Cara Dillon & Sam Lakeman headline ‘Folk Day’ at Stogumber Festival

Stogumber Festival7th – 9th September 2018

Stogumber Festival has announced that 4 excellent gigs will feature on ‘Folk Day’, Saturday 8th September, which is a major element of this year’s event. Headlining the day will be the outstanding Cara Dillon, a 2018 BBC Folk Singer of the Year nominee, who will perform with along with her husband Sam Lakeman. Other sessions will be by indie-folk band Velvet & Stone whose songs combine haunting soundscapes with catchy pop hooks to give beautiful take on the traditional genre; Kate Griffin & Ford Collier, a duo who explore contemporary folk with influences ranging from Celtic to Bluegrass; and Gathering Tides, a band which weaves together folk, jazz, rock and more to provide a unique experience.

Set between Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, this pretty West Somerset village provides an intimate environment in which to enjoy superb live music.

Full information and tickets from www.stogumberfestival.com

CARA DILLON – Live at Kings Place, Kings Cross, 22 February 2018

Cara Dillon
Photograph by Mike Wistow

The venue was stunning. Clean wooden floors, a delicate bar, someone selling programmes (for Barry Cryer in Hall One), what I can only call an ‘older audience’. There’s a civilised aspect to folk in a place like this that I’m simply not used to. This was a Christmas present. A trip to London with tickets for Cara Dillon in concert. A fascinating experience in that I normally watch folk music in small halls/arts centres or in fields at festivals. But it felt good.

And the music, ah the voice. Three of the band walked on stage, Cara Dillon in the centre, a couple of empty microphones either side, then piano to the left and violin to the right. And a voice like an angel, prickling the back of the neck, even when it became the voice of a lonely angel. About four songs in there was a wee technical hitch, which left Dillon to sing an impromptu unaccompanied solo while they fixed it. If anyone in the sold out hall had dropped a pin you’d have heard it, so rapt were the audience by the song.

By now the stage was full – a bass and second guitar giving a deeper sound to the music. ‘The Leaving Song’ written by Dillon was a delight, the story of a living wake (a ‘wake’ for those alive but being seen for the last time before they left for America or elsewhere) with gems of detail such as hobnail boots sparking on the stone floor as they danced and then the quiet as the family realised Dillon’s great great uncle, who was leaving, had slipped quietly out the back to avoid final farewells.

The second half had no technical hitches and took off into the skies. Dillon returned from break with ‘Both Sides The Tweed’ and the live version knocked the socks off the recording on the new CD. ‘Lake Side Swans’ was written after seeing the posture of the refugee boy a couple of years ago face down on the beach. Dillon said, “The image stayed with me and I wrote this”. This is what we need our folk singers for – to capture those moments where we share our humanity else we’d otherwise forget it in a world of instant electronic images supplanted one after another.

The set moved on with ‘Blackwater Side’, ‘If I Prove False’ – a stunning duet with John Smith and a refrain you couldn’t help but join in gently with “Who’s gonna kiss your pretty little lips……if I prove false to thee”. Then 2009’s ‘Hill of Thieves’ and the powerful ‘Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair’ from 2002.

If the first half lost a little of its flow because of the technical problems and clicks on the guitars, the second half showed us why Cara Dillon, with band, is one of the classic folk singers of the modern age. She finished with two more songs from the new album, Wanderer, before concluding appropriately enough with ‘Parting Glass’.

Mike Wistow

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’s website: http://www.caradillon.co.uk/

‘The Parting Glass’:

Gretchen Peters joins Gate To Southwell 2018

One of America’s most successful singer-songwriters, Gretchen Peters, will be one of the headline acts at this year’s Gate To Southwell Festival in rural Nottinghamshire this June.

Grammy-nominated and recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Gretchen’s songs have been recorded by diverse artists such as Etta James, George Strait, Shania Twain and Neil Diamond, and she’s co-written and duetted with Bryan Adams. Her 2015 UK tour sold out and featured an acclaimed performance at Glastonbury.

Long regarded as one of the best voices in country and roots music, her hit album ‘Blackbirds’ was described as “an Americana tour de force” by The Sun while Uncut magazine hailed her as “one of Nashville’s greatest talents of the past two decades”. Her recent collection, ‘The Essential Gretchen Peters’, features many of her classic songs including ‘Independence Day’, ‘Hello Cruel World’, ‘The Secret Of Life’ and ‘On A Bus To St Cloud’. She’ll be performing in the Southwell Big Top on Saturday June 9th.

Gretchen Peters brings further international class to Gate To Southwell 2018 (June 7 to 11) joining an eclectic musical line up that already includes legendary folk rockers Lindisfarne, great Irish singer Cara Dillon, Denmark’s Habadekuk, Louisiana blues stars the Lil Jimmy Reed Band, award-winning English folk stars The Young’uns, hillbilly Canadians Ol’ Savannah and many more artists.

Another exciting USA newcomer to Southwell in June will be Truckstop Honeymoon, fusing bluegrass, punk rock and soul with music hall jazz and rock & roll. Created by Katie and Mike West, and born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Truckstop Honeymoon took to the road in 2005 after their home, and their recording studio, were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, they’ve relocated to the Midwest music mecca of Lawrence Kansas but still continue to travel the world with their four kids.

Bargain priced Tier One tickets are still available via www.gtsf.uk

BLUES & FOLK STARS LINED UP FOR GATE TO SOUTHWELL 2018

There’s a perfect blend of rising stars, festival favourites and music legends lined up for next year’s Gate To Southwell.

Already booked for the East Midlands’ premier roots and acoustic event are hugely-successful veteran Geordies Lindisfarne, award-winning folkies The Young’uns, one of Ireland’s greatest singers Cara Dillon performing with special guests, Danish roots stars Habadekuk, brilliant Devon guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith, acclaimed Canadian fiddlers The Fitzgeralds and 2017 BBC Folk Singer of the Year Kris Drever. There’ll also be a special Blues Night featuring Britain’s number one R&B band Nine Below Zero, Louisiana bluesmen The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band and the UK’s best slide guitarist Johnny Dickinson.

Early Bird tickets (at discounted prices while stocks last!) are now available for the four-day event in beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside from Thursday June 7th to Sunday June 10th. Just follow this link to Gate To Southwell 2018 and grab a bargain – www.gtsf.uk

Also joining the eclectic, international bill there’s Scotland’s Blue Rose Code, the Canadian jazz-meets-klezmer-meets-folk of The Boxcar Boys, acclaimed Southwell regulars Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, 2017 BBC Group of the Year The Furrow Collective, the megafolk of Birmingham’s The Destroyers, much-loved global troubadour Rory McLeod, highly-rated harmonious Celts Mongoose and award-winning songstress Vikki Clayton.

Plus, with more names still to be announced, there’s the East Anglian Americana of The Shackleton Trio, Derbyshire’s Rogue Embers and promising folk duo Harbottle & Jonas, who’ll all add to the party atmosphere at this most family-friendly of festivals, which also features music workshops, ceilidhs, dance displays, children’s entertainment, a craft fair plus great food and drink stalls.

Still led by Rod Clements, one of their original singer-songwriters, it’s 45 years since Lindisfarne’s first hit ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ cracked the UK charts and made their second LP ‘Fog On The Tyne’ the best-selling British album of 1972. Since then the Geordie folk-rock kings have scored with hits such as ‘Lady Eleanor’, ‘Run For Home’ and ‘We Can Swing Together’. Headlining the Big Top on Friday June 8th, with the late Alan Hull’s son-in-law Dave Hull-Denholm joining the latest line-up, Lindisfarne are guaranteed to get the Southwell audience singing and swinging along.

Gate To Southwell 2009 was The Young’uns first “proper festival” and since then they’ve returned to great acclaim in both 2011 and 2015. Described by Mike Harding as “one of the best live acts I have ever seen”, the life-enhancing North Easterners will headline the festival on Saturday June 9th. Following the great success of their ‘Another Man’s Ground’ collection, their 2017 release ‘Strangers’ looks certain to gather even more folk awards.

Topping the bill on Sunday June 10th, Cara Dillon is regarded as one of the best vocalists and interpreters of traditional songs on the planet. Mojo magazine stated she possessed “what may well be the world’s most beautiful female voice” as showcased on her seventh studio album, this year’s ‘Wanderer’. Cara will perform alongside her husband and musical partner Sam Lakeman plus some very special guests.

Making his first appearance at Southwell, the acclaimed singer-songwriter and innovative guitarist John Smith has become a star of the British acoustic music scene over the past 10 years, performing alongside artists such as Jackson Browne, Richard Hawley, Jarvis Cocker and Rodney Crowell, and guesting on albums by David Gray, Lisa Hannigan and LeAnn Rimes. His recent album’, ‘Headlong’, is a fine example of a “master craftsman at work” (Folk Radio).

Anyone who caught Habadekuk’s last visit to Gate To Southwell will welcome them back with open arms and dancing feet. Regarded as one of the most exciting live folk bands, the Danish nine-piece mix it up with salsa, polkas and big band jazz. Appropriately, their motto is “we blow you away”.

Kicking off the festival on Thursday June 7th, there’s a great feast of blues from Nine Below Zero, Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band and Johnny Dickinson. NBZ formed at the height of punk and went on to become one of the most respected blues bands on the Eighties and Nineties, working with artists such as Eric Clapton, Gary Moore and Chuck Berry. Their extended eight-piece big band appearance at Glastonbury in 2016 won them a new generation of fans and recently they’ve toured extensively with Squeeze.

21st century bluesmen don’t come much more authentic than 77 year old Lil’ Jimmy Reed, who was born on the Mississippi and who’s been playing harp and guitar since the early 1950s, sharing stages with blues legends such as BB King and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. He’s guaranteed to bring the gritty sounds of the deep South to Southwell and his band will feature acclaimed blues and boogie pianist Bob Hall. Also on Thursday, while Johnny Dickinson might hail from Morpeth rather than Baton Rouge, he’s rightly regarded as one of Britain’s best blues and slide guitarists. Having recovered from serious illness, this is a great opportunity to enjoy a rare talent.

To buy tickets and find out much more about all the artists who’ve been booked so far, visit the Gate To Southwell 2018 website – www.gtsf.uk.

CARA DILLON – Wanderer (Charcoal CHARCD009)

WandererFollowing last year’s release of her first Christmas album, Upon A Winter’s Night, Dillon returns to secular form with a predominantly traditional collection, again produced by and featuring husband Sam Lakeman.

Pivoting around an underlying theme of transition and departure, whether that be through emigration or the search for love, it keeps the instrumentation spare and intimate, predominantly built around Lakeman’s piano and/or acoustic guitar, but also with occasional contributions from Ben Nicholls on double bass, Niall Murphy on fiddle and both John Smith and Justin Adams on acoustic and electric guitar, respectively.

There are two original numbers, the first up being the piano-accompanied ‘The Leaving Song’, inspired by “living wakes” held for those about to emigrate in pre-war Co.Derry with its lyric about a mother bidding farewell to a son seeking his fortunes in some other land, with a reminder that he can always find his way home. The other, the penultimate track, the simply styled metaphorical ‘Lakeside Swans’ touches a similar note, here concerning migrants and refugees and the decision to leave their homes.

There’s also a cover, the album’s final track being their dreamily lovely piano-led arrangement of ‘Dubhdara’, the slow-swaying sailing out Celtic anthem written by Shaun Davey for his 1985 album Granuaile.

The remaining seven numbers are all traditional, some familiar, others less so, case in point being the opening Ulster thoughts of home folk song ‘The Tern And The Swallow’ with its references to Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Northern Ireland, and Slieve Gallion, the mountain in Co. Londonderry. Also with their roots in Derry and nostalgia for home, ‘The Banks Of The Foyle’ concerns a girl forced to leave her true love by cruel misfortune but then learning he’s remained constant in her absence, while, featuring just Dillon and Lakeman’s guitar, ‘The Faughan Side’ conjures memories of an emigrant to America of happy days spent by the bridge of Drumahoe over the titular river.

A fine, yearningly crestfallen reading of the much recorded ‘Blackwater Side’ leads the charge for the better known songs, with its tale of a young lad lying his way into a maiden’s bed with false promises. This is complemented by ‘Both Sides Of The Tweed’, a traditional number given a makeover by Dick Gaughan, here presented in simple style with Dillon’s pure vocals and Lakeman’s piano. She’s joined by Kris Drever who duets and plays guitar for ‘Sailor Boy’, the album’s obligatory death song (you know the plot, maiden dies from grief when her sailor lover drowns) with Murphy on wheezing fiddle. Which just leaves a haunted interpretation of ‘The Banks Of The Bann’, which, combining emigration and thwarted love and arranged for piano and fiddle, is fittingly set to the tune of ‘Lord Of All Hopefulness’.

Her most reflective and most musically introspective album to date, the spare arrangements putting the spotlight on her warm, crystal clear vocals, it is arguably also the best of her career.

Mike Davies

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’s website: www.caradillon.co.uk

Promo video:

SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS – Pretty Peggy (Navigator NAVIGATOR 102)

Pretty PeggyBased in Bristol, but born in Norfolk, Kelly stakes a claim for a Best Album nomination in next year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards to add to this year’s Horizon win. Backed by his six-piece live band, comprising Jamie Francis on banjo, fiddler/guitarist Ciaran Algar, percussionist Evan Carson, Graham Coe on cello with Toby Shaer and Archie Churchill-Moss providing woodwind and melodeon, respectively, Pretty Peggy their first album together, also features contributions from folk stalwarts Cara Dillon, Damien O’Kane, Mike McGoldrick and Geoff Lakeman.

Save for three numbers, all the material is traditional, refashioned and refurbished, opening with a rousing haul away tempo take of the whaling shanty ‘Greenland Whale’ that can’t help but bring Seth Lakeman to mind. Dillon and McGoldrick’s Uillean pipes complement ‘Bonnie Lass Of Fyvie’, the pretty Peggy-o of the title, a jaunty Celtic-hued version that successfully avoids sounding like any of the many previous recordings.

A tale of lost childhood love regret, the equally lively, thigh-slapping, fiddle-driven ‘Angeline The Baker’ has Appalachian roots and then comes the first of the original numbers, ‘When The Rievers Call’, a Jamie Francis song about the raids on the Scottish borders during the middle ages featuring, unsurprisingly, some fiery banjo work and again recalling that Seth Lakeman sound.

Returning to the traditional repertoire and featuring O’Kane on electric tenor guitar with a melodeon solo, ‘If I Were A Blackbird’ is a lovely, lilting and gently ripping take on the Irish love song, reversing the lyric’s genders and set to a tune based around Chris Wood’s ‘Ville De Quebec’. This is followed by the darkly menacing ‘The Shining Ship’, a suitably spooked and nervy six minute tale, sung in low, at times whispery tones with swirling sonics, of a woman lured aboard a ghost ship by her long lost lover and based on the 17th century Scottish ballad ‘Demon Lover’.

Featuring himself on piano and Shaer on fiddle, the only Kelly original is ‘Chasing Shadows’, another lively tune about understanding that “the deepest dark comes just before the dawn”, and one of the more contemporary sounding tracks. Then comes the comic relief, ‘The Close Shave’ being New Zealand singer Bob Bickerton’s variation of the traditional romp, ‘Barrack Street’, about a gold miner relieved of his treasure by a man posing as a woman.

The obligatory instrumental track comes with ‘Shy Guy’s Serve’, a jaunty fiddle medley of Shaer’s ‘Josh’s Slip’ and Algar’s ‘Rookery Lane’, before they dig into the more obscure pages of the Dylan songbook and turn up the volume for ‘Crash On The Levee’, a punchy and driving version of ‘Down In The Flood’ off The Basement Tapes. The penultimate number is another traditional English folk song, drums, fiddles and flutes pumping along sexually euphemistic ‘The Keeper’ with its call and response derry derry down chorus, the album ending with the intitially subdued but gradually gatheringly strident strains of The Rose, Kelly’s translation of the French song ‘Le Beau Rosier’, originally by Belgian outfit Naragonia with whom he played mandolin last year.

Having practised his art as a youngster singing to the family’s cows, in 2012 Kelly was a finalist for Britain’s Got Talent (the one won by Pudsey), at which time he said “I don’t want to make a mediocre album of covers just to sell as many as possible on the back of BGT…musical integrity is really important to me.” He’s clearly lived up to his words.

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 SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS – Pretty Peggy 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]

Artists’ website: www.samkelly.org

‘Angeline The Baker’: