THERE will be no playing second fiddle at this year's Homegrown Folk Festival.

The annual event once again welcomes a mixture of top folk talent including headliners The Unthanks, Seth Lakeman and Eliza Cathy and The Wayward Band.

Other artists include Oysters3, The Emily Portman Trio and False Lights, Habadekuk, Rannok and Basco, and Gren Bartley.

The self-taught songwriter and musician has released three albums in as many years and will be making his debut in Bury Met with a string section, three part harmonies and driving percussion.

Gren said: "I have played at the Met once before in 2007, supporting Uncle Earl. It is still today one of the best gigs I have ever played. It was just one of those special nights where I got to meet some great people and played at a great arts centre. I can't wait to return."

Gren admits he was late to the party writing music.

He said: "I didn't know anything about music until I was about 16 and I have never had a music lesson — I'm completely self taught. I listened to pop music when I was growing up and liked bands like Queen, REM and Simon and Garfunkel.

"I remember getting my first Bob Dylan record around the time I started playing guitar. He changed my life, as did Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Then I was given a Kelly Joe Phelps record and that was a great influence to the way I'm sounding now.

"I started playing guitar at 17 and I didn't start writing songs until I was in my early 20s, probably about 22. So I guess you could say I was quite a late bloomer."

His first taste of playing his music live was while he was studying physics at Loughborough university.

He said: "I started doing some small gigs at a local bar who gave me a half hour slot. All my friends came to watch and I was paid £100. That was an astronomical amount of money.

"I dropped out of uni and moved to Clitheroe and started gigging while working temp jobs at an outdoor shop and a call centre.

"I started playing with Tom Kitching (fiddle player) and released an EP in 2006 called 'Eg' — and scored a deal with Fellside Records, who I have been with ever since."

For his latest album Magnificent Creatures he teamed up with producer Gavin Monaghan — who has worked with the likes of Robert Plant, Ryan Adams, Nizlopi and Paolo Nutini.

Gren said: "I'm really pleased with the album, but admit it was all consuming when we were recording it. The band came in with some beautiful arrangements — I'm so lucky to be with such fantastic musicians.

"After it was recorded I went back to the studio to mix with Gavin — we did it in just three sessions."

The Homegrown Folk Festival takes place from October 15 to 17 and is held in a number of venues in Bury town centre, from intimate venues such as the Studio at The Met to large atmospheric venues like the Castle Armoury Drill Hall.

Homegrown runs in partnership with the English Folk Expo and the Met, bringing more than 100 music industry delegates to Bury to witness the high quality of folk music England has to offer.

Tickets for Homegrown are available now. For more information or to purchase tickets phone The Met's box office on 0161 761 2216 or visit