Dreadzone release new album

Dreadzone

Entering an impressive third decade, Dreadzone, one of the most energetic, exciting and powerful live bands to emerge from the post-rave scene, release a brand new album Dread Times on February 17th 2017.

Dread Times is the band’s eighth studio album and the third release on their own Dubwiser label. Their old skool dread sound comes bubbling to the surface on this album and it digs deeper into their dub and reggae roots whilst still keeping the beats fresh and the textures electronic. Conscious lyrics, social ills, matters of the heart and mind merge with 21st century dubwise flavours. The album is an eclectic rolling journey that recalls elements from an illustrious 23 year history while always looking ahead to the next phase.

Alongside core members Greg Dread, who produced this 12 track album, Leo Williams, Chris Compton, reggae vocalist Earl 16 and MC Spee, Dread Times introduces younger blood into the mix with newest member Bazil bringing an edge to the sonic process and Greg’s son Marlon expanding the musical range further. Don Letts also returns with lyrical contributions, as does Lena Cullen on vocals for one track, with 90s ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One guesting on another.

Recorded again at Mick Jones’ Bunker Studio, arranged at Dread Central and mixed by fellow founder Tim Bran, this is classic West London Zone with an updated edge. Dread music for an unpredictable world, these are Dread Times.

Pioneered by former members of Big Audio Dynamite (and, by inheritance, carrying forward the heart and soul of The Clash) Dreadzone’s two decade plus career has been championed by the late John Peel, signed to the legendary Creation Records and Virgin before finally securing their independence by founding their own aforementioned Dubwiser record label.

Since their inception in 1993 Dreadzone have steadily been releasing underground storms of albums, progressively bettering, refining and perfecting their own unique and inimitable take on dub – mixed as it is with aspects of dance, sublime guitar riffs, folk roots sentiments and breakbeat bass styles – whilst bringing the party to every club, dancehall and field they’ve shown up at. Always blowing audiences away and steadily earning for themselves the best possible reputation as a live act in the process.

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.

Artists’ website: http://www.dreadzone.com/

‘Mountain’ – the current single:

CARREG LAFAR – Aur (Sain SCD2754)

AurCarreg Lafar are a five-piece band from Wales and Aur is their fourth album in a career that has spanned 20 years.  From the front cover picture, with its carefully arranged Victoriana it’s clear that this is going to be an album of traditional music and a glance at the track list confirms it will be in Welsh. That gave me two options; I could try to translate, or accept the language as part of the sound.  I went for the latter and discovered an album of great charm and delightful music, although the bi-lingual sleeve notes give some useful pointers.

The album opens with ‘Aderyn Bach’ or ‘Little Bird’ is is very up tempo.  The song is brought to life by the stylish singing of Linda Owen Jones and also demonstrates the wide range of instruments the band have at their disposal.  This song, I am certain, also introduced me to a new instrument; the pidgorn or horn pipe.  It has an ethereal quality, not quite a Northumberland pipe, but far more ancient sound.

Following that comes a love song ‘Cariad Aur’, which is absolutely beautiful mainly because the musicians blend together so well.  Here the flute, fiddle and voices weave through each other solidly supported by Danny KilBride’s guitar.

Each of the songs has been carefully selected and placed within the album to give a range of style and tempo that keeps everything fresh.  For example the lively ‘Tom, Dic A Chwrw’ is followed by the lullaby ‘Baban Bach’ before the album ends on another love song ‘Titrwm Tatrwm’.

Welsh traditional music has never had the exposure of its Gaelic cousins and yet this album shows it is a vibrant genre in its own right, which deserves to more widely heard and appreciated.  Carreg Lafar, along with other bands such as Allan Yn Y fan, are certainly providing us with an opportunity to listen and we would be missing out if we didn’t take up their invitation.

The album is available from the band’s website, or from various sources as both CD and download.

Tony Birch

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.

Artists’ website: http://www.carreglafar.co.uk

Carreg Lafar live (Caution: bagpipes):

THE HUT PEOPLE – Routes (Fellside FECD280)

RoutesThe Hut People are an English instrumental duo, Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond. Routes is their fourth studio album on the Fellside label. Both are experienced musicians with and the list of artists they have worked with would grace any music festival – it includes Kathryn Tickell, The Dubliners, Sharon Shannon, Jez Lowe, The Beautiful South and Nina Simone. Sam Pirt is an accordionist who brings melodies from across the globe and Gary Hammond a percussionist with an equally eclectic variety of instruments and rhythms. Together they form a duo which has been exciting audiences since their first album was released in January 2010. Swaledale Festival have described them as “The only band to have been asked back eight times consecutively – because they’re so good!”

The Hut People’s inspiration is a diverse as their music. Routes opens with ‘Humours of Tulla’, a reel they found in Belgium and is followed by ‘Gumboot’ with its inspiration from mine workers in Apartheid South Africa. ‘The Whitby Drip’ is inspired by the toilet cistern at Whitby Pavilion, the drip recorded so it could later be used as the rhythm to build a tune around. In print you might think that wouldn’t work but you only need to watch the video to see the skill that the duo bring to their music and how well the percussion and accordion complement each other – even in a shed

Several of the songs on Routes (‘Gumboot’, ‘The Cage’ and ‘Sweet Nightingale’) were inspired by a visit to the Pitmen’s Painters exhibition. ‘Polka Chinois’ and ‘Disfarces/Dis Found Harmonium’ are from campsite and fire lit sessions – and if you were on the campsite at a festival you’d want to go across and listen. ‘Fanta’ is another original composition, this one created in a cupboard in Portugal at the Costa Del Folk festival. The album closes with ‘Molnbyggen’, a slower traditional tune.

Routes is an album which lovers of traditional folk should enjoy for the audacity of some of the playing and arrangements. But while the album is grounded in British traditional folk music, it pulls in influences from around the world. With its inspiration from toilet cisterns to apartheid via European tunes and The Hut People’s unique blend of accordion and percussion, this should appeal to a wider audience. There are plenty of opportunities to get a sense of the duo’s stage presence, with twenty or so gigs between now and Easter.

Mike Wistow

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.

Artist’s website: https://www.thehutpeople.com

‘Tsuiluikka’ at Songs From The Shed:

FAIRPORT CONVENTION – 50:50@50 (Matty Grooves MGCD054)

50:50@50Opportunities for celebration come round with increasing frequency when you’ve been in the business as long as Fairport Convention has. The current line-up has been together for almost twenty years and before that they have a back catalogue so large that they can never hope to play it all. This year sees the band’s fiftieth birthday and the title of 50:50@50 describes its contents: seven new recordings and seven live tracks. Fairport haven’t done anything obvious, though. You’ll look in vain for the old favourites that their audiences demand they play every gig – no ‘Matty Groves’ and no ‘Meet On The Ledge’.

The album opens with the first of Chris Leslie’s new songs, a return to his favourite maritime themes. ‘Eleanor’s Dream’ feels like a sequel to ‘Lord Franklin’ and indeed it mentions Lancaster Sound, part of the fabled Northwest Passage. But Lady Franklin was Jane so Chris has given us a puzzle. The first live track is ‘Ye Mariners All’, originally from Tippler’s Tales, recorded at The Mill in Banbury, venue for the famous Cropredy warm-ups. In fact the band returns to the tradition on this album more than they have done in recent years.

‘Step By Step’ is a pretty but rather slight song and it’s followed by ‘The Naked Highwayman’ also live and a real vocal tour de force by Simon Nicol. So far so not unexpected but don’t sit back and relax just yet. Ric Sanders has re-recorded his ‘Danny Jack’s Reward’ subtitled “expensive version!” with a host of friends, woodwinds and brass and a guest appearance from Joe Broughton. It’s a superb reading of the piece but the surprises aren’t over yet. Next is another live track, ‘Jesus On The Mainline’, with Fairport taking on the role of Robert Plant’s backing group!

I’m not sure if Chris Leslie’s ‘Devil’s Work’ is autobiographical – I can’t see a professional musician doing manual work any more hazardous than fettling a fiddle. That’s another puzzle he’s set us. The next live track, ‘Mercy Bay’, is another of his epic sea songs and that’s followed by ‘Our Bus Rolls On’, a song in praise of the band. It’s a bit twee for my taste but if you can’t blow your own trumpet when you’re fifty when can you? A rewrite of ‘Angel Delight’ would have been great fun – Simon and Peggy remain from the original but I expect that their tastes have matured over the years.

Next is a superb live version of ‘Portmeirion’, possibly the best I’ve heard, and then another surprise. Fairport Convention don’t really do traditional songs like they used to but here is a new addition, ‘The Lady Of Carlisle’, with lead vocal by Jacqui McShee followed by a live version of ‘Lord Marlborough’, originally recorded a mere forty-six years ago. Unexpectedly, PJ Wright contributes ‘Summer By The Cherwell’ – self-referential, of course, but I can see it being a live hit at every Cropredy from now on.

The final live track and the album’s closer is another surprise. Guess what it might be and I bet you won’t say ‘John Condon’. This is a sensitive, thoughtful reading of the song as befits its subject matter with Gerry Conway’s brushes holding the rhythm but not intruding on Ric’s fiddle or Simon’s vocals. One second thoughts, a song of reflection is an appropriate way to send this set. We all have more to look back on than look forward to.

Dai Jeffries

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.

Artist’s website: www.fairportconvention.com

‘Mercy Bay’ – live at The Union Chapel:

Belinda O’Hooley talks to Folking about Coven

Coven
Photograph by Elly Lucas

There’s a new gang in town and if their publicity photographs are any guide they mean business. Coven combines the talents of O’Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery (Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans) and singer Grace Petrie. Belinda O’Hooley explains how it all came about.

“We were introduced to Grace’s work by Huw Pudner at The Valley Folk Club in Pontardawe. He was raving about her, and around the same time, Jude Abbott from the No Masters Co-op was also singing her praises. We watched some of her stuff on YouTube and thought she was such a firebrand, standing up for what she believes in and doing great things for women. We spent a summer doing the same concerts at festivals as Lady Maisery and were blown away by their live show. We got to know them along the way. Heidi and Rowan chatted about doing something as a collective at some point, and here we all are!

“Coven was Heidi’s idea. She had previously set up a Women Make Music night in Huddersfield and had experience of this sort of thing. Both Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie were well up for forming a collective with us and celebrating International Women’s Day in a series of concerts. The first Coven tour was just three dates which all sold out. The second year, we played ten dates and this year, we’ve got twelve.”

The name could be something of a hostage to fortune. Whose idea was it?

“I can’t remember who thought the name up, it wasn’t me. I think it suits us; a gaggle of witches.”

I couldn’t possibly comment on that but the press photos seem to suggest that Belinda and Heidi are the dominant force. Either that or it’s a case of big’uns in the middle and little-uns on the ends.

Coven
Photograph by Elly Lucas

“Ha! I think it looks like me and Rowan have got married and the rest of Coven are our bridesmaids. Elly Lucas took the photo at Kellam Island in Sheffield. We love the way she utilises the background of a rusty metal fence with the sunlight, to create texture and atmosphere. She’s a bit good. Looking at that photo, I wouldn’t want to mess with any of us.”

Again, I couldn’t possibly comment but what can we expect from a Coven gig?

“The show consists of us performing separately in our bands and also collectively together on existing material and also songs that Coven members have brought to the group. Over the course of the last two tours, these songs have taken on a life of their own and it has been very rewarding and exciting to record them and make an EP.”

Having developed rather below the radar over the last couple of years, Coven are embarking on a fully-fledged tour in March. Can we take it that Coven will be an on-going project?

“I think all of us want Coven to be an ever developing project as we all have so much to give to it. We all seem to get on really well and there is room for creativity and expression both individually and as a collective. It helps that we all like vegan food too. Hannah James is the most wonderful vegan chef, and kept us all fed beautifully for the five days we spent at Cooper Hall, Frome recording the EP. Fay Goodridge invited us there, and through their bursary scheme, we were able to record in their extraordinary venue. This EP, recorded by me and Heidi and mixed and mastered by Neil Ferguson will be available initially exclusively on the tour”

And that’s something else to look forward to.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ websites: http://ohooleyandtidow.com/ https://www.ladymaisery.com/about
http://gracepetrie.com/

STEVEN JAMES ADAMS AND THE FRENCH DROPS – live

The Portland Arms (Cambridge City Roots Festival,
3 February 2017)

Steven James Adams

Singer-songwriter Steven James Adams returns to home turf in Cambridge to play the packed, intimate venue at The Portland Arms, with support provided by the intriguingly angular sounds of indie trio Mammoth Penguins. This evening’s gig also kicks off the very first Cambridge City Roots festival.

City Roots, a week-long winter mini-fest held at venues across the city, is presented by the organisers of the Cambridge Folk Festival and provides an umbrella for a diverse series of gigs, buskers and workshops. It also aims to strengthen the relationship between the city and the folk/roots music scene.

As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, tonight Adams is also showcasing his new band, The French Drops, following a prolonged solo spell. He confesses to some nervousness about playing this first gig with a band again. Unused to being surrounded by these three “beautiful young boys”: Michael Wood (previously of Singing Adams), David Stewart and Dan Fordham (two members of The Drink), he confides that he’s become more used to doing it on his own. Cue many good-natured double-entendres from the crowd…

Many of the evening’s songs are taken from Adams’ two most recent solo albums, Old Magick and House Music, and without any preamble, the band launches straight into ‘Black Cloud’. The chattering crowd falls silent and attentive within a couple of bars. Adams self-deprecatingly comments on his “suitably upbeat” opener but he does seem to start off in a slightly reflective mood this evening. However, his wry wit shines through and defies any pessimism, as a romp through ‘Kings Of The Back Of The Bus’ ably demonstrates.

Judging from his introductions, the Adams song catalogue divides roughly into being “about, like, the world and stuff” – like bittersweet new song, ‘A Joke’ – or “a song about feelings” like ‘French Drop’. So the slower, “feelings” song ‘Ideas’ is immediately followed by the “world” song ‘Togetherness’. This tender song, with its gorgeous opening line “You are welcome here” seems all the more heartening in these chilling times. Offered a choice between another song about feelings or Satan, well, there’s no contest for this audience. Satan it is, and the band launch into ‘Tears Of Happiness’ with its delicious opposition between the brightness of the music, and darker lyrics referencing Kenneth Anger films and “mopping up blood from a silver plate“.

The second new song of the evening ‘Free Will’, another “world” song, takes a turn for the heavier, demonstrating that Adams and his band are capable of rocking out with the best of them. The hour or so long set is rounded off with ‘Drinking From The River’, ‘How We Get Through’, ‘You Broke My Fucking Heart’ (a Broken Family Band song) and ‘Sonny’, a real crowd-pleaser.

After the usual kerfuffle, Adams re-appears solo for an encore. Hopping down into the crowd with his guitar and strolling around like a mediaeval troubadour, he delivers a magnificent version of John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’, just for starters. He weaves through the crowd, saying “hi” to friends, wiggling his hips and generally looking like he’s having fun now that the pressures of the evening are behind him.

Adams’s naturally relaxed, warm delivery and genuine rapport with the crowd is a delight and really lifts the evening into something extra special. If he’s not yet received the levels of success he so thoroughly deserves, it’s certainly not through any lack of talent as songwriter or performer. His lyrics are wickedly funny and astute, his melodies almost irritatingly catchy and if Steven James Adams and The French Drop are playing near you, go along. It’s going to be a great night.

Su O’Brien

‘Ideas’ – an official video: