Julie’s album Blackbird is available online and to order!

Julie’s new album Blackbird is now available on Bandcamp, and on CD either from us or from Bandcamp, and it’s receiving some very nice compliments!

Here’s how Mike Norris of the EFDSS Classic Folk podcast introduced it on his show:

I must say this is a very welcome addition to our folk music scene. Julie’s fine singing of our traditional classics accompanied on many by her husband Gavin is a real pleasure.

The lovely Keith Kendrick had this to say:

Julie has a fine voice that could sing any kind of song but this CD shows off her particular and truly amazing skill for interpreting traditional songs and ballads. Of her generation she has surely emerged as one of the best.

Paul McCann writing in Essex Folk News adds:

Julie trained classically when she was young… her classical trained background shows in her perfect diction and the exquisite timing and phrasing… Gavin’s guitar style is thoughtful and precise, and complements the voice perfectly, while his melodeon accompaniment on two songs from children’s song collections is playful and also sympathetic… Lovers of traditional song will enjoy this album very much, and it will bear many further listenings.

And this from Steve Vernon and Barry Lister of the Sidvalleyradio Folkshow:

Well, that was lovely. Thank you for sending it in Julie and we’re looking forward to playing more.’

[Of the track Lavender’s Green]’This track I really like. It shows off Julie and Gavin’s interest in old songs – not just folk songs but old songs generally. You’ll recognise this song as you’ve heard it before, but you might not have heard it sung as nicely as this.’ – James Fagan speaking on the Sheffield Live radio programme Thank Goodness it’s Folk

Here are a couple of samples!

The Banks of Inverary

Julie sings The Banks of Inverary, from the Southern Harvest collection of songs from the Hammond and Gardiner manuscripts; we were introduced to this great book by our friend Nick Dow, who was heavily involved in its editing and production. This particular song was collected from Robert Barratt of Piddletown, Dorset in 1905.

We hope you enjoy the song!

The Old Garden Gate

A song collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, this time from a Mr. Broomfield, in the village of East Hornden, Essex. It’s a poetic song describing a young girl’s disappointment, and the tune is surely one of the great glories of English folk song.

Raking the Hay

Raking the Hay, sung by Julie Atkin. This is her interpretation of a song, which she was inspired to learn after listening to a CD of
the wonderful traditional singer Phoebe Smith.

Julie sings Que Sera Sera

We thought it would be fun to try an experiment – accompanying Julie’s singing using the melodeon. We imagined it would make a nice change and this is the result!

The song was originally composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, and a very nice, deceptively simple piece of work it is.

Frank Loesser’s Slow boat to China

We’ve been learning some new songs ahead of a gig at Islington Folk Club on the 1st October – and this is one of them. Julie and I think it’s a hoot – Frank Loesser’s chords for Slow boat to China alone are wild and wonderful.

The splendid postcard of the liner United States is courtesy of the Wikimedia, by the way – but in the interests of peace between our two nations, I guess I should point out that the slow boat in question is the yacht – not the Blue Ribband-winning liner.

A letter from Towersey Festival

Oxfordshire’s Towersey Festival is an almost overwhelming experience – colourful, crowded, exuberant and crammed with good music, singing, dancing and a range of other entertainments.

Gav was involved with several this year including a dance band booking with Florida and some workshops to lead. So on Sunday lunchtime we took the opportunity to drop into a quiet lunchtime singaround at The Three Horseshoes.

We weren’t sure how many of them knew what was coming when Gav started playing this popular old Fats Waller song on his ‘tina – you may just hear the crowd gasp in surprise if you listen carefully to this recording – but by the end you can also hear how pleased they were that we happened by.

A few moments later, they were probably just as surprised when I hit them with the ballad of McCaffery – still a powerful song nearly 150 years since the events it describes took place.