WEIRDLORE: NOTES FROM THE FOLK UNDERGOUND
"There’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is…"
… said Bob Dylan, which could be a pretty good starting point for Weirdlore, the genesis of which was in an all-dayer that was due to take place in Bristol on Sunday 10th June, but sadly had to be cancelled. Both the event and the album celebrate the point where all sorts of English folk music (plus an emigrant American living in North Wales and a far-from-token Scot) meets what Lord Buckley referred to as The Far-Goneasphere. Not for nothing did fRoots magazine once have a cover depicting the Padstow 'Oss and the Bacup Nutters with the strapline "England, the last undiscovered exotic outpost of world music."
The clichés about our folk music suggest that if it’s not 97-verse traditional ballads about our murderous aristocracy, then it’s all jolly milkmaids, foaming nutbrown ale and illegal shagging (to quote somebody whose name eludes us). Others would have it as some sort of Wicker Man kingdom of haunted pastoral pagan fakelore shading through whimsical singer-songwritery into eccentric steampunk with banjos. Well, it’s some of all that and none of that, but there are increasing numbers of musicians and songwriters beyond the mainstream currently taking inspiration from the themes, tunes and musical strangenesses of our roots and making something timelessly new but still distinctly local out of them. And sometimes quite odd… hence, Weirdlore, a genre that might not really exist.
Folk Police Recordings have taken up the baton laid down by the weirdlore organisers and bring you an album of 18 exclusive tracks by some of the best artists operating in the twilight zone between folk and all manner of odd-goings-on. The album features names you may know (including Alasdair Roberts, Emily Portman, Sproatly Smith, Rapunzel & Sedayne, Nancy Wallace and Telling the Bees) and some who will be less familiar. In keeping with the theme of the weirdlore all-dayer, the album features sounds that range from twisted trad to bucolic psychedelia, from fully fledged brass-and-wood-flavoured steamfolk to the sort of songwriting that used to happen before singer-songwriters gave the genre a bad name.
With extensive sleeve notes by Jeanette Leach (author of The Seasons They Change and regular contributor to fRoots and Shindig) and an introduction by Ian Anderson (editor of fRoots), the album comes handsomely packaged in a sleeve designed by Dom Cooper of the Rif Mountain Collective.
1 Telling The Bees - Worship Of Trees
2 Emily Portman - Spine Of A Wave
3 Rapunzel & Sedayne - The Innocent Hare
4 Nancy Wallace - Walking Into Walls
5 Pamela Wyn Shannon - Moss Mantra
6 Katie Rose - Witches' Reel
7 The False Beards - Marie Celeste On Down
8 Foxpockets - Grendel
9 Boxcar Aldous Huxley - Hora
10 Sproatly Smith - Rosebuds In June
11 Straw Bear Band - Black Hive
12 Starless And Bible Black - If You Fall Then I'll Fall With You
13 Alasdair Roberts - Haruspex Of Paradox
14 Corncrow - Meriasek
15 Ros Brady - Lore
16 The Witches with Kate Denny - Come With Me:
17 Harp And A Monkey - Molecatcher
18 Wyrdstone - Pucelancyrcan