Will Pound announces new album and tour

Will Pound

As Britain prepares to depart the European Union and enter an uncertain future virtuoso musician Will Pound – one of the biggest names in UK folk music – has decided to let the music do the talking.

The harmonica wizard and melodeon maestro spent last summer travelling across Europe to meet musicians who will inform or be part of his forthcoming album A Day Will Come, due to be released and toured in May 2020.

Warwickshire-based Will, nominated three times for the coveted Musician of the Year title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards says:

“This was never a pro Remain or pro Leave project – it’s about identity, music and the subject of home.”

“The idea was to discover and celebrate the traditional music of the countries that make up the European Union. It’s been an absolute privilege to learn about the diverse folk music traditions and compose or arrange tunes influenced by them. Although I am familiar with the music of some of the countries I particularly wanted to learn about the music of Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Malta.”

And Will is delighted that none other than Scottish superstar Dame Evelyn Glennie (‘the world’s premier solo percussionist’) is a special guest on the release. Says Will:

“It is wonderful to get someone of her stature to be part of this project and I have really enjoyed working with her. She will be playing a Bulgarian rachenista and a new tune I have written based on Romanian folk music.”

The album will also feature a new ensemble assembled especially for the project including another Scottish musician – 2019 Scots Trad Music Awards Musician of the Year Jenn Butterworth (Songs of Separation/Kinnaris Quintet) – an outstanding guitarist who was also nominated for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year last year.

Joining Jenn will be multi-instrumentalist Jude Rees (Jim Moray, RSC, Pilgrims’ Way) and stand-out fiddle player Patsy Reid, the former Breabach member who has been described as ‘the most in-demand traditional fiddle player in the UK’.

The ensemble will tour venues in May 2020 followed by summer festivals. Audiences can expect a whistlestop tour of the music of a continent – from lively Swedish polskas to upbeat Italian tarantellas, swirling Irish jigs, buoyant French bourrées, relentless rachenistas from Bulgaria and sizzling Spanish jotas.

Supported by Arts Council England, the album and show will also feature new poetry by Polish performance poet Bohdan Piasecki. Poland’s first Slam poet, he is now based in Birmingham and the poetry will be inspired by interviews with EU nationals that have made England their home.

The album will feature music from 27 member states of the EU across 14 tracks.

The name of the release is taken from a speech made by French writer Victor Hugo in 1849 in which he spoke of a united Europe and the ‘disappearance of frontiers from maps and of prejudices from hearts’.

To research the project, Will set off on a road trip in May which took in Malta, Bulgaria, Latvia and Croatia.

MALTA: “In Malta I met a fantastic pipe maker and musician called Francesco Sultana – he talked to me about his background, how he got into music and creating bagpipes or Zagg, made from complete animal skins.”

BULGARIA: “In Bulgaria I visited the city of Dobrich and met Zhivko Zhelev, leader of the Dobrudja State Folk Ensemble. He talked about his career and how he had become leader of the ensemble. “He also organised a demonstration by dancers, musicians and singers which was incredible and I ended up having a little jam with them.”

LATVIA: “I interviewed Valdis Muktupāvels, a Latvian ethnomusicologist, musician and composer.

CROATIA: In Zagreb I spoke to Dunja Bahtijarevic and Barbara Majnaric about the music of the Balkans. Dunja will guest on the album”

Says Will: “It has been a real voyage of discovery to spend time with fellow European musicians and see them play the traditional tunes of their countries. Now we hope we have done them justice and created an album that does them proud.”

This celebration of traditional European music follows the success of Pound’s Morris and folk dance album Through the Seasons – with the accompanying live show enjoying two UK tours.

Pound was nominated for the Musician of the Year title at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2016, 2014 and 2013. He was named Best Newcomer by Songlines Magazine in 2014 and won FATEA Magazine’s Musician of the Year title in both 2014 and 2015.

He has also appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and his music has been played on Radios 2, 3 and 6 and the BBC World Service. Will also played harmonica on the Hillsborough charity single, joining a line-up of pop and football stars, on He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother which became the Christmas No 1 in 2012.

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

What a jam – Will Pound and Dame Evelyn Glennie:

Tour Dates

Tuesday 5 May – The Silver Street Sessions, Wiveliscombe, Somerset www.silverstreetsessions.co.uk/contact.html /01984 623308
Wednesday 6 May – Stanley Halls, Croydon – 0208 251 0184
Thursday 7 May – Theatre Royal Wakefield – 01924 211 311
Friday 8 May – Settle Victoria Hall www.settlevictoriahall.org.uk/eventsandshows/will-pound-080519
Saturday 9 May – North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/will-pound-a-day-will-come/
Tuesday 12 May – The Apex, Bury St Edmunds –www.theapex.co.uk/whats-on/details.cfm?id=524747&ins=694990
Thursday 14 May – University of Sheffield – https://concerts.sheffield.ac.uk/whats-on/will-pound-a-day-will-come
Sunday 31 May – Warwick Arts Centre –https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/2020/will-pounds-a-day-will-come#unit-production-dates-and-times

Warwick Folk Festival announces Will Pound as new Patron

Will Pound

Warwick Folk Festival, which celebrates its 40th year in 2019, has announced one of the biggest names in folk music as its new Patron – multi-instrumental wizard Will Pound.

Pound, born in the county at Rugby, brought up in Whitnash and now living in Kenilworth, is best known as a world-class harmonica player but is also a fine melodeon exponent.

Festival director Dick Dixon says:  “Warwickshire lad Will is one of the finest traditional musicians of his generation. He has worked with the best, been nominated and won many coveted awards and is known and admired across the globe.

“He was nurtured right here in the Warwickshire folk scene and continues to contribute fully to the local music and Morris dance circuit. As the county’s leading folk event, Warwick Folk Festival is delighted and proud that Will has agreed to be our Patron.”

Pound has been nominated for the coveted Musician of the Year title at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards three times, in 2016, 2014 and 2013. He was named Best Newcomer by Songlines Magazine in 2014 and won FATEA Magazine’s Musician of the Year title in both 2014 and 2015. He has also appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and his music has been played on Radios 2, 3 and 6 and the BBC World Service. Will also played harmonica on the Hillsborough charity single, joining a line-up of pop and football stars, on ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ which became the Christmas No 1 in 2012.

Brought up in the Morris tradition he is a member of Warwickshire’s Chinewrde Morris and Earlsdon Morris. He had long held an ambition to record an album celebrating the music of Morris and folk dance and last May that came to fruition when he unveiled the CD Through the Seasons – A Year in Morris and Folk Dance, with a companion live show touring the UK, supported by Arts Council England.

Says Will: “I’ve been involved with Morris and folk dance since I was born, as my parents were already part of Chinewrde Morris. So I’ve grown up in a vibrant and fun community of dance and music in Warwickshire.

“I’m very honoured to have been asked to become Patron of Warwick folk festival. I’ve been involved at the festival playing with many acts and with the Morris and I haven’t missed a Warwick in my lifetime! I really hope everyone enjoys the 2019 festival and I look forward to many more years to come at this brilliant festival.”

Will is set to tour the Through the Seasons show again next spring with musical collaborators Benji Kirkpatrick and Ross Grant and storyteller Debs Newbold.He will also be touring once more with accordion maestro Eddy Jay but from July 25-28, 2019 there is only one place he will be – back in his home county as he takes up his patronship of Warwick Folk Festival.

Since its humble beginnings in 1979, the annual Warwick Folk Festival has grown into one of the most highly regarded folk events on the UK festival calendar attracting fans from all over Britain and as far afield as the USA and Australia. The festival takes place at the Warwick School campus and as well as a wealth of music features comedy, crafts, dance and workshops.

Artist’s website: www.willpound.com

Festival website: warwickfolkfestival.co.uk

‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ – official video featuring Will Pound:

Joe Broughton talks about The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble

Conservatoire Folk Ensemble

“Things often get out of hand when working with the Folk Ensemble,” reckons founder and leader Joe Broughton. “You just mention an idea and before you know it it’s ten times bigger than what you intended – I guess because the band is ten times the size of a normal band.”

With fifty members, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble has never been a ‘normal band.’ A perfect example of that in action is the band’s latest release, ‘Sleepy Maggie’. It began life as a one-off, stand-alone track, before ideas of an EP took hold, and it eventually spiralled into a ten-track album!

“The ideas started flowing …” explains Joe of what soon became Sleepy Maggie + Remixes Reworkings and Rarities, and features a succession of radical revisions of an already radical take on a traditional track, calling on chunky guitars, EDM, beats and Chinese grooves, and more. If Joe told you there was a kitchen sink in there – you wouldn’t argue.

The arrival of ‘Sleepy Maggie’ coincides with the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble’s own mini-festival, the appropriately named Power Folk 5. Taking place in their hometown of Birmingham and featuring such special guests as Will Pound, Threaded and the Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar Trio, along with DJ spots and appearances from many ensemble members, it regularly sells out in advance – and this year is no exception.

“Power Folk really is a unique event,” says Joe, who founded the group 21 years ago. “With almost 100 musicians playing over the course of the day and the evening in such an intimate venue, it’s powerful and really exciting.

“I always make sure that there are brilliant new bands that nobody has seen before, as well as established acts that everyone wants to see. Everyone playing has some kind of link to the Folk Ensemble, which gives it a really close family vibe.

“Even though it’s just in a pub, it’s the best pub in the world!” he says of The Spotted Dog, in the city’s Digbeth area. “Added to this is, we still keep to high production values with great sound and a slick show – where appropriate!

“There’s a BBQ and a few other interesting little things to do while you are there too. I think it always sells out because it’s just how a gig should be – friendly and laid back, but with a well organised killer show and a good bar!”

To cope with the increased demand for tickets, Joe’s expanded the event, increasing capacity, but believes the relative intimacy of the venue is very much part of the appeal.

“Well, we have sold more tickets and added an hour to the programme since last year, but I really don’t want it to change too much,” he says. “If it got too big I think it would spoil what is good about it.”

Last year saw the band, based at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, celebrate their 20th anniversary with a Birmingham Town Hall concert featuring as many former members as they could fit on stage, a studio album (the Folking.com acclaimed Painted), and a lauded summer tour, which concluded with a storming Shrewsbury Folk Festival set.

“It was just an incredible tour, everywhere we went felt like a huge party to me. I’m so pleased that everyone got on board with the 20 year anniversary theme because really it’s only me who has been doing it for that long! It really meant something to me that everyone celebrated …”

As fifty members squeeze into a tour bus over the summer, taking in Green Man and Kendal Calling, as well as several headline dates, Joe is already setting his sights on 2019, and keen to keep the momentum going.

“Looking further ahead we have plans for another full album – but I really want to do a live album, because I love live albums. There’s also a rumour that we’ll be making our first trip abroad…”

Artists’ website: https://www.joebroughton.com/the-folk-ensemble


WILL POUND – Through The Seasons (Lulubug LULUBUG004)

Through The SeasonsThe cover tells you most of what you need to know about this album. Will Pound, here devoting more of his energies to melodeon than harmonica, was brought up in the Morris tradition and is a long-time member of Chinewrde Morris. Through The Seasons is a project he has long cherished and has brought together some fine musicians to realise it. Although there are a convenient twelve tracks, this is not a calendar – the Plough Monday tune comes in at number nine – nor is it a user manual. It is, as Will himself says, a celebration.

If you have even a passing interest in Morris many of these tunes will be familiar to you but possibly only the hardiest will have heard ‘The College Hornpipe’ or ‘Papa Stour Sword Dance’ in situ. You will certainly have met ‘Getting Upstairs’, ‘Trunkles’, ‘The Nutting Girl’, ‘Brighton Camp’, ‘Salmon Tails’ and ‘Ampleforth’ not to mention ‘The Liberty Bell’. The selection of tunes covers Cotswold, North-West, Border, Rapper, Molly and Longsword.

At the core of band are fiddler Ross Grant and Benji Kirkpatrick playing bouzouki, banjo and guitar but Will has called in a few favours, notably John Kirkpatrick who leads the melody on the Border tune, ‘Not For Joe’ and Eliza Carthy who lends her fiddle and voice to ‘The Nutting Girl’ – the latter proving that she is a Waterson through and through. Fiddlers Ross Couper and Patsy Reid are drafted in to add authenticity to the Shetland tune that closes the set.

Purists, if any are left, may take exception to one or two liberties taken with the arrangements – Will certainly does odd things to ‘Brighton Camp’ – but the casual listener will enjoy Through The Seasons immensely and I’m sure it will be in every car on the way to a folk festival this summer.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.willpound.com

Through The Seasons:

Will Pound and Eddy Jay Ignite


Will Pound and Eddy Jay
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Sparks were always going to fly when master musicians Will Pound and Eddy Jay decided to form a duo.

The fusing of awesome accordion player Jay with the much feted skills of Pound (“one of the world’s greatest harmonica players” – Daily Telegraph) is a dynamite combination.

Ignite, the duo’s debut CD, is a fast-paced 11-track feel-good album guaranteed to make the gloomiest day a whole lot brighter. From its pyrotechnic packaging to the final arresting notes of the closing track’s Balkan dance it is on an upward trajectory.

Three times nominated for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year (2012, 2014 and 2015), Pound won the same title in the 2015 Spiral Earth Awards and was named Instrumentalist of the Year in 2013 and 2014 by FATEA Magazine.

Undoubtedly one of the finest harmonica players of his generation his inventive style always pushes the boundaries as seen in his former duos Walsh and Pound and Haddo and the four piece Will Pound Band. In 2012 he memorably played the harmonica intro on the Guy Chambers-produced Hillsborough charity single ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ which became the Christmas No 1.

Jay meanwhile is a virtuoso accordionist who can make his instrument sound more like an orchestra! A former member of Newfolks with Mabon fiddler Oli Wilson-Dickson, his eclectic arrangements have seen him journey into theatre including the hit stage musical version of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter which toured Broadway venues. He has also performed with Irish singer songwriter Cathal Coughlan and UK jazz singer Tina May, devised his own version of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and an Edith Piaf tribute show Piaf The Songs which toured the UK and beyond.

This potent partnership owes a lot to instinct, improvisation and alchemy, with Pound and Jay forging a path to new folk sounds – harmonica and accordion gelling almost as one instrument.

Romping across reels, bluegrass, swing, polkas and rachenitsas, the duo’s exuberant arrangements of traditional tunes cannot fail to impress. A dazzling display of virtuosity performed with power and precision, Ignite ducks and dives and pulls no punches.

‘Floating Candle’ from the album Ignite: