PONS AELIUS – Captain Glen’s Comfort (own label PACGC01)

ComfortGreat band name, Pons Aelius. To save you the trouble, the original was a small Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall so the name reflects their musical heritage: mostly Newcastle with more than a dash of Scots. Captain Glen’s Comfort, named for a tune by piper and whistle-blower Jordan Aikin and flautist Sam Partridge, is their debut album after two years on the road and that experience shows.

Alongside Aikin we have Partridge’s wooden flutes which provide softer shades to contrast with the brightness of strings. Tom Kimber plays mandolin and tenor banjo giving the band four different lead instruments. Actually, that should be five since Alasdair Paul’s bouzouki is as much a lead instrument as a rhythm one. Alasdair also plays guitar alongside Bevan Morris’ double bass and Callum Younger’s bodhran and mixed percussion.

The band’s repertoire mixes original compositions, mostly by Aikin, a couple of traditional titles and some shrewd borrowings, notably Mats Edén’s ‘Yrsnö’ which serves to remind us that they are looking outwards not inwards. It’s the variety of music and versatility of playing that singles Pons Aelius out. The title track starts out a soft pastoral flute piece that gradually picks up the pace and it’s followed by the jazz influenced ‘£75 Fine’ and ‘Oh My Doughnuts’, the first part of which is written by Morris and built around a bass figure.

In another band, Aikin’s pipe part on ‘£75 Fine’ might be played on electric guitar and ‘Oh My Doughnuts’ might use boogie-woogie piano. All through the album the emphasis of the melody shifts from instrument to instrument but they are never gimmicky. Listen to ‘Lament For John Morrison Of Assynt House’ in which the pipes are underscored by Morris’s bowed bass and topped off with Partridge’s flutes. My only criticism of the record is that the piece should have been left to stand alone rather than being paired with another tune even though the pipes return to the original theme at the end.

And as that really is my only criticism I think it’s fair to say that Captain Glen’s Comfort is a very fine debut.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the PONS AELIUS – Captain Glen’s Comfort link 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.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: http://ponsaeliusmusic.com

Captain Glen’s Comfort will be released on 8th September.

‘The Way Is Clear’ – live in the studio:

Bath Folk Festival announces Summer School plans

Bath Folk Festival

Once again the Bath Folk Festival runs its summer school, open to all ages and abilities, teaching traditional music to a backdrop of concerts, sessions and story-telling events across the city. The festival, now in its eighth year, has really championed and encouraged up and coming artists as well as young musicians.

The organisers are very proud to announce that much of this year’s line-up is comprised of artists who have entered previous New Shoots competitions and also many players who have been tutored in our summer school and youth band.

“Our aim is to bring music to the community and really get people involved in music and dance, which is why we have such a focus on teaching music and running informal sessions for musicians to join in.”

In order to bring the music to as many people as possible many of the concerts are free or on low entrance fees. There is something for everybody no matter what your tastes are in the diverse world of folk music.

There are sessions hosted by leading players every night of the festival in many styles including Irish, English, klezmer, gypsy swing, bluegrass, blues and sing around where musicians and singers are welcome to come and join.

Once again there is a partnership with Art at the heart of the RUH where musicians from the festival will be playing for the patients, visitors and staff.

For a full list go to www.bathfolkfestival.org

Some of this year’s artists include

Sid Goldsmith & Jimmy Aldridge, Pons Aelius, The Drystones, An Dhá, Tell Tale Tusk, Georgia Lewis, Red Dirt,, Jez Hellard & the Djukella Orchestra, Ali George, Lawrie Duckworth, Mac Seka, Flies Fly Away and The Big Massive Orchestra, Don’t Feed the Peacocks, Diskan, Bertie Wright, Two Oak Sons, RSVP Bhangra and Hodmadoddery