The main image from our folk music playlist features an older Morris dancer glancing down the street in Bampton, Oxfordshire

A traditional folk music playlist

Discover British Folk Music - a playlist put together by Tradfolk to introduce our readers to the world of traditional folk music, and songs that have been inspired by the tradition.

When we first started dabbling with traditional folk music, it seemed we’d arrived at the bottom of a vast mountain with no easily-discernable footholds. Sure, you could head off along the Martin Carthy route, but his back-catalogue in itself was a mountain to be traversed. Other legendary gateway artists presented themselves – June Tabor, Martin Simpson, Nic Jones, the Watersons, Anne Briggs, Peter Bellamy – and more recent (it’s all relative) delights, too, in Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Nick Hart, Lisa Knapp, Emily Portman, Jackie Oates, and the various splinter groups of the Bellowhead family.

So much to hear. So little idea of where to start.

What we needed was a traditional folk music playlist that could help us dip a toe in and see what we were dealing with. So we started building one ourselves, initially through recommendations from other people, and then through our own developing listening habits.

You can find our folk music playlist below, or on this link. If you click to follow it, you’ll stay in the know as we continue to update it.

About this traditional folk music playlist

We put this playlist together on Spotify, and while we know that may be seen as controversial given the amount that Spotify pays the artists, at the moment it’s the most listened-to platform and therefore has the best chance of spreading the word about the songs and the artists performing them. It’s what we call the Spotify dilemma. We wish such a dilemma didn’t exist.

So, we see this folk music playlist as an introduction. Many people, including the writers at Tradfolk, choose to buy the music we enjoy on this playlist directly from the artists, usually via their websites or their Bandcamp pages, ensuring that they get money directly into their pockets when we listen. We encourage you to do the same. Some artists have Paypal pockets or Ko-Fi tip jars on their websites. These are also great ways to show your support.

This playlist is updated as often as possible, sometimes with recently-released performances, sometimes with legendary recordings. We try to keep it to traditional folk music, or music that has obviously been directly inspired by the tradition. There are plenty of singer-songwriter playlists out there if that’s the kind of folk music you prefer. We welcome suggestions for new additions – put them in the comments below – but please remember: this is for the tradfolkers first and foremost.

Why British folk music? Well, simply because we have to place our focus somewhere, otherwise the playlist would be more sprawling than it already is. There are other mountains to climb and, hopefully, time in the future to traverse them. In the meantime, we’re starting with what we’ve come to know. We hope you enjoy it.