Artist Spotlight: Flook

The flutes of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen, the guitar of Ed Boyd and the bodhran of John Joe Kelly make up Flook, stars of Irish traditional music and one of the world’s most exciting folk bands.

Priddy Folk Festival caught up with the band while at the Orkney Folk Festival last monthe, ahead of their appearance at this year’s Priddy.

PFF: When did you first play your chosen instrument?

SA: I started first with the recorder at the age of 7 but started playing the flute aged 8 years. When I was at school I was interested in playing classical music. I had my ‘Eureka moment’ when I met a jazz drummer who said ‘forget all you’ve learned and just play, don’t worry about the notes just improvise!

BF: I started with the flute aged 8 years old and attended classes at the Armagh Pipers Club with 2 very well-respected tutors who took me under their wing, which was very lucky as there was no music in my family.

JJK: I was dragged along with my sister to Irish dance classes when I was 5 and started ‘bashing around’ with tin whistles until given a pair of drumsticks for my 6th birthday. I started going to classes aged 6/7 in Manchester where there is a large Irish community.

EB: The guitar was my ‘fun’ instrument. I started guitar classes at Newbridge Junior School, in Bath, when I was 8 or 9. Later, at Beechen Cliff School I joined a guitar group, run by the deputy head, in lunchtimes. I was very impressed by the guitar work on a compilation tape, belonging to my Dad, of various people such as Fairport Convention’s album Leige and Lief and Nick Drake and just went on from there.

PFF: Do you have any special memories of Priddy Folk Festival from 2015 when you last visited us?

SA: I remember Priddy as a friendly, little festival and especially loved all the wonderful hanging decorations around the stage.

EB: I remember it because all my family came, which is a rare occasion as we are all scattered far and wide. It was really nice to be all together in the same place at the same time.

PFF: I see that the gig just prior to Priddy Folk Festival is in Moscow at Boris Grebenshchikov’s Aquarium 45th Anniversary event. How did this come about?

BF: Boris Grebenshchikov is the ‘godfather of Russian rock’, he is a unique ‘wonder of the music world’. He dabbles in everything musical from jazz, psychedelia and funk to rap. He fell in love with the music of Silly Wizard and really got into folk music. His songs are lyrically and melodically similar to a lot of stuff coming out of Ireland. I have been playing in his band ‘Aquarium’ for many years now.
SA: Obviously Brian spends a lot of his time in Russia but the other 3 of us have been to Moscow a couple of times. We played at Boris’s 60th birthday party and are really looking forward to the 45th anniversary concert!

PFF: Do you have any plans for a new album?

SA: The day before Priddy we will be making a few demos, which is exactly what we did the last time we visited Priddy.

PFF: Which artists would you recommend our festival-goers not to miss?

SA: Topette, who I have heard are amazing, Leon Hunt, who is a good friend of ours and has played on a few of our albums.

BF, EB, JJK: Adam Holmes, Talisk, Jim Causley and Jenn and Laura-Beth. You have a really good line-up this year!

PFF: What would you like to find in your ideal green room?

SA: Ice cold beer. We are not really into biscuits and chocolates but I do remember you have some lovely cakes at Priddy!

EB: (jokingly): White roses and water at a specific temperature.

PFF: What has been the biggest influence on your music?

EB: It is very difficult to narrow it down to any one influence as music is so diverse and different people play it very differently. We could talk for days about favourite albums and artists etc. I have always wondered how on earth people chose their Desert Island Discs!

PFF: What is your favourite country to holiday/play in?

PFF: Italy. I love every thing about it especially the food.

JJK: Likewise – Italy

EB: Asturias, Spain.

BF: I really love Japan.

PFF: Thank you so much for talking to us – we are really looking forward to seeing you at Priddy this year!

12 – 14 July, 2024