Following their Glastonbury Festival debut, Broadside Hacks will be among those in the spotlight in a new documentary that tells the story of the young avant-garde of British artists sharing radical interpretations, proto-feminist narratives and queer histories. through the prism of traditional British folk. song. It was filmed at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Wiltshire, just as the UK emerged from lockdown in the summer of 2021 and will premiere in the UK at Kings Place on August 25 alongside performances live, and an accompanying live album will follow.
Last year, two album compilations were released by Side hacks (pictured below), a London-based collective and label that initially formed as a folk night out until the pandemic forced it to change shape, morphing into a collective of like-minded young musicians ideas that came together to play folk music in South London. Their first album, Our Singing Tradition Vol. 1and the critically acclaimed Songs Without Authors Vol 1 (hailed by The Times as a “superb collection” and named folk album of the month by The Guardian) featured a wide collection of artists, including some we’ve featured on Folk Radio UK over the years as Molly Lin, Katy J Pearson, Little brother, Lankum, Yorkston Thorne Khan, Blaenavon, Shovel Dance Collective, Brigid Mae Power, Rosa Zajac. There have been some superb reinventions, breathing new life into songs whose original authors have been lost to time. They understood’The Auchindoun fire‘ by Rosa Zajac (about to shoot with John Francis Flynn) & Daragh Lynch (of Lankum).
Besides being great albums, what also made these releases so exciting was the collective vision behind them. It felt like a turning point, with the names involved adding real weight to their belief – some of which won’t be so well known – for example Shovel Dance Collective (main image top), which I only became aware of via Jacken Elswyth’s excellent Betwixt and Between strip series.
Broadside Hacks describes themselves as a new collective born out of a group of like-minded musicians with a wild and brilliant curiosity for traditional and radical folk heritage. While the pandemic may have helped turn thoughts into actions, it feels like this moment of reinvention has been bubbling for some time. The open-minded actions of this collective and others have the potential to inspire many more young people and encourage a more inclusive folk scene. It doesn’t happen in isolation, and it’s something that actually adds to the momentum behind this collective. In a recent Folk Radio UK guest article by George Sansom and Sophie Crawford, they talked about their Queer Folk project in which they unearth the LGBTQIA+ history hidden in traditional music. They also talked about how they were becoming more aware of LGBTQIA+ folk artists and a burgeoning queer presence on the audience side. There are strong parallels with Shovel Dance Collective who performed on the album and feature in the documentary.
Broadside Hacks believes that old songs can still be relevant – that in ancient melodies and words about times past can be found truths about today. If you want proof, revisit one of the albums that introduced them to folk – Liege and Lief — and listen to songs that could be taken from today’s headlines, about honor killings, about class, about lives being forced in certain directions for lack of the choices that wealth brings. In 2021, for so many people, folk simply means “someone with an acoustic guitar”. Songs Without Authors isn’t that: it’s music rooted in a place that has grown to encompass something universal.
The Broadside Hacks have grown in strength and influence, having recently made their Glastonbury Festival beginning. Their story will now be shared through a collaboration between them and British Underground with the screening of a new documentary – The Broadside Hack at Kings SquareLondon, August 25. Alongside the documentary, a live performance by the acclaimed collective, as well as Excavator Dance Collective. An accompanying live album of songs performed in the film will also be released on vinyl on October 28 (pre-order here).
The Broadside Hack tells the story of Britain’s young avant-garde artists sharing radical interpretations, proto-feminist narratives and queer histories through the lens of traditional British folksong. Today we get our sneak peek, courtesy of the Excavator Dance Collectivethe performance of “My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him” which appears in the documentary.
After enjoying its American premiere at SXSW in March, The Broadside Hack is a short musical documentary produced by UK undergroundcreated with a grant from Arts Council of England and PRS Foundation. Directed by Crispin Parry and filmed by The Northern Cowboys, it explores the influence of traditional folk songs on a new generation of musicians, filmed just as the UK was emerging from the dark days of the pandemic. The documentary was produced in collaboration with the music collective Side hacks and features influential artists and bands from the new folk scene, including Rough Trade signers carolinaformer Goat Girl bassist Naima Bockwhose acclaimed album giant palm tree was released on Sub Pop earlier this year, Shovel Dance Collective, Thyrsis, Broadside Hacks and Boss Morris. Discovering new vitality in the air and new stories in the stories they tell, the film includes conversations, dances and intimate performances filmed at The Real World Studios of Peter Gabriel in Box, Wiltshire between August 17 and 19, 2021.
Speaking of the album and the documentary, the director Crispin Parry said: “The sessions were electric and full of joy and The Broadside Hack captures part of that journey through performance, dance and conversation. An archaeologist once said “Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves or desires” and the same could be said of today’s folk music – forever reinventing itself as this wonderful recording of ancient tunes reveals, songs and hidden stories.
The live concert and screening of The Broadside Hack arguably marks the end of the first chapter in the story of the new British folk scene, a story in which Side hacks was central. As the documentary, their three other albums and their recent performances at Glastonbury and SXSW demonstrate, this is just the beginning of this exciting and ever-expanding collection of artists.
THE WIDE HACK THE SCREENING AND CONCERT WILL TAKE PLACE ON AUGUST 25 AT KINGS PLACE, LONDON
Pre-order the accompanying live album via Bandcamp: https://broadsidehacks.bandcamp.com/album/the-broadside-hack-live-from-real-world
The Broadside Hack List of LP tracks:
A1 Boss Morris – Up the Hill
A2 [Interview] Shovel Dance Collective – ‘A collective creation of history’
A3 Shovel Dance Collective – The Bold Fisherman / My Husband Has No Courage In Him
A4 [Interview] Thyrsis – ‘Collaboration Across Space and Time’
A5 Thyrsis – Sailor alone
A6 [Interview] Naima Bock (Broadside Hacks) – “Tracing the Beginnings”
A7 Broadside Hacks – Gently Johnny
B1 Shovel Dance Collective – Merrily Kissed the Quaker
B2 [Interview] Shovel Dance Collective – ‘Queering Folk Songs of the Past’
B3 Thyrsis – Godstow Bridge
B4 [Interview] Naima Bock (Broadside Hacks) – ‘The Broadside Hacks Folk Club’
B5 Broadside Hacks – Rain and Snow
B6 Boss Morris – Young Collins