John Wort Hannam announces July tour dates

John Wort Hannam

John Wort Hannam is a Canadian singer songwriter from Fort Macleod, Alberta.

Born in the Channel Islands and raised in Alberta, John earned a degree in Native American Studies and taught on a reserve for five years. Since leaving his teaching post for music in 2002 he’s been nominated for a Juno, three Western Canadian Music Awards, a North American Folk Alliance Award, and three Canadian Folk Music Awards – winning Contemporary Album of the Year in 2010.

John is well known for his story telling through music. Themes which are central to his music include life in Western Canada, and the human experience as seen through the eyes of simple working folk.

He has performed at music festivals in Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Australia and he appeared at the 2006 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

In addition to singing, John plays guitar, tenor guitar and harmonica.

It’s a long, hard road – figuratively and literally – from being a school teacher on a southern Alberta First Nation’s reserve to a Juno-nominated roots music career with performances at The Kennedy Centre, The Smithsonian, and Trafalgar Square, but he wouldn’t trade the journey for the world.

Born in St Helier on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands and raised in Southern Alberta, John earned degrees in Native American Studies and Native Education and taught Grade Nine on reserve for five years. He decided he wanted to pursue a career in music after hearing Loudon Wainwright III in 1997.

Now a prize-winning songwriter and performer touring internationally, John Wort Hannam is known for his unique take on the simple day-to-day dramas of common folk through songs that map the landscapes of both the human heart and the vast landscape of Canada.

With a keen eye for the quirky and lyrics that create stories behind the songs, this born storyteller shares the personal and the profound.

Thriving on live performance, John Wort Hannam is truly happy when he is on the road playing and connecting personally with an audience.

Since leaving his teaching job, he’s released five albums, performed with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and written official song for the 2011 Alberta Winter Games.

He won the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Award in 2007. He’s been nominated for three Western Canadian Music Awards, a North American Folk Alliance Award, and three Canadian Folk Music Awards – winning the Contemporary Album of the Year in 2010. He also earned a 2010 Juno nod for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year Solo, and he has won the Grand Prize in the Calgary Folk Festival Song Competition on three separate occasions.

“People are starting to sit up and notice this singer-songwriter in his appearances from Montreal to Australia.” — Edmonton Folk Festival

Artist’s website: www.johnworthannam.com

‘Requiem For A Small Town’ – live:

Tour Dates – July 2017 

Tuesday 11. The Hoy at Anchor Folk Club The Royal British Legion, 7/9 Northview Drive, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9NG

Tel. 01702 715111 Tickets £7.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday 12. Biddulph Up In Arms 171 Congleton Rd, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 6QJ
Tel. 01782 523277 Tickets £10/12 – Doors 7:30 p.m.

Thursday 13. The Running Horse 16 Alfreton Road, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire NG7 3NG
Tel. 07770 226 926 Doors 7:30 p.m.

Friday 14. Kalamazoo Klub The Kings Head, 2 Crouch Hill, London N8 8AA
Tel. 0208 340 1028 Tickets £10 – Doors 7:30 p.m.

Saturday 15. House Concert – Lichfield, Staffordshire, W Midlands Connelly Concerts – Tickets via davidaconnolly@tiscali.co.uk

Sunday 16. Chapel Arts Centre Lower Borough Walls, Bath, Somerset BA1 1QR
Tel. 01225 461700 Tickets £10.00 — Doors 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday 18. Leith Folk Club Victoria Park House Hotel, 221 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland EH6 4NN
Tel. 07833 135399 Tickets £ 8.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.

Friday 21. The Victory Hall  (A828) Benderloch, Oban, Scotland PA37 1RZ
Tel. 01631 720498 Tickets £12.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.

Saturday 22. Transclyde Music Craigmore Bowling  Club, Grosvenor Rd, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland PA20 9LE
Tel. 01700 502287 Tickets £10.00 — Doors 7:15 p.m.

The Drystones release their third album this month

The Drystones

Somerset based young folk duo The Drystones have just recorded their third album entitled We Happy Few. Ford Collier and Alex Garden started performing when they were just fifteen. Six years on they have notched up performances at festivals and concerts including Glastonbury (where in 2013 they were Steve Lamacq’s “recommendation of the day”), Sidmouth Folk Week, and have supported Steeleye Span, Seth Lakeman, The Shires and Ray Davies. They were also Larmer Tree’s 2015 Breakthrough Music Award winners, and are now represented by Alan Bearman Music. All this whilst finding time to complete A levels and their degree courses in Music (Ford at Sheffield and Alex at Southampton)

Their first album The Album, Or What You Will was produced whilst they were only 16 and was made album of the week on BBC Somerset’s Emma Britton show. Their second album A Tale Of Sound And Fury financed by crowd funding was a more ambitious affair working with Will Lang as producer and Tom Wright as Engineer. This third album We Happy Few was again crowd funded and produced by Will Lang (known for his collaborations, Nitin Sawhney, PBS6, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Halsway Manor, has had airplay on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 6Music) and this time was recorded by Julian Batten at the Loft Music studios in Newcastle (Julian has worked with KAN, Kathryn Tickell, Bella Hardy and The Elephant Sessions).

Once more the album title is taken from Shakespeare (Henry V AI, SIII), but chosen to reflect the tone of the album being as Ford says “much cheerier!” than the last album. We Happy Few includes a mix of their own compositions, arrangements of traditional and current folk tunes, mostly instrumental but with three songs. Their cover of Martin Carthy’s reinterpretation of ‘My Son John’ is perhaps the darkest track on the album, but buzzes with energy and includes performances on tabla, kanjira and electric guitar as wells as vocals from both Ford and Alex.

They both feel that throughout the album they have been able to bring a lot of new influences from their time at University, as well as a new found confidence. You might be surprised to find Purcell alongside the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but Ford and Alex have brought to the album their sense of fun that is always evident in their live shows. So although their style is unmistakable the album keeps surprising on you with its twists and turns.

We Happy Few is officially released on June 30th. The Drystones are playing festivals and clubs around the country this summer.

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

‘My Son John’ – live:

KATE & RAPHAËL – Les Objets Trouvés (own label DECYOU01)

Les Objets Trouvés From the first unsettling notes, it’s clear that Les Objets Trouvés isn’t going to sit down quietly and play nice. Opening with the sort of filmic crescendo that normally accompanies the reveal of the serial killer, ‘Caterpillar’ then swoops coolly along with Kate Young’s aerobatic vocalising over Raphaël Decoster’s sashaying accordion.

The pairing of Decoster and Young is an intriguing meeting of innovative artistic minds as visual as they are musical. Consequently, each track is highly evocative, offering sidelong glimpses into other possible worlds as the listener drifts by. Delicate layers of sounds are built up to create subtleties of texture and shade that absolutely reward repeated attention.

Take the final track, ‘Semaphore Sauvage’, for instance. This eerie auditory folk horror short sits slightly apart from the rest of the album, separated by an extra-long silence from the preceding tracks. Its exaggerated sustained notes, uneasy chant-like vocalisation and what might be a crackling fire lend it a wild, haunting air that lingers long after the album’s finished.

‘Grey Blanket’ is another track making full use of natural sounds to form a sonic landscape. Its birdsong, rustling leaves and a distant storm are set against the bouncing spiccato of the violin bow onto the strings before the accordion rolls gently in.

‘Mushrooms On The Moon’ and ‘Swimmings Of The Head’ (also the title of Young’s stunning Kate In The Kettle project first album) are both deliciously rhythmic and swirling pieces, although each has its own distinct tempo and mood. On both, Decoster’s accordion breathes audibly – disconcertingly like an extra person in the room. It’s a feature of his playing on many of these songs that is at once deeply intimate and also slightly unnerving.

Elsewhere, ‘Tanz Tanz Tanz’ begins with a Kraftwerk-y vocal loop, over which a fluid violin and perky staccato accordion bursts weave their delirious, well, dance. Sólheimajökull is an Icelandic glacier waltz, culiminating in a shuddering whirl, with the added brass section lending an air of the big top – it’s Fellini’s La Strada on ice. ‘Million Dollars’ surface choppiness is finely counterpointed by a languid lingering over the accompanying notes.

About a minute into ‘Woolyboy & The Crying Mountain’, there seems to be some rhythmic nod to the Kate In The Kettle track ‘Green And Gold’. There’s also some unmistakeably French style accordion in there right before a vocal marker indicates a change of pace, to a lively tune culminating in a flurry of ricochet strings. The point is, there’s so much going on here, so many constantly shifting tiny details making up the whole, that – like Alice falling down the rabbit hole – it’s quite hard to do more than snatch at passing details in order to try to describe this remarkable album.

‘Jardin De Pamplemousse’ is an engagingly traditional style tune, but all the tracks on this album are original compositions, apart from the duo’s take on ‘Cutty Wren’. Yet, somehow, the pair play as though these tunes, these interactions between their instruments and Young’s voice have always existed, so totally natural do they seem. It’s an album that manages to be both utterly extraordinary and deeply familiar at the same time. Here is a collaboration that has paid off most handsomely, with these two highly original artists breathing life into a unique and beautiful set of songs.

Su O’Brien

Artists’ website: https://www.facebook.com/kateandraphael/

‘Tanz Tanz Tanz’ – official video:

THE HAWTHORNES – Cut & Run (own label)

Cut & RunThe second album from Cheltenham folk outfit The Hawthornes, Cut & Run, sees them with an expanded line-up, Sussex-born singer Louisa Gaylard, bassist Gordy Partridge and Jesse Benns on cajon, mandolin and soundbox percussionist now joined by Gregg Wilson-Copp, formerly of The Roving Crows, on trumpet. The change in their sound is evident from the outset, a burst of Andalucian-sounding brass launching the flurrying ‘Patience’, reappearing for another salvo towards the end. The track is typical of the urgency with which the band invest their music and Garland’s vocals, and even though ‘Turn Your Back’ starts off relatively restrained with its strummed acoustic, it’s less than a minute before scampering percussion appears, followed by trumpet and the chorus picks up the tempo. That said, ‘Little Games’, ‘Let’s Go’ with its fingerpicked guitar and raindrops of hollow echoey percussion and moody album closer ‘Vernon Place’ throw more ballad-shaped melodies, at least until the latter sees Wilson-Copp breaking out in a tarantella-like whirlwind.

Despite the end of relationship lyrics, they’re in ebullient musical mood for ‘Last Song’, trumpet again boosting the summery sparkle while, built on a simple strummed guitar, ‘Ball of Stress’ is a particularly catchy number with Garland, swooping over the notes, in softer vocal form, suggesting a folksy Lily Allen.

Elsewhere there’s the galloping gaucho rhythms and brass of ‘Happier State’, the nimble fingerpicked ‘Solidarity’ with Gaylard enthusiastically tumbling over the lyrics and ‘Sirius’, a “making our own way home” life on tarmac number that suggests a healthy future as an anthemic set closer. The title is an informal phrase for making a hasty departure when things aren’t going well. Something they won’t be doing any time soon.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.thehawthornesmusic.co.uk

‘Little Games’ – live:

LE VENT DU NORD live at South Hill Park, Bracknell

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai jeffries

Smoke swirled over the darkened stage as four shadowy figures took their places. The sound began with the drone of a hurdy-gurdy, joined by fiddle, jew’s harp and voice and lastly bouzouki. Finally the lights came up to reveal Le Vent Du Nord in all their splendour. It was an uncharacteristically sombre opening to an evening that was full of laughs.

I usually come home from a gig with a fairly accurate set-list and other notes about who did what. No chance here. The band only introduced a few of their pieces and then usually in rapid French. I fell back on plan B and tried to blag a set-list from keyboardist Nicolas Boulerice but they don’t use one. He did offer to write one up for me, though, and that’s not an offer you get every day. They did tell us that most of the material would come from their most recent album, Têtu, as did ‘Confédération’, the first song they announced by name, having a dig at Anglophone Canadians in the process.

In fact, the announcements in the first half took the form of a debate, which apparently the band had, about whether Têtu should have a terminal “s”. Everyone had to have a say in turn and the running joke got funnier and funnier. I did figure out the unaccompanied ‘La March Des Iroquois’ and ‘Petit Rêve IX’, an almost orchestral piece which begins with a lovely guitar solo played by its composer, fiddler Olivier Demers and they closed the first set with an oldie, ‘Lanlaire’.

Several things stuck in the mind after the gig. The first is the interplay of the four voices. They can stack up harmonies, pick up lines from each other and occasionally sing over each other. The second is that they do the same with melodies, passing a tune from fiddle to melodeon, to hurdy-gurdy and even jew’s harp. Finally comes the energy and fun they bring to their music. Quebecois music is, to say the least, lively and they throw everything they have into it. I was surprised that Demers, who is responsible for most of the foot percussion, was still standing at the end.

The second set opened with ‘Le Cœur De Ma Mère’ and the time just flew past. There was a bizarre moment when Demers played us a country song in French – from his iPhone – before the band sang an unaccompanied and rather more stately version. ‘Forillon’ is one of their more serious songs and they did it full justice. This isn’t a history lesson but you should look up the story. Nico introduced a song with a long, involved story about a song he found in his attic in a hand-written manuscript, learned it and performed it in France only to be told that it was a famous Parisian song that may have derived from mediaeval English. It seems that his “manuscript” was probably copied down from the radio! It was a love song but Nico neglected to name it.

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

After a wild instrumental finish, they encored with the traditional ‘Vive L’Amour’ and another unaccompanied and unannounced song – perhaps I should have taken Nico up on his offer. Their performance richly deserved the standing ovation and the cheers they received. Do try to hear them while they are on tour here.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://leventdunord.com/en/

We’re spoiling you now – four live songs from Le Vent Du Nord:

Remaining tour dates

Monday 19. Forest Folk The North Boarhunt Village Hall & Social Club, Trampers Lane, North Boarhunt, near Wickham, Hampshire PO17 6DD
Tel: 01329 833625  Tickets £18.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.

Monday 28 August. Shrewsbury Folk Festival West Midlands Showground, Berwick Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2PF
Tel: 01743 892 800 See website for tickets and times.

Texan singer-songwriter Sam Baker announces new album and UK tour

Sam Baker

Central Texas singer-songwriter Sam Baker releases his long-awaited fifth album, Land Of Doubt, on June 21, 2017.

The recording represents a deepening of the approach Baker has pursued since his 2004 debut album Mercy – lyrics pared down to their essence set against the spare backdrop of folk-rock instruments used in a chamber-music way.

But there are a few new twists as well. Working in Nashville for the first time with producer Neilson Hubbard, Baker uses the ‘50s-jazz trumpet playing of Don Mitchell and the sustained guitar textures of Will Kimbrough (producer/guitarist for Rodney Crowell and Todd Snider) to frame the lyrics with a kind of chamber-music folk-rock and to break up the ten vocal numbers with five cinematic-sounding instrumental interludes. Baker himself switches from acoustic to electric guitar for this project.

When Baker first emerged 13 years ago, the chief story was how he had survived a 1986 terrorist bombing in Cuzco, Peru, to reinvent himself as a first-rank singer-songwriter. Five albums later, however, the main story now is his continuing growth as a songwriter – broadening his range and deepening his impact. He continues to perform widely in North America and Europe.

He has also evolved as a painter, and he will enjoy his first major one-man show in Santa Fe in September.

Rolling Stone called his last album, say grace, one of the 10 best country albums of 2013.

Lone Star Music declared that “Baker might be the most captivating songwriter in America.”

Mojo magazine’s Sylvie Simmons argued that Baker’s songs “are simple on the surface, poetry underneath – hence the Townes Van Zandt comparisons…. Even the songs that don’t quote old gospel standards sound like you’ve always known them.”

Washington Post music critic Geoffrey Himes adds: “Baker uses minimalist verse as well as anyone working today. On his fifth album, Land Of Doubt, he further hones that strategy. Whether he is singing about relationships gone wrong, relationships gone right, Vietnam veterans, strung-out single mothers, an awkward wedding or the drought-ravaged Southwest landscape, he employs only a few of the words that would normally be used. With all the distractions carved away, we listeners get to the heart of the matter more quickly and more surely than we would otherwise.”

Artist’s website: www.sambakermusic.com

‘Pony’ – official video:

JUNE TOUR DATES

Friday 23        Glasgow           St Andrews in the Square
Saturday 24   Gateshead     CaedMonday Hall,
Gateshead Central Library
Sunday 25      Queensbury, Bradford
Black Dyke Mills Heritage Venue
Monday 26      Sheffield           The Greystones
Tuesday 27      Leicester          The Musician
Wednesday 28 London            What’s Cookin’,
Leytonstone Ex-Servicemens Club
Thursday 29     Bristol              The Tunnels