Southern Tenant Folk Union are the Edinburgh based six-piece string band that over a series of albums have produced a thought provoking and arresting take on roots & folk music. Past winners of the ‘Americana Artist Of The Year’ award the band have taken their music onto BBC One TV’s prime political show ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ plus Irish TV’s world famous chat show ‘The Late Late Show’ as well as onto stages at prestigious festivals (Celtic Connections, Belfast Open House Festival, Orkney Folk Festival, Belladrum Festival, Electric Picnic & many more). They run their own record label and work completely independently releasing their own music.
Live reviews of their concert performances have picked up on their ‘tight delivery and soaring, gorgeous harmonies’ saying that ‘STFU are a must see live band combining a rich blend of musical talent with a high octane Appalachian style’ and they perform their own brand of ‘thrilling traditional musicianship’. Through extensive touring they have seen audiences grow year on year and now consistently sell-out concert venues all over the UK and Ireland. Artistically successful their albums have been reviewed and praised in The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times and The Irish Times with their latest album awarded 4 stars in Q Magazine with the band described as ‘A folk band for the Occupy era – passionate, political and mischievous’
Started in 2006 by Belfast born and Liverpool/London raised musician Pat McGarvey, he has, through various different line-ups of the collective, driven ever increasingly forward in taking genre clichés and subverting them into more interesting shapes and patterns, attempting to create roots music that has depth both lyrically and musically. The name itself comes from a desire to find a union based name for the group and one that also suited the style of music. In trying to find a name they came upon and appropriated the ground breaking multi-racial tenant farmers collective from the new deal/dustbowl era the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.
Several albums and many tours later, the band line-up has changed again and just as before as some people moved on then some new people joined each bringing different experience, interesting ideas and new influences to the collective. People like talented Scottish singer songwriter Rory Butler (winner of Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections in 2012), fiddle player Katherine Stewart, percussionist Steve Fivey and from Inverness, double bass player Craig Macfadyen. Their 6th album, ‘The Chuck Norris Project’, a fierce and beautiful political set of songs, was released in January 2015 launching at Celtic Connections and took the disparate influences the band has, expanded upon them, and progressed the experiment ever further whilst posing the question “what can we do with these acoustic instruments?” The band continue to tour in the manner of Willie Nelson, that is with an exciting live show that engages the audience, talks & tells stories, discusses issues, is informal and also one that displays the fully eclectic and interesting music from across the band’s career to date.