On first glance I wasn’t particularly excited by this year’s Moseley Folk Festival line-up. But how wrong I was.
Admittedly the headliners probably aren’t as captivating as last year (Spiritualised and The Monkees vs. The Proclaimers and The Coral), but scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find a real strength in depth in this year’s festival, which includes some of music’s most intriguing new artists alongside a selection of cherished favourites.
Here are a few of my picks from the Moseley Folk Festival‘s 2016 weekend line up:
Mothers began as the solo project of Georgia-based visual artist Kristine Leschper, who wrote the majority of the songs for debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired while finishing art school. Having recruited multi-instrumentalist Matthew Anderegg, guitarist Drew Kirby and bassist Patrick Morales, the band recorded their debut after playing together for just a month.
Leschper lists her influences as solo artists Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom, as well as experimental music, math rock, and noise artists, Lighting Bolt, Hella and Don Caballero. It’s a raw, unconventional, moving album and Mothers will be well worth a look when they take to the stage on Friday.
For more on Mothers, visit www.mothersathens.bandcamp.com
Sam Lee’s first career was as a ‘wilderness survival expert’. I guess folk isn’t a million miles away from the world of survival – both spheres are focused on traditional ways of life. Lee quickly found success in the music world, with his critically acclaimed debut album, Ground of its Own shortlisted for the 2012 Mercury Music Award, establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost folk stars.
Lee is most well-known as a specialist in the inventive reworking of the music of the Romany Gypsy and Irish traveller communities. He’s lauded as a one-off, an innovator. Though, with one of his songs providing the soundtrack to the trailer of the new Guy Ritchie film King Arthur, he could soon be reaching a much more mainstream audience. He will perform at Moseley Folk Festival with his regular band, Sam Lee & Friends.
For more on Sam Lee, visit www.samleesong.co.uk
It’s been a rocky time for politics in the past few months and who better to guide us through these troubled waters than Billy Bragg, the country’s most well-known political singer. He plays Moseley Folk Festival ahead of the release of latest album Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad, a collaboration with guitarist Joe Henry that explores a lost American tradition. Expect a rousing Friday night set of folk and protest songs spanning Billy Bragg‘s 30-year career.
For more on Billy Bragg, visit www.shinealight-joehenry.billybragg.co.uk
When Islamic extremists banned music in his hometown in Mali, Garba Touré grabbed his bag and his guitar, headed to the capital and formed Songhoy Blues. The band’s energetic live performances caught the eye of Damon Albarn, with one of their songs being included on a compilation released by his label African Express. Gigs in the UK and a record deal with Transgressive Records quickly followed and their debut album Music in Exile, produced by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, was released in February 2015.
The band has gone from strength to strength ever since, performing in festivals and shows all over Europe, including their very own sold out date at the Roundhouse earlier this year. The name says it all really – traditional West African music mixed with Jimi Hendrix and Beatles style blues, with a little bit of hip hop and R&B thrown in.
For more on Songhoy Blues, visit www.songhoy-blues.com
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich lost the person he describes as his “number one source of inspiration” – his dad – to cancer in the intervening five years between his debut and new album After the Rain. As our interview with Leftwich from earlier this year shows, the impact of the death of his father is felt throughout the new album – due for release on 19 August, on Dirty Hit Records. Read our full interview with Benjamin Francis Leftwich from May this year.
Still, if ‘Tilikum’, its moving first single, is anything to go by, Leftwich has channeled his grief into a melancholic but optimistic piece of work. He will be hoping that the album garners the same success as debut Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, described by The Fly as “majestic” and selling over 100,000 copies worldwide.
For more on Benjamin Francis Leftwich, visit www.benjaminfrancisleftwich.com
Moseley Folk Festival takes place on 2nd, 3rd & 4th September in Moseley Park. For more on Moseley Folk Festival, including online tickets sakes, visit www.moseleyfolk.co.uk