“Songs that twist, turn and constantly surprise”
- The Guardian on Lisa Knapp
Lisa Knapp - voice, fiddle, autoharp
Sam Lee - voice, Jews harp
Nathaniel Mann - voice, bowed banjo, electronics and meat cleaver
Plus guest musicians:
Seth Bennett - double bass
Pete Flood - percussion
Three of the UK’s most innovative folk artists reinvent a collection of British Broadsides – low cost daily song sheets sold for pence - giving a rare insight into Britain’s music, literary and political history. Delving into the collection of Broadsides at the Bodleian Libraries and beyond, Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann lead a five-piece band, and bring to life Broadside Ballads for a new generation.
All three artists challenge the preconceptions of what ‘traditional folk’ should sound like. Sam Lee (Mercury nominated) has blazed a dizzying trail as a song collector and singer, well-loved for his rich, resonant voice. Sublime singer and fiddle player Lisa Knapp has established and evolved her own crafted sound and songwriting skill. Whilst sound adventurer Nathaniel Mann is well known for his work in Dead Rat Orchestra, and his performances involving instrument making, ethnography, folklore and storytelling.
As part of the development of this special touring project, the artists will spend time together at the Bodleian Libraries, talking with experts and handling the Broadside Collection. This research will inspire new arrangements and original material for their uniquely contemporary take on broadside ballads.
Sublime singer and fiddle player Lisa Knapp’s debut album Wild & Undaunted propelled her onto the folk scene with refreshing interpretations of traditional folk and highly original songs. Her second album won rave reviews and its track Two Ravens the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Original Track in 2014. Her unique and imaginative use of national institution the Shipping Forecast led to BBC Radio 4’s invitation to present the fascinating documentary Shipping Songs. Lisa continues to tour with her band and feature in prestigious projects rooted in the folk idiom but by no means bound by it.
Sam Lee has blazed a dizzying trail as a song collector and singer, well-loved for his rich, resonant voice. With his debut album Ground of its Own nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize, Sam was quickly established as one of the folk scene’s most exciting figures. His second album was similarly feted with a track winning Best Traditional Song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016, performances at Royal Albert Hall and BBC TV’s Later with Jools. Sam is currently recording music for the film King Arthur; Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie's next Hollywood offering.
Nathaniel Mann is a performer, experimental composer and sound artist. He is well known for his work within Dead Rat Orchestra and his compositions and performances which incorporate instrument building, ethnography, folklore and storytelling. Notable projects include the award-winning Pigeon Whistles for custom pigeon-flutes and 14 Birmingham Roller Pigeons and Rough Music for bespoke bronze meat cleavers, alongside scores for London Contemporary Orchestra and BBC Scotland.
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 20thcenturies, 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 Libraries holds nearly 30,000 broadside ballads, many of them unique survivals, printed from the 16th to the 20th Centuries. Digital facsimiles and an online database were first made accessible in 1999. In 2013, the Libraries launched Broadside Ballads Online, which is a digital collection of the Bodleian’s broadside ballads together with links to digital collections at other libraries and institutions. http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/
Supported by the Bodleian Libraries
Lisa Knapp is supported by PRS for Music Foundation