‘Alaw’ is Welsh for melody, and it is a love of melody that is at the heart of this group. Drawing on a great wealth of musical experiences Alaw take their audiences on a musical journey - a tune brought back from a tour in Bulgaria or collaboration in India - but at the heart of their set is a passion for the old tunes of Wales. Alaw started life as a duo between Dylan Fowler and Oli Wilson-Dickson, but here they are joined by regular collaborator and accordion wiz Jamie Smith. From the elegant to the virtuoso, Alaw play with an empathy that comes from many years of working together. Dylan and Oliver have performed in Szapora and The Ian McMillan Orchestra, ‘a bunch of top-drawer world musicians’ John Medd, Nott Eve Post. Oliver and Jamie are well known throughout the folk world as the frontline of Jamie Smith’s Mabon; “A top band led by one hell of an accordion player” Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2. http://www.alaw-band.com
Rule of Three (Scotland)
Formed in October 2004, award-winning Rule of Three is an exciting band celebrating the best of the Scottish tradition combined with their own contemporary sounds. Singer and fiddler Lori Watson is joined by Ali Hutton on guitar and John Somerville on accordion in what has been called a “sizzling triptych.” Their collaboration of Lowland and Highland styles along with varied European and popular influences result in a sound brimming with personality, while the traditional melodies and themes remain central to their music. This is a band that gets your feet stomping one minute, plays with heart-rending emotion the next and leaves the audience uplifted. Music of the highest order. http://www.loriwatson.co.uk/music.htm
James Delarre &
Saul Rose (England)
James and Saul first met at Sidmouth in 2007 when they were brought together as part of a band to play music for the dance troupe Morris Offspring. They continued to play for Morris Offspring for the next couple of years, met up regularly to play the night away in the infamous Cockle Shed and shared the stage in 2009/10 with Jim Moray when Saul replaced Nick Cooke in his band. Every time they meet the music flows and the pair finally came out as a duo in 2012. As well as virtuoso playing on fiddle and melodeon, expect stonking tunes, delicious harmonies and great songs. James also plays with Mawkin and Jim Moray, while Saul plays with Faustus, Whapweasel, Random and Ruth Notman.
(Eire & Canada) (Sunday night)
Fàsta are Sophie Lavoie from Québec on fiddle, Fiachra O’Regan from Connemara on uilleann pipes and Patrick Doocey on guitar. Sophie and Fiachra were a great success when they appeared at our 2010 festival. Fásta summons up the finest tunes and songs from its Celtic traditions. Remaining true to the styles and repertoires of Québec and Ireland, Fásta bridges the two cultures to create its original sound on uilleann pipes, fiddle, guitar and voice.
Jon Swayne & Becky Price (England) (Saturday)
Jon has been a hugely influential figure in ‘English’ traditional music and the way it has changed over the last 30 years in several fields. As a founder member of Blowzabella, as reviver and groundbreaking composer for English bagpipes (Moebius and Zephyrus) and as sought-after luthier. Jon has long thought of the possibility of a bagpipe/accordion duo as an opportunity to explore a rich harmonic soundworld not usually associated with pipes. This idea bore fruit in the release in 2005 of Jon and Becky's album 'Love and a Bottle'. It was the incomparable Dave Roberts, melodeon player for the Earls of Essex and Blowzabella, who was a formative influence on Becky's early musical life. She went on to study music at Cambridge, but never lost touch with her folk roots, playing for the Cambridge Morris men and local ceilidhs, then Finality Jack and the formation of Boldwood. She has developed a distinctive rhythmic style, sharpened by years of playing for dancing.
Their repertoire is founded on familiar European couple dances such as waltz, scottish, mazurka, polka and bourree, together with a leavening of dances from England and Brittany, animated by original and enchanting tunes of their own and their friends.
(Wales & Isle of Man) (Sunday)
Named after the famous Manx summit where legend says the ancient Celtic God Manannan MacLir stalked his mighty fortress, Barrule fuses three distinct musical forces – gifted 19 year-old fiddle-player Tomas Callister, accordion wizard Jamie Smith (of Mabon) and Adam Rhodes (Mabon and Manx band King Chiaullee)on bouzouki. Together this versatile acoustic unit creates a powerful and wholly distinctive sound. With bold but sensitive arrangements, the trio presents a fresh take on traditional and contemporary Manx music. While sharing common ground with its Celtic cousins, as well as the English tradition, Manx music has retained its own particular and inherent Manxness: an atmosphere evoked by the music that speaks of the natural beauty of the island and the lives of its inhabitants. Rousing marches, jigs and reels, sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in the Manx Gaelic language. http://www.barruletrio.com
Cupola-Ward (England) (Saturday)
The fine talents of Lucy Ward (2012 Horizon Award Winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards) and Cupola combine to form this vibrant new collaboration of music and song. Previously featured at Gower, Cupola are Oli Matthews, Doug Eunson and Sarah Matthews, who have made a reputation for themselves with their fine arrangements of English and French tunes on melodeons, hurdy gurdy, saxophones, clarinet, fiddle and viola. They are the perfect backdrop for Lucy’s songs and strong delivery.
Jon Loomes (England)(Saturday)
Jon Loomes sings and plays a dozen or so instruments. He breathes fire, writes sonnets, paints in the style of Botticelli and makes violins. He doesn't like to blow his own trumpet (actually, it's a cornet) but he's aware that everyone says he is too self-deprecating, a failing that he is struggling hard to put right. This handsome, charming, witty and modest man (who wrote this?) played Gower last year in Hérétique and returns to show us a different side of his talents. And for any who have ever pondered on the omnipresence of musical cats online, his treatise on the subject is a must read: http://www.jonloomes.com/composition.html
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Jack Harris (Wales) (Sunday)
In 2005, aged 19, Jack Harris was the first British winner of the prestigious New Folk Competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Texas, joining an elite band of previous winners that includes Nancy Griffith. He has also featured as a showcase artist at the South by South-West Festival, Austin, Texas, and at the Green Man Festival in the UK. Originally from Builth Wells, he has travelled the world bringing literate story-telling and lyrical delivery to many appreciative audiences. Steeped in myth and mystery his songs bring the narrative tradition of folk and blues music into the here and now. www.jackharrismusic.com
Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys (England) (Saturday)
Guitarist/songwriter Jack and violinist Charlie have a well-known idiosyncratic approach to folk music and song writing that has earned them an enviable reputation as two of the most exciting, heartfelt and challenging musicians around. Writing songs that seem to grow out of the ground and tunes that tell stories in their own right, Jack and Charlie’s original music strings together the past, present and what might yet be of folk music. Their first two albums on Fellside Recordings, Light Up all the Beacons and The Northern Road followed them as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2008, and were met with critical acclaim. Their live shows are packed with stories, good humour and most importantly, music to remember. http://jackandcharliemusic.co.uk/ Photo: Grace McNeill Photography
Polly Barrett (Eire) (Sunday)
Polly Barrett began her music career as a busker on the streets of Cork City. Her mellow, folksy songs and clear, easy voice reflect her love of nature and matters of the heart. Polly’s debut album entitled 'Mr. Bookshop' was released in October’11 and is set to cast her as the new jewel of acoustic folk-pop. http://www.reverbnation.com/pollybarrett