank’s ‘Blues Run The Game’. It’s a short song but Martin takes his time over it, warming up his fingers as he does on stage as the introduction emerges. Bass and percussion provide an unobtrusive foundation and Martin tops everything off with Weissenborn decoration. Next is Emily Portman’s ‘Bones And Feathers’, which he has been singing for a year or so now, and which features banjo – not one of Emily’s chosen instruments. Martin owns it now.

From the Americas we have ‘Thomas Drew’, which would appear to be a distant cousin of ‘John Hardy’, ‘East Kentucky’ and ‘St. James Hospital’ but the first two are written by Martin and perfectly match the period feel – he had me fooled. From the English tradition come ‘Rufford Park Poachers’ and ‘Reynardine’. That leaves four others. Charles Causley’s ‘A Ballad For Katherine Of Aragon’ – music by Alex Atterson – has also been in Martin’s live repertoire for a while and it sounds like a song he would have written if someone hadn’t already done so. ‘Maps’, ‘Jasper’s/Dancing Shoes’ and Ridgeway are three more of Martin’s songs, continuing the semi-autobiographical style that began with ‘Never Any Good’.

Trails & Tribulations will be available in multiple formats including a deluxe double CD with six extra tracks including my all-time Simpson favourite, ‘Joshua Gone Barbados’. I’m holding out for that!

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.martinsimpson.com/

‘Blues Run The Game’ – live:

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