Sam Sweeney

Last updated

Sam Sweeney
Sam Sweeney.jpg
Sam Sweeney performing at the Warwick Folk Festival, July 2011
Background information
Birth nameSam Sweeney
Born (1989-02-27) 27 February 1989 (age 31)
Nottingham, England
Genres Folk
Years active2001-present
Associated acts Hannah James and Sam Sweeney, Kerfuffle, Bellowhead, Fay Hield Trio
Website Official website

Sam Sweeney (born 27 February 1989 in Nottingham) is a multi-instrumental English folk musician.



Sweeney started playing the fiddle at age six, and first performed as a soloist at folk festivals in 2001. [1] From 2002 to 2010 Sweeney was part of the East Midlands-based folk band Kerfuffle, playing fiddle, viola, and cajon, and singing. [2] When Kerfuffle disbanded, Sam continued playing with accordion player and singer Hannah James as the duo Hannah James and Sam Sweeney.

As of 2008, Sweeney is also a member of the award-winning eleven-piece folk band Bellowhead, playing fiddle and English bagpipes. [3]

As of 2009 he tours with Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, playing both drums and fiddle, sometimes simultaneously. [4]

He is also a member of Fay Hield's band, originally named the Fay Hield Trio but as of 2012 called Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party. [5]

In 2018, he started his solo career with the album, The Unfinished Violin. [6] [7] Two years later in 2020, he followed it with his second album, Unearth Repeat. [8]


Sam Sweeney with curved bow Sam Sweeney with curved bow.jpg
Sam Sweeney with curved bow

Sweeney has won a number of awards including the 'In The Tradition' award and the 'Wiltshire Folk Association Young Folk Award', which he won for two years in succession. He was also a nominated in the 2004 BBC Young Folk Awards. [9] In 2007 he won one of five BBC Performing Arts Fund bursaries to help him start his musical career. [5] Sweeney was nominated for the 'Musician of the Year' award at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and won this award at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. [10]


Hannah James and Sam Sweeney

With Kerfuffle

With Bellowhead

With Fay Hield

With Circus Envy

With Sam Carter

With Rachael McShane

With Louise Jordan

With Charlie Barker



In 2006 Sam won a bursary from the BBC performing arts fund. [2]

Related Research Articles

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards award

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards celebrate outstanding achievement during the previous year within the field of folk music, with the aim of raising the profile of folk and acoustic music. The awards have been given annually since 2000 by British radio station BBC Radio 2.

Spiers and Boden English folk duo

Spiers and Boden were an English folk duo. John Spiers plays melodeon and concertina, while Jon Boden sings and plays fiddle and guitar while stamping the rhythm on a stomp box.

Bellowhead band

Bellowhead was an English contemporary folk band, active from 2004 to 2016. The eleven-piece act played traditional dance tunes, folk songs and shanties, with arrangements drawing inspiration from a wide diversity of musical styles and influences. The band included percussion and a four-piece brass section. Bellowhead's bandmembers played more than 20 instruments between them; whilst all performers provided vocals.


Kerfuffle were a four-piece English folk band, originally formed in 2001 around the East Midlands and South Yorkshire regions of the UK, initially comprising Hannah James, Sam Sweeney, Chris Thornton-Smith (guitar) and Tom Sweeney. Thornton-Smith was replaced by Jamie Roberts in 2007. Kerfuffle disbanded in August 2010.

Giles Lewin is a British violinist and bagpiper. Currently a member of The Carnival Band, he was also a founding member of the folk band, Bellowhead.

Jon Boden British singer

Jon Boden is a singer, composer and musician, best known as lead singer and main arranger of Bellowhead. His first instrument is the fiddle and he is a proponent of "English traditional fiddle style" and also of "fiddle singing", both of which he employed in Bellowhead, in the duo Spiers & Boden, and previously as a member of Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers.

<i>Matachin</i> (album) 2008 studio album by Bellowhead

Matachin is the second album by Bellowhead, released on 22 September 2008. Its title refers, to 'An old dance with swords, masks and bucklers; a sword dance' that may have influenced the Cotswold Morris dance. It has been described as "...a magnificently murky and rum-sodden collection of 11 traditional and original songs from the 11 piece band who defy easy categorisation".

Nancy Kerr British singer

Nancy Kerr is an English folk musician and songwriter, specialising in the fiddle and singing. Born in London, she now lives in Sheffield. She is the daughter of London-born singer-songwriter Sandra Kerr and Northumbrian piper Ron Elliott. She was the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards "Folk Singer of the Year".

Hannah James and Sam Sweeney

Hannah James and Sam Sweeney were an English folk duo, comprising Hannah James and Sam Sweeney.

"Jack Hall" is a traditional British folksong dating from 1707.

<i>Hedonism</i> (album) 2010 studio album by Bellowhead

Hedonism is the third album by Bellowhead, released on 4 October 2010. It was recorded in Abbey Road Studios and was produced by John Leckie. The band also developed a new ale named after the album. Some of the band members took part in the brewing process.

Shrewsbury Folk Festival is an annual festival of folk and world music and traditional dance held in the town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England.

Fay Hield English folk singer

Fay Hield is a traditional English folk singer.

<i>Hedonism Live</i> 2011 video by Bellowhead

Hedonism Live is the second live DVD by folk band Bellowhead. It was recorded in May 2011 at the O2 Academy Bournemouth.

<i>Broadside</i> (album) 2012 studio album by Bellowhead

Broadside is the fourth full album by Bellowhead, released on 15 October 2012.

Neil McSweeney British singer-songwriter

Neil McSweeney is a songwriter and musician based in Sheffield, England. His acoustic guitar playing style combines folk, blues and country influences but it is his voice, likened by The Guardian to a male Tracy Chapman, and his direct and personal lyrics for which he is most recognised.

Sam Carter is a British guitarist, singer and songwriter, originally from the English Midlands but more recently based in East London. He has released two albums of mainly original material which fall loosely into the folk/roots category. Carter is the winner of the "Horizon" award for best newcomer at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2010. Highly regarded as an instrumentalist, contemporary Jon Boden of Bellowhead described him as 'the finest English-style finger-picking guitarist of his generation, and former BBC Radio Two folk show presenter Mike Harding wrote that Carter was "one of the most gifted acoustic guitarists of his generation.". As a songwriter, Carter marries a traditionally English narrative style with elements of American gospel and R&B and has been described as an "impressively original" performer. Some commentators consider that Carter's guitar and vocal style is similar to that of noted British iconoclasts John Martyn and Roy Harper, whilst his lyrical perspective has further invited comparison with the work of Richard Thompson.

The Full English launched in 2013 and is an ongoing English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) project to create a searchable digital archive of English folk song collections from the early 20th century, thereby preserving and improving the accessibility of these resources. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Folklore Society, the National Folk Music Fund and the English Miscellany Folk Dance Group. An offshoot of the archive, also in 2013, was an album and concert tour under The Full English name by a collective of UK folk singers.

Paul Sartin

Paul Sartin is an English singer, instrumentalist, composer and arranger, specialising in oboe and violin. He is best known for his work with the folk band Bellowhead, but also plays with three-piece Faustus and the folk/comedy duo Belshazzar's Feast.


  1. Powlson, Nigel (13 February 2016). "Derbyshire folk musician and former Bellowhead member Sam Sweeney". Derbyshire Life and Countryside. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  2. 1 2 "Sam Sweeney – Biography". Sam Sweeney Music, official site. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Jon Boden and The Remnant Kings – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2010 Folk Singer of the Year". Towersey Village Festival. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  5. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Artist Profile: Sam Sweeney". Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  7. 1 2 Jackson, Aaron (26 September 2018). "SAM SWEENEY: THE UNFINISHED VIOLIN".
  8. 1 2 "Sam Sweeney 'Unearth Repeat' Tour comes to Stoller Hall Manchester". Visit Manchester. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  9. "All about Sam Sweeney". bright young folk. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  10. "Award-winning fiddle player Sam Sweeney is back on home turf". 31 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Sam Sweeney – Discography". Sam Sweeney Music, official site. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.