AT FIRST LIGHT IdirThe Uilleann pipes played an integral part in my passion for Irish music and much of that has stemmed from the masterful John McSherry who (it seems) has been around forever. OK, maybe not forever but enough to have contributed to some of my all time favourite CDs. A project that has run throughout McSherry’s career At First Light features the talents of Donal O’Connor (fiddle & keyboards), Francis McIlduff (bodhran, Uilleann pipes & whistles etc) and special guest Ciara McCrickard (vocals & fiddle). At times, we in the ‘folk’ world can appear blasé in our attitude towards musicians of this calibre after all there are enough of them around but if we’re honest we should count ourselves a lucky musical genre to boast such riches and that is what we have here, an abundance of riches. Continue reading AT FIRST LIGHT – Idir

Fairport Convention celebrated their 45th year anniversary today…

fairport-convention_2011Fairport Convention, legendary pioneers of British folk rock and still one of the most enduring names in popular music, celebrated their 45th birthday today as band (Sunday 27 May 2012). Happy Birthday Fairport!

Formed in north London during the ‘summer of love’, Fairport Convention played its very first gig on 27 May 1967 in a Golders Green church hall. Avidly championed by John Peel, the band rapidly became popular on the club and college circuit. A record contract followed and Fairport went on to ‘ invent’ the musical genre of British folk rock. Continue reading Fairport Convention celebrated their 45th year anniversary today…

OLD DANCE SCHOOL – Chasing The Light

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the Old Dance School’s debut release and mentioned to anyone who’d care to listen that of the current crop of ‘new’ folk bands that they deserved to be up their with your Bellowhead’s and Show Of Hands etc. I personally hope they’ve achieved this goal at least on the festival circuit…for that’s where they deserve to be. Ever since Moving Hearts crashed onto the scene thirty-years ago with their genre-breaking ‘folk-jazz’ it has taken until now for a truly British band to make their mark in similar style. Comparisons may be odious but inevitable and if the members of the band; Helen Lancaster, Samantha Norman, Robin Beatty, Tom Chapman, Laura Carter, Aaron Diaz and Adam Jarvis don’t mind being counted alongside such Continue reading OLD DANCE SCHOOL – Chasing The Light

CHRIS RICKETTS – Outward Bound

Chris Ricketts has found a niche that appears to have been overlooked by many other youngsters from the Newcastle Folk & Traditional course namely that pivotal role of the much maligned ‘Shantyman’. Until the recent commercially accepted exposure of Port Isaac’s Fishermen’s Friends these predominantly chorus integrated songs may have sounded at best ‘obscure’ and, at times down right ‘old fashioned’. Personally I can’t see that happening so long as we have the youthful exuberance of artists the calibre of Ricketts and his partners in crime (multi-instrumentalist Steve Hampton and fiddler Garry Blakeley) to…as it were, push the boat out. Between them the trio make (as You Slosh used to say) a glorious racket combining their requisite skills in various genres from full-on folk-rock to Continue reading CHRIS RICKETTS – Outward Bound

Woody Pines New Roots Music You Gotta Roll EP

Woody Pines taps into the rural backwoods of Americana. On this new EP, You Gotta Roll, you’ll hear backroads folk music of the very best kind, inspired by rough street jugbands, neighborhood BBQs, lost 78’s of old blues singers, dusty 45’s of forgotten rockabilly singles, a faint radio signal you can’t trace and can’t stop listening to; the kind of music you have to travel deep into the country to find. Continue reading Woody Pines New Roots Music You Gotta Roll EP

Maz Totterdell – Counting My Fingers from the album Sweep

Maz Totterdell’s remarkable debut Sweep depicts youthful talent at its most striking. Her sound, characterised by memorable melodies, folk musicianship and insightful poetic lyricism, has been likened to Vashti Bunyan, Thea Gilmore and Feist.

The teenage singer/songwriter’s debut single Counting My Fingers won 6 Music’s Rebel Playlist public vote following national radio plays on BBC Radio 2 (Sir Terry Wogan and Steve Lamacq) and 6 Music itself (Radcliffe & Maconie, Chris Hawkins, Shaun Keaveney and Steve Lamacq). It then went on to receive the highest score on Steve’s new releases review show, Roundtable.

Maz has been singing at open mic nights in her home county of Devon since she was 9, performed at London’s Hackney Empire in the final of UK Unsigned when she was 10, started teaching herself guitar and writing songs at the age of 11, and had played 8 of her own compositions at local venues and festivals by the time she turned 13 on Christmas Eve 2009.

2011 saw Maz play her first London shows, her ever changing set being selected from her catalogue of 40+ original songs, plus a different, one-performance-only cover version at each gig. Her solo girl-with-a guitar live performance is a thing of fragile, embryonic beauty. At her dates last year Maz managed to charm and entrance, silencing the usual in-gig chatter with her sensitive, intensely engaging performances.

Sweep combines confessional tales of complicated teen romance with cunning pop hooks and a confident sparkle. Maz’s songwriting and her pure, unaffected voice are not her only talents, as she ably arranged all of Sweep’s musical and vocal parts herself. This superior debut suggests a very bright future.

“Very bright and very promising…we’re looking forward to the album a LOT” – Steve Lamacq – BBC Radio 2

‘Charming’ – Sir Terry Wogan – BBC Radio 2

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