Chris' News & Dates
Busy, busy, busy
2020 got off to a slow start public performance wise, because I have been busy working on some exciting new projects, behind the scenes. Fortunately that work is able to continue for the time being, despite the global pandemic. Time will tell what is possible later in the year.
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 10th to 20th September.
Solo art exhibition i Reykjavík - Alongside my work as a musician, I have always been involved in visual arts work. For many years I worked as a community artist and played an active role in the UK's community arts movement. Among a whole range of projects, I worked on large scale murals, both painted and mosaic, made photographic exhibitions developed and used portable photo-silkscreen equipment with a big variety of community groups.
Since moving to Iceland, I have been working on domestic scale paintings and drawings and I will be exhibiting some of these through the month of November at the Gallery Grásteinn in Reykjavík. This will be my first painting exhibition in forty years.
The langspil comes to Nashville - Back in January 2019 we recorded Langspil, fiðla and vocals for a song called 'Oh Blessed Light' on an album by 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? The album titled 'The Deer's Cry' has now been released. You can see a video of 'Oh Blessed Light' here:
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 embedded throughout the album, like veins of minerals through rock.
Söngvaka - Currently suspended due to C-19
On the third Tuesday of each month, Bára and I run an open singing session in downtown Reykjavík. The idea behind the session is to create a welcoming space and opportunity for people to come and sing and learn songs together. In particular, we have focused on the unique Icelandic, two voice harmony songs called tvísöngur. The sessions are held in the former home of Benedikt Gröndal, a 19th century Icelandic, writer (including rímur), naturalist, artist and all round cultural activist.
Vaka Folk Festival - From 2015 - 18, along with Rúna Ingimundardóttir, I was a co-founder and the programme co-ordinator of the Vaka Folk Arts Festival, in Akureyri in the north of Iceland, with the aim of building a community and creating opportunities to sing, play, dance and listen to Icelandic traditional music, and folk music from further afield.
In 2019 Vaka was moved to Reykjavík, where Linus Orri Gunnarsson Cederborg and I gathered together an organising group, made up of people active in the emerging folk / roots music community in the area. We held a very enjoyable, small scale weekend event, with a focus on people coming together to share music and ideas for the future.
Plans for the sixth Vaka have been completely disrupted by C-19. We are determined to hold the main events planned for the May festival as separate events in the future as conditions allow.
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.
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.
Funi standing by some lava on a cold April day.
You can see the snow storm coming behind us.
PERFORMANCE DATES 2020
Vaka Folk Festival
Thursday 21st - Sunday 24th May
Delayed due to Covid - 19
September 2020 England solo tour
some dates still to be added
Subject to changes due to C-19
Friday 11th September
The Potteries Folk Club
Foxfield Railway Station,
Blythe Bridge, North Staffordshire
Wednesday 16th September
Cecil Sharp House
2 Regent's Park Rd, London NW1 7AY
Friday 18th September
The Music Institute
Ward Street, off North Street,
Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LH
Sunday 19th September
Thursday 5th - Sunday 8th November
Nordic Harp Meeting
Booking now for 2020 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.
Nordic Harp Meeting - Denmark November 2020
Bára and I performing at Nordic Harp Meeting in Estonia 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 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. The meeting takes place in a different country each year. In 2017 it gave us our first opportunity to visit Estonia. In 2018 we met in Lund, Sweden. Sadly, the 2019 meeting in Gjøvik, Norway, clashed with a booking at the Baring-Gould Folk Festival in England. So we are really looking forward to meeting all our friends in Albertslund, Denmark in 2020.
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
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.