Folk music

Dense, melancholic, hypnotic: Brighde Chaimbeul, at Summerhall, reviewed

The hip end of the folk spectrum is in rude health right now. Dublin’s mighty Lankum lead the way, but plenty of other interesting artists are following in their wake, Brighde Chaimbeul among them. If a Gaelic-speaking trad musician from Skye reinterpreting Philip Glass for the small pipes sounds like your thing – and why on earth wouldn’t it? – then Chaimbeul is worthy of exploration. At 17 she won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. Her 2019 debut, The Reeling, released via Rough Trade, cross-pollinated traditional with experimental electronic music. More recently, and still in her early twenties, she has collaborated with American avant-garde saxophonist Colin Stetson on

The quiet radicalism of the Chieftains

Pop quiz time: which act was named Melody Maker Group of the Year in 1975? The answer is not, as you might expect, some testosterone-fuelled blues-rock outfit or a hip gang of proto-punk gunslingers, but a gaggle of semi-professional Irish musicians who performed trad tunes sitting down, dressed for church in cardigans, sensible shoes, shirts and ties. The Chieftains were so far from rock and roll they met it coming back the other way. On the cover of Irish Heartbeat, a later collaboration with Van Morrison, they could be mistaken for a loose affiliation of farmers, minor office clerks and earnest ornithologists waiting for a bus outside the town hall.

Moments of pure wonder: Folk Weekend Oxford reviewed

Has any musical moment extended its tendrils in so many unexpected directions as the English folk revival of the mid-1960s? In its beginnings, it was a source of pilgrimage for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, who pinched his arrangement of ‘Scarborough Fair’ from Martin Carthy way back in the dim and distant past when the Beatles walked the earth. It spread into progressive rock and heavy metal (the black metal musician Fenriz, of the Norwegian band Darkthrone, told me recently that he considered Steeleye Span to be an important band in promoting pagan traditions). As it evolved into folk rock, it laid down a path for rock bands seeking to

Bob Dylan — from respected young songwriter to Voice of a Generation

Clinton Heylin is the eminence grise of Bob Dylan scholars: co-founder of Wanted Man (the magazine dedicated to studying Dylan’s life and work), long-time editor of its quarterly magazine the Telegraph, compiler of Stolen Moments: The Ultimate Dylan Reference Book and also the author of Behind the Shades, which, when first published in 1991, was rightly praised as the most reliable account of Dylan’s life and career up to that point. Dylan has accomplished a great deal since then, including becoming a Nobel Laureate, so it’s not surprising that Heylin should want to bring his account up to date, especially since a large new collection of Dylan material has recently