fRoots magazine will celebrating their 35th anniversary year with a unique gig on Friday week, 14th March, at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Called ‘Bridges’ the event will pull together artists to perform together who in most instances have never met before. With only one exception – and even they only came together just over a year ago – every single collaboration on this special evening is new, mostly between artists who’ve never met before, building bridges between cultures, genres, generations, age old traditional music and new compositions.
A few words on each performance from Ian of fRoots
ELIZA CARTHY + MARTHA MAVROIDI
Singer and fiddle player Eliza Carthy might well be the single most important English folk musician of her generation. Multiply nominated and regularly winning in BBC Folk Awards, BBC Awards For World Music, Mercury Music Prize and fRoots Album Of The Year, but it’s the music that counts as heard on her recent career retrospective Wayward Daughter. Four days before the gig – yes, no safety net! – she first gets together face to face with wonderful Greek lafta player and singer Martha Mavroidi, who tonight makes her UK concert debut (the first, we suspect, of many more).
SPIRO + MOJMIR NOVAKOVIC
Bristol based contemporary music quartet Spiro – Jane Harbour (violin), Jon Hunt (guitar), Jason Sparkes (violin) and Alex Vann (mandolin) – have made many albums and are as happy in a concert hall as a Womad dance tent, but they’ve never appeared with a singer before. Tonight they’ll do that with the charismatic, shaman like figure of Croatia’s Mojmir Novakovic, leader of the extraordinary Croatian left-field roots rock band Kries, at whose EthnoAmbient festival near Split we engineered a meeting last summer. It worked!
CATRIN FINCH + SECKOU KEITA
The one teaming who have appeared together before, and a classic example of how bridges between cultures can produce something very special. But this time last year the Welsh star of classical harp music and the Senegalese kora master were only just embarking on what was to become, from a standing start, fRoots Critics’ Poll Album Of The Year Clychau Dibon upon its release in October. We’ll be presenting their Award at the concert.
OLIVIA CHANEY + B.J. COLE
Olivia Chaney didn’t have an album to her name when we put her on the cover of fRoots last June, in spite of a growing following for her sublime singing and songwriting. Since then she’s had several nominations in the 2014 BBC Folk Awards and recently signed worldwide to Nonesuch. Tonight we’ve teamed her with one of the great visionary musicians of his instrument, veteran pedal steel guitar player B.J. Cole who has worked with everybody in popular music, including the likes of Martin Simpson and Devon Sproule closer to fRoots home.
CHRIS WOOD + BEN MANDELSON
Chris Wood has long been one of England’s most perceptive songwriters with roots in the tradition, a first class guitar and violin player, and a multiple BBC Folk Awards winner and nominee. As well as solo work he’s also seen in duo with Andy Cutting, and as a member of The Imagined Village. Ben Mandelson is a multi-instrumental, multi-cultured musician and record producer with a multi-band CV including the legendary 3 Mustaphas 3 and Billy Bragg’s Blokes: he’s currently in the Yiddish Twist Orchestra, Les Triaboliques and the False Beards.
LISA KNAPP, GERRY DIVER + MAVRIKA
Singer Lisa Knapp just won a 2014 BBC Folk Award for her original song Two Ravens from her acclaimed new album Hidden Seam, which was produced by her multi-instrumentalist partner Gerry Diver (who in turn produced the 2012 fRoots album of the year by Sam Lee). Mavrika are the London band with roots in Greek rembetika, led by guitar/bouzouki player and producer Chris Morphitis (also of Owiny Sigoma Band) and singer/ pianist Katina Kangaris.
Visit http://www.frootsmag.com/ to subscribe to their magazine, don’t miss their huge April Festival issue