Seth Bernard Lakeman (born 26 March 1977) is an English folk singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, who is most often associated with the fiddle and tenor guitar, but also plays the viola and banjo. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, Lakeman has belonged to several musical ensembles, including one with his two brothers, fellow folk musicians Sam Lakeman and Sean Lakeman, but has most recently established himself as a solo act.
The Lakeman Brothers
Seth Lakeman grew up with his two brothers Sean and Sam Lakeman in the village of Buckland Monachorum in West Devon, England. He began playing music with his parents and two brothers at an early age.
As The Lakeman Brothers, the three brothers released their debut album Three Piece Suite in 1994. Later that same year they were invited by two Yorkshire based singers Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby to join them as a backing group on a tour of Portugal. After the tour the five musicians became a permanent group and called themselves Equation. The group were signed in a record deal with Time Warner in 1995. After three full albums (Return to Me in 1996, Hazy Daze in 1998, and The Lucky Few in 2000), and tours in the UK, Europe and the United States, Lakeman left Equation in 2001. He joined his brother Sam and Sam's wife Cara Dillon and appeared on Dillon's eponymous debut album, which featured Lakeman on fiddle, guitar and vocals. The album won two awards at the 2002 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
In 2002 Lakeman released his first solo album, The Punch Bowl, which received wide critical acclaim including a review in fRoots magazine which said: "The songs don't just glide smoothly by.....they get their claws into you".
Kitty Jay, Lakeman's second solo album was released in 2004. The title track of the album tells the story of Jay's Grave, a well known location on Dartmoor. The album was recorded for a cost of less than £300. That same year he collaborated with Devon singer-songwriter Steve Knightley and young local singer Jenna Witts on the album Western Approaches.
A UK tour in Autumn 2005 followed his Mercury Music Prize nomination, after which Lakeman and his band (regularly brother Sean (guitar), Ben Nichols (bass), Andy Tween(drums), toured extensively with folk-rock band The Levellers, who took to closing their set with a "fiddle off" between Lakeman and Levellers' fiddler Jonathan Sevink. Other support tours with Billy Bragg and Jools Holland brought Lakeman's music to a wider audience.
In March 2006 Lakeman began a UK tour in order to promote his new album Freedom Fields which was released on iScream. He signed to a new major record label, Relentless Records, promptly releasing a new single "Lady of the Sea" in early August 2006.
His fourth solo album, Poor Man's Heaven, was released on 30 June 2008 with an accompanying tour. It introduced a rockier edge to the folk of the previous albums. The fifth solo album, Hearts & Minds, was released on 19 July 2010. Lakeman released his sixth album called Tales From The Barrel House on 18 November 2011.
In 2007, Lakeman performed at the SXSW festival in Texas, Hyde Park Calling, in London, the Glastonbury Festival, The V Festival in South Staffordshire, Womad Charlton Park Festival in Wiltshire, England, the Folk by the Oak Festival, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, in Alberta, Canada, the Cornbury Music Festival, Fairport's Cropredy Convention, and the Towersey Village Festival (both in Oxfordshire). He also provided support for Tori Amos on her European tour.
On 18 April 2008, Lakeman appeared with Jethro Tull on their 40th anniversary tour at Colston Hall in Bristol before the start of his own UK tour later that month and going on to tour the festival circuit through the summer. His fourth album, Poor Man's Heaven was released on 30 June 2008. It includes "Solomon Browne", a tribute to the courage of the men who lost their lives in the Penlee lifeboat disaster. In August 2008, Lakeman played at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham, to over 18,000 people.
The festival tour continued in 2009 (with new drummer Simon Lea); with an appearance at the Bath Fringe Festival on 3 June, playing at the newly renovated Komedia venue. On 29 June they played the Glastonbury Festival's Avalon stage.
In July, he played on the acoustic stage at Chagstock 2009, and was invited back next year to the main stage. In August, he performed at Cambridge Folk Festival for the second year running and again at the Cropredy Festival, Fairport Convention's annual folk festival in Oxfordshire, headlining on the Friday night. The band also headlined at The Levellers' Beautiful Days festival on Friday 21 August and at the V Festival in Weston Park the following day. The band, now augmented by Benji Kirkpatrick, performed on the Shrewsbury Folk Festival main stage on 29 August and then at Solfest, in Cumbria, England on Sunday 30 August.
On 13 September 2009, Lakeman performed at the Harvest At Jimmy's Food & Music Festival at Jimmy's Farm, Suffolk. Lakeman has also been a regular performer at the small annual Parklife Festival in the town of Tavistock not far from his home village of Buckland Monachorum.
Lakeman played at Cornbury Festival at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire on Sunday 4 July, and as second headline on the main stage at Chagstock 2010 on Saturday 17 July. He also played at the 2010 Tall Ships Festival on 10 July in Hartlepool, and at the Cambridge Folk Festival, also in July.
He made a return local visit to the Levellers "Beautiful Days" festival on 21 August in Devon and played as support for Runrig on their German tour, some days later. He was also the main headline on Saturday 4 September at Weyfest in Farnham, Surrey.
Lakeman again played the Cornbury Festival, closing the festival on Sunday night. He also played the boutique Sark Folk Festival in July and played a sell-out performance at Gloucester Cathedral on 1 October.
In July 2005 Lakeman was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for his album Kitty Jay.
On 5 February 2007 Lakeman won Singer of the Year and Best Album awards at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Lakeman's primary musical instruments are the violin, the tenor guitar, the banjo and the viola.
Lakeman was married in 2012 to his longterm fiancee, Hannah Edwards, at Withiel, near Wadebridge in Cornwall. During the church service, Edwards' 90-year-old grandfather, who is a Cornish bard, read a blessing in Cornish. The wedding was described by Seth's father, Geoff Lakeman, as a "mini-festival". Among the wedding guests who also made performance contributions were Cara Dillon, Steve Potter, Steve Knightley, Cormac Byrne, Patsy Reid and Mad Dog Mcrea