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Union Jill

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"Last night in Sale Folk Club UNION JILL were the hottest ticket in town with Helen and Sharon taking us by complete surprise with their brilliant musicianship, wonderful songs and bubbly stage presence. Clive Gregson is right. They make a perfect team."
- Don Davies, Sale Folk Club


Right: Union Jill at Hardraw Gathering 2014 - singing My Grandfather's Ghost

Union Jill, the York-based duo of Sharon Jagger and Helen Turner, are singers, instrumentalists and songwriters showcasing a variety of strong songs in an upbeat style. Snappy and upbeat, their vocals are as tight as a drum and they have a blend of voices good enough to be siblings. They weave spellbinding effects with their rich harmonies.  Playing their own material, they’ve established an appealing stage presence and gathered an ever-growing fan base across the UK. Taking their inspiration from a wide range of styles, Union Jill bring their own energy and passion to the acoustic music scene. They mix traditional folk instrumentation (guitars, mandola, concertina) with an edgy contemporary feel and powerful vocal delivery. Sharon and Helen’s ability to tell a story through lyrics draws in audiences of all types. Their material embraces historical themes and contemporary issues; personal experiences and protest songs. They have an on-stage banter that you only get from two women sharing a stage.

"Stunning duo, great musicianship, harmonies and presentation, songs both thought-provoking and entertaining.They will deservedly be going a long way. See them now!" - Topic Folk Club

Union JillWith their album 'Respectable Rebellion', their star is on the rise. Review here. The album has been produced by Clive Gregson and features eminent musicians in support including Fairport's Dave Pegg.

“Sharon and Helen [have] established themselves as a duo to watch out for.  Accomplished writers and performers... there is something instinctive, symbiotic almost, in the way they blend as musicians.”  - Oz Hardwick, Rock n Reel

"It’s  always nice when you find a stunningly  good act....making lovely harmony-drenched acoustic music reminiscent of the Indigo Girls.” - Bob Fischer, BBC Radio


Video of Mad Alice - a song from the new album Respectable Rebellion performed 'Live on the Sofa'

High Praise from Nigel Schofield for the new CD 'Respectable Rebellion' In the Summer 2013 issue of Tykes News

"I am delighted to report that in every respect, this astounding record fails to disappoint. It is one of the best produced folk albums I have heard in years, drawing together a full and busy sound that never sounds cluttered and has appropriate variety to render each of the thirteen tracks a stand-out in its own right. It's a remarkable achievement."

" The quality of the songs - all originals - is also exceptional. One is reminded of the better recordings by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a benchmark which Union Jill regularly surpass. It's a faultless record: without exception every track rewards repeated listening both sonically and in the wit and depth of its songwriting."

"This year's Folk Award for Best Duo should be a cinch; my vote is already earmarked." - Nigel Schofield.

"Accomplished guitarists and articulate songwriters although the first attribute to win over audiences is the intuitive
harmony of their distinct yet complementary voices." - Rock 'n Reel

Helen Turner and Sharon Jagger have been performing together since 2006. After discovering a shared love of folk and acoustic music they soon realised their voices were meant to be together. Both bring distinctive songwriting styles to Union Jill and achieve some spellbinding effects with their voices and instruments (mandola, guitar and anglo concertina.)

Playing across the North of England they quickly gained a reputation for quality performances and well-crafted songs. Their onstage presence is natural, funny and personable and, whilst their material touches on the darker side of life at times, they enjoy a natural rapport with each other and with the audience leading to banter you only get from two women sharing a stage.

After two albums ‘ with York-based Soup Records, showcasing Helen and Sharon’s flair for melody and harmonies their third album is set to be a career changer. With Clive Gregson on side as producer and legendary sound engineer John Wood on the mixing desk. Musical collaborators include Ric Sanders (Fairport), Andy Seward (bass player with Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson etc.), Mark Boyce (percussionist with The Durbervilles), Kate St John and Clive Gregson himself.

Having appeared at York Folk Festival, Wychwood Festival, Beverley Folk Festival, Wold Top Festival, Greenbelt Festival and Stockton Riverside Festival as well as supporting some of their favourite musicians (Fairport Convention, Oysterband, Karine Polwart, Eliza Carthy, Po’ Girl, Martin Simpson to name a few) Union Jill are now deservedly establishing themselves as a long-standing and growing presence in the acoustic/folk world.

Union Jill black and white portrait









Union Jill at the Woodman Folk Club, May 2017

None of that worrying about what to say in a review with Union Jill ... Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner give you enough material for a whole season’s reviews!

Bryn quoted a previous review in introducing them as, “Favourite post-feminist harmony-singing folkies”. On stage, this was quickly corrected by Sharon and Helen in favour of, “Radical second wave women”. At this point we’re beginning to think this might be a bit different (perhaps with a hint of a feminist theme?). By the end of the evening the floor is covered with paper aeroplanes, bubbles have filled the air, and a clothes line is strung with paper figures containing notes about each audience member’s favourite body part! According to Union Jill, there are two types of audience – those that sit and listen, and those who will, “Do stuff”. They had correctly identified the Woodman audience as the latter! Oh, and they cut our resident heckler off at the knees with the comment, “You’re going to find this really difficult”, when inviting the audience to write the name of their favourite body part on one of the little paper figures. Well, he asked for it! He ALWAYS asks for it!

Union Jill don’t do covers. To quote them, “We can’t agree on them, so we do all our own material”. That statement gives an early insight into Union Jill’s performance. Their material is original, and in between songs, they disagree a lot! What it doesn’t tell you, is that their songs are beautifully crafted and precisely performed. We always think the sound check tells you a lot about how precise a performance is going to be. We enjoyed the sound check! Technically, they blend and harmonise perfectly.

The banter started with the introduction to their opening song, ‘Witch Hunt’. Cue banter about Helen resembling a witch. The banter is very Yorkshire – blunt and to the point. If you are the kind of folk club goer who thinks that the bonny black hare is a little bunny rabbit, then you could possibly be a little shocked at times. But then, what folkie doesn’t know the truth about the bonny black hare? Or, indeed, the issue of hair loss?

Sharon on guitar and mandola, and Helen on guitar and mandolin, have a variety and depth that makes the ‘live music’ experience very special indeed. Combined with a wide range of subject matter and inter-song banter, this makes an evening fly by. In no time they were finishing their set with (feminist anthem?) ‘Sisterhood’. Their well-deserved encore was the appropriately titled ‘Home Again’

Tech Spec

2 vocal mics
5 DI boxes (max)
2 instrument mics for concertina


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