BRUCE COCKBURN – Small Source of Comfort

Bruce Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns – often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.

“My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,’” laughs Cockburn. “I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.”

Released in April 2011, Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery. Winning this year’s Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album, and his 12th Juno Award to date, the album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.

Bruce Cockburn’s songs, along with his humanitarian work, have brought him a long list of honours, including an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.

Never content to rest on his laurels, Cockburn keeps looking ahead. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next”, he once said. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stopped working till they dropped, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.” Small Source of Comfort, a reflection of Cockburn’s ever-expanding world of wonders, is the latest step in his creative evolution.

With a career spanning more than four decades, producing an acclaimed body of work that has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, Bruce Cockburn continues to be revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.

Small Source of Comfort is Cockburn’s first studio album since 2006 – a rhythmic and highly evocative collection of 14 new tracks inspired by his renowned unusual and diverse muse – recent trips to Afghanistan and ponderings on the re-incarnation of Richard Nixon, to road trips and unreturned phone calls. The album boasts some of the best musicians recording today, including violinist Jenny Scheinman, former Wailin’ Jenny Annabelle Chvostek, and long time collaborators Gary Craig, Jon Dymond and producer Colin Linden.

As both a songwriter and a guitarist, Bruce Cockburn is considered among the world’s best. The New York Times called him a “virtuoso on guitar”, while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell and Django Reinhardt.

Cockburn’s songs have been covered by such diverse and talented artists as Elbow, Jimmy Buffett, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Chet Atkins, K.D. Lang, Barenaked Ladies, and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist web link: www.brucecockburn.com

Mary Black, The Night Is On Our Side (3ú Records/Blix Street)

The Night Is On Our Side is the latest single to be released from Mary’s recent album, Stories From The Steeples– her first studio recording in six years. In a career spanning over twenty-five years, Mary’s success has been attributable to her discerning taste when it comes to choosing material, and not least her ability to get under the skin of a song and tease out its innermost sentiments; Stories From The Steeples offers reaffirmation that this artistry shows no sign of diminishing.

Ever willing to support burgeoning, Irish song writing talent, this latest single comes from the pen of the young Dublin songwriter, Danny O’Reilly. It’s a carefree, pop-tinged number, with lyrics that tend to lean on the brighter side of life. Lead by a breezy arrangement of guitars and piano, the song is underpinned by a string section that adds warmth and class.

And then there’s Mary’s voice- a precision instrument of beauty that the passing years only seem have furnished with yet more grace and compassion. Mike Wilson

Mary’s record company, have given, folking.com exclusive permission, to stream the latest single as part of this feature below… Click on the play button to listen to the track!

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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HIDDEN PEOPLE – Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman

“HIDDEN PEOPLE” is an apt title for this long-anticipated debut CD from husband-and-wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman.  They have been lynchpins of the UK’s burgeoning folk-acoustic revival over the last two decades – but a case, perhaps, of always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Now, at last, it’s their turn to burst out from the shadows of their siblings and former musical partners to make a big noise in their own right.  This bold and superbly – crafted album includes eight self-penned songs, one traditional arrangement and a poignant cover version.    With Kathryn’s sublime voice and effortless delivery, Sean’s masterly guitar arrangements and the sonic quality of the production this CD, this is one the most eagerly awaited modern folk albums of the year.

The esteem in which they are held is reflected in the list of artists who queued up to make a contribution: Sean’s famous brother Seth Lakeman; the award-winning Irish singer Cara Dillon (who is married to another brother, musician and producer Sam Lakeman); Levellers’ lead singer Mark Chadwick; veteran folk troubadour Dave Burland, singer-songwriter Jim Moray, Megson’s Stu Hanna, Caroline Herring from the USA and Greta Bondesson from Sweden’s sister trio Baskery.

Steeped in the English tradition, Yorkshire-born Kathryn, 37, was a teenage sensation in a duo with Kate Rusby. They made the Folk Album of the Year in 1995, “Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts”, and Kathryn also won the first-ever BBC Young Folk Award as a solo singer.

They both teamed up with the three Lakeman brothers to form the folk -pop “supergroup”, Equation, which was signed to Warner Music’s cool ‘Blanco Y Negro’ label.  Rusby and Seth then left to begin successful solo careers.

Equation, with Kathryn and Sean at the head, spent more than five years touring in the USA and performed at top venues from New York to Los Angeles. They played the legendary Newport Folk Festival, the Golden Gate Festival inSan Francisco, the Strawberry Festival in California’s Yosemite National Park, the Rock ‘N’ Roll hall of fame in Cleveland and concerts from Arizona to Seattle, Chicago to Denver, Boston to El Paso.

“We must have seen more of America than most Americans” says Sean.” An incredible experience and a unique musical education.”

Meanwhile, Seth Lakeman wrote his seminal “Kitty Jay” album, which led to a Mercury Music Prize nomination – and a musical roller coaster ride. Sean was at his elbow, playing guitar as Seth achieved international fame with subsequent albums. Gold and silver albums sit on Sean’s walls, as producer of Seth’s groundbreaking CD’s, one of which (Poor Man’s Heaven) became the rarest of things, a folk album in the Top Ten.

Like Kathryn, Sean’s musical pedigree is formidable. After emerging on the English folk scene as one of ‘The Lakeman Brothers’ he studied jazz and contemporary music at Leeds College of Music. But he learned more by staying at the Yorkshire home of family friend and guitar maestro, Chris Newman, and touring the UK’s folk clubs with veteran folk fiddler Tom McConville.

Kathryn and Sean have had a low profile as a duo over the last eight years. As Sean toured the world with Seth’s band, Kathryn has been busy at their hideaway Dartmoor home raising twin girls, Poppy and Lily, who are now nearly five.  Now, finally, they have found breathing space to produce “Hidden People” for the Navigator label and will be heard performing live throughout the summer and autumn at festivals and gigs.

Kathryn’s vocals – lush, sultry and faultless – are the signature of the album. She has an extraordinary range, from husky to soaring. She also provides all the piano, keyboards, flute and woodwind. Sean contributes six-string guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, bouzouki and of all things “wooden ruler bass.”

The sonic quality of this CD is testimony to Sean’s impressive production and recording skills and demonstrates why other folk artists and bands like the Levellers have beaten a path to his door to employ his services as a producer.

The tracks on “Hidden People” range from Kathryn’s haunting lead vocals, to rousing a cappella harmony, mellow and heart-rending piano ballads, foot-tapping rockabilly beats, tunes with a world-music tinge and full-on folk-rock. Yet the core of the album is good old-fashioned story-telling.

“These are stories, first and foremost,” says Kathryn, but she warns, “My home-life is so ‘roses round the cottage door’, that I tend to prefer music with an edginess, so some of the tracks on the album are quite dark and brooding, to say the least.” The messages and meanings behind these songs belong to the “Hidden People.”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Latest festival and tour dates: http://www.kathrynrobertsandseanlakeman.com/gigs/

Rusty Shackle – WASH AWAY THESE NIGHTS

Rusty Shackle WASH AWAY THESE NIGHTSRusty Shackle formed in early 2010 and their infectious pulse, style and musical genre, whilst potently contemporary, is difficult to pigeon hole and has been described by Plugged In magazine as the “Bombay Badboy of Folk” a reference to the hottest Pot Noodle on the market (folkmaster – What’s your favourite Pot Noddle? was actually one of our interview questions back in 2000!)  .  This said, elements of folk, rock, bluegrass, Celtic rhythms and Delta blues are clearly discernible. Either way, feet tap to whatever the specific nuance.

Stunning, high-energy live performances and boundless enthusiasm make sure you’ll leave exhausted, with their tunes swimming around your head for days after. They are well on the way to ensuring they are everywhere this coming summer.

“…the perfectly named, violin-toting Welsh quintet Rusty Shackle created a proper hootenanny hoedown” The Independent

Rusty Shackle’s debut album WASH AWAY THESE NIGHTS has now hit the streets and has already reached number 22 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart, the singles reaching as high as number 2 after its digital release. As Neil King from Fatea Showcases said, “Genre prostitution is a major feature of “Wash Away These Nights”, rock, pop, gospel, blues, rockabilly, skiffle, are all thrown into the melting pot to produce an album that celebrates the art of having a good time.”

The album thrives on musical diversity, whilst maintaining a cohesive sound to keep it all together. Inspired by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Seth Lakeman, Johnny Cash and traditional Celtic and bluegrass music the twelve original tracks on WASH AWAY THESE NIGHT are a joy to listen to, or indeed dance to. From the album opener 3AM, described as an ode to insomnia, to the final track Sunrise the listener will hear that all tracks are killer cuts, no fillers here.

Other standout tracks on the album include Cold Hearted Town, one of the first tracks the band ever composed, deals with being stuck in a sleepy town with nothing to do and nowhere to go, an anthem for the 21st century.  Factory is about working in a soul destroying workplace but on the other side of the coin Beating Heart of a Kingdom is a positive song about the choices we make in our lives and how it’s never too late to change. When it comes to the songwriting most of the lyrics were composed by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Liam Collins and guitarist James McKeon, the music was composed by the band as a whole who comprise Scott McKeon (fiddle, banjo and vocals), Baz Barwick (bass, mandola, vocals),Owen Emmanuel (drums and percussion) along with the above mentioned Liam and James.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Mike Donaghy releases I Wish You Well

Mike Donaghy has been making a name for himself in Ireland and the UK ever since releasing his first EP “January Never Came This Year” back in 2009. The blend of his music and songwriting creates a very unique sound, occasionally being linked to folk, Americana and bluegrass.

Mike grew up listening to the sounds of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, The Beatles and Van Morrison. He was fortunate to be part of a musical family, and reside in a home that was never short of instruments; his father working as a TV producer and director, and more importantly, on music shows!

He remembers vividly sitting round the fire joining in and learning songs with such legends as the Clancy Brothers, June Tabor, Ralph McTell, Kieran Goss, Sonny Curtis and long time friends the Sands Family.

Mike left school with a passion for music, a handful of songs and a vision which would send him into the music business. It’s what he wanted to do and he did. ‘His writing has a great sense of place and it paints a very clear picture. His stories are steeped in emotion, honesty and humour’ (Tommy Sands).

His on stage instrumentation stems from his passion for music and his eagerness to learn all types of music. At present, Mike plays guitar, piano, mandolin, lap steel, pedal steel, banjo, ukulele and saxophone. He has been a professional musician for five years and spends most of his spare time writing songs.

Since beginning his musical career he has gained many credits, including a top ten in the folk download chart in New Jersey in 2010 and numerous appearances in the Irish download chart, as well as writing music for film and TV.

In 2011 his song ‘Brighter Days’ was used as a United Nations peace song and from there Mike and the band went on to perform at the World Peace Concert in Dublin during December of that year. Later this year they will play at another World Peace concert to be held in Rome.

2012 will be a busy year for Mike, with an Irish tour in preparation followed by a full European schedule.

Mike currently performs the length and breadth of Ireland, as well as the UK and Europe, primarily with his band ‘Mike Donaghy & Border Crossing’. His debut Album entitled ‘I Wish You Well’ was released in Ireland in September 2011 and created a great buzz amongst radio stations, record and publishing companies. For the first time it is now available outside Ireland and available to order from Amazon link below. Mike is donating his earnings from the album to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.

Musicians:

Mike Donaghy: Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin/Piano/Drums Jody Headley: Backing Vocals Brian McClean: Backing Vocals/WhistlesRichard Hodgen: Drums/Percussion Nick Scott: Bass Guitar/Drums/Percussion Rik Gay: Drums/Percussion Ivan McLernon: Dobro/Pedal Steel.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums – A Poetic look back

Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewSitting in a high place, the darkness of night passes slowly to a dawn of eager glow. Beneath lie the souls of the loved and the lost. It’s a time of reflection and remembrance; the energy is so strong here that you feel it could ignite the spark to fuel the light of the dawning day.

Moonchild was born out of Tommy’s love, a musical journey through the inner struggle of the joy and celebration of life and the darker places where no exits lead to the reasons why. Moonchild is an uplifting and moving experience that will heal the darkest of hearts.

Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewFrom this high place you view the gathering armies on the plain below, each with its banner and cause. The air is still and the faces of past and present people’s flash before your eyes. Possessed with the knowledge of all that has passed before, you stare in disbelief. As two worlds collide you shout “I am wide awake, I’m not sleeping”. For a moment time stands still, and the ground Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewbeneath you groans “If you believe in peace it will heal the deepest of wounds”. You turn to leave this place to make the steep descent into the valley below with a single thought in your mind ” I have never lost my faith in you”. When you reach the valley below you are met with a single reflection – a Portrait of yourself.

The Folkmaster, Folking.com, 12th March 2000

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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