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Banjo player brings buzz to folk quartet.

Byline: DAVE FREAK

THEY'RE called the Urban Folk Quartet, but if you look at the individual influences and experience of the four members, perhaps the 'Urban Folk/ World/ Jazz/ Fusion/ Blues/ Mash Up Quartet' would be a more apt title.

"Well, that's perhaps a little more descriptive but you'd never fit it on the posters!" laughs percussionist Tom Chapman. "For us 'Urban' refers to the experience of living and working in the country's second biggest city [Birmingham], where you can go out any night of the week and find high and low culture of every description.

"We're folk musicians applying the folk process, and to us that means we end up with a higher proportion of rock, funk, classical, Afrobeat (I could go on) influences in our music because we genuinely love and respect that as much as we do the best trad' music.

"It's what fills our ears, in our time and place. I don't think we'd be able to make honest music if we had to affect rusticity or pastoral, faux-rurality!" Ex-Old Dance School member Tom, Galician fiddler Paloma Trigas (The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon, Altan, Carlos Nunez) and fellow fiddle-player Joe Broughton (Albion Band), formed Urban Folk Quartet (UFQ) in 2009 with oud player Frank Moon, making an instant impact with their electric and energetic live shows.

Though Frank recently stepped down to concentrate on compositional work, UFQ have remained a four-piece with the arrival of Stafford's Dan Walsh (Walsh and Pound, Seth Lakeman, The Levellers) - widely regarded as one of the UK's best clawhammer banjo players.

"We're really excited to have welcomed Dan into UFQ as a permanent member," explains Tom, who says Dan's arrival has enthused the quartet. "We've always added new material every tour, as we can't seem to stop writing, but the new possibilities the banjo brings have really enlivened this process and Dan's background as a lead singer has given the vocal stuff a huge boost."

Having spent the spring and summer on tour and playing big festivals, the "new" UFQ line-up make their hometown debut at mac Birmingham tomorrow.

The appearance is also their first in the city since a sell-out Yardbird show back in spring 2013 - an electric performance recorded and released as their last album, UFQ: Live II.

"Although we play theatre venues regularly, this will also be the first time we've done a theatre show in the city," says Tom.

Looking at the differences between playing a tight set in a small, sweaty, club venue and a full show in an arts centre environment, Tom says: "There'll be a bit more light and shade, we get to do the 'listeney' bits and the whole range, as well as the more upbeat stuff which tends to be the sole focus when we play clubs."

The show will also be an opportunity for Dan to demonstrate how well he's slotted into the UFQ line-up, embracing their eclectic approach to music making, helping re-shape old band favourites and create new songs.

"He was a big fan of Joe before he was invited into the band - since he was 10 - so it's no surprise he's embraced our approach," says Tom. "He's really up for crafting an exciting show."

Following the gig, the quartet return to the studio to continue working on their yet-to-be-titled fifth album (due for release next year).

"So this will be the only chance to see us in Birmingham until after the album's out as we tend to play here only once a year or so now, to make sure the shows are pretty special."

? The Urban Folk Quartet play at mac Birmingham tomorrow at 8pm. Tickets PS14 (PS10. For more details tel: 0121 446 3232 or go to www.macbirmingham.co.uk

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Birmingham-based Urban Folk Quartet head to Birmingham's mac on Saturday, the only chance to catch them in the city |
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 31, 2014
Words:644
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