One of the many highlights at the first Campfire Convention was meeting and hearing Manchester’s ‘broadside balladress’, Jennifer Reid. I had tantalisingly heard strains of her singing from the garden stage while I was on duty at the main stage and so had been unable to go over and listen but thankfully she was on hand to sing with Edward II during their triumphant set on the Saturday night. Edward II’s latest recorded work, Manchester's Improving Daily tells the tale of their home city, throwing light on the lives of its citizens and showing how Manchester grew out of the industrial revolution. It draws heavily on the Manchester Ballads. Several of these ballads are sung by Jennifer in their original form on the album, revealing not only the roots of the band’s music but how the ups and downs of city living were much the in the 19th century as they are now.
A long-time folk enthusiast, Jennifer has undertaken extensive research and enjoys performing, talking about ballads and leading workshops. Her repertoire covers themes such Lancashire dialect, Peterloo, mills, collieries, factories, canals and clogging. For someone so young, Jennifer has travelled far with her music - Croatia, Switzerland, Brussels and New York as well as more regular jaunts around the North West and to London. She has also been involved in some highly prestigious projects including performing in the main arena in Giardini for the opening days of the Venice Biennale. This summer she walked from Leeds to Liverpool along the canal towpath with fellow artist Simon Woolham. Other collaborators include The Hairy Bikers and folk queen, Eliza Carthy.
That Jennifer was more than happy to say ‘yes’ to an invitation to appear at the Wild Hare Club shows an openness and a generosity true to her own Lancastrian roots. And that was written by someone who’s beginnings were in God’s own country.