Derbyshire stars at Derby Folk Festival

Derbyshire Folk Festival

Derbyshire is famous for many things to those in the know, but for the casual mainstream music fan the county that gave the world Rolls-Royce has added little to history’s record collection, aside from one hit wonders White Town and Candy Flip.

In folk circles, however, it is a different story and to mark the 12th year of the city’s folk festival it held its first-ever Made in Derbyshire evening, showcasing three of the county’s foremost talents.

It helps enormously that two of the talents are the festival’s patrons, five-time BBC Radio Two Folk Award winner John Tams and the highly féted Lucy Ward, with the trio completed by festival regulars and local favourites Cupola.

And so it was Cupola, the trio made up of Doug Ounson, Sarah Matthews and Oli Matthews, who kicked off the evening, good-humouredly persevering through the early gremlins in the sound system to showcase their mix of traditional three-part harmony English and European folk, drawing on a song list built up during their 10 year career.

Cupola are accomplished musicians with a worldwide following and this was just one of three different manifestations the band adopt. Later that evening they performed at another venue as DanceCupola, while halfway through their set they invited Lucy Ward on stage to form Cupola:Ward, performing the dark and twisted Willie’s Lady from their 2016 collaborative album Bluebell.

Their last song paved the way for DanceCupola by blending three up-tempo compositions written by Doug Ounson before the stage was set for John Tams, in tandem with long-time collaborator Barry Coope on keyboard.

Beginning with ‘Only Remembered’ from the National Theatre’s production of War Horse, John and Barry went onto deliver a virtuoso set interspersing their songs with easy and witty patter, passing comment on pretty much everything from John’s creaking limbs and forgetfulness to Teresa May and the parlous state of world politics.

Fitting to the geographical flavour of the night, John didn’t forget his roots, recalling a meeting 40 years ago at Sudbury Hall near Ashbourne with George Fradley from Cubley, before performing his song ‘Nowt Do To Wi’ Me’, with plenty of audience participation.

Later, he gave new life to Ewan McColl’s gorgeous ‘The Manchester Rambler’, inspired by the Kinder Mass Trespass of 1932, an act of civil disobedience on the slopes of Derbyshire’s highest peak which gave rise to the Ramblers Association. There was even time for a rendition of Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ – sung in a broad Derbyshire vernacular.

John and Barry brought their set to a close with ‘Will I See Thee More’ and ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, earning a standing ovation and reasserting John’s status as Derby Folk Festival’s favourite eminence gris.

Lucy Ward

And so to Lucy Ward, the former local schoolgirl with four albums and a host of awards under her belt, who was back to the folk scene after a short hiatus.

Singing the stories of the people of Derbyshire is one of the joys of her career, Lucy had explained backstage before the show, especially her best-known composition Alice in the Bacon Box, which she has performed all over the world and which, inevitably, she performed in the heart of her home city too.

But first, with her customary greeting “Ay Up!” she began her set with material from her new album, Pretty Warnings, including ‘Silver Morning, Sunshine Child’, a tender and moving tribute to her 20-month-old son, and ‘Cold Caller’ – which, she explained, the audience was free to either interpret as a title inspired by the story within the song or by an unsolicited PPI inquiry.

Backed by her four-piece band, Lucy mixed up her set expertly, weaving in a jazzy feel to ‘Maria Martin’ and, by her own admission, a heavy glam rock influence on ‘Marching Through The Green Grass’.

And, just to keep the audience on their toes, she threw in a folk version of Elvis Presley’s ‘A Little Less Conversation’, a contrast to the heart-breaking content of ‘Mari Vach’, a bygone tragedy brought achingly to life.

Her performance was a prime example of someone totally at home – in more ways than one – and at the height of her powers, and as a showcase of Derbyshire’s musical talent, her triumphant return to action, John’s musicianship and storytelling and Cupola’s uplifting melodies, the evening was a resounding success.

Which makes it even more of a shame that such a friendly, well-run and increasingly popular event has to be held in large, slightly chilly, tent which, as John Tams had explained, is so because its usual venue, the city council-owned Assembly Rooms, is still closed following a fire in the neighbouring multi-storey car park in 2014.

“It stands like a large empty tomb,” he remarked, pointing out that to reopen it would apparently cost £10m, when, in his opinion, all it requires is a good going over inside with a dustpan and brush.

And so, while John wore a smart jacket and waistcoat and Lucy Ward looked every inch a star in a sparkling top, the audience who’d paid their money to enjoy their talents were doomed to sit hunched up in their coats to keep out the autumnal cold.

Fully four years after the fire, it all feels a bit embarrassing – the festival and its heroic organisers deserve so much better.

Simon Burch

Festival website: http://www.derbyfolkfestival.co.uk/

Here is the ‘dynamic duo’ performing “The Manchester Rambler” from the Gosport and Fareham Easter Festival back in 2007.

BOB FOX – A Garland For Joey (Fledg’ling FLED 3107)

JoeyI’m guessing that A Garland For Joey is an album that Bob Fox has wanted to make for a long time. Many fine musicians have taken on the role of Songman but Bob has the gravitas to take the part from that of the provider of incidental music to the play’s narrator.

Subtitled The War Horse Songbook, the record is described as a re-telling and it is certainly a reinvention. Bob puts aside the melodeon that he was compelled to learn for the stage and mostly returns to the guitar providing some big arrangement. He is supported on three tracks by the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and on one by Sam Fisher’s cornet. The garland on the cover and the opening song ‘Snow Falls’ gives the record a Christmassy feel which is reinforced by ‘The Devonshire Carol’ or, at least its title, which both closes the songbook and leads into the first song of the postscript, ‘The Cherry Cheeked Optimists (Part One)’. The second part of the song is anything but optimistic, of course, and it sets the scene for ‘Scarecrow’ which closes the album. Given that the original version pre-dated the premiere of War Horse by some thirty years it was a remarkably prescient piece of writing by John Tams.

Religion was a much more important aspect of life a century ago but ‘Only Remembered’ has transcended time and faith to replace ‘The Parting Glass’ as the farewell song of choice. ‘Rolling Home’ is an expression of Tams’ socialist manifesto and is an uplifting mirror image of the bleak ‘Scarecrow’ but both mark the beginning of the end of deference to our “betters”. The traditional ‘Scarlet And The Blue’ is the jolliest song on the record with a jaunty tune matching an optimistic lyric, contrasting with the sombre ‘Stand To’ which follows it – another quasi-religious song – and Tams also borrows the carol ‘Lullee Lullay’ while maintaining its original form as a lullaby.

Hearing these songs sung in full and in sequence tells the story, not necessarily of Joey, but of the war itself and stand alone without the magnificent puppets and the action on stage. A Garland For Joey will be on a good many Christmas lists this year.

Dai Jeffries

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.bobfoxmusic.com

‘Snow Falls’ – live:

John Kirkpatrick joins Home Service

John Kirkpatrick joins Home Service

John Tams has announced his retirement from Home Service – we thank him mightily for all his work with us and wish him well!

“A combination of circumstance not least and most recently an 8-part television drama series has drawn me reluctantly to leave Home Service effective from September 13th 2015”, said John. “This decision, whilst difficult, aims to avoid compromising the future for Home Service at a time when my restricted diary would make forward planning impossible. There are no issues beyond this and I leave my friends and colleagues, some of almost 40 years standing, in the certain knowledge that they are ‘The best damn band in the land.’ I send them my fondest thoughts and support for their continuing success. I’ll miss you lads!”

We are excited to announce that we have now regrouped with two new members and a revamped brass section.

Replacing Tam would never be an easy task, but with John Kirkpatrick joining our ranks we have found exactly the calibre of character and musicianship required. John will take over the lead vocal role and add his inimitably masterful accordion.

Also, we must announce the emigration of Jonathan Davie to Thailand. Huge gratitude and best wishes are due to Jon, whose replacement has also taken a lot of consideration. However, we can heartily welcome the wonderful Rory McFarlane (ex Richard Thompson band) to join us on bass.

Furthermore, now we have John K on board, Steve King will be not only be gracing the keyboard, but freed to stand tall amongst the brass section and exhibit his skills on tenor saxophone, helping to create an even more dynamic sound. The new line-up has already begun recording a new album at Morden Shoals Studio – watch this space to follow its development!

We shall miss you both greatly Tam and Jon, but know that you both wish the band all good fortune in its future voyage of discovery…

Artists’ website: http://www.homeserviceband.co.uk/index.html

Dai Jeffries Interviews Graeme Taylor from Home Service

Graeme Taylor Rehearsals 2011.... Our very own Dai Jeffries caught up with Graeme Taylor last month to talk about his pivotal role in Home Service, the bands history, his accident and his other theater and musical projects.

The band has had quite a journey since the highly successful festival season in the summer of 2011 which put them back at the epicenter of the folk rock map, Home Service was then nominated in two categories for Radio 2’s Annual Folk and Roots Awards, where they secured ‘Best Live Act’ at The Lowry, Manchester in February 2012.

The reunion of this classic band came about after the discovery, in early 2011, of some previously unheard live recordings made by their faithful sound engineer on a couple of cassette tapes that had languished in the back of his wardrobe for the last 25 years. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibited a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable.

Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer-songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and ”Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The crushing irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.

Listen to Part 1 of the Graeme Taylor interview below:

Listen to Part 2 of the Graeme Taylor interview below:

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.

THE ALBION BAND – Vice Of The People (Powered Flight Music POWFCD02)

The stark acapella ‘calling-on song’ “A Quarter Hour Of Fame” takes a knowing pop at the industry known as ‘pop’ for, if Simon Cowell were to take even the slightest interest in a ‘folk’ band I’m sure he wouldn’t know what to do with them. So, in a track that lasts a mere 44 seconds it would appear the new line-up of The Albion Band mean business much like their predecessor. Forthright views conveyed with a passion were always part of the original band’s make-up thanks due in no small part to the lyrics of John Tams and I’m pleased to say Katriona Gilmore (fiddle) and Gavin Davenport (guitar/concertina) continue in that spirit. Of course, an Albion Band wouldn’t be The Albion Band without the inclusion of at least a couple of trad arr: songs/tunes and in this regard they don’t disappoint with re-workings of “Adieu To Old England” and the downright shanty-rock anthem treatment of “One More Day” where the trademark Stratocaster sound (once provided by Sir Simon Nicol) will leave any festival-going audience with a smile a mile wide. The rest of the band; Blair Dunlop (guitars), Benjamin Trott (lead guitar), Tom Wright (drums) and Tim Yates (bass/melodeon) really are a great ‘engine room’ providing rock solid rhythms and I’d say in conclusion that the band’s name and music is in safe hands. In the words of the great David (we are not worthy) Essex ”Rock On”!

PETE FYFE

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.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012 Winners Announced

Lifetime Achievement Awards for Don McLean and The Dubliners

Four Awards for June Tabor & Oysterband

Good Tradition Awards for Ian Campbell and Bill Leader

Broadcast from The Lowry in Salford for the first time

The influential careers of singer-songwriter Don McLean and Irish folk legends The Dubliners were celebrated last night(Wednesday 8th February) at the 13th BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.  Presented by Radio 2 Folk Show host Mike Harding and singer Julie Fowlis, this was the first year the awards were held outside London. The event was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, online and on BBC Red Button from the Lowry in Salford.

Bob Shennan, Controller, Radio 2 and 6 Music said:

“Folk music is enjoying a fantastic resurgence in popularity in the UK with a vibrant and varied scene. Tonight’s event proves once again how important it is for Radio 2 to schedule our annual Folk Awards as well as our weekly folk show, and I’d like to congratulate all of the winners.”

Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Don McLean who commented:

“I thank the BBC for thinking of me and honouring me with this award. The UK audience has been among the most loyal for over 40 years and without them certainly I wouldn’t be considered for this honour, so I thank the BBC and I thank the British public”.

The Dubliners, who celebrate their 50th year of being together this year, had their achievements recognised when they received their Lifetime Achievement accolade from singer-songwriter Ralph McTell.

The night in part belonged to June Tabor and Oysterband who picked up four awards for each of the categories they were nominated in. Folk singer June was reunited with roots rebels Oysterband after 21 years and their much acclaimed reunion led them to receiving the prestigious Best Album Award for Ragged Kingdom, Best Traditional Track for Bonny Bunch of Roses and Best Group, while June was crowned Folk Singer of the Year.

The evening was also a successful one for Tim Edey who picked up two awards – Musician of the Year and with Brendan Power the gong for Best Duo.

For the first time the Best Original Song prize was given to two winners, with Bella Hardy’s The Herring Girl and Steve Tilston’s The Reckoning sharing the honours. 21 year-old Lucy Ward was a Young Folk Award Finalist in 2009 and now found herself picking up the Horizon Award, which recognises the achievements of newcomers, for her blend of modern and traditional folk.

The Home Service, whose Live 1986 album was released in 2011 following the discovery of a 25-year old tape, were named as Best Live Act. Special recognition went to Ian Campbell and Bill Leader who were honoured with the Good Tradition Award which pays tribute to those who keep traditional folk music alive. Malcolm Taylor OBE, Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society was recognised for his 30 years of service as the recipient of the Roots Award.

Ioscaid (pronounced iss-kidge), a six piece band from Northern Ireland picked up the accolade for Young Folk Award. The group, who are aged between 18 and 20, are made up of Dermot and Fintan Mulholland from Derry, Declan Magee and Niall McCrickard from Down, Niall Murphy from Armagh and Ciaran Hanna from Tyrone.

Celebrities who were on presenting duty on the night included singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, Billy Elliot playwright Lee Hall, Coronation Street’s Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow), comedians Ed Byrne and Jeremy Hardy and BBC broadcasters Stuart Maconie and Paul Gambaccini. Highlights of the Radio 2 Folk Awards will be available on the BBC Red Button for seven days after the award ceremony.

BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS 2012 – WINNERS

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR

June Tabor

 

BEST DUO

Tim Edey & Brendan Power

 

BEST GROUP

June Tabor & Oysterband

 

BEST ALBUM

Ragged Kingdom – June Tabor & Oysterband

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG (JOINT WINNERS)

The Herring Girl – Bella Hardy

The Reckoning – Steve Tilston

 

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK

Bonny Bunch of Roses – June Tabor & Oysterband

 

HORIZON AWARD

Lucy Ward

 

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

Tim Edey

 

BEST LIVE ACT

The Home Service

 

BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD

Ioscaid

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Dubliners

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Don McLean

 

GOOD TRADITION AWARD

Ian Campbell

 

GOOD TRADITION AWARD

Bill Leader

 

ROOTS AWARD

Malcolm Taylor

 

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.