I went to the Anvil in Basingstoke and saw The Imagined Village which was a fascinating concert of English folk music interacting with other ethnic influences. It started with a half-hour solo turn by Chris Wood who does a fun line in patter as well as being a great singer - I particularly liked his version of 'One in a million' by himself and Hugh Lupton, a romance set in a Fish and Chip shop. He participated in the rest of the concert as well, and showed he could fiddle as well as play the guitar with style. I could easily go to an evening of just him singing, although I think it might be better in a smaller venue than the Anvil.
There was a half-hour interval, followed by an unbroken final set. The songs and tunes were drawn from the history of folk, from Tam Lyn through Hard Times of Old England to more recent compositions. But the words and music were updated to include all the different views of England today. The range of musical accompaniment was fascinating, with a cello, drums, Johnny Kalso on percussion, Eliza Carthy on fiddle and my personal favourite of Sheema Mukherjee on sitar. She often played the first few notes of an introduction, and hearing them on her instrument gave an otherworldly, mystical sound to even well-known tunes. I say she's my favourite but then there was Johnny Kalso (surely the happiest musician ever!) giving an exuberant performance on the bhangra drum. And Eliza Carthy was almost insane on the final song's crescendo ... in a good way!
Sheila Chandra joined them on vocals, and to bring the audience back to earth after the tumult of the instrumental encore which had everyone clapping the beat, she sang 'The Blacksmith' unaccompanied. I was completely stunned by the beauty of her voice, which has clearness without any sharpness, and is so rich that it almost sounded like two people singing.
It was a superb evening of music, but perhaps because I felt nostalgic for the times when I used to follow the 'scene', I'm not sure if this was the beginning of something new in English folk, or the last swan song.
ETA: When I mentioned Tam Lyn, I didn't say that it was performed by Benjamin Zephaniah on a pre-recorded video, updating the story to modern times. Here's a link.