Artists 2015

Martin Carthy * Pete Coe & Alice Jones * Sam Sweeney * Fay Hield * Nancy Kerr * Rob Harbron * Gavin Davenport * Julia Bishop * Jon Boden * Simon Keegan Phipps * Rachel Elliott * Laura Smyth * Frances Watt * Bryony Griffith * Fiona Taylor * Cinzia Yates

Martin Carthy

As one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures, Martin Carthy hardly needs an introduction. For more than 40 years Martin’s skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it. As a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic and electric-guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material, perhaps Martin’s most significant work of all are his settings of traditional songs with guitar.

Pete Coe

Pete Coe has been described by BBC Radio 2 as ‘a one man folk industry’, and has been recording, broadcasting and performing around the world for over forty years. He is also a part-time lecturer in Folk Music at Huddersfield University, where he wrote the educational paper for English Folk Dance and Song Society’s successful Heritage Lottery bid, based on the Kidson Collection. Alongside Alice Jones, Pete has recorded a double CD The Search For Five Finger Frank released in April 2014.

Alice Jones 

Alice Jones is a multi-instrumentalist and singer who learned folk songs from her mother. Her first public performances were, however, as a dancer with Ryburn Longsword and with Ira Bernstein as an Appalachian flatfooter. She was a singer with The John Dipper Band playing major folk festivals and their CD was featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Late Junction’. Alice is a resident singer at the Ryburn 3 Step folk club and plays piano in the Black Box Band and whistle for several dance groups.

Sam Sweeney

To simply call Sam a ‘fiddle’ player is to do him something of an injustice. Thrice nominated as Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the Nottingham born multi-instrumentalist took up the fiddle in 1996 and has since gone on to tour and record with the highly successful cultural sensation Bellowhead. Also a highly prominent performer with bands such as The Full English and Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, Sam’s most recent venture has been with successful new English Instrumental band, Leveret.

Fay Hield

A singer who seems to have been born knowing how to carry a tune but with the rarer gift of knowing how to go straight to the heart of a song, Fay is a high profile performer in today’s folk scene. Performing the forefront of bands such as The Full English and Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party, her solo album also reflects her gift for unearthing rare and interesting material. Fay is also an academic, lecturing in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield. Her PhD thesis ‘English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community’ was completed in 2010.

Nancy Kerr

Five times BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning, fiddler, singer, songwriter Nancy Kerr has been playing the fiddle since the age of 5. Now a qualified music therapist, Nancy has been a music workshop leader for over 20 years and is a tutor on the BMus in Folk and Traditional music at Newcastle University. Already a respected interpreter of traditional material, Nancy’s solo work with the Sweet Visitor Band has taken her song writing to new heights. This has led her to be nominated in two categories at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Rob Harbron

Rob Harbron is a sought-after multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, and one of the country’s leading players of the English concertina.  As a performer Rob plays with bands including Leveret, The Full English, Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party and Rob Harbron & Emma Reid.  He was Musical Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2013 production of The Winter’s Tale, and he has recently been commissioned to write music for the British Silent Film Festival and the EFDSS.

Gavin Davenport

Performing traditional songs since his teens, Gavin is also a former winner of the John Birmingham cup, and is an acclaimed songwriter in the traditional style. As well as performing with many high profile bands such as The Albion Band, Hekety and his own band, Gavin also performed in Jude Kelly OBE’s revival of Peter Bellamy’s ballad opera ‘The Transports’. A qualified teacher, with a Master’s Degree with distinction in Oral Culture and Literature, Gavin has also worked for The English Folk Dance and Song Society as Education Officer for The Full English.

Julia Bishop

Julia Bishop has been interested in folksong ever since she began going to her local folk club in 1976. Following a degree in classical music, she went on to study folksong, first at the University of Leeds, and then Memorial University of Newfoundland where she gained her PhD in 1993. Julia has since led a project to publish the James Madison Carpenter Collection of traditional song and drama, and was co-editor, with Steve Roud, of the rather marvellous New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (2012). As a musician, Julia plays for the Sheffield carols at the Blue Ball Inn, Worrall, and can be heard on Break Forth in Song.

Jon Boden

A stand out performer of his generation of traditional folk artists, Jon Boden’s work extends far beyond the boundaries of the genre into theatre, classical music and film. Most visibly he is the lead singer in the multi-award winning Bellowhead. In addition to this, his work in award winning duo Spiers and Boden, and his own band The Remnant Kings, Jon actively promotes social singing through the Royal Traditions singers club and through his project.

Simon Keegan-Phipps

Simon Keegan-Phipps is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield, with a keen focus on folk and traditional music, particularly specialising in English folk music and dance. His work focusses on the contemporary resurgence of English folk music – the subject of his co-authored book Performing Englishness.  He is currently researching the impacts of digital technologies and media on folk music and dance participation. And when he’s not conducting research on folk music, he’s usually playing it – mainly on the English concertina.

Rachel Elliott

Rachel is Education Director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), responsible for the development of its England-wide folk music and dance education programme. This includes The Full English, its recent national digital archive and learning programme which worked with cultural organisations and schools across England in 2013 – 2014. Rachel has been involved with arts education in a professional capacity for over 30 years and is currently a board member of the National Dance Teachers’ Association, the UK’s subject association for dance in schools.

Laura Smyth

Laura Smyth is the Library and Archives Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, the library and archives of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Prior to taking the post of Director, Laura worked as the Librarian of the VWML where she assisted in the delivery of The Full English Project. As well as being passionate about maintaining collections of traditional songs and dances, Laura is also a keen singer and dancer herself performing as part of a duo with her partner Ted Kemp, and dancing with rapper team Tower Ravens.

Frances Watt

Frances Watt was the Learning Manager for The Full English learning programme. She developed and managed the national activities and partnerships in schools and with community partners, culminating in the finale showcase conference in Birmingham. She is also singing leader, musician and performer with experience of running singing, dancing and music workshops at events and festivals, setting up community music and singing projects, and enjoying a wide breadth of traditional music.

Bryony Griffith

Bryony is a highly accomplished fiddler and singer. From an early background in classical music ensembles, Bryony converted to traditional music in her early teens. Performing in many guises, with the acclaimed ceilidh band Bedlam, the dance sides Dog Rose Morris and the Newcastle Kingsmen and in The Witches of Elswick, Bryony is also a key member of the BBC Folk Award-winning Demon Barbers. Bryony’s debut solo album Nightshade, released in Summer 2014 was a runner-up in the fRoots Critics Albums of the Year 2014 and she was also nominated for Best Newcomer and Best Artist in the Songlines Music Awards 2015.

Fiona Taylor

Fiona spent 5 years in the North East primarily organising regional, national and international educational arts projects with companies such as Folkworks, The North Music Trust (now Sage Gateshead) and Steel Bands North. As a primary school teacher, Fiona has been instrumental in developing the folk arts within schools in Sheffield and Barnsley. It was when working in Barnsley that she designed her Full English Project to tightly match the National Curriculum. Outside of school, Fiona also performs regularly with The Demon Barbers XL and leads clog and rapper dancing workshops at festivals up and down the country. 

Cinzia Yates

Dr Cinzia Yates is a researcher in ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology, specialising in traditional music and dance on the Isle of Man. She has written a comprehensive history of the reconstruction of Manx traditional dance, as well as various studies on the nineteenth-century band manuscripts found on the Isle of Man and their relevance to contemporary Manx music. Cinzia is currently the Research Associate on the Digital Folk project at the University of Sheffield and is a keen whistle player, an active traditional musician and dancer.

*Please note artists are subject to change*