Shrewsbury Folk Festival – tickets are now on sale

Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Kate Rusby

Tickets have gone on sale for the 2019 Shrewsbury Folk Festival as organisers have shared the first names to be added to the bill.

Weekend tickets to the four-day event, that will take place at the West Mid Showground from August 23 to 26, are expected to be in high demand. Last year the first tier of tickets were snapped up in less than 30 minutes and weekend tickets sold out a month before the August Bank Holiday event.

Two of the UK’s top solo stars Kate Rusby and Martyn Joseph will be topping the bill along with the legendary Oysterband and female supergroup Daphne’s Flight, who are returning after a triumphant performance in 2017. Scottish folk rockers Skerryvore have also been invited back after wowing crowds earlier this year.

Grace Petrie – photograph by David Wilson Clarke

Gary Stewart’s Graceland – a reworking of the Paul Simon classic – has also been signed up along with solo shows from Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley, singer songwriter and activist Grace Petrie and appearances from The Phil Beer Band and Merry Hell.

Exclusive to the festival will be a special day of programming on its Pengwern stage by duo Chris While and Julie Matthews to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their musical partnership. The While and Matthews Takeover will see the pair curate performances on August 25th that will culminate in a big band show to close the night.

Granny’s Attic

Other acts will include Chris Elliott and Caitlin Jones, Edgelarks, Geoff Lakeman, Granny’s Attic, Mankala, Paul Downes, Rapsquillion, Reg Meuross, Track Dogs, the Urban Folk Quartet, and Winter Wilson. Festivalgoers will also be able to watch folk opera Here At The Fair by Mick Ryan.

Festival Director Sandra Surtees said many more artists are yet to be revealed.

“As ever the Shrewsbury line-up will feature some of the biggest names in folk, some popular performers that have been requested by our audience and a number of world and Americana acts.

“But the festival is about so much more than just the music – there’s so much to do during the weekend for all ages. The festival has its own magical atmosphere and we have many visitors who wouldn’t class themselves as ‘folkies’ but they just come to enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere with friends and family and listen to great music.

“The festival continues to go from strength to strength with a devoted audience who return year after year, demonstrated by the fact that we regularly sell out in advance.”

The festival has four main music stages, a dance tent featuring ceilidhs, workshops and dance shows, children and youth festivals, workshops, crafts, food village, real ale, cocktail and gin bars and on-site camping and glamping.

There are also fringe events at local pubs with dance displays held in the town centre and a parade through the streets on the Saturday afternoon. Weekend and day tickets can be booked at  www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/booktickets/.

Martyn Joseph announces January release of new album

Martyn Joseph

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph returns with new album Here Come The Young released January 25th 2019 via Pipe Records. Produced by Gerry Diver (Tom Robinson, Lisa Knapp, Sam Lee), Martyn was encouraged outside his comfort zone and the result is a career defining record.

Martyn says of his new album, “The songs are exploring uncertainty to varying degrees through different subject matter both in the personal and political. I hope for those who listen it will be the sort of record that takes you on a journey and leaves you buoyed and hopeful at the end, despite the fact that we go to a few tough places.”

Born in Penarth near Cardiff, Martyn is gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics and has enjoyed a career spanning 35 years to date, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances. He has created his own style and reputation as a stellar songwriter, jaw-dropping guitar player and mesmerising performer, and social justice is an essential part of his music, which has been recognised with various humanitarian awards and plaudits. In 2014, he launched Let Yourself Trust, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to challenge injustice wherever it’s found, educating via advocacy, campaigning for human rights, and raising issues that have been forgotten or ignored, via fundraising initiatives. To date they have raised over a quarter of a million pounds. He’s also Patron of Advantage Africa and Festival Spirit in the UK and Project Somos in Canada/Guatemala.

On Here Come The Young, his songs are imbued with an optimism at a time when it is not easily found. Running throughout the album is a sense of hope and belief in the good of the majority, and that this will overcome the loud, cynical noise that pervades. For Joseph, songs are photographs of moments and visions be they good or bad, his lyrics encourage people to fight fear, cynicism and negativity and the rhetoric of those who hold power.

The title track ‘Here Come The Young’ suggests the young don’t have the same baggage of past generations and are more open and inclusive On ‘Loves Majority’, a protest song of sorts, the greater collective good will always outweigh the bad. There is a heart-breaking tribute to those who work for the betterment of others on ‘This Glass’. Self-doubt is the subject in ‘Oh My Soul’, encouraging belief in one’s journey. Six years ago, Martyn visited the West Bank in Palestine to play a festival and this became a catalyst to him forming a non-profit organisation to work with grassroots projects across the world. It was his experience in Gaza that lead him to write ‘Take Back The Sky’, where young kids fly kites as a symbol of freedom “the wrist that holds the string of dreams for one brief moment takes back the sky”.

Martyn has previously toured with the likes of Art Garfunkel, Jools Holland, Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega, Mike and The Mechanics, Joan Armatrading, Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey.  In 2016, in addition to playing over 170 shows worldwide, he was asked by the EFDSS and British Parliament to write and perform as part of Sweet Liberties with Nancy Kerr, Sam Carter and Maz O’Connor to mark 800 years of British democracy. One of his songs from this, “Nye” celebrating Nye Bevan, the author of the NHS, has been enthusiastically received by audiences everywhere, as well as having BBC national airplay on Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show and Tom Robinson’s 6 Music show.

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.martynjoseph.net

‘Nye’ from Sweet Liberties – official video:

Martyn Joseph honoured on both sides of the Atlantic

Martyn Joseph

Not just ‘one of acoustic music’s most original voices’, but also one of its most active humanitarians, acclaimed Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph has received a top honour at the International Folk Music Awards in the USA.

Martyn was presented with a Spirit of Folk Award at the Folk Alliance International convention at the Folly Theatre in Kansas. These coveted awards are presented ‘to honour and celebrate people actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership’.

Known for his astute and powerful songs of compassion and one of the finest live acts on the circuit, Martyn has become a celebrated artist on both sides of the Atlantic over his 33-year career and aptly been dubbed “The Welsh Springsteen”.

Five years ago Martyn met his wife Justine Ferland at Folk Alliance and together they developed the UK charity Let Yourself Trust which has been actively involved in combatting social injustice, supporting myriad grassroots projects all over the world from helping rebuild a demolished family home in Palestine to leading a 25-strong team in the creation of a music centre in a Guatemalan children’s village and getting involved in Advantage Africa’s Albinism project in Uganda.

Accepting his award from Folk Alliance International’s Barbara Manners, Martyn said he was humbled: “These are strange days and we need good songs to remind us of who we really are. The real danger is cynicism and fear. We are a big army and we should be making a hell of a noise right now and I’m proud to be part of that rumble”.

Let Yourself Trust, whose patron is broadcaster Bob Harris OBE, has raised some £250,000 since its inception with recent projects including helping to clean a mercury poisoned river on a Canadian reserve, aiding the homeless at a Swansea refuge, supporting a teenage mental health project in Boston, USA and backing a mobile school initiative which provides education for street children in 25 countries. http://letyourself.net/

Meanwhile back in the UK Martyn was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by FATEA Magazine in their annual folk awards. FATEA’s Neil King said:

“Martyn Joseph has done more than create great music for a long period; it’s about the way he uses music and the recognition built up to put back into the wider community, focusing his attention towards trade justice, third world debt cancellation and human rights.”

Just after receiving the award Martyn played the famous Half Moon, Putney and was joined on stage by friend and Welsh actor/comedian Rob Brydon to sing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’.

Two years ago, Joseph was also nominated at the AIM Independent Music Awards in London – in the closely contested category of Hardest Working Band or Artist whilst he has also been recognised with an Amnesty International Award for his support of Brazil’s MST Landless Workers’ Movement.

A previous winner of the Best Male Artist title in the BBC Welsh Music Awards, Joseph’s story (over three decades of performance, five Top 50 hits, half a million album sales and 32 album releases) continues to grow and connect with audiences everywhere.

An exceptional singer songwriter and guitarist, Joseph, who was invited by the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s (EFDSS) to write and take part in the Parliament-instigated democracy-celebrating project Sweet Liberties, has recently started recording his 33rd album which will be produced by in demand Gerry Diver and released next autumn.

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.martynjoseph.net/

SWEET LIBERTIES – Sweet Liberties (Quercus QRCD002)

Sweet LibertiesSweet Liberties, originally a commission by the EFDSS and Folk at the Oak, in partnership with the House of Commons, to mark the 2015: Anniversaries: Parliament in the Making, this has now expanded to become a 14-track album featuring a varied line up of folk musicians in celebration of 800 years in the pursuit of democracy.

Some of the names will be familiar, others less so, but all contribute thoughtful and relevant songs touching on various aspects of the overall topic. I am assuming that everyone listed in the credits (which includes Nancy Kerr and Patsy Reid on violin, Nick Cooke on melodeon) played on all (or most) of the songs, the writers themselves handling the vocals, perhaps the best known being Martyn Joseph who contributes three of his own numbers, the first, featuring fingerpicked guitar and violin, a revisiting of ‘Dic Penderyn’ from his Evolved album, the story of the 1831 Merthyr Riots and the man hung for a crime he could not have committed. The second, a duet with Sam Carter, is also one from the back catalogue, ‘Twelve Years Old’, from Songs For The Coming Home, inspired by the 1833 Factory Act and framed as a conversation between two children a hundred years apart. His third, ‘Nye’, is a new song written for the project, a fingerpicked, violin-accompanied tribute to those who work in the NHS and to its founder, fellow Welshman, Aneurin Bevan.

The album opens with ‘Kingdom’, the first of four songs by 2015’s BBC Folk Singer of the Year, Nancy Kerr, a traditional styled solo acoustic number that takes Magna Carta as a springboard to address the ownership and management of land for profit and the subsequent loss of habitat. Coloured by violin, ‘Seven Notes’ is another traditional framed track, one which uses the image of the migrating cuckoo as a poetic metaphor for colonialist history, setting it in an experiment in musical patterns to represent multicultural Britain.

Rather more jaunty, the waltzing, melodeon-led Music Hall-like ‘Lila’ (the only song not to also feature on her new Instar album) connects the suffragette movement with the abolition of slavery through its twin subjects, Adelaide-born Muriel Lila Matters, who took to a hot air balloon to scatter Votes for Women leaflets over Parliament, and Mary Prince, an eighteenth century Bermudian whose autobiography offered a narrative of slavery. Her fourth contribution, the spare, melodeon, violin and guitar accompanied ‘Written On My Skin’, again draws on metaphor and nature imagery (here a hunted fox) on a song in memory of women forced to resort to the Human Rights Act to have their sexual assault cases justly tried.

A relatively new voice on the British contemporary folk scene, Maz O’Connor also has four credits, all new recordings, kicking off with the violin-backed ‘Rich Man’s Hill’ which, inspired by the 1601 Poor Law and concerning the widening gap between the haves and have nots,, tells of a homeless man in London who believes that, if he works hard enough, he too can get himself a mansion. The one track to address democracy directly, ‘This Old House’ (a nod the Palace of Westminster) is a playful take on democracy and compromise framed in the context of a couple redecorating and patching up their shared house, pizzicato violin driving along the chorus.

Featuring nimble fingerpicked guitar and violin, ‘Broad Waters’, as the title suggests, concerns the 1985 killing of PC Keith Blakelock on the Broadwater Farm estate and the subsequent police fitting up of three innocent men for his murder, and is set as a dialogue between a police officer pressuring a young boy into testifying against Winston Silcott. Her last track, backed by just acoustic guitar, the plaintive ‘Broken Things’, also concerns social justice, here, borrowing the opening of Wilfred Owen’s Anthem For Doomed Youth, a lament for the decline of the trade union movement, focusing on the Miners’ Strikes of 1984 and, in particular, the death of David Jones during violence on a picket line.

Which leaves Sam Carter who, like Joseph, provides three numbers. Echoing Kerr, ‘Am I Not A Man?’ also addresses slavery a waltzing number inspired by freed slaves organisation Sons of Africa whose campaigning contributed to the Abolition of Slavery Act, drawing for its details on the slave autobiography Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano.

His two other songs come at the back end of the album, the first being the lurching cabaret-styled ‘Dark Days’, a straightforward state of the nation comment with gyspy violin accompaniment, proceedings closing with the folksy salvationist hymn ‘One More River’, a return to the theme of slavery that sounds a personal note in that his great great aunt married the son of a fugitive Virginian slave, sun in his voice as he contemplates fleeing to England, ending in an unaccompanied chorus by Carter and, presumably, his three female associates.

Featuring none of the bombast or flagwaving that would likely characterise an American equivalent, this is both a damn fine album and a salient reminder of the liberties we so often fail to hold dear.

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.

‘John Ball’ live at the launch event:

Martyn Joseph nominated as hardest working artist

Martyn Joseph 2016

Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph, “one of acoustic music’s most original voices”, had the honour of being nominated at the AIM Independent Music Awards at The Brewery in London this week – in the closely contested category of Hardest Working Band or Artist.

Known for his astute songs of compassion, and as one of the finest live acts on the circuit, Martyn was the sole representative of the folk roots scene at the Awards ceremony, facing strong competition from artists from the R ‘n’ B, rap and indie worlds. The award was clinched by singer songwriter Darren Hayman but Martyn was proud to be a flag bearer for the tradition.

“It was an honour to be the voice of folk within the wide cacophony of so many other musical genres and among some incredible artists. It was a fantastic night for independent music.”

Adele, Stormzy, Roisin Murphy and Slade were among the night’s winners.

It’s not hard to see why Martyn earned the nomination, having played over 140 shows and Festivals across the UK, Canada, USA & Europe in the last year including his own event PipeFest. He’s released two albums (Sanctuary and Sanctuary Acoustic) and taken part in the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) Sweet Liberties project, as well as developing his own UK based charity, Let Yourself Trust, which has been supporting grassroots projects in Palestine, Guatemala, Uganda, Canada & the UK.

Long known for his humanitarian work, in the past 12 months he has travelled to Palestine with volunteers to help rebuild a demolished family home and to Guatemala, leading a 25-strong team in the building of a music centre for a Children’s Village. Last year also saw him playing a show in Swansea homeless shelter Zac’s Place with Bob Harris OBE (patron of Let Yourself Trust) to celebrate raising £16,000 for their work in the first half of 2015. At the start of 2016 he presented a Let Yourself Trust cheque for £18,000 to the charity Advantage Africa and last September he ran his first 10k race to raise further funds.

A previous winner of the Best Male Artist title in the BBC Welsh Music Awards, Joseph’s story (three decades of performance, half a million album sales and 32 album releases) continues to grow and connect on both sides of the Atlantic.

He will shortly embark on a tour of USA and Canada before returning for a UK tour in November/December.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Martyn Joseph 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.

Artist’s website: www.martynjoseph.net

‘I Searched For You’ – official video:

MARTYN JOSEPH’S GLOBAL LET YOURSELF TRUST RAISES NEARLY £50,000 IN FIRST YEAR

Children’s projects in Palestine and Guatemala are first beneficiaries

LYT now turns its attentions to a Swansea charity

 

MJ and kids

The charitable trust launched by popular Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph, has raised nearly £50,000 in its first year.

Cardiff-based Joseph last year fulfilled a long-held ambition to launch his own trust to benefit both global charities and grass roots “people” projects in the UK and beyond with legendary broadcaster Bob Harris becoming patron.

A gifted guitar player with a juggernaut voice, Joseph’s performances have taken him from arts centres in his native Wales to a 5,000 strong crowd at the Royal Albert Hall.

But in a career spanning three decades with sales of over a quarter of a million albums, Joseph has perhaps become as well known for his worldwide humanitarian work as for his powerful performances and high level connectivity with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Named after one of his recent songs on the Songs for the Coming Home album, the Let Yourself Trust launched in the UK last June with three special fundraising performances over one weekend in Cardiff (Norwegian Church) Milton Keynes (The Stables) and Lancaster (Ashton Memorial). To mark the launch Martyn released an 11-track album Kiss the World Beautiful – Songs for the Let Yourself Trust with fresh recordings of some of his most affecting political and social justice songs and a striking new song Luxury of Despair, inspired by his recent visits to refugee camps.

Setting out to “provide a choice and a chance” Let Yourself Trust aims to support lesser known projects each year for a six month period, highlighting their work to a wider audience through Martyn’s gigs and social networks.

A fearless songwriter, long dubbed “The Welsh Springsteen”, he has campaigned both in person and in song for countless causes, focusing on trade justice, third world debt cancellation and human rights. His high impact songs range from a first person narrative from the perspective of a Kosovo refugee (‘The Good In Me Is Dead’) to ‘Five Sisters’, recounting the fate of siblings killed in an Israeli attack.

Martyn received an Amnesty International accolade for his work with the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra) back in 2002 and released The Great American Novel EP in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq with all proceeds benefitting War Child. Since then he has worked alongside or taken on the patronage of several international agencies and organisations, from Advantage Africa to Casa Alianza, which helps street children in Central America. World Vision, Canada’s The Stephen Lewis Foundation and Christian Aid are among other organisations to which he has turned his attention.

But it was a 2013 trip to Bethlehem for the Bet Lahem festival and in particular a visit to a children’s theatre project at a Palestinian refugee camp that triggered the formation of the Let Yourself Trust.

“My trip to the Middle East galvanised my thoughts on something I’d been thinking about for the last five years. I’d always been proud and privileged to lend my support to many causes during the length of my career – but I wanted to do something more and set up a visible platform alongside the music. Somewhere in the heat and dust of a Palestinian refugee camp I decided it was time to set up my own charitable trust to help fund projects at home and abroad that are making a difference in their communities.”

That led to the Alroward Cultural and Theatre Society in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp becoming the first funding project and the $10,000 money LYT raised through concerts and generous donations helped deliver a range of creative tools from musical instruments to digital cameras, books and paint brushes to the Alroward Children Arts Theatre.

Martyn and LYT Executive Director Justine Ferland (centre) with Heather and Greg Knox and the Project Somos children
Martyn and LYT Executive Director Justine Ferland (centre) with Heather and Greg Knox and the Project Somos children

In the second half of 2014 LYT turned its attentions to Guatemala’s Project Somos Children’s Village. Martyn met Project Somos’ founders (Heather and Greg Knox) at the Vancouver Folk Festival 15 years ago and has since supported their vision to set up a home for single mothers and their children suffering extreme poverty and the nurturing of their futures.

Martyn visited Project Somos at the start of 2015 to present a LYT cheque for $32,000 and performed a private concert for the village’s mothers, children and staff- the first they had experienced. Says Project Somos’ Executive Director Heather Knox:

“Martyn is obviously able to impart our vision to others while on stage and we are deeply moved. This will really support us moving forward”.

The organisation will use part of the donation to complete a guest facility for volunteers and visitors and help with the initial costs of receiving their next two families.

Martyn will return in 2016 with a group of volunteers to help build a music and arts room as part of a school being constructed on the site. It would become the only such facility for many miles around.

But now the Trust is focusing on a project closer to home with fundraising underway for  Zac’s Place – a homeless shelter in Swansea described as “ a safe haven for some of Swansea’s most alienated people”, run by Sean Stillman, who founded it 15 years ago. Vital to the Swansea community it provides over 2,000 meals a year, health care and a night shelter for 12 people, functioning on just £8,000 a year. Between now and June Martyn will be aiming to raise awareness of Zac’s Place in a bid to provide a year’s funding.

Says Sean :“The connection between the music of Martyn Joseph and the community of Zac’s Place not only goes back several years but shares many of the same questions, fears, hopes and dreams. We are delighted to share this partnership with LYT.”

Read more at http://letyourself.net/zacs-place

Summing up Let Yourself Trust’s first year Joseph says:

“I’ve been amazed by the wonderful support we have received. Then results are stunning and I can’t begin to thank people enough. The visit to Project Somos showed us first-hand how Let Yourself Trust can make a difference. Now, in Zac’s Place, we couldn’t have found a more worthwhile UK-based project to support and I’m looking forward to helping their transforming work with the homeless in the same way we have helped those in Palestine and Guatemala.”

See Martyn’s introduction to the Let Yourself Trust and Bob Harris’s personal message at www.letyourself.net