BRUCE COCKBURN – Small Source of Comfort

Bruce Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns – often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.

“My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,’” laughs Cockburn. “I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.”

Released in April 2011, Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery. Winning this year’s Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album, and his 12th Juno Award to date, the album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.

Bruce Cockburn’s songs, along with his humanitarian work, have brought him a long list of honours, including an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.

Never content to rest on his laurels, Cockburn keeps looking ahead. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next”, he once said. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stopped working till they dropped, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.” Small Source of Comfort, a reflection of Cockburn’s ever-expanding world of wonders, is the latest step in his creative evolution.

With a career spanning more than four decades, producing an acclaimed body of work that has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, Bruce Cockburn continues to be revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.

Small Source of Comfort is Cockburn’s first studio album since 2006 – a rhythmic and highly evocative collection of 14 new tracks inspired by his renowned unusual and diverse muse – recent trips to Afghanistan and ponderings on the re-incarnation of Richard Nixon, to road trips and unreturned phone calls. The album boasts some of the best musicians recording today, including violinist Jenny Scheinman, former Wailin’ Jenny Annabelle Chvostek, and long time collaborators Gary Craig, Jon Dymond and producer Colin Linden.

As both a songwriter and a guitarist, Bruce Cockburn is considered among the world’s best. The New York Times called him a “virtuoso on guitar”, while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell and Django Reinhardt.

Cockburn’s songs have been covered by such diverse and talented artists as Elbow, Jimmy Buffett, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Chet Atkins, K.D. Lang, Barenaked Ladies, and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.

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: www.brucecockburn.com

Folk icon teams up with dance producer to produce genre-defying album…

American folk music legend and a British experimental dance music producer may be highly improbable, but folk grande dame Peggy Seeger and Broadcaster have pulled off a genre-defying album full of hypnotic and hook laden delights, creating the video ‘First Time Ever’ from the album Folksploitation which is now available via Red Grape Music.

The song was originally written by Ewan MacColl for the 20 year-old Peggy in the early days of their courtship. Broadcaster works his studio magic on Peggy’s heart-rending vocals and lays them against dub, groove and techno beats. With the added poignancy of a woman in later years remembering a lost love, the results are nothing short of stunning.

The track is taken from new album ‘Folksploitation’ which is both a musical collaboration and a concept. The unlikely juxtaposition of Seeger’s delicate vocals and Broadcaster’s dub, hip hop, funk and techno beats, turns the improbable into the possible, the traditional into the experimental and a conundrum into artistry.

Broadcaster has never been afraid to break musical boundaries or cross genres, as witnessed by his remarkable 2008 debut ‘Primary Transmission’, in which he took samples from the legendary 1960s BBC Radio Ballads series and gave them a radical dance makeover. Played on BBC Radios 1,2,3,4 and 6Music the album received universal praise across the media:

“Among the list of 100 things you never expected to happen in this or any other lifetime is Ewan MacColl turning up as a Radio 1 Record of the Week” -fRoots

Other tracks on the album include traditional songs from early last century that tackle the still contemporary topics of inner city violence and drugs. Still others are just great danceable tracks that make one smile. All are given the Broadcaster treatment that takes them into a different realm.

“refreshing and vibrant” – Folking.com

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.

Anna MacDonald – Paper Flowers EP Released tomorrow on Firebeach Records

Anna MacDonald is a singer and songwriter of folk songs which reflect the strong influence that different strands of Scotland’s traditional music have had upon her. A multi-instrumentalist, she is able to play the piano, guitar and clarsach which she beautifully intertwines with Scots, English and Gaelic songs. As well as performing regularly at folk clubs and festivals, in May 2011 Anna began work with Fraser Fifield on her second EP, Paper Flowers. This August 6th, her highly anticipated new record finally sees a release.

Opening with the title track, the EP sets its stall out as a gorgeous collection of haunting, soft, love songs, Anna combining the traditional music she loves with her own flair for dramatic vocals and lyrics. Glasgow Rain is marked as a perfect example of this, MacDonald observing that ‘Trees throw shadows, in the fire of those street lights’ – an ode to her beloved Glasgow.

Having made quite a name for herself on the live circuit, and garnered positive reviews from The Guardian and The Glasgow Herald, Anna can be regularly heard on Radio nan Gaidheal (BBC Radio Alba) as well as appearing on Celtic Music Radio and Radio 4′s “Miller’s Tale”. In 2010, MacDonald released her debut EP “You Held Out Your Hand” to critical acclaim from national and music media alike.

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.

BULLY WEE BAND – The Madmen of Gotham & The Vintage Years 1975-1980 (Slaughterhouse Productions SLP009CD)

The saying “…born at the right time…” couldn’t be more appropriate in describing this more than welcome trip down memory lane. I remember first meeting members of the band when they turned up unannounced one night at the Cambridge Folk Festival (was it really 1975?) and provided their spell-bound audience with an impromptu set that left us all breathless thinking just how good they were. They also…just by chance…happened to have some freshly pressed vinyl and sold a batch of them including one to yours truly. In their short-lived five year career the band provided the ‘folk’ club scene with some of the most enjoyable Celtic based music and entertainment (at that time not a ‘dirty’ word) it was our pleasure to experience. Captured here is a good cross-section from each of the band’s four recordings showcasing the talents of Frank Simon’s flashy, jazz tinged guitar playing to Jim and John Yardley’s knowledge of traditional songs, Ian Cutler’s demon fiddle, Fergus Feely’s wit and pumping bouzouki and Colin Reece armed with his own self-penned traditional styled songs. “Trooper And The Maid”, “Trumpet Hornpipe”, “Open The Door Softly” and “Madmen Of Gotham”…they’re all here with the trademark Bully Wee sound and personally speaking not a duff track to be found anywhere. Expertly digitally re-mastered by Graham Semark, this is an opportunity for those old enough to remember the band’s glory days to reacquaint themselves with a group that would certainly give any of today’s young pretenders a run for their money.

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).

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.bullyweeband.com/

Marvin, Welch and Farrar – Second Opinion (Beat Goes On BGOCD714)

How do you carry the burden of being so well established because of another vehicle (in this case The Shadows) that anything else you try pales into insignificance…at least in the eyes of a majority of the general public? Such was the case of Marvin, Welch & Farrar. Well, part of it may have had to do with the fact that they turned from electric gods into acoustic weaklings but, for me at least that’s where a lot of their charm lay. OK, so the comparisons to Crosby, Stills & Nash are inevitable (MW&F even said so themselves) and to some lesser extent the band America but if you give it a chance, particularly in 2012 where ‘acoustic’ music is being heralded as the second coming there may hopefully be reawakened interest. Now, far be it for me to be critical but I’m not sure about the opening track “You’re Burning Bridges” which apparently met with approval from more knowledgeable scribes than me but the intonation on the nylon strung guitar is what might politely be described as being a bit dodgy. The second track “A Thousand Conversations” however is a different kettle of fish with its gently picked 12-string introduction and seductive string arrangement which wouldn’t sound out of place on a BBC Radio 2 show. Collectively Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and John Farrar could rock it out when they needed to as can be witnessed on “Throw Down A Line” and surely a contender alongside the likes of the Goo-Goo Dolls for a Hollywood soundtrack. I just knew when I got this album I was going to be in for a treat little realising just how much of a treat it really turned out to be…a bit like getting the purple wrapped chocolate in a box of Quality Street. If you’re into a slice of country-rock or just into great harmonies and guitar performances then may I humbly suggest you start here.

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).

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.

DOGAN MEHMET Outlandish Album Reviewed

DOGAN MEHMET Outlandish Album ReviewedBlimey mate…luvvaduck…wotcher cock, it wouldn’t surprise me if these and many other colloquialisms were all thrown into Dogan Mehmet’s melting pot and a good few others to boot. If I was in Brick Lane I’d possibly have thought I’d just bought a ‘fake’ CD so colourful is the International vocabulary but no, this is the genuine article. This cross cultural musician (Turkish/English) displays the passion of his roots to exploit traditional songs and instrumental textures with a smattering of youthful vigour and to help steer you as to where I’m coming from think of Jim Moray combined with a slice of Jack The Lad for good measure.

It will help if you don’t think too much about the ensuing clash but go with the flow and just enjoy the recording for what it is. As you may have guessed already, being somewhat an anglophile, for me personally I’m not sure about the Turkish influence (stereotypically too many late nights spent indulging in greasy kebabs and not being able to converse with anyone in the queue perhaps?) but Mehmet’s passion for a broadside ballad has to be admired. If I was on a ‘folk’ jury I’d give him ten out of ten for the English stuff particularly when he includes “Lord Bateman”, “Roaming Journey Man” and “Young Edwin” in his repertoire but let’s just say that the jury is still out on the Turkish stuff…well, look what they did to Kevin Costner in Robin Hood. OK, so if you like your music with bite and don’t mind throwing caution to the wind then I’m pretty sure you’ll find something here to crave your indulgence even though, as the title suggests you may find the whole process a little outlandish.

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).

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.