The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney Announce Trad Project Offa Rex and New Album

The Decemberists
Image Courtesy of The Decemberists

Portland-based indie-folk darlings The Decemberists and English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney have announced their new collaborative project Offa Rex and their upcoming album The Queen of Hearts.

The project will see The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney reimagine a number of traditional British songs in their own unique style.

“There’s this weird relationship between British and American music, this interesting trade and theft that goes back and forth,” Colin Meloy from The Decemberists explained. “My hope was that if we — the neophytes, the dilettantes, the pretenders — brought Olivia to Portland to work with Tucker, perhaps these traditional British songs would be infused with something different.”

The Queen of Hearts is due for release on the 7th July. The full track listing and the video for the sixties-English-folk-revival-esque title track “The Queen of Hearts” is below:

1. The Queen of Hearts
2. Blackleg Miner
3. The Gardener
4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
5. Flash Company
6. Old Churchyard
7. Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne)
8. Willie o’ Winsbury
9. Bonny May
10. Sheepcrook and Black Dog
11. To Make You Stay

Trioc Announces Melbourne Album Launch

Trioc
Image Courtesy of Trioc

If you were at the National Folk Festival this year then you’d know that Melbourne based trad trio Trioc were one of the stand out highlights.

Made up of Allan Evans (harp, whistles), Cameron Hibbs (fiddle) and Matt Horsley (uilleann pipes), Trioc first formed at The National a few years ago and spent this year’s festival launching their new album A Fair Wind.

And now Trioc are bringing A Fair Wind to their home town of Melbourne with plans for a launch at iconic Irish venue The Last Jar on Sunday 4th June. If you want to hear some sweet Irish tunes make sure you get down – the full details are on the Facebook event here.

Watch the New Ed Sheeran Video “Galway Girl”

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Ed Sheeran

Yes you’re reading that correctly – we’re posting about the new Ed Sheeran video for his trad-pop track “Galway Girl”. After we posted about why this song is good for folk music we couldn’t really ignore the video. Plus it has a pretty cool cameo from Beoga.

So enjoy some pop music with just a little trad thrown in:

National Folk Festival Interview: Aoife Scott

Aoife Scott
Image Courtesy of Aoife Scott

Irish folk singer Aoife Scott and her band have spent the last month touring Australia and wowing audiences everywhere they go. They finish up their tour this weekend with a performance at The National Folk Festival so we sat down with Aoife Scott to get the low down on her first visit to our shores.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You’ve been in Australia over the last month or so, at peak folk festival time. How have you enjoyed your first tour here?

Aoife Scott: It’s been incredible. We landed the first week in March, and have been on the road since. Our first stop was Adelaide and we made it all along the coast as far north up to Mooloolaba in QLD. We’re just returning from a week in Byron Bay. What a place! The whole trip was incredible – we don’t want to go home! We’ve made some incredible friends, and were treated like family everywhere we went.

GHE: What can audiences expect from your sets are The National Folk Festival?

AS: Well I guess I’m a folk/traditional singer and songwriter but we also play traditional tunes – I ask people to dance if they want to, and get a dance competition going! The best dancer wins the grand prize of our CD! You’d be surprised how competitive the Australians have been getting [laughs] – they are incredible dancers! But I tell a lot of stories with the songs, I explain why they were written or why I sing them which gives a bit of a background to the songs, I feel like the audience understand where I’m coming from and can connect more with the songs.

GHE: How do you find festivals compared with gigs you’re headlining yourself? Are the audiences different? Is there a different atmosphere?

AS: Festivals are brilliant! People are less inhibited and are there to listen, but also to enjoy themselves. They are not afraid to get up and dance and hopefully at The National Folk Festival it will be the same! You get a chance to perform for people who may not ever hear about you, or see you, so the opportunity to meet all the lovely audience members is incredible. The atmosphere is definitely more sparkly – like a fizz in the air. It’s my favourite place to play.

GHE: It’s been a year since you released your debut album Carry the Day. How are you feeling one year on? Are you still in love with the album or are you ready to get back into the studio?

AS: I am just about still in love with my songs – if I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t sing them! It’s like a relationship, if you don’t have the love you have to leave it behind! I have a lot of love for my songs (I’m not sure how my lovely band members feel about them though after touring for a year with them!) – Although I am itching to get back. I find writing on tour difficult, it needs some time and space, but being on tour just doesn’t give me the chance to write. So I’m looking forward to getting home and getting new songs.

GHE: I’m always fascinated to know, when talking to artists who play and sing traditional music, is how you choose what songs and tunes to bring to the stage or record and what to leave at the sessions? What is it about a song or tune that inspires you to polish it up and perform it in a concert setting?

AS: Gosh, that’s a hard one! I can only give you what way I do when I pick traditional songs. I guess they have to speak to me somehow. When I hear a song, and I know and read it’s background and history and meaning, and if it sings to my heart then I need to sing it. So the rule is: If i hear a song, and I’m still singing it 4 days later then I need to sing it. Thats a general rule I have! If my heart is still in it and if I’m thinking of it days later then that’s the connection made. I also like the songs to have background stories, as I’m such a storyteller. Ones that connect with my life in some way. Thats really important. One of the songs I do is a song that my gran taught me so I like to tell that story to the audience, hoping they don’t get bored!

GHE: What’s next on your plate after you wrap up in Australia?

Ah, we don’t want to go home! Well after The National Folk Festival we head to to New Zealand for two weeks so that will be amazing! We’re threatening to do a band skydive, band bungee, or get a band tattoo (I think the tattoo is not going to happen!). After then we have shows in Dublin, Sligo and all around Ireland for the next few months. I’m hoping to get into the studio and see if I can make an EP (Although if it takes as long as the last album, it won’t be released until 2019). And then in the summer, we go to the USA for two months! So a busy time coming next, we’re really looking forward to it, but we can’t wait to come back to Oz!

The Aoife Scott Band are performing at The National Folk Festival this weekend. Check out their dates below:

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 8:00pm – Marquee
– Saturday 5:40pm – Buddawang
– Sunday 11:00pm – Buddawang

Ed Sheeran and Beoga: Pop’s Latest Flirtation with Trad Music

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Ed Sheeran

A couple of weeks ago Ed Sheeran cemented his status as the biggest male popstar on the planet with the release of his smash hit new album ÷ (pronounced Divide).

If you follow the trad music or Irish music press you’ll know that for at least two of the tracks on ÷ Sheeran collaborated with Northern Irish trad group Beoga.

The first of these tracks, “Galway Girl” (not the Steve Earle track of the same name), was actually inspired by Beoga’s fiddle player Niamh Dunne and features their tune “Minute 5” over the chorus. The lyrics of “Galway Girl” are peppered with trad references (this may be the first number one track to reference Irish song “Carrickfergus”) and Dunne gushed about Sheeran’s love of “Planxty, The Chiefains and … Irish music” in recent interviews.

The second track on ÷ with a piece of Beoga trad is “Nancy Mulligan”, inspired by the story of Sheeran’s Irish grandparents. The track has more trad feel than “Galway Girl” and even features a bit of an Irish-pub-like-singalong during the lead break.

“Galway Girl” was released as a single on St Patrick’s Day and hit the top 10 in a bunch of countries. In an interview with The Guardian Sheeran said that he had to fight to keep the “folk” songs on the album.

“They were really, really against “Galway Girl”, because apparently folk music isn’t cool,” Ed Sheeran explained. “But there’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish. You meet them in America all the time: “I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.” And those type of people are going to fucking love it. My argument was always: well, the Corrs sold 20 million records. The label would say, “Oh the Corrs, that was years ago,” but who’s tried it since the Corrs? There’s a huge gap in the market, and I promise you that in two years’ time there will be a big folk band that comes up that’s pop, and that will happen as a result of labels being like: “Oh shit, if he can put a fiddle and uilleann pipe on it, then we can try it as well”.”

As Sheeran points out trad music in pop music isn’t new. The Corrs practically owned the folk-pop genre in the late 90s and early 2000s. B*Witched 1998 hit “C’est la Vie” was has an Irish whistle solo played over DJ scratching. Even the oft-criticised-for-not-being-real-folk-music Mumford and Sons kick off their track “Roll Away Your Stone” with the Irish trad fiddle tune “Merrily Kissed the Quaker”.

Trad purists will no doubt look down there nose at Ed Sheeran’s folky offerings on ÷, the same way they have with other pop crossover songs over the years. Some of that will be justified – in reality “Galway Girl” is not a great song despite Beoga’s influence – but much of this will be a knee jerk reaction to a perceived popularisation of the tradition.

In truth having an artist of Ed Sheeran’s stature declare his love for Irish trad music can only have upside for the genre.

Think of Sheeran as a trad gateway drug. For many of his fans “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” will be their first exposure to this kind of music and even if only a small percentage follow the influences of the songs back to Planxty, The Dubliners, The Chieftains and beyond, that’s still a bunch of music fans that may never have discovered this music otherwise.

While trad may have a reputation in the wider community as twee or old fashioned those “in the know” know it’s a vibrant genre with a bunch of really exciting young artists coming up through the ranks. If you’ve ever caught a set from Trouble In The Kitchen, Tolka, Sásta or any of the other amazing local trad bands around the country you’ll know how much their music can capture your attention, can fill you up and most importantly can make you want to dance.

The best case scenario is the local and international trad scene will see a spike in activity and interest thanks to Sheeran’s flirtation with the genre and that can only be positive. Every fan who clicks a “like” button on social media, watches a Youtube video, comes to a gig or session featuring traditional music because they’re new favourite song is “Galway Girl” is a new part of our community.

So when you hear “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” blaring on a pop radio station or out of your kid’s Spotify account take a moment to recognise that this could be the first step on the trad music journey for a new fan. That’s got to make you happy.

The Séamus Begley Trio Announces Australian Tour

Seamus Begley
Image Courtesy of The Séamus Begley Trio

Celebrated Irish trad group The Séamus Begley Trio, featuring Seamus Begley (Accordion & Vocals), Dezi Donnelly (Fiddle) and Matt Griffin (Guitar), will be heading to Australia this March for a bunch of dates around the country.

The Séamus Begley Trio will be making appearances at the Port Fairy Folk Festival and the Blue Mountains Music Festival as well as shows in cities and regional centres across Australia. Check out the full list of dates below:

Wednesday 1st March – Jack Duggan’s Irish Pub, Bathurst, NSW
Thursday 2nd March – Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 3rd March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 4th March – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 9th March – The Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 10th to Monday 13th March – Port Fairy Festival, Port Fairy, VIC
Wednesday 15th March – The Spotted Mallard, Brunswick, VIC
Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th March – The Blue Mountains Music Festival, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 25th March – The Fly By Night Club, Fremantle, WA

Quebec Folk-Trad Group Les Poules à Colin Announce Australian Tour

Les Poules a Colin
Image Courtesy of Les Poules à Colin

You may have seen Quebec folk-trad group Les Poules à Colin popping up on a few festival lineups recently, and now it looks like we’re getting a national tour.

As well as spots on the lineups appearances at Cobargo Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Yackandandah Folk Festival, National Folk Festival and Fairbridge Folk Festival, Les Poules à Colin have a bunch of headline dates that will take them around the country.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February – Cobargo Folk Festival, Cobargo, NSW
Thursday 2nd March – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 3rd March – Masonic Hall, Lindisfarne TAS
Saturday 4th March – Broadmarsh Hall, Broadmarsh, TAS
Sunday 5th March – Longford Town Hall, Longford, TAS
Friday 10th to Monday 13th March – Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy, VIC
Friday 17th to Sunday 19th March – Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Friday 31st March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – Upper Landsdowne Memorial Hall, Upper Landsdowne, NSW
Thursday 6th April – House Concert, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 8th April – New Farm Bowls Club, New Farm, QLD
Sunday 9th April – Nanango Shed, Nanago QLD
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 20th April – South Coast Folk Club, Adelaide, SA
Friday 21st to Monday 24th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

The East Pointers Announce Massive Australian Tour

The East Pointers
Image Courtesy of The East Pointers

Canadian trad trio The East Pointers were by far one of my favourite bands to visit Australia in 2015 and 2016 so I got understandably excited when they were announced for this year’s WOMADelaide festival.

But I didn’t get my hopes up for a tour off the back of the festival – in a lot of cases WOMADelaide likes to keep its international artists pretty exclusive. So when The East Pointers dropped a truck load of Australian tour dates I was blown away.

As well as WOMADelaide The East Pointers will be making their way to Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland throughout March and April. Check out the full list of dates plus their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” below:

Wednesday 1st March – Franklin Palais, Franklin, TAS
Thursday 2nd March – Founders Room, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, TAS
Friday 3rd March – Chudleigh Hall, Chudleigh, TAS
Saturday 4th March – Mountain Mummam, Sheffield, TAS
Sunday 5th March – Dunalley Hall & Reserves, Dunalley, TAS
Wednesday 8th March – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 9th March – Geelong Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Friday 10th to Monday 13th March – WOMADelaide, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 22nd March – Thirroul Railway Heritage Centre, Thirroul, NSW
Thursday 23rd March – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 24th March – Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Wauchope Community Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 26th March – Cedar Bar, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 30th March – Bellevue Hotel: Townsville Folk and Acoustic Music Club, Townsville, QLD
Friday 31st March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 1st April – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Thursday 6th April – Club Mullum (Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club), Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 7th April – Eatonsville Hall, Eatonsville, NSW
Saturday 8th April – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 9th April – BLEACH* Festival, Mudgeeraba Hall, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 27th April – Armitage Centre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – The Planting Festival, Woodford, QLD


Sharon Shannon Announces Australian Tour

Sharon Shannon
Image Courtesy of Sharon Shannon

Irish music legend Sharon Shannon has announced plans to return to Australia this January with a bunch of dates on the east coast. Shannon will be joined by Jim Murray, Sean Regan and Jack Maher – check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 6th January – Mick O’Malley’s Irish Pub, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 7th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th January – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Jon Boden Releases First Solo Track “All Hang Down”

Jon Boden
Image Courtesy of Jon Boden

Folk singer Jon Boden, known as the frontman of Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden as well as the amazing A Folk Song A Day project, has finally ventured out on his first official solo project.

Boden has is about to embark on a massive solo tour of his native UK and has just released a video for the track “All Hang Down”. We have a feeling this is the beginning of a much bigger project so stay tuned for more news soon – in the meantime watch “All Hang Down” below:

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