Shire Folk is a free, A5, bimonthly magazine covering folk, roots and acoustic music in and around the South Midlands. It has been produced for around 25 years on a not-for-profit basis, paid for by advertising revenue. Each issue includes news items, both local and national, artist interviews, festival and gig reviews, as well as reviews of about 30 new CDs.
From our base in Oxford, we distribute 1800–2000 copies through an intricate network of folk clubs, record shops, libraries, music venues, pubs, morris dancing teams, festivals and individuals. Click here to see a list of places that receive bulk copies of Shire Folk. We think you can safely assume that well over 4000 people read each issue.
If you want to make sure you get a copy of the magazine , then you can have it delivered at a charge of £12 for the next six issues. Full details are on the Subscribe page.
We accept advertising on all folk-related subjects; rates and copy dates can be found on the Advertise page. If you wish to see a sample copy please email us or write to us using the details on the Contact page.
Graham Hobbs & Jonathan Roscoe
Co-Editors, Shire Folk
It has often been said in these pages that folk, and roots music in general, is a cottage industry, sometimes quite literally (or in the case of John McCusker and Heidi Talbot a bothy industry). Outside of Topic and the sterling work done by the good folks at Fellside and WildGoose most albums are released independently (or, as we note on our reviews, ‘self-released’). Once upon a time that meant that the music was either too poor or too uncommercial to be released by a major record label, but now that’s far from the case and some of the best music of the last couple of years has been released on artists’ own labels; whether that’s well-established vanity labels, such Kate Rusby’s Pure or a label set up out of expediency to release an album, sometimes as a one-off, such as Blair Dunlop’s Gilded Wings Records conceived to release his last album, Gilded.
One of the things that has enabled artists to release their own material has been the ease of digital recording and an increasing number of artists funding their work through Pledge sites and Kickstarter campaigns. Indeed, some of our favourite albums of recent times, such as Jess Morgan’s Edison Gloriette, Maz O’Connor’s The Longing Kind and Danny and the Champions of the World’s Brilliant Light were released this way. The star of the inaugural Shire Folk Showcase event at Nettlebed Folk Club on 4 September, Emily Barker, has released her last three albums via pledge campaigns, including her latest, the superb, Memphis-recorded Sweet Kind of Blue. In fact, another favoured son here at Shire Folk Towers, Dean Owens, is currently attempting to fund his new album the same way (whilst battling against the vicissitudes of the current exchange rate into the bargain).
We’ve often said that just because it’s easy to record these days it doesn’t mean you necessarily should, but one by-blow of this is our being offered an increasing number of review copies of albums digitally, via Bandcamp and Soundcloud for example. Being the traditionalists we are, that often doesn’t work for us; nonetheless, it has effectively increased the democratisation of recording and circulating music, and that has to be a good thing. For an analogue fan like me, nothing beats the hiss and pop of the diamond stylus hitting 180gm vinyl, but however you enjoy your music, let’s be thankful that there are people out there who still want to make and release it.
Nettlebed Folk Club
4 September 2017