Scottish singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Newton, curator of Trad. Reclaimed, puts together a playlist of artists featured in the festival, and track by track, discusses her inspirations for the weekend. You can find out more about our folk weekend for Venus Unwrapped and Rachel’s thoughts about the festival in this interview.
The Rheingans Sisters – Mackerel
I remember driving home from a festival where Rowan had given me a copy of her and Anna’s album Already Home. I cried my eyes out to this song on the M6! It won a well-deserved Folk Award for Best Original Song. I love the way The Rheingans Sisters frame their pieces with such a strong musicality and a deep, intuitive interaction.
The Poozies – The Polkas
The Poozies had a huge impact on me growing up. Not only were they a band made up of women, which was much more of a rare sight at the time, but they seemed to combine such different musical backgrounds with a sparkling confidence. They were my first introduction to what the harp was capable of in a band setting.
Emily Portman – Borrowed and Blue
I’ve worked with Emily for 13 years, firstly in her trio and then as The Furrow Collective. Her songwriting is so brilliantly clever. I’ve learned so much from the way Emily scrutinises traditional ballads and reimagines and subverts them. This song is a response to the ballad The Cruel Mother.
The Shee – Eppie Morrie
This is such a powerful song and I love performing it live with The Shee. Olivia sings it with such passion! We are so excited to be bringing the Big Band to Trad. Reclaimed. It is such a joy to expand our line up and it’s a mighty sound.
Margaret Barry – The Factory Girl
I am really looking forward to seeing She Moved Through the Fair: The Legend of Margaret Barry at Trad. Reclaimed. Maggie Barry is the ultimate inspiration for a touring musician! I’ve been a fan since hearing a recording of this song while at University.
Lauren MacColl – A Mermaid at Fearn
I loved working on this project The Seer with Lauren, who is a brilliant composer and fiddle/viola player. This track features the amazing multi-instrumentalist Megan Henderson on piano.
Heather Downie – For the Love of Levers
Heather will be joining us in The Shee Big Band at Trad. Reclaimed. She’s a fantastic harpist and I’ve loved working with her on the Shee Big Band material. This track also features the brilliant Tia Files on percussion.
Hannah James & Tuulikki Bartosik – Karelian
I was blown away by Hannah’s JigDoll project. Hannah is an artist who always seems to be challenging herself in new ways and I really admire her inventive and multi-faceted approach to making music. We have her performing a solo show of JigDoll, but this is an example of her in a different guise in a track from her duo with the fantastic Tuulikki Bartosik.
Kathryn Tickell & The Side – Penguin Notes
Kathryn has been touring as a soloist and with various bands since she was a teenager and is such an inspiration, particularly as she was one of the few female instrumentalists doing so for so long She never stands still with her music and is always working on something new. I’m really excited to hear her new project with The Darkening.
Shirley Collins – The Unquiet Grave
It was an inspiration to see Shirley performing a couple of years ago after such a long time away from it. Many of the songs I sing are learned from recordings of Shirley. She played such an important part in the Folk Revival and has led a fascinating life and I’m really interested to hear her in conversation with Emily Portman at Trad. Reclaimed.
Mairearad and Anna – Tatties and Ham
Mairearad Green and Anna Massie’s music never fails to make me feel really happy. Their duo is such a great live act. Mairearad Green (who is also my cousin) is one of the artists joining The Shee Big Band at Trad. Reclaimed.
Shona Mooney – Kaleidoscope
Shona is a founding member of The Shee and is one of my all-time fiddle players. Her playing is so inventive and expressive.
Solasta – The Pirate Set
I was really taken with the inventive arrangements and fresh approach taken by Solasta as demonstrated in this track from their new album A Cure for the Curious. It will be great to have them as part of Trad. Reclaimed.
Songs of Separation – Sea King
Songs of Separation was a collaborative project put together by Jenny Hill and it featured some of my favourite artists including Trad. Reclaimed performers Rowan Rheingans, Hannah James and Kate Young, who will be performing with Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening. I went to see them at Celtic Connections a few years ago and this song from Kate just blew me away. It was such a powerful performance and I came away feeling inspired.
Lori Watson – Is it Over?
Lori is another artist we are lucky enough to have join us in The Shee Big Band. I’ve worked with Lori in our Scottish/Norweigan group Boreas. She is a great fiddle player and I really like both her songwriting and interpretations of traditional songs.
Nancy Kerr and James Fagan – Dance to Your Daddy
I love Nancy’s songwriting and really enjoyed working on her songs in the Elizabethan Session project we were both on in 2014. She’s also a great instrumentalist. It really blows my mind when she sings this song and plays another tune on the fiddle at the same time! A classic.
Rachel Newton – A Token
This is from my most recent album West, which was recorded on location in my grandparents’ old croft house in Achnahaird, Wester Ross. I’ll be singing this one among others at my solo recital at Trad. Reclaimed.