Normafest 2018: Eliza Carthy gives us the lowdown

Ahead of Normafest 2018, I chatted with Eliza Carthy about the festival’s history, the lineup for the coming event, the where to goes and what to knows. Along the way she chatted openly about her mother’s illness, the importance of the Bright Phoebus album, the contraband on sale in pubs around Robin Hood’s Bay, the new Gift Band album, a forthcoming and very exciting tour, and why Norma Waterson was once seen carrying a platypus on a board. Just a typical conversation with Eliza Carthy, then.  

Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp: The Poacher’s Fate – a review

The Poacher’s Fate by Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp It’s unlike me to come straight to the point, but what the heck: I love this album. Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp’s The Poacher’s Fate plonked through my door about a month ago and I promptly went out and bought a CD player so that I could listen to it. (It’s only since I began writing this blog that CDs became a part of my life again – the old ways die hard in the folk tradition, it would seem). Clearly, the album hasn’t disappointed. (Did I tell you how much I love […]

5 to try: British folk songs chosen by British folk singers – pt 2

The first in our 5-to-Try series seemed to do pretty well indeed, so here we are again with another batch of British folk songs. We’ve lined up a second motley crew of folk-performing luminaries and layabouts, each one eager to tell you which British folk song really makes the hairs on their neck stand up and why they think you ought to add it to your playlist. 

What is folk music, exactly? An interview with Steve Roud

Over the eight months I’ve been running this blog, I have – because it genuinely interests me – repeatedly asked interviewees for their folk music definition. It hasn’t been terribly easy, to be honest with you. Some react well, clearly delighted to be asked the very question they’ve been secretly pondering for years themselves, while others insist it’s a pointless task and seem rather put out to have been bothered by something so apparently trivial. 

Marry Waterson on Bright Phoebus: an album of myth and magic for all the family

The great ‘lost’ folk album, Bright Phoebus, means a huge amount to a lot of people, most of whom assumed that it would remain lost given that its two central figures – Lal and Mike Waterson – have now passed away. But a springtime announcement changed all that when it was revealed that Lal’s daughter, the artist and singer Marry Waterson, had been working on a Bright Phoebus re-release in conjunction with David Suff and Domino Records. 

Whitchurch, Hampshire and the songs of Henry Lee

One of my preoccupations in recent months has been the relaunch of the Whitchurch Folk Club (which you can find out more about here). I say ‘relaunch’ even though there never has been (to my knowledge) a club of that name. The local folk club that ran regularly throughout the folk revival of the 70s and closed 30 years ago was named after the pub in which it met – The Red House – and while we’re very keen to acknowledge the traditions that the organisers established (not least the amazing-sounding Whitchurch Folk Festival), it’s going to be very hard to […]

My Old Hat That I Got On | Folk from the Attic

If there was ever a case of a folk song hiding in plain sight, this was it. I first heard ‘My Old Hat That I Got On‘ as a recording on Voice of the People, performed by an old Oxfordshire chap named Tom Newman. It struck me as a song with potential for a slightly bluesy guitar arrangement so I began hacking away at it, slowly chiseling it into something performable, much to the annoyance of my family (that chorus played 20 times a day will wear down the hardiest of people).