Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 2

Foxy Fri 300x400Blimey, its 6.00am and I’m in the shower… what the folking heck is going on. It’s not what your thinking… unless you are talking about it being “probably the best festival shower block in the world“… hot water at daybreak – on a campsite – who’d have though it, but after all, this is the 49th Cambridge Folk Festival, so they have had plenty of practice getting it right.

Due to the time it takes putting these things together, I didn’t actually get to see yesterdays opening act on the main stage as I was working on the folking day 1 review, but could hear, from the press office that it was lively set by a band called Korrontzi.

So my first visual act of the day was Finland’s frigging brilliant Frigg. A blend of Nordic folk and American bluegrass dubbed “Nordgrass”. See them in action below.

I then needed to head off and sort out the accommodation arrangements for the folking new resident photographer, who had finally turned up… the son of Clicker… for those old enough to remember the intensely focused original, he has got a lot to live up to.

LAPD 300x224Got back just in time to see the final number from Patty Griffin and then rushed down the front to wait in anticipation for one of the highlights of my weekend, LAPD, which for those of you in the know, are three quarters of Planxty (Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny) and the original Bothy Band fiddler (Paddy Glackin). We were treated to the Sweeney’s Men’s classic, My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland  and the Planxty standard, The Blacksmith. What a set, from one of the original Irish boy bands!

Now with son of clicker joining the folking team we raced round for the next hour or so and managed to catch Amadou & Mariam, for a bit African electric blues and then SOC (Son of Clicker) made it over to see Darrell Scott, of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy fame doing his own improvisational set. SOC thought it was brilliant and I was folking pissed I missed it!

Ross Couper & Tom OakesSOC headed for the club tent and shot some great footage of Ross Couper and Tom Oakes, a dynamic young, fiddle player and guitarist duo, adding a modern touch to the Scottish and Irish tradition.

Then we plunged into the double whammy of the Levellers followed by Bellowhead, two headliners in one night!

Levs1 300x225The Levellers played a storming set of old favorites and newer numbers, finishing with the unique experience of a stage full of Levs and Bellowhead for ‘The Recruiting Sergeant‘. How they get them all on the stage I don’t know!

Bellowhead followed with their own set with tracks from their latest ‘Broadside‘ release and Jon Boden’s ever natty suit jacket!

Emily Barker 300x225 Cams FFWe also managed to get over to Stage 2 to see the angelic Emily Barker , a compelling singer-songwriter and mesmerising live artist, who along with her band The Red Clay Halo blend classical, rock, country and folk influences to stunning effect. Emily’s appearance recently on the BBC Radio 2 Dermot O’leary show and performance with Frank Turner at the London 2012 Olympics in front of a global televised audience is certainly moving her and the band up the musical genre food chain.

Roving Crows 300x224Then over to the Club Tent to see the Roving Crows, we covered the last album Bacchanalia back in May last year and I had been itching to see them ever since.

Here is the link If you missed NANCY DUNHAM’s review: http://folking.com/the-roving-crows-bacchanalia/

They gave a great closing performance to the Friday night in the club tent and any festival organiser reading this, I urge you to book them as soon as possible as they are a folking brilliant live act!

The queue to the bus back to Coldham’s Common campsite was huge so we decided to reenact the Richard Thompson song and walk those long miles home. The temptation of bed was calling but the lure of another beer and the campsite stage was too strong and as we watched the current act finish, we found a seat and a beautiful young girl took to the stage, with a solitary guitar and opened her mouth, and wow, what came out made my night, a sound somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny. Sue Marchant, from BBC Radio Cambridge had arranged the last minute slot and boy am I glad she did! We’ll feature one of her own compositions called “Fall across the sea” as a later feature, but to wet your appetite now, here is her version of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the devil blues”… Ladies and gentlemen and general reprobates, I give you Leila Jane… The end to what Lou Reed would describe as “a perfect day”.

The folkmaster

SINÉAD O’CONNOR re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua due 8th April 2013

Sean-Nos NuaApril 2013 will see the UK & Ireland re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua, first released in 2000 selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide. Literally translating as “Old Songs Made New”, Sean Nos Nua is a redefining moment in Sinead O’Connor’s career, an album composed of songs extracted from the bottomless well of traditional Irish folk song. Indeed, as many have proved in the past, this ancient repository is an apt source of material from which to draw and compliment the outsider’s oeuvre of an artistic mutineer such as O’Connor, for, along with the customary stories of lust and heartbreak, Irish traditional song and verse, much like that of other folk song emanating from the British Isles, is stuffed to the gills with bloody narratives of tragedy, intransient rebelliousness and lawless skullduggery.

Despite its generous thematic share of ex-pat Irishmen caught up in foreign wars, nautical misadventure (Lord Franklin), murder and piracy, Sean Nos Nua is a very feminine album, with O’Connor at her fragrant, interpretive best on the sorrowful Molly Malone and Lord Baker, which finds Christy Moore revisiting the song he performed with Planxty on the 1982 album Words and Music. Intentions to “sex things up”, as O’Connor puts it, give birth to an intriguing reggae undertow on Óró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile while guest appearances from the Emerald Isle’s most eminent bouzouki practitioner Donal Lunny, the WaterboysSteve Wickham on fiddle, Sharon Shannon on accordion and ON-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood keep things fresh but traditionally firm-footed enough not to deter purists. And, who knows, the boozy Irish bards and archivists of the future may have occasion to recount the tales of the shaven-headed colleen from Glengeary who ripped up pictures of the Pontiff and whose backside never surrendered to the threat of a star-spangled kicking from the boot of Frank Sinatra.

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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PAUL BRADY – DANCER IN THE FIRE: A PAUL BRADY ANTHOLOGY

‘Dancer In The Fire’ is a rich and diverse double CD of Paul Brady’s favourite recordings, personally chosen by the artist and serving as a companion to ‘Nobody Knows – The Best Of Paul Brady’, a single CD compilation released in 1999.   Paul will be touring the UK in April and May.

The idea to put together this collection came as a result of being asked many times over the years, what are my own favourites out of all that I’ve done? I’ve always found it hard to answer. I’ve gone through so many musical shapes over my 45 year career that I’m never sure which incarnation the question relates to. Sometimes I feel compelled to name those songs or recordings that are the best known, imagining that if I mention one less familiar or from a different genre to where the questioner is coming from then there won’t be a lot more to say.  Or maybe too much to say!

Since I went solo in the late 70’s I’ve released 15 albums, 140 songs or so, most of them new compositions. In the late 90’s I put out a best-of-to-date, ‘Nobody Knows’, featuring 14 of the most popular recordings from the previous two decades. Undoubtedly a lot of those were favourites of mine too.  But like many artists I know, I don’t always feel the most popular songs or the most successful recordings are necessarily the best things I’ve done.  Sometimes you find yourself neglecting songs you absolutely loved when you wrote and recorded them, simply because they never really seemed to connect with the listener at the time.  Or maybe you just thought they didn’t. It’s complicated and a mystery to me!

With this record I decided to focus on songs and recordings of mine I’m personally fond of, mostly those that might not have got a lot of attention or been all that well known. Some recordings have been out of circulation for years. In a couple of cases I’ve remixed a well known song. The only area I’ve left alone is my most recent album ‘Hooba Dooba’ and those recordings already on the 1999 best-of.

To anyone coming to my music for the first time this may seem an eclectic collection. I’ve grown up in the rich musical environment of Ireland from the 1950s to the present day; a unique and heady mixture. I feel very lucky to have formed my musical identity before the rigid categorisation introduced by marketing and the media in the 70s. The stylistic diversity of this record bears witness to that fertile ground.

Paul Brady, Dublin January 2012.

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.

Christy Moore – Folk Tale (Sony Music Ireland)

It’s quite possible that there couldn’t be a more fitting title for this album, and not just because it’s the title of one of the songs contained therein. Christy can legitimately lay claim to being the epitome of the living, breathing folk ‘process’; indeed, one of the most rewarding aspects of following his career is the way in which his material morphs and reinvents to suit the occasion, be it the musicians he’s playing with, the audience to which he is playing on any given night, or the more substantial reordering that arises from the growing wisdom and perception that is amassed as the years pass by. It’s this very aspect that distinguishes Folk Tale as something that little bit more special: it’s a snapshot of where Christy is right now, the continued story of the songs he’s carried along with him, alongside the new chapters that reinvigorate and fortify his voyage.

Two particular highlights find Christy furnishing songs of tragedy with a genuine compassion, whilst avoiding any hint of mawkish sentimentality. Kevin Littlewood’s “On Morecambe Bay” thoughtfully observes the fate of illegal immigrant cockle pickers, lost to the deadly tides. The narrative is remarkably evocative for placing the workers firmly amongst the local community, with the writer seemingly expressing a sense of collective guilt for being aware of their plight, but failing to intervene and warn of the treacherous dangers out on the sands. “Haiti” takes a more global view, with it’s clarion call to a nation to rise up and “smile again” in the wake of the harrowing earthquake that decimated the country. The contemplative manner with which Christy approaches these songs probably gives voice and emotion to many who witnessed these events from afar.

Several pieces from Christy’s 1996 album, Graffiti Tongue, receive a more circumspect reworking, seemingly holding at bay some of the anger that permeated the original recordings in favour of more considered readings that are no less disarming. In particular “God Woman” basks in a genuine feeling of warmth, whilst the title track benefits from a more reserved, melodic approach that somehow makes the romance of the story much more compelling.

Folk Tale also reminds us of Christy’s keen sense of humour. “My Little Honda 50” is a light-hearted ditty, on the face of it a quirky tribute to a an even quirkier form of transport, yet dig beneath the skin and it’s a fond recollection of simple times and simpler pleasures. “Weekend In Amsterdam” is a more raucous affair, with some lyrics that I daren’t even repeat within these pages!

Harking back to his days with Planxty, “Farmer Michael Hayes” is recast in a more sparse arrangement, delivered at a slightly more measured pace, proving more reflective than the hearty rebelliousness of the original Planxty recording, largely owing to the greater depth and maturity that age has bestowed on Christy’s voice.

Drawing together the disparate threads of artistry that inspire and nourish his life, Folk Tale draws from a rich palette taking in poetry, politics, humour and tragedy. It’s a collection that is no doubt richer for the accomplished production skills and sympathetic musicianship of the doggedly talented Declan Sinnott, but it’s most certainly Christy’s heart that beats strong throughout. Mike Wilson

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 web link: http://www.christymoore.com/