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Southern Tenant Folk Union
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Image: Southern Tenant Folk UnionAbout Southern Tenant Folk Union

Formed by Belfast born five-string banjo player Pat McGarvey and taking their name from the ground breaking multi-racial union of sharecroppers and non-landowning tenant farmers founded in Arkansas in the 1930’s, the Southern Tenant Folk Union are an explosive new London based folk and bluegrass outfit.

Writing and performing their own unique brand of Old-Time, Bluegrass, Gospel and Celtic Folk, Southern Tenant Folk Union appropriate the themes, ideas and metaphors from traditional folk songs and 20th century Americana music to document and reflect modern life through styles popularised by musicians such as The Carter Family, The Stanley Brothers and even Dillard & Clark.

Pat McGarvey served his musical apprenticeship touring the world and recording a number of albums with UK/US Americana band The Coal Porters. That grounding plus countless other collaborations with key Americana acts including Peter Case, The Arlenes, Tandy, Amy Rigby, Ian Dunlop (of Gram Parsons’ International Submarine Band), Rosie Flores, Jason McNiff & Bob Neuwirth gave him the real experience needed to fuse together the band’s American folk sound and British roots with his own Celtic heritage.

Image: Southern Tenant Folk UnionKeen to find a more personal outlet for his writing, in early 2006, McGarvey gathered a collective of like minded musicians that share his love of traditional music, but each with their own individual take on such tradition; Oliver Talkes (guitar), who’s unique, soulful voice is at the heart of the STFU sound. Pete Gow (guitar), from the Alt. Country band Case Hardin who has performed with the likes of Chris Mills, Stacey Earle and Caitlin Cary. Frances Vaux (Fiddle) with her background in jazz and Irish Folk and anchored by stalwarts of the London folk scene Eamonn Flynn (mandolin) and Matt Lloyd (upright bass).

Once up and running, Southern Tenant Folk Union released their debut album of original material in January 2007 to acclaim, positive reviews and national radio play. The rest of the year saw them playing festivals, arts centres and clubs around the UK and Ireland and only a little more than twelve months after the self-titled LP a follow-up was released. ‘Revivals, Rituals & Union Songs’ – a step forward for them with its strong, confident tone and the darkly reflective yet heart-warming nature of the eleven brand new songs presented. With positive reviews coming in and even more well deserved nationwide recognition (including a live session for BBC Radio 2’s Mark Lamarr) the band played an extensive UK & European tour before going back to studio at the end of 2008 to work on new material. The new album is currently being produced up in Edinburgh and is set for release in 2010.

Website: www.southerntenantfolkunion.com

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