Hatfield House, Herts, Sunday 17 July 2022

Shake the Chains

Folk by the Oak 2017

#fbto artists join Shake the Chains.jpg

When we first set out to create Folk by the Oak we wanted to bring something unique to each festival, and to support some of the amazingly talented artists whose work has given us so much pleasure over the years. As a result we have been instrumental in some very exciting projects, bringing together some of the UK's most established folk musicians with up-and-coming artists, creating the space and opportunity for them to write and perform new music which we can then bring to the Folk by the Oak main stage.

In 2017 we embarked on a new project, Shake the Chains, an exciting new touring commission from celebrated UK contemporary folk singer songwriters with special guests that explored the role songs have played in social change, resistance and protest. The project was commissioned by Folk by the Oak, with support from Arts Council England, Help Musicians, and Folk Alliance. The resulting songs were toured throughout the UK in February 2017 and the band re-grouped for a special performance at our 2017 festival.

It was a magical moment when the performance culminated in a rendition of We Shall Overcome, and the band were joined on stage by Steve Knighely and Phil Beer (Show of Hands), Fara. Sam Kelly and our patron Jim Moray, as well as a proud and happy few members of the Folk by the Oak team. It was a moment that brought joy to our hearts and we will treasure for many years to come!

Following the release of the album in September the Band have reformed for a 2018 tour, this time taking their works to new venues with new special guest performances. Click here for a full list of dates, venues and special guests.

The Artists

Nancy Kerr is one of the most in-demand singer songwriters in English folk. She has won six BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Singer of the Year (2015), Best Duo as part of Nancy Kerr & James Fagan (2000, 2003 & 2011), and Best Album & Best Group as part of The Full English Band (2014). An exceptionally gifted musician, singer, and generous collaborator, the last three years have seen her create a strong body of new songs across a range of subjects following her involvement in The Elizabethan Session and Sweet Liberties.

Findlay Napier made his name touring and recording with multi-award winning traditional Scottish folk band Back of the Moon. In his more recent projects Queen Anne’s Revenge and The Bar Room Mountaineers, his songwriting took centre stage and was described by The Sunday Herald as “Genuine songcraft and wit following in the Difford & Tilbrook tradition”. His body of work shows songs that connect with the subject matter in unique ways, and that explore the stories and lives of the people involved in each narrative.

Hannah Martin, half of a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning duo with Phillip Henry, is a skilled and versatile musician with a contemporary outlook and style of folk and roots music. Her inspiring songwriting charts a range of historical and modern social issues.

Politics graduate Greg Russell performs as a duo with Ciaran Algar, but also as a solo artist and with Nancy Kerr’s Sweet Visitor Band and The Tweed Project. The winner of two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013 & 2014, and nominated in 2015, he is one of the finest and most versatile young artists in English folk music. A dissertation on the role of protest song was the spark for the project that has become Shake the Chains.

Tim Yates is in demand as one of the best ‘side-men’ in the UK folk scene for his versatility as a musician. He is an exceptionally gifted arranger and collaborator, and highly regarded as a writer with his material recorded by one of his bands, Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

For more information on Shake the Chains, including the 2018 gigs and where to buy tickets, see our Shake the Chains tour page.

Following the success of The Elizabethan Session and Sweet Liberties, Shake the Chains seemed like a natural progression for Folk by the Oak. Being able to bring together such diverse and talented artists and watch the magic happen is a real privilege and we look forward to sharing the results with you in July!

- Adam Slough - Festival Director -

Eclectic and adventurous... a classy affair ****

- The Guardian -