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/.

The Urban Folk Quartet announce autumn tour dates

The Urban Folk Quartet

The Urban Folk Quartet, one of the most exciting and vibrant bands on the UK acoustic/ roots scene, are heading back out on the road for their annual autumn tour.

Founded in 2009, The UFQ are a ‘folk group’ like no other. Across six albums (three studio; three live), they’ve developed a unique global sound that – though still rooted in both traditional songs  and Celtic dance forms – has grown to embrace Eastern European flourishes, Middle Eastern melodies, and rhythms associated with Afrobeat, north India and Cuba. American bluegrass, funk and the occasional stray EDM reference are also audible as tunes, jigs, reels and songs spiral outwards into tightly rehearsed and improvised directions.

Highly accomplished musicians, Joe Broughton (fiddle, mandolin, guitar), Paloma Trigás (fiddle), Tom Chapman (percussion) and Dan Walsh (banjo, guitar) have – collectively and as individuals – played with such established names as Joss Stone, The Albion Band, Sharon Shannon, Altan, Carlos Nuñez, Bellowhead, Fairport Convention, The Levellers, Seth Lakeman, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, and more.

Heading out after a summer of festivals and European dates, expect to hear a mix of revitalised and subtly changing old favourites alongside rapidly evolving new tracks. Entering a bold new phase epitomised by trust, confidence and experimentation, it’s fair to say that – even if set-lists seem identical – they never play the same show twice!

“It’s always enjoyable seeing how the new stuff goes down, how it interacts with the pieces around it and just generally taking it beyond the rehearsal room,” says Tom, one of the UK’s most accomplished and best known cajón players. “We’re not afraid to swap things around night-by-night and give it a go. It’s a great feeling when you have a solid set list down and you feel like you know everything inside out, but this phase of experimentation [we’re currently in] is equally as exciting, and I hope audiences get a sense of that.”

Artists’ website and more details: www.theufq.com

‘The Whiplash Reel’ – live:

Tour Dates

Saturday 1 December 2018
Hailsham Pavilion, George St, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 1AE
Tel: 01323 841414
7.30pm      £19.50
hailshampavilion.co.uk/events/the-urban-folk-quartet/

Saturday 15 December 2018
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Eastgate Street, Stafford ST16 2LT
Tel: 01785 619080
7.30pm      £16
www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk/en-GB/shows/urban%20folk%20quartet%202018/info

Urban Folk Quartet – new album

Urban Folk Quartet Live III

Reflecting their reputation as a forceful and electric live act, The Urban Folk Quartet return with an extended tour and new live album.

As the title suggests, The Urban Folk Quartet: Live III is The UFQ’s third live album, and follows the previously released Live (2011) and Live II (2013).

Recorded in concert during their spring 2015/ 2016 tour – at venues in Chester (Alexander’s), Maldon (Town Hall), Stafford (Gatehouse Theatre), and Bristol (Folk House) – the nine tracks see the quartet revisiting material from 2014 studio album, The Escape, and road-testing new tunes.

A perfect showcase for the four-piece’s breath-taking musicianship, Live III embraces their full scope, from the full-on ‘Upward Spiral’, to quieter ‘Resiste’ and ‘The Language Barrier’.

New tracks (pencilled in for their 2018 studio album) underline the quartet’s quizzical restlessness and globe-spanning sense of adventure: inspired by a trip to India. ‘Whiplash Reel’ transports a classical Indian scale into a Celtic setting, while the grooving ‘Long Time Traveller’ presents a distinctly UFQ take on a song adapted from famed American 19th century tunebook, The Sacred Harp.

In the concert environment, tunes familiar from ‘The Escape’ (which featured in several prominent ‘best of 2015’ lists) take on a newfound power and direction, as The UFQ feed off the crowds’ enthusiasm and energy, extending and transforming their growing catalogue.

“The pieces are arranged to deliberately get the audience going, with improvised passages that respond to the audience’s reaction, the vibe,” explains fiddle-player Joe Broughton. “That’s the whole reason we like to do live albums. In ‘Control Zed’, Tom does a phenomenal percussion solo – it’s those special moments of interaction where we use the energy from the crowd …”

While other bands may use the live album format to fulfil contractual obligations or as a filler, the prolific UFQ see their in-concert releases as an integral part of their creative process – hence their plan to follow each studio album with a live counterpart (something which their growing international fan-base have now come to expect).

The UFQ’s sixth album over-all, Live III, however, takes a different approach to its predecessors, I and II.

“Our previous live albums have very much been presented as one night”, says percussionist Tom Chapman. “Even though Live II was recorded at two gigs, when you listen to it it’s easy to hear it as one gig. Live III is very definitely an album collected over months, with varied rooms and audiences giving the album its unique dynamic drive.”

The release arrives at a time of increased UFQ activity. 2016 saw the band perform a series of jaw-dropping sets at various UK and international festivals, including Green Man, Towersey, Cropready, Shrewsbury, Ringsted in Denmark, and Lakeland Festival, in Erlach, Switzerland. They were also personally invited by singer Joss Stone to appear at children’s charity Barnardo’s 150th anniversary concert at London’s The Roundhouse.

The Urban Folk Quartet have been dazzling audiences with their brand of ‘electrifying acoustic music’ since 2009. Galician fiddle player Paloma Trigás has shared stages and recorded with the likes of The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon and Altan, and toured the stadiums of the world with Spain’s biggest folk star, Carlos Nuñez. Long established on the folk scene as a fiery English fiddler and showman, Joe Broughton (Albion Band), is also an exceptional guitarist and mandolin player. Dan Walsh is regarded as one of the finest banjo players in the country, as well as being a gifted singer and guitarist, while percussionist Tom Chapman is widely considered to be the most accomplished and innovative cajón player the UK has to offer.

Artists’ website: http://www.theufq.com/

‘The Language Barrier’ live:

Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys TWO FINE DAYS

“The Birmingham-based, Young Folk Awards-nominated duo’s free-spirited music sounds centuries old. It’s not, and their fresh guitar and violin set-up adds a rare sparkle to traditional hues.” Q Magazine

Jack and Charlie’s well-known idiosyncratic approach to folk music and song writing has earned them an enviable reputation as two of the most exciting, heartfelt and challenging musicians around. Writing songs that seem to grow out of the ground and tunes that tell stories in their own right, Jack and Charlie’s original music strings together the past, present and what might yet be of folk music. Their first two albums on Fellside, Light Up all the Beacons and The Northern Road followed them as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, and were met with critical acclaim; their fresh and compelling sound inspiring audiences up and down the country and being described in The Sunday Times as “real folk – not nu-folk, folktronica, or some other apologetically named subgenre – and it doesn’t seem to need reinventing.”

All the music and songs take inspiration from ever-changing landscapes, people and common traditions of hope, fear, love and home. Still feeling inspired and at the start of a growing musical career their enthusiasm resonates with an audience hungry for something new and exciting. For their new album TWO FINE DAYS the duo are joined by Hannah Phillips on Scottish harp (TMSA Young Trad Award Finalist), Sean Law on Double Bass and the renowned percussionist Tom Chapman (The Old Dance School, The Urban Folk Quartet, Chris While and Julie Matthews).

Expanding their musical language, creating beautiful and memorable textures while cooking up an instrumental, breaking storm, Jack and Charlie have come a long way since the folk awards; their live shows are packed with stories, good humour and most importantly, music to remember.

When it comes to the songs on TWO FINE DAYS who better to describe the story behind the songs than Jack McNeill himself; “Debatable Lands is about the bloody history concerning the people who lived in the border lands between England and Scotland. Much has been written and sung about this subject before where for 300 years families were subjected to brutal attacks from both sides, but perhaps the greatest harm would be inflicted upon each other. I was brought up with these stories and this song looks at the worrying question of why rather than unite at such times, people will sometimes destroy each other. In For the Want, ‘A kingdom was lost, all for the want of a nail’… a well-known story about small actions (or lack of) and their large consequences. In this song it’s the kingdom of friendship that is rescued by the knowledge that no-one is free of blame when things go wrong. You’ll find pieces of ‘seaglass’ all over this country’s coastline, bits of glass that have been tossed and tumbled in the waves to finally be thrown back to shore. The idea behind the song ‘Seaglass’ is that sometimes this process of breaking, produces unexpectedly beautiful things. The tune in the middle is called ‘left-boot clog’, it was written remembering a story about a relative of mine who fell overboard and was later identified by his two left shoes which had been hurriedly snatched up, unchecked after a period of time on shore. The title track is of course Two Fine Days. It’s often said that there can be a few small events which can change a whole life, that when we look back on the people, words and decisions shaping where we are now, the ones that really counted are few but unforgettable. Two Fine Days are just that.

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).

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For more information and the latest tour dates, please visit:
www.fellside.com

“Undeniably impressively talented…thoughtful and intelligent songs…brimful of interest and promise…this album will turn out to be rather a grower.” fRoots

“Delivered with commitment and passion, these highly descriptive sound-stories are beautifully set against [Jack’s] understated, melodic guitar playing and Charlie’s perfectly judged fiddle accompaniments.” R2 magazine