Theatre by the Lake have scored a double-barrelled coup this summer and are set to host not one but two of the UK's most celebrated folk music acts in as many weeks. Returning to Keswick for the first time since 2013, the Urban Folk Quartet arrive on Sun 8 July and bring with them their high-energy, globally-influenced and genre-defying Celtic sounds. Hot on their heels, the theatre is thrilled to welcome Breabach to its Main House on Sun 15 July. This Scottish five-piece are notable not just for the stacks of awards they've accumulated over the past year, but also for the twin bag pipes featuring in their contemporary line-up.
The "sizzling hot ensemble” (Songlines) that make up Urban Folk Quartet, or UFQ, comprise two phenomenal fiddlers: the first, Galician-born Paloma Trigás, and the second Joe Broughton, formally of Albion Band. Broughton deftly swaps between instruments including guitar and mandolin, with third member, Dan Walsh, principally on banjo but also the oud. The group are completed by Tom Chapman, playing Latin Cajón percussion.
From funk grooves to echoes of middle-eastern melodies, afrobeat to north Indian rhythms, UFQ is a truly international band. Foreign touring and globally-influenced music have been at the heart of their ethos since their beginnings back in 2009, with the group citing the vibrant and diverse music scene of Birmingham, where they're based, as a fundamental influence.
Since then UFQ's trail has blazed across the world, winning multiple awards, igniting audiences from the smallest venues to international festivals and rightly earning them a devoted fan base. Their cross-genre approach means their sound is like no other and is delivered with astounding virtuosity. Make sure you don't miss the chance to hear this electric act whip up a storm on the main stage. Kicking off at 7.30pm on Sun 8 July, tickets are £18, £10; Students, U16s £10.
Next up in the Main House is Breabach, a band whose remarkable reputation precedes it after picking up two Scots Trad Awards in 2017, including Folk Band of the Year and Album of the Year.Best-known for featuring the highland bagpipes along with fiddle, guitar, whistles and double bass, this folk group have subtly infused the global sounds of their travels whilst on tour into their contemporary folk repertoire, with their latest album featuring elements of Aboriginal singing, the Maori Haka and Norwegian and Quebecois fiddle.
Accompanied by hauntingly beautiful Gaelic vocals and throwing in step dance too, this is a band at the very top of their game. The literal translation of ‘kicking' in Gaelic, Breabach up the tempo and heartbeats of sell-out crowds at every performance, not just at home in Glasgow but across the world during their exhilarating and energetic sets. The Scotsman applauded a recent gig with a five star review saying: "As polished as it was passionate, matching fiery intensity with exquisite finesse, this was a magnificent set.”
Breabach is the best that Scotland has to offer in terms of traditional music, but also young talent. Cleverly fusing heritage with innovation, be prepared for a thoroughly enjoyable show – and despite several encores, you may still be left wanting more! They are appearing on Sun 15 July in the Main House at 7.30pm. Tickets are tickets are £18, £10; Students, U16s £10.