One of England's greatest singer songwriters - Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2 Knightley dares to tackle subjects other songwriters leave well alone - his best songs are bleak, witty and finely observed -The Guardian
- A folk legend - BBC Music Touching emotional literacy - Daily Telegraph
Show of Hands' inspired frontman Steve Knightley, hailed as one of England's finest songwriters, sets out on a UK tour this month in support of his debut live solo album Live in Somerset. The 24-date tour opens in Rugby on January 27 and ends in his home town of Exeter a month later. His special guest will be fellow Devon musician Jim Causley, the rich-voiced, award-nominated former frontman of the band Mawkin:Causley.
Live in Somerset was recorded at The David Hall in the village of South Petherton – a former 19th century Congregational church. Says Knightley: The David Hall was the perfect acoustic space in which to capture the live sound. Pete Wheeler of Petherton Arts Trust said: It was a tremendous coup for the Hall and sold out very quickly. We always look forward to Steve's performances and for him to choose to record his first live solo album in our company was a great compliment. Live in Somerset, due to be released at the end of January, follows on from Knightley's stunningly sparse solo album Cruel River (2007) and Track of Words Retraced (2009) which revisited and "deconstructed" his first solo album of a decade earlier. The 11-track album melds stand-out Knightley originals with his unique take on some traditional folk songs including The Oakham Poachers, Banks and Braes, All Things Are Quite Silent and the Dick Gaughan/Brian McNeill penned John Harrison's Hands, about the 18th century English clockmaker who invented the revolutionary marine chronometer. Also included are Knightley’s captivating Hook of Love, his song of daring seafaring Devonian Drake and the short but achingly poignant Informed (Coming Home). Intriguingly, he also segues the Show of Hands standard Country Life with Springsteen's raw lament to a lost spouse Downbound Train.
Knightley won the Best Original Song accolade at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for the topical title track of Show of Hands' last studio album, Arrogance Ignorance and Greed, a heartfelt tirade against bankers and bonuses, MPs and expenses, which not surprisingly continues to resonate with most of the population! Together with his long-term musical partner and dazzling multi instrumentalist Phil Beer, Knightley also won the Best Duo title. Steve, whose "Songbook 4" was recently published, is a savvy wordsmith. He writes most of the material for the increasingly popular Show of Hands including classics like Country Life and Roots, both also nominated for Best Original Song at previous BBC Folk Awards. A skilled musician, he also plays numerous instruments from guitar to mandocello and South American cuatro. Meanwhile, special guest Jim Causley will also be releasing a new album for the tour. Dumnonia is his third solo album and is a collection of lesser known Devon gems, both traditional and contemporary. He is joined on the album by fellow Devon folk artists including Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll and the Dartmoor Pixie Band. (Dumnonia refers to the ancient Celtic kingdom including Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and most of Somerset.)
supported by JIM CAUSLEY
In 2006 Causley was nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award under the Horizon Award best newcomer category and in 2007 his vocal trio, The Devil's Interval were nominated for the same award again. Causley grew up surrounded by traditional music from his family, his village in the heart of Cider Country with its thriving wassailing tradition, its close proximity to Sidmouth and folk festivals and being a long-standing member of the Pennymoor Singaround. After studying Performing Arts and Jazz & Popular Music at Exeter College, Causley went on to study Folk and Traditional Music at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. It was during this time that he began gaining a reputation as talented singer on the wider UK folk scene.
Steve, and his guest Jim, gave us a sublime evening of both traditional and modern folk song which left us in no doubt that he is one of the foremost songwriters of his generation who is himself now being regarded as part of the tradition, no mean accolade. Jim's choice of song was also fairly eclectic but well in the traditional style which allowed him to give scope to his wonderful vocal talent. Both gave us a wonderful selection from their latest albums