ROSS COUPER + TOM OAKES – Fiddle + Guitar (Haystack Records HAYCD009)

Fiddle + GuitarI get to hear a lot of new music from Scotland these days. There are some nice people there who keep sending me records to listen to and I usually enjoy them all. Sometimes, however, I wonder if I really need another album of fiddle music and don’t ever quite reach them in the review pile. Sometimes it’s purely accidental and so it was with Fiddle + Guitar, so I apologise if I’m a little late.

Shetlander Ross Couper plays fiddle with Peatbog Faeries and if you know anything about them you’ll know that they are one of the most exciting bands that Scotland has produced. Here he really gets to show off without the constraints of band and his playing is extraordinarily free. Just listen to the series of changes at the end of Peter Morrison’s tune ‘Room 215’. Tom Oakes is also a flautist and composer who doesn’t restrict the directions his music takes and the record feels as though they were egging each on to new heights.

It’s hard to pick out top tracks. I love the excitement and dynamism of ‘Something For The Weakened’ as much as the delicate guitar introduction to the opening track ‘The Road To Loch Nam Bairneas’ which deceives the listener about what’s coming up. Tom’s composition, ‘The Last Gasp’ also brings his guitar to the fore initially to herald a delightful, contemplative tune that takes off in a slightly strange direction towards the end. Ross and Tom borrow wisely – Phil Cunningham and Annlaug Børsheim are among their sources – but the majority of the music here is original. There really isn’t a dull moment, whether it’s Ross’ jazzy flights of fancy or Tom adding the folk equivalent of a bass riff.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the ROSS COUPER + TOM OAKES – Fiddle + Guitar 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.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist’s website: http://www.rossandtom.com/

‘Shetland Swing’ – live:

Fraser Shaw – posthumous tune book and CD

Fraser Shaw
The Islay Sessioners

Fraser Shaw was a wonderful piper, whistle player and composer from Glasgow who resided on the Isle of Islay. After his passing in May 2015, a group of friends and family started a Trust in his honour. The foremost aim of the Fraser Shaw Trust is to raise money for the relief of multiple sclerosis, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating Fraser and his music.

A few years before Fraser’s passing, he had it in mind to release a book of his own compositions, the proceeds of which would go towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead, Scotland. Unfortunately, due to his illness, this never came to fruition.

Over the last year and a half, the Trust have been working hard to bring this idea to life and release this much anticipated book, along with an album comprised of Fraser’s tunes. In November 2015 a group of musicians gathered on Islay, to play a special memorial concert at Fraser’s festival, The Islay Sessions, thus laying the groundwork for this album. In January 2016 at Celtic Connections this same group of musicians, “The Islay Sessioners”, as they called themselves, performed this music as part of Islay Night, a concert that both celebrated the music and culture of Islay, and the music of Fraser Shaw.

In September 2016, recording began for the album in Castlesound and Carrier Waves Studios. Many of the arrangements heard at Islay Night have been recorded, along with a few additional tracks. Playing on the album are; Adam Sutherland, Eilidh Shaw, Gráinne Brady, Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Angus MacKenzie, Calum MacCrimmon, Kevin O’Neill, John Somerville, Laura-Beth Salter, Jenn Butterworth, Ross Martin, Tina Jordan Rees, Duncan Lyall, with very special guests; Kathleen Graham, Mhairi Hall and Ross Couper.

The Fraser Shaw Trust is delighted to announce the release of the book and CD on Tuesday June 27th 2017, with a big launch on the Isle of Islay to mark the occasion. The event will take plce in Bruichladdich Hall, with a concert featuring the musicians on the album. A second launch in Glasgow is set for Monday August 7th in St Luke’s Church as part of Piping Live!

Hard copies of Fraser’s CD will be available exclusively at the pre-launch party which will take place in The Sparkle Horse, Glasgow on Tuesday May 16th. Tickets for launch concerts and pre-orders will be for sale online from May 16th through the website – www.FraserShawTrust.com.

Proceeds of the tunebook will go directly towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead. Proceeds of the album and further donations will be used for the advancement of education, arts and culture and for the relief of those living with multiple sclerosis in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Islay.

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