Underneath The Stars presents its full line-up

Underneath The StarsSouth Yorkshire’s stellar music & arts festival Underneath The Stars returns this summer with another exciting line-up of established and emerging talent across the folk, jazz, roots, bluegrass, fusion and Americana music worlds, as well as the promise of enticing workshops, arts, crafts and food stalls, highlighting the creative talents of the Yorkshire region. Organised by the family production team of acclaimed Yorkshire folk singer-songwriter Kate Rusby, and now in its fifth year, 2018’s edition also sees its relocation to a brand-new site at Cinderhill Farm, Cawthorne, near Barnsley, and promises a warm welcome to this beautiful and cozy little corner of rural Yorkshire.

The line-up in full is as follows:

Steve Earle & The Dukes / Kate Rusby /
George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain / Lau /
Joanne Harris and the Storytime Band / The California Feetwarmers / Yves Lambert Trio / Damien O’Kane & Ron Block / Grace Petrie /
Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards / Melrose Quartet /
The Adventures of Andy Kershaw / Fat Suit / Honeyfeet / Estbel /
John Metcalfe / Midnight Skyracer / Amythyst Kiah / Jack Rutter /
Lori Watson / Kizzy Crawford / Jack Harris /
Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers / Stables / Pitou /    Hearts at War /Barnsley Youth Choir / L-R

Continue reading Underneath The Stars presents its full line-up

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention announces Brian Wilson as headliner

Brian Wilson at Fairport's Cropredy Convention
Photograph courtesy of CNN

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival have announced that Brian Wilson will perform the legendary Beach Boys album Pet Sounds at Cropredy on Thursday 9 August 2018.

Acclaimed for its ambition and sophistication, Pet Sounds is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential albums of all time. Released in 1966, Wilson’s masterpiece is number 2 in the Rolling Stone ‘500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ list, only beaten to the top spot by The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper.

The festival will be held over three days (Thursday 9, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August 2018) at Cropredy near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Thursday opens with host band Fairport Convention who will play a short welcome set. Fairport are followed by Smith & Brewer, a talented Americana guitar duo featuring close harmony vocals. Police Dog Hogan deliver their own brand of exhilarating Country-tinged rock. Ever-popular folkrockers Oysterband will make their first appearance at Cropredy since 2004 and they will be followed by Thursday’s headliner, Brian Wilson.

On Friday,Cropredy will open with a set by the BBC Young Folk Award winner followed by newcomers Midnight Skyracer who describe their music as ‘Anglo-Irish girl-power Bluegrass’. Favourites of the Cropredy crowd The Travelling Band make a welcome return with their blend of Mancunian Americana and indie folkrock. Cregan & Co features Jim Cregan, best known for his associations with Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart. Le Vent du Nord will perform traditional Québécois music with infectious enthusiasm before former frontman of Marillion, Fish makes his second appearance at Cropredy. Mercury-nominee Kate Rusby (Folk Singer of the Year and Best Live Act winner at the BBC Folk Awards) makes her Cropredy debut before Friday’s headline act Levellers celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with a welcome return to Cropredy.

Saturday sees BAFTA nominee Richard Digance getting the day off to a flying start. Sets from Eric Sedge and The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican precede singer-songwriter Will Varley who makes his first appearance at Cropredy with his band.  Folk Award winner Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys are newcomers to the festival and so are Afro Celt Sound System who fuse traditional Irish and West African music in a thrilling mix. They will be followed by a solo set from Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart before Fairport Convention and guests take the stage for their traditional two-hour-plus Saturday headline show.

Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com/

‘God Only Knows’ – live:

Wickham Festival Announces 2018 Line Up

Wickham have just announced that The South and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel are among the latest acts confirmed for this year’s Festival.

Also recently confirmed are singer-songwriters Reg Meuross and Jim Malcolm; Scottish duo Saltfishforty; the wonderful Mary Coughlan from Ireland; and great live bands Police Dog Hogan, The Outcast Band and Merry Hell.

They join a top-class line-up already announced including Squeeze; John Illsley of Dire Straits; The Richard Thompson Trio; Kate Rusby; Show of Hands; Tom Robinson + Band; The Undertones; The Red Hot Chilli Pipers; Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings; The Blues Band; Martyn Joseph; Flook; Drever McCusker Woomble; Tankus The Henge; The Dhol Foundation; Ferocious Dog; Skipinnish; The Pierce Brothers; Mad Dog McCrea; Daori Farrell; Imar; Talisk; Boo Hewerdine; Gaz Brookfield; Roy Bailey; Maggie Bell & Dave Kelly; and many more.

See wickhamfestival.co.uk for full listings plus details of who’s on when.

Artist Summary:

Squeeze
Richard Thompson Trio
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
The South
Kate Rusby
Show Of Hands
John Illsley of Dire Straits
The Undertones
Tom Robinson & Band
The Blues Band
The Dhol Foundation
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers
Ferocious Dog
Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings
Mary Coughlan
Martyn Joseph
Flook
Tankus the Henge
Mad Dog Mcrea
Imar
Gaz Brookfield & The Company of Thieves
Pierce Brothers
Merry Hell
Gordie MacKeeman & his Rhythm Boys
The Electric Swing Circus
Skipinnish
Talisk
Daori Farrell
Boo Hewerdine
Drever McCusker Woomble
Maggie Bell & Dave Kelly
The East Pointers
The Gerry Colvin Band
Roy Bailey
The Emily Askew Band
Les Barker
Vishtèn
Fake Thackray
Findlay Napier
More artists T.B.C

Above and below are a couple of special moments captured from last years festival courtesy of the folking video archive:

DAMIEN O’KANE – Avenging & Bright (Pure Records PRCD46)

Avenging & BrightDamien O’Kane isn’t actually auditioning for Game Of Thrones on the cover. The cos-play refers to the title track, ‘Avenging & Bright’, taken from a poem by Thomas Moore about a mediaeval Irish dust up. On the back of the booklet you’ll see his band: Steven Byrnes and Steven Iveson (guitars) and Anthony Davis (keyboards) all similarly attired.

We’re used to people doing strange thing to folk music whether it’s putting a rock band behind it or adding neo-classical strings but Damien O’Kane takes a different route, using the styles of late 20th/early 21st century pop. In fact the opener, ‘Boston City’ starts with a passage of ambient guitar and I really wasn’t sure about this record at first. It struck me that you could strip the songs away from the backings and substitute anything you wished.

I’ve rather warmed to Avenging & Bright since, partly because of the quality of the material and partly because of the playing, particularly on the more delicate tracks and particularly the guitar parts. The songs sound traditional but fewer than half of them are and in many cases Damien has provided new tunes. For the others, he’s borrowed from near and far: Kate Rusby, who also provides backing vocals on ‘Lately’, Sean McBride, Dave Goulder and Elizabeth Stirling, who he credits with the authorship of ‘All Among The Barley’ although many authorities credit Alfred Williams with its collection and Mike Yates with providing the tune.

The best tracks for me are ‘The Homes Of Donegal’ and the delightful instrumental ‘Dancing In Puddles’, one of two tracks to feature Ron Block on banjo but that’s just picking the icing off the top of the cake. Damien clearly has belief in the songs he sings and is prepared to push the envelope in presenting them to his listeners.

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: http://damienokane.co.uk/

‘Poor Stranger’ – official video:

KATE RUSBY – Angels & Men (Pure PRCD44)

Angels & MenBringing the 25th anniversary of her music career to date to a sparkling finale, Kate Rusby sees the year out with Angels & Men, her fourth Christmas album, again featuring a collection of predominantly South Yorkshire carols, but, this time, produced by husband Damien O’Kane with what she calls “an iridescent twinkle”.

Twinkle it most certainly does on the opening gambit of ‘Hark Hark’, the crispness burnished by the mulled wine warmth of cornet, French horn, Flugel horn and tuba, complemented by euphonium, diatonic accordion and, special guest from the Alison Krauss Band, Ron Block on banjo.

The album marks another first in featuring a Christmas standard in the jaunty form of Sammy Chan and Jule Styne’s festive chestnut, ‘Let It Snow’, given her own Barnsley sheen and, again featuring the brass section, a folksy instrumental interpolation.

Changing the ambience for a more brooding, portentous tone, featuring O’Kane on guitar, Duncan Lyle on moog with Josh Clark on percussion, ‘Paradise’ returns to the South Yorkshire canon for what is, in fact, a variation on ‘Down In Yon Forest’, a Renaissance carol about the nativity based on the Middle English hymn, the ‘Corpus Christi Carol’. And, on the subject of variations, things take a playful turn for ‘The Ivy And The Holly’, a cover of Kipper Family member Chris Sugden’s witty riposte to the evergreen carol as having “no good points between ‘em!” from their 1989 album Arrest These Merry Gentlemen.

Rusby, of course, recorded the original carol on Sweet Bells, her 2008 Christmas album, and the lively ‘Sweet Chiming Bells’ is, in fact a revisiting of the title track in a fuller brass arrangement, basically ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’ with an added Yorkshire village chorus and renamed after the tune.

The words written in 1858 by Edward Caswell and set to the tune of ‘Humility’ in 1871 by John Goss, ‘See Amid The Winter Snow’ is also known as ‘Hymn For Christmas Day’, the simple cascading brass arrangement here perfectly capturing the theme of purity.

Featuring a circling guitar pattern from O’Kane with Nick Cooke on accordion although credited as traditional, the first two verses and chorus of ‘Rolling Downward’ are actually taken from the lyrics by 19th century Pennsylvanian hymnalist Robert Lowry with Rusby providing an amendment to the third.

Another familiar festive number arrives ‘Deck The Halls’, Clark laying down the rhythmic bedrock with the brass section and Aaron Jones on bouzouki adding extra joie de vivre to its fa la la la la. Then, things take another contemporary turn with a sleigh bells feel to Richard Thompson’s ‘We’ll Sing Hallelujah’, reclaiming its somewhat depressive and downbeat lyrics about mortality and investing it with a jubilant feel.

Introduced by a sample her young daughter Daisy saying banjo over and over, the light-hearted ‘Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo’ is another cover, this time from Canadian singer-songwriter David Myles, taken at a more measured tempo and featuring Block again on banjo, this time joined by Sierra Hull on mandolin.

The album ends with two Rusby originals. Clocking at just under six minutes, the slow waltzing ‘Let The Bells Ring’ is a bittersweet mingling of sadness at the passing of the year and the hope of the one beginning, Anton Davis on piano as it gathers to a swelling orchestral brass crescendo. The final track reprises Barnsley’s very own Yorkshire tea-drinking super-hero first featured on last year’s Life In A Paper Boat, returning for ‘Big Brave Bill Saves Christmas’ as he variously melts Sid the bad snowman with a pot of tea, saves Daisy and sister Phoebe from the thin ice over the lake and digs Santa out of a Lapland snowdrift, bringing it all to a climax with military drums and a flourish of brass. And, in good super-hero movie tradition, stay on for that extra little bonus after the final note. To borrow the name of well-known dessert, as the sleeve photo suggests, this is an Angel Delight.

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.katerusby.com

‘Sweet Bells’ – live:

KATE RUSBY – Life In A Paper Boat (Pure PRCD41)

life in a paper boatUnquestionably my favourite female folk singer of her generation, traditional or otherwise, dubbed the Barnsley Nightingale, her pure voice never seeking to disguise her Yorkshire vowels, Rusby has been plying her trade for 24 years. Life In A Paper Boat is her 14th studio album, one which, while hewing to familiar tropes, nevertheless sets sail for new boundaries. This time round, husband Damien O’Kane had more time to experiment with the production, adding in sounds and effects that could be reproduced on stage, most specifically in areas of non drum percussion, courtesy of Josh Clark, and in extensive use of moog by bassist Duncan Lyall, enrobing the traditional with the contemporary.

As ever, the material is a mix of originals and traditional numbers, the title track, like many a recent folk album, inspired by the migrant crisis, but also serving as a springboard for other images and themes. Her repository of ballads provides the source for the album’s 17th century opener, ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’, string section, bouzouki and diatonic accordion providing the backing for an rhythmically heady nonsense story of a tailor who fought for England with a horse made from a sheer board, a bridle of scissors and a needle as a spear, sometimes also known as ‘The Tailor And The Louse’, in which the flea represents his wife.

The first of the self-penned number, the yearningly delicate, slow waltzing ‘Hunters Moon’, takes on equally symbolic imagery, going cosmic in the use of the sun and the moon as metaphors for unrequited lovers, then it’s back to the traditional for her own musical setting of ‘The Ardent Shepherdess’, a dreamy, suitably pastoral arrangement that features a banjo interlude from Ron Block.

Maybe it’s because we’re a approaching Christmas, but the title track has a carol feel, O’Kane’s tenor electric guitar providing the tune’s foundation, Cooke’s accordion surfacing midway as Rusby sings of a widowed mother and her child, an ancient land “left behind in ruins” and a tentative note of hope in the prospect of the promised land to which they sail. The sea is at the heart of another of the originals, this time claiming the narrator’s life in the breathily-sung traditional coloured ‘The Mermaid’, one of the tracks to make extensive and effective use of moog and programming as well as featuring guest harmony vocals from Dan Tyminski.

Starting faintly before Anthony Davis’s keys enter the picture, Lyall’s double bass. O’Kane strummed acoustic and Steven Iveson’s electric guide Rusby’s melodic setting of the lover’s pledge ‘Hundred Hearts’. It’s credited as “words trad & K Rusby”, though, given Google failed to identify any folk song by that name or with similar lines, the traditional springboard in question may well be the anonymous valentine’s card epigram “A hundred hearts would be too few / To carry all my love for you.”

Firmly traditional in origin as well as sound, featuring accordion and Michael McGoldrick on whistle and flute, the mid-tempo ‘Pace Egging Song’ stems from the West Yorkshire Easter tradition (Pace derives from Pacha, the Latin for Easter) of performing Pace Egg Village plays wherein St George takes on all comers, here including Lord Nelson, Jolly Jack Tar and Old Miser and is, essentially, a beer begging number.

The last of the traditional numbers, another steeped in celestial imagery, ‘Night Lament’, again sees Rusby adapting the words and providing the tune, arranged for viola, fiddle and cello, and again one for which I cannot trace the source material.

Not traditional as such, but certainly getting on a few years, the longest track here, at over six minutes, is, accompanied solely by electric tenor, moog and double bass an atmospheric, a version of Archie Fisher’s epic narrative ‘The Witch of Westmoreland’, originally featured on his 1976 album. The Man With The Rhyme, and later popularised by Stan Rogers, which tells of a how a wounded knight is led by various animal guides to the witch who can heal him in both flesh and spirit.

The remaining two ‘official’ numbers are both by Rusby, the jaunty but reflective ‘Only Desire What You Have’ (which about not pursuing greed rather than about just accepting your lot) again featuring Tyminski, McGoldrick and Block, while, the most experimental sounding in its programming and percussion, ‘I’ll Be Wise’, a familiar tale of a girl beguiled and betrayed, plays out rather like a slow shanty sway.

There is, though, a bonus track, one on which Rusby’s playfulness sparks through, ‘Big Brave Bill’, which, set to a military beat with Yorkshire brass flourishes of cornet, flugel horn, French horn, tuba and euphonium, tells of Barnsley’s own super-hero performing such derring do feats as rescuing a lad from the mud, a trapped miner and, most notably, old Mrs Dobbins from Dearneside who found herself in Mallorca, served with a cup of warm water, lifeless tea bag and UHT milk until Bill swooped in with a kettle and some good old Yorkshire Tea. These adventures, as well as sending off a flying saucer, can be thoroughly enjoyed with the accompanying animation at www.bigbravebill.com. Kate Rusby, folk music’s proper brew.

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.katerusby.com

‘Only Desire What You Have’ – official video: