Chris' News & Dates
Busy, busy, busy
2019 got off to a slow start public performance wise, because I have been busy working on some exciting new projects, behind the scenes.
Solo tour in England - Over the past couple of years a bit of a pattern has been emerging of me doing a solo tour in England in the autumn. This year I'll be playing seven dates from 18th to 29th September.
Baring-Gould Folk Festival - I will also be back in October when Bára and I will be at the Baring-Gould Folk Festival, at Okehampton, down in Devon. It will be the twentieth anniversary of the event. It seems no time at all since I worked as co-ordinator (funded by the European Union), helping to establish the festival in its first three years. It was at the second festival in 2000 that Bára and I first met.
A new Funi album - Bára and I have started work on making a new album of Icelandic songs. We have been casting our net wide and collecting together songs and rímur extracts that are very little, if at all, known and Bára has also been writing new tunes for some of the texts. This process of discovering and then arranging hidden riches is one of the things that I love about working with traditional music, whether it's from England or Iceland.
We are adding a new dimension to this album project. As well as our usual song arrangements, with langspil, Íslensk fiðla, kantele and harmony vocals, we are working with our friend Buzby Birchall of Hidden Sounds to make special recordings in the Icelandic landscape. Over this summer we have made many hours of recordings in locations connected with the songs, so the sounds of the earth, water and air that the songs first sprung from will be present, like veins of minerals through rock, throughout the album.
The langspil comes to Nashville - Back in January we recorded Langspil, fiðla and vocals for a song on a new albumby American singer and harpist Karen Thames Ballew, who is based in Nashville, USA. I wonder if this s the first time an Icelandic langspil has ever appeared on an album from Nashville?
Söngvaka - On the third Tuesday of each month, my friend, Linus Orri Cederborg and I run an open singing session in downtown Reykjavik. The autumn season will start on Tuesday 15th October.
The idea behind the session is to create a welcoming
space and opportunity for people to come and sing
together. In particular we focus on the unique, two
voice harmony songs called Tvísöngur. The sessions
are held in the former home of Benedikt Gröndal a
19th century Icelandic naturalist, writer and all round
Vaka Folk Festival - From 2015 - 18 I was the programme co-ordinator for the Vaka Folk Arts Festival, which was set up in Akureyri in the north of Iceland to provide a space and opportunity for people to come together to sing, play and listen to Icelandic traditional music, alongside the songs and music from other northern European countries.
In 2019 we moved Vaka to Reykjavík, where we put together an organising group, made up of people active in the emerging folk / roots music community in the area. We had a very successful and enjoyable weekend and are now working towards holding a series of events through the winter, leading up to the next Vaka festival in spring 2020. Iceland does not have an established 'folk scene' or network of players, promoters and venues along the lines found in many other European countries. Building those networks takes a lot of time and energy from a lot of people, and over the past few years there have been exciting signs of 'green shoots' emerging and things starting to happen here. I am committed to playing what part I can in this exciting process.
First visit to Poland - Over the past forty years, I have been very fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to play in many countries in Europe. A process, much helped by the UK's membership of the European Union. Luckily for me, I now have dual nationality in Iceland and the UK, so I will be spared the mad mess and its outcomes that have beset the UK's membership over the past 3 years. In May this year, I will add another country to the list of places I have played, when Bára and I travel to Szczecin in Poland to take part in the Szczecin Early Music Festival.
BBC Folk Awards nomination 2018
The track 'The life of a man / Greensleeves' on my 2017album Hadelin, was nominated as Best Traditional Track in the BBC Folk Awards.
You can listen to it right here, right now.
PERFORMANCE DATES 2019
September England solo tour
Wednesday 18th September
The Old Oak Inn,
176 Main Street,
Derbyshire, DE7 6AW
Thursday 19th September
House concert Glossop
Arrivals from 8pm
Details from Brian Peters at
Friday 20th September
SoundBox Acoustic & Roots
The Lock Keeper,
Canal Side, Chester, CH1 3LH
Saturday 21st September
Cellar Upstairs Folk Club
The Calthorpe Arms
252 Grays Inn Rd,
London WC1X 8JR
Monday 23rd September
Devizes Folk Club
The Lamb Inn
20 St. John's Street,
Devizes, Wilts. SN10 1BT
Friday 27th September
Golden Hill, Stourton Caundle,
Dorset, DT10 2JW
Sunday 29th September
Cheltenham Folk Club
Sandford Park Alehouse,
20 High Street,
Cheltenham GL50 3DZ
25th - 27th October
Baring-Gould Folk Festival
Booking now for 2019 and beyond
To enquire about booking either Chris Foster solo or in the duo Funi with Bára Grímsdóttir send us an email direct from the contacts page.
Who reaps the Profit?
Who pays the Price?
Filmed by Matt Quinn at my gig at Shakespeares, Sheffield, 17th September 2017. I'll be back in Sheffield on the 27th September 2018.
Going global, flowing with the stream
My two vinyl albums for Topic Records (Layers -1977 and All Things in Common - 1979) have been on Spotify for some time, since Topic Records digitised their back catalogue. Contrary to popular scepticism, I've even received a few quid in royalties over the past couple of years.
Now I have added all my CD albums to multiple streaming services as well, so Traces - 1999, Jewels - 2004, Outsiders - 2008 and Hadelin - 2017 are all available, not just on Spotify, but also on iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Youtube Sound Recording and a bunch of others worldwide that I've never heard of such as Akazoo, Claro Música, Kanjian, Zvooq and Shazam to name but a few.
The two albums that I have made under the Funi duo name with Bára Grímsdóttir (Funi - 2004 and Flúr - 2013) are also out there.
I doubt that the combined income from all this will run to a Mars bar, but you never know somebody in South America or Russia might discover the delights of hearing Lord Bateman or The Seeds of Love.
Nordic Harp Meeting - Estonia October 2017
The Nordic Harp Meeting is an extremely useful and inspiring annual meeting. Known to its regular attendees as the Nerdic Harp Meeting, the meeting takes place in a different country each year. In 2017 it gave us our first opportunity to visit Estonia. The meeting brings together skilled and expert performers, teachers and researchers, who are all involved in making music with a big variety of old stringed instruments, such as lyres, kantele, hummel, langspil, langeleik, jouhikko and of course more varieties of harp than you can shake a stick at. Living in Iceland, we are very isolated from the range of skills and expertise that we are able to access at NHM. To be able to meet with all these people under one roof is a great privilege, and we try to go as often as possible. In 2018 we met in Lund, Sweden. Sadly, we will not be able to attend the 2019 meeting in Gjøvik, Norway, where we have been twice before, because the date clashes with our visit to the Baring-Gould Folk Festival in England.
The Cruel Mother as ballad dance. Connecting with our northern roots at Nordic Harp Meeting in Viljandi, Estonia. October 21st 2017 - video by Katja Nyuppieva
I have long harboured the desire to play the hammered dulcimer, ever since spending a lot of happy hours in the company of my late friend Reg Reader, who lived in Suffolk and played on a really old instrument that he inherited from his grandfather. I finally got around to acquiring my own instrument about five years ago.
I just love the sound it makes (I am also a sucker for cimbalom music), but I find it fearsomely difficult to play well. I can get a tune out of it and used it on my album 'Hadelin'. I also played it a bit on our last Funi album 'Flúr'. But it is one thing to play overdubs in a recording studio and another thing entirely to be able to play a bunch of tunes with fluency and consistency at a dance for example, without causing people to fall over or crash into each other. I keep on practising though, and one day I hope that I will be able to play it in public. It's good to have dreams...
Funi standing by some lava on a cold April day.
You can see the snow storm coming behind us.