VARIOUS ARTISTS – 1989 Newport Folk Festival (Air Cuts AC3CD8060)

NewportHats off to the Air Cuts label for this box-set of the Ben & Jerry’s 1989 Newport Folk Festival – a near 30 year old recording, made to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the original 1959 event. While in many ways, this release harks back to the boxed editions of Newport Folk Festival recordings released on the Vanguard label back in the day, one of the most striking things about this set is the sheer completeness of it.

Indeed, it, quite noticeably, captures the ethos of Newport; fusing the old and new, while showcasing the variety of styles which the ‘folk music’ banner has to offer. Furthermore, while it would have been easy to cherry-pick the event’s best bits for one single record, we instead get three discs, each boasting a generous portion of live sets from the Festival’s contemporary headliners; along with a handful of stand-alone tracks from (then) up and coming talents and folk music royalty.

Disc one begins strongly, with a six track set from John Hiatt, featuring Ry Cooder on ‘Lipstick Sunset’. Very soon, we are given a taste of the vastness of the Newport soundscape; being presented with ragtimey numbers by Leon Redbone, a Russian Gypsy song – sung in Yiddish – by Theodore Bikel and the Cajun-influenced sounds of Buckwheat Zydeco. Interspersed among this, is one of the entire album’s standout tracks; ‘Mill Town’ by Cormack McCarthy, recorded on the Workshop stage for “today’s rising folk singers”. Disc two’s highlights include blazing sets from Laura Nyro and BB King, as well as shorter contributions from the Clancy Brothers and Odetta. The third and final disc employs a similar format and once again, (sizable and enjoyable) sets follow from John Prine and Emmylou Harris, along with a slightly shorter contribution from John Lee Hooker, while Pete Seeger closes both the Festival and the album with ‘Old Time Religion’ and ‘Sailing Up, Sailing Down’.

As a true reflection of Newport, this album is almost as accurate as it gets; something which most live festival-type recordings fail to express, let alone in quite so much depth. It is a really is a great set and whether it provides a re-visit of familiar material in a different setting, or an all-out introduction to completely unheard works, it is a very welcome release, and I hope, it is just one of many such sets to be issued by Air Cuts.

Christopher James Sheridan

Label website:

‘Lipstick Sunset’ – John Hiatt with Ry Cooder:

Mike Donaghy releases I Wish You Well

Mike Donaghy has been making a name for himself in Ireland and the UK ever since releasing his first EP “January Never Came This Year” back in 2009. The blend of his music and songwriting creates a very unique sound, occasionally being linked to folk, Americana and bluegrass.

Mike grew up listening to the sounds of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, The Beatles and Van Morrison. He was fortunate to be part of a musical family, and reside in a home that was never short of instruments; his father working as a TV producer and director, and more importantly, on music shows!

He remembers vividly sitting round the fire joining in and learning songs with such legends as the Clancy Brothers, June Tabor, Ralph McTell, Kieran Goss, Sonny Curtis and long time friends the Sands Family.

Mike left school with a passion for music, a handful of songs and a vision which would send him into the music business. It’s what he wanted to do and he did. ‘His writing has a great sense of place and it paints a very clear picture. His stories are steeped in emotion, honesty and humour’ (Tommy Sands).

His on stage instrumentation stems from his passion for music and his eagerness to learn all types of music. At present, Mike plays guitar, piano, mandolin, lap steel, pedal steel, banjo, ukulele and saxophone. He has been a professional musician for five years and spends most of his spare time writing songs.

Since beginning his musical career he has gained many credits, including a top ten in the folk download chart in New Jersey in 2010 and numerous appearances in the Irish download chart, as well as writing music for film and TV.

In 2011 his song ‘Brighter Days’ was used as a United Nations peace song and from there Mike and the band went on to perform at the World Peace Concert in Dublin during December of that year. Later this year they will play at another World Peace concert to be held in Rome.

2012 will be a busy year for Mike, with an Irish tour in preparation followed by a full European schedule.

Mike currently performs the length and breadth of Ireland, as well as the UK and Europe, primarily with his band ‘Mike Donaghy & Border Crossing’. His debut Album entitled ‘I Wish You Well’ was released in Ireland in September 2011 and created a great buzz amongst radio stations, record and publishing companies. For the first time it is now available outside Ireland and available to order from Amazon link below. Mike is donating his earnings from the album to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.


Mike Donaghy: Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin/Piano/Drums Jody Headley: Backing Vocals Brian McClean: Backing Vocals/WhistlesRichard Hodgen: Drums/Percussion Nick Scott: Bass Guitar/Drums/Percussion Rik Gay: Drums/Percussion Ivan McLernon: Dobro/Pedal Steel.