Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


As if producing two recent landmark releases in Lucy Ward’s Pretty Warnings and the upcoming Botany Bay from Kelly Oliver wasn’t enough, Stu Hanna and his partner Debs (aka Megson) are off on tour through the autumn. Calling in at our good friends ACE Space in Newbury, Wychwood Folk Club, and Hitchin Folk Club amongst other places, Megson will show why they’re one of the best live acts on the folk circuit, and why they’ve been nominated for BBC Folk Awards four times! If you haven’t seen them live you owe it to yourself to check them out. website

Our favourite arty prog folksters and instrument manglers, LAU, have announced a new album for release in February next year. If that seems a long time to wait, Midnight and Closedown offers many opportunities to get involved before then. Produced by John Parish of PJ Harvey, Eels, Sparklehorse and This is the Kit fame, if you pre-order the album before 1 October your name will be included in the album artwork credits. If you’re really prepared to invest heavily then there’s also the opportunity to be credited as Executive Producer! If you can’t wait until next year the trio will be on the road during November and December playing such places as the Union Chapel in that there London, Shoreham’s Ropetackle Arts Centre, and the Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden. website

Also, next year Jon Boden will be taking his excellent dystopian folk album Afterglow out on the road. In March, Jon Boden & the Remnant Strings featuring Morven Bryce (violin), Lucy Revis (cello), and Helen Bell (viola) will be undertaking a series of 13 dates culminating in Oxford’s wonderful North Wall Arts Centre on 16 March. Before that, for our readers north of the border, Boden will be doing his solo thing around Scotland in September and October, stopping at the likes of the Tolbooth in Stirling, Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree, and the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine. website

Talking of Scotland, that country’s most celebrated fiddle band, Blazin’ Fiddles, will join together with the remarkable vocalist Karen Matheson for a special one-off Scottish tour. To celebrate the fiddlers’ twentieth anniversary they will be giving a string of special performances throughout Scotland with special guest singer Matheson. Having performed their premiere twentieth anniversary gig at Celtic Connections in January, they’re continuing the celebrations during late August/early September by taking this special show to the Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen, Albert Halls in Stirling, Perth Concert Hall and finishing with an Old Fruitmarket gig in Glasgow. But don’t hang around if you’re interested as the tickets are bound to go quickly. website

Great to see that Sark Folk Festival is returning next year. After taking a year off to ‘regroup and re-energise’ this year, this extraordinary little festival, with the logistical nightmare of transporting people and equipment back and forth, will be held 57 July 2019. Now to see which acts will be making the crossing to the Channel Islands! website

The first comprehensive Best Of collection spanning the 5-decade-long career of Bert Jansch, compiled by Bernard Butler and the Bert Jansch estate, will be released on 26 October. Presented chronologically, Just a Simple Soul is a 2 CD/2 LP collection featuring 39 tracks including well-known ones like ‘Needle of Death’, ‘Black Water Side’ and ‘Angie’, through to less well-known later cuts from albums like Edge of a Dream and Black Swan. Pretty much indispensable we would have thought. website

Someone else with a 50-year career is Roy Harper and he’ll marking the occasion with a tour in March next year. Entitled ‘50 Years of Monumental Classics Including “McGoohan’s Blues”’, Harper will be stopping at the likes of Birmingham Symphony Hall, Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion, and the London Palladium. So, small, low-key venues then! website

One of your Shire Folk editors is putting his own money down for a new album by favourite Martin Stephenson. The prolific North-Eastern troubadour is releasing an album dedicated to his aunt, Thomasina. Limited to just 300 copies, the album can be ordered direct from the man himself via his website or at his gigs. Talking of gigs, Martin is also touring his thirtieth anniversary reboot of the classic Gladsome Humour and Blue through October, November and December. You can see him at the likes of the Thekla in Bristol, Birmingham’s Hare and Hounds, and the Booking Hall in Dover. You can also pick up a copy of the re-recording of GHS while you’re there! website

Ralph McTell is on the road again in the autumn and is doing over thirty concerts. Nettlebed Folk Club are organising one, but it will take place at the Reading Concert Hall, which is at the Reading Town Hall on Sunday 21 October. All details of the tour can be found at website

Finally, Moonrakers, led by Jon Bennett, scribe of this very parish, are enjoying a busy summer with bookings at the Towersey Festival and the main stage of Wallingford’s Bunkfest. Then on 3 November they bring their successful Benslow Music-sponsored Folk Orchestra workshop to Oxford (West Oxford Community Association). website


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