STATE OF THE UNION (Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams) Tour News….

In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that is sure to delight fans of hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. Tapping into a multitude of influences, from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to Blind Lemon Jefferson, the wide open Fenlands and the frenetic buzz of London, State Of The Union is a masterclass in songwriting, showing off the talents of bluesy Americana stalwart Brooks Williams and cult British singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine to full effect.

When Brooks was called in at the eleventh hour to replace the billed Special Guests at Boo’s annual Christmas shindig, the seeds for State Of The Union were sown. “Boo rang me up that morning and asked: ‘Could you, would you?’ To which I responded, ‘Yes’”, explains Brooks. “The audience loved it. We loved it, and soon we were playing together as often as our schedules allowed, and working on a collaborative album.”

With both men bringing songs to the table, and collaborating on new material, the chemistry between the duo was undeniable as a torrent of creativity was unleashed in Boo’s living room. Making rough demos on their iPhones, the decision was made to record the songs proper at the Kyoti Studio in Glasgow. A week was booked, but just as the songs had flowed so freely, the pair cut the album in a mere one and half days, recording the songs in the order they appear on the album. With production handled by Mark Freegard (Pete Townshend, Del Amitri, Marillion), the album is intimate and captivating, like a concert delivered in your living room. Two guys, two guitars and a handful of great songs.

Album opener ‘Darkness’, a slice of dusty Americana, sees Williams’ smooth vocals riding on top of his slick, slide guitar playing. Conjuring images of a battered frontiersman returning home, the song is a masterpiece of concise story telling. ‘23 Skidoo’ by Hewerdine is a wryly humorous look at the bitter-sweet nature of life, no sooner have you got a grip on things and you’re forced to move on. With its 1920s rag-style guitar parts harking back to the era that gave birth to the phrase, the song has all the hallmarks of an old classic, belying its contemporary nature.

With a sharp turn, the pair’s take on ‘Rent’ flips the Pet Shop Boys’ song on its head, taking the electro-pop original and dressing it in wiry slide guitar, with Hewerdine’s voice bringing an aching honesty to the lyrics. Whether it’s authentic Americana, delicate ballads, re imagining modern pop or a new take on the classic standard ‘Peg And Awl’, the union of Williams and Hewerdine is in a wildly creative state, producing one of the year’s must-have albums.

‘A slice of Americana at its finest!’ – fRoots
‘Deft, tasteful guitar chops’
– Rolling Stone
‘A beautiful album, full of classy playing and great songs’– Acoustic Magazine

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.

HIDDEN PEOPLE by Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman was released on Navigator Records today…

“HIDDEN PEOPLE” is an apt title for this long-anticipated debut CD from husband-and-wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman.  They have been lynchpins of the UK’s burgeoning folk-acoustic revival over the last two decades – but a case, perhaps, of always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Now, at last, it’s their turn to burst out from the shadows of their siblings and former musical partners to make a big noise in their own right.  This bold and superbly – crafted album includes eight self-penned songs, one traditional arrangement and a poignant cover version.    With Kathryn’s sublime voice and effortless delivery, Sean’s masterly guitar arrangements and the sonic quality of the production this CD, this is one the most eagerly awaited modern folk albums of the year.

The esteem in which they are held is reflected in the list of artists who queued up to make a contribution: Sean’s famous brother Seth Lakeman; the award-winning Irish singer Cara Dillon (who is married to another brother, musician and producer Sam Lakeman); Levellers’ lead singer Mark Chadwick; veteran folk troubadour Dave Burland, singer-songwriter Jim Moray, Megson’s Stu Hanna, Caroline Herring from the USA and Greta Bondesson from Sweden’s sister trio Baskery.

Steeped in the English tradition, Yorkshire-born Kathryn, 37, was a teenage sensation in a duo with Kate Rusby. They made the Folk Album of the Year in 1995, “Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts”, and Kathryn also won the first-ever BBC Young Folk Award as a solo singer.

They both teamed up with the three Lakeman brothers to form the folk -pop “supergroup”, Equation, which was signed to Warner Music’s cool ‘Blanco Y Negro’ label.  Rusby and Seth then left to begin successful solo careers.

Equation, with Kathryn and Sean at the head, spent more than five years touring in the USA and performed at top venues from New York to Los Angeles. They played the legendary Newport Folk Festival, the Golden Gate Festival inSan Francisco, the Strawberry Festival in California’s Yosemite National Park, the Rock ‘N’ Roll hall of fame in Cleveland and concerts from Arizona to Seattle, Chicago to Denver, Boston to El Paso.

“We must have seen more of America than most Americans” says Sean.” An incredible experience and a unique musical education.”

Meanwhile, Seth Lakeman wrote his seminal “Kitty Jay” album, which led to a Mercury Music Prize nomination – and a musical roller coaster ride. Sean was at his elbow, playing guitar as Seth achieved international fame with subsequent albums. Gold and silver albums sit on Sean’s walls, as producer of Seth’s groundbreaking CD’s, one of which (Poor Man’s Heaven) became the rarest of things, a folk album in the Top Ten.

Like Kathryn, Sean’s musical pedigree is formidable. After emerging on the English folk scene as one of ‘The Lakeman Brothers’ he studied jazz and contemporary music at Leeds College of Music. But he learned more by staying at the Yorkshire home of family friend and guitar maestro, Chris Newman, and touring the UK’s folk clubs with veteran folk fiddler Tom McConville.

Kathryn and Sean have had a low profile as a duo over the last eight years. As Sean toured the world with Seth’s band, Kathryn has been busy at their hideaway Dartmoor home raising twin girls, Poppy and Lily, who are now nearly five.  Now, finally, they have found breathing space to produce “Hidden People” for the Navigator label and will be heard performing live throughout the summer and autumn at festivals and gigs.

Kathryn’s vocals – lush, sultry and faultless – are the signature of the album. She has an extraordinary range, from husky to soaring. She also provides all the piano, keyboards, flute and woodwind. Sean contributes six-string guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, bouzouki and of all things “wooden ruler bass.”

The sonic quality of this CD is testimony to Sean’s impressive production and recording skills and demonstrates why other folk artists and bands like the Levellers have beaten a path to his door to employ his services as a producer.

The tracks on “Hidden People” range from Kathryn’s haunting lead vocals, to rousing a cappella harmony, mellow and heart-rending piano ballads, foot-tapping rockabilly beats, tunes with a world-music tinge and full-on folk-rock. Yet the core of the album is good old-fashioned story-telling.

“These are stories, first and foremost,” says Kathryn, but she warns, “My home-life is so ‘roses round the cottage door’, that I tend to prefer music with an edginess, so some of the tracks on the album are quite dark and brooding, to say the least.” The messages and meanings behind these songs belong to the “Hidden People.”

Latest festival and tour dates: http://www.kathrynrobertsandseanlakeman.com/gigs/

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.

LARKIN POE – Thick As Thieves is released tomorrow!

Thick as Thieves is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Larkin Poe release Band for all Seasons, the box set of 4 EPs the band recorded and released through the seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) of 2010.

On Thick as Thieves, Larkin Poe have taken a further leap into soul and R&B territory, while retaining some roots in their heritage of Bluegrass and country of their former band The Lovell Sisters.

Where Band for all Seasons was considered the band’s work of 2010, Thick as Thieves is what the band caught on tape in 2011 in between a hectic touring schedule in Europe and the USA.

All the songs on Thick As Thieves have been co-written by Rebecca and Megan Lovell. They also co-produced the CD with Marlon Patton, one of Atlanta’s most sought after drummers, who plays percussion on the album, with regular drummer Chad Melton again featuring, and on this release the band has now switched to Rick Lollar on guitars, while Todd Parks and Will Robertson guest on bass and keyboards respectively.

The first single ‘Play On’ fronts the release and has already been viewed over 70,000 times on YouTube since its US release earlier this year. This special edition of Thick As Thieves has a bonus DVD with two high quality music videos and 14 live concert tracks. The concert was recorded on the band’s last European tour in a small Norwegian wine cellar venue with room for just 36 people – a very intimate setting compared to the numerous sold out venues the band played on the same tour, either on their own or as support and band for their long-time fan Elvis Costello.

For this special concert recording, the band dressed up in medieval costumes for the night to complement the interior of the unique setting. Live From Stongfjorden includes songs from the new Thick As Thieves release as well as a several favourites from their previous releases.

Larkin Poe will be touring Europe extensively during the summer, including several major festival appearances in the UK.

“… these girls have the vocal and song writing prowess to make a success of whatever genre they turn their hand to.” Americana-UK

“…sublime vocal harmonies… the arrangements are inventive, varied and skilfully played… remarkably mature and accomplished.” Country Music People

“…the 20-year-old sisters’ dynamic story-songs open up new realms of cream-fresh Americana” The Independent

“…rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not to mention highly irresistible.” Maverick

 “With the Dixie Chicks on sabbatical, this could be Larkin Poe’s season in the sun.” The Observer

“…a delicious collision between influences of the storytelling tradition, Nashville commerciality and fine musicianship.” Taplas

“…already gifted as instrumentalists and, having a head start on the rest of us with the unique power and beauty of sibling harmony in their vocal blend, their songwriting has leapt forward and now surprises and delights in equal measure.” Elvis Costello

See the web link below for the latest tour dates: http://www.larkinpoe.com/tour/

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.

SKERRYVORE – World Of Chances (Tyree Records tYREE03CD)

I was really looking forward to this, Skerryvore’s fourth album. Unfortunately their major selling-point of upfront Highland bagpipes that played such a major part of the overall sound on their previous recording has been usurped by the more rustic charms of Daniel Gillespie’s accordion and Craig Espie’s fiddle. OK, so the fiddle and accordion were always part of the make-up but I’m not sure about them playing such a pivotal role. Cast your mind back to a time when The Bluebells and Proclaimers were king of the swingers, Skerryvore would have fit as snugly as a rawlplug round a screw right alongside them. With Barry Caulfield (bass), Fraser West (drums) and Alec Dalglish on vocals, guitars and mandolin and guest producer Alan Scobie on keyboards and percussion in general the sound is pleasant but for me at least rarely reaches the peaks of the band’s previous outing. If, however you’re looking for a ‘festival’ band then songs such as the opening track “Put Your Hands Up”, the Big Country sounding “Magic Numbers” or the goodtime Zydeco styled “The Last Time” could have you swaying hypnotically along with your mates in a sweaty marquee. I’m sorry I couldn’t have given this recording a more positive review but then again, perhaps next time? PETE FYFE

Artist web link: www.skerryvore.com

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.

Bearfoot Releases New Music Video For Midnight In Montana

Bearfoot has just released a music video for “Midnight in Montana.” This is the second video from American Story, their 2011 release on Compass Records. Featuring lead vocals from guitarist Todd Grebe, the video follows the band on the road in Montana, with candid shots and impromptu band performances on the side of Highway 90, in the backseat of the van and on hay bales, capturing the playful spirit of the band on the road.

“Tell Me A Story,” the first video from American Story, was featured for 3 straight weeks as the #2 album on the CMT Pure 12-Pack Countdown with the album itself securing Bearfoot a spot on the Americana radio charts along side new releases from Wilco, Merle Haggard and Tom Waits.

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.

Mike Donaghy releases I Wish You Well

Mike Donaghy has been making a name for himself in Ireland and the UK ever since releasing his first EP “January Never Came This Year” back in 2009. The blend of his music and songwriting creates a very unique sound, occasionally being linked to folk, Americana and bluegrass.

Mike grew up listening to the sounds of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, The Beatles and Van Morrison. He was fortunate to be part of a musical family, and reside in a home that was never short of instruments; his father working as a TV producer and director, and more importantly, on music shows!

He remembers vividly sitting round the fire joining in and learning songs with such legends as the Clancy Brothers, June Tabor, Ralph McTell, Kieran Goss, Sonny Curtis and long time friends the Sands Family.

Mike left school with a passion for music, a handful of songs and a vision which would send him into the music business. It’s what he wanted to do and he did. ‘His writing has a great sense of place and it paints a very clear picture. His stories are steeped in emotion, honesty and humour’ (Tommy Sands).

His on stage instrumentation stems from his passion for music and his eagerness to learn all types of music. At present, Mike plays guitar, piano, mandolin, lap steel, pedal steel, banjo, ukulele and saxophone. He has been a professional musician for five years and spends most of his spare time writing songs.

Since beginning his musical career he has gained many credits, including a top ten in the folk download chart in New Jersey in 2010 and numerous appearances in the Irish download chart, as well as writing music for film and TV.

In 2011 his song ‘Brighter Days’ was used as a United Nations peace song and from there Mike and the band went on to perform at the World Peace Concert in Dublin during December of that year. Later this year they will play at another World Peace concert to be held in Rome.

2012 will be a busy year for Mike, with an Irish tour in preparation followed by a full European schedule.

Mike currently performs the length and breadth of Ireland, as well as the UK and Europe, primarily with his band ‘Mike Donaghy & Border Crossing’. His debut Album entitled ‘I Wish You Well’ was released in Ireland in September 2011 and created a great buzz amongst radio stations, record and publishing companies. For the first time it is now available outside Ireland and available to order from Amazon link below. Mike is donating his earnings from the album to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.

Musicians:

Mike Donaghy: Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin/Piano/Drums Jody Headley: Backing Vocals Brian McClean: Backing Vocals/WhistlesRichard Hodgen: Drums/Percussion Nick Scott: Bass Guitar/Drums/Percussion Rik Gay: Drums/Percussion Ivan McLernon: Dobro/Pedal Steel.

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.