Thursday, 7 February 2013

Bellowhead Celtic Connections 2013.

Bellowhead were great fun and exhilarating and great for photos. They are a ten-piece English contemporary folk band who did a show at the ABC 02 Glasgow during Celtic Connections 2013. The band includes a four-piece brass section and play many instruments between them. 

I met another photographer there who was shooting for the EFDS, the English Folk Dance and Song, an organization which was set up to promote English folk music. He said that Bellowhead started with the duo of Jon Boden and John Spiers. Speirs plays melodeon and concertina and Boden plays fiddle and guitar while he also stamps the rhythm on a stomp box. They brought in the other musicians to form a full band to help fill the gap in the market for a top quality English folk band. Their line up includes - Benji Kirkpatrick, Rachael McShane, Paul Sartin, Pete Flood, Brendan Kelly, Justin Thurgur, Andy Mellon and Giles Lewin.

They sang vocal harmonies on traditional folk songs as well as playing many jigs and reels of traditional country dance tunes and sea shanties. Their sound draws on a diversity of musical styles and influences – from the old English tunes Greensleeves and ‘Can You Dance the Polka’ and to a sound similar to the popular in the 70s English folk band, Steeleye Span. 
Jon Boden proved a naturally theatrical front man as he waved his arms wide and brought the audience with him. They were polished and energetic on stage and the band have won awards as the Best Live Act. The packed crowd of all ages were clearly up for a good night! I highly recommend the band for a fun night out and it was good to see a band making folk accessible for a younger audience. 
I did wonder why they weren’t playing at the more atmospheric and old world charm of the Old Fruitmarket venue Glasgow, which would have fitted their sound perfectly.  
Bellowhead have gathered several awards and recently the BBC Radio folk award for their 2012 album, Broadside, which made No.16 UK official album charts and number 1 in the UK independent album charts. Their previous album Hedonism went silver (selling over 60,000 copies) and is the highest selling independently released folk album ever.  The band developed a new ale to go along with their album release!