This year’s Beverley Festival has some of the cream of English artists from Billy Bragg to Chas & Dave, with some excellent traditional and contemporary music in between.
Bragg has often used his caustic protest lyrics to deal with the misappropriation of English symbolism, most notably on his 2002 album England, Half-English, and his views have made him a sought-after commentator on current affairs.
‘That’s What Happens’ – their first album together for 27 years – has seen Chas & Dave acknowledging their musical roots in early R&B, skiffle and rock’n’roll, alongside new takes on songs of their own.
From the royal family of traditional English folk music come Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy. Martin and his twice Mercury nominated daughter Eliza, will be joining forces at the festival to perform songs from their first ever duo album, a new CD of traditional material entitled The Elephant, to be released in May.
Martin is a legendary ballad singer and guitarist who has influenced a generations of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, while Eliza has been twice-nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and a multiple-award winner at the BBC Radio Two Folk awards.
`Arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer, collector and editor of them all’ Q Magazine
‘Eliza Carthy is one of the figureheads of the English folk revival … compelling’ – Evening Standard
Together they represent the best of traditional English music at the festival, along with two of its newest rising stars Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.
Formed in 2011 when multi-instrumentalist Ciaran joined forces with Chester-born Greg to form a duo with an “amazing level of energy, they have since been winners of the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards “Young Musician” Award and this year the prestigious BBC Radio 2 “Horizon “ Award, for the best of the newcomers on the scene.
With a longer history, and formed from musicians spanning several genres of musical styles, comes Home Service. This legendary folk rock band was formed in late 1980 out of members of Ashley Hutchings’ Albion Band. Probably best known for the singing and songs of its man at the fore – John Tams, who has since performed in the TV series Sharpe and wrote the songs for the stage version of War Horse at the National Theatre.
Their album Alright Jack, is often considered to be one of the finest products of the electric folk genre after which they decided to take a break for a number of years before reuniting following the discovery of some previously unheard live recordings which exhibit the power and commitment of this great band. In 2012 they won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Live Act.
John Tams will also be performing with Barry Coope and Michael Morpurgo on the Saturday of the festival, when Michael reads from his award winning book, War Horse.
Beverley Folk Festival offers a true feast of English music at its best, neatly positioned among some great music from our Celtic neighbours in Scotland, Ireland and further afield in Québec.