Will Pound & Jenn Butterworth + Annie Dressner: Manchester Folk Festival

  • Friday | 20.10.23
  • 7.00pm
  • Hallé St Peter’s
  • £17.50

“Two of the finest instrumentalists in traditional music combine to bring a tour de force of breathtaking performances, which first started in lockdown with a video that was an international internet sensation.

Will Pound – Harmonica, Melodeon
Jenn Butterworth – Guitar, Voice

A chance meeting at a folk session in 2018 led to Will and Jenn’s music travelling around the world as a viral TikTok sensation in lockdown. In their live shows they play a game of ‘musical cat and mouse’; improvising and responding to each other, weaving virtuosic performances that are unique and in-the-moment as only two musicians highly accomplished in their craft can produce. Their debut album, Volume 1 was recorded live, over two days in Glasgow, and released on 24 February 2023.

Will Pound:

Will Pound is one of the finest harmonica and melodeon players of his generation, a musician of extraordinary virtuosity and improvisational skill combined with deep traditional roots. Will has pushed the technical boundaries and repertoires of these instruments in projects and line-ups past and present with musicians including Eddy Jay, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Liz Carrol, Martin Simpson, Guy Chambers, Concerto Caledonia, and Robbie Williams.

In his youth Will was a member of Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment, an ensemble of exceptional young musicians convened for a 3-part BBC2 TV series of that name; and in 2012 he played the signature harmonica break on the Christmas No.1 single He Ain’t Heavy: He’s My Brother with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Justice Collective, including Sir Paul McCartney, Beverley Knight, Mick Jones and Shane McGowan, produced in support of the Hillsborough families.

Will has travelled across most of Europe and as far as Australia as a musician. His TV & Radio appearances include BBC Breakfast, BBC2, Radio 2, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, MTV, and Radio 1xtra. He has been nominated 3 times for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician Of The Year Award in 2012, 2014 and 2015, has won FATEA Magazine Instrumentalist Of the Year 2013 and 2014 and also was nominated for Songlines Magazine best newcomer.

He has recently appeared on soundtracks to TV Comedy Breeders starring Martin Freeman, and a TV Advert starring Robert De Niro!

Will composes and arranges entirely by ear, often developing pieces on piano before transferring them to harmonica and melodeon for performance.

Will’s harmonica recordings – 2011 album with banjo player Dan Walsh, Walsh and Pound; his 2013 debut solo harmonica album, A Cut Above; and 2016’s duo with accordionist Eddy Jay, Ignite – cemented his status as “One of the World’s top harmonica players” – Daily Telegraph, leading to appearances on Robbie Williams’ 2016 release Intentions and the follow up Christmas Presents in 2019 taking him back to the top of the charts.

Meanwhile, Will’s expertise as a traditional musician was captured as one half of the melodeon and viola duo Haddo on 2013’s Homecoming and the following year’s Borderlands, and further established in his album and Arts Council funded collaborative project Through The Seasons: A Year In Morris and Folk Dance. In 2019 Will embarked on a musical journey across all 27 EU member states, exploring the diversity and common ground in their traditional music and song. The result was A Day Will Come, a touring project with a live band featuring guitar genius Jenn Butterworth, multi-instrumentalist Jude Rees, bass player and beatboxer John Parker, and fiddle player Patsy Reid (Breabach), together with Polish poet, Bohdan Piasecki. The accompanying album featuring this new ensemble, alongside a host of guest musicians, that was released in May 2020 to great critical acclaim: “An uplifting celebration of the fruits of the free movement of European instrumental music by the British harmonica player – Swedish polska, Bulgarian rachenista and Irish jigs never let up the pace” – The Guardian.

Will’s further collaboration with Jenn Butterworth in lockdown zoom videos led to viral internet success, and the duo released Volume 1, in February 2023, with planned festival appearances at Dranouter and Manchester this year. Will is also developing a new work with classical percussionist Delia Stevens, The Silent Planet, a project to coincide with Holst’s 150th anniversary in 2024.

Jenn Butterworth:

Jenn Butterworth is one of the most notable folk guitarists in the UK acoustic music scene. In recent years she was awarded ‘Musician of the Year’ from the Scots Trad Music Awards and was nominated for the same title in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

An excellent collaborator, she works with a range of high profile folk music projects, including Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton’s SYMBIOSIS, award winning folk powerhouses Kinnaris Quintet, Treacherous Orchestra and Fiddlers’ Bid, supergroup ‘Songs of Separation’ involving an array of prominent folk artists including Eliza Carthy, Lady Maisery and Karine Polwart. The Songs of Separation album, conceived, arranged and recorded in just 7 days, won the title of ‘Best Album’ at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2017.

She is also well known for her duo work, and regularly performs with Kinnaris Quintet rhythm section partner Laura-Beth Salter, and virtuosic harmonica player Will Pound. In recent years she has performed on a host of award winning and nominated studio albums, including Kinnaris Quintet’s ‘Free One’, which was longlisted for Scottish Album of the Year in 2019. In the same year, Kinnaris Quintet won the coveted ‘Belhaven Award for Innovation in Traditional Music’.

Jenn is also a highly recognised teacher with a wide range of teaching experience and was recently awarded ‘Tutor of the Year’ at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards. She is a lecturer and Creative Producer in the Traditional Music Department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is a regular member of the teaching staff for Glasgow Fiddle Workshop and has recently taught for Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the National Youth Folk Ensemble (EFDSS), Halsway Manor & Burg Fürsteneck (Germany).

“Butterworth powers the show with driving guitar.” – The Metro”

An unreserved seated show.

Full festival tickets also available: https://botw.ticketline.co.uk/order/gateway/13365704

Artists on stage: 7.30pm
Curfew: 10.30pm
Stage: Victoria Wood