18th November 2017, cornered in a radio studio, Helen Meissner explains how Folkstock happened, to Trevor Krueger on his Saint 94.7 Radio show…and reveals what gets her up in the morning!
Trevor also asks me about tips for independent musicians… here’s my off the cuff answer.
How Dave Swarbrick came to be our Patron, and how Helen Meissner ended up organising and promoting a 17 date tour for him plus how and why Folkstock Arts Foundation came about. Interview with Paul Mansell on Marlow FM, you can listen by clicking here
Kind. Clever. Courageous, community spirited and extremely courteous. Helen Meissner is a gem. Well versed in turning adversity into something spectacularly magical she is the epitome of the glass that is always full. A family party celebrating her recovery from breast cancer in 2010 gently led her down the path not of her own rehabilitation, but that of nurturing musical talent and organising brave festival ventures. Brave because Folkstock in 2013 came at great cost to herself – but was advantageous to the scores of unknowns and semi-established that have gone on to great things. Great things such as fronting, serenading and supporting the established such as ‘Fairport Conventon’s’ Dave Swarbrick and beautiful events such as first time performances in front of a home crowd. There is a sweet homeliness about Helen and it is no wonder she is the matriarch of the something beautiful that is a burgeoning folk revolution in the region. www.facebook.com/Folkstock, @helenmeissner1
“Folkstock is a label to hang your hat on. Helmed by Helen Meissner, they approach everything with a DIY ethos that is admirable and, also, successful. More importantly, Helen has a great ear for music and an obvious passion which comes out in everything they do. “. Spiral Earth reviewing The F Spot Femmes Fatales, which was released on 8th March”.
Harry Harris, Spiral Earth.
“….there is much to enjoy in a variety of styles and approaches… The album is from progressive British label Folkstock”. Martin Chilton, The Telegraph. 04/04/15
“A big Hi to Helen at Folkstock who does all kinds of good things to publicise British Folk Music” BBC Radio 2, Paul Sexton on Bob Harris Sunday
“It may be a small operation, but British label Folkstock has become shop window for an impressive roster of youthful singer songwriters who roam far beyond the borders of the traditional repertoire” Clive Davis, The Sunday Times 15/03/15
“Not a hint of treacle on this atmospheric, no frills compilation from a label that is nurturing some our most promising folk talent. ….. There isn’t a weak link to be found” Clive Davis, The Sunday Times 14/12/14
“For sheer passion in terms of promoting new artists, there cannot be many outfits to beat Folkstock, the small “boutique” record label that’s helped bring a number of acts to wider attention” Darren Johnson MP Nov 2015
Brian Player conducted four interviews with us for his shows over the last four months, Jan-April 2017. He’s kindly made up a link with all four – Helen Meissner reflecting on 2016, Lauren Deakin Davies talking about recording Kate Dimbleby, Kate Dimbleby talking about her album, DIDI talking about her new solo career.
To listen to the Brian Player interviews please click here
WHO AND WHAT ARE FOLKSTOCK ARTS FOUNDATION?
Folkstock Arts Foundation nurtures, mentors, produces and promotes original acoustic talent, for the most part as an altuistic endeavor. The aim is to support committed independent passionate performers in an environment of creative self expression, collaboration and hope. Initially a community for musicians, it has expanded to incorporate a boutique record label focussing on acoustic, folk and roots singer songwriters, which operates on an ethical basis, wherein the artist gets a deal which helps them establish their career.
Dave Swarbrick and Peggy Seeger are Patrons and get involved in projects which help promote emerging talent as well as charity projects, with us.
Pics show Peggy with her first selfie, having a bit of fun with award winning producer Lauren Deakin Davies and I ( Helen Meisssner), and Dave Swarbrick and Helen Meissner at the last date of his tour in Harpenden May 2014.
‘Helen Meissner founded and runs all things Folkstock related and her daughter Lauren Deakin Davies is the Folkstock Records’ producer. Kelly Oliver is the lead artist, and female artists form the bulk of the roster. There are no employees and all organisation, planning, promotion and artwork is conducted by Helen. Folkstock runs events, releases music and promotes artists they believe in. There are a number of additional special projects too. Such as a 17 date tour for David Swarbrick in April and May 2014, a series of events showcasing 30 acts called Love Folk Live during January and February 2014, an all female tour called Song Sisters featuring Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle as headliners Summer 2014, Armistice Pals Charity Single with over 100 voices from the folk world released in November 2015 and many others’. Folkstock Arts Foundation was recently awarded a Gold Star for ‘Music Empire’ from Instrumental
Links to all our projects are available by following the visual prompts on the Home page
Congratulations to our producer for winning Best Producer at NMG Awards 15th September 2017!
Interviews with Lauren Deakin Davies about being a producer :
Here is an interview between Tim Willett on the NMG show on Cambridge 105 and producer Lauren Deakin Davies from Dec 2016
The artists highlighted have all released albums, singles or EP’s with us. The other artists have kindly recorded with us or supplied a single track for one of our compilation cds. Please click on the name you are interested in to be taken to a page dedicated to their music, reviews, radio and press.
James Edge and the Mindstep,
Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater,
Luke Jackson, Maz O’Connor, Said the Maiden, Roxanne de Bastion, Ben Smith, Fred’s House, Helen Chinn, Fay Brotherhood, Garry Smith, John Farndon, Blue Pig Orchestra.
Delighted to have self plugged to gain twenty five BBC Radio 2 plays for ten of our releases and twenty plays on BBC 6 Music plus a play on BBC Radio 3 and an artist as live guest on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. As well as hundreds of plays in the vital independent and community stations, as well as regional BBC stations around the country.
Kelly Oliver’s Diamond Girl ft Luke Jackson, Jericho, Same World and Miles to Tralee on both The Folk Show and Bob Harris’s Sunday Show with Jericho played twice on Bob’s show, a BBC Radio 2 Folk show play for Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater for Burning Low, a play for Emma McGrath on Bob Harris Sunday as well as two plays for the Armistice Pals charity single, which was played on the Folk Show and also on Good Morning Sunday. Maz O’Connnor’s track on The F Spot Femmes Fatales gained a BBC Radio 2 play on Good Morning Sunday. A spin for James Edge and the Mindstep on Alex Lester’s BBC Radio 2 show plus a play on BBC 6 Music. BBC 6 Music have also played Rio and Jericho, three times for Rio and twice for jericho from Kelly Oliver. Plus two plays for Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater’s Burning Low, two plays for Sandtimer’s Rusting Towers and two plays for SERA’s single Waterside. BBC Radio 3 and 6 Music played Peggy’s track from The F Spot Femmes Fatales, Radio 3 once, and Tom Robinson twice, two days in a row on release weekend. Kate Dimbleby – two plays from Tom Robinson on 6 Music for Musical Boxes, two plays from Good Morning Sunday for Musical Boxes and Life Is on BBC Radio 2, when Kate was live guest and four spins from Clare Teal on BBC Radio 2 who also had Kate in as a guest. Russ Jeanes (Jeanes) has gained four plays from BBC 6 Music since we started working with him, three on Cerys Matthews show and one thanks to Tom Robinson. Also helping DIDI (our producer Lauren Deakin Davies’ solo project) with promotion and she’s had two plays for Awkward from Chris Hawkins on the BBC 6 Music early show!
We were thrilled that the Armistice Pals track gained Best EP/Single from Neil King’s Fatea Magazine Awards and Kelly Oliver’s This Land won Album of the Year from a female artist from FolkWords blog thanks to Tim Carroll. Kelly Oliver also won the NMG Award for Best Solo Female in November 2015.
We have had thirty four releases since November 2013 (with many more in the pipeline) and these include two albums for Kelly Oliver and albums for Marina Florance, Daria Kulesh and Bright Season, and EPs for Kelly Oliver, Kaity Rae, Zoe Wren, Pete Guy, Sandtimer, Rosa Rebecka, James Edge and the Mindstep and numerous compilations which involve Dave Swarbrick, Peggy Seeger, The Armistice Pals, Luke Jackson (with kind permission from Pipe Records), Marina Florance, Minnie Birch, Ben Smith, Fred’s House, Roxanne de Bastion, Fay Brotherhood, Helen Chinn, John Farndon, The Blue Pig Orchestra, Said the Maiden. Plus double A side singles from Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater, Danielle Lewis, SERA and a number of the other artists we’ve released who are mentioned above.
Whispering Bob Harris’s TV company has been very supportive of what we are doing and has invited a number of acts to perform for Under the Apple Tree Sessions, which are run by his son Miles Myerscough Harris. Kelly Oliver has visited solo, and with Luke Jackson, and Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater. Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle have also visited as part of the Song Sisters tour promotion. Links to the videos are in the video page of this website, or visit www.wbbc.biz for a comprehensive selection.
The three compilation albums we’ve released have all made it into Sunday Times ‘Essential New Releases’ in Culture Magazine
And The Telegraph featured our London Folk and Roots Showcases as a ‘Folk Gig Pick’
Featuring our Patron Peggy Seeger and Maz O’Connor – both of whom have received BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations for 2015 (and in fact, Peggy won ‘Best Original Song’), Kelly Oliver, Minnie Birch, Roxanne de Bastion, Zoe Wren, Kaity Rae, Daria Kulesh, Marina Florance and Fay Brotherhood, this is another strong line up which we were certain would be popular with radio and press alike. It is a strong message to and you can find out more by clicking on the image of the artwork on the home page of this website.
The album gained a lot of exposure on BBC 6 Music ( Tom Robinson), BBC 3 Music Late Junction and a multitude of radio stations across the country. As well as gaining 4* review from Telegraph and it was added to their top Folk albums of 2015. It was also featured as an Essential New Release in The Sunday Times.
The F Spot Femmes Fatales was re released on 11th November 2015 to coincide with the London Folk and Roots Festival Emerging Talent showcase we curated at The Islington. All four artists performing are on the cd. Kelly Oliver, Zoe Wren, Daria Kulesh and Minnie Birch performed.
We also curated an ‘alt country’ event a week before on 4th November featuring Fred’s House, Marina Florance, Kaity Rae and Ben Smith. Again as part of the London Folk and Roots Festival.
Clips of footage can be found on our video page
Here is a review of The F Spot Femmes Fatales from R2 Magazine
Links to all our projects are available by following the visual prompts on the Home page
We are very grateful to the community radio shows and independent radio stations around the country who also play our music and the reviewers and bloggers who take the time to listen to it and write about it.
The Foundation was established in April 2013 and 16 artists applied for places on a six month development programme, the culmination of which was a festival. It grew ‘like Topsy’ ‘til it was a four stage 77 artist affair in September 2013 called Folkstock.
We were delighted to have won a place in the finals for two Hertfordshire Business Awards, for Business Person of the Year and Hertfordshire Business in Community Award and were also finalists in the UK Festival Awards for Best New Festival !
Since then, the one off event has spawned other events, showcases and festival stage curation opportunities as well as the homegrown label which has its first release in November 2013. This was originally for Kelly Oliver’s debut EP ‘Far From Home’ and the fledgling label proceeded in October 2014 this year, with a number of releases in between, to have its first national BBC Radio 2 play with the single by Kelly Oliver featuring Luke Jackson from the debut album, This Land. Play and positive reaction for ‘Diamond Girl’ came from Mark Radcliffe and Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2, plugging was all done by Helen Meissner.
Following from there, Folkstock Records managed to present their November 2014 release, the Armistice Pals charity single, successfully to BBC Radio 2 with plays on The Folk Show and Good Morning Sunday, as well as across the BBC Local network, where it attracted over 15 stations for play and 14 live interviews promoting the folk ‘supergroups’ version of Pete Seegers’ classic ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’, which also featured the vocals, recorded by Folkstock, of Peggy Seeger.
Current releases in addition to those mentioned above are All are available to listen to or buy if you click HERE here
We had an invitation to showcase female only performers at the Southbank Centre, in ‘The Front Room’ at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday 28th November 2014 as part of the Mastercard ‘Just the Tonic’ series. The reaction we received was heart warming and certainly bodes well for the future.
Overview of Highlights from 2013 and 2014
During 2013 this was achieved through 5 relaxed acoustic ‘under the stars’ mini festival workshops at Church Farm Ardeley, paid live events across the county, such as 18th May Welwyn Food Festival and Hatfest. This was followed by the Standon Calling acoustic stage takeover on Sunday 4th August, running the Wilkestock acoustic stage, providing musicians for Balstock,Letchworth Street Festival, Brian Players’ showcase in Dorset, a showcase in Brighton at the Latest Bar and all this activity was rounded of by the flagship event of the Foundation, Folkstock Acoustic Festival which was held at Aldenham Country Park on September 21st.
During 2014, Folkstock has run Love Folk Live, a 30 act, four night showcase held in North Hertfordshire, after which 9 acts were invited to perform at the prestigious local concert folk club at Hitchin, and many prizes were won ranging from cash to studio time, photo shoots and free hotel accommodation.
We have organised, promoted and managed a 17 date tour for Dave Swarbrick during May and April which had Said the Maiden as main tour support with an additional 17 acts as local openers across the country.
The Summer brought an opportunity to help Kal Lavelle and Fiona Bevan conceive, plan and deliver a special tour called Song Sisters, which also provided free songwriting masterclasses to inspire female song writers ahead of an evening gig. Again, incorporating local musicians.
It also brought sessions at Songs from the Shed and WBBC, Whispering Bob Harris’s broadcasting company for Kelly Oliver, as well as Kal and Fiona. They also all performed on Ruth Barnes’ Amazing Radio show as well as BBC Radio London on Gaby Roslin’s Sunday show. Lots of other radio was also gained all over the country.
Autumn brought the high profile Folk in a Box tour organised by Emily Barker and Dom Coyote, with Gill Sandell and Chris TT, for which we provided about half of the artists on the 10 date tour, and active promotion of all the dates.
Festivals at which we curated included Wilkestock and Balstock and Dacorum Folk Festival for which we were co organisers.
Autumn also saw the release of This Land, Kelly Oliver’s debut album. This received 4* review in R2 Magazine as well as plays on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show and on Bob Harris’s Sunday show, as well as a range of regional, web based and community radio stations.
The winter brought the Armistice Pals charity song. Conceived by Damian Liptrot of Merry Hell, this is covered in detail elsewhere on the site. Pete Seeger’s Where Have All The Flowers Gone? was the basis for the multitude of over 100 voices which John Kettle entwined with skill for release on 9th November. The song was released on our label and included the voice of Peggy Seeger, who we personally recorded for the project, and was played on BBC Radio 2 on the Folk Show as well as on Good Morning Sunday.
The 1st December saw the release of a special Christmas compilation called The Christmas Present, which is getting a great reaction.
We were invited to showcase THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT at The Southbank Centre, in the Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which was on Friday 28th November as part of the Mastercard sponsored ‘Just the Tonic’ series.
Blues and Roots Radio, which broadcasts out of Canada have made THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT their Album of the Week and a number of radio stations have featured the album and BBC Three Counties have invited one of the acts, Pete Guy, to perform his track live on their show on Sunday 14th December.
The original aims from January 2013
Proud to be Promoting Passionate Performers
Folkstock Arts Foundation’s aims :
To provide a structured framework for coaching and support to help acoustic folk and roots musicians of all ages and experience stand out in a sea of stereotypes. (This was achieved with the 16 acts during 2013).
To create a network of musicians and supporters of acoustic folk and roots music intent on developing the audience and appetite for new music which will enhance social benefit in local communities. (This is ongoing).
The continuous values and aims of Folkstock Arts Foundation are
*to create stronger community bonds by providing inclusive family friendly musical events which everyone will feel welcome to attend,
* encourage musicians of all ages and backgrounds to increase their skills, personal confidence and self respect with credible paid performance opportunities through mentoring and workshops and
* provide an arena for musicians to be exposed to their local community, in order to foster a sense of pride within their locale towards musicians, increase the social feel good factor, and develop the interest in and appreciation of acoustic, folk and roots music as a whole.
If you would like to get in touch, please email on firstname.lastname@example.org