United in folk music

Southern Tenant Folk Union
Southern Tenant Folk Union

The Southern Tenant Folk Union, the Edinburgh-based folk and bluegrass band, is touring in the Borders next month.

Click here to see the band in the Andrew Marr Show

Click here to see them on the Late, Late Show

The Southern Tenant Folk Union, the Edinburgh-based folk and bluegrass band, is touring in the Borders next month.

The six-strong, all acoustic group, featuring banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and harmony vocals, will perform an eclectic mix billed as “high energy, thought provoking and arresting roots and folk music” at Midlem Village Hall on Friday, February 7, at 8pm, and Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre on Saturday, February 8, starting at 7.30pm.

As past winners of the ‘Americana Artist Of The Year’ award, the string band recently received airplay from Bob Harris and Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 2, plus made live appearances on BBC One TV’s prime political programme ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ plus Irish TV’s world-famous chat show ‘The Late Late Show’, and Radio 4’s Loose Ends.

In Januray 2013 they released their fifth album (Hello Cold Goodbye Sun), a collection of new and original songs “embracing the traditional ambience of The Unthanks and the experimentation of Tunng”.

It gained four-star reviews across the music press (Independent, Scotland On Sunday, Daily Record, and Q Magazine) and was positioned at number one in the Americana UK Chart in Feb/March (2013).

As well as touring, the band are currently in pre-production for their sixth album with a new concept all of its own.

Reviews of their concert performances have picked up on their “tight delivery and soaring, gorgeous harmonies” combining “a rich blend of musical talent with a high octane Appalachian style”, with their own brand of “thrilling traditional musicianship”.

Since the release and the album tour, the Southern Tenant Folk Union (STFU) line-up has changed again, and just as before as some people moved new people joined, each bringing different experience, interesting ideas and new influences to the collective.

People such as talented Scottish singer songwriter Rory Butler (winner of the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections in 2012), fiddle player Dirk Ronneburg (from Cera Impala and The New Prohibition), mandolin player Danny Hart and, from Inverness, double bass player Craig Macfadyen.

“The band continue to tour in the manner of Willie Nelson,” their publicist adds, “that is, with an exciting live show that engages the audience, talks and 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.

“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 song-writers banding together) and also acting as intent for the band to counteract some of the media’s union-bashing 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.”

Doors open at Midlem Village Hall at 7.30pm, and there will be a raffle and bar on the night. Tickets cost £10, call 07813 804097.

The Eastgate show starts at 7.30pm, with tickets costing £14/£12 (contact 01721 725777 or go to www.eastgatearts.com).