Tag Archives: English Folk music

Artist Profiles: Jez Lowe

Jez Lowe

Jez Lowe grew up in the coal mining village of Easington, England. He started to play guitar at the age of 10 and decided that his future was not in working in the dying local mines.
By the time Jez Lowe recorded his first album in 1980 he had already served a musical apprenticeship in the thriving traditional music scene around his native North East England. He had played in a variety of groups over several years usually in a partnership with Ged Foley. When Foley joined the Battlefield Band at the turn of the decade Lowe began an illustrious solo career signing with Cumbria based Fellside Records for the first of eight acclaimed albums.

As a “live” performer Lowe is one of the busiest people on the British acoustic music circuit has toured all over Europe and most successfully North America and Australia. As a recording artist he has consistently been Fellside’s “top seller.”

It is as a songwriter that Jez Lowe has found most acclaim. He also sings about the hardships of the English miners and their families. His songs of Northern England are among the most widely sung on the British scene and have been covered by artists as far away as California and Australia. Established acts such as the Black Family The McCalmans, The Dubliners, Gordon Bok, The Tannahill Weavers and Fairport Convention are singing Lowe compositions and his song Back in Durham Jail has been covered by no less than fourteen different artists. He has recently won a Performing Rights Society award as part of their Composer in Education Program and this in turn has led to him being appointed Composer in Residence in East Durham by the Easington District Arts Department.

In 1990 Jez Lowe began working with The Bad Pennies a quartet of singers and musicians with whom he has recorded three albums. They have gone on to be one of England’s top folk bands combining what has been called “acoustic simplicity with electric vitality” at festivals and concerts across Europe and North America. Their 1996 album Tenterhooks for the Green Linnet label has won them rave reviews and their contributions to the top selling album of a cappella folk songs Voices was one of the outstanding tracks.

Jez is joined in The Bad Pennies by Billy Surgeoner Simon Haworth and Judy Dinning. Billy Surgeoner plays fiddle keyboards whistle and vocals and joined The Bad Pennies in 1992.

He is based in North London where he is a session musician and recently toured with the Chalmondeleys one of the U. K.’ s leading modem dance groups. Joining the group in 1999 Simon Haworth plays bass and keyboards and is the newest member of the group. Judy Dinning sings and plays keyboards and percussion and is one o I Northeast England’s best know vocalists with several albums to her credit.

Jez Lowe continues to tour across Europe and the United States of America both solo and with the band and continues to write and involve himself in new projects.


Jez Lowe (198)
The Old Durham Road (Fellside FECD34 1983)
Galloways (Musica Pangea MP 16 1985)
Two a Roue with Jake Walton (1986)
Bad Penny (Fellside FECD7 1988)
Briefly On The Street (Fellside FECD79 1990)
Back Shift: A Collection Of Songs From 1980 To 1986 (Fellside FECD89 1992)
Bede Weeps (Fellside FECD94 1993)
Tenterhooks (Green Linnet GLCD 1161 1995)
The Parish Notices (Green Linnet GLCD 1192 1998)
Live At The Davy Lamp (2)
Honesty Box (Tantobie Records TTRCD 12 2002)
Doolally (2004)
Tantobie Twinset – The Parish Notices + Honesty Box (2007)
Jack Common’s Anthem (2007)
Northern Echoes: Live on the Tyne (2008)
Wotcheor! (2010)
Heads Up: 18 Essential Jez Lowe Songs (2012)


Artist Profiles: Ged Foley

Ged (pronounced “Jed”) was born in County Durham in the North East of England. Ged is a superb guitarist, a singer of distinction with a spare, unornamented style and a player of both the fiddle and the Northumbrian smallpipes.

A one-time member of Scotland’s The Battlefield Band and a founding member of The House Band, Ged also worked in a duo with the excellent English singer/songwriter Jez Lowe. He replaced originalPatrick Street member Arty McGlynn in 1996, and joined the Celtic Fiddle Festival after an initial tour with the band in 2001. He lives in the USA.


Artist Profiles: Emily Burridge

Emily Burridge – Photo by Nikoletta Monyok

Emily Burridge works internationally as a cellist (she started playing the cello at the age of five), singer, composer and producer. She usually collaborates with renowned artists in the alternative musics, such as for example Gandalf, who plays in Footsteps in the Sand, together with other musicians. Emily also works in soundtracks, and keeps an intense activity with respect to concerts. Her voyages and contacts with the native cultures of South America have made her into a woman who is concerned with the cultural preservation of minorities, and have provided her with an unusual artistic background.

Footsteps in the Sand is Emily Burridge’s second CD release. The album evolved from the personal experiences of Emily when she was living on the North East coast of Brazil. Seeking out tradition and armed with her portable digital recorder, she traveled on local buses to isolated places and visited rural communities. She recorded both tribal groups and individuals singing chants and songs. From these people she discovered a folkloric world, rich in musical diversity.

Produced in studios in Brazil, Austria & England, Footsteps in the Sand features musicians from all these countries. In her music, Emily is capable of gathering, in a truly spontaneous way, elements derived from her Classical upbringing, together with those coming from the ethnic musics she has lived with. Blending her vocals and sonorous ‘cello with percussion and classical harmonies, together with the aforementioned location recordings, she has created in sound a virtual Brazilian environment.

Emily Burridge’s music crosses over into various genres, including New Age, Classical, world music, and ambient.

In recent years she has collaborated with guitarist BJ Cole in a series of albums with crossover duos for pedal steel guitar and cello.


Earth Songs (White Horse World Music 1994, remastered in 24)

Footsteps in the Sand (White Horse World Music, 2004)

Bridge between Worlds (White Horse World Music, 2006

Out of the Blue (White Horse World Music, 2010)

Into the Amazon (White Horse World Music, 2010)

Into the Blue, with BJ Cole

The Gnossienne Suite, with BJ Cole (2011)


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