Acoustic Americana British Country Dark Folk Debut Festival Folk Music Folk Pop Gigs Political

Hebden Bridge Folk and Roots Festival 2018 – What you missed

Hi I hope everyone’s good and enjoying the sun!

So it’s been a few weeks since the Hebden Bridge Folk and Roots Festival, where the sun started to emerge and the musicians came out to entertain. We had quite a few highlights from the festival with (for us) an array of new talent and artists to share with the world.

Stay with us a while and have a read and listen to some of the acts that you missed!


The weather was as fine as could be, so a little outdoor song and dance always goes down well.
Near the bridge in the Town Centre we came across a motley group of Landlubbers (we wonder if they hate the sea or they were the tailend of an insult and the name stuck). However their name came to be they were as briny a crew or shanty singers as you could want. We thoroughly enjoyed their singing so much it made us wonder if their boat was on the river behind. A good crowd, and a great part of the festival.

There was some Morris Dancing as well! You can’t have a Folk Festival without a bit of Morris (knowing my luck I won’t have to  sit too long at my computer desk and await a festival without Morris to get in touch!) It was good to see an all-woman Morris Dance, and here they all are.. I presume as washerwomen. That reminds me, I have some shirts to dry! Heres a video to whet your dancing needs.

Ok.. we know that Chuck Berry did it long before it featured heavily in that 80s sci-fi comedy classic, but I’m a relatively young guy.. it’s the first thing that comes to mind. I have to sadly regret that I did not get these guys’ names as we were just passing, but we seriously felt that it was a great energetic aside to the day.



On Sunday we got to see a few artists in the excellent Trades Club where the beer flowed liberally. It was also a fine place to be eating a bit of Thai food that was on the go as well. One relatively new artist was Trixxi Corish a singer-songwriter covering a number of different genres including folk and country, but intriguingly she brought some spoken word as well. Despite a disclaimer at the beginning of the set that she had a bad throat, she went on to sing a number of traditional tunes as well as an excellent cover of “Fields of Gold.” Her monologue about a Southern Irish woman managing with anxiety and depression was really thoughtful and natural; she has strengths in song and in word. A great up-and-coming artist and spoken word performer, we saw some magic there, and we raise our glass to her future successes (especially if this was not her running at 100% !).


There were many fine artists to be seen amongst the picturesque surroundings and the old cobbled paths, it is a mammoth task narrowing it down. But as the mind’s eye roves back over the festival the clear breakout from the festival for us was Logan and Manley. As soulful as a spicy tea and a demonstration of a charging elephant into the music scene, Logan & Manley were something else indeed. Breaking the civility of Folk Gigs and getting people dancing to their sultry, emotional beat they kicked serious ass. As we said on Twitter:

“The most interesting duo we have seen live in recent memory. Exceptional presence and burning talent. Logan & Manley stole the show in many ways at Hebden Folk Roots Festival. Soulful and energetic they work it with unfettered talent.”

Their simple pairing of vocals and guitar with added flourishes of percussion and a good use of looping vocals brought the house down. Some favourites of what they performed included the “Tell Him (Her)” a cover of Lauryn Hill, the warm rush of frothy milk on expensive coffee of “Meteor Shower” (the opener), and “Wait a While”, a jazz/funk backing which should do plenty to cement the pair as icons.

Forward in style and approach, a ferociously dynamic presence, and great musicianship could be enough to convert this website to “Soul Phenomena.” Do not miss under any circumstances.


As the day turned to night, Henry Priestman et al. reminded us that in a rather jolly fashion that in  that transitional stage of life akin to being a teenager, things can stop making a lot of sense. In fairness, it wasn’t a set that dwelt on the twilight years experience as there were plenty of politics (Goodbye Common Sense, Not In My Name), folk (Ghost of a Thousand Fishermen), and fatherhood (He Ain’t Good Enough For You, We Used to Be You). With songs that are always something different and a good connection with the audience you are always on to a winner.

From what we saw from the festival of a whole, Priestman and band were of the most energetic and delightfully irreverent in all the best ways. Accessible, catchy and pop-infused it was supported by songwriting not unlike strong, thick treated timber cladding. If the music garden of your mind requires something extra, these guys are the shed you have been looking for.



For the cheery, dream-like “in between” time from the early morning entertainment and the build up to the evening showstoppers we had the pleasure of listening to the trio known as “The Harmony Jar.” Rather melancholic but also soothing and touching, The Harmony Jar excel as Americana, perhaps how you imagine the killer knots on a barbed wire of a fence. Singing about love, the prickling apologies of loss and leaving a husband (How We Part), angst through ukulele (Before You Are Through) and a more than serviceable cover of “The Way it Goes”, The Harmony Jar bit off a lot, but it wasn’t more than they could chew on. One of our favourites, we look forward to hearing from them in the future.


At one point during the festival it felt necessary to go rustic.

In terms of American Folk, you can’t get much more old-timey than some Woody Guthrie, who was as much a symbol of protest and liberty as a singer. This is definitely something we can say we like from our folk from time-to-time and Will Kaufman did not disappoint. As his page declares he is, “widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on Woody Guthrie” but it wasn’t just his academic credentials or his musicianship that impressed. He’s a thoroughly nice, extremely knowledgeable guy who told tales of Trump of old (Trump’s father) who was a less than stellar property landlord (with the song, “I ain’t got no home”), Mexicans and about a remarkable individual “Stetson Kennedy” a folklorist who infiltrated the KKK and gave away their secrets and codes to the radio.

There is something incredibly apt about an expert on a pioneer of folk following in his footsteps through both word and song.. Will Kaufman does that and does not disappoint.

And Many More..

There were many, many more great acts too.

Off the top of our heads: Reg Meuross (one of our perennial favourites) was playing his heartfelt, socially conscious brand of acoustic song to great effect, Steve Tilston brought the backbone of folk to the stage, and his daughter Molly Tilston performed a great dark folk set which much, much promise. The Roger Davies Band was one of the most confident and slick on stage and the Jon Palmer Band pretty much cleaned up with their jaunty songs that at times explored the best part of folk-pop. Here are some final clips to get you in the mood.

All-in-all Hebden Bridge was a good time, a great slice of local talent and a testament to West Yorkshire.

This year we liked the central location and how close the venues were to one another meaning it is very difficult to miss the acts you have been dying to see! Great shopping, great food and atmosphere, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what went down at the weekend beneath the warming sun but we hope this brings you a bit of a flavour.

We raise our glasses and hope to see you there next year! Keep your eyes peeled on the website

Acoustic Album/EP Reviews Country Folk Music

Gem Andrews – North- Album Review 2018

An enticing mix of light and darkness tied together in a package of exploratory, urban Tyneside Country.


Gem Andrews: Vocals, Guitar

Nicky Rushton: Piano, Accordion, Electric Guitar, Harmony Vocals

Sarah Van Jellie: Double Bass, Harmony Vocals

Bernard Wright: Violin, Mandolin, Harmony vocals

Susanne Lambert: Drums, Percussion, Shells and Harmony vocals

Sue McLaren: Harmony vocals

Charlie Hardwick: Harmony vocals

Chris Hillman: Pedal Steel

Ed Blazey: Trumpet

Dora & Macie Keddie-McLaren: Cardboard Box

Folk Phenomena is boldly stepping forward in a new direction.

It has taken a diversion at the shady looking garage, ignoring the handwritten warnings of snakes and alligators, and has parked up near the bayou feeling a little hot under the collar.. and with good reason, we are reviewing a Country album! The album in question is Gem Andrew’s new album entitled, “North.”

Well, it is a Country album.. except Country as it feels situated in an the UK with an urban and slightly briny layer of the coast. This is understandable as in creating this album Gem Andrews is bringing her love of the sea. Well being born in Liverpool and then raised in Newcastle, you would certainly hope there is a love there (or life has dealt her a very salty deck of low cards). It’s not that there are many references to rugged sailors of such like, but its a bit like when someone points out there is some citrus taste in your pale ale.. it’s a large part of the makeup, character and flavour but not everyone is too worried about the finer details. With this spinning disc of metal, the sea creates part of the atmosphere that enters the boat of Gem Andrews; mind. It is in the background of the album making it an interesting beast indeed.

In terms of character, this is a an airy, sometimes speedy but always heartfelt album. Picture it maybe as a storm of roses rustling leaves down an alleyway of romantic interludes. It could win me over to Country and variations of it as to us it showcases a good variety of sound and character being one moment social realism as in “My Friends in the North”and then at another moment it is the winding river in a forest glade. The shades of emotion in the disc are delightful.

Andrews makes some good brush strokes on society, inequality and the modern experience as she performs. Truly she finds the seat and heart of Country’s consciousness in the UK’s suburbia within the disc. It’s musical brightness contrasts with the ugly reality of living with difficulties be it poverty or health and this contrast collides bringing a complexity to proceedings. In it’s darker, angrier moments the album is gritty and feels like we are the fly on the wall in a run-down terrace, next we are in greener pastures and brighter days. What of the tracks?

Opening with “Letter” we get the sense of adventure from the go. Snappy cymbals and sweet, downy fiddle proceeds from this song giving it a swing, and fluid motion. Curiously, it is what some might consider a midpoint song. What I mean is, if it was a part of a film, it would be the bit in an 80s teen rom-com where the protagonist has realised they’ve acted selfishly and is considering their next move. So in a way it’s an introspective start but points to Andrews diving right into the album from a wellspring of inspiration and reaction to maybe not a great time in her life. Performed with such warmth though as the strings are joined by the softly stepping piano, Andrews’ voice is a confiding and joyful linchpin through the full course. The track positioning is a somewhat bold but confident move that works really well.

“Sing Your Song” is a grabbing number, one that most expertly deals with the social issues we have mentioned in passing. I know enough about Country to know that social issues, family and domestic issues are high priority as are the topics of these songs here. Andrews paints a picture of a difficult, suffocating situation, “there is violence and quietness.. and eggshells underneath.” There are several wonderfully spun lyrics here that entrench the listener even more through the course of difficulties and the subject of the song being taken to the “North… to the sea.” It is a fresh, bracing wind, the sense of freedom and the loosening of a tightly knotted anxiety and anguish. It’s also an especially melodic track with it’s lightly whispering vocal backing, omnipresent violin, and supporting pedal steel. Love it, possibly the best track on the album.

“Lungs” is another good one. It is like one of those huge paintings you see in a museum where there are several details interspersed into a larger scene of belching factories and grey. We are thinkingit remind us of a number of Lowry paintings. This is not to say it is a vicious song, but it captures industrial discontent in a gentle hands-clasping, subtle way. Like a L.S. Lowry, there is a lot going on and Andrews certainly takes a whole society view of problems within it. It does feel rather seated in some of the North-East’s difficulties getting the short end of the stick Government-wise (e.g. foodbanks, schools etc.) While the song describes less than ideal situations, it advocates the power of collectivism and what groups of people can do, “Stand up, Stand together, Breathe Deeply.” Moody and evocative it rises like a grey vapour creating pretty patterns in the sky.

An album for several moods, an impressive array of instruments that really bring the “Old Time” to the UK, and a singer whose voice is flaxen, introspective and joyful;  the whole disc is a waltzer of emotion and social conscience. It almost sounds like Andrews’ has pitched up a gazeebo down the banks of the River Tyne and is singing a song of comfort and love for the city. Her voice is like a mirror for the city before a backdrop of people and place.

Quite evocative and situated, we recommend you give this album a go, we give it a thumbs up.

For more information about the artist and purchasing the album, go to

“North” was released in February 2018, recorded at Blank Studies for Market Square Music by Ross Lewis.