News Update


Hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and thanks to all who have come to see my gigs this year so far.

It’s been a bit of a hectic time so I’ve got some serious catching up to do, will try not to go on too for long… maybe get yourself a cup of tea!

So I should start with the very first gig of the year which was an appearance with some of the musicians from last year’s ‘Folk Nations’ residency in Calcutta at Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. We had a couple of days to remember what we’d done in india and try to rearrange it for six musicians. It worked brilliantly and was one of my favourite gigs ever… more on that later!

The next big thing was a tour with Lady Maisery in March which was great, decease we did quite a few gigs through the Live and Local scheme which we love doing. We’ll be working on some new material in to coming months and touring again in November this year. Rowan has even passed her driving test now! She didn’t do any on the tour but it was nice to have another driver in the car nonetheless.

The morning after the last Lady Maisery gig near Bromyard I drove straight to a big posh house in Herefordshire to start the Elizabethan session and what a time was had! It was one of the most productive and creative environments I’ve ever been. A joy and a privilege to work with all the other artists involved. The album is in it’s final stages now and will be released at Folk By the Oak festival this July  there might also be talk of a gig or two more next year but that’s all I can say at the moment!

Home for a few days and the back on the road again with Maddy Prior and Giles Lewin which was a complete hoot as ever. Maddy has had a huge influence on my music making over the past few years and her fearlessness to try new things is admirable and infectious! it’s her fault that I’ve started yodelling in public! We’re planning to tour again next year so keep your eye on the website for news of that.

Then at the end of April Sam Sweeney and I set out on out ‘Farewell For Now’ tour. After playing together for 13 years we’ve decided to have a bit of breathing space so we can both concentrate on other things. It was a fantastic tour and ended in Sheffield on a real high. Do go and see his Made In the Great War project which is touring in September. It will be magical.

With no time to dwell, sale the next morning I headed straight down to London for the next gig with the ‘Folk Nations’ group. We performed at the SouthBank Centre as part of their South Asian Arts festival, Alchemy and again there was definitely was definitely something special going on! We’re all in agreement that we want to carry on working together so watch out for news of that.

So what else is next?
There are a few new projects coming up;

Lady Maisery
We will be playing a number of festivals this Summer and touring again in November.

Joint tour with Marja Nuut
After a few solo gigs supporting Steeleye Span at the end of last year I have decided I would like to do some more but to ease myself in I’m doing a few double headline gigs with a fantastic Estonian fiddle player caller Maarja Nuut. She’s just released the most fantastic album and is causing quite a stir. Check her website out here
We’re doing four gigs together in October
8th Realtime Music, Chesterfield
9th The Globe, Glossop
(11th house concert Essex)
12th London (venue tbc)

Floyd’s Row
Last year I was asked to appear on an album of compositions of Chris Ferebee, Guitarist and composer, Alastair Anderson, concertina legend and composer and Andrew Arceci, phenomenal viol da gamba player and composer. It was a fantastic day in the recording studio and the album is sounding great. We enjoyed working to ether so much that we’ve decided to work on another project that I will be involved in from the beginning this time. Watch this space and check out the Facebook page in the mean time

Vannan James
Alastair and I are still playing as a duo. We had a lovely gig in February this year and have a couple more coming up; Ramsbottom Folk Club on July 9th and London Folk Fayre on October 4th.
This Project has been a slow burner due to our other commitments but we are planning to do more in 2015. See our website for recordings.

Accordion Duo with Tuulikki Bartosik
After writing this today I’ll be heading down to the Gower Folk Festival for a debut performance with one of my favourite accordionists ever! We’ve been threatening to play together since meeting at a festival four years ago and then were asked out of the blue if we’d like to play a gig at the Gower by the lovely Joy. We nearly snapped her hand off! Tuulikki came over for a few days earlier this month and playing together was as fun and easy as we’d hoped. We also both enjoyed being able to play as loud as we liked without being told off…. the usual perils of an accordion player! We definitely want to do more together after tomorrow’s gig so there’s another space to watch.

As you can see there are a lot of new things brewing under the surface, it’s an exciting time.

Lastly, Ben and I are getting married on the solstice. We’re hoping it will be a lovely hippy outdoorsy affair so fingers crossed for good weather for us please!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of the summer.
Hannah xx

The Elizabethan Session

New commission announced includes Hannah

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and Folk by the Oak – the annual music festival based at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, pills the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I – have commissioned eight musicians to create new work inspired by the Elizabethan age.

Martin SimpsonNancy Kerr, Folk by the Oak patron Jim MorayBella HardyJohn SmithHannah JamesRachel Newton and early music specialist Emily Askew will live and work together for a week in March 2014 to come up with new music that has a resonance and relevance to the era.

The Elizabethan Session will use material and history, stories, myths, characters and legends relating to the 16th century period and the artists will draw inspiration from the role that Hatfield House played in the Queen’s life.

Legend has it that Elizabeth was told of her ascension to the throne underneath the large oak tree in the grounds where Folk by the Oak is now held each July.

The group will live and work together at a rural retreat in Herefordshire from 14 March. They will premiere the results at The Old Palace at Hatfield House on 20 March followed by a further concert at Cecil Sharp House, the London home of EFDSS, on 22 March.

They will then record the material live at Cecil Sharp House for a CD release and reconvene with a show at Folk by the Oak on 20 July.

Elizabethan historian Ian Mortimer, who has appeared extensively on BBC One, Two and Four and BBC Radio, will visit the artists to give them an insight into the era and the Queen.

Further information:
Folk at the Oak Festival Website
EFDSS Website

Lady Maisery Celebrating International Women’s Day

This Woman's Work

A few people have asked why we chose this particular single to release for International Women’s Day. To those who don’t know the song, the title, “This Woman’s Work” might suggest that the subject is of women’s struggle. However, as you would expect from the genius songwriting of Kate Bush, the content takes perhaps an unexpected direction. The song can be interpreted in many ways but to us it beautifully illustrates the delicate and complexed relationship between a man and a woman when becoming parents, the sea of different emotions – regret, anticipation, fear, hope, and the man having to take on a new, maybe more feminine roll. What a fantastic thing to write a song about. There’s a bit more info about it here


We wanted to do something to celebrate International Women’s Day this year  and after much debate decided that releasing a song from our forthcoming album as a download only, charity single would be the best way yo go. That way there would be no extra overheads and one hundred percent of the money would go straight to our chosen charity. We were originally looking for a charity who were running a campaign against cuts to women’s services which is what drew us to End Violence Against Women, check out this campaign here: Violence against women seems to be a subject of particular importance this year with reports coming from across the world of horrific acts against women. I won’t rant about that now but have put a few links as a reminder at the bottom of this page.

There were a number of songs from our forthcoming album that would have been suitable and some of the others may have been a more obvious choice, however, when we approached End Violence Against Women (who are delighted to have our support) they said that at the moment they are putting a lot of energy into their campaign for better sex and relationship education for girls AND boys particularly about sexual behaviour and what is and isn’t acceptable. Check it out here: They believe that ending violence against women starts with better education in schools and preventing violence from happening in the first place. I fully support this view and have often looked back on the sex education I received in school and regretted that it only really focused on the mechanics of sex and health risks (which are of course of upmost importance) but really did nothing to empower us to make decisions that we were happy with or to teach us of the huge emotional impact that sex can have. Sexual abuse was occasionally mentioned in hushed tones and not in any detail, and there was certainly no debate about what does and doesn’t not constitute sexual violence.


After discussing this campaign we decided that the themes in “This Woman’s Work” were very relevant to the cause which seeks to examine and improve the relationships between men and women. It’s the first time we’ve done a cover of a pop song – I suppose in a way we do covers all the time but as it’s folk music no one really thinks of it like that – and it’s pretty daunting to think that people might listen to it and automatically compare it to Kate’s almost untouchable version! We hope that we’ve made it different enough for people to appreciate it for what it is and we really hope you enjoy it! Please do check out the fantastic work that End Violence Against Women are doing. Happy Women’s Day and good luck to anyone getting involved!


Hannah xx