The Armistice Pals

armistice pals header non internetEveryone remembers the charity version of ‘Perfect Day’ with its myriad of voices from the pop and rock world.

Let’s hope everyone will also remember the upcoming answer from the Folk World – ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – with a plethora of voices from across the acoustic folk and roots spectrum representing the great and the good, young and the old, seasoned and emerging, all on the same single. The group is called The Armistice Pals and is releasing a fitting tribute to Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year as well as marking the 100 years anniversary of the breakout of the First World War. All profits will be distributed between four peacekeeping charities.

However, perhaps it’s not a perfect world after all and the late Pete Seeger’s classic anti war song, ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’, points a finger at the carnage, supposedly ‘ the war to end all wars’ which tragically mislead us to believe it was worth the sacrifice.  The sacrifice, not only of the lives of those who died, but the resultant desolation and struggle of the loved ones who were left behind. Whole swathes of communities were left bereft of their young men-folk who trustingly signed up into ‘Pals Battalions’, many of whom were never to return, with those who did too often spending lives blighted by the experience.

Armistice Pals is the name of the folk community ‘super band’ who are all performing on this single, which is due out on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014. It was the brain child of Damian Liptrot (manager of folk-rock band Merry Hell), who, as the project expanded, has invited Folkstock’s Helen Meissner on board as co-organiser. The project has attracted over 30 names including Chris and Kellie While, Julie Matthews, Judy Dyble, Christine Collister, Dave Swarbrick, Ray Cooper, Sally Barker, Peter Knight, Boo Hewerdine, Gavin Davenport, Blair Dunlop, Lucy Ward, Ken Nicol, Merry Hell, Luke Jackson and Kelly Oliver. A line up so good that, were it to be a festival, it would undoubtedly be the event of the summer.

The single will be released via the usual digital outlets as well as a physical CD and as a nod to the historical element, a limited edition vinyl 45, on new community label, Folkstock Records.

As this is intended to be a community project, we are inviting Folk Clubs across the country to contribute by organising an ‘Armistice Pals Night’ during the week of the release of the single. This can take any form but should include a collective version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ at some point during the evening, followed by a passing round of the hat to support the Armistice Pals charities.

If you would like to know more about the project, all the artists, the charities and the inspiration can be found at http://www.armisticepals.com or contact us direct via armisticepals@hotmail.co.uk

We hope that you will feel able to enlist and offer your support.

Helen and Damian
for The Armistice Pals

THE ARMISTICE PALS: A FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Attila The Stockbroker (poet/musician and sheer force of nature, whose father survived the Somme).

Billy Mitchell (one time Jack the Lad, ex-Lindisfarne and much else besides).

Blair Dunlop (One of our brightest, youngest singer-songwriters, currently telling tales from the ‘House Of Jacks’, he also found time for a stint in The Albion Band..).

Bob Pegg (Storyteller, singer-songwriter and member of the legendary Mr Fox).

Boo Hewerdine (one time Bible basher, all time songwriting phenomenon).

Chris While and Julie Matthews (singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, award winners in their own right and members of more prestige bands and projects than you can shake a stick at).

Christine Collister (one time She Devil, ex-Daphne’s Flight, much sought collaborator and loved by Q magazine).

Dave Mather & Peter Robinson (singer/songwriters (one of them has written an opera you know), ex-Houghton Weavers, stand up comedy and currently presenters of Salford City radio’s first folk show).

Dave Swarbrick (simply a living legend. As it says on the flyers, ‘needs no introduction’).

Edwina Hayes (multi-million You Tubed singer-songwriter with the ‘sweetest voice in England’).

Eric Bazilian: (Hooter, hitmaking songwriter worldwide for self and others, now he’s One Of Us!).

Flossie Malavialle (multinational singer et chanteuse aussi, gig travelling traffic reporter).

Gavin Davenport (much vaunted solo singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, award winning, ex-Albion band member).

Gren Bartley (the spine tinglingly beautiful guitarist, banjo playing poet).

Helen Watson (Singer/Songwriter, multi genre artist, producer and erstwhile member of Daphne’s Flight, Carmel and Sons of Arqa, as well as taking a great photo).

Johnny Coppin (broadcasting singer-songwriter, ex-Decameron and now sufficiently multi-faceted to be considered a true diamond).

Judy Dyble (singer/songwriter, ex-Fairport, nearly King Crimson and Facebook dog blogger).

Kellie While (singer-songwriter considered to have one of the outstanding voices of her generation, ex-member of The Albion Band and so much else, her arrival makes The Pals a family affair as her mother and sometime singing partner Chris is also involved).

Kelly Oliver (singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist who has taken Boots Of Spanish Leather to places most of us can only dream of).

Ken Nicol: (globetrotting, guitar endorsing, ex-Albion Band and Steeleye Span virtuoso).

Kevin Brennan MP (an accomplished musician, fan of folk music and passionate supporter of live music).

Lavinia Blackwall (the vocalist who is both a Trembling Bell and a Crying Lion).

Linda Simpson (singer/songwriter, ex-Prog/Folk/Rock legends Magna Carta and supplier of some ideas that are so good that I’d like to present them as my own).

Lucy Ward (singer/song writer and possibly the current heart of British Folk Music as she gets played on virtually every folk show I listen to regardless of the other tastes of the presenters!).

Luke Jackson (bright young purveyer of Fumes and Faith).

Merry Hell (8 piece folk-rocking explosion of melody and joy).

Ninebarrow (award-winning, Dorsetshire folk duo).

Patsy Matheson (singer/songwriter, spent time Waking The Witch, now The Domino Girl).

Peter Knight (singer/fiddle player, Gigspanner, Feast of Fiddles, Steeleye and holder of the world record for continuously playing the violin whilst travelling up and down the lift in the Empire State Building).

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers (30 Year veteran of punk-folk luminaries, The Men They Couldn’t Hang).

Ray Cooper (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, ex-Oysterband and now a pearl in his own right).

Richard Ryall (singer/songwriter, member of the band Litmuss and he comes from a land Down Under).

Robb Johnson (Irregular singer/songwriter and social conscience).

Said The Maiden (3 rising doyennes with harmonies the envy of angels).

Sally Barker (folk singer and by popular acclaim, the true winner of The Voice).

Sian James (Singer, writer, harpist, composer, conductor and actress from Wales, a big Armistice pals ‘Creoso’ to her).

In addition, there is also The Pals Chorus, made up of friends and members of several folk clubs who will be recorded together to help swell the voices and to represent the fact that this is a true community project.

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS – Infinite Sky Fat Cat FATCD027

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS Infinite SkyChris While and Julie Matthews have been making music together for twenty years now, first with The Albion Band and currently with St Agnes Fountain as well as solo and as a duo. They make classy records and this, their eighth studio album together, is no exception.

The album opens with the up-tempo, vibrant ‘This Beautiful Life’, a song which could open or close a live set with equal impact. Here it sets the tone of a record which is full of optimism even when the subject might suggest otherwise. Better perhaps to say defiance in the face of catastrophe: Christchurch after the earthquake and 9/11; or stoicism when times are less than perfect. The new Radio Ballads song, ‘Nie Wieder’, about German Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, is the epitome of Julie’s song-writing. There is no triumphalism in her belated honours in her homeland but the statement that ‘nothing cleans the memory’ leaves a deep sense of sadness.

The core band of Howard Lees (some nicely understated lead guitar), Neil Fairclough on bass and drummer Bryan Hargreaves are again in residence with brief guest appearances from Kellie While, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting. With Chris and Julie on acoustic guitars and keyboards the sound is big but never fussy. It can be gentle as on ‘Hope Springs’ or rock like a good ’un as on ‘Broken Crash Barrier’. Infinite Sky is another fine album from Chris and Julie. Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.whileandmatthews.co.uk

St. Agnes Fountain The Twelve Years of Christmas Reviewed!

I’ll just admit it; I’m jealous of those that can celebrate the holiday season with St. Agnes Fountain’s live and newly recorded music “The Twelve Years of Christmas.” In a season filled with holiday albums and tours from artists ranging from Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to Cee Lo Green, the just-released St. Agnes Fountain album is truly a holiday jewel of re-imagined traditional and more contemporary music. Like most jewels, this one is rare. It’s available, for now anyway, only at the Aggies’ concerts, which are only in the U.K. Yet even those that need to wait to purchase copies should not miss the chance.

The quartet – acoustic guitarist, songwriter and author David Hughes, Fairport Convention’s Chris Leslie, and award-winning folk duo Chris While and Julie Matthews – have created a 13-track holiday album that sways from reverent to lighthearted to downright humorous especially on Hughes’ witty “Christmas Thoughts and Prayers,” a true hoot. But overall, the collection is as warm and intimate as a cup of cocoa on a cold winter night.

It’s a fair bet that the acoustic version of the J.S. Bach classic “In Dulci Jubilo” will rightly receive the most notice from critics and fans. Yet other songs – notably the breathtakingly beautiful “All Through the Night” that features Chris Leslie’s haunting, angelic lead vocals – are equally deserving of rich acclaim. Other don’t miss tracks include Beth Nielsen Chapman’s elegant “There’s Still My Joy,” and the joyful “Ding Dong Merrily on High.”

Indeed, this album is just another reminder of why St. Agnes Fountains deservedly carry the “super group” moniker though they speak to individual listener’s hearts.

Nancy Dunham

Tour dates link: http://www.whileandmatthews.co.uk/tour.php

Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys TWO FINE DAYS

“The Birmingham-based, Young Folk Awards-nominated duo’s free-spirited music sounds centuries old. It’s not, and their fresh guitar and violin set-up adds a rare sparkle to traditional hues.” Q Magazine

Jack and Charlie’s well-known idiosyncratic approach to folk music and song writing has earned them an enviable reputation as two of the most exciting, heartfelt and challenging musicians around. Writing songs that seem to grow out of the ground and tunes that tell stories in their own right, Jack and Charlie’s original music strings together the past, present and what might yet be of folk music. Their first two albums on Fellside, Light Up all the Beacons and The Northern Road followed them as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, and were met with critical acclaim; their fresh and compelling sound inspiring audiences up and down the country and being described in The Sunday Times as “real folk – not nu-folk, folktronica, or some other apologetically named subgenre – and it doesn’t seem to need reinventing.”

All the music and songs take inspiration from ever-changing landscapes, people and common traditions of hope, fear, love and home. Still feeling inspired and at the start of a growing musical career their enthusiasm resonates with an audience hungry for something new and exciting. For their new album TWO FINE DAYS the duo are joined by Hannah Phillips on Scottish harp (TMSA Young Trad Award Finalist), Sean Law on Double Bass and the renowned percussionist Tom Chapman (The Old Dance School, The Urban Folk Quartet, Chris While and Julie Matthews).

Expanding their musical language, creating beautiful and memorable textures while cooking up an instrumental, breaking storm, Jack and Charlie have come a long way since the folk awards; their live shows are packed with stories, good humour and most importantly, music to remember.

When it comes to the songs on TWO FINE DAYS who better to describe the story behind the songs than Jack McNeill himself; “Debatable Lands is about the bloody history concerning the people who lived in the border lands between England and Scotland. Much has been written and sung about this subject before where for 300 years families were subjected to brutal attacks from both sides, but perhaps the greatest harm would be inflicted upon each other. I was brought up with these stories and this song looks at the worrying question of why rather than unite at such times, people will sometimes destroy each other. In For the Want, ‘A kingdom was lost, all for the want of a nail’… a well-known story about small actions (or lack of) and their large consequences. In this song it’s the kingdom of friendship that is rescued by the knowledge that no-one is free of blame when things go wrong. You’ll find pieces of ‘seaglass’ all over this country’s coastline, bits of glass that have been tossed and tumbled in the waves to finally be thrown back to shore. The idea behind the song ‘Seaglass’ is that sometimes this process of breaking, produces unexpectedly beautiful things. The tune in the middle is called ‘left-boot clog’, it was written remembering a story about a relative of mine who fell overboard and was later identified by his two left shoes which had been hurriedly snatched up, unchecked after a period of time on shore. The title track is of course Two Fine Days. It’s often said that there can be a few small events which can change a whole life, that when we look back on the people, words and decisions shaping where we are now, the ones that really counted are few but unforgettable. Two Fine Days are just that.

For more information and the latest tour dates, please visit:
www.fellside.com

“Undeniably impressively talented…thoughtful and intelligent songs…brimful of interest and promise…this album will turn out to be rather a grower.” fRoots

“Delivered with commitment and passion, these highly descriptive sound-stories are beautifully set against [Jack’s] understated, melodic guitar playing and Charlie’s perfectly judged fiddle accompaniments.” R2 magazine

Adrian Nation FALL OR FLY

A talented, committed musician in his youth, Adrian Nation described his first compositions as “the ramblings of a searching teenager”. He may ramble less these days, but his search continues, and he has evolved into one of the most insightful and incisive songwriters of his generation.
Influenced at an early age by the genius of Bob Dylan and the melodic fluidity of Mark Knopfler’s haunting guitar, Adrian’s teenage eyes and ears were truly opened when the late Isaac Guillory “played the guitar like I had never seen.” Reflecting on this experience Adrian says, “Suddenly the acoustic guitar was a much bigger instrument than I ever thought it could be. My mind was set.” 
In 2003 Adrian released his first solo work, the critically acclaimed SOWING SEEDS, a collection of ten self-composed songs packaged with beautiful artwork. Would Adrian fall prey to the ‘difficult second album syndrome’ certainly not, an ambitious work by any standards, Adrian has enlisted Chris West to produce the follow-up FALL OR FLY.
Chris’s recent credits include Richard Ashcroft’s platinum-selling KEYS TO THE WORLD. Referring to the project Chris West said, “It’s not often you discover an artist that has the three S’s for success: Songs, Singing and Serious Musicianship. Once you let yourself be charmed by his music, you are hooked.”
The sheer quality of the contributors speaks volumes: Gerry Conway on drums (Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens and Fairport Convention), bassist Brad Lang (Ray Charles, Robbie Williams, Elkie Brooks, Barbara Dickson amongst many), guitarist Colin Linden (celebrated producer of Bruce Cockburn, in-demand Nashville based session player) and Troy Donockley who supplies low whistles & Uillean Pipes (internationally renowned player with Midge Ure, Barbara Dickson and Status Quo).
Amongst those fortunate enough to hear the album during production, Mike Paxman (Judie Tzuke’s writing partner and Status Quo producer) exudes “As soon as you hear the first few bars of ‘Don’t Turn Away’ you are aware that you are in the company of a great songwriter.” and when speaking of Song To Maria Mike Paxman goes further to point out: “For me, the beautiful and evocative ‘Song To Maria’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard in years.” The Other Side Of The Night (Song To Maria) is a true highlight on the album and along with Brightest Star are two of the most emotional songs I have heard in a long, long time, highlighting the true art of the songwriter to perfectly capture the moment. Pivotal to all of this however, is the sublime guitar and voice of Adrian Nation. He is the central pillar around which these performances sit, and the songs are the very foundations upon which the superb FALL OR FLY stands.
Adrian Nation is constantly on the road performing his heartfelt songs at clubs and festivals the length and breadth of the British Isles as well as the rest of Europe, in fact he has just returned from playing the second of two 2010 tours of Greece.

For the latest information and tour news please visit the websites , http://www.laburnumbridge.co.uk/ 

“If you want to hear great vocals and songs accompanied by blistering guitar then go and see Adrian Nation live” Chris While