25th – 27th April 2008

Town Hall & Symphony Hall, BIRMINGHAM

Event information and book tickets

The English Originals Folk Festival presents a perfect weekend celebration of English music traditions over the weekend of 25-27 April at Town Hall and Symphony Hall Birmingham, paying tribute to a musical heritage passed down through centuries and generations.

With its sense of identity in representing the sounds of city and country, folk culture continues to have a universal influence on music and art in the 21st century and is currently enjoying a huge renaissance.

From ‘one man Clash’ Billy Bragg to the distinguished voices of experience in Daughters of Albion, the English Originals Folk Festival programme is packed with seasoned folk singer-songwriters and bright new talent in three unique concerts, free performances and events.


Billy Bragg, Norma Waterson, June Tabor, Martin Carthy, Seth Lakeman, Kathryn Williams, Tim Van Eyken, Chris Woods, Tunng, Sharron Krauss, Bishi, Lou Rhodes, Lisa Knapp, Little Sister and The Old Dance School

Festival programme:

25 April Symphony Hall
Local band The Old Dance School light the festival fuse in a lively fashion with a free performance in the Level 3 Bar as part of Rush Hour Blues from 5.30pm. With an inimitable mix of folk, jazz and world music influences, this young Birmingham group’s energy-infused arrangements of traditional and original folk material sets the scene for a rousing weekend ahead.

25 April Town Hall
The recently restored Birmingham landmark venue welcomes national treasure and renowned singer songwriter Billy Bragg reading from his engaging book The Progressive Patriot at 6.30pm which examines idea of nationalism before launching into a full evening of musical exploration from 7.30pm. Supported by acclaimed ‘renaissance man of folk’ and intimate story teller Chris Woods plus North London family rockabilly from Kitty Daisy & Lewis, the ‘Bard of Barking’ looks at his own English roots, and performs songs from his fantastic new album Mr. Love and Justice.

26 April Town Hall
Rising Folk (7.30pm) sees the new generation of English talent with a Mercury Music Prize nominee, a shape-shifting folk electronica collective and a heart-stirring dark folk lyricist all building on the work of a musical history that began hundreds of years ago.

Hailing from the glorious wilds of Dartmoor, violinist and singer Seth Lakeman is undoubtedly one of the rising stars of folk with album sales in excess of 100,000 and an impressive list of collaborations to his name. Label-mates with KT Tunstall and Joss Stone; the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year releases his fourth album Poor Man’s Heaven later this month, and paints truly evocative pictures of love and loss through thrilling and haunting melodies.

Fresh from releasing her third stunning solo album The Fox’s Wedding, Oxford based singer and musician Sharron Krauss draws inspiration from English and Appalachian folk traditions, and performs with an utterly mesmerizing flourish. Described as ‘spine tingling’ and ‘wantonly beguiling’, the storyteller and balladeer takes audiences on stark and vivid journeys through dark folk stories, weaving her craft into a rich tapestry of poetry and performance.

Experimental East London collective Tunng make up the triple bill, twisting familiar folk soundscapes with a stunning production, striking live vocals and eclectic music inspired by anything from British pop to Icelandic folk rock. Founded in a Soho basement, the sextet perform live with an all-embracing and dub-like musical approach, with burning melodies, hooks and samples layered over live instruments producing a delicious aural collision of sounds, past and present.

27 April Symphony Hall
Fans of folk have a chance to watch the acclaimed BBC Four documentary Folk Britannia starting at 2.15pm, a film which charts the history of folk from World War II to the present folk revival. The three part series examines the evolution and subsequent influence of folk music in England on all manner of movements, from revolutionary leftwing artists to the hippy prog-rockers of the 1960?s. Now firmly back in mainstream culture, the history of an indigenous music is told by the artists who helped shaped it. A must-see for newcomers and enthusiasts alike.

27 April Symphony Hall
Playing arrangements of world folk songs ranging from Irish to Latino to American Country alongside original compositions about frogs in love, falling over in the street, magpies and other such wonders, Little Sister are Birmingham?s answer to the Be Good Tanyas. Blending influences from the Midlands, Wales, Oxfordshire and Yorkshire into stomping sets, the four singers and musicians play live in a free show in the Level 3 Bar at 6pm, hot on the heels of their new EP Little Sister and with a debut album in the offing.

27 April Town Hall
Intertwined in a meeting of folk royalty and ultramodern brilliance are a myriad of styles and sounds from the enchanting Daughters of Albion in an evening of ethereal and exquisite vocals from June Tabor, Norma Waterson, Kathryn Williams, Bishi, Lou Rhodes and Lisa Knapp from 7.45pm.

Following on from sell out shows at Cork Festival and The Barbican, the group sing songs of experience, accompanied by a very special house band including legendary guitarist Martin Carthy, widely recognised as one of the most influential figures in British traditional music, and former Waterson: Carthy melodeon player and singer Tim Van Eyken.

Lost 19th century gypsy songs sit side by side with slinky trip-hop tracks, all shot through with a deliciously dark seam of melancholy in imaginative and thrilling arrangements from outstanding producer and composer Kate St John for a concert extraordinaire.

Experience a spectacular festival finale from the post-Lamb wilting melodies of Lou Rhodes and the stark urgent stories of the soulful June Tabor to the fresh sounds of BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award nominee Lisa Knapp. The tender tones of Kathryn Williams, currently touring with Neill MacColl, share a stage with ‘doyenne of British folk’ Norma Waterson and the golden sitar work of DJ and singer Bishi all in a moving night of duets and collaborations.


Note to Editors

25 April 2008
The Old Dance School, Level 3 Bar Symphony Hall at 5.30pm FREE
Billy Bragg pre-concert book reading, Town Hall Birmingham at 6.30pm Admission free to concert ticket holders
Billy Bragg and Special Guests Chris Wood and Kitty, Daisy & Lewis £15 £18.50 £22.50

26 April 2008
Seth Lakeman, Tunng, Sharron Krauss, Town Hall Birmingham at 7.30pm £19

27 April 2008
Folk Britannia, Town Hall Birmingham 2.00pm Admission free to any English Originals concert ticket holders
Little Sister, Level 3 Bar Symphony Hall at 6.00pm FREE
Daughters of Albion, Town Hall at 7.45pm £15 £18.50 £22.50

(£1 postage & administration charge per concert for online bookings)