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Broadside Ballads

Lisa Knapp – voice, fiddle, autoharp. Sam Lee – voice, Jews harp. Nathaniel Mann – voice, bowed banjo, electronics and meat cleaver … plus guest musicians: Pete Flood (percussion) and Seth Bennett (double bass).

Three of the UK’s most innovative folk artists collaborate for the first time, fronting a five-piece band that will reinvent a collection of British broadsides. Broadside ballads – disposable song sheets sold for pence – give a rare insight into Britain’s musical and political past, with themes still relevant today A broadside (also known as a broadsheet) is a single sheet of inexpensive paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations. Broadside ballads, from the 16th to 20th centuries, contain words and images once displayed and sung daily in Britain’s streets and inns. Although part of living traditions of folksong, popular art and literature, these illustrated printed sheets are now rare and preserved in only a few libraries.

Digital collections and catalogues have improved access to these fragile survivors of popular culture in print. The Bodleian Library has been at the forefront of efforts to collect, preserve and describe Broadside ballads for several centuries, and is committed to further efforts to make them available for all ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk. The artists will be spending two days of research and development at the Bodleian Libraries, talking with experts and handling the Broadside Collection, followed by rehearsals. For the tour they will create a performance of new arrangements and original material for a contemporary take on broadside ballads.

Produced by Sound UK and OCM. Funded by Arts Council England. Supported by the Bodleian Libraries.

ARTISTS

SAM LEE www.samleesong.co.uk

Since bursting on to the folk scene, Londoner Sam Lee has blazed a dizzying trail as a singer and song collector. Sam is also the founder of the award-winning folk club The Nest Collective. Sam’s debut album, ‘Ground of its Own’ was conceived after winning the prestigious Arts Foundation Prize and nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize. His second album, ‘The Fade in Time’ has been equally feted. At the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016, Sam was presented with ‘Best Traditional Song’ for his version of the song ‘Lovely Molly’. During the ceremony, he performed the song live, backed by the 40-piece Roundhouse Choir, in front of a sold-out audience at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The same week, Sam and his band of Friends were invited to perform the same song on BBC TV’s ‘Later with Jools’.

“Sam is the most accomplished and authentic interpreters of traditional English song to emerge in years” “He brought the house down [Queen Elizabeth Hall]” fRoots

LISA KNAPP www.lisaknapp.co.uk

Singer and fiddle player Lisa Knapp burst onto the scene with her debut album Wild & Undaunted, full of refreshing interpretations of traditional folk songs peppered with highly distinctive original pieces. Attracting the attention of London uber producer Youth (Killing Joke, Pink Floyd, The Orb etc) he remixed her version of The Blacksmith which became the first track on Lisa’s release. Garnering 2 nominations at the BBC Folk Awards and Mojo ‘Folk Album of The Year’ 2007, numerous appearances and plays across BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 & 6Music ensued and Lisa was invited to take part in BBC4’s Christmas TV folk song extravaganza and also performed in tribute to the late Lal Waterson for BBC Electric Proms.

“Lisa has a rare and untamed quality to her voice … Tapping deep into the well of tradition, she keeps her feet firmly on the ground of the current singer songwriter/ alt-folk renaissance , creating a uniquely timeless sound. Raw in emotion and feel. Beautiful!” Youth (Producer; Paul McCartney, Killing Joke

“When she sings, you willingly go with her into another world. Lisa certainly has the heart of the matter in her.“ Shirley Collins”

NATHANIEL MANN www.nathanielmann.co.uk

Nathaniel Mann is a performer, and experimental composer, sound artist and sound designer. He is well known for his project and performance work within experimental trio Dead Rat Orchestra, who have infamously explored England’s musical traditions across the nation’s waterways and gallows sites.

The album is one of the most moving and visionary pieces I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in a long time” Folk Radio

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