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Wednesdays 2200-2230
Four parts starting 21st July

Read a profile of Eliza Carthy
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Make a comment about British Folk Music

Highly acclaimed folk singer Eliza Carthy presents this four-part series charting the rise of British folk music from the revival of the 1960s to the thriving folk music scene of today.

With music from artists including Bob Dylan, Kate Rusby, Martin Carthy and Jim Moray, Eliza considers how far folk music has come since its rebirth in the folk clubs of the Sixties.

Folk music is currently enjoying a popularity unimaginable twenty years ago. BBC Radio 2 has championed the crossover of artists like Kate Rusby from folk clubs to daytime radio. The station has established the Folk Awards as an annual celebration of the best music and musicians in the folk field while BBC Four's television coverage of the event has helped folk reach new audiences.

As a result, the young traditional artist Jim Moray - originally discovered through BBC Radio 2's Young Folk Award in 2001 - has gone from touring folk clubs to supporting Will Young in little over a year.

Eliza's roots in folk go back to her childhood. She is the daughter of folk singers Martin Carthy MBE and Norma Waterson MBE, known as the 'Royal Family' of folk. A gifted fiddle player, she sings with the family band Waterson Carthy as well as forging a successful solo career.

Martin and Norma will be among Eliza's guests for the series, as will BBC Radio 2's folk show presenter Mike Harding, who launched his career as a comedian in the folk clubs during the 1970s. Other contributors include Eliza's contemporaries Kate Rusby and John McCusker, who have won huge numbers of young fans with their interpretations of traditional songs, as well as the veteran political singer Roy Bailey, who has spent his life singing folk songs around the world, and the talented young fiddler Nancy Kerr.

The series will feature great music from Bob Dylan, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Martin Carthy, The Pogues, The Waterboys, Big Bill Broonzy, Kate Rusby and Jim Moray.

The show will be available on the Radio Player for 7 days after transmission.

See also:
Win a selection of Eliza Carthy CDs
The Unoffical Eliza Carthy website
Please note: The BBC is not reponsible for the content of external websites.

Are you a folk and acoustic musician and listener? What is great about British Folk and has it changed in your opinion?

Chris J
I only discovered the "Oysterband" last year and they have been around 25+ years ! This is due partly to the lack of folk music coverage in the media. I have now managed to see the Oysterband in concert. Fantastic

N Nicholls
Oysterband....why do we hear so little of them on any folk coverage?They have been going for over 25 years and their music gets better and better.Rise Above was a fantastic CD and the Big Session strives to bring new Folk Music to those who would not normally get to hear it.Throw away your folk misconceptions and give the masses a creditable link between Rock and Rusby!!

David, Beauly
In the 60s I was a regular at Gregson's Well pub in Liverpool where The Spinners represented what we thought was 'real' folk music. Then along came Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones - all so much more exciting! Apart from a brief flirtation with the Corries that was me and Folk. Then, because it had won the Mercury prize, I bought Eliza's 'Anglicana'. It is superb and has awoken my interest in folk tunes. Next I need to buy some Waterstons albums...

pete d
Where have all the Folk cubs gone-long time passin'. I don't just want to hear a few celebs on the radio once a week. Folk is people.Let's see a real revival and while we're at it let's have some smoke free venues

Pter C. Jackson
I wholeheartedly agree with Martin Carthy's comments on last week's show about rock musicians being basically - and deliberately - unapproachable. I said the same many years ago and the same is still true today. Folk singers and musicians are certainly anything but and at Warwick last weekend I spoke to many of them in or out of the bars, including Les Barker who I told looked completely knackered. Let the rock musicians keep their distance.

Pete Holder
I am a little concerned with the tone of the last sentence of Stephen Welsh's comments. I wouldn't disagree that English folk music is sadly neglected (not least by the English themselves), but does he not realise that without music of black origin, English folk music would not exist in the form in which we recognise it today. Without the influence of black artists like Ledbelly, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee there would be no English folk guitar style. This means no Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Davey Graham, John Renbourne or Ralph McTell and many others, as well as the many other guitarists they went on to influence. Ralph McTell even took his stage name from Blind Willie McTell. It is my belief that it was the adoption of the guitar by English/British folk musicians which helped to make folk music as popular as it was in the 60s. I suspect that without the guitar and by extension without the influence of black artists, English folk music would be even more marginalised now than many perceive it to be.

Jonathan A
Whilst there may be a growing audience for 'folk' music in this country it has still to make the impact that other genres do, even though they may have fewer followers. For example, a recent visit to a well known music store in Solihull revealed shelves for Rock/Pop; Jazz; Heavy Metal; Hip Hop etc but no folk section. Many folk artist's CDs can only be tracked down on the internet or bought at gigs and festivals. Its image is still not what it might be and not popular enough with the youth culture so loved by the media. Image seems to be everything in the modern world and an old T shirt and baggy jeans doesn't quite fit the bill. I notice that the excellent Show of Hands have 'upgraded' their image and good luck to them. Lastly, a criticism of the BBC if I dare. Although they have done much to support the folk scene, one would think that Cambridge is the only Folk festival! Whilst it seems worthy that the BBC should bring us news and highlights from Cambridge, might it not be a better policy to move this 'sponsorship' around the country on an annual basis. Perhaps one year it may be Sidmouth and then the next Trowbridge and so on.

graham wright
I have had a great interest in Folk music since the early days of the late 60s in Cyprus where we met in a Forces folk Club in Akrotiri or Limassol or in the summer months in the ampitheatre of Episkopi overlooking the Med. Since those days I helped form Folk Clubs in Forces bases in Bahrain and Germany. Even now I still love to hear the music after so long and a recent concert in Bury with Show of Hands has rekindled the enthusiasm. There are at the moment some great acts about and I must say Radio 2 folk is making a great effort to promote so may it continue.

Chas Thomason
Having been a musician of all styles for over 30 years, from rock 'n roll to folk, I'd like to say....its all music, to be played and enjoyed by all. The one thing that upsets me is when people put up barriers between the different types of music and then decry other people's tastes. OK so some of the current 'pop' is pretty difficult to stomach, but it's an evolution of a kind, and the best among it will stand the test of time. I am delighted to see that the preciousness and eclecticism which abounded in the '60s and '70s is disappearing and people are being exposed to 'world' music and brilliant new 'folk' artists who are creating some of the best music ever. Keep playing and keep listening. Happy trails Chas

Kevin Smyth
I have been living abroad now for 25 years and have not followed musical developments in GB that closely. I was a big fan of people like Jansch, Renborne, Carthy, Graham even Donovon (well he was very easy to copy as a novice guitarist) and I remember John Martyn played one of his first gigs at our College in Chelsea. I even remember sitting with a small group on the floor listening to Marc Bolan. At the same time there was, of course, the blues revival. I remember a concert when Joanne Kelly (sadly no longer with us) mentioned that they had had to abandod a benefit for Memphis Minnie for the old lady hhad died on them! Well the folk scene here in the Swiss, German, Austria area is pretty awfull. Why model arrangements only survived as far as Brittany would be an interesting subject for another radio programme. So I am very gratefull to the BBC that they are now streaming some interesting stuff on their Web site. I am looking forward to the next episode of Eliza Carthy's series.

David Coleman
Should we be grateful for the little folk music the BBC gives us or resentful it is not more? The music has survived in the background for many years but it is nice to see young people finding out about it and playing it so well. The Irish seem to celebrate their traditions and are proud to play traditional music. We, the English, make fun of our traditions [I should know I dance the Morris] and anything not labelled 'urban' does not get a look in on our own National broadcaster. Wake up BBC [but thanks for the crumbs].

Well...having played Eliza Carthy's 'Anglicana' many, many times over but being a novice of English Folk Music it has been really helpful - and refreshing - to clock onto Radio 2 and find out more about our music. More power to your elbow BBC!

Richard Gascoyne
I do appreciate the folk programmes on the BBC, but please can we have more UK folk and less USA country on day time Radio 2. More Fairport and Steeley plus all the new names. Also BBC why dont you ever talk about the best folk festival of all, Cropredy, knocks the rest into a paper bag!

vickie heathfield, liverpool
I first heard folk music on tv a few years ago when the Watersons sang Mole in a hole my first though was WOW that is brilliant and i have been addicted to folk ever since.I am glad that the younger generation such as Jim Moray,Kate Rusby and Eliza Carthy are keeping folk music alive for us.May others follow in their steps.My last comment is for Mike Harding Thankyou for the folk hour on wednesday nights the show is brilliant.

Richard C
I've always loved folk music since the early 70's,I was always drawn to the "rock " end of folk, Fairport,Steeleye,Albion Band etc, and I feel that this type of music do's not get the airplay that it deserves. We only seem to get Eliza Carthy's "traditional" type of playing and singing broadcast, when she is making much more varied music on her albums.

I may be 14 but i still enjoy folk music. At WOMAD festival 2003 i came across Eliza Carthy and became a fan immediately. She inspired me to do music. I play flute at grade 6 standrd and piano at grade 4. In my GCSE choices I chose PE instead. I may regret that later and i'm searching for somewhere to take music GCSE out of school. Folk is getting a new image from people like Eliza Carthy and I'm pleased. I don't know what i would like to do in the future but maybe I am inspired enough to become one of those people. :D keep singing those tunes

Graeme Lynch
For years, in the 1960's, I had to suffer people shushing me during "folk" concerts plus the folkies with fingers in their ears doing the first 147 verses of some 16th Century border ballad. Folk's come a long way since then, mostly for the better. Bands such as Fairport Convention, Moving Hearts and The Tannahill Weavers and many others have moved folk music on.

Will Parker
From traditional to contemporary theres something for everybody. Thats mainly why I became addicted to folk clubs in the 70's - that and the fact that you could have a sing along at the same time. As the clubs dwindled I felt particularly saddened, lets hope the revival continues.

Martyn H
This year's Radio 2 Folk Awards really switched me on to folk music. Jim Moray, Show of Hands and Martin Simpson have inspired me to search out earlier musicians and singers. It has been like a revelation to me. This is the music of my ancestors and heritage, and it continues to live and breathe with great contemporary relevance. In our culture we tend to look to America for authentic roots music, which is crazy because we have the richest musical heritage, and the finest oral narratives that embody a universality greater than Shakespeare. I enjoyed Eliza's Show, as I have enjoyed the folk documentaries and concerts of BBC4 (the June Tabor session especially). I truly hope this renaissance of English folk music will grow and the music of our living tradition will be regarded in this country as the blues are in America.

David Andrews
I have always loved folk music, since I was young: my dad used to have a lot of folk music hanging around. Eventually got into playing some of it, and finding more songs to do (library books and folk clubs), I ended up getting into doing the usual three-song-set at my local club. And I found that this scene was very much a down to earth type of affair, rather unlike the world of rock and pop; and which suited me, since I like pop/rock... but no way could I cope with that world. So, the folk music scene had a lot that I loved: a more personal and intimate contact with the audiences; less of the prima-donna type of behaviour often seen in the pop world; and the music.. wow ... the music! I used to hear loads of excellent songs being sung by some people with extremely suited voices... frail voices, stong voices, and my own occasional pathetic efforts. Living in Finland now means I don't get to do much listening except via Radio 2, or from records. And I don't get to play a great deal at all, and this saddens me a lot... one of the many things that may have contributed to the breakdown of my marriage. Not having songs to sing is one thing, but having songs and nowhere to sing them gets very depressing.

Lyn Morgan
it would be really great to hear radio programmes about the history of our folk people, eg, saw doctors, oysterband, show of hands, boo hewerdine - perhaps a series could be developed which could transmit studio sessions, live concert recordings and selected tracks from over the years. i find that the coverage of folksters do not give a full picture of these musicians - we need more in depth interviews with the band members. I really do enjoy radio two folk music programmes but feel the need to say that you could try and develop the scene!

L. Bromley
I have been a fan of folk music for as long as I can remember, and that's a long time!! I have supported my local Folk Club (Rhyl) for over 20 years. I have never really liked the bearded, denim wearing folkie, with a finger in his ear, tankard on his belt, singing dreary ballads with 23 verses, about mining disasters!! Wasn't too keen on the "electric folk" of Steeleye Span and alike. Today, there is a renaissance in folk, young musicians making traditional instruments sing. It's lively, fun, expertly played and impossible to listen to and sit still......long may it continue!!

Mike Norris
It certainly is refreshing to see the increase in the broadcasting of traditional music particularly on Radio 2 and BBC4. It is also good to see the broadcasting of the great festivals at Sidmouth, Cambridge and Womad as well the backing given to the Young Musician of the Year Award. However, welcome as these developments are, I think the BBC should take a broader view in relation this music (and dance)to it's public service broadcasting responsibilities. Not only is folk music great entertainment it is also part of our culture and that aspect has been largely ignored. So how about putting some of this great music into its context - not just entertainment but the voice and tradition of the people of these islands.

Listen to Show of Hands then say I don't like folk music but first they need to be brought to a wider audience. Radio 2 is the perfect vehicle.

Dave McGlade
The BBC has at times made a tremendous contribution to English Folk Music, such as its work during the early 50's, but much more often it has done little. I am really pleased that since BBC4 appeared the BBC interest in the subject seems to have revived once more, and this radio series, with a knowlegeable and involved presenter, looks like another encouraging sign. Keep it up!

Pip Barnes
There are few finer musicians or singers than Eliza Carthy, but as an historian of the folk revival she left, I felt, some gaping holes in the first part of the story. Chiefest among these was the part played in the Revival by Shirley Collins - no mention of the ground-breaking fusion of styles in the collaboration with Davy Graham on "Folk Routes, New Roots", none of the rediscovery of Early Music instrumentation in collaboration with David Munrow on the innovative and influential "Anthems in Eden" song cycle, no mention and no played evidence of her contribution as simply one of the finest singers of English traditional music.No mention of her sister Dolly Collins at all, nor yet of John Kirkpatrick;no women singers played, hardly any mentioned even in passing. No sign or sound of the Copper family.And while it's entirely legitimate to solicit contributions from Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson and Martin Simpson - no account of English Folk Music could ever be complete without - could she not have gone futher afield for another voice than the predictable and ubiquitous Mike Harding? It left this listener with the impression of folk music as largely blokey and Northern, a strange outcome from a highly talented woman with a genius from London as a dad.

Mat Wilson, Newcastle
After playing guitar for 20 years I had almost no knowledge of folk music. Hearing Richard Thompson's 'Roll Over Vaughn Williams'(Instrumental Version) blew my socks off and opened up a whole new world of superb and criminally underplayed music. It's about time English music was given some decent airplay!

Mat Wilson, Newcastle
After playing guitar for 20 years I had almost no knowledge of folk music. Hearing Richard Thompson's 'Roll Over Vaughn Williams'(Instrumental Version) blew my socks off and opened up a whole new world of superb and criminally underplayed music. It's about time English music was given some decent airplay!

I love folk music and I'm really pleased to see Kate Rusby on the A list for Radio 2 - more please! However, what a shame that Eliza Carthy's programme is on so late - if we want to attract move people to the wonderful world of folk it needs to be more accessable.

Peter Taylor
I consider "Folkwaves" from BBC midland radio (monday 1905 - 2100) to be the best folk music show on the BBC(and after last monday's show I almost left "folk" out). It deserves to be broadcast nationally, with a local "gigs in your area guide". For those you can not receive it it is also available over the web.

Syd Meats
First of all, well done Radio 2 for choosing a presenter for this series who actually knows about folk music rather than one of the BBC's "A List Experts" who crop up in so many documentaries for no apparent reason. If the BBC intends to show a serious commitment to folk, its typical national network schedule of one hour a week in the form of Mike Harding's show just isn't adequate. In these days of digital broadcasting there is no excuse for such a sketchy coverage. However, it is good to see increased coverage of folk on television (BBC4) including a forthcoming programme on this year's Sidmouth Festival. Lets hope this is an indication of the BBC's future direction.

Nick Duxbury
I am only just 19 and have been listening to 'folk' music for close to 8 years now. However, I still feel that people in a folk club will look at me as being unsympathetic to traditional music if our band change an arrangment or try and relocate the lyrics in the 21st century. I love folk music but people are too precious about somethings, I feel if folk music is to become an even greater commodity it has to change to suit people who might not be coming to folk music and push it towards them.

Adson Nantchito
I want to encourage Eliza to keep up with the development of folk music to even higher levels the sky being her limit. Thank you.

Radio 2 may have taken one or two young artists from the folk scene and made mini-stars of them, but it has done little to promote British folk music at anything below celebrity level. Let's hope this programme is one of many that begin to redress the balance, and to feature English music. There is an amazing amount of young talent out there waiting to be heard. Anahata

Stephen Welsh
Most peoples perception of folk music is limited to the likes of the Spinners, or the Dubliners, slightly bawdy lyrics or finger in the ear stances, and anybody saying that they listen to folk music is looked upon as being a little odd. Unfortunatley because of the lack of air play, and even greater lack of available discs in most record shops, a lot of people are missing out on some realy outstanding quality music and high quality talent, much of which has tremendous power not only in its lyrics but in performance as well. But as seems to always be the case because it dosen't generate vast sums of money in short period of time, it won't be considered viable. As the popular culture seems to favour music of a mainly black origin (MOBO!!!!!), lets have more music of mainly white origin, ENGLISH FOLK MUSIC.

G. Tingey
How does this compare with the derogatory comments in Radio Times about folk music & morris dancing about the Matin Carthy repeat programme coming up next week? Does the BBC suuport dancing & folk music or do they want to rubbish it - as evidenced by "RT"?

Brian Winterbottom
As someone who was part of the 60s folk revival and who was going to folk clubs wheen I was 15 (including the Herga, the oldest folk club in London) I think it's great that young peoople, and new bands are taking up the traditional ballads and re-interpreting them. Not only that, but just as Fairport did in the late 60s and early 70s new songs are being written with folk rythms and with jigs and reels. There's a whole range of new talent and styles and it's good to hear serious issues being addressed in song again too, as has happened in this medium before, where it was conveniently labelled protest song and attempts were made to package it. It's wonderful to hear folk and roots music on radio and even tv, where it was limited to one half hour slot only 15 years ago, but it would always be good to hear more, especially on local radio.

Barry Hunt
Having been playing and listening in folk clubs for 30 years, it is remarkable that the music is only now reaching the dizzy heights of Radio 2 and BBC4. What we need is more recognition, and thus, involvement at all levels and ages!

Dave Eyre
I thing it just has to be the hardiest and longest lasting music that there is. After all it has been virtually ignored by the BBC of the past 50 years! And some local radio (the best example being Radio Humberside which amalgamates in the evenings to cover vast swathes of the North of England) has NO folk music at all. Come on BBC, folk music is not just for the message boards!! Best regards, Dave

Keith M
Whats actually interesting is that while there clearly is a new folk scene with new young artists like Jim Moray and Eliza Carthy bringing a fresh look and sound to folk, bands like Waterson Carthy playing very traditional folk are also becoming more popular

Doug D
I love the trad songs and tunes of Britain performed as simply as posible. The music is special. I can hear Irish, Scottish and America all the time, English seems to be politically incorrect so we seldom hear it on national BBC. We can hear more English Trad music on RTE or Scottish regions. Never on my local Devon radio. Im sure we will hear some from Eliza Carthy, hopefully a new direction.

b jarvis
I have only been listening to what I consider folk music for a couple of years - I think it's becoming a lot more popular and acceptable - I think it's has a successful renaissance thanks to some of the young artists that are coming up and thanks to awards like the Mercury Prize.

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