For many years now, Shirley Collins has been an intriguing presence – or, you might say, absence – from the English folk scene: increasingly revered by a new generation of musicians and listeners for her role and recordings at the forefront of the folk music of the 1960s and ‘70s yet not having released a record since 1976 and almost never appearing live. Her repute and influence have skyrocketed in that period though: lauded by the likes of Jonny Greenwood, Stewart Lee and Angel Olsen; made president of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, given an honorary doctorate in music from Sussex University and with a full-blown documentary on her life and career in the works. She’s also very highly regarded as one of the UK’s foremost song collectors, her interest piqued when she met Alan Lomax at a party held by Ewan MacColl, leading to a collecting tour of the Southern states of the US with Lomax in 1959, an experience that shaped her musical world for many years hence.
So its no surprise that when news of her first record in almost 4 decades, Lodestar, emerged in late 2016, much rejoicing was had. For many of us, that rejoicing was further enhanced by the news that Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown aka Cyclobe were recording the album with her and Lodestar is clearly everything her patient audience could have hoped for in the return of Shirley Collins. We are beyond delighted to bring Shirley Collins to Safe As Milk and you can expect a very special performance that features Thrower and Brown, Ian Kearney and other special guests and dancers. As Stewart Lee says, “Shirley is a time traveler, a conduit for essential human aches, one of the greatest artists who ever lived, and yet utterly humble”