Sunday, 16 January 2011

Billy Teare and Kathleen O'Sullivan

We featured Billy and Kathleen - aka "The Songster and the Storytelling Man" - on FolkCast 054. Here's a couple of chances to see them playing live in London.

Billy Teare and Kathleen O'Sullivan
Friday, February 4 · 8pm - 11pm

Musical Traditions Club at The King and Queen,
1 Foley Street,
London, W1W 6DL

Admission for members is normally £6.00 (concessions £4.00); non-members £7.00 (concessions £5.00). Membership is no longer compulsory but members will be given priority.

After successfully touring arts and educational venues throughout Ireland in 2010, Billy Teare and Kathleen O’Sullivan invite you to a great night of songs, stories and craic at this friendly, intimate setting.

“The Musical Traditions Club aims at presenting the finest traditional singers from Britain and Ireland in a friendly and appreciative atmosphere.”

Friday, February 11 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith
Blacks Road
London, United Kingdom

Join Billy Teare and Kathleen O’Sullivan for one of their rare London appearances at The Irish Cultural Centre: Billy and Kathleen have gained a formidable reputation as a story and song combination. Drawing inspiration from friends such as Packie Manus Byrne and the late great John Campbell, they will presenting brand new material, as well as some old favourites. “An entertaining cultural treasure trove of stories, songs, poetry and music for all ages and abilities. “

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Steve Knightly Knews

Show of Hands’ frontman Steve Knightley sets out on a UK tour this month in support of his debut live solo album Live In Somerset.

His special guest will be fellow Devon musician Jim Causley, the rich-voiced, award-nominated former frontman of the band Mawkin:Causley.

Jim Causley and Steve Knightley
Live In Somerset, due to be released at the end of January, was recorded at The David Hall in the village of South Petherton – a former 19th century Congregational church. Says Steve: “The David Hall was the perfect acoustic space in which to capture the live sound.”

The 11-track album melds stand-out Knightley originals and new songs with his unique take on some traditional folk songs including The Oakham Poachers, Banks And Braes, All Things Are Quite Silent, and the Dick Gaughan/Brian McNeill penned John Harrison’s Hands, about the 18th century English clockmaker who invented the  revolutionary marine chronometer.

Also included are Knightley’s own Hook Of Love, new song Now You Know, a reaction to our loss of “real” communication Stop Copying Me, and the short but achingly poignant Informed (Coming Home). Intriguingly , he also seques the Show of Hands standard Country Life with Springsteen’s raw lament to a lost spouse Downbound Train.

Song samples from the album can be found at

Meanwhile, special guest Jim Causley will also be releasing a new album for the tour. Dumnonia is his third solo album and is a collection of lesser known Devon gems, both traditional and modern. He is joined on the album by fellow Devon folk artists including Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll and the Dartmoor Pixie Band. (Dumnonia refers to the ancient Celtic kingdom comprising present day Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and most of Somerset.)

January 2011
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February 2011

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Win a gig at Bristol Folk Fest

Bristol Folk Festival has launched a new nationwide music award which will give the winner a high profile platform at the revived event this spring – and much more!
The festival is returning to the city after 32 years from April 29-May 1 and to celebrate organisers are offering emerging folk acts across Britain the chance to appear at Bristol’s Colston Hall as well as next month’s Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival - the longest running annual folk festival in the UK. The winner will also get the chance to record in a professional Bristol studio.

Being staged in conjunction with Bristol Evening Post, the Isambard Nu-Folk Award (a nod to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous British engineer who designed the city’s Clifton Suspension Bridge) is open to UK-based performers of any age.

Says joint organizer Steve Parkhouse: “We are looking forward to hearing from diverse bands and solo artists - their music can be traditional folk, experimental or contemporary. Everyone is welcome.”

To enter, artists need to email a link to performance footage of one song/tune onYouTube, MySpace, Facebook or any other social networking site.

A judging panel will select five acts who will get the chance to appear on the main stage at the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival at Bristol University’s Students Union on Saturday, February 26 (Bristol Folk Festival will contribute towards travelling expenses). Held at a different university every year, IVFDF is returning to Bristol for the first time since 1957 as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. 

One of the five finalists will be selected to win the coveted prize -an invitation to perform at the 2011 Bristol Folk Festival. The winner will also be given two free recording hours at Bristol J and J Studio, run by bass player Jim Barr, of Portishead and Get the Blessing fame.  Entries should be emailed to giving the name of the band or artist, the footage link, a contact number and email and a brief description of the act. The closing date is January 31.

Says Steve Parkhouse: “We have requested footage so we can see the acts in action, as well as hear them. We are inviting entries from local artists as well as others from all over the country. It’s a big opportunity for emerging folk acts to play at two key festivals and significantly raise their profile.”

Tickets for the resurrected festival are selling well with EarlyBird three-day passes still available at the special price of £60 until January 31.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Driven up the Wall by ancient curse


A specially commissioned, star-studded song-and-poetry show celebrating one of the Roman Empire’s most incredible engineering feats will finally receive its first major performance this month when All Along The Wall heads to Scotland (Wednesday, January 26) - but will it take a 485 year old curse back to Glasgow?

The 75-minute show saluting Hadrian’s Wall – featuring seven musicians and artists including Scottish poet Elvis McGonagall - will be a key attraction at Glasgow’s famous Celtic Connections - the world’s largest winter music festival. It is a show that has triumphed despite being thwarted several times in 2010, with the artists wondering if they were jinxed!

Last summer’s performances at Cumbria’s commissioning festival Brampton Live and then a second festival near Gateshead were cancelled when both festivals folded and flash floods in Northumberland threatened an accompanying CD launch. Could it be that one of the songs written for the project - Cursing Stone - is responsible?

The Curse Stone of Carlisle
Penned by BBC award-winning Cumbria-based singer songwriter Julie Matthews, the superstitious song tells of events that have happened in and around Carlisle since an art installation came to the city in 2001 – a huge stone inscribed with a 1525 curse made on the pillaging Border Reivers by the Archbishop of Glasgow.

The stone was commissioned by Carlisle City Council for the Millennium and is displayed at Tullie House Museum.

Says Julie: “The curse is over a thousand words long and quite brutal. Since its installation a string of tragedies seem to have befallen Carlisle and Cumbria - foot and mouth, floods and fires and even Carlisle United being relegated! There’s a growing superstition that the cursing stone set these events in motion.”

Certainly when Julie appeared recently on BBC Radio Cumbria, wary listeners voted against the song being played on air!

Originally commissioned by the north of England’s biggest roots festival – Cumbria’s Brampton Live – All Along The Wall is the result of banishing five of the UK’s top songwriters and two of the country’s best poets to a remote midwinter hideaway in Northumberland, Big Brother style. Left there with only their musical instruments and laptops for company, they brainstormed ideas for this melting pot work which celebrates the past and present of the 80-mile long wall which became an historic frontier between England and Scotland.

After just five days of intense collaboration the artists took to the stage of The Wave in Maryport, Cumbria, prompting a standing ovation with their impromptu performance. A CD, capturing all the spontaneity of that performance was recorded and has received widespread acclaim. Now the show is heading over the border where it will be performed at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s Strathclyde Suite.

The star-studded line-up features the diverse songwriting talents of Durham’s Jez Lowe; Cumbria-based Julie Matthews of the duo While and Matthews; and Orkney-based travelling troubadour Rory McLeod, together with Cambridgeshire’s Boo Hewerdine and Nottinghamshire’s young Ruth Notman. Bringing a twist to the mix are poets Kate Fox, from Tyneside and Scotland’s Elvis McGonagall.

Whilst some songs were inspired by ancient stories and legends (Notman’s Lizzie Batey is based on the story of The Good Witch of Brampton for example) others were mint new. Through the songs and poems, audiences can step into history and see what the Wall meant to a shepherd, a Roman centurion, North African legionnaire, the daughter of a Roman soldier and even Hadrian himself.

Originally due to have been the centrepiece of the 16th Brampton Live Festival last July, organisers were forced to cancel the event due to disappointing ticket sales and decreased funding and sponsorship. It was then “adopted” by the new Green Phoenix Festival at a National Trust’s estate near Gateshead ... but that festival also fell victim to the recession.

But now the project seems to have triumphed with several performances lined up following the Glasgow show. The following evening Brampton Live directors Sue and Ken Bradburn will fittingly bring the show home to their festival venue of the William Howard School, Carlisle and there will also be three September 2011 performances – at the Bury Met (23rd); Biddulph Town Hall, Staffordshire (24th) and The Sage, Gateshead on the 25th.

Says Ken Bradburn: “We were hugely disappointed that we had to cancel Brampton Live after 15 years of wonderful festivals but we were all determined that this special commission should have an ongoing life. Thanks to our funders that has been made possible and we are delighted that it will travel over the border to Celtic Connections this month before returning to its roots in Carlisle.”

Tickets for the 8pm Glasgow show, price £12.50 are available from Celtic Connections box office on 0141 353 8000 or online at

Sunday, 9 January 2011

FolkCast 057 - review of 2010

OUT NOW - FolkCast 057 for Jan 2011. 

Phil's personal selection of his favourite artists featured on FolkCast in 2010. Music comes from: Matthew Ord - The Sea Kings - Arnwyn - Zeptepi - Circus Envy - Barricades Rise - Catherine Howe - Raurri Joseph - 3 Daft Monkeys - Galley Beggar - Ed and Will - Chris While and Julie Matthews - The Demon Barbers - Whalebone - The Urban Folk Quartet - The Duncan McFarlane Acoustic Band - Black Rat.

Go to for full details and to download the show for free!