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 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 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:

Songs For The Voiceless – Album release

SFTV_logo

Some of the UK’s finest folk artists formed a collective to release this autumn album marking the WW1 centenary and unlocking myriad muted voices of that time. Songs For The Voiceless (released October 13), will also be toured as a live show in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday. It brings together some of the brightest British roots talents, BBC award winners and nominees, including Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden and 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Folk Singer of the Year, Bella Hardy.

The brainchild of Sheffield musician Michael J Tinker, of the Bright Season trio, it also features 2013 Folk Awards Best Duo nominees Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, elegant songstress Josienne Clarke, Ian Stephenson (KAN, 422, Baltic Crossing), Tom Oakes (Ross Couper and Tom Oakes) and Hartlepool’s popular The Young ‘uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle, Michael Hughes.)

SFTVartists

Says Michael: “There are so many First World War stories to tell and with the passing of time more and more will be lost. Our aim was to use song to bring some of these stories to a wider public. We wanted to tell the tales of real people, whatever their opinions of the war, with all the passions and emotions they might have felt.”

In the skilled hands of top folk music producer Andy Bell, the end result is nine poignant original narrative songs and a bonus track, from the perspective of both soldiers and civilians, set in locations from English villages to the trenches. Inspired by poems, diaries, memoirs and books, the songs give a voice to the unheard – “everyman” stories from a period of history that impacted the lives of so many and left us mourning a lost generation of husbands, fathers and sons. Some of the tracks were inspired by the artists’ ancestors.

SFTVThe album release will be supported by a five day tour starting at Bury Met on Wednesday, November 5 followed by a London date at Kings Place, shows in two cathedral cities (Winchester and Salisbury) and Chatham’s Brook Theatre in Kent. The tour finale at the Salisbury Arts Centre will be on Remembrance Sunday.

Due to other commitments, the touring band will see BBC award-winning fiddle singer Jackie Oates replace Josienne Clarke while Matt Downer (bassist with Jamie Smith’s Mabon) will step in for Ian Stephenson at some gigs.

With many songs dedicated to individuals and all proceeds going to The Poppy Appeal the album is released on the Haystack Records label and distributed by Proper Music.

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.

Project website: www.songsforthevoiceless.co.uk

Songs For The Voiceless – Album

SFTV_logo~ Some of the UK’s finest folk artists release CD for WW1 centenary ~

Featuring Jon Boden, Bella Hardy, Josienne Clarke, Gilmore & Roberts, The Young‘Uns, Michael J. Tinker, Ian Stephenson, Tom Oakes

Some of the UK’s finest folk artists have formed a collective to release an autumn album marking the WW1 centenary and unlocking myriad muted voices of that time.

Songs for the Voiceless, to be released in October, will also be toured as a live show in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday. It brings together some of the brightest British roots talents, BBC award winners and nominees, including Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden and newly crowned 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Folk Singer of the Year, Bella Hardy. Continue reading Songs For The Voiceless – Album

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

RACHAEL McSHANE – No Man’s Fool (Navigator Records NAVIGATOR27)

Better known as the only female member of Bellowhead the cellist and singer Rachael McShane will certainly turn a few heads with this excellent recording. The jury’s still out if the album is folk/jazz or jazz/folk and if you hear the opening track “Captain Ward” you’ll see what I mean. Lyrically speaking the element of traditional folk music runs like a seam of gold throughout the recording but it has to be said that the emphasis in the arrangements most definitely falls in favour of jazz. For those old enough to remember the band Pyewackett (in their early days) and come to think of it June Tabor this will be familiar territory as the use of chords by piano and keyboards maestro James Peacock provides the ‘mood’ and timbre behind the arrangements. With the excellent Jonathan Proud on electric bass and Adam Sinclair on drums and percussion and additional backing from Julien Batten (piano accordion), Tom Oakes (flute), Sam Sweeney (fiddle), Andrew Bickendike (trumpet) and Jamie Toms & Charlotte Jones on saxophones the lady’s done good. From “The Highway Man Outwitted” where the perpetrator suffers the indignation of having the tables turned on him to the dramatic tale of “Miles Weatherhill” where the music as well as the story turns nasty (think Steeleye’s interpretation of Long Lankin as a reference) half way through the narrative this CD really could cause a few ‘tut-tuts’ from the ‘folk’ mafia but personally speaking I say ‘go for it’…after all you’re only young once! PETE FYFE

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.