Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


Our favourite Welsh Americana exponent, Peter Bruntnell (check out his wonderful recent album, Nos Da Comrade, to see what we mean) is off on tour again soon. He’s got some solo gigs in July and August before he hits the road in September with the legendary BJ Cole and Danny Williams, at the likes of The Musician in Leicester and The Pump House in Louth. The trio then head off to Spain. Lucky Spaniards. website

Talking of Welsh music, Jamie Smith’s Mabon are in the process of recording a live album on tour at the minute. Having just been all over Wales, they are heading to Brittany for the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, as well as the marginally less exotic Ely Folk Festival and Dartmoor Folk Festival. Get yourself along – you may even end up on the album! www.jamiesmithsmabon.com

And for those of us who are fans of Americana and roots music in general, The Long Road festival is something of a treat. Being held at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire, 79 September, it features the likes of Billy Bragg, current UK country darlings, The Shires, Ward Thomas, and The Wandering Hearts; one-third of the awesome Pistol Annies, Angeleena Presley; Yola Carter, Danny and the Champions of the World, Cardboard Fox, and the highly-rated (here at Shire Folk Towers at least), Joana Serat. website

We know that most of us haven’t even been on our summer holidays yet, but Emily Smith has announced her Christmas tour. There are eleven gigs in December (mostly in Scotland) and she’ll be once again joined by Jamie McClennan, Anna Massie and Ross Hamilton. If you can’t wait that long you can see her at The Arc in Stockton on Tees, Hepworth Village Hall, and, in October, the ever popular Hitchin Folk Club. You could even grab yourself a copy of the Unplugged album she recently snuck out. Excitingly, Emily and Jamie will be going down under to Australia and New Zealand in February and March next year. I’m not sure the Shire Folk travel budget will extend to that one. website

It’s been too long since her last album (three years to be exact), so we’re pleased to see that Lucy Ward is back with a new album (you can read a review in the next issue of Shire Folk). Called Pretty Warnings, it came out on 15 June. It has nine tracks – five self-penned and four trad arr, including an excellent version of ‘Maria Martin’ – and is once again produced by Megson’s Stu Hanna, along with Stephen MacLachlan. There’s an album launch at the Guildhall in Leicester and, if you’re quick, you can catch her at the Malvern Cube, Birmingham’s Kitchen Garden Café, the Black Swan Folk Club in York, Roots@94 in Hull, or Ellel Village Hall in Lancaster. website

Having produced one of the best albums of the year so far, Stick in the Wheel are taking Follow Them True out on tour. As well as the excellent Folk by the Oak festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth Folk Festival, Broadstairs Folk Week and Moseley Folk Festival, they’ll be in the quainter environs of Shoreham’s Ropetackle Arts Centre, West End Centre in Aldershot, Wychwood Folk Club and Nettlebed Folk Club amongst other places. See you in the mosh pit down the front (note to self: folk clubs don’t usually have mosh pits)! website

Who doesn’t love a cover version, right? In that case you’re in luck. To coincide with a short tour, Maz O’Connor has released an EP of seven of her favourite songs by other artists. Called The Undercover, it features such gems as (favoured cover song du jour) ‘Jolene’, Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice’, The Faces’ ‘Stay With Me’, and an unlikely, but no less brilliant version of Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’. Get yourself to a show to get your hands on a copy. website

The most recent releases from Richard Thompson have been revisiting his back catalogue acoustically, so we’re pleased to see he has an album of new material in the offing for the autumn. There will also be a tour through October and early November. His 19-date 13 Rivers tour takes in the likes of Bath Forum, Birmingham Town Hall, Oxford’s New Theatre, Salisbury City Hall, and The Swan in High Wycombe. If the prospect of seeing folk rock royalty isn’t enticing enough on its own, the prodigiously talented Joan Shelley will be the support for the tour. Looking forward to this one already. www.richardthompson-music.com

Just as we went to press, we heard that after seven successful years the Folk Weekend that takes place in Oxford every April will not be in the calendar for 2019. Festival Director Cat Kelly said they were taking a break for a rest and intend to come back in 2020. They also plan to look at the festival and reflect on the various aspects of the weekend. From small beginings it has developed into a very large event and you can read a review of this years festival on pages 17-19 of Shire Folk printed magazine.

Finally, we all know that grassroots music venues often lead a precarious existence and some do indeed end up closing. It was great to see that the Cellar (Oxford’s subterranean venue in the centre of town) has been saved, at least for the time being; and it’s heartening to hear that the Railway Inn in Winchester has successfully completed the first phase of a crowdfunding campaign by raising over £11,000. This ensures its immediate future as it also strives to become a broader community arts facility, besides hosting a diverse range of live music. So if you find yourself down Winchester way, why not pop along for a pint ... or even a gig! website


Keston Cobblers


Maz O'Connor


Kim Edgar


Shire Folk Album of 2017

Martin Simpson
Trails & Tribulations