Reviews

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Welcome to the folking.com review section.

The folking review team is a small, dedicated group of people with a passion and a commitment for the folk, acoustic and Americana music scene. They review the latest releases, each in their own inimitable style…

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SARAH JAROSZ – Song Up In Her Head (Sugar Hill Records SUG CD 4049)

Sarah Jarosz was a new name to me when I first heard this stunning record played during the interval of a Martin Simpson gig. For those that care about these things, I suppose this is more of a Country album than ‘folk’ (there we go…pigeonholing again) but it still doesn’t detract ...
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ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND –Traditional (Talking Elephant Records TECD152)

I don’t have a problem with re-packaging tracks from previously released albums…I really don’t. Let’s take for instance this aptly timed recording courtesy of the Albion Christmas Band. Firstly it states what it is on the cover both in title and content celebrating everyone’s favourite time of year. Secondly any ...
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RICK WAKEMAN & JON ANDERSON – Fairfield Halls, Croydon (12.10.10)

I thought I’d wandered onto a set from the recent “Sherlock Holmes” movie as rows of candles festooned the stage at the Fairfield Halls concert stage this evening. This was in fact a simple, but effective presentation surrounding the twin keyboards and acoustic guitar of rock legends Rick Wakeman and ...
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SKERRYVORE – Skerryvore (Tyree Records TYREE01CD)

No messing here as Skerryvore kick off with the riff based “Path To Home” featuring a mixture of Jimmy Shand meets the Tannahill Weavers. I’m pleased to say that this is folk-rock that proudly nails its Celtic banner to the mast and leaves the listener with an adrenalin rush that’s hard ...
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RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS – Music For The Kilted Generation (Rel Records RECD572)

Be warned, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers should be labelled with a government health warning for their seriously pleasurable excursions inflicting harm to those of a delicate disposition. They are a band guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any jaded ‘folky’ that doesn’t run a mile from the ...
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EWAN McLENNAN – Rags & Robes (Fellside Recordings FECD235)

You sometimes know from the opening track if an album’s for you and this first release by Ewan McLennan is one such recording. In bringing together a selection of tried and tested standards including “Tramps & Hawkers”, “Jamie Foyers” and “Arthur McBride”, McLennan proves that old material can be refreshed and, given ...
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BELLOWHEAD – Hedonism (Navigator Records Navigator042)

With a sleeve cover (superbly photographed by David Angel) that looks as if it had just leapt off the canvas of a Hogarth painting Bellowhead return with more of the band’s theatrically treated ‘folk’ excursions. Tried and tested favourites such as “New York Girls”, “Hand Weaver And The Factory Maid” and ...
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THE SHEE – Decadence (Shee Records 2)

Opening with a choral harmony that any church would be proud to have leading their congregation The Shee make their mark with the Gospel tinged “Trouble” before gearing up a notch with the pump and push of Amy Thatcher’s accordion and lead vocal provided by Laura-Beth Salter who also adds ...
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PETER DONEGAN & THE LONNIE DONEGAN BAND – Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon (30.09.10)

I didn’t know quite what to expect when I entered the Ashcroft Theatre for this evening’s performance by Lonnie Donegan’s son Peter although perhaps the IKEA showroom wasn’t one of them. Possibly this was due in part to the other country tinged concert by Beth Neilson-Chapman in the main hall…or, ...
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SECRET GARDEN – Inside I’m Singing (Universal Records 602517552746)

Secret Garden produce music that I suppose in any other circumstance could be termed on the fringes of ‘folk’. I first came across Fionnuala Sherry and Rolf Lovland when “Nocturne” became Norway’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995. Enchanted by the fiddle played by Sherry and Lovland’s dramatic ...
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MABON – Live At The Grand Pavilion (Easy On The Records EOTR01)

No messing here as Welsh band Mabon take the stage for an opening set of driving reels “Hello Poppet/The Hustler” led by Jamie Smith’s accordion. Taking up the reins where Capercaillie once held court, with lively ‘kick ass’ folk-rock arrangements (predominantly all penned by Smith) you can tell why this line-up ...
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ACOUSTIC EARTH – Travelling Man (Own Label AE01)

Andy Findon is one of those musicians who artists turn to whenever anything wind driven is required to complement their studio productions. Joined by Pete Walton on guitars and James Turner on percussion and working together as the trio Acoustic Earth the group bring together a selection of tunes (and one ...
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RALPH McTELL – Somewhere Down The Road (Leola Music TPGCD31)

Ralph is obviously as proud of London as any man can be (with the possible exception of Peter Ackroyd) and in his opening track sums up his love of the city with the light-hearted “London Apprentice” and by adding Chris Parkinson on accordion conjures memories of a bygone era as ...
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SHOW OF HANDS – Arrogance Ignorance And Greed (HMCD 29)

No resting on their laurels for that dynamic duo of ‘folk’, multi-instrumentalists Steve Knightley and Phil Beer bring home the bacon once again with a superbly crafted album that is positively crackling with great material. Now joined at the hip by bass player and vocalist Miranda Sykes, Show Of Hands well ...
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JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES – WOTCHEOR! (Tantobie Records TTRCD111)

Whatever I’m doing…everything grinds to a halt whenever I receive a disk featuring Jez Lowe. The reason for this is that I know, even before I’ve had a chance to get the shrink-wrap off the CD box I’m in for another musical treat. With an eye to catch the mind ...
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Rory Ellis – Perfectly Damaged

It’s been multiple years now since hearing Australian troubadour Rory Ellis for the first time. I was in a car listening to the latest batch of CD’s through for review when suddenly this tornado of a voice ripped through the stereo speakers and exploded in my face. Since then – ...
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CHRIS RICKETTS & MARK WILLSHIRE – Simple Folk (Hobgoblin HOBCD1012)

The combination of guitar, bass guitar and vocal should be recognisable to anyone old enough to remember the glory days of Bob Fox and Stu Luckley, a void now filled by Portsmouth based duo Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire. Well, on paper it should work but unfortunately without the addition ...
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THE TRUE AND TERRIBLE HISTORY OF JOHN ‘BABBACOMBE’ LEE by Kevin Burke

I can’t remember where I first heard of this staging of Fairport Convention’s celebrated folk-rock opera but it proved irresistible enough for me to obtain a copy of this trimmed down ‘sampler’ DVD from a 2 hour show to 30 minutes. For those of us that were lucky (and old) ...
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A L LLOYD – An Evening with A L Lloyd (Fellside Recordings FECD220)

In the early Seventies I spent a day of my ill-spent youth in the company of A L Lloyd at a college in the Elephant & Castle, London. I distinctly remember this because I went especially to see ‘Bert’ having been steered in his direction via the music of Steeleye ...
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DALLA – Cribbar (Dalla Records DACD05)

Sounding not dissimilar to a Klezmer party in full swing courtesy of Hilary Coleman’s clarinet the set of tunes “Fly Cellar/Unity/Heva Cornishe” in fact provide the setting for a Schottishe dance. Both of the two opening tunes are penned by master multi-instrumentalist Neil Davey who along with Bec Applebee (darabuka/crowdy ...
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RICHARD DIGANCE – Epsom, Playhouse Theatre 08.07.10

Any man who has the uncanny knack of overcoming every hurdle including nursing a painful left shoulder whilst still maintaining a sense of humour and never once putting a foot wrong the entire evening has my admiration. It says a lot that Richard Digance consummate skill as an entertainer should ...
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LILLY DRUMEVA – Lovin’ You (Music Author Records MK 54604)

I’ve been something of a closet fan of Country/Bluegrass music for quite a few years but it’s only recently that I’ve made an effort to find out more about it. Lilly Drumeva is something of an anomaly in that she is Bulgarian and (for the first 9 tracks) she utilises ...
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THE OLD DANCE SCHOOL – Forecast (Transition Records TRANSCD04)

If you could sell the word ‘enigma’ as a product then this would be the band to display their wares accordingly. The Old Dance School don’t take any prisoners in their pursuit of enjoying themselves whilst liberating that music we tenuously label ‘folk’. As a journalist you get a gut ...
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ROSIE CARSON & KEVIN DEMPSEY – The Salty Diamond (Own Label)

I was first introduced to Kevin Dempsey many years ago at the Hedgehog Pie festival in Newcastle (possibly 1976!) and I particularly remember his impressive guitar technique crossing jazz with folk. Of course, this was innovative at the time and I’m pleased to say he’s lost none of that technique ...
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LIZ CARROLL & JOHN DOYLE – Double Play (Compass Records 7 4502 2)

Don’t you just love it when, from the opening track of a recording you know you are going to experience something really special? Of course it helps if your names are Liz Carroll and John Doyle both of whom (to my knowledge) have neither released a duff album in either ...
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CHRIS WOOD – Handmade Life (Ruf Records RUFCD012)

For many years I was quite dismissive about Chris Wood who, rightly or wrongly possessed an air of arrogance that I felt was at odds with the general humility of the British ‘folk’ scene. Only recently, from a personal point of view that presumption has turned to haunt me as ...
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SOLAS – The Turning Tide (Compass Records 7 4530 2)

Musically speaking I’d say that folk super-group Solas never have an off day and as if proof were needed I’ve been reviewing the band since the release of their first album some fourteen years ago with each recording receiving the obligatory ten out of ten! As ever scintillating performances and ...
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MUMFORD & SONS – Sigh No More (Universal Records 2722538)

Unlike the photograph on the front cover of the CD book there’s nothing to suggest that musically and vocally Mumford & Sons are a bunch of dummies. Comparisons to The Proclaimers and particularly ‘The Pogues’ Steve Lilliwhite produced album “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” may be well ...
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CAROLE KING & JAMES TAYLOR – Live At The Troubadour (Hear Records 0888072320536)

Please, a round of applause for those wonderful folk at BBC 4 TV for, without their skill in picking up documented gems such as Alison Krauss “Live From The Tracking Room” and this Carole King & James Taylor “Live At The Troubadour” recording we in Britain would be missing some ...
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STOCKTON’S WING – COLLECTION & LIAM O’FLYNN – THE PIPER’S CALL form Tara Records

STOCKTON’S WING – COLLECTION (Tara Records TARA CD 4) LIAM O’FLYNN – THE PIPER’S CALL (Tara Records TARA CD 3037) Nothing in life is certain particularly when it comes to your record and CD collection. As I’ve found to my cost many of the albums I used to cherish have ...
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JOHN McSHERRY – SOMA (Compass Records 7 4538 2)

The sheer beauty of the Uilleann pipes and low whistle is bought vividly to life in the hands of John McSherry. No need for flashy statements that leave you thinking I could never play that in a million years. It’s not that I’m sure he couldn’t it’s just that McSherry ...
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KARAN CASEY & JOHN DOYLE – Exiles Return (Compass Records 7 4529 2)

The beaming smile of a reviewer as he casts his eye over certain members of ‘folk’ royalty appearing in his ‘in’ tray is always reason enough to celebrate a new CD release. Therefore, one can assume this is the case with Karan Casey & John Doyle. As the duo, both ...
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Catherine Howe & Vo Fletcher – English Tale

Catherine Howe & Vo Fletcher started working together in 2007, just after the reissue of Catherine’s legendary album ‘What A Beautiful Place’ produced by the late Bobby Scott. Catherine knew Vo as a musician and songwriter and admired his work, and from the very outset there was a musical rapport ...
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Album Review: PERFECTLY DAMAGED – RORY ELLIS

Australian Roots/Acoustic/Blues/Country and Western singer/songwriter Rory Ellis has a new album out – his fifth - and it is a real stunner folks! This new album is a move away from Rory’s usual style and dare I say it – is rather up-tempo! Unusual for the singer/songwriters of today, who ...
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SHEP WOOLLEY – GRUMPY OLD MATELOT (Uppit Records BALD 6)

I remember a time when the words ‘folk’ and ‘entertainer’ ran side by side like participants in a well-oiled marathon and artists such as Shep Woolley, Jasper Carrot, Richard Digance and Billy Connolly were on equal billing with the likes of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Joe Brown. Of course, ...
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LUNASA – La Nua (Lunasa Records LRCD 001)

Receiving the latest Lunasa CD is like unwrapping the best Christmas present you could wish for. There’s something magical that brings a broad grin to your face and a warm feeling to the heart. Starting with “The New Day/Ryestraw/An Old Woman Would” the band know just how to push the ...
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MICHAEL MARRA – Folksong Club, Croydon 19.04.10

Although I personally hadn’t seen or heard Michael Marra before his name is legend on the folk circuit in Scotland. My first image of Marra crouched over his piano and ironing board stand was like a first encounter with a sleazy back-street pianist in a French bar and in a ...
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DALA – Everyone Is Someone (Campus Music)

I heard Dala by chance on the radio one evening and sought out this CD at the earliest opportunity. The Canadian based duo (Amanda Walther & Sheila Carabine) certainly didn’t disappoint and if “Horses” were the only track on the album then I’d still buy it! Getting into the mind ...
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RE-ENTRANTS – The Good, The Bad And The Ukulele (Sore Thumb Records)

I can’t remember who suggested I check out The Re-Entrants. Still, it wasn’t a bad idea as my tastes in music spread far wider than what a majority of people who read my reviews perceive to be my ‘folk’ roots. So, hand on mouse I clicked on my computer to ...
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GARRY BLAKELEY – ROSE BLAKELEY – The Ceremony Of May (Attitude Records CD-007)

OK, I know nepotism isn’t a nice thing but when the artist I am reviewing just happens to be my best mate in a professional and personal sense and a damn fine fiddle player to boot then I think I should be forgiven this one transgression. As well as part ...
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Feast Of Fiddles – Walk Before You Fly

I didn’t know that Elmer Bernstein was a closet ‘folkie’ and that he’d contributed to a canon of ‘folk’ tunes that grace this great little silver disk. Then again, I’m not sure either what he would have thought of having his ‘Magnificent 7 Theme’ being both crusts to a jig ...
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BAD SHEPHERDS – Yan, Tyan Tethera, Methera! (Monsoon Music MONMUCD002)

By hook or by crook here is a CD just waiting to be reviewed. The Bad Shepherds consist of Adrian Edmondson, Troy Donockley, Maartin Allcock and Andy Dinan with additional percussion from Mark Woolley (no jokes please) who obviously just want to have a good time along with their audience ...
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DAIMH – Diversions (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX 343)

Starting with the Gaelic song “Donald’s Sporran” immediately puts me in mind of when I first heard the arrangement of “Brose & Butter” by Ossian in the late 70’s. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, more power to Daimh’s collective elbow for allowing the creative juices to flow from ...
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TANNAHILL WEAVERS, Willows Folk Club, Arundel 07.04.10

Well, what a week this has turned out to be for Hampshire. Firstly there was the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival followed swiftly by a return to the wonderful Willows Folk Club in Arundel and a chance to catch up with The Tannahill Weavers who once again have found time ...
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GOSPORT & FAREHAM EASTER FESTIVAL – 03 to 04.04.10

I suppose it seems a little weird reviewing a festival that you are a participant as a performer. Still, why not? Firstly let’s set the record straight. I’ve always enjoyed the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival because it is so audience and performer friendly. Our host is the ever affable ...
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Dillon hits the spot by Sarah Burch – artsdepot, North Finchley

After a hectic, stressful week, it was such a panacea to chill out at Cara Dillon’s gig at the artsdepot, North Finchley on March 5th. Cara Dillon’s exquisite voice, coupled with the superb musical accompaniment of Sam Lakeman provided an evening of sheer joy and enjoyment. The couple provided the ...
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SETH LAKEMAN – The Hawth, Crawley 4th March 2010

Well, this was going to be interesting as I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Seth Lakeman only having seen him on a couple of TV appearances when he was up for the Mercury Awards some years ago. At the time I remember thinking to myself he appeared a little ...
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KEN NICOL – Tidings (MVS Sound Limited MVS CD002)

I suppose it’s probably a little early/late for this review but anyone who knows me knows I can’t get enough of Ken Nicol’s accomplishments as a guitarist…another thing is my enjoyment of nostalgia particularly at Christmas time. Well here’s a recording that hits the mark on both counts. Coupled with ...
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JIM MALCOLM – Jim Malcolm’s Bard Hair Day (BELDVD101)

This DVD is a gentle parody on the life and times of Robert Burns as seen through the eyes of Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Malcolm. Staging this tribute to the great man in Perthshire’s Soutar Theatre was an inspired choice of venue for filming as it proves just the right setting ...
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WEST OF EDEN – Travelogue (Zebra Art Records ZAR 851)

The nomadic life of the wandering minstrel comes vividly to life on this the fifth release by the excellent Swedish band West Of Eden. This is an album that in many respects is a retrospective of their touring life and allows the band Jenny Schaub (lead vocals/accordion/tin whistle), Martin Schaub ...
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ASHLEY HUTCHINGS & KEN NICOL – Copper, Russet And Gold (Park Records PRKCD109)

Ashley Hutchings proves a fine songwriter on the strength of this recording and opening with “I Am Prologue” there’s a sense of pomp in the lyrics that suits the image hinted at on the superbly subtle cover of the CD booklet. Not one to rest on his laurels Ken Nicol, ...
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ALTAN – 25th Anniversary Celebration (IRL044)

Is it really 25 years ago that I first saw Altan performing in Hastings at a hastily put together gig in the non too salubrious setting of the local Catholic hall? I do remember fondly though the rapturous applause from an astonished packed audience. Of course, since then the band ...
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JEZ LOWE – Folksong Club, Croydon 08.02.10

To fans of folk music everywhere the name Jez Lowe is enough to conjure images of a great night out. As well as his finely crafted songs he is a consummate professional when it comes to musicianship and entertainment. His confidence motivates the audience to join in the songs…even if ...
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BEGGARS’ HILL – Beggars’ Hill (Talking Elephant Records TECD156)

Well, here’s a blast from the past…at least my past. Beggars’ Hill were a ‘collective’ from the Surrey area who, for a labour of love with that music we so endearingly call ‘folk’ recorded a selection of songs for their posterity and ours. The ‘band’ were around at the same ...
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Celtic Connections reviews by Pauline Keightley

Fyfe Dangerfield ABC Glasgow Celtic Connections 20th January 2010... Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow as part of the Celtic connections festival with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer, who brought the audience with him with fun and interactive chat. This is an ...
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MICHAEL McGOLDRICK – Aurora (Vertical Records VERTCD090)

There’s always a sense of anticipation when you hear news that one of your favourite musicians has just released a new album and of course, I just had to obtain a copy of this latest offering from Michael McGoldrick. Also, it is highly unlikely that you will be disappointed as ...
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KATHRYN TICKELL – The Best Of Kathryn Tickell (Park Records PRKCD107)

I was first introduced to the wonderful sound of Northumbrian Smallpipes on hearing a recording by the High Level Ranters over thirty years ago. Colin Ross and particularly Alistair Anderson were both influential in helping broaden my audio tastes and that continues to this day with the prodigious talents of ...
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DUOTONE – Work Harder & One Day You’ll Find Her (Garrett Brown Music GBMCD 003)

This album reminds me of my youth when I was listening to the likes of Clifford T Ward and Al Stewart. As a journalist it’s a labour of love digging for information and piecing it together courtesy of the www and that’s what I had to do in the case ...
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IMAGINED VILLAGE – Empire & Love (ECC Records ECC002)

To the opening strains of Sheema Mukerjhee’s sitar joined by Mr Carthy’s trademark guitar the Imagined Village cross fertilisation of different cultures continues apace with a clever re-interpretation of the ballad “My Son John” utilising a more chilling, modern ‘take’ on the song’s powerful anti-war stance. Building to a suitably ...
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ALAN HULL – Live At Clifton Poly 1975 (Market Square Music MSMCD152)

In the days when I was a ‘yoof’ I was forever popping out to support artists such as Lindisfarne and their lead protagonist Alan Hull. So, it’s nice to see a recording of those bygone days appearing in the form of this release from those marvellous chaps at Market Square ...
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Folking.com’s very own Paul Johnson, and the Folking.com team look forward to covering the New Forest Folk Festival again this year with bigger and better coverage.

Paul will be at The New Forest Folk Festival bringing folking.com coverage and as many of his audio interviews with the performers as he can grab and Lewis Beech will be face-booking, insta-gramming and Tweeting from the festival all weekend. ~ find out more here ~

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