Working for the lockdown

UK’s biggest folk band counts down to June 21st.

A 50-strong folk band unable to rehearse or perform together for the last fifteen months are releasing an album which they hope will coincide with the end of limits on social contact in the UK.

Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, made up of dozens of current music students and graduates from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham City University, recorded their latest album in March 2020 – just weeks before the first lockdown called a halt to all their musical activity.

Now the group are preparing to release new record Not Leaving Quietly on Saturday 19 June, just two days before the UK Government is expected to lift final Covid restrictions.

Owing to the size of the popular group, who have packed into venues and festivals across the country including Green Man, Royal Albert Hall, Cropedy Convention, Shambala and Birmingham Town Hall, band members are unable to even meet and rehearse together outside under the current Stage Three restrictions.

Not Leaving Quietly, named after the ensemble’s October 2019 performance of the same name at the EU Parliament in Brussels, will be available to stream from Saturday 19th June, and will be launched with an online listening party featuring films and songs recorded last year streamed via the ensemble’s Facebook page.

Fiddle player, arranger, and ensemble leader Joe Broughton said, “Even with the expectation that the years 2019 and 2020 would deliver new adventures for the ensemble, nothing could have prepared us for what was to come – including seeing each and every date of the tour that was planned being cancelled.

“We thrive on live performance – there is no other way to really experience the power of the ensemble, it’s an experience you have to be in the room with. However, that does mean that we are probably the last band that will be allowed to perform on stage together – we are usually so close to each other and the audience.

“It’s been very difficult knowing that line-up of the band from 2020 would never walk out on stage together and the new material would not be heard live until June 2021 at the earliest.

“We’re crossing everything ahead of Monday 21st June, as after that date – all going well – we can reunite as an ensemble and pick up where we left off over a year ago. We’re glad to be sharing our celebration of togetherness, persistence and positivity.

“All being well 2022 will be a massive year for the Folk Ensemble. We’re planning an extensive UK tour that includes some of our favourite festivals and in May 2022 we have our 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert… now that really is going to be a big one!”

The ensemble used the fourteen-month lockdown to hold its own online festival, release films of the album recording sessions and band members made lockdown videos from their homes around the world.

A staple of the British contemporary folk scene, Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are renowned for their energetic, rousing and musically diverse shows at venues, festivals, and concert halls, as well as capturing the public’s attention in more unlikely spaces such as major railway stations, shopping centres and derelict buildings across the UK.

Combining traditional folk melodies, styles, reels, ballads and song with contemporary influences from heavy metal to classical, drum and bass to Arabic, the Ensemble produce an immersive live music experience that has won them fans across the globe.

Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble release Not Leaving Quietly on Saturday 19th June. The album will be available on all streaming services.

Join JBCFE for their launch party at 1930 on Saturday 19th June here.