Monday, 21 February 2011

The Best Folk Music In London: A Guide

I'm going to throw it out there- folk is now cool. It's no longer the preserve of old men with beards singing about boating disasters from the 1870's (although if you like that kind of thing, it's still around as well) Nu folk, with an indie twist a la Mumford is de rigour a la moment. Y'know the sort of thing- music people wouldn't have been able to make if Dylan hadn't gone electric, sung by pretty boys like Johnny Flynn and girls with bright cheeks like Laura Marling. So, where to go to hunt out this folk? Grab your plaid shirts and allow us to lead the way with our complete guide, snappily titled 'The Best Folk Music in London'...

Musical Traditions Club at the King and Queen

If you take your folk seriously and want to learn more about its roots, why not come along to the monthly musical traditions club which showcases the hairier, more angora sweater loving sections of the folk community. Gaelic and Scots music abounds, all played on instruments you've never heard of. If you want tunes that put you in mind of cliffs and wild windy moors then this is the place to come and nod appreciatively.

The Betsey Trotswood, Clerkenwell

A small but perfectly formed central London venue that offers freshly cooked food, a large range of single malt whiskies and real ales and a quirky line up of alt and traditional folk, acoustic, bluegrass and open mic poetry nights. There's a cellar if you fancy getting subterranean and a candlelit assembly room for some dark ages thrills and spills.

Half Moon, Putney

It's a pretty good venue all week round but the Moon comes into its own with two nights in particular- Half Moon Unsigned and Good Voodoo, weekly showcases of the best acoustic acts around. Both are ludicrously cheap and have enough acts to fill a sizeable barn. Generally you can expect to hear some nu-folk, bluegrass and indie tinged Americana.

Union Chapel

One of the most atmospheric venues in London. As the name suggests its an old chapel, complete with stained glass windows and the sense of grandeur that only places of worship inspire. Gigs here have the ability to be spine tingling and there is an impressive folk line up to keep even the most grizzled among you smiling.

Le Quecumbar

Le Quecumbar is well known for its jazz nights, which are pretty awesome, but if you're after folk with an Eastern European gypsy kind of spin, you'll also be well catered for here. All of the performers come with amazing back stories about keeping alive songs that have been passed down from gypsies in a small area of Transylvania called Kalotaszeg or having to pawn their shoes to buy a violin in order to be taught by Hungarian masters.

Cut A Shine Nights- across East London

Ad hoc indie tinged barn dances that are hosted across London. Previous events have taken place at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club and Stokey Town Hall. As well as live music there are DJs spinning country, blue grass, Irish and Scots and dance lessons so you can learn the steps. According to the organisers the events are “rip-roaring, thigh-slapping, pavement-stomping, exhilarating, heart thumping, and blood pumping” which is all you can really ask for from a club night.

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