Playlist: Underneath the Stars Festival

kate rusby folk

Kate Rusby is a Barnsley-based singer-songwriter whose enlightened approach to the English folk tradition and her lucid vocal harmonies have been turning heads for years.

Now onto LP number 15, she is one of the only folk artists ever to be nominated for a Mercury Prize, and has taken home both a BASCA Gold Badge Award and the Best Live Act accolade from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Alongside her stellar creative output, Kate also co-curates Underneath the Stars Festival, an annual celebration of awesome art and acoustics, which this year takes place from 20 to 22 July in South Yorks.

The line-up features a performance from Kate herself, plus sets from Steve Earle, Lau, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Grace Petrie, plus loads more.

Here, Kate talks us through her personal highlights…

Steve Earle & the Dukes – So You Wannabe An Outlaw

I’ve been a big fan of Steve Earle since first hearing his El Corazon records back in 1997. He’s been through the mill a bit and the way he uses those experiences to feed into his music is pretty amazing. This opening track from his new record is a belter

Damien O’Kane – All Among The Barley

I’m not biased right! But I believe Damien to be one of the finest musicians and singers to come out of Northern Ireland. This track from his latest album is a fine example of his skill at taking the traditional material of his home and reinterpreting in for a new generation.

Lau – Hinba

I remember when this talented trio first started making music together and they totally refreshed the UK folk scene for me. It was like a little reset button went off. Since then they’ve been hugely influential to new generations of musicians – Hinba is an iconic track of their beginnings.

The California Feetwarmers – Shake It, Break It

I can’t listen to this whole ragtime, Dixieland sound without having a huge grin on my face. This track is just full of the fun of summer, we’re so lucky these guys are coming over and I can’t wait to see them play live at Underneath the Stars festival this year.

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards – California Calling

Years ago when I toured in Canada, Laura played a show with us in Vancouver and it was such a fantastic night. Her new album, California Calling, with the Dance Cards is moving, intricate, powerful, and totally great.

Estbel – Kivid

Estbel is a relatively new quartet from Estonia and Belgium; they haven’t done many shows in the UK but everyone should check them out if they get the chance. Their latest album Saar is a great mix of wonderfully imaginative tune playing and beautiful vocals, as on this track Kivid.

Midnight Skyracer – High And Dry

This all-female quintet are taking the European bluegrass scene by storm at the moment. They are all incredibly talented players and singers, combining harmonies that make that unmistakeable wall of bluegrass sound. It’s that amazing close harmony sound that first got me hooked listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station 20 years ago.

Amythyst Kiah – Grinnin’ In Your Face

This lady is just awesome. Amythyst is making waves in the Southern gothic and blues scene doing something which I admire tremendously – her own heartfelt thing with old traditions, blurring boundaries to create fresh and interesting music.

Kizzy Crawford – Pili Pala

Kizzy is an incredible new talent to emerge from the Welsh folk scene. Singing in both English and Welsh language, her soulful voice and music have that magic to draw the listener in and stay transfixed by the tales her lyrics weave.

Pitou – Decay

One of my favourite things about hosting our own festival for the past five years is finding brand new music and singers to present. Pitou currently lives in Amsterdam, writing and singing beautiful songs. This track Decay is haunting and gorgeous – I highly recommend you check out more of Pitou’s music… and come and see her play live at Underneath the Stars Festival!