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TIM READMAN & JENNIE BICE – Out Of The Green – Big City BC021

An album of British traditional and modern songs by a Canadian artist is an intriguing prospect. Even more intriguing is Tim Readman’s track record which embraces every influence available between Newcastle and Vancouver and digging deeper you find that Tim is a Geordie born and bred, which explains quite a lot. As well as being a singer, guitarist and songwriter Tim is a producer and journalist and sometime artistic director of CelticFest Vancouver and now the picture is complete.

The material on Out Of The Green would not be a surprise on any CD by a young British singer. Tim’s sources are impeccable and, although many of the titles are familiar, he has interesting variants on the traditional material and an interesting approach to the contemporary material. He opens with a brash Irish version of ‘Barleycorn’ and follows that with a rather polite version of ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ in which he covers Shane McGowan while not falling into the trap of sounding like him. Next is probably the album’s best track, Jonathan’s Kelly’s ‘Ballad Of Cursed Anna’ which, if you didn’t know otherwise, you’d attribute to Bob Pegg. His supporters are fiddler Jennie Bice, who shares top billing, plus Ed Weaver and Alan Dionne on mandola, accordion and bodhran – tight and dynamic but not intrusive.

I’m less impressed by Tim’s version of ‘How Can I Ever Be Simple Again?’ which, to my mind, needs more delicacy and fragility than he gives it. Indeed, if there is a fault with this enjoyable album it is a lack of light and shade.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Link: www.timreadman.com

MAGGIE HOLLAND – The Music Institute, Guildford – 18th November 2011

The return of Maggie Holland to this area always brings the old lags – sorry, distinguished members of the local folk scene, past and present – out in force. Indeed you could have put together a very respectable ceilidh band plus sound engineer, song spots and choice of callers from the gathering.

Maggie has a proper job and doesn’t play many gigs these days – far too few, some would say – and although she can hit the top note of ‘Waiting For A Train’ as powerfully as ever she initially seemed short of match practice, not helped by an injury to her left hand middle finger. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem but when you’re fretting strings it’s a different matter. She was luckily in a position to recruit Andy Johnson, a regular collaborator over the years, to play piano on ‘A Place Called England’ which closed the first set and give the hand a rest.

After the break Maggie was firing on all cylinders and gave us a tour round her favourite songwriters: Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Robb Johnson. There were some regular favourites like ‘Coshieville’ and the Tucker Zimmerman/ Derroll Adams medley of ‘Oregon/Portland Town’, the first outing for the banjo. Later she paired Martin Carthy’s ‘Company Policy’ with her own ‘Perfumes Of Arabia’ as she did on Down To The Bone. There were some songs I hadn’t heard before including Butch Hancock’s ‘Give Them Water’ and a song by Camille which may be called ‘Comme Je Marche’. Or not.

Maggie’s encore was the song that really established her as a writer, ‘A Proper Sort Of Gardener’, which can still, or perhaps more so now, bring a tear to the eye. It’s a song of lost innocence, lost youth and the lost country that ‘A Place Called England’ set out to find. Yes, it’s always good to see her back again.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Link: http://www.maggieholland.co.uk/

PETER GABRIEL – New Blood (Real World Records)

Watching Peter Gabriel’s stunning performance with the New Blood Orchestra on Jools Holland’s Later the other evening proved inspirational. OK, so the luxury of being a multi-millionaire can unburden you of the restraint of record company executives waiting their next fix of “…where’s the next hit single” but trust me, an indulgence this album is not. From a listener’s point of view in many ways you wind up willing that each track will surpass itself and that the recording will never end.I know I did and the sumptuous banquet spread out before me like an episode of a Heston Blumenthal TV show proves that the adage “…there’s life in the old dog yet” certainly has legs. It’s with this expectation and hope that Gabriel rises to the challenge making you feel justified that you have faith in his outpourings are met with a sigh of relief when he easily achieves each goal.

The songs included here are a snapshot of his career to date including the powerful horns/strings led “Rhythm Of The Heat”, the exquisite “Downside Up” (with additional vocals from his daughter Melanie) and the energising pulse of “Solsbury Hill” with its gloriously majestic trumpet counter melody as a finale. To my knowledge Peter Gabriel has never recorded an ‘Unplugged’ session for MTV and, if that is the case this CD could well be his homage to the genre. As long as we are blessed by performers of this calibre I can’t think of a finer way to celebrate Britain’s musical heritage. Unquestionably my album of the year!

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist Web Link: www.petergabriel.com

Seth Lakeman Announces New Album ‘Tales from the Barrel House’

Celebrated folk singer-songwriter and virtuoso fiddler Seth Lakeman has just released details of his forthcoming sixth album ‘Tales From The Barrel House’.

Nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 for his ‘Kitty Jay’ album, ‘Tales from the Barrel House’ see’s seth returning to his Devon roots.  Recorded at Morwellham Quay mining port on the north bank of the River Tamar, tracks were recorded in workshops located in the quay.  One track even saw Seth descend into a disused West Country copper mine. Recorded with just one sound field microphone, Seth not only wrote all the songs, but played every musical contribution himself, as well as producing and mixing the album.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artist web link: sethlakeman.co.uk

CHRIS RICKETTS BAND – The Cellars At Eastney – 1st November 2011

The Cellars At Eastney would be a decent pub if it wasn’t for the music. Or, to put it another way, it would be a decent music venue if it wasn’t for the layout, the crowding, the lack of decent seating and the section of the audience that doesn’t have the wit or good manners to shut the f*** up when the artists are on stage. Chris Ricketts’ album launch was a bigged-up version of a regular Cellars acoustic night with three support acts of whom  only The Portsmouth Shantymen struck an appropriate note.

Indeed, Chris invited them back on stage for a couple of songs latter in his set. He kicked off with ‘Bully In The Alley’, a song which isn’t on Port Of Escape but makes a sh1t-kicking opener. He immediately switched to his gentler mode with ‘Spanish Ladies’, considered somewhat passé these days which Chris performs beautifully. After ‘Haul Away Joe’ and ‘Hanging Johnny’ he slowed things down again with ‘Boston And St. John’s’ with Steve Hampton switching from electric double bass to delicate lead guitar. Chris has an excellent band behind him, notably Garry Blakeley on fiddle who played some gorgeous counter melodies and rhythms. It was impossible to see much of drummer Alex Stack who was squeezed into a corner of the stage but his contribution was vital if unobtrusive.

They played all the album and threw in ‘Sally Brown’ and ‘Shallow Brown’ before finishing with ‘Leave Her Johnny’ which segued into a reggae take on ‘Drunken Sailor’. An encore was inevitable and the band returned for that great old sea song, ‘Teenage Kicks’.

Chris has made a great album and has a superb band to support him. I’m now looking forward to hearing him in a venue where the music is of more than passing interest.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artist Web Link: http://www.chrisrickettsmusic.com/

New Country Rehab

Take one of Canada’s hottest country fiddle players, a guitarist that’s a cross between Tom Morello and Kevin Breit, a percussionist that plays saw blades and cookie sheets and one of the most versatile double-bass players in Canada and you get New Country Rehab. With their debut album release now available in the UK, the band are quickly making a name for themselves having been described in Canada as “a band to watch closely” by Exclaim! magazine. Since the Canadian release they have played many major Canadian music festivals and are showcasing at the Americana Music conference in Nashville, TN in Oct. 2011. They will be touring in Europe in January 2012 in support of their self-titled debut album.

Formed by John Showman, Ben Whiteley, James Robertson and Roman Tome, the band’s unique outlaw indie-country sound channels Hank Williams Sr. as much as Arcade Fire, creating exciting new music that’s winning a rabid and rapidly-growing fan base. As Tom Power, host of CBC Radio’s Deep Roots show explains, “They’re one of the few bands that the hardest of old-folkies and the hippest of hipsters can agree on. Combining virtuosity with taste, they’re poised to be the ‘next big thing’ in Canadian Music.”

The self-titled album, recorded by producer Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre) highlights the group’s strong original compositions and deep musical palette. The song-writing is defined by themes of death, love and loss, written in the folk-country storytelling tradition. John Showman weaves songs together often based on real people he has encountered in his life. Bury Me is a dying man’s lament for a grave next to that of his true love. InCameo, the story of a woman who escaped Nazi Germany on skis parallels her granddaughter’s escape from love gone wrong. The Last Hand recounts a gambler’s final game as he crosses paths with “The Cowboy”, a colourful and notorious figure that Johncame to know in the Florida Keys. The band takes the listener on a boisterous journey, from the Queens-of-the-Stone-Age-meets-Doc-Watson original trackAngel of Death to the menacing State Trooper (an interpretation of the seminal Bruce Springsteen song, replete with police sirens and car crashes). New Country Rehab move with ease through Post-modern surf-rock in The Houses In This Town Are All Falling Down, dub reggae in a reinvention of Hank Williams Sr.’s Ramblin’ Man and disco-imbued instrumentals in the once old-time Appalachian tune, Train 45.

All of the band members are successful sidemen in their own right, having played with artists ranging from Amy Millan, Basia Bulat, the Creaking Tree String Quartet, Elvis Bossa Nova, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Justin Rutledge, Ken Whiteley and Brandi Disterheft.  Lead singer and fiddle player, John Showman won the 2011 Cliff Top Fiddle competition in West Virginia and honour only once before bestowed upon a Canadian.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).


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.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/newcountryrehab