Jon Boden announces new solo album and tour dates

Jon Boden

Jon Boden, former frontman of progressive folk eleven-piece Bellowhead, has announced details of his new solo album Afterglow, set for release via Hudson Records on October 6th. Afterglow is Boden’s first studio release since calling an end to Bellowhead, a twelve-year project that culminated in a quarter of a million album sales and worldwide sell-out shows including the Royal Albert Hall. Boden will return to the stage at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival (July 27th-30th), where he will debut Afterglow as part of his guest curation.

Afterglow follows on from Boden’s 2009 solo concept-album Songs From The Floodplain which lead him to be named as Folk Singer Of The Year at the BBC Folk Awards. Whereas Floodplain largely dealt with the rural setting, Afterglow looks to juxtapose this and immerse the listener within a post-apocalyptic street carnival – a location of decaying buildings, burning oil drums and homemade fireworks, in which Boden tells the story of two lovers trying to find one another. Speaking about the album concept, Boden says:

“Like my previous album Songs From The Floodplain, Afterglow imagines a near-future world where the luxuries and comfort of 21st century life have become scarce, and a harder, simpler existence now prevails. Afterglow is the story of a couple who are trying to find each other in the middle of a bonfire-night street carnival in a crumbling, derelict city. I had a wonderful time recording it in Sheffield with the help of my band the Remnant Kings and Andy Bell in the producer’s chair.”

Across his career Boden has been awarded a record-breaking 12 BBC Folk Awards, earned through his work with Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden. Now touring as both a solo artist and with his band The Remnant Kings, Jon will perform in both incarnations again this autumn. Commencing with his solo tour at Pocklington’s Arts Centre on November 6th, Jon will perform at intimate venues across the UK before ending at Ludlow’s Assembly Rooms on November 14th. From here Boden will tour with The Remnant Kings, beginning at Gateshead’s Sage on November 17 and taking in a date at London’s Scala on November 22nd.

Artist’s website: https://www.jonboden.com/

‘Moths In The Gas Light’ – all we get so far:

Tour Dates

Solo – November

Monday 6th Pocklington Arts Centre
Tuesday 7th The Core at Corby Cube
Wednesday 8th OPEN, Norwich
Thursday 9th Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot
Friday 10th Connaught Theatre, Worthing
Sunday 12th Theatre Royal Winchester
Monday 13th Number 8, Pershore
Tuesday 14th Ludlow Assembly Rooms

Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings – November

Friday 17th Sage Gateshead
Saturday 18th The Leadmill, Sheffield
Sunday 19th Victoria Hall, Settle
Monday 20th Haverhill Arts Centre
Tuesday 21st St. Mary’s in the Castle, Hastings
Wednesday 22nd The Scala, London
Thursday 23rd The Lighthouse, Poole
Friday 24th The Globe, Cardiff
Saturday 25th The Cheese & Grain, Frome
Sunday 26th Lincoln Performing Arts Centre

ANDY GRIFFITHS – Big Red Monster (Musician Records MR011)

Big Red MonsterThe Big Red Monster of the title is probably the rusting old tractor on the back cover but even Andy Griffiths isn’t quite sure. This is Andy’s third album of original songs, gentle and thoughtful with the laid-back support of a fine group of musicians including Rick Foot, Natasha Pattinson, Glen Hughes, John Budgen and Sally Barker.

The opening song, ‘Yesterday When’, is an exercise in nostalgia of the sort that every songwriter essays at some time, nice but undemanding. However, Andy quickly picks up the power with ‘The Liquorice Field’, a story of the young farm-hand and the girl from the big house. I set out looking for the history of liquorice growing in Britain, hoping that the fenlands from which Andy hails were its source, only to find that it hasn’t been grown commercially here for over a century and, as the song implies, only in Yorkshire. The reference to liquorice, however, gives the song a unique twist.

Nostalgia returns with ‘Lighthouse Keeper’ and ‘Tyneham Valley’, the memories of a young child displaced during the last war when the village was taken over by the army – another excellent song. My favourite track is probably ‘Any Day Now’ if only for its opening line: “I can’t remember getting arrested”. I suspect that it’s largely metaphorical but I’m not sure. Then again, ‘Sake Of My Heart’ is a description of alcoholism filled with clever wordplay and an air of mystery which, on reflection, is the best writing. Actually, Andy is adept at the art of oblique writing – I’ll figure out ‘Occasional Tables’ one day.

Twice through and I’m really getting into Big Red Monster. It’s beautifully played and there is something haunting in these songs that draws the listener back.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.andygriffiths.net

‘The Liquorice Field’:

Keith James tours The Songs Of Nick Drake

Nick Drake songs

A haunting and immaculately crafted concert

This concert begins with an introductory set of timeless songs by brilliant songwriters – all contemporary with Nick DrakeRichard Thompson, Roy Harper, Sandy Denny, Al Stewart, Vashti Bunyan, John Martyn, Bridget St John and Bert Jansch.

Also featured are two poems by William Blake which Keith has set to guitar arrangements based on Nick’s unique style.

Nick Drake is the most revered and loved of all this country’s singer/songwriters. He recorded three cherished Albums between 1969 and 1972 but was almost entirely unknown in his day. After his tragic death in 1974, aged only 26, his music almost disappeared into obscurity. Now, thanks to a massive resurgence of interest and a worldwide re-evaluation of his genius, Nick Drake has become a National treasure. An important book, Remembered For A While has been recently released, written by his elder sister Gabrielle Drake. This volume throws light on almost everything attributed to Nick’s brief career as a songwriter and recording artist as well as on many corners of mystery and supposition.

A number of years have now passed since singer/guitarist Keith James paralysed the whole country with his stunningly beautiful series of concerts entitled The Songs Of Nick Drake. At the beginning of the project in 2001 he was the first artist ever to bring this fragile and intriguing music to theatres across the UK in its pure live concert form. The end result was over a decade of highly acclaimed concerts amounting to over 1500 shows in venues in the UK, Ireland, Holland, France, Italy and Spain including all of Nick’s Schools and Colleges – even Glastonbury Festival.

‘Some of the most atmospheric and emotive music you will ever hear’  The Independent

‘a sensitive and pleasingly understated delivery, all the better that the songs might speak for themselves’  Acoustic Magazine

Artist’s website: http://www.keith-james.com/

Nick Drake

‘Place To Be’ live:

Tour Dates

SEPTEMBER 12th FARNHAM – MALTINGS

SEPTEMBER 14th HALESWORTH – NEW CUT THEATRE

SEPTEMBER 30th SALTBURN THEATRE

OCTOBER 1st CARLISLE – OLD FIRE STATION

OCTOBER 5th SCARBOROUGH – WOODEND CREATIVE

OCTOBER 13th COVENTRY – BIG COMFY BOOKSHOP

OCTOBER 20th SHREWSBURY – COFFEE HOUSE

NOVEMBER 12th TAVISTOCK – THE WHARF

NOVEMBER 16th PENZANCE – THE ACORN THEATRE

NOVEMBER 17th LYME REGIS – MARINE THEATRE

DECEMBER 8th BOURNEMOUTH – SHELLEY THEATRE

DECEMBER 9th TROWBRIDGE – TOWN HALL ARTS CENTRE

DECEMBER 10th NEWPORT IOW – STRINGS

DECEMBER 14th CARDIFF – ACAPELA

JANUARY 20th LUDLOW – ASSEMBLY ROOMS

FEBRUARY 10th LEDBURY – MARKET THEATRE

FEBRUARY 24th OTLEY – COURTHOUSE

THE BROTHERS BRIGGS – The Brothers Briggs (All Made Up Records, AMU0010)

Brothers BriggsThis self-titled album by The Brothers Briggs drops in like the soundtrack to a long-lost folk horror film. There’s that delicious sense of the indefinably off-kilter, a queasy disorientation counterpointed by earthy and sweet vocal harmonies.

There’s a real sense of rootedness in the music, yet this selection of traditional tunes is set against strange and dislocating soundscapes that create something quite fresh and surprising. Starting out life as a project to celebrate folk singer Martyn Briggs’ 70th birthday (the father of the eponymous brothers), it has evolved into an unusual and original work most deserving of a wider audience.

Martyn Briggs himself appears in what starts off as a fairly straightforward-sounding version of ‘Maid On The Shore’. But he’s soon joined by an atmospheric wave of washy sound that periodically threatens to overwhelm the vocals entirely, and a mid-point break featuring only the creaking of a ship. It’s disorienting and splendid: a fine example of what the brothers achieve on this album.

Reprising one of dad’s songs, the brothers take on ‘The Painful Plough’, even largely reproducing The Singing Tradition’s vocal arrangements. The cadences of a mediaeval-sounding chant sit alongside rhythmic drum beats and what sounds like a clattering of morris men’s sticks.

Opening song, ‘Bitter Withy’ also takes up this overtly percussive style, with its primitive kettle drum, backed by trumpets, ramping up the moody drama. ‘The Hunter’ gathers speed ominously galloping to a close, while whooshy psychedelic electronics and wonky chords make the sickly sweetness of the vocal of ‘Sandy Daw’ seem horribly oppressive.

Old standard ‘Barbary Allen’ gains a Ry Cooder-ish slide guitar and some intriguing pizzicato that really shouldn’t work at all with this otherwise a capella tale of heartbreak and death, but totally do.

‘Soul Cake’ is an insistent, menacing chant, set against a bony rattle (think Saint-Saëns ‘Danse Macabre’) building to a frenetically atmospheric frenzy of guitars and electronic blips before it just, well, stops. Don’t look behind you…

The album winds up with the phlegmatic ‘When Fortune Turns The Wheel’, perhaps the “straightest” song delivery here, moving through clear changes of mood from bitterness to acceptance.

The Brothers Briggs, Tom, Edward and Alex, have close and well-matched harmonies and solidly pleasing solo voices, as well as a creative ear for arrangements. This first album by them feels like a breath of fresh air, not gimmicky but genuinely something darkly original and I find myself really wanting to hear more.

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 THE BROTHERS BRIGGS – The Brothers Briggs 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: https://www.facebook.com/thebrothersbriggs/

‘Soul Cake’:

‘Fanfare’ – silly but pleasing:

THE TWISTED TWENTY – The Twisted Twenty (Penny Fiddle Records)

Twisted TwentyThe Twisted Twenty are a septet of string players whom I suspect to be proper musicians. What makes then unique is their use of baroque instruments and their research in music of the 17th and 18th century. So what? I hear you say. Well, instruments of the period have a distinctively different timbre from modern instruments and when you have three fiddles, cello, double bass and cittern all of the period you have a very special sound. And before you start reading the sleeve notes and arguing, the bodhran probably originated in the 17th century in Ireland but the form is undoubtedly much older.

The material here is what we would call “traditional” but The Twisted Twenty go deeper. Five of the tunes come from James Oswald, court composer to George III, including his setting of one of two songs, Burns’ ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and the saucy ‘She’s Sweetest When She’s Naked’, which I obviously missed when Blazin’ Fiddles recorded it. The other song is ‘The Three Ravens’, a setting by Thomas Ravenscroft who apparently collected ‘Three Blind Mice’.

An oddity is ‘Arthur McBride’ arranged as an instrumental by the band’s electronics specialist, Alexis Bennett. The modern sounds are restricted to some deep rumblings and the, presumably sampled, sounds of the sea. Lucia Capellaro’s cello gets a big part here.

The Twisted Twenty’s debut is enjoyable although rather short at only eight tracks. There are a couple of hidden minutes at the end, though. I thought I told you to stop this sort of thing.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://www.thetwistedtwenty.com/

‘Fáilte Na Míosa’

Martin Simpson announces his 20th solo album

Martin Simpson
Photograph by Elly Lucas

World renowned guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson releases his 20th solo album in 40 years Trails & Tribulations on September 1st 2017 via Topic Records. The brand-new studio album, his first new solo work since 2013’s widely praised Vagrant Stanzas, will be available in standard and deluxe CD, digital download and standard vinyl (the latter through Vinyl 180).


Trails & Tribulations
is a collection of songs about nature, about travels and about real life stories. There are traditional songs, poems and contemporary songs by great writers, and songs that I had to write because nobody else knew what I wanted to say. I travel, I learn songs, I write and try to get better at the skills required for me to do my job. I look at the world as I pass by, on the road, out of the train window, or as I stop and pay close attention to the square foot under my nose. There is so much to see and to hear and to inspire and to try and understand. I had a huge amount of fun playing and recording these songs, using different instruments, different noises, old friends and new ones, all of whom brought so much to the mix. Martin Simpson, April 2017.

Produced and engineered by Andy Bell, Trails & Tribulations features some of Martin’s most inventive playing yet, showcasing his virtuosity on a variety of instruments including acoustic guitars, resonator guitars, Weissenborn lap steel guitar, electric guitars, 5 string banjo, ukulele – and voice.

Guest musicians on the new album are: Ben Nicholls (string bass and electric bass guitars), Toby Kearney (drums and percussion), Nancy Kerr (fiddle and viola), Andy Cutting (diatonic accordion and melodeon), John Smith (electric guitar and backing vocals), Helen Bell (strings), Amy Newhouse-Smith (backing vocals) and his daughter Molly Simpson on vocals.

Martin will tour extensively this year, including a headline set at Cambridge Folk Festival in the summer and London’s Kings Place in autumn, following the release of Trails & Tribulations.

Hand in hand with his long and storied solo career, Martin has been central to seminal collaborations like The Full English, The Elizabethan Sessions and Simpson Cutting Kerr. He has worked with a dazzling array of artists from across the musical spectrum: Jackson Browne, Martin Taylor, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson, David Hidalgo, Danú, Richard Thompson and Dom Flemons, to mention a few. He is consistently named as one of the very finest acoustic, fingerstyle and slide guitar players in the world and is the most nominated musician in the history of the BBC Folk Awards, with a remarkable 31 nods. A true master of his art.

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 Martin Simpson – Trails & Tribulation 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’s website: http://www.martinsimpson.com/

‘Blues Run The Game’ – audio stream: