Big Eyes was started in 2000 in Leeds by James Green as a private project, a naïve way of trying to create classical music, and somehow fuse his interests in the melancholia of Mike Leigh, Egon Schiele, Edward Elgar and The Birthday Party. It soon outgrew the bedroom and a band was formed. Big Eyes recorded 4 albums over the next four years (for Pickled Egg Records) and split up in 2004.
After this, The Big Eyes Family Players were formed, as a more collaborative arrangement. So far, they have worked with people like Jeremy Barnes (A Hawk And A Hacksaw), Terry Edwards (Gallon Drunk/Tindersticks), Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s), James Yorkston, James William Hindle and many more.
TBEFP are currently based in Sheffield, UK and they dwell somewhere within chamber music, folk music and perhaps pop music; guitars, strings, harmoniflute, organ, bass, drums, flute, sometimes vocals and other bits and bobs.
The interest in recording folk material first started with the recording of the ‘Warm Room’ album in 2008. It was conceived as an ‘ode’ to folk music, so not a ‘folk album’ per-se, but a distilling of the elements that make up the form. It did however contain one traditional number, being ‘False True Love’, based on the Shirley Collins version.
Shortly after this, and totally unconnected to it, James Yorkston put the idea to them to collaborate on an album of traditional material. They agreed, and the album was completed in January 2009, with the help of Nancy Elizabeth, Pip Dylan, David Wrench and Luke Daniels. They also went on a tour of the UK/Germany with Mr Yorkston in late 2009 in support of the album.
At the end of the ‘Folk Songs’ tours, James (Green) was considering what Big Eyes should do next. Mr Yorkston suggested another folk songs album, this time with a selection of singers/collaborators. James didn’t take that suggestion particularly seriously, but the idea was sown. Shortly after returning home, James contacted a few of his favourite singers and asked if they’d like to contribute to an album of traditional songs (and choose songs). They all agreed, somewhat surprisingly.
‘Folk Songs II’ by The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends is a continuation of the previous collection, but on this record the boat has been pushed out a little more. The songs and stories are more sprawling, and arrangements show further disregard for any folk tradition. James admits openly to not knowing much about folk music, or particularly having much time for folk authenticity. The aim was simply to illustrate the songs and the voices in the most appropriate way, and the only way that the Big Eyes Family can.
Jerry Hionis - The Red Dead Mule [Graveyard Stomps & Funeral Rags]
Dave Gerard & The Watchmen - Under Veiled Light [Under Veiled Light]
The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends - Looly, Looly (feat. James Yorkston) [Folk Songs II]
The River Has Many Voices - Yeah, I Got Away, But I Never Got Clear [Barton Creek EP]
Broken Fences - For A Long Time Coming [S/T]
Tarkio - This Rollercoaster Ride [Omnibus]
The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends - Greenland Bound (feat. Adrian Crowley) [Folk Songs II]
I Am Oak - Everything In Waves [Nowhere Or Tammensaari]
Oberon Carter - Natural Life [Natural Life]
The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends - Farewell Lovely Nancy (feat. Nancy Elizabeth) [Folk Songs II]
Anne Briggs - Thorneymoor Woods [A Collection]
James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players - Thorneymoor Woods [Folk Songs]
The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends - Bonny Boy (feat. Heather Ditch) [Folk Songs II]
James William Hindle - Bleak House [Joshong]
Shakey Graves - Roll The Bones [Roll The Bones]
Nancy Elizabeth - Off With Your Axe [Battle & Victory]
Foreign Fields - Where The Willow Tree Died [Anywhere But Where I Am]
Sideways Through Sound Archive
27th July 2011: Sea Of Bees
20th July 2011: Major Chord
13th July 2011: Cave Country & Interview
6th July 2011: Kaya Ogawa
28th July 2010: The Driftwood Manor
21st July 2010: v/a Beyond Berleley Guitar
14th July 2010: ASS
7th July 2010: Rangda
29th July 2009: The Steals
22nd July 2009: v/a Leaves Of Life
15th July 2009: Rusted Rail Records
8th July 2009: Tranko/Yoshino/Japanese Special
1st July 2009: The Boy Who Spoke Clouds
28th July 2008: Tom Carter & Christian Kiefer
21st July 2008: Arborea
14th July 2008: Jeff Eden
7th July 2008: I Am Your Autopilot
27th July 2007: Fence Records
20th July 2007: v/a Leaves From Off The Tree
13th July 2007: v/a Dead Man's Shoes OST
5th July 2007: White Magic