Starting line-up revealed for the annual Towersey Festival

Towersey Festival

Folk favourites Kate Rusby, Steeleye Span and Show of Hands are some of the confirmed acts that will welcome festival-goers at Towersey Festival’s new home of Buckinghamshire, in August 2020.

The iconic folk and roots festival will celebrate its 56th year from 28-31 August 2020, in Buckinghamshire’s stunning Claydon Estate, in Middle Claydon.

Joining these folk greats are more contemporary names such as This Is The Kit, Grace Petrie, London’s ground-breaking Brass ensemble The Hackney Colliery Band and Scottish power trio Talisk. Also, on the initial roster are new band The Magpie Arc, featuring guitar great Martin Simpson, English folk singer Nancy Kerr and leading musicians from Scotland.

Four years since her last visit to Towersey, Kate Rusby was described by The Guardian as “one of the superstars of the British acoustic scene”. Forever proud to call herself a folk singer, Kate’s beautiful, expressive vocals never fail to connect the emotional heart of a song to that of her audience. The crossover appeal Kate enjoys is unprecedented for a folk singer and has been achieved without resort to compromise.

Among the most commercially successful and influential traditional artists, thanks to their hit singles ‘Gaudete’ and ‘All Around My Hat’, Steeleye Span changed the face of folk music forever. After 50 years, they are as creative and vital now as ever, with a new album that is garnering rave reviews and taking their live performances to new levels.

Also returning to Towersey 2020 is the multi-award-winning Show of Hands, with their new four-piece line-up including master percussionist Cormac Byrne, who returns with his blistering additions by popular demand. There’s no doubt that Show of Hands the four-piece, now something of a supergroup, and their combined musicianship is guaranteed to sound nothing short of magical.

Towersey is renowned for staging artists that are not often seen at bigger music festivals so it should not be a surprise to see one of the country’s leading choral groups, The London Welsh Male Voice Choir, amongst the first artists revealed.

Others joining the line-up include indie-folk band Laura Cortese And The Dance Cards, girl power bluegrass band Midnight Skyracer and 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award ‘Best Album’ winners, The Trials of Cato.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “After a record-breaking 2019 festival we are very excited to be moving to an incredible new site and working with Claydon Estate. 2020 will be such a special year – our new and stunning location provides such a fabulous backdrop for our festival, and with these first-named artists, we have the beginnings of what could be our greatest line-up to date.

“There’ll be loads of other surprises and more great names to come in 2020, but we are so excited to be sharing these first artists now as well as announcing our exclusive Circus and Music Show ‘Circocentric’ which will premiere at Towersey.”

Towersey is the UK’s longest-running independent music festival, with seven venues featuring an extensive music programme, over 30 hours of ceilidh, and a packed schedule of daily workshops. 2020 will feature many of the regular favourites plus the introduction of new circus shows and workshops, well-being & mindfulness activities and outdoor experiences.

With a dedicated and acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festivalgoers, as well as street theatre performers, arts and crafts, film screenings, late-night sessions, real ale and cider bars and street food, there really is something for everyone.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 28 to Monday 31 August 2020 at Claydon Estate, Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire (claydonestate.co.uk), are now available from £144 (adult), £134 (concessions), £70 (young person 5-17). For more information go to www.towerseyfestival.com

The line-up so far

Friday 28 August

Steeleye Span
Show of Hands
Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
Forest of Fools
Whapweasel
Honey And The Bear

Saturday 29 August

This Is The Kit
Talisk
Midnight Skyracer
The Trials of Cato
Jackie Oates & John Spiers
Smith and Brewer

Sunday 30 August

Kate Rusby
Hackney Colliery Band
The London Welsh Male Voice Choir
Ranagri
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra

Monday 31 August

Grace Petrie
The Magpie Arc
Matthew Byrne
Circocentric – EXCLUSIVE TO TOWERSEY! A newly created Circus show by The Chipolatas and The Pirates of the Carabina!

TICKETS:

Weekend Tickets with camping (4 days)
Standard: Campsite access from 9am on Friday 28th August.

Adult £169; Conc £159; Young Person (5-17yrs) £85; under 5s FREE.

Weekend Tickets without camping (4 days)
Standard: Site access from 9am on Friday 28th August.

Adult £144; Concession £134; Young Person (5-17) £70; under 5s FREE.

Day Tickets without camping

Fri Adult £45; Young Person (5-17) £30; under 5s FREE.

Sat/Sun Adult £50; Young Person (5-17) £35; under 5s FREE.

Mon Adult £35; Young Person (5-17) £25; under 5s FREE.

Day ticket camping Adult £15; Young Person (5-17) £10; Under 5s FREE

Box office: 0115 807 7900

Festival website: www.towerseyfestival.com

 

STEELEYE SPAN – EST’D 1969 (Park Records PRKCD154)

Est'd 1969There are bands who seem to have always been there and have established a reputation that even allows them to break out into the mainstream on occasions.  Steeleye Span are one such band and this year they celebrate their 50th Anniversary with a brand new record Est’d 1969.  Perhaps you would expect some kind of retrospective and you might reasonably expect ‘All Around My Hat’ to appear at some stage.  However as lead vocalist Maddy Prior said in a recent radio interview, with Brian Player on Wey Valley Radio, “We’ve done a couple of “Best of..” type albums and I think we’ve covered that, and I thought for our 50th we should do something new.” They certainly have produced something new, and very good, being familiar enough for people who have followed them from the start to feel at home with whilst being fresh enough to appeal to new ears.

The album is a mixture of new songs, along with the traditional, but it has that distinctive sound of Steeleye Span to it.  The album opens with ‘Harvest’ and I’m sure that a lot of people, without knowing in advance who the band are, would recognise them within ten seconds.  If they didn’t get it from that then after twenty seconds there would be no doubt at all in their minds.  A close harmony opening, very reminiscent of ‘Gaudete’, gives way to a rollicking folk song that is going to go down a storm at festivals and live shows with a chorus you can’t help but sing along to “And we’ll roar out, roar out, roar out our harvest home.

Of the nine track on the album it’s difficult to pick which ones to talk about because there’s such a range across it.  Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’ is dominated by Maddy Prior’s voice, deeper than it was but still beautiful, and with a surprisingly detailed backing that doesn’t detract from the words.

Of the traditional songs ‘The Boy And The Mantle’ (Child Ballad 29) is an saga lasting over six minutes and demonstrates the best of prog rock folk, with a harpsichord and electric guitars adding to the effect.

Although the track listing is nine there are actually ten tracks as ‘Domestic’ has two songs in it, the second of which gratifyingly starts with “As I walked out one May morning” to show without doubt folk is the heart of Steeleye Span’s music.  This also harks back to The Silly Sisters, being a song Maddy used to sing with June Tabor.  The men don’t particularly come out well on either track.

Est’d 1969 has a huge range, different styles and tempos and new band members bringing their own influences but retaining the core sound in an evolution rather than rebellion.  Over fifty years cycles begin to appear so Benji Kirkpatrick is now part of the band, following in father John’s footsteps.   Given all the changes how is that sound maintained?  Maddy Prior again “It’s very interesting having new people, young people, who don’t know a lot about traditional music…they think they know what it is before they join us and then they discover it’s much more complex than that”.

There are a couple of chances to see Steeleye Span play at festivals over the summer but then also a major tour in November and December; full details are on the website.  If you can’t wait until then to get Est’d 1969, and you shouldn’t, it’s released on 28th June and is available from Park Records

Happy Birthday, Steeleye Span, 50 years young and still making a huge contribution to the folk scene.  Long may it continue.

Tony Birch

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 Artist’s website: http://steeleyespan.org.uk/

‘Harvest’ – live:

Steeleye Span celebrate 50 years

Steeleye Span

Park Records are delighted to announce the release of EST’D 1969 from Steeleye Span on 24 June 2019 ahead of UK dates later in the year.  This is a new collection of songs, featuring contributions from all seven of the band members [with a guest appearance from Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on ‘Old Matron’]. EST’D 1969 captures the ethos of the heritage and history of the band itself, but also the rich vein of tradition that they draw inspiration from, but remains fresh and contemporary. This is a celebration of 50 years but the band continues to look to the future.

‘Space Oddity’. ‘Suspicious Minds’. ‘Pinball Wizard’. ‘Whole Lotta Love’. ‘Come Together’ – 1969 could easily be said to be a vintage year for music, the end of a decade that changed the world and the introduction to one that would prove equally inspirational. It would also see the birth of a band that would start as an idea to electrify traditional music and would go on to become one of the most enduring stories in the folk world and beyond. Over the past fifty years, Steeleye Span have come to define the concept of English folk rock – taking it from the world of small clubs into the charts, concert halls and festivals around the globe.

The story of their career has included incredible moment after incredible moment – taking Latin carol ‘Gaudete’ onto Top Of The Pops, recording with David Bowie and Peter Sellers, showering their audiences with pound notes, scoring a top five hit with ‘All Around My Hat’, touring UK arenas with Status Quo, reuniting virtually all their members for a famous 25th anniversary show and entering their fifth decade as creatively inspired and active as ever – including the acclaimed Wintersmith album with Sir Terry Pratchett.

Featuring some of the most famous names in folk music from down the years (Martin Carthy, Tim Hart, Bob Johnson, John Kirkpatrick, Peter Knight, Ken Nicol, Liam Genockey), the band has perhaps been most identified with Maddy Prior – one of the most distinctive voices in British music. Helping found the band with her musical partner Tim Hart, she has steered Steeleye through their various incarnations, as well as a successful solo career and a number of regular collaborations with the likes of June Tabor and The Carnival Band. Steeped in the mythology and history of the British Isles – and beyond – her lyrics have retold some of the most notable stories in the tradition. Tales of love, tragedy, injustice, murder, revenge and redemption – all have come to personify the band’s musical sound, a marrying of folk tunes with the finest in rock instrumentation.

As they celebrate their milestone anniversary with EST’D 1969, Steeleye Span show no signs of slowing down. Releasing seven studio and four live albums since the turn of the century, their current seven piece line-up ranks as one of the strongest of their long history and features John Kirkpatrick’s son Benji amongst others. The band perform this summer at Glastonbury, Cornbury and Beautiful Days Festivals and will be touring the UK extensively in Winter 2019.

Artists’ website: http://steeleyespan.org.uk/

They’re still doing it. ‘All Around My Hat’ – live:

Live Dates

Wednesday 11th December      The Haymarket Basingstoke

Paul Johnson speaks to Ken Nicol at The Great British Folk Festival 2018

Ken Nicol
Ken Nicol at The Great British Folk Festival 2018

As the curtain was raised on another year of The Great British Folk Festival – it was for me my first year at this event – a newbie to a festival that has now established itself at a major player on the folk festival circuit. Being my first trip, I wanted to pre-book a couple of interviews with some of the artists that were performing  – and one person I was interested in finding out more about, was the ex Steeleye Span, Albion Band and Magna Carta guitarist and singer Ken Nicol.

The set and performance was excellent… one man… two guitars and a ukulele with a few great heart warming stories thrown in that held and enthralled the audience.

Over the years, Ken Nicol has built up a huge reputation as a singer songwriter – and a fairly useful… in fact totally brilliant guitarist in his own right. Ken tours regularly all over the world and has a growing legion of loyal fans. I was intrigued to find out more about the man and his work – and caught up with him after he opened the festival on ‘Reds Stage’ in Skegness.  We spoke about performing solo, medication, health and spiritual song writing.

This is what he had to say.

Paul Johnson

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Artist’s website: https://kennicol.com/

Here is Ken performing I.H. or his Scottish Tune as he calls it.

The 2017 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Folking Awards. Last year’s inaugural poll was such a success that we had to do it again. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with sweat, tears and not a little blood by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have been featured in the pages of folking.com in 2016.

As with the format last year, all are winners in our eyes. However, its not just down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

Soloist Of The Year

Luke Jackson
Ralph McTell
Kelly Oliver
Steve Pledger
Alasdair Roberts


Best Duo

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater
O’Hooley & Tidow
Ninebarrow
Show Of Hands


Best Band

Afro Celt Sound System
Fairport Convention
Harp And A Monkey
Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitor Band
Merry Hell


Best Live Act

The James Brothers
Robb Johnson and the My Best Regards Band
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Mad Dog Mcrea
Megson


Best Album

Tall Tales & Rumours – Luke Jackson
Ballads Of The Broken Few – Seth Lakeman/Wildwood Kin
Preternatural – Moulettes
Somewhere Between – Steve Pledger
Dodgy Bastards – Steeleye Span


Best Musician

Ciaran Algar
Phil Beer
Rachel Newton
Gill Sandell
Kathryn Tickell


Rising Star Act

The Brewer’s Daughter
Hattie Briggs
Said The Maiden
Sunjay
Emily Mae Winters


Best International Act

Applewood Road
The Bills
David Francey
Michael McDermott
Eve Selis


Public Vote

The public vote closed Midday Saturday 22 April 2017 and the winners have now been announced HERE


If you would like to consider ordering a copy of an album for any of our award winners (in CD or Vinyl), download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected songs (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above.

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

Steeleye Span and some real Dodgy Bastards

steeleye span 2016

In an age when it is not uncommon for an artist to take five years to follow up a successful album, the creativity that Steeleye Span displayed in their early years is still astonishing. In the decade between their debut and 1980’s Sails Of Silver, they released twelve records alongside touring the world and enjoying a string of hits. Now with their 50th anniversary fast approaching, the band have come close to matching that work rate – readying themselves for the release of Dodgy Bastards, their eighth album in twelve years.

Such inspiration has come both from the individuals involved (Steeleye mainstays Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp and Liam Genockey alongside Jessie May Smart, Andrew Sinclair and Julian Littman in the current line-up) and the source material. Having set the writings of the late Terry Pratchett to music on the successful Wintersmith album and revisited their own past on 2015’s Catch Up, this latest outing finds them returning to the folk tales and characters that have always been at the heart of the Steeleye sound.

Dodgy Bastards draws on the work of 19th century American scholar Francis James Child and his collection of English and Scottish Ballads. The album is appropriately titled, containing stories of murder, religion, incest, skulls, honour killings and tormented spirits – the perfect subject material for Steeleye Span’s dark take on the music of the British Isles.

Such epic tales require a suitable musical backdrop and the record is firmly in the band’s classic musical mould. ‘Brown Robyn’s Confession’ sets the tone but with a new twist, violinist Jessie May Smart taking the lead vocal before the distinct tones of Maddy Prior join her on the striking chorus. Elsewhere each member plays their part, allowing the music to explore a variety of different paths as the songs ebb and flow in keeping with their characters and events – with Prior and Littman even adding a spoken word / rap element to long time band favourite ‘Boys Of Bedlam’.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
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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. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

Artists’ website: http://steeleyespan.org.uk/

The Dodgy Bastards trailer:

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