Tag Archives: English Folk music

Artist Profiles: The Imagined Village

The Imagined Village

The Imagined Village is a project led by Grammy Award winning musician and producer Simon Emmerson. Simon is also a founding member of the groundbreaking Afro Celt Sound System.

After travelling the world as a producer and musician I thought it was time explore my own roots,’ said Simon, ’to look at the earth under my feet, dig the dirt of the homelands.’

The Imagined Village was created in 2007 and brought together a set of remarkable voices, and set them in a musical framework that honors the past while updating it with splendid new arrangements. The Imagined Village intertwines fiddles and accordion with electronica and ambient effects.

The line-up on the first album, The Imagined Village, included Benjamin Zephaniah, Billy Bragg, Chris Wood, Eliza Carthy, Johnny Kalsi, Martin Carthy, Paul Weller, Sheila Chandra, Simon Emmerson, The Copper Family, The Gloworms, Tiger Moth, Transglobal Underground, and Tunng.

‘Cold Haily Rainy Night’ from the The Imagined Village album won the ‘Best Traditional Song’ category at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2008.



The band’s second album, Empire & Love was released on ECC Records in January 2010.

Englishness is the final frontier of world music,’ said Simon Emmerson about this project.



* The Imagined Village (Real World Records, 2008)
* Empire & Love (ECC Records, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Martin Carthy

Martin Carthy


Martin Carthy is one of the greatest artists of contemporary British music. He is regarded as one of the finest singers and interpreters of traditional music of the British Isles, as well as a highly influential, innovative and significantly emulated guitar player.

Like many others in the 1950s, Martin was immensely affected by listening to Lonnie Donegan sing “The Rock Island Line.” He started to sneak away with his father’s guitar disguised as a trombone, which he was then studying.

Martin became drawn towards the traditional music of the British Isles, especially acts like Big Bill Broonzy and Elizabeth Cotten. By the early 1960s he was resident at The Troubadour Folk Club in Earl’s Court, London, where his playing and highly emotional singing had a important effect on all types of musicians, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, who adopted Martin’s arrangement of “Scarborough Fair,” intact.



In 1966 Martin started to work with fiddle player Dave Swarbrick in a pioneering musical partnership. On a total of five albums, including Byker Hill (1967) and Prince Heathen (1968), the duo redefined the relationship between fiddle and guitar in a previously ignored corner of this repertoire.

Martin’s work took other turns when he joined seminal folk bands Steeleye Span in 1970 and the Albion Country Band in 1973. Shortly after the the Albion Country Band disbanded he became a permanent member of the influential group The Watersons, with his wife Norma Waterson and her brother and sister, Mike and Lal.

Between and during group ventures, Martin has maintained a busy solo career, recording acclaimed albums such as Crown of Horn (1976) and Because It’s There (1979).

The start of the 1980s saw him return to a group setting with the formation of the characteristically English folk band, Brass Monkey, featuring a trumpet section. Due to busy schedules, they stopped playing as a band in 1987, but regrouped in early 1995 for a brief tour and again in 1998 to record the celebratory Sound and Rumour.

In the early 1990s Martin renewed his partnership with Dave Swarbrick, producing two more outstanding albums: Life and Limb and Skin and Bone. By then Martin was working alongside his wife and daughter, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy as Waterson Carthy. Waterson:Carthy (1994) and Common Tongue were both released to critical acclaim, both capturing the exceptional musical understanding that lies between members of this remarkable family.


Martin and Eliza Carthy at the BBC Awards


Martin Carthy was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to English folk music.



Martin Carthy (Fontana STL 5269, 1965) with Dave Swarbrick
Second Album (Fontana STL 5362, 1966) with Dave Swarbrick
Byker Hill (Fontana STL 5434, 1967) with Dave Swarbrick
But Two Came By (Fontana STL 5477, 1968) with Dave Swarbrick
Prince Heathen (Fontana STL 5529, 1969) with Dave Swarbrick
Landfall (Philips 6308 049, 1971)
Please to See the King, with Steeleye Span (B&C CAS 1029, 1971)
Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again, with Steeleye Span (Pegasus PEG 9, 1971)
Shearwater (Pegasus PEG 12, 1972. Reissued in 2005 with three extra tracks)
Sweet Wivelsfield (Deram SML 1111, 1974)
Crown of Horn (Topic 12TS300, 1976)
Storm Force Ten, with Steeleye Span (Chrysalis CHR 1151, 1977)
Live at Last, with Steeleye Span (Chrysalis CHR 1199, 1978)
Because It’s There (Topic 12TS389, 1979)
Out of the Cut (Topic 12TS426, 1982)
Right of Passage (Topic 12TS452, 1988)
Life and Limb (Special Delivery SPDCD 1030, 1990) with Dave Swarbrick
Skin and Bone (Special Delivery SPCD 1046, 1992) with Dave Swarbrick
The Kershaw Sessions (1994)
Signs of Life (Topic TSCD503, 1998)
The Journey (Live at The Forum, London, 1995), with Steeleye Span (Park Records PRKCD 52, 1999)
Waiting for Angels (Topic TSCD527, 2004)
Martin Carthy at Ruskin Mill (2005)
Straws in the Wind (Topic TSCD556, 2006) with Dave Swarbrick
Walnut Creek: Live Recordings, 1989 – 1996 (Fellside FECD243, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy is one of the leading artists in the UK’s folk music movement. She has absorbed a rich tapestry of traditional sounds and reinvented them in her own unique way – a melting pot of old and new, captivating lyrics, entrancing vocal melodies, sublime fiddle playing and heartfelt arrangements.

Born August 23 of 1975 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Eliza has been widely acknowledged as one of the most creative, and original, young talents in English music today. She built on her vast reputation as a singing and fiddle sensation and emerged with Angels & Cigarettes – a modern sounding collection of personal, passionate and intensely affecting songs.

The Rat Catchers project unites her with two more of English music’s most celebrated young pioneers, John Spiers (melodeon) and Jon Boden (fiddle, double bass) of Bellowhead, with long-time partner Ben Ivitsky (viola, guitar) completing the line-up.

In 2016, Eliza Carthy put together a dream group of musicians called The Wayward Band with members of Bellowhead, Blowzabella, Mawkin, Emily Portman Trio, Tyde and other. They recorded an album titled Big Machine.



* Heat Light & Sound (Topic Records, 1996)
* Eliza Carthy & The Kings of Calicutt (Topic Records, 1997)
* Red Rice (originally sold as a 2 CD set. Now available as 2 separate CDs: Red and Rice, 1998)
* Angels & Cigarettes (Warner Bros UK, 2000)
* Anglicana (Topic Records, 2002)
* The Definitive Collection (compilation 2003)
* Rough Music (Topic Records, 2004)
* Dreams of Breathing Underwater (Topic Records, 2008)
* Big Machine (Topic, 2017)

with the Waterson family

* Waterson:Carthy: Waterson:Carthy (1994)
* Waterson:Carthy: Common Tongue (1996)
* Waterson:Carthy: Broken Ground (1999)
* Blue Murder: No One Stands Alone (2002)
* Various Artists: Shining Bright – The Songs of Lal & Mike Waterson (2002)
* Waterson:Carthy: A Dark Light (2002)
* The Watersons: The Definitive Collection (compilation 2003)
* The Watersons: Mighty River of Song (4 CD & 1 DVD compilation 2004)
* Waterson:Carthy: Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand (2004)
* Waterson: Carthy: The Definitive Collection (compilation 2005)
* Waterson:Carthy: Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man (2006)

with Norma Waterson

* Gift (Topic Records, 2010)

with Nancy Kerr

* Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr (1993)
* Shape of Scrape (1995)
* On Reflection (compilation Gadfly, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Kate Rusby

Kate Rusby

English folk singer Kate Rusby has been played on mainstream radio and established a loyal following among people who’d previously stated they didn’t like folk music. She’s reached the top of folk and roots charts and headlined major festivals throughout Europe.

Kate Rusby was born on December 4, 1973 in Sheffield, England and grew up in South Yorkshire. The dramatic storytelling of folk music songs has the same allure to her now as it did when she first heard her parents singing those songs to her when she was a yound child.

Spending her childhood at folk festivals and listening to Nic Jones on her Walkman when all her friends were listening to Bon Jovi, she inevitably turned to playing fiddle and singing harmonies in her parents ceilidh dance band when she was twelve. Another Barnsley folk music star Dave Burland inspired her to take up the guitar.

At fifteen, Kate got her first gig at Holmfirth Festival. She gradually developed her style to include the odd contemporary song (Iris Dement’ Our Town on Sleepless and Richard Thompson’s Withered And Died on Little Lights) and developing her own songwriting combining it together with the traditional material.

In August 2000, she toured with a folk superband that included John McCusker and Andy Cutting, and former Pentangle bass player Danny Thompson, former Fairground Attraction singer Eddi Reader, and bluegrass star Tim O’Brien.

Kate Rusby

The album 10, released in 2002, featured Kate’s favorite tracks after performing for ten years, all re-recorded with some live tracks and unique tracks not recorded elsewhere.

Underneath the Stars, released in 2003, was produced by multi-instrumentalist John McCusker. Rusby and McCusker were joined by Ian Carr, Andy Cutting, Ewen Vernal, Paul Burch, Simon Fowler (Ocean Colour Scene), Michael McGoldrick, James Mackintosh (Shooglenifty), and Eddi Reader.

Her 2004 DVD titled Live From Leeds is a concert film featuring Rusby and her all-star band (John McCusker, Andy Cutting, Michael McGoldrick, Ian Carr, and Ewen Vernal), in 5.1 Digital Surround audio, with numerous bonus features. Additional content include three extensive on-camera interviews, a video diary, rehearsal footage, and even home movies of Kate as a child.

In 2005 she released ‘The Girl who Couldn’t Fly, produced by John McCusker, with cover design artwork by Graham Coxon. This was Kate’s sixth solo album and blended traditional folk tunes with new originals. The bonus track, “Little Jack Frost”, was written for a BBC cartoon. Roddy Woomble from Idlewild, was a guest vocalist on an anguished ballad of breaking love, titled “No Names.”

Awkward Annie was released in 2007. The album was the first produced by Rusby herself, following her separation from husband and producer John McCusker.

In 2008 she released a Christmas album titled Sweet Bells. It is a collection of carols from in and around South Yorkshire. The album was repackaged in 2009 with a new cover that contains an image by Marie Mills.

The album ‘20’ released in 2012, celebrated Kare Rusby’s 20 years as a professional singer. It includes new recordings of Kate’s favorite songs from throughout her career. Guests included Paul Weller, Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway, bluegrass artists Chris Thile and Sarah Jarosz, American folk and country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eddi Reader and others.

In October of 2016, Kate Rusby released her 14th studio album Life in a Paper Boat. The album was produced by her husband Damien O’Kane. Kate and Damien experimented with sounds and effects, particularly those that can be recreated on stage. The lineup included Damien O’Kane on acoustic and electric guitars; Duncan Lyall on double bass and moog synthesizer; Nick Cooke on diatonic accordion; Steven Byrnes on bouzouki and tenor guitar; Steven Iveson on electric guitar; and Josh Clark on percussion.

Life in a Paper Boat also features a string section with Donald Grant and Magnus Johnston on fiddle; Triona Milne on viola; and Laura Anstee on cello. Additional guests include Ron Block on banjo; Dan Tyminski on vocals; Michael McGoldrick on flute and whistles; and Anthony Davis on keyboards.


Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts (1995)
Hourglass (Pure Records PRCD2,1997/USA: Compass Records)
Cowsong (Pure Records PRCD4, 1998)
Infinite Blue, with The Poozies (Pure Records, 1999)
Sleepless (Pure Records PRCD6, 1999/USA: Compass Records)
10 (2000)
Little Lights (Pure Records PRCD7, 2001/USA: Compass Records)
Heartlands (2003)
Underneath the Stars (2003)
The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (2005)
Awkward Annie (2007)
Sweet Bells (2008)
Make the Light (2010)
While Mortals Sleep (2011)
20 (2012)
Ghost (2014)
Life in a Paper Boat (Pure Records, 2016)


Live from Leeds (Compass Records, 2004)


* Kate Rusby Songbook (2001). ISMSM-900-20560-5. Forty songs from Kate’s repertoire, some traditional, some original. Includes melodies, chord letter symbols, song notes and photos.

* Kate Rusby Songbook 2 (209). It contains 46 songs from Underneath the Stars, The Girl who Couldn’t Fly, Awkward Annie and Sweet Bells.

website: www.katerusby.com


Artist Profiles: Bellowhead

Bellowhead – Photo by David Angel

Bellowhead was a dynamic, 11-piece band combining the traditional skills of John Spiers, Jon Boden, Benji Kirkpatrick, Paul Sartin, Rachael McShane and Giles Lewin with the eclectic percussion of Pete Flood and the funky brass of Andy Mellon, Gideon Juckes, Justin Thurgur and Brendan Kelly.

The material was contemporary English folk dance music and song. After their first year, they played major festivals, released a 5 track EP and won the prestigious BBC Radio 2 folk award for Best Live Act 2005.

Bellowhead disbanded in 2016.


E.P.onymous (2004)

Burlesque (Westpark, 2006)

Matachin (Navigator Records, 2008)

Hedonism (Navigator Records, 2010)

Broadside (Navigator Records, 2012)

Revival (Island, 2014)

Bellowhead Live: The Farewell Tour (2016)

Related recordings:

Umbrellowhead, a collection of songs from individual members of Bellowhead


Live at Shepherds Bush (2009)


British Publication fRoots Announces The 31st Annual fRoots Critics Poll 2016 Nominees


British magazine fRoots has announced the Album of the Year nominees in the areas of what they describe as folk, roots and world music. The poll participants include hundreds of writers, broadcasters and activists from the UK and abroad.

Nominees for New Album Of 2016 (listed alphabetically)

Aziza Brahim – Abbar El Hamada (Glitterbeat)
Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Overnight (Rough Trade)
Shirley Collins – Lodestar (Domino)
The Furrow Collective – Wild Hog (Hudson)
The Gloaming – 2 (Real World)
Leyla McCalla – A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey (Jazz Village)
Jim Moray – Upcetera (NIAG)
Maarja Nuut – Une Meeles (Maarja Nuut)
Refugees For Refugees – Amerli (Muziekpublique)
Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis – Nyn (Riverboat)

Nominees for Reissue/Compilation Album Of 2016 (listed alphabetically)

Bitori – Legend Of Funana – The Forbidden Music Of The Cape Verde Islands (Analog Africa)
Sandy Denny – I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn (Island)
Various Artists – Khmer Rouge Survivors – They Will Kill You If You Cry (Glitterbeat)
Various Artists – Music Of Morocco From The Library Of Congress, Recorded By Paul Bowles 1959 (Dust To Digital)
Various Artists – Space Echo – The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound Of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed (Analog Africa)
Various Artists – Urgent Jumping! (Stern’s)

This year’s winners, including the winner of Best Packaged Album Of 2016, will be exclusively revealed by BBC Radio 3 during their World On 3 broadcast from 11 pm on Friday, November 25th, presented by Kathryn Tickell, and in the Jan/Feb 2017 double issue of fRoots magazine from December 6th.


Pentangle Live in 2008

Pentangle – Finale – An Evening With… (Topic, 2016)

Topic Records will be releasing Finale. An Evening With… Pentangle. In February of 2007 the original members of influential English folk-rock band Pentangle received a BBC Radio 2 Lifetime Achievement Award from David Attenborough. The following year, on June 29th, 2008, precisely 40 years since the recording of their significant live album Sweet Child at the Royal Festival Hall, Pentangle returned to the very same venue to begin their first British tour since 1973.

Finale was recorded live during the 2008 tour and sees the original line-up revisit their classic repertoire. The beautifully recorded and packaged 2CD set features Pentangle in a series of stimulating performances. Bert Jansch supervised the mixing and sequencing and John Renbourn prepared the album masters before their premature deaths in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

Buy Finale. An Evening With… in the Americas

Buy Finale – An Evening With… in Europe


The Ultimate Guide to English Folk

Various Artists – The Ultimate Guide to English Folk (Arc Music EUCD2671, 2016)

A nation’s folk music is not merely a hodgepodge of tunes from some vague, past period. Within that broad definition is an axis that is that nation’s most dramatic, memorable period, the time in which the nation’s entire populace observed and participated in great changes, triumphs and tragedies. For England, that was the period of transition from rural to urban and from nation to empire, roughly from the 16th through the 18th centuries.

As England settled into the Industrial Revolution’s prosperity and stability, its folk music, with an overall expressive style in which each song’s story was imbued with an ambiance of power and importance, diminished in popularity. Largely superseded by generations of what we might generally label, “pop,” English folk received new attention in the days of skiffle and the folk revival from which many British Invasion single B sides sprang.

Those B sides made it on to full albums and were copied and covered by a new generation familiar with and respectful of hoary roots, but wholly receptive to new instruments, techniques and technologies. This fairly young group with long pedigree is the one captured and presented on this lovely ARC anthology.

Two CDs, 35 songs in all, tell stories of traders, craftsmen, seafaring men and the women who hope for their return and other folk archetypes. There is not a lackluster tune in the bunch. Indeed, one hesitates to select any favorite or favorites from this culling from the entire, diverse country, because all offer reward to all.

Whether one comes from the lightest pop, heaviest rock or most stringent folk perspective, this collection will earn appreciation and frequent play.

This is an excellent release to keep in mind for upcoming holiday gift-giving.

Buy The Ultimate Guide to English Folk