FolkEast announces first names for 2020

FolkEast

As Early Bird tickets go on sale for the eighth FolkEast, England’s most easterly folk festival, organisers have announced the awesome Afro Celt Sound System will headline Saturday night.

The Grammy Award-nominated supergroup are past masters at fusing electronica with traditional Irish and West African music, producing a scintillating, high energy stage set. Formed back in 1995 by producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson, they won Best Group at the 2017 Songlines Music Awards.

Explosively combining folk traditions from contrasting cultures to breath-taking effect their number includes The Dhol Foundation’s drumming sensation Johnny Kalsi (no stranger to FolkEast), vocalist, kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté, bodhrán player and percussionist Robbie Harris and Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Rioghnach Connolly (The Breath), winner of Folk Singer of the Year at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Now firmly established on the UK folk calendar, Suffolk’s decidedly quirky festival will return to the glorious Constable-esque grounds of Elizabethan Glemham Hall between August 21-23, offering diverse performances on no less than seven stages – from local acts to international stars. Early Bird tickets will be on sale right through the festive period, until January 6, representing great savings. https://folkeast.co.uk/2020tickets-3/

Alongside the festival’s hugely popular, multi award-winning patrons, The Young’ uns (Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle), FolkEast is delighted to announce eight top level acts from its highly anticipated line-up.

Heading for the main stage will be the sublime, seamless partnership of Welsh harpist Catrin Finch with Senegalese kora maestro Seckou Keita. The exquisite pair clinched the Best Duo/Group award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, with Keita also winning the coveted Musician of the Year title.

FolkEast loves its Celtic connections and this year will be no exception. Flying the flag for Scotland will be three superb acts. Pedigree triumvirate Drever, McCusker, Woomble sees master fiddler John McCusker joining forces with Orkney-born singer songwriter Kris Drever and Idlewild’s lead singer Roddy Woomble.

Named the Best Live Act at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2018, quintet Elephant Sessions will head to Suffolk from the Scottish Highlands with their unique brand of indie folk while the powerhouse sextet of female instrumentalists that is The Shee (including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year 2017, harpist Rachel Newton) are sure to have the wow factor with their adventurous blend of Scottish folk, Gaelic song and bluegrass.

Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band takes folk legend Knight’s original Gigspanner trio (himself, Roger Flack and Sacha Tronchet) and fuses them with the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’ winners Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin (Edgelarks) and erstwhile Bellowhead star John Spiers to make something truly special, bursting with invention, enigma and grace. Though all the musicians have played FolkEast in their separate guises (including the debut performance of Knight and Spiers as a duo) this is the first time the Big Band has headed to Glemham Hall.

Brighton’s big band with a difference, The Moulettes have also been confirmed – described as an “eclectic art rock band’ they journey their way through rock, prog, pop and psychedelic folk.

Finally new kids on the block The Trials of Cato will be coming to the party.

Formed whilst they were all living and working in Beirut, Tomas Williams, Will Addison and Robin Jones are one of the fast-rising acts in folk and earlier this year won the Best Album gong at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, for their hugely impressive debut CD, Hide and Hair.

One of the most singular events on the UK festival calendar, FolkEast was launched seven years ago by husband and wife John and Becky Marshall-Potter.

Rekindling the ancient Eastfolk moots on the Glemham Hall estate where for three days a year the folk from the East would meet kith and kin at harvest time for “a bit of a do”, this gathering celebrates Suffolk at every turn -from its locally sourced fare to its suppliers, arts and crafts.

Says Becky: “Our aim is to create three blissful, fun-packed days when the outside world can be forgotten, a community can be formed and quality time had with family and friends.

Whilst FolkEast may be one of the smaller, independent festivals, it’s an event with big ideas – and plenty of them. As well as the main Sunset and Moot Hall stages (programmed by The Young’uns Michael Hughes), four further stages are programmed by independent local promoters and music organisations – John and Lynne Ward’s Broad Roots stage, Fiona Davies’ dance tent, Xenia Horne’s Sanctuary Stage (at the Glemham Hall estate church) and Amy Wragg’s ‘Get Off The Soapbox’ stage, powered by a solar bus in a mystical woodland setting.

There is plenty on tap for children – the Folk Moot young folk club sessions, a Sports Day, animation workshops, den building, storybook making, a mud kitchen and a chance to create your own jellyfish for the Soapbox Sunday Jellyfish Parade.

The festival offers fine Suffolk fayre, two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving competitively-priced, locally sourced ales and ciders (including Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewery’s festival ale Green Jackalope) as well as the popular imaGINe gin bar and possibly the smallest pub in the UK, the 6 x 4’ Halfway Inn! This year will also see a return of Truly Traceable’s Jackalope pie – a salute to the festival’s mystical mascot The Jackalope (half antelope, half Jack Rabbit) which every year keeps a beady eye on the event from the centre of the site.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, ‘Instrumental’, featuring a wide range of instrument makers, a packed dance programme, archery, donkey rides, the Eastfolk Kinodrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by estate owner Major Philip Cobbold.

FolkEast continues to embrace green initiatives. Says John: “Right from the inception of the festival we have worked hard to be as sustainable as possible and we are proud to hold Suffolk’s Gold Charter Award. Our ongoing aim is to further reduce our carbon footprint and 2019 saw a huge reduction in single use plastic on the site and hardly a trace of litter at the clear-up.”

On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk.

The Early Bird Festive Ticket offer is now open until January 6, 2019. Advance weekend tickets are available price £120 (adult), £108 (full time students, 65+) and £80 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds (and up to 3 under 11s) are £365. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping under canvas is £20 and camping on wheels £30. More information: info@folkeast.co.uk

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

THE YOUNG’UNS – The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff (own label)

The Ballad Of Johnny LongstaffNot, strictly speaking, the official follow-up to 2017’s BBC2 Folk Awards Best Album, Strangers, this essentially serves as a complement to the trio’s folk theatre tour of the same name, available both at next year’s shows and from the band’s website, the full package featuring a forty-page dossier with lyrics and commentary from the show, a copy of the Advance Newspaper, a facsimile of images from the show, a period leaflet and a poster.

The project came about following a Somerset concert in 2015 when one of the audience presented them with a picture of his late father, the titular Johnny Longstaff. Born in Stockton-On-Tees in 1919, as a teenager he walked 230 miles to London as part of the 1934 National Hunger March, subsequently fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, bearing witness to the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 between Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, the police and protestors and a chance meeting with Churchill in 1939.

Drawing on spoken word recordings of Longstaff housed in the Imperial War Museum as well as being given access to unpublished memoirs and Longstaff’s personal archives, the band put together a 90 minute audio-visual show featuring the 16 mostly a capella original songs on the album, including a re-recording of ‘Cable Street’ from the last album.

It opens with Longstaff introducing himself before launching into ‘Any Bread?’ a number recounting the poverty and atrocious working conditions rampant in the Teesside of his youth, stealing duck eggs to be cooked in a kettle as “Willie’s mam she were so poor she never had a pan.”

It leads into ‘Carrying The Coffin’ which, set to the tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’, links to Longstaff taking part in the aforementioned march in search of work and protest at Ramsay MacDonald’s government and from here to the amusing ‘Hostel Strike’, the words tumbling over one another as, through Sean Cooney, Longstaff recounts how, following an incident at the YMCA, he got involved in his first strike and discovered unionism.

Recorded in 1986, Longstaff’s own words bookend ‘Cable Street’ before the stage moves to the Spanish Civil War, first with ‘Robson’s Song’, a brief ditty sung as an exchange between Longstaff and recruiting officer Robbie Robson who reels off a list of all the reasons (no weapons, lice, no drugs for the wounded, etc) why he might not want to go. He did, of course, fighting with the 15th International Brigade, and, accompanied by piano and Longstaff’s reminiscences, the melancholic ‘Ta-ra To Tooting’ details his departure and a drink with his mates before he set off, inspired by the photo of himself and his friends he carried with him through Spain.

David Eagle takes over the lead vocals for both the 44-second ‘Noddy’, a music hall-style swayalong about having to strip off for medical inspection, to be followed by ‘The Great Tomorrow’, Cooney’s anthemic celebration of ‘The Internationale’ and the brotherhood of those from all over the world who went to fight Franco.

Spain remains the setting for ‘Ay Carmela’, which featuring piano, accordion, Spanish guitar and the sound of marching feet, sings of “the lost sons of Albion, the men of the British Battalion”, borrowing the tune from a popular song of the time, spoken passages detailing the tragic outcomes of the battles of Jarama, Brunete and Teruel that decimated their ranks.

The mood gets an uplift as Eagle returns for a 30 second flurry through ‘Paella’, introduced by Longstaff recalling his first Spanish meal, the theme of food spilling across into the rather less lighthearted No Hay Pan’, which, to a spare piano backing and vocal harmonies, recalls the hunger that afflicted the men, echoing the theme of the album’s opening number as it tells of being so desperate as to eat two candles found in a church.

Privation and abject conditions, especially in times of war, tend to produce camaraderie and, the verses shared between Cooney, Eagles and Michael Hughes, ‘Trench Tales’ is a lively evocation of this, reminiscent in many ways of the dark wit to be found in Oh! What A Lovely War. Eagle takes his final turn in the spotlight on ‘Lewis Clive’, an Oxford Blue Olympic medallist for whom Longstaff served as a runner, piano accompanying another music hall styled ballad with a tempo that swells and dips, the sting in the lyric about his death counterpointed by humorous sketch of him going for a swim in the seas of hell.

The second number revisited from Strangers, introduced by Longstaff, ‘Bob Cooney’s Miracle’ recalls how the titular Aberdeen-born commissar fed the 57 men gathered on the banks of the Ebro with a loaf of bread and a tin of corned beef. The river is also the setting for the shanty-like ‘Over The Ebro’, a number about the 1938 battle that inflicted a crushing defeat on the Republicans and in which Longstaff was wounded and temporarily blinded, eventually resulting in victory for Franco and the repatriation of the volunteers.

The last of the original numbers is ‘David Guest’, a memory of the communist scientist and philosopher, the first Englishman to be imprisoned by the Nazis in 1931, who was killed in 1938, the song amusingly recalling how he could have a gob on him when he lost his temper before the poignant final verse.

Frontended by Longstaff recalling how the returning fighters never had a heroes welcome or acknowledgement of their efforts and sacrifices, it ends with the trio’s version of ‘The Valley of Jarmana’, a song popular among the volunteers (the tune borrowed from ‘Red River Valley’), punctuated by a impassioned spoken passage by Longstaff, the final two verses being a recording of him singing, his voice cracked with emotion on the line about the fallen comrades and glorious dead, before the final click of the tape recorder provides the full stop to an inspirational story, brilliantly told.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.theyounguns.co.uk

‘The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff’ – the promo video:

The Young’uns and The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff

Three time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Young’uns present a new and unique piece of modern folk theatre.

The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff is the story of one man’s adventure from begging on the streets in the north of England to fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, taking in the Hunger Marches and the Battle of Cable Street. It’s a timely, touching and often hilarious musical adventure following the footsteps of one working class hero who witnessed some of the momentous events of the 1930s. With their trademark harmony, honesty and humour the Teesside trio bring together sixteen specially composed songs, spoken word, striking imagery and the real recorded voice of Johnny himself to tell a remarkable human story oozing with modern relevance.

To find out more about the story, watch the promo here:

To find out more about Johnny’s story, you can access a specially designed app called Johnny’s Journey. This can be accessed via the following link:

http://theyounguns.co.uk/johnnylongstaff

A new album comprising the songs from the show will be released on Friday 7th December 2018, with pre-ordering beginning in November.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 – Winners Revealed

Photo Credit BBC

The winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 have been announced in a ceremony broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Ulster, from Belfast Waterfront in Northern Ireland.

A key highlight of the music calendar – now in its 19th year – the awards produced by 7digital saw a host of music stars come together in Belfast for an evening of recognition and show-stopping performances. The ceremony was presented by Radio 2 Folk Show host Mark Radcliffe and world renowned Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis. Talented artists received prizes including Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Album, Musician of the Year, Young Folk Award and many more.

Music legend Van Morrison presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to musician and producer Dónal Lunny for his massive contribution to folk music.

Photo Credit BBC

The Good Tradition Award went to the Armagh Pipers Club to recognise their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and progression of traditional music over more than 50 years.

Folk Singer of the Year was awarded to Scottish singer-songwriter and musician, Karine Polwart, a talented artist who is also a theatre maker, storyteller, spoken-word performer and essayist.

Photo Credit BBC

Dónal Lunny took to the stage to perform with acclaimed musician Zoë Conway on the fiddle, and earlier in the evening Cara Dillon performed accompanied by Sam Lakeman on piano and John Smith on guitar.

Photo Credit BBC

Opening the show with a rousing performance of Devil In The Woman was Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band, driven by brass and electric guitar. And across the night there were also fantastic performances from Lankum, with their song What Will We Do When We Have No Money?, Paul Brady with a solo acoustic rendition of the ballad Lord Thomas And Fair Ellender, and finally, a nine-piece from the Armagh Pipers Club brought the evening to a close with a performance of three specially composed new songs.
The evening included the presentation of the 20th annual BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, an educational contest that exists to discover the next generation of folk acts. Mera Royle, a young harpist from the Isle of Man, was the recipient.

Photo Credit BBC

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: ‘I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners – the calibre of nominees was extremely high and the wealth of talent that was seen on stage across the evening in Belfast was spectacular. The Radio 2 Folk Awards is an annual celebration of the thriving folk music scene – supporting both established and burgeoning folk musicians – and part of our specialist music content that Radio 2 is proud to broadcast across the year.’

Influential singer-songwriter Nick Drake was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame to celebrate the lasting impression he has had on folk music, despite passing away at the age of just 26 in 1974. Had he lived, he would have turned 70 this year.

Olivia Chaney performed a special tribute with a sublime piano-based interpretation of Drake’s essential song, River Man. Olivia is a great fan of Nick Drake and a multi-talented singer, musician and songwriter. Her collaboration with The Decemberists, called Offa Rex, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2017. Her second solo album, Shelter, will be released in June 2018.

Photograph courtesy of Village Voice

Although Nick Drake’s music didn’t garner commercial success during his lifetime, decades after his early death, his music would find a wide and reverent audience. Featuring sublime and original guitar work which is heavy with meaning and mood, his work has been highly influential on singer-songwriters of all kinds. Actor Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s elder sister, was present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards to tell the audience how her famously shy brother might have felt about the occasion.

Later this evening (4 April) at 11pm on Radio 2, Lost Boy: In Search Of Nick Drake will be re-broadcast. In the documentary which originally went out in 2004, Hollywood film star Brad Pitt shines a light on the life and work of the cult singer-songwriter. Featured in the programme are contributions from producer Joe Boyd, engineer John Wood, Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Gabrielle Drake and Nick’s late mother, Molly Drake.

The Folk Awards will be broadcast on Sunday 8 April on BBC Four at 9pm and on BBC Two Northern Ireland at 5.30pm, plus selected highlights will be available to watch at bbc.co.uk/radio2 after the show.

The full list of winners:

HORIZON AWARD presented by Jamie Lawson
Ímar

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK presented by Val McDermid
Banks of Newfoundland by Siobhan Miller

BEST DUO presented by Rab Noakes
Chris Stout & Catriona McKay

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR presented by Leo Green
Mohsen Amini

BEST ORIGINAL TRACK presented by Ralph McTell
The Granite Gaze by Lankum

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Van Morrison
Dónal Lunny

BEST GROUP presented by Finbar Furey
Lankum

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Nick Drake

YOUNG FOLK AWARD presented by Lynette Fay of BBC Radio Ulster
Mera Royle

BEST ALBUM
Strangers by The Young’uns

GOOD TRADITION AWARD presented by Tommy Sands
Armagh Pipers Club

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR presented by Karan Casey
Karine Polwart

The Folking Awards results 2018

Here they are, the results of the 2018 Folking awards. Thanks to all our writers who submitted nominations and to everyone who participated – almost 17,000 votes were cast. Every one of the nominees made an impression on our writers either on record or on stage during 2017. Without further ado, here are the top choices with percentage of the votes cast.


Soloist of the year – Richard Thompson (31.3%)

Folking Awards results

Read a short bio here (as if you really need to!).


Best Duo – Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (46%)

Read a short bio here.


Best Band – Merry Hell (35.6%)

Best Live Act – Merry Hell (32.1%)

Just in case we haven’t told you about them often enough you can read about Merry Hell here.


Best Album – Strangers by The Young’Uns (29%)

Strangers

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Strangers here.


Best Musician – Ryan Young (35.6%)

Read Ryan’s bio here.


Rising Star Act – The Trials Of Cato (33.2%)

Read The Trials of Cato bio here.


Best International Artiste – Le Vent Du Nord (45.7%)

Photograph by Alistair Cassidy

Read Le Vent Du Nord’s bio here.