Allegra Ladies Choir
Very late in the day, when planning for FotL 2017, we received an email from Sue Mullins, Concert Secretary of The Allegra Ladies Choir, querying a slot. A choir at Folk on the Lawn! What an idea! Having listened – and become highly impressed – to some of the performances, via the internet, we were determined to accommodate them: what about the choir setting the scene on what will be a gloriously, warm, serene Sunday morning?
…and that’s what will happen: 11am on the River Stage.
The choir, formed in autumn 2011 it has flourished into a thriving, talented group of over 50 singers under the musical directorship of Emma Dawson. Look them up, as we did, on YouTube and you, too, will be impressed.
Anna my Charlotte
We hosted the enigmatic Anna my Charlotte last year for the first time and were beguiled.
With songs and delivery impossible to categorise (She writes of influences such as Anne Briggs, Joanna Newsom, Bjork, Kate Bush…and hymns. Her music is all of these but a whole lot more), Anna my Charlotte will, we’re certain, beguile you as she beguiled us.
We’ll be there, listening intently. We suggest you join us.
A great song-writer, performer and creative force…and a loyal friend of our little festival.
Nick Burbridge has written: ‘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.’ We concur. We concur.
She has provided spellbinding sets at recent festivals and we would expect nothing different in 2017.
A truly outstanding artist.
Beyond The Bars
A number of those who had played with the band met up at Folk on the Lawn last year: What about a reunion? Some dates were arranged, including an appearance at FotL 2017.
Beyond the Bars (often ‘BtB’) played widely in the band’s heyday of the 1990s. Three albums were made, including ‘Far Off Things’ – a stylistic compendium of both music and the spoken word, vaunted at the time of its release. There were television and radio appearances.
What to expect? A massive range. Always original. Folk influences blended with psychedelia/pop. Five voices.
Those who heard Bina play with husband, Robin, at the Thursday evening event at FotL last year would have been struck by Bina’s contribution – both musical and as a personality – to the wonderful sounds and intriguing stories told by the duo. When we heard, therefore, that Bina was planning a series of projects as a solo performer (with Robin accompanying on harp and guitar) we jumped at the opportunity to include her at FotL 2017.
Bina Williamson is an inspired and gifted singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. As many of you will know, she has been a professional performer for the last 20 years, working mainly as a duo with Robin Williamson (who has fore- fronted many genres and has a list of credits as long as your arm). Folk on the Lawn’s guiding principle being ‘innovative folk for innovative folk’ and knowing the sort of music Bina is currently producing – a massively varied series of songs and tunes, drawing on influences from the doorstep to influences afar – it seemed utterly apposite to allow your ears to behold it! We must add, also, that Bina’s ‘genuineness’ or ‘authenticity’ makes each of her performances intimate, warm…therapeutic even.
Bina sings with a hauntingly sweet, melodious voice and plays bowed psaltery, plucked psaltery, autoharp and long neck dulcimer.
A very special Thursday evening is guaranteed.
“Enthralling!” Glasgow Herald (Celtic Connections Festival)
Blind River Scare
Blind River Scare is the vehicle for the songwriting talents of south Wales-based musician Tim Manning: American/alt country, but with significant – and highly original – twists and turns.
Blind River Scare has toured across the UK over the last decade, releasing many recordings, from Tim’s solo acoustic work to ‘big band’ aural settings.
Tim played first at Folk on the Lawn many years ago, so in the spirit of ‘bringing it all back home’ (This year’s motif, if you didn’t know!), it is great pleasure to welcome him back in 2017.
Codi are mountain people playing mountain music. They hale from Bannau Brycheiniog, Gwynedd and Oklahoma.
Inspired by a love of the joint musical tradition which bridges the gap between the Celtic and Appalachian communities.
Celebrating the defiant spirit of places like Coal Creek and Blaen y Cymoedd, and revelling in the joy of a hard earned opportunity to sink a dram and stamp a clog.
We’re privileged to have this very new and exciting project giving us what is, in essence, a private view on the Bar Stage on the Friday night.
Dark Valley Revival
Dark Valley Revival are a six-piece bluegrass band, who hail from the darkest depths of the south Wales valleys. They debuted last year at ‘Upstairs at the Unicorn’.
An uber eclectic line-up includes members of psychedelic folk band Soft-Hearted Scientists along with previous members of bluegrass band Gwair (who you may have play some excellent sets at past Folk on the Lawns) and the drummer from punk band Breakdown Face!
With sounds ranging from Doc Watson and The Carter Family through to Gene Clark and Emmy-Lou Harris, Dark Valley Revival combines old-time bluegrass with ’60s country rock.
It’s not often that we get a tip-off from a ‘Folk on the Lawner’ about who to pursue to play at the following year’s event, but shortly after 2016 we received just this from the – clearly – critically proficient man of very good taste, Rick Dennis.
Ellie Ford. We pursued her assiduously…and she’s agreed to be part of FotL 2017. Ffantastig!
Sculptured songs. Lyrics of insight and experiential range. Music that both draws on and defies categories. Evocative. Authentic.
Delighted at her prospective appearance and thankful to Rick for his nudge.
Becoming an ever-present at Folk on the Lawn. What can we say? Scandalously wacky. One would imagine they’ve spent a lifetime imbibing strong drink and ingesting certain fungi. They haven’t (At all. They imbibe only lemonade) but serve up nonetheless, somewhat hallucinogenic experiences which are also extremely funny.
The band is: Glossopian, Jeff Japers (ukulele, kick box, sampler and vocal chords); 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 – ‘found in a charity shop in Roath, Cardiff’ (spoons, djembe drum, claves and vocal chords); Tall Joy – who ‘give them their much needed bottom end’. The band is joined, often at FotL, by dancing artiste Michael Klaxon, The Chimpanzee In A Plastic Mac and various other theatrical characters.
“Like John Shuttleworth on ProPlus….” Chortle
Appearing elsewhere, with some…colleagues, over the weekend, but Jeff Japers solo show is something different (and something DIFFERENT): multi-media, electronics, loads of wires and a relentless barrage of brilliant comedy.
Jeff’s solo work has been touring for the past year or more, with some top slots and plaudits at various top-notch events.
We promise an experience second to none.
Jim Chorley is an Acoustic/Folk singer-songwriter originally from Southampton now living in the ‘wilds of Winchester’ (Jim’s own description – for all you Winchesterians out there!), in Hampshire, England.
His songs, lyrics and recordings are honest and from the heart. Down to earth and real. Telling of wild woods and Welshman’s Daughters, romantic meetings on the cobbled streets of a midnight city, the magical, mystical mysteries of love and nature.
Jim’s uniquely melodic music ‘evokes the styles and timeless traditions of the classic singer-songwriters such as James Taylor and Bob Dylan. The story telling nature of his songs have been likened to the work of Ralph McTell’ (Music in the City festival).
He has played numerous live shows and festivals, including the renowned Cambridge Folk festival and the Larmer Tree festival in Wiltshire. Jim has supported a wealth of artists, including Folk singer Jackie Oates, folk legends Martin Carthy and Julie Felix, BBC Folk award nominees The Emily Portman Trio and Polly and the Billets Doux.
Jim makes a welcome return to FotL after a couple of years absence – years in which he has been very busy, with countless gigs and a new record close to completion (and, hopefully, completed ready for FotL 2017).
Keith Christmas plays Crazy Dancing Days…at FotL!
‘A powerful and impassioned album by a ’60s survivor with a bellyful of righteous fire.’
Steve Hunt – fRoots Magazine
‘Raspy cult folkie Christmas returns with this open-tuned emotional outpouring – autobiographical, political, haunting – and it’s his finest since the ’70s’ – Mojo Magazine
Keith Christmas has had a rich life within music: from playing the acoustic guitar on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity‘ album, playing many of the early Glastonbury festivals, touring with King Crimson and Ten Years After, recording Stories from the Human Zoo in Los Angeles and playing with blues band, The Weathermen.
It is in two periods of transition in Keith’s writing and performance that we at FotL were/are interested in especially. Both of these involved Keith finding himself writing ‘a different kind of acoustic material’ (mid-90s) and, most pertinently, ‘a whole new way of writing, playing guitar and singing’ (2015). Some of us heard the fruit of the latter. We were most impressed. Rather than an artist settling into a satisfied dotage – which Keith would have every right to do – this was charged work.
The Crazy Dancing Days set will an unmissable part of Folk on the Lawn 2017.
We came across this wonderful band when they happened to turn up, nonchalantly, at an open mic slot, and from first note to last created an ambience which seeped from the stage to inhabit every nook and cranny, including the nooks and crannies of the listeners’ hearts. We accosted them immediately regarding FotL 2017.
KoKo, we have learned, is short for Keep on Keeping on. The band’s leader and songwriter is musician-extraordinaire, Liz Mullins. Liz plays a host of instruments to an incredibly high standard yet practices her craft and carries the band with the same benevolent nonchalance evidenced at the open mic slot. Her description of KoKo is also characteristically modest: ‘Our music is acoustic and original but influenced by reggae, folk, jazz and funk. The songs are from the heart and are mostly about life today and love’. For us, KoKo have a late 60s/early 70s vibe, with ‘beauty’ as the underpinning force.
KoKo’s staple line-up is Liz Mullins lead vocals, acoustic guitar or accordion, Lucy Marley singing beautiful harmonies and the legend, Pete Hurley (Google him), on bass. Other special guests may well put in some key appearances also.
For the first time at FotL.
Ravishingly atmospheric sounds. Some excellent songwriting. Thoughtful arrangements.
Their first single ‘Over The Cliffs’ gained praise from the likes of BBC’s Bethan Eflyn; “How accomplished does that sound!” and BBC Introducing’s Adam Walton; “How wonderful is that!” as well as being played on Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net Mixtape.
Indie Music UK wrote – “Luna Tides, is one of the brightest artists to come out of Wales in recent years!”
Just a single performance at FotL 2017…so don’t miss it!
It is fascinating to hear the development of a songwriter/performer – the twists and turns of musical direction; a movement away from the ‘influences of the day’ to both self-discovery (i.e. one’s own voice and narrative) and an ever-broadening musical palate. We have been privileged to witness just this, via Melody’s frequent returns to FotL. Now: a unique voice; ever more adventurous arrangements and production; song-stories telling of a unique perspective.
The biography: Side stage, sleeping in guitar cases whilst her parents performed. Melody naturally landed here.
She’s now embracing the tea drinking, story-telling life of a folk songstress, at the start of her own little journey.
She’s still just 23, but has released two EPs, supported a number of respected folk acts – such as Megson – and has gained much radio support from her local BBC ‘Introducing’ show.
Melody has also now won ‘Best female solo artist’ at Cambridge’s NMG awards three times in the last four years. With a new release – ‘Days Like These’ – out this year, she is ‘looking forward to playing as much as she can’.
An amazing off-shoot of/co-habitation the (equally) amazing Blushing Melons.
Based in Innsbruck, Austria.
We are SO grateful that, for another time, they have agreed to traverse the miles to bring us inspiring songs, beautifully arranged and performed with the greatest skill.
A sound that is difficult to pigeonhole.
Hugely modest. Funny. Adorable.
Mud On The Tyres
They write: ‘Mud on The Tyres are a group of experienced musicians who were drawn together by a love of upbeat, fun, country style music’.
Warren (Vocals, guitar) and Akos (Lead guitar, vocals) got together as an acoustic duo writing original country style music. Marek (Piano, vocals) then joined us, quickly followed by Lee (Fiddle, harmonica, vocals) who adds to the country sound. It didn’t take long before it developed into a six-piece band with Eliot (Bass) and our newest member Sam (Drums).
We have made it our goal to try to create an atmosphere of fun with our music and appeal to all sorts of music lovers of all generations. It’s clear to us that making people tap their feet and maybe laugh at some of the ideas and lyrics makes for a slight different night out than the norm. This doesn’t stop us writing more touching and melodic numbers though and we hope they add to the versatility of the band’.
And that’s it: actually some very moving – both the ‘funny’ and the ‘expressive’ – songs, extremely well arranged and performed. They’ve had a busy time, appearing at a number of festivals, playing a host of gigs, winning a ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest and spent some time recording at the local, to us, world renowned – Rockfield Studios. Don’t miss them!
Peter and the Empty Cages
Another – massively diverse (and the exact line-up will not be revealed until they step on stage) – group of musicians who joined us for the first time in 2016…and a band we were keen to have back (Apart from the fact that, on their website, they refer to us as ‘a traditional folk festival’ – TRADITIONAL?!?)
Extremely talented musicians. A plethora of influences. Communicative. Some wonderful arrangements.
Peter has become something of a fixture at FotL. A poet, raconteur, comedian and, as many of you will know, fine announcer of things.
His presence always adds a boost to the event: he is an enthusiast, and to have such an amenable force on stage, off stage, mixing with the crowd and so on helps define the event.
If you haven’t yet caught his performances, do so! A mixture of wordplay and comedic irony.
Sally is a singer and songwriter from Bristol. She has been writing, recording and performing with various musicians for the last few years producing several recordings. Also known as a member of Folk band Dennis Remme (With whom she has appeared at FotL). Sally is Interested in storytelling , poetry and folk music of every ilk. Her combining all three, both on record and live, provides spellbinding aural vistas and intent listening on the part of her audiences. Expect this and more at FotL 2017, with also – it has been rumoured – the appearance of a special guest or two.
“Turbocharged folk” – Prog Magazine
Serpentyne was formed by Maggie-Beth Sand (lead singer/multi-instrumentalist) andMark Powell (guitar, hurdy-gurdy, keyboards) in 2010. Since then, the band has taken its blend of powerful female vocals and traditional instruments with rock, electronic and ambient dance beats to stages throughout Europe in a spectacularly theatrical live performance.
Made a huge debut at FotL last year! Enquiries since that appearance vis a vis: ‘Are they coming back?’ Thankfully yes.
Theatrical. Skilled. Loud.
The Autumn Set
Imagine three bedsits; Alastair sits in solitary in his Swiss Cottage room, Stephen gazes out towards the Malvern Hills while Nicholas lazily strums an acoustic guitar in Tanworth-in-Arden. Three introspective balladeers seemingly from another time yet whose influence is still felt as strongly and as keenly as ever.
The Autumn Set take their musical cues from Al Stewart, The Lilac Time and Nick Drake; a tinge of folk shyness mixed with the exuberance of indie; acoustic guitars to the fore with subtle hints of strings wrap around the melodies. Where the late 1960’s, the mid 1980’s and the present day meet and the world returns to long, hot midsummer nights.
The group formed, appropriately enough, in the autumn of 2016, when ‘Helen Love’ guitarist Sheena and ‘Soft Hearted Scientists’ bass player Mike invited songwriter Charlie from ‘Les Bicyclettes de Belsize’ to gather together some musical ideas, with an understanding that ‘anything could happen.’
The union of acoustic guitars, banjo, piano, bass and whatever other instruments are lying around – together with pastoral cellos, flute or mandolin – evoke days on the veranda with a compendium of songs and the companionship of others. Ghosts of the past meet the spirit of today’s music; lyrical, thoughtful yet playful with enough tongue in cheek not to be taken too seriously and hopefully remembered, for just a while.
The Boxwood Chessmen
Four very experienced folk musicians (With auspicious backgrounds in the world of folk music. If you don’t know, ask them!) coming together to present a mix of musical styles and tunes from all over the world, including traditional folk, jazz, original songs and tunes, blues, Americana, Cajun and music hall. Their musical prowess is mixed with humour and storytelling.
Some amazing playing with an authentic presentation: they love what they do for its own sake. There is no parading of egos, but warmth and commitment aplenty.
Penni and Bryan will be familiar to those who came to FotL last year. They were great! Delighted to have them back with this outstanding outfit.
Penni McLaren Walker …vocals, guitar, whistles
Bryan Causton …mandolin, guitar, bouzouki
Steve Collins …melodeon, guitar, vocals, harmonica
Campbell Armer …bass, guitar, vocals
The Face That Boils Itself
Delighted to say the least that this amazing assemblage, who were a huge hit at FotL 2016, agreed to appear once again this year.
Described by Artrocker magazine 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”.
The band with the oldest combined age but – every year – the band that brings more people to their feet that any other.
Drawing on essentially Celtic material, with a raft of tunes from America, England and ‘more exotic sources’, The Rarebits bring both an expertise and a uplifting sense of fun to FotL.
The FotL twmpath, which the band have hosted for the last three years, moves, in 2017, to the River Stage…so possibly HUNDREDS can participate!
**** R2 (Rock ‘n’ Reel)
‘Threaded genuinely don’t sound like anyone else.’ Bright Young Folk
‘Fantastic’ Genevieve Tudor, BBC Radio Shropshire
‘Richly sophisticated in the tapestry of its composition and ensemble interplay’ Shire Folk
With the unique instrumental line up of clarinet, violin and guitar, Threaded creates a distinctive sound like you’ve never heard before. With a classically trained background and influence from folk and acoustic music, this young and inspired trio combine their passions into one musical experience. This culminates in a creative ensemble, with an eclectic array of styles and influences in their original material.
They are playing ONCE ONLY at FotL. We are SO pleased they agreed to be part of the line-up. DON’T miss them!
Zeuk are Marc Robert Roberts, Ronnie Angel Pope and Jimmy Ottley. Expect songs, musings, mutterings, walking, waking, cosmic dreaming, meandering, cello, scrambling, scheming, guitars and some really serious stuff…
Delighted to have these purveyors of eclectic richness with us for the first time. A fascinating mix of sounds, craftily assembled.
‘A spectre in T Rex’s garden’ – Grey Malkin, The Active Listener