Artist Profiles

8th March 2019 – The Trials of Cato

The Trials Of Cato, a band that arrived fully formed and functioning from Beirut in the winter of 2016, have since torn a shape very much their own into the canvas of the UK folk scene. Originally from North Wales and Yorkshire, whilst living in Lebanon they spent a year boiling down the roots of their sound into a hybrid of traditional influences that intrigued Lebanese audiences in the country’s biggest venues.
They moved back to the UK and have since been performing tirelessly up and down the country, leading to BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe hailing them as “one of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times.” Their musical development in the run up to their debut album proper has been swift and sure, winning much praise for Hide and Hair and receiving repeated national airplay on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music.
Praised for the diversity of their material and influences, The Trials of Cato live show “invariably stuns audience wherever they play.” Whether plying their trade busking, performing in front of thousands at festivals across Europe, or frequently selling out their own club shows, The Trials of Cato have the wind behind them.

“One of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times” – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2
“Fascinating stuff” – Cerys Matthews, BBC 6 Music
“Swaggering and glossy” – The Guardian
“If there’s a more exciting debut album from a folk band this year, I haven’t heard it” – Folk Radio UK
“The Sex Pistols of folk” – John Davis, Metropolis Studios (Led Zeppelin, Royal Blood)

15th March 2019 – Chris Wood

“Chris takes a traditional song and has you absolutely gripped…. He makes it really obvious why it is of contemporary relevance. On the flip side, he has managed this magical thing, writing songs on contemporary themes, or putting music to Hugh Lupton’s words, that absolutely fit hand in glove with traditional songs, but are totally modern.” — Ian Anderson
Chris Wood started out as a choirboy and much of his music bears the influence of those years spent with the likes of Bach, Handel, Gibbons and Boyce: he describes the album Handmade Life as “church music with drums.”
Self-taught on guitar and violin, he is a lifelong autodidact — and his independent streak shines through in his composition and studio work. Always direct and unafraid to speak his mind, his song writing has been praised for its surgical clarity. His work is typified by his trust in the space music can create and a gift for lyrical understatement. He cites his major influence as “Anon”.
Throughout his career independence has been balanced by collaboration. The artists he has worked with include Billy Bragg, Andy Gangadeen, Andy Cutting, Jean François Vrod and Hugh Lupton (Wood and Lupton’s “One in a Million” won Best Original Song at the BBC 2 Folk Awards in 2006). Recently he has worked alongside Martin and Eliza Carthy and others in The Imagined Village: “Cold Haily Rainy Night”, performed by Wood and Eliza Carthy, took the award for Best Traditional Song at the Folk Awards in 2008.

22nd March 2019 – The Willows

The Willows are a folk roots band from Cambridge, UK. The band shot to prominence when their debut album Beneath Our Humble Soil was championed by legendary BBC DJs Mike Harding and Bob Harris, who subsequently invited them in for a BBC Radio 2 live session. Considerable national acclaim followed including 4.5 stars in Maverick and a Spiral Earth Award nomination for Best Debut. Their follow up ‘Amidst Fiery Skies’ (produced by Sean Lakeman) received a 5-Star review in the Telegraph and a spot in their albums of the year.
With numerous festival appearances from Cambridge to Glastonbury they grew a reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting live acts and were nominated for Best Band in the 2014 FATEA awards. Their new line-up is bursting with vocal and instrumental talent from across the UK roots scene. Stylistically the band continue to take in influences from folk, americana and rock traditions and meld them through their own engaging songwriting. Although it has to be said this line-up and album has more of the power and edge of their live shows than either predecessor. Lyrical songwriting is once again at the heart of the record… Initially direct and personal, the angst-ridden americana opener Coda is offset by the beautifully optimistic Better Days. Perfect Crime drives home a tale of identity fraud during the Great War; Pearl Hart of a notorious 19th century highwaywoman; and the heartbreaking ballad Out of Our Hands laments the horrors of the battle of Solferino. Fronted by the distinctively tender vocals of Jade Rhiannon the band adds Katriona Gilmore (Gilmore & Roberts, The Albion Band) on fiddle to their line-up along with Ben Savage (Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage) on guitar/dobro, Evan Carson (Sam Kelly, Seth Lakeman) on drums/bodhran and Cliff Ward on banjo/guitar.
https://youtu.be/16690bh8HGg

29th March 2019 – Bella, Polly and The Magpies

Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award winner Bella Gaffney (guitar, banjo, vocals) hails from Bradford. She writes folk inspired songs which she performs along with her own original arrangements of traditional pieces. Bella released her second album ‘Heaven Knows‘ in the summer, and has supported folk luminaries including Jon Boden, Cara Dillon and Altan. She has appeared at festivals including Celtic Connections, Bromyard folk festival, HebCelt and many more.  In 2018 she was one of the first recipients of a Friends Of Towersey Festival Award for music development.

Polly Bolton

​York-based Polly Bolton (mandolin, banjo, vocals) first picked up the mandolin as a child and has been touring internationally in various line ups since her early teens. She has performed at festivals including Wilderness, Boomtown Fair, Deer Shed, Festa do Avante! (Portugal), Beverley Folk Festival, Musicport, Towersey and Broadstairs Folk Week, as well as slots with Tcha Limberger & Mozes Rosenberg, LAU and Hot Club of Cowtown. Polly is endorsed by Eastman™ (www.eastmanguitars.com).

Sarah Smout

Polly & Bella first jammed backstage after a show in York in the autumn of 2017 and the project grew from there. A great musical friendship, they work collaboratively, arranging material led by powerful vocals and glittering instrumental collaboration. They each draw on their transatlantic influences to create their own blend of Celtic, bluegrass, old time and folk.2018 has seen the lineup expand to a quartet. The pair begun working with acclaimed cellist Sarah Smout (Michael Chapman, Medieval Baebes, Bridget St John, Jess Morgan) in the spring and recently welcomed fourth band member Holly Brandon on fiddle.

Holly Brandon

The project has been exceptionally well received so far, and over the past few months they have performed at Cambridge Folk Festival, main stage at Wickham Festival, Towersey Festival, Deer Shed Festival, Grassington and many more. They released their debut EP at a sold out show at The Great Yorkshire Fringe in July and they are recording an album with the full quartet, set for release in 2019.

“A natural chemistry… all three voices blend and harmonise beautifully… the mix of styles offers so much promise.”
Folk Radio UK

“Very well liked by the punters! A proper hit.”
Bev Burton, Cambridge Folk Festival

https://youtu.be/mb3IvI2s1yU

5th April 2019 – Steve Tilston

Quotes…the musician’s musician
It seems to me that Steve Tilston has never sought fame on anything but his own terms. He has been driven by his own enthusiasm for his chosen subject matter. He writes beautiful words and melodies and when our generation of songwriters is assessed on our contribution to our time, Steve’s work will rank alongside much better known artists. Ralph McTell
He is one of my and Fairport Convention’s favourite performers. If you haven’t heard him, I suggest you go and check him out as soon as possible. A remarkable talent! Dave Pegg, Fairport Convention

Steve Tilston has an annoying habit of doing things with his guitar and lyrics that I wish I’d thought of first, coupled with an integrity of expression that compels me to say things like this in public. Chris Smither

One of the select band of songwriters with the vision to write great songs rooted in the tradition. Robin Williamson
A songwriter and guitarist I admire. Bert Jansch
Over the years Steve has become my all-time favourite songwriter on the British acoustic guitar scene. He’s a fine singer who combines beautifully executed original melodies with superb lyrics on almost every subject under the sun. Wizz Jones

26th April 2019 – Rowan Piggott & Rosie Hodgson

Rosie Hodgson is a traditional English folk singer from West Sussex. With a voice that brings “a ruby-richness to lyrics new and old” (Folk Radio UK), it’s no surprise that Rosie has been a finalist for the BBC Young Folk Award. After a successful EP and the eponymous album from Crossharbour, she recorded her début album Rise Aurora to critical acclaim, producing what fRoots called “audible magic”. Rosie’s own songs are heavily influenced by the English tradition and her love of literature and the environment.

Rowan Piggott grew up in the foothills of the Burren on the west coast of Ireland, Rowan is a fine singer with a “deep understanding and feel for tradition” (FolkWords) and is known for his fiddle playing with Georgia Lewis Band (who played TwickFolk in 2016) and also his Songhive Project. The winner of the ‘Future of Young Folk Award’ at Bromyard Folk Festival, he recently featured on the cover of The Living Tradition after releasing his solo album Mountscribe.