The Folking.com 2018 Chris Leslie Interview from Cropredy

Chris Leslie with Martin Jenkins mandolin

It would not be Cropredy without an interview with the ‘Jewel In The Crown’ of the Fairport five, so here are Paul Johnson and Darren Beech again with their annual Cropredy chat with Mr. Chris Leslie just after Fairport Convention opened the festival on the Thursday afternoon.

In the interview, we talk about The New Forest Folk Festival, Gerry Colvin and the bucket, £35 Plectrums, Maart and remember Whippersnapper and the much-missed Martin Jenkins. Click on the play button below to listen.

We thought it would also be lovely idea to share a clip from the folking video archive of that Whippersnapper tour, when the band played Petworth, which also includes a vocal performance by that much missed English folk treasure Swarb.

Here is ‘Loving Hannah’.

If you would like to order a copy of an Whippersnapper 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.

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MICHAEL McDERMOTT – Out From Under (Pauper Sky Records 2018)

Out From UnderI’ve been bewitched by the music of Michael McDermott for a few years now, I’m late to the party I know, as the Chicago based singer-songwriter has been a shining musical light over us for over 25 years now and is in fact celebrating his Eleventh Solo album with the release of Out From Under.

“I’ve always been drawn to people. Maybe not so much the people per se as the actions of people. People under fire, people that are at the end of their rope. People in the dark night of the soul. People that have gambled everything for a moment of glory. Those are the people and stories I’ve always been drawn to. Its not for the faint of heart, but I can only hope it strikes a chord in you, a chord that connects us all as citizens of this world, brothers and sisters in humanity. For we all are one, a simple but often forgotten fact”. Michael McDermott

If you have not come across McDermott before, you may know him as the male part of the husband and wide duo, the Westies with Heather Horton.

Comparisons have been drawn over the years to Springsteen and there is a touch of Jon Bon Jovi in the vocals but its the depth of the story songs that will get you. Author Stephen King, who is known to quote a rock lyric or two in his novels, wrote,

“Michael’s music, like Springsteen’s and Van Morrison’s helped me to find a part of myself that wasn’t lost, as I had feared, but only misplaced. That’s why we love the ones who are really good at it, I think: because they give us back ourselves, all dusted and shined up, and they do it with a smile…”.

The latest album, Out From Under is a fine example of all of the above. The creepy opening track, ‘Cal-Sag Road’ plays out like a modern day storyboard sequel to the killer in Riders on the Storm. ‘Gotta Go To Work’ delivers an old-timey laid back approach to life, where you left wondering if the character depicted in the song actually managed to get out of bed on that day, or a least make it together with his straw hat to the porch. Just have a read of this wordplay in the next track ‘Knocked Down’ and then imagine funky bass, fuzzy guitar/dobro lick and a track that really rocks!

I got this old guitar
An Irish hat
Spent 20 years baby
With a monkey on my back
That was hard time
Even harder still
If the left one don’t get you
Then the right one will
I’ve been hustled and muscled
Left for dead
Had my face to the wall
And a gun to my head
I’ve been cheated, defeated
Played for a fool
Everything I ever needed
Always came from you
I think its time we order, another round
I know a thing or two about being knocked down”.

We then get the upbeat, ‘Sad Songs’, which chugs along at a right old pace. What a great idea to write a song about being tired of singing all those sad songs.

This is then followed by a sad song called ‘This World Will Break Your Heart’. Its Chapin-esque in places and its sentiment reminded me a little of ‘Streets Of London’.

I’m conscious that this homage to a truly great album will become too unwieldy if I provide further track analysis, plus… I would also like to leave some surprises if you decide to buy/ download it.

I’ll finish off by saying that it is a remarkable collection and its the kind of album, that you will come back to time and time again and find something new in it. Case in point is the 10th track on the album ‘Sideways’ and the line; “I came across a beggar who asked me for social change”.

Darren Beech

Artist website: https://www.michael-mcdermott.com/

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

Now you can see if your imagination has lived up to the expectation as we feature the ‘Knocked Down’ video below!

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

Paul Johnson and Darren Beech caught up with Sam backstage at Cropredy 2018. It was the last interview of the weekend and a lot of fun! Have a listen below:

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’:

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Wickham 2017 Reviewed

Click on the photo below to see the full set…

Wickham 2017

‪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.

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.

‪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…

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.