Award winning folk duo Philip Henry and Hannah Martin are performing at The Victoria Hall, Radstock on Saturday 6th February at 7.30pm as part of their Watershed album tour. They are one of the most exciting and innovative duos to appear on the folk/roots/acoustic scene in recent years – a journey that has resulted in their winning the ‘Best Duo’ in the 2014 BBC Folk Awards.
With a rapidly expanding following and a truly unique sound that effortlessly spans many genres, the duo have been touring constantly for the past three years, winning new fans of all ages wherever they go. Festival appearances have included regular Glastonbury slots; all the major folk festivals including mainstage slots at Sidmouth Folk Week; Broadstairs; Warwick; Shrewsbury; Gate To Southwell; Shepley Spring; Priddy; and a constant presence on the greenfield festival circuit, at events such as Larmer Tree (mainstage); Sunrise Celebration (mainstage); and Green Man. Over the past year they have also visited Japan, South Africa, the USA and across Europe and have upcoming tours to Canada, Australia and India already lined up for 2016.
In October 2015 Phillip & Hannah released their brilliant new CD ‘Watershed’, described by Hannah as “A time of decision, a moment of change, a turning point. Each of the songs was written with a specific person in mind; I hope they know who they are, and that this is for them, with our love, grief and joy. Except the track Watershed, which was written for everyone”. It is an exceptional record that marks a huge step forward both in terms of musicality and in the breadth and depth of the material.
Hailing from Lancashire, Phillip Henry is one of the UK’s top slide guitarists and harmonica players. Over the past decade he has immersed himself in the music of the Deep South of America, traditional music of the British Isles, and Indian classical music. Specializing in lap slide techniques, his masterful Dobro playing draws together these diverse influences to create a truly unique voice that has been described as “Stunningly good” (Dick Gaughan), and “utterly captivating” (Steve Knightley). His innovative harmonica style combines country blues and folk styles with beat-boxing to create a jaw dropping and much coveted 21st century harmonica sound heavily steeped in tradition.
Hannah Martin is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Devon. Her songs weave folklore and legend old and new with beautiful melodies, creating haunting compositions delivered with “a bold and beautiful singing style all her own” (BBC Radio Two).
The pair’s first album, Singing The Bones, was released in 2011 to warm praise, “I was completely knocked out by this duo…just a terrific album…absolutely great, wonderful” (BBC Radio Two). Constant touring followed, including an Arts Council funded tour of south west arts centres in autumn 2012. The duo went on to win “Best Folk Act” at the 2012 South West Music Awards, and began 2013 by being voted “Best Duo” by the public at the Spiral Awards. Their second studio album, Mynd, was released to great acclaim in September 2013, appearing in end of year best-ofs for The Guardian, The Telegraph, fRoots Critics Poll, Mark Radcliffe’s Radio Two Top Ten, and Songlines. They were voted Best Duo at the Radio Two Folk Awards almost exactly five years since Phillip sat in his tent and made his five year plan!
Watershed, Henry and Martin’s keenly anticipated third studio album, is their most emotionally charged, personal and pertinent work to date. A collection of 12 inspired original songs and tunes, recorded live with the Watershed band in Devon’s Blackdown Hills, it centres around the idea of turning points. Moving away from the historical figures and events that peopled their highly acclaimed previous album Mynd they explore the idea of a modern folk tale – drawing on personal experience to create edgier, grittier material whilst retaining an ‘everyman’ empathy.
Kith and kin inspire many of the tracks, from foundlings to mill workers, all bonded by a theme of split second decisions and forked paths that shape sliding door destinies.
The alchemy of Martin’s ever evocative songwriting, fiddle and banjo playing and the much extolled skills of Henry on dobro, harmonica and lap steel fuse into a wholly distinctive world sound – songs of lament, tunes of hope, and totally unpredictable twist and turn music, burgeoning with deft double bass from Matt Downer (Jamie Smith’s Mabon) and the textured percussion of James Taylor.
A mesmerising release to further endorse the reputation of a duo who have deservedly gained a rapid and sure foothold in the higher echelons of the roots genre.
Advance tickets are a bargain at £8/£5 thanks to subsidy from Arts Council England and Bath and North East Somerset Council. They can be booked on line at www.victoriahallradstock.co.uk or by phoning 01761 438885.