Gigspanner Big Band, Jesca Hoop, John Bramwell & The Full Harmonic Convergence, Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening, O’Hooley & Tidow and Spiers & Boden have all been confirmed to play English Folks Expo’s annual showcase, as part of Manchester Folk Festival on it’s return in 2021.
The showcase runs Thursday 21st – Saturday 23rd October 2021.
English Folk Expo Showcase welcomes UK and international music industry to Manchester each October.
Our showcase is focussed on outcomes. As a result, places are heavily subsidised to ensure that we attract the most appropriate delegates. It is essential that every place we offer must go to a delegate who can work with our showcasing artists. This means we are keen to invite promoters, bookers, festival organisers, programmes, labels, agents, managers and who can actively engage with the event.
Places are limited and available on an invitation basis but approaches from relevant industry are encouraged. Registrations are open now. We have a limited number of FREE places available to non-UK delegates. Please let us know if you are based outside the UK and interested in attending.
If you would like to register your interest to attend click here.
Read more about the first artists announced below:
Gigspanner Big Band:
“With the Gigspanner Big Band, Peter Knight has assembled a group of musicians intent on making some of the most important and exhilarating art ever to sit under the banner of folk music” FRUK
“Amazing…a force to be reckoned with – they storm every stage they walk on” Mike Harding
The Gigspanner Big Band are a unique force in British folk music…
Their high-energy, virtuosic performances appeal equally to traditionalists and to those looking for something more experimental, and they have garnered praise from publications as varied as fRoots, The Telegraph and The Wire, where they were described as ‘melodically folk-rooted yet open and innovative beyond the constraints of genre’
Beginning life as a trio – with legendary Steeleye Span fiddle player Peter Knight being joined by percussionist Sacha Trochet and guitarist Roger Flack – the line-up has been expanded to form the Gigspanner Big Band, with acclaimed multi-instrumental duo Edgelarks (Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin – BBC Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’) and Bellowhead co-founder and melodeon player extraordinaire, John Spiers, joining the fray.
Characterised by riotous inventiveness, technically gifted individual playing and subtle collaborative interaction, this coming together of several of the biggest names on the folk-roots scene, combines a deep knowledge of roots traditions with a ceaselessly boundary pushing approach.
The new six-piece line-up released their debut album, Natural Invention, in 2020.
California-born but now based in Manchester, Jesca Hoop is what you’d call a musician’s musician. Discovered by Tom Waits and brought on tour by Peter Gabriel to sing in his band, it was a phone call from Elbow’s Guy Garvey that saw her move to the UK.
Her 2019 album ‘Stonechild’, produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, This is the Kit), received huge acclaim from fans and critics alike, and it’s easy to see why – her beautiful songs, rooted in the folk tradition are intricately detailed, acoustic-led pieces that teem with ideas.
John Bramwell & The Full Harmonic Convergence:
John Bramwell is one of the UK’s most unique and talented singer-song writers and has been performing as a musician for over 30 years.
His 2018 album, ‘Leave Alone the Empty Spaces’ is a stunning showcase of John’s skilful, widely acclaimed song-writing and his unique voice. The first completely new collection of songs by John as a solo artist since he started his adventures away from I am Kloot, the album was inspired by his ‘off the beaten path’ journey through the UK and Europe.
As part of I am Kloot, John released ten albums, receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2011, for the exquisite, ‘Sky at Night’, produced by Guy Garvey and Craig Potter from Elbow.
The show promises a versatile two-hour set packed with choice cuts from John’s solo repertoire, plus an opportunity to hear some I am Kloot fan favourites.
Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening:
Musicians from Northumberland, Scotland and England invoke the dark, powerful, shamanic sounds of Ancient Northumbria and broadcast them to the modern world.
Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening are; Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian smallpipes, fiddle), Joss Clapp (guitar, vocals), Joe Truswell (drums, programming), Kate Young (fiddle, vocals), Amy Thatcher (accordion, vocals) and Kieran Szifris (octave mandolin).
Their inspiration comes from the wild, dramatic, weather-bitten countryside along Hadrian’s Wall, which seems so quintessentially Northumbrian…and yet, almost 2000 years ago that same landscape was inhabited by people from around the world, worshipping different gods and following different customs.
Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening embrace that global perspective, bringing some of the oldest Northumbrian tunes and songs throbbing to life, intermingling them with new material and binding it all together with contemporary resonance and attitude.
Fresh sounds merge with ancient influences. Expansive sonic textures are created. Dazzling duets from Kathryn’s pipes and Amy’s accordion contrast with the dark and dirty riffs and rhythms of Kieran’s octave mandolin. Intrepid world-traveller Kate adds her fearless explorations and the inventive use of drums and percussion unites the ensemble.
O’Hooley & Tidow:
Performing together for over 10 years, much loved Yorkshire folk duo Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow were propelled into newfound fame when their song ‘Gentleman Jack’ was chosen as the theme tune for Sally Wainwright’s hit BBC1/HBO drama of the same name.
Nominated four times for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’, Belinda and Heidi’s boundless song writing has been described by The Guardian as ‘exceptional’ and The Independent as ‘defiant, robust, northern, poetical, political folk music for the times we live in.’ From an emotionally charged song about an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, to a joyous celebration of the Leeds cycling champion Beryl Burton, they explore, consider and connect subjects and stories in a distinctive, inventive and memorable way.
Having the originality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle, 6 Music’s Tom Robinson says ‘They sing together in the way families do. Normally, you only get that closeness in the voices with family bands like The Coppers or The Watersons.’
‘England’s answer to the McGarrigles.’ * * * * * The Guardian
‘Brave, beautiful and full of love.’ Martin Simpson
Spiers & Boden:
Described by The Guardian as ‘the finest instrumental duo on the traditional scene’, the multi award-winning duo of John Spiers and Jon Boden rocketed onto the scene in 2001.
In 2011, after 10 years of successful touring, they headlined their own star-studded show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire celebrating their 10th anniversary.
Using their early success as a duo, they founded the ground-breaking folk big band Bellowhead, which dominated their time for the next few years and in 2014 Spiers & Boden made the difficult choice to rest the duo. It was a tough decision. Spiers & Boden had earned a place in the hearts of the folk audience that few could rival and the disbelief at the dissolution of the duo was only matched when in 2016 Bellowhead itself took a final bow.
Since then Jon Boden has carved out a career as both a solo performer and with his own band, Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, while continuing to work on his creative trilogy of albums exploring a post-apocalyptic world and his work writing music for theatre. John Spiers went on to form successful performance collaborations with Peter Knight (Steeleye Span, Feast Of Fiddles) and separately Jackie Oates, and is a member of the recently formed Gigspanner Big Band.
In late 2019 the idea of reforming Spiers & Boden began to be discussed, quickly followed by plans for new touring in 2021. A couple of unexpected duo videos in spring 2020 trailed the full public announcement in summer 2020 that Spiers & Boden are back!