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WOMAD 2009 Artist: Rachel Unthank & The Winterset

WOMAD 2009 Featured Artist:
Rachel Unthank and The Winterset (UK)

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World of Music Art and Dance 2009
13-15 March
Brooklands Park & TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth
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Sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, raised in England’s North-East tradition of sea shanties, border songs and clog dancing, have emerged as new shining lights on the UK folk scene.

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset belong to a rare breed of selfless performers who in combining all the elements of blues, jazz, burlesque cabaret, classical and contemporary music, give new meaning to the term that is folk.

The girls have been described as incredibly peerless, fearless and wholeheartedly brave, attracting fans from a variety of disparate genres. Subverting folk music with love and authority, Rachel Unthank and the Winterset are successfully taking traditional music to unforgiving mainstream audiences.

While Rachel and The Winterset come from a very traditional starting point, viewing them purely in a folk context would be misleading, not to mention limiting. The girls might better be understood, when seen alongside the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom and Antony and The Johnsons; eclectic artists whose only common ground is in sounding like nothing that has come before. Austere and glacial on record, Rachel Unthank and The Winterset are conversely known for their warmth and humour on stage, as seen on their recent sell out UK tour.

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Their most recent release, The Bairns, has already been described by Rock ’n’ Reel as “the folk album of this generation” and has received four/four and a half-star reviews in The Guardian, Uncut, Mojo, Songlines, The Independent and The Sun. Their other accolades include Live Performance of the Year for 2006 at the Cambridge Folk Festival, Artist of the Year 2007 for the Journal Culture Awards and their recent album The Bairns was recently ranked number 17 in Observer Music Magazine’s Top 50 albums of 2007, making it the highest folk album in the poll.

Rachel Unthank and The Winterset's 2008 has gone from strength to strength with relentless touring including slots with Billy Bragg and the Glastonbury Festival. A brief break in their touring schedule (over 150 shows) saw the girls head to London in September to attend the Mercury Awards Party for which they were nominated alongside Radiohead, Robert Plant, Elbow and more. They then headed off to conquer North America.

Selected quotes

“…featuring music as tough as it is gentle, as ancient as it is modern, and as coldly desolate as it is achingly intimate.”
Paul Morley, Observer Music Magazine

”…bitingly beautiful and filled with delicate glory… music that'll keep you company in your deepest reflective moments” - Palimpsest.

“Intimate, epic, overflowing with feeling and musical intelligence”
The Independent


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