Hannah James, Sam Sweeney and producer Andy Bell

Russell Cottier talks to Hannah James, Sam Sweeney and Andy Bell at their home studio in Yorkshire

Russell Cottier met up with Hannah James and Sam Sweeney who are one of the foremost duos performing English Folk music today at Hannah's studio in South Yorkshire. Russ wanted to find out about their recording methods with top folk engineer and producer Andy Bell.

April 2012 sees the release of their highly anticipated second album State And Ancientry (RBRCD13). They play predominantly English songs and tunes on accordion and fiddle, and their live show includes Hannah's renowned high-energy clog dancing.

Andy Bell

Andy Bell has worked with artists ranging from Seasick Steve and KT Tunstall right through to his specialty English Folk....Everyone who is anyone in the folk scene seems to be working with Andy including Jon Boden, Fay Hield, Andy Cutting, Eliza Carthy and many many more. The engineer behind many of the A Fok Song a Day installments, Andy has recently worked on the 10 year anniversary album for Spiers & Bodens - The Works. Click here to view Andy Bell's production credits on Bright Young Folk's website.

Hannah James

Starting her recording career off in the renowned Kerfuffle with Sam Sweeney, Hannah has featured as Accordionist, vocalist and Clog dancer with many recording and live projects. She is currently playing with several Band and Duos.

Hannah James & Sam Sweeney, assorted credits:

Lady Maisery
Hell said the Duchess
The Demon Barber Roadshow
Time Gentlemen Please

Sam Sweeney

Sam's career started shortly after, performing as a soloist at Chippenham, Trowbridge and Devizes festivals in 2001. The year after Sam founded Kerfuffle, which ended in 2010 after five albums and a very successful eight years of gigging. More recently, Sam joined the eleven piece folk big band Bellowhead, plays fiddle, drums with Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings and plays fiddle with The Fay Hield Trio.

In between the projects listed above, Sam has been busy working on a new venture with producer Andy Bell, called WeRecordYourStrings. It aims to enable artists to add string arrangements to their recordings in a quick and affordable way. Recent projects include albums by Circus Envy, Louise Jordan and Rosie Doonan, among others.

As a session player, Sam has recorded fiddle for a number of artists including Spiers and Boden, Rachael McShane, Sam Carter and Fay Hield.

In recent months Sam has been very busy with a number of new projects. Along with fellow Bellowhead member Paul Sartin, he has been asked to arrange the music for a new production of The Transports, Peter Bellamy's famous ballad opera, which will be debuted at Sidmouth Folk Festival 2011 with a subsequent tour in 2012. Sam recently played a gig with Andy Cutting at Kings Place, London. Sam and Hannah are also hard at work arranging and recording their next album which is due for release later this year.

Recent awards and nominations include two BBC Folk Awards in 2011 with Bellowhead, a Hancock Award for Musician Of The Year and a nomination for Spiral Earth’s Musician Of The Year.

Special thanks to Russell Cottier for his help in making this feature possible!