June Tabor and Oysterband on the road again

June Tabor and Oysterband

One of the most exciting collaborations in folk music, June Tabor and Oysterband, resumes this autumn for a major tour.  The 2019 ‘Fire and Fleet’ Tour will take in 15 dates across the UK this Autumn, including shows at the majestic Union Chapel, Islington, Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music, and more.

With separate distinguished careers to pursue, their appearances together are necessarily rare, so this is a must-see opportunity to catch them live. The majesty and control of June’s voice combined with the passion of John Jones’ singing and the dynamic drive of Oysterband to illuminate dark traditional ballads and contemporary classics alike – witness their moving duet version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, widely regarded as the best-ever reinterpretation of that much-covered track. Songs from their seminal 1990 album ‘Freedom & Rain’ and their multi-award-winning 2011 follow-up ‘Ragged Kingdom’ will, of course, be featured, plus exciting new material.

Ian Telfer of Oysterband said, “We’re delighted to be touring once more with June –  a good friend, a great singer of course, and an extraordinary interpreter of songs. (And we have a few new ones for you!)”. June Tabor herself said, “Strong songs, energy, tension, and a fierce, almost tribal audience response – Oysterband at its finest….and I get to stand at the front. Yes!”.

Rolling Stone magazine described this pairing as, “A marriage made in heaven”, whilst Elvis Costello said, “If you can’t appreciate June Tabor, you should just stop listening to music”.  These live dates are indeed a rare chance for fans to check in with wonderful artists doing what they do best. Don’t miss them.

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‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – official video:

UK TOUR DATES 2019

THU 24 OCTOBER — NORWICH OPEN
FRI 25 OCTOBER — BRISTOL ST GEORGE’S
SAT 26 OCTOBER — SALISBURY CITY HALL
SUN 27 OCTOBER — LEICESTER DE MONTFORT HALL
WED 30 OCTOBER — CARDIFF TRAMSHED
THU 31 OCTOBER — SOUTHPORT ATKINSON
FRI 01 NOVEMBER — LEEDS TOWN HALL
SAT 02 NOVEMBER — THE GATESHEAD SAGE
SUN 03 NOVEMBER — WARWICK ARTS CENTRE
FRI 08 NOVEMBER — MANCHESTER RNCM
SAT 09 NOVEMBER — CLITHEROE GRAND
TUE 12 NOVEMBER — CHELTENHAM TOWN HALL
WED 13 NOVEMBER — EXETER TOWN HALL
THU 14 NOVEMBER — ISLINGTON UNION CHAPEL
FRI 15 NOVEMBER — SEVENOAKS STAG THEATRE

Tickets for all dates are on sale now and available from https://botw.ticketline.co.uk/oysterband-and-june-tabor

Folking looks forward to the New Forest Folk Festival

New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Coco & The Butterfields get the audience on their feet at New Forest Folk Festival 2018

The New Forest Folk Festival (taking place 3rd to 7th July), now in it’s eighth year, has been growing at a steady pace and is often referred to as “the small and friendly folk festival with the big line-up”. This year is no exception with artists including The Oysterband, Ralph McTell, Ashley Hutchings Morris On Band, Gigspanner Big Band, 3 Daft Monkeys, Richard Digance, The Sandy Denny Project, Reg Meuross and Merry Hell to name but a few.

You should be hearing Paul Johnson’s festival introduction (if not click play below).

New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Crowd shot form New Forest Folk Festival 2018

NFFF is situated in an idyllic farm location on the edge the New Forest. For many guests with tents and campers it is a holiday break with music rather than purely a music festival.  It is a time to catch up with friends over a pint of real ale or a glass of Somerset cider along with delicious homemade food. Many of the artists now stay over for a few days to chat and network with their musician mates in a relaxed atmosphere. It has become a genuine gathering of the UK folk clan!

Chris Leslie NFFF18
Chris Leslie with a magnificent solo set in 2018

With the single stage at the bottom of a gentle slope where the public can get up close and enjoy a dance when motivated, The New Forest Folk Festival is often likened to Cropredy but on a smaller scale –  indeed various members of Fairport Convention have performed on occasions both solo and with other groups. There is a wonderful cross-over where artists can be playing solo or with one band and then join another as a guest later on. These fantastic impromptu moments are loved by audience and artists alike.

Ken Nicol, Paul Burgess and Rick Kemp at New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Ken Nicol, Paul Burgess and Rick Kemp at New Forest Folk Festival 2018

Last year, 10cc’s drummer Paul Burgess played on the Friday in a trio then on Saturday when he came back to pick up his drum kit he found himself back on the stage as a guest with Hunter Muskett. Fiddle virtuoso Tom Leary has been known to appear many times over a weekend and has been a great friend of the festival since the beginning. In the Autumn he will be touring America with Joe Brown.

TRADDarrr at New Forest Folk Festival 2018
TRADDarrr at New Forest Folk Festival 2018 with some of the Sandy Denny Project.

For lovers of Sandy Denny’s music, The Sandy Denny Project will be very special. It started when BBC Radio Northampton, as part of National Music Day 2017, chose ex-Fotheringay MkII members Sally Barker (The Poozies, BBCTV’s “The Voice”) and guitarist PJ Wright (Little Johnny England, TradArrr, The Dylan Project) to celebrate the award of Sandy Denny’s Blue Plaque at Byfield Village Hall, the scene of her last-ever gig in 1978. The following year Sally and PJ constructed a dream folk-rock band to commemorate the passing of Sandy, 40 years before, for a sell-out concert at Byfield – “Sandyfest.”

This year the band, perform again at Byfield and also at two of English folk-rock’s best loved festivals – Cromer’s  Folk on the Pier and the New Forest Folk Festival. With the line-up of Sally, PJ, frequent Fairport guest Anna Ryder, fast rising star Marion Fleetwood (voice, fiddle, guitars) and the rhythm section of bassist Mat Davies and drummer Mark Stevens from Little Johnny England, the material is approached not as a tribute band, slavishly copying the records, but as a tribute in its best sense – an interpretation of Sandy’s wonderful body of work.

PJ Wright at NFFF18
PJ Wright conducting a slide workshop at The Fringe last year.

Something else that is very popular are the free workshops and singaround’s at the woodland fringe where people have enjoyed a mixture of subjects such as slide guitar with PJ Wright, fiddle playing with Tom Leary, song writing with Reg Meuross, ukulele for beginners, poetry, morris dancing and lots more.

To check out the full artist line-up and bios plus info on everything that is going on visit the website which is www.newforestfolkfestival.co.uk You will also find lots of photos and information.

Southampton Ukulele Jam NFFF18
Southampton Ukulele Jam do a workshop at the woodland fringe last year before transferring to the main stage for a fun session.

Tickets are £95 for the whole five days and day tickets £35. Children are roughly half price and under 5 yrs free. Prices rise to £105 & £40 at the beginning of June. They can be ordered online and you receive them by email.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Vision & Revision (Topic TXCD597)

Vision & RevisionIt can’t have escaped your notice that Topic Records is celebrating its 80th birthday this year. We’ve already had selected deluxe reissues of important albums but how can you really celebrate a catalogue as vast as this? Vision & Revision, subtitled The First 80 Years Of Topic Records, is the solution. Twenty artists, mostly from the younger generation, perform a song that was released on a Topic record some time in the last eight decades. I must congratulate Glen Johnson and Michael Mastrangelo who curated the set but I’m intrigued to know how they set about their task. Did they select twenty songs and parcel them out – surely not? So they must have picked twenty performers and turned them loose on the archives. Each one has a story and you’ll get dizzy following the cross-references.

The first disc opens with one of the old stagers, Martin Simpson, who sings ‘Beaulampkin’ which appeared on his first album. Martin didn’t join Topic until his third record but he learned the song from Hedy West’s Ballads. Of course, Sam Kelly learned ‘Shawnee Town’ from Martin and the baton moves on again. Another veteran is Martin Carthy who cites Sam Larner for ‘Napoleon’s Dream’. Martin heard Sam perform when he was just a teenager and Emily Portman gives Waterson:Carthy as the source of ‘The Bay Of Biscay’ – fifty years separate the two inspirations.

Martin is mentioned again by Chris Wood as the source of ‘Fable Of The Wings’, the Keith Christmas song adapted by Brass Monkey. It’s an unexpected choice and Chris takes it back to something like the guitar original. Anne Briggs is mentioned more than once and Kitty Macfarlane goes as far as singing ‘Go Your Way’ while Olivia Chaney borrows ‘Polly Vaughan’ from Hazards Of Love. Nancy Kerr namechecks June Tabor, Oysterband tackle Nic Jones’ ‘Seven Gypsies’ – an excellent reading of the song – and Peggy Seeger goes to Mike Waterson leaving The Oldham Tinkers to sing ‘Dirty Old Town’.

Another unexpected treat is Richard Thompson’s ‘The Light Bob’s Lassie’, a version of ‘Katie Cruel’ and there are two voices I haven’t heard before. The first is Irish singer Lisa O’Neill who sings ‘As I Roved Out’ with a mighty voice that takes absolutely no prisoners. The second is Lankum – please don’t ask me why I haven’t heard them before – whose lengthy take on ‘The Sea Captain’ closes the second disc.

There’s probably a great pub game to be had from matching twenty singers to twenty songs from the Topic catalogue but this is the official version. Sadly I won’t be around to hear what they select for the second eighty years.

Dai Jeffries

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Label website: www.topicrecords.co.uk

Martin Simpson – ‘Beaulampkin’ :

Topic Records celebrates its first 80 years

Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records

Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records is a deluxe double CD and double vinyl of the cream of contemporary British folk artists interpreting a song of their choice from Topic’s vast back catalogue (the only stipulation being that the song was at some time released on Topic). It includes newly recorded and never-before-released tracks by Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, Lankum, Peggy Seeger, John Smith, Sam Lee, Martin Carthy, Olivia Chaney, Lisa O’Neill, Oysterband, Nancy Kerr, Chris Wood, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Lisa Knapp, Kitty Macfarlane, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, Emily Portman & Rob Harbron, Rachael McShane & The Cartographers, Eliza Carthy & Olivia Chaney and The Oldham Tinkers. These artists have delved deep into Topic’s treasure chest to pull out all manner and variety of ballads and broadsides and breathed new life into them.

With its origins in the Workers’ Music Association, through the mid-20th century folk revival to the present day, Topic Records has established itself as not only the pre-eminent British folk music label, but one widely respected throughout the world. Topic has survived, grown and flourished – proof, if any were needed, that “grass roots” interest in traditional music, the artists and the label itself, has remained constant and strong. Topic has released some of the most influential folk recordings of modern times by a host of revered artists, from Anne Briggs to Peggy Seeger to June Tabor to Ewan MacColl and many, many more.

For 80 years, Topic Records has been a fervent and consistent champion of “the people’s music”. During that time, it has withstood wars, shortages, austerity, economic disaster, the vagaries of fashion, corporate onslaught and various cataclysmic shifts in the fortunes of the recording industry, to retain its proud and distinctively individual role as a beacon of integrity and true values. This fortitude has resulted in its unquestionable claim for being the oldest, surviving truly independent record label in the world.

“Folk music never goes away. You may not hear it, but it is always there, just over your cultural horizon. It lives in families, in communities, in the villages and towns and cities, and in the hearts of the people. Each generation takes what it needs and gives what it can to the tradition, each wave of newcomers turning another furrow, sowing new seeds. For eighty years, Topic Records has played a major role in this process, ensuring the old voices are still audible and creating a space for those that hear them to make new recordings of their own. Formats come and go, but like the music, Topic endures. Long may it do so.” – Billy Bragg

This 20-track double album comes in CD and vinyl gatefold formats, both housed in a special deluxe, debossed, silver foil-blocked sleeve. The vinyl issue is limited to 1000 copies only. A digital version of the album is also available.

Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records will be released on May 31st 2019.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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Label website: www.topicrecords.co.uk

Towersey Festival announces top names

Towersey

Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman, Steve Harley, and The Unthanks are among the acts headlining the 55th Towersey Festival.

The annual four-day folk and roots festival takes place from 23-26 August 2019, in Thame, Oxfordshire, and also boasts appearances from folk rock legends Oysterband, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Two-Tone heroes The Selecter, and shanty singers Fisherman’s Friends.

Former buskers, Hothouse Flowers hit the international stage when Dublin hosted the Eurovision Song Content in 1988. Since performing as an ‘interval act’, they’ve forged a reputation as a blistering live band, combining rock, soul and folk.

Steve Harley emerged from the London acoustic scene in the early 1970s and set the charts alight. A contemporary of Bowie and T.Rex, his hits include summer anthem ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and the enduring ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’.

Five years from his last appearance at the festival, Seth Lakeman arrives in the wake of an acclaimed globe-trotting stint as part of Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters. Expect to hear tracks from across the West Country musician’s career, including ninth album The Well Worn Path.

Remarkably, The Unthanks first ever live gig was at Towersey in 2004. Fifteen years on, and the Mercury Prize-nominated band have established themselves as one of contemporary music’s most inspiring, surprising and enquiring acts.

Also returning are Fisherman’s Friends. A huge success with audiences at 2018’s festival, the story of their incredible rise from Port Issac’s quayside to the UK album charts has now been turned into a film starring James Purefoy and Daniel Mays (in cinemas from 15 March 2019).

Others joining the line-up include Welsh/ African duo Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, winners of the fRoots Album of the Year 2018 Critics Poll; Show Of Hands’ guitarist Steve Knightley; BBC Scots Trad Music Award 2018’s Best Live Act, Elephant Sessions; and representing an exciting new generation of British singer-songwriters, troubadours Beans On Toast and Will Varley.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “After an amazing 2018, we’ve really set out to capture what people love so much about the festival.

“As a result, 2019 is one of our most exciting and eclectic line-ups, with some of the biggest names in folk and roots music, from Seth and The Unthanks to shanty superstars Fisherman’s Friends, alongside major musicians from across the British Isles, Africa, and North America. There’s also the usual collection of names, such as Beans On Toast, who may be new to Towersey audiences, but who we know they’ll love.

“There’ll be loads of other surprises too,” enthuses Joe, who adds that further announcements are to follow shortly, including details of Saturday night’s headliner and more information about the festival’s celebration of the life and work of musician, tutor, activist and Towersey Patron Roy Bailey, who sadly passed away in November.

Situated in easy reach of London and Birmingham, on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border, and established in 1965, Towersey is one of the UK’s longest running independent music festivals. Boasting nine venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features over 30 hours of ceilidh, daily workshops, well-stocked bars, street food, spoken word, film screenings, roaming performers, an acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August 2019 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 2) from £129 (adult), £120 (conc), £90 (youth), £65 (child). For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

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/.