reckons Norman Warwick

(cover photo shows) Holy Moly & The Crackers at EFEx Showcase/Manchester Folk Festival 2022: Photo credit: Mike Ainscoe

The English Folk Expo (right) organisation is a pathfinder and pioneer for the music it supports, and EFE places itself in strong synergies with like-minded bodies that can make things happen. We received a newsletter from EFE this morning that reminded musicians that  Applications from artists wishing to perform at English Folk Expo Showcase / Manchester Folk Festival 2023 close at midnight on Sunday 15th January.

The only showcase exclusively for folk, roots and acoustic music in England, English Folk Expo invites music industry representatives from the UK and beyond to network and discover amazing artists from this broad and diverse genre. The showcase this year takes place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, between Thursday 19th and Saturday 21st October ’23.

It runs alongside the public Manchester Folk Festival with most showcase performances also forming part of the public festival programme. All selected showcasing artists will receive a fee and a conference pass for English Folk Expo’s new conference programme (which will include sessions that are part of the European Folk Network Conference running alongside the festival and showcase). Showcasing artists can also attend the English Folk Expo trade fair, free stage and late night festival club.

Whether you are an agent wishing to put forward an artist for the events or an artist wishing to put yourself forward to perform at EFEx Showcase/Manchester Folk Festival, apply now using the button below or through the EFEx website at www.englishfolkexpo.com.

Having barely managed to catch our breath over the Christmas break, we’re back on the road again towards the end of January for a packed run of industry conferences / showcases,starting withYour Roots Are Showing, Ireland’s new conference, running from 22nd-26th January in Coolshannagh in Monaghan, Ireland. TheUK Americana Music Week in London runs from 24th-26th January and before that ends, Showcase Scotland kicks off in Glasgow, running from 25th-29th January.

English Folk Expo CEO Tom Besford will be popping up at all events for a limited number of days.

English Folk Expo’s Founder and Sales Director Terry O’Brien will be at Showcase Scotland throughout the event. To contact Terry to fix a meeting click here

The EFE missive also announced, retrospectively as it always does, the charts for folk albums based on last month´s sales.

Straight in at No.5 in the Folk Charts went December´s highest new entry, Black Cuillin (Copperfish) (right) from one of Scotland’s most recognised and accomplished fiddle players and composers, Duncan Chisholm. Born and raised in the Scottish highlands, the album’s inspiration came from the mountain wilderness on the Isle of Skye.

New at No.8 was Endurance Soundly Caged by trailblazing London-based folk duo, Stick In The Wheel (From Here) (left), an album of fresh new arrangements of six songs that span past releases, recorded live. Their relentless approach to questioning traditional music forms is matched only by the energy with which they play it.

MydWynter (Bellissima) is the new album from vocal ensemble Mediaeval Baebes, landing at No. 9. The collection includes several uplifting seasonal favourites yet their focus is on a darker reminder of the pre-Christian origins of the winter festival. It is a beguiling mixture of ancient music and modern arrangements, replete with a dazzling array of period instrumentation.

Known for their broad spectrum of folk styles, The Trials Of Cato release their second album (right), Gog Magog (The Trails of Cato), in at No.10. Named after the mythical giant and the Cambridgeshire hilltop where the new album was birthed, the Beirut-formed trio fuse their Celtic instrumental interplay and Arabic sounds with striking new compositions.

The cello is currently undergoing a revival in the folk world, thanks in part, to the celebrated South Korea-born cellist and Scotland resident Su-a Lee who releases her debut album ‘Dialogues’ (Su-a Lee). Landing at No.33 it highlights the distinctive sound of her non-classical career with a series of intimate duos with fifteen of her favourite folk musicians, with each choosing a tune or song that celebrates their connection with Su-a over the years.

At No.37 is ‘Time Was Away’ (Robrec) from Emily Portman & Rob Harbron. Eight English folk songs and two 20th Century poems set to music combine in this unapologetically dark and yet quietly optimistic album. Themes of reliance and resistance in the face of hard times open a window into our past with tales that still resonate in contemporary Britain.

EFE also included news of forthcoming live gigs.

Much loved Yorkshire folk duo Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow have been propelled into newfound fame for penning the theme tune to Sally Wainwright’s hit BBC1/HBO drama ‘Gentleman Jack’, earning them global admiration, appearances on TV, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and concerts that sell out months in advance.

Belinda and Heidi’s boundless songwriting has been described by The Guardian as ‘exceptional’ and The Independent as ‘defiant, robust, northern, poetical, political folk music for the times we live in.’ Their first full studio album in seven years; ‘Cloudheads delves into the mindscapes, passions and inner worlds of two highly individual autistic women; Belinda and Heidi. Moving, melodic, dramatic and tender, from stories of parenthood, the call of a song thrush, to a portrait of the last days of a touching relationship between their neighbour Matthew and his beloved Alsatian, Ted, and even a collaboration with Gentleman Jack herself, Suranne Jones on ‘The Ballad of Anne and Ann’, they explore, consider and connect subjects and stories in a distinctive, inventive and memorable way.

Having the originality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated harmony duos, 6 Music’s Tom Robinson says ‘They sing together in the way families do. Normally, you only get that closeness in the voices with family bands like The Coppers or The Watersons.’

‘I have just listened to your track, ‘Beryl’, with tears in my eyes! It’s beautiful and brilliant.’ Maxine Peake

 ‘Brave, beautiful and full of love.’ Martin Simpson

 ‘Insightful, determinedly left-field angles on the human experience.’ * * * * MOJO Folk Album of the Month

 ‘Have Belinda and Heidi done it again? Certainly.’  * * * * * R2  

The John Martyn Project (lright) 27 Apr | Hallé at St. Michael’s
Back in Manchester by popular demand is this special project where six artists come together to celebrate the music of John Martyn. Each brings their own story and connection to John’s music which adds to the fabric of the overall experience of the project.

Niteworks (left) 12 May | The Deaf Institute

Childhood friends and long-term fellow musicians from the Isle of Skye, Niteworks blur the lines between Scottish traditional, folk and Gaelic music with contemporary electronica, creating a unique and exhilarating sound. The band’s third studio album ‘A’ Ghrian’ was released in January 2022.

Manchester Folk Festival 2023 Early Bird Three-Day Festival Passes are now on sale for £85. Very few tickets are still available at this low early bird price. (1st release tickets £90).. The Three-Day Festival Pass is the best way to take advantage of the full variety of our programme, dipping in where you feel, with full access to every gig from Thursday to Saturday. Make new discoveries and enjoy old favourites with the freedom that the Pass offers.

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