A beautiful folk songstress is preparing to release her album The Crescent Sun on Midwich Records this June, her name Ellen Mary McGee, hailing from Nottingham.
Of Irish and Romany gypsy descent, Ellen Mary McGee was born the year that John Lennon and Alfred Hitchcock died and grew up on a notorious council estate in the Midlands amongst used syringes and burnt out Ford Cortinas. She would regularly escape into the nearby stately homes and parks of Newstead Abbey and Sherwood Forest, caught between the spirits of Lord Byron and Maid Marion. She taught herself to play a beaten up nylon stringed acoustic guitar acquired at a local car boot sale at 15 years old. She starting out by practising traditional folk songs and a few years later she began writing her own music and forming various fledgling bands in and around Nottingham, initially inspired by the likes of Movietone and Quickspace. She formed the band Saint Joan in 2001 who went on to release numerous records on her own Dakota records but decided to call it a day in late 2007.
Since then Ellen has been working mainly alone, returning to the traditional folk songs she began playing in her youth and also writing new material inspired by her wayward, unconventional childhood out of which she would often escape into the fantasy worlds created within books and music. She sings of transient characters she has known, loved and lost. She sings of the darkness on the edge of town and the blood of others, caught between the bright lights of the city and the pastoral yearning for a simpler less landlocked life. Inspired by the kitchen sink realism of fellow Nottingham export Alan Sillitoe and family dramas of Arthur Miller as well as the magical escapism of Jonathan Carroll, Italo Calvino and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, her music is at once literary and yet primal.
Ellen plays off-kilter, transcendental folk on guitar, banjo and zither primarily. She has toured widely in the UK and US, playing at various psych/folk festivals in San Francisco, New York and Providence. Her music is steeped in folk traditions and manages to be idiosyncratic yet unaffected. Ellen has been likened to Linda Perhacs and Vashti Bunyan and sings about Greek mythology, sublimation, the ocean and metaphysics, usually involving a pretty high death toll.
She will be playing Leigh Folk festival on Sunday 28th June alongside The Owl Service, Nancy Wallace and Straw Bear Band. Keep your eyes peeled for more shows too!