Posts Tagged ‘Southern Tenant Folk Union’

Over the weekend of March 16th, 17th and 18th, WagonWheel Presents… brings our second WagonWheelWeekender to The Greystones, Sheffield. We’ll be bringing you five shows across the three days, featuring the usual mix of local, UK and international talent that you’d come to expect from a WagonWheel show.

On Friday night we’re joined by US singer/songwriter Rod Picott, playing songs from brand new double album. The sprawling twenty-two song Out Past The Wires ranges from whispery ballads to guitar driven rockers and hits every musical spot between. Opening the show will be Boss Caine, the main musical vehicle of hard living, permanently gigging, story telling, troubadouring, award winning, UK singer songwriter, Daniel Lucas.

Saturday afternoon sees the first of two “in the round” shows, when sharing songs and stories will be father & son duo M&J Blues, free-wheeling troubadour Franc Cinelli and The Black Thunder Revue frontman Andy P. Davison playing a solo set. All three acts will be on stage from the off for this early show.

We’ve a fine double bill of bands for Saturday night, with local favourites The Fargo Railroad Co. joined by The Lucky Strikes. The Fargo Railroad Co. are a southern rock / Americana inspired 4 piece band, whilst The Lucky Strikes have been described as “Blues/ Garage/ Americana, spaghetti-western, fiddle powered, howlin’, heavin’ rock and roll”. We think that adds up to a great show. Franc Cinelli returns to get the night under way too with a short solo/acoustic set.

For Sunday afternoon we return to the “in the round” format, this time in the company of Fargo’s Jody Davies airing some solo material, Charlie Tophill strumming out cheerful pessimism on an acoustic guitar and a man who’s been playing WagonWheel shows almost as long as we’ve been doing them, John Batchelor.

Finally on Sunday night, Southern Tenant Folk Union return to Sheffield with their ‘work in progress’ tour, road testing songs from forthcoming new album Willie Rough. Southern Tenant Folk Union are the Edinburgh based six-piece string band that over a series of albums have produced a thought provoking and arresting take on roots & folk music. Support comes from Paul Handyside, the folk and roots singer songwriter who began his musical career with eighties indie darlings Hurrah!

Doors for all evening shows open at 8pm and shows finish by 11pm.

Doors for afternoon shows open at 3pm and shows finish by 5.45pm.

Advance tickets prices are:

Friday night £10
Saturday afternoon £5
Saturday evening £8
Sunday afternoon £5
Sunday evening £12
Weekend ticket (all 5 shows) £35

Weekend tickets and tickets for each individual show are available from: http://www.wegottickets.com/wagonwheelpresents

Tickets for each individual show are also available from the venue between 12 & 6pm daily.

All prices will be more on the door.

Full previews for each show are available at the links below:

Friday night : Rod Picott + Boss Caine
Saturday afternoon : M&J Blues + Franc Cinelli + Andy P. Davison
Saturday night : The Fargo Railroad Co. + The Lucky Strikes + Franc Cinelli
Sunday afternoon : Jody Davies + Charlie Tophill + John Batchelor
Sunday night : Southern Tenant Folk Union + Paul Handyside



Read Full Post »

On Sunday March 18th, WagonWheel Presents… welcomes Southern Tenant Folk Union back to The Greystones as part their ‘work in progress’ tour, road testing songs from forthcoming new album Willie Rough. You can also expect songs from across all seven previous albums, especially their self titled debut record which has recently had a 10th anniversary reissue. Support comes from Paul Handyside. Advance tickets priced at £12 are available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/418077 and the venue (12-6pm), or entry on the night will be £14. Doors open 8pm. This is show #5 of our WagonWheelWeekend happening across March 16th, 17th and 18th. Full weekend tickets for all five shows (including this one) are also available priced at £35 from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/424859. For details of the full weekend line up see http://www.wagonwheelpresents.co.uk.



Southern Tenant Folk Union are the Edinburgh based six-piece string band that over a series of albums have produced a thought provoking and arresting take on roots & folk music. Past winners of the ‘Americana Artist Of The Year’ award the band have taken their music onto BBC One TV’s prime political show ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ plus Irish TV’s world famous chat show ‘The Late Late Show’ as well as onto stages at prestigious festivals (Celtic Connections, Belfast Open House Festival, Orkney Folk Festival, Belladrum Festival, Electric Picnic & many more). They run their own record label and work completely independently releasing their own music.

Live reviews of their concert performances have picked up on their ‘tight delivery and soaring, gorgeous harmonies’ saying that ‘STFU are a must see live band combining a rich blend of musical talent with a high octane Appalachian style’ and they perform their own brand of ‘thrilling traditional musicianship’. Through extensive touring they have seen audiences grow year on year and now consistently sell-out concert venues all over the UK and Ireland. Artistically successful their albums have been reviewed and praised in The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times and The Irish Times with their latest album awarded 4 stars in Q Magazine and described as containing ‘songs that embrace the traditional ambience of The Unthanks and the experimentation of Tunng’.

Started in 2006 by Belfast born and Liverpool/London raised musician Pat McGarvey, he has, through various different line-ups of the collective, driven ever increasingly forward in taking genre clichés and subverting them into more interesting shapes and patterns, attempting to create roots music that has depth both lyrically and musically. The name itself comes from a desire to find a union based name for the group and one that also suited the style of music. Unions thematically suiting a musical collective such as STFU (with small songwriters banding together) and also acting as intent for the band to counteract some of the media’s union bashing (and the excuses used to curtail worker’s rights in recent decades) by talking about the positive things unions have done for society. In trying to find a name they came upon and appropriated the ground breaking multi-racial tenant farmers collective from the new deal/dustbowl era the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.

The first two albums released when the band was based in London got them started on the Americana circuit in the UK and the success of the debut meant they had national distribution for the second. These albums both took a sometimes ‘straight bluegrass’ form (influenced mainly by The Stanley Brothers) as well as a nod towards Gene Clark, The Grateful Dead and Don Reno. A marked progression and the better distribution of the second cd saw them touring widely, being booked for a BBC Radio 2 session at Maida Vale (for the now sadly missed Mark Lamarr show ‘God’s Jukebox’) and establishing themselves in UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.

With McGarvey moving to Edinburgh around the second album’s release the next year would see the original line-up all move on leading to McGarvey reforming the collective in Scotland and mostly working on songwriting by himself for the third album. Free to do what he liked McGarvey began to incorporate some other more unexpected yet appropriate lyrical ideas into the new material. Realising that even as folk music’s tales of human suffering, brutality, love, empowerment and death are usually set in the past they also serve as a warning for the future. That plus the reasoning that the sound of the future in any post technological society is more likely to be folk/acoustic based gave McGarvey the licence to experiment with more dark folk musical tones and ‘science fiction’ lyrics. Though not of course laser guns and silver jump suits, more descriptions & stories of a return to the hard agrarian, feudal landscape of just a few centuries ago in one possible future.

Recording the third album with a new line up in Nov 2009, including Adam Bulley on mandolin and Chris Purcell on guitar, went well despite the lead singer John Langan saying mid sessions he probably wouldn’t be able to tour (before going awol for several months forcing the band to recruit Ewan Macintyre to replace him). When ‘The New Farming Scene’ album was finally released on the band’s own label in June 2010 it received the best press of any album so far including a 4 star review in The Independent (and in an article criticising Mercury Music Prize 2010 the same reviewer, Andy Gill, named the album as one that should be considered for that award) and many other national reviews in The Sunday Times, Irish Times and Scotsman. The band appeared on live TV (The View on RTE 1) for the first time and also played the song ‘No Work Today’ on the legendary ‘Loose Ends’ show on BBC Radio 4. The year ended on a high with the band winning ‘Americana Artist Of The Year’ at the British Country Music Awards.

Touring with the new Scottish line-up the band began to play bigger venues and start to work collectively on the follow-up which came out in June 2011. ‘Pencaitland’ also got some great reviews (including first reviews in The Guardian and The Sun) though disappointed a few critics that had loved the previous album. Highlights included the John Carpenter influenced lead track ‘I Dream Of Burning Buildings’ (based on a synthesiser instrumental McGarvey had recorded in 1996) and the title track ‘Pencaitland’ – both songs making use of the bowed double bass on one of their records for the first time, a sound that continues to feature heavily live and in the studio. One track ‘The Rights & Interests Of The Laboring Man’, a song about union busting in early 20th century USA, was also donated to the Morning Star anniversary compilation cd “We’re All In This Together”.

So after deciding a more focused album might alleviate any of the perceived problems surrounding ‘Pencaitland’ another themed album like the third was proposed that would this time take ‘modern horror’ as the lyrical background and use some of the arpeggiated and almost atonal musical ideas from 70’s and 80’s cult soundtrack composers (such as the aforementioned John Carpenter as well as Fabio Frizzi, Goblin and Tangerine Dream) to set the scene for the subject matter. These series of notes actually fitted very well on the 5 String Banjo (when it was muted with a tea towel) and mimicked the sound of 1970’s sequencing keyboards like the Moog. Key to the sound too was Jed Milroy’s clarinet playing and Marty Camino’s expert and powerful double bass tone with plenty of the aforementioned bowing.

Modern horror was the overarching theme then that would give the songwriters something to start from but also allow complete freedom as it could include ideas as diverse as problems with capitalism to a personal horror of socially awkward situations or a fear of crime or of redundancy or a loss of self-confidence; anything that could be adapted into an interesting and, crucially, well written song or piece of music.

This began to be a hard sell to the collective and, despite some good songs emerging initially, tension began to develop as the themed nature of the album’s direction couldn’t be agreed upon. Personalities began to push and be pushed as songs that didn’t fit everyone’s own ideas were proposed. Compromise was eventually reached ahead of the recording session and though some members didn’t get the straight bluegrass album they wanted and others didn’t get the darker more extreme album they wanted the end result was an album that in its making became something else. Highlights included the Donald Ker poetic adaptation (by Carrie Thomas) ‘Days By The Seaside With Ice Cream’, the post-apocalyptic stomper ‘Chest Freezer’ (filmed for Balcony TV in Dublin) and the horror-arpeggiated ‘Crash’ inspired by the JG Ballard novel. Also coming to the fore was the song writing ability of Chris Purcell with three excellent songs full of atmosphere and beauty, namely the title track ‘Goodbye Sun’, ‘Relic Of A Reasonable Mind’ (with its daring use of eBow by Adam Bulley) and the co-write with McGarvey of ‘Conscience Falls’.

Released in January 2013 ‘Hello Cold Goodbye Sun’ was almost universally awarded 4 star reviews (in The Independent, Q Magazine, Scotland On Sunday, The Scotsman, Mail On Sunday & many more), became number one in the Americana UK Chart by March and appeared in The Herald’s Top 50 Scottish Albums of 2013 list. Amongst the sold out album release tour the band were asked to play at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow and to appear on live national TV twice. Firstly in Ireland for ‘The Late Late Show on RTE 1’ (the world’s longest running chat show) and later in the year on BBC One TV’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ where political song ‘Men In Robes’ was performed in front of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Since the release and the album tour, the band line-up had changed again and just as before as some people moved on then some new people joined each bringing different experience, interesting ideas and new influences to the collective. People like talented Scottish singer songwriter Rory Butler (winner of Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections in 2012), fiddle player Dirk Ronneburg (from Cera Impala & The New Prohibition), mandolin player Danny Hart (from STFU label mates Blueflint) and, from Inverness, double bass player Craig Macfadyen. Work has started on the 6th album and it promises to take the disparate influences the band has, expand upon them, and progress the experiment ever further whilst always posing the question “what can we do with these acoustic instruments?”. The band continue to tour in the manner of Willie Nelson, that is with an exciting live show that engages the audience, talks & tells stories, discusses issues, is informal and also one that displays the fully eclectic and interesting music from across the band’s career to date. And like Willie they play the hits.




Paul Handyside is a folk and roots singer songwriter. His song writing style has been compared to artists as varied as Chris Difford, Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock, Green Gartside, Elvis Costello, Jeff Buckley and Martin Carthy.

He began his musical career with eighties indie darlings Hurrah! The jangle pop band had album releases on Kitchenware and Arista Records from 1982 to 1991 and toured extensively worldwide. During the nineties he toured and recorded with friend and Kitchenware labelmate Martin Stephenson.

Handyside formed Bronze in 2001. Still embracing chiming, Rickenbacker driven pop, and increasingly alt country, they released two albums, The Statue in the Stone and A Common Prayer. His debut solo album Future’s Dream, a combination of pop, country and modern day hymns was released in 2007 to great reviews. The second album Wayward Son followed in 2013 and further developed his own brand of folk-tinged americana.

The latest album Tide, Timber & Grain was released in April 2016 with elements of traditional British folk and sixties protest songs emerging in Handyside’s now well established and diverse musical palette. This time the recordings were based around the trio of Paul on vocals, guitar and harmonium; producer Rob Tickell on weissenborn slide guitar, bass and guitar; Dave Porthouse (the original bass player from Hurrah!) on melodeon and double bass.



Facebook Event page:



WagonWheelWeekendII Event page:



Read Full Post »

it’s been over four years, but the return to Sheffield of Southern Tenant Folk Union was well worth the wait. We enjoyed a fabulous night with them last night and the delightful House Of Charms. Thanks to them and everybody that came along to The Greystones.

Our run of four shows in nine days concludes tomorrow when award winning Canadian singer/songwriter Royal Wood makes his first visit to The Greystones. Support comes from Maeve O’Boyle and Joshua Caole. Full details can be found here. We hope some of you can join us then.

Read Full Post »

two done then. An enjoyably eclectic night was had at Shakespeares last night with Roaming Son, The Fontana Instincts and Grassoline. Thanks to them and everybody who came out.

Show number three of four in nine days will be tomorrow at The Greystones when Southern Tenant Folk Union make a long overdue return to Sheffield after four years since what has been described as a legendary show at The Grapes. Support comes from House Of Charms and the show starts at 8pm. We hope you can join us there. The show is previewed in this week’s Sheffield Telegraph here and also covers Tuesday night’s Royal Wood gig.

Read Full Post »

from our run of four gigs in nine days. We enjoyed a great show from Jess Klein last night at The Greystones and big thanks to Dave Sleney who stepped in at the last minute to support.

Our next stop is this Friday night at Shakespeares when we’re joined by Roaming Son, The Fontana Instincts and Grassoline before we return to The Greystones on Sunday when we welcome Southern Tenant Folk Union back to Sheffield with support from House Of Charms. Details on those and the rest of our upcoming shows including Royal Wood on October 2nd can be found here.

Thanks to everybody that came out last night, hopefully we’ll see some of you again in the week.

Read Full Post »

a rather fine way to kick off our new run of shows at Shakespeares. Big thanks to In Fear Of Olive, The Clench, Roaming Son and everybody that came out. A great crowd and great night.

We’re back at Shakespeares on April 27th with Garforth & Myers and The Fontana Instincts. Our next show at The Greystones is this one.

In other news we now have a confirmed date for Southern Tenant Folk Union. They’ll be back in Sheffield on Sunday September 30th. Tickets are on sale now: http://www.wegottickets.com/wagonwheelpresents


Read Full Post »

On Sunday September 30th, WagonWheel Presents… is delighted to welcome Southern Tenant Folk Union back to Sheffield when they come to The Greystones. The Edinburgh based roots collective are touring their latest record ‘Pencaitland’ and their by turns gloriously upbeat and stirringly melancholic mix of bluegrass, gospel, country, folk and pop has drawn wide acclaim. Support comes from House Of Charms. Advance tickets priced at £10 are available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/162936  and over the bar at The Greystones. Entry on the night will be £12. Doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start.


Formed by Belfast born five-string banjo player Pat McGarvey in 2006 and taking their name from the groundbreaking multi-racial union of sharecroppers and non-landowning tenant farmers founded in Arkansas in the 1930’s (the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union), the Edinburgh-based Southern Tenant Folk Union are now the most highly rated folk and bluegrass outfit in the UK today.

Now with their fourth album they’ve continued to appropriate themes and ancient sounding chord progressions from traditional folk songs. Using these to document and reflect modern life they keep the essential simplicity and directness of style but often with a modern update to the underlying lyrical subject matter. New tunes that touch on atheism, intolerance and most recently (on ‘The New Farming Scene’ and ‘Pencaitland’) a post fossil fuel, post technological, agrarian future.

Pat McGarvey served his musical apprenticeship touring the world and recording a number of albums with bands like The Arlenes & The Coal Porters in London. That grounding plus countless other collaborations with key independent Americana acts including Peter Case, Tandy, Amy Rigby, Rosie Flores, Jason McNiff & Bob Neuwirth (Dylan’s road manager in the 60’s) gave him the real experience needed to fuse together the band’s American folk and British roots sound with his own Celtic heritage.

Keen to find a more personal outlet for his writing McGarvey gathered a collective of like minded musicians that share his love of traditional music, but each with their own individual take on such tradition; Musician’s like singer & guitarist Jed Milroy (The Aliens), Adam Bulley on mandolin (The Halton Quartet), Ewan Macintyre on lead vocals/cajon and three stalwarts of the Edinburgh folk music scene, Chris Purcell  (The Flairbairds) on guitar/vocals, Carrie Thomas on fiddle and Jenny Hill on double bass.

Once up and running, Southern Tenant Folk Union released their debut album of original material in January 2007 to acclaim, positive reviews and national radio play. The rest of the year saw them playing festivals, arts centres and clubs around the UK and Ireland and only a little more than twelve months after the self-titled LP a follow-up was released. ‘Revivals, Rituals & Union Songs’ – a real step forward for them with its strong, confident tone. With positive reviews coming in and even more well deserved nationwide recognition (including a live session for BBC Radio 2’s Mark Lamarr and airplay from Steve Lamacq) the band played an extensive UK & European tour before going back to studio at the end of 2008 to work on new material. The year-end saw the album named by the Morning Star as one of the top ten albums of the year. The STFU continued to gig through 2009 whilst their third album was being produced in Edinburgh.

‘The New Farming Scene’ came out on Johnny Rock Records in June 2010 to widespread critical acclaim. The Sunday Times described it as ‘More than simple roots-music revivalism’ and The Independent awarded it 4 stars and praised it as ‘A bold concept piece’ as well as Andy Gill mentioning the following month that they were the kind of artist that ‘deserved attention’ from the Mercury Music Prize judges. Mojo magazine declared it an ‘Absorbing third album’ with ‘restrained harmonies on a series of rugged songs’, whilst Uncut found that it was a ‘Smart conflation of Celtic music and bluegrass played with rare intuition’. All showing how the band’s new location was instrumental in them continuing to forge their own identity and make waves in the UK music scene.

In October 2010 they were awarded ‘Americana Artist of the Year’ at the British Country Music Awards (voted for by journalists at Maverick Magazine) plus appeared live on Radio 4’s Loose Ends show and a national RTE TV show (The View) in Ireland. They now release their fourth album ‘Pencaitland’ this June, a record that  continues the band’s trip into the more interesting areas of acoustic sound, word and tone. A progression conceptually from the farmstead of their last album which in turn harvests their natural folk feel for this timeless music.

The band knock up a fierce, raw and earthy music that is the stuff of Mumford & Sons dreams. The results are as compelling as they are oppressively bleakThe Guardian

They know how to write a song that bandMark Lamarr, BBC Radio 2

Everything about this album has the mark of authenticity as opposed to revivalism, the harmonies throughout are amazingMaverick Magazine



Formally of Baby Long Longs, The Wheel and Norton Lees came together with a collection of songs to perform as acoustic duo House Of Charms. Combining guitar and double bass, Counterfeit Magazine describe them as “rather entrancing, in a twee folk way. I don’t mean that with disrespect either. The House of Charms are, in a number of ways, what music is about. They genuinely appear to enjoy what they do. Quirky songs about love, life and the weather go down a treat.


Facebook Event page:


Last.fm Event page:


Read Full Post »