After being nominated for best duo in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards this year, Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts are at the top of people’s must-see list this summer. But who’s on theirs, asks Big Issue North ahead of a string of festival appearances, including Beverley Folk Festival, 17-19 June.
How would you describe your sound?
Gilmore: We’d describe ourselves as being contemporary folk/acoustic. Traditional music has had quite a strong influence on our writing but we combine this with rock, pop, Americana and country influences to make our sound.
Tell us what you’ve been up to since last summer?
Roberts: We released our fourth album, Conflict Tourism, in September to great reviews and had a big tour throughout the autumn to promote it covering the UK, Holland and Germany. In February this year it was announced that we’d been nominated in the best duo category at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, with the ceremony taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. We’ve also got an extensive tour of the UK coming up this spring – full list of dates can be found on our website gilmoreroberts.co.uk
What festivals are you playing this year?
Gilmore: We’ve already done a couple this year (Whittlesea Strawbear & Threshold in Liverpool) and have plenty more coming up throughout the spring and summer – Raunds, Beverley, Folk on the Farm, Underneath the Stars, Broadstairs, Cropredy, Folk East, Purbeck and Looe Music Fest, to name a few.
Who else are you excited to see at the festivals?
Roberts: I’m hoping to catch Flats & Sharps – a great young bluegrass band who I saw a few years ago and really enjoyed. They’ve since been augmented with an awesome fiddle player so look forward to seeing them at Beverley. Also, I recently saw Sam Carter and thought it was brilliant so will certainly try and catch him again.
Gilmore: From the Beverley line-up, bands I already know and love like the Young Uns and Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, but it’s also exciting to discover new favourites, so I’ll be sure to try and catch the Roamin’ Jasmine, Emma King, and Maia (who we’ve been mutually stalking for the last couple of years, judging by posters at venues we’ve played!)
If you could curate your own festival with artists dead or alive what would the line-up look like?
Roberts: My ideal line-up would be a bit of a mixed bag – Dave Matthews Band, John Butler Trio, Richard Shindell, Iron Maiden, John Hartford, Nickel Creek, Tony Rice, English Acoustic Collective, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Gilmore: A mixture of new favourites and old classics: Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Lake Street Dive, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Wailin’ Jennys, Chris Thile in any guise, Joni Mitchell circa 1969, the Beach Boys, Brad Paisley, Joy Kills Sorrow, Ruby Blue and Bryndle.
What’s your best festival memory?
Roberts: We were lucky enough to play at Vancouver Island MusicFest in 2014, which was an incredible experience. The setting, the weather and the line-up were all amazing. We were so well looked after as well – I have a great memory of having complimentary acupuncture in a wooded area backstage whilst listening to Della Mae on the main stage.
Gilmore: Yes, mine is also from the same festival on the same Canadian trip – meeting James “Hutch” Hutchinson from Bonnie Raitt’s band and having him play bass on our set, being asked to guest with Kim Richey, having a free massage backstage and then watching Bonnie Raitt rock out on the main stage with the full moon rising in the starry night sky. It’s going to take some beating!
What’s in your festival survival kit?
Roberts: A good camping kit, which has improved over the years from just a tent and sleeping bag to now including an airbed, a camping stove and cool bag so I can cook my own dinners. Also not forgetting my trusty festival tankard!
G: Aside from the usual things, I bring ear plugs, an eye mask and my reindeer onesie!
Apart from music, what should the ideal festival have?
Roberts: I’m a big fan of the fringe things that happen as well as the concerts – sessions, workshops, dance performances, ceilidhs and street performers. I also think it’s good when it’s combined with a bit of a beer festival in the beer tent too.
Gilmore: Good food (preferably including a Mexican stand), a well-stocked CD stall, and a decent selection of reasonably priced beers.