Co-curated between ABM and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 Musician of the Year – harpist and singer Rachel Newton – Trad. Reclaimed is a music-based series at Kings Place, London (15-17 March 2019) as part of the Venus Unwrapped series.
Trad. Reclaimed celebrates both women musicians and singers in the contemporary folk scene and iconic figures in its development. Showcasing pioneering forces in the tradition, some of the country’s finest instrumentalist talent and powerful purveyors of song, the weekend aims to redress a gender imbalance often found in the wider music scene. Celebrating the light and shade, energy and dynamism, grit and nuance of some of the finest trad. players, as well as the sheer diversity of skills and inspiration.
The increasing contemporary consciousness about the visibility of women in music helps to shine a light on imbalance in folk music events. ‘I want people to be aware of it,’ says Newton. ‘To go to a festival with all men on the platform and to think, “There’s something weird about this!
“I like the idea of reclaiming something: It feels like we’re doing something powerful but not aggressive. And although it’s a great chance to showcase the talented women in folk today, it’s not a women-only event. The point I’ve always been trying to make is that it’s not about taking anything away from anyone … it’s just trying to even out the playing field. The more women are visible on stage, not just singers but instrumentalists as well, the more young girls and women are likely to think that they can do it too. There’s nothing more powerful.’
The weekend event features ground-breaking women in folk – from a musical play about iconic Irish singer Margaret Barry to a conversation with influential folk singer and song collector Shirley Collins. There will be also be performances from some pioneers of the current generation of folk musicians, from the joyous all-women line-up The Shee to Kathryn Tickell’s evocative reflections on her native landscape with The Darkening. Offering breadth and balance to the weekend, also featured are the acclaimed sister act The Rheingans Sisters, Hannah James’ Innovative dance and music show JigDoll, newcomers Solasta and panel discussions related to gender issues in folk music with contemporary singer and writer Emily Portman and more.
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Trad. Reclaimed Programme Of Events
The Shee Big Band + Hannah James’ JigDoll
Fri 15 Mar 2019 – 7.30pm // Hall One
The Shee bring electro-harp, accordion, fiddles, flute, mandolin and three powerful voices together with a range of individual musical influences to produce an adventurous brew of Folk, Gaelic and American music.
A rarity in folk music, Hannah James is a singer, musician and innovative clog dancer. Jig Doll combines all of these disciplines in a beautiful show exploring the life of the travelling player, with newly-composed music in a magical setting woven around percussive dance.
Women in Folk – Music Panel Discussion with Rachel Newton, Emily Portman, Sarah Coxson, Jo Frost and Sarah Jones
Sat 16 Mar 2019 – 2pm // Hall Two
Rachel Newton brings together a group of women from across the music industry to discuss issues around gender in folk music with questions from the floor.
Shirley Collins in Conversation with Emily Portman
Sat 16 Mar 2019 – 4pm // Hall Two
Iconic English folk singer and song collector, Shirley Collins, has enjoyed a momentous recent return to the stage. Her deep and lasting influence on many contemporary singers is significant, inspired by her belief in the ‘song not the singer’ at the core of her performances of traditional material. Emily Portman is one such singer. With their shared passion in the source material, this event promises to be an insightful and engaging conversation about lives lived in song.
Sat 16 Mar 2019 – 6pm // Ground Floor Foyer
Solasta is an outstanding young folk trio, fast building a name for themselves on the back of their inventive arrangements, unique sound and exhilarating live performances.
She Moved Through The Fair: The Legend of Margaret Barry with Mary McPartlan, Lisa Knapp, Gerry Diver, Gillian Horgan, Luke MacLeod and Colin Irwin
Sat 16 Mar 2019 – 7.30pm // Hall One
Hailed as an icon and ‘real soul singer’ by singers as diverse as Norma Waterson, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, Margaret Barry was extraordinary. Born in Cork in 1917 she left home at 16 with nothing but a bicycle and a banjo, setting off to busk her way through the harsh streets of Ireland. What happened next is part of folk music legend.
Written by music journalist Colin Irwin and Irish singer Mary McPartlan, She Moved Through The Fair features many of her most famous songs (Bold Fenian Men, Factory Girl and Galway Shawl) along with dialogue from interviews with colourful characters who shared her adventure. A poignant and funny musical drama, debuted at Celtic Connections festival last year to wide acclaim, this is the first time the show will be performed in the city where Barry spent many of her vintage years.
Now She’s Fairly Altered her Meaning: A gendered response to British Traditional Songs with Emily Portman
Sun 17 Mar 2019 – 2pm // St Pancras Room
In this talk with musical accompaniment, songwriter Portman discusses her own feminist interpretations of the traditional songs she sings and the original songs she writes.
Rachel Newton – Solo Recital
Sun 17 Mar 2019 – 4pm // St Pancras Room
Singer and harpist Rachel Newton specialises in interpreting traditional folk songs in both English and Scottish Gaelic, in new and innovative ways.
Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening + The Rheingans Sisters
Sun 17 Mar 2019 – 7.30pm // Hall One
Kathryn Tickell is widely acclaimed as the world’s foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes. She is a composer, performer, educator and successful recording artist whose work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of Northumbria. This new full-band project featuring musicians from Northumberland, Scotland, Ireland and England invokes the dark, powerful, shamanic sounds of Ancient Northumbria and broadcasts them to the modern world with a global resonance and outlook.
Rowan and Anna Rheingans make bold, playful and innovative contemporary music, anchored in folk traditions but not bound by them. Their performances – fiddle, viola, banjo, concertina and voices – showcase an intuitive and moving musical conversation between two musicians at the height of their powers.