From busking on the seafront to playing live at the Royal Albert Hall

Phillip Henry and Hanna Martin play at the Old Chapel in Alfriston SUS-170216-160932001
Phillip Henry and Hanna Martin play at the Old Chapel in Alfriston SUS-170216-160932001

The winners of 2014’s BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Duo, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, have come a long way on their journey.

In 2009, Phillip, one of the UK’s finest slide guitarists and harmonica players, moved into a tent in south Devon. He had just returned from studying Indian classical guitar in Calcutta: he had his tent, his car, and a five year plan to earn a living through his music.

Playing in alt-folk outfit The Roots Union, he met Devonian fiddle-singer Hannah Martin, and the pair instantly recognised a very powerful musical connection. When the band ended, they continued as a duo, playing all over the country, from Glastonbury festival to busking on the seafront at Sidmouth Folk Week.

It was during one of these stints that they were spotted in an encounter with Steve Knightley of Show Of Hands. Recognising the potential of Henry and Martin’s partnership, Knightley invited them to accompany Show Of Hands on a nationwide tour, culminating with a show at the Royal Albert Hall.

The pair’s first album, Singing The Bones, was released in 2011 to warm praise. Constant touring followed, including an Arts Council funded tour of south west arts centres in autumn 2012. Their second studio album, Mynd, was released to great acclaim in September 2013, appearing in end of year best-ofs for The Guardian, The Telegraph, fRoots Critics Poll, Mark Radcliffe’s Radio Two Top Ten, and Songlines. They were voted Best Duo at the Radio Two Folk Awards almost exactly five years since Phillip sat in his tent and made his five year plan.

The last two years have been their busiest to date. They recorded a concert, Live In Calstock, to make a record of their sound during these initial years; the resulting album once again went down a storm with the critics.

They were honoured with the opening slot at Cambridge Folk Festival’s 50th anniversary. They toured with folk legend Seth Lakeman. They attended Folk Alliance in Kansas City, and have been playing all over the globe.

Spring 2017 sees Henry and Martin hitting the road with a brand new show. They come to the Old Chapel, Alfriston on March 16 - for tickets call 01323 841414 and www.pavilionhailsham.co.uk