Folk On The Lawn

"innovative folk for innovative folk"

Line-up

Thursday | Dydd Iau

Thursday evening/Nos Iau

                             7.30 (Doors 7) – 11pm

Venue: Restaurant Stage

                        Robin and Bina Williamson/Pamela Wyn Shannon /Avital Raz

 

Friday evening | Nos Wener

Friday evening/Nos Wener

                            

Venue: Llwyfan yr Afon/River Stage

 

Llwyfan yr Bwyty

5.30: Jon Airdrie and Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open mic session:

7.30pm – 10pm

6.30: Anna My Charlotte
7.30: The Melonades
8.30: Pamela Wyn Shannon
9.30: The Astrakan Project
10.30: Peter and the Empty Cages

 

Saturday | Dydd Sadwrn

River Stage
Llwyfan yr Afon

Mill Stage
Llwyfan y Melin

Bar Stage
Llwyfan y Bar

Early: Mill Stage

Llwyfan Y Melin: Open mic

11.45: Whitehall Parade

12.30: The Mourning Moon

12.00: Jon Matthews

1: Anna My Charlotte

1.15:The Melonades

 2.00: Gwair

2.00: Pamela Wyn Shannon

3.00:  The Face That Boils Itself

3.00: Causton and Walker

3.45: The Hittites

4.00: Sally Thompson

4.30:  Peter and the Empty Cages

5.15:  Soft Hearted Scientists

6.00: The Rarebits (Twmpath)

5.00 – 5.40: Melody Causton

5.50 – 6.30: The Mourning Moon

6.30 – 7.10: Peter Gowen

7.15: Sproatly Smith

7.30 – 10.00: Rumney Folk Club

8.00: Steve Dan Mills

9.05: Avital Raz

9.45: The Adventures of Bert and Henry

10.30: The Astrakan Project


Sunday | Dydd Sul

River Stage
Llwyfan yr Afon

Mill Stage
Llwyfan y Melin

Bar Stage
Llwyfan y Bar

11 – 12: Peter Gowen

11.20 – 11.50: TBC

12.00: The Melonades

11.50: Jon Airdrie

12.40:  The Face That Boils Itself

12.45:Jeff Japers

1.15: The Hittites

1.35: Steve Dan Mills

 2.00 – 2.30: Causton and Walker

2.25: Avital Raz

2.30 – 3.10: Gaudy Orde

3.10: Cassia

3.15 – 4.00: Jon Matthews

3.45: Melody Causton

4.30: Serpentyne

 

Anna my Charlotte

We have hundreds of requests from musicians wishing to play at FotL. We try to take a listen to all songs emailed and try to follow all web links provided. Anna my Charlotte contacted us in the depths of winter with just a sentence or two by way of introduction and a single link to a collection of songs. We were intrigued and – having listened to the samples, bought the album and watched a number of her plaintive videos – asked her to play this year. Our feeling is that someone without a need for self-aggrandisement and the mixed paraphernalia of ‘press packs’, t shirts, commemorative mugs and so on is likely to be doing what they do because they are interested in it for its own sake, not for what it may lead to (‘career’) or how they may be regarded.

Anna my Charlotte is a folk harpist and singer-songwriter. She writes enchanting songs with uplifting melodies about her quirky relatives and the comical aspects of everyday life. Inspired by her musician friends, Anna makes music as a way of documenting her family tree. There are a number of these ‘documentary song’s on YouTube. It’s the first time we have come across such as raison d’etre. It ties in with the general enigma (I mean, why ‘Anna my Charlotte’?).

We’re still playing the album and look forward hugely to hearing Anna my Charlotte live at FotL 2016.

annamycharlotte

 

Avital Raz

Avital Raz for another year at FotL? Most certainly – backed equally by public demand and critic’s choice.

Keith Bruce, from the Scots Herald, writes: ‘There are probably few folk who have felt that what was missing from their musical firmament was a female equivalent of Aidan Moffat.

But those imaginative souls have their prayers answered in the third track on the fifth album by Jerusalem-born Avital Raz, which is entitled The Edinburgh Surprise, in which she narrates a tale – one possibly more true than anything that Moffat has penned – of a drunken sexual encounter in the Scottish capital in the most explicit of terms, with a twist in the tail (sic). It is likely to be one of the most compelling things you hear all year.

There is much more to The Believer than that, however.

Raz, who has also imbibed the vocals of Ofra Haza in her homeland, learned Indian singing in the subcontinent and lived in Berlin before coming to rest currently in north-west England…It is a wonderful musical journey that will appeal musically to fans of female experimentalists from Bjork to Ela Orleans and lyrically to those who admire Emmy the Great or the former Arab Strap chap.’

Nick Burbridge, from R2 applauds Avital’s album, The Believer, adding: ‘I must reserve a passage for ‘The Edinburgh Surprise’ – her video should be checked out by every female singer-songwriter as an example of how to explore uncomfortable parameters of gender, politics and spirituality with the voice of a real pioneer , not another formulaic mouthpiece…Avital Raz may not fit a mould or scale any pyramids (who knows?) – and yet…she takes the breath away . In my book, it’s all that counts.’

Avital returns to FotL after the release – finally (copyright problems leading to a delay of years) – of an album Sad Songs About The End Of Love , featuring eleven of James Joyce’s poems set primarily in Raag style and recorded in India and Israel.

avitalraz

 

Cassia

For the first time at FotL, we welcome the splendid Cassia: Mixing warm tropical grooves with infectiously raw guitar melodies, Cassia, best served with white rum, have in just half a year grown to be one of the most buzzing bands coming out of the North of the UK. All living in Manchester, Robert Ellis, Lou Cotterill and Jacob Leff formed the band mid 2015 taking their name from a fateful purchase of a djembe at an African drum shop. The trio began playing small gigs at local venues, making the band a full time endeavour when they started receiving Major Label interest following a debut performance at Y Not Festival in the summer.

Since then, the band have supported multiple well known artists including Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio and have starting filling venues for their own headline shows. Cassia have established a unique and refreshing summery sound, and, combined their limitless amounts of on stage energy, are prepped for a busy festival season in 2016. Hugely appreciative that they have made FotL part of this.

image

 

Causton and Walker

Bryan and Penni first came to our attention when playing an open mic slot one lunchtime at FotL. Struck by their verve and downright musical skill, we wondered if they would like to be listed…and here they are.

Penni McLaren Walker and Bryan Causton describe themselves as having very similar musical tastes, ideas and influences. Very simply, when playing together their styles are both mutually complementary and create, as they note, ‘a new and unique synergy’.

Causton and Walker have related seeing their live performances as a journey, a musical narrative. We noted a relaxed, friendly atmosphere but with songs and tunes delivered with a great sense of belief and personal passion. Despite a significant grounding and a wealth of experience in the world of folk music their style is, nevertheless, more part of the ‘new tradition’.

caustonwalker

 

Gaudy Orde

Gaudy Orde have been described as best musical comedy band in the world. We have tried our best to avoid including them at this year’s FotL. Too much of a good thing, we said. Pressure from outside mounted: friends, relatives, the tabloids. We gave in.

A sizeable outfit with a variety of characters; all, we believe, given pseudonymic titles. Led by Glossopian, Jeff Japers (ukulele, kick box, sampler and vocal chords) and including: Barry Sidings (darbuka, bouzouki, a percussion tree and own vocal chords); Romany Bob (washboard, thimbles, [rare vintage] clarinet, vocal chords, mouth organ, shaky egg, wood blocks and a melodica); Helen Spoons, apparently ‘found in a charity shop in Roath, Cardiff’ (spoons, djembe drum, claves and vocal chords); Tall Joy who is said to ‘give them their much needed bottom end’. The band is joined, occasionally, by dancing artiste Michael Klaxon and The Chimpanzee In A Plastic Mac.

gaudyorde

 

Jack Harris

Jack made his first appearance at last year’s FotL. We were entrapped.

Jack Harris was a South by South-West showcasing artist at 17. He was also the youngest, as well as the only non-American person ever to win the New Folk song writing award at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Texas. (Previous winners included Gillian Welch, Steve Earle and Devon Sproule).

Those days, claims Jack, are gone, along, he argues, with most of Jack’s youth and vigour, but he’s still pleased to find himself in such company. And he still writes literate, compassionate songs, about subjects as disparate as Caribbean drinking festivals, the colour of a potato flower and the lives of great poets like Elizabeth Bishop.

The Telegraph voted his album, ‘The Flame and the Pelican’, at fifth place in their top 10 Roots/Folk albums of 2012. Q Magazine praised his ‘unique lyrical mind’, and Maverick UK awarded the record its full 10/10 rating. His writing and performance has also led to a productive, creative relationship with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), through whom he has been the recipient of a creative bursary award to write new songs in the old Folk idiom.

Jack’s claim is that coping with the dramatic potential of the stage infinitely better than with the vicissitudes of real life, Jack is happiest when playing live. He has brought his music to a loyal, ever-growing audience, at festivals, venues and skating rinks across the world. On occasion he has opened for some of Folk’s biggest names, including Anais Mitchell, Cara Dillon and Dick Gaughan. His live show is a riveting mix of song craft and theatrical story-telling, delivered with warm voice, dry humour and nimble, string-picking fingers. Come on out of an evening. You’ll see.

Jack’s new album, ‘The Wide Afternoon’, produced by Gerry Diver (Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp, The Speech Project), is due out in 2016… and we hope to have it on sale at the festival.

Easily – and often – said, but, most genuinely, unmissable.

jackharris

 

Jeff Japers

Jeff says: ‘I write and perform comedy songs on the ukulele. Sometimes on my own, in quiet places like poetry nights or morgues, and other times with my band Gaudy Orde in more rowdy places like pubs and village fairs. I like wires and lemonade but hate violent dogs, and I hope above all that we can try to be happy before we die.’

Jeff has built-up a substantial repertoire of songs into a stand-up routine. Think of a faux cabaret feel, with the assistance of a sampler and some visual ‘happenings’. Something a bit different to the usual stand up stuff.

jeffjapers

 

Jon Airdrie

Jon writes: ‘In terms of getting in touch with me, I am the easiest person out of any artist who has ever played at FotL to get in touch with and to stay in touch with. That’s a fact. A dialogue with myself is all that’s needed.
I am the person that had the inclination to start this Folk on the Lawn thing a decade ago and have been the sort of lord of misrule subsequently – the prime dyspraxic mover and intemperate shaker.

I have, for a number of years, resisted the ‘artist’ role at FotL and been a host alone. This year, due both to the festival’s – significant – anniversarial number and due to my new record, Rope and Rags, being released in the spring, I thought that a performance would be acceptable. I hope to put on an eclectic show: to combine some new things with some old things (some very acoustic and some quite loud things) and drag in as many of those who have collaborated with me over the last decade or so who volunteer/are coerced to be so dragged’.

Thanks Jon

‘Ah, no problem at all’

Fancy a coffee?

‘That would be great. Milk and one sugar, please’

jonairdrie.wordpress.com

jonairdrie

 

Jon Matthews

Jon suggests this self-description: ‘A studio based musician who – if he could be compared to a perfumer – is the man who toils day and night, adding and taking away scents, creating unique aromas!’

Others have described Jon as ‘a talented multi-instrumentalist and writer’ and his recent work ‘a hugely up-beat album, full of energy and optimism’. Another review, of his ‘Wrestling with An Angel’ recording notes that ‘the album is characterised by the complexity of instrumental performance and song arrangement. It is, nevertheless, a palpably accessible CD. Jon has a great ear for catchy riffs and hummable tunes. Both are here in abandon’.

Jon’s website tells the story of his musical career with typical humour and honesty. See www.jonmatthewsmusic.co.uk . He has also suggested that contact with him (during FotL…or at any time?!?) can lead to the gift of free CDs. If that’s the case, make sure you take up the offer!
Jon Matthews

 

Melody Causton

Melody Causton, the backstory: After sleeping in guitar cases beside the stage and growing up immersed in the life of folk festivals whilst her parents performed, it’s no wonder she has naturally taken to the music scene.

Presently: Aged just 22, singer-songwriter Melody Causton has released her first EP, supported a number of respected folk acts such as Megson and has gained radio support from her local BBC Introducing show. Melody has also now won ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ at Cambridge’s NMG awards TWO YEARS RUNNING. With many exciting things also on the horizon for Melody – gigs and festivals lined up for the rest of the year – she is looking forward to playing as much as she can whilst continuing to release her music in a number of formats (digitally and via some beautifully handcrafted CDs – as we at FotL can testify).

This is the third year Melody has played at the festival. We have noticed a quantum leap in the moods and arrangements of her (already) beautiful songs from her first year to her second. We expect no less in 2016. No pressure, Melody.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpUqEk1BI58

www.facebook.com/melodycaustonmusic

www.twitter.com/MelodyCauston

 

melodycauston

 

Pamela Wyn Shannon

Pamela Wyn Shannon hails from the New England countryside but is now a permanent resident of Wales. Her inventive and intricate guitar work has been described as ‘a tiny chamber orchestra working in unison at the end of her hands’ and her virtuosity has been compared to the legendary guitarist Bert Jansch of Pentangle. A sensitive voice compliments the pastoral poetry-leaning in her work – songs which have an elliptical quality, creating their own timeframe, rules…and kingdoms. We know that she has a great love for what might be seen as the seminal period of the ‘new folk tradition’ – the late 1960s – and her music is often reminiscent of that magic found in UK ’60s psyche-folk artefacts.

Pamela has walked with the legends of British and Irish folk music, garnering respect and admiration wherever she goes.

She has, more recently, incorporated her visual art adventures in stop-motion animation and hand-hewn ‘crankies’ (You’ll see!) into her live performances.

One of the ‘original friends’ of FotL, whose contribution helped to make the event what it is today, we’re delighted that Pamela agreed to return to Tintern for this 10th anniversary festival.

www.girlhenge.com

pamelawynshannon

 

Peter and the Empty Cages

A new, young band making their first appearance at FotL. They contacted us from Rome (and are made up of many nationalities) but are currently London-based. They cite an incredibly wide range of influences - Frank Turner, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Colin Hay, Billy Bragg, Violent Femmes, Magnetic Fields, Joshua Radin, FleetwoodMac – which also struck us as being very historically aware for such a young bunch of people.

They write: ‘We’re an international folk-rock band, based in London. With a wide range of influences and styles- ranging from folk to blues to classical to traditional to rock- we create a truly unique sound. Blending the sombre with the euphoric, the haunting with the divine, and the serious with the fun-loving!’ Their sets incorporate a Vaudevillian style of story-telling - putting on a show to remember.

We’ve been told to expect two quite contrasting sets – one more acoustic. You can get the gist of the contrast (found, also, within individual tunes) by listening to some of their songs on-line: moving from gentle and ambient to powerful musical motifs.

They are ‘looking forward to meeting you all, and making some new friends in Wales!’ A warm welcome awaits them.

https://www.facebook.com/theemptycages

petercages

 

Peter Gowen: The man – the myth

We’ll let Peter speak for himself to begin with (He usually does… and both fairly exclusively and fairly discursively at times!):

Peter David Gowen MBE (born Peter David Gowen 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame with the Beatles. With fellow member Paul McCartney, he formed a celebrated songwriting partnership.

When the group disbanded in 1970, Peter embarked on a solo career with the Plastic Oh-No Band. After his marriage to Yuck Oh-No in 1969, he changed his name to Peter David Gowen. Peter was brutally murdered in 1980.

At least, that is the myth…

In actual fact, the truth is far stranger….

Peter, born in Caerphilly, discovered poetry when, as a youth, he needed to talk about the awfulness of growing up. Over the years he has refined his style and prefers getting people to chuckle rather than cry. Although, he does still write ‘serious’ poems that tend to reflect his life.

He is very talkative (that’s putting it mildly – Indeed it is. Ed.), loves performing, is very loyal (particularly to FotL) and just loves it when people buy raffle tickets or wrist bands. He has recently become the booker for a small music venue (Clwb y Bont) in Pontypridd- a good venue with a warm welcome.

petergowen

 

Robin and Bina Williamson

When Robin and Bina agreed to play at Folk on the Lawn 2016 it led to extreme celebration and profligate use of many of the terrible old clichés (Christmases/ birthdays rolled into one; icing on cakes; cats with cream; etc.). For both those involved in the organising of FotL and those who have performed at the event, Robin’s – ever-evolving, massively diverse – work has been a source of great inspiration: from the hugely influential Incredible String Band, to his Merry Band, his music for the stage and TV production of the Mabinogion, to the ‘experimentalist’ recordings with the ECM label, to the recent live performances weaving together song and story. Quite simply, a legend of modern music. With Bina – a gifted singer-songwriter with a haunting, plaintive voice and a multi-instrumentalist in her own right and also someone who adds much to the duo’s live performances through her attunement and explanatory prowess – as collaborator, the creative spark remains as strong as ever.

In terms of present content, Robin and Bina draw on a wide variety of original and traditional songs, stories and music from Celtic, English, Indian and ‘Old Timey’ roots; celebrating the turning year and the mystery of being alive. Their performances together feature their East-West vocal harmonies accompanied by harp, bowed psaltery, dulcimer and a colossal range of other instruments.

‘An evening of enchanting entertainment’ – Edi Stark, Radio Scotland, Celtic Connections

‘Enthralling musicianship’ – Glasgow Herald

‘Pure beauty through simplicity’ – Robert Plant

‘Superb’ – Rowan Williams.

robinandbinawilliamson

 

Rumney Folk Club

RFC have met on the third Friday of each month at St Augustine’s Church Hall, Whitehall Parade, Rumney (Cardiff) for just over 10 years, slowly building up a loyal bunch of supporters, to evolve into one of the most diverse and populous folk clubs in south Wales.

The Club is self-run with volunteers setting up stage, sound, lighting and buying/selling a range of bespoke ales. All proceeds from each session go straight back into the upkeep of the Church Hall and the Church building and grounds. Those behind the Club understand its ‘mission’ as one of maintaining the St Augustine’s buildings as a community resource and the Club being a source of musical focus within Rumney.

Rumney Folk Club started as open mic venture, but over the last few years performers have started booking a slot in advance as the event has become increasingly popular, with the evenings tends to fill up fast. They maintain an atmosphere of encouragement, so despite welcoming some national and international stars, the Club is clear that all ages and capabilities and styles of music are welcome to play.

The Club have been good friends with Folk on the Lawn for a number of years. Their ethos and ours seem to fit in well together. For the first time, they will host a session on the Bar Stage on Saturday night. Go early to get a seat! You will hear the variety of sounds and the camaraderie and tolerance that Rumney Folk Club has become famed for.

www.rumneyfolkclub.co.uk

rumneyfolkclub

 

Serpentyne

It befits, perhaps, the finale of the 10th anniversary of this event to have an extraordinarily large and voluminous performance at its conclusion. Welcome the drama and miscellany of the incredible Serpentyne!

The band has been compared to the likes of Faun, Blowzabella, Steeleye Span, Gryphon and Blackmore’s Night, with the vocal textures of the Mediaeval Baebes and Loreena McKennit, but this is not niche music. The band’s fusion of traditional tunes and songs with modern, atmospheric, ambient and dance sounds has taken them to stages across the UK and Europe, including opening slots for Rick Wakeman and The Orb.

Something of what the band does and is may be derived from vocalist Maggie Sand’s musings on their recordings: “On our first album, Stella Splendens, we took traditional songs and texts in old languages such as Latin, Occitain and Old English, and arranged them in our own way. On our second album Myths and Muses, apart from including some new-found traditional songs and tunes, we added original lyrics and music which are sometimes combined with the old tunes. I was particularly interested in writing about women warriors, and other muses that have inspired men and women through history.’

You can also get a gist of the theatre of the band and the substantial sound they make via their videos: here and here.

‘The next big thing in folk-rock.’ – Northwest Folk; ‘…Their album… delivers a blend of sweeping mediaeval, renaissance-tinged, eastern-influenced folk-rock.’ – Folkwords; ‘A heady mix… think Ozric Tentacles meets the Orb meets Gregorian chant.’ – Americana UK; ‘That Serpentyne will reap success is, for us, beyond dispute.’ - Rootstime (Belgium,)

www.serpentyne.com

serpentyne

 

Soft Hearted Scientists

‘Proper Psychedelia from the outer reaches of sense and reason’

‘Everybody will enjoy putting this epic psychedelic puzzle together’

‘Charming, endearing and beguiling’

‘Strong tunes and an engagingly off-centre atmosphere’

‘A blast from the past and a blast from the future’

Again: ‘Modern tales wrapped, with precision, in a handwoven, tie dyed psych-folk blanket: psycho-folk.’

‘Soft Hearted Scientists at times appeared to be the musical version of the man who invents a means of faster-than-light propulsion in his shed with only milky tea as fuel; quintessentially British and bursting with creativity.’

…and they are back at FotL 2016!! More than that: they are back shortly after the release of two double-albums: a brand new record – Golden Omens – released in May (a white and a black disc, with each disc containing songs of that light or that shade) and a 10th anniversary edition deluxe double disc edition of debut album Uncanny Tales From The Everyday Undergrowth.

www.softheartedscientists.com

softheartedscientists

 

Sproatly Smith

Making FotL 2016 exceptional will be the sheer creativity and quality of music which will grace the lawn and the buildings of Abbey Mill, Tintern. Crucial to this is the re-appearance of one of the most beguiling bands we have had the pleasure of hosting: the psychedelic-tinged, bucolic folk music of Sproatly Smith.

The band have released six albums in seven years, the latest a homage to Hereford 17th Century metaphysical poet, Thomas Traherne. In general, the band have found inspiration via the folklore of Herefordshire, its landscape and traditions, but pair that derivation with the skilled and apposite incorporation of modern and exotic instrumentation and alluring female voices.

‘Their press shots revealed a fondness for hiding any ordinariness behind animal heads – hares, goats, fluffy dogs – and the Herefordshire band’s music is equally otherworldly. Full of beguiling songs which manage to combine traditional English folk and psychedelic influences with nods to medieval minstrel music’ – The Guardian

‘Sproatly Smith, psych-folk enigmas from the Herefordshire Marches has been described by fRoots as ‘The mystery flagship band of the new wave of weirdlore’. A wonderful and enthralling combination of fascinating melodies, harmonies and lyrics that seem as though they’ve been caught between old English and neo-Pagan. There is a touch of gothic fairytale over the whole, dark and entertaining’ – FATEA

sproatlysmith

 

Steve Dan Mills

American singer songwriter Steve Dan Mills was the co-founder of Speed Limit 35, one of the first folk rock bands in the American South. He has been enjoying a solo career since the mid 70s and has performed at the Kerrville Folk Festival, London Folk Festival, Belfast Nashville Songwriter’s Festival and more.

Steve’s ‘Dream On Texas Ladies’ went to #18 on the Billboard Charts for Rex Allen Jr and sold over 4 million copies for John Michael Montgomery. His songs have also been recorded by major artists such as Neal Coty, Mel MacDaniel and Benita Hill. Guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel has been covering the title cut from his CD, ‘Inside Out Lookin’ In’ in his live concerts.

Steve’s music has been described as “the real thing, sensitive, moving, cathartic and healing.” We at FotL would concur. He couples his powerful, moving vocals with acoustic guitar and harmonica. As he suggests, listening to him ‘elicits tears and laughter and instills hope’.

There are a number of bands in the UK who play ‘Americana’ – with fake US accents (and clothing!) and songs referencing nothing of the lived experience of their authors. In terms of ‘Americana’, Steve IS the real thing! A hugely talented songwriter with an evocative, inspired delivery.

www.stevedanmills.com

stevedanmills

 

The Adventures of Bert and Henry

We came across this impossible-to-categorise, uplifting, plaining strange band at the tail end of last summer in a beautiful little festival in Ceredigion. They came on sometime around midnight. We were transfixed. It is unusual for us to nag and nag (and nag some more) artists to appear at Folk on the Lawn, but we did exactly this with The Adventures of Bert and Henry: very talented musicianship paired with a left of left of centre artistic bent. For a flavor (A flavor only, as there is such a wide sphere to their whole ‘thing’), see their video

Incredible stuff. Don’t miss them!

berthenry

 

The Astrakan Project

‘Gloriously full-throated, truly inspiring Breton singing and melodies from Simone Alves […] roaring, intricate, fiery, imaginative accompaniments’ (fRoots, Ian Anderson)

For those of you who were at FotL 2015, you’ll know how amazing Simone and Yann are. Basically, we have been hassling them to play this year since they left the stage last July. Testament to their generosity of spirit – and our extreme persistence! – they finally agreed. In terms of our response: the usual clichés of birthdays and Christmases coming at once, over the moon, etc., etc. We are SO grateful.

For those who don’t know, Simone Alves (vocals) and Yann Gourvil (guitar, ‘oud, saz, violin, programming) have already collaborated on various music projects in Brittany (France) when they initiated Astrakan Project while moving to Istanbul in 2009. All their songs are in Breton – a Celtic language from the West of France, close to Welsh (and Cornish) – which they both speak. For just two people, they create a vast sound of epical quality: Yann’s hypnotic, intricate playing of stringed instruments underpinning Simone’s soaring, sometimes otherworldly, vocal.

Last year we were entranced. And it will be again in 2016.

astrakanproject

 

The Face That Boils Itself

Described by Artrockermagazine as ‘an enthralling and hypnotic three-piece oddity’, The Face That Boils Itself are one of the most original acts you’re ever likely to experience. A band who take their holidays – figuratively (and literally, perhaps, as far as we know) – in the farther reaches of Bohemia, spending the fortnight rapt with the region’s ‘mysterious and surreal, floating, dream-like nature.’

The band is driven by a ‘haunting and mournful’ vocalisation of a lyrical style that’s as close to Samuel Beckett and Dylan Thomas as to Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave. An acoustic guitar/vocal is accompanied by the absolute ethereal and surreal sound of the musical saw. This is underpinned by the beautiful tones of the double bass. However, in keeping with an avowed avant-garde status, the bass is a hand-made, one-off, bespoke “suitcase bass” (‘This instrument has to be seen to be believed’, we were told).

So, a truly original and unique act…beautiful to listen to and visually compelling.

The Face That Boils Itself have been a real hit at Glastonbury and have played in the ‘Healing Fields’ for the last two years – and will be doing so again, just a few weeks before arriving at Folk on the Lawn.

www.thefacethatboilsitself.co.uk

thefacethatboilsitself

 

The Hittites

Still self-described as ‘a hillbilly pop band from Aberystwyth’. Always a great favourite at Folk on the Lawn. Over the years, they have appeared in a number of guises (punk-folk band; angst-ridden country band; sea shanty band) and with a variety of line-ups (Who knows what 2016 will bring?!). Always, however, playing with energy, commitment and profligate musicianship, the Hittites serve to combine the self-penned, the traditional and one or two ‘tributes’ (‘This is a Led Zeppelin song’ – Uriah the Hittite, on The River Stage, FotL 2015, whilst introducing ‘In My Time of Dying’).

The Hittites sing (and even converse) in both Welsh and English and draw on music from across the world. A phenomena, a cult, a meme… Like FotL, the band celebrate their tenth anniversary and a celebratory performance is expected.

hittites

 

The Melonades

We were so excited to get the news, just a month or so ago, that at least a (significant) part of the fabulous Blushing Melons, a band who have both made many fans at two previous FotLs and who have drawn inspiration from the event itself (listen to ‘Dover Car Song’ from their latest album, Soul City), were flying in – ‘especially’ – to this year’s event.

There’s a lot to be read about and a lot to listen to about Blushing Melons on the web but, just to say, they manage to bring together impassioned writing and performance with outstanding musicianship…and remain a group of people ‘open to experience’, with none of the ‘showbusyness’ that bands of similar musical stature can tend to veer towards. A wonderful group of people; a wonderful band. Miss them at your peril.
https://www.facebook.com/blushingmelons/

melonades

 

The Mourning Moon

We quote: ‘The Mourning Moon play thought-provoking, often haunting, songs on guitar with exceptionally beautiful, pitch-perfect vocals and harmonies…they have something unique to offer, and this duo are well-placed to carve out a place on the contemporary folk scene with set material that includes reflections on new life, commentaries on the evils of war, and tales about love and loss at sea.’ (Rob Tiernan & Bernadette O’Grady, Producers, Café Musique).

We concur… and more. A startling splendour of song, arrangement and performance… plaintive gorgeousness. For example – soundcloud.

mourningmoon

 

The Rarebits

Once again not to be beaten at FotL as being the band with the greatest cumulative age…but also unbeaten as the outfit likely to produce the most foot-stepping, jigging and reeling. Yes, Eric and his crew agreed to return! We were delighted, as many of you will be who have spent a happy hour or so dancing through/falling over hay bales on sunny Saturday Tintern teatimes with this great bunch as guides.

Drawing on essentially Celtic material – a strong Irish influence, but including Welsh and Scots material also – together with a raft of tunes from America, England and ‘more exotic sources’ – the sheer experience and expertise of this fine Ceilidh/Twmpath band is fine fare for both feet and ears .

They write – and this is good news for some of us – ‘Our dance material is aimed at the less experienced dancer. We reckon that a complete novice can start the evening with us, enjoy every dance in the programme without feeling bewildered and acquire a fair repertoire of skills in the course of that evening’.

therarebits

 

Whitehall Parade

Whitehall Parade are an 8-piece band from Cardiff playing original material in a contemporary roots-rock style. The songs reflect diverse musical backgrounds, containing such influences as Celtic (fiddler), Jazz (saxophonist), prog-rock (bass n lead guitarist and drummer) and folk (keyboard and vocals). The music is a combination of up-beat, foot stomping songs and softer, more folk-oriented melodies.

The band evolved at a chance meeting at Rumney Folk Club, Cardiff in 2013 and were initially known as the James Clode Band. James brought along some songs he had written, other musicians joined in and the band was born. The name? Whitehall Parade is where the folk club is based.

The band have produced a full length album and an EP and went on to perform at a number of festivals: The Watchet Live Festival, The Country to Country Festival at the O2 in London, The Welsh Perry & Cider Festival and The Big Cheese Festival in Caerphilly. They also managed a ‘live’ TV recording session at Acapela Studios.

Coming to FotL 2016 after further recording at nearly Rockfield Studios, Whitehall Parade are a bunch of highly-skilled, highly-versatile musicians. A feast is in store.

whitehallparade