Wickham 2017 Reviewed

Tankus The Henge at Wickham 2017 – Photo by Darren Beech

‪Squelch… Wickham Festival finally kicked off to a great start with sets from ‪Low, Barker, Morris & Tunstall which sounds like a firm of solicitors instead of musical, dance and poetry partners in festival law; Andy Fairweather Low, Les Barker, the Wickham Morris Sides and KT Tunstall.

Now tell me… where are you going to get a “bend me, shake me, a sermon from the church of the holy undecided, a strip the willow and a black horse and a cherry tree all the the same place!

Here is the moment when the sun came out and everyone forgot about the thirteen days of rain that fell on the site the day before it opened which caused the “elf and safety” three hours delayed start.

The main Thursday night event on the All Time Grates Stage was 10CC, who played all their hits, which they performed as a masterclass in song-writing. They even offered us the following words of wisdom from their extensive mantra…

Life is a minestrone
Served up with parmesan cheese
Death is a cold Lasagne
Suspended in deep freeze …

Friday afternoon had a definite garden party feel that went off with a Wizz, bang and Spooky side-splitting Tickell. It all started with the legendary Wizz Jones who rolled out all his hits including ‘When I Leave Berlin’ which Bruce Springsteen covered.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale followed, the Antipodean Blue Mountain settlers, that worry local livestock to such a degree that the local farmers club together to pay for their international tours (so long as they agree to do reworked Abba and Bee Gees choral arrangements). Luckily, Kathryn Tickell was there to restore order, Northumbrian Pipe Style, who together with The Side brought Wickham back into the hear and now with evocative slow airs that could break your heart one minute and then fling you seamlessly into life-affirming jigs and reels the next.

Flickr Photo Link


In between Tickell and the Spookies (great idea for a band name!) I managed to dash across to the Hapi Stage to catch a bit of the fab Portsmouth based band Bemis. I also managed to grab a copy of their excellent new album A World of Difference that I encourage you all to go and check out for free here

There was barely enough time for a quick change over before it was pedal to metal down the West Country highway in search of Fishy Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands.  All three did the West Country proud and I think its was a great bit of programming to put Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands all on the same stage and evening bill.

Here is my favourite moment of Friday night, when Show of Hands treated us to a slowed down version of the Don Henley classic “Boys of Summer” . Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday opened with more Wickham Festival goodies… Alas, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie didn’t make it for the reunion but folk legends, Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe turned up on the All Time Grates Stage in the afternoon. Then it was a quick hop and skip across to the Hapi Stage for a blistering set from Gilmore & Roberts with festival energy in a bakers bun-dance. Then back again to the All Time Grates Stage as master Dhol drummer, Johnny Kalsi fired up the furnaces of the drums of the mighty Dhol Foundation to create a high-energy, pulsating folking brilliant musical soundscape of Punjabi beat, rhythm and intensity. ‬

‪If that was not enough excitement for one day, there was a just enough time to sponge down before the main evening event of the big punk-folk-rock 3. I’m sure you will all know who they all are, as the Saturday evening, three in a row line-up, for many, was one of the dream festival programming highlights of this year (dreamt up by the mind of that festival organising genius, Mr Peter Chegwyn) which even included a returning Chopper as part of the Oysterband mix. For those who have not worked it out, it was of course The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Oysterband and The Levellers. I also legged it across to the Hapi Stage to see some of my old mates Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley set with the lovely Emily.

Time had flown by and before anyone knew it, it was “Sunday folk fun-day” and the fourth day of Wickham.

I’ll start with Ray “Chopper” Cooper who opened on the Hapi stage…

Fay Hield then blew in with the Hurricane Party on the All Time Grates Stage and Glasgow boys Imar followed and got the main stage dancing. Wickham festival favourite Duncan Chisholm followed with his Gathering before the afternoon slot was brought to a riotous close with Tankus The Henge (a great festival band).

LAU opened the Sunday evening slot which felt like a kaleidoscope of colour washing over the All Time Grates Stage. The power went off at one point so we even got a couple of un-amped numbers.

Flickr Photo Link


‪The finale for me was the crowned Queen of the Wickham Festival crowd, Eliza Carthy with Sam Sweeney & the rest of her merry Wayward Band.‬ Unfortunately, I had to leave early so missed the Peatbog Faeries set but Eliza said that they tore the place apart, so I have been lamenting the early departure ever since.

I was bitten by a Ferocious Dog on the way out and am looking forward to repeating the experience at one of their other gigs soon.

Darren Beech

Festival website: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

The Folking Awards – the 2017 Winners

Folking Award winners

So here they are: the Folking Award winners of 2017.

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who voted – more than 20,000 votes were cast. Congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the runners-up, although all our nominees are winners to the writers who enjoyed their music, either live or on record, over the last year and placed them on the short list. Here are the public vote winners and now, may I have the first envelope please… no, not that one!

Soloist of the Year – Ralph McTell

Folking Award winners

Listen to the Darren Beech/ Paul Johnson interview with Ralph at Cropredy 2016 here

Best Duo – Show Of Hands

Read all about Show Of Hands’ Big Gig at the Royal Albert Hall here

Best Band – Harp And A Monkey

This was a very close vote but we’re delighted that Harp And A Monkey triumphed in the Best Band category even though they narrowly beat another of our favourites.

Harp And A Monkey bio

Best Live Act – Mad Dog Mcrea

In contrast, this was a runaway victory for the band from Plymouth.

Read Su O’Brien’s review of Mad Dog Mcrea live at Cambridge City Festival here

Best Album – Ballads Of The Broken Few by Seth Lakeman with Wildwood Kin

Read Mike Davies’ review of Ballads Of The Broken Few here

Best Musician – Phil Beer

Phil Beer bio

Folking’s Rising Star Act – Said The Maiden

Said The Maiden bio

Best International Act – Applewood Road

Applewood Road bio

As before, there are no actual trophies to present (but if anyone would like to tender for making some in the future please let us know). However, everyone on the long lists and on the short lists as well as the winners can rejoice that they made an impression on a lot of people during 2016.

Have another great musical year!

The Folking team


If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl) of any of the artists featured here, download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above to be taken to that relevant page via 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.

Ralph Mctell 2016 Cropredy Interview

Ralph Mctell 2016 Cropredy Interview
Photo by Jean Camp.

This is the interview that I have always wanted to do with Ralph.

The conversation started earlier this year, when I was at the Radio 2 Folk Awards.

I had managed to catch Ralph for a moment at the after show party and became locked into a fascinating conversation about songwriting. You know the type, where everyone else in the room fades out of focus around you.

It was a really special night, as Sandy Denny was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame and Rufus sang that version of ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes‘. I then noticed a third person come into focus as Ralph introduced me to Georgia, Sandy Denny’s daughter, which was the icing on the evenings cake for me.

The room was again busy with life, colour and movement and the sea of people in the bar shifted and I found myself in a different place to where I was before thinking, now that would have been a great conversation to have recorded…

So, when Paul Johnson and I caught up with Ralph at the St George’s Festival for Beckenham in June we hatched a plan to try and recreate the essence of that conversation backstage at Cropredy 2016.

Paul Johnson was also champing at the bit to speak Ralph again, as it had been ten years or so since he was last a guest on his Kent based radio show which some might remember as included a live version of ‘The Hiring Fair’.

So, here it is, the Ralph McTell 2016 Cropredy Interview from folking.com. Click on the play button below to start listening to it…

We’ll leave you with this memory from Saturday evening…

The Steeleye Span 45th Anniversary folking Interview

Steeleye Span 45th Anniversary Tour at G-Live

With a career that has taken in an astounding six decades, Steeleye Span is not just a legendary name in British music but also a link to the classic days of rock and folk music. Contemporaries of the likes of Led Zeppelin and Fairport Convention, they have gone on to change the face of folk music forever, taking it from small clubs and festivals into the world of chart topping albums and international tours.

Part of that incredible story has been the individuals that have contributed to the band’s history. Steeleye Span has provided a home for a long list of some of the world’s finest musicians. The current line up of Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp, Liam Genockey, Julian Littman, Pete Zorn and Jessie May Smart along with older names such as Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Tim Harries, Bob Johnson and most recently Peter Knight have all woven their heraldry into the historical fabric of the folk-rock tapestry.

Paul Johnson and I recently caught up with current band members Maddy Prior, Julian Littman, Peter Zorn and  Jessie May Smart during the 45th Anniversary Tour at G-Live in Guildford to celebrate this 45 year landmark.  Click the play button below to listen to the interview.

 

The video below celebrates the bands most recent album Wintersmith which was recorded in collaboration with Sir Terry Pratchett at the end of 2013. The album is based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novel, which subject matter is completely appropriate for Steeleye, in its tales of ancient rituals and secret folk dances that perfectly complement their previous work whilst taking the band off again in a new and exciting prog-rock direction.

Darren Beech – folkmaster@folking.com

If you would like to order a copy of the Wintersmith, 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.

A Newbie Cropredy Review (2014)

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2014 Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2014[/caption]

I had heard of the Cropredy Festival before, and had even heard of Fairport Convention, but as I had grown up with British Heavy Metal and Rock, listening to such bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC and the like, my experience of Folk music was limited. I remember taking a guitar to a chap in the Medway Towns for rewiring, and him telling me he would be travelling to Cropredy that summer as he always did and always had.

Chis&Johno_Croppers_14However, it was several years before I attended the festival at the village of Cropredy, near Banbury in Oxfordshire. I went with my wife Sue and a couple of friends; Paul Johnson of Folking.com and his partner Yvonne.

Paul had a press pass, and was kind enough to organise a guest pass for me before the event so I could help with the photos for the backstage interviews that Paul and Darren Beech, of Folking.com had arranged to do with Chris Leslie (of Fairport Convention) and Edwina Hayes.

Edwina Hayes
Edwina Hayes
Marillion
Marillion

I saw some famous people backstage (including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who attends Cropredy regularly and Steve Hogarth of Marillion) which added to the excitement of the weekend.  My wife was particularly taken with Edwina Hayes, purchasing her CD, and I passed her message on to Edwina herself, who told me she would be spending time with friends near the bar that  evening and would be happy to sign the CD.

Cropredy 2014 Blackbeards Tea Party1Unfortunately, Hurricane Bertha had decided to visit Cropredy too, spoiling that plan and sending pretty much everybody, artists included, back to their tents and campers to dry out. I have been to festivals before, including Download in 2012, and was no stranger to camping in the wet, but despite the storm our field (the newly added Field 8, to cater for the sold out show’s additional camping) did not flood, although Bertha did her best to make striking camp as unpleasant as possible on the Sunday morning.

The concert area (Field 9) has a single stage and around the perimeter are the various food stalls and other emporia. The food prices were a little on the high side, but this was expected; the quality was good, although a pizza we bought could have been passed through the machine another time, and queues got longer as the time went on (which was not surprising due to the festival selling out). We sampled the very tasty Cropredy Hop ale too.

Chas & Dave
Chas & Dave
The Waterboys
The Waterboys

As for the music, it was mostly very good, and I enjoyed the Chas and Dave and Marillion sets, and the Australian Pink Floyd Experience (who I have seen before in Rochester in Kent). The Waterboys were excellent, as were Edwina Hayes and Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

 

Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention concluded the show, and theirs was a polished performance, ending with the traditional Meet On The Ledge, their second single, released in 1968.

I didn’t see every artist, but the general atmosphere was very pleasant. The place was secure, and despite warnings of thieves operating we saw nothing to trouble us. This festival is a family event, with plenty of young people and dogs too. We took Jack, the Giant Chihuahua, who enjoyed it as much as the rest of us.

Although Bertha did her best, we all had a great time and look forward to going there again.

Roger Sutton – 11th August 2014

Links

Fairport Convention’s website – http://www.fairportconvention.com/
The Chris Leslie Interview Cropredy 2014 – http://folking.com/the-chris-leslie-interview-cropredy-2014/
Cropredy 2014 Photo Gallery – http://folking.com/cropredy-2014-photo-gallery/

Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention Releases Origins

Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention Releases OriginsWhen Paul Johnson and Darren Beech of Folking interviewed Chris Leslie at the 2008 Cropredy festival, Fairport Convention’s main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist joked that the festival site Oxfordshire is the center of the universe.

As the saying goes, many a truth is said in jest. So it may well be in this instance. Leslie’s traveled a long way, literally and figuratively, since he was a young, self-taught fiddler in Banbury, dreaming of joining Fairport. And while he’s won acclaim for his work with the band and his mastery of an array of other musical genres, it’s clear his allegiance is to the Fairport-styled Folk that captured his youthful heart. Indeed, Oxfordshire remains the center of his universe.

Doubters need only listen to Origins, Leslie’s just-released solo album, for confirmation.

It’s almost unnecessary to say that Leslie’s musicianship and vocals are as strong as at any time in his career. Anyone who follows Fairport or Leslie’s side projects — Feast of Fiddles and St. Agnes Fountain — know that’s obvious.

But it’s even clearer here because Leslie supplies all vocals and instrumentation as he moves gracefully from traditional folk (Sandy Denny’s “Sweet Rosemary,”) to country-flavored rock (Michael Martin Murphey’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac,”) to pure Native American music (his own “Tipis in the Snow”) on the 13-track album. And stand-out track “Lost Bird,” is just pure beauty.

It must be tempting for the multi-instrumentalist to make his arrangements complex, but Leslie’s fans know he always leans toward keeping his sound pure though a close listen will reveal its sophisticated intricacy. The Beach Boys’ songs come to mind for comparison (though the artist himself would certainly disagree with any comparison of his work to the legendary Brian Wilson just as he does with comparisons to Fairport’s past songwriters including Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick).

Fans of Leslie’s last two solo albums ­­–– The Flow and Dancing Days — will find the same sophisticated yet accessible music on this album and likely trace the mastery of many of these songs back to their Origins.

What’s different here, though, is that Leslie really lets his listeners hear him soar on these songs, half of which he wrote himself.

The result is a sophisticated musical tapestry that explores multiple facets of the “Origins” of the artist and all of mankind.

In less capable and cultured hands, the album could easily be the musical poster child for multiple musical personalities.

But under Leslie’s masterful artistry, the album can only be described as an enchanting and often spellbinding tour de force.

Find out more about Chris Leslie and order Origins on his website.

NANCY DUNHAM / @NancyDWrites