Simon Mayor (*5 October 1953, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England).
With his solo debut The Mandolin Album in 1990 Simon Mayor embarked on a series of recordings with the stated aim of giving the mandolin a uniquely British voice.
Mayor leads Britain's first modern mandolin quartet, the Mandolinquents.
He tours and records regularly with his partner Hilary James, including writing and performing for children.
He has produced a series of instructional books and DVDs for the mandolin, and is also a regular columnist for Acoustic magazine.
Latest solo album: "Carolan - Fantasias on themes by Turlough O'Carolan" (2023).
Dolores Keane (*26 September 1953, Sylane, Co. Galway, Ireland). John Faulkner (*7 Aug 1943, London, England). Irish singer Dolores Keane was raised by her aunts Rita and Sarah Keane, also well-known sean-nós singers. She made her first recording for Radio Éireann at the age of five. In 1975, she co-founded the traditional Irish band De Dannan. The group gained international recognition and enjoyed major success in the late 1970s. In 1977, Keane married multi-instrumentalist John Faulkner, with whom she would subsequently record several albums. "Lion in a Cage", protesting the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, became her first Irish number-one single. Their son Joseph was born with Bardet–Biedl syndrome, which causes obesity and failing vision. Keane and Faulkner finally separated in 1988. In 1992, Keane was among the many female Irish singers to lend their music to the anthology A Woman's Heart, which went on to become the biggest-selling album in Irish history. She put an end to recording and touring in the late 1990s, due to depression and alcoholism.
Dafydd Iwan (*24 Aug 1943, Brynaman, Carmarthenshire, Wales). Welsh singer and nationalist politician Dafydd Iwan Jones rose to fame writing and performing folk music in the Welsh language. From 2003 to 2010, Iwan was the president of Plaid Cymru, a political party which advocates for Welsh independence from the UK. His paternal grandfather, Fred Jones, had been a member of the Bardic family Teulu'r Cilie and a founding member of Plaid Cymru. Iwan's earliest material was Welsh translations of songs by American folk/protest singers (Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan) until he began to write his first ballads. The most prominent of these were political. Around the turn of the millennium, Dafydd Iwan signalled an end to regular performances, although he remains an occasional performer. In 2020, he sung "Yma o Hyd" ("Still Here") before Wales' last two games of their first successful FIFA World Cup qualification since 1958, which led to the song returning to number one in the UK iTunes chart. In July 2023, Iwan was awarded an honorary degree from Bangor University for his "contribution to Welsh Culture, Language, Music and the Arts."
Donnie Munro (*2 Aug 1953, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland). As the lead singer of Runrig, Donnie Munro gained recognition as a prominent Gaelic music performer in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997, he left Runrig to pursue a career in politics. He held the position of Director of Development at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland's National Centre for the Gaelic Language and Culture, located on the Isle of Skye. Last solo album: "Sweet Surrender - Live Acoustic" (2015). For Runrig's farewell concert, "The Last Dance" in Stirling 2018, Munro appeared as a special guest.
Danny O'Keefe (*20 May 1943, Spokane, Washington, USA).
The American folk singer and songwriter is best known for the hit single, "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues", which was released in 1972, and reached number 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and for "The Road", covered by Jackson Browne.
O'Keefe's songs have been covered by numerous musicians, including Elvis Presley, John Denver, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, etc.
His oeuvre though has been rather on the dark side of music, as probably will be his upcoming album which is reportedly in the pipeline.
Martin Simpson (*5 May 1953, Scunthorpe, England).
The English folk singer and guitarist's music reflects a wide variety of influences and styles, rooted in Britain, Ireland and America.
In 1970, he dropped out of college to become a full-time musician. In 1976, he recorded his first solo album.
Martin Simpson has appeared solo (about 21 albums), as a session musician (16 albums), in collaboration (9 albums), in compilations, live, and on performance and instructional DVDs (7).
He has been nominated 23 times in the 11 years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including nine times consecutively as Artist of The Year, which he has won twice. His album Prodigal Son was named album of the year in 2008.
In 2022, Simpson together with Thomm Jutz chose a selection of songs collected by English folk song collector Cecil Sharp
in Appalachia 1916-1918 and invited six British and six Appalachian folk singers, respectively, to sing one song each.
Willie Nelson (*30 April 1933, Abbott, Texas, USA). The American country singer, guitarist and songwriter was one of the main figures of the outlaw country subgenre that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. The critical success of his album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like "On the Road Again", he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. In 1985, he helped organize the first Farm Aid concert to benefit American farmers. During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. He explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk. Nelson has acted in over 30 films and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana. Latest album: "Bluegrass" (2023).
Last but not least, FolkWorld is wishing Music Maker Foundation co-founder and executive director, Tim Duffy, a very Happy 60th Birthday.
Bruce Guthro (1961-2023). The singer-songwriter from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, recorded as a solo artist, and was lead vocalist for the Scottish Celtic rock band Runrig from 1998 until the group retired in 2018. Bruce Guthro received several East Coast Music Awards, and hosted the Canadian TV show Songwriters Circle. He died from cancer on September 5, 2023, five days after his 62nd birthday. (At the age of seventeen Guthro was already working in mining, both in uranium and coal mines.) He was posthumously appointed a member of the Order of Nova Scotia for contributions to the music industry, Canadian culture and philanthropy.
Robbie Robertson (1943-2023). Canadian musician Jaime Royal "Robbie" Robertson was lead guitarist for Bob Dylan in the mid-late 1960s and early-mid 1970s, guitarist and songwriter with the Band from their inception until 1978. Robertson's work with the Band was instrumental in creating the Americana music genre. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He is ranked 59th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitarists. Robertson wrote "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". He collaborated on film and TV soundtracks, usually with director Martin Scorsese, beginning in the rockumentary film The Last Waltz (1978) and continuing through dramatic films including Gangs of New York (2002), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Irishman (2019), and Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). Robbie Robertson died in Los Angeles on August 9, 2023, at the age of 80, after a year-long battle with prostate cancer.
Sinéad O'Connor (1966-2023). The Irish singer's debut studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and achieved international chart success. Her 1990 album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, was her biggest commercial success, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Its lead single, "Nothing Compares 2 U", was honoured as the top world single of the year at the Billboard Music Awards. Her 2002 album, Sean-Nós Nua, "sexed up" traditional Irish folk songs, including several in the Irish language. In February 2023, O'Connor shared a version of "The Skye Boat Song", a 19th-century Scottish adaptation of a 1782 Gaelic song, which is also the theme for the drama series Outlander.
O'Connor drew attention to issues such as child abuse, human rights, racism, organised religion, and women's rights. During a Saturday Night Live performance in 1992, she tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II to protest against abuse in the Catholic Church. (In her 2021 memoir, Rememberings, O'Connor wrote that she did not regret the protest and that it was more important for her to be a protest singer than a successful pop star.) Throughout her musical career, she openly discussed her experiences with trauma and struggles with mental health. Her son Shane by Irish musician Dónal Lunny died by suicide at the age of 17 in 2022. On 26 July 2023, O'Connor was found unresponsive at her flat in London, and confirmed dead at the age of 56. English singer Morrissey wrote a tribute criticising the reaction from executives and celebrities, and wrote: "You praise her now only because it is too late. You hadn't the guts to support her when she was alive and she was looking for you." Irish group Ye Vagabond released a cover of the Scottish folk song The Parting Glass as a charity Christmas song and tribute.
Bobby Osborne (1931-2023). "We lost a mandolin great this week when Bobby Osborne passed on. A member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Bobby and his brother Sonny redefined what bluegrass could sound like and were lifelong innovators. We were fortunate enough to work with Bobby on multiple occasions, and in 2017, the Bluegrass Situation team had the incredible honor of inviting him to join our super jam at Bonnaroo. To our delight, he said yes. We hope you'll enjoy our tribute to Bobby and more photos of our time with him. Look back with us..." (The Bluegrass Situation: Remembering Bluegrass Hall of Famer Bobby Osborne)
Chris Strachwitz (1931-2023). Fully named Christian Alexander Maria Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz, the Silesian-born (today Poland) was the founder and president of Arhoolie Records, which he established in 1960 and which became one of the leading labels recording and issuing blues, Cajun, and other forms of roots music from the United States and elsewhere in the world. Mance Lipscomb's album, Texas Sharecropper and Songster, became Arhoolie's first release in November 1960, in an edition of 250 copies. Royalties from Country Joe and the Fish's "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die"—particularly its appearance in the Woodstock Festival movie and soundtrack album—helped subsidize the Arhoolie label, as did royalties for Fred McDowell from the Rolling Stones' performance of his song "You Gotta Move". Strachwitz increasingly focused attention on Mexican music. One of his biggest successes came with Flaco Jiménez, whose album Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio won a Grammy Award in 1986. He discovered and released the first two albums of seminal klezmer revival band The Klezmorim. Another of Strachwitz's discoveries was Cajun musician Michael Doucet and his group BeauSoleil. Strachwitz despised most commercial music as mouse music. He died on May 5, 2023, at age 91.
Gordon Lightfoot (1938-2023). Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music. He is credited with helping to define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. Lightfoot's biographer Nicholas Jennings said, "His name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness." In April 2023, Lightfoot's declining health caused him to cancel his 2023 tour. He died of natural causes in Toronto on May 1, 2023, at the age of 84. In 2020, he had released his final album Solo without the accompaniment of other musicians. It was his 21st studio album, released more than 54 years after his debut album. His 2016 concert performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London was released in July 2023.
"This 1971 BBC concert - with the late great Red Shea accompanying him with those delicious guitar fills - sees him at his absolute peak. He is 32 years old at the time of this recording. He sings my three of my favourite songs of his in this concert… albeit two truncated, in a medley… Forget the hits… these 2 are his greatest songs, IMHO… First… 'Did She Mention My Name?' Second… 'I'll Be Alright'. And an honourable mention for the song that made his name… 'Early Morning Rain'.
"And…the second link…
A resumé of his career… showing alas that old age is no place for cissies…
TTFN, Dai Woosnam"
Johnny Fean (1951-2023).
In his teens, Johnny Fean played in traditional Irish sessions in Limerick and Clare. He developed his listening tastes from rock to blues and incorporated it into his guitar style.
His idols were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. In
1972 Fean replaced Gus Guest (who formerly had replaced Declan Sinnott) in Horslips.
The group are regarded as 'founding fathers of Celtic rock' for their fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music.
Although Horslips had limited commercial success in the 1970s, there was a revival of interest in their music and
the band reformed in 2009 and have continued to play shows since then.
Harry Belafonte (1927-2023). Born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr., the singer and actor popularized calypso music with international audiences in the 1950s and 1960s. He was best known for his recordings of "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Mary's Boy Child". Belafonte considered the singer and activist Paul Robeson to be a mentor. He was also a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. He was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations. Harry Belafonte died from congestive heart failure at his home in Manhattan on April 25, 2023, at the age of 96.
David Lindley (1944-2023).
The American musician had mastered such a wide variety of instruments that Acoustic Guitar magazine referred to him not as a multi-instrumentalist but instead as a "maxi-instrumentalist."
The majority of the instruments that David Lindley played were string instruments, including violin, guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, dobro, hardingfele, bouzouki, cittern, bağlama, gumbus, charango, cümbüş, oud and zither. He was an expert of the lap steel guitar and Hawaiian-style slide guitar blues.
Lindley formed a close relationship with fellow guitarist Ry Cooder; they both turned away from corporate mainstream music to focus on less popular idioms such as folk and world music.
He was known as a session musician or touring as sideman or bandleader, supporting Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, amongst many others.
David Lindley died after a long illness on March 3, 2023, at the age of 78.
He had had COVID-19 in 2020, which might have developed into Long COVID with chronic kidney damage.
Séamus Begley (ir. Séamus Ó Beaglaoich, 1949-2023).
The Irish traditional musician was regarded as one of Ireland's greatest accordion players.
One of a family of nine, his father Breandán Ó Beaglaoich owned the local dance hall and was a well-known accordionist in
Baile na bPoc on the Dingle Peninsula. Séamus
released his first album with his sister Máire in 1973.
In 1989, he played at the Glastonbury Festival with guitarist Steve Cooney. He later collaborated with Cooney on the album Meitheal.
Later he partnered with the likes of Jim Murray and Tim Edey, producing further albums.
Séamus Begley died on 9 January 2023 at the age of 73.
Osso Sacro wins the ‘Premio Andrea Parodi’ 2023
It was Osso Sacro (from Campania) that won the 16th edition of the 'Premio Andrea Parodi', the distinguished world music contest that took place from 12 to 14 October in Cagliari at the Teatro Massimo, a venue of great prestige. In addition, the band received a mention for the best arrangement.
To Andrea Andrillo (Sardinia) goes the critics' prize, together with the mention for the best text. The mention for best interpretation and the one for best interpretation of a song by Andrea Parodi were awarded to Guido Maria Grillo (Campania).
Moreover: Hiram Salsano (Campania) took home the prize from the international jury, Looping Greis (Madrid) the mention of the young people in the audience, while the mention for the best music goes to Curamunì (Sicily).
Also selected for the final of the contest, organised by the Foundation Andrea Parodi and under the artistic direction of Elena Ledda, Ra Di Spina (Campania) and Trillanti (Lazio).
Alternating on stage with the finalists were high-level guests from the Italian and international music scene. Peppe Voltarelli performed on Friday 13. Saturday 14 October was the turn of Fausta Vetere (with Umberto Maisto), Giacomo Vardeu and Ual-la to perform! The evening ended with Paolo Angeli, who received the Albo d'oro Award.
All guests, as well as the finalists, performed a piece from the Andrea Parodi’s repertoire, the artist to whom the event is dedicated. Parodi, who died in 2006, after being a member of Tazenda, embarked on an important solo career in the world music industry.
Official Folk Albums Chart OCTOBER 2023
Straight in at no. 1 is Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll (BC Recordings) by The Mary Wallopers. The album captures the chaos, humour and excitement of the band’s live shows whilst also showcasing the emotion of the traditional ballads that they play (both in songs passed down from previous generations and - for the first time on this record - their own songs that promise to be passed down to future generations).
Folk-punk rabble Skinny Lister’s sixth studio album Shanty Punk (Xtra Mile Recordings) lands at no. 2. The album is a mix of anthems, shanties and folk/punk classics: a collection of songs that leans further into their folky routes.
At no. 3 is Moments in Time (Banshee Music) by Finbar Furey. The album features a collection of Finbar’s own compositions alongside four well known traditional songs; ‘Kitty’, ‘The Rocks Of Bawn’, ‘Slieve Gallen Braes’ and ‘The Parting Glass’.
No. 5 is Nothing But Green Willow - The Songs of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry (Topic) by Martin Simpson and Thomm Jutz. Selected from Cecil Sharp’s 1916 and 1918 collection, ‘English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians’, the album features a number of special guests from the UK and beyond.
Land of My Other (Real World Records), the third album by The Breath, lands at no. 15. Written and performed by the partnership of singer Ríoghnach Connolly and guitarist Stuart McCallum, these ten original songs tell complex stories of where ancestral trauma meets pride.
In at no. 16 is Chris Brain’s second album Steady Away (Big Sun). Brain’s distinctive warm vocal and finger-picked guitar style are featured alongside expansive strings and delicate piano arrangements, touching on themes of loss, pain and awe in nature.
No. 22 is the latest album by Track Dogs, and their third in eighteen months. Blind Summits & Hidden Dips (Mondegreen) features an eclectic mix of bluegrass, latino/fronterizo, and folk/blues.
Coming in at no. 24 is This Place We Live (Communion) is the fourth album by Matthew and The Atlas. This album is a collection of deeply personal songs; an introspective snapshot of Matthew Hegarty reckoning with himself and the world at a certain stage of life.
At no. 28 is Peggy’s Dream (251) by Martin Hayes & Common Ground Ensemble. Martin Hayes, the renowned Irish fiddler and member of The Gloaming, leads the Common Ground Ensemble who blend traditional Irish roots with improvisation, jazz, avant-garde and contemporary classical influences.
IN OTHER NEWS
Ahead of EFEx '23, English Folk Expo shared the exciting news that Womex '24 would be in Manchester, England next October with EFEx confirmed as the delivery partner for this major European world music conference and showcase event. This has taken a lot of planning and their own CEO Tom Besford has been central to this process. Womex '24 will be managed by Manchester Music City, an organisation bringing together people and organisations from across the city to support Manchester's vibrant music sector. Due to their involvement in Womex ’24, EFEx showcase event will move to March 2025.
The dates for your diary are: WOMEX ’24 in Manchester, UK - 23-27 October 2024 EFEx ’25 in Manchester, UK – 20-23 March 2025
Official Folk Albums Chart SEPTEMBER 2023
No. 1 is False Lankum by Lankum, which rises from its no. 2 position in the August chart.
Straight in at no. 2, is Dreamer Awake (Navigator) by Scottish based singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni. She brims with dreamy indie-folk pop that speaks of the struggle and desire to flow, to love, to live, to feel.
At no. 3 is The Journey So Far – Live (Sharpe Music) by Tumbling Paddies, recorded live in Castlebar Co. Mayo and captures the experience of the band performing live. The album includes a live version of the recent hit ‘The Way I Am’ co-written by lead vocalist Gareth Maguire along with Derek Ryan.
Cloud Horizons (Resilient) by Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening comes in at no. 4. The album is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2019 debut Hollowbone. ‘A full on embracing of studio trickery, electronic beats and swathes of synth, all surrounding the core of wood, reed and bellows that remain the heart of the band.' At The Barrier
No. 11 is Make The World Anew (MQCD) by Melrose Quartet. Perhaps the most positive record in the band’s career, the album reflects their joy at being able to rehearse, record and gig together again after the trials and restrictions of the pandemic.
In at No. 19 is Consciousology (Sonic Cathedral) by Dot Allison. After a decade away the former One Dove singer and songwriter broke cover in 2021 with Heart-Shaped Scars and this new album expands on the styles and themes of the previous album, all while pushing everything just that little bit further.
Love is the Weapon of Choice (Fatcat) by Daphne’s Flight comes in at no. 26. The album is made up of ten songs with a women-centric theme are wrapped in the glorious Daphne's Flight signature sound of breathtaking harmonies and intricate arrangements.
At no. 27 is Galargan (Bubblewrap) by The Gentle Good. Many of the songs come from the invaluable collections and writings of Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney in the National Library of Wales. ‘Nid wyf yn llon’, translated as ‘I am not happy’, for example, was collected from the singing of a prisoner in Dolgellau jail.
No. 33 is The Colour of Night (Winding Track), the fifth studio album by Ninebarrow. Written largely during the pandemic, the album reflects the uncertainty so many were experiencing during this time, but also captures a feeling of hope – that when things seem at their darkest, the dawn is never far away.
At no. 39 is Songbird (Talking Elephant) by Carla Fuchs. The nine tracks on the album have been created from unused lyrics found in the notebooks of Sandy Denny. She has concentrated on evoking a soundscape inspired by Sandy Denny with a sensitivity that pays homage to her musical nuances.
Official Folk Albums Chart AUGUST 2023
Straight in at no. 1, is Gaz Bookfield’s 9th studio album Morning Walking Club (Land Pirate). The album was written, recorded, produced and mixed by Brookfield in his own studio, and mastered by Jim Lang. Additional guitars by Chris Webb and Dan O’Dell, keys by Jon Buckett, and violin by Ben Wain. Of the album, Bookfield says “This album is an open and honest journey into some of the issues surrounding mental health struggles, and ultimately, hopefully, the journey out of them again. It is dedicated to my dearly departed dog, Reuben, the founding member of the morning walking club, and the goodest boy.”
At no. 3 is The Endless Coloured Ways – The Songs of Nick Drake (Chrysalis) by Various Artists This compilation album of 23 songs, recorded by over 30 artists, is a tribute to legendary singer-songwriter, Nick Drake. In every song, the artist adopts and reworks an original song of Nick Drake as if it were their own. The album showcases folk artists, including Stick In The Wheel, Katherine Priddy, and Karine Polwart, in addition to a diverse array of prolific and notable artists from across the musical spectrum.
No. 22 is Conversations We’ve Had Before (Eliza Carthy) by Eliza Carthy Trio. Although Eliza has been playing alongside Saul for almost thirty years, the Trio was only formed in 2020 when another regular sidekick, Dave Delarre joined them. Together three of England’s best-known folk musicians arranged an exciting new set of traditional material which they honed on the road and recorded for this, their first album. Eliza says, “The Conversations referred to in the title reflect just how long it’s taken for us to find the perfect balance and get this done, but we found it…and here it is.”
Official Folk Albums Chart JULY 2023
Straight in at no. 1, Seth Lakeman’s The Somerset Sessions (Honour Oak) was recorded over ten days late in 2020 at the Bert Jansch Studio in Frome. It features Lakeman fronting a band comprising drummer Ethan Johns, keyboard player Jeremy Stacey, John Smith on guitar and bouzouki, bassist Nick Pini and a co-vocal with singer Alex Hart on the closing song.
At no. 3 is Dance Till All The Stars Come Down (Poetica) by The Lilac Time, the long-standing folk band led by Stephen Duffy with brother Nick, and his wife Claire Duffy, who joined in 1999. They are joined on this album again by multi-instrumentalist Ben Peeler on pedal steel, with no bass and minimal use of drums. This is the band’s first album since 2019’s Return To Us.
No. 10 is Dream From The Deep Well (Fire), the fourth album from celebrated Irish singer songwriter Brigid Mae Power. Recognised as a purveyor of dreamier pop with folky leanings, this new album is a departure; a unique marriage of traditional stylings and very modern melodies, and filled with personal tales.
In at No. 24, Respair (Folklore) is the story of Jacko Hooper’s Covid pandemic mental health crisis. The experience left him needing to capture it, to feel it in its entirety and come out the other side. This album documents his journey. Hooper has never shied away from speaking of mental health issues, with it being a recurring theme in his releases over the years.
C-Sides (The Longest Johns), by The Longest Johns, comes in at no. 28. Band member JD describes it as "a collection of demos and unreleased oddities". It includes several livestream favourites and some songs for which the band had released YouTube videos previously, but which had not yet made it onto an album.
No. 30 is Striding Out (Brown Boots), by the fiddle and melodeon duo Will Allen and Martin Clarke, otherwise known as Brown Boots. This album is the follow up to their 2020 First Steps album. The track ‘Helen Fraser’ features two tunes written in memory of Martin's mother, who was a great community music project organiser.
Official Folk Albums Chart JUNE 2023
Straight in at no. 1, Careful Of Your Keepers (Rough Trade) by This Is The Kit (Kate Stables) chronicles a world of mistakes and mishaps, cruel circumstances, and universe-driven surprises. It's a record that embraces the concept of outrospection – the idea that one gets to know oneself by developing relationships and empathic thinking with others. The album was produced by Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) who captures beautiful instrumental performances while leaving the space required for her robust, silken voice to lead.
In at no. 2 is Archangel Hill (Domino Recordings) by Shirley Collins who, at 87 years old, continues to be one of the most celebrated names in English folk music. This album showcases a collection of songs from traditional sources and Collins’ favourite writers, and includes a live performance at the Sydney Opera House in 1980, featuring an arrangement by Shirley’s talented and much-missed sister Dolly Collins.
No. 10 is Jim Ghedi & Toby Hay (Topic) by Jim Ghedi and Toby Hay, a duo project between two finger style guitarists, coming together to blend influences and different styles of playing to create a unique sound for guitar-based folk music. The album was recorded at Giant Wafer Studios in mid-Wales, where the duo recorded the entirety of the album live, with no edits or overdubs
In at no. 15 is Haar (Make Believe), the 5th solo album from Highland fiddler Lauren MacColl (Salt House / RANT / Heal & Harrow). The entirely self-composed album is based on coastal tales and happenings from around the eastern firths of the Scottish Highlands, performed on fiddle with collaborators Rachel Newton, Mairearad Green, Alice Allen, Anna Massie and James Lindsay.
No. 31 is Lawside (Last Man Music) by Roseanne Reid. The album is named after the district of Dundee where most of the songs were written. Becoming a parent has informed and shaped much of the content. The album was recorded locally in Perth, just south of Dundee, with producer and fellow Scot Dave Macfarlane.
Official Folk Albums Chart MAY 2023
Straight in at No. 1 is Tempus (Cooking Vinyl) by Skerryvore. The album is rich with the top tier musicianship that Skerryvore are renowned for, as well as an increasingly diverse musical palette. They’ve taken a rip-it-up-and-start-again approach to genre, blending anthemic highs, strident rock, stadium-ceilidh thrills and subtle dance beats into a sound that instantly transports the listener to a famously good-time Skerryvore gig.
Merry Hell are the 8-piece ensemble assembled from the remains of much-loved 90s folk-punk band The Tansads. Native to the North-West of England, they are driven by core members the Kettles, three brothers and one wife. The most recent release, Let The Music Speak For Itself (Merry Hell Music) comes in at No. 8, and distils 12 years together, 6 albums and 100s of gigs into a history and introduction to the band in all its moods.
In at No. 14 is Stretching Skyward (Blackfly) by triple Scots Trad Awards nominees Gnoss. Described by the band as an “album of change”, Stretching Skyward evolved as something of a concept album, inspired by historic Scottish tales, abandonment of ways of life, new beginnings and the passage of time. ‘Honey Wine’, from the album, is a song which recognises the Scottish travelling people known as the Nawken, whose roots go back to the 9th century.
Cadence (Free Dirt) by Cinder Well comes in at No. 27. The new album from Amelia Baker’s experimental folk project drifts between two far-flung seas: the hazy California coast where she grew up, and the wind-torn swells of Western Ireland that she’s come to love. Across nine tracks, Baker treads a sonic and lyrical path between the two coastal towns she calls home, her transcendental voice given new wings by the record’s sweeping arrangements.
Before I Knew What Had Begun I Had Already Lost (Grizzly Folk) by former journalist Jon Wilks is at No. 34. With his fourth solo album, he focuses on the songs that have moved him most over the last few, difficult years. While focused on lesser-known traditional songs, the acclaimed guitarist and singer includes three compositions of his own, and brings together a collection of musicians with whom he has grown to love playing.
Official Folk Albums Chart MARCH 2023
Straight in at No. 1, is the long-awaited album False Lankum (Rough Trade) by Lankum. The album was recorded across 2021 and 2022 by their longtime producer John ‘Spud’ Murphy in Hellfire Studio and Guerilla Studios in Ireland.
The Levellers Collective acoustic album Together All The Way (On The Fiddle) comes in at No. 2. Of the album and recording, Jeremy Cunningham says, “It’s a stripped back, raw iteration of the collective with deep folk leanings. As energetic as the first one but definitely different”.
The Soft Struggles (Daylight Saving), by David Brewis, comes in at No. 6. Under The Radar says, “There’s a gorgeous live feel to the recordings that gives the whole collection a rich, organic feel. Music played by human beings. It’ll never catch on”.
In at No. 7 is Blackletter Garland (One Little Independent), the high-concept debut album from the brand-new collaboration, Hack-Poets Guild. Made up of Marry Waterson, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann, the album boasts twelve fascinating interpretations and original compositions.
Daoirí Farrell comes in at No. 11 with his fourth studio album, The Wedding Above in Glencree (Daoirí Recordings). Crafted and honed over two and a half years, the album - in his own words - ‘combines the rawness of my first album, the impact of my second album and the beauty of my third album’.
Boo Hewerdine’s Flowers (Reveal), which comes in at No. 16, is a companion to his acclaimed album Understudy.
Full House For Sale (Matty Grooves) by Fairport Convention arrives at No. 22. The album was recorded live at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2022, where they celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of our 1970 LP Full House.
Dusk Moon (Rura Music) by RURA comes in at No. 23. Their rugged yet refined blend of fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, bodhran and guitar has won a devoted following in many corners of the globe, amongst audiences and critics alike.
In at No. 24 is Ben Walker's second album Banish Air From Air (Folkroom). The album explores the relationship between mankind and nature. Instrumentals, traditional material and reimagined poems sit alongside Ben's first forays into songwriting, featuring an enviable list of guest vocalists.
In at No. 31, is Petrichor (The Lost Trades) by The Lost Trades. The album has a slightly darker sound to their award-winning debut, and has themes of mourning, escape and starting afresh, swimming in lush vocal harmonies.
Salt House’s latest studio album Riverwoods (Hudson) comes in at No. 33. The album is a musical response to the feature-length documentary of the same name made by rewilding charity ‘SCOTLAND: The Big Picture’ (Channel 5).
Official Folk Albums Chart FEBRUARY 2023
Straight in at No. 1 is All Of This Is Chance (Rough Trade) by five time BBC Folk Award nominee Lisa O’Neill. Fresh off 2018’s collection Heard a Long Song Gone for the River Lea imprint, The Wren EP in 2019 and an adaptation of Bob Dylan’s ‘All the Tired Horses’ for the final scene of epic TV drama Peaky Blinders, O’Neill now returns with her latest album, and first for the Rough Trade label, the beautiful, resonant All Of This Is Chance. A raconteur in the truest sense of the word, every story starts somewhere and O’Neill starts this extraordinary collection here on earth, on Irish soil, hands in the land.
Coming in at No. 2, is Nowhere and Everywhere (Billingham) by Unthank Smith. Rachel Unthank and Paul Smith are both from England’s North East, and foremost talents in their respective fields. In this album, they set out to collect songs and pen originals that claw at the beating heart of the region. Though Rachel Unthank has been immersed in the folk world from childhood, Paul Smith’s route towards folk began in his teens with a love of the music of Martin Carthy, Karen Dalton, Nick Drake and Bert Jansch, especially their fingerstyle guitar-playing. Echoes of that approach can be heard throughout this album, albeit simplified and merged with a more direct sound akin to US avant-rock acolytes of the ‘60s folk revival like Gastr Del Sol and David Pajo.
Rozi Plain’s fifth album, Prize (Memphis Industries), comes in at No. 4. Acquiring a worldliness that’s reflected in her travels as a touring musician, each consecutive release has broached new sonic territory, whilst retaining a home-grown intimacy and a familial warmth of spirit. On Prize, Rozi’s unique, heart-felt approach continues to prevail, marking her as an innovative and engaging songwriter. On the album, Rozi has assembled her widest cast of players to create an album that not only preserves the intimacy of her signature guitar-and-vocal sound, but accentuates these moments of calm, and explosive emotion, midst a soaring, collective spirit.
In at No. 13 is the double album The Dog Show Sessions Live (Track Dogs) by Show of Hands and Track Dogs. The album was released on 1st February, following their highly successful Spring Tour in 2022. The combination of these two bands has all the depth of the shared folk genres with a whole new level of in-your-face energy. Recorded at Eggbeer Farm and Exeter Cathedral this album includes the entire Dog Show Sessions set list. The first single released was the full six-piece, rip-roaring joint effort on a bluegrass, Americana classic, ‘Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man’.
The Official Folk Albums Chart is a Top 40 chart, released monthly. It is open to artists where at least one band member is a UK or Irish musician. Charts are based on physical sales, digital downloads and streams. Charts will be sent out by email on request on the first Monday of every month and will be available to view at englishfolkexpo.com and officialcharts.com. Tracks from the full Top 40 folk albums can be heard at the Official Folk Albums Chart Spotify Playlist
Kristin Scott Benson named IBMA Banjo Player Of The Year
Kristin Scott Benson, banjo player for the GRAMMY-nominated Grascals and duo Benson, won the Banjo Player Of The Year award at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards in Raleigh, North Carolina marking the 6th time she's won.
"I'm continually amazed that God has allowed me a life full of music because all I ever really wanted to do was play the banjo," says Kristin. "I love our entire bluegrass community and count it as a privilege to be a part of it. I'm eternally grateful to everyone who helps make this happen because there are many. No one does it alone. My heart is full. Thank you!"
Recognized as a top banjoist, Kristin, a South Carolina native, is known for her impeccable taste, timing and tone. In 2018, she won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, which seeks to bring recognition to outstanding accomplishment in the field. In addition to releasing new music with The Grascals this year (their latest single, "I Go," is streaming now), Kristin also released Pick Your Poison with her husband, Wayne, under the name Benson. This distinctive collaboration — their first as jointly featured artists—serves to bring a shared musical vision of the Bensons to life and puts their mastery of thoughtful artistry on display.
Kristin Scott Benson, winner of the 2018 Steve Martin Prize For Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass, is also a six-time International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year. She has been a member of the GRAMMY-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals since 2008. Her most recent solo album, Stringworks, was released by Mountain Home Music Company in 2016.
Kristin grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. She started playing mandolin and stepped on stage for the first time at the age of 5. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was 13, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck. After high school, she attended Nashville’s esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business.
Kristin has attained a national identity as one of the top bluegrass banjo players, exhibiting impeccable taste, timing, and tone. With an attentive ear to back-up, she is known and respected as a true team player:
“There was one grass ceiling no woman could cut through—until Kristin Scott Benson came along, that is. Almost two years ago, she joined The Grascals. Not to front the band, not to sing, not to be eye candy, but instead to drive the group with her five-string banjo. Until then, no woman had ever been hired to play one of the most defining of the bluegrass instruments in an A-list, festival-headlining, all-male band….It’s a high profile gig, as Kristin takes the banjo where no woman has taken it before.” — Larry Nager for Bluegrass Unlimited – “Kristin Scott Benson – Cutting the Grass Ceiling” October 2010
In addition to her latest solo album, Stringworks, Kristin has recorded two prior banjo albums, Straight Paths and Second Season. Both received stellar reviews, as well as an IBMA nomination for Instrumental of the Year for the self-penned, “Don’t Tread on Me,” on Second Season.
Album of the Year: Crooked Tree (Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway) Banjo Player of the Year: Kristin Scott Benson Bass Player of the Year: Vickie Vaughn Entertainer of the Year: Billy Strings Female Vocalist of the Year: Molly Tuttle Fiddle Player of the Year: Jason Carter Guitar Player of the Year: Trey Hensley Instrumental Group: The Travelin' McCourys Male Vocalist of the Year: Greg Blake Mandolin Player of the Year: Sierra Hull Band of the Year: Carley Arrowood-Thrailkill Vocalist of the Year: Gaven Largent Resophonic Guitar Player: Justin Moses Songwriter of the Year: Tim Stafford Vocal Group of the Year: Authentic Unlimited
22nd Annual Americana Honors & Awards Album of the Year: Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?, Tyler Childers Artist of the Year: Billy Strings Song of the Year: "Just Like That," Bonnie Raitt Duo/Group of the Year: The War and Treaty Emerging Act: S.G. Goodman Instrumentalist: SistaStrings
Creative Europe 2024
"As you might know, Europe is calling for
in the cultural and creative fields - including music.
Many people I know ask me what kind of projects can be submitted.
I would suggest checking the
list of past projects.
If you are interested, I’m happy to introduce you hereby to some projects I have (or have had) direct experience with - as an external consultant, trainer, speaker, facilitator or mentor.
It’s always nice to be part of such projects that help build a better future."
- Eric E. van Monckhoven | MUSIC4YOU
After performing for over 100,000 IDF soldiers on various bases throughout the country both up north and on the Gaza border, I've identified two critical needs. Our soldiers returning from intense missions require a morale boost upon reaching base. Inspiring music bands across the nation are grappling with the aftermath of the recent war, affecting their livelihoods. To address both these needs, I've established Notes Of Strength. This initiative aims to uplift our frontline heroes' spirits by compensating not only talented musical acts but also various aspects of the entertainment industry in need. Best regards, Yitzchok Mayer Malek