Six excellent artists have been selected as musicians in residence at museums in Wakefield, Greenwich and Reading in an ambitious new scheme run by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, with funding from Help Musicians.
Each musician will explore creative links between the tangible culture and history of the museum’s collections and artefacts and the intangible culture and history of folk songs and tunes. The residencies will draw on the artists’ extensive range of experience and talents as educators and creative musicians. Each artist will work over an extended period of twelve months at their museum, and in their museum’s local community. They will each develop a new music work which will be performed at the end of the residency, and they will deliver outreach activities to engage people with the museum and with folk music.
This is the latest project in EFDSS’ Artists’ Development programme for the English folk arts. In recent years EFDSS has commissioned and supported many new works covering a broad range of music and dance across England.
Bryony Griffith and Andy Seward have each been awarded bursaries to be Musicians in Residence at the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield.
Andy Seward is an electric/double bass player, record producer and recording engineer from the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire. He is probably best known for his work with folk superstar Kate Rusby, recording and mixing her seminal records including her Mercury-nominated album Sleepless, and as the double bass/banjo player in her live band. He has also worked extensively with virtuoso guitarist Martin Simpson, producing his critically acclaimed albums True Stories (2007), Purpose and Grace (2011) and playing bass in his trio and big band. He is also the series music producer for the BBC’s Radio Ballads.
Bryony Griffith is a highly accomplished fiddle player and distinctive singer with a broad repertoire of traditional English dance tunes and songs. She has a passion for delving through the tune and song manuscripts of her native Yorkshire and has more recently begun to collect songs about Industrial Heritage. Her skills and enthusiasm encompass solo performance, duo work with her husband, Will Hampson, and extensive experience of playing for folk dancing, including her role in the BBC Folk Award-winning Demon Barbers. She has over twenty years' experience researching folk material and devising innovative ways of presenting it for use in performance and education work with children, young people and adults. She was recently appointed as a vocal tutor on the new Folk Music degree course at Leeds College of Music.
The National Coal Mining Museum for England provides a great day out with a unique opportunity to travel 140 metres underground down one of Britain's oldest working mines. Situated in a rural setting, it offers an unusual combination of exciting experiences, whilst providing a genuine insight into the hard-working lives of miners through the ages.
Aimee Leonard and Joe Danks have each been awarded bursaries to be Musicians in Residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
Aimée Leonard, a singer and bodhran player from Orkney, has been performing and teaching folk music for more than thirty years. She was a member of the group Anam, touring and performing at folk festivals worldwide. In Orkney she founded the Song Shop Choir, promoted folksong in schools, and co-led the Big Orkney Song Project. Now living in London, Aimée is a coach in voice and singing for Newcastle and London South Bank Universities, runs two folk choirs, and works for EFDSS as a folk educator and workshop leader.
Joe Danks is a percussionist, songwriter and community musician from Nottingham, now based in Deptford. Joe has performed across the UK, Ireland and Europe, and his education work has seen him work with EFDSS, Kings College London and Trinity Laban Conservatoire. He also acts as director of Pulse Arts CIC, a Music In Healthcare organisation with projects at major hospitals including Great Ormond Street. In recent years Joe has been gaining recognition as a bodhrán player, chiefly with his band Ranagri. This will be Joe's first artistic residency.
The National Maritime Museum is the world’s largest maritime museum and tells the story of the seafaring past through its vast and varied collections. Its historic buildings, along with the Queen’s House, Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory form part of Royal Museums Greenwich, a unique collection of attractions which works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people.
Jackie Oates and Pete Flood have each been awarded bursaries to be Musicians in Residence at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading.
Her delicate balance between then and now, respect and reinvention, tradition and otherness has made Jackie Oates a name synonymous with the thrillingly rude health of English folk music in the 21st century. Jackie Oates grew up surrounded by the music she plays. She started her career as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards. She went on to win the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Horizon prize in 2009 and took home the award for Best Traditional Track on the same night. Jackie has surprised and beguiled critics and fans with each album, and is currently working on her seventh studio release, to be launched during early 2018. As a teacher, Jackie regularly runs choirs and music groups for young people both in her home town and across the country.
Pete Flood is a drummer, composer, teacher and botanist. A graduate of Goldsmith’s College, he has written for television, radio, theatre, dance and opera and appears on numerous albums in genres including Japanese folk music and Algerian rai. From 2004 to 2016 he was the drummer for folk behemoth Bellowhead, writing many of their arrangements. He also played percussion for Tim Van Eyken, Lisa Knapp, Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, Belshazzar’s Feast and Faustus, and worked in a rich variety of collaborative projects with the Renga Ensemble of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra. He’s released two albums of experimental music based on his rural roots, and adapted a series of bawdy broadside ballads for the Bristol Old Vic production of The Life and Times of Fanny Hill. Other collaborations include Oysterband, Emily Portman, Sam Lee and Nathaniel Mann. He teaches percussion at Leeds College of Music and Kingston University.
The Museum of English Rural Life is owned and managed by the University of Reading. It uses its diverse and surprising collection to explore how the skills and experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present, can help shape our lives now and into the future.