The Furrow Collective at Stones Barn

Course outline

Stones Barn will welcome The Furrow Collective to lead a weekend sharing their love of traditional songs from both sides of the Scottish/English border. As BBC folk band of the year 2017, Rachel, Alasdair, Emily and Lucy between them have a wealth of knowledge about the singing traditions of the UK and they will be sharing their repertoire and love of harmonies, giving insight into the sources of the songs and teaching their unique arrangements.

You can expect a weekend of immersion in songs from around the UK, with opportunity to learn Scots Gaelic songs, ballads and sing together in harmony. The group will lead vocal warm ups and give insight into their musical approaches.

Who is this course for? Is there a certain skill level which is desirable?


Professionals and amateurs
people who love to sing of all abilities
those who are interested in folk and traditional musics of the UK

We don’t expect anyone to have prior knowledge, just come along an enjoyment of singing with an open mind and we’ll bring the rest! If you do have a particular interest or want to learn more about the instruments we play let us know and we can tailor the course accordingly.

The Tutors
The Furrow Collective is an award-winning and critically acclaimed English/Scottish band consisting of four distinctive and talented performers: Lucy Farrell (viola, voice & saw), Rachel Newton (harp, fiddle, voice), Emily Portman (banjo, concertina, voice) and Alasdair Roberts (guitars, voice). The group formed in 2013, drawn together by a shared love of traditional song and balladry of the England, Scotland and beyond and an open, intuitive approach to collaboration. In recognition of their innovative approach, The Furrow Collective were awarded the accolade of 'Best Band' at the 2017 BBC Radio Two Folk Awards, hot on the heels of the release in late 2016 of their second album, Wild Hog (Hudson Records).

Rachel Newton
Singer and harpist Rachel Newton specialises in interpreting traditional folk songs in both English and Gaelic as well as writing and arranging her own music. Rachel performs solo, with her trio featuring Lauren MacColl on fiddle and Mattie Foulds on percussion and with a full band when the trio is joined by Michael Owers on trombone and Sarah Hayes on keys.

Rachel plays fiddle and viola in addition to harp and works across a range of performance platforms including theatre and storytelling. She was awarded a CATS Award for Best Music and Sound in 2009 for her work with the Rowantree Theatre Company. A skilled collaborator, Rachel is a founder member of The Shee, BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2017 Best Group The Furrow Collective and also plays with the Scottish/Norwegian group Boreas. Rachel's third solo album Here's My Heart Come Take It was released in 2016. Her previous releases are The Shadow Side (2012) and Changeling (2014).

In 2016 Rachel received a Hands Up for Trad Ignition Award for Innovation, was awarded Instrumentalist of the Year 2016 at the Scots Trad Music Awards and is Musician of the Year in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017. Her recent album Here's My Heart Come Take It is shortlisted as one of Scotland's top 10 outstanding albums in the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award 2017. 

Emily Portman
            Emily Portman is an award-winning folk singer, songwriter, banjo and concertina player. She tours widely with her band and traditional song band The Furrow Collective. Emily’s latest solo album Coracle (2015) featured new compositions drawing on British folklore and balladry and received critical acclaim and international airplay, as did her previous albums. The success of Coracle led to a nomination for ‘Folk Singer of the Year’ in the 2016 BBC folk awards.
As well as being a performer, Emily has presented shows for BBC Radio Merseyside’s folk show ‘Folkscene’,written articles for the acclaimed roots and world music magazine fROOTS and has given talks on Ballad Studies at Cecil Sharp House, London and The International Ballad Conference. Emily also teaches at Newcastle University as a voice teacher on their Folk and Traditional Music Degree. As a teacher and performer Emily passes on her passion for harmony singing, folk music and songwriting to students and audiences alike. ​

Alasdair Roberts
Alasdair Roberts is a musician (primarily a guitarist and singer) who is based in Glasgow Scotland. He has worked with Drag City Records since 1997, firstly releasing three albums of self-written material under the name Appendix Out and then several albums under his own name, the most recent being A Wonder Working Stone by Alasdair Roberts & Friends (Drag City, 2013). He has also released music on labels such as Secretly Canadian, Galaxia and Stone Tape Recordings.
His work mainly consists of two parallel strands: self-written song material (which can be heard on albums such as Farewell Sorrow, The Amber Gatherers, Spoils and A Wonder Working Stone) and interpretations of traditional songs and ballads from Scotland and beyond (which can be heard on albums such as The Crook of My Arm, No Earthly Man and Too Long In This Condition).
Alasdair has collaborated widely with many different musicians throughout his musical career, including the Scottish Gaelic singer Mairi Morrison, with whom he made the 2012 album Urstan.
He has also collaborated with artists from other disciplines such as puppeteers (Shane Connolly, with whom he worked on a puppet theatre interpretation of the Scottish folk play ‘Galoshins’), film makers (including Luke Fowler, contributing a soundtrack to his film ‘All Divided Selves’) and, most recently, a poet (fellow Scot Robin Robertson, with whom he made the 2013 album Hirta Songs).

Lucy Farrell
Lucy Farrell first enchanted fans of traditional music when she began performing as a duo with fellow Newcastle Folk Degree graduate Jonny Kearney. Invited to become the regular opening act for The Unthanks, Lucy & Jonny’s blend of wry and lovelorn tales with exquisite interpretations of English, Scottish and American ballads saw them frequently outselling the headline act at the CD stall. 
As well as Lucy’s fruitful partnership with singer and songwriter Emily Portman and the award winning harpist and singer Rachel Newton, she has also written, performed and recorded with numerous bands and projects including Dark Northumbrian, Gluepot, a star-studded live tribute to Norma Waterson, and also formed her own group Ogres. Although she’s rejected the conventional career path, Lucy has become one of the most in demand musicians and vocalists on the young folk scene.

Signed to the impressively visionary Hudson Records, Lucy Farrell has returned to the traditional folk songs that have remained at the heart of everything she’s done. These are the ballads that inspire her own compositions, but in their own handed-down beauty and strangeness tell fantastical stories beyond our imaginations. And in her voice they bewitch anew.
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 Stones Barn, Bewcastle, Carlisle,
Cumbria, CA6 6PW 

016977 48424

For information regarding booking,
payments or transport, please email
Emma on: [email protected]

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