McDermott’s 2 Hours announce final album with Nick Burbridge

Besieged

When writers wax lyrical about the rugged Celtic beauty that came to fruition with The Pogues and Shane MacGowan, they often seem to suggest that time has stood still and that Irish music had been sitting, waiting since the mid sixties ballad boom of The Dubliners et al for something suddenly to connect the urgency of punk with the heart and soul of traditional music. But out in the rough and ready bars of Hamburg and a hundred other German hostelries a band was carving out and whittling  its  own take on the beauty of Irish folk music; adding fire, vitality and punk-style energy while handling the travails of fights and frolics, women, dark streets and the drink.

This was before it was trendy or cool to take Irish folk music and add a rock edge, long before Pogue Mahone turned it all upside down. The band morphed into McDermotts 2 Hours in 1986 (named after a wonderfully unexpected happening on pirate radio during the Battle Of The Bogside as recalled in Eamonn McCann’s War And An Irish Town) ‘being Irish and in the wrong place and at the wrong time’ – to paraphrase MacGowan. In the pubs and clubs of Brighton and London they built a reputation for their incendiary live performances that have become legend.

Among their wild and youthful admirers were a gaggle of friends who, a few years down the line, influenced by the spirit, fire and camaraderie of Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours, would strap on guitars and call themselves The Levellers. Those in the know realise that Nick Burbridge has been, and continues to be one of the best songwriters in the Anglo-Irish tradition. He fashions songs that as well as perfectly capturing the gritty underbelly of the Irish experience in 60s/70s mainland UK, they beautifully capture the longing for home and reality of the Troubles with all the evocative magnificence of Beckett or Joyce.

But that was then and this is now.

Besieged is not so much a final curtain as a magnificent encore.

Serving as the last installment of a magnificent career singer, songwriter, poet, playwright and frontman with folk, rock, roots and punk outfit McDermott’s 2 Hours, Nick Burbridge releases his final album with the band on 8 February. Besieged sees Nick again team up with members of The Levellers (Jeremy Cunningham and Simon Friend), Oysterband (Dil Davies and Al Scott), Ben Paley (son of the late folk music giant Tom Paley), plus Tim Cotterell and friends for the album’s twelve tracks. Released via The Levellers’ On The Fiddle Recordings, advance orders will also secure a bonus CD, Anticlockwise, featuring a fourteen-track ‘best of’ McDermott’s 2 Hours.

I left in the autumn and settled in Camden, Two in a room with a flute and accordion, Site-work was hard and the foreman a bastard, But we’d rakes in our pocket and hours our own, At the end of a long day we’d wander round Archway, Fit for the tunes and the women as well, When I called home I lied for now I knew why, I always believed I’d bid Erin farewell – ‘Erin Farewell’ – McDermott’s 2 Hours

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.burbridgearts.org

‘Dirty Davey’ – one of the tracks on Anticlockwise:

Last but not least,’Fox on the Run’ – one of our favourites from The folking Archive:

JEFF WARNER – Roam The Country Through (WildGoose WGS425CD)

Roam The Country ThroughIf you haven’t yet heard Jeff Warner live, you have a rare treat in store. Jeff is the son of two of America’s foremost song collectors, Frank and Anne Warner and, as such, his knowledge is unparalleled. On stage he is relaxed and genial swapping between concertina, banjo and guitar – and sometimes jig-doll – and rarely have I so devoutly wished that a gig would never end. I do love Americana and Roam The Country Through is what I mean by that. This is the real thing.

All these songs are traditional except when they’re not and I probably should explain what I mean by that. Take the opening track, ‘Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel’. Most of us would consider it to be traditional but Jeff’s version owes much to Uncle Dave Macon who adapted a minstrel song written in 1853 by Dan Emmett who probably pinched an earlier song. OK, let’s call it traditional.

The seventeen tracks here mix traditional songs, some collected by the Warners and others by Cecil Sharp, twentieth century poetry, music-hall tunes and even a bit of gospel. The journeys that some of these songs have undertaken are quite remarkable. ‘Lass Of Glenshee’ is as Scottish as they come and was probably written in the late 18th century in Perth and the Warners collected it from an old logger in the Adirondacks in the 1940s. You can only imagine how it got there. From the same source came ‘Jamie Judge’, a real logging camp song. In complete contrast is ‘It’s My Lazy Day’ by Smiley Burnette who appeared in movies as Gene Autry’s sidekick.

So, we have a selection of songs than span more than 150 years, most with a well-documented provenance but as with ‘Lass Of Glenshee’ we can speculate on how ‘Gypsum Davy’ arrived in Tennessee. Jeff doesn’t need much support but he’s aided by Alice Jones on vocals, keyboards and whistle and the fiddle of Ben Paley and, all in all, this is a damn fine record.

Dai Jeffries

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.

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

‘Days Of ’49’ – live (an old recording of a song on this album):

MARK CHADWICK – Moment (On The Fiddle OTFCD020)

MomentMark Chadwick’s second solo album won’t disappoint fans but it may surprise one or two. It’s simple, direct and confessional and I enjoyed it from the off.

The sound is pared-down a little, based on acoustic guitar with Tom White’s piano and Ben Paley’s fiddle over the engine room of Graeme Ross and Alex White on double bass and drums. At first hearing I thought that ‘Christian And Pam’ was the key song. It’s the story of two, what shall we say, less privileged members of our society in a long-standing but rickety relationship that you just know isn’t going to end well. The last verse describes Christian being taken away in an ambulance covered in blood ‘the way Pam knew he would’. Mark describes the album as “an honest look at drink, life and love”. Nowhere will you read that he is an alcoholic but his relationship with the booze is a troubled one. ‘Waterfall’ is almost a song of praise for the drink, albeit a bitter one – ‘drinking makes the man, watch him crawl, watch him crawl’ – while ‘Bullet’ and ‘Killing Time’ are stories seemingly seen through a haze – you can put your own interpretation on them and I’m still working on mine.

‘Air’ is musically the most complex song with piano and fiddle heading into jazz territory while the closing ‘Last Night’ relates the insomniac’s early morning reflections on the night before. Some of these words are set to good, stomping tunes and I can hear the choruses of ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Bullet’ ringing out across a festival field from voices that haven’t fully understood what it is they’re singing. The duality of the music is reflected in the cover but that’s as much an illustration of the duality of human nature, particularly when the demons are released.

Not only is this a good album to listen to on the superficial level – you’ll find yourself singing along – but it also makes some difficult points in a readily accessible way.

Dai Jeffries

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: http://www.levellers.co.uk/

‘Red Sky’, taken from the album, was Mark’s Record Store Day single:

Bonnie Dobson & Her Boys – new album: Take Me For A Walk In The Morning Dew

BONNIE-DOBSON-2-low-res-LAURIE-copy-spattered-205x300Hornbeam Recordings: June 2014

Record Store Day 7 inch Single, April 18th featuring ‘Come Dancing’/’Dancing Version’

Bonnie Dobson is one of the great voices of folk music and a veteran of the Greenwich Village scene in the early 60s. She was born in November 1940 in Toronto, Canada where she was raised. Her mother was Scottish and her father’s family was Irish. Folk music soon became an important part of Bonnie’s life inspired by witnessing Paul Robeson perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall as well as seeing the black-listed Pete Seeger play at summer camps. In the early 60’s she moved to New York and was one of a number of talented female singers to emerge in the folk revival. Time Magazine bracketed her, Joan Baez and Judy Collins as the three top female folk singers in America among others on the scene such as Maria D’Amato (later Muldaur), Hedy West, Karen Dalton and Judy Roderick who Bonnie shared an apartment with in St Marks Place.

Most of the girls began as interpreters of either traditional material or the work of contemporary songwriters but in 1961, Bonnie announced herself as a writer when she penned the song for which she’s most renowned, ‘Morning Dew’, making its debut on Live at Folk City in 1962. Inspired by seeing Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film of Nevil Shute’s novel On The Beach, ‘Morning Dew’ was immediately recognised as an anti-war classic; it graced the cover of Broadside #7 under the title ‘Take Me For A Walk’. ‘Morning Dew’ has since become as much a rock as a folk standard, covered by a host of artists including The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Fred Neil, Tim Rose, Rod Stewart, The Jeff Beck Group and Robert Plant.  Artists as diverse as Lulu, Clannad, Devo and Einstürzende Neubauten have recorded it. When Bonnie appeared with Robert Plant at the recent tribute to Bert Jansch at the Royal Festival Hall, the two of them sang ‘Morning Dew’ together.

Its ongoing popularity and a certain controversy surrounding ‘Morning Dew’ has resulted in it overshadowing most of Bonnie’s other compositions over the years. It was covered by Fred Neil on his 1964 Elektra album with Vince Martin, Tear Down The Walls, where Neil amended the lyric slightly. This was the version then recorded by Tim Rose in 1967. It became his signature song but he also claimed an unwarranted co-writing credit with Bonnie Dobson into the bargain. As she has pointed out, it’s entirely her song although if anybody else deserved a credit it would be Fred Neil, not Tim Rose.

Bonnie dropped out of college at the end of the 50’s and began touring the growing circuit of folk clubs in America and Canada in 1960 – her first tour was with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee no less.  She frequently played Gerdes Folk City where Dylan was impressed by her version of the traditional ‘The Ballad of Peter Amberley’, and used the tune and spirit of the Canadian folk song for his own topical song about Seattle convict Donald White; ‘The Ballad of Donald White’ also appeared in Broadside in 1962. ‘Peter Amberley’ is one of a number of traditional songs – alongside ‘Dink’s Song’, popularised by Dave Van Ronk, and Judy Roderick’s arrangement of ‘Born in the Country’ which Bonnie has re-recorded for her new album. There are two further traditional songs which she has never recorded before, French/Canadian folk song  ‘V’la L’bon Vent’ and the rousing old time band instrumental ‘Sandy Boys’.

Bonnie Dobson began recording in the early 60s, releasing four albums for Prestige, including an album of children’s songs – A Merry Go Round of Children’s Songs – also recording albums for Mercury, RCA, Argo and Polydor during the 60s and 70s as well as collaborating in 1968 with the New Lost City Ramblers on the soundtrack of the film Moving On for the United Transportation Union. Bonnie has always mixed her own songs with traditional material, and often the work of fellow Canadians such as Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia but her compositions have often been overlooked. She revisits some of her finest songs on her new Hornbeam album; ‘I Got Stung’, ‘Rainy Windows’, ‘Winter’s Going’, ‘Come On Dancing’, as well as ‘Morning Dew’, plus a slew of originals recorded for the first time. These include stirring country rocker ‘Southern Bound’, the powerful ‘Who Are These Men?’, a breezy tale of our times ‘Living On Plastic’, and the simple, heart-rending ‘JB’s Song’.

Ambivalent about some of her earlier recordings where the production was given too much of a pop sheen and overly embellished with strings, these recent recordings may be the definitive versions – they certainly sounder fresher and completely modern in the present context, recorded in London with a full band (also her regular live outfit). Her boys include Ben Paley, fiddle, BJ Cole, pedal steel, Ben Phillipson, guitar, Felix Holt, harmonica, Jonny Bridgwood, double bass, Dave Morgan, drums, plus Ruth Tidmarsh, vocals.

It was back in 1969 that Bonnie made her British debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and that same year she moved from Toronto where she’d been living since 1965, to settle permanently in London.  She continued to tour throughout Europe but recorded only intermittently after 1976. Then in 1989, Bonnie played what she thought was to be her final concert in Chicago. She enrolled that year at London University’s Birkbeck College to study Politics, Philosophy and History, going on to become the Head Administrator of the Philosophy Department at Birkbeck. She was coaxed out of retirement for Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown festival in 2007 and these days plays regular live shows with ‘her boys’, her sweet soprano voice sounding warmer, perhaps richer than ever before. “She is still an impressively original lady,” commented Robin Denselow in The Guardian.

For more news about Bonnie and Hornbeam Recordings  visit http://www.hornbeamrecordings.com/

DAN DONNELLY – COUNTRY AND NORTHERN

The long-awaited album from Belfast born singer/songwriter Dan Donnelly is upon us, after a fabulous taster of an EP released a while before his full album to keep his legion of fans happy! Dan has toured extensive with the Levellers, The Oysterband, supported Seth Lakeman on his tours on more than one occasion and has been delighting the British public after moving back here from the States almost 2 years ago.  He has appeared at various Festivals including Beautiful Days, the Big Session and a regular at Glastonbury.

Dan writes his songs from the heart and from experience.  This album is no exception and has a raw quality that extends itself to whoever hears it.  Kicking off the album I was expecting doom and gloom, but as he is now ‘in lurve’ the lovely lady is question as the first song ‘Your Loving Arms’ happy (yes happy) song!  The second track leads into his bit of bad experience and a kind of biography of the last couple of years. Track 4 is a tribute and dedicated ‘In Loving Memory’ to his late friend Paddy McNicholl who sadly died last year.  He believed in Dan tirelessly. Running – Track 5 was selected as a single and is a favourite of most people I know who are Dan fans. Eleven tracks finishing off with Plastic Jesus which has everyone bopping and singing along when at a Festival or venue.

His live performance is a work of art, with his loop foot pedals, skill and talent; he deserves to be up there with the rest.  A really nice guy who loves to talk to people about music, Dan has taught at Exeter’s Academy of Music and knows his craft inside out.  There isn’t much about the music business Dan doesn’t know. With tracks that have been recorded by Sean Lakeman and Phil Johnstone (ex Robert Plant band) and with a who’s who in folk on the album such as Leveller Mark Chadwick and Ben Paley on fiddle, this album is a work of art. Buy this album, and catch him live –  and you won’t be disappointed.  You can purchase the album below or from Dan personally if you are at one of his gigs.

Jean Camp

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.>