Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Harry's video tribute to his dad

Harry Pane
Singer/songwriter Harry Pane has released the moving video for his new single Fletcher Bay, which is a heart-warming tribute to his late father who sadly passed away last year.

Inspired by their trip to the idyllic Fletcher Bay in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, and Pane’s return there to scatter his father’s ashes last year, the video features Harry performing with his acoustic guitar, entwined with scenes of him on that vast coastline.

This is the first taste of new music from 
Northamptonshire-born, London-based Harry following the release of his 2016 EP Changing and is taken from his forthcoming EP The Wild Winds, due out April 7th . 

The new music was recorded with Dani Castelar (Paolo Nutini, REM, Snow Patrol) in Valencia, Spain, at the start of the year, and was funded by Island Records after Harry was picked as the winner of #Roadtothe100Club, a competition organised by a new platform called Meet & Jam in association with PRS for Music.

Harry’s distinct vocals have filled room across the country and last year alone he clocked-up over 200 shows including performances at SXSW Festival, multiple Glastonbury stages, Big Feastival, CarFest and regular shows at Soho Farmhouse Home House as well as sold-out headline shows across London and in his hometown.

Now continuing to share his music with live audiences across the UK, Harry will be heading out on a UK headline tour at the end of March.

You can read more about the story of ‘Fletcher Bay’ here -
and more about Harry at his website:


Thu 30th – The Bedford, London (headline)

Wed 5th – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton (headline)
Thu 6th – The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (headline)
Fri 7th – The Rowbarge, Guildford (headline)
Mon 10th – Zigfrid Von Underbelly, London (I Luv Live)
Sun 16th  – Also Known As, Banbury (headline)
Tues 18th – Gwdihw, Cardiff (headline)
Wed 19th – The Crofters Rights, Bristol (headline)
Sat 29th – City Sound Project, Canterbury
Sun 30th – The Mad Hatter, Oxford (headline)

Tue 3rdO2 Priority Lounge, London
Wed 4th – The Railway, Winchester
Fri 19th - O2 Oxford Academy, Oxford (BBC Introducing Uprising)
Sat 20th – The Radcliffe Centre, Buckingham (headline)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Bank on Chester for festival fun

The Chester Folk Festival has announced its line-up of music for this year's event, which takes place on Spring Bank Holiday Monday (Friday 26th - Monday 29th May) in the village of Kelsall, eight miles from the city of Chester in England.

Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley (with Emily Sanders)  •  Bob Fox • The Wilson Family • Belshazzar’s Feast  • James Keelaghan & Hugh McMillan • Flossie Malavialle  • 
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman • Granny’s Attic • Lucy Ward  • The Hut People • Sam Kelly & Jamie Francis • Jaywalkers  • Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer • Dipper Malkin • Phil Hare • Full House  • The Waite Collective • Fiddlestone • Roy Clinging • Graham Bellinger Deportees •  Welcomme, Finnan & Chrimes • Charlotte Peters Rock • Banter • Purcell’s Polyphonic Party • Albireo • The Time Bandits

Sheffield Steel Rapper • The Witchmen  • Bradshaw Mummers • Chester City Morris Men
The Witchmen

PLUS family events and children's entertainment with Panic Circus, ceilidhs, sessions, singarounds ... and there's free camping too!

For more information about this year's guests, plus the outline provisional programme, and ticket prices visit the festival website at

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Fiddlers elbow their way to the front

Take a bow and join the feast – the Feast Of Fiddles – as the rosin-powered folk supergroup takes to the road with their first new studio album in four years.

Feast Of Fiddles was formed in 1994 as a one-off concert ensemble under the baton of (non-fiddler and leader) Hugh Crabtree, and features some of the best fiddlers from the UK folk scene. 

Fast forward and in 2017 their sixth album entitled Sleight Of Elbow will be released as Feast Of Fiddles embarks on its 24th annual spring tour
Feast Of Fiddles fiddling up a feast

Typically, fiddlers Peter Knight (Gigspanner, Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Phil Beer (Show Of Hands), Brian McNeill (Battlefield Band), Ian Cutler (Bully Wee Band), Tom Leary (Lindisfarne) and Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) add their extensive range of playing styles to the rock back-line of guitars, keyboards, sax and accordion – all held together by legendary drummer Dave Mattacks

The new album is something of a departure for the band as it features a lot of original compositions from within the band and only a single traditional tune. One well established feature of the band is well exposed, however, and that is Feast Of Fiddles' arrangements of tunes from other genres, film or TV.

The title track is one of two pieces by guitarist Martin Vincent which was first aired during the 2016 spring tour – the tour that Martin missed because he was in hospital getting a new valve for his heart. (FolkCast's own guitar virtuoso, Ken Nicol, filled in for Martin on that tour).

McBrides is a tune from the band Moving Hearts and a real test piece for a big band. The Scottish band The McCalmans provide the first of only three songs on this recording: Smugglers' Song, a rousing tale of – you guessed it – smugglers! 

The band on stage en masse
The band’s arrangement of String of Pearls (best known through the Glen Miller Band) demonstrates the versatility of Feast of Fiddles. Used as tour opener in 2016 it instigated immediate spontaneous applause at more than one venue. 

This is followed by the second song – an original from Alan Whetton, who joined the band on sax and keyboards in 2012. Butterfly’s Wing picks up the concept of chaos theory which suggests the brief flapping of a butterfly’s wing in England might result in a tornado in the mid-west of America. 

Another piece from Martin Vincent – Paper Chase  is probably the nearest the band has got to jazz. Written for a huge school band when Martin was teaching music, the title reflects the frustration of most teachers these days dealing with increasing burden of paperwork. 

The next track, Siamese Kashmir, is a classic example of what Feast of Fiddles is all about. A famous film tune segueing into classic rock. The March Of The Siamese Princes And Princesses from the film The King And I somehow seemed to naturally lead to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir ... or so thought bass player Dave Harding, a frequent provider of left field material choices to open the show. 

Peter Knight, Martin Vincent
and Huge Crabtree
A great band tune from Alan Whetton – Three Legged Race – comes next. Then a past top-of-the-show track which starts with the theme music of TV series Mission Impossible and joins with another tune from the pen of Alan Whetton, Mission Statement; almost inevitably this is entitled Mission Improbable.

The final track on the album is the only traditional tune and one that has been a feature of the band’s repertoire ever since the very beginning. Frequently introduced as a French dance tune that morphs into a drum solo it is Branle Des Chevaux or Horses’ Brawl as it is better known in the UK.

April 2017 English Tour Dates

Feast Of Fiddles website 

Friday, 17 March 2017

On the road again with Gilmore & Roberts

Contemporary folk/acoustic duo Gilmore & Roberts are setting out on a British tour this month.

Gilmore & Roberts

Last year, Katriona Gilmore (fiddle, mandolin) and Jamie Roberts (guitar) celebrated their 10th anniversary as a duo, and they have recently been touring in America and across Europe. 

Now they are concentrating on live dates in their homeland with a tour that begins on March 23rd and continues through the summer, including festival dates such as Wickham, Towersey and WeyFest.

  • March 23 : Lawrence Batley Theatre HUDDERSFIELD
  • March 24 : Mackenzie Hall, Brockweir CHEPSTOW
  • March 25 : Holy Trinity Parish Church SUTTON COLDFIELD
  • April 1 : Woodmancote Village Hall CHELTENHAM
  • April 2 : TwickFolk TWICKENHAM
  • April 7 : Malt'n'Music NORTHWICH
  • April 8 : The Maltings BERWICK UPON TWEED
  • April 20 : Black Swan Folk Club YORK
  • April 21 : The Greystones SHEFFIELD
  • April 22 : Farnsfield Acoustic NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
  • April 28 : Letwell Village Hall WORKSOP
  • May 5 : Friday Folk at West Heaton STOCKPORT
  • May 6 : Brigg Arts Fest LINCOLNSHIRE
  • May 7 : Plug'n'Play PENRITH
  • June 2 : Cambridge Folk Club CAMBRIDGE
  • June 3 : Blue Boar MALDON
  • June 4 : Hitchin Folk Club HERTFORDSHIRE
  • Aug 5: Wickham Festival FAREHAM
  • Aug 20: WeyFest FARNHAM
  • Aug 26/27: Towersey Festival THAME

Photography by Paul Newsom, Poppleton Live, October 2015

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thea Gilmore swaps guitar for an iPad on new album

Singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore has announced a 10-date tour of England to co-incide with the release of her new album, The Counterweight.

Thea says: "This tour is going to be something else (we have a 7 piece band for starters!) so make sure you pick up your tickets as soon as possible!"

Thea Gilmore wants to make people think
The Counterweight is released on June 2nd. You can get the new single to download straight away if you pre-order now on iTunes or via Thea's website. and there will be double vinyl and limited edition copies too.

Since releasing her debut as a teenager nearly 20 years ago, the Oxfordshire-raised, Cheshire-based singer and songwriter has chosen to shake things up with her next release.

Fifteen albums in, Thea has all but abandoned her trusty acoustic guitar in favour of an iPad and a piano. The change forced her out of her comfort zone in to exploring new methods of composing as well as new ways of recording.

“I’m not someone who plans albums in advance,” says Thea.

“I don’t decide what subjects to write about or how the songs will sound. But I knew I needed a change. I didn’t want to write another acoustic guitar album. I’d done that enough already.”

The iPad she had used only sparingly before. The piano, she claims, she can’t play.

“Using an instrument you can’t really play imposes limits,” says Thea. “If something sounded right, I kept it, but a proper pianist might be horrified. The iPad I’ve previously used for vocal arrangements, but never to write entire songs. It’s a brilliant tool for framing lyrics in a way you just can’t do on guitar.”

“I remember around Avalanche [her 2003 breakthrough album] thinking that we were heading down a rabbit hole. I wrote about how technology was dominating our lives, but little did I know... We’re now its slaves, not its masters. Our attention spans have become so tiny that unless you confine yourself to 140 characters, no one listens. Tackle politics like that and you end up with Trump and an unelected Tory leader. You can’t pick your way through important debates in sound bites, but that’s what we’re doing. I’m not anti-technology, but you have to use it right.”

Despite its hefty themes, The Counterweight also delves into disco and pure pop and boasts strings, samples, shimmering soundscapes and pretty piano. She adds: "Where it might have been mournful, it’s often airy and optimistic. Where it does delve in to darkness, it also glimpses light."

On the day the song 'Johnny Gets A Gun' was recorded, the MP Jo Cox was shot and killed. 

“That was such a strange and terrible day,” recalls Thea. “News of the shooting came through just as we arrived at the studio and by the time we’d finished the song Jo had died. It seemed so resonant to be singing about misfits and outsiders at such a tragic time.”

The Counterweight’s closing track, The War, includes several direct references to the late Labour MP in a call-to-arms for change.

“I find the best way to ram a point home is to mask what you’re doing by making people sing along,” says Thea. 

“It’s like subliminal advertising. People don’t realise you’re shouting at them if you’re singing a sunny tune.

“There are ballads on the album, but they’re uplifting rather than mournful. A songwriter’s job is to get people thinking, not make them so despondent they don’t act. You may as well stick your head in the oven right now if you can’t see a crack of light in dark times!"

Thurs June 1st - Union Chapel, LONDON BUY TICKETS
Fri June 2nd - Revelation, ASHFORD  BUY TICKETS
Mon June 5th - The Stables, MILTON KEYNES  BUY TICKETS
Wed June 7th - Junction 2, CAMBRIDGE  BUY TICKETS
Sun June 11th - Contemporary, NOTTINGHAM  BUY TICKETS
Tues June 13th - Arts Centre, POCKLINGTON  BUY TICKETS

Monday, 13 March 2017

Unthanks showcase music of Nick Drake's mother Molly

Molly Drake, the mother of the remarkable Nick Drake, was a poet and songwriter in her own right. 
She made recordings at home during the 1950s with the help of her husband and, though they were never released at the time, they share plenty of common ground with her celebrated son’s work. They are charming and bittersweet, yet dark and pensive. 
Now those compositions are forming the latest album project from Tyneside-based folk band The Unthanks, who embark on a major tour of How Wild The Wind Blows: Performing The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake.
Molly Drake shadowed by Rachel and Becky Unthank
The Unthanks say that Molly’s work is extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of Nick Drake’s.
With the full blessing and enthusiasm of actress Gabrielle Drake (Mollys daughter and Nicks sister) The Unthanks are bound to treat her story with the same love, diligence and imagination as they did when reinterpreting the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnson's. 

They say: "A treasure trove only recently made public by the Drake family, if ever a body of work actually merited reappraisal and reimagining, Molly Drake’s is surely it."

Molly died in 1993, and some of her recordings were first featured on the documentary of her son's life, A Skin Too Few, in 2000. The first official inclusion in an LP release was on the 2007 album, Family Tree. Two of her compositions - "Poor Mum" and "Do You Ever Remember?" - were included on the release.

Nick Drake's increasing cult following led to further interest in his mother. In 2013 an album entitled Molly Drake was released with the intention of focusing solely on the work of Molly Drake. The 19 songs were recorded on a rudimentary setup at her home in the 1950s. It features Molly's soft vocals accompanied by piano on tracks that mainly last two minutes.  Nick's record producer, Joe Boyd, has stated that this compilation is "the missing link in the Nick Drake story".

In addition to the live re-imaginings by The Unthanks, the audio-visual tour will feature film footage of Molly, and her poetry, recorded and spoken by daughter Gabrielle.

The tour will be accompanied by the release of Diversions Vol. 4 - How Wild The Wind Blows: The Unthanks Perform The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake due for release in late May. 


18th April – NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME New Vic Theatre
01782 717962 /

0161 907 5555 /

20th April – WREXHAM William Aston Hall
0844 888 9991 /

21st April – KENDAL Brewery Arts Centre
01539 725 133 /

22nd April – EDINBURGH The Queens Hall
0131 668 2019 /

23rd April – BERWICK UPON TWEED Maltings Theatre
01289 330999 /

26th April – BIRMINGHAM The Glee Club
0871 472 0400 /

27th April – CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
01223 357851 /

28th April – BASINGSTOKE The Anvil
01256 844244 /

29th April – CARDIFF Tramshed
029 2023 5555 /

30th April – BRADFORD ON AVON Wiltshire Music Centre
01225 860100 /

1st May – BRIGHTON The Old Market
01273 201 801 /

2nd May – SOUTHAMPTON Turner Sims
023 8059 5151 /

3rd May – LONDON The Albany
020 8692 4446 /

6th May – CLITHEROE The Grand
01200 421599 /

7th May – BARROW IN FURNESS The Forum
01229 820000 /

10th May - RUNCORN Brindley
0151 907 8360 /

11th May – LEEDS City Varieties
0113 243 0808 /

12th May – LEEDS City Varieties
0113 243 0808 /

01642 525199 /

14th May – NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21* / * call charges apply

25th May – DUBLIN Vicar St
00353 (0)1 7755 800 /

28th May – LONDON The Barbican Milton Court (2 shows)
020 7638 8891 /

Tickets / Info:

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Spring comes to Winter Mountain

Winter Mountain (Cornish-born Joe Francis) will be heading out on the road for a UK tour this spring.

Joe Francis
Joe and his band together form a shimmering 4-piece, comprised of musicians who recreate and reenergize the soulful, folk-rock songs from Winter Mountain‘s two albums - the 2013 self-titled debut and its late 2016 follow-up I Swear I Flew.

His PR blurb says: "With Joe’s soaring vocals and acoustic guitars, the blazing telecasters, the pounding drums and echoes of many of the master singer-songwriters - Winter Mountain is a must-hear for anyone with a soft spot for great songs performed with burning passion."

Winter Mountain has toured the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, opening for Seal, Guy Garvey, Cara Dillon, Seth Lakeman, Richard Thompson, The Feeling, Rosanne Cash, Patty Griffin and Ben Ottewell of Gomez. 

Video of Winter Mountain's summery song 'Sunlight, Good Roads':


Fri 24        Newquay          Lusty Glaze Beach
Thu 30      Winchester       The Railway
Fri 31        Stroud              The Prince Albert

Sat 1         Oxford              The Jericho
Sun 2        Brighton           The Prince Albert
Tue 4        Sheffield           The Greystones
Wed 5       Birmingham      Kitchen Garden CafĂ©
Thu 6        London             229 The Venue
Fri 7          Bristol              The Lantern, Colston Hall      co-headline with Brook Sharkey
Sat 8         Plymouth          The Junction
Sun 9        Exeter               The Voodoo Lounge

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Oxford makes a Weekend of it

Oxford’s favourite community based, volunteer-run festival is gearing up for its sixth year in big style!
Kerr and Fagan headline the festival

Folk Weekend: Oxford (21st-23rd April 2017) has grown steadily every year since its inception in 2012, with increasing support and collaborations from local and national folk artists and performing groups. Known for the strong representation of Oxfordshire's folk groups, young performers, and emerging acoustic talent, this community festival is a hidden gem in the annual festival calendar, with unique opportunities to see top quality performers in intimate and beautiful settings around Oxford city centre. 

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan are back as 2017 headliners. Their outstanding musicianship, acclaimed original compositions and a visceral chemistry between the two make Kerr and Fagan a perennial favourite at festivals and folk clubs across the country.

Folk Weekend also boasts an all-star cast of supporting acts including patrons Jackie Oates (with Megan Henwood and Pete Thomas in their new acoustic roots and folk trio) and John Spiers, one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation. Other artists include Dan Walsh, Dipper Malkin, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, Leveret, The Emily Askew Band and The Discussion Topic.

The cream of Oxfordshire's folk and acoustic scene can be spotted throughout the festival with the likes of Coldharbour, Edward PopeIrwing-Brown-ActyShivelightWhite Horse WhisperersThe Skeptics and land-locked shanty crew (and self-proclaimed darlings of the Oxfordshire Women's Institute) Short Drag Roger.

Dancing in the aisles at last year's event

Folk Weekend director Cat Kelly is delighted with the line up of the 2017 festival: “I'm exceptionally proud of the fantastic programme we have pulled together this year. Our headline artists are award-winning performers, and they will be ably supported by a host of superb acts, including (as always) a large number of fantastic local artists.”

Alongside this varied concert line-up, the festival promises ceilidhs, workshops, European-style dancing, Morris dance displays, and many free family events.

Cat Kelly added: "Folk Weekend is proud to be paving the way in accessible and inclusive music-making, and is building on the previous two years which have seen ‘relaxed’ and inclusive performances for people who may normally feel excluded from the folk arts. The 'Special Saturday' events include a Makaton-signed performance of folk songs and a ceilidh for people with Special Needs."

  • Tickets are available now via the website, including Weekend season tickets at £67 (£62 concessions), day season tickets starting at £30, and tickets for individual events. 
  • Visit the website for further information 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Fairport Convention 50:50@50 - an album of two halves


Fairport Convention is fifty years old and to mark the golden anniversary the founders of British folk-rock have released the tongue-twistingly-titled 50:50@50 — which proves to be an album of two halves in more ways than one.
Seven of the 14 tracks were recorded in the studio, and the remainder come from live performances recorded during recent concerts. 
It's an unusual and brave idea which I had some misgivings about prior to my first listen, because I couldn't help but think that interspersing live and studio tracks would spoil the flow of the album. However, I'm glad to report that this concern was totally unfounded. 
50:50@50 (surely a Twitter nightmare!) starts with new song Eleanor's Dream, a rousing tale from the band's principal songsmith Chris Leslie, and from the same inspirational source as previously recorded songs Mercy Bay and Lord Franklin — the historical search for the North West Passage. At just a shade over three minutes Eleanor's Dream only just starts to get going before it's over, but it's nicely done, Mr Leslie; more of the same, please! 
This is followed by the first live track, the rollickingly jolly drinking song Ye Mariners All, which could easily pass for a studio version but for the slightly raw feel that is always such a delight with live recordings.

Fairport at 50: (l-r) Gerry Conway, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Dave Pegg, Chris Leslie
The album flits between brand new songs and older favourites – I'm particularly pleased about the inclusion of live cuts of  The Naked Highwayman and the stunning Mercy Bay, showcasing Gerry Conway's wonderful drums towards the end. 
But – and I'm afraid there is a but – it is mostly the already familiar tracks that are the standouts here, and the majority of the new numbers are lightweights.
Devil's Work is a promising title but turns out to be a very middle-of-the-road, ho-hum song about D.I.Y! Our Bus Rolls On is an unbelievably cringeworthy autobiographical piece about Fairport's touring life that deserves to be quickly forgotten.
I'm a longstanding and outspoken fan of Chris Leslie's songs but his Step By Step is forgettably bland — though I hope I may change my mind once I hear it played live on the Cropredy festival field on Saturday evening in August. 
An exception to the rule that 'new songs' aren't as good as old favourites is the new take on the traditional song The Lady Of Carlisle, and here it is guest Jacqui McShee's beautiful vocals rather than the song itself that have made an impression on me. Another old friend of Fairport, Robert Plant, makes a rather laidback guest appearance on the live, country-tinged cover of oddball trad. spiritual Jesus On The Mainline.
The inclusion of Joe Broughton's Conservatoire Ensemble on a beefed up version of the Ric Sanders instrumental Danny Jack's Reward feels like something of a missed opportunity; don't they – and the fans – deserve an entirely new track to get their teeth into? 
In the main this album certainly feels more folk than rock and, too much of the time, more M.O.R. than folk. I find that disappointing because, although I've been a follower of the band for only twenty years (I've never known any other lineup of the band and, like with Doctor Who, you tend to love the one you saw first!)  the 2017 version of Fairport is short of the folk-rock power they once exhibited. It's sad that the complaints I've long heard from fans who first experienced Fairport during the heyday years of Liege and Lief now suddenly make sense!
However, despite the niggling feeling that this album is lacking a certain something, I can forgive Fairport almost anything for their inclusion of the final track, the beautiful and tragic John Condon, about the youngest Allied soldier to die in the First World War. From the first notes to the final heartbreaking conclusion this live track is a triumph and brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. For this reason alone, this album will get the thumbs up from me. 
But oh, Fairport! You had the perfect opportunity to produce a truly great album, and instead we merely get a souvenir that marks a significant anniversary.

50:50@50 is released on the Matty Grooves label on March 10th 2017.

Review by 'Captain Swing' for FolkCast