The Grizzly Folk website started as an experiment and then became an obsession. Jon Wilks launched the website initially as a home for information on the band of the same name, but as time went by the band members had kids and began performing less and less.
So Jon began tinkering. A former journalist by trade, he became interested in excavating and writing about old English folk songs. However, like many people approaching the genre, he found the sheer volume of songs daunting. Where to begin? Who to know? The Grizzly Folk blog became a kind of journal documenting that exploration.
At present the blog has three main themes.
The Folk from the Attic series looks at a variety of traditional songs, exploring them through performance and through research. The performances are all kept on Youtube (you can see them and subscribe here), while the research is done largely through the use of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House.
The Folk Conversations series is an ongoing collection of conversations, presented as full (almost unedited) transcripts, between Jon and British traditional folk performers of note. It’s testament to how wonderfully inclusive the British trad scene is that, in the space of half a year, conversations had been recorded with so many luminaries. In particular, however, Jon would like to thank Paul Sartin, Eliza Carthy, Martin Simpson and Nicola Kearey for their encouragement (and connections!)
The third and latest strand is the 5-to-Try series, in which the interviewed artists pick out the one British folk song that they think you ought to hear. The aim of this is simply to help newcomers to the genre with a place to start. The songs are also kept as playlists on Spotify and Youtube, which you can subscribe to at any time.
If you’d like to stay informed and get new articles in your inbox every now and then, as well as the occasional invite to a gig here and there, you can sign up using the form below. We’re not very prolific, so there’s not much chance of you getting spammed.
And then there’s the band…
“The Grizzly Folk used to perform regularly, bringing their absurdist, psychedelic version of British psych folk and surrealism to the masses. These days, the main members have been scattered by the four winds and perform only when their gaolers allow.”
Yes, the Grizzly Folk also make music. Originally a duo – Jon Wilks and Jon Nice – formed in Japan in 2008, they’re usually accompanied by whichever local musicians they can get their hands on. To this day the lineup varies from performance to performance. Regularly accompanying us are Richard Lines, Stephen Field and Emma Kuntze, but we’ll take anybody and everybody, providing they can hold a reasonable tune.
To date we’ve released two EPs and two full-length albums (although the first EP has long ago vanished – let us know if you have a copy we can listen to!) You can find out more about these on our recordings page.
Contact Jon Wilks and Grizzly Folk
Jon Wilks also performs on his own as a solo singer, mixing traditional songs and stories with a smattering of originals. If you’d like to book either Jon or the Grizzly Folk, drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.