Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer
There’s three ingredients for longevity in music; talent, lyrical originality and persistence. The Strawbs have all three, with showmanship as a bonus. With a success-packed timeline going all the way back to 1967, the Strawbs are as exhilarating today as they ever were. Creative helmsman Dave Cousins has much to be proud of. Memorable hits such as Lay Down and Part of The Union represent only the tip of an iceberg of success. Seven consecutive Strawbs albums made it into America’s Billboard Top 200, resulting in global sales of over three million albums. If we need any confirmation of how durable and exciting good music can be, then Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk fronting today’s Strawbs tells us all we need to know.
When Joan Armatrading launched her 'local talent' search for acts to support her on tour in 2012, she was looking for original artists from all over the UK to showcase their work. Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer were two of the acts chosen, and in 2015 she called them back to support her again on her first ever solo tour. They met each other at an industry showcase that was organised by Joan, and started writing together at the suggestion of some publishers they met there.
They originally intended to just write together, but after realising that they had a natural affinity for each other's styles they soon decided to start playing live too, and their first gig as a duo was supporting Joan in November 2015 in front of a thousand people. They have played many gigs since then, and recently they showcased at The Americana Music Association UK 2017 conference and awards in London.
Their voices complement each other in a way that is redolent of some of the greatest musical partnerships, their playing styles intertwine beautifully and the songs they write combine traditional storytelling with a modern twist that will leave you humming them for days.
There is no doubt that after 45 years as a professional musician Martin is, right now, better than ever. Widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, his interpretations of traditional songs are masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving.
There is no-one who has more successfully combined the diverse elements of British, Afro-American and old-timey music than Simpson. His 15 years living in the US were well spent. In addition his own songwriting has produced some real gems, from the truck-stop epic, “Love Never Dies” to the profoundly moving “Never Any Good” and "One Day".
His career includes collaborations on stage and record with Richard Hawley, Richard Thompson, June Tabor, Kelly Joe Phelps, Jackson Browne, Danny Thompson, Danú, Martin Carthy, Cara Dillon, David Lindley, Roy Bailey, Martin Taylor, David Hidalgo, Steve Miller, Dick Gaughan, Dom Flemons and many more.
A brilliant all round entertainer.
Keith is new to the Festival
And you can check out his great
video arrangements of
Many well known songs. He is also
a guitar teacher and will also be doing
a Masterclass in which you can pick up
tips and techniques to improve your guitar
Your host and
Paul is one of the
12 string guitarists
with his own brand
of Acoustic guitars
Designed by him