Band of the month

August 2, 2017


Greg Russell‘s the Romelu Lukaku of the folk world : he seems like a veteran, but he’s only 24.

From the city of Chester, Greg’s been playing the folk clubs since he was in his early teens. In 2011 he met up with another talented young musician, Ciaran Algar, and a duo was formed. In no time they’d been signed up by Fellside Records and had released their first album. The accolades quickly followed : BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award winners 2013 and Best Breakthrough Act 2014. For such a young duo their music was startlingly mature, and showed strong knowledge of traditional material.

The duo is still going from strength to strength and they have a series of tour dates lined up, including appearances this month at festivals in the Lake District and at Shrewsbury. Greg Russell meanwhile has been getting involved in some other projects. The other day he released a solo album, and he’s also assembled an all-star lineup for his Shake the Chains project which will be releasing a CD in September.

Greg studied politics at university where he wrote a dissertation on the role of protest song, and Shake the Chains is an Arts Council supported project which explores the role that music has played in movements for social change. The Shake the Chains collective also includes Nancy Kerr, Findlay Napier, Hannah Martin and Tim Yates, so I’m expecting to hear some strong new material from them, as well as classic protest songs such as this –

Shake the Chains – If I Had a Hammer

Greg’s new album is called Inclined to be Red. It’s that rare thing these days : an album where the focus is on the songs rather than the music. The instrumentation is modest, but it’s more than made up for by Greg’s rich voice and the strength of the songs themselves. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the songs address social or political issues. Road to Dorchester is about the Tolpuddle Martyrs;  E.G.A tells the story of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain; Race to Burn is about the destruction of the environment; Crooked Jack is a song by Dominic Behan about the hardship of labourers working on the Hydro Electric Plant at Inverary.  Powerful songs for changing times.

Greg Russell – Road to Dorchester

Greg Russell – Crooked Jack

Greg Russell – Wily Ole Lad

Greg Russell – Race to Burn


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