Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


Port Isaac’s troubadours of the sandbar, Fisherman’s Friends, have a new album out on 20 April (you can read a review in the next issue of Shire Folk). Called Sole Mates, it was recorded last autumn in the Church of St James the Great in the local village of St Kews, a venue that was only enhanced by having a pub next door. The 13 songs feature some you’ll know – ‘Blow the Man Down’, ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’, and ‘Oh You New York Girls’ (yes, the Bellowhead one) – and others you won’t. Well known as one of the best live acts around, you can see the salty sons of the sea at almost any festival that will have them, including Towersey, Shrewsbury , and St Ives; as well as more genteel venues like the Oxford Playhouse, the Forum in Bath, and the Anvil in Basingstoke. They’re bound to be popular so you’d better book your pla(i)ce as they’re likely to be packed to the gills (sorry). website

It’s been over a year since the wonderful Maz O’Connor was out on the road, so clearly it was time she put that right. You can see her in a double header with Australian singer-songwriter Jack Carty, through May and June in such places as the Stables in Milton Keynes, the Chapel Arts in Bath, Birmingham’s Kitchen Garden Café and Henry Tudor House in Shrewsbury. website

Martha Tilston is also out on the road and part of the concert will be the screening of a new film called The Clifftop Sessions. Described as ‘eight musicians and a camera crew collide with guitars, a grand piano and a roaring fire’, the end results sound rather more incendiary than one might usually expect from Ms Tilston. Best get along and find out for yourself. website

Fresh from his adaptation of Peter Bellamy’s The Transports, Matthew Crampton has turned his attention to a new adaptation of the acclaimed book Human Cargo: Stories & Songs of Emigration, Slavery and Transportation. Joining with American traditional musician Jeff Warner, they cast fresh light on human migration, giving voice to those actually on board the slave ships and emigrant boats. Given the topicality of the issue today, they importantly frame it within a historical context. Excitingly, each performance also features stories researched locally as part of the Parallel Lives project, in which they partner with local refugee and migrant support groups. It promises to be a hugely emotional experience that you can see at such places as The Maltings in St Albans, St George’s in Bristol, and The Place in Bedford. website

The cover star of the March/April issue of Shire Folk, Karine Polwart, is following up her wonderful Wind Resistance theatre production and album with a new album tentatively called Laws of Motion, titled after a song written with LAU’s Martin Green, that’s expected in the autumn. To coincide with the album there’ll be the inevitable tour. Over 13 dates in October and November, the Karine Polwart Trio will be hitting Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, Brighton’s Komedia, the Walker Theatre in Shrewsbury, St George’s in Bristol and Birmingham Town Hall amongst other venues. website

After having produced one of the very best albums of last year, Faeland will be taking All My Swim out on the road through May and June. The Bristol-based duo, Rebecca Nelson and Jacob Morrison, will be seen first at the exotically named Benjamin Perry Scout Hut in Bristol, before moving on to the likes of The Royal Oak in Bath, Hawthorns in Glastonbury and the Stroud Sacred Music Festival. There’s also a cool video for ‘Silent Story’ that’s worth checking on that there YouTube. website

Rather surprisingly Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan have recorded two albums simultaneously and snuck one of them out on 13 April. Titled Unplugged, it features ten tracks, including seven previously unrecorded ones, so it’s well worth getting your hands on. Especially as you’ll have to wait for the second album – a full studio affair – until next year. If the wait is too much you can see the duo on tour in April at such locations as the Artrix in Bromsgrove, the Junction in Cambridge, Ludlow’s Assembly Rooms, and The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury. website

The English Folk Dance and Song Society is organising a series of free Youth Folk Sampler Days up and down the country. This will give budding musicians aged 14–18 a chance to play together and learn more about folk music. We have one in our area at the Cornerstone Theatre, Didcot on Tuesday 29 May.

I think we would all agree that there is not enough folk music on the television. By pure chance we have discovered The Folk Show on Keep it Country (Sky 389, Freeview 87). The programme is presented from a shed by the Folk Blokes, who are Mike and Joe. It’s screened at 4 p.m. each Friday and is well worth viewing or recording. They show videos of well-known artists and some new artists to us, some of which are recorded for the show. Whilst on the subject of media, Stephen Ottner, promoter at ACE Space in Newbury, is hosting a radio show called Folk Ace on Kennet Radio (106.7). It’s aired from 8 to 9 p.m. every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. You can listen via website

STOP PRESS: We have just heard from Mike Sanderson that the legendary Scottish singer-songwriter and composer Dougie Maclean will be playing at the Nettlebed Village Club on Monday 9 July. Tickets to see Dougie, who is famed for writing the song ‘Caledonia’, will sell out fast so do check the club’s website for availabilty. website


Keston Cobblers


Maz O'Connor


Kim Edgar


Shire Folk Album of 2017

Martin Simpson
Trails & Tribulations