Square Roots Productions

Established in 2015, Square Roots is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation based in the UK. The aim is to create landmark events and projects that recognise, promote and celebrate folk music heritage – the people, the places, the history – and in so doing create a legacy for future generations.

A free-to-access online archive will be created alongside region- and community-specific physical archives. The goal is to promote folk music across the generations and in so doing fortify existing communities while also building new communities and networks and supporting new musicians.

Square Roots will canvass and engage with the folk music community to identify and assess potential projects, which will then be costed and commissioned.

Many in the vanguard of the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s no longer perform or record; some important figures are scarcely remembered. The artists who played a key role in the folk revival and its development are now ageing and sadly passing on. The clock is ticking. Within only a few years a sizeable number of these pioneers will have departed the stage. Within the next 10 years there are benchmark folk music-related anniversaries dating back more than half a century.

Square Roots will celebrate these anniversaries while the artists are alive and still performing. For every well-known name within folk music, there’s a legion of forgotten and unknown artists. Square Roots will create a legacy for these people, thus linking the present to an unacknowledged past, and inspiring future players.

Trustees 2015
Meet on the ledge: Square Roots Productions’ trustees, together for the first time:
Liz Thomson with (from left) Bill Samuel, Dave Laing, Anthony Keates and Michael Brocken (Photo: Vivienne Wordley)

Trustees of Square Roots Productions

Liz Thomson, co-founder and Chair, is a London-based journalist, author and broadcaster. She has written widely for newspapers and magazines, including, The Times, the Independent, the Guardian and the Washington Post. For Mojo, she reported on the Joan Baez sessions for Ring Them Bells at the Bottom Line in Greenwich Village in 1995, and she has interviewed leading figures from the period, including Baez, Janis Ian, Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen.

As Elizabeth Thomson, she is the co-author (with David Gutman) of The Dylan Companion, and she was responsible for ‘the author’s cut’ of No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan by her friend and mentor Robert Shelton, the late New York Times critic who chronicled the Greenwich Village folk years and whose review of Bob Dylan at Gerde’s Folk City is credited with launching his career.

Anthony Keates, co-founder, is a marketing and business consultant working within the arts. He is unnaturally obsessed with British folk music and folklore and with vinyl LPs, of which he is an avid collector.

Dr Michael Brocken is Senior Lecturer in Popular Music Studies at Liverpool Hope University, where he is the director of the world’s first master’s degree in Beatles studies. He teaches courses in popular music studies and critical approaches to popular music. His many books include The British Folk Revival 1944-2002. He is a presenter of Folkscene on BBC Radio Merseyside and is well known as a singer-guitarist in his own right.

Dave Laing is a consultant, lecturer, author, editor, researcher and journalist with 40 years’ experience of the worlds of folk and popular music. His career began at Let It Rock in 1972 and his books include the three-volume Encyclopedia of Rock and The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music, both co-edited with Phil Hardy. The Electric Muse, co-written with Karl Dallas, Robin Denselow and Robert Shelton, was the first in-depth study of the folk revivals of Britain and America.

Bill Samuel has lived and worked in Copenhagen, Nairobi, Bahrain, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the UK as an entrepreneur in tourism development, an investment banker and a consultant in finance and development. He joined the board of his family’s company, Foyles Bookshop, in December 1999, where he helped plan and oversee a major renovation programme, which included the acquisition of Ray’s Jazz, one of the last specialist jazz shops in Central London. In 2013 he financed and co-produced the recording of Gentle Men, a song suite of one family’s experiences of World War One, featuring Robb Johnson, Roy Bailey and Barb Jungr.