Ray Cooper announces winter tour

Ray Cooper

Former Oysterband man Ray Cooper is touring the UK solo in November as well as in February 2019

A singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist he currently resides in the depths of Sweden where he has lived since 2000. He left Oysterband in 2013 the year in which they picked up 3 BBC radio 2 folk awards and appeared live on Later with Jools Holland. Since then he has carved out a successful solo career.

Ray Cooper is a Scottish/English songwriter currently living in Sweden. When Cooper left art school in Brighton he decided to follow where music took him. He joined Oysterband, eventually recording 19 albums and touring in 27 countries. In 2013 he went solo and never looked back.

After setting up a recording studio in a small log cabin in Sweden he made his first album Tales Of Love War And Death By Hanging in 2010; it has a strongly historical theme. In 2014 he followed it up with Palace Of Tears which was about more recent, more personal history.

Between The Golden Age & The Promised Land released in May 2018, will surprise many of his listeners. It is a big sounding record with serious themes but is nevertheless simple, raw, joyous, and unashamedly romantic.

While Cooper continues to develop as a singer, here he plays all the instruments too, in a stripped down production inspired by producer Rick Rubin’s treatment of Johnny Cash’s late recordings.The familiar mandolin, cello, guitar and harmonica are all there but Cooper also makes his recording debut as a piano player.

“I am half Scottish and half English, I live in Sweden, I tour in Europe, I have no home town, I think of myself as a north European now”.

Artist’s website: www.raycooper.org

Tour Dates

November

25th – Albion Brewery, 54 Kingswell Street, Northampton £12, 8 pm, 01664 946606

30th – Sports And Social Club, 43 Havant Road, Emsworth £12.50, 8 pm, 01243 376037

December

1st – De Koffie Pot, Bridget St, Hereford time / price- tbc- call – 01432 357753

Live at Wickham Festival:

RAY COOPER – Between The Golden Age & The Promised Land (Westpark 87368)

Between The Golden Age And The Promised LandThey say you only get one chance – this time I’m very grateful that I’ve had two. A couple of months ago a friend put Ray Cooper on about ten miles away from me and I couldn’t get to the gig because of a family event. Last week I got the chance to review the new album. Sometimes life just works. Between The Golden Age & The Promised Land is released on May 25th (though available already as a download) and is a delight.

The album is acoustic UK folk music, some cracking traditional and self-composed songs superbly played. But it’s a bit more as well. There is a big sound, more than you’d expect from an acoustic album. Before listening to the CD I looked dubiously at the line in the press release that made comparisons with Rick Rubin’s Johnny Cash production; having listened I understand the comments, this album is simultaneously stripped back and grand. The title comes from Cooper’s reflection that, “The golden age and the promised land are the two great dreams. Both are exaggerations, probably, but nevertheless compelling. The dream of how great things used to be and the dream of how great they are going to be.”

The songs take us through these themes. ‘Drunk on Summer’ opens the album with a tale of youth, drunk on love and gin, drunk on summer in England. ‘The Unknown Soldier Has A Name’ is a self-explanatory title and Cooper comments of this mandolin-driven track that, “Like most soldiers in World War I [Private Fred Broadrick]’s golden age and promised land were probably the same”. The video link below takes you to the song.

‘Little Flame’ is written for Cooper’s daughter “Have your summer days and when you’re ready blaze……I really want to see you blaze/Little Flame”. ‘The Promised Land’ is a reminder to us that there is nothing new about boat people looking for a new and better life, even though they may not make it. East Europeans did this after the German and Russian occupations in the 1940’s just as those from Mediterranean countries take to boats nowadays “The human heart is beating free/On an open boat out there on the sea/From the fires of war and the desert sand/A distant shore is the promised land”.

‘Valentine’s Day’ is jaunty with a great chorus. It’s a song “for those who forgot the roses, again,” says Cooper (don’t you just love the word ‘again’?). It has mature lyrics about a tenth anniversary, lyrics which, like a couple who know each other well, manage to be both profound but not too self-absorbed, “It’s better the devil you’re knowing/Than the angel you’ve only just met”. There are two traditional songs – ‘Adieu Sweet Spanish Ladies’ and ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, the latter being a particularly powerful version of the song.

As a whole, the tracks composed by Cooper extend beyond traditional folk music to encompass other styles – there are elements akin to modern French chanson supported at times by almost classical music piano playing. There are no videos at the moment, but look out two songs in particular: ‘Love and Vengeance’ is a great story song, of “a wayward princess from old Beirut…..Singing songs of longing, songs of leaving home/Songs of Love and Vengeance at the midnight show”; for me, though, ‘The Golden Age’ is perhaps the best example of a track that includes these wider elements. It builds its lyric through contemplations of Venice, love and life – a broad, visual, lyric with simple piano and a tenderly sung tune.

Cooper is on tour in Europe currently with three shows in the UK in early June.

Mike Wistow

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’s website: http://www.raycooper.org

‘The Unknown Soldier Has A Name’:

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 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.

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 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’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.

However, perhaps it’s not a perfect world after all and the late Pete Seeger’s classic anti war song, ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’, points a finger at the carnage, supposedly ‘ the war to end all wars’ which tragically mislead us to believe it was worth the sacrifice.  The sacrifice, not only of the lives of those who died, but the resultant desolation and struggle of the loved ones who were left behind. Whole swathes of communities were left bereft of their young men-folk who trustingly signed up into ‘Pals Battalions’, many of whom were never to return, with those who did too often spending lives blighted by the experience.

Armistice Pals is the name of the folk community ‘super band’ who are all performing on this single, which is due out on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014. It was the brain child of Damian Liptrot (manager of folk-rock band Merry Hell), who, as the project expanded, has invited Folkstock’s Helen Meissner on board as co-organiser. The project has attracted over 30 names including Chris and Kellie While, Julie Matthews, Judy Dyble, Christine Collister, Dave Swarbrick, Ray Cooper, Sally Barker, Peter Knight, Boo Hewerdine, Gavin Davenport, Blair Dunlop, Lucy Ward, Ken Nicol, Merry Hell, Luke Jackson and Kelly Oliver. A line up so good that, were it to be a festival, it would undoubtedly be the event of the summer.

The single will be released via the usual digital outlets as well as a physical CD and as a nod to the historical element, a limited edition vinyl 45, on new community label, Folkstock Records.

As this is intended to be a community project, we are inviting Folk Clubs across the country to contribute by organising an ‘Armistice Pals Night’ during the week of the release of the single. This can take any form but should include a collective version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ at some point during the evening, followed by a passing round of the hat to support the Armistice Pals charities.

If you would like to know more about the project, all the artists, the charities and the inspiration can be found at http://www.armisticepals.com or contact us direct via armisticepals@hotmail.co.uk

We hope that you will feel able to enlist and offer your support.

Helen and Damian
for The Armistice Pals

THE ARMISTICE PALS: A FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Attila The Stockbroker (poet/musician and sheer force of nature, whose father survived the Somme).

Billy Mitchell (one time Jack the Lad, ex-Lindisfarne and much else besides).

Blair Dunlop (One of our brightest, youngest singer-songwriters, currently telling tales from the ‘House Of Jacks’, he also found time for a stint in The Albion Band..).

Bob Pegg (Storyteller, singer-songwriter and member of the legendary Mr Fox).

Boo Hewerdine (one time Bible basher, all time songwriting phenomenon).

Chris While and Julie Matthews (singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, award winners in their own right and members of more prestige bands and projects than you can shake a stick at).

Christine Collister (one time She Devil, ex-Daphne’s Flight, much sought collaborator and loved by Q magazine).

Dave Mather & Peter Robinson (singer/songwriters (one of them has written an opera you know), ex-Houghton Weavers, stand up comedy and currently presenters of Salford City radio’s first folk show).

Dave Swarbrick (simply a living legend. As it says on the flyers, ‘needs no introduction’).

Edwina Hayes (multi-million You Tubed singer-songwriter with the ‘sweetest voice in England’).

Eric Bazilian: (Hooter, hitmaking songwriter worldwide for self and others, now he’s One Of Us!).

Flossie Malavialle (multinational singer et chanteuse aussi, gig travelling traffic reporter).

Gavin Davenport (much vaunted solo singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, award winning, ex-Albion band member).

Gren Bartley (the spine tinglingly beautiful guitarist, banjo playing poet).

Helen Watson (Singer/Songwriter, multi genre artist, producer and erstwhile member of Daphne’s Flight, Carmel and Sons of Arqa, as well as taking a great photo).

Johnny Coppin (broadcasting singer-songwriter, ex-Decameron and now sufficiently multi-faceted to be considered a true diamond).

Judy Dyble (singer/songwriter, ex-Fairport, nearly King Crimson and Facebook dog blogger).

Kellie While (singer-songwriter considered to have one of the outstanding voices of her generation, ex-member of The Albion Band and so much else, her arrival makes The Pals a family affair as her mother and sometime singing partner Chris is also involved).

Kelly Oliver (singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist who has taken Boots Of Spanish Leather to places most of us can only dream of).

Ken Nicol: (globetrotting, guitar endorsing, ex-Albion Band and Steeleye Span virtuoso).

Kevin Brennan MP (an accomplished musician, fan of folk music and passionate supporter of live music).

Lavinia Blackwall (the vocalist who is both a Trembling Bell and a Crying Lion).

Linda Simpson (singer/songwriter, ex-Prog/Folk/Rock legends Magna Carta and supplier of some ideas that are so good that I’d like to present them as my own).

Lucy Ward (singer/song writer and possibly the current heart of British Folk Music as she gets played on virtually every folk show I listen to regardless of the other tastes of the presenters!).

Luke Jackson (bright young purveyer of Fumes and Faith).

Merry Hell (8 piece folk-rocking explosion of melody and joy).

Ninebarrow (award-winning, Dorsetshire folk duo).

Patsy Matheson (singer/songwriter, spent time Waking The Witch, now The Domino Girl).

Peter Knight (singer/fiddle player, Gigspanner, Feast of Fiddles, Steeleye and holder of the world record for continuously playing the violin whilst travelling up and down the lift in the Empire State Building).

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers (30 Year veteran of punk-folk luminaries, The Men They Couldn’t Hang).

Ray Cooper (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, ex-Oysterband and now a pearl in his own right).

Richard Ryall (singer/songwriter, member of the band Litmuss and he comes from a land Down Under).

Robb Johnson (Irregular singer/songwriter and social conscience).

Said The Maiden (3 rising doyennes with harmonies the envy of angels).

Sally Barker (folk singer and by popular acclaim, the true winner of The Voice).

Sian James (Singer, writer, harpist, composer, conductor and actress from Wales, a big Armistice pals ‘Creoso’ to her).

In addition, there is also The Pals Chorus, made up of friends and members of several folk clubs who will be recorded together to help swell the voices and to represent the fact that this is a true community project.