Gretchen Peters joins Gate To Southwell 2018

One of America’s most successful singer-songwriters, Gretchen Peters, will be one of the headline acts at this year’s Gate To Southwell Festival in rural Nottinghamshire this June.

Grammy-nominated and recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Gretchen’s songs have been recorded by diverse artists such as Etta James, George Strait, Shania Twain and Neil Diamond, and she’s co-written and duetted with Bryan Adams. Her 2015 UK tour sold out and featured an acclaimed performance at Glastonbury.

Long regarded as one of the best voices in country and roots music, her hit album ‘Blackbirds’ was described as “an Americana tour de force” by The Sun while Uncut magazine hailed her as “one of Nashville’s greatest talents of the past two decades”. Her recent collection, ‘The Essential Gretchen Peters’, features many of her classic songs including ‘Independence Day’, ‘Hello Cruel World’, ‘The Secret Of Life’ and ‘On A Bus To St Cloud’. She’ll be performing in the Southwell Big Top on Saturday June 9th.

Gretchen Peters brings further international class to Gate To Southwell 2018 (June 7 to 11) joining an eclectic musical line up that already includes legendary folk rockers Lindisfarne, great Irish singer Cara Dillon, Denmark’s Habadekuk, Louisiana blues stars the Lil Jimmy Reed Band, award-winning English folk stars The Young’uns, hillbilly Canadians Ol’ Savannah and many more artists.

Another exciting USA newcomer to Southwell in June will be Truckstop Honeymoon, fusing bluegrass, punk rock and soul with music hall jazz and rock & roll. Created by Katie and Mike West, and born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Truckstop Honeymoon took to the road in 2005 after their home, and their recording studio, were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, they’ve relocated to the Midwest music mecca of Lawrence Kansas but still continue to travel the world with their four kids.

Bargain priced Tier One tickets are still available via www.gtsf.uk

BLUES & FOLK STARS LINED UP FOR GATE TO SOUTHWELL 2018

There’s a perfect blend of rising stars, festival favourites and music legends lined up for next year’s Gate To Southwell.

Already booked for the East Midlands’ premier roots and acoustic event are hugely-successful veteran Geordies Lindisfarne, award-winning folkies The Young’uns, one of Ireland’s greatest singers Cara Dillon performing with special guests, Danish roots stars Habadekuk, brilliant Devon guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith, acclaimed Canadian fiddlers The Fitzgeralds and 2017 BBC Folk Singer of the Year Kris Drever. There’ll also be a special Blues Night featuring Britain’s number one R&B band Nine Below Zero, Louisiana bluesmen The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band and the UK’s best slide guitarist Johnny Dickinson.

Early Bird tickets (at discounted prices while stocks last!) are now available for the four-day event in beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside from Thursday June 7th to Sunday June 10th. Just follow this link to Gate To Southwell 2018 and grab a bargain – www.gtsf.uk

Also joining the eclectic, international bill there’s Scotland’s Blue Rose Code, the Canadian jazz-meets-klezmer-meets-folk of The Boxcar Boys, acclaimed Southwell regulars Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, 2017 BBC Group of the Year The Furrow Collective, the megafolk of Birmingham’s The Destroyers, much-loved global troubadour Rory McLeod, highly-rated harmonious Celts Mongoose and award-winning songstress Vikki Clayton.

Plus, with more names still to be announced, there’s the East Anglian Americana of The Shackleton Trio, Derbyshire’s Rogue Embers and promising folk duo Harbottle & Jonas, who’ll all add to the party atmosphere at this most family-friendly of festivals, which also features music workshops, ceilidhs, dance displays, children’s entertainment, a craft fair plus great food and drink stalls.

Still led by Rod Clements, one of their original singer-songwriters, it’s 45 years since Lindisfarne’s first hit ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ cracked the UK charts and made their second LP ‘Fog On The Tyne’ the best-selling British album of 1972. Since then the Geordie folk-rock kings have scored with hits such as ‘Lady Eleanor’, ‘Run For Home’ and ‘We Can Swing Together’. Headlining the Big Top on Friday June 8th, with the late Alan Hull’s son-in-law Dave Hull-Denholm joining the latest line-up, Lindisfarne are guaranteed to get the Southwell audience singing and swinging along.

Gate To Southwell 2009 was The Young’uns first “proper festival” and since then they’ve returned to great acclaim in both 2011 and 2015. Described by Mike Harding as “one of the best live acts I have ever seen”, the life-enhancing North Easterners will headline the festival on Saturday June 9th. Following the great success of their ‘Another Man’s Ground’ collection, their 2017 release ‘Strangers’ looks certain to gather even more folk awards.

Topping the bill on Sunday June 10th, Cara Dillon is regarded as one of the best vocalists and interpreters of traditional songs on the planet. Mojo magazine stated she possessed “what may well be the world’s most beautiful female voice” as showcased on her seventh studio album, this year’s ‘Wanderer’. Cara will perform alongside her husband and musical partner Sam Lakeman plus some very special guests.

Making his first appearance at Southwell, the acclaimed singer-songwriter and innovative guitarist John Smith has become a star of the British acoustic music scene over the past 10 years, performing alongside artists such as Jackson Browne, Richard Hawley, Jarvis Cocker and Rodney Crowell, and guesting on albums by David Gray, Lisa Hannigan and LeAnn Rimes. His recent album’, ‘Headlong’, is a fine example of a “master craftsman at work” (Folk Radio).

Anyone who caught Habadekuk’s last visit to Gate To Southwell will welcome them back with open arms and dancing feet. Regarded as one of the most exciting live folk bands, the Danish nine-piece mix it up with salsa, polkas and big band jazz. Appropriately, their motto is “we blow you away”.

Kicking off the festival on Thursday June 7th, there’s a great feast of blues from Nine Below Zero, Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band and Johnny Dickinson. NBZ formed at the height of punk and went on to become one of the most respected blues bands on the Eighties and Nineties, working with artists such as Eric Clapton, Gary Moore and Chuck Berry. Their extended eight-piece big band appearance at Glastonbury in 2016 won them a new generation of fans and recently they’ve toured extensively with Squeeze.

21st century bluesmen don’t come much more authentic than 77 year old Lil’ Jimmy Reed, who was born on the Mississippi and who’s been playing harp and guitar since the early 1950s, sharing stages with blues legends such as BB King and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. He’s guaranteed to bring the gritty sounds of the deep South to Southwell and his band will feature acclaimed blues and boogie pianist Bob Hall. Also on Thursday, while Johnny Dickinson might hail from Morpeth rather than Baton Rouge, he’s rightly regarded as one of Britain’s best blues and slide guitarists. Having recovered from serious illness, this is a great opportunity to enjoy a rare talent.

To buy tickets and find out much more about all the artists who’ve been booked so far, visit the Gate To Southwell 2018 website – www.gtsf.uk.

ROUGH ISLAND BAND – Where To? (Own Label)

There may be no indigenous music as such from the Isles of Scilly but that doesn’t stop members of the local community of St Agnes from expounding the merits of living on the ‘Sun Isles’. This is endorsed by the bright and breezy opening instrumental “Periglis Slip-Jig” fronted by Piers Lewin’s whistle joined by brother and special guest Giles Lewin of The Carnival Band on fiddle. The rest of the band; John Elliott (bass guitar), Joe Keelan (guitar) and James Sills (percussion) are by no means ‘rough’ and, via their input show that living on an island twenty-eight miles from mainland Cornwall does nothing to dampen the musical spirit. This is a refreshing album in that it’s basically a bunch of mates getting together for a session and turning it into something rather more tangible. Much like unearthing doubloons (unlike the car in those annoying Paul Whitehouse ads for Aviva) this album keeps throwing up nuggets of pure gold. Lewin, Elliott, Sills and Joe Keelan all have a hand in the song-writing but for me it’s the rather morose but equally edifying “Mostly Gone”, a tale of disillusionment overcome by the majesty of living on the Scillies that does it for me. On a final note I could say that the repetitive nature of the lyrics on the track “All Here Now/A Rough Lament” by guest Tom Dyson sucks (I can’t believe I just said that) but it doesn’t as it brings back memories of early Lindisfarne and the band have even thrown in the kitchen sink (literally) for good measure. For me, this album provides a somewhat quirky but thoroughly enjoyable listen and well worth purchasing…you even get the added incentive of a ‘rat bag’ made from using sailcloth off-cuts (how environmentally friendly) so even if you don’t like the album as the band say you can use it as a wallet. Nice one! PETE FYFE

Artist web link: www.roughislandband.com

DUNCAN McCRONE – Colourblind (Circular Records CR1039)

This CD had remained on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while so I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to Duncan for the lateness in the review’s eventual arrival…and also to PR man Bob Buchan for reminding me to check it out. Opening with the bright and breezy “Days Like Today” with its Bluebells “Young At Heart” country ‘feel’ (particularly thanks to the swooping fiddle of Chris Stout’s fiddle) it’s obvious that McCrone has a happy, optimistic outlook on life. Surely this track alone should be worth National Radio play (is anyone at BBC Radio 2 listening?) although knowing the industry’s foibles it will more than likely fall through the cracks. Judging by the songs included on the album he has taken the time to craft each track with the help of some fine musicians including the afore-mentioned Stout, his songwriting partner Cy Jack (bass), Stevie Lawrence (most things stringed), Finlay MacDonald (highland pipes) and Lindisfarne’s drummer Ray Laidlaw. For soft Southerner’s like me, you might be interested that Mr McCrone has included the song “Baltic Street” by Carol Prior of Carol & Alan Prior fame and obviously shows discerning choice as he also includes the wistful “Ae Fond Kiss” by Robert Burns for good measure. This is the kind of album that you will put on and think why haven’t I heard more of this fine singer? Established I presume in his native Scotland, Duncan really should be more widely acknowledged as a performer of great merit by a discerning audience (which I know you are) and I suggest you buy this recording as proof. You won’t be disappointed.

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).

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Artist web link: www.duncanmccrone.com

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big River Big Songs (Mawson-Wareham Music MWMDVD78)

Perhaps this tremendous DVD should be re-titled “Big Hearts, Big Soul” such is the impact it’s had on me! It goes without saying that Geordie-land has spawned some of this country’s best musicians and actors and (as if you needed any) here is proof that artists the calibre of Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail, Lindisfarne, Billy Mitchell, Sting and Mark Knopfler are as welcoming as a freshly pulled pint of ‘Newky’ Brown. Produced with consummate skill by Lindisfarne’s Ray Laidlaw and with commentary jointly provided by Emmerdale’s Charlie Hardwick and Eric Robson they segue between the stunning visual landscapes of the Northumberland region with musical and thespian contributions (apart from those already credited) from Alun Armstrong and a particularly nice rendition of “Still I Love Him” performed by current Emmerdale favourite Chelsea Halfpenny.

For any Newcastle football supporters there’s a roaring version of “Blaydon Races” courtesy of Whatley, Healy & Nail (worth purchasing the DVD on its own merits) and Sting joined by Nail on a striking duet of “The Waters Of Tyne”. My one reservation…and it’s only a minor one…is that Joe McElderry performs the glorious “Big River” where personally I think it should have been handed to the more mature Nail or Mitchell to give it the gravitas it really deserves. There’s plenty here for the ‘folk’ music enthusiast and, while you’re at it 70% of the profits go towards some very deserving charities. Mawson & Wareham have provided us with some great DVDs in recent years and this one certainly wears its heart on its sleeve. Highly recommended!

Pete Fyfe

75% of the profits from this DVD will be donated to the following Not for Profit company and Charities: the Northumbria Anthology, the Sunday for Sammy, the Bobby Robson Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation.

Up in the North East we’re very proud of our musical heritage so I’m absolutely sure that this will be a DVD you’ll play again and again.’ Kevin Whately.

If you would like to order a copy of the DVD then click on the banner link below 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

ALAN HULL – Live At Clifton Poly 1975 (Market Square Music MSMCD152)

In the days when I was a ‘yoof’ I was forever popping out to support artists such as Lindisfarne and their lead protagonist Alan Hull. So, it’s nice to see a recording of those bygone days appearing in the form of this release from those marvellous chaps at Market Square records. Featuring Mr Hull at his best with solo acoustic versions of his most popular ballads including “January Song”, “We Can Swing Together”, “Fog On The Tyne” and “Lady Eleanor” this is Alan at his best. In fine fettle with his wry observations on life and gentle bantering with his audience (not the angry young man as so often could be the case) there are plenty of gems unearthed such as “Dan The Plan”, “Squire” and “Money Game”. As well as being a fair ol’ chanter, Hull proves to be a first rate guitarist with plenty of soul and not a little ingenuity and this recording goes some way in proving that a good song (and tune) can stand on its own merits without a full blown arrangement. The legend that is Alan Hull will live with us forever thanks to releases like this and (personally speaking) I wish someone like Market Square could revive the glory days of other ‘classic’ folk artists such as The JSD Band, Five Hand Reel and Hedgehog Pie. I live in hope! www.marketsquarerecords.co.uk PETE FYFE