Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


The festival season's now in full swing and as well as the biggies – Cambridge, Sidmouth, Towersey etc. – we liked the look of one of the UK's newest folk festivals – Kimpton Folk Festival. It looks like there's everything a folkie could want – including top flight artists Jez Lowe, The Fair Rain, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Wild Willy Barrett, The Carrivick Sisters, Jacquelyn Hynes, Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer, Alden, Patterson & Dashwood, and Liz Simcock. Three stages, all-day pub sessions, dancing, free events on the village green, lots of top-class food outlets, a real ale bar, children's storytelling, maypole lessons and face painting. Plus busking opportunities. Kimpton is a rural village between St Albans, Luton and Welwyn Garden City and the festival – widely acclaimed after its first event, grew out of the village's lively folk session scene. website

Never disappointing in terms of a quality line-up, Towersey Festival has former Shire Folk cover star Eliza Carthy, along with Jon Boden, Show of Hands, and Lindisfarne among the acts heading to a field just outside of Thame. They're joined by Mawkin, Megson, Foy Vance, The Demon Barbers XL, Coope Boyes & Simpson, Jim Causley, Andy Cutting, and a rare appearance from Flook, amongst others. Running over four days, from 25 to 28 August, the 53rd Towersey also promises 36 hours of ceilidh and dance, as well as folk sessions, storytelling, creative workshops, and more camping and site improvements to ensure better access for all. website

Talking of new things, acclaimed Irish band Lynched have changed their name to Lankum, which has apparently been taken from the ballad 'False Lankum', as sung by the Irish Traveller John Reilly Jr. Asked about the name change, they said that they had 'decided that they would no longer continue with the name due to the unavoidable implications that it has in regards to acts of racist violence'. Fair play to them. website

Someone else with a new name are Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. Tired of four Christian names that baffle audiences and tongue tie MCs apparently, they shall henceforth be known as Edgelarks. Not sure what it means, but expect a new album and tour from them in their new guise in the autumn. website

One of our favourite Americana acts of recent years is North Carolina trio Underhill Rose. After getting on for a decade together and fresh from a UK tour, Molly Rose, Salley Williamson and Eleanor Underhill are releasing their first live album. As well as taking tracks from their last three albums, also included are staples from their live act including 80s pop classic 'Bette Davis Eyes'. You can read a review in the next issue, but if a banjo-led version of that appeals (and why wouldn't it?) then this could be the album for you. website

If you are a regular reader of Shire Folk you may have worked out that the two editors have rather different tastes in folk music and often have discussions over a pint on what are the boundaries (if any) of this musical genre. However, they do agree that they both like Josienne Clark and Ben Walker and you can see them at Nettlebed Folk Club on Monday 10 July. Later in the year, Josienne and Ben have the honour of supporting guitar maestro Richard Thompson on his solo acoustic autumn tour. As usual, Richard will be over to join his Fairport mates for the annual Cropedy Festival in August and maybe will be watching and even playing a bit of cricket. We did see him playing cricket in Abingdon a few years ago and worried about those delicate fingers as he ran for a catch. The autumn tour starts at Brighton Dome on 11 October, with other gigs at Warwick Arts Centre (22 Oct), Anvil Basingstoke (27 Oct) and the new Bridge Theatre, London (30 Oct). Full tour details can be found at website

You may not have heard of the Bridge Theatre, as it is a brand new venue due to open its doors in October. It will boast a 900-seat adaptable auditorium designed to answer the needs of contemporary audiences and theatre-makers, and capable of responding to shows with different formats (end-stage, thrust-stage and promenade). It is the first wholly new theatre of scale to be added to London's commercial theatre sector in 80 years. It could be a useful addition for some of our bigger folk stars to play.

We are sad to hear violinist and singer Prue Ward is leaving one of our favourite bands, The Willows. Prue was a founder member of the Cambridge-based quintet and her wonderful playing on tracks like 'The Outlaw' will stay in the memory forever. Her place has being taken by Katriona Gilmore, another excellent fiddle player. Katriona, who is well known from award-winning duo Gilmore & Roberts, has been busy learning all The Willows' repertoire of songs and played her first gig with the band in Havant on 27 May.

Finally, the first ever Shire Folk Showcase is coming up on Monday 4 September at Nettlebed Folk Club. It will feature Emily Barker with Lukas Drinkwater, Ninebarrow, Steve Pledger, Jackie Oates and Megan Henwood. The doors open at 7.30pm with music at 8pm and tickets are just £15. For full details go to website


Keston Cobblers


Maz O'Connor


Kim Edgar