“Sublime acoustic music that makes a mockery of genres.”
- Simon Jones, Moorland Roots Blog / fRoots Magazine
In an age where the word “folk” encompasses everything from Laura Marling to hardcore traditional music, the use of such labels to distinguish one musical experience from another, whilst still useful, has arguably been stretched farther than ever.
The Urban Folk Quartet’s distinguishing features have much less to do with the traditional idea of genre. Yes, this is fiddle-led music that draws heavily from celtic dance forms and traditional song but from there on in it is unlike any folk band you have ever heard. Just as English country dance unassumingly met with big band jazz musicianship in the mid 20th century, The UFQ’s approach to the folk ethos is to embrace any and every influence that genuinely makes sense of their time and place and makes sense in their music. From funk grooves to middle eastern melodies, afrobeat to north Indian rhythms.
“A sizzling hot ensemble who fuse folk with elements of dub, house and rock with an ease that shouldn’t naturally follow that list of genres. Built on the rhythms of a cajón-wielding percussionist and oud-playing bassist, the phenomenal fiddlers led the quartet in one of the tightest line-ups I have ever seen.” - Olivia Haughton, Songlines
The first of those phenomenal fiddlers is Galician Paloma Trigás, who has shared stages and recorded with with the likes of The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon and Altan, during her tenure touring the stadiums of the world with Spain’s biggest folk star, Carlos Nuñez. The second is Joe Broughton, long established on the folk scene as the fieriest English fiddler and showman of his generation. In The UFQ he deftly shares multi-instrumentalist duties (often mid-song) on guitar and mandolin with Frank Moon, a first-call gypsy jazz guitarist and oud player on the London world music scene, recently commissioned as a composer and one-man band by The Royal Ballet. The lineup is completed by Tom Chapman, widely considered to be the most accomplished and innovative cajonero the UK has to offer.
With the vibrant and diverse Birmingham music scene as a fundamental influence, The Urban Folk Quartet is a truly international band. Foreign touring and globally-influenced music have been at the heart of what they do since day one, when in June 2009 their first four gigs took place in four different countries.
Summer 2011 saw the UFQ embark on their biggest adventure yet - a three month roller coaster ride of gigs across Spain, Germany, Canada, Italy and the UK. Playing everything from secluded coves to 30,000 capacity festival fields, igniting audiences and winning them a devoted fan base far and wide.
March 2012 saw the release of their third album, “Off Beaten Tracks”. Recorded in the middle of this whirlwind world tour, it’s both a travelogue of musical snapshots from the road - compositions dedicated to Spanish bus rides or The Vancouver Island coastline, for example - and a collection of highlights from the set that had revellers dancing the night away at festivals from The Bay of Biscay to edge of The North Pacific.
2013 sees the band's most extensive European Tour to date and the recording of a new live album on the road - their fourth release in as many years.
“Up there with the best of them… amazing playing.” - Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2
“It’s music to engage ears, hearts and feet simultaneously.” - Oz Hardwick, R2 Magazine
"Off Beaten Tracks is an emotionally charged masterpiece." - Olivia Haughton, Songlines