Blue Rose Code, aka acclaimed singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, releases The Water Of Leith, his first album for Navigator Records on October 27 on CD, download and album stream.
A nomad both geographically and musically, Ross writes from the heart eschewing any specific genre and the twelve new songs on The Water Of Leith, addressing themes of love, loss, travel, home, accepting the past and embracing the future, are painted with colours of folk, jazz, soul and pop; an eclecticism that has become a hallmark of Blue Rose Code and has seen him compared to John Martyn, Van Morrison and Tom Waits.
Underlining the sense of movement and place in Ross’s work and The Water Of Leith is rooted in his return to his Scottish homeland. There, he reconnected with the stellar musicians who were to become an integral part of the new album’s sound: multi award-winning singer Julie Fowlis, celebrated Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, BBC Folk Award Winner, Ross Ainslie, 2017’s Scottish Jazz Awards’ instrumentalist of the year Konrad Wiszniewski, leading violinist Seonaid Aitken and three of Scotland’s finest jazz musicians; John Lowrie, Colin Steele and James Lindsay, to name just some of the contributors. Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman features on the opening track. Ross co-produced the album with Angus Lyon.
Blue Rose Code will tour extensively around the release of The Water Of Leith, including concerts at Edinburgh Queen’s Hall on November 3, London Bush Hall on November 14, Perth Concert Hall on November 20 and two nights at Harbour Arts in Irvine on November 24 and 25.
In the space of a few short years and the release of well-received albums North Ten, The Ballads Of Peckham Rye, and And Lo The Bird Is On The Wing, Blue Rose Code has built a growing reputation as a powerful writer and performer, gaining extensive radio play and the praise of key broadcasters including Edith Bowman, Mary Ann Kennedy, Bob Harris and also actor Ewan McGregor who made a cameo appearance on And Lo The Bird Is On The Wing after commenting: “My uncle Denis Lawson (star of Local Hero) gave me a copy of The Ballads Of Peckham Rye, it’s beautiful and I can’t stop listening to it.” Author Ian Rankin is also a fan and has written insightful sleeve notes for the new album. The Water Of Leith marks another step forward for Ross: his first record in recovery following a personal history overcoming alcoholism and addiction.
Carolina Sky is a collection of Pete McClelland’s original songs and is his first solo release, recorded in Sussex and in Nashville during late 2016. Inspired by becoming a grandfather in 2011 the spark was lit and songs began to flow. Pete has driven, along with his wife Mannie, across North America on many occasions, coast to coast, East to West and North to South. This album is also inspired by those journeys and the places along them. The album features Nashville stalwarts Wayne Killius, drums, Tigar Bell fiddle, Mike Joyce Bass, Grand Ole Opry star Pat Severs on guitars, banjo and dobro, and Sussex players Jason Pegg, accordion and piano, John Rain bass and Pete on guitars, banjo, fiddle and vocals. The album was recorded at Beach Studios is Sussex and the stunning cover artwork is a photo of the Blueridge Mountains seen from the Blueridge Parkway
Weehawken to Redwing via Asheville; New York to San Diego; Montreal to New York via Chicago, Des Moines, Tulsa and Jacksonville; San Francisco to Big Bend; Key West to Vancouver; Pete and Mannie have crossed the North American continent over and over since 1978 and listened to country music most of the way. Pete went to Nashville to see if anyone might cover his songs, never really planned to put this out there himself. But now he has, and we hope you like the album!
He performs solo with his Turn Of The Tide sea song project.
R2 Magazine: “Surprisingly, Carolina Sky is Pete’s debut solo album. a gently beguiling collection informed by McClelland’s pastoral tones, eschewing any suggestion of a false accent, and at times bringing to mind Al Stewart. He skilfully combines elements of country, blues, bluegrass and folk with soft-rock favours on the Chris Rea-style ‘War of Love’, and Cajun on ‘Marie’.”
After writing, singing, jamming and performing together for over two decades, Craig Anderson and Paul Connelly, The Cognac Twins, are here with their self-titled debut album. The ridiculously catchy ‘Pretending’ opens the disc, as its combination of mandolin and ukulele runs, handclaps, solid lead vocals and spot-on harmonies set the tone for the rest of the record, creating some distinctly Scottish Americana.
Along with the opener, there are two further gems on side 1; the dark and anthemic ‘Bricks and Mortar’ and ‘Don’t Forget Your Sons’. The latter of these is particularly good and perfectly combines soul, swagger and some wonderfully effective slide guitar. Musically and lyrically there are parts of this song that feel as if they could be a contemporary take on something written in the American south 100 years ago, that is until you hear lyrics like “Climb into the seat of my Escort MK 3…”
Side 2 is every bit as strong, appearing to follow a formula of slow, stripped-back numbers which give way to hand clap-led, up-tempo tracks. The strongest song of the entire collection, the simply titled ‘January’, fits the former category, with its universally relatable reminder that when “January comes…you’re one year older” so “be thankful, be honest, be truthful”…and “be kind…”
While it is a definite lament, it’s not bleak – in fact, it’s actually wonderfully hopeful and incredibly optimistic and every word comes across as very sincere…which, for some reason, inevitably makes the song feel that little bit sadder.
If ‘January’ caused you to shed a wee tear or two, however, the upbeat follow up, ‘Rita’, will square you up in no time. Coming in at under two minutes, it is the shortest song on the album, and that’s my only real gripe with the Cognac Twins’ debut; at well under half an hour, it is just too short. However, two arguments spring to mind: “Quality over quantity” and “Leave ‘em wanting more”…and that’s exactly how I’m feeling. Touché.
Although this wasn’t a duo I was previously aware of prior to hearing this record, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it, and the more I like it, the more excited I get for the Twins’ next release…but, eh… don’t keep us waiting another two decades for it lads!
Last year I was a Cropredy virgin, but this year on THAT field in August, I knew what the score was. Well, until I tried to do the camping and putting up the tent thing! Every year will bring new things I guess!
Arriving at the Folkmaster’s abode on Wednesday 9th August, things were in full swing for the journey to meet the other Folkingdotcommers in Tesco car park, on the outskirts of Banbury, early the following morning. The kitchen sink was being loaded into the Folkmaster’s car in an orderly fashion, and it was suggested that if I hadn’t bought wellies with me, that I should go out and buy some. Talk about the 11th hour, I found a store and paid for them at 5.29pm when the store closed at 5.30! I was a bit anxious at this point as surely it wasn’t going to rain? I don’t do wet camping, I don’t do camping generally!
Sparrow spit early Thursday morning came, and off we went to Banbury. Not a bad journey, although I slept most of it! (NO – I wasn’t driving)! We all arrived at mostly the same time, Paul, Jonny Mac, No Chance and ourselves were too early for breakfast, so spent some money in Tesco, before we had breakfast. Full English were ordered by all but 2 of us, and then off we set, into the midst of Cropredy bound Festival goers. All wanting to get the best fields and parking. Last year I remember the queues, but this year was plain sailing. We soon found out why, because loads of others had started out before us, so we should have forgone breakfast! We were shepherded in to Field 7B, ended up right in the middle of the field, miles away from the few loos and the even fewer showers. I was panicking already!
Tent time. Paul was in his van, so all he had to do was connect his awning. Few minutes and he was ready. No Chance had a smaller tent and he knew what he was doing, Folkmaster had a new tent which was an air based one, so he got his instructions out and sorted his out, Johnny Mac was ably putting his tent up, and there was little old me, with a new tent. Poles and all.
I tried, dear readers, I really did. The lads were brilliant though, and thank them all for it. It was suggested I wore my new wellies, as mud could well be present, due to the onslaught of rain in the days leading up to the Festival. Visions of Glastonbury encroached in my mind……
We were a bit early when finished, as we couldn’t get into the arena field until 2pm, so were twiddling our thumbs for a while. The usual banter flowed. We were expecting another member of the Folking team – Paul Johnson – but he was nowhere to be seen or heard, so we did the Chariots Of Fire walk with our chairs and bags and waited for the gates to open. On the way there, we were serenaded by medieval musicians, Myal Pyper, who were a delight to listen to.
We finally got in, and headed for our usual spot. Looking at the Stage we headed left, near Leon’s food stall, always a lovely experience to savour their food. The queue for Fairport merchandise was already growing rapidly and that did not stop all day and evening. The staff in that tent were heroes! It was the same the following day!
4pm finally arrived and Fairport Acoustic opened the Festival. Riotous applause from the crowd, a full packed arena, for the Thursday is not what usually happens apparently. A mostly cracking line up and one that I didn’t want to miss. Feast Of Fiddles came next featuring an array of the best fiddle musicians this country has produced, such as Peter Knight of Gigspanner, Hugh Crabtree – melodeon player with attitude, Garry Blakeley, Tom Leary, Ian Cutler, Brian O’Neill and Fairport’s own superb fiddler – Chris Leslie. Phil Beer, Marion Fleetwood and Sophie Crabtree came on later on in the set to enhance the line-up, totalling nine fiddle players! Legendary drummer Dave Mattocks was over from America, Martin Vincent and Dave Harding on guitars and Alan Whetton on sax and keyboards. Awesome!
Show of Hands next – favourites of mine, they played an absolutely blinding set. Highlight was their rendition of Don Henley’s classic – ‘Boys Of Summer’. The whole field was talking about how fab it was.
Chris While guested for ‘Dark Fields’ and it was indeed a lovely occasion to witness her singing on this again. Phil told us that he will be virtually taking next summer off to revive his Folkboat activities, which is why this year they have so many festivals booked and Steve will be doing solo work next summer. Really enjoyed the whole set.
Eventually we met up with our lost team mate – Paul Johnson – who had had a nightmare putting up his tent apparently, and his mobility scooter had a flat battery. Could only happen to Paul!
Next up – The Trevor Horn Band – consisting of three producers – Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson and Lol Crème (of Godley & Crème) who had played and or produced songs for other artists. A kind of covers set but all perfectly connected to these three fine producers. They sounded good too. They got the crowd going and singing along to numbers we all knew, such as ‘Two Tribes’, ‘Relax,’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, ‘Rubber Bullets’ etc. They have over 200 hit singles and albums to choose from and it was very pleasant and lively set. Nice mix.
Headliners for Thursday evening were The Divine Comedy. Frontman Neil Hannon came on and his first sentence had the ‘f’ word in it. He seemed star struck initially about the big crowd and following Trevor Horn and Lol Crème. He didn’t do it for me but I hear that they went down well with some people.
Friday came and rain was forecast. Oh no!! Kick off was at midday after the gates being opened at 11am for the festival goers.
Paul Johnson tests the folking digital interview recorder on Paul Miles, the original co-founder of folking.com – its quite funny so we have kept it in…
Josie Duncan & Pablo LaFuente (2017 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winners) opened up the proceedings and I could see why they had won this accolade. Scottish traditional, Gaelic, and other influences, songs from the mines and cotton mills. They have played some well-known festivals including Cambridge and in their short time together, are certainly making a mark for themselves.
Another favourite of mine – Gerry Colvin Band – delighted the crowd, for those that were aware of his music and for those that didn’t. A cracking set from Gerry and the Band. Gerry is a delight to watch and although is so hyper, can sing, play and write a fab song. Particularly ‘Watching Feathers Fall’ from his Colvin/Quarmby days. Nick Quarmby, Gerry’s sidekick who left us last year, would have been so proud of Gerry taking centre stage at Cropredy. Gerry gained a lot of fans during that set.
A Cropredy moment for me was asking Gerry later, as I came across him backstage, how he felt and could obviously tell he was ecstatically happy, he said he had met Pet Clark. She spoke to him and said get out of her dressing room. I’m sure he was joking, he usually is!!
Quill were a new name to me. Quite Gothic and I thought the lead singer Joy had a little Kate Bush about her. They have been going since the 70’s, have loyal audiences, and are amazing story-tellers. Really enjoyed them.
Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Joy from Quill shortly after the set. The Elephant in the Room EP that Joy discusses in the interview will be released on the 23rd of August.
Next up Gigspanner, who a lot of folks were waiting to see (especially the folkmaster, the editor Dai Jeffries and Paul Johnson who are huge fans). While I admire their immense talent, I am not a huge fan myself, but respect that Peter Knight and the Big Band are all superb musicians. They are a little too trad for me.
CC Smugglers were another new one on me, and were superb, in my eyes. The effervescence of the lead singer was palpable and infectious. His shirt was wet through by the time he finished. The rain had arrived by this time but didn’t dampen theirs or the audience’s spirits. CC Smugglers are a band of buskers, who had come together, to form this band. They have even performed at Glastonbury! Definitely ones to watch.
Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Chris on the Friday.
The annual Chris Leslie Cropredy interview has become a bit of a tradition for us at folking.com and Chris tells us that he looks forward to it as much as we do.
Click the play button below to take a listen.
The absolutely brilliant Pierce Brothers twins came on to a stunning welcome. They were so happy to be there and in tears of happiness! Great guys, great musicians, great energy and great stage presence. So glad the organisers brought them back after last year’s success. Something that is rarely done two years on the trot. I hope they make it third time lucky.
The amazing event of having Petula Clark attend her first festival ever at Cropredy was certainly a scoop. A favourite of my mothers, she would have loved it. Pet at 84 years of age looked and danced as though she was in her 50’s. She sounded great. She performed her hits pitch perfect and aired some numbers from her new album – From Now On, Awesome. She had the crowd eating out of her hand, and they all sang along. A very special moment. Pet did say at the end of her set that she had enjoyed it immensely, and she certainly seemed to have done so, from the audience’s point of view.
Headliner for Friday evening was the Folk Rock Legend Richard Thompson OBE. A co-founder of Fairport in the 60’s he helped pioneer British Folk Rock. He is known as one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He didn’t disappoint. Just amazing. You would have thought four guitarists were on the stage and it was only him, doing it all. His fingers were a blur as he worked so fast. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at the signing his new album – Acoustic Classic 2, and he was very quiet and unassuming, and lovely to talk to. No ego at all.
I will say at this point that compere for the weekend was Anthony John Clarke, who did a marvellous job of introducing artists and keeping dedications flowing and read them out to the audience. Excellent choice for an MC.
Richard Digance was missed from his usual spot on kicking off proceedings on the Saturday, but he sent a message to say he was busy touring and not to forget his album and books in the merchandise tent. When he came on to the big screens, the audience applauded him, even though it was a pre-recorded message. Lovely.
Richard’s slot was taken by the Ashley Hutchings Morris On Band, who did a marvellous job of performing some classics from the Morris On album, and we had Morris Dancers dancing on stage to complete the scene. Hankies were at the ready and the audience took part in what is usually Richard Digance’s attempt at getting the whole crowd to wave hankies Morris style! A superb sight to see.
Next up ex-Fairport member Judy Dyble and the Band Of Perfect Strangers who took us on a musical journey, ending with her promoting her autobiography – An Accidental Musician – published last year.
Plainsong included another ex-Fairport Member – Iain Matthews and was formed 20 years ago. A very pleasant set, and Iain obviously has his fans.
I then went to try and find a shower, hopefully no queues at this time, so sadly I missed most of the Cats In Space set. I could hear them from afar, but they were visual, and glad I could see even a short bit. Surprisingly only formed last year, they were a tight knit of pop rock genre. All six of them. I enjoyed what I saw. Blew a few cobwebs away!
Marillion followed. Not my cup of tea, but they clearly had their fans there, and were enjoyed by them.
Scottish multi award winning singer-songwriter Dougie McLean OBE followed. He has a global following. I hadn’t seen him before, and certainly did enjoy his set. Full of stories and song, and lots of audience participation. Particularly on his ‘Caledonia’, which has a high regard in Scotland. He also has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Superb.
Now was the time for the BIG set!!! Three hours of Fairport and friends. And what a gift to us!!
Difficult to put this all into words as to how the atmosphere of what it was. You just had to be there. Fairport’s Golden Anniversary and an extremely emotional crowd.
Their guests came on during the course of the evening. Richard Thompson came back into the set, as did Judy Dyble, Iain Matthews and Ralph McTell sang us a version of ‘White Dress’ which was the song Dave Swarbrick wrote for Sandy Denny. That was Ralph’s only contribution, which was a shame as he is a great favourite of the Cropredy crowd. All the Folking Team gave a big cheer and Paul Miles kept saying I love him, I love him I don’t know how many times, bless him! Don’t we all!
Former Fairport member Maartin Allcock dazzled us in with his playing and his electric blue suit. He looked very dapper. We had Sally Barker who also sang ‘Rising For The Moon’, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks joining Gerry Conway on drums and percussion. Such a wealth of talent, emotion and music was enjoyed by all. The finale of ‘Meet On The Ledge’ had the audience spilling tears all over the now dry grass.
You came, we saw, and you conquered Fairport and all. Congratulations on your Golden Anniversary can’t wait for next year for the start of a new decade.
Carrying The Tune is the third solo album in the extensive discography of the critically acclaimed flautist Kevin Crawford, and accompanied by bouzouki (Mick Conneely and John Doyle), guitar (Doyle) and bodhrán (Brian Morrissey), it is immersed, as ever, in the sounds of Celtic tradition, displaying Crawford’s virtuosity at every opportunity. Indeed, such prowess makes it a rather difficult task to pinpoint the album’s standouts, without overlooking what else the record has to offer, therefore (particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the work) it may be more useful to provide a brief rundown of the album as a whole.
‘The Clare Connection’ opens the record, (a set of reels fusing ‘McHugh’s/Michael Murphy’s and Humours Of Tullycrine’ together and featuring Crawford on Eb flute) followed by slip jigs (collectively titled ‘2 Days’), before another set of reels are introduced in the form of ‘Autumn Apples/Cormac O’Lunny’s and Paddy Sean Nancy’s’. Phil Cunningham’s beautiful ‘Flatwater Fran’ next kicks off a set of waltzes, which (like track two’s slip jigs) showcase Crawford on flute as well as whistle. The second waltz of the set, ‘Mrs Jean Campbell BSC’, was written by Rory Campbell, giving Crawford’s piece its title, ‘Phil And Rory’s’
From here, boisterous jigs and beautiful reels lead the way to the haunting air, ‘The Dear Irish Boy’, which follows into the steady guitar of John Doyle and the double tracked flute of Crawford, in the selections which make up ‘The Slippery Slope’. An interesting change of pace is brought about through ‘Tanglony’, with Crawford, this time, opting for the D whistle, and Doyle accompanying him on bouzouki. The next pocket of selections are bookended with reels; ‘The Ivy Leaf’ and ‘The Mountain Lark’, with a collection of jigs, titled ‘Chapter 3’, sandwiched in between. Next up, it is an original, titled ‘The Hula Hoop’, that twists, turns and leads us to slow air ‘Travelling Through Blarney’ and ‘Come West Along The Road’ (collectively titled ‘Travelling West’) to bring the album to an atmospheric conclusion.
For fans of the Irish traditional/ Celtic music scene, you will, no doubt, be familiar with Mr Crawford’s output, either through his solo work, or through his recordings with Lúnasa, Cillian Vallely or Moving Cloud, but you may not be so familiar with this album; self-released originally in 2012 on BallyO Records, it has been out of print the last few years, but thanks to Brooklyn Boy Records and Copperplate Distribution, it is released, once again, in all of its glory.
Christopher James Sheridan
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 KEVIN CRAWFORD – Carrying the Tune 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.
The Nights At The Circus Folk Club is the newest edition to Birmingham’s heritage of guest-booking folk clubs.
Starting in January 2017, the club has brought a hugely varied programme of nationally touring folk artists to the Second City, including such renowned names as Sam Kelly, winner of the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Horizon Folk Award, and David Campbell, son of Birmingham-based folk revival legend, Ian Campbell.
According to club founder and organiser, Chris Cleverley, the club’s mission is quite simple:
“We started the club with the aim of creating a monthly Contemporary Folk and Roots night to showcase the next generation of breakthrough artists from the new British Folk Scene. NATC offers a platform for some of the UKs most innovative, honest songwriters and dynamic interpreters of traditional song, bringing the breakthrough names of the modern underground scene to an attentive, artist focussed environment.”
Upon its inception, NATC joined the likes of The Red Lion Folk Club & The Black Diamond Folk Club, to become Birmingham’s newest member of the organisation Folk 21, a national voluntary group which promotes, supports and provides a voice for the guest-booking folk club circuit across the UK.
NATC has fully embraced the current National Folk Scene as it develops into the 21st Century, with a programme of artists that spans generations and myriad sub-genres. In doing so the club has exposed some artists to Birmingham’s music lovers by hosting their first live, headline appearances in the city.
September’s headline act is Russian songwriter Daria Kulesh, described by The Times as “Haunting and Enigmatic”. With her striking voice and strong Russian and Ingush heritage, Daria Kulesh is a rising star and a unique character on the UK folk scene. Daria’s new solo album Long Lost Home is mainly inspired by Ingushetia (Ghalghai Mokh) – the lost home of Daria’s grandmother Fatima Akhrieva. But above all, Long Lost Home is an album for our times, exploring themes of displacement and (in)tolerance, identity and integrity, humanity and strength in the face of adversity, hope against hate. The September audience can expect powerful, timeless human stories beautifully told in an eye-opening and profoundly uplifting musical experience.
The club is hosted by The Dark Horse in Moseley, which offers a spacious, modern environment, to perfectly reflect the progressive and innovative nature of the artists appearing on the programme. The experience is further enhanced by the pub’s cornucopia of world beers, making NATC one of the few settings in Birmingham at which audiences can enjoy live folk music and craft beer.