O'Hooley and Tidow have breathed new life into folk music. They are respected by their peers, and even received a personal invite from the legendary Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury.
Five star reviews and features in the national press have followed, making the duo hot property. Regular sessions on the BBC have helped to boost their popularity and confirmed their credibility, while they have received airplay from Mark Radcliffe and a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nomination for Best Duo.
There are no gimmicks here; it's all about the songs for the talented twosome. Relying mainly on vocals and piano, they showcase their musicianship in a time-honoured traditional manner. And they are not doing too badly on it: respected muso mag Mojo described them as 'one of British folk's mightiest combinations.'
When asked about their favourite accolade, so far, they respond..."We received a heart-warming letter from Maxine Peake letting us know how much she loved our song about Beryl Burton."
O'Hooley and Tidow boast the quality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated vocal harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle. They have songs that fit the folk story-telling tradition.
These songs inform and highlight some of our unsung heroes and heroines, such as Beryl Burton, the champion cyclist from Leeds, Daisy Daking who taught Morris Dancing to wounded and shell shocked soldiers in the 1st World War, and Ann Lister, the entrepreneurial landowner and diary writer of Shibden Hall in Halifax.
Alongside these are impassioned tunes alive with the fizz of activism. The lyrics often focus on injustice; "We're inspired by so many things including people's stories, wildlife and the environment, the vulnerability of humans and animals, right through to the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church" they explain.
The diversity of their work means that a host of like-minded musicians are keen to collaborate. I asked which other creatives they would like to work with..."People who inspire us very much are Maxine Peake, the electronica musician Anna Meredith, the artist and illustrator Jackie Morris, the poet Mary Oliver and loads more" they respond
"What is great about the music scene is that collaboration is very much celebrated" they add "Currently we are involved in a feminist collective of folk musicians called Coven with Lady Maisery and protest singer Grace Petrie which is very exciting and enjoyable."
O'Hooley and Tidow have a busy year in front of them with gigs, releases and new ventures to mark an important career landmark, as they confirm..."A reissue of our Summat's Brewin' album, a refugee and migrant project called The Passerine, a solo piano album and a new album to celebrate our ten year anniversary as a duo..."
Catch O'Hooley and Tidow at a great local venue on March 17th...
O'Hooley and Tidow
Saturday March 17th 7:30pm
Eccles Town Hall M30 0LH
Tickets £13.14 advance – click here to book
£15 on the door
For further details see the O'Hooley and Tidow website – click here
Words by Ian Leslie