John Lee Hooker’s centenary celebrated with 5-CD box set

John Lee Hooker

Craft Recordings, the catalogue division of Concord Bicycle Music, is proud to announce the release of King Of The Boogie, a career-spanning retrospective, honouring blues icon John Lee Hooker. Due out 6th October, the five-CD set delves deep into the catalog of the influential artist, featuring not only his iconic hits, but also rarities, live recordings and several previously unreleased tracks. Housed in a 56-page book, the collection includes a wide selection of photos, taken throughout the musician’s life, plus new liner notes by writer and John Lee Hooker historian Jas Obrecht, as well as by the artist’s longtime manager and friend, Mike Kappus.

John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) was born 100 years ago near Clarksdale, Mississippi to a sharecropping family. Throughout the years, there has been some academic debate about his original birth year. However, The Hooker family maintains 1917 as the de facto date. Says daughter Zakiya Hooker, “As we all know there was no great push for accuracy back then in that portion of the community. But we just stick to what my father told us, which was what he was told by his mother.”

As a young man, Hooker worked his way up north to Detroit to pursue his passion of music. By 1948, the artist had a hit on his hands with one of his earliest recordings, ‘Boogie Chillun’’. From there, Hooker would record over 100 albums throughout the course of his six-decade-long career, building a diverse collection of fans along the way: from folk musicians and beatniks, to the stars of the British Invasion. The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana are among those who cite Hooker as a major influence. In his liner notes, Mike Kappus recalls that,

“Everyone who knew John Lee Hooker loved him and felt privileged to be in his presence. While he influenced generations of musicians with his incomparable style, that impact on musicians stepped up to yet another level once they got to know and, universally, love him.”

In his later years, as the bluesman found himself in one of the busiest, most productive eras of his career, Hooker was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame and Memphis Music Hall of Fame; was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and took home four GRAMMY® awards, including a coveted Lifetime Achievement award in 2000.

Tasked with narrowing down Hooker’s vast catalog into five CDs, box set producer Mason Williams curated the collection to narrate the artist’s story. “Even at 100 songs, this set is just a snapshot of John Lee Hooker’s incredible and influential career,” says Williams, “but one that takes you on the long journey he took from his early days in Detroit, to his time in Chicago recording for Vee-Jay Records and up through his later collaborations with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Santana, among others.”

King Of The Boogie will be released as part of a year-long, multi-partner centennial celebration, honoring the music and influence of John Lee Hooker, and will be a companion piece to an exhibit of the same name, which kicks off today at the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.  John Lee Hooker: King Of The Boogie includes Hooker’s performance outfits, guitars, photos, awards and, of course, his music. The exhibit will be on display through February 2018, before travelling west to the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. Additional centennial partners include The Blues Foundation, The Delta Blues Museum, Living Blues, Oxford American, the John Lee Hooker Estate, and Epiphone Guitars, who will be releasing a limited edition John Lee Hooker Zephyr Outfit, available in early 2018. John Lee’s daughter, Zakiya Hooker, has worked closely with all partners on her father’s centennial events, and affirms:

“Today, on what would have been my father’s 100th birthday, I am so thrilled to see him celebrated—both with the exhibit, as well as with the announcement of this special collection of music. I know that his fans will be excited to hear rare performances, and to read the touching words of his longtime manager, Mike Kappus, as well as those of the wonderful Jas Obrecht. It was a pleasure to watch this box set come together, and I can’t wait to see it shared with the world.”

‘One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer’:

Strawbs – new studio album: first for eight years. Plus tour dates

Strawbs

The Ferryman’s Curse is the first Strawbs album of new material in eight long years. It is produced by the legendary Chris Tsangarides, whose studio is littered with diamond, platinum, and gold discs by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen.

In celebration of the release, Strawbs set out on UK tour dates (see below), including the album’s official launch date at London’s Under The Bridge on 29th October – and will include some very Special Guests!

Their album, Hero & Heroine, has been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as “one of the 50 greatest prog rock albums of all time”. It is the band’s biggest seller worldwide and was certified gold in North America. In the USA Strawbs had seven consecutive albums in the Billboard Top 200.

Dave Cousins, founder member, has been described by All Music Guide as: “the most talented Dylan influenced songwriter to come out of England”.  He recently released his long awaited, and critically acclaimed, autobiography Exorcising Ghosts: Strawbs and Other Lives. It was listed by influential critic Richie Unterberger in his “Top 10 of 2014 rock books”.

Strawbs are often mentioned in the same breath as progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, and The Moody Blues.  It is well documented that Rick Wakeman left Strawbs for Yes.  Rick was followed by Blue Weaver – who left Strawbs to join the Bee Gees, John Hawken – from the original Renaissance, Don Airey – now with Deep Purple, Adam Wakeman, and Oliver Wakeman, who, like his father, left Strawbs to join Yes!.

Strawbs emerged out of the British Folk Movement of the mid-1960s, starting life as the Strawberry Hill Boys playing bluegrass. They moved into the mainstream in 1967 by making the first Strawbs album, All Our Own Work, with Sandy Denny, a full year before she recorded her first album with Fairport Convention. The album attracted the attention of A&M Records in Hollywood who signed Strawbs as the first British band on the label.

Strawbs albums Hero & Heroine, Bursting At The Seams, Ghosts, and Grave New World define the music. The current Strawbs line-up comprises Dave Cousins, lead guitarist Dave Lambert, bass player Chas Cronk, and drummer Tony Fernandez, who recorded and toured together in the 1970s.  They are joined by keyboard virtuoso Dave Bainbridge of Iona, a band whose mystical blend of rock, folk, Celtic and ambient music has endeared them to audiences across Europe and North America for the last 25 years.

Spellbinding guitar interplay, with countless alternative tunings to create the drone effect so evident in The Strawbs’ music, was the hallmark of an evening which provided far more than a dose of nostalgia. Whether you lean towards the folk or the prog it matters little . . . plugged in or not, the Strawbs are the juiciest, tastiest fruit you’re ever likely to hear.” (Swndon Echo – October 2014)

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

‘Out In The Cold/Round And Round’ – live:

OCTOBER TOUR DATES

Thursday 5 The Stables, Wavendon
Friday 6 Village Hall, Lowdham
Saturday 7 Globe, Cardiff
Thursday 12 Tivoli Theatre Wimborne
Friday 13 Dorking Halls, Dorking
Saturday 14 Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury
Sunday 15 Centre Spot, Dover (fundraising benefit)
Monday 16 The Apex, Bury St Edmunds
Thursday 19 Arts Centre, Solihull
Friday 20 Vivacity, Peterborough
Wednesday 25 Green Hotel, Kinross
Thursday 26 TBA, Langholm
Friday 27 Tollbooth, Stirling
Saturday 28 Blackburn, venue TBC

SATUO – Earned (Lindo LINDO 044)

EarnedSatuo is an Austrian folk-rock quintet although you wouldn’t pick out their nationality until about half-way through when they switch from English. And maybe the hint of lead vocalist Laura Maria Korhonen’s accent. And perhaps the way that they mix styles in a way that a British or US band probably wouldn’t dare. Earned is, I think, their fourth album with Laura also having a solo recording available.

Their dominant sound is Americana with Fabian Baumgartner’s banjo being the lead instrument. They are joined on two tracks by violin, trumpet and cello and Laura also plays melodica and musical saw. The majority of the tracks are by the other lead vocalist Aron Saringer and three are traditional including the closing ‘Motherless Child’.

The first track, ‘One Day’, is an optimistic look to the future and is a really good song. ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘Yes You Can’ follow in the same banjo-led style then things get a bit strange as the title track turns out to be superior Euro-pop – no, better than that, but I hope that you can imagine what it sounds like. ‘Don’t Lie To Me’ and ‘Set Me Free’ run into each other and are the rocky tracks – two more fine songs. ‘Water’ starts out delicately but goes mad at the end.

The traditional ‘Oi Jos’ isn’t in English and it certainly isn’t German. I think it’s Finnish and is given a treatment that comes somewhere between a march and jazz. Then ‘Mein Land’ is definitely German rock and we return to Finnish with ‘Muista Minua’. Now you may think that this is all a bit weird and on paper it looks that way. In fact, it rolls along most enjoyably if you’re prepared to expect the unexpected.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.satuo.at

‘Pardon Me’ – live on TV:

Mister Keith launches tour of parlour concerts

Mister Keith

In two weeks Mister Keith and his mini orchestra embark on a ten date tour of unique parlour concerts for LIVE&LOCAL rural touring.

“This tour is about gathering the community in unusual places and telling stories of life, love and loss through great songs. When I was writing and recording the latest album ‘Record of Wrongs’ I knew that these were the type of concerts the music was being written for. When I discovered the Rural Touring network, the match was perfect.”

Mister Keith will be touring ten venues across five counties between September and January. All of the venues will be intimate to allow the songs to fire the imagination.

“It’s a very eclectic show and suitable or all ages. Alongside some glorious music from the multi-instrumental mini orchestra, there are some great moments of spontaneity. You’ll be singing as a choir, writing a song on the spot and joining the band!”

Among the many musicians on tour with Mister Keith is the well-known percussionist Chip Bailey (who works with Duke Special) who’ll perform on all shows and guest Double Bass player John Parker (Nizlopi) who will play on 29/30 September only.

This tour comes hot on the heels of performances at Eroica Festival, Derbyshire, where Mister Keith supported eighties band ABC and then played to a late-night capacity Arts Tent – leading hundreds in a singalong! The rest of the summer was spent teaching young people how to write songs at various summer residentials.

“The show is very interactive. I want to take the audience on a journey with the songs and tell stories that resonate with their own experiences.”

Songwriting is indeed important for Mister Keith. Writing for 32 years, he has produced 14 albums, written with, performed with and  interviewed many leading artists. He has also led songwriting workshops in many countries and appeared on BBC, iTV, Five and MTV.

Tour Dates

SEPTEMBER 29   Barrow-upon-Soar, nr Loughborough (Leics) / Humphrey Perkins Community Centre / 07718 153 117

SEPTEMBER 30   Great Longstone, nr Bakewell (Derbys) / Great Longstone Village Hall

OCTOBER 14  Tansley, nr Matlock (Derbys) / Tansley Village Hall / 07748 545 287

OCTOBER 20  Hill Ridware nr Rugeley (Staffs) / Hill Ridware Village Hall / 01543 490 873

OCTOBER 21  Draycott-in-the-Clay nr Uttoxeter (Derbys) / Draycott-in-the-Clay Village Hall / 01283 820 357

NOVEMBER 17 Skegness, Lincolnshire / Skegness Grammar School

DECEMBER 8     Caistor, Lincolnshire / Caistor Town Hall

JANUARY 26  Church Lench nr Evesham (Worcs) / Church Lench Village Hall / 01386 870 794

JANUARY 27  Normanton on Trent, Nottinghamshire / Normanton on Trent Village Hall / 07823449381

FEBRUARY 2     Claverdon, Warwickshire / Claverdon Church Centre / 01926 842110

ELLIOTT BROOD – Ghost Gardens (Paper Bag Paper114)

Ghost GardensNot an individual artist, but the collective name of an Ontario trio who play fizzed up roots Americana with a poppy edge, Ghost Gardens is their sixth album but the songs themselves come from a stash of lost demos recorded some fifteen years ago, now revisited with a new lick of paint, the title nodding to how gardens live on long after those who created them have gone.

As you might expect, having been sketches of ideas, the songs offer up a diversity of moods and styles, opening with jaunty leg-slapping, banjo strumming bluegrassy goodtime stomp ‘‘Til The Sun Comes Up Again’ and then sliding into the handclapping driven ‘Dig A Little Hole’, an equally mandolin bouncing skiffler about assorted family members (a moonshiner, his alcoholic suicide widow and girlfriend murderer son) coming to unfortunate ends and all being buried in a hillside cemetery.

By contrast, ‘2.4.6.8’ borrows rather obviously from The Clash’s ‘London’s Calling’, the sparse mandolin-accompanied wearied ‘For The Girl’ tips the hat to early solo Paul McCartney, ‘Thin Air’ is a sort of old wind up musical box brief instrumental while ‘Gentle Temper’ marries Ryan Adams with Bookends-era S&G and, featuring banjo and what sounds like vibes, ‘The Widower’ is a dreamy croon that harks to the heady sunshine 60s pop days of The Association and Harper’s Bizarre . Three tracks barely make it to the 90 seconds mark, and one of those is the backward tapes feedback and crackling static effects of ‘Searching’, but there are some fine blooms here, not least the gorgeous huskily sung, ‘Adeline’, a lullabying waltzer to, I assume, singer Mark Sasso’s daughter. Cultivate their acquaintance.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the ELLIOTT BROOD – Ghost Gardens link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

ORDER – [CD]

ORDER – [VINYL]

Artists’ website: www.elliottbrood.com

‘Dig A Little Hole’ – official video:

MARRY WATERSON & DAVID A. JAYCOCK – Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love (One Little Indian Records TPLP1419CDP)

Death Had Quicker Wings Than LoveMarry Waterson and David A. Jaycock release their second album as a duo, Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love, on the 29th of September 2017. Sadly, the promotional copy of the CD I received didn’t include information on who else played what, but I understand from Marry’s web site that contributors include singer/songwriter Kathryn Williams, Romeo Stodart (guitar on ‘Out Of Their Hearts’), violinist Emma Smith, and John Parish (percussion on ‘Small Ways And Slowly’). (Clearly there are other instrumental contributions, including piano, bass and electric guitar.) The record was exquisitely produced by Adrian Utley of Portishead.

  1. Unusually, ‘The Vain Jackdaw’, reinterpreting one of Aesop’s fables, starts with a simple but eerily archaic instrumental section and is followed by a purely unaccompanied vocal. The moral of the fable is “Hope not to succeed in borrowed plumes“, or as Marry’s song puts it “Fine feathers don’t make fine birds“: however, Marry’s singing of a subtly ambitious melody is successful on every level. If ‘unaccompanied’ suggests to you a simplistic rendering, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
  2. ‘Lost (adjective)’ explores the feelings of darkness and loss that permeate the entire album. It has a more ‘modern’ feel to the instrumentation with its underlying guitar arpeggios.
  3. ‘Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love’ takes its inspiration from a maiden’s crown in St Stephen’s Old Church, Robin Hood’s Bay. A maiden’s garland or crown was traditionally displayed in a church as a funeral memento of females (usually) who died virgins. The title is said to derive from the words inscribed on the grave of Mary Woodson, who died on the way to her wedding in 1785. The song includes vocal and violin contributions from Kathryn Williams and Emma Smith.
  4. Talking about ‘Out Of Their Hearts’, Marry describes how “Once we had that [Romeo Stodart’s guitar part], David dampened down the guitar strings with crocodile clips which creates a fantastic atmosphere and then added a bass that wandered through the song like footsteps.” And very effective it is too.
  5. ‘Gunshot Lips’ has as harsh a lyric as you’d expect from the title, and a guitar arrangement that leans to the classical, augmented by
  6. ‘New Love Song’ includes harmony vocals (presumably from David?) around a simple lyric set off by atmospheric instrumental work.
  7. I had some difficulty in following the lyrics of ‘Three Of Them’ – I suppose it’s age thing – but it didn’t impair my enjoyment of the song. Still, I wish people who write lyrics this good would actually make them available with the CD.
  8. ‘On The Second Tide’ has a free-ranging modal melody that reminds me a little of Irish balladry tinged with singing techniques well to the East of these islands: I could almost imagine Sheila Chandra singing this, if only she was still able to perform.
  9. ‘Forgive Me’ is described as a ‘meditation upon the sadness of seeing your children leave home’: yep, been there, and the song certainly has resonance. It is, I suppose, closer than most of songs here to what you expect to hear from the singer-songwriter end of the folk spectrum.
  10. The arrangement of ‘Small Ways And Slowly’ even borders on folk-rock with its backing vocals and build-up towards electric guitar. Much as I love the preceding tracks, it will be interesting to see if Marry and David come up with more material in this idiom in the future.

I’ve seen this described as a ‘folk record’ and as ‘in an authentic folk style’. I can see where those descriptions come from, but I’m not sure they’re strictly accurate, any more than they are with reference to Lal and Mike Waterson’s Bright Phoebus, also cited in PR materials. (This is far from being a criticism – I’m no folk purist!) Though the songs include themes and tropes that echo the tradition, they have a poetic sensibility that could never be described as primitive or rough-hewn. The melodies often have a sinuous complexity that wouldn’t be out of place in an art song performance. The arrangements avoid flash and thunder, but they’re deceptively accomplished and always effective, with instrumentation that goes beyond the boundaries of the traditional acoustic session. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine an album like this being made by anyone in whom awareness and knowledge of the English tradition wasn’t deeply ingrained.

I guess you wouldn’t expect someone with the surname Waterson to release an unsatisfactory CD, but this is so much more than satisfactory. Marry’s singing has the quality you expect of the best revival singers: accomplished without sounding ‘over-trained’. David A. Jaycock not only provides equally accomplished (and unquestionably sympathetic) guitar accompaniment, but clearly plays a vital role in the transition of each song into arrangements that bring out in the best in the lyric, melody and performance. This may not be the most cheerful set of songs I’ve heard this year – well, cheerfulness in a song is overrated, in my opinion – but it’s certainly one of the very best.

David Harley

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Marry Waterson and David A Jaycock link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

ORDER – [CD]

ORDER – [VINYL]

Artist’s website: marrywaterson.com

‘Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love’ – official video: