– UK folk and Americana latest news


I suppose it seems a little weird reviewing a festival that you are a participant as a performer. Still, why not? Firstly let’s set the record straight. I’ve always enjoyed the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival because it is so audience and performer friendly. Our host is the ever affable Peter Chegwyn who, like myself has impeccable taste when it comes to selecting which artists to utilise…only joking. Along with his own dynamic duo Keith and Jayne Humpleby, the festival has established itself as one that most performers would give their right arms to get on the bill such has its reputation for hospitality and respect for the artists gone before it. Unfortunately I was only able to judge the festival this time round on the merits of a full evening and one afternoon concert but to be honest having chatted to a fair few of the audience and traders we were all in agreement that this was yet another successful year. Now, for those who have wondered what it’s like in the ‘Green Room’ (yes, this festival has a genuine one!) let me tell you that the conversations are sprinkled with outlandish tales with each artist trying to outdo each other and that you’d better watch out if you sing “The Wild Rover”. Still, if you can’t roll with the punches…don’t get in the ring. You have been warned. Onto the evening performance and Saturday night’s packed auditorium. Garry and I haven’t performed as Band Of Two at the festival for a good five or six years but the reception we received was like a real home-coming. More than likely because we didn’t play “The Wild Rover!” Unfortunately due to me having to chill out in the Green Room I missed Kathryn and her band’s first set of the weekend but, via the sound from speakers in the room she was extremely well received. Having recouped my energy I managed to catch the Feast Of Fiddles (of which Garry is also a member) opening with the first track from their new album “The Magnificent Several” and was particularly impressed by Peter Knight’s “Sharpe Goes Walkabout” and Chris Leslie’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac”. From the audience point of view it was the set of tunes including Dave Roberts’ French Waltz that had many octogenarians swaying in time to the Parisienne style melodies accompanied by evocative guitar chords and sleazy (in the nicest possible way) melodeon from Hugh Crabtree that proved the highlight of the gig. After a good night’s sleep back at the hotel (well, it would have been if it hadn’t been for some serious folk ‘buffs’ tripping upstairs at four in the morning) we woke up to a hearty breakfast joined by Ron Kavana and Ms Tickell (boy, can this lad name-drop). So, onto my final concert of the weekend and what a cracker it turned out to be with an outrageous set performed by Kathryn and her band of happy chappies. Peter Tickell whipped up the audience with dervish digits flailing on his fiddle accompanied by Julian Sutton’s pumping melodeon and Joss Clapp’s truly ‘funky’ rhythm guitar chops. Like me, the rest of the audience were inspired by new heights of professionalism and pleasantly exhausted by the end of the set. So a fine finishing finale (at least for me) and many thanks to Peter Chegwyn and his team for providing possibly the best ‘folk’ festival in the UK…here’s to plenty more. ps/ Many thanks to the Gosport sound and lighting crew and Feast Of Fiddles soundman Paul Smith for turning a good sound into a great one…nice one.




London, Thursday 18 March 2010: Universal Music today announced that they have reeled in ten Cornish fisherman to join the label that is home to Lady Gaga, Take That and Amy Winehouse. Signing a massive million pound deal, Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends will be the first traditional shanty singers to be released through a major label.

Brought to the attention of Universal Music by record producer Rupert Christie, who spotted them whilst on a holiday in Port Isaac performing in the local pub, the label had to move swiftly to stop the record coming out on the Fisherman’s Friends’ own label, Marine Records.

‘Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ will be released on 26 April 2010 and is the eponymous album from these traditional shanty singers from the rugged, panoramic north coast of Cornwall.

The Fisherman’s Friends are shanty singers who have delighted visitors and locals there for more than 15 years. Down on the harbour front of the tiny fishing village of Port Isaac, the authentic sound of the shanty can be heard loud and clear via the mighty, brawny chorale of The Fisherman’s Friends. At around eight in the evening during the summer months, tourists and locals gather to hear this ten-man group mesh their voices in an incredibly rousing and joyful set of shanties and Cornish folk songs.

This unique group from Port Isaac are or have been fishermen, lifeboatmen and coastguards (as well as builders, artisans, hoteliers, and shop keepers) and they’ve known each other since childhood. Their regular portside concerts have become a much-loved local institution and visiting celebrities such as Chris Evans, Gloria Hunniford and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen have fallen under the spell of their Shanty singing.

Recorded in a 15th-century church in nearby St Kew, ‘Ports isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ features a rich haul of 14 songs from their Port Isaac repertoire, including the classic South Australia, the haunting Cornish robber ballad The Cadgwith Anthem and the beautiful Brightly Beams, their mesh of Chapel-inspired harmonies rising out of a big-band folk setting.


“In my opinion this is the best Americana album to come out this year”… Darren Beech

Society are a three piece country rock band from West Sussex who specialise in gorgeous three part harmonies that set them apart from the current crop of Americana or West Coast rock wanabees in the UK. Society comprise of guitarist Matt Wise, bassist Ben Lancaster and on all things percussive F.Scott Kenny. Their recorded and live sound has echoes of C.S.N.Y, The Band, The Heartbreakers, The Jayhawks and the late great Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance. Matt Wise composes most if not all of their material and when all three sing in harmony the result is simply stunning.

Since forming in 2004 Society have supported many great visiting artistes when they toured the UK, opening for notable musicians and performers such as Eve Selis, Deadstring Brothers, Corb Lund, Luke Doucet and The Wailin’ Jennys. Apart from their own UK headline shows, Society have completed two tours of Canada along with a string of dates in the American mid-west gaining a whole new legion of fans in the USA. This constant touring has honed both their musical and vocal chops and in the winter of 2008 Society left their disused stable that served as their rehearsal space and spent time at The Brickhouse Studios near Brighton recording their debut release entitled SONGS FROM THE BRICKHOUSE

The album is a collection of eleven original songs from the pen of Matt Wise and arranged by all three band members. Guest musicians helping out on the recording included Spencer Cullum, a member of the Deadstring Brothers who is one of the foremost young pedal steel players around today, Dave Berliner and James Batchelar on keyboards and the glorious violin of the classically trained musician Sarah Gonputh. The songs on the album echo their love of all things West Coast, Laurel Canyon and the great country rock music of the mid seventies yet bringing their sound right up to date with a distinct indie feel.

2010 will see Society broadening their horizons with live shows and festival appearances already booked in the UK and many new dates to be confirmed.

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 banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Dillon hits the spot – artsdepot, North Finchley

After a hectic, stressful week, it was such a panacea to chill out at Cara Dillon’s gig at the artsdepot, North Finchley on March 5th.

Cara Dillon’s exquisite voice, coupled with the superb musical accompaniment of Sam Lakeman provided an evening of sheer joy and enjoyment. The couple provided the audience with a variety of experiences – the soulful, heart-rendering Irish folk ballads;; the richness of Cara’s beautiful voice – apparently slightly marred by a “tickle” but barely imperceptible by the audience; the marvellous support and arrangements provided by Sam’s keyboard and guitar skills; and the diversity and randomness of Sam Lakeman’s facts (did you know that giraffes don’t have any vocal chords? No, nor did I!). Cara performed songs not just from her award-winning album, Hill of Thieves, but reintroduced the audience to her past work.

The artsdepot was a fabulous venue; great acoustics, good facilities and a welcoming feel. It seemed slightly incongruent – the modern space contrasted by the traditional Irish folk songs, but there was a certain charm to this incongruity. The seating was comfortable and the ambience enhanced by the soft lighting.

A great evening, top notch performers, receptive audience and welcoming venue – perfect. For more info on Cara visit Sarah Burch

SETH LAKEMAN – The Hawth, Crawley 4th March 2010

Well, this was going to be interesting as I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Seth Lakeman only having seen him on a couple of TV appearances when he was up for the Mercury Awards some years ago. At the time I remember thinking to myself he appeared a little too ‘brash’ for my tastes. Having said that, pre-judging can backfire spectacularly and I have to hold my hands up particularly when it blurs my judgement towards the negative without giving the lad a chance. Rarely before a show have I experienced the buzz of anticipation from a predominantly youthful crowd (surely not at a ‘folk’ audience) and I certainly wasn’t expecting the girlish giggling from a group of excitable teenagers perusing their programmes. Still, on to the performance and my, what a performance! The first half of the show saw Lakeman in reflective mood utilising his musicians; Sam Lakeman (guitar), Benji Kirkpatrick (mandolin, bouzouki and tenor banjo), Simon Lea on drums and percussion to their full potential and I don’t think I’ve heard double bass playing as good as that displayed by Ben Nicholls since I first heard Danny Thompson when he was playing with Ralph McTell. The second set comprised of Seth presenting his ‘dance’ driven audience with ever increasing pounding rhythms and to their obvious enjoyment finished the performance with a ‘solo’ featuring his flashy double-stopped fiddle and close-miked foot-tapping. Andre Rieu please note how it should be done. Following a well-deserved encore we had to brave the freezing elements of a cold March night but at least there were plenty of glowing faces.


Artist web link:

Singer-Songwriter Heaven – The Songs Of Kevin Faherty

Ellis Paul, Diana Jones, Darryl Purpose, Buddy Mondlock and other singer-songwriters each sing one song in this surprise tribute to songwriter Kevin Faherty.

EXTRACT FROM THE ALBUM “LINER NOTES” (by PAUL ZOLLO): The first song of his I ever heard was “Singer-Songwriter Heaven,” as performed by Darryl Purpose. And I loved it, not only because it’s funny, which it is, or because it names many of my idols, which it does. I loved it because it tells song writers that what we do matters. It tells us that what these guys in the song did – even the ones who were secret heroes when they were alive, known only to those in the know – has lasting meaning in our lives. That although the world keeps spinning and the future keeps coming with all its chaos, sorrow and madness intact, that what Harry Chapin wrote, or Steve Goodman, or Townes Van Zandt – still matters to those of us who were touched by their brilliance. And will always matter. That songs are eternal. And that after the world of today is gone, the thing that emerges when the dust settles is the song.

So when word came down the wire (or, more accurately, the wireless), that Darryl was inviting friends and fellow singer-songwriters to join him in a musical tribute to the guy who wrote “Singer-Songwriter Heaven,” it seemed like a good idea. Not just because it’s a great song. But also because heaven on earth for singer-songwriters would be something like this. Something in which all your pals, who also happen to be singers and/or songwriters, get together to sing your songs, and even make an album. It’s an honor few songwriters ever get, especially when they’re still alive. And what’s better for a songwriter than being heard? It’s being sung. And Kevin is thoroughly sung here, and by those who love him.

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 banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.