The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop + Skeggy Interview

I sit here two weeks after The Great British Folk Festival with a Whitstable Bay Organic Ale in hand and I’m in good company as I have the new The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop vinyl spinning on my turntable.

The album has made quite a journey from when it was first given to me by the band back stage after the interview we did in the early hours of Sunday 2nd December. The vinyl started its journey on top of a pizza box as Cush insisted it came along to the Oysterband back stage gathering (The MEN were playing on REDS stage outside of the Skyline Pavilion and Oysterband were in the Centre Stage complex and on at the same time). Like us, the new album couldn’t find its way there either as everything was locked up.  It took 20 minutes in the rain with TMTCH in tow to realise that the best destination was now 109 Gull Court in The Keys area of Butlins Skeggy. This was the place where the album, the half-eaten pizza’s, The MEN and us hangers-on could be reunited with some more alcohol. However, not all of us made it to 109 Gull Court as the pizza was offloaded on to Simon Care who happened to be wandering past at 2am in the morning on his way to bed.

Anyway, I digress… so let’s get back to the fantastic new album and that late-night folking TMTCH interview.

Cook-A-Hoop has thirteen tracks, two instrumentals, and eleven songs, five written by Paul Simmonds, three by Swill and three by Cush. Cook-A-Hoop is both minimalist and musically expansive.

The songs start with ‘Sirens’, with revolution and a call to arms Pogue-MEN-Style followed by an escapism tale imagined at the speed of an ‘Arrow’ flight. Then a tremolo panther prowls, like a young Bobby Seale and gives his greeting by way of Sunday Soul ‘Salutations’ with trumpet heralding in the arrival of Marvin.

Next, ‘Three Ships Sailing’ haul away, plundering oceans, flying colours with far of canon-shot drum beat judging distance. While half the world is living on ‘Pone’, the unleavened maize bread, this rocking song with mental saxophone and growling vocals shoves it down your throat and reminds us that some people don’t have a choice.

Mantle then shrouds the tale of ‘The Queen of Crows’ who surveys the night to gentle pining fiddle. We journey then to the city of the ‘Archangel’, riding on camels, playing snake charmer grooves, telling tales of devils, demons and shotgun shacks.

Finally, Cush gives us a ‘Kings Street Serenade’ in green bomber jacket, and tight drainpipe trousers. A homage to the glory days of Joe Strummer, Pogue Mohon and being in heaven.

So, to sum the album up… Right Time, Right Place, Right Song. All packaged up in ‘The Amazing Carrier Bag’ of broken dreams and Brexit chaos.

Yes, its classic MEN, so if you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not yet, then you are in for a treat as it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the rest of the back catalogue of 9 studio albums and over 139 songs.

Paul Simmonds has songs pouring out of him at the moment and Swill and Cush are on top song writing form. So, strap yourself in, fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a TMTCH Cock-A-Hoop roller coaster of a ride of an album. The MEN continue to be, not just a band of brothers who have stuck together for 35 years through thick and thin but also a group that have survived their time and forged a new  musical strength out of the political, blood, sweat and tears of their glorious musical past.

However, the biggest revelation of all is that Swill wished he had written Bat out of Hell!

Darren Beech

Here is the interview that Paul Johnson and Darren Beech recorded with TMTCH after the show.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artists’ website: https://www.tmtch.co.uk/

Here is the video from the Gosport and Fareham Festival in 2008 that we mentioned in the interview.

Copperplate Podcast 230 – Presented by Alan O’Leary


folking.com brings you the latest podcast from that aficionado of Irish music, yes you guessed it, the one and only Mr. Alan O’Leary with his regular monthly instalment of Copperplate goodies.


Click the play button below to listen to the show.

Playlist:


I. VAN MORRISON & THE CHIEFTAINSHigh Spirits. The Philosopher’s Stone
2. SULT HOUSE BAND: The Connaught Heifers/The Hunter’s Purse. Spirit of the Music
3.
 GERRY O’CONNOR:     Dad. & Lads  Last Nights Joy
4. SEAN KEANE: 
The Man from Connemara.  The Burren Backroom Series
5. THE DUBLIN LASSES: Princess Royal.    The Dublin Lasses
6. DAITHI GORMLEY:     
Lord McDonald’s/The New Steamboat/Sheridan’s.
7. JOHNNY DUFFY & TOMMY HEALEY: Mrs Kenny’s Barndance/Cavan Lasses/Rose in the Heather.
The Music of Sligo
8.  KEVIN CRAWFORD: Travelling West.
9. MAGGIE BOYLE:     Lady Margaret.  Gweebarra
10. TEADA: 
Jamsey Gannon’s/McDermott’s/Over The Moor to Peggy.
11. MICK OBRIEN: 
Nora Criona. The Drones & Chanter Vol2
12. LIAM CLANCY: 
The Nightingale. Liam Clancy
13.
 DANNY O’MAHONEY:   The G Reel/Red Tom of the Hill/The Balintore Fancy.  In Retrospect
14. ROSIE STEWART:     The Grand Parade. 19th Jimmy McHugh Concert
15. THE OUTSIDE TRACK: 
Happy Reels.
16. RALPH McTELL: 
From Clare to  Here.   Silver Celebration
17. DANNY MEEHAN:    Tarbolton/Over The Moor to Maggie.
18VAN MORRISON:    Into The Mystic.   Moonshine
19. VAN MORRISON & THE CHIEFTAINSHigh Spirits. The Philosopher’s Stone

For further information on the music featured in the show visit: http://www.copperplatemailorder.com/

Winter Union Bring December Tour Tidings of Comfort & Joy

Winter Union

Well they say Christmas is a special time of year for a Winter Union, when magical things happen, and this year’s Great British Folk Festival is no exception.

There was Darren and I merrily covering this year’s Skegness outing and we happened across Winter Union, a wonderful, hugely talented ‘folk super group’ and all round lovely bunch of chums from the folk scene, who treated us to a fantastic opening afternoon festive set on ‘REDS stage’ yesterday.

Winter Union comprises of Ben Savage, Katriona Gilmore, Jade Rhiannon, Hannah Saunders and Jamie Roberts, who are now in their 4th year as a festive get together.

This was the first date of their 2018 December tour. They played a stunning festive set, mixing traditional Christmas songs with an added blue grass lilt. Darren and I could not let this amazing sleigh ride pass us by without hopping on for an after gig chat in the bar. We also explored Ben Savage’s (or babe as I called him in a text typo) tale of ‘Christmas Ball Balls’.

Paul Johnson

This is what they had to say…..

Tour Dates:

12/12 St Barnabus Church, Cambridge www.junction.co.uk

14/12 Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford www.Holywellmusicandfolk.co.uk

15/12 St Mary Magdalene Church, Dunton, Beds www.duntonfolk.co.uk

16/12 The Greystones, Sheffield www.mygreystones.co.uk

17/12 Barnoldswick Music & Art, Nr Clitheroe, Lancs www.barnoldswickmusicandartscentre.co.uk

18/12 All Saint Hall, Poppleton, York www.poppletonlive.co.uk

20/12 Finchingfield Church, Braintree, Essex www.wegottickets.com/event/449662

21/12 Otford Memorial Hall, Sevenoaks, Kent www.stedithfolk.co.uk

Artist Website: https://www.facebook.com/winterunion/

The Great British Folk Festival 2018

The Great British Folk Festival 2018

Hi-de-Hi! Hi-De-Ho! to all the team at The Great British Folk Festival 2018 at the Butlin’s Skegness resort.

Yep, its that time of the year again when “That Old Sweet Folk and Roll” comes to Skeggy and the “Blood, Sweat & Tears” of the Bultlin’s Live Music Weekend calendar, clashes with their other Electric Dreams weekend event in Bognor (where you can see Pat Sharp and join the Eighties music themed Pool Party). There is some brilliant banter already on the ‘Live Music Weekends’ facebook page suggesting that one individual would ‘rather watch paint dry’ than make the trip up North. Well, all we can say is your ‘folking loss Me Ol’ Mucker’ as I believe there is workshop on the Saturday morning up in Skeggy for that.

Look at that line-up above! Where else are you going to get that sort of a bill during 30 November to 2 December?

Anyway, you can probably tell that we are excited to the point of delirium so I’ll hand you over to folking.com’a answer to “Smashie” (I’m apparently Nicey), Mr Paul ‘How are Ya’ Johnson who is going to say a few words…

For tickets and more information visit GBFF 2018

Darren Beech

Here is Dai Jeffries excellent review from 2015 to get you in the mood.

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL, Skegness, 4th-7th December

ANNIE DRESSNER – Broken Into Pieces

Like Kurt Russell in ‘Escape from New York‘, Annie Dressner has legged it as well and made it over here to fair Albion even without the aid of an eye patch! Dressner been busy in Blighty, clocking up airplay on both BBC Radio Two and Six and earning herself festival appearances at Green Man and Cambridge to name just a few. Its no surprise then, that she now has a brand new spanking album, ‘Broken Into Pieces’ in the can and a huge heart and desire to share it with everyone.

Mates abound, with contributions from Polly Palusama and Che Bereford from Capercaille. Dressner’s husband Paul Goodwin also chips in on BV’s along with Dan Wilde and Jade Rhiannon Ward from the Willows. Matthew Caws from Nada Surf is also part of the project together with ‘Broken Into Pieces’ album producer Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Fairport Convention, Martha Wainwright, Waterboys and Abbie Ozard).

The album looks at the little fragile fragments of everyday life and its relationships. The melodies are folk/pop tinged, complemented by vocals pitched in a tone, slightly higher in a golden, “crisp Manhattan morning air”. It starts with ‘Fades Away’, which gently pulls the listener out of its opening hypnotic circular guitar and soft lullaby chrysalis, into a relationship butterfly of tinkering piano and meandering cello. ‘Don’t Go’, folk-pop-rocks it along with its little cheery whistling intro as it steams off into ‘sticky plaster’ patching up relationship territory, with one foot out the door whilst the head is jerked back around as its being persuaded to stay. ‘Heartbreaker’ has a great swinging pop-country homespun roll to it and looks back to what could have been. ‘This was how it was to be my love when you were my love‘, maybe all those gold flakes in the vodka bankrupted the poor fella!

‘Kentucky’, which you can watch in video below was the first track that jumped out and grabbed me. There is something very fragile about it, you feel like you are holding the heart of it and if you don’t hold on to it carefully enough, you may drop and smash it.

The more and more I listen to ‘Broken Into Pieces’, the more I find something new in it. Its a beautiful thing and its definitely a keeper.

Darren Beech

Artist’s website: http://www.anniedressner.com/

‘Kentucky’ – official video:

The album is available to order/download from the Bandcamp link below. ‘Fades Away’, ‘Kentucky’ and ‘Get Out’ are there to stream as well.

A DIFFERENT THREAD – On A Whim (own label)

On A Whim

Originally a duo comprising Staffordshire’s Robert Jackson and North Yorkshire classical cellist Isaac Collier, last year they were joined by North Carolina songwriter and fiddle player Alicia Best, she and Jackson now the mainstays, although she remains based in the States. Following on from the High Time EP, on which Best made her first fully-fledged appearance after being one of the backing musicians on the earlier Home From Home, On A Whim is their debut album, all save for two numbers being self-penned.

Musically, it straddles English folk and Americana influences, Jackson taking lead on the mid-tempo, brass brushed waltzing (and whistling) title track about a kind of indolent restlessness. Jackson still on lead, they cross shores for the friskily scampering bluegrassy banjo number ‘Hold Me Down’ with Best showing off her fiddle frills.

She steps up the microphone for her self-penned traditional sounding ‘Potter’s Field’, Collier’s mournful cello and Jackson’s acoustic guitar underpinning a number about a pauper’s burial, and remains there for equally American folk shaded but slightly the more uptempo strum of ‘Rosa Rosa’. That’s followed by the sole actual traditional number, the the much covered ‘The Prickly Bush’, here with Jackson’s voice upfront and Best harmonising, although this offers a strikingly different arrangement that leans to fingerpicked gypsy jazz and Balkan mazurka influences with Alan Best on accordion and Jackson playing harmonica.

The slow strummed march beat ‘Honey And Fire’ has the feel of early Dylan and the Band, jazzy flugel horn and brushed snare colouring the shared wearied delivery of the frayed relationship song ‘Chairs Instead’ which harks to vintage Laurel Canyon days, while ‘Carolina Song’ is a lovely melancholic rootsy slow waltz that shows Best’s slightly dusty Gillian Welch-like vocals to good advantage.

It’s back to a traditional folk flavoured fiddle blazing stomp for the playful ‘Farmer’s Mistress’, Jackson also on lead for the simple acoustic fingerpicking of ‘High Time’, a slightly faster and slightly lyrically different re-recording from the EP.

They end with Dobro and upright bass on the moodily bluesy ‘Charlotte’, the duo sharing verses on the album’s most electric number, and, backed by strings and a circular acoustic guitar pattern, Best singing the simpler folksy ‘Not Good With Words’. A hugely impressive debut; buy it on a whim, keep it as a treasure.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artists’ website: www.adifferentthread.com

‘Hold Me Down’ – live/official video: