Leigh Folk Festival is delighted to welcome a late addition to its already star-studded 2017 roster, the celebrated guitarist and influential interpreter of traditional song, Martin Carthy.
Awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2014, for more than 50 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it.
Trailblazing musical partnerships with, amongst others, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick and his award-winning wife, Norma Waterson, and daughter, Eliza Carthy, have resulted in more than 40 albums, but Martin has only recorded 10 solo albums, of which the much anticipated ‘Waiting for Angels’ (Topic TSCD527) was the latest. Whether in the folk clubs (which he continues to champion), on the concert stage or making TV appearances (he was the subject of the acclaimed `Originals’ music documentary strand on BBC 2) there are few roles that Martin Carthy hasn’t played.
He’s a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic and electric guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material. He prefers to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position. Perhaps, most significant of all, are his settings of traditional songs with guitar, which have influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, on both sides of the Atlantic.
Carthy has been described as the “godfather” and “elder statesman” of English folk, but neither term feels right. Too regal, they omit the mischief, wit, fascination with the macabre; they discount that very special balance between humility towards people and certainty over his craft, and that crucial word Carthy loves: “subversion”. “Folk music is by definition subversive,” he says, and this, as well as the excavation of a trove of songs, is the bedrock of Carthy’s immeasurable contribution to English music over half a century. It is also a heretical philosophy of great and guiding cogency.
Martin will be appearing on the Billet Wharf Hoy stage during the afternoon of Sunday 25.