And so here we are, tripping lightly into the most fantastical season of the year. Only a bunch of shopping days left until Christmas, but a whole year’s worth of top-notch folk and world music albums to pop onto your wish list. Which were the best? Well, it’s all terribly exciting, y’see, because there’s the not-so-small matter of the 33rd Annual fRoots Critics Poll coming up very soon indeed.
This year’s winners will exclusively be revealed by BBC Radio 3 during their Music Planet broadcast from 11 pm on Friday 7th December, presented by Kathryn Tickell, and in the Winter issue of fRoots magazine from 11th December (that’s a week on Tuesday). So much to prepare for, and so few sleeps until it all goes off!
Other than that, how are the music makers preparing for their long winter naps? What news from the folkie front?
Well, Iona Fyfe is seeing the year out in absolute style, having this week won Scots Singer of the Year at the Na Trads. Top work, Iona! Grab a copy of her 2018 album, Away From My Window, by clicking here.
Meal a naidheachd Iona Fyfe! Seinneadair Albais na Bliadhna
— BBC ALBA (@bbcalba) December 1, 2018
Now, this project has our attention. We’re told that a longer cut of the video is to appear in February, followed by a tour. Good stuff!
More good stuff… here’s news of a campaign that’s really helping young musicians in Zanzibar. Please lend support, if you can.
Great stuff, this… we mentioned Wizz and his wonderful birthday extravaganza in our Big Ears column a few weeks ago. Looks like dates have been finalised. Queue for your tickets forthwith.
Not so good stuff…. This news arrived in our inboxes on Friday, bringing to a close one of the happiest stories in folk music of recent years. Almost as soon as the news broke, we began hearing about a run on the remaining copies of the Domino re-issue of Bright Phoebus, and at the time of writing only a few CDs are left on the Amazon shelves. Get the remaining copies while you can by clicking here.
And now for something completely different. Should you want cheering up, tune into Squeezy John’s brain this Sunday night at 10:10pm. How on earth could you turn down such an invite?
WTF? It's on BBC 4 in ten minutes and is about morris dancing badgers stopping Brexit … maybe the TV is just channeling my brain now! https://t.co/Jw3U45GCLt
— John Spiers (@squeezyjohn) December 1, 2018
Meanwhile, Mike Harding has been making the tabloid headlines… again.
The Express? Ye gods and little fishes. The Trolls have already started sending me badly spelled emails. How did they get me address I wonder 😊. Feck em. https://t.co/PczvasoyMS
— Mike Harding #FBPE (@HardingMike) December 1, 2018
The Grizzly Folk tell us that their version of ‘The Wassailing Song’ is celebrating its 10th anniversary of release this month, and apparently has a clutch of very dedicated listeners in Vietnam and Hong Kong (who knew that wassailing had spread so far?) Their accompanying video plays like a game of “Name That British Folk Tradition”. Have a go. See how many you can tick off…
Finally, a little closer to home, and with a bashful grin on our faces…
Fresh from Morayland… what is he up to?
7 days on the road
Fay Hield, Nicola Kearey and Maz O’Connor will be in conversation with Verity Sharp at Cecil Sharp House this Wednesday, discussing their music, their practice and their careers. Should be a fascinating event for fans and up-and-coming folk singers alike.
#NowPlaying 'The Longing Kind' by @MazOConnor https://t.co/J0q6ScEGhS … – Maz will be joining us as part of our Musicians Talking About Music event alongside @fayhield and Nicola Kearey (@StickInTheWheel) on 5 December https://t.co/5ri5LMaOZ0 pic.twitter.com/Su5FNBiMgo
— Cecil Sharp House (@cecilsharphouse) November 22, 2018
Scrooges, stay away! Those Feastie Boys have the Christmas spirit pumping through their veins once again. They’ll be ‘aving it large this week in London (Monday), Otley (Wednesday), Southport (Thursday), Upwood (Friday) and Diss (Saturday). Their annual Xmas spin around the country runs right through until December 22nd. Check out their website for more details.
Lady Maisery having joined forces with Jimmy & Sid for a tour of “old and new songs to galvanise the spirit in the darkest season”. This week you can have your soul lifted in Leeds (Saturday) and Settle (next Sunday). See the Tweet below for further dates. If you’re feeling youthful, you can follow some of the artists on Instagram in the hope that you’ll catch some backstage shenanigans. Last week we saw a pic of Jackie Oates knitting in the wings. Who says the younguns don’t know how to rock’n’roll?
*Christmas Tour!* We'll be back on the road before the year is out for 9 special shows in collaboration with the wonderful @JimmyASidG. A whole new repotoire of old songs and new songs to galvanise the spirit in the darkest season. Tickets from our website! Jolly jolly. 🎄🎄🎄 pic.twitter.com/UD9tLy3dxw
— Lady Maisery (@LadyMaisery) October 14, 2018
The legend that is Martin Carthy doesn’t do any of that social media crap, but he does tour his socks off. He’s been back on the road for a week or two now, and will be bringing his solo show to Doncaster (Friday) and Great Langdale (Saturday). Here’s a tweet from Yorkshire just to prove we know what we’re talking about.
— Roots Music Club (@rootsmusicclub) December 1, 2018
Progressive folksters, Lau, are trying the UK on for size over the next few weeks. Get yourself fitted and frolicking in Pocklington (Tuesday), Gateshead (Wednesday) and Edinburgh (Friday).
Catch the one, the only Martin Simpson at his last gig of the year this Monday at Nettlebed Folk Club. And for all of you that don’t yet know, his Twitter page is a must-read for the nation’s birdwatchers, as he traverse the nation’s landscape, noting wildlife between gigs.
The M40 is a thorough Kite Fest on this blustery leaden and sunny day. Next stop East Grinstead with @MartinTaylorMBE .
— Martin Simpson (@msimpsonian) November 29, 2018
Lisa Knapp will be bringing “bits, bobs, vinyl and Christmas” to The Green Note, Camden on Monday night. Last seen performing May songs only a few weeks ago, it’ll be fascinating to see her changing with the seasons…
It's my last gig of 2018 tmrw nite @Folkonmonday at Camden's @GreenNote. I'll be bringing bits, bobs, vinyl and Christmas. You can just bring yourselves. Look forward to seeing you https://t.co/pVOy6kSTVj
— Lisa A Knapp (@LisaKnappMusic) December 2, 2018
Finally, the Melrose Quartet are busy in final rehearsals for their seasonal special, A Bright New Year. It’s at Shakespeare’s in Sheffield, and it’s taking place this coming Friday. Unfortunately for most of us, it has been sold out. Keep an eye on Nancy Kerr’s social media pages, though – you never know what might turn up.
Remember, if you like what we’re doing and you want to support our ongoing dedication to all of this fine music, please consider taking out an fRoots subscription, or perhaps even making a donation. You can also click whenever it says “pre-order here” and we’ll get a little kickback from Amazon. It really does make a difference. We thank you.