The Imagined Village

United Kingdom

There is a dedicated website for The Imagined Village with more information along with audio and video from the project.

If you think you know about English folk music, think again.
The Imagined Village, the brainchild of producer and musician Simon Emmerson, has recast age old traditions in the shape of the twentyfirst century.

A daring mix of ancient and modern, The Imagined Village fuses fiddles and squeezebox with dub beats and sitars. To do so it has gathered an extraordinary array of talent: Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Sheila Chandra, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, Tunng, Transglobal Underground and Benjamin Zephaniah among others.

Emmerson has a history of ground-breaking fusions, as founder of jazz-soul group Working Week and The Afro Celt Sound System, and as a Grammy-nominated producer of world acts like Manu Dibango and Baba Maal. 'After travelling the world I thought it was time to explore my own roots,' he says, 'to look at the earth under my feet.'

The resulting album is arguably the most ambitious re-invention of the English folk tradition since Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief back in 1969. Favourites like 'John Barleycorn' and 'Cold Hailey Rainy Night' are given radical new soundscapes, the magical ballad 'Tam Lyn' is retold as a tale of urban clubland amid a parade of great voices and wonderful playing.
'It's a record that, in the time-honoured way of folk, is about sex and death,' says Simon, 'but it's also about honouring England's distinctive traditions. There's a debate going on about English national identity and this is my contribution. In some ways Englishness has become the final frontier of world music.'

Billy Bragg, whose book The Progressive Patriot addresses the same issue of English identity, agrees. 'In any village there's a meeting between the custodians of the past and the architects of the future, and The Imagined Village reflects just that.'