WILDWOOD JACK – Liberty Ship (Ramsgate)

Liberty ShipNot to be confused with Wildwood Kin, this is Adam Piggott and Jayne Freeman, a Kent-based husband and wife troubadour twosome whose music, an amalgam of folk, world and Americana and augmented on Liberty Ship by renowned drummer Liam Genockey, draws on their travels. Although they draw on traditional influences, the material is all self-penned, the album getting underway with ‘Ordinary Day’, Freeman adding ukulele and Genockey giving a percussive wash to a song about a woman about a man asking his lover why she’s dressed up so fine, blissfully unaware she’s leaving him.

Set to a simple guitar and uke arrangement, ‘The Captain And Me’ is the first of the nautical-themed numbers, part inspired by a Rembrandt painting depicting a Biblical scene it tells of a ship caught in a storm on the sea of Galilee, though, like the calm captain, there’s a far more allegorical nature to it.

Inspired by the discovery of a collection of rustic automata in the Lost Gypsy Gallery while travelling through the rugged Catlins region of the South Island of New Zealand, they were inspired to write ‘The Lost Gypsy’, a playful number about ticks and tocks and making repairs in life and relationships. Closer to home, the fingerpicked and appropriately breezy ‘Morning Star’ was born in finding a copy of The Cloud Collectors Handbook in a Suffolk bookshop, taking form of a lyric about the life of a snowflake while experiencing a Shropshire winter.

‘Just A Dreamer’ is a soft and breathily sung gentle waltzer that’s pretty much summed up by the title, after which it’s back to the briny for ‘Man Overboard’ which, taking a cue from nautical communication flags, brings Genockey back behind the kit on skittering brushed drums, for a hugely infectious ‘ecological Cajun sea shanty’ that, complete with bass thumbs and handclap snaps, is about the dangers of plundering the ocean, be it for fish, treasure or oil.

There’s two further ship-themed tracks, producer Harvey Summers sitting in on piano and accordion for the swayalong, military beat ‘Unsinkable Sam’, the first person story of the ship’s cat that survived the sinking of the Bismark and went on to join the Royal Navy aboard HMS Cossack and the Ark Royal, both of which also went to the bottom while the cat escaped unscathed. The other, obviously, is the title track, though here the vessel is more metaphorical, sailing on a journey to leave sorrows behind and start life anew, the rootsy melody somewhere between ‘Poncho & Lefty’ and Rick Nelson’s ‘Garden Party’.

By contrast, it’s the country’s inland waterways that serve as inspiration for the reflective song of love and passing years, ‘Montgomery Canal’, which runs through Powys in Eastern Wales and North West Shropshire.

Elsewhere, two real life characters provide the lyrical hub. Etched on filigree picked guitar and ukulele, ‘By The Light Of This Lantern’ recounts the tragic tale of Zuam da Leze, a talented Venetian musician who had a clavisimbalum built at great expense and travelled to England to the court of Henry VIII in the belief it would land him a position at court. Henry, however, was not impressed, dismissing him with just a few coins, da Leze hanging himself that night with his dagger-girdle. A rather more positive note’s struck with ‘Bluegrass Boy’, a circling picked tribute to the legendary Bill Monroe.

Hidden away at the end of the album is their crooning rewrite of the traditional Southern states lullaby ‘Hush Little Baby’ (sometimes known as Mockingbird, as recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx), replacing the original’s gift with increasingly exotic (and mythical locations), the song poignantly featuring the count in and last two lines by Adam’s father, Gordon, who served as executive producer and passed away just a week after the recording.

They may not be the best known names on the folk circuit, but their Liberty Ship is a watertight vessel that will provide sure passage to all who sail her.

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.

Artists’ website: www.wildwoodjack.com

‘Bluegrass Boy’ – live:

Wildwood Jack announce new album – touring this year

Wildwood Jack

After selling their home to hit the road the acoustic folk and roots duo Wildwood Jack have been living the life of musical troubadours for over four years and their adventures and stories are bound together in this brand new album Liberty Ship.

Bringing together the sound of Folk, Americana and World Music the album also features legendary drummer Liam Genockey from Steeleye Span on four of the tracks.

Husband and wife Adam Piggott and Jayne Freeman have ‘blended the sound of the acoustic guitar and the ukulele in new and sophisticated ways’ and their songs reflect their journeys and adventures on the road. Liberty Ship takes you from the mysterious world-folk sound of ‘An Ordinary Day’ to the upbeat Americana of ‘The Lost Gypsy’, the sparkling winter soundscape of ‘Morning Star’ to the mythical journey of ‘The Captain & Me’.

Wildwood Jack will be touring their new album throughout the UK and Mainland Europe during 2018.

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.

Artists’ website: www.wildwoodjack.com

Teaser video:

Steeleye Span and some real Dodgy Bastards

steeleye span 2016

In an age when it is not uncommon for an artist to take five years to follow up a successful album, the creativity that Steeleye Span displayed in their early years is still astonishing. In the decade between their debut and 1980’s Sails Of Silver, they released twelve records alongside touring the world and enjoying a string of hits. Now with their 50th anniversary fast approaching, the band have come close to matching that work rate – readying themselves for the release of Dodgy Bastards, their eighth album in twelve years.

Such inspiration has come both from the individuals involved (Steeleye mainstays Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp and Liam Genockey alongside Jessie May Smart, Andrew Sinclair and Julian Littman in the current line-up) and the source material. Having set the writings of the late Terry Pratchett to music on the successful Wintersmith album and revisited their own past on 2015’s Catch Up, this latest outing finds them returning to the folk tales and characters that have always been at the heart of the Steeleye sound.

Dodgy Bastards draws on the work of 19th century American scholar Francis James Child and his collection of English and Scottish Ballads. The album is appropriately titled, containing stories of murder, religion, incest, skulls, honour killings and tormented spirits – the perfect subject material for Steeleye Span’s dark take on the music of the British Isles.

Such epic tales require a suitable musical backdrop and the record is firmly in the band’s classic musical mould. ‘Brown Robyn’s Confession’ sets the tone but with a new twist, violinist Jessie May Smart taking the lead vocal before the distinct tones of Maddy Prior join her on the striking chorus. Elsewhere each member plays their part, allowing the music to explore a variety of different paths as the songs ebb and flow in keeping with their characters and events – with Prior and Littman even adding a spoken word / rap element to long time band favourite ‘Boys Of Bedlam’.

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.

Artists’ website: http://steeleyespan.org.uk/

The Dodgy Bastards trailer:

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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 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.