Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


Down here on the Shire Folk ranch we've been waving the flag (not the Confederate one, obvs.) for Americana for some time now, so when this year's nominees for the UK Americana Awards were announced we were overjoyed to see two of our favourites included – Danny & the Champions of the World (UK Album of the Year and UK Artist of the Year) and Emily Barker (despite being Australian – UK Album of the Year and UK Artist of the Year). One of the Shire Folk Editors' Top 5 Album lists was particularly pleased to see Courtney Marie Andrews nominated. Oh, and if you're not familiar with another of the nominees – the wonderful Hurray for the Riff Raff – you should put that right straightaway. The awards ceremony, hosted (almost inevitably) by Bob Harris, will be held on Thursday 1 February 2018 at Hackney Empire. You'll also see the leonine Robert Plant receive his lifetime achievement award. For the full list of nominees go to website

Keeping it Country for a moment, one of the architects of Americana, Rodney Crowell, received the ASCAP Founders Award at the 55th annual ASCAP Country Music Awards recently (previous recipients include Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Neil Young, so he's in good company). His current album, Close Ties, is something of a belter as well, so all in all it's been a good year for Rod. website

As it's awards season, a word too for some of the nominees for the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. Nominees include several Shire Folk faves again – Fara, Elephant Sessions, Blue Rose Code and Siobhan Miller, plus the rather beautiful album, An Dan Gaelic Songs for a Modern World by Mary Ann Kennedy. This issue goes to press before the winners are announced, so find out who took the prizes at website

Talking of Shire Folk favourites, duo Ninebarrow have almost finished recording their third album, The Waters and the Wild. With just percussion and double bass to lay down, they've also announced an extensive tour running through till January and including such venues as Hitchin Folk Club, ACE Space in Newbury and Croydon Folk Club. They've also announced their biggest ever gig, to be held at Poole's 600-seater Lighthouse Theatre on 21 April. So if you've not caught Jon and Jay live before, there's no excuse now. website

US folk veteran Joan Baez has announced her first new album since 2008. Called Whistle down the Wind, it will be released in March next year. To support it Ms Baez is hitting the UK for series of dates at such focal points of folkiness (!) as the Barbican in York, Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, The Sage in Gateshead and the Royal Albert Hall in that there London. Apparently she has described this as her 'last year of formal extended touring', so you might want to catch her before it's too late. website

We suspect that Joan Baez was rarely, if ever, to be found throwing shapes with Jerry Hall and Grace Jones in New York's (in)famous disco Studio 54, but if she had it's unlikely she would have thought these tunes would sound better played on an accordion and fiddle. Nonetheless, that's what's coming your way in February next year. Yes, Folk Fever takes your favourite disco classics – ' I Will Survive', 'Night Fever', 'We Are Family' and 'I Feel Love' and all – and folks them up. The so-called Band of Love (in reality Greg Russell, Jim Causley, Mike McGoldrick, Steve Knightley and Phil Beer among many others) are responsible, and we can't wait, in particular, to hear Jim Causley and Hannah Martin's duet on 'Young Hearts Run Free'. Time to start practising your Travolta moves down the ceilidh.

The film buffs amongst you should look out for The Ballad of Shirley Collins. Shirley Collins was at the epicentre of the folk music revival during the 1960s and 70s before a vocal disorder robbed her of her unique singing voice. The film looks at the making of her first new album in almost forty years, with lots of behind the scenes footage. It has had a rather limited release, so it might take a bit of searching out, but it's well worth the effort.

Talking of people with fine, unique voices, Josienne Clarke has formed a new band with Samantha Whates, Adam Beattie and Sonny Johns and will be performing under the name PicaPica. Though Josienne and Samantha have appeared together on a number of occasions, PicaPica is their first project as a band. They have an EP called Spring & Shade out on 8 December and also a single called Small Time/Secret.

One of the most popular live bands on the circuit, with over 300 gigs under their collective belt, are seven-piece Police Dog Hogan. They are taking their particular blend of country/Americana-tinged rock back out on a thirteen-date tour in early 2018, starting at The Brook in Southampton on 31 January and ending at the Exeter Phoenix on 24 March. They are sure to be playing 'Devon Brigade' from their latest album, Wild by the Side of the Road, which won UK Song of the Year at the UK Americana Awards mentioned above.

Shire Folk are always pleased to see any member of the legendary Thompson family play in Oxford. Kami Thompson was recently seen on the stage of the New Theatre with husband James Walbourne, performing as The Rails. They were supporting The Pretenders, of whom James is a band member. Now Kami's brother Teddy Thompson makes what is quite a rare appearance in the UK at the Holywell Music Room on 20 January .

Also at the Holywell on 11 March is superb young singer Kitty Macfarlane, supported by local singer Mandy Woods. Kitty was spotted in the audience at the recent Elephant Sessions concert at Nettlebed Folk Club, having travelled up from her Bristol base to join the band on the journey up to Scotland, where she was to support them on the next part of their tour. Kitty took little persuasion to sing a few songs for the Nettlebed regulars, which were very well recieved. Kitty was a semi finalist in the 2015 BBC Young Folk Awards and was recently awarded a creative bursary from the English Folk Dance and Song Society for a songwriting project of her own devising. She is working on her first full album, which should be out in 2018.

Finally, the band members of Fairport Convention will be checking their hand warmers and hunting out their thermals as they embark on their annual winter tour. They start the twenty-eight date tour at Tewkesbury on 25 January and finish in Bromsgrove on 25 February. Supporting them this time are one of the most hardworking duos on the circuit, Kip Winter and Dave Wilson, aka Winter Wilson. They have a new album out on 25 January called Far Off on the Horizon.


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