all about Joe...

Joe was born in Macclesfield, England on May 28th 1976, his Dad was a guitar player and his Mother an artist.

At the age of four Joe took up the drums to accompany his older brother Ben who at the ripe old age of 9 was singing the blues and playing a mean guitar. This was the beginnings of a duo that is still ongoing 30 years later.

The violin captured Joe's imagination in 1981 and he took an interest in folk, classical, blues and jazz music from the word go. His first performances were with Ben around the age of nine and he quickly went through the classical exams, gaining one of the highest ever marks in his grade 8. Joe also took up the mandolin, guitar and piano before reaching his 10th birthday.

Joe was obsessed with learning things when he was young and spent 6 years working with circus artists. He played the violin on a unicycle, juggled with fire, was a magicians apprentice and much more besides. This lead the BBC to make a short film about Joe and his diverse talents when he was 13 years old. After touring up and down the country either doing street theatre or in big tops Joe decided to focus on music but not before a small juggling role in the Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman film "Robin Hood".

Alongside the music and being in the circus Joe was a keen young poet, winning awards for his poetry and being published in two books. Bringing his poetry and composition together in 1999 Joe wrote his own book simply called "a collection of fiddle pieces".

Ben and Joe played many great venues including the Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Fylde Folk Festival by the time Joe was 14. They joined forces with folk scene favourite Keith Hancock in 1993 to form "Famous Last Words" who toured Europe extensively over the following few years. Although this band never recorded, Ben and Joe have to date made three duo albums: "the continuing adventures of..." (1996) "me and my brother" (1999) and "The Mortgage Years" (2006).
In 1994 Joe went to Birmingham Conservatoire to study composition which he did under the great John Mayer. As a virtuoso violin player himself and the inventor of Indo Jazz Fusion in the '60s this was an incredibly fortunate meeting for Joe. Joe was awarded the composition prize in 1996 and later an honary membership of the Conservatoire which carries the designation HonBC.

Professor Andrew Downes invited Joe to lead the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble in 1998 which he has built into a 50 piece touring band. Many successful musicians have passed through the ensemble and it continues to amaze audiences up and down the UK on its annual spring tour. They released an album aptly titled "Sardines" in 2008 which features over 80 musicians.

Ashley Hutchings, founder member of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span invited Joe to join the legendary Albion Band in 1997 which he then played in until 2003. They released four studio albums and one live album in this time as well as touring the world.
In 1999 Joe formed a new duo with awesome guitar player Kevin Dempsey. They have been gigging around Europe and America ever since and have released two albums together: "Every Other World" (2000) and "Freehand" (2004) with a third album due for release in 2013.

In 03/04 Joe composed, performed and recorded the music for two short films called "Ice Cream Dream" and "Shredded" for Endboard Productions.

Joe's first solo album "Sound Engine" was released in 2002. This came as something of a stylistic shock to his Albion Band fans although those who knew him better wouldn't have expected anything less. On the album Joe plays most of the instruments himself with notable contributions from Neil Yates, Fred T Baker, Ken Nicol, Jo Hamilton and Neil Marshall. It includes original compositions that span Folk, Rock, Jazz, Latin, Choral and some adventures into drum loops and effects with folk melodies that a few years later would become more common place on the folk scene.

The Joe Broughton Fiddle School has been running since 2006 and has included guest appearances from Dave Swarbrick and Roger Wilson amongst others. Joe also runs a fiddle and guitar course with Kevin Dempsey once a year in France: Joe has taught composition, jazz violin and folk fiddle at Birmingham Conservatoire as well as running a folk ensemble there and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. His legendary enthusiasm and inspirational teaching is much in demand and he has taught many of the young stars of the present folk scene including Sam Sweeney, Jim Moray, Ruth Angell, Damien O'Kane, Katriona Gilmore, The Old Dance School, Jack McNeil and Charlie Heys amongst others.

When time allows Joe produces albums for other people, bringing his own musicality and arranging skills to a wide range of projects which in the past have included "Rosella Red" - Chris While, "Circle" - Uiscedwr, "Thinkers and Fools" - Darren Black and "Based on a True Story" - The Old Dance School, to name a few. The Chris While album lead to Joe touring with Chris as part of her band and also as a duo.

Joe played with the all star fiddle band Feast of Fiddles for several years and put in a guest appearance with Bellowhead at the BBC Proms in the Park playing the whole set for the first time with no rehearsal and from memory in front of 40,000 people!

In 2008 Joe set about forming his own band - The Urban Folk Quartet. They toured Europe in their first summer together and released their debut album on Fellside Records in May 2010.

To date Joe has played as a session musician on around 100 albums and taken his legendary showmanship around the world, performing everywhere from Hong Kong to Chicago, London to Lithuania. He is currently touring with the UFQ, Kevin Dempsey and of course the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble.

Over the last two decades, Joe's mission to make music accessible to the widest possible range of people through workshops and large scale projects has continued.

In 2012 Joe wrote Birmingham's song for the Olympic torch relay and included hundreds of young people, choirs and percussionists in a joyful celebration of light and hope that was performed across the city.

Later that year Joe composed and directed a piece for the young people of Bradford and surrounding areas. The piece was performed by 800 children at The Royal Albert Hall. This was a unique piece that included musicians of all abilities, from all different backgrounds, taking in different musical genres and dance. The piece was learned by ear, by all 800 participants and the theme was (as they sang in unison in the 3rd movement) "we will be here for a long, long time if we learn to live together".

Following on from this success Joe was commissioned to write a piece for all the young people of Cornwall which was performed in 2013, again at The Royal Albert Hall. This was a spectacular celebration of the region and involved 650 musicians.

The next major project was to write a new finale for the Music For Youth Proms (At RAH) which drew on themes from Land of Hope and Glory but accentuated the strength of working together rather than taking over other nations. 

Joe continues to work on large scale projects, usually with hundreds and sometimes thousands of young people each year, at the same time as giving lectures and speeches to music teachers and recording and performing his own music all over the world.

"A Massive Individual Talent"
Ashley Hutchings MBE

"...a great, gifted player"
Dave Swarbrick

"...a thoughtful, wonderfully inventive and sought-after player whose drive and musicianship galvanises any line-up with whom he plays"
Martin Carthy MBE