Folk group the Shackleton Trio have been going from strength to strength over the last few years building up a strong fanbase. Fatea writer Nic Rigby caught up with them in their home city of Norwich.
With an acclaimed new album Fen, Farm and Deadly Water, a main stage appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival and national and international tours, this year is proving a great one for the Shackleton Trio.
The group, which is also appearing at the Fatea 30th Birthday Bash on 2-3 November this year, is made up of Georgia Shackleton (fiddle/vocals), Aaren Bennett (guitar) and Nic Zuppardi (mandolin).
I last chatted with them at the 2016 Cambridge Folk Festival where they played the Club Tent – and were such a success they were asked back this year to play the main stage.
“We were so excited. It was such a big opportunity. We felt very privileged to be asked to do it,” said Nic.
The new album, described by Fatea as “brim full of vocal and instrumental excellence”, saw the band delve further into the folk tradition of The Fens.
“It’s very much rooted in The Fens. This album, we recorded it in the middle of The Fens in Grange Farm Studio, which is a stones throw from where I was brought up which is quite nice. That's in Emneth, just near Upwell where I was raised,” said Georgia.
Nic added: “We came up with things and ideas that we wouldn't be able to do in a live set a bit more in this occasion, in a way that's different from the first album.
“We layered stuff a lot more this time, I suppose being out in The Fens helped with that. Got the creative juices flowing a little bit. The landscape's beautiful.”
Georgia said the song Radish Boys “stems from a book called The Norfolk Garland, which is a collection of different Norfolk superstitions” while the song Powte’s Complaint is a “1600s poem about the drainage of the Fens”.
“I really try and find stuff from this area and from my roots,” she added.
The CD also features a number of self-penned songs by Georgia, including Down Into the Sea, a tale of seaside town nostalgia.
“I've always found the seaside towns interesting, particularly carousels which feature in the first verse of the song,” she said.
“I love seeing an old Victorian carousel, and imagining all of the memories and the magic that that would've had back in the Victorian times. And then, in turn, the magic that would've been felt with a trip to the seaside.”
She said her song writing was influenced by “Rory McLeod, Leon Rosselson, and those wordy old storytellers… And a lot of the old boys who used to sing around here: Harry Cox and Walter Pardon”.
The album also feature Nic’s tune Bolton Lodge which he said was written for his great-aunt Joan.
“I visit her now and again with a musician friend when we're touring up that way. She's very deaf, and isn't able to enjoy listening to music anymore,” he said.
“But she sings songs herself and walks to shops, footsteps in time to the music, so she tells us. So I thought I'd write a tune in honour of that.”
So what’s next for the band?
Well, they’re already thinking about the next album, but first they’ve got a list of tour dates to March next year.
“I think we still feel that we're a live band, that's what we do most is playing live,” said Nic.
“I think it's just really important just to gig the material,” said Aaren.
They are also playing Fatea 30th Birthday Bash in November.
“We were so happy we were asked us to do that. Really, really great. We're looking forward to that. Cos (Fatea editor) Neil's always been really supportive from the off. And it's great.”