Cecil Sharp House Music and Performance Series – January to April 2017

Folk Sounds Best at Cecil Sharp House
Music and Performance Series – January to April 2017

The English Folk Dance and Song Society has revealed the line up for its 2017 winter-spring music and performance season at England’s national folk arts centre, Cecil Sharp House in London.

Programme highlights include:

·   A rare opportunity to find out more about the adventures of broadcaster Andy Kershaw with a two-hour audio visual show on January 26

·   A re-telling of Peter Bellamy’s The Transports on February 2 featuring The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Greg Russell and Rachael McShane

·   Duo performance from Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita on February 14

A special concert from the BBC Concert Orchestraplacing some of the great folk-influenced works of the 20th Century alongside a brand new commission from Jane Harbour, violinist with renowned folk group Spiroto mark Radio 3’s 70th season on March 31

·   A concert of songs featuring Jim Causley, Bryony Griffith, Jackie Oates and Paul Sartin to celebrate a decade of work to revise and update the work of the late Frank Purslow on February 16

·   The Theatre Ballads on March 23 that will premiere the EFDSS / PRSF commission that will bring historic folk ballads to life live alongside puppetry and simple illustrations with Bryony Griffith, Kate Locksley, Ewan McLennan and John Kirkpatrick

·   The debut performance of the National Youth Folk Ensemble on April 12




Martyn Joseph
Thurs 19 Jan, 7.30pm



£16 / £10 under 26s

He’s a jaw dropping guitar player who has developed a unique percussive style, teamed up with a powerful show stopping voice, and has been called “The Welsh Springsteen”, but there are also shades of John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews – but Martyn Joseph stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives.

Juxtaposition is a key theme in Martyn’s work. The simplicity and the complexity of the human condition and all that it encompasses is underpinned with a heady promise of hope. There is versatility to Martyn’s music that is hard to categorise. His songs are pictures, and stories, and feelings all put to music and delivered by a master craftsman. Autumn 2015 marked the release of Martyn’s brand new studio album Sanctuary and he’ll be showcasing these new songs, along with other familiar and much loved material.

The Adventures of Andy Kershaw
Thurs 26 Jan, 7.30pm



£16 / £10 under 26s

A fascinating and often hilarious two-hour audio-visual presentation from “the finest British broadcaster bar none…an amazing man”. (Stephen Fry).

Recollections from a life spent on the front lines of rock and roll in some of the world’s most extreme and dangerous countries. To say Andy Kershaw has led a varied life is an understatement. From being Billy Bragg’s driver to presenting Whistle Test and Live Aid, then going on to report for the BBC from Iraq, North Korea and Rwanda. Catch him while he’s taking a rare sit down to talk about his life.

“One man’s improbable rise through British media, from badly dressed political student to presenting Live Aid in front of a TV audience of billions; from being Radio 1′s most belligerent maverick DJ, to being a war correspondent for the likes of Radio 4.” (The Independent)

The Transports
Thurs 2 Feb, 7.30pm



£20 / £10 under 26s

Join some of Britain’s leading folk musicians for a timely re-telling of Peter Bellamy’s legendary folk ballads.  BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr and members of Bellowhead – all in one show!

This new production combines The Transports’ incredible music with spellbinding storytelling. At a time when migration makes headlines daily, this tale of past migration shows how little has changed in the global movement of desperate people. The accompanying project Parallel Lives charts – town by town – those who once left Britain with those who have recently arrived.

There’s seldom been a more vital moment to bring back The Transports – not just a great music experience, but a sharp reminder of folk music’s power in portraying the way the world actually works.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita
Tues 14 Feb, 7.30pm

​Tickets: ​

£18 / £10 under 26s

It’s been whirlwind few years for Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita since the release of their debut album Clychau Dibon in October 2013. Announced winners of Best Cross-Cultural Collaboration in the Songlines Magazine Music Awards 2014, winners of the prestigious fRoots Album Of The Year for Clychau Dibon, nominated for two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Best Duo and Best Traditional Track, and featured in Songlines Magazine top ten albums of 2013, the sky is indeed the limit for this fearless pair of virtuoso musicians whose “heavenly music…intricately realised” (Songlines Magazine) and infectious onstage chemistry defies categorisation and continues to merge the boundaries between the genres of classical, world, folk and traditional music.

The harp occupies a vital place in the incredibly rich cultures of both West Africa and Wales and, remarkably, both nations share a centuries-old bardic tradition of intricate oral history, expressed through music, song and verse. Together, Finch and Keita have risen to the tough challenge of blending two completely different musical cultures and creating something coherent, relevant and entirely new.

The Wanton Seed
Thurs 16 Feb, 7.30pm


£15 / £10 under 26s

The distinctive voices of Jim Causley, Bryony Griffith, Jackie Oates and Paul Sartin come together to present a concert of songs celebrating the reissue of the song books Marrowbones (EFDSS, 2006) and The Wanton Seed (2015) and marking the launch of the new omnibus edition of The Foggy Dew and The Constant Lovers, published by Francis Boutle Publishers.

This concludes a decade of work to revise and update the work of the late Frank Purslow who selected and edited material from the early manuscript collections of the Hammond brothers and Dr George Gardiner to produce the original, influential books in the late 60s and early 70s.

The Rachel Hamer Band
Wed 22 Feb, 7.30pm



£12 / £10 under 26s

Winners of our Graeme Miles bursary award in 2016, The Rachel Hamer Band are an exciting new four piece folk band based in Newcastle. Fronted by Rachel Hamer, a powerful and emotive singer from Whitley Bay, the band sets the backdrop into which Rachel seamlessly blends to create their moving and intricate sound.

Backed by Grace Smith, fiddle player/singer/clog dancer, Graeme Armstrong, guitarist/singer and Sam Partridge, flautist/pianist they combine their passion for traditional tunes with Rachel’s extensive repertoire (courtesy of having been born and bred on the local traditional folk scene) to arrange their innovative and exciting music. Tonight they launch their new album, Hard Ground.

“The magic of these four lies in their cutting-edge combination which whilst steeped in the tradition has a brilliant fresh sound” Folk Radio UK

Blair Dunlop
Sat 25 Feb, 7.30pm

​Tickets: ​

£14 / £10 under 26s

Blair Dunlop, the award-winning British singer, songwriter and guitarist, has now released three albums two EPs and toured widely around the globe.  All of this in a short four-year career is astounding alone, but what sets Blair apart from his peers is the lyrical and musical maturity with which he writes.

His third album Gilded was released in May 2016 on his own label – Gilded Wings – and was widely acclaimed gaining BBC Radio 2 Playlist status for the two single releases (The Egoist and 356) both of which were remixed by Ed Harcourt.

Prior to this Blair released his acclaimed album House Of Jacks in mid-2014 which lived up to the promise of his 2012 debut Blight and Blossom (the quality of which contributed to his winning the BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award).

“Dunlop brings an air of tenacity while displaying a fine repertoire of well-crafted songs spanning traditional and contemporary.  He’s determinedly taking the traditions of folk in his own direction.”  The Independent

The Rheingans Sisters
Sat 18 Mar, 7.30pm



£12 / £10 under 26s

Winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Original Track in 2016, The Rheingans Sisters’ are a fiddle-singing duo whose influences today range from the Scandinavian fiddle tradition to classical music.  Rowan and Anna grew up in the Peak District surrounded by traditional music and were encouraged to pick up the fiddle by their violin-maker father from an early age.

Critics rapturously received their latest album, Already Home, with its rich tapestry of fiddle and voice performed by two players of distinct style and reference.  Bringing a fresh perspective to traditional songs, their own compositions combine their individual talents for songwriting and composing.

The Estuary Songwriting Project
Wed 22 Mar, 7.30pm



£12.50 / £10 under 26s

Featuring Hazel Askew, M.G Boulter, Lucy Farrell, Piers Haslam, Roshi Nasehi, Nick Pynn, Alasdair Roberts and Kate Waterfield.

The Leigh Folk Festival has asked eight established and emerging musicians, songwriters and composers to produce original songs and compositions inspired by and celebrating 25 years of the Leigh Folk Festival, during a week-long residential song-writing LAB at Metal in Southend.

Each artist hails from a different musical background with their own style of song writing and instrumental playing and the material produced will deal with a handful of themes around the Thames Estuary including its landscape, natural history, social history, legends and folklore


Theatre Ballads: Horse & Bamboo Theatre
Thurs 23 Mar, 7.30pm


: ​

£16 / £10 under 26s

The ballad is a story, a story in song.  In this new EFDSS commissioned piece Horse + Bamboo depict songs of a great fight, a broken contract and a female smuggler. Each is a historic ballad arranged and performed live alongside puppetry and simple illustrations, drawing out the tales before your eyes!

The voices, harmonies, stories, puppets, music and animation will combine to create an evocative new look at visual theatre and folk music. Featuring Bryony Griffith (fiddle, viola, voice and piano), Kate Locksley (voice and narrative presentation), Ewan McLennan (guitar and voice) and John Kirkpatrick (melodeon, accordion and voice).

The James Brothers
Wed 29 Mar, 7.30pm

​Tickets: ​

£12 / £10 under 26s

Join James Fagan and Jamie McClennan for virtuoso Antipodean-steeped folk with a comic twist. The James Brothers are not really outlaws, neither are they brothers and only one of them is called James. The pair come from the lands down under – Australia and New Zealand to be precise; lands in which the traditional songs and tunes of the British Isles have evolved their own unique characteristics, like musical marsupials

It’s these songs and tunes, and several of their own making as they draw from the folk, blues and bluegrass that inspired them, that The James Brothers have united to play – combining the virtuosity for which they’re renowned and the gusto and spontaneity of a pub session.

The Swingles: Folklore Album Launch
with special guests Twelfth Day and EFFRA
Thurs 30 Mar, 7.30pm




£25 / £10 under 26s

For more than half a century, The Swingles have pushed the boundaries of vocal music, releasing more than 50 recordings, winning five Grammy awards, and appearing on numerous film and TV soundtracks including Sex and the City and Glee. The group’s versatility has led to collaborations with artists as diverse as the Modern Jazz Quartet, Jamie Cullum and Labrinth. The seven young singers who make up today’s London-based group are driven by the same innovative spirit that has defined The Swingles since they first made waves in the 1960s.

Special guests tonight include acclaimed folk duo Twelfth Day (fiddle player Catriona Price and harpist Esther Swift) as well as contemporary folk band EFFRA.

“Stunning reinventions of songs by the likes of John Martyn, Elbow and Mumford & Sons, with subtle beatboxing and audacious harmonies… superhero singing to truly raise goosebumps.” The Guardian

BBC Concert Orchestra with Spiro
Fri 31 Mar, 7.30pm


£18 / £10 under 26s

In a special concert to mark the BBC’s fruitful and longstanding relationship with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the BBC Concert Orchestra presents a concert placing some of the great folk-influenced works of the 20th Century alongside a brand new commission from Jane Harbour, violinist with renowned folk group Spiro.

This performance is part of Radio 3’s 70th season, celebrating seven decades of pioneering music and culture.

Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham
Sat 1 Apr, 7.30pm



£18 / £10 under 26s

Having toured together since 1986 to packed concert halls all over the world, Scottish duo Phil and Aly recorded their first album The Pearl in 1994 and followed it with many more highly acclaimed albums including Five and Twenty CD to celebrate their 25th Anniversary. They also have two Best of collections released of their work.

Aly was a founder member of the Boys of the Lough and his passionate fiddle playing has also found its way onto recordings by the likes of Eddi Reader and Richard Thompson. He was responsible for launching the Transatlantic Sessions’ TV series in which both he and Phil continue to feature.

Accordion player Phil has been named as one of Scotland’s 25 most influential people and his mastery of the instrument has led to him working with the likes of Mark Knopfler, James Taylor, Rosanne Cash and Midge Ure.

“They are simply the best traditional musicians you are ever likely to hear” The Herald (Glasgow)

National Youth Folk Ensemble
Wed 12 Apr, 7.30pm

Tickets: ​

£10 / £6 under 26s

The National Youth Folk Ensemble launched in October 2016, bringing together 18 of the most talented young folk musicians from across England. Following three intensive weeks in Somerset, Lancashire and the Chilterns, working with folk luminaries such as Sam Sweeney (Artistic Director 2016-17), Rob Harbron, Jack Rutter and Sarah Hayes, the Ensemble performs its first full-length concert.

Expect modern arrangements of folk tunes from England and beyond, alongside new compositions drawing on traditional music, all created and performed by these rising stars.

To find out more information, including how to join the Ensemble, visit efdss.org/nationalyouthfolkensemble. The ensemble is supported by Arts Council England.

Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
Thurs 13 Apr, 7.30pm

​Tickets: ​

£12 / £10 under 26s

A welcome return for the two-time BBC Folk Award winners. Greg Russell’s strong singing and guitar and Ciaran Algar’s lyrical fiddle playing give “everything that folk music should be about. There is tradition, there is musical invention and evolution of the tradition and there is the sort of protest on which the revival was based” (Dai Jeffries – Folking).

Soon after the joining of the pair, the duo signed to Fellside Records and in July 2012 released their debut album, The Queen’s Lover. Numerous tours followed as the duo developed and honed their stagecraft, becoming one of the most sought after young acts on the English Folk Scene. “The press coverage and folk club reports have been glowing and rightly so” (R2 Magazine).

The duo hail from musical households and both began to develop their musical skills long before joining forces. Algar, originally a member of TRI, became All Ireland Champion and All Britain Champion on numerous occasions before the age of 16, and Russell had begun a career as a solo musician supporting acts such as Karine Polwart and Lau, amongst others.

Oh Susanna
Wed 19 Apr, 7.30pm

Tickets: ​

£14 / £10 under 26s

Suzie Ungerleider began performing as Oh Susanna in the mid-1990s, crafting a persona that matched the timeless qualities of her music, sounds that drew from the deep well of early 20th Century folk, country and blues, yet rooted in her finely-honed storytelling skills.

This Canadian songstress has a voice that can pierce a heart of stone and tonight she celebrates the release of her brand new album. Her superbly crafted songs often tell stories of troubled souls who rebel against their circumstances to attain a quiet dignity. These are tales of longing and love, of small town joys and pains, of our simple feelings and strong passions. These are tales that look into our beautifully flawed human hearts.

Sat 29 Apr, 7.30pm

​Tickets: ​

£12 / £10 under 26s

Nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2014, RANT is the meeting of four of Scotland’s finest fiddle players, two from the Shetland Islands and two from the Highlands.

Bethany Reid, Jenna Reid, Sarah-Jane Summers and Lauren MacColl join forces to create a sound rich and vibrant, evocative of the exciting scene they create music in. Using just their fiddles, they weave a tapestry of melodies, textures, layers and sounds. Known for their work as soloists and with various bands, this is a celebration of the instrument they all have a passion for. Four fiddles: one beautiful sound!


Ticket booking

Visit www.musicglue.com/cecilsharphouse for ticket sales for all EFDSS events. Booking information for each event is detailed within individual listings at cecilsharphouse.org/csh-whats-on.

Transaction fees apply to tickets booked through ticket agents. For a detailed breakdown of charges, please visit cecilsharphouse.org/booking-fees. A 10% transaction fee applies for all tickets bought online.

Tickets can also be purchased from the reception desk at Cecil Sharp House (in person only), Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm. No transaction fee.

EFDSS has a new level of ticket pricing for people aged under 26 for every EFDSS programmed event. The cost of a youth ticket will never exceed £10 and will run alongside the existing adult and concession prices.

Other concerts also take place at Cecil Sharp House throughout the year, put on by independent promoters. See www.cecilsharphouse.org for more information.

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