Wickham Festival 2015 – Reviewed by Simon Burch

Click on the photo below to see the full set…

Wickham 2015

Staged in a corn field and with three stages linked by alleyways of food and crafts stalls, Wickham proved to be a good nursery slope for my family of first-time festival goers: no intimidating vast crowds and a relaxed atmosphere which built steadily through what turned out to be some swelteringly hot days.

showofhands_wickham15Musically, in the main All Time Grates big top stage it was folk with a twist of vintage pop and rock: from crowd-pleasing sets by folk stars such as Seth Lakeman, Show of Hands, Eliza Carthy, Lisbee Stainton and Martin Carthy to The South – Beautiful South survivors Dave Hemmingway and Alison Wheeler – 10CC, Billy Bragg, Cockney Rebel, Wilko Johnson and The Proclaimers.

Crowd_Wickham15The crowd was an eclectic mix of folk devotees and commuter belt families, but overall the demographic was mature and knowledgeable so that at times the main stage had the contented air of a cricket match, with festival goers seated sensibly underneath sun-hats on folding chairs, sipping real ale and completing sudokus to the sound of music.

Giants@WickhamI soon found out that for a parent festivals have to be enjoyed in the round. My children weren’t there for the music, but found instead joy in the laser quest – a shoot-‘em-up inside a series of sweaty, dark inflatable tunnels – the solar-powered Groovy Movie cinema and the digital funfair, a quirky installation where gamers played Space Invaders while sitting on a stationary bike or racked up high scores by slapping two headless mannequins on their plastic buttocks in time to music.

Playbus_Wickham15After a while it became possible to enjoy the music while waiting for them to complete their activities or resisting their pleas to spend the GDP of a small country in the various food and craft stalls, simply via the proximity to the three stages, especially the acoustic stage, where a varied line-up of young up-and-comers and older veterans strummed, picked and twanged their way skilfully through a mixture of their own material and interpretations of popular classics, finding favour with a sprinkling of punters lounging back on the straw-coated ground.

At the top of the festival was the sweatier and rockier Bowman Ales Stage 2 tent – which hosted performances from Edward II, headlining prog rockers Stone Cold and Damn Beats – but I confess that, as a first-timer wanting to immerse myself in folk my visits there were fleeting so I concentrated on the main stage, where a succession of acts filled the afternoons and evenings with musical stories from every corner of Britain and beyond.

SpookyMen_Wickham15From the lilting Northumberland romance of Kathryn Tickell and the Side, to the seasoned yarns of Huw Williams and Maartin Allcock and the acapella oddness of the Spooky Men’s Chorale, it is fair to say there was something for everyone’s tastes, but the big top came into its own later on as the sun dipped behind the food stalls and the headliners took to the stage.

BillyBragg_Wickham15Among the highlights was the life-affirming return to action of Wilko Johnson, the welcome familiarity of The (Beautiful) South’s hits and the appearance of Billy Bragg, whose wit and political zeal brought Friday night to a close. The next night, Seth Lakeman gave a rollicking masterclass of modern folk rock, sweeping the audience along and raising the temperature in the big top.

Proclaimers2_Wickham15Despite the passing of years, festival headliners The Proclaimers hadn’t seemingly aged that much and their set was a polished resounding collection of love songs, devoted to Scotland as much as to the objects of their desire. The large TV screens showed that the Reid twins had their committed fans who knew all of Proclaimers1_Wickham15the words, but as the night continued, you did get the feeling that most people in the tent were waiting for their signature tune – I Would Walk 500 Mile – like a seashore full of surfers all readying themselves for the big wave that would take them right to shore.

And, duly, at about five to 11, it arrived: cueing a joyous outburst of jigs and a singalong in affected Scottish accents. This provided the most exuberant moment of the weekend, before it drew to a close with a thank you and good night, and the boys left the stage.

The third night was over, but the next day the sun again rose hot and strong. Family holiday commitments meant I had to slip away early, but in my absence the crowds returned with their chairs and sun hats, eager for more.

Simon Burch – 23 August 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Land Of Hope & Fury (Union Music Store UMS009)

Land Of Hope & FuryLand Of Hope & Fury is a collection of contemporary protest songs – a compilation inspired by the realisation on May 8th 2015 of the enormity of what the British people had done. Not just the greedy and the fascists but also those too pusillanimous to stand up for what they actually believe in. We can thank Stevie and Jamie Freeman for the work that went into putting it together.

The album opens quietly with Luke Jackson’s ‘Forgotten Voices’, the story of an old soldier left on the scrapheap feeling that his voice counts for nothing. It may be better to protest by whispering in someone’s ear than screaming in their face and even Mark Chadwick is quite restrained but I kept having the feeling that what the record needed was one really good rant. Moulettes’ ‘Lullaby’ is a lovely song but it’s somewhat opaque in this context. ‘The Hum’, from O’Hooley & Tidow’s third album takes a positive line, one that’s on the side of working people. OK, it sticks it to the aspirational middle class but that’s almost incidental.

Lucy Ward’s ‘Bigger Than That’ is a real killer track – still quiet but with uncompromising lyrics and ‘Filthy Lucre’ by The Mountain Firework Company does the same to the sound of a hillbilly banjo. There are excellent songs from Phil Jones, Will Varley and Chris T-T and Plumhall’s ‘Never Forget My Name’ serves as a warning to the slavers and taskmasters and Grace Petrie’s ‘If There’s A Fire In Your Heart’ acts as a rallying cry.

So, this is a really good collection of songs for our troubled times but, you know what, it still needs one really good rant.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://unionmusicstore.com/label/land-of-hope-and-fury

Plumhall – ‘Never Forget My Name’:

Land Of Hope & Fury – what it’s all about

Land Of Hope & Fury

A message from Jamie & Stevie Freeman:

We woke up on May 8th to election results that left tens of millions of people feeling disenfranchised and without a voice. Rather than wait quietly for another five years before we got to have our say, we decided to return to the proud musical tradition of the protest song. Our votes might have counted for nothing, but we could still make our voices heard.

We contacted our many friends in the roots music world and asked them to contribute something to a compilation of contemporary protest songs, and the results were an incredibly diverse range of musical, emotional and political styles. Land Of Hope & Fury was born. Sixteen artists in total donated songs with nine of them written specifically for the album. This coming together of people, all acting out of simple desire to make the world a better place, has been the single most encouraging aspect of this project, It is the proof that Margaret Thatcher’s suggestion that “there’s no such thing as society” is as wrong today as ever it was.

38 Degrees

We didn’t want to profit financially from the album, so we looked for a suitable beneficiary that was aligned with our frustrations, but not bound to one set of policies. Politics had let us down, so a campaigning group from outside of the political system seemed like a good choice. We felt 38 Degrees’ mix of online petitioning and real-world actions was just right for Land Of Hope And Fury, and they were delighted to take part. We couldn’t be happier to have them alongside us.”

Jamie’s brother Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office, Sherlock) made a video supporting the Labour Party, so his family are no stranger to politics.

Track List

Luke Jackson – Forgotten Voices
Mark Chadwick (Levellers)  –  No Change
Emily Barker – Doing The Best I can
Moulettes – Lullaby
Lucy Ward – Bigger Than That
The Jamie Freeman Agreement – Homes for Heroes
The Self Help Group  – Funeral Drum
The Dreaming Spires – Follow The Money
Mountain Firework Company – Filthy Lucre
Phil Jones (Hatful Of Rain) – New Homes
O’Hooley & Tidow – The Hum
Will Varley  – The Sound Of The Markets Crashing
Chris TT – A-Z
Plumhall – Never Forget My Name
Grace Petrie – If There’s a Fire In Your Heart
Danni Nicholls  – A Little Redemption

Buy it from https://unionmusicstore.com

KATE IN THE KETTLE – Swimmings Of The Head (own label)

KateInTheKettleThere is a PR guy with whom I have a very good relationship – he sends me records and I write nice things about them. I might have expected him to be handling this one but without wishing to be unkind I have to tell him that he’s really missed out.

The Kate in this particular kettle is Kate Young, the fourth name in Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young; formerly of the remarkable world fusion band Ethno In Transit and now also a Moulette. She’s a fiddle-singer and takes that definition to its ultimate expression, using her voice as an instrument as well as a device for conveying a lyric. She’s joined in this band firstly by Marit Fålt who shares the arranging duties and adds another link in the chain of Scottish-Scandinavian musical co-operation. Marit, as you know, plays låt-mandola and with Daniel Moser on bass clarinet and Marti Tårn on bass guitar the instrumentation does have a certain Nordic gloom. The fifth member of the quintet is Victor Solana on tabla, cajon and percussion and you can’t help but think that if Peter Knight could reach those high notes, Gigspanner might sound a bit like this.

Kate brings her Ethno experience to bear quickly with the opening track, ‘Fairy Fiddler/Såb Jon’s Polska’. The lyrics of Nora Hopper’s poem, from which the song is derived, give way to wordless vocalisations that are almost surreal against Solana’s percussion and she really does hit some high notes. The long set, ‘Mammoth/Kissed Her Under The Coverlet/Holi/Tandoori Truchter’, begins in an orthodox folk style but as you can guess from the final title, one of Kate’s own tunes, it goes its own way.

‘Paper Rose’ features Erik Saties’ ‘Trois Gnossiennes No .1’, another haunting and mysterious musical strand fused into Kate’s music, and the record ends with the two singles, ‘Push And Spark’ and ‘Grow Down’, the latter featuring pizzicato violin that evokes the sound of the mbira as does ‘Salmon’. The album title comes from Nicholas Culpeper’s famous herbal. Azalea is recommended to relieve such a condition but I wouldn’t advise you to try it.

If you would like to download a copy of the track or just listen to snippet of it 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.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.kateyoungmusic.com

Official video: ‘Green And Gold’ from Swimmings Of The Head

Kate In The Kettle: new album

KateInTheKettleKate in the Kettle – Swimmings Of The Head

 Kate Young Joins Forces With Marit Fält On Tour To Accompany The Release Of Beautiful New Album

Kate in the Kettle embraces old customs with new ideas, merging sounds from different places and weaving them into their own tune. Whilst drawing upon past folk music traditions, the songs written by Scottish singer and instrumentalist Kate Young are driven by her passion to cultivate public awareness connected to many environmental issues.  After their latest single ‘Green and Gold’ was released in May this year, Kate now turns her attention to releasing a new album called Swimmings Of The Head, on the 10th of October this year. The album title comes from a quote from the 16th century British herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper.

Kate Young combines her voice with her fiddle to make tapestries; music woven from different folk traditions with a base in Scottish fiddle playing and a strong environmental viewpoint that reflects a creative fire within this captivating and inspiring artist. Growing up near Edinburgh, her passion for her music has taken her to tour Europe and Australia as part of world music group ‘Ethno in Transit’; to performing alongside Mercury Award-nominee Eliza Carthy in the all-female fiddle-singers band Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young. She is now also a member of eclectic Brighton-based band, Moulettes. Continue reading Kate In The Kettle: new album

MOULETTES – New album

moulettes-1lores_175230CONSTELLATIONS
The New Album, 2nd June 2014

The Moulettes return with their third studio album, and their first for the Navigator Records, ‘Constellations’ on June 2nd. Recorded in studios, churches, tunnels, workshops and bedrooms around Brighton and Lewes in the summer of 2013, the album features a host of guest performances from legends Arthur Brown (“God of Hellfire”) and Herbie Flowers (Lou Reed/David Bowie) and contemporaries Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), The Unthanks  and Emma Richardson (Band Of Skulls). Brighton dub troubadour Faye Houston and dubstep producer Mike Dennis (Dface) complete a supporting cast that emphasises the band’s desire to blend musical styles and experiment with sound in a way that has been a hallmark of their recordings to date. Thus ‘Constellations’ crosses varied and expansive musical territory over its ten tracks. As songwriter, cellist and front singer Hannah Miller notes, “People can listen to Moulettes and hear Shostakovich, Miles Davis, Pentangle, Pink Floyd, Bjork and Skrillex. That is where we’ve all come from…everyone shares in over 80 years of recorded music history”. Continue reading MOULETTES – New album