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.

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%)

Ninebarrow

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

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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
Ninebarrow
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar
Winter Wilson


Best Band

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Merry Hell
Skipinnish
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)

3hattrio
Tyler Childers
Mary Gauthier
Kíla
Larkin Poe


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REG MEUROSS – 12 Silk Handkerchiefs (Hatsongs HAT013)

12 Silk HandkerchiefsThis is not your typical Reg Meuross album. Not that it doesn’t have his consummate songwriting with its finely crafted melodies and emotive resonance and not that it isn’t beautifully sung; it’s just that, while he features on backing, Reg only sings two tracks. It is, in fact, a concept album, a song cycle about the Hull triple trawler tragedy when, in 1968, bad weather sank three separate trawlers in less than a month, with only one survivor from the total crew of fifty-nine men.

The album is based on Brian W. Lavery’s book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, which documents the subsequent campaign of Lillian ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca, one of the trawlermen’s wives and her friends to bring about changes in the fishing industry. As such, it comprises both song and spoken word, the narration delivered by Lavery himself, while Hull folk singers Sam (as in Samantha) Martyn and Mick McGarry provide both vocal and spoken tracks.

There’s six songs, each preceded by Lavery’s scene setting, opening with the waltztime shanty ‘Wash Her Man Away, McGarry on vocals, Meuross providing harmonies and acoustic and Martyn on harmonium, a number rooted in superstitions about bringing back luck, here a meticulously tidy housewife not doing the laundry on the day before her skipper husband sets sail, the lyrics evoking such portents as the men leaving their small change behind.

The intro to ‘I Am A Fish House Woman’ conjures the fellowship of the women in the cold of the fish processing plant, detailing the work, talk of missing ships and introducing Lily, on her last shift for two years. This time, it’s Martyn on vocals, Meuross on strummed dulcimer, for a six minute, chorus-friendly anthem to the women, the conditions they work under (“my mother was a skinner ‘til the freezing took her lung”) in their nine-hour day, slicing the ‘silver darlings’ and how, while the men are away “fighting for their lives, we’re fighting for their rights”.

Sung heartbreakingly in the first person, ‘John Barry Rogers’ recounts the story of the eighteen-year-old deckhand who, when their ship went down in an Atlantic storm, saved the life of first mate Harry Eddom, the sole survivor, getting him onto the raft, before dying of exposure. Backed by harmonium and guitar, McGarry again sings lead on a classic Meuross lyric as the doomed boy talks of his mother and sweetheart, left behind in the siren call of the sea.

As you might guess, one of the two tracks sung by Meuross, ‘The Man The Sea Gave Back’, turns the focus on Eddom, a flavour of early Dylan to its brisk strum with Martyn adding flute, as he sings of Eddom watching the other two survivors eventually fall victim to the cruel sea.

Both the narrative and the lyrics to ‘Sleep You Safely’, sung by Martyn, turn the spotlight back on Bilocca, who was ejected from the campaign group she’d founded after appearing on the Eamonn Andrews show when, asked how the men spent their time on shore, talked of the single ones going to the pub “with their tarts”, a term that had a different meaning back home at Hessle Road to the one the studio audience assumed. The men she’d fought for also turned against her after a ban on fishing in bad weather meant they lost catches to Icelandic trawlers, but counterpointed by a meeting with a young galley boy on her way back from the meeting.

A melancholic, slow paced number, again featuring one of Meuross’s trademark uplifting choruses, it gives way to the lilting title track, the intro noting how, after her husband’s death, Lily moved home to a council house, weighed down by her treatment by the media and the feeling of being abandoned and her fight ignored, falling into ill health and eventually dying of cancer at 59 in 1988.

The title refers to her last request to her daughter to buy the handkerchiefs which, on the day before she died, she handed out to all those who had looked after her. Sung by Meuross with Martyn and McGarry on harmonies, the simply strummed song itself takes a more metaphorical approach, the handkerchiefs also symbolic of, as the chorus notes, the months of the year, “the twelve holy fisherman keeping her loved ones from fear” and “all the company men In their temples of greed she battled and beat in the end And for all the men and boys who are called by the sea…to bring them home safely to thee.”

It ends with ‘Times and Tides’, a reading by McGarry from Lavery’s book that, like the album, is a finely spun tribute testament to the men who risk their lives to harvest the ocean and the women “who never waved…Nor wavered” and the kids waiting for their fathers’ return “Christmas every twenty-one days.” It’s rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies. Typical Reg Meuross after all, then.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.regmeuross.com

’12 Silk Handkerchiefs’ – live:

 

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/.

REG MEUROSS – Reg Meuross (Stockfisch SFR 357.40922)

Reg MeurossI don’t often get to review a Reg Meuross album, usually because someone else gets to them first but this time that someone else wrote the sleeve notes which rather disqualifies him. This pleases me greatly because Reg Meuross is quite probably the best album I’ve heard this year. There is back-story to go into first. Reg was invited to Northheim, Germany to record a retrospective album with new arrangements of favourite songs. The twist is that the favourites were selected by Stockfisch founder and producer, Günter Pauler.

The first selection is the heart-wrenching ‘Good With His Hands’ in which a man calls up boyhood memories of his carpenter father. The band supporting Reg is guitarist and flautist Ian Melrose, Lutz Möller on keyboards and bassist Antoine Pütz and elsewhere you’ll find harp, cello, saxophone and autoharp but even with all these contributions you really hear Reg and his guitar. Second is ‘The Man In Edward Hopper’s Bar’, the bar in question being the one depicted in Nighthawks which I’m sure you all know. The song is a musical interpretation of the painting as Reg imagines the lives and conversations of the people behind the glass.

Next comes the summary of the country’s woes that is ‘England Green & England Grey’ and I could happily stop there – three exquisite songs is a good return for most albums. Of course, if it had ended there I would have missed ‘One Way Ticket To Louise’, a deceptively simple song about a man leaving town on the night bus and ‘For Sophie (This Beautiful Day)’ about an anti-Nazi activist guillotined in 1943. And I wouldn’t have heard ‘And Jesus Wept’ telling the familiar story of a soldier executed for “cowardice” by firing squad in the Great War.

I’ve talked about half the album but I’m sure you get the idea. I could describe ‘The Band Played ‘Sweet Marie’’ and ‘Looking For Johnnie Ray’ and the others but I’d rather let you discover them for yourself and I urge you to do so because, as I said, this is one of the best albums of the year.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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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.regmeuross.com/

‘And Jesus Wept’ – live: