The Full English is a groundbreaking project (sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society) that draws together for the first time the early 20th century folksong collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams. The result is the most comprehensive database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world – all available for the first time to anyone, anywhere, at the touch of a button.
To mark the launch of the project, folksong scholar and acclaimed singer Fay Hield assembled The Full English tourpulling together half a dozen of the top talents on the English folk music circuit to perform songs drawn from these unique collections. They tour live from 19th October (http://www.fayhield.com/shows). This stellar line-up recorded at Real World Studios and the album, The Full English, is due for release by Topic Records on 21st October.
Artists featured live and on record, include singer and fiddle player Seth Lakeman, who has successfully steered English folk into the musical mainstream with his high-energy performances and a series of best-selling albums, and one of the UK’s finest and most admired guitarists, Martin Simpson. Nancy Kerr is another fiddler/singer with a deep commitment to the English traditional repertoire, celebrated for her boundary-crossing partnerships with Eliza Carthy and James Fagan. Sam Sweeney (fiddle) and Rob Harbron (concertina) are formidable instrumentalists who feature in Fay’s backing band The Hurricane Party, as well as in Jon Boden’s Remnant Kings, amongst others - and are two of the most in-demand session musicians on the scene. Nailing all this multi-instrumentality down is Ben Nicholls, double bassist of choice for artists as diverse as the Seth Lakeman Band, Martin Carthy and Jimmy Sommerville.
There is no mildewy whiff of ancient archives about The Full English.The singers and musicians shake out the songs breathing fresh new life into them, with exciting instrumental textures and irresistible sing-a-long choruses. The material ranges widely through comic songs, broadsides, tragic ballads and folk dance tunes—some new takes on the well-known, with others newly unearthed. After listening to the cd, audiences can then discover online the manuscripts and portraits of both the collectors and their informants ; the whole process from transcription to interpretation to performance, wonderfully laid plain before your eyes and ears.