BROOKS WILLIAMS – My Turn Now (Red Guitar Blue Music RGBM-2016)

My Turn NowI first encountered Brooks Williams five or six years ago at a festival. He was sitting outside a pub playing in the sunshine because the venue was locked and nobody could find the key. It was a splendid session and that’s the sort of man Brooks is.

The blues and the delights of resonator guitars are at the heart of Brooks’ music but there’s more to him than that. Take ‘Rosalyn’, one of his own songs, the tale of a doomed love affair. It is deceptively simple with drums by co-producer Chris Pepper and bass by Richard Gates with Brooks playing National and slide guitars. But listen again to that bass line and then pick up on the subtleties of the melody.

My Turn Now is a mixture of styles and there is a sort of narrative thread running through the record. The first two tracks, ‘Crazy Dance’ and ‘My Turn Now’ are brash, up-tempo numbers and it feels as though a few rough edges have been deliberately left in place. Track three, ‘Nine Days’ Wonder’, featuring the first contribution from Sally Barker, is an upbeat, slightly cynical take on modern-day celebrity culture, followed by one of my favourite tracks here, ‘Darkness’.

The covers include a rocking version of Mose Allison’s ‘You’re Mind Is On Vacation’ and a snappy take on ‘Hesitation Blues’. Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Nobody Wins’ is another departure, featuring sharded lead vocals with Barker. I have to say that it’s a bit naughty to label ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ as traditional. Its authorship is, I believe, beyond question but putting that caveat aside this is a fine album.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: http://brookswilliams.com/

Brooks plays ‘Darkness’ live:

DANIEL NESTLERODE – More Than a Little Guitar (Camp 40 Recordings)

Daniel_Nestlerode_CD_ArtworkNow and again a new singer/songwriter is introduced to you and the force of their talent hits you like a tornado!  This happened to me when I met American singer/songwriter and mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode at a Folk 21 day recently.  He had a guest spot during the conference and all of the audience were riveted!  Now based in Cambridge UK, he has been playing the mandolin since 1992, but more seriously from 2001.

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BROOKS WILLIAMS – New album

New EverythingNEW EVERYTHING is the highly anticipated new release from roots singer-songwriter and guitarist Brooks Williams. Audience favourites long before its release, the songs on NEW EVERYTHING feature Brooks’ voice and guitar centre stage. With the help of a few friends – chiefly Martin Simpson, State of The Union collaborator Boo Hewerdine, John Wheeler, Neil McSweeney, Steve Lockwood, Kevin McGuire, Keith Angel and Andy Seward – the resulting sound is upbeat, jubilant and soulful.

Included on the 13-track CD are Carry On (an ode to live music), One Step (a high-stepping love song), Prosperity (an ironic look at political promises) and Time 4 Love (a sultry, sexy slow-burner), alongside the classic King Of California (about finding – and losing – gold), Mercury Blues (about love and auto-mobiles) and Deep River Blues (featuring both Williams and Martin Simpson on resonator guitars).

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Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 3

wb3_300Those following this blog will know that it would not be complete without an early morning campsite folking shower report – although those on-site would have had a deluge of their own later in the day when KT “rain goddess” Tunstall took to the stage and opened the heavens – but more on that later. My first shower was at 5.00am, an hour earlier than the day before! Perhaps it was the excitement of the previous 2 days, or perhaps it was just the the showers but Cambridge was not awarding me much sleep.

Breabach danceAs I was finishing the day 2 blog We Banjo 3 took to the main stage, a quintet from Galway playing Irish, bluegrass and American old time music. From what I saw on the #CFF13 @CamFolkFest twitter feed they were definitely making many instant fans and got Saturday stage 1 off to a rousing start. Next up were the mighty Breabach, a tour de force in the Scottish music scene. They had a great array of weaponry on hand including: highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, double bass, mandolin, bazouki and even included a set dance by fiddle payer, Megan Henderson.

Saturday Cambs FF CrowdBoth SOC (Son of Clicker – the folking photographer) and I knew that getting to see everything today was going to be tough with all 3 stages in full swing. In fact panic set in and we ran around like headless chickens for a bit until coming to our senses and catching the end of the Festival Session, hosted by Battlefield Band and Feast of Fiddles academic legend Brian McNeil. This was a one off line-up featuring: The Chair, Frigg, The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Radio 2 young folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Martin Simpson, Le Vent du Nord and We Banjo 3 again.

Hop and a skip back to the Stage 1 to see Martin Simpson performing a guitar master class wrapped up in his usual exemplary solo set kind of way which included favourites like the you were never any good with money gem Prodigal Son and Jackie and Murphy, a story song of an epic true tale of bravery, donkeys and Gallipoli.

Thea Gilmore CFFManaged to then catch the end of the talented and velvet voiced Heidi Talbot on stage 2 as she left us all going up and down her music tree, Korrontzi from Northern Spain were next up and made you feel part of a Basque hill town knees up for a short while (it was great to see Thea Gilmore dancing along to them back stage). It wasn’t long until Thea took center stage with her full band line up which included producer, husband and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. Thea definitely showed off her folk credentials by giving us a faultless performance of Pity the Poor Immigrant. Thea then belted out the Radio 2 A listed song Start As We Mean To Go On, before ending with what for me was the highlight of the day, a perfect rendition to the stunning London with her little lad taking center stage on the fiddle. Sandy Denny who wrote the lyrics to this song is my folk heroine and Thea is equally addictive.

There was only one way to come down and that was to head over to the club tent and catch State Of The Union, aka Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that delighted the club tent crowd with hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. By this time I had a few jars of Ringwood’s finest Boon Doggle ale and was amusing myself by keeping the girls at the bar on their toes and coming up with different names for it. The firm favourite was Moon Poodle!

Fully Protected & The Moon PoodleThe Moon Poodle was listening as the heavens opened and the poodle piddled down on us as KT Tunstall hit the stage. A great set followed, my favourite being Other Side of the World or dark side of the poodle moon by the Black horse and a cherry tree, no that one actually came later… but don’t blame it on the Sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the Boggle. I was past caring as I was now focused on keeping the umbrella in the right place for KT’s Mexican “brella” wave!

I caught a bit of the Mavericks but it was definitely time to head back to Coldham’s before I did myself mischief…

The folkmaster

STATE OF THE UNION (Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams) Tour News….

In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that is sure to delight fans of hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. Tapping into a multitude of influences, from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to Blind Lemon Jefferson, the wide open Fenlands and the frenetic buzz of London, State Of The Union is a masterclass in songwriting, showing off the talents of bluesy Americana stalwart Brooks Williams and cult British singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine to full effect.

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