Roy Bailey announces first ever live album

Roy Bailey

Six years on from his acclaimed album of children’s songs, Tomorrow, singer and activist Roy Bailey returns with Live At Towersey Festival 2015.

As the title suggests, the 11-track collection was recorded live at the long-running Oxfordshire festival, and will be officially launched at the 2016 event, on Monday 29 August.

Roy’s relationship with Towersey stretches back over 50 years. Friends with the festival founders, he was present at early planning discussions and appeared at the very first festival, in 1965. He’s been a much-loved regular visitor ever since, with his firmly established Monday afternoon concerts drawing capacity crowds.

Live At Towersey 2015 finds Roy interpreting songs by Bob Dylan (‘With God On Our Side’), Tom Waits (‘In The Neighborhood’) and John Tams (‘Rolling Home’), along with three compositions by American singer-songwriter Si Khan. Among them is Si’s ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’, which opens the album.

“’What You Do With What You’ve Got’, as I understand, was written on behalf of disabled people,” says Roy, who first met Si at a Canadian folk festival during the early 1980’s. “For me it has almost become my signature tune, as I invariably sing it at the beginning of my concerts and have done so since about 1984/85! It has a central theme that applies to us all.”

Joining Roy on several tracks are guitarist Martin Simpson and melodeon player Andy Cutting, plus Marc Block (bodhrán) and Ian Brown (guitar), as well as Roy’s daughter and grand-daughter, Kit Bailey and Molly Simpson.

The 2015 show was recorded in secret by Roy and co-producer/ engineer ‘Ich’ Mowatt, who then edited the 90 minute concert down to 11 tracks. Expertly capturing the intimacy and warmth of a live performance, it’s remarkably Roy’s first live album.

“I wanted to do one … but never go around to it,” says Roy simply.

Roy Bailey is one of the UK folk and acoustic scene’s most admired and accomplished performers. He began his long career performing skiffle in student union bars in the late 1950s before falling in love with traditional songs and the stories they tell. Quickly developing a unique repertoire of songs of dissent and hope, he’s gone on to perform on stages, TV and radio all over the world. En route, he’s been joined by such artists as Leon Rosselson, Martin Carthy, Chumbawamba and MP Tony Benn (a collaboration which won them a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award).

Today, he remains as committed as ever to his life-long principles of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Internationalism.

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://roybailey.net/

‘I Thought I Had No Voice’ – live with Martin Simpson:

 

What A Week

SidmouthSo, we’ve come to the end of a fantastic celebration of 60 years of the folk, dance and song festivals in Sidmouth. What a week!

We have been blessed with summer holiday weather, helping to create a joyful festive atmosphere throughout the town  – busy, colour-filled streets, packed venues and a bustling seafront. Tens of thousands of visitors have filled the streets and venues throughout the week, enjoying the welcoming, party atmosphere.

Even when it did rain, the packed out open-air 60th Anniversary Old Swan Band ceilidh was very swiftly moved indoors as the heavens temporarily opened on Tuesday night… and up-and-running again in no time.

We have enjoyed some cracking performances, from the sell-out Ham Concerts from the likes of Ralph McTell, Oysterband and Steve Knightley to the small traditional sessions to the full on roots mayhem of Danish party band Habadekuk, the family fun at Blackmore Gardens, or the ever popular John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition! Diversity is the bedrock of Sidmouth FolkWeek. And for our 60th birthday, we had it in bucket and spadefuls: our ‘something for everyone’ promise being more than fulfilled and venues throughout the town full to the brim!

As well as a happy celebration of our 60th year, a more poignant anniversary was also marked this year with some moving commemorations of WWI, including a touching account of two ordinary men in Gentle Men with Roy Bailey & Robb Johnson and Ouse Washes Molly Dancers’ performance focused on the fate of the ‘Pals’ Battalions.

Thank you to all those who attended this year. It made the Diamond Anniversary feel very special indeed.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s FolkWeek. Dates for the diary are 31st July – 7th August 2015.

Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making

New book celebrates half-century of much-loved Oxfordshire festival

The celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Towersey Festival continue with the publication of a new book.

Towersey 50Featuring 300 photographs, stories from festival-goers and interviews with many individuals who’ve shaped the much-loved annual event, Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making traces the festival’s history from its small-scale beginnings as a one day event in 1965, to its current position as one of the most significant and popular events in the annual folk festival diary.

Beginning with a brief history of the village, the book also includes newspaper reports and reviews, plus profiles of many of the key artists and acts who’ve entertained audiences, from Pam Ayres, Dave and Toni Arthur and the Cock And Bull Band, to Show Of Hands, Bellowhead, Eliza Carthy and Australia’s hairy Spooky Men’s Chorale. There are also contributions from regular attendees, who’ve grown up with, and been inspired by, the festival, turning annual attendance into a longstanding family tradition.

“The festival set out as a fundraising event to rescue the decaying Towersey Village Memorial Hall – a building that commemorated the 14 men who had lost their lives in the First World War,” writes author Derek Schofield. “In that first year (1965), it was a one-day village fete with morris dancing and a folk singing session in the pub barn. Its success can be measured by the money raised, the enjoyment of the day by the village residents and visitors, and by the fact that, in the following year, a three-day event was held.”

That second three-day event, attended by a few hundred people, has since spread over five days, and now attracts over 10,000 visitors to the Oxfordshire village. Discussing the festival’s appeal and longevity, Festival Patron Roy Bailey states: “Children play safely and many lifelong friendships have been developed here. People met here and got married here and generations of families return every year.”

Visiting the 1966 festival, the Thame Gazette asserted that Towersey was the ‘little village with the big ideas’. Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making shows those initial ideas have never lost their appeal.

Author Derek Schofield is a freelance writer and a former college manager. He edits the folk magazine, English Dance and Song, and has written on many aspects of the history of the folk music and dance revivals.

Derek Schofield’s Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making is published on 23 July 2014 by Mrs Casey Music Ltd, and is available priced £20 (plus £5 P&P) from: www.towerseyfestival.com. Copies can also be purchased at the 50th festival, which runs from Thursday 21 to Monday 25 August 2014, and includes performances from Richard Thompson, The Bootleg Beatles and Seth Lakeman, plus a celebration of 75 Years of Topic Records with Eliza Carthy and special guests.

Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making by Derek Schofield
Price: £20
Publisher: Mrs Casey Music Ltd
Publication Date: Wednesday 23 July 2014
Available: www.towerseyfestival.com
ISBN: 978-0-9547502-1-3

Blockbuster FolkWeek 60th Anniversary Acts Announced!

2014LOGO_chair_60th_distressed_lo_res_2Diamond anniversary plans continue to fall into place for Sidmouth FolkWeek’s 60th festival (1st – 8th August 2014) as the line-up comes to fruition, featuring both gems from the archives – tapping the rich seam of vintage talent that has contributed to the festival’s glory down the years – and a hand-picked selection of the stars of the future.

SHOWSTOPPING HEADLINERS…
We are delighted to announce that one of the UK’s greatest musical storytellers, Ralph McTell, will be joining us for a rare and very special appearance at our Pre Festival Special on Thursday 31 July.
Celebrating more than 40 years on the road himself, Ralph is a Sidmouth veteran, having played at the Arena for the 50th festival in 2004. A Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Ralph is renowned for both his virtuoso guitar style and his gift as a songwriter, most notably the poignant Streets of London.

Other headliners throughout the week include:
England’s number one traditional singing family The Copper Family; legendary ambassadors of Scottish music, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham; Irish songbird Cara Dillon; festival patron and local hero Steve Knightley and Friends; one of Scotland’s freshest new acts Breabach; the ultimate family duo Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy; the solid gold Oysterband – old friends of Sidmouth playing both a concert and an extra special ceilidh; an exciting new ensemble bringing together Northumbrian folk traditions and classical Kathryn Tickell & The Side; the ever-popular pairing of Chris Wood and Andy Cutting; the pioneering Quebecois Yves Lambert Trio; new powerhouse trio of Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr; crack Canadian fiddling, electric step dancing, sweet singing from April Verch Band; the side-splitting comic genius of New Rope String Band; vibrant Danish dancefloor-fillers Habadekuk; the galvanising Celtic instrumental union Kan; quirky acoustic festival favourites Moulettes; the soaring pipe driven tunes of Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson and a swinging 60s Silent Disco night.

A special WW1 Commemoration will be staged on the 4th August, the exact 100 year anniversary of the start of the war. Gentle Men: a history of the First World War through the lives of Pt Ern Johnson & Pt Harry Jenner, is an evocative and personal account of the 1st World War performed by Roy Bailey & Robb Johnson.

A special occasion deserves some special plans. Here’s a taste of what’s in store….
As FolkWeek means so many different things to different people, we aim to celebrate all week with special events in each part of the festival…from special guests from the very early years of Social Dance, where the festival began in 1955, in a Grand Anniversary Dance, as well as some vintage ceilidh bands, including Old Swan Band’s special anniversary ceilidh; some Diamond Geezers from the world of music and song; tales from festival friend and Storytelling Laureate Taffy Thomas; a beating traditional song and music heart; the return of some of the most influential Morris teams over the years and plans afoot for some special overseas guests who will bring back memories of Arena shows.

With an eye on the future generations, there will be a key role for festival founders English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) with their Folk Rising Plus concerts celebrating the new generation of folk music talent and the popular fRoots-sponsored Cellar Full of Folkadelia return. Sidmouth-born Shooting Roots youth sessions come of age as they plan to celebrate their 21st and the Children’s Festival promises extra special party atmosphere!

Getting together a milestone festival like the 60th is a mammoth enterprise, bringing the return of old favourites and new innovations. Our focus has to be on bringing our guests a special and memorable programme right across the Festival.

Festival Director John Braithwaite says: “For that reason, in 2014 we will be staying at Bulverton with our much loved and well established Festival Campsite and Festival Clubhouse. To ensure that our customers and guests knew as early as possible, with absolute certainty, what our plans were for this year, we set a deadline of end of January for any changes to this area of the Festival. Needing planning permission to go forward has pushed the project past the deadline date. So that customers can book with certainty, we decided to announce our intentions as early as possible, so that we can concentrate on giving guests a blockbuster festival to remember!”

“We are already feeling the excitement of this year’s event, bringing, as it will, a host of memories and new experiences for our guests in every part of the Festival. We look forward to welcoming back old friends, and new ones alike, to experience a very special 60th Sidmouth FolkWeek.”

For more details, visit www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk
Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre: 01395 577952

ROBB JOHNSON – GENTLE MEN (Irregular Records)

Gentle MenGentle Men was commissioned for the 1997 Passendale Peace Concert. It has been expanded and re-recorded at an appropriate time as the government prepares to “celebrate” the outbreak of the Great War which now recedes beyond living memory. The gentle men of the title are Robb’s grandfathers, Ernest Johnson and Henry Jenner – Ern and Harry – who fought and survived and their story covers not only the war but also the decades that followed. Robb has said that his intention was to show Ern and Harry as real people with real lives both before and afterwards, not ciphers or victims.

The subject matter, particularly in the first part covering the period up to 1919, is bleak and bloody and Robb’s gift for comedy doesn’t find many outlets. It’s there in the “yeah, right” variety of ‘A Gentleman Always Wants Horses’ and the gallows humour of ‘Soldier On’ but as a listener the reaction is more often a shudder. To his credit, Robb doesn’t spare his audience’s sensibilities.

Lead vocals are shared with Barb Jungr, who does strident and sentimental with equal conviction, and Roy Bailey whose powerful performances belie his years. They are supported by Jude Abbott (brass), Jenny Carr (piano and accordion) and John Forrester (double bass) with other contributions from Arvin Johnson and Linze Maesterosa. Accompaniments are never overstated but Robb skilfully captures the music of the times, be it the music hall of a century ago or the post-war gaiety of ‘Noni And His Golden Serenaders’.

The second part of the piece explores how the experience of the war to end all wars shaped Harry and Ern and through them helped to shape Robb himself and the world into which he was born. Finally, we come to the present day and the inevitable conclusion that we’ve learned bugger all in the course of the last century.

I was fortunate to be at the London launch of the album and I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears – and I wasn’t the only one – and the recorded version has exactly the same effect. You must hear Gentle Men and I urge you to splash out on the special edition with its narrative text and photographs although, while listening to these songs, it seems almost insensitive to talk about a beautifully presented hard-back book.

Dai Jeffries

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.

Website: www.gentle-men2014.co.uk