What can you expect from this “little piece of heaven”, tucked away on a glorious riverside site in the heart of Shrewsbury? Some of most established artists from the UK alongside acts celebrating folk music and dance from across the world. They’ll take you on a voyage of discovery, bringing you ever-changing musical colours with their breathtaking performances.
With Celtic and eastern influences, the 3 Daft Monkeys’ dynamic style of world folk music reflects the global village in which we now live. Their infectious dancing rhythms lead you through a musical journey of the senses and emotions, and will leave you breathless, enthralled and exhilarated. With their quirky and original approach to music, and their passion, intensity and sheer joy of life, 3 Daft Monkeys have gained themselves a large and loyal cult following. Their music is hard to pigeon-hole, mixing and crossing many musical genres from Celtic, Klezmer, Gypsy, Balkan, Latin, Ska, Dub Reggae, Indie, Rock and even a hint of Shostakovich. 3 Daft Monkeys have always maintained an independent and cottage-industry approach to their musical career, and have gained a huge following whilst ploughing their own furrow through the music business, gaining momentum through their live performances and intensive European touring schedule. With a brand new 4-piece line-up, the band weave enchanting melodies with catchy choruses, virtuoso vibrant fiddle, rhythmic 12-string guitar, 6-string bass, bespoke hand-percussion and 4-part vocal harmonies. Fascinating lyrics of personal and whimsical observations on life, and folk tales both ancient and modern, are told within the swirling layers of their music, all with the essential catchy sing-along chorus. The band’s diversity is reflected in the acts for whom they have been invited as special guests, including touring across the UK and Europe with the Levellers, and opening for bands such as Hawkwind, Bellowhead, Show of Hands and Dreadzone, as well as headlining their own national tours. Their eclectic mix of styles has drawn them a following right across Europe, and the band have headlined festivals in Holland, Germany and France. 3 Daft Monkeys have also recently joined acrobats and circus performers in the new and vibrant boutique “busking festival” scenes of Switzerland and Italy.
Born in Chattanooga and now based in Johnson City, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is matched by her raw and powerful vocals; a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past. Accompanied interchangeably with banjo or acoustic guitar her eclectic influences span decades, finding inspiration in old time music, alternative rock, folk, country and blues. Our Native Daughters, her recent collaboration with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago) released a hugely acclaimed full-length album produced by Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell, Songs of Our Native Daughters. NPR described the opening track, Black Myself, written by Amythyst, as “the simmering defiance of self-respect in the face of racism.” The group was nominated for Duo/Group Of The Year at the 2019 Americana Music Association Awards. Amythyst’s star is also rising in the UK and has performed at Celtic Connections, Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Larmer Tree Festival, Hebcelt, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, and SummerTyne. She is a crowd favorite at Tennessee’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and has shone at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and opening for artists such as the Indigo Girls, Rhiannon Giddens, Valerie June, Old Crow Medicine Show, First Aid Kit, Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien. Provocative and fierce, Amythyst’s ability to cross boundaries is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
Galician multi-instrumentalist Carlos Núñez is probably the world’s most famous player of the Gaita, traditional Galician bagpipes, and one of the most requested artists by our festivalgoers. Born in Vigo in 1971, he is steeped in the rich celtic culture of the north-west of Spain. That celtic influence is clear in his collaborations with The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor among others as well as in his most recent album Inter Celtic.
Describing what Dan Walsh does is no easy task but at the heart of it is British, Irish and American folk music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves – all performed with his unique and dazzling take on clawhammer style banjo helping to challenge all preconceptions about the instrument. Add to all that poignant songs, astonishing musical departures and lively humour and the result is a truly memorable live show which has wowed audiences across the world from intimate seated rooms to huge dancing crowds in festival fields. Walsh has recorded five albums to much critical acclaim and he is an in demand performer with a hectic touring schedule in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and throughout Europe. He has also released two banjo tablature books including the brand new book of clawhammer arrangements of Irish folk tunes. He is also an in demand session musician and has performed on stage or on record with the likes of Joss Stone, Ward Thomas, Imelda May, the Levellers and Seth Lakeman. Both solo and as a member of the award winning Urban Folk Quartet, this unique and eclectic musician has stunned audiences across the world.
Della Mae is a GRAMMY-nominated all-woman string band founded by lead vocalist/guitarist Celia Woodsmith and 2-time national champion fiddle player Kimber Ludiker. Rounding out the lineup are guitarist Avril Smith, bassist Vickie Vaughn and mandolinist Maddie Witler. Hailing from across North America, and reared in diverse musical styles, Della Mae is one of the most charismatic and engaging roots bands touring today. They have traveled to over 30 countries spreading peace and understanding through music. Their mission as a band is to showcase top female musicians, and to improve opportunities for women and girls through advocacy, mentorship, programming, and performance. Emerging from 2020 with songs and an immense gratitude, the band recorded a fan-funded album, Family Reunion. The followup to 2020’s Headlight, the project features new members Maddie Witler and Vickie Vaughn and captures the joy of the band reuniting after more than a year of virtual collaboration, band Zooms and group texts.
Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage release new album “Ink of the Rosy Morning” on Topic Records in April 2022. Following the success of Before the Sun (2016) and Awake (2018), both produced by David Travers-Smith in Toronto, the duo opted for an altogether different approach for their new record. They hired a quiet old schoolhouse by the sea, sat in the dining room, lit the fire, opened a bottle of wine, set up a few mics and played. Nothing pre-arranged. No big ideas. No pre-production. No thought of releasing anything from it. Nobody else around. Simply playing the songs they’ve known for years; savouring all the energy and emotion they carry. Since emerging in 2016, Hannah & Ben have been defying all conventions of style, genre and compartmentalisation. A touch of ‘Americana’, yet quintessentially English. Traditional, yet contemporary, with their individual writing style. Playful and instinctive, they make music with such panache and natural chemistry it makes perfect sense. Hannah Sanders has an alluring mystique and a voice of disarming purity that massages your senses. Ben Savage is a bubbling ferment of energy and infectious enthusiasm, seemingly able to play any instrument you put in front of him with grace and favour. Their intimate, pin-drop single microphone live show has captivated audiences across the UK, US, Canada & Asia, sharing the stage with the likes of Sarah Jarosz, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman and Gretchen Peters.
Oysterband front man and the festival’s co-patron John Jones brings a special show to Shrewsbury for 2022. “I am really pleased to be performing at Shrewsbury Folk Festival this year, bringing a show I am calling ‘Rising Road’, reflecting 10 years and 1,000 miles of rambling and singing across this beautiful country and featuring some of the wonderful musicians who shared the journey with me. “It will be great to share the stage again with ex-Oysterband members Ray Cooper [Chopper] and Dil Davies, who – with Al Scott and Boff Whalley – were the original Ramblers who set off to walk across England from the Welsh border. Add to that the musicianship, voice and energy of Benji Kirkpatrick, the stand-up bass of Lindsey Oliver and the sublime fiddle of Tim Cotterell and you have a great Travelling Roadshow. We will have fun. “Sadly , the one performer who will not be with us is Rowan Godel whose untimely death this year robbed us and the wider folk world of a golden voice and gorgeous personality. She will be with us as we sing. “My big thanks to Sandra and the team for giving me the opportunity to put this on. I will feature a new song for the occasion.”
Judy Collins has long inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 55-album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century. The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy’s dreamy and sweetly intimate version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical. A Little Night Music, won “Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She’s garnered several top-ten hits gold-and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honoured her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins. Judy’s most recent collaboration with her as a singer-songwriter is the 2019 album Winter Stories, including critically-acclaimed Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld, and masterful bluegrass band Chatham County Line. Winter Stories, is a collection of classics, new tunes, and a few surprises, featuring spirited lead vocal turns, breath-taking duets, and Judy’s stunning harmony singing. Judy is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern-day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart.
Sam Sweeney and his new band are putting something into English music that has never been there before. This album has the swagger and groove of traditional English music with the huge sound, flare, energy and festival spirit of bands coming out of the Celtic and Scandinavian music scenes. Sam is a veteran of the mighty Bellowhead, former artistic director of the National Folk Youth Ensemble, founder member of the acclaimed instrumental trio Leveret, and a superb instrumentalist at the forefront of the revival in English traditional music.
For the 2022 festival season Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are returning to the duo format that launched their stellar careers more than 30 years ago. Audiences will be treated to the usual ‘Show of Hands’ classics like ‘Cousin Jack’, rousing festival anthems, instrumental virtuosity and stunning harmonies from two masters of their craft.
The high-energy sound featuring traditional Scottish music and rhythms with a range of other genres is a trademark of Skerryvore’s distinctive performances. From traditional roots on the remote Scottish Island of Tiree, the band has developed both in size and sound to create a unique fusion of their traditional music and songs with the urban sounds of rock, pop and funk. The raw but contemporary trad quartet that formed Skerryvore in 2005 could have only dreamed that over the next decade they would become a multi-award winning act that was performing in more than 25 countries worldwide and featured as ambassadors for their country in an international advertising campaign for Visit Scotland.
The Unthanks return to live touring after two years off the road, showcasing forthcoming new album, Sorrows Away, alongside favourites such as Magpie, The King Of Rome and Mount The Air. Since the release of BBC Folk Album of the Year, Mount The Air in 2015, The Unthanks have both scaled up to symphonic levels with Charles Hazelwood and the BBC Proms, and stripped down to the unaccompanied singing they grew up with, for Diversions Vol 5. They’ve written six scarecrow soundtracks for Mackenzie Crook’s beautiful adaptation of Worzel Gummidge, while finding time to interpret the work of female writers including Emily Bronte, Molly Drake and Maxine Peake. But projects and diversions aside, Sorrows Away is the long-anticipated follow-up to Mount The Air, and as the title suggests, promises to be a blues-buster and a step into the light for a band known more for melancholy and well, sorrow! At the nucleus of a constantly evolving unit is the traditional upbringing of Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank and the arrangements and writing of composer, pianist, producer and Yorkshireman, Adrian McNally. Descriptions of The Unthanks range variously from “music that asks you to consider everything you know and un-think it”, to “a take on tradition that flips so effortlessly between jazz, classical, ambient and post-rock, it makes any attempt to put a label on them a waste of time”. Using the traditional music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band’s 14 records to date, earning them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and international acclaim along the way. Folk music can commonly and affectionately be defined as low culture, but The Unthanks aspire to prove that the beauty and truth people, is anything but common. Their approach to storytelling makes easy bedfellows of tradition and adventure, direct social commentary and sophisticated harmony, heart-breaking empathy and glacial minimalism, earning them an army of writer and performer admirers incuding Mackenzie Crook, Maxine Peake, Nick Hornby, Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt, Rosanne Cash, Dawn French, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Mangan, Colin Firth, Martin Hayes and members of Portishead and Radiohead.
Described by Mark Radcliffe as a “brilliant singer-songwriter and true troubadour with a social conscience, “Somerset singer-songwriter Reg Meuross is now touring with new album 12 Silk Handkerchiefs and characters from 12 other superb albums. And it’s not all protest, as well as story songs which bring characters from history to life and comment on life around him, Reg also writes and sings some of the most heart aching love songs ever written, performed with depth and spellbinding delivery. “There’s something special about the way he writes and delivers a song” said Townes Van Zandt. Reg has that rare gift of being able to touch people through his songs and performance, on a really human level, his words and music painting pictures that remain with the listener long after the song has been sung, accompanying himself masterfully on guitar and captivating audiences with his beautiful tenor voice.
Reg Meuross, Geraint Watkins and Marion Fleetwood have been working together on a Woody Guthrie project FIRE & DUST, a song cycle featuring Reg original’s songs telling the story of Guthrie’s life. The album (produced by Pete Townshend) will be released later this year.
Photo Credits: (1) Shrewsbury Folk Festival, (2) 3 Daft Monkeys, (3) Amythyst Kiah, (4) Della Mae, (5) Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, (7) Reg Meuross (unknown/website); (6) The Unthanks, (by Walkin' Tom).