Friday, February 11, 2011

T-Shirt Competition

T-Shirt Competition
win a family ticket to the festival!

The warts and all feedback form at the end of last years' festival has been important in shaping the 2011 event. One of the common themes related to the shirts - you loved the quality, but not the here we are asking for your help!

The Prize
- A family ticket (2 adults, 2 youths) with camping to the 2011 festival
- An invitation to the festival reception, Sat 27th August
- Full acknowledgement in the programme
- Free t-shirts that feature your design
- Warm fuzzy feeling seeing hundreds of people wearing your shirt

Artistic Brief
We're very open-minded about the design, so will leave this to your imagination.

If you're looking for pointers, then a design that is inspired by, or reflects one or more of : folk music, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, the tradition, performance, Shrewsbury etc. would be good places to start.

The image would be placed on the front of a t-shirt (and can be any size from a small logo to something that covers the whole of the shirt).

How to enter
Entries can be submitted electronically as .jpg, .pdf or .ai formats (minimum 300dpi please) to Neil Pearson
Please contact Neil if you'd like to submit an entry on disc or through the post.

Closing date Closing date is 31 March 2011.

Any questions either contact me direct or leave a post on the blog.

Monday, February 07, 2011

C# article

In January we were approached to write a feature about the Cecil Sharp Project for the English Dance and Song Magazine - writing about something we're organising, but that hasn't yet happened was a tricky brief, but actually turned out to be a useful exercise as it made us reflect on previous work and look forward to the upcoming's the article in full (it will be published in the March issue of the EDS magazine

In mid-March 2011 eight traditional and contemporary folk artists gather together in a 16th Century farmhouse in Shropshire, where they’ll be given seven days in rural isolation to create new works that have a resonance and relevance to the life and work of Cecil Sharp.

The project is a joint commission between Shrewsbury Folk Festival and EFDSS, and immediately following the residential part of the project the artists will premiere the new works at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and then directly on to London where they will perform the concert in two shows at Cecil Sharp House.

The musicians are drawn from the widest possible definition of folk, and the eight artists cover traditional English players, British contemporary folk artists through to a Canadian folk/rock band frontman, and an American singer/songwriter with a degree in American folklore. Bringing the talents of Steve Knightley, Jim Moray, Kathryn Roberts, Andy Cutting, Patsy Reid, Jackie Oates, Leonard Podolak and Caroline Herring together sounds like a great idea, but with such an eclectic line-up and a very broad artistic brief, it’s hard to even begin to imagine what the results may be.

Perhaps a good yardstick would be the Shrewsbury Folk Festival’s Darwin Song Project, a similar multi-artist project put together to celebrate the bi-centennial of Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury’s most famous son. Here artists, including Chris Wood, Karine Polwart, Rachael McShane and Jez Lowe were tasked with writing new songs related to the life and legacy of Darwin. The resulting songs were uniformly excellent, and many have found their way onto the individual artists’ solo albums and into their live sets; the resulting Darwin Song Project album has been well received all over the world.

Where Darwin was an obvious target with the high profile of the celebrations, and a well documented world of differing opinions and viewpoints, the decision to task artists with creating new work relating to Sharp appears, on the surface at least, to be a trickier brief.

While all the artists for the Cecil Sharp Project had some background knowledge of Sharp and his efforts to chronicle dance and song, there is obviously going to be plenty of research and preparatory work from everyone before they throw themselves of the intensity of a residential project with a demanding time restriction.

This is where the joint commission aspect of the project really comes into play – although the project is being managed and organised by Shrewsbury Folk Festival, it’s very much a partnership with EFDSS. Soon after the eight artists were selected, EFDSS supplied them with literature and resource material, and the artists have had exclusive and early access to Sharp’s transcribed American diaries which are now available on the EFDSS website. So where the festival is providing much of logistical and management aspect of the project, the breadth and quality of the support, and material available to the artists from EFDSS is what adds a rich dimension to the whole concept.

With the full array of resources available from EFDSS, and the information that is already in the public domain, the source material covers a daunting amount of ground, and it’s obvious this is a very open ended project, open to many different interpretations. This fact is reinforced by the direction that has been given to the artists by the commissioning team; part of the contracted artistic brief includes

“….the resulting songs and tunes are to have some relevance to Cecil Sharp; they may draw from any aspect of his life, work, legacy and impact, or may be interpretations of collected songs and tunes…”
“…any approach the artists feel is appropriate – we’re happy for the house to find its own way…”
By offering up such an unrestricted canvas, the material that comes out of the project are going to be difficult to predict and certainly exciting.

This unpredictability is all part of the design of the project; the partnership of EFDSS with Shrewsbury is eye-catching, as while Shrewsbury books many British Folk artists, it has what could be described as a progressive booking policy; it is a new venture for EFDSS and forms part of their fledgling but expanding artists’ development programme.

This progressive attitude is certainly reflected in the artists chosen for the project. Given a free rein on the final eight, the project directors were well aware that they were treading on ‘hallowed ground’ producing work on Sharp, and that they would most likely come under heavy scrutiny from the folk community for their selections.

With that in mind they went ahead and booked a Canadian banjo player, and a Georgia based US singer/songwriter (who are both fairly infrequent visitors to the UK), and added them to a range of UK based artists who include a Scottish fiddle player, and the front man of the biggest folk ‘stadium’ band around.

The final eight could hardly be described as a conservative selection, but in the true spirit of Sharp, and the constant state of flux traditional music forever finds itself in, the convergence of these artists and their different experiences will result in songs and tunes that will connect with many people on many different levels.

The best guess is that at end of project the eight artists will have created new songs and tunes, perhaps uncovered something previously hidden away in the diaries, or will have re-worked something already chronicled; but the truth is that nine weeks away from the first day of the residential, nobody knows for sure until the concerts in Shrewsbury and London at the end of March.