Brendan Gleeson, Imelda May, Abigail Washburn, David Gray and Kate Rusby To Join Dervish For A Very Special Evening Of Irish Folk Music
Dervish are delighted to announce that they will be joined by multi instrumentalists and top session musicians, Graham Henderson (Sinead O Connor band / Fairground Attraction/ Moving Hearts) and Seamie O Dowd (Christy Moore band and a long list of others) for their big 30th anniversary show at The Palladium on Thursday September 19th. The eight-piece Dervish have been in rehearsals in Sligo and the band are very excited about how the music is sounding. The set list for the show will have many surprises on the night.
Dervish will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ceremony, to be held at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on Wednesday 16 October 2019 as part of the Manchester Folk Festival.
Dervish have been bringing Irish traditional music to the world for 30 years, and have played at festivals across the globe – from Rock In Rio to Glastonbury. The band features some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians, and is fronted by one of the country’s best-known and most beloved singers, Cathy Jordan.
Shane Mitchell from Dervish says: “We are thrilled and so delighted to be receiving this very special honour at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, particularly as this is the 30th anniversary of the band.”
Dervish release The Great Irish Songbook on April 12th. I don’t really need to say very much more to persuade anyone to give this a listen. But, since that would be a rather short review, I will do.
The Band – Dervish have been playing Irish traditional music for nearly thirty years – in festivals as large as Rock In Rio (to an estimated quarter of a million people) or sessions as small as those in Sligo pubs where they still enjoy playing. They have a line-up which includes some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians, fronted by one of the country’s best-known singers in Cathy Jordan. They’re renowned for live performances, dazzling sets of tunes and stunning interpretations of traditional songs.
The Music – Where would you start in choosing thirteen songs for an album called The Great Irish Songbook? How about ‘The Rambling Irishman’, ‘There’s Whiskey In The Jar’ and ‘Molly Malone’? These are the first three tracks on the album – all of them, I suspect, not only familiar to fans of Irish music but to anyone who has even a passing interest in listening to any kind music. Nor does the selection go downhill thereafter. Given the nature of this album, it’s probably worth listing the other tracks: ‘The Galway Shawl’, ‘She Moved Through the Fair’, ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’, ‘Down By The Sally Gardens’, ‘On Raglan Road’, ‘Donal Og’, ‘The Fields Of Athenry’, ‘The May Morning Dew’, ‘The West Coast Of Clare’, finishing with (really, despite the Scottish claims to the song, what else would you chose?) ‘The Parting Glass’.
The Guests – The publicity for the album says “In assembling their line-up of featured guests, Dervish reached out to the many artists with whom they’ve bonded over a shared passion for Irish folk, then called on each musician to select their most cherished song within the genre. Recorded mainly at The Magic Room in Sligo, the finished product finds each collaborator imbuing the album with their own distinct sensibilities while lovingly upholding the time-honored character of the songs.” The guests on this album are a fine set of singers and players in their own right. They include: Steve Earle, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Brendan Gleeson, Imelda May, Andrea Corr, Jamey Johnson, Kate Rusby, The Steeldrivers, Abigail Washburn, David Gray. They build on Dervish’s sound and, as Shakespeare might have it, their “friendship makes us fresh”.
I’ve enjoyed listening to this album, initially superficially but then much more closely. Firstly I’ve listened to the musicianship and the fresh approach to songs I’ve known for a while and, secondly, I realised I didn’t really know the history to many of these songs and have spent time researching them with the album playing at the same time. Some are newer than I’d realised, some much older. All give an insight into the history of Ireland, its music and, in some cases, its poetry.
If you’re well versed in the Irish tradition, this is a great album for hearing some different takes on songs – the video link below, for example, takes you to ‘The West Coast Of Clare’ and features David Gray. If you want to introduce yourself or someone else to The Great Irish Songbook, it’s a pretty good starting point.
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David Gray released his new album, Gold In A Brass Age, last week – his first album of new material in four years and his eleventh in a career that has now spanned 25 years. The album is currently number 21 in the Album Chart and a single, ‘The Sapling’, has been released. From the video of the single, below, you can hear that Gray’s voice is as compelling as it was twenty years ago when he part-ruled both album and singles charts. It’s neither urgent, nor whispered nor gravelled but has elements of all these and draws you inexorably into the songs.
Gray describes creating the new album, “I was keen to get away from narrative. Instead of writing melodies, I looked for phrases with a natural cadence, so that the rhythm began with the words. I reimagined where a song might spring from and what form it could take”. As an album, this approach works well, the sophistication of the production blending the songs together, though, it does mean that – apart from the delight of ‘The Sapling’ – the individuality of songs can be lost to the coherence of the album whole.
On her live album Joni Mitchell talks about how early work continues to live on because the performing arts are different from painting (“Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man’ “). In a review of a new album, how far should Gray’s earlier work be mentioned as it stands like a dragon in the gate to anything that follows? Perhaps in relation to his touring? Gold In A Brass Age is supported by a UK and Ireland tour, from March 15th to April 6th, and I can imagine the rich sound of this album working well in these larger venues. I’ve just flicked between the new album and some of Gray’s songs from White Ladder – ‘The Sapling’ in particular stands comparison but other tracks won’t be out of place. Scroll down on Gray’s website and you can find the tour details.
In thinking about the wider arts, it’s worth saying that the album cover is rather striking. Gray sought out a tattoo artist (London Boy) and the gold/black artwork (above) shows an Emperor moth with the London skyline captured in its wingspan. If you look out other tracks from the album on YouTube – ‘A Tight Ship’ or ‘Watching the Waves’, say – you’ll find the artwork has also been turned into elegant videos.
How to sum up? Gold In A Brass Age is a mature album by a notable artist which I’ve enjoyed listening to. It’s rather classy – but that, of course, might just be the point being made by the album’s title.
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At this years 2015 Radio 2 Folk Awards, Lifetime Achievements went to the legendary “Peace Trained” musician Yusuf / Cat Stevens and Grammy Award-winning “double lifetime” artist Loudon Wainwright III.
Ewan MacColl was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame exists to recognise the special contribution of an individual to the world of folk music; someone whose impact and influence has had a lasting impression.
Meredydd Evans is the 2015 recipient of The Good Tradition Award. The award is given to a person, group or organisation for their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and continuance/progression of traditional music over a number of years.
BEST DUO WINNERS – Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker
Nominations: Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker O’Hooley & Tidow Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar Chris While & Julie Matthews
BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK WINNER – Samhradh Samhradh – The Gloaming
Nominations: Bedlam – Stick In The Wheel Handsome Molly – The Furrow Collective Manus Mo Rùin – Cruinn Samhradh Samhradh – The Gloaming
HORIZON AWARD WINNERS – The Rails
Nominations: Ange Hardy Maz O’Connor Stick In The Wheel The Rails
BEST ORIGINAL SONG WINNERS – Swim To The Star – Peggy Seeger/Calum MacColl (performed by Peggy Seeger)
Nominations: Swim To The Star – Peggy Seeger/Calum MacColl (performed by Peggy Seeger) The Necklace Of Wrens – Michael Hartnett (performed by The Gloaming) The Pitmen Poets – Jez Lowe The Spider And The Wolf – Paul Simmonds (performed by Naomi Bedford)
BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD WINNERS – Talisk
Nominations: Cup O’Joe Roseanne Reid Talisk Wildwood Kin
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR WINNER – Sam Sweeney
Nominations: Martin Green Will Pound Sam Sweeney Kathryn Tickell
BEST ALBUM WINNER – Tincian by 9Bach
Nominations: Fair Warning – The Rails Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour – Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker Sweet Visitor – Nancy Kerr The Moral Of The Elephant – Martin & Eliza Carthy Tincian – 9Bach
BEST GROUP WINNERS – The Young ‘Uns
Nominations: Bellowhead The Furrow Collective The Gloaming The Young ‘Uns
FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR WINNER – Nancy Kerr
Nominations: Cara Dillon Julie Fowlis Nancy Kerr Jez Lowe
David Gray is just about to release his new album Mutineers on June 30 through iht Records via Kobalt Label Services. Thisrelease will be Gray’s tenth studio album and his first in four years.
To coincide with Mutineers, Gray is currently touring the UK again for the first time in three years. Theheadline tour started at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on June 23 and Londoners were treated to a performance at theRoyal Albert Hall on Tuesday. The dates follow a run of sold-out US shows across April and May and three sold-out intimate shows earlier this year at Westminster’s Emmanuel Centre.
Gray has unveiled the video for ‘Gulls’ below which was the first track from Mutineers to be streamed ahead of release.
Recorded in Church Studios, London and produced by Andy Barlow (Lamb), whose brief was to not let Gray “make the same record I’ve made before.” The result is an album that seems to fizz with the joy of its own assembly and finds Gray steering into unfamiliar territory while cultivating a pugnacious but respectful relationship with his own history. “I know I’ve done something here that has an authority that is inspiring me and I don’t have to worry about my past or any of that. The lovely thing about this is we’ve had the time to experiment, and it’s been wonderful,” says Gray.
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David Gray captured the world’s attention with his breakout multi-platinum hit White Ladder, the first of three No.1 UK albums, earning him both Brit and Grammy nominations. He has continued to build on this success, with recent albums Draw The Line (2009) and Foundling (2010), both reaching the Billboard Top 10 in the US.