Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin

Saturday 28th May 2016

Recently described as, "Authentic, haunting roots music from a first class duo" (Seth Lakeman), Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin are one of the most exciting and innovative duos to appear on the folk/roots/acoustic scene in recent years – a journey that has resulted in their winning the 'Best Duo' in the 2014 BBC Radio Two Folk Awards. With a rapidly expanding following and a truly unique sound that effortlessly spans many genres, the duo have been touring constantly for the past three years, winning new fans of all ages wherever they go. 

 

Festival appearances have included regular Glastonbury slots and all the major folk festivals including mainstage slots at Sidmouth Folk Week; Broadstairs; Warwick; Shrewsbury; Gate To Southwell; Shepley Spring; Priddy; to name but a few. Over the past year, as well as around 130 UK dates, they have also visited Japan, South Africa, the USA and across Europe and are touring Canada, Australia and India during 2016. 

 

In October 2015 Phillip & Hannah released their brilliant new CD ‘Watershed’, a keenly anticipated third studio album. Described by Hannah as “A time of decision, a moment of change, a turning point. Each of the songs was written with a specific person in mind; I hope they know who they are, and that this is for them, with our love." It is an exceptional record that marks a huge step forward both in terms of musicality and in the breadth and depth of the material. It is also, their most emotionally charged, personal and pertinent work to date. A collection of 12 inspired original songs and tunes, recorded live with the Watershed band in Devon’s Blackdown Hills, it centres around the idea of turning points. Moving away from the historical figures and events that peopled their highly acclaimed previous album Mynd they explore the idea of a modern folk tale - drawing on personal experience to create edgier, grittier material whilst retaining an ‘everyman’ empathy.

 

It all began in 2009, when Phillip, one of the UK's finest slide guitarists and harmonica players in the UK, was playing in an alt-folk outfit The Roots Union and this is where he met Devonian fiddle-singer Hannah Martin, and the pair instantly recognised a very powerful musical connection. When the band ended, they continued as a duo, playing all over the country, from Glastonbury festival to busking sessions on the seafront at Sidmouth Folk Week. It was at this point, that they were spotted in an encounter with Steve Knightley (Show Of Hands) that now goes down in folk legend. Recognising the potential of Henry and Martin's partnership, Knightley invited them to accompany Show Of Hands on a nationwide tour, culminating with a show at the Royal Albert Hall at Easter 2012.

 

The pair's first album, Singing The Bones, was released in 2011 to warm praise, "I was completely knocked out by this duo...just a terrific album...absolutely great, wonderful" (BBC Radio Two). Constant touring followed, including an Arts Council funded tour of south west arts centres in autumn 2012. The duo went on to win "Best Folk Act" at the 2012 South West Music Awards, they won "Best Duo" by the public at the 2013 Spiral Awards. Their second studio album, Mynd, was released to great acclaim in September 2013, appearing in end of year best-'ofs' for The Guardian, The Telegraph, fRoots Critics Poll, Mark Radcliffe's Radio Two Top Ten, and Songlines. They were also voted Best Duo at the 2014 Radio Two Folk Awards.

 

The last 18 months have been their busiest to date. They recorded a concert, Live In Calstock, to make a record of their sound during these initial years; the resulting album once again went down a storm with the critics, “utterly inspired and magnificent” (Spiral Earth). They also toured with (previous Mercury nominee) Seth Lakeman. More recently, they have been nominated, yet again, for the Best Duo category, in the 2016 BBC Radio Two Folk Awards.

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Subtle, atmospheric... Bravely original"
Robin Denselow, The Guardian ****

 

"Keen, curious and concerned intellects are at work here. Hannah Martin
is an enthralling singer; Phillip Henry plays all manner of guitars and the
harmonica, terrifically."
Julian May, Songlines
***** Top of the World album

 

"Rich and complex - there is something of June Tabor about Hannah's vocal performance - a voice that is strong and flexible and which, coupled with Phillip's instrumental virtuosity, suggests we're hearing stars of the future"
Dai Jeffries, R2 ****

 

"This duo has a combination of virtuosity, intensity and charisma
that merits a slot on much bigger stages"
John L. Walters, The Guardian

 

"An imaginative and innovative album - songs that linger in the memory
held together by the fine musicianship of Henry and Martin.
Strong and original - an unusual treat"
Martin Chilton, Daily Telegraph ****

 

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