Congratulations to the wonderful John Kirkpatrick, awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to folk music. A well deserved accolade for a national treasure. Book him from ABM for 2021!
All at ABM want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to a 2021 where we see a safe return to live gigs and events.
It’s been a truly catastrophic year for music. We, like many others, have spent most of it rescheduling gigs and tours for ABM artists who are desperate to get back to work, safely, and to do what they do best, perform live. Amongst the darkness, there have been many positive, creative moments of light and relief.
There has been incredible spirit, solidarity and tenacity shown by artists and promoters to continue to create and perform for audiences in incredibly trying and uncertain conditions: from socially distanced gigs to online concerts, and a wealth of hunkering down in the recording studio to make new music (Martin Simpson’s Home Recordings, Rachel Newton’s To The Awe) and keep the faith for future months and years! Heartfelt thanks to all the promoters and venues who have been able to support musicians in this way.
Read more about future plans in our latest newsletter here.
Season’s greetings! Stay safe! See you on the other side!
The fantastic new album from Martin Simpson is released today on Topic Records.
Martin Simpson’s next album was going to be a live one. But the lockdown put paid to all that. Even so, this cloud does have a silver lining. And what a silver lining it is. Unable to play to audiences (Martin can average over 100 gigs a year) or go into a recording studio, the only solution was to record a new album at home and were it not for the gaggle of geese flying overhead (you can hear them on ‘Lonesome Valley Geese’) and the birds happily tweeting on the closing track, you perhaps wouldn’t know this wasn’t a studio album. Recorded by his regular producer, now neighbour, Andy Bell, the aptly-named, Home Recordings finds Martin singing and playing, literally amongst his beloved guitar and banjo collection and out on his Peak District-facing porch.
“As the pandemic progressed we began to lose friends and peers. John Prine left us in April and I played for him at home. I was focused on material some of which I’ve known for 50 plus years, some I’ve recorded before and revisited out of love. I played songs over and over to finesse the arrangements, but in the absence of a live audience there was an additional intimacy. I wanted to capture this feeling and so Andy Bell and Tom Wright set up in the living room and I played and sang in the music room. I’ve included two recordings made on the deck outside the back of my house. I spent a lot of time playing to the valley.” – Martin Simpson
Home Recordings includes outstanding takes on Lyle Lovett’s ‘Family Reserve’ (from his 1992 album, Joshua Judges Ruth), John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’ (from his 1971 debut album), Robin Williamson’s ‘October Song’ (from Incredible String Band‘s eponymous debut album, 1966) and of course, Bob Dylan’s ‘These Times, They Are A-Changin’,’ which sounds particularly apt in the current climate.
Hand in hand with his long and storied solo career, Martin Simpson has been central to seminal collaborations like The Full English, The Elizabethan Sessions, The Magpie Arc and Simpson Cutting Kerr. He has worked with a dazzling array of artists from across the musical spectrum: Jackson Browne, Martin Taylor, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson, David Hidalgo, Danú, Richard Thompson and Dom Flemons, to mention a few. He is consistently named as one of the very finest acoustic, fingerstyle and slide guitar players in the world and is the most nominated musician in the history of the BBC Folk Awards, with a remarkable 31 nods. A true master of his art.
Folk In The Fall offers a long-awaited day of live music on 28 November 2020 featuring some of the UK’s most acclaimed musicians, celebrating the ongoing partnership between Alan Bearman Music and Kings Place.
In troubled times for the live music sector, Kings Place is pleased to be able to open its doors again and offer performances in a safe environment from some of the most talented and engaging performers in the country including Leveret, Martin Simpson, Kathryn Tickell & Amy Thatcher, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith and Emily Portman & Rob Harbron. https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/your-visit/our-safety-measures/
As Artistic Associates at Kings Place, Alan Bearman Music, have been actively involved in folk music programming and consultancy at the venue over the past few years, regularly curating series of themed events.
Hall 1, 2pm
Leveret is the unique collaboration between three of England’s finest folk musicians. Andy Cutting (button accordion), Sam Sweeney (fiddle) and Rob Harbron (concertina): each regarded as exceptional performers and masters of their instruments. Together their performances combine consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity. Leveret’s music is not arranged in the conventional sense and the trio rely on mutual trust and musical interaction to create new settings of their repertoire in the moment, with no two performances alike. Variations Live, a limited edition live double album was released this October, featuring tracks from all their four studio albums plus three unreleased tracks.
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
Hall 2, 3.30pm
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith are one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years. Their unique ability to make old songs seem relevant and new songs sound ancient has brought them widespread critical acclaim. Their latest material includes original compositions with reflections on the modern world and storytelling that gets to the heart of life in Britain today, alongside some unearthed gems from the British and Irish folk canons delivered with powerful harmony singing and sensitive musical arrangements. Two of the most exciting musicians and social commentators on the scene.
Kathryn Tickell & Amy Thatcher
Hall 1, 5pm
Northumbrian piper and composer Kathryn Tickell performs with her long-time “right hand woman” Amy Thatcher (accordion, clog dancing). Evocative slow airs move seamlessly into rapid-fire jigs and reels with Amy’s clog steps providing a joyous percussive element! Kathryn Tickell is widely acclaimed as the foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes. Composer, performer, broadcaster and recording artist whose work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of Northumbria, her extraordinary career has seen her champion her native traditions and traverse genres from jazz and world music to large-scale orchestral works, including collaborations with Sting, The Chieftains, Penguin Café Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and many others.
“Kathryn’s musical exuberance and regional rootedness… endow her music with originality, power and joy.” Songlines
Emily Portman & Rob Harbron
Hall 2, 6.30pm
Emily Portman & Rob Harbron are two of the finest performers on the UK folk scene with award-winning reputations as performers, composers and recording artists. Now they have formed an inspired new collaboration in which they explore traditional English songs linked by a theme of margins – the ordinary and extraordinary stories of marginal people and landscapes, retold and remapped into the often tumultuous landscapes of a post-Brexit Britain, where parallels abound.
Emily (voice, banjo) is best known as an original songwriter and for her work with the award-winning folk band The Furrow Collective. Rob (concertina, guitar, voice) tours with Leveret, Fay Hield, Jon Boden and many more, being in great demand as one the finest multi-instrumentalists in the UK.
Hall 1, 8pm
With a new intimate solo album, Home Recordings, released on 13 Nov on Topic Records, Simpson remains one of the finest ever acoustic and slide guitar players, equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions. Over 40 years after he recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, Simpson remains ever fresh, continuing to convey his diverse treasure trove of material from the heart, performing with rare subtlety, intensity and honesty. A true master of his art, interpreting material from tradition or singing his own potent self-penned songs, Simpson is a remarkable storyteller: captivating and profoundly moving.
‘One of the virtuoso instrumentalists of the English music scene’ ‘Sounds better than ever’ Guardian
More info and tickets: https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/folk-in-the-fall/
We hope this update find you safe and well, in what has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge to us all in the live events business.
With some glimmers of light in terms of live performance and some innovative ideas for getting back to work, we wanted to explore with you what might be possible for bookings in the short and mid-term future. Our artists are really looking forward to finding ways of performing live again.
We have discussed with ABM artists what options may be possible for them, from:
- socially distanced live gigs with reduced capacity in some venues – sometimes with two houses on one day (typically 2 x 60-70 minutes.
- hybrid live/online streaming options which may augment potential income.
- exclusively online performances (live or pre-recorded) with high production values, streamed direct from venues.
There is a general spirit of positivity (and flexibility) in order to get back to work. We would now like to touch base with you all to see what your current plans are, and to offer you some options from artists who are in a position to take advantage of any opportunities available.
So, we’d like your views on ways forwards and any interest in bookings with the artists below, so that we can build an overview of short-term opportunities and longer-term prospects for our world taking steps towards some sort of normality.
As this new world develops, we need to consider new rules and ways of working. We appreciate that risk is far greater in terms of income potential, so we are happy to discuss is sustainable for all involved. It is clearly in everyone’s interests to avoid clashes in geography and timing. We also need to consider limiting the time that performances remain accessible online and also online ticket capacity in order not to affect future performances.
Please do get in touch and let us know how you are doing. And please do consider what options you may be able to offer the wonderful artists on the ABM roster in the coming months and year.
The team at Alan Bearman Music want to add our voices to the #letthemusicplay campaign, launched today to lobby the government to acknowledge the dire situation that live music is facing in the current crisis, and to immediately put support structures in place to financially underpin our industry.
Music matters to the economy, as well as being the cultural heartbeat of the UK. In 2019, the live music scene injected 4.5 billion to the economy and supported 210, 000 jobs.
Our gigs and festivals have been shut down since March and there is no indication of when it will be safe to re-open, other than a vague roadmap and an undefined timeline. As well as the devastating impact on musicians’ livelihoods, up to 50% of the live music industry’s workforce is facing unemployment. Music festivals, which support 85,000 jobs, are facing collapse in response to a summer of cancellations. 90% of grassroots venues are under threat of closure, need a £50 million cash injection to ensure they do not go out of business.
Please spread the word: #letthemusicplay
Some news to brighten our days! Our very own force majeure, the mighty Australian Spooky Men’s Chorale return in the summer season 2021. Please get in touch to register interest in a booking and we will narrow the parameters of the tour period ASAP.
The magnificent, craggy ensemblage of heavenly singing male bodies return to the UK ever more comfortable with their whimsical humour and musical breadth – a winning spectrum of Georgian songs, pindrop-beautiful ballads, highly inappropriate covers, and immaculate man anthems.
Their last UK tour saw a large number of sell-out concerts at major venues and a whole raft of ecstatic festival audience reactions. You must see them. Really, you must.
Taking interest for late June – early Sept 2021
We understand concerns relating to the current Coronavirus pandemic in relation to forthcoming gigs. Please feel free to contact the agency to discuss any which directly affect you. We are busy rescheduling as many disrupted events as we can. If you are concerned about a gig you have booked via ABM please contact the specific agent you agreed the gig with direct.
The ABM office will be closed from Monday 23rd March until further notice. We will all be working from our homes on email though so do please get in touch.
Best wishes in these difficult times,
Wild Singing Festival at Kings Place, London starts today! Kicking things off in style tonight is the mighty Eliza Carthy.
Eliza Carthy is one of the most influential figures in the UK folk scene. With her exuberant stage presence, she re-interprets the folk tradition for a new generation. Ahead of a live performance, Eliza will be in conversation with Folk on Foot podcast host Matthew Bannister discussing family, heritage and the link between her music, the landscape and the vast expanse of beautiful ocean around her home in Robin Hood’s Bay.
Wild Singing is a weekend festival of folk music inspired by the natural world for Kings Place’s year-long Nature Unwrapped series.
Co-curated by Matthew Bannister’s award-winning Folk on Foot podcast, the weekend sees influential figures from the UK folk scene, Eliza Carthy, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan and Martin Simpson in evening concerts, preceded by ‘in conversation’ events with Matthew alongside film and footage from the podcasts, bringing together the podcaster’s three passions – folk music, walking and telling stories in sound.
Find out more here: https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/wild-singing-nature-inspired-folk/
Common Ground: Songs of a Changing Landscape
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith with Edgelarks and Hazel Askew
Can the traditional music of Britain help us to make sense of the current environmental crisis? In this brand-new collaboration, five of British folk’s leading voices reflect on this question and present an atmospheric and inspiring show that explores the environmental undercurrents of traditional folksong.
Through songs of nature and of seasonal transitions, tales of protest, and ballads set within the rise and fall of Britain’s lost industries, this show reaches back into this country’s shared musical history. It unearths the voices of those who have experienced previous changes in our natural landscape and draws out the parallels with today’s environmental struggles.
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith are a widely acclaimed duo described by the Guardian as ‘both fine singers and instrumentalists’. Their combination of outstanding vocal work, sensitive instrumentation, and a powerful social conscience has brought widespread critical praise including a recent nomination for a 2019 BBC Folk Award.
Edgelarks are dobro and harmonica virtuoso Phillip Henry, and singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hannah Martin. They combine a British folk sensibility with influences as diverse as the blues and Indian classical slide guitar, to create a sound that is ‘subtle, atmospheric and bravely original’ (Guardian). The BBC Folk Award winners have toured from Japan to South Africa, Canada to Australia, taking their soaring, stomping beatbox harmonica and fiddle ‘world music from the westcountry’ to a global audience.
Hazel Askew is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and composer from London who creates powerful music inspired by the folk traditions of Britain and beyond. She has been performing on the UK folk scene for over 15 years, finding striking contemporary relevance in traditional music and more recently making her mark as a skilled writer of songs. She is best known for her work with Lady Maisery, The Askew Sisters, feminist collective Coven and has been three times nominated for a BBC Folk Awards, winning Best Album as part of super group Songs of Separation in 2017.
Touring 28 Jan – 14 Feb 2021 – get in touch today!
Honing his synthesis of folk and blues for over 50 years, Chris Smither, truly an American original, returns to the UK to perform music from his vast song catalogue in 2021.
A profound songwriter and captivating performer, Smither mesmerizes listeners with his guitar playing – melding the styles of his two major influences, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt into his own signature guitar sound. His music draws deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and humanist philosophers and continues to earn accolades. Critics universally agree on Smither’s important contribution to contemporary music from five-star reviews in Mojo magazine to a Top 10 spot on Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Fricke’s best of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival performances in 2014.
Chris’ songs have appeared in films and TV shows and been covered by Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall, Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall, among others. Chris continues to tour festivals, music clubs and concerts halls all over the world.
“With a weary, well-travelled voice and a serenely intricate finger-picking style, Mr. Smither turns the blues into songs that accept hard-won lessons and try to make peace with fate.” New York Times
For this 2021 tour, Chris will be supported by his friend, the excellent songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Zak Trojano (The Suitcase Junket).
Touring UK 14 Jan – 4 Feb 2021
Wild Singing is a weekend festival of folk music inspired by the natural world for Kings Place’s year-long Nature Unwrapped series – Friday 13th – Sunday 15th March 2020.
Co-curated by Matthew Bannister’s award-winning Folk on Foot podcast, the weekend sees influential figures from the UK folk scene, Eliza Carthy, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan and Martin Simpson in evening concerts, preceded by ‘in conversation’ events with Matthew which will feature film and recordings made when he walked with the artists in the landscapes that inspired their music.
Daytime events including performances from environmentally-inspired artists The Rheingans Sisters and Kitty Macfarlane and projects The Songhive Project and The Wilderness Yet.
Evening Shows: In conversation & live performance
Eliza Carthy // Fri 13 Mar 2020 – 7.30pm, Hall One
One of the most influential figures in the UK folk scene, Eliza Carthy re-interprets the folk tradition for a new generation. Ahead of a live performance, Eliza will talk to Matthew Bannister about family, heritage and the link between her music and the vast expanse of beautiful ocean around her home in Robin Hood’s Bay. Their conversation will be interspersed with rare original footage from the podcast recording, of Eliza and her family singing around the kitchen table in Yorkshire.
Martin Simpson // Sat 14 Mar 2020 – 7.30pm, Hall One
Regularly voted one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Martin Simpson has been nominated for an astonishing 23 Radio 2 Folk Awards – and won artist of the year twice. In the first half, Martin will talk to Matthew Bannister and share film footage of the emotional visit they made to his childhood haunts in Scunthorpe where Martin’s passion for the natural world was fostered by his father on rambles through local woods. They scavenged for animal carcasses and Martin learned to stop, look and listen to what was around him. In part two, Martin Simpson plays old favourites and songs from his latest album Rooted.
Nancy Kerr and James Fagan // Sun 15 Mar 2020 – 7.30pm, Hall One
For twelve years, the award-winning singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Nancy Kerr lived on a narrow boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire. In the first part of this evening, she’ll be in conversation with Folk on Foot podcast host Matthew Bannister about the effect that exposure to the travelling life had on the music she makes and her attitude to the natural world. You’ll see film footage, shot during the podcast recording, of Nancy playing and singing on the towpath. In the second part, Nancy and James Fagan will perform one of their “trademark high-energy live shows” (Folk Radio UK).
Daytime Concerts & Special Events
Matthew Bannister presents Folk on Foot on Film // Sat 14 Mar 2020 – 2.30pm // St Pancras Room
In this talk, broadcaster Matthew Bannister takes you behind the scenes of his award-winning podcast, Folk on Foot. He shares the many hours of film footage he’s shot while walking with top folk musicians in the landscapes that have inspired them; featuring Karine Polwart, Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon, The Young’uns, Steve Knightley of Show of Hands, Eliza Carthy (and Family), The Unthanks, Martin Simpson, Julie Fowlis, Jon Boden, Nancy Kerr, Duncan Chisholm and more – often performing against spectacular backdrops.
The Rheingans Sisters // Sat 14 Mar 2020 – 4.30pm, Hall Two
Award-winning musicians, composers and folk scholars The Rheingans Sisters perform music from their critically acclaimed third album Bright Field, in which the natural world is the cathartic setting of many songs exploring our shared humanity.
The Shackleton Trio // Sat 14 Mar 2020 // Foyer event 6.30pm
This trio’s self-penned material blends seamlessly with imaginative re-workings of traditional folk standards, influenced by British, American and Scandinavian folk traditions, with a regional twist from the group’s native East Anglia.
Songhive – Beelore & Folksong in the British Isles with Rowan Piggott, Rosie Hodgson, Philippe Barnes & Tom Evans // Sun 15 Mar 2020 – 2.30pm, St Pancras Room
Songhive is a project founded by singer and musician Rowan Piggott, comprising songs of ‘beelore’ and folksong of the British Isles, to raise awareness of the current plight of the bees.
Kitty Macfarlane // Sun 15 Mar 2020 – 4.30pm, Hall Two
Kitty Macfarlane is a songwriter and guitarist from Somerset, whose music is rich with visual imagery and written with an eco-eye.
The Wilderness Yet // Sun 15 Mar 2020 // Free Foyer event 6.30pm
The Wilderness Yet weave a tapestry of traditional & self-penned songs with a charm and familiarity that is usually only found in seasoned line-ups.
Last few tickets available here: https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/wild-singing-nature-inspired-folk/