Oysterband

Music |

Doors 7pm | Tickets £28 | Conc. £23.50| Theatre

From their earliest days as a noisy, politicised ceilidh band in the late Seventies, Oysterband has never stopped evolving or providing a soundtrack to the changing times. Initially meeting at Canterbury in Kent, at a time when pubs were alive with folk clubs and music sessions, the Oyster Ceilidh Band (as they were known then), were a band on a simple mission to get dancefloors bouncing. But with a chemistry between its members and music that made a profound connection with its audiences, greater things soon beckoned as the times became more complicated.

Emerging in the early 80s from their ceilidh band days they infused both the traditional and their own songs with a passion and energy that was electrifyingly fresh for the time. Polkas, politics and a heaving dance floor somehow seemed perfectly right for Thatcher’s Britain. Signing to new roots label Cooking Vinyl, headlining English Roots Against Apartheid, playing Glastonbury and the Fleadh several times each, touring with The Pogues in Europe and Billy Bragg in North America, hosting the Big Session Festival. All gained them a large and loyal following both at home and internationally.

Releasing music with relative prolificacy, from their debut as Oyster Ceilidh Band ‘Jack’s Alive’ in 1980; through classics like ‘Step Outside’ (1986), ‘Wide Blue Yonder’ (1987), ‘Ride’ (1989) (as Oyster Band); to mid-period Oysterband wonders like ‘Deserters’ (1992), ‘Holy Bandits’ (1993), ‘Trawler’ (1994), and latter period gems like ‘Rise Above’ (2002) or ‘Diamonds On The Water’ (2014)’; Oysterband have been a constant and uplifting presence in music throughout the decades and have ratcheted-up dozens of studio releases throughout their career.

Their collaboration with June Tabor in 1990 produced the cult favourite album ‘Freedom & Rain’, and it was renewed 21 years later for ‘Ragged Kingdom’, one of the best-selling folk-rock albums of the new millennium.

Winners of several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Best Band twice, Oysterband’s song-writing has never stood still, and hits such as “The Oxford Girl”, “When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down” (Best Song at the Canadian East Coast Music Awards, performed by Great Big Sea), “Everywhere I Go and Put Out The Lights” are now renowned staples of the folk canon.
The band released what stands as their final album in 2022, the acclaimed ‘Read The Sky’, which found the band taking a political stand for their environmental beliefs. As true to their political roots as they ever were, the album was released to chime with the COP26 summit in Glasgow of that year. The album hit the Official Folk Album Chart No.1, a testament to their enduring popularity across the ages.

The creative heart of Oysterband is still here after 45 years: John Jones (vocals, melodeon), Alan Prosser (guitars) and Ian Telfer (violin), with Al Scott, their longtime producer, on bass, Adrian Oxaal (cello and guitar) and newest member Sean Randle on drums.

Most recently, Oysterband undertook an extensive tour of Europe, plus a special “Decades” tour across the UK where they explored their back catalogue in greater depth. Announcing a series of shows with June Tabor in 2024, Oysterband will be going out on a high as they bid “A Long Long Goodbye” to fans and friends with a series of unmissable shows.

They’ve travelled the world but they still play with the fire of that dance band back in Kent.

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