Formed in 1997 by fiddle player and arranger Joe Broughton (The Urban Folk Quartet, The Albion Band, Joss Stone), their energetic live sets are a sight to behold, featuring a 15-piece horn section, five cello players, four percussionists and three electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, double bass, even a harp! They also all sing too.
Though rooted in traditional folk tunes, each member brings a variety of personal influences to the set-list, which ranges from full-on rock grooves, funk, jazz, hip-hop, ska and reggae, to gentle ballads and sounds from Eastern Europe and Asia.
“The band are mainly playing with traditional British Isles folk tunes, but they’re not afraid to bring in other influences – last year we had Bulgarian and Japanese tunes too,” says leader Joe Broughton.
‘An entire festival in two hours’ is one popular description of the ensemble as the musicians play, sing and leap about, performing together and also in various duos, trios and smaller break-out mini-groups.
As Joe stresses: “The shows are ridiculously energetic.”
In the past couple of years, the ensemble have performed three consecutive sell-out nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and appeared to great acclaim at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy, Shambala, and Towersey Festival.
The highly skilled group pulls its membership from Birmingham City University’s internationally renowned Conservatoire. An established hotbed for emerging talent, previous Conservatoire Folk Ensemble members include BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Jim Moray, Erica Nockalls (The Wonder Stuff, The Proclaimers), Charlie Heys (of tipped duo McNeill and Hayes), and The Old Dance School.
The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble – Summer 2016 UK Tour:
Thursday 26 May 2016
Foxlowe Arts Centre, Market Place, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6AD
Part of Leek Arts Festival 2016
Friday 27 May 2016
West End Centre, Queens Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 3JD
Saturday 28 May 2016
Sutton Village Hall, Sutton, Bedfordshire SG19 2NE
Tel: 01767 260041
Saturday 4 June 2016
Huntingdon Hall, CrownGate, Worcester WR1 3LD
Sunday 5 June 2016
Power Folk 3
The Spotted Dog, 104 Warwick Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B12 0NH
Doors 3pm, music from 4pm ‘til late
* The ensemble’s annual raucous afternoon gig/ all-dayer, featuring The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble (6pm) and special invited guests.
Wednesday 8 June 2016
Alexander’s Live, Rufus Court, Chester, Cheshire CH1 2JW
Sunday 12 June 2016
Gate To Southwell Festival, Southwell, Nottinghamshire
Saturday 18 June 2016
Beverley Folk Festival, Beverley Racecourse, East Yorkshire, HU17 8QZ
Sunday 19 June 2016
Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire, Paradise Place, Birmingham B3 3HG
* City of Sounds festival Destruction Party with The Destroyers.
Friday 29 July 2016
Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria
29 August 2016
Towersey Festival, Thame Showground, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3JL