Wickham 2017 Reviewed

Click on the photo below to see the full set…

Wickham 2017

‪Squelch… Wickham Festival finally kicked off to a great start with sets from ‪Low, Barker, Morris & Tunstall which sounds like a firm of solicitors instead of musical, dance and poetry partners in festival law; Andy Fairweather Low, Les Barker, the Wickham Morris Sides and KT Tunstall.

Now tell me… where are you going to get a “bend me, shake me, a sermon from the church of the holy undecided, a strip the willow and a black horse and a cherry tree all the the same place!

Here is the moment when the sun came out and everyone forgot about the thirteen days of rain that fell on the site the day before it opened which caused the “elf and safety” three hours delayed start.

The main Thursday night event on the All Time Grates Stage was 10CC, who played all their hits, which they performed as a masterclass in song-writing. They even offered us the following words of wisdom from their extensive mantra…

Life is a minestrone
Served up with parmesan cheese
Death is a cold Lasagne
Suspended in deep freeze …

Friday afternoon had a definite garden party feel that went off with a Wizz, bang and Spooky side-splitting Tickell. It all started with the legendary Wizz Jones who rolled out all his hits including ‘When I Leave Berlin’ which Bruce Springsteen covered.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale followed, the Antipodean Blue Mountain settlers, that worry local livestock to such a degree that the local farmers club together to pay for their international tours (so long as they agree to do reworked Abba and Bee Gees choral arrangements). Luckily, Kathryn Tickell was there to restore order, Northumbrian Pipe Style, who together with The Side brought Wickham back into the hear and now with evocative slow airs that could break your heart one minute and then fling you seamlessly into life-affirming jigs and reels the next.

In between Tickell and the Spookies (great idea for a band name!) I managed to dash across to the Hapi Stage to catch a bit of the fab Portsmouth based band Bemis. I also managed to grab a copy of their excellent new album A World of Difference that I encourage you all to go and check out for free here

There was barely enough time for a quick change over before it was pedal to metal down the West Country highway in search of Fishy Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands.  All three did the West Country proud and I think its was a great bit of programming to put Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands all on the same stage and evening bill.

Here is my favourite moment of Friday night, when Show of Hands treated us to a slowed down version of the Don Henley classic “Boys of Summer” . Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday opened with more Wickham Festival goodies… Alas, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie didn’t make it for the reunion but folk legends, Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe turned up on the All Time Grates Stage in the afternoon. Then it was a quick hop and skip across to the Hapi Stage for a blistering set from Gilmore & Roberts with festival energy in a bakers bun-dance. Then back again to the All Time Grates Stage as master Dhol drummer, Johnny Kalsi fired up the furnaces of the drums of the mighty Dhol Foundation to create a high-energy, pulsating folking brilliant musical soundscape of Punjabi beat, rhythm and intensity. ‬

‪If that was not enough excitement for one day, there was a just enough time to sponge down before the main evening event of the big punk-folk-rock 3. I’m sure you will all know who they all are, as the Saturday evening, three in a row line-up, for many, was one of the dream festival programming highlights of this year (dreamt up by the mind of that festival organising genius, Mr Peter Chegwyn) which even included a returning Chopper as part of the Oysterband mix. For those who have not worked it out, it was of course The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Oysterband and The Levellers. I also legged it across to the Hapi Stage to see some of my old mates Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley set with the lovely Emily.

Time had flown by and before anyone knew it, it was “Sunday folk fun-day” and the fourth day of Wickham.

I’ll start with Ray “Chopper” Cooper who opened on the Hapi stage…

Fay Hield then blew in with the Hurricane Party on the All Time Grates Stage and Glasgow boys Imar followed and got the main stage dancing. Wickham festival favourite Duncan Chisholm followed with his Gathering before the afternoon slot was brought to a riotous close with Tankus The Henge (a great festival band).

LAU opened the Sunday evening slot which felt like a kaleidoscope of colour washing over the All Time Grates Stage. The power went off at one point so we even got a couple of un-amped numbers.

‪The finale for me was the crowned Queen of the Wickham Festival crowd, Eliza Carthy with Sam Sweeney & the rest of her merry Wayward Band.‬ Unfortunately, I had to leave early so missed the Peatbog Faeries set but Eliza said that they tore the place apart, so I have been lamenting the early departure ever since.

I was bitten by a Ferocious Dog on the way out and am looking forward to repeating the experience at one of their other gigs soon.

Darren Beech

Festival website: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

Ray Cooper – Palace Of Tears

Ray Cooper makes rare London appearance
Photograph by Günther Wolffe

Ray Cooper states:

It is a bittersweet album about living and working in Northern Europe over the last quarter century. I tried to avoid nostalgia but many songs deal with the past and how is can never be reclaimed. The sound of the album is placed firmly in Northern Europe too, with the addition of Swedish musicians and some songs that reference Scotland, Sweden and my roots. All of this seen through the prism of the Swedish winter as I look out from my studio.

Ray Cooper is an independent singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist currently living in Sweden. His first solo album Tales of Love War And Death By Hanging was released in 2010. The second album, Palace Of Tears was released in August 2014 in Europe and September in the UK.

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 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.

Born of a Scottish mother and an English father, Ray Cooper grew up in England and started to play in bands when he was 16. Moving between rock, punk, pop and world music, and working as a singer, bass guitar player and cellist, he finally hooked up with Oysterband in 1988 and began a long exploration into his own roots. Moving to Sweden in 2000, Cooper continued playing with Oysterband, eventually touring in 27 countries and recording 19 albums. In 2012 they won 3 awards from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for best group, best album and best traditional track and were dubbed by FROOTS magazine as one of the 3 ‘Icons of Folk’. Despite their success, Cooper took the decision to leave the band and go solo in February 2013 and has since been touring Europe extensively.

Tales of Love War and Death by Hanging has a strongly historical theme and was recorded in a small log cabin in Sweden. The sound is simple but at times evokes a much bigger scale. Citing influences such as T-Bone Burnett, Ennio Morricone, Johnny Cash and June Tabor, Cooper played cello, guitar, harmonium, mandolin, mandola, harmonica and kantele to accompany his songs. His second album Palace Of Tears is more of a singer songwriter album but retains a distinct nordic flavour with the inclusion of Swedish fiddles and the Finnish kantele which runs like a seam throughout the album.

It’s about my experiences of living and working in northern Europe over the last quarter century. I define myself as a northern European now, rather than being Scottish.

Artist’s website: http://www.raycooper.org/

Ray Cooper releases new video – Destroying Angel

Ray Cooper releases new video - Destroying Angel
Photograph by Günther Wolffe

From the depths of the Swedish forest, Destroying Angel is a new video from Ray Cooper. Shot by two Danish film makers, Jens Th and Carsten Jensen it features a horse, a cello, a beautiful girl, an enchanted island, and Cooper singing a song which tells of the danger of meeting a beautiful stranger in the wilderness, it’s a cautionary tale.

Ray Cooper, singer, writer, cellist and multi instrumentalist, was for many years a member of Oysterband but left two years ago to forge a solo career. He has released two solo albums, Tales Of Love War And Death By Hanging in 2010 and Palace Of Tears in 2014. His first song book Ray Cooper Songs will be published in August 2015.

Ray is now resident in Sweden and defines himself as a North European. His music certainly reflects that.

Ray, who tours mainly on the continent will be making a rare UK appearance at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival on Monday 31st August.

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 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.

Artist’s website: www.raycooper.org

The Armistice Pals

armistice pals header non internetEveryone remembers the charity version of ‘Perfect Day’ with its myriad of voices from the pop and rock world.

Let’s hope everyone will also remember the upcoming answer from the Folk World – ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – with a plethora of voices from across the acoustic folk and roots spectrum representing the great and the good, young and the old, seasoned and emerging, all on the same single. The group is called The Armistice Pals and is releasing a fitting tribute to Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year as well as marking the 100 years anniversary of the breakout of the First World War. All profits will be distributed between four peacekeeping charities.

Continue reading The Armistice Pals

OYSTERBAND – DIAMONDS ON THE WATER (Navigator Records 087)

DiamondsOTWaterThe long awaited album from Oysterband is now here and being given rave reviews by those who hear it!  Including me!  It’s seven years since we had a new album full of new material and it is well worth the wait.  It has been #2 on the iTunes album chart already.

First time I put it on my player I was totally hooked!  A new line up was necessary with the exit of Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper, and achieved with the addition of guitarist Al Scott (who produced and mixed the album) and vocalist Rowan Godel.  Lead singer John Jones has said that he had been nervous as to how it would be received with the changes, but he needn’t have worried.

Continue reading OYSTERBAND – DIAMONDS ON THE WATER (Navigator Records 087)

Ray Cooper aka Chopper is leaving Oysterband…

We have just had word that Ray Cooper, also known as Chopper, is leaving Oysterband to pursue a career as a solo singer-songwriter.

Ray says; ” After 24 years of constant touring and recording, it is not easy to give up the friends, the fans and the life I have known. We shared a lot of ups and downs and have grown together to be more like a family than a band. However, since the release of my solo album ‘Tales of Love War and Death by Hanging‘ a couple of years ago, I knew that a door had been opened for me and another, more challenging path lay waiting. I have to sing”.

His last show with OB will be February 23rd in Treorchy, Wales, which is also the last date of the highly successful Ragged Kingdom tour featuring Oysterband with June Tabor. Continue reading Ray Cooper aka Chopper is leaving Oysterband…