We’re very pleased to announce our artists for 2020! There are more to follow…
O’Hooley & Tidow
Belinda and Heidi’s boundless songwriting has been described by The Guardian as ‘exceptional’ and The Independent as ‘defiant, robust, northern, poetical, political folk music for the times we live in.’ Their song ‘Gentleman Jack’ features as the closing theme song for Sally Wainwright’s latest BBC/HBO drama series Gentleman Jack. From an emotionally charged song about an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, to a joyous celebration of the Leeds cycling champion Beryl Burton, they explore, consider and connect subjects and stories in a distinctive, inventive and memorable way.
With a personal invite from Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, sessions on 6 Music and Radio 2, five star reviews and a feature in The Guardian, the songwriting, voice and piano partnership of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow is regarded as ‘One of British folk music’s mightiest combinations’ (MOJO).
Having the originality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle, 6 Music’s Tom Robinson says ‘They sing together in the way families do. Normally, you only get that closeness in the voices with family bands like The Coppers or The Watersons.’
Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals), “one of folk’s odd couples”, have for nearly 25 years wowed audiences around Europe, The States and Australia, with virtuoso musicianship tempered by wry humour.
Singer, oboist, cor anglais player, swanee whistle afficionado, violinist and pianist, Paul Sartin is a BASCA-nominated composer, arranger, performer and teacher. Paul is a founding member of the BBC award-nominated ensembles Belshazzar’s Feast and Faustus (German Critics Award 2017) and the late Bellowhead. Paul Hutchinson is the founder member of the innovative and progressive folk band, The Playford Liberation Front. His highly successful folk trio Hoover the Dog has recently morphed into the critically acclaimed Pagoda Project. Paul’s own compositions were published in 2012 (Food For Thought) and a second volume is in the pipeline.
‘Few can match this duo in concert for entertainment and great music’ The Independent
Solo Piano ‘Inversions’
Belinda O’Hooley began playing the piano at the age of seven. She is an exceptionally gifted pianist, singer, songwriter and composer and has become renowned for her highly individual, emotional, yet sensitive musicality.
‘Inversions’ showcases Belinda’s abilities as a composer and pianist with many of the piano pieces inspired by the songs and tunes her father inherited from a long line of male musicians in the hills of the West coast of rural Ireland. With the passing of her father in 2017, Belinda; the first woman to be handed the tradition, has found the freedom to express the music of her ancestors in her very own, unconventional way, evolving and migrating into something you could describe as an inversion: a reversal of the norm.
‘Inversions’ encapsulates the essence of an artist truly at one with her instrument.
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 – Nominated Best Traditional Track Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith are one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years. Their unique ability to make old songs seem relevant and new songs sound ancient has brought them widespread critical acclaim.
Their most recent album ‘Many a Thousand’ was released in autumn 2018 and accompanied by an extensive UK tour. The new material includes more original compositions with reflections on the modern world and storytelling that gets to the heart of life in Britain today. The original material sits alongside some unearthed gems from the British and Irish folk canons delivered with powerful harmony singing and sensitive musical arrangements.
A voice that pours with emotion and fills a venue, Katie O’Malley and her hip-swaying Americana band have played across the country at a long list of shows and festivals. They describe their sound as mix of country, folk, soul & blues. Their 70’s inspired music takes you on a journey of mournful melody to punchy beats and gravelly powerful vocals with a sense of Stevie Nicks meets Creedence Clearwater Revival.
They have received radio airplay from BBC Introducing Manchester and country stations throughout the UK, America and Australia supporting top ten album selling Beth Rowley and country star Kimmie Rhodes.
Katie and the band have recently released their second E.P “Never Be The Same” championed by Americana UK followed by winning BCA Country Artiste of the year 2019
“Katie’s singing reminds me of some of the best woman vocalists of the 70’s folk rock movement, hints of stevie nicks and linda thompson.” The Modern Folk music of America
“She always sounds in control, confident, capable. She handily pulls off the difficult feat of revealing her resilience and strength through her vulnerability.” Americana UK
Café Spice are a trio who create heavenly and Autumnal harmonies reminiscent of Mamas & Papas whilst also sitting with the effortlessly sublime indie-folk of contemporaries such as The Staves or HAIM. It would seem three is a winning number. They packed out Three Wise Monkeys for their pop-up spot in 2019 and so we’re inviting them back for a propoer concert spot!
Consisting of Georgia Gage, Eleanor Lang and Niamh Feeney, Café Spice have spent time playing live around Manchester where they reside, further training their already impressive vocal prowess. Over Summer 2018 they made a trip to British Grove Studios, London to turn several live favourites into future singles. The first, Café Spice’s debut, ‘Lauren,’ received coverage from every major online UK folk publication and was supported by Tom Robinson (BBC6Music) as part of the BBC Introducing Mixtape. 2019 looks to be an exciting year with more singles to be released and live appearances across the UK Summer circuit.
Michael Walsh and Quarehawk bring together a love of music, song and spoken word from Stockport, Sligo, Asturias and a dollop of Yorkshire.
Led by Mancunian Irish fluter and singer Michael Walsh, the band will be performing tracks from his critically acclaimed album Quarehawk, which was co-produced with Michael McGoldrick, launched at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2019 and featured guest artists including Ríoghnach Connolly, Poet Mike Garry, Bryony Griffith and Basque Trikitixa legend Kepa Junkera. The album charts the last three years of his life: celebration, loss, moving on and finding his own voice. Michael draws on his roots in Sligo style flute learnt in Manchester, a hot bed of Irish traditional music in the 20 th Century, and melds this with English and Iberian sounds creating what Folk Radio UK described as “a striking coherence across a multiplicity of influences and styles”.
Joining Michael on stage will be Bryony Griffith on fiddle and vocals, Will Hampson on melodeons (ex Demon Barbers), clog dancer Sarah Dalrymple and surprise guests.
“Art music for the soul” Colin Irwin, Mojo Magazine
Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award winner Bella Gaffney (guitar, vocals), acclaimed mandolin player Polly Bolton and fiddle player Holly Brandon came together last year, fusing Celtic folk with bluegrass in an exciting new collaboration. This all-female power trio is already establishing a fearsome reputation for their glittering live shows, onstage rapport and genre-busting original and traditional material.
Alice Jones and Bryony Griffith
These two pioneers of modern English folk performance have joined forces in a phenomenal duo of traditional songs, tunes and flat footing flare.
Expect themes of death, joy, glory and drinking through strong voices, rousing reels and a stirring repertoire rooted in the traditional songs of Yorkshire, and the famous collections of Frank Kidson.
These two highly skilled musicians are taking their place as experts of harmony, history and northern banter.
Home-grown in Todmorden, this band of Muthers are having the best fun playing some of their favourite tunes from many genres. Ostensibly a folk covers band, they believe anything is a folk song – it just depends on how you sing it. With vocal harmonies, guitar, cello, cahon, and a few other instruments when the whim takes them, expect an eclectic mix where anything goes, and maybe a couple of ‘proper’ folk songs thrown in for good measure!
Vintage reprobates and genre alchemists, the Black Sheikhs fire heady concoctions of punk, pop, rock and swing, steaming into the 21st century.
Lord Acton and his band of virtuosos take the popular songs of today, and dress them up in the snazzy rags of the jazz era. Mötorhead, Beyoncé, Swift and Sheeran, injected with a hefty dose of swing and savoir faire.
From Glastonbury to the Palace of Westminster, they’ve set the stage on fire with boundless energy and brazen bon humour. From pub gigs to arenas, weddings to wakes, the Sheikhs have done it in style.
Frog on a Bike Ceilidh Band
Frog on a Bike are an accomplished, energetic, dance floor packing English Ceilidh band, covering Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire areas, as well as top Folk Festivals up and down UK. Their enthusiastic playing, big sound and driving rhythm is guaranteed to have you up and dancing. We’re so looking forward to welcoming them back in 2020 after a fantastic night in 2019.
Folk customs of the borderlands
(Yorkshire – Lancashire that is!)
Roger Kennington (dancer, singer and folklore enthusiast) and Peter Brears (historian, broadcaster and award winning author) have been exploring the customs of Calderdale and around. This is what they found. Expect dancing, singing, stories, and snacks! Be educated and entertained with performances from a local array of talent. Watch this space.
West Riding Concertina Ensemble
Throughout the later part of the Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth Centuries concertina bands were popular across the North of England. These bands were the same size as Brass Bands, about 24 players, and played a similar repertoire – marches, airs and popular tunes of the time. The West Riding Concertina Ensemble were formed to play the type of music that these bands would be playing today.
Calder Youth Folk
An acoustic band made up of young musicians from the local area aged 7-18 who meet together every week to learn traditional tunes from across the British Isles. The young musicians learn music by ear, and are given the music to take away at the end of each session. They are led by fiddle teacher Jenny Trott, assisted by volunteer music mentors, students and performers drawn from the vibrant folk music community of West Yorkshire.
The band has been brought together as part of the Calder Valley Youth Folk Music Project, a formally constituted society staffed by volunteers who work towards reviving folk music, song and dance traditions among the younger generation. The project began in January 2019, and in its first year, the young musicians of Calder Youth Folk have shown an amazing commitment to learning to play together, building up a broad repertoire of tunes and performing at local charity events and festivals.
The project is now into its second year, thanks to funding from Hebden Royd Town Council and the Rotary Club of Hebden Bridge. It also runs weekend workshops, and subsidises trips to local live folk music events for band members. In January 2020, it began a programme of research into the history of folk music in Calderdale with the aim of reviving a set of local songs and tunes for performance.
Folk music brings together history, culture and the social bonds that draw us together as human beings. This extends into performance, which can be approached in a way that brings musicians and audience together as equals. The team who set this project up have a core belief in these principles, and in community engagement through folk music.
Formed in 2014 from a group of talented musicians and carnival artists, Cacophany Arkestra perform a high energy mix of Soca & Calypso tunes blended with other musical styles such as Ska, Jazz & Afrobeat.
Ethel Carnie – Local Lass, Local Voice
Ethel Carnie Holdsworth (1886-1962), working-class writer, feminist, and social activist from East Lancashire, was probably the first working-class woman in Britain to publish a novel. Indeed, she went on to publish at least ten novels, plus hundreds of poems, articles and children’s stories, and yet most people – even in this Pennine area where she lived and worked – have never heard of her.
The team at Mid Pennine Arts have been uncovering more of the fascinating details of her life. Ethel was a child worker in a local mill. She also used to use the local library to read and then start writing. Ethel was a typical local lass and she was also remarkably passionate about the arts, politics and social justice for workers like herself. She became the voice of all tough lasses everywhere, then and now.
This presentation, approximately one hour in length, is an extract from a longer soundscape project. In words and in song, you will hear Ethel’s poems, but you will also learn more about Ethel’s life and views – be prepared for some scenes of protest but also some amazing songs!
Ethel’s work almost disappeared, and this piece shows the determination of many people to not only find it but to make sure it never gets lost again.
Suitable for ages 10+