June 27th James Fagan & Nancy Kerr
May 2nd BRUCE MOLSKY and SARA GREY & KEIRON MEANS ***Please note change to previously advertised programme ***
Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It is a voice well suited to native American ballads and ballads of Ireland and Scotland.
One of the best things about her singing is that it reflects her great knowledge of and feeling for traditional music. She just seems to know what is right in the interpretation of a traditional song. She is a ballad singer of great strength with a fine understanding of the importance of understatement in the art of ballad singing. Her singing is richly emotional and she is equally at home with a gentle lyric or a harsh account of life on the frontier.
It is not Sara's lovely voice alone that makes her one of the most popular singers on the folk scene, on many of her songs Sara accompanies herself by frailing a five string banjo and, when playing tunes, it is obvious why she is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the old-time style. As well as singing and playing superbly Sara is a fine story teller specialising in stories from New England where she grew up and learned many of her stories from her father.
Sara grew up in New Hampshire but has lived in North Carolina, Ohio, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wales, Scotland and England. As a youngster in North Carolina she first heard a lot of mountain music and her love for the old time banjo music and songs developed from this experience. She has carried this interest into her adult life studying folklore and collecting and performing music from the various areas in which she has lived. Before she moved to Scotland, Sara was part of "The Golden Ring" with people like Ed Trickett and Gordon Bok. They were a well-known group of singers interested in traditional song.
Now, after many years of singing and playing her banjo in public, Sara's repertoire is as fresh and relevant as ever. She has been concentrating for the last several years on tracing the migration for songs from the British Isles to North America. Sara lives for her music and works at her trade with the result that her music is not only technically excellent but also filled with her warmth and spirit.
Sara's interest in the musical traditions of America led her to form the Lost Nation Band. For anyone interested in the traditions of old-time American songs, tunes and ballads, the combined forces of Sara Grey, Dave Burland and Roger Wilson presented a lively and sensitive interpretation of the music.
Sara has sung at over 150 folk clubs in England, Scotland and Wales and has performed at over 60 different folk and bluegrass festivals.
She has been heard on local radio all over the UK, has been featured in two Women's Hour programmes to talk about her musical career and her tour to Lithuania and has performed on her own and with the Spinners on Radio 2. She has appeared on BBC-TV Scotland and with the McCalmans on Grampian Television, . She has toured abroad in Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Norway, Lithuania, Australia and the USA. Sara is a card-carrying member of British Actor's Equity.
Sara is from the States but has been living in Scotland and briefly in England for the last 38 years. She has always been interested in the migration of songs across the Atlantic and it was as a result of a collecting trip to Scotland in1970 that she moved to the UK. She has been working closely with other traditional singers from Scotland and Ireland to look at the movement of Celtic songs and how they change. Some of the projects she has been involved in include a seminar in Alness, Ross-shire, Scotland looking at the culture of Travellers in Sutherland and the movement of their songs and stories to North America.
Kieron Means is a singer primarily of traditional songs but also of contemporary songs and guitar player of great merit. He has a great rapport with an audience and has an exceptional professionalism for a young performer. His voice is as smooth as silk, rich and mellow and he sings to his audience not in spite of them.
Kieron is the son of the traditional singer Sara Grey and music journalist Andrew Means, one time writer for Melody Maker. He was born in the United States and grew up in Britain gaining a great love of the music of both traditions as well as the contemporary scene. He has become a performer of traditional songs from the US and from the UK and many of the contemporary songs he sings he has written himself.
He has toured in the States and often performed with Sara Grey. In 2000 he has performed at Whitby and Wadebridge festivals where he was received with much acclaim. His first CD has received much praise with air play on Travelling Folk and Mr Anderson's Fine Tunes both on radio Scotland. An article on him will shortly be appearing in Folk Roots magazine.
In 2001 Kieron had a major UK tour which includes Sidmouth, Dartmoor , Whitby , Wadebridge , Edinburgh and, Fylde Festivals as well as a wide range of Folk Clubs in England and Scotland. He has been included in the Evolving Traditions III CD being put out by Mrs Casey's Music. He is preparing a new CD to be released on The Living Traditions Tradition Bearers series in 2002.
In the Introduction on the sleeve notes of his Tradition Bearers CD Brian Peters says "Kieron Means is a young American singer with a strikingly individual sound. His voice is high and lonesome, yet rounded, and his skilful guitar accompaniments are sparse and understated, doing just enough to support the song. His material draws from the deepest wellsprings of North American culture, from the old-time music of the Southern mountains to the blues - which he sings with startling conviction - and the work of latter-day songwriters steeped in the old traditions. Where so many young folk musicians of today dazzle us with their instrumental virtuosity or flatter our ears with their vocal purity, Means delivers a much rarer virtue: a true passion for the music he plays. He sings the songs because he loves them and, whilst his stage presence carries undoubted charisma, his work betrays no hint of artifice or pretension. Kieron Means has soul, and I can think of no greater compliment to pay to a singer of folk songs."
Bruce Molsky stands today as the premier old-time fiddler in the world, the defining virtuoso of Appalachia's timeless folk music traditions. That must feel odd for a former engineer from the Bronx, who didn't begin a music career until he was forty. But folded into those strange facts is the secret to his unique genius.
In addition to a prolific solo career, performing on fiddle, guitar, and banjo, Molsky frequently joins genre-busting supergroups, like the Grammy-nominated Fiddlers Four, and Mozaik, with Hungarian Nikola Parov, and Celtic giant Donal Lunny. He was on Nickel Creek's farewell tour, and performs in a trio with Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and Sweden's great Ale Moller.
"Playing in these kinds of groups is an important part of what I do," Molsky says. "Regionalism was one of the hallmarks of traditional music in the old days; now we're in the Information Age, and I don't think that's what folk music does anymore. But the more cultures I discover, the more I realize that folk music performs the same function for everybody; and therefore is the same thing everywhere - just spoken with different accents."
Great fiddlers ask him to teach at their fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser, Jay Ungar, and Mark O'Connor, who says Molsky has "a mystical awareness of how to bring out the new in something that is old."
"Young people realize this is a guy who's tapped into the real deep emotional wellsprings of this music," says Matt Glaser, director of Berklee's American Roots Program. "He has a way of removing everything that's unnecessary; and young people are very hungry for something real. Bruce has that in spades."
Molsky was born in the Bronx in 1955, and fell in love with old-time music as a teenager. He moved to Virginia in the '70s, learning directly from old masters like Tommy Jarrell, and seeing how the music fit into people's lives.
"It was only the older people, of Tommy's generation, who still had the music as part of their everyday existence," Molsky says. "At first, I wanted to live like that; but then I realized I didn't want to claim the culture as my own - I just loved the music."
That personal authenticity deeply informs his music. Whether performing an ancient reel from Virginia, a Swedish waltz, or a loping cowboy ballad, Molsky presents himself as exactly who he is. Rob Simons, executive director of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, says that's the key to Molsky's enormous appeal as a live performer: "He's that unique blend of virtuoso and humble, nice guy that is irresistible to audiences."
Linda Ronstadt hears that same honest beauty in Molsky's singing. She placed his singing of "Peg'n'Awl" on her Rhapsody playlist, alongside Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chet Baker. "Bruce has has that ability to track deep emotion in his voice, without any unnecessary adornment," she says. "It's pared back to only the essential architecture of emotion."
After his Appalachian tenure, Molsky became a mechanical engineer, playing music in his spare time with his wife, Audrey. By the time he turned 40, both his parents had died. That got him thinking.
"I had this sit-down with myself," he says, "and asked what I was saving for my retirement that I'd regret if I didn't get that chance. And it was playing more music. I thought, well, maybe I'll try it for one year. I asked Audrey, and she said, 'I can't believe you didn't do this 10 years ago. Go for it.' So I took the year off, and never went back."
Perhaps that's how he discovered the real secret to the humble genius of traditional music: that it's real people's music; the honest expression of life as we all live it. You don't master that by imitating others, nor by trying to live in other people's worlds. You master it by being yourself; and at that profoundly simple and profoundly difficult musical art, Molsky is truly old-time's master craftsman.
"I'm still a social musician," he says, "in the sense that I talk to an audience the way I talk to people in my house; and I play for them just like we're all in the living room together. I want to present myself as who I am; and this music as what it is. The biggest lesson from changing careers at mid-life is that you discover the strength is not in what you do; it's in who you are."
May 9th The Spiers Family
Tom, Maggie & Emma Spiers sing a variety of folk songs, mainly but not exclusively, traditional material from the north east of Scotland. Their presentation ranges in style from a cappella, to arrangements accompanied by Tom on Fiddle or Tenor Guitar.
All three were born in Aberdeen, but Tom’s work took the family to a number of locations in the UK. He and Maggie also spent a couple of years in Argentina, where they took every opportunity to listen to, but not attempt to sing, the native music.
Tom & Maggie moved back to Aberdeenshire, near Turriff, in 2007 where they are happily retired. Their daughter, Emma joined them there in 2009, and rediscovered her interest in traditional song.
Tom has been involved in traditional folk song since the early 1960s. He was a founder member of The Gaugers, who specialised in music from NE Scotland and made a number of influential recordings in the 70s and 80s. At various times, he was also a member of Stramash, Flash Company and Shepheard Spiers & Watson. Tom is also well know as a solo performer and in 2001 made a CD on the Tradition Bearers label. In the 2006 Scots Trad Music Awards, Tom was nominated for ‘Scots Singer of the Year’ and Shepheard Spiers & Watson nominated for ‘Scottish Folk Band of the Year’
Maggie too has been immersed in folk music since the 1960s, but didn’t start singing in public till the family moved back to Aberdeenshire in 2007. She entered the Strichen, Keith and Doric Lintie traditional singing competitions and won all three. This gave her the confidence and enthusiasm to sing at folk clubs and to visit schools in the area to teach children Scots song.
Emma was brought up listening to folk music and learned songs like The Back o Bennachie, almost as soon as she was walking. However, she ‘overdosed’ on folk and as a teenager her interest changed to Indie/Rock music. In recent years she has returned to the fold and is actively listening to and learning traditional material. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she won the cup for Traditional Ballad singing at the Strichen Festival in 2011. She is a natural singer, and blends well with her ageing parents. She is also a member of the Portsoy Players amateur dramatic society.
May16th Roisín White and Rosie Stewart
Review of one of Roisín's CDs by Danny Stradling
This re-release of a Veteran cassette on CD is among the first of John Howson's current venture, bringing Veteran a little closer to the present day.
On first hearing Róisín White some years ago at Sidmouth I was very puzzled. Cover pictureSeveral dear friends, whose opinions I respect had said "You must hear her, she's very special". She was indeed special, and I really didn't like it at all. The very plain, strident, almost aggressive northern Irish style was outside my understanding; the northern Irish singers I had heard were Paddy and Bridget Tunney, Sarah Makem, Robert Cinnamond, Eddie Butcher, Maggie Murphy, the outrageously wonderful Geordie Hanna and his sister Sarah Ann O'Neill, Kevin Mitchell, and of course the gorgeously lyrical Paul Brady. None of these had prepared me for the rather Scottish 'marching band' style of Róisín White. I have to say I know better now! Over the years I have been wooed and learned to love Róisín's up front, no nonsense, but ultimately seductive singing. [Also, in this time, I have had the chance to listen to several other, less well known, northern Irish singers , such as those recorded by Sean Corcoran in Fermanagh - thus expanding my own experience.]
On first hearing this CD, I was disappointed. The cassette was made nearly ten years ago, and as my appreciation of her music has grown so has the quality of her performance. I do believe that she is a far better performer in 2000 than she was in 1991. That said, and having had the CD around for several weeks, I find it has grown on me immensely.
The cassette from which it comes is a mixture of what John Howson calls 'essentially field recordings made in various quiet locations' as well at four live tracks recorded at the National Festival at Sutton Bonington.
A few lines on some of the songs:
Many years ago I was enchanted by the tune of an American Grey Cock which Peta Webb used to sing. Here it is again as True Lover John, learned from Len Graham; a similar tune and text, as alluring as ever, but Róisín's punchy style strips away the sentimentality sometimes found in American songs. Incidentally, Peta also now sings this version in duet with Ken Hall, taking on a little of the 'Ulster measure'.
To stay with the 'measure' a little longer, many more 'flowery' singers would approach Joe Holmes' Apprentice Boy very differently, but I can think of few who would do it such justice. How wonderfully refreshing Róisín's style is, once you've become acclimatised to it.
Okay, I haven't quite finished! Listening to her singing Craigie Hill is an extra pleasure that creeps up very gently. This song, from Paddy Tunney, is sung by every Irish singer, experienced or tyro, at every Irish singing weekend, from Forkhill to Feakle. It is very much loved, and always well received, but often even the best singers find it hard to shake off the ghosts of others' performances. Not so Róisín. It does not seem that she has set out deliberately to shut out the 'ghosts', much more that the woman and the style are indivisible - so much the better for her. And if she has me fooled, and it is all meticulously calculated, it doesn't show as far as I'm concerned, and what is more important, it doesn't intrude on the music but enhances it.
Having said all that, there is an exception to this lack of 'ghosts' - Van Dieman's Land [sic] has taken on a little of the grandure of Robert Cinnamond, of whom, according to the skimpy notes, she has made a special study. However, this shadow of a mentor is certainly no bad thing, especially when it is used with wisdom and subtlety.
I do find these skimpy notes a problem. We have been very spoilt of late, with Topic and MT recordings coming with mini-theses attached: and John Howson's forte is putting out bloody good recordings (long may he continue to do so); and he is not necessarily a 'words' man; and he's working on his own. Nonetheless, it might be necessary to consider upgrading the packaging of future Veteran CDs, as comparisons will certainly increase expectations.
Altogether there are 14 tracks, and as I said at the start, they are not all as successful as they would be today, but there are lovely songs, some smashing performances, and as things stand at the moment, that's all the recorded Róisín White available, so make the most of it.
Rosie Stewart is a singer and ambassador for traditional Ulster singing. With a style that is entirely her own, she picks and chooses her repertoire from songs that might be 200 or 20 years old.
Born Rosie McKeaney in the townland of Cashel in the parish of Garrison, Co Fermanagh, Stewart has music and song in her veins.
Like the other local singing families, the Gallaghers, the Timoneys, the Burnses and the Joneses, the McKeaneys were sought after performers at private house parties, pub sessions, ceilis, concerts and parochial nights.
Indeed it was on such an occasion in the parochial hall one Easter Sunday night that Stewart, then aged 9, gave her first public performance.
She remembers it well and is reminded of her schoolteacher at St Joseph's, Mrs Brady, who prepared her for the concert.
‘I am very grateful to her, for she taught me diction. "Open your mouth W-I-D-E", she would say, stretching her thumb and middle finger to show me how. 'That was the only training I got as a singer. I don't believe that technique can be taught; you either have it and can perfect it, or you learn it from other people.
'I think you absorb the art of traditional singing through listening. I had been listening to my grandfather, my father and my mother since I was a baby. I have six sisters and each one of them sings with a similar voice to mine though my voice is the deepest, probably because I smoke.
‘Before she married, my mother, Lena Fox, was a well known singer. My grandfather, Edward McKeaney, a talented singer and fiddle player, lived with us until he was well over 90. 'Because he was crippled with rheumatism, he would sit in the corner and sing snatches of songs and when he no longer had a voice he would recite the words. 'He loved it when neighbours came to the house to sing. My father, Patrick McKeaney, was best known as a step dancer but he was also a great singer with a vast repertoire of songs, some of which he probably took to his grave.
'He often surprised us with a song we had never heard before. In 2001, I organised a fundraising concert at the Glenfarne Ballroom of Romance for a Mencap walk I was doing in China, I invited Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and Dermot Byrne, of Altan, to perform. 'Afterwards we repaired to a pub in Kiltyclogher where my father, who loved to show off in front of such celebrities, sang two songs we had never heard before.’
Stewart says she came late to traditional singing, for it was 1983 when she entered a Fleadh Ceoil singing competition, progressing to the Ulster and All Ireland finals where she was awarded second place. She disliked the rigid criteria and never pursued the top prize. When she attended a concert at The Metropole in Derry and heard Sarah Ann O'Neill and her brother Geordie Hanna (icons of the Ulster singing tradition) she was ‘blown away’ by their presence and their songs and knew she wanted to emulate them.
‘I don't speak Irish. I describe myself as "a traditional singer in English". In Ulster there is crossover with Scottish songs because of the Plantation. If you're wondering where I got my Scottish name, I married Joe Stewart, whose ancestors probably settled on an island in Lough MacNean.
'Traditional songs tend to have the same themes whatever their country of origin - love, loss, emigration and war. I find that singers are generous in passing on traditional songs because they are in the public domain.'
Stewart has appeared on radio and TV shows including The Pure Drop on RTE, The Corner House on the BBC and she recorded songs for a Channel 4 series about Irish history.
‘Driving along in my car, I listen to RTE radio and if I hear a song I like, I try to find it. The glory of the internet is that with a few words you can find any song.
'I'm attracted to satirical songs, or those with an unusual storyline. ‘The Errant Apprentice’, by Bill Watkin, is my kind of song. It's so amusing and the lyrics are reminiscent of older songs written by learned schoolmasters with a poetic turn of phrase.
'One of my favourite songwriters is Sean Mone, from Keady in Co Armagh. He wrote ‘Rosalita and Jack Campbell,’ based on his experience of living and working on the Ormeau Road in Belfast in the 1970s, when people went out for the night and did not come home because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 'The song vividly evokes the devastating effect of sudden violence on the lives of men and women trying to live out their dreams in exceptional circumstances:
When the sun set behind the black mountain, the street demons came out to dance,
Rosalita and Jack, in a roistering dance round the chippy cried
Yippy Ay Yippy and the crowd in the queue answered Yippy Ay Aye...
But then the slow car appeared, the gunman aimed at his victim and Jack Campbell fell to his knees...
'Mone wrote another brilliant song about the Rev William McCrea, MP for Mid Ulster, which says nothing derogatory about his Reverence but insists on his shortcomings as a politician.
‘Through singing I have made so many friends. Some people go to Festivals or Fleadhs but I don't run with any particular crowd. I have performed at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, at the Whitby Folk Week and the National Folk Festival in Sutton Bonnington.
'Every year I teach international singing workshops at the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshambo. But I never go looking for work; if it comes to me I'll take it. Perhaps that is what keeps it fresh for me.'
Stewart played Queen Aeval, Queen of Munster in the Galway Druid Theatre's staging of the 18th century musical, The Midnight Court.
In 2004, when Stewart received a TG4 award for Best Traditional Singer, it came as a complete and wonderful surprise.
‘Frank Harte and Len Graham had previously won the same award, so I was in very good company.’
May 23rd Mike Nicholson
Mike Nicholson is one of those remarkable singers who manages to create an immediate and loyal following everywhere he goes. This is due in large part to his unrestrained passion for what he loves doing the most - singing good songs! He draws his audience to him through an unassuming approach which only asks that the listener might share his love of singing and of the songs.
Mike performs a wide spectrum of material, and generally speaking, it's material that has something to say. From his early acting days, he's retained an enthusiasm for utilising any format which can tell a story or which might stimulate the intellect. Through his singing, many audiences would agree, he's found the vehicle that suits him best.
Traditional, newly composed, ancient or modern - Mike Nicholson will breath fresh life into it like no-one else can!
Mike Nicholson may well have 'discovered' the folk scene a little later in life than many, but to witness him performing in front of an audience today presents a picture of a man who's a natural born, captivating entertainer.
He's so completely comfortable with himself and the songs he's singing, that his relaxed de-meanour and rich, bass baritone voice can totally beguile an audience within minutes.
True, people warm to the generosity of his personal style and the remarkable timbre of his voice, but his compulsion to sing is perhaps the most infectious agent in Mike's all-round musical offensive!
May 30th John Kirkpatrick
John Kirkpatrick was born in Chiswick, West London in 1947. A deep love of music was instilled from birth, and family gatherings always included a hearty sing-song. School choirs, the Church choir, playing recorder and piano ensues, until he joined the Hammersmith Morris Men, in their second week, in 1959.
Whilst with the team he took up the melodeon, then the button accordion, then the anglo concertina, and got hooked on the traditional songs that were accompanied with a post-dancing pint.
John has gone on to become one of the most prolific figures on the English folk scene, performing solo, in duos, acoustic groups and electric bands, and has established an enviable reputation as an instrumental virtuoso and session musician, as well as a leading interpreter of English folk music. He has been a member of the Albion Country Band, Magic Lantern, The Richard Thompson Band, Umps and Dumps, Steeleye Span, Brass Monkey, Trans-Europe Diatonique, and Band of Hope, as well as numerous ceilidh bands.
He rejoined The Albion Band for The National Theatre productions of "Lark Rise" and "Candleford", and from 1980 has regularly worked on shows at The Victoria Theatre (later The New Victoria Theatre) in North Staffordshire, The Orchard Theatre Touring Company based in Devon, and elsewhere. As songwriter, composer, choreographer, and musical director, he has contributed to over sixty plays in the theatre and on radio. And as featured artiste, band member, or session player, his music can be heard on over 200 different commercial recordings.
John has lived in Shropshire since 1973, where he had four sons by his first marriage. Now happily re-married, he still dances, with all four sons (on a good day), with the Morris team he founded in 1975, The Shropshire Bedlams.
June 6th Naomi Bedford & Paul Simmonds
Autumn 2011 sees the release of Naomi Bedford's 2nd album, 'Tales from the Weeping Willow', a collection of dark songs, laments & murder ballads. Combining duets & original song contributions from Paul Heaton & Justin Currie; musical contributions from such disparate talents as the wonderful nu-folk star Alisdair Roberts, blues guitar master Kris Dollimore & producer Gerry Diver, the album reworks key folk & country styles to showcase the full range of Naomi's haunting vocals….
Entirely self financed, with all contributors working for the love, 'Tales from the Weeping Willow' finally captures the essence of this authentic & original English vocalist after 20 years of an eclectic musical life.
Born into a family immersed in music, Naomi learnt to sing some of these murderous ballads from the age of 5. Her father, Richard Bedford, edited some of the landmark pop videos of the late 70's & 80's including 'Come On Eileen', 'Undercover of the Night', 'Smooth Operator', 'The Great Rock n'Roll Swindle' & 'Poison Arrow'…
At night the family's small Putney flat would reverberate to the sights & sounds of the new; cult movies showing in the living room, Julien Temple & Don Letts holding forth in the kitchen; The Clash, Dolly Parton & Hip Hop blasting from the bedrooms….To fund her illicit gig going & nights at the Mud Club, a teenage Naomi would often baby sit for her downstairs neighbour…a young guitarist called Andy Summers. His famous boiler suit now hangs next to her Cath Kidston dresses…
In the 90's Naomi continued to form bands, follow bands & party. She also joined the Party, becoming increasingly politicised by the Thatcher/Major Tory administration. A period of activism in Militant was soon followed by a major role in the Anti Poll Tax Movement where she co-ordinated Artist Liaison for the great Hyde Park demonstrations…
In 2000 Orbital heard her singing at a Brighton party & co-opted her to sing & co-write their Top 20 hit 'Funny Break'. With that record she appeared on Jools Holland's show alongside REM and across the national media but once again she soon changed paths; first to explore India & then to raise a family…
In 2007, re-enthused by the folk & country songs she had first loved as a child, Naomi re-entered the musical sphere with a Mick Glossop produced album 'Dark They Were And Golden Eyed'. The beginnings of her unique fusion of English & Americana roots were evident, capturing the enthusiastic attention of Bonnie Prince Billy with her cover of his song 'Riding'…
Now finally comes 'Tales From the Weeping Willow' - a full realisation of her talent & a beguiling new take on this timely & timeless music. Four centuries of music in 52 minutes of magic….not to be missed.
June 13th Andy Turner & Mat Green
Mat and Andy are both founder members of Magpie Lane providing the instrumental drive at the heart of the band's dance music repertoire.
Mat was born and bred in Bampton in Oxfordshire, and has been dancing and playing for the morris for over 30 years. He has developed a unique, utterly danceable, quintessentially English fiddle style. As well as playing in Magpie Lane, he is a member of the justly popular ceilidh band, the Woodpecker Band.
Andy also has many years' experience playing dance music, most recently with Geckoes. He has a punchy, rhythmic concertina style, but is also able to play in a slower, smoother style to accompany his own fine singing.
Together, Mat and Andy play mainly traditional English dance tunes. They specialise in little-known tunes from eighteenth and nineteenth century village musicians' tunebooks, but essentially will play any good dance tune from almost anywhere!
The tunes are interspersed with songs - again, mainly from English traditional sources, but with some surprises like the occasional Hank Williams number.
June 20th Bob Wood
Bob Wood hails from the west of Scotland but is based nowadays in London. A warm and engaging solo singer and performer with an easy going sense of humour, he is known also as a highly accomplished finger style guitarist. Exploring a range of open tunings, his playing and song interpretations have been described as displaying a rare sensitivity, lightness of touch and great technique.
His debut album When the Moon Sits Fat on a Scudding Cloud was described as delightful, haunting, reflective and exquisite : see sample reviews attached from FROOTS, IRISH MUSIC and LIVING TRADITION magazines. The album also features guest appearances from Benny Gallagher; BBC Musician of the Year 2009, Tom McConville; Pauline Cato, Mark Feltham and Lee Collinson.
Bob's regular repertoire nowadays retains firm links with the tradition, but includes also a splendid array of more contemporary songs. Expect therefore to hear material ranging from Robert Burns to Pete Morton; from Archie Fisher to Hank Williams; plus a smattering of pipe, harp and other tunes on guitar.
A seasoned and experienced performer, he has guested at countless clubs and festivals throughout the UK; he has played on the albums of various others; appeared on the cover and was the subject of an interview in a recent edition of Living Tradition magazine; and he has also hosted and organised a number of guitar workshops, focusing on alternative guitar tunings and song accompaniment.
On a more occasional basis and as a departure from his more regular repertoire, he also loves to gig with Benny Gallagher (McGuinness Flint, Gallagher & Lyle). Benny recently released his most recent studio album At the Edge of the Wave on which Bob contributed harmony vocals and second guitar parts to a number of Benny's latest compositions.
June 27th James Fagan & Nancy Kerr
One of the most established and respected duos on the folk scene, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan are winners of the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo (and previous winners of 2003 Best Duo and 2000 Horizon Award.) As well as being great exponents of their instruments (fiddle, viola and guitar-bouzouki) both are regarded as fine and influential singers. 2010 marked the 15th year of this electrifying duo. In that time they have toured full-time and headlined festivals throughout the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, Japan and Canada. Wherever they play, Kerr and Fagan make new friends and fans, as their love of live performance is tangible and affirming. Consistently great live shows and five highly respected albums, plus their recent collaborations with Robert Harbron and The Melrose Quartet, have cemented their reputation as one of the classiest acts in acoustic music.
Nancy Kerr and James Fagan is a well-loved duo with an international following.
They combine highly skilful and innovative performance with accessibility, warmth and stage presence. Rarely are duos so full in sound; Nancy's earthy and exquisite fiddle and viola playing dances with the striking rhythmic texture of James's flat-backed bouzouki, while their rich singing both as soloists and in harmony evokes the stories of the songs they choose and write. They approach their music with energy and infectious smiles. Rapid musical communication with one another and the audience makes their performance spectacular and unforgettable.