Nick Drake is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential musicians of all time. His Contemporary folk songs only really became popular after his death, but his legacy of sometimes melancholic, sometimes gently uplifting music continues to inspire new bands and musicians, and is a firm favourite in music collections around the world today.
Nick was born in Rangoon and his family moved to Tanworth in Arden, just south of Birmingham, when Nick was two years old. Nick spent his formative years in the Midlands. His father worked from 1952 as the Chairman and Managing Director of Wolseley Engineering in the city. After studying elswhere, in 1966 Nick enrolled at a tutorial college in Five Ways, Birmingham, from where he won a scholarship to study English literature at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. Drake continued to use his parents house in Tanworth as a retreat whilst suffering depression until his untimely death in 1974 at home. Nick is buried in the local church which is a pilgrimage for many.
Birmingham Town Hall played host to Drake on the 16th March 1970. Within a few weeks of that date, other legends such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, Jeff Beck, Black Sabbath, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, Deep Purple and Pentangle had also graced the stage, but it was not until the 1980s that Drake’s music would begin to resonate with audiences in a substantial way.
To Celebrate Nick Drake, there are two music festivals locally which fans should really pay close attention to. We take a brief look at both events.
Imagined Isle 12th – 16 May
Town Hall is set to host a weekend long celebration of folk this spring with a wave of musical delights.
Featuring a specially curated line-up of nationally and internationally renowned artists, alongside profiling local and emerging talents, Imagined Isle celebrates the unique voices and sounds of folk, set against the iconic backdrop of Birmingham’s historic Town Hall, on Thursday 12 May – Monday 16 May.
Originally commissioned by THSH in 2009, Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake now returns full circle after touring the world. Curated by Drake’s producer Joe Boyd, and featuring original orchestrations by the late Robert Kirby, this very special tribute concludes its story where it began at Town Hall for a one-off performance at Imagined Isle. Confirmed names include Sam Beam from Iron & Wine, Academy Award winner Glen Hansard, Vashti Bunyan and Green Gartside, all accompanied by a house band.
Several of the artists performing across the weekend at Imagined Isle have recently been nominated for the 2016 BBC Folk Awards. These include Emily Portman for Folk Singer of the Year, The Furrow Collective for Best Traditional Track and False Lights for Best Album. The line-up also includes the internationally acclaimed and previous BBC Folk Award winner Kate Rusby, supported by local favourites, Boat To Row.
Sunday’s line-up will see the return of another THSH commission originally performed in 2012, featuring The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain exploring the works of Cecil Sharp, the collector who travelled extensively in England and America finding songs during the early 20th century. With his material they bring key ingredients of folk and pop music into focus, and tradition up to date.
Future Folk presents the best rising talents and those at the progressive forefront of British Folk music in a performance created in partnership with English Folk Dance and Song Society especially for Imagined Isle 2016. Alongside False Lights and Luke Jackson, previous winners of ‘Best Duo’ at the 2015 BBC Folk Awards, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker take to the stage on Sunday, transforming songs that are centuries old and making them personal and present again.
With a career that spans over five decades, 36 albums and non-stop touring, one of the leading Delta bluesmen of his generation, Eric Bibb finishes off the festival in timeless style. Bibb will be performing with his full band at Town Hall as part of his Lead Belly’s Gold Album tour.
Lunar Festival 3rd – 5th June
- Late Night Sounds announced including Psychemagik’s Magik Forest, Horse Meat Disco, Craig Charles, Magic Door and many more
- Headliners include Super Furry Animals, Mercury Rev, Television, Badly Drawn Boy, The Zombies, Os Mutantes, Matt Berry and The Maypoles, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Ibibio Sound Machine, Bill Ryder Jones, Amber Arcades and many more
- The resting place of Nick Drake sets the scene for a mercurial weekend of amazing music, an odyssey joining the dots across a vibrant psychedelic spectrum
- Festival features arts, crafts, activities and games for all the ages, sumptuous food and drink and wide range of boutique accommodation
Following on from 2015’s breakthrough year, this June’s Lunar is maturing into a wondrous odyssey across one weekend of magic, set in a rural idyll close to the beating heart of the Midlands yet a world away from the hustle and bustle of reality. Inspiring, edifying and a little bit different, Lunar is a refreshing vision of what a festival should be like.
The festival is now proud to reveal this summer’s club action taking place with Late Night Sounds. As soon as the sun starts to set over the magical Lunar site, a transformation takes place going from the guitar-driven sounds during of the day and evening, to a beats and bass soundscape across the enchanting site during the night and into the early hours.
Across the weekend Lunar is working with some of the best UK club nights and DJs around, with some familiar names returning and new faces making their debuts including Magic Door, Psychemagik’s Magik Forest, Leftfoot, Horse Meat Disco, Craig Charles, Swingamajig’s Speakeasy, This Is Tmrw, Modulate plus many more offering sublime party action spread across the weekend. Crossing the eclectic house, disco, funk, soul, electronic, broken beat and more spectrums, Lunar at night is a delightful bouncing odyssey with some amazing hosts to round off each night.
Lunar has also announced its incredible live programming. Since their Fuzzy Logic debut album 1996, the Welsh psychedelic rock and electronic experimentalists Super Furry Animals have carved a warped niche in the UK’s left-of-centre scene. And speaking of venerable, Mercury Rev have over a quarter of century of music behind them, their 90s rock finding its place in the present from the New York state band.
Umberslade Farm Park, Butts Ln, Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire B94 5AE.