COE, PETERS & SMYTH – The Road To Peterloo (Backshift Music BASHCD 65)

The Road To PeterlooIn spite of the establishment’s attempts to cover up the story of the massacre for nigh on two hundred years, it’s now common knowledge to anyone who cares to listen. Mike Leigh’s film has done a great service and now we have a musical history of the event compiled by Pete Coe, Brian Peters and Laura Smyth. It might have been tempting to write a folk opera but every word of The Road To Peterloo is contemporary with the events they describe. Some come from broadsides and Brian and Laura have laboured to marry existing tunes to the lyrics or write new ones where necessary.

The album falls into two halves. The first eight tracks deal with the build-up to the meeting and several of the songs passed into the folk repertoire and remain familiar. ‘The Drummer Boy For Waterloo’ serves to remind us that the massacre took place just four years after Wellington’s victory. Young Edmund “escaped” his life in the cotton mills but died on the battlefield and it’s hard to say whether or not he was better off. . ‘Jone O’Grinfield’ is better known as ‘Four Loom Weaver’ in this version but another song with the same title also tells of a man joining the army in preference to starving at home. ‘Cropper Lads’ celebrates, if that’s the right word, the wrecking of Cartwright’s Mill by Luddites in 1812 and ‘Tom Paine’ is an old broadside set to a new tune by Laura. All this and the Corn Laws, too – everything’s coming to a head.

The second half begins with an instrumental break in the shape of a couple of jigs and then we get to the meat of the story. ‘With Henry Hunt We’ll Go’, ‘Rise, Britons, Rise’ and ‘John Stafford’s Song’ all describe aspects of the massacre, the latter being particularly graphic, while ‘St Ethelstone’s Day’ and ‘The Pride Of Peterloo’ are bitter satires of the events. Finally, ‘The Chartist Anthem’ and ‘Kersal Moor’ document the continuing protests – Peterloo wasn’t the end of the story by any means.

Pete, Brian and Laura haven’t tried to be too clever. They sing and play their instruments without overdubs or guest musicians and some may find the sound of The Road To Peterloo a little old-fashioned. Of course, if you’ve heard any or all of the trio in a folk club, you’ll know better.

Dai Jeffries

Project website: www.theroadtopeterloo.com

‘The Triumph Of Liberty’:

Kete Bowers announces new album

Kete Bowers

It’s rare to find a great talent appearing out of the blue with an exceptional album recorded with stellar musicians but Kete Bowers is such a rarity. His songs you won’t forget. His voice is rich and deep. And deep felt. This is a very special artist whose time has come.

Kete Bowers’ second album, Paper Ships, has been produced by Michael Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies at The Hangar studio in Toronto, Canada. Digital single ‘Winner’ was released on May 24th 2019, with the album due on June 28th.

Kete is from Liverpool. He’s been called a ‘Liverpudlian Neil Young’ and compared to Guy Clark, John Prine, and Tom Waits…

“I don’t put myself in one particular genre; I write songs that cross many genres – Rock, Folk, Blues and Americana, etc.,” he says.

“I was born in Birkenhead just across the river Mersey from Liverpool. A year or so before I was due to leave school it became clear that there would be few or no jobs or apprenticeships available. Our school careers lessons were about how to fill in a form and sign on the dole.

These were really hard times. Later on, I went to college to study for a couple of years. And then I had a few temporary dead-end jobs, and eventually ended up on a temporary job at Cammell Laird shipyard. Many in my family had worked at Laird’s in the past, but the yard was on its knees and it employed a fraction of the men compared with the old days.

So I left the North West and headed south, ended up in Suffolk, busking the towns on market days. Been married, divorced. Started writing songs in 2009…”

Paper Ships is Kete Bowers’ first album for nine years, since his debut Road from 2010. The new album features members of The Cowboy Junkies, plus Josh Finlayson of The Skydiggers on bass, plus Tom Juhas on guitar. Kete takes up the story:

“I was contacted by a guy from Toronto who wanted to take on an executive producer role, to finance the making of my planned new album. I then decided to contact Mike Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies and check out if he’d be interested in working with me. I sent him the demos for the album and he liked them. There where many reasons for me choosing Mike to produce my album, one being that I connected with his view that when capturing a song, ultimately performance is king. So the studio was booked with Mike, and I geared up for a few weeks in Toronto.

Just three weeks or so from the project starting, the exec producer guy went missing. He didn’t answer emails from either Mike or myself and paid out nothing. It delayed the album recording by a year. I told this story to Gerry Young from Current Records in Canada. He had heard my songs via a link I sent him. He contacted me and after several emails and phone conversations he told me he would see if he could sort out the recording of my album with Mike Timmins as producer, and find the money to make it happen. A week or so later I signed an album deal with his label Current Records.”

Artist’s website: https://ketebowers.bandcamp.com/

‘Winner’:

BOB DYLAN WITH JERRY GARCIA – San Francisco 1980 (Rox Vox – RV2CD2143)

San Francisco 1980 San Francisco 1980 comes from the Fox Warfield Theatre on November 12th, 1980, at the start of a twelve date residency which Dylan had at the venue, and the very first night in which he performed officially onstage with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Released on a raft of bootlegged recordings over the years, this double-disc album brings together the concert in its entirety.

Set-wise, San Francisco 1980 is a combination of Dylan’s early Christian era works (‘Gotta Serve Somebody’, ‘I Believe in You’, ‘Man Gave Names to all the Animals’ et al.) alongside his more “typical” fan favourites. In all honesty, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The key selling points of this album include Garcia’s contribution to the set (although he only plays on six of the nineteen numbers), and particularly his part on an unpredictable (and partially re-written) rendition of ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’. Besides these, the album’s offering of obscurities are not to be overlooked; ‘Mary Of The Wild Moor’, first discovered by Bob in the early 1960s at the New York home of Eve and Mac McKenzie but only debuted live on this 1980 tour; ‘Abraham, Martin And John’ also first debuted mere nights before; ‘Let’s Keep It Between Us’, fittingly the title for the late 80s American East Coast pressing of this Dylan/ Garcia performance, and ‘The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Alter’, also featuring Garcia.

Unfortunately there are two distractions which taint these discoveries slightly; firstly, the quality of the sound board recording which frequently picks up the voices and screams of the concert goers, and secondly, and perhaps more frustratingly, the haphazard nature of the on-stage mix, which sees overly amped instrumentation, at times, almost completely drown out the vocals of Dylan.

Of course, these are the pitfalls of such ‘snapshot of time’ recordings and while this may not be the record to convert any non-believers to the word of Bob or the gospel of Garcia, there are certainly traces of the good stuff within these tracks.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘To Ramona’:

Come Find Me – The New Single from Mick Flannery

Come Find MeIreland’s award-winning, double-platinum selling artist, Mick Flannery has announced the release of his forthcoming sixth album. Self-titled and available on July 5 through Rosaleen Records, the album will be his first official UK release and comes supported with new single ‘Come Find Me,’ which was released on Friday. You can listen to the track below:

A cliché has it that you have to beware of the quiet ones, because most of the time their voices speak sharper and with more range than the loudmouths. Every cliché, however, has a grain of truth in it, and so it’s fair to say that while County Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery is outwardly reserved, his songs are fluent in expressing layered aspects of the human condition; its flaws, triumphs, and general uncertainty, are all particularly evident in his new single, ‘Come Find Me.’

Taking about the track, Flannery says: “The song is basically about someone who would like to find a partner but doesn’t quite know where to start. It looks at trying to stay positive about life, even in a city, where crowds of people can make someone feel even more alone.”

Mick Flannery is on the brink of releasing not only his new album, but also overseeing the worldwide premiere of the stage musical, Evening Train (so named after his 2007 debut album). He began to write songs as a teenager in his home of Blarney, County Cork. As musical influences from albums by the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits seeped into his creative DNA, Mick absorbed, learned and honed the craft that would send him on his way into the world. The path was smoothed somewhat when, at the age of 19, he became the first Irish songwriter to win the Nashville-based International Songwriting Competition. By the time he turned 21, he had signed to a label and released his debut album.

Mick Flannery’s self-titled album is set for release on Friday 5th July 2019. The stage musical, Evening Train, premieres at The Everyman Theatre, Cork, 13th – 23rd June, 2019, as part of Cork Midsummer Festival.

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UK live dates are expected to be announced shortly.

Artists’ website: https://www.mickflannery.com/

DEREK SENN – How Could A Man (own label)

How Could A ManOut of the blue came an email from Derek Senn with a link to his new album. Derek is a singer-songwriter from California of whom I had not heard. My usual response would be to listen to couple of tracks and decide how to proceed – I listened to How Could A Man all the way through and then emailed Derek back to tell him I thought he was weird. Rightly, he took it as a compliment, but as a description it probably doesn’t him justice.

How Could A Man is Derek’s third album made with a tight band of keyboards, drums, electric guitar and/or bass and a set of terrific songs. Derek writes about his life; not just as a musician but also as a husband and father. He writes sometimes about mundane everyday life in suburban San Luis Obispo but there is always a twist and if you listen carefully you’ll realise he’s writing about so much more.

The opening track, ‘Alaska’ begins with the line “I had a great day of surfing” which he immediately qualifies by explaining that he was surfing in an office cubicle. I was hooked. His bio doesn’t say that he lived in Alaska but the rest of the album seems to be true, albeit with some poetic licence, so he probably did. The band has a real retro sound: the keys are Wurlitzer, B3, moog and juno with the electric guitar having a hint of Duane Eddy about it.

The title track is about Derek’s wife, Melanie, who sounds like an amazing lady, but it’s also about their travels and youthful dreams and their story continues in ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, another delightfully twisted song. In between them is ‘Botox’ which definitely is weird. ‘The Nuclear Family’ is horribly true of modern living: “let’s spend the nights together in our own virtual way” sums it up perfectly and ‘Babysitter’ delves rather too deeply into the messiness of small children. I could talk about every song but I have to leave you something to discover for yourselves. However, I must mention ‘The Oil Oligopoly’ addresses the contradictions of driving to the gym and then on to a protest about fossil fuels.

How Could A Man is available digitally via Bandcamp or as a physical copy direct from Derek’s website: It’s a long way from California but it’s well worth the wait.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: https://www.dereksenn.com/home

‘The Nuclear Family’: