River Town 2019: Gwenifer Raymond

Not many people play the guitar quite like Gwenifer Raymond. From the opening note to the final strum of her “mesmerising debut album” (The Guardian) Gwenifer Raymond will have you spellbound. Hailing from the Welsh valleys, Raymond is veritable master of American primitive guitar music. She was raised on punk and grunge before discovering folk guitar pioneer John Fahey later in life. Her brand of fingerpicking guitar is some of the best around and played with the passion of punk. Gwenifer Raymond is a “joyful listening experience” (PopMatters).

River Town: A Summer Celebration of Roots and Americana Music
Now in its fifth year, Rivertown brings the music of America’s heartland to Bristol. This year’s festival promises a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, performed by global icons and rising stars.

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

River Town 2019: Tim Erikson (plus Mama’s Broke)

TIM ERIKSEN
Tim Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto – a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass – creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges from the bare bones of solo unaccompanied singing on Soul of the January Hills (Appleseed 2010) through the stripped-down voice and bajo sexto Christmas album Star in the East to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings Voyage, a new album of northern roots American
music.

“Stark songs and breakneck picking.”
New York Times

“Among the world’s finest folk practitioners.”
Toronto Star

“One of the best voices in music.”
T Bone Burnett

MAMA’S BROKE
Mama’s Broke is a unique and powerful folk duo that both honours and defies tradition with their original compositions. Two strong voices blend to create haunting harmonies, while they artfully juggle fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin, and incorporate traditional dance and foot percussion as part of their performance.

River Town: A Summer Celebration of Roots and Americana Music
Now in its fifth year, Rivertown brings the music of America’s heartland to Bristol. This year’s festival promises a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, performed by global icons and rising stars.

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: The Schmoozenbergs

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Regular intimate, sit-down gigs with some of the greatest musicians from around the globe.

Conjuring up the mood of 1930s Paris, fused with flavours of Eastern Europe and the energy of a campfire jam session, The Schmoozenbergs’ uplifting music will put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. With two guitars, violin and double bass, they bring irresistible rhythms, lyrical melodies and joyful improvisation to create an upbeat and heart- warming sound.

Their new album ‘Awaken’ is due for release on 21st June 2019. With its roots in gypsy jazz, this album of original instrumental compositions is a genre spanning journey through jazz, world and acoustic influences, which captures the distinctive, evocative and playful energy of the band. The album was recorded at Real World Studios in February 2019, and the band look forward to showcasing their new music at the official album launch at The Wardrobe Theatre on 20th June 2019.

Based in Bristol, The Schmoozenbergs formed in 2012 and have played live shows throughout the country, including festival performances (Glastonbury, Boomtown, Shambala, Green Man), dance events and national venue tours. This is their first release of original music, and has been made with the support of funding from Arts Council England.

Supporting The Schmoozenbergs at the launch event will be the fantastic Peanut Shuffle Club Duo, breathing their own exuberant energy into hits from the 20s, 30s and 40s.

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Boothby Graffoe

Graffoe has performed all over the world and is well-known as the first choice support act for Canadian Hall of Fame rockers Barenaked Ladies. He has opened up for them at venues such as Red Rocks Colorado, The Greek Theatre LA, and the O2 in London to name but a few.

From humble beginnings in the pubs and clubs of Nottingham, Boothby went on to become a regular feature on the London Comedy Circuit, on more than one occasion finding himself performing at the world famous Comedy Store on every single night of the week.

He’s had four series on BBC Radio 4, written three critically acclaimed plays and recorded five equally critically acclaimed music CDs. He’s done live shows in Scandinavia, Australian, New Zealand, America, Mexico, China, Europe, the Ascension Islands, the Falklands, Belize and the Caribbean, and won several awards, most of which he forgot to turn up to collect. His Time Out Award is on a shelf above the stage at Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich, no one knows why. His Award for Excellence from the Adelaide festival is in a pizza restaurant in the town after he swapped it for a Fiorentina.

Boothby has spent the past few years opening up for the anglo-Iranian comedy legend Omid Djalili but is coming out of semi-retirement to perform a string of shows this summer, including a stop in Bristol at this excellent venue.

“Unique.”
Stewart Lee

“I don’t use the word ‘genius’ to describe people very often, but that’s what he is. Such lovely songs, and then sometimes he make me laugh so much I get light-headed….”
Omid Djalili

“In my humble opinion, Graffoe is the finest songwriter in the world.”
Richard Thompson.

“Sings songs that are both beautiful and funny.”
The Guardian

“…it’s not fair to call them comedy songs, they are much more than that, there are some I would dare to call genius.”
The Times

“Buy two copies of his CD because you’ll want to share but you won’t want to give it away.”
The Scotsman

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Stanlæy (plus Alfi)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Regular intimate, sit-down gigs with some of the greatest musicians from around the globe.

Stanlæy is the musical moniker of Bristol based singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Bethany Stenning, performing her original compositions live with Ben Holyoake (bass), Oliver Cocup (drums/percussion) and Naomi Hill (violin). The music of Stanlæy has been influenced by a diverse genre pool of folk/jazz and cosmic atmospheres, and has been compared to artists such as Kate Bush, The Dirty Projectors and Sigur Ros.

Their live show is a masterful collaboration, marrying pop, classical, experimental rock and folk. The sound is tied together in polyphony, with crafted violin parts weaving between Bethany’s ethereal vocals and the electric guitar.

Stanlæy’s complex and intricate recordings are entirely composed, arranged and recorded by Bethany Stenning. The Human Project, her audio-visual album is due to be released May 2019.

“Unique and distinct.”
Folk Radio UK

Alfi are a fresh new trio combining American old time and traditional Irish music and song to produce a unique and tasteful sound. Alfi features an unusual line-up of harp, five-string banjo, uilleann pipes, whistles and vocals. The trio have performed at many established venues and festivals, including Body&Soul, Knockanstockan and Whelan’s, and have recently returned from touring America. In November, Alfi won the prestigious ‘Molloy Award’ competition at the ‘Trip to Birmingham Tradfest’, a competition for young, up and coming bands. They will have their own slot at the Trip to Birmingham Tradfest 2019 as a result. At the moment, Alfi are busy recording their debut EP, due for release in May 2019.

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Nick Hart

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Regular intimate, sit-down gigs with some of the greatest musicians from around the globe.

Nick Hart is a folk singer deeply rooted in the English tradition. Raised in a family of morris dancers, Nick played instrumental music for many years before discovering his passion for traditional song. Whilst studying for an ethnomusicology degree, he began to explore the large body of recordings of traditional singers from the second half of the 20th century, and this led to several years of fevered study and many nights spent at folk clubs and festivals, honing his skills as an unaccompanied singer.

Nick’s initially hardline attitude to the accompaniment of folk songs has softened over the years, but his love of the nuances of traditional singing informs his minimal guitar accompaniment, and his songs are delivered with a great emphasis on storytelling. His repertoire of songs, drawn largely from his native East Anglia, reflect his understanding of both the depth and breadth of material within the English tradition and he is fast acquiring a reputation as an engaging and entertaining performer.

2017 saw the release of his first solo album, Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs. Recorded by long-time collaborator Tom Moore, the album has been well received, being described as “One of the most rewarding and accomplished albums we’ve heard this year” by fRoots.

“Uncluttered, great singing that reminds me of the very best English roots singers… this is the real deal.”
Mike Harding

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Jeremiah

On 9 June 1817 Jeremiah Brandreth assembles a crew of malcontents in a pub near Nottingham. Their plan is to march on London, overthrow the government, wipe out the National Debt and end poverty forever. What Jeremiah doesn’t know is that there is a spy in his ranks with other ideas…

Featuring an original score and live band, Jeremiah tells the incredible true story of the much-misunderstood Luddite rebellion – a movement that spanned the whole North of England, had more British soldiers fighting it than Napoleon, and made the destruction of machinery a capital offence.

This little remembered story is brought to life as a live music gig performed by Jack Dean and a three piece band. A cellist, violinist and guitarist work with loop pedals to create an original score that mixes hip-hop, shoe gaze and cinematic composition styles, while Jack Dean delivers an epic true tale exploring lots of characters, all contained within rap verse metre accompanied by a vivid AV design projected onto the stage.

“Impressive poetic, musical and narrative skills… undoubtedly a performer with an exciting career ahead of him.”
Exeunt

“Artists like rap storyteller Jack Dean make us excited about what they might do next.”
The Guardian

Jack Dean is an Exeter-based writer, performer and theatre maker who has carried his love of weird and wonderful arrangements of words to many places, from the Bowery Poetry Club in New York, Latitude Festival and the South Bank Centre. Previous productions include ‘Grandad & The Machine’, ‘Horace & The Yeti’, and ‘Nuketown’.

Running Time: 90 mins (with interval)

Orpheus

An internationally award-winning modern retelling of an ancient myth.

Dave is single and turning 30. He’s stood at the bar. Eurydice is a tree nymph. And Bruce Springsteen is on the juke box. A tale of impossible, death-defying love told through hair-raising spoken word and soaring soul music. The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre weave a world of dive bars, side streets and ancient gods.

WINNER Best Theatre, Fringe World
WINNER Best Theatre Award, Adelaide Fringe
WINNER Summerhall Award, Vault Festival

“A true gem of a show who’s praise I want to sing from the rooftops.”
★★★★★ VoiceMag

“Charming, uplifting… simple storytelling at its finest.”
★★★★ The Advertiser

“An experience not to be missed.”
★★★★★ The Clothesline

Running Time: 1 hour (no interval)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Edgelarks

April 2018, Edgelarks (Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin) retreated to a remote cottage in Ulpha, western Cumbria. They breathed in the mountain view, banked up the fire, and took their instruments out of their cases. Then they sat down, and wrote. In escaping the everyday chaos of busy lives, they realised how caught up in the misery of the 24 hour news cycle they were; absorbed in the heartbreak of the world, they had lost sight of its beauty. Tired of the navel gazing tendencies of sad song writing, and the terrible events frequently depicted in the folk ballad tradition, they decided to turn their attention to an oft overlooked but vital facet of our lives: hope.

Swiftly, a set of songs and tunes emerged. Stories of wonder from the natural world; tales of rejoicing and long lost returns; and simple thanksgiving for their own surroundings and place in the landscape. Informed by world rhythms, British folk roots, and the duo’s penchant for making as much noise as possible with only two people, the album is an upbeat celebration, an incitement to hope.

Edgelarks fly in on the tailwind of BBC award winning duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. The pair’s new project takes the roots of their previous work, from the traditional musics of the British Isles to Indian classical slide guitar to the stomping roots party of Phil’s beatbox harmonica; adds a strong stem of original writing; and runs wilder with each repeat play.

“Subtle, atmospheric… Bravely original.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Keen, curious and concerned intellects are at work here. Hannah Martin is an enthralling singer; Phillip Henry plays all manner of guitars and the harmonica, terrifically.”
★★★★★ Songlines

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Martin Simpson

Ear Trumpet Folk Club: Regular intimate, sit-down gigs with some of the greatest musicians from around the globe.

The remarkable intimate solo performances Martin gives go from strength to strength – every gig is a masterclass. He travels the length and breadth of the UK and beyond, giving rapt audiences passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majesty through his playing. 40 years after he recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, Martin is known as a guitarist of formidable talent. Equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions, he is consistently named as one of the very finest fingerstyle guitar players in the world.

Universally acclaimed as one of the finest ever acoustic and slide guitar players, and a fine banjo-picker to boot, his solo shows bear witness to an artist at the very top of his game. Whether interpreting material from tradition or singing his own potent self-penned songs, Simpson is a remarkable storyteller: captivating and profoundly moving. His own songwriting produced the poignant ‘Never Any Good’, from Prodigal Son, 2007’s Folk Album of the Year.

Martin continues to collaborate with a dazzling array of people 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 are among the great musicians he has worked with.

In recent years, he has been a lynchpin in the award-winning Full English, The Elizabethan Sessions and, in 2015, recorded Murmurs, an exciting new album with Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr. Martin’s latest solo album entitled Trails and Tribulations was released in September 2017 on Topic Records. Album guests include Andy Cutting, Kathryn Tickell, Nancy Kerr and John Smith.

He has had the most nominations of any performer in the 18 years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, an astonishing 32 times, 13 of those as Musician of the Year, winning that particular accolade twice.

A virtuoso player without question, but above all Martin Simpson conveys his diverse treasure trove of material from the heart, performing with rare subtlety, intensity and honesty. A true master of his art.

“One of the virtuoso instrumentalists of the English music scene… Sounds better than ever.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Simpson has become a fine interpreter of traditional and other songs, as well as a notable writer of his own.”
The Times

Running Time: 2 hours (with interval)