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Bellowhead

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Biography

Although they began and continued to work as a duo, John Spiers (melodeon) and Jon Boden (fiddle and vocals) had a vision of a larger sound for their music. In 2004, they put together Bellowhead (the name derived from their album Bellow) to play the Oxford Folk Festival. The 11-piece group was an immediate success, its mix of strings and brass virtually unprecedented in traditional English folk music. They took the band into the studio that autumn to record a five-track teaser, E.P.onymous, which proved very popular with fans as well as industry types, and settled into playing festival gigs (about the only ones that could afford them), increasing their repertoire and bedding in as a group. Something of a bidding war ensued to sign Bellowhead, with German label Westpark the eventual winner, and Burlesque, their full-length debut, appeared in 2006. The tighter Matachin, released in 2008, veered from dark cabaret to a mad New Orleans band. Umbrellowhead (2009) and Hedonism (2010) followed. The latter went on to become the biggest-selling independently released folk album of all time with over 60,000 copies shipped. The band also recorded the theme tune to BBC Radio 4's Ambridge Extra, a spin-off from the iconic soap opera The Archers. In 2011, they released a live DVD of their performance at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy entitled Hedonism Live. A fourth album called Broadside was released in 2012, produced by John Leckie and recorded at Rockfield Studios. It was met with a positive response and gave them their biggest success to date, reaching number 16 in the national U.K. charts. During the latter part of 2012, the band toured the record across the U.K. and Europe. In 2014, they ended ten years of staunch independence by signing with Island, for whom they recorded their fifth album, Revival, with big-name pop producer Rupert Christie. The album was released in June of that year. During the summer of 2015, the band announced their separation; a mutual decision following Jon Boden's intent to step down as frontman; the group felt the project would never be at its best unless they were all together. Bellowhead decided to bid farewell with one last national tour, which was recorded and released as Bellowhead Live: The Farewell Tour in early 2016. ~ Chris Nickson

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