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EFDSS programme at English Folk Expo 2019

The English Folk Dance and Song Society will be pleased to present three artists at English Folk Expo in Manchester this October.

All three will perform sets of around 20 minutes at The Comedy Store, under the arches at Deansgate Locks (Whitworth Street West, M1 5LH), on the morning of Friday 18 October.

Damien Barber photo

Damien & The Omen

In this new project, Damien Barber leads a four-piece on vocals, concertina and guitar, accompanied by three acclaimed musicians from his stage shows: Ben Griffith on guitar, vocals and percussion, Matt Aplin on piano and Hugh MacDermott on double bass. It’s the perfect platform for Barber to return to more intimate, stripped-back performances inspired heavily by the traditional singers he grew up with in Norfolk, such as Peter Bellamy and Walter Pardon.  Having peeled away the frenzy of his rollicking dance shows, Damien’s distinctive and powerful voice takes the floor and transports the audience to the rural East Anglian landscapes of his youth and beyond, delving into the history and stories that live on through traditional folk songs. 2020 heralds the release of their debut album.


Nicola Beazley photo 

Nicola Beazley

Nicola Beazley is a traditional fiddle player from the North of England and a recipient of the EFDSS Creative Seed Bursary 2018. Alongside her PhD ethnomusicology research at the University of Sheffield, she is also an internationally sought-after artist, performing with the likes of Rosie Hood, and as a member of the acclaimed transatlantic duo Alex Cumming and Nicola Beazley. ‘Echoes’ is Nicola’s debut solo EP as part of her solo venture, which has toured to great success since its release in early 2019. Featuring an extended line up, Nicola’s music is an expression of English instrumental ‘folk’ in a forward-thinking performance, joining the dots between northern folk and brass band traditions, through her explorative approach to folk and traditional music.


Thom Ashworth photo 

Thom Ashworth

An acoustic bass guitar may not seem like an obvious choice as an accompaniment instrument, but folk-singing bassist Thom Ashworth shows that this distinctive instrumental voice can find a home in folk music, and that four strings are more than enough to delve into the canon of British folk music. Equal parts interpreter of traditional song and insightful political songwriter, he has been compared in the press to Martin Carthy, Chris Wood, and Billy Bragg. This selection of luminaries doesn't tell the whole story though – from the sparse lament of The City and The Tower to his muscular arrangement of High Germany, Thom's inventive musicality and powerful tenor voice shine through. Thom received EFDSS Creative Seed Bursary funding in 2018.


“As a founding and current partner of EFEx, EFDSS has the privilege of being able to provide additional performance platforms alongside the main EFEx and Manchester Folk Festival performances. We focus on new and emerging artists, and established artists who are developing a new band or forging a solo career, all working with the English folk idiom. English Folk Expo is a strand of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme, and it is wonderful be able to give these three talented artists the opportunity to showcase at this significant event.”

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director


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