We chat to Greg Russell about everything from his fantastically exciting new project, Shake The Chains, to why Folk by the Oak is so highly regarded (and how much he like his trusty boots).
FFY What you’re producing as part of Shake The Chains is very powerful, looking to instigate change and provide light on some prominent issues. How did the idea develop from the humble beginnings of your dissertation paper?
GR As part of my politics degree I had to do a dissertation. And I chose to do it on musics relationship with political change and protest. I finished the degree and it went well, I'd enjoyed it and I'd sort of piled my heart, soul and brain into 15,000 words. I didn't want it to stop there. I had a desire to do something artistic with that which had been occupying me academically for so long. So the idea of doing a gig, which then became a tour, of songs of protest and community on issues through out time and geography came out.
FFY How did you go about choosing the other artists to take part in the project?
GR They're people who's music I love! I sat down and thought "who would I love to make music with?!" I guess there was a bit more to it than that too though.....
Everyone involved, when off doing their own musical thing as opposed to this collaborative project, makes music which definitely has a strong message of community, togetherness and protest. So they were all musicians who very much got the brief. And, although we are all painted with the same broad genre paintbrush of folk, we all come at music quite differently. Our own music is quite contrasting to each other's. So it was an interesting mix!
FFY The new album comes out September 15th this year, what exciting things can we expect from you guys?
GR It's a live album, which I'm excited about. We recorded all of the tour dates live. I think it's captured what we were trying to do far better than a studio album could have done.
I'm so pleased with how it's sounding. The songs speak for themselves. And we played pretty well!
FFY Why is FBTO such a good festival to play at? And what makes it so different to any others?
GR Well, this will be my first time at the festival. But Nancy and Hannah have played it before and sing it's praises! Everyone who's been in fact, says it's brilliant. The festival directors Adam & Caroline Slough were involved in a funding and management side of Shake the Chains and they were wonderful. Excellent people to work with, so it doesn't surprise me they've created a highly successful festival.
FFY Who would you recommend seeing at FBTO (other than yourselves obviously)?
GR It always has a great line up! Every year I look and think I'd like to see all of those people. The institution of Show of Hands are on and of course well worth seeing. Eric Bibb, wow! Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, playing the acorn stage would probably be my 'slightly unknown band of the festival tip'. Though he's increasingly well known. So maybe that doesn't count. And the Hut People. Accordion and percussion duo should sound dreadful. But they are absolutely brilliant fun.
FFY What essential item could you not live without at a music festival?
GR My trusty walking boots. And I don't care how boring an answer that is. They are seriously trusty!