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Welcome to Tradfolk.co – a note from the editor

Welcome to our new website, set up to celebrate traditional folk culture in a modern world. Editor, Jon Wilks, explains what you'll find here.

A note from the Editor

Thanks so much for visiting our new website, Tradfolk.co. As some of you will instantly recognise, many of the articles that you’ll find here originally existed on a blog that ran between 2017-2019 called Grizzly Folk. That publication ended when my work/life balance flew out of whack, and it has always bothered me that I wasn’t able to continue what I started.

Since then, I have been involved in the launch of a non-alc drinks company, and during my spare time I recorded 13 episodes of The Old Songs Podcast (which has now come to live with us on this website). One thing that never really changed amongst all this was the amount of people come up to me at gigs and tell me how they loved, and now missed, Grizzly Folk.

It nagged away at me until I found myself with the time to do something about it. With the help of my great friend and fellow writer, Em Kuntze, and the kind counsel of the artist, David Abbott, I began building what has become Tradfolk.co in December last year. Chatting with some of my folk-loving friends (big thanks to Martin Simpson, Jim Moray, Nick Hart, Jackie Oates and Nick Hayes), we began by asking ourselves the eternal question: how do you get people interested in traditional music? Leaning on my background as an editor of Time Out magazine, it occurred to me that you might be able to do this by writing about the traditional arts as a wider whole, and really looking at the ways in which many of these younger people build new things out of the traditions they adore.

Having recently worked with Chef Tobyn Excell, who uses traditional recipes to prepare gourmet meals from his local hedgerow, and observing the increased interest in Boss Morris, Ben Edge, WEVEN, Nick Hayes and Zakia Sewell, I began to sense that there was a diverse, blossoming world out there, beyond the folk clubs, that was informed and inspired by tradition, and that it was one worth promoting, celebrating and writing about regularly. Folk culture is alive and well, and it continues to evolve in extraordinary ways. You only have to listen to the great work that the Old Tunes Fresh Takes podcast is doing to see how people continue to grab this raw material and mould it into something entirely unexpected.

There are many websites and zines out there that deal with folk music. I’m a big fan of Folk Radio UK, and I regularly pick up copies of Folk London and Songlines. Like many folk music lovers, I continue to miss the towering fRoots, which left a gaping hole when it shut down in 2019. All of these publications, and many more, serve a purpose to the wider genre of “folk music”, but there aren’t many (that I’m aware of) that consider the relationship and intersections between music, landscape, and arts and crafts.

So, it is my hope that we can try to fill that gap. We like to think we can do it with sufficient knowledge and wit (our fantastic new writer, Rachel Wilkinson, is already on both cases) to entice you to return again and again. We won’t get everything right, but in the spirit of the original Grizzly Folk blog, this will be about learning on the go. As a digital publication, we can correct things we get wrong, and being part of the folk community, we know you’ll be leaving comments and suggestions when we make mistakes.

If you’re new to folk culture, we intend to build our Tradfolk 101 section in due course. By all means, let us know if there’s something you’d like to learn about (“Why are people talking about sauce singers, and have I got the spelling wrong?” “Who is Cecil Sharp and why is everyone going to his house?” “I want to get into traditional folk music – where should I begin?“) and we’ll try to get something written as soon as we are able.

At the moment, the website is being run out of our own pockets, so (here comes the inevitable plea) if you’d like to support what we’re doing, head to our Support Us page and see what you think you can do.

If you’d like to follow us elsewhere, make suggestions and chitter-chatter about all things folk culture, may I suggest you choose your poison and click accordingly on the following: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter. Please do share our articles around as much as you can. Every share helps to grow the Tradfolk community a little further.

And if you’re someone who’d like to write for us, an artist or PR person with something to promote, please take a look at our About Us page, which contains a few answers to the questions you may have.

With that, I’ll leave you to mooch around and see what you fancy. Among the newer articles on the site, I’ve listed some of my favourites below – a Tradfolk.co starter for 10, if you like.

Where to start with Tradfolk.co

  1. The best traditional Christmas songs, as chosen by traditional singers – huge thanks to all the wonderful musicians that contributed their time, thoughts and words to this great big Yule log of an article. ‘Tis the season to be jolly (or maybe not, where traditional folk songs are concerned).
  2. What’s the deal with Christmas carols, anyway? – Rachel Wilkinson dives into the history of Christmas songs and tries to work out whether Christmas carols are folk songs, where they come from, and why they make us feel so warm and tingly. (As you’ll come to learn about Rachel, this is the article she was born to write.)
  3. Ben Edge on folk culture and a return to the land – Following the huge success of Ben’s Ritual Britain exhibition this summer, I spent an hour or so with him finding out what drives his fascination with folk customs.
  4. Reviews – We’re slowly trying to build this section up, and it is currently a bit sparse, but take a look at our recent reviews of Henry Parker’s Lammas Fair, and Granny’s Attic’s The Brickfields for starters.
  5. Dive into the archives – all the old Grizzly Folk interviews are here. I particularly enjoyed re-reading the mega Martin Carthy interview, the Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp interview, the Nick Hart interview, the Martin Simpson interview, the Emily Portman interview

I could (and will) go on.

All the best, and thanks for dropping by.

Jon Wilks