CONNOR WALSH AND SAM RYAN – Double Album Launch – The Sorry Head, Exeter August 26th 2017

Connor Walsh And Sam Ryan
Emma, Connor and Sam – Photograph by Jean Camp

A double whammy album launch with best friends Connor Walsh and Sam Ryan launching their EP’s to the world, The Hardest Part and The Traveller respectively at the Sorry Head in Exeter, and it was a very busy affair. They clearly have their fans and supporters as the venue was packed.

Kicking off the proceedings was Sam’s sister Anna, who has an amazingly powerful voice for a 16 year old. She was very confident and sang a mixture of cover material and her own songs. The audience loved her and she was very pleased with how she had been received, rightly so. She was joined by brother Sam with a rap song, and by Olive Simpson – and they sang one of Anna’s own songs. I was told by Sam after the gig that Anna can be found in a trio entitled Stepcoat Hill, definitely a lass to watch.

Sam then took the stage, promoting his debut EP – The Traveller. Although he did start the set with an Arctic Numbers set, just because he wanted to!

‘Men’ from his EP was aired, and all of the guys at the front just launched into audience participation of dancing and clapping. The same thing happened with the second song of the EP – ‘High’. Sam was very confident and loving the chance to air his work. So did the revellers.

Change of tempo then to ‘The Beach Of Camlann’, a sad tale of death, and then ‘Shield Wall’. A very powerful and racy number, filled with percussion of clapping from the audience who knew the song, including the shouting of “yay” in the right place. Connor was seen throughout the set supporting his friend from the audience. A couple of songs followed including one that was so new he couldn’t remember the lyrics. Great stuff! More in the pipeline! Sam graciously thanked his family and friends for their support.

A short intermission ensued after which Connor literally bounced onto the stage! He had been very excited all evening and at last had his chance to unleash his EP on the world! As he started playing, a string broke on his guitar, so had to borrow Sam’s but didn’t seem fazed at all, and continued some banter while sorting all this out.

Connor started with ‘Remember Me’, a number I don’t know but got us all in the mood, and we had an impromptu drummer who used the bar for percussion, he was clearly having a good time. Emma Mcelhinney who plays violin and bodhran on the album was on stage with Connor, and a very talented musician as she played both and the keyboard during the launch plus violin and played the Cajun drum with a foot pedal while playing something else! Sam and his friends took over the dance floor space in front of the stage and were having a great time. Again plenty of audience participation, we didn’t have a choice, and HAD to join in! Connor is a very strong presence on the stage, you don’t start playing on your mobiles while he is playing, he is too strong a personality. Emma played keyboard on a song I hadn’t heard before, ‘I Cant Go Back’, and sang too – lovely harmonies.’The Dance of Death’ fuelled the dance revellers, ‘The Call’ came next, after which Connor decided his waistcoat had to come off!

‘Hold On’ off the album slowed the tempo, Connor then played a mandolin for ‘Fellow Man’ from the album, which has an Irish feel. The last song was ‘Down The Line’ and had everyone dancing including Connor’s Grandad – Barry Walsh – who helped to sponsor the album along with Rev Hammer. Barry also was dragged into the main area of dancing and he did a very good pogo dance with plenty of stamina! Well done Barry!

Sam joined Connor on stage and gave a very heartfelt thanks to his dad – Rev Hammer for his tremendous input into the album financially and mentoring, for his faith in both himself and Connor and also thanks Barry Walsh, Alex Johnstone for producing the album, also sister Anna for opening, not forgetting Emma and The Sorry Head for allowing them to use the venue for the launch. Connor thanked his grandad Barry for all his support, they clearly have an amazing bond, also his father, his own girlfriend Charlie too for all her support, and I saw her afterwards doing the ‘roadie’ bit while the lads were basking in glory and talking to their fans.

These two are going places. Keep a good watch out for them. They are both very visual so a live gig is a must! Buy their EP and support them, as they are up and coming talented singer/songwriters.

Jean Camp

Purchase Connor’s album from www.connorwalsh.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter: @gutterratking and Facebook: www.facebook.com/gutterratking

You can purchase the digital download by contacting Sam on his Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/sam.ryan.3720 and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SamuelRyan8

DAVE STEWART Nashville Sessions : The Duets

’Nashville Sessions : The Duets’ is a new collection that presents the best duets from the recording sessions at John McBride’s famed Blackbird Studio in Nashville that resulted in the album trilogy of ‘The Blackbird Diaries’, ‘The Ringmaster General’ and ‘Lucky Numbers’ released by Dave Stewart between 2011 and 2013. ‘Nashville Sessions : The Duets’ features striking vocal performances by Stevie Nicks, Alison Krauss, Colbie Caillat, Joss Stone, Martina McBride and more.

‘God Only Knows You Now’ (with Jessie Baylin)

Dave Stewart played two UK shows in September 2017 with his Nashville All Star Players to celebrate his 65th birthday, folking.com was there at the London gig and the other was in his birthplace of Sunderland.

Here are the photo’s from the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire London show… click on the photo below to view the full set.

Dave Stewart's 65 Birthday Party

Support came from the London Gospel Community Choir and guests included:
– Bob Harris
– Holly Quin-Ankrah
– Martin Chambers (a founding member and drummer for the Pretenders)
– Candy Dulfer
– Diane Birch
– The other Doom Brother, Bob Geldof
– Jon Stevens (from Noiseworks)

Set list:
– So Long Ago.
– Beast Called Fame.
– Magic in the Blues.
– (Eurythmics) – Here Comes the Rain Again (with Holly Quin-Ankrah)
– Lily Was Here (with Candy Dulfer).
– Soul Years + This Little Town (with Martin Chambers).
– Jealousy.
– Heart of Stone.
– All Messed Up – (with Diane Birch) from Dave’s latest Nashville Sessions: The Duets project – http://wp.me/p5SuEn-9Ul
– (Eurythmics) – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) – (with Diane Birch).
– This Is The World Calling (with Bob Geldof).
– Don’t Come Around Here No More (the song Dave wrote for Tom Petty) – (with Bob Geldof).
– Starlight – from the 2016 project with Jon Stevens (with Jon Stevens).
– (Eurythmics) – Missionary Man (with Jon Stevens and Holly Quin-Ankrah).
– (Eurythmics) – Thorn in My Side
– When the Day Goes Down (with London Gospel Community Choir).
– (Shakespears Sister) – Stay.
Encore:
– (Eurythmics) – Would I Lie to You?
– (Eurythmics) – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

Nashville Sessions : The Duets – Track-listing:

1  Drowning In The Blues (with Alison Krauss)
2  All Messed Up (with Martina McBride)
3  Just Another Fall (with Diane Birch)
4  God Only Knows You Now (with Jesse Baylin)
5  Bulletproof Vest (with Colbie Caillat)
6  Cheaper Than Free (with Stevie Nicks)
7  Picnic For Two (with Joss Stone)
8  One Way Ticket To The Moon (with The Secret Sisters)
9  Nashville Snow (with Karen Elson)
10  Every Single Night (with Martina McBride)
11  You And I (with Laura Michelle Kelly)

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the DAVE STEWART Nashville Sessions 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]

‘One Way Ticket To The Moon’ (with Secret Sisters)

DARIA KULESH & JONNY DYER – live at The Troubadour

Daria Kulesh
Photograph by Tony Birch

The Troubadour is one of the iconic venues in the country. Founded in 1954, it still occupies the coffee shop in Old Brompton Road near Earl’s Court where it started. It has played host to most of the greats on the folk scene, many before anyone else had heard of them. I say that because this was my first visit – it being in That Lunnon and me a country boy – and also Daria and Jonny’s debut performance there. And, as Daria pointed out in her introduction  to ‘Distant Love’, the first time that a song in the Ingush language had been sung on that stage.

They followed ‘Distant Love’ with Daria’s greatest hit, The Moon And The Pilot’, with Daria, resplendent in black and gold, at her expressive best. Then came something new.  Daria and Jonny were premiering some new songs – not a follow-up to Long Lost Home – but covers of some of the singers and songwriters who have graced this stage. What better place to air them first?

The first of them was ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, a song that is so well known that no-one sings it any more. Daria gives a new innocence over some absolutely delicious rolling guitar figures from Jonny. After ‘Amanat’ came ‘Masters Of War’ with Daria playing pulsing shruti and a mini-tambourine strapped to her foot. It is a song that is rapidly becoming relevant once more and one that is very important to Daria; there was a palpable anger in her performance. After ‘Panther’ (modesty forbids me from quoting her introduction) came ‘Northern Sky’. Most singers covering Nick Drake try to find the inner fragility of this notoriously reticent man. The original version of the song is drenched with arrangements that Nick himself disliked but which give it a power but Jonny reduced the arrangement to just a keyboard part and Daria turned it into a torch song. It might be considered revolutionary but it is quite magnificent.

Three more songs from Long Lost Home: ‘Untangle My Bones’, ‘Tamara’ and ‘Only Begun’ followed before they tackled the big one: ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’. Here’s another song that has been sung thousands of times over the years but, over Jonny’s guitar, Daria managed to instil something of herself into it, which is no mean achievement. They encored with another song associated with Sandy Denny, ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’, with attention drawn to the line “love is lord of all”. It brought the set to a reflective end – another old song that is still important and relevant.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/with-jonny-dyer/

‘Amanat’ when it was new – live:

REV HAMMER AND NICK HARPER – Live at Unit 23 Live, Totnes

Rev Hammer
Photographs by Jean Camp

Folk Rock legends, Rev Hammer and Nick Harper wowed the audience at Unit 23 Live in Totnes, South Devon recently. The venue owner Simon has just taken over, and making a huge mark on this quirky venue in the middle of an industrial estate. Ex South Hams Radio presenter – Rob Wheeler, who has known Rev for years, put this gig on, so thank you Rob for doing this!

Ably assisted support by young up and coming Sam Ryan and Connor Walsh, the evening was a mixture of pure brilliance!

Connor Walsh kicked off the evening, although I had not seen or heard of him before, he was soon into getting audience reaction. Blue paint was drawn across his eyes like a mask, and I wondered what an earth we were going to hear! War paint?? He kicked off with a drinking song, and off we went! Very lively and we all sat up to listen to this talented young man. Shortly after we had an audience participation song, which went down very well! Connor’s mixtures of songs showed he has an awesome talent and will go far. I loved his set!

Next up came Sam Ryan, son of Rev Hammer, showing his Dad’s talent. Sam was as awesome as Connor but with his own style (not his father’s) kicking off with a lively number, ‘Men’ was just brilliant, and an audience participation song ‘Vikings’ had everyone shouting in unison with gusto when required! Self-penned songs and we will see more of Sam in his own right I’m sure. Sam wrote the title track ‘Skald’ on the new Rev Hammer album and performed on it.

Nick Harper
Nick Harper

Rev and Nick came on stage together and did numbers mostly individually. As Nick produced Rev’s new album he knew the guitar work as had played on it. Nick is an outstanding singer/songwriter, who just blew me away with his guitar playing. Rev joked he had Billy Bragg at his side! Two legends with attitude!

Nick passionately sang some cracking numbers including ‘Bloodsong’, a very bluesy, gritty number and his facial expressions told us he was away with the music. ‘Incredible Skies’ was just awesome, and we were all blown away by the tune and words, ‘I Will Carry You Always’ – a song about baggage, ‘Juicy Fruit Girl’ – which was kind of humorous, another bluesy track. ‘I Need You Now,’ ‘Peace, Love and Happiness’, ‘Real Life’ and Aeroplane was a great song to finish the evening. This got everyone off their seats more or less. Awesome!

Rev Hammer
Rev Hammer

Rev and Nick alternated to perform and when I asked Rev for a set list to do the review, I found out it was going to be random! He gave us ‘Punch Drunk’ to open his turn, love it and so many others did too, as linked to Rev’s association with The Levellers. A favourite Rev song of mine was on the list – ‘No One Or Nothing’, Rev also did a leg pull of Ralph McTell, which I hadn’t heard before, but as I like Ralph McTell, I won’t comment! ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ and ‘I’m Ready And I’m Waiting’ off Skald, ‘Drunkards Waltz’, which the Oysterband covered, and another of my favourites – ‘Every Woman’s Pain’, from his very successful folk opera Freeborn John and which he dedicated to his daughters!

An absolutely fabulous evening and look forward to hearing them all again soon. Check them out and buy Rev Hammer’s Skald album following the link from his website.

Jean Camp

Artists’ websites: www.revhammer.com / www.harperspace.com  / www.facebook.com/Connor.Walsh.Musician www.facebook.com/sam.ryan.3720

‘Apple’ – Nick and Sam are heard but not seen:

LE VENT DU NORD live at South Hill Park, Bracknell

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai jeffries

Smoke swirled over the darkened stage as four shadowy figures took their places. The sound began with the drone of a hurdy-gurdy, joined by fiddle, jew’s harp and voice and lastly bouzouki. Finally the lights came up to reveal Le Vent Du Nord in all their splendour. It was an uncharacteristically sombre opening to an evening that was full of laughs.

I usually come home from a gig with a fairly accurate set-list and other notes about who did what. No chance here. The band only introduced a few of their pieces and then usually in rapid French. I fell back on plan B and tried to blag a set-list from keyboardist Nicolas Boulerice but they don’t use one. He did offer to write one up for me, though, and that’s not an offer you get every day. They did tell us that most of the material would come from their most recent album, Têtu, as did ‘Confédération’, the first song they announced by name, having a dig at Anglophone Canadians in the process.

In fact, the announcements in the first half took the form of a debate, which apparently the band had, about whether Têtu should have a terminal “s”. Everyone had to have a say in turn and the running joke got funnier and funnier. I did figure out the unaccompanied ‘La March Des Iroquois’ and ‘Petit Rêve IX’, an almost orchestral piece which begins with a lovely guitar solo played by its composer, fiddler Olivier Demers and they closed the first set with an oldie, ‘Lanlaire’.

Several things stuck in the mind after the gig. The first is the interplay of the four voices. They can stack up harmonies, pick up lines from each other and occasionally sing over each other. The second is that they do the same with melodies, passing a tune from fiddle to melodeon, to hurdy-gurdy and even jew’s harp. Finally comes the energy and fun they bring to their music. Quebecois music is, to say the least, lively and they throw everything they have into it. I was surprised that Demers, who is responsible for most of the foot percussion, was still standing at the end.

The second set opened with ‘Le Cœur De Ma Mère’ and the time just flew past. There was a bizarre moment when Demers played us a country song in French – from his iPhone – before the band sang an unaccompanied and rather more stately version. ‘Forillon’ is one of their more serious songs and they did it full justice. This isn’t a history lesson but you should look up the story. Nico introduced a song with a long, involved story about a song he found in his attic in a hand-written manuscript, learned it and performed it in France only to be told that it was a famous Parisian song that may have derived from mediaeval English. It seems that his “manuscript” was probably copied down from the radio! It was a love song but Nico neglected to name it.

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

After a wild instrumental finish, they encored with the traditional ‘Vive L’Amour’ and another unaccompanied and unannounced song – perhaps I should have taken Nico up on his offer. Their performance richly deserved the standing ovation and the cheers they received. Do try to hear them while they are on tour here.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://leventdunord.com/en/

We’re spoiling you now – four live songs from Le Vent Du Nord:

THE UNTHANKS Live at Vicar Street, Dublin (25 May 2017)

Unthanks Live

The dark stage is bedecked with an array of lamps (of the standard and table varieties), interspersed with rattan chairs. The grand piano and elegantly wrought music stands suggest a more genteel era of afternoon tea dances – if you overlook the modern paraphernalia of cables and microphones.

The voice of Gabrielle Drake reading her mother’s poem ‘Time’ penetrates the gloom and is followed by a recording of Molly Drake herself, singing the engagingly humorous and self-referential ‘Funny Little Tune’. Without any preamble, The Unthanks launch straight into ‘What Can A Song Do To You’, as good an evocation of the power of memory as any.

In fact, not a word is spoken to the audience until around two-thirds of the way through the first set. Wisely, the band focuses on allowing these songs and poems to speak for themselves. When they do finally break the wall, it’s mainly to reassure us that they’ve now got “the cheery songs” out of the way.

It’s true that this album, the Molly Drake oeuvre, isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs, and this is as introspective a set as they come, with more shade than light. Literally as well as figuratively: the set is deliberately kept low-lit throughout. As Molly Drake said, “The happy and enduring things do not evoke or provoke poetry”.

But these clouds do have silver linings. There is lightness and dry wit in the observations of life. There’s even a little optimism. ‘Never Pine For The Old Love’ is fine advice, as is ‘Dream Your Dreams’. ‘Poor Mum’ is a call to break the confines of a societal label. What’s more, the projections of stills and archive footage of Molly Drake encourage us view her as a person: a wife, a mother and – most of all – a woman of style and humour.

The set consists entirely of the ‘Diversions Volume 4: The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake’ album (plus the 8-track ‘Extras’), thoughtfully re-ordered to evoke different moods in the audience. The darkest part of the set is at the start, with a gentle lightening of mood as the show progresses. There’s no adornment from their back catalogue, nothing to break the spell. And a spell is cast, the crowd seeming to hold its breath while Rachel and Becky sing their impeccable harmonies. Although they always seem transported somewhere else entirely when they sing, they are still delightfully grounded performers, briskly and unfussily brushing off a couple of minor fluffs to delighted applause.

The only non-Molly Drake song of the evening is Becky’s encore cover of Nick Drake’sRiver Man, followed by Rachel taking lead on ‘Dream Your Dreams’. A brief reprise of this song leaves us with the image of Molly Drake smiling and raising a glass to us all in the final frame.

Having been reverentially silent during the songs, the crowd delivers a standing ovation for the band at the end, and one richly deserved for such a beautifully realised performance of an eclectic set.

Su O’Brien

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 DIVERSIONS VOL4 THE SONGS AND POEMS OF MOLLY DRAKE 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]

Artist website: http://www.the-unthanks.com