Fairport Convention: Folk Heroes will be broadcast this month

Folk Heroes

Sky Arts is to broadcast a major television documentary to mark the fiftieth anniversary of legendary folk rock band Fairport Convention. Titled Fairport Convention: Folk Heroes, the 70-minute film will be transmitted at 9pm on Saturday 25 November 2017.

The film tells how five young musicians in North London formed Fairport Convention during 1967’s ‘summer of love’. The band went on to shake English folk music to its roots by fusing it with rock, an approach which outraged some purists but delighted a new and devoted audience.

In the subsequent five decades, Fairport Convention has attracted widespread critical acclaim, won a coveted BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, and Radio 2 listeners voted Fairport’s groundbreaking album Liege & Lief ‘The Most Influential Folk Album of All Time’.

The documentary has been made by London-based independent producer Special Treats Productions. The company’s previous television music documentaries include XTC: This Is Pop, I’m Not In Love: The Story Of 10cc and the award-winning film UB40: Promises And Lies.

The film features rare archive interviews and footage as well as newly-filmed interviews with the current Fairport members and, among others, Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Iain Matthews, Judy Dyble, Joe Boyd, Ralph McTell, Maddy Prior, Bob Harris, Suggs, Rick Wakeman, Steve Winwood, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

Through these interviews, the film examines Fairport’s first five years in detail, including the tragic motorway crash which killed drummer Martin Lamble. It goes on to explain Fairport’s pivotal role in the evolution of British folk-rock; how the band fostered major talents such as Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick and spawned other notable bands including Matthews Southern Comfort, Steeleye Span, and Fotheringay.

The story is brought up to date with contemporary material filmed at Fairport’s annual ‘own brand’ music festival held at Cropredy in Oxfordshire. The closing sequence features the band’s 2017 festival performance when virtually all the surviving former members joined the current line-up on stage.

Producer/Director Charlie Thomas has been working closely with Fairport for over a year. He says: “Our aim is to explain how important Fairport’s influence has been and continues to be – in other words, why the band matters.

“We have not set out to make a comprehensive, year-by-year history of Fairport; that has been done before. The film concentrates on two periods – the first five years and the band today. The result is a celebration of a very British institution and an assertion of Fairport’s continuing relevance.”

Artists’ website: www.fairportconvention.com

Paper Aeroplanes set to release Little Letters on Navigator Records

paper aeroplanes 2013Little Letters’, released on May 13th, is the third album by Paper Aeroplanes. The Welsh duo – Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn – have been making serious waves around the UK, touring constantly since getting together in 2009.

Last year alone they played over one hundred dates, selling out venues across the UK and performing at a host of prominent music festivals. The long-awaited new album is their first release on the Navigator label.

Their emotionally charged music and heartbreaking vocals have already gained Paper Aeroplanes some impressive fans in the media world. “Intimate, jaunty and confident low-key pop with great melody” is how The Guardian describes their music, while radio support has come from 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, Cerys Matthews, Chris Hawkins and Lauren Laverne and Radio 2’s Bob Harris. Radio Wales are also big supporters of the duo, helping cement their burgeoning reputation in the principality.

Musically, Sarah and Richard are inspired by the likes of Laura Veirs, Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Gillian Welch, Everything but the Girl and Lucinda Williams. ‘Little Letters’ is a step away from their previous two albums, with more of a full band feel that nevertheless maintains the duo’s talent for catchy, atmospheric, folk-tinged songs. Their compositions are picturesque stories, inspired by their rural upbringing and the emotional extremes of past loves and friendships.

“We’re constantly inspired by our home towns and the stark, coastal imagery of the wild west” says Howells. “This album is about personal experiences in relationships and the inner, mostly hidden lives of people, as opposed to what you see on the surface. My main aim when writing is to express something that I would normally find hard to put into words. It’s definitely a cathartic process.”

“Whether it’s a good or bad memory, I think it’s an important process to capture those thoughts and keep them in a song-like bubble, making room for new experiences,” she remarks. “The title ‘Little Letters’ has a few different meanings for us, but I think it generally reflects the way we communicate these days – life and love in 140 characters: Texts, status updates, tweets, post-it notes, I love yous…”

The beautiful song ‘Sleeper Train’ for instance, was written while Sarah was travelling from Xi’an to Bejiing in China. “It’s about falling for a friend in the UK via text message while travelling around China” she says. “It didn’t work out once back home, but it was a very intense and memorable time”.

‘Multiple Love’ and ‘Circus’ are the most honest songs on the album, according to Howells. ‘Circus’ is about playing and making music for a living and the frustration that comes with it. ‘Multiple Love’ is about waiting for the right person and not just ‘making do’. It’s supposed to be an anthem for single people but”, she confesses, “I think it’s maybe tinged with a little too much sadness.”

‘When The Windows Shook’ is a song that was stirred by the tragedies experienced in and around Sarah’s industrial hometown of Milford Haven, the kind of small community where everyone knows each other’s names and business. In 1994 there was an explosion at one of the local oil refineries, which caused the windows in Sarah’s family home to crack, a terrifying experience for a young child. In 1996 there was the Sea Empress oil spill disaster, which made national news, killing much of the local wildlife and ruining many local beaches. Lastly, in 2011, four people died, including a neighbor, in another explosion at the Chevron Refinery in Pembroke, across the estuary from Sarah’s family home.

Aside from the musical talents of Sarah and Richard, ‘Little Letters’ features a host of top players, such as John Parker on double bass (from Nizlopi who had a UK No.1 with “The JCB Song”) and percussionist Martin Ditcham (Everything But The Girl, Talk Talk, Sade). The album was partly produced by Phill Brown (Bob Marley, Bombay Bicycle Club, Talk Talk) at Yellow Fish studio in Lewes, with much of the additional tracking taking place at Richard’s flat in Cardiff. Brown’s ‘old school’ influence is there for all to hear – the warmth of the analogue tape and the relaxed, atmospheric rhythm section recordings giving a great backbone to these 11 stunning songs.

Paper Aeroplanes’ brilliant album provides an intimate yet far reaching soundtrack to the duo’s lives; each song a ‘little letter’ full of meaningful recollections and poignant personal moments. The result is a set of songs that are honest and raw, yet crammed with melodies that resonate in your head long after the record’s finished. 

“Little Letters” is released on May 13 on Navigator Records.

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: https://paperaeroplanes.bandcamp.com/

Annie Keating releases new album For Keeps

Annie Keating For KeepsNew-York singer/songwriter Annie Keating’s fifth album, For Keeps is indeed a keeper. Beautifully crafted songs combined with musical hooks and punches knock the listener in the chest, making this album an instant classic. With refreshing honesty, grit and timelessness, Keating and her band of musical magic makers achieve a sound that is complex and simple, new and vintage … the first song gets its hooks in you and captivates throughout.

This Brooklyn-based songwriter knows how to write and deliver beautiful songs with a magical earthly rich voice and arrangement that transfixes … She has picked up a great (and well served) reputation over the course of her four previous albums, but on For Keeps Keating truly shines. No frills or posturing – her sultry voice cuts straight to the heart. On her fifth album release, she has arrived as an international songwriting tour de force.

Talent spotted by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris, Keating appeared live on his show in 2008 and 2011 and has gone on to perform at numerous leading national and international festivals including Take Root (Netherlands), the Glasgow Americana Festival (Scotland), the NJ Folk Festival, NXNE in Canada, NEMO and MEANY music fests and the Mountain Stage NewSong finals.

Keating has performed on the bill with the likes of John Hiatt, Dan Bern, Natalia Zuckerman, Bon Iver, Hot Club of Cowtown, Anne Heaton, Boris McCutcheon and Shannon McNally.

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.

See artist web link for tour dates: www.anniekeating.com

Review of Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, James Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters concert in aid of charity for musicians

AN EVENING WITH MARTIN CARTHY AND DAVE SWARBRICK, JAMES YORKSTON AND THE CARRIVICK SISTERS AT THE CECIL SHARPE HOUSE  REGENT’S PARK LONDON ON 18th DECEMBER 2012

At the outset let it be known that folk gatherings have never been top of my list in Winter, however,  I was very pleased to have had the good sense to attend this superb concert at the ‘Mecca’ of British Folk and to patronise such a worthy cause.   This concert was sponsored by the Musicians’  Benevolent Fund, was most ably hosted by the one and only “Whisperin’ Bob Harris” OBE, and portrayed the musical talent of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, John Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters.

Bob opened the concert and, in his usual warm and relaxed professional manner, he extolled the virtues of The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and stressed its significance to musicians.   In essence, the fund was set up to “provide help and support to musicians and their dependants, and those in related occupations, when illness, accident or old age bring stress or financial burdens to bear.” During the evening the mellifluous Bob declared that tonight’s audience was the largest ever held in this venue and I sincerely hoped that The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund would benefit admirably from their generosity

This concert was, in my opinion, a concert of contrasts:  contrasts of music types from Bluegrass to Baroque, rhythms and time signatures, styles and origin. Contrasts in instruments (albeit all of the stringed variety) ranging from the banjo to the fiddle.  And contrasts in artists ranging from the young twenty somethings to the young seventy somethings!  There was, however, one issue in common with each of the headline artists…. they had, at some time in their career, sought and received the help of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.

First on were …. The  Carrivick Sisters …… twins Laura and Charlotte seemed totally at home on such an occasion and they performed a series of their original songs and instrumentals using a variety of stringed instruments, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, Dobro, and banjo along with a several carefully chosen “covers”.  I particularly enjoyed listening to Laura’s compositions involving the Dobro which reminded me so much of Iris DeMent and marvelled at Charlotte’s nimble finger picking. In my opinion their overall stage presence, interaction with the audience and musical prowess belied their tender age (compared to Bob anyway!!).  During their set they made reference to financial support proffered by The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund to fund their latest album release.

Next we listened to James Yorkston who hails from Fife…..James  started out as bassist for a punk band  and then, as some would put it, “saw the light” to become one of Scotland’s most renowned singer- songwriters.  James opened his set by conveying to the audience his sadness for Douglas Paul who, as his bass player, had been with him since 2001 and had recently passed away.  James related also his past memories of this magnificent concert hall.  To me (and others) it seemed that most of his hour’s performance was a lament for “Doogie”.  Nevertheless despite the poignant occasion, James’ emotional music and lyrics were fascinating to listen to, more so when embellished by his two guest singers  Belfast-born, Chicago-raised Jill O’Sullivan from the group Sparrow and the Workshop and Mayo man singer-songwriter Seamus Fogarty.  James’s expounded and commended the vital work of The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and how it had helped him financially when one of his children became seriously ill…..

And finally after more stirring and passionate words in support of The Musicians’ Benevolent  Fund by Bob, the highlight of many peoples’ evening…..the high priests of British folk music and top of the bill, Martin Cathay and Dave Swarbrick both looking so relaxed and at home on stage in front of a very eager audience.  “I played here 54 years ago” quipped Dave……I noted that the majority of the audience weren’t even thought of then!

And then it began…..over an hour of remarkable and awe-inspiring music played by the Grand Masters.  It was incredible to listen to and a total contrast to anything before.  Their choice was significantly of the Baroque era but not in that style as we know it.  There were songs and instrumentals encompassing various compound time signatures and no hint of bar counting!!  It was wonderful to watch and hear the stirring fiddle playing by Dave neatly intertwined with  Martin’s guitar and his well-celebrated vocals….Dave’s “I left my Heart in New South Wales” was my favourite of the evening…..

Seemingly, in next to no time the concert came to a close despite the audience clamouring for more encores from Messrs. Martin and Dave. Finally, to each and every musician gracing that stage and beguiling a very enthusiastic audience we thank you for such a memorable evening.

Peter Burch – 25th December 2012

Speaking about his involvement, Bob Harris OBE said “I am delighted to be part of this wonderful event and hope that it raises the profile for the Musicians Benevolent Fund which is a vital lifeline for so many musicians, without which they would face a very uncertain future.”

Further information about The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund is available here: https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/

This event was made possible by everyone involved donating their time and The English Folk Dance and Song Society generously allowing free hire of Cecil Sharp House.

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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Eve Selis Releases FAMILY TREE

To support the UK release of FAMILY TREE, Eve Selis and her full band will be touring the UK during June and July 2012. Venues include The Met in Bury, The Sage in Gateshead and Norwich Arts Centre. Eve and the band will also be playing at the prestigious Maverick Festival in Suffolk and also at the Americana International Festival at Newark County Showground. For the full list of tour dates please see the attached document.

“Eve is a deeply creative, caring artist who gives everything to her craft. As a live performer she is awesomely powerful, as a recording artist she is both sensitive and strong. I love her spirit and I love her music. She deserves to shine.” Bob Harris-BBC Radio2

As winner of 7 San Diego Music Awards in Americana and Adult Alternative, Eve Selis is no stranger to Roots music. Her newest CD FAMILY TREE features 14 sturdy tracks drawn from the dark, rich soil of American music. From the swamp-rock of Rubber and Glue to the plaintive country heartbreaker Don’t You Feel Lonesome to Leonard Cohen’s majestic masterpiece Hallelujah, Selis and her band dug deep to create a towering opus of interconnected musical branches, all dripping with Selis’s indelible “honey chipotle” voice.

“This CD sums it all up for me,” Selis explains. “I got to explore all the different styles of music I love; I got to co-write with all my favorite songwriters (Marc Intravaia, Kim McLean, Calman Hart, Rich Wiley, Doug Crider); I got to sing wonderful songs about the things that mean the most to me — loss and love, sadness and joy, hardship and triumph, faith and family; I got to record with the best band in San Diego, with the best studio team I’ve ever worked with…I couldn’t be happier about this CD.

FAMILY TREE was recorded at San Diego’s premiere recording facility, Big Fish Studio in Encinitas, under the guidance of Grammy® winning producer, Steve Churchyard. Recording “old school” to 2-inch analog tape, Churchyard captured the warmth of Selis’s unique style, both explosive and tender, allowing him to recreate the natural sound of her live performance. Musical partner, Marc “Twang” Intravaia remarked: “…we hadn’t recorded to tape in 20 years.”

After final takes, the tracks were then brought into the digital world by transferring them to ProTools on a Mac for overdubs, where Churchyard took advantage of all the latest digital tools to create a 21st-century record that sounds like it could have been recorded in the musical heyday of the ’70s.

The recording of the CD was financed entirely by fans of the Eve Selis band via the crowdfunding web sites Kickstarter and PledgeMusic. A video appeal on both sites asking everyone to be a part of her “record label” brought in donations from $10 to $10,000. This allowed Selis to not only record at Big Fish with Churchyard but to hire renowned musician Albert Lee, described by Eric Clapton as “…the greatest guitarist in the world.” She also brought in acclaimed sidemen, Dennis Caplinger on fiddle, mandolin, dobro and banjo and Rick Schmidt on steel guitar.

Mastering was done in Nashville by Best Engineer Grammy® Award winner Richard Dodd, known for his work with The Dixie Chicks, Big and Rich, Martina McBride, Brooks and Dunn, Tom Petty and many more.

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 futher information see www.eveselis.com

Rachel Harrington and THE KNOCK OUTS

NEW ALBUM NOW AVAILABLE!

Imagine Loretta Lynn playing Otis Redding songs in a garage in Seattle – in 1963. That gets you somewhere near the new territory being scouted out by country soul sensation Rachel Harrington as she heads for the hills and honkytonks with her newest adventure.

Over the course of the past three striking albums, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Rachel Harrington has proven an ability to conjure songs and stories that are real and resonant and timeless – whether she’s singing about yesterday’s heartache or tomorrow’s dreams. “Ancient sounding country noir” (Q – 4 Stars) with “songs that conjure the ghosts of old America” (Mojo – 4 Stars).

So what happens when a true original like Harrington gets a full band behind her? And what if that band is dedicated to excavating the very soul of American roots music, to mining the old school sounds and sentiments from Etta to Loretta? And let’s just say that band is comprised of some of the finest female musicians in the Northwest? That band would be called Rachel Harrington and the Knock Outs.

Asked to perform some songs at Seattle Theater Group’s annual Patsy Cline tribute concert, Harrington found herself talking backstage with a host of fellow girl singers and musicians. It didn’t take long for their shared love of honkytonk, classic country, early rock and the Bakersfield sound to become obvious. As the story goes, the Knock Outs were born backstage and christened with a few shots of whisky.

“It was a meant-to-be kind of moment. We were all women who all knew that Don Rich and Loretta Lynn and Ray Charles all started out here in Washington State. All I had to do was make us some new songs to sing.” Harrington then set to work on writing fresh material for the fledgling group.

The new album, simply titled Rachel Harrington & The Knock Outs, was recorded at Avast! Studios in Seattle (Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes, Jesse Sykes) with Harrington’s long-time producer, Evan Brubaker, and features Alisa Milner on fiddle, Rebecca Young on bass, Moe Provencher on guitar, and Aimee Tubbs on drums. Special guests include Mark Erelli, steel player Tommy Hannum (Steve Earle) and guitarist Tim Carroll (Elizabeth Cook). Harrington and company circle the wagons on true-blue Americana from the wall-of-sound 60‘s soul rave-up of ‘He’s My Man’, to the women’s lib honkytonk of ‘Wedding Ring Vacation’, to the cry-in-your-beer gem ‘I’d Like To Take This Chance’.

A 2011 winner in Merlefest’s esteemed songwriting contest (previous winners include Gillian Welch and Tift Merritt), Rachel says her past few albums came largely of her study of the Old West and turn-of-the-century American musics, circa 1900-1930. “And the new record may sound a little different, but I’m still writing essentially the same stuff. I’m still lifting my skirts and letting my influences show. I’m still channeling the old writers and singers and storytellers I love.” She winks.“It’s just that I moved forward in time about 40 years.”

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.rachelharrington.net