True to form, a new album from Gerry Colvin is always something to look forward to and to be enjoyed. Back and Forth is one of those very pleasant experiences. All eleven tracks and 45 minutes of listening are self-penned from the magical pen of Gerry Colvin.
Featuring Jerome Davies, and twins Trish Power with her brother Michael Keelan, this album doesn’t disappoint. Kicking off with the very lovely but sad ‘Watching Feathers Fall’, we are immediately under Gerry Colvin’s spell. One of my favourite Gerry songs.
‘Fate’s Fast Car’ raises the tempo rather, and we are now foot tapping. This is followed by the lovely lively singalong ‘One More Week’ which reminds me of being in fields at Festivals particularly Cropredy when Gerry rocked the 20k plus crowd. Apt for the time I’m writing this review on the last day of August, and it’s feeling autumnal today. Let’s have summer back ‘One More Week’!
‘The Man That She Left You For’ is a very deep melodic haunting song, the love triangle and the person singing in the first person is the lover and how he feels about it. Very cleverly written. Another favourite of mine – ‘The Bell’ is an extraordinary emotional story of the process of manufacturing a bell – with a difference. The sweat and toil of miners, of war, of peace, it’s all in that song. Very strong and passionate story telling. I get goose pimples when I hear this every time. ‘The Bell’ is singing the song.
‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ is about a partner who needs to be elsewhere all the time and not living in the moment. Patience is not prevalent in this song of the person who is the main act in the story! Her partner is frustrated that he can’t enjoy and take time out of where they are at that moment, even under a full moon! ‘The Tragical Conceit Of Captains Millbank And Kat’ reminds me with the music being so sort of nautical and jolly of the music to kick off Captain Pugwash!! Very humorous and fast moving. A great swashbuckling lyric. Love is involved of course! Lots of violin and accordion.
‘Light Of The World’ is about a flame that keeps us moving on in various situations, and distinguishing right from wrong. The flame banishes fears and sees beauty from within and with one voice to sing. Love this track. ‘The Ninth Song’ is singing that it isn’t a significant song, such as Fred Astaire or Paul Anka, it isn’t the 8th or 10, 11th song, but does mention Steve Knightley and Phil Beer of Show of Hands! Another humorous but clever lyric.
‘The Neverendum’ is a very fast paced track, plenty of foot stomping but about a serious matter. Voting. Is it worth it, or is it a lost cause to do so. Trust when voting? Do we? Have we voted for the right person?
The last track is a really sad and hard track to listen to for those of us who have lost loved ones to the dreadful disease of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Gerry wrote this in memory of his beloved Mum, and I find it hard to listen to and to watch him sing it live. Very brave of him. The words are just amazing. He has really thought about this. Life with loneliness, locked inside their heads, occasional lucidity bringing them back to the now. Living in their past. Nobody hears them crying or laugh, or about their future or past. At the mercy of their carers. A very poignant end to the album but fabulously done.
Back And Forth was recorded at Rhythm Studios and produced by Gerry Colvin and Paul Johnston.
You can buy the album from www.gerrycolvin.com and also find out where he is playing live as he is a must see live kind of guy! Ably assisted by his band members, you are guaranteed a fun gig but lots of seriously good music.
A double whammy album launch with best friends Connor Walsh and Sam Ryan launching their EP’s to the world, The Hardest Part and The Traveller respectively at the Sorry Head in Exeter, and it was a very busy affair. They clearly have their fans and supporters as the venue was packed.
Kicking off the proceedings was Sam’s sister Anna, who has an amazingly powerful voice for a 16 year old. She was very confident and sang a mixture of cover material and her own songs. The audience loved her and she was very pleased with how she had been received, rightly so. She was joined by brother Sam with a rap song, and by Olive Simpson – and they sang one of Anna’s own songs. I was told by Sam after the gig that Anna can be found in a trio entitled Stepcoat Hill, definitely a lass to watch.
Sam then took the stage, promoting his debut EP – The Traveller. Although he did start the set with an Arctic Numbers set, just because he wanted to!
‘Men’ from his EP was aired, and all of the guys at the front just launched into audience participation of dancing and clapping. The same thing happened with the second song of the EP – ‘High’. Sam was very confident and loving the chance to air his work. So did the revellers.
Change of tempo then to ‘The Beach Of Camlann’, a sad tale of death, and then ‘Shield Wall’. A very powerful and racy number, filled with percussion of clapping from the audience who knew the song, including the shouting of “yay” in the right place. Connor was seen throughout the set supporting his friend from the audience. A couple of songs followed including one that was so new he couldn’t remember the lyrics. Great stuff! More in the pipeline! Sam graciously thanked his family and friends for their support.
A short intermission ensued after which Connor literally bounced onto the stage! He had been very excited all evening and at last had his chance to unleash his EP on the world! As he started playing, a string broke on his guitar, so had to borrow Sam’s but didn’t seem fazed at all, and continued some banter while sorting all this out.
Connor started with ‘Remember Me’, a number I don’t know but got us all in the mood, and we had an impromptu drummer who used the bar for percussion, he was clearly having a good time. Emma Mcelhinney who plays violin and bodhran on the album was on stage with Connor, and a very talented musician as she played both and the keyboard during the launch plus violin and played the Cajun drum with a foot pedal while playing something else! Sam and his friends took over the dance floor space in front of the stage and were having a great time. Again plenty of audience participation, we didn’t have a choice, and HAD to join in! Connor is a very strong presence on the stage, you don’t start playing on your mobiles while he is playing, he is too strong a personality. Emma played keyboard on a song I hadn’t heard before, ‘I Cant Go Back’, and sang too – lovely harmonies.’The Dance of Death’ fuelled the dance revellers, ‘The Call’ came next, after which Connor decided his waistcoat had to come off!
‘Hold On’ off the album slowed the tempo, Connor then played a mandolin for ‘Fellow Man’ from the album, which has an Irish feel. The last song was ‘Down The Line’ and had everyone dancing including Connor’s Grandad – Barry Walsh – who helped to sponsor the album along with Rev Hammer. Barry also was dragged into the main area of dancing and he did a very good pogo dance with plenty of stamina! Well done Barry!
Sam joined Connor on stage and gave a very heartfelt thanks to his dad – Rev Hammer for his tremendous input into the album financially and mentoring, for his faith in both himself and Connor and also thanks Barry Walsh, Alex Johnstone for producing the album, also sister Anna for opening, not forgetting Emma and The Sorry Head for allowing them to use the venue for the launch. Connor thanked his grandad Barry for all his support, they clearly have an amazing bond, also his father, his own girlfriend Charlie too for all her support, and I saw her afterwards doing the ‘roadie’ bit while the lads were basking in glory and talking to their fans.
These two are going places. Keep a good watch out for them. They are both very visual so a live gig is a must! Buy their EP and support them, as they are up and coming talented singer/songwriters.
Devon based up and coming singer songwriter Sam Ryan, has released his debut EP at 19 years of age, and has a bevvy of fans already.With an excellent pedigree of folk legend talent in his family, Sam’s amazing raw edged debut EP entitled The Traveller will be launched in Exeter at The Sorry Head on August 26th. All four tracks are self-penned, and have great story telling lyrics.
First track – ‘High’ – gives an interesting mix of lyrics and skiffle type riffs. It has cracking passionate guitar work with attitude too.
‘Men’ has lots of passionate guitar work. The lyrics talk about different aspects of men, fathers and sons, brothers, Kings etc. A line in there asks ‘when will we learn’?
‘Shield Wall’ is about three brothers. I sense a kind of rap in this track, alternating with regular guitar. Rather progressive. Catches you off guard!
‘The Beach Of Camlann’ is about thoughts and actions I believe. It has an interesting guitar rhythm and perhaps my favourite track, but the whole album is good.
I would like to mention that Sam wrote and played on the title track of his father, Rev Hammer’s, latest album with Nick Harper entitled Skald. A talent in the making and one to watch on the up and coming circuit.
Last year I was a Cropredy virgin, but this year on THAT field in August, I knew what the score was. Well, until I tried to do the camping and putting up the tent thing! Every year will bring new things I guess!
Arriving at the Folkmaster’s abode on Wednesday 9th August, things were in full swing for the journey to meet the other Folkingdotcommers in Tesco car park, on the outskirts of Banbury, early the following morning. The kitchen sink was being loaded into the Folkmaster’s car in an orderly fashion, and it was suggested that if I hadn’t bought wellies with me, that I should go out and buy some. Talk about the 11th hour, I found a store and paid for them at 5.29pm when the store closed at 5.30! I was a bit anxious at this point as surely it wasn’t going to rain? I don’t do wet camping, I don’t do camping generally!
Sparrow spit early Thursday morning came, and off we went to Banbury. Not a bad journey, although I slept most of it! (NO – I wasn’t driving)! We all arrived at mostly the same time, Paul, Jonny Mac, No Chance and ourselves were too early for breakfast, so spent some money in Tesco, before we had breakfast. Full English were ordered by all but 2 of us, and then off we set, into the midst of Cropredy bound Festival goers. All wanting to get the best fields and parking. Last year I remember the queues, but this year was plain sailing. We soon found out why, because loads of others had started out before us, so we should have forgone breakfast! We were shepherded in to Field 7B, ended up right in the middle of the field, miles away from the few loos and the even fewer showers. I was panicking already!
Tent time. Paul was in his van, so all he had to do was connect his awning. Few minutes and he was ready. No Chance had a smaller tent and he knew what he was doing, Folkmaster had a new tent which was an air based one, so he got his instructions out and sorted his out, Johnny Mac was ably putting his tent up, and there was little old me, with a new tent. Poles and all.
I tried, dear readers, I really did. The lads were brilliant though, and thank them all for it. It was suggested I wore my new wellies, as mud could well be present, due to the onslaught of rain in the days leading up to the Festival. Visions of Glastonbury encroached in my mind……
We were a bit early when finished, as we couldn’t get into the arena field until 2pm, so were twiddling our thumbs for a while. The usual banter flowed. We were expecting another member of the Folking team – Paul Johnson – but he was nowhere to be seen or heard, so we did the Chariots Of Fire walk with our chairs and bags and waited for the gates to open. On the way there, we were serenaded by medieval musicians, Myal Pyper, who were a delight to listen to.
We finally got in, and headed for our usual spot. Looking at the Stage we headed left, near Leon’s food stall, always a lovely experience to savour their food. The queue for Fairport merchandise was already growing rapidly and that did not stop all day and evening. The staff in that tent were heroes! It was the same the following day!
4pm finally arrived and Fairport Acoustic opened the Festival. Riotous applause from the crowd, a full packed arena, for the Thursday is not what usually happens apparently. A mostly cracking line up and one that I didn’t want to miss. Feast Of Fiddles came next featuring an array of the best fiddle musicians this country has produced, such as Peter Knight of Gigspanner, Hugh Crabtree – melodeon player with attitude, Garry Blakeley, Tom Leary, Ian Cutler, Brian O’Neill and Fairport’s own superb fiddler – Chris Leslie. Phil Beer, Marion Fleetwood and Sophie Crabtree came on later on in the set to enhance the line-up, totalling nine fiddle players! Legendary drummer Dave Mattocks was over from America, Martin Vincent and Dave Harding on guitars and Alan Whetton on sax and keyboards. Awesome!
Show of Hands next – favourites of mine, they played an absolutely blinding set. Highlight was their rendition of Don Henley’s classic – ‘Boys Of Summer’. The whole field was talking about how fab it was.
Chris While guested for ‘Dark Fields’ and it was indeed a lovely occasion to witness her singing on this again. Phil told us that he will be virtually taking next summer off to revive his Folkboat activities, which is why this year they have so many festivals booked and Steve will be doing solo work next summer. Really enjoyed the whole set.
Eventually we met up with our lost team mate – Paul Johnson – who had had a nightmare putting up his tent apparently, and his mobility scooter had a flat battery. Could only happen to Paul!
Next up – The Trevor Horn Band – consisting of three producers – Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson and Lol Crème (of Godley & Crème) who had played and or produced songs for other artists. A kind of covers set but all perfectly connected to these three fine producers. They sounded good too. They got the crowd going and singing along to numbers we all knew, such as ‘Two Tribes’, ‘Relax,’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, ‘Rubber Bullets’ etc. They have over 200 hit singles and albums to choose from and it was very pleasant and lively set. Nice mix.
Headliners for Thursday evening were The Divine Comedy. Frontman Neil Hannon came on and his first sentence had the ‘f’ word in it. He seemed star struck initially about the big crowd and following Trevor Horn and Lol Crème. He didn’t do it for me but I hear that they went down well with some people.
Friday came and rain was forecast. Oh no!! Kick off was at midday after the gates being opened at 11am for the festival goers.
Paul Johnson tests the folking digital interview recorder on Paul Miles, the original co-founder of folking.com – its quite funny so we have kept it in…
Josie Duncan & Pablo LaFuente (2017 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winners) opened up the proceedings and I could see why they had won this accolade. Scottish traditional, Gaelic, and other influences, songs from the mines and cotton mills. They have played some well-known festivals including Cambridge and in their short time together, are certainly making a mark for themselves.
Another favourite of mine – Gerry Colvin Band – delighted the crowd, for those that were aware of his music and for those that didn’t. A cracking set from Gerry and the Band. Gerry is a delight to watch and although is so hyper, can sing, play and write a fab song. Particularly ‘Watching Feathers Fall’ from his Colvin/Quarmby days. Nick Quarmby, Gerry’s sidekick who left us last year, would have been so proud of Gerry taking centre stage at Cropredy. Gerry gained a lot of fans during that set.
A Cropredy moment for me was asking Gerry later, as I came across him backstage, how he felt and could obviously tell he was ecstatically happy, he said he had met Pet Clark. She spoke to him and said get out of her dressing room. I’m sure he was joking, he usually is!!
Quill were a new name to me. Quite Gothic and I thought the lead singer Joy had a little Kate Bush about her. They have been going since the 70’s, have loyal audiences, and are amazing story-tellers. Really enjoyed them.
Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Joy from Quill shortly after the set. The Elephant in the Room EP that Joy discusses in the interview will be released on the 23rd of August.
Next up Gigspanner, who a lot of folks were waiting to see (especially the folkmaster, the editor Dai Jeffries and Paul Johnson who are huge fans). While I admire their immense talent, I am not a huge fan myself, but respect that Peter Knight and the Big Band are all superb musicians. They are a little too trad for me.
CC Smugglers were another new one on me, and were superb, in my eyes. The effervescence of the lead singer was palpable and infectious. His shirt was wet through by the time he finished. The rain had arrived by this time but didn’t dampen theirs or the audience’s spirits. CC Smugglers are a band of buskers, who had come together, to form this band. They have even performed at Glastonbury! Definitely ones to watch.
Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Chris on the Friday.
The annual Chris Leslie Cropredy interview has become a bit of a tradition for us at folking.com and Chris tells us that he looks forward to it as much as we do.
Click the play button below to take a listen.
The absolutely brilliant Pierce Brothers twins came on to a stunning welcome. They were so happy to be there and in tears of happiness! Great guys, great musicians, great energy and great stage presence. So glad the organisers brought them back after last year’s success. Something that is rarely done two years on the trot. I hope they make it third time lucky.
The amazing event of having Petula Clark attend her first festival ever at Cropredy was certainly a scoop. A favourite of my mothers, she would have loved it. Pet at 84 years of age looked and danced as though she was in her 50’s. She sounded great. She performed her hits pitch perfect and aired some numbers from her new album – From Now On, Awesome. She had the crowd eating out of her hand, and they all sang along. A very special moment. Pet did say at the end of her set that she had enjoyed it immensely, and she certainly seemed to have done so, from the audience’s point of view.
Headliner for Friday evening was the Folk Rock Legend Richard Thompson OBE. A co-founder of Fairport in the 60’s he helped pioneer British Folk Rock. He is known as one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He didn’t disappoint. Just amazing. You would have thought four guitarists were on the stage and it was only him, doing it all. His fingers were a blur as he worked so fast. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at the signing his new album – Acoustic Classic 2, and he was very quiet and unassuming, and lovely to talk to. No ego at all.
I will say at this point that compere for the weekend was Anthony John Clarke, who did a marvellous job of introducing artists and keeping dedications flowing and read them out to the audience. Excellent choice for an MC.
Richard Digance was missed from his usual spot on kicking off proceedings on the Saturday, but he sent a message to say he was busy touring and not to forget his album and books in the merchandise tent. When he came on to the big screens, the audience applauded him, even though it was a pre-recorded message. Lovely.
Richard’s slot was taken by the Ashley Hutchings Morris On Band, who did a marvellous job of performing some classics from the Morris On album, and we had Morris Dancers dancing on stage to complete the scene. Hankies were at the ready and the audience took part in what is usually Richard Digance’s attempt at getting the whole crowd to wave hankies Morris style! A superb sight to see.
Next up ex-Fairport member Judy Dyble and the Band Of Perfect Strangers who took us on a musical journey, ending with her promoting her autobiography – An Accidental Musician – published last year.
Plainsong included another ex-Fairport Member – Iain Matthews and was formed 45 years ago. A very pleasant set, and Iain obviously has his fans.
I then went to try and find a shower, hopefully no queues at this time, so sadly I missed most of the Cats In Space set. I could hear them from afar, but they were visual, and glad I could see even a short bit. Surprisingly only formed last year, they were a tight knit of pop rock genre. All six of them. I enjoyed what I saw. Blew a few cobwebs away!
Marillion followed. Not my cup of tea, but they clearly had their fans there, and were enjoyed by them.
Scottish multi award winning singer-songwriter Dougie McLean OBE followed. He has a global following. I hadn’t seen him before, and certainly did enjoy his set. Full of stories and song, and lots of audience participation. Particularly on his ‘Caledonia’, which has a high regard in Scotland. He also has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Superb.
Now was the time for the BIG set!!! Three hours of Fairport and friends. And what a gift to us!!
Difficult to put this all into words as to how the atmosphere of what it was. You just had to be there. Fairport’s Golden Anniversary and an extremely emotional crowd.
Their guests came on during the course of the evening. The wonderful Chris While who picked up the vocal batton for Come All Ye, The Deserter, Tam Lin and Who Knows Where the Time Goes. Richard Thompson came back into the set after the early years stint for Walk Awhile, Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman, Sloth, Now Be Thankful and Sir Patrick Spens. As did Judy Dyble for I Don’t Know Where I Stand andIain Matthews for Time Will Show The Wiser, Reno Nevada and Suzanne in the early years opening piece. Ralph McTell sang us a version of ‘White Dress’ which was the song Dave Swarbrick wrote for Sandy Denny. That was Ralph’s only contribution, which was a shame as he is a great favourite of the Cropredy crowd. All the Folking Team gave a big cheer and Paul Miles kept saying I love him, I love him I don’t know how many times, bless him! Don’t we all!
Former Fairport member Maartin Allcock dazzled us with A Surfeit of Lampreys and Jewel in the Crown with his playing and that electric blue suit . He looked very dapper. We had Sally Barker who also sang ‘Rising For The Moon’, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks joining Gerry Conway on drums and percussion. Such a wealth of talent, emotion and music was enjoyed by all. The finale of ‘Meet On The Ledge’ had the audience spilling tears all over the now dry grass.
You came, we saw, and you conquered Fairport and all. Congratulations on your Golden Anniversary can’t wait for next year for the start of a new decade.
Connor Walsh – a very talented, young, upcoming musician, based in Devon is to release his new EP, The Hardest Path, on September 2nd, and a fabulous EP it is! Connor has written this from experiences in his own life, and says that “…there is a strange beauty in the Darkest of Times”. All tracks are self-penned. The Hardest Path has four tracks and perfectly shows his wealth of talent.
‘Down The Line’. A story of relationships and time. Starting slowly and then reaching a high point, beautifully crafted and belted out on the guitar, harmonies and bodhran from Emma Mcelhinney.
‘Fellow Man’ has a strong Irish flavour asking us to rise your glass to those that look after our country, and hoping that they will not be sent to a foreign land. Very dramatic and rhythmic track played on mandolin. Harmonies and bodrhan from Emma.
‘Hold On’ leads us into a false quiet beginning then let’s rip as only Connor can do! In the song he is experiencing pain, and needs holding on to. Very clever voice mix and guitar, you can feel the anguish.
‘The Call’ is probably my favourite track. Dramatic beginning then ends with frenetic guitar. Listen to ‘The Call to guide us home to our sons’! Amazing song writing and tune! Again harmonies and bodrhan from Emma.
Connor is certainly going to be going places on the music scene and is already making waves in the local Devon area. He is very confident and has a great stage presence. The album launch will be August Bank Holiday weekend at The Sorry Head in Exeter, and I’m looking forward to seeing him live again.
Folk-rock legend Rev Hammer, who has also helped sponsor the album with Barry Walsh says this of Connor’s work:
“A great collection of street balladry from the Gutter Rat King. Powerful and evocative song writing aided and abetted by dancing fiddle and some sweet, sweet backing vocals. This perfectly captures the live essence of the man”
Folk Rock legends, Rev Hammer and Nick Harper wowed the audience at Unit 23 Live in Totnes, South Devon recently. The venue owner Simon has just taken over, and making a huge mark on this quirky venue in the middle of an industrial estate. Ex South Hams Radio presenter – Rob Wheeler, who has known Rev for years, put this gig on, so thank you Rob for doing this!
Ably assisted support by young up and coming Sam Ryan and Connor Walsh, the evening was a mixture of pure brilliance!
Connor Walsh kicked off the evening, although I had not seen or heard of him before, he was soon into getting audience reaction. Blue paint was drawn across his eyes like a mask, and I wondered what an earth we were going to hear! War paint?? He kicked off with a drinking song, and off we went! Very lively and we all sat up to listen to this talented young man. Shortly after we had an audience participation song, which went down very well! Connor’s mixtures of songs showed he has an awesome talent and will go far. I loved his set!
Next up came Sam Ryan, son of Rev Hammer, showing his Dad’s talent. Sam was as awesome as Connor but with his own style (not his father’s) kicking off with a lively number, ‘Men’ was just brilliant, and an audience participation song ‘Vikings’ had everyone shouting in unison with gusto when required! Self-penned songs and we will see more of Sam in his own right I’m sure. Sam wrote the title track ‘Skald’ on the new Rev Hammer album and performed on it.
Rev and Nick came on stage together and did numbers mostly individually. As Nick produced Rev’s new album he knew the guitar work as had played on it. Nick is an outstanding singer/songwriter, who just blew me away with his guitar playing. Rev joked he had Billy Bragg at his side! Two legends with attitude!
Nick passionately sang some cracking numbers including ‘Bloodsong’, a very bluesy, gritty number and his facial expressions told us he was away with the music. ‘Incredible Skies’ was just awesome, and we were all blown away by the tune and words, ‘I Will Carry You Always’ – a song about baggage, ‘Juicy Fruit Girl’ – which was kind of humorous, another bluesy track. ‘I Need You Now,’ ‘Peace, Love and Happiness’, ‘Real Life’ and Aeroplane was a great song to finish the evening. This got everyone off their seats more or less. Awesome!
Rev and Nick alternated to perform and when I asked Rev for a set list to do the review, I found out it was going to be random! He gave us ‘Punch Drunk’ to open his turn, love it and so many others did too, as linked to Rev’s association with The Levellers. A favourite Rev song of mine was on the list – ‘No One Or Nothing’, Rev also did a leg pull of Ralph McTell, which I hadn’t heard before, but as I like Ralph McTell, I won’t comment! ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ and ‘I’m Ready And I’m Waiting’ off Skald, ‘Drunkards Waltz’, which the Oysterband covered, and another of my favourites – ‘Every Woman’s Pain’, from his very successful folk opera Freeborn John and which he dedicated to his daughters!
An absolutely fabulous evening and look forward to hearing them all again soon. Check them out and buy Rev Hammer’s Skald album following the link from his website.