THE SHIPPING NEWS is the brand new album release on The Global Sessions Label by singer songwriter Graham Robins emphasising his love of soul, blues, country and Gospel music along with the occasional dip into Celtic and Folk; all delivered in his signature rich deep voice. The album takes the listener on a journey into the heart and soul of a singer songwriter who has composed a well crafted collection of songs that underpins an experience and love of roots music in all its many forms.

Stand out cuts include the stunning title track The Shipping News, where Graham’s vocal delivery teases every emotion, guaranteed to move the listener, the pedal steel led Now All Of The Heartache’s Gone, the soulful Snow Blindand emotionally charged Roll Back The Years, but special mention must be made of the stunning Drown In Your Eyes which really shows a songwriter at the top of his game. This is an album of twelve killer songs, no fillers here. Continue reading Graham Robins – THE SHIPPING NEWS


The long-awaited album from Belfast born singer/songwriter Dan Donnelly is upon us, after a fabulous taster of an EP released a while before his full album to keep his legion of fans happy! Dan has toured extensive with the Levellers, The Oysterband, supported Seth Lakeman on his tours on more than one occasion and has been delighting the British public after moving back here from the States almost 2 years ago.  He has appeared at various Festivals including Beautiful Days, the Big Session and a regular at Glastonbury.

Dan writes his songs from the heart and from experience.  This album is no exception and has a raw quality that extends itself to whoever hears it.  Kicking off the album I was expecting doom and gloom, but as he is now ‘in lurve’ the lovely lady is question as the first song ‘Your Loving Arms’ happy (yes happy) song!  The second track leads into his bit of bad experience and a kind of biography of the last couple of years. Track 4 is a tribute and dedicated ‘In Loving Memory’ to his late friend Paddy McNicholl who sadly died last year.  He believed in Dan tirelessly. Running – Track 5 was selected as a single and is a favourite of most people I know who are Dan fans. Eleven tracks finishing off with Plastic Jesus which has everyone bopping and singing along when at a Festival or venue.

His live performance is a work of art, with his loop foot pedals, skill and talent; he deserves to be up there with the rest.  A really nice guy who loves to talk to people about music, Dan has taught at Exeter’s Academy of Music and knows his craft inside out.  There isn’t much about the music business Dan doesn’t know. With tracks that have been recorded by Sean Lakeman and Phil Johnstone (ex Robert Plant band) and with a who’s who in folk on the album such as Leveller Mark Chadwick and Ben Paley on fiddle, this album is a work of art. Buy this album, and catch him live –  and you won’t be disappointed.  You can purchase the album below or from Dan personally if you are at one of his gigs.

Jean Camp

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In my youth I was switched-on to Bach by the producer Waldo De Los Rios and his album Symphonies Of The Seventies. Here in the 00’s it’s the flamboyant posturing of poster-boy violinist David Garrett that will hopefully enthuse a younger, more street-cred audience. Strutting his stuff recently on the Alan Titchmarsh Show (I kid you not!) I was taken by the theatrics of it all and wondered how someone like this would be accepted by the ‘folk’ scene…then I thought has anyone seen Seth Lakeman recently? You see it’s not only just the music that counts to the general public but that sense of showmanship and, dare I mention the words ‘marketing-hype’. Continue reading DAVID GARRETT – ROCK SYMPHONIES (Decca Records 4782686)

Mark Chadwick (lead singer of the Levellers) speaks to Paul Johnson about his new solo album’s Paul Johnson in conversation with Mark Chadwick (lead singer of the Levellers) at Beautiful Days Festival in August 2010. Mark talks about the festival and his new solo album project “All the Pieces”.  For those not in the know, Mark is one of the UK’s most successful song-writers and has co-written 20 chart singles and 6 top 40 albums (including a number 1). “All the Pieces” is not a Levellers (the band he has fronted for the last 20 years) album but in my opinion each of the 12 autobiographical acoustic folk-pop songs have an early Levellers “wood smoke” spirit to them and hark back to an earlier late sixties/ early Seventies age. The album was produced by the award-winning Sean Lakeman and Mark is joined by a surprise all-star folk cast (which I won’t give away now as you hear about it in the interview below).

Folkmaster – September 2010

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SETH LAKEMAN – The Hawth, Crawley 4th March 2010

Well, this was going to be interesting as I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Seth Lakeman only having seen him on a couple of TV appearances when he was up for the Mercury Awards some years ago. At the time I remember thinking to myself he appeared a little too ‘brash’ for my tastes. Having said that, pre-judging can backfire spectacularly and I have to hold my hands up particularly when it blurs my judgement towards the negative without giving the lad a chance. Rarely before a show have I experienced the buzz of anticipation from a predominantly youthful crowd (surely not at a ‘folk’ audience) and I certainly wasn’t expecting the girlish giggling from a group of excitable teenagers perusing their programmes. Still, on to the performance and my, what a performance! The first half of the show saw Lakeman in reflective mood utilising his musicians; Sam Lakeman (guitar), Benji Kirkpatrick (mandolin, bouzouki and tenor banjo), Simon Lea on drums and percussion to their full potential and I don’t think I’ve heard double bass playing as good as that displayed by Ben Nicholls since I first heard Danny Thompson when he was playing with Ralph McTell. The second set comprised of Seth presenting his ‘dance’ driven audience with ever increasing pounding rhythms and to their obvious enjoyment finished the performance with a ‘solo’ featuring his flashy double-stopped fiddle and close-miked foot-tapping. Andre Rieu please note how it should be done. Following a well-deserved encore we had to brave the freezing elements of a cold March night but at least there were plenty of glowing faces.


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2009 Fairport Convention Cropredy Festival Review

With the threat of hitting the big four O this year, it was time to try some new activities to try and prove to myself that I was still young and restless! Courtesy of “the one and only” ..Folkmaster.. (apologies Darren), I trotted along to Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival armed with cold weather gear (well, after 4½ years in ….Brisbane…., the ….UK…. is cold – and camping would be freezing!) and a very open mind – what had I got myself in to?

The day dawned fine and sunny as I arrived in Oxfordshire, the tent was erected with relatively little swearing and angst although it did take strategic and careful logistical planning to avoid the large lumps of cow dung! All sorted and unpacked and it was off to find out what all the fuss was about.

With no real prior knowledge of Fairport Convention (heresy, I hear!!) and my life obviously lacking, I was both enthusiastic and cautiously optimistic about the education that lay in store. Armed with vino, camping chair and souvenir programme, (note the priorities!), I set myself in amongst the other festival revellers eagerly awaiting the entertainment. We were not disappointed. What an array of talent, variety and sheer chutzpah! It was fantastic. There were acts for all – traditional folk; folk rock; folk punk (!) (or should that be punk folk?) and pop! It was three days of sheer delight!

Along with the music, there was the Cropredy atmosphere – an aura of comradeship, fun and don’t-care attitude prevailed. When they say that it is ….Britain….’s friendliest music festival, they weren’t kidding! Browsing around the many stalls, children’s entertainment and food vendors just added to the sense of ambience.

But back to the music and where to start. All the artists were excellent but my personal highlights included Richard Thompson and I was thrilled when he played Vincent Black Lightning 1952 as that was my introduction to his music; Dreadzone – energetic, crowd-pleasing and thumping good tunes!; Seth Lakeman – having danced to his set at Stokes Bay Festival, it was great to see him again and Cormac Byrne from Uiscedwr who joined him on Lady of the Sea; Nik Kershaw (my nostalgic return to the 80s and the heady days of youth.) Colvin Quarmby – with Gerry Colvin’s groovy hands – they deserved a set of their own!! And of course, the incomparable Fairport Convention who were joined by the lengendary Yusaf Islam aka Cat Stevens.

When Sunday morning came and it was time to dismantle the tent and begin the journey home, a sense of mild gloom came over me – my first Cropredy was over – never again would I be a Cropredy virgin but…. Although the first time is special, the next time I would be a veteran.. roll on Cropredy 2010! Sarah Burch August 2009