Returning to Camden
In what is its 20th anniversary year, North London’s favourite festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance: Return To Camden Town has…err…returned!
From October 23-29, this year’s celebrations will feature the usual packed programme of céilís, album launches, sessions and workshops at venues in and around the London Borough of Camden over seven fun-packed days.
Festivities kick-off with an already sold-out opening night concert at The Green Note (www.greennote.co.uk) featuring Glaswegian siblings The Friel Sisters. Whilst the girls were raised in Glasgow, family roots remain firmly established in Donegal. Following what has been a successful 2018, the band have a new album: Before The Sun out now, so lucky ticket holders can expect a great evening of fiddle, flute and uilleann pipes.
Other highlights include: Buttons and Bows / Fair Plé Ladies at The Clayton Crown Hotel on October 24 (www.claytoncrownhotel.com); Frankie Gavin’s Roaring 20s Orchestra featuring members of the Tulla Céilí Band at Kings Place (www.kingsplace.co.uk) on October 26; and an evening at the London Irish Centre on Saturday, October 27 featuring Máirtín O’Connor, Cathal Heyden and Séamie O’Dowd, amongst others – it should be quite an event.
But live showcasing is not the entirety of what Return To Camden offers. There are a wealth of instrument and dance workshops on offer to help set you on the road to performance next year.
www.returntocamden.org for venue and workshop information.
Dan’s ‘yer man’
Clawhammer banjo ace, Dan Walsh is a man on a mission.
Nominated for Musician of the Year at last year’s BBC Folk Awards, Dan is fast becoming one of the rising stars of the folk scene. Dividing his time between performing solo, performing alongside Ciaran Algar on fiddle and Nick Zuppardi on mandolin as part of the Dan Walsh Trio, and joining award-winning urban folksters UFQ, Dan Walsh is bringing his unique take on British, Irish and American folk music − in dazzling clawhammer banjo style − to new audiences, and thereby challenging preconceptions about the instrument.
Lionised wherever he performs, Dan Walsh has previously guested with Imelda May, Joss Stone and the Levellers, as he stuns audiences the world over. His new album Verging on the Perpendicular (see review in LiveCelt) is his fourth solo effort to date and has been deservedly lauded by critics and the public alike.
But don’t take our word for it, Dan Walsh is a musician best appreciated live, and you can do just that over the coming months. Dan will be playing the following gigs across the UK at the following venues:
The Maverick, Stourbridge, October 27 (Solo); Hitchin Folk Club, October 28 (UFQ); Royal Conservatoire, Birmingham, November 2 (UFQ); Maldon Town Hall, Essex, November 4 (UFQ); Hermon Chapel Arts Centre, Oswestry, November 10 (UFQ); Old Bakery, Truro, November 17 (UFQ); Kingskerswell Church, Devon, November 18 (UFQ); Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek, November 27 (UFQ); Reeth Memorial Hall, Yorkshire, November 23 (UFQ).
Put your hands together
Described by world music champion Peter Gabriel as “one of the great English bands”, multi award-winning band Show of Hands have clocked up more than two decades on the road, during which time they can boast 25 albums, two honorary doctorates, three BBC folk awards, multiple sell-out appearances at The Royal Albert Hall, and countless tours across countries from America to Australia. Not bad, eh?
As craftsmen with an unmistakeable ability to meld story and melody together in spellbinding fashion, the extraordinary musicianship of SOH’s Steve Knightley and Phil Beer is legendary, both in folk music’s hallowed halls and beyond. Now the boys are returning to the touring circuit as the original duo, but this time they’re bringing their celebration of roots and acoustic music to more intimate surroundings. Their special guest will be Geoff Lakeman.
You can catch their Celtic spirit at the following venues:
Electric Palace, Bridport, October 31; G-Live Guildford, November 1; Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, November 2; Salisbury City Hall, November 3; RNCM Manchester, November 7; Victoria Theatre, Halifax, November 8; Union Chapel, London, November 10; Theatre Royal, Plymouth, November 11; Cheltenham Town Hall, November 14; Buxton Opera House, November 15; St David’s Hall, Cardiff, November 16; Oxford New Theatre, November 18; Octagon Theatre, Yeovil, November 21; Epic Studios, Norwich, November 22; The Alban Arena, St Albans, November 23; Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, November 24; New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, November 25; Theatre Royal, Margate, November 28; The Anvil, Basingstoke, November 29; St George’s Church, Brighton, November 30.
Flights of fusion
With a new album: Flight due for release on November 23, everyone’s favourite fusion collective – Afro Celt Sound System – are back on the road and coming to a venue near you.
Formed in 1995 by Simon Emmerson, Afro Celt Sound System have been confounding expectations ever since. A live tour-de-force, their performances are life affirming celebrations of cross-cultural pollination, acclaimed wherever they perform and variously featuring members from a dazzling cast of world musicians, including: kora and balafon player N’faly Kouyaté, Dhol Foundation drummer Johnny Kalsi, bodhrán player Robbie Harris, Malian percussionist Kalifa Knoé, Scottish Fiddler Ewen Henderson, Mayo Piper Emer Mayock, and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly.
Now, with album sales north of 1.5million and two Grammy nominations in the bag, the Afro Celt bandwagon shows no signs of slowing down. A 10-date tour in November will take in London’s Barbican Centre and showcase the new release with its themes of migration – both human and avian. Selected dates will also feature the Amani Choir, so check the website for details.
Take flight with Afro Celt Sound System at the following venues:
Princess Theatre, Torquay, November 14; Cheese & Grain, Frome, November 15; Poole Arts Centre, November 16; Tyne Theatre, Newcastle, November 17; Leeds Town Hall, November 18; Brighton Dome, November 20; Barbican Centre, November 21; Cambridge Corn Exchange, November 22; RNCM Theatre, Manchester, November 23; Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, November 24.
Following a recent string of gigs with Boo Hewerdine, Kris Drever will rejoin his bandmates in Lau for five concerts in November that include an appearance at London’s iconic Union Chapel.
Described as ‘thrilling performers, free-thinking visionaries and all-round good chaps,’ Lau’s crowd-pleasing reputation preceeds them, and ecstatic reviews inevitably follow wherever they go.
Comprising of Kris Drever (vocals, guitar), Martin Green (accordion) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle) Lau bridge the gap between the acoustic folk tradition and post rock – electronics.
“Lau are a remarkable band – the most musically adventurous trio in British folk; exquisite and hypnotic, musicianship at its best,” or so says The Guardian. And with a display cabinet stacked high with awards to their name, including BBC Folk Award Winners, Best Band 2008-10 and 2013, who can possibly argue with that?
But should you still need convincing, head to…
Union Chapel, London, November 24; Gulbenkian, Canterbury, November 25; Grayshott Folk Club, Hindhead, November 26; Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, November 27; Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield, November 29.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Galway resident Sharon Shannon has always sought to push musical boundaries – something she puts down to her time with The Waterboys when, as Sharon says, there were “no rules as to the type of music played…we could move very easily from a punk song to an old timey American waltz to Irish jigs and reels…”.
Now, following her excursions into reggae with musician and producer Denis Bovell, Argentinian tango, Breton music, and American folk/country, Sharon Shannon has turned her sights on Africa in the form of new album Sacred Earth.
Co-producer Justin Adams – who played on Sharon’s 2007 album Renegade – is an expert in African and Middle Eastern musical styles, and the collaboration is one welcomed by Shannon due to her appreciation of his “fearless approach to music”.
Sacred Earth mixes musical influences from around the world, including Africa – highlighting her mastery of a shared sense of rhythm in the African/Irish crossover to be heard there.
Sharon Shannon is currently taking her new music on tour across Germany during October and November:
Zentrum Altenburg, Oberhausen, October 20; Harmonie, Bonn, October 21; Kulturfabrik, Leipzig, October 23; Gutmann, Nuremburg, October 24; Qasimodo, Berlin, October 25; Kuba Halle, Wolfenbüttel, October 26; Friedenskirsche, Jena, October 27; Hamburg Knust, Hamburg, October 28; Leverküsen Scala, Leverküsen, October 30; Karlsruhe Badenerlandhalle, Karlsruhe, October 31; Fulda Kulturkeller, Fulda, November 1; Kirchheim unter Teck Bastion, Kirchheim, November 2; Munich Strom, Munich, November 3; Bierhuebli, Bern, November 4.
Originally an experimental, psychedelic folk-punk duo formed by brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Lankum are now a four-piece traditional folk group who combine distinctive four-part harmonies with uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar − as if you didn’t already know!
And there can be few folk fans who haven’t yet acquainted themselves with the band described as ‘the darlings of Dublin’s folk scene,’ such is their stellar rise to fame and subsequent coronation as Best Group 2018 at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
But not for nothing have the band been described as ‘battery acid sharp’ and ‘anarchic yet connected’. With a genre-defying repertoire that spans music hall ditties and street songs to Traveller ballads and American dance tunes via their own original material, a Lankum gig is an experience not to be missed.
Their latest album Between the Earth and Sky − that includes the unsettling Granite Gaze − has been universally praised and will no doubt feature heavily in forthcoming sets during their current UK tour ending at London’s Borderline Club on October 28. The band will also play the No Border Festival, Brest, France on December 15.
Don’t miss your chance to see a band at the top of their game:
St George’s, Bristol, October 17; The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham, October 18; The Drygate Theatre, Glasgow, October 19; Hartlepool Folk Festival, October 20; Sage Gateshead, Gateshead, October 21; Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, October 22; The Hubs, Sheffield, October 23; RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards, Dublin, October 25; The Grand, Clitheroe, October 27; The Borderline, London, October 28.
Despite the first flush of the festival season having passed, there are still an array of Celtic music events to enjoy in the coming months.
The 15th Annual Celtic Music Feis will have crowds flocking to Galway Bay from October 15-21 (www.irishmusicfestival.yapsody.com). Meanwhile, Manchester Folk Festival will run from October 18-21 and feature the Dan Walsh Trio, Alaw, 9Bach, Spiro and Melrose Quartet, amongst others (www.manchesterfolkfestival.org.uk) and Hartlepool Folk Festival featuring Lankum, Blazin’ Fiddles, Elephant Sessions and Tim Edey will take place between October 19-21 (hartlepoolfolkfest.co.uk).
Across the pond, Atlanta GA, USA plays host to Irish Fest Atlanta from October 26-27 where Téada will headlining on October 27 (www.irishfestatlanta.org). Also appearing stateside are Còig who will be rocking up at Yachats Celtic Music Festival, Yachats, Oregon, taking place from November 9-11 (www.yachatscelticmusicfestival.org).
Celtic Night 20, in Lommel, Belgium, is on November 10 and will feature Mànran and Pauline Scanlon with Atlantic Arc Orchestra (http://www.ccdeadelberg.be/f19/celtic-night-20). Whilst the Scottish Fiddle Festival at the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh runs from November 16-18 (www.scotsfiddlefestival.com) and The Islay Sessions, Isle of Islay take place from November 23-25.