At Bristol’s Folk House on 9 April are The Urban Folk Quartet. We had a chat with the band about their music. Read on…
Paloma, Joe, Dan and Tom collectively make up The Urban Folk Quartet. Formed in Birmingham in 2009, they’ve carved a name for themselves enriched with the diverse musical backgrounds of each member of the band. Paloma plays the fiddle and provides vocals – having grown up in the Galicia region of northern Spain, she has inevitably woven sounds of her own heritage into the band’s repertoire which spans folk, traditional and celtic styles:
“Galicia has a very rich celtic culture, we have our own bagpipes, tunes, language and they’re just beautiful. Traditional dancing is a really big event, in my home town there is a huge festival every year where all the bagpipe bands play on the street and everyone wears traditional costume and dances all day.” Paloma explains.
In 2009, on just their fourth live performance as The Urban Folk Quartet, they won the Spanish International Folk Competition, and the following year, they released their self-titled debut. Since then, the band have released a further three studio albums including the recently (2015) released ‘The Escape’, with Dan Walsh contributing guitar, banjo and vocals, having joined the band in 2014 upon the departure of Frank Moon. Joe informally took on the role as producer for this record, having experience with arranging strings and bass lines for this album.
“A big part of it is wanting to spend that much time getting good. That’s the real gift I think.”
Their latest album has won them critical acclaim from BBC radio’s Mark Radcliffe and The Telegraph who awarded them the title of the Best Folk Artist in 2015.
“We are very much a quartet in the truest sense and I think we all feel we have a lot of space in the line up to showcase what we do and we try and create music that makes sense to all of us.” Dan says.
Bringing their music to audiences all across Europe, has broadened both their performance technique and their reach, as a band. With most of their shows taking on an interactive theme, you’d be hard pressed to find The Urban Folk Quartet slinking away into the shadows, in imitation of a wallflower.
“We encourage interaction in our shows, it’s a big part of what we do. It might be singing some choruses, clapping some rhythms or dance moves – who knows?!” Dan says.
“Music is a very powerful emotional tool and it penetrates deep into your memory.”
Drawing on influences as varied as Liz Carroll and Debby McClatchy, the band have recorded covers as well as originals – including ‘500 Miles’ learned from Debby McClatchy, who grew up in San Francisco but later moved to the Appalachian mountains and found inspiration from her surroundings.
“500 Miles, one of our most popular songs from the last album came from Debby McClatchy, an American old time singer.” Dan explains.
The sum of its constituent members, The Urban Folk Quartet’s colourful collage of both complexity and traditional, honest folk tales, is something that speaks to the yearning for nostalgia that we often crave in such a fast moving, chaotic world. For the band, if their music can tap into a memory or a moment held in revered esteem, for any one of their listeners, then they will have fulfilled their purpose:
“Music is a very powerful emotional tool and it penetrates deep into your memory. All the way through your life music triggers memories – you associate music with particular experiences, more than perhaps words do.” Dan says.
The Urban Folk Quartet play at Bristol’s Folk House on Saturday 9 April. Tickets are priced at £9.50 and available online: www.folkhousemusic.com
For more information and to book tickets: http://www.ufq.com