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About Jon Boden

Lauded as one of the leading folk artists of his generation, Jon Boden was best known as the driving force behind festival favorites Bellowhead, but he also had a significant career outside of the group, which continued after it disbanded. Born in Chicago in 1977 but raised in Winchester, England, he read medieval studies at Durham before earning a master's degree in composition for musical theater from the London College of Music. Boden met his longtime musical partner, John Spiers, by chance in a pub in Oxford; they soon became firm friends and formed the duo Spiers & Boden, with Spiers on melodeon and Boden on fiddle, guitar, and vocals. Their debut album, Through & Through, was released by Fellside in 2001, and several more albums by the duo followed. In 2004 the pair formed the 11-piece "folk big band" Bellowhead to perform at the Oxford Folk Festival. The band's high-energy, raucous style was an immediate hit, particularly with young audiences. They went on to record a total of five successful studio albums before disbanding in 2016, with Boden acting as frontman and principal arranger on all of them. Boden released his debut solo album, Painted Lady, in 2006. The ambitious post-apocalyptic song cycle Songs from the Floodplain followed in 2009; he toured the album with a newly formed band, the Remnant Kings. Boden was a vocal advocate of the social and democratic power of folk music, keen to ensure it remained in the hands of the people. In 2010 he created the A Folk Song a Day project, recording and releasing on its website one traditional song a day for a whole year, later compiling them into a series of 12 monthly albums. For Spiers & Boden's 2013 Backyard tour, they performed songs specific to each locale, taking suggestions from the audience. After the disbandment of Bellowhead, Boden began work on his third solo album, Afterglow, which was released in 2017. Like its predecessor, it had a post-apocalyptic concept, but unlike that pastoral album it had a rougher, more urban feel inspired by prog rock and world music. ~ John D. Buchanan

Chicago, IL
17 Mar 1977

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