Ninebarrow to tour as a band for first time this spring


BBC award nominees Ninebarrow, widely recognised as one of the finest duos in UK folk music, are to tour as a five-piece band in March.

In just a few short years Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchadiere , named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck hills, have carved themselves a distinctive niche on the folk roots scene with their outstanding harmonies, delicate instrumentation and captivating narrative songs. Many of the songs are inspired by Britain’s rich landscape and history, especially that of their native Dorset.

In 2017 Ninebarrow were nominated for the coveted ‘Horizon’ award  for ‘Best Emerging Artist’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at the Royal Albert Hall – only a short while after Jon gave up his job as a teacher and Jay as a GP in favour of a full-time music career – a leap of faith that has clearly paid off.

Described by Mark Radcliffe as sounding like ‘two halves of one voice’, by Seth Lakeman as ‘a fantastic duo’ and by Kate Rusby as ‘absolutely amazing’, Whitley and LaBouchardiere decided to embark on a band tour after a successful one-off concert as a five piece last autumn.

The same stand-out guest musicians who joined them on stage at Poole Lighthouse that night will set off on a five-date tour on March 25.

Jon and Jay will welcome cellist and long-term collaborator, Lee MacKenzie, brilliant double bassist John Parker and in-demand Evan Carson on percussion. The set will include brand new songs alongside lush, layered, full-bodied arrangements of some old favourites.

The duo released their latest album The Waters & The Wild in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. Their fourth album A Pocket Full Of Acorns is due to be released in autumn 2020.

This year will also see Jon and Jay hosting musical walking weekends in Dorset, following the publication of Ninebarrow’s Dorset, a series of walks which have inspired their songs.

The Ninebarrow Band’s debut tour will take in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and Suffolk.

Artists’ website:


Wednesday 25th March 2020

Thursday 26th March 2020
St Andrew’s Church RUGBY

Friday 27th March 2020
The Plough Arts Centre GREAT TORRINGTON

Saturday 28th March 2020
Dorchester Arts DORCHESTER

Sunday 29th March 2020
The Goods Shed TETBURY

Folk On The Pier 2020 – all you need to know

Pavilion Theatre Cromer, North Norfolk
8, 9, 10 May 2020

Folk On The Pier

Nineteen highly talented acts plus an extended Fringe Festival will ensure Cromer’s Folk on the Pier festival will be offering twenty of the best for 2020.

Taking place on 8, 9 and 10 May in the prestigious Pavilion Theatre the festival will feature a bumper bundle of established artists and rising stars from the folk-rock and acoustic music scenes. And with the Fringe Festival taking over many venues in the town there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

This year’s line-up is peppered with award winners – among the headliners are BAFTA Nominated TV Entertainer Of The Year and The British Academy Gold Award of Composers recipient Richard Digance, and Wizz Jones who recently picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The ever evolving Demon Barbers XL who also won a BBC Radio Award for Best Live Act will present their new show Rise Up and festival Patron Ashley Hutchings MBE who has been the recipient of numerous awards  will present ‘Dylancentric’ – his tribute to Bob Dylan.

And closing the festival on the Sunday evening is ‘the band without whom’ there would not be a Folk on The Pier – Fairport Convention. Little did they know when they invented British folk-rock that it would become the inspiration for what has become a very popular music festival.


The Redhills
Kevin Dempsey
Urban Folk Quartet
Alden, Patterson & Dashwood
Richard Digance
Demon Barbers XL – ‘Rise Up’

The Shackleton Trio
Wizz Jones
Ashley Hutchings’ Dylancentric
Linda Watkins
Alan Reid
Feast of Fiddles

The Spikedrivers
Gerry Colvin Band
Martin Harley
2020 Showcase Winner
Fairport Convention

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The Folking Awards 2019 – the results

The Folking Awards 2019

Here they are, the results of the 2019 Folking awards. Thanks to all our writers who submitted nominations and to everyone who participated – over 18,000 votes were cast. Every one of the nominees made an impression on our writers either on record or on stage during 2018 and they are all stars to us. Without further ado, here are the top choices with percentage of the votes cast.

Soloist of the year – Reg Meuross (39%)

Reg Meuross

Read Reg’s biography here.

Best Duo – Ninebarrow (36.9%)


Read Ninebarrow’s biography here.

Best Band – Merry Hell (27.5%)

Merry Hell

You know all about them but you can read about Merry Hell here.

Best Live Act – The Men They Couldn’t Hang (38.7%)

The Men They Couldn't Hang 

Read a biography of The Men They Couldn’t Hang here

Best Album – Queer As Folk by Grace Petrie (32.3%)

Queer As Folk

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Queer As Folk here.

Best Musician – Marina Osman (43.9%)

Marina Osman

Read Marina’s biography here.

Rising Star Act – Vision Thing (32%)

Vision Thing

Read Vision Thing’s bio here.

Best International Artiste – Larkin Poe (41.5%)

Larkin Poe
Photograph by Amy Harris

Read Larkin Poe’s bio here

Ninebarrow biography


Having been friends since the age of 12, folk music had long been a feature in the lives of Jon Whitley and Jay Labouchardiere. The primary reason for that was Bob Whitley, Jon’s father, who was (and still is!) a well-respected Dorset folk singer and song-writer. Providing a backdrop of song-writing and sing-around nights at Jon’s family home, not to mention running his own folk club for a number of years, meant that Jon had always had one foot in the folk world from a very early age. Jay found himself being inexorably (but not unwillingly!) pulled towards the genre after tagging along at many of the folk nights hosted by Jon’s Dad. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that the two began singing together, after spending a summer becoming inspired by a host of great music at some of the South West’s great festivals. In spending long hours at the sing-arounds of Sidmouth Folk Festival, as well as experiencing a particularly amazing line-up of folk acts at Larmer Tree Festival 2012, the friends found themselves hooked. Thinking that in the following twelve months they might be able to sell enough CDs to afford tickets to next year’s Larmer Tree Festival, Jon and Jay began singing together as Ninebarrow.

It quickly became clear that Ninebarrow was not only going to be something quite special, but also that Jon and Jay would not be needing to buy tickets for Larmer Tree Festival 2013 after all. Instead, after entering a competition on a whim, the duo were crowned Larmer Tree Breakthrough Music Award Winners – and were awarded not only tickets to the 2013 festival, but also a spot on one of the festivals main stages. From here, the accolades continued to arrive with regularity. In the same year they were announced Number 1 in Drunkenwerewolf Magazine’s ‘Hidden Acoustic Gems of 2013’ and their debut EP ‘Kingdom’ was announced as one of’s records of the year.

In 2014, Ninebarrow went on to release their debut album While The Blackthorn Burns and it received a raft of excellent reviews, including being awarded Fatea Magazine’s ‘Debut Album of the Year’ 2014 and the duo were also finalists in the UK Songwriting Competition of the same year with their song ‘The Weeds’ from the same album. Again, recorded and produced by the duo themselves, the 12 track release has been hailed as ‘a landmark folk album of its time’ (, ‘exceptional…totally wonderful’ (Fatea Magazine) with harmonies that are used to ‘stunning effect’ ( It’s also received airplay on Mike Harding’s Folk Show where he said: ‘I’ve had lots of requests for this next duo…Beautiful, lovely feel to this. I love it.’ In May 2014, Folk Radio UK posted the opening track of the album on their website and within 4 weeks it had received over 20,000 plays world-wide and jumped to number 1 on SoundCloud’s Folk chart. The album was also listed in the Telegraph’s top folk albums of 2014.

In the same year, as part of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, Ninebarrow were invited to take part in a collaborative re-recording of Pete Seeger’s ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’ which subsequently received airplay on Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show on BBC Radio 2 as well as winning FATEA Magazine’s ‘Single of the Year’ 2014.

The success the duo enjoyed during their early years performing together was set in front of a backdrop of full-time work in other professions. During Ninebarrow’s first four years, the duo took bookings as often as they were able, whilst Jay worked as a GP and Jon as a full-time primary school teacher. It wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that both decided to take the decision to step back from these roles in order to pursue professional careers as musicians.

During this same period, Ninebarrow’s second album, Releasing The Leaves, was released to wide-spread critical acclaim. Recorded and produced in the duo’s own studio and mastered by Mark Tucker (whose other credits include Show of Hands and Fairport Convention) the album received a raft of stellar reviews including five stars in both Maverick Magazine and the English Dance and Song Magazine produced by the EFDSS. Receiving airplay on national and regional radio stations across the UK, including the multiple plays on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, it was described by Suzi Klein on BBC Radio 3 as demonstrating the duo’s harmonies ‘to perfection’. It was also awarded four stars by The Telegraph and listed in the paper’s Top Folk Albums of 2016 as well as featuring in several other ‘Best Albums of 2016’ awards lists.

In addition to their live shows and recording work, Ninebarrow have also worked on a number of commissioned projects. In the summer of 2014, the duo were commissioned by Artsreach Dorset to write a series of songs inspired by the South Dorset Ridgeway and designed to raise awareness of the rich archaeological heritage of the area. These songs were showcased in exhibitions across Dorset throughout the spring and summer of 2015. They were also commissioned by the ‘Off The Map’ Dance company in the summer of 2017 to write and record the soundtrack to a brand new contemporary dance production entitled Folklore, which takes inspiration from three folk tales from the south west of England. The duo spent two months working on the project, which was partially funded by Arts Council England.

The 2019 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2019 Folking Awards and thank you again to everyone who participated this year. The nominations, were in eight categories, and came from our ever-expanding team of writers and were collated into shape by the Folkmeister and the Editor over a pint or two, which also involved, a few arm-wrestles and a spot of beer-mat aerobics, in a convenient local watering hole.

There were five nominees in each category, all of whom have impressed our writers during 2018.

As we said last year, all are winners in our eyes, as are quite a few who didn’t make the short list. However, it’s not just about what we think, so once more, it was down to you, our ever-growing readership, to make the final call.

We will now compile the results and announce the winners of each category at some point next week.

*The Public Vote for each category closed at 9.00pm on Sunday 31st March (GMT+1).

Soloist Of The Year

Keith James
Reg Meuross
Rachel Newton
John Smith
Andy White

Best Duo

Gilmore & Roberts
Daria Kulesh and Jonny Dyer
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar
Winter Wilson

Best Band

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Merry Hell
Trials Of Cato
The Young’Uns

Best Live Act

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Grace Petrie
The Salts
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
Andy White

Best Album

A Problem Of Our Kind – Gilmore & Roberts
The Well Worn Path – Seth Lakeman
The Joy Of Living – Jackie Oates
Queer As Folk – Grace Petrie
Hide And Hair – Trials Of Cato

Best Musician

Martin Harley
Aidan O’Rourke
Marina Osman
John Smith
Richard Thompson

Rising Star

Burning Salt
Robert Lane
Kitty MacFarlane
Smith & Brewer
Vision Thing

Best International Artist(s)

Tyler Childers
Mary Gauthier
Larkin Poe

NINEBARROW – The Waters & The Wild (own label)

The Waters & The WildIf music be the food of love, then prepare for indigestion … was the title of a 1967 album by a band I’m not prepared to mention here. It’s not quite appropriate in this case for although The Waters & The Wild serves up some rich fare it is very digestible indeed. I think I’ll stop now before I stretch the metaphor with remarks about loosening the top trouser button and sleeping in an armchair with a newspaper over your face. You get the idea.

If you haven’t caught up with them yet, Ninebarrow are Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere. They are from Dorset and Dorset is a part of them and very much a part of this album. The record begins with two very contrasting songs. The first, ‘The Hour Of The Blackbird’, is a pastoral piece heralding the coming of spring and expanding the pagan idea of the winter and summer kings. It’s followed by ‘Halsewell’, the story of Dorset’s worst shipping disaster with dramatic vocals and a suitably thunderous accompaniment.

Jon’s multi-instrumental skills are augmented by James’ reed organ and various basses and drums, notably from Evan Carson, Joe Limburn and producer Mark Tucker with backing vocals from The Teacups. The biggest sound, however, comes from Barney Morse-Brown’s string arrangements recorded by him and Jane Griffiths and when I say big, I mean big.

‘Prickle-Eye Bush’ is a song that has come back into fashion again – or maybe it never went away – and I’m always tempted to skip over it on an album. Ninebarrow try to do something different with it and the hand percussion breathes some life back into it. That’s followed by ‘While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping’ as borrowed from June Tabor. Neither of these songs are necessarily from Dorset but they could be. Jon and James immediately return home or ‘Hwome’ with that most Dorset of poets, William Barnes, but the song doesn’t overly rely on dialect and the arrangement is really nice, particularly in the outro section.

The title track is definitely an immigrant being derived from W B Yeats’ ‘The Stolen Child’ but the tune of ‘Row On’ was composed by another local, Tim Laycock and ‘Gather It In’ is a catalogue of old harvest customs. The last track is John Kirkpatrick’s ‘Sing A Full Song’, a song with a universal emotional appeal.

The lyrics and background information can be downloaded for free – lucky me, I received a pukka copy with the album; a rare case of a generous press agent. You know who you are. Although the words are not essential to the enjoyment of the album they, and the song notes, help to draw you into Ninebarrow’s musical world which is a very good place to be.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Prickle-Eye Bush’ – live: