Shire Folk is a free, A5, bimonthly magazine covering folk, roots and acoustic music in and around the South Midlands. It has been produced for around 25 years on a not-for-profit basis, paid for by advertising revenue. Each issue includes news items, both local and national, artist interviews, festival and gig reviews, as well as reviews of about 30 new CDs.
From our base in Oxford, we distribute 1800–2000 copies through an intricate network of folk clubs, record shops, libraries, music venues, pubs, morris dancing teams, festivals and individuals. Click here to see a list of places that receive bulk copies of Shire Folk. We think you can safely assume that well over 4000 people read each issue.
If you want to make sure you get a copy of the magazine , then you can have it delivered at a charge of £10 for the next six issues. Full details are on the Subscribe page.
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Graham Hobbs & Jonathan Roscoe
Co-Editors, Shire Folk
When I was watching BBC4’s documentary series about the rise of Indie music, Music For Misfits, recently it struck me that folk must be the most independent of all music genres. If Indie can be defined as a DIY outlook that has little truck with the mainstream, then folk is the Indiest of Indie. Despite the likes of Seth Lakeman and Eliza Carthy’s flirtations with major record labels, folk music remains a cottage industry. The oldest of all the folk labels, Topic, which has been going for over 70 years, has its roots in the Workers Music Association and began by selling communist and left-wing music, so there’s nothing mainstream about that. The only contemporary music they release now, however, is the estimable Fay Hield. Even the former doyenne of Topic, Shirley Collins, is having her new album released by the none-more-Indie label, Domino Records. The work of those powerhouses of folk production, Paul Adams at Fellside and Doug Bailey at WildGoose, can’t be underestimated, providing starts for some of the current folk scene’s biggest acts, whilst at the same time releasing some music that (let’s face it) wouldn’t have a hope in hell of being released anywhere else. Because commercial concerns are not what drives them – it’s all about the music.
The rise of digital and the reduction in production costs has made every artist into potentially their own record label. Our recent interview with Blair Dunlop highlighted the benefits of having his own boutique record label (something Kate Rusby has been well aware of with Pure Records for some time now) and in our interview with Heidi Talbot in this issue, she talks about the benefits of her and John McCusker’s bothy-housed recording studio. If one of the key tenets of Marxism is taking back the means of production, then folk is truly the most radical of all music genres. A fact that won’t be lost on No Masters, set up in 1990 and releasing politically nuanced music by the likes of John Tams, Coope, Boyes & Simpson and O’Hooley & Tidow.
Indie music doesn’t just mean record labels, of course. It’s an attitude and aesthetic that rejects conformity and a herd-like mentality and does what it likes, when it likes. What can be more ‘folk’ than that?