Oysterband celebrate 40 years together

Oysterband

Oysterband was born in the summer of 1977 when the sound of punk rock rang loud from the radio, disaffection became the order of the day and riots filled the streets of Thatcherite Britain. There were many on the UK folkscene who felt the same urge for similar challenges and change in their own music and lives, and Oysterband’s hard-edged music and performances amply filled those needs. They brought passion, and not a little poetry to folk and roots music, but also a welcome power and energy.

Through the intervening four decades, they have remained at the cutting edge of the folk scene, exploring their songs and tunes in various line-ups that run the gamut from hard rock ambience to a more trad-angled acoustic trio. What they have retained throughout, however, is their own distinctive sound and approach to folk and roots music.

The multi-award-winning outfit is now entering its 40th year, as vital and creative as ever, with some of the finest songs in the modern folk canon to their name: ‘Put Out The Lights’; ‘When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down)’; ‘Blood Wedding’; ‘Everywhere I Go’; ‘The Oxford Girl’; ‘Granite Years’; ‘Native Son’… plus many others from their vast back catalogue that will be featured in performance during a year of touring and festivals from summer 2017 into 2018. A unique and fiercely independent career celebrated.

On this tour, the band will play two sets each night, one featuring their highly-influential album Holy Bandits in its entirety, the second a selection of older gems from their vast back catalogue of songs such as ‘Hal-an-Tow’, ‘Love Vigilantes’, ‘20th Of April’, ‘Bells Of Rhymney’, ‘Bright Morning Star’ as well as some of the finest new songs in the modern folk repertoire.

Oysterband still play with a spirit of the punk ceilidh band of 1977, the one that roared through people’s lives all those years ago, but the growing depth and sensitivity of their songwriting, coupled with the strength of John Jones’ voice and their remarkable musicianship, have lifted the music into a richer, more acoustic era.

Their occasional collaboration with folk diva June Tabor has produced two cult-classic award-winning albums, Freedom & Rain and Ragged Kingdom. The latter and their hugely influential album Holy Bandits were voted nos. 4 and 5 among the Ten Best Albums of the last 30 years by the public in a poll by fRoots Magazine in 2016. The band is no stranger to TV – they have appeared on Later… With Jools Holland and the BBC Folk Awards shows – but there is no better way to sample the magic of what the band does best, than by catching them live on stage at one of their 2017 tour dates.

Full international dates and info:  https://www.oysterband40.com

Oysterband is

John Jones – voice, melodeon
Alan Prosser – guitars, voice
Ian Telfer – violin, voice
Al Scott – bass, mandolin, voice
Adrian Oxaal – cello, voice
and the newest member, formerly of Bellowhead, Pete Flood – drums, voice

The most recent video we can find – ‘This House Will Stand’:

UK Tour Dates

Skipinnish announce seventh album and tour dates

Skipinnish

In the world of lore and legend, the seventh wave was bigger and more powerful than all gone before.  This, the seventh album, from Skipinnish, epitomizes that theme perfectly.  With Norrie MacIver’s distinct vocal taking on the lead and with a few other transfers and additions, this is the band’s biggest and boldest production yet.  The changes in line-up mean three renewed Skipinnish classics joining five new self-penned songs, a tribute to Runrig, three rocketing tune sets and a haunting slow air.

The Seventh Wave comes as the band’s own wave of popularity continues its powerful rise. With four consecutive chart topping single releases and sell-out shows across the country, Skipinnish have rocketed to the top of the trad music scene and their ascent is accelerating.  Their latest single, ‘Alive’,  which is the first track on the album, hit Number 26 in the mainstream UK download charts, which for a traditional band is a mighty achievement. Only Runrig and Capercaillie having been higher.

It was said that water taken from the seventh wave had properties of healing and invigoration.  It is predicted that this music will have a similar effect on those who ride the waves of life listening to Skipinnish.

Fans are also scrabbling for tickets to their live shows, with most of their album launch tour, in May, sold out already.  The official release will be at the band’s 1000 seat Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, concert on Friday May 19th – tickets all disappeared for this gig, in December, just days after going on went on sale!!!!

Albums are available for pre-release order from the Skipinnish website and will be on sale at all other concerts throughout May.

Artists’ website: http://www.skipinnish.com/

‘Alive’ – official video:

TOUR DATES

4th May   The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

5th May    Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

18th May   Fochabers

19th May   Eden Court, Inverness

20th May   Strathy Village Hall, Strathy.

27th May   The Bearded Festival, Derby.

28th May   Biggar Rugby Club.

2nd June   Oban Live.

24th June   Strathpeffer

1st July   Arran Whisky Festival.

7th July   Moonbeams Festival, East Yorkshire.

14th July   Tiree Music Festival.

15th July   Tiree Music Festival.

27th August   Shewsbury Folk Festival

8th September   BOW Fest, Inverary.

LOWRI EVANS & LEE MASON – A Little Bit Of Everything (Shimi Records ShimiCD0011)

Lowri EvansI have to confess that when Lowri Evans released her debut English language album I really wasn’t a fan and I wasn’t allowed anywhere near her records again. Things have changed in the decade since. Lowri’s voice has warmed somewhat and her songwriting has certainly matured. Lee Mason was her producer, guitarist and sometime songwriting collaborator then and now, on her sixth album, A Little Bit Of Everything, he gets equal billing.

This album is live in the sense of being “off the floor” with no supporting musicians and all the songs, with the exception of two covers, have been heard before. The oldest, in terms of recording history, is the final track, ‘Merch Y Myny, which Lowri has returned to more than once. From that first English album comes ‘Maria’s’ (originally ‘Not At Maria’s) and all I can say is that if Lowri had performed it then as she does now our musical relationship would have been very different. She displays a power in her voice that I couldn’t detect back then.

My two favourite songs are ‘Deep Inside, a sort of character study and ‘Seventeen’, which seems to hold a mirror up to Janis Ian’s seminal work. Even when writing in the first person, as here, Lowri is able to step outside herself and bring some balance to the situation.  The covers are the standard ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ which allows Lowri to extend her voice again, and ‘Cân Walter’ by unheralded Welsh songwriter Meic Stevens.

I like this stripped down recording with just two guitars and two voices. I’d felt that there was a tendency to wrap Lowri up in a cocoon of orchestration leading to a soft jazz/pop sound and A Little Bit Of Everything proves that she doesn’t need that.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.lowriandlee.co.uk

‘Seventeen’ – official video:

Harp And A Monkey bio

Harp And A Monkey

Songs about cuckolded molecatchers, a lone English oak tree that grows at Gallipoli, care in the community and medieval pilgrims… we can only be talking about the folk experimentalists Harp and a Monkey.

The harp ‘n’ banjo driven electro-folk-storytelling of Martin Purdy (vocals, glockenspiel, accordion, harmonica and keyboards), Simon Jones (harp, guitar, viola) and Andy Smith (banjo, melodica, guitar and programming) is imbued with a deep Lancashire sensibility that shines through in their beautifully crafted and sometimes spooky vignettes of northern life, love and remembrance.

The outfit, who have been friends for more than 20 years, channel the ghosts of summers spent in municipal parks and winters walking on the moors. Ask them about their influences and they are as likely to cite Ordnance Survey maps and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as they are Bert Jansch, Bjork or Bellowhead.

Formed in 2008, Harp and a Monkey have been building up a loyal following via the old fashioned practice of relentless gigging and modern practice of social network sites.

Regulars on the northern festival circuit, in recent years they have expanded their live outreach across the country.  The band are particularly proud of the fact that they have gained a strong reputation for building an excellent rapport with their live audiences and the fact that they have never played anywhere and not been invited back. Such is the strength of their reputation as a quality live act, they have twice been asked to perform at the Homegrown festival; the annual international showcase of the best of English folk music.

The trio’s melodic and hauntological storytelling, which is always underpinned by a firm commitment to classic songsmithery, has caught the attention and support of the likes of Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe and Mike Harding on BBC Radio 2, Lopa Kothari and Nick Luscombe on BBC Radio 3, Folk Radio UK and many more international, national and regional broadcasters.

The band’s self-titled debut album received critical acclaim on its release in late 2011 and they collected excellent reviews for their contribution to the 2012 Weirdlore compilation which highlighted Britain’s most promising practitioners of alternative folk. Their second album, All Life Is Here, was released in April 2014 and again received outstanding reviews, with the likes of fRoots magazine describing them as “undoubtedly one of the most vital and charismatic things happening in English folk music right now”.

The band’s third album, War Stories, was released in July, 2016, as part of their ongoing project (part-sponsored by Arts Council England and The Western Front Association) to mark the centenary of the First World War. The band have been  performing new material and re-worked traditional songs (which strive to challenge stereotypes of the conflict) in unusual venues related to the war on British shores. The album has received outstanding reviews, with the likes of The Observer describing it as “bold and brilliant”. Support from BBC Radio 2 has been substantive, including sessions and interviews with Clare Balding (Good Morning Sunday) and Mark Radcliffe (The Folk Show).

Artists’ website: http://www.harpandamonkey.com/

Was this really the band’s first gig? ‘Pay Day’ live:

Phil Beer bio

Phil Beer

Phil is one of the most popular ambassadors for acoustic roots music. A dazzling instrumentalist, he is perhaps best known as a top flight fiddler and plays in the all-star line-up, Feast of Fiddles. But his skills don’t stop there; he also plays slide, Spanish and tenor guitar, mandocello, viola, mandolin and South American cuatro, not to mention contributing rich vocals.

Born in Exminster, Devon, he started to play fiddle, guitar and mandolin while still at school in Teignmouth and habitually credits Davey Graham’s Folk, Blues & Beyond as his inspiration for acoustic music.

He played his first gig at 14 and started working as a duo with Paul Downes in 1974 (their re-union Live At Nettlebed CD was released on the Talking Elephant label). He was then in the Arizona Smoke Revue and a key member of Johnny Coppin’s band. His impressive track record also includes touring with Mike Oldfield and being a member of the feted Albion Band from 1984-1991. Show of Hands became a full-time partnership in the early 90s, a band that has gone on to sell out the Royal Albert Hall five times and who were voted Best Live Act, by the public, at the 2004 Folk Awards.

Phil, who also has his own Phil Beer Band, famously guested on the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels album and Steve Harley’s Poetic Justice.

As a composer, Phil has written many numbers including the stunning instrumental ‘The Falmouth Packet’ for SoH’s album Witness.

As a solo artist he released Rhythm Methodist in 2004, a double album of songs and instrumentals. He ran the Show of Hands Riverside studio until 2011 when he moved to a residential setting in order to concentrate on editing a series of solo and band albums.

Phil is also in demand as a producer, co-producing (with Steve Knightley) Jez Lowe’s Jack Commons Anthem among others. Six years ago Phil created a label, Chudleigh Roots, producing Jackie Oates’ highly acclaimed second album, The Violet Hour and an album by Singer Songwriter Tom Palmer. He is now once again building a new studio in a very wild and beautiful Devon setting in anticipation of a large amount of commissioned recording work next year including film and TV.

Artist’s website: http://www.philbeer.co.uk/

‘The Blind Fiddler/Haul Away Joe’ live:

Said The Maiden bio

Said The Maiden
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Said The Maiden are Jess Distill, Hannah Elizabeth and Kathy Pilkinton, three friends who discovered a mutual love of folk music when they reunited several years after spending their school years together in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. The group sing traditional songs from around the UK and America, often in three part acapella harmony but also using guitar, violin, mandolin, woodwind, accordion and percussion to embellish their sound.

From tentatively performing a few songs at their local Redbourn Folk club in 2012 and later being asked to appear at one of the club’s guest nights, the group soon secured support and headline slots at folk clubs and festivals around the country, including Folk By The Oak, Folkeast, Gate to Southwell, Shepley and Bunkfest. These opportunities have in turn led to invitations to support many fantastic artists including The Fisherman’s Friends, Jim Moray, Megson, Martin Carthy, Sam Carter, Hannah James and Sam Sweeney, Treacherous Orchestra and Clannad.  They were also honoured to join legendary fiddler Dave Swarbrick on a successful UK solo tour in the spring of 2014, and released their debut album A Curious Tale in June of the same year.

In May 2015 Said The Maiden was awarded Bristol Folk Festival’s prestigious Isambard Folk Award, and as a result opened for folk super-group The Full English at the 2015 Bristol Folk Festival. Most recently the group was voted for by festival-goers at the Great British Folk Festival 2015 as ‘best act’ on the Introducing Stage on the opening night, and will be performed on one of the festival’s main stages in December 2016.

Artists’ website: http://www.saidthemaiden.co.uk/

‘Jolene’ live: