While taste in music can be very subjective and defining the ‘best’ difficult, most fans of Indies/folk music music will recognize some of the greats that are still stirring the vibes in the hearts of fans all over the United Kingdom.
Narrowing it down to just five top UK Indies/folk bands was demanding yet delicious work. After a cornucopia for the ears and some research from reputed online polls and music chart sites, a few names stood shoulders over the rest. Read on and see if you agree.
If you like an eclectic blend of mind-bending sixties alternating with 2010s style folk and indie, give Davy Graham a try. This electric guitarist had famous fans, including Martin Carthy, John Renbourn, Eric Clapton, Bert Jansch and Jimmy Page. His particular blend is folk, blues, and jazz interspersed with Indian ragas and Middle Eastern sounds. His first record was an EP titled 3/4 AD and contained one of his most well known songs, “Angie”.
Graham became a world traveler in the winter of 1963 and this global cultural influence was to stay with him through the rest of his life. He made his first Folk album with Shirley Collins, Folk Roots, New Routes. While his most prolific period was in the 1960s and 1970s, his later work is said to have depth, which only comes from years of playing. In the 1990s, in addition to releasing Playing in Traffic, Graham also resumed live performances. Some of those live performances have been recorded to CD, while others are still in the works for a future date.
Findlay Napier gives an inventive style to folk and indie which many have tried and failed to replicate. That is because it must come instinctively and Napier, a Scottish vocalist is a natural. He and co-writer Boo Hewerdine loves to explore everyday stories of people.
Some famous story songs include Angel the pilot who found water falls in Venezuela, Hiroo Onoda the Japanese Solider, who fought world war two for a long time before being convinced it was over in the 1970s. As an eclectic music fan himself, Napier gives his tribute to George Jones too. Napier’s songs are solid melodies with strong vocal accompaniments.
One of the more popular hits from Findlay Napier includes the song Hedy Lemarr. Without spoiling the story, it’s about a woman who invents something really amazing that we all use today, and is exploited instead for her good looks.
Sam Lee and Friends
Sam Lee knows how to tell a folk story as though it is new even when it has been around for a long time in traditional Travelling community culture. For instance, Lovely Molly with the Roundhouse Choir is a powerful message which is well accompanied and vocalised.
Arthur Jeffess offers sublime piano for the song Moss House, and Sam Lee himself uses his crooning voice to seduce and entertain, particularly with the song (short version) Lord Gregory. A wide range of instruments and vocalists is steady features in Sam Lee and Friends, giving an excellent feel of sitting round a campfire making music the way it was intended to be heard. With Sam Lee and Friends, every fan is a potential friend.
Peter Knight is the artist behind Gigspanner. Knight is a former Steeley Span fiddler whose work was greatly beloved by Terry Pratchett. Knight’s fiddle and vocals combine a depth and class with a tenderness seldom found in modern folk. Knight offers an elegant, 8 and a half-minute long version of She Moved through The Fair.
Knight offers more traditional works with a contemporary twist that is pleasing to the ear. One example that springs to mind is Knight’s song Louisiana Flack, written by Peter Knight and from time to time accompanied by Roger Flack on guitar and Vincent Salzfaas on percussion instruments. The music has been called imaginative and timeless.
As previously mentioned, Hewerdine sometimes co-writes songs for Findlay Napier, but when it comes to his own work, Hewerdine is a classic original. Hewerdine’s guitar style has been described as simple and sweet, while vocalist Rosalie Deighton adds an ethereal harmony and depth to Hewerdine’s Muddy Water and Geography songs.
Microfilm, while a short song, has an apt ending and witty dialogue to accompany the guitar music. Hewerdine is a thinking person’s folk/Indies performer and band.