Prolific songwriter Newton Faulkner is looking forward to Countryfile Live’s Summer Party this weekend, but not just to indulge his love of playing for an audience.

“One of the main reasons I’m excited about it is because my son is going to be able to watch the whole thing,” he says.

“He’s seven and can’t stay up that late so when I’m on a headline tour he’s got no chance of being awake when I play as it’s two-and-a-half hours after his bedtime.”

For fans of his percussive one-man shows, the event at Blenheim Palace, alongside country pop act The Shires and London duo Ferris and Sylvester will be a rare chance to see Newton live in the UK as he’s largely been in the studio working on a “top secret project which I really can’t tell you about”.

Looking back at his career, which includes six full-length albums, writing film soundtracks and even appearing in a musical, it’s probably not worth guessing what that top-secret mission might be.

It’s an indication however that the man whose voice, strumming and finger drumming brought him hits like Dream Catch Me and I Need Something back in 2007 is yet to start looking for an easy life.

“My energy is self-perpetuating. I do this job because I love it and it’s just what I do, I can’t do anything else so I don’t even think about it.

“I’ve had some really great opportunities alongside making my own music like writing five songs for a film Soundtrack (2018’s Terminal) which was fascinating because it has a completely different set of rules. Writing for a film I had to sound as little like myself as possible in every way; musically and vocally. I wrote some really weird stuff.”

Plenty has changed since Faulkner’s debut album Handbuilt by Robots went Platinum (twice) in the UK.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were all in their early days and Myspace was king. Fast forward to today, and Faulkner admits juggling social media with songwriting can be a challenge.

“You have to maintain a presence at all times.

“There was a time when you could just release little snippets of news or footage not document every day that you’re in the studio like you do now.

“Sometimes I can’t work out what my job requirement is.

“If I tweet and Instagram every second of my life, will that make people happy or will they get completely sick of me?

“I think the key is to make it fun and not take it too seriously. If you enjoy making the content and people get pleasure out of it then you’re on the right track.”

One thing that hasn’t changed since the early days is Newton’s love of playing live, something which will be on show at the palace this weekend.

“I love it,” he says. “It’s the one bit of my job I’ve never had to really question.

“Playing live is very simple in a way, you go out and make sure people have a good time and that’s it.

“My favourite gigs are the ones that are quite hard, the ones where there’s a section of the crowd off round the corner at the bar who can’t see you when they get a drink – it’s your job to bring everyone in. You want to make people want to not miss a second.”

The grand surroundings of Blenheim will seem very civilised compared to some venues Faulkner has played – including a gig earlier this summer on the border between North and South Korea – but as a one-man show he’s used to adapting to his surroundings.

“My set up is very versatile,” he says. “I remember doing two gigs on the same day. The first was in a church where you could hear a pin drop, and the second was a fresher’s fair when I was on at two in the morning.

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“I took the same equipment to both. Because it’s just me there are no conversations to be had. I don’t need to tell a drummer to ease off on a certain track, it’s just my feet and hands doing it.”

Don’t expect him to be winding down anytime soon either.

“Oh I’m not stopping. Ever. You’ll have to prise the guitar from my cold, dead hands.”

Rural soul from Ferris & Sylvester:

This year feels like a big one for Ferris & Sylvester, and nobody could deny they’ve earned their chance.

It began with the release of their Made in Streatham EP and has taken the duo along a road that includes rave live reviews to appearing at British Summer Time in Hyde Park and then a return to Blenheim Palace for this weekend’s Countryfile Live Summer Party.

This folk/blues pairing of Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester have done things the hard way, recording songs in their own kitchen and promoting and laying on their own gigs in the hectic, crowded live circuit in the capital.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the hurdle of their own internal wrangling over songwriting. Issy’s folk voice merges well with Archie’s bluesy guitar playing but behind the catchy songs are often battles, as Issy explains.

“As a duo we argue a lot over creative differences but I actually see that as being a really good thing. “We come at the writing from polar opposite angles but in other ways we have a lot of the same influences and love a lot of the same music so it’s a happy medium of a lot of fighting for what you want in the song but knowing we both really value the same things in songwriting. We always get there in the end.”

A bit of internal strife is no bad thing. Plenty of bands – take Pink Floyd as just one example – made great music while often being at each others’ throats.

“That’s true,” admits Archie. “But the problem is we have to live with each other and travel as well. We can’t afford to have separate dressing rooms just yet – so we can’t fall out that much.

“We do like each other very much by the way.”

Issy and Archie were gigging at the same venue –the Spiritual Club in Camden – when their paths crossed. She’d bought one of his CDs, he’d been asked to be a ‘wingman’ for a friend who had taken a shine to her.

More importantly, once they got talking it became clear that having been pursuing careers as solo artists, joining forces made perfect sense.

The result is a captivating blend of Issy’s rich voice and honest lyrics with Archie’s guitar and vocals which, thanks to tracks like Berlin and Sometimes, have been reaching an increasingly wider audience.

It feels like a good time to be singer/songwriters. When Ed Sheeran, unruly hair and glasses and all, can take to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on his own and hold the crowd in the palm of his hand, clearly there’s a market for musicians with good songs who are prepared to put in the hard graft.

“It’s encouraging to see someone like Ed Sheeran have success,” says Archie. “Whether you are a massive fan of his music or not, his story is inspiring. He’s unconventional but he worked as hard as he could. It gives you hope that there is an appreciation for people who can play great live shows and who put the effort in.

“I don’t know if we can realistically aim for Ed Sheeran’s level but it would be nice to get somewhere nearby I suppose.”

Izzy adds: “It is a great time for live music right now but I think that has something to do with the online presence. If you look on Spotify the biggest playlists are the acoustic ones and singer/songwriter lists so I think people really do appreciate that.”

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This weekend at the BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party the pair will share the same stage as The Shires and Newton Faulkner, at a venue they have very fond memories of.

Archie said: “We can’t wait for Countryfile Live, we’re so excited. We were very fortunate to be able to play Blenheim Palace before, supporting Gary Barlow so we know what a special venue it is.

“It’s the most magical place and we cannot wait to get out there again. It’s a great line up which we’re excited to be part of.

“There is a magic in playing live,” adds Issy.

“There is something special about sharing your music with other people. Being in tune with an audience is amazing because that’s something you can’t fake.”

  •  Countryfile Live takes place at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, from today to Sunday. Go to