Chris Leslie Cropredy 2019 Interview

Darren Beech with Chris Leslie
Paul Johnson

Well, as we always say, it would not be Cropredy without our annual Chris Leslie interview.

Darren Beech and Paul Johnson tracked Mr. Leslie down on the Friday, luckily just before he was about to do a runner in the pink buggy to go off and do a gig with the ‘Banana Splits’.

In the interview, we talk about how the act of walking fuels the art of song-writing, the process of writing the ‘what Chris Leslie has been up to piece’ for the Cropredy programme each year and how this year’s article conjured up the visions and words of the John Tams version of Ewan MacColl’s ‘The Manchester Rambler’.

We also talk about the ‘Fairport Extension’ set, why Fairport are the best backing band in the world, the much loved and dearly missed Maart, we revisit the 25th Anniversary 1992 Cropredy year and remember when Robert Plant played a very special set as part of that celebration.

The interview should start playing automatically, if not click on the play button below to listen.

Artist’s website: http://www.chrislesliemusic.co.uk/

John Jones Interview + June Tabor & Oysterband Oct/ Nov Tour Dates

John Jones

Paul Johnson and Darren Beech catch up with John Jones after Oysterband closed the Saturday night of New Forest Folk Festival 2019.

We talk about the closing set on the Saturday night, the wonderful crowd singing and how they embraced the show, setting a festival record with the most people standing and making ‘one’ audience.

We discuss the anthem songs like a ‘A River Runs, Everywhere I Go, We Could Leave Right Now’, what effect they have on people and how the audience has come to create the refrain.

John discusses the recent Danish Folk Prize Award and we chat about how the band has been embraced by Europe over the years.

We talk about the June Tabor and Oysterband – ‘Fire and Fleet’ 15 date tour in October and November and John also hints of a new Oysterband song that is due to be released soon based to an Ian Telfer Lyric.

The interview should start playing automatically, if not click on the play button below to listen.

Artist’s website: http://www.oysterband.co.uk/


UK TOUR DATES 2019 – June Tabor and Oysterband.

THU 24 OCTOBER — NORWICH OPEN

FRI 25 OCTOBER — BRISTOL ST GEORGE’S

SAT 26 OCTOBER — SALISBURY CITY HALL

SUN 27 OCTOBER — LEICESTER DE MONTFORT HALL

WED 30 OCTOBER — CARDIFF TRAMSHED

THU 31 OCTOBER — SOUTHPORT ATKINSON

FRI 01 NOVEMBER — LEEDS TOWN HALL

SAT 02 NOVEMBER — THE GATESHEAD SAGE

SUN 03 NOVEMBER — WARWICK ARTS CENTRE

FRI 08 NOVEMBER — MANCHESTER RNCM

SAT 09 NOVEMBER — CLITHEROE GRAND

TUE 12 NOVEMBER — CHELTENHAM TOWN HALL

WED 13 NOVEMBER — EXETER TOWN HALL

THU 14 NOVEMBER — ISLINGTON UNION CHAPEL

FRI 15 NOVEMBER — SEVENOAKS STAG THEATRE

Peter Knight Interview + Gigspanner Big Band Tour Dates

Paul Johnson and Darren Beech caught up with Peter Knight after Gigspanner Big Band closed the Friday night of New Forest Folk Festival 2019.

We talk to Peter about the early days of Gigspanner, how the idea came about,  Peter’s ethos for music, what he looks for in his musical relationships and how he approaches his new projects since Steeleye Span.

There is a very funny interlude, when the one and only Hugh Crabtree makes an appearance with a bottle of wine. We also talk to Peter’s about John Spiers, how the partnership came together, Peter’s workshops and the Gigspanner Big Band.

The interview should start playing automatically, if not click on the play button below to listen.

Artist’s website: https://www.peterknight.net/

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Gigspanner Big Band Wells

Wednesday 27th November 2019

The Gigspanner Big Band The Apex, Bury St Edmunds

The Gigspanner Big Band N. Yorks

Thursday 28th November 2019

The Gigspanner Big Band Helmsley Arts Centre, Helmsley, N Yorks

The Gigspanner Big Band Settle

Friday 29th November 2019

The Gigspanner Big Band Victoria Hall, Settle

The Gigspanner Big Band Hexham

Saturday 30th November 2019

The Gigspanner Big Band The Queen’s Hall, Hexham

The Gigspanner Big Band Saltaire

Sunday 1st December 2019

The Gigspanner Big Band The Live Room, Saltaire

Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Columbia)

Tucson Train Bruce Springsteen
Photo credit: Rob Demartin

Released today, Western Stars is Bruce Springsteen’s 19th studio album. A beautiful sweeping soundscape, which for me musically, conjures up the image of a rancher looking out over a large expanse of a Western dusty land. Stallions gently whicker to the sound of a transistor radio, playing sweeping Southern California pop records from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Its beautifully laid back, with themes of distance, travel, dusty highways, reflection and wanderlust. The opening track ‘Hitch Hikin’ gets under the skin of that ‘rolling stone’ spirit that Springsteen does so well, the characters that pick him up, the observations that are made along the way. Like the photos and mementos from a loved one on the dashboard or hanging from the rear-view mirror. The stories that are told on the ride, by the different faces of the drivers and the appreciation shared for the vehicle which bonds the strangers in some connected way.

‘The Wayfarer’ follows with itchy feet and a strings section to put distance between this town and the next, a tale of night travel when most are at rest, the ‘wheels hissing up the highway spinning round and round’ and dreams of moving on ‘When I go to sleep, I can’t count sheep for the white lines in my head’. There is a sense of longing and looking for that ‘one that got away’ as brass heralds the call for what is longingly missing as organ fades out.

Things then pick up a pace as the clicking percussion wheels on the tracks lead in to ‘Tucson Train’ with horn section announcing its arrival. Its probably the most ‘what you would expect a Springsteen track to sound like’ one on the album but then again, Western Stars is not your typical Springsteen album which makes it special. It’s a song of regret and ‘fighting hard over nothing’ and perhaps reconciliation is in the narrative as the words ‘my baby is coming in on the Tucson Trainsuggest.

Somewhere North of Nashville’ with its stripped back feel could have fitted well on The Ghost of Old Tom Joad album as it tries to recall that misplaced melody, somewhere down that lost highway, tallying up all the things that could have been done differently or better. As I said earlier, Springsteen digs lyrically deep on this record and perhaps there is no better example than ‘Stones’. Family and relationship, emotionally delivered ‘I woke up this morning with stones in my mouth – you said those were only the lies you told me’, just fantastic, interlaced with pining Orchestral strings.

“This record is a return to my solo recordings featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements,” says Springsteen. “It’s a jewel box of a record.”

The 13 tracks of Western Stars were recorded chiefly at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey, with additional recording in California and New York. Ron Aniello produced Western Stars with Springsteen and the album was mixed by Tom Elmhirst with contributions from more than 20 other players.

A many faceted, sublime body of work from the ‘Boss’, evoking a Nashville tinged sadness of nostalgia, mystery love, distance, the road and endless highways and cinematic open desert spaces. Its sweeping range of American themes are musically set to orchestral arrangements of strings, horns and pedal steel and grounded in themes of seclusion, community, home, hard work, family and hope. Its a real treasure to be treasured.

Darren Beech

‘Western Stars’ track listing…

  1. Hitch Hikin’
  2. The Wayfarer
  3. Tucson Train
  4. Western Stars
  5. Sleepy Joe’s Café
  6. Drive Fast (The Stuntman)
  7. Chasin’ Wild Horses
  8. Sundown
  9. Somewhere North of Nashville
  10. Stones
  11. There Goes My Miracle
  12. Hello Sunshine
  13. Moonlight Motel

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The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop + Skeggy Interview

I sit here two weeks after The Great British Folk Festival with a Whitstable Bay Organic Ale in hand and I’m in good company as I have the new The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop vinyl spinning on my turntable.

The album has made quite a journey from when it was first given to me by the band back stage after the interview we did in the early hours of Sunday 2nd December. The vinyl started its journey on top of a pizza box as Cush insisted it came along to the Oysterband back stage gathering (The MEN were playing on REDS stage outside of the Skyline Pavilion and Oysterband were in the Centre Stage complex and on at the same time). Like us, the new album couldn’t find its way there either as everything was locked up.  It took 20 minutes in the rain with TMTCH in tow to realise that the best destination was now 109 Gull Court in The Keys area of Butlins Skeggy. This was the place where the album, the half-eaten pizza’s, The MEN and us hangers-on could be reunited with some more alcohol. However, not all of us made it to 109 Gull Court as the pizza was offloaded on to Simon Care who happened to be wandering past at 2am in the morning on his way to bed.

Anyway, I digress… so let’s get back to the fantastic new album and that late-night folking TMTCH interview.

Cook-A-Hoop has thirteen tracks, two instrumentals, and eleven songs, five written by Paul Simmonds, three by Swill and three by Cush. Cook-A-Hoop is both minimalist and musically expansive.

The songs start with ‘Sirens’, with revolution and a call to arms Pogue-MEN-Style followed by an escapism tale imagined at the speed of an ‘Arrow’ flight. Then a tremolo panther prowls, like a young Bobby Seale and gives his greeting by way of Sunday Soul ‘Salutations’ with trumpet heralding in the arrival of Marvin.

Next, ‘Three Ships Sailing’ haul away, plundering oceans, flying colours with far of canon-shot drum beat judging distance. While half the world is living on ‘Pone’, the unleavened maize bread, this rocking song with mental saxophone and growling vocals shoves it down your throat and reminds us that some people don’t have a choice.

Mantle then shrouds the tale of ‘The Queen of Crows’ who surveys the night to gentle pining fiddle. We journey then to the city of the ‘Archangel’, riding on camels, playing snake charmer grooves, telling tales of devils, demons and shotgun shacks.

Finally, Cush gives us a ‘Kings Street Serenade’ in green bomber jacket, and tight drainpipe trousers. A homage to the glory days of Joe Strummer, Pogue Mohon and being in heaven.

So, to sum the album up… Right Time, Right Place, Right Song. All packaged up in ‘The Amazing Carrier Bag’ of broken dreams and Brexit chaos.

Yes, its classic MEN, so if you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not yet, then you are in for a treat as it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the rest of the back catalogue of 9 studio albums and over 139 songs.

Paul Simmonds has songs pouring out of him at the moment and Swill and Cush are on top song writing form. So, strap yourself in, fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a TMTCH Cock-A-Hoop roller coaster of a ride of an album. The MEN continue to be, not just a band of brothers who have stuck together for 35 years through thick and thin but also a group that have survived their time and forged a new  musical strength out of the political, blood, sweat and tears of their glorious musical past.

However, the biggest revelation of all is that Swill wished he had written Bat out of Hell!

Darren Beech

Here is the interview that Paul Johnson and Darren Beech recorded with TMTCH after the show.

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Artists’ website: https://www.tmtch.co.uk/

Here is the video from the Gosport and Fareham Festival in 2008 that we mentioned in the interview.

Winter Union Bring December Tour Tidings of Comfort & Joy

Winter Union

Well they say Christmas is a special time of year for a Winter Union, when magical things happen, and this year’s Great British Folk Festival is no exception.

There was Darren and I merrily covering this year’s Skegness outing and we happened across Winter Union, a wonderful, hugely talented ‘folk super group’ and all round lovely bunch of chums from the folk scene, who treated us to a fantastic opening afternoon festive set on ‘REDS stage’ yesterday.

Winter Union comprises of Ben Savage, Katriona Gilmore, Jade Rhiannon, Hannah Saunders and Jamie Roberts, who are now in their 4th year as a festive get together.

This was the first date of their 2018 December tour. They played a stunning festive set, mixing traditional Christmas songs with an added blue grass lilt. Darren and I could not let this amazing sleigh ride pass us by without hopping on for an after gig chat in the bar. We also explored Ben Savage’s (or babe as I called him in a text typo) tale of ‘Christmas Ball Balls’.

Paul Johnson

This is what they had to say…..

Artist Website: https://www.facebook.com/winterunion/