UK folk and Americana latest news from folking.com

The Unthanks, Gabrielle Drake and Maxine Peake in Conversation and Performance

Molly Drake

Saturday 27th May

The Barbican (Fountain Room)

6pm-8pm (free, registration required)

 

Sandwiched between the album release the day before, and two sold out performances at The Barbican the day after, The Unthanks launch Diversions Vol. 4 – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake, featuring an exclusive Q&A with The Unthanks and actress Gabrielle Drake (Molly daughter and Nick Drake’s brother) who contributes to the album. Host and interviewer is actress, writer and director Maxine Peake. The event will also include a stripped back performance by The Unthanks. Booking details here.

The Unthanks perform How Wild The Wind Blows – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake

The Unthanks close their five week tour of the album with two sold out performances of their audio visual show, featuring their interpretations of Molly Drake’s songs, poetry set to music and read by Gabrielle Drake, still and moving projections of Molly Drake, and an atmospheric set depicting the living room she wrote in.

Sunday 28th May

The Barbican (Milton Court Theatre)
3pm and 7.30pm

 

Note – although it is not publicly announced, Gabrielle Drake whose voice on the tour has been played as a pre-record, will exclusively perform in person for parts of the Barbican shows!

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 The Unthanks – 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]

Robbie Bankes announces debut album of Nordic-Canadiana

Robbie Bankes

Robbie Bankes sets the bar high with his debut LP Foothills (Self Released). Nominated for Young Performer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Nordic Canadiana songwriter and scholar of folk music spends half his time in his native Calgary, Alberta and the other in Rauland, Norway where he studies folk music at the University of Telemark. He carries with him a mature musical voice in every sense. With a deep respect and understanding of musical traditions, his modern approach combines the lushness of Fleet Foxes and a haunting delivery reminiscent of Sam Amidon, while achieving a distinct sound rarely found on first recordings.

The album consists of eleven songs; a collection of Child ballads, Scandinavian folk melodies, American civil war songs and a handful of original songs with built in starry-eyed wonder about finding new love on the wet cobblestones of old Europe or in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Robbie Bankes’ song writing uses strong poetry and images, leaving the listener astonished by his unexpected honesty, combined with a fluidity with melody, owing to his love and immersion in traditional music.

Foothills was recorded and produced by Steve Loree (Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, Petunia) at Crabapple Downs Studio in Nanton, Alberta with guest musicians Charlie Hase on pedal steel, Melissa McWilliams on drums and Mark Grosjean on bass. The new album will be out on vinyl, CD and digital on June 14 2017.

Artist’s website: www.robbiebankes.com

‘February Snow’ – official video:

Introducing The Hawthornes

The Hawthornes

The Hawthornes are a lively folk/rock band from Cheltenham, England. Taking cue’s from folk revivalists such as Laura Marling, Eliza Carthy, Frank Turner and Seth Lakeman, The Hawthornes combine beautiful female vocal driven acoustic music with mariachi style upbeat pop/rock hooks. Originally formed in 2013 by vocalist/guitarist Louisa Gaylard, mandolin/percussionist Jesse Benns and bassist/vocalist Gordy Partridge. Trumpet player and vocalist Greg Wilson-Copp soon joined to coincide with the release of their debut album Stoneville Street released in late 2015.

Whilst chalking up appearances all over the UK with acts such as Phil Beer, Three Daft Monkeys, Terry & Gerry, Babajack and The Gerry Colvin Band and at festivals such as Lakefest, Y Not and The New Forest Folk Festival, The Hawthornes have gained a reputation for delivering a powerful live show, combining gentle beautiful soft melodies with upbeat powerful anthems that stay with their audience for weeks. Their second album Cut & Run was released in early 2017 and has already been met with much critical acclaim.

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

‘Last Song’ – official video:

June highlights at Cecil Sharp House

June

Moya Brennan – The Voice of Clannad
Thurs 1 June, 7.30pm
£18 | £10 under 26s

When Bono stated recently, “I think she has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced”, he was heralding what many people know already about The Voice of Clannad, Moya Brennan. She sings like nothing you’ve ever heard before! So it makes sense that her live solo shows – with all the musicality and power of Clannad but with added, heart-warming intimacy – should be such a rich and moving experience. Her effortless vocals and timeless music pay homage not only to her vibrant traditional Irish heritage but also her grasp of contemporary forms.

With Clannad she rose to prominence with a pioneering approach to traditional music, which has garnered them 15 million record sales worldwide and a string of awards, including a Grammy in 1998. Her career to date includes 25 albums, numerous film scores and she has sung with many great artists, including The Chieftains, Robert Plant, Paul Brady, Shane MacGowan and Bono.

The East Pointers
Wednesday 7 June, 7:30pm – 10:00pm (Doors: 7pm)
Cecil Sharp House, London

​£14 | £10 youth​

The East Pointers are three young men whose talent and penchant for traditional Celtic tunes of decades past greatly belie their respective ages.

And while each member of the freshly formed trio – banjoist/vocalist/step-dancer Koady Chaisson, fiddle player/vocalist Tim Chaisson, and guitarist/vocalist Jake Charron – is an accomplished musician in his own right, their recent union is a testament to their shared output being, to borrow a common adage, greater than the sum of its parts.The cousins Chaisson hail from Prince Edward Island, Canada, part of the sixth generation of a heralded legacy of fiddlers and folk musicians. Tim tours the world as a performer/songwriter with a pop and country-tinged take on contemporary folk, with Koady often at his side or supporting other touring trad acts with his banjo, bass, and six-string. Jake, on the other hand, is based in Ontario and has strummed, plucked, and played piano alongside a laundry list of award-winning performers from around the globe.When Jake would visit PEI with any of his collaborators or the Chaissons were passing through Ontario on tour, a late-night kitchen party was sure to follow – fiddles and friends, guitars and Guinness, banjos and bad jokes. As their trunk of traditional and original tunes – some with an Irish influence, some Scottish, others rooted in the Maritimes – started to fill up, the trio realized it was time to put some to tape and take them on the road.The East Pointers’ slew of tunes carries a diverse mix of influence, but regardless of their age or origin, what they all share in common is the undeniable ability to get hands clapping, feet stomping, and bodies of all ages bouncing in harmony.

Made in the Great War
Thurs 8 June, 7.30pm

£18 | £10 under 26s

Sam SweeneyEight years ago Sam Sweeney, fiddle player with folk big band Bellowhead, bought a violin with a label inside showing the date 1915, the name Richard S. Howard and the words “Violin No. 6, Made in the Great War”.  Research revealed that the violin had been started, but never finished, by a music hall performer from Leeds named Richard Spencer Howard who was conscripted in 1915 at the age of 35, and killed two years later at the battle of Messines near Ypres.

The pieces of the fiddle had lay in a manila envelope for nine decades and it was over ninety years after Richard S Howard began working on the fiddle that it was finally finished and placed in the shop of Roger Claridge. This is where Sam found it.

To mark the ongoing 100th anniversary of World War I and to retell the story of Richard S. Howard, Sam Sweeney (fiddle/viola), winner of the “Musician of the Year” Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015, has collaborated with award-winning storyteller Hugh Lupton, fellow Bellowhead band mate Paul Sartin (oboe/fiddle), and Rob Harbron (concertina/harmonium), to create a music and spoken word performance, featuring on stage the actual fiddle made by Richard S. Howard.

Rosie Hood – ‘The Beautiful And The Actual’ album launch
Wed 14 June, 7.30pm

£12 | £10 under 26s

Rosie HoodRosie Hood is a young folk singer from Wiltshire, known for her strong, pure voice and engaging solo performance. In 2015 Rosie was a BBC Performing Arts Fellow with the English Folk Dance & Song Society and in 2016 she was nominated for the Horizon award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. 2017 will see Rosie release her first full-length solo album The Beautiful & The Actual, a collection of old and new folk songs.

Cecil Sharp House Choir and Alton Community Choir
Sat 17 June, 7.30pm

£10 | £6 under 26s

Alton Community ChoirEFDSS is excited to be hosting special guests Alton Community Choir, under the expert direction of Carolyn Robson, for this collaborative concert. Since forming in 2008, Alton Community Choir’s numbers have grown steadily from an initial 12 members to almost 70.  The Choir delights in finding unique ways to celebrate the folk traditions, which so inspire their repertoire.  Cecil Sharp House Choir was formed by EFDSS in the same year. Led by the inspirational Sally Davies, the Choir has become known for its spirited and moving renditions of folk songs from England and the wider British Isles.  Both choirs will sing selections of glorious a capella harmony arrangements.

Elliott Morris
Wed 21 June, 7.30pm

£12 | £10 under 26s

Elliott MorrisWith hundreds of gigs behind him Elliott Morris has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene.  The singer-songwriter, featured in Acoustic magazine as “The Next Big Thing”, taps the strings and beats the guitar’s body to create an intricate spectacle, together with an original and unique sound integral to his songs.

Elliott’s original compositions marry intricate guitar lines with heartfelt, honest vocals and clever wordplay, combining elements of folk, roots, jazz and country. Embracing the traditional and the contemporary – this is folk music for the 21st century.  Elliott’s versatile blend of folk, pop and rock has complemented a range of major artists he has supported including Frank Turner, Seth Lakeman, Lau, Big Country, and The Three Degrees, and revered folk veterans Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. He has also supported Paul Carrack (Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, Eric Clapton) on many of his UK tour dates.

“One of the most impressive guitarists to grace our studio for a very long time…a compelling listen – and mesmerising to watch!”  Dean Jackson – The Beat / BBC Introducing

MOIRAI – Here & Now (WildGoose WGS421CD)

Here & NowHere & Now must be the first album to open with a song collected from that bastion of the tradition, Facebook™. ‘Dust If You Must’ is an anonymous poem set to music, and while there is nothing wrong with it, per se, I’d rather have it as an encore than an overture.

Moirai are Jo Freya, Melanie Biggs and Sarah Matthews, multi-instrumentalists, composers and vocalists, and this is their second album. They have settled into their groove now; mixing original compositions with traditional pieces and a title track borrowed from Daz Barker. The ratio of songs to instrumentals is higher this time with Jo and Sarah handling the majority of the vocals. Jo’s history with Blowzabella and her penchant for reed instruments frequently give their music a continental feel and bourrees are often intertwined with songs. There’s a pair of mazurkas, written by Jo and Melanie, and Jo’s clarinet combined with Melanie’s rhythmic melodeon playing give ‘The Black And The Grey/The Green Ship’ a European vibe although I suspect that both tunes are British.

The first of two traditional songs is ‘Doffin Mistress’, learned by Sarah from Corinne Male and not quite like any other version I’ve encountered. I suspect that it’s closer to its Irish roots than some more popular variants. The second is ‘The Bedmaking’, combining tunes from Gloucestershire and Wales into a particularly fine version. Sarah’s ‘The Bellamont Sisters’ is an old Derbyshire tale of the building of the 13th century Swarkestone bridge that probably should have been a song but wasn’t and Jo’s ‘The Hare’ is a rather odd song about the origins of Easter eggs and bunnies. Best of all is ‘Rolanda’s Grandmother’. There is a back-story that I’ve been unable to track down but essentially it’s about the way the horrors of war never leave those who witness them.

Here & Now sees Moirai in a more serious mood that did Sideways and gives the impression of material gathered with the trio specifically in mind. There is some lovely playing from all three and everything just feels right.

Dai Jeffries

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

‘Rolanda’s Grandmother’ – live (amateur video):

Royal Albert Hall to Haslemere Hall – Phil Beer Band Gig Review

The Phil Beer Band rocking Haslemere Hall on 19th May – photo by Darren Beech

Phil arrived hot on the heels of the Show of Hands 5th sellout concert at The Albert Hall and the memory of winning the public vote for ‘Best musician’ in this years folking awards still fresh in his mind.

The night was put together by local promoters Auriol and Stuart who are best known for their intimate ‘meal and music nights’ at Applegarth Farm Grayshott. Phil had asked the pair to organise the event as part of his bands first UK Tour in 5 years.

Auriol said ‘for us music is about collaboration and fun, Phil sells out Applegarth every year just before Christmas with a seasonal celebration of music and friendship. So to be asked to promote his full band at Haslemere Hall was a pleasure and honour. We also asked our friend Julian Lewry to collaborate because he does an amazing job putting on live music regularly at Farncombe Music Club and occasionally Haslemere Hall, and like us has a lovely and loyal group of supporters. Stuart summed the evening up by saying that it was one of his favourite gigs ever.

The Phil Beer Band delved into the back catalogues of Phil’s beloved country, rock, folk and blues material which has become the PB Band trademark of the staple diet that have delighted audiences down the years. A rich tapestry of material with that unique PBB ‘folk n roll’ twist thrown in.

There were just too many highlights to name them all but favourites included:

Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear (Randy Newman) which came with a tale about Phil’s computer technician days when he managed a computer the size of a house and played records on the night-shift to keep the staff entertained. The Randy Newman track was a firm favourite of these sessions and dedicated to his boss at the time.

Devils Right Hand (Steve Earle) – A blistering full band version which had you leaping out your western salon seat, throwing you cards to the floor and shouting “Shot the dog down” at the appropriate point in the song.

Restless Highway (Richard & Linda Thompson) – A trip back to 1978 and the “First Light” Album – this came with a story about Phil calling RT to confirm the lyrics and RT referring Phil to a lyrics website as he couldn’t remember them.

Acadian Driftwood (The Band) – The whole story of a people displaced condensed into one song – special mention to the melodeon mastery of Gareth Turner that really made you feel part of the cinematic backdrop of the piece.

Photo by Darren Beech

The Fireman’s Song (D.Bilston) – Great to hear this again, I was first introduced to this song by Pete Coe, who also does a stunning version of it (unique in the fact that it contains a clog dance at the end). I’ve added the video below from the folking archive (Winchester May fest in 2006) so Phil can learn the steps for next time.

More Hills To Climb (Emily Slade) – It was so lovely to hear Emily sing one of her original songs from her first album “Shire Boy”. That finger style guitar method she uses is bewitching to watch and I felt myself drawn in to it again and again as the evening progressed. From where I was sitting, I decided not to annoy everyone by taking film clips of the performance but inspired, I searched my archive and found a performance clip from back in 2004 from one of the Folking live Farnham Maltings shows I did back then. I had to share it (see below). Apologies it not the whole song, my equipment at the time could not do videos over 3 minutes. How technology has changed…

For My Next Trick I’ll Need A Volunteer (Warren Zevon) and Next Best Western (Richard Shindell) were given the full band treatment and we got through both of them without being sawn in half or receiving a guarantee of a bed for the night!

Special mention also has to be given to Olivia Dunn (fiddle) who threw so much energy into the whole evenings performance, that it left you teetering on the edge, thinking that any minute, she was either going to spin out of control, or compose herself in that split second, just as bow and fiddle folk-rocked from one number to the next. 

Photo by Darren Beech

Greg McDonald (bass, vocals) had the impossible task of filling the much missed Nick Quarmby’s shoes and Phil told a lovely story of how they made sure that something of Nicks was left on stage every night. On this night, it was a guitar pick that gave you the impression that Nick was smiling down and tapping his foot along with the rest of us. Greg also came on for a solo spot and gave us a new song called “Night Shift” which I believe will be on his new album.

Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes (Blind Willie Johnson) – This is a PBB blues classic which has to be included in the repertoire together with that firm favourite Willin’ (Little Feat) – I partially liked the story about the Dorset choir singing in harmony to “Weed, Whites and Wine”.

Perfectly Good Guitar (John Hiatt) –  Another great tale to introduce this rocking country classic – about the lunacy of Garth Brooks and Ty England smashing a $5000 Takamine guitars up every night on a 50 date tour in 1991 – you do the math!

The Border Song (Arizona Smoke Revue) – This was one of my favourite performances on the night with again another fascinating tale. Phil was part of this band (as was Steve Crickett) which was formed by Bill Zorn in the late 70’s/ early 80’s. Bill was commissioned to write a song for the movie Midnight Express and The Border Song was that song. In the end however, the song was eclipsed by a Jimmy Hendrix track so it never made the cut. However, the band had just enough money left to employ at “stunt guitarist” who took the form of Richard Thompson. The song appears on the “A Thundering On The Horizon” LP and is the last track on the second side.

Photo by Darren Beech

Before The Deluge (Jackson Browne) was the encore and special mention must also go to “The Hawthornes” who gave us a lively and entertaining start to the evening with Louisa Gaylard setting the pace for a vocal driven acoustic romp through a mariachi style upbeat of pop/rock hooks. The band also featured trumpet player, Greg Wilson-Copp from the Roving Crows, Jesse Benns (drums) and Gordy Partridge (Bass).

The Phil Beer Band on the night were: Gareth Turner (melodeons), Olivia Dunn (fiddles), Emily Slade (guitar, vocals), Greg McDonald (bass, vocals) and Steve Crickett (drums).

Photo by Darren Beech

Artist web links: http://www.philbeer.co.uk/about/phil-beer-band/ & http://www.thehawthornesmusic.co.uk/

Reviewed by Darren Beech