Folk and traditional music in 2019 - tracks, trends and the mainstream
Folk music continues to beat a pathway towards the mainstream - from national awards to festivals to bands whose repertoire is no longer seen as being part of a fringe genre. What does this mean for the sector? What are the opportunities? Is crossing over selling out or is it opening new audiences to this genre?
Nicola Kearey is co-founder of From Here Records. She has worked as an artist in music for many years, including a stint in electronic/grime/dubstep act Various Production (XL Recordings), but more recently heading up English folk band Stick In The Wheel. She is an advocate of English folk music and culture, with her work focusing on the dissemination of traditional culture into the mainstream. Intrinsic to this is the ongoing English Folk Field Recordings project, with the first volume a Guardian album of the year 2017 - "a project that could conceivably do more to broaden the appeal of traditional folk music than any other venture in recent years" (Caught By The River).
Based in Inverness, Brian Ó hEadhra is the Gaelic Arts and Culture Adviser with Bòrd na Gàidhlig and provides advisory services to Creative Scotland. Bòrd na Gàidhlig is Scotland's public body promoting the use and securing the status of Scottish Gaelic. Creative Scotland is the national leader for Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries. Brian is an established musician, arts & culture entrepreneur and has a BA Hons. in Irish Folklore and English Literature from University College Dublin. He has helped establish and direct various festivals, venues and prestigious events including The Blas Festival, Taigh Dhonnchaidh Arts Centre, Nòs Ùr Celtic & Scots language song competition, Northern Roots Festival and is currently the co-director of the Geiteberg Folk Festival in Norway. He recently released the album TÌR - Highland Life & Lore with fellow singer/songwriter - Fiona Mackenzie. www.oheadhra-mackenzie.com
Tim Chipping is a music journalist from London who writes primarily for the long-running fRoots magazine. In 2018 he, along with Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee, set up the River Lea imprint on Rough Trade. The label is dedicated to releasing “beautiful and strange traditional folk music from Britain, Ireland and beyond.” River Lea’s first release was Heard A Long Gone Song by the singer and songwriter Lisa O’Neill, from Co. Cavan. The album received 9/10 from Hot Press, 5/5 from The Guardian and is shortlisted for the RTE Choice Music Prize. This was followed by The Reeling, an album of traditional Scottish and Bulgarian tunes by the exceptional Isle Of Skye piper Brìghde Chaimbeul (that Tim thinks sounds like The Velvet Underground and Geoff Travis reckons is more like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.) And in March River Lea will release The Hare’s Lament, an album of traditional Irish songs by Ye Vagabonds from Co. Carlow.
BBC Young Folk Musician award winner Jarlath Henderson is a singer, multi- instrumentalist, composer and producer.