Sam Sweeney has something of the Midas touch. Nearly every project he’s been involved in – from the mighty Bellowhead to the beloved instrumental trio Leveret – has been met with massive acclaim. In 2018, Sam decided to embark on a solo career, and true to form, his output so far has been top drawer.
Released on Island Records, Sam’s debut album The Unfinished Violin (2018) was a masterclass in pure and simple fiddle music. Proving himself a player of great dexterity and grace, the record takes the First World War as its theme. Poignant opener ‘Highland Soldier’ borrows music from George Butterworth, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Deeply affecting, this track represents the first step on an emotional journey that draws on music from across Europe, encompassing marches, laments and dance melodies. Alongside rarities of the era (the product of Sam’s meticulous research), tracks like ‘The Girl I Left Behind’ and ‘The Battle of the Somme’ will be familiar to many. Stripped to their very bones, the emotional purity of these wartime favourites comes to the fore via Sam’s delicate touch and singular vision.
Due for release on 27th March 2020 via Hudson Records, Sam’s second album promises to be a quite a departure from his first. Breaking ties with the First World War theme that’s been his preoccupation for a number of years, this follow-up will feature a brand new band, with whom Sam has taken his sound into exciting new territory. Injecting traditional English music with the flare, energy and festival spirit of groups coming out of the Celtic and Scandinavian music scenes, this new band brings together Sam’s unique fiddle playing, the acoustic and electric guitars of Jack Rutter (Seth Lakeman, Moore Moss Rutter) and Louis Campbell (National Youth Folk Ensemble), the double bass of Ben Nicholls (Seth Lakeman, Nadine Shah) and the keyboards of Dave Mackay (Art Garfunkel).
Going by the sell-out success of Sam’s last tour, wherein his playing was hailed by Songlines as “unearthly … outstanding and deeply moving”, this new show promises to be all that and more. Don’t sleep on tickets for this one, as it’s sure to be another sell-out!
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
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