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Fay on home ground

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One of the highlights of last year’s Sheffield folk music calendar was The Full English performing in the University of Sheffield’s Firth Hall, the band that went on two win two prizes at the BBC Radio 2 Awards.

Among the stellar line-up was Fay Hield, who had made the short journey from her home near Dungworth and who was also on the patch where she lectures in ethnomusicology.

The singer and her partner, Jon Boden, frontman with all-conquering Bellowhead, have certainly done their bit to maintain the folk tradition locally since settling in the city.

As well as their respective careers and bringing up two children, they find the time to run two folk clubs – Royal Traditions in Dungworth and, with Kit Bailey and Martin Simpson (another member of The Full English), Bright Phoebus at The Greystones. And it is to The Greystones that Fay brings her band, The Hurricane Party, on Tuesday.

It’s a national tour that sees her taking centre stage after being part of Hell’s Belles, The Witches of Elswick and The Full English and releasing two acclaimed solo albums, Looking Glass and Orfeo.

These days she carries the musical clout to head a line-up of Andy Cutting, Rob Harbron, Sam Sweeney and Roger Wilson.

“I love how the musicians create music in the moment and each performance of the ‘arrangement’ is different,” says the singer. “I specifically chose musicians that listen and play off each other rather than a set instrumental line up, so its more about the chemistry than adding drum and bass for a festival set. They have beefed me up from being an unaccompanied singer, though, so there’s a lot bigger dynamic range to play with.”

Festival dates are to come in the summer, followed by a Full English tour, which surely must have a Sheffield date.

The Full English album and live performance brought an “incredible response”, says Fay. “The project has really caught the audiences imagination. Rather than being a showcase of new music, it is an introduction to the collections and what audiences could find there if they dig in - it’s been really inspirational for me, and this seems to be spreading.

“It’s been great working with such amazing and different musicians in Martin Simpson and Seth Lakeman, and I’m really delighted everyone is keen to keep the project going. Yes, we are touring in October, and looking at some dates next spring too.”

And if Fay ever gets bored, couldn’t she find a place in the massed ranks of Bellowhead (at the City Hall on November 8)? Doesn’t she ever hanker after joining them on stage? “No actually, I think it’d be a nightmare! I love dancing to them though. That’ll do for me.”

 

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