Oysterband celebrate 40 years together

Oysterband

Oysterband was born in the summer of 1977 when the sound of punk rock rang loud from the radio, disaffection became the order of the day and riots filled the streets which would ring through the later years of Thatcherite Britain. There were many on the UK folkscene who felt the same urge for similar challenges and change in their own music and lives, and Oysterband’s hard-edged music and performances amply filled those needs. They brought passion, and not a little poetry to folk and roots music, but also a welcome power and energy.

Through the intervening four decades, they have remained at the cutting edge of the folk scene, exploring their songs and tunes in various line-ups that run the gamut from hard rock ambience to a more trad-angled acoustic trio. What they have retained throughout, however, is their own distinctive sound and approach to folk and roots music.

The multi-award-winning outfit is now entering its 40th year, as vital and creative as ever, with some of the finest songs in the modern folk canon to their name: ‘Put Out The Lights’; ‘When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down)’; ‘Blood Wedding’; ‘Everywhere I Go’; ‘The Oxford Girl’; ‘Granite Years’; ‘Native Son’… plus many others from their vast back catalogue that will be featured in performance during a year of touring and festivals from summer 2017 into 2018. A unique and fiercely independent career celebrated.

On this tour, the band will play two sets each night, one featuring their highly-influential album Holy Bandits in its entirety, the second a selection of older gems from their vast back catalogue of songs such as ‘Hal-an-Tow’, ‘Love Vigilantes’, ‘20th Of April’, ‘Bells Of Rhymney’, ‘Bright Morning Star’ as well as some of the finest new songs in the modern folk repertoire.

Oysterband still play with a spirit of the punk ceilidh band of 1977, the one that roared through people’s lives all those years ago, but the growing depth and sensitivity of their songwriting, coupled with the strength of John Jones’ voice and their remarkable musicianship, have lifted the music into a richer, more acoustic era.

Their occasional collaboration with folk diva June Tabor has produced two cult-classic award-winning albums, Freedom & Rain and Ragged Kingdom. The latter and their hugely influential album Holy Bandits were voted nos. 4 and 5 among the Ten Best Albums of the last 30 years by the public in a poll by fRoots Magazine in 2016. The band is no stranger to TV – they have appeared on Later… With Jools Holland and the BBC Folk Awards shows – but there is no better way to sample the magic of what the band does best, than by catching them live on stage at one of their 2017 tour dates.

Oysterband is:

John Jones – voice, melodeon
Alan Prosser – guitars, voice
Ian Telfer – violin, voice
Al Scott – bass, mandolin, voice
Adrian Oxaal – cello, voice
and the newest member, formerly of Bellowhead, Pete Flood – drums, voice

If you would like to order a copy of any the OB 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 Oysterband 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.

A unamplified classic of ‘Put Out The Lights’ form the Southdowns Folk Festival 2016

UK Tour Dates

Tue
07
Nov
UK LEEDS CITY VARIETIES MUSIC HALL

£20     doors 19:00

Wed
08
Nov
UK EDINBURGH THE QUEEN’S HALL

£20     doors 19:00

Thu
09
Nov
UK MANCHESTER ROYAL NATIONAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC CONCERT HALL

£20     doors 19:00

Fri
10
Nov
UK BRIGHTON THE OLD MARKET

£20     doors 19:30

Sat
11
Nov
UK SALISBURY CITY HALL

£20     doors 19:00

Thu
16
Nov
UK CARDIFF TRAMSHED

£20     doors 19:00

Sat
18
Nov
UK MALVERN FORUM THEATRE

£18 – 22     doors:  tbc

Sun
19
Nov
UK EXETER CORN EXCHANGE

£20     doors 18:45

Tue
21
Nov
UK BIRMINGHAM TOWN HALL

£22     doors 19:00

Wed
22
Nov
UK BRISTOL ST GEORGE’S

£20     doors:  tbc

Thu
23
Nov
UK ULVERSTON CORONATION HALL

£20     doors 19:00

Fri
24
Nov
UK NANTWICH CIVIC HALL

£tbc    doors 19:45

Sat
25
Nov
UK LONDON UNION CHAPEL

£25     doors 19:00

Sun
26
Nov
UK NORWICH OPEN

£20     doors 19:00

Full international dates and info: https://www.oysterband40.com

THE LEYLINES – Along The Old Straight Track (own label)

Along The Old Straight TrackTwenty-five or thirty years ago you would have identified Along The Old Straight Track as a new Levellers’ album. There’s the distinctive vocal style, the driving fiddle, the solid drums and bass in the engine room and the occasional agit-prop lyrics. You won’t be surprised to learn that The Leylines were inspired by Levelling The Land or that the album was recorded at Metway Studios with Sean Lakeman and Al Scott in charge of production and mixing. The band are a quintet from Weston-super-Mare: Stephen Mitchell, Matthew Wilkins, Hannah Johns, Peter Fealey and Dave Burbidge and this is their first album following on from and EP, Let It Go, and the single ‘Sat In A Field’.

So here’s the question – when does inspiration become copying? I like this album and there are some brilliant songs. ‘Things I Know’ anticipates the coming revolution, ‘Run For Cover’ reiterates the warning and ‘You’ve Changed’ is puzzling and vaguely menacing – I wish I knew its back-story. ‘Sat In A Field’ extols the joys of summer festivals while ‘Sorry My Friends’ looks at the other side of the coin, lamenting that “the dream just didn’t come true”.

While Levellers seem to be re-treading past glories it’s good that someone is taking up the torch but now The Leylines have to step out of that shadow and stand blinking in the light of their own, not inconsiderable, talent. You’ve pitched your tent, chaps, and that’s great but next time you have to break some new ground – something like the hidden track would be good.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.theleylinesmusic.co.uk

‘Sat In A Field’ – official video:

JOHN JONES – Never Stop Moving (Westpark Music 87277)

JOHN JONES Never Stop MovingThe Oysterband’s frontman has been also following a solo career since the release of Rising Road in 2009, although the band’s schedule has meant he hasn’t had chance to put together a follow-up until now. Recorded with his sometime side-band, The Reluctant Ramblers, who include guitarist Al Scott, fiddle player Tim Cotterell, bassist Lindsey Oliver and Rowan Gödel duetting and on harmony with Benji Kirkpatrick and fellow Oysterband members Alan Prosser, drummer Dil Davies and new cellist Adrian Oxaal also providing contributions, it’s a less robustly rocking affair than the past couple of band albums and more inclined to the sort of rustic acoustic folk that reflects the pastoral inspirations and Jones’ walking passion that informs many of the songs.

Which isn’t to say it lacks muscle. Featuring driving background fiddle and Scott on bouzouki, ‘The Wanderer’, which references the Uffington White Horse, is a fairly punchy number while, inspired by the story of a girl waking from a drugs coma, ‘She Wrote Her Name Today’ rides a strident drum beat and fiddle swirl that calls to mind the anthemic work of early Runrig while also suggesting folksy version of Editors.

There’s also a rousing up-tempo energy to ‘Jim Jones’, a shanty-flavoured traditional number lyrically rooted in the convict transportations to Australia and the title track itself, which, much like a shark, sings about the need to be constantly moving (a metaphor for progress, here) in order to survive, is propelled by a suitably restless rolling wheels guitar riff. By contrast, slow-tempo album opener murder ballad ‘Down By The Lake’ is a far more contemplative affair. That was apparent inspired by a local tragedy around the Welsh borders where Jones lives while the story of someone he knows who found a magpie tied up in a plastic bag grew into ‘The Black And White Bird’ wherein the bird becomes a lover’s farewell token to the girl he’s forced to leave behind. Jones’ own background informs the simple, cello-streaked acoustic ‘Ferryman’ which, summoning thoughts of vintage Ralph McTell, casts his mind back to the “diesel river” of his Meltham childhood home.

History and imagination join hands on ‘Pierrepoint’s Farewellwhere, to fiddle, cello, simple circling guitar line and Gödel’s dual vocal, he recounts the events that led Ruth Ellis to the scaffold and muses on the hangman and his wife’s feelings as the moment of execution approaches. If that offers no explicit social comment, it’s certainly to be found on ‘Ghosts Of The Village’, a bouzouki led call to arms against the way England’s country villages have become taken over by wealthy city types and their second homes, absentee residents who have led to a dismantling of traditional communities.

The two remaining numbers are both traditional songs, Gödel sharing lead vocal on the Jones and Kirkpatrick’s tribal rhythm arrangement of the seafaring ‘Banks Of Newfoundland’ and, harking back to Jones’ own rambling soul, the album comes to a gentle close with ‘Young Rambling Boys of Pleasure’, a bittersweet lovelorn hymn to the urge to rove. A hugely impressive album, then, that goes to remind that Jones both talks the talk and walks the walk. Long may his feet carry him on.

Mike Davies

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 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.

Never Stop Moving

Artist’s website: http://jj-rr.org/

‘Down By The Lake’ live at Shrewsbury Festival 2014:

OYSTERBAND – DIAMONDS ON THE WATER (Navigator Records 087)

DiamondsOTWaterThe long awaited album from Oysterband is now here and being given rave reviews by those who hear it!  Including me!  It’s seven years since we had a new album full of new material and it is well worth the wait.  It has been #2 on the iTunes album chart already.

First time I put it on my player I was totally hooked!  A new line up was necessary with the exit of Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper, and achieved with the addition of guitarist Al Scott (who produced and mixed the album) and vocalist Rowan Godel.  Lead singer John Jones has said that he had been nervous as to how it would be received with the changes, but he needn’t have worried.

Continue reading OYSTERBAND – DIAMONDS ON THE WATER (Navigator Records 087)

New OYSTERBAND album: Diamonds On The Water – Navigator Records – February 17th 2014

DiamondsRagged Kingdom, Oysterband’s reunion collaboration, with the English folk legend June Tabor, was fROOTS Critics’ Poll Album of the Year, Mojo Folk Album of the Year, won three BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and saw the group featured on Later… With Jools (BBC2 TV).

After two years touring that project, Oysterband is now very happy to announce a new studio Oysterband album, DIAMONDS ON THE WATER, to be released on 17 February 2014  –  their first new collection of original songs in seven years.

“It was time”, says fiddler Ian Telfer, “to get back to some of the other things we do best  –  make new music and get out there on the road.”  And in fact they will be touring full-on in UK through February and March 2014.

Singer John Jones took time from the studio to talk here about the new album:

“After Ragged Kingdom, which was a kind of re-immersion in traditional song”, he says, “it seemed so important to us to get back to working on our song-writing skills in the light of that.  We’ve loved every bit of the collaborative projects  –  which include the Big Session Festival too, of course  –  but the writing is a vital part of our growth and continuity as a band.  And if we can give a little back to the folk tradition, so much the better”.

These are the first Oysterband recordings since the departure of Ray “Chopper” Cooper to pursue a solo career. Al Scott, the band’s long-time producer, has stepped in on bass and mandolin, and, says John, “with the power and inventiveness of Dil [Davies]’s drumming, our sound has become simpler and punchier, as it was in the early days.  Over a summer of great festivals, including Glastonbury, we stripped the sound down and went for it, with Al and Ian singing more to support guitarist Alan Prosser’s backing vocals.  We all had to dig deep to make something new.  And it has had a great reaction”.

“The song-writing has certainly begun to flow.  We’re searching as usual for uplift in the melodies and insight in the words… and there’s maybe an element of the autobiographical this time round. The writing has had the effect of throwing Alan, Ian and myself back together again as the main creative focus of the group. Not an easy thing when, after so many years, the cushioning and supportive mortar of Chopper and June is taken away from between three sharp‐edged stones! Thankfully there was little sound of grinding – we do understand where each other’s songs come from”.

Oysterband1“As usual we recorded in Brighton, where we can draw on the skills of many friends, quite an impressive bunch actually” – including Adrian Oxaal, “a Brighton mate”, former lead guitarist with the band James, but also a fine cellist.  Adrian will be appearing on the album tours.  Rowan Godel, who often sings on John’s ‘walking tours’, came in and added “an emotional vulnerability” to some songs as well as “an uninhibited quality when she soars”.  Lindsey Oliver played double bass “to give us that warmth and swing at the bottom end”.  Ex-Oysterband drummer Lee Partis even dropped in and added his distinctive high harmonies to a couple of tracks, and Pete Davison (trumpet), Eira Owen (French horn) and Sarah Leeves (euphonium) contributed splashes of brass.

What has emerged with these new recordings is a feeling of warmth, both musical and personal, that makes the songs come alive.  “We had sessions where we all just gathered around two microphones. It has a wonderful sound and this ‘choir’ of varied voices has become an essential part of the album.”

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

Artist web link: www.oysterband.co.uk

Folk Legend Nick Burbridge Releases McDermotts 2 Hours Best Of Album

Anticlockwise - McDermotts 2 HoursNick Burbridge, the mastermind behind legendary Brighton-based folk-punk-poetry pioneers McDermott’s 2 Hours has announced an extensive partnership with the Levellers’ and their “On The Fiddle Recordings”. In celebration of this event, the McDermott’s back catalogue will be released digitally via iTunes and Spotify for first time, alongside some new material. Nick has also signed past and future song-writing to the band’s On The Fiddle Publishing enterprise.

This marks the climax to a long and fruitful association between Nick, McDermott’s and The Levellers dating back over twenty years, from the time the Lev’s put out a CD version of the original 1989 vinyl classic The Enemy Within, through several collaborations and other recordings, to Besieged, the forthcoming Levellers album that award-winning producer Al Scott (June Tabor/ Oysterband) is busy arranging and producing, which will emerge early in 2014. Continue reading Folk Legend Nick Burbridge Releases McDermotts 2 Hours Best Of Album