Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon: Deluxe Two-Disc Edition UMC/Island August 26th 2013

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Deluxe EditionFolking has just had word of the new deluxe edition of Fairport Convention’s fabulous 1975 recording, Rising For The Moon, an album that marked the only studio recording with Sandy Denny and the band members since her return to the group in 1974.

In 1969, the “classic” Fairport line-up recorded and released three albums (What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, Liege & Lief) all within a single year. At the end of that frenetic period, Sandy  quit the band to form Fotheringay, This again was short-lived as Sandy soon embarked on a distinguished solo career (some of these albums have also been released as Deluxe Edition series) before being drawn back into Fairport fold. She ‘officially’ re-joined in February 1974 during a four night stint at LA’s Troubadour club. A remarkable live recording of this legendary shows form part of this new release released and can be found on the second disc on this new edition of Rising For The Moon.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band PromoIt was 26 January 1974, when Fairport became the first rock band to play the Sydney Opera House, the Nine album line-up (featuring: Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Trevor Lucas, and Jerry Donahue) had been augmented by Sandy Denny, who was now married to Lucas.  The result was the ground breaking Fairport Live Convention album (released in America as A Moveable Feast) which confirmed how much the band had benefited from having Sandy back on board. Then only weeks later, Sandy was fully integrated into the band again and the LA Troubadour dates present a Fairport that was at the top of its game. As was often the case with Fairport’s luck in the seventies, the band’s perilous financial situation meant that they couldn’t afford to purchase the tapes from Wally Heider’s Mobile organisation. Over the years, odd selections trickled out but it was only on the 2010 definitive 19 CD Sandy Denny box-set that the tracks featuring Sandy were properly mixed to their natural audible glory. Now, with additional performances by Trevor Lucas and Dave Swarbrick included, fans can enjoy this brief but memorable line-up at its absolute best.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band ColourThe set list at the Troubadour is also unusual in that it was substantially different to the songs performed on Fairport Live Convention. In fact the recording features several songs that the band have never performed again including: Trevor Lucas’ ‘Ballad Of Ned Kelly’ originally on the ‘Fotheringay’ album, and ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’ (Trevor had sung background vocals on the original version on Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight). Sandy performs a passionate version of Dylan’s ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ and her own ‘Crazy Lady Blues’ performed here with an added verse and, dipping into the Fairport back-catalogue, with a haunting ‘She Moves Through The Fair’.

Further highlights include ‘Solo’ and ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz’ from Sandy’s third album, and a spirited cover of Dylan’s ‘Down In The Flood’. Swarb delivers an effortless version of the ‘The Hens March through the Midden’ and a spirited break-necked performance of ‘The Hexamshire Lass’. Sandy’s signature ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ is there in all its majesty as well as a definite version of ‘Matty Groves’. The band also rocks out on ‘Six Days On The Road’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’.

With Sandy back in the band, Island Records made a greater commitment to Fairport’s next studio recording and, to that end, Glyn Johns was brought in as producer for Fairport’s 10th studio album. Johns’ pedigree was impeccable: Rolling Stones, Beatles, the Who, the Eagles… and was emphatic that he wanted the new sessions to include only original material with no covers or traditional material.

The album was recorded at Olympic Studios in two blocks. The first sessions began in December 1974, but during a break in January, Dave Mattacks quit and was replaced by ex-Grease Band drummer Bruce Rowland, who played on the remaining tracks and stayed on for the tours following the album release in June 1975.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band MonoThe album included songs from all members of the band although seven of the album’s eleven tracks were penned in whole or partly by Sandy. Johns made them rehearse the new material, then sifted through to find the best and, on many levels, Rising For The Moon was indeed a triumph. Sandy is in fine vocal form; the band gels instrumentally and songs like the title track, ‘Stranger To Himself’ and ‘One More Chance’ (featuring blistering guitar from Jerry Donahue) are among Fairport’s best ever. Swarb’s ‘White Dress’ was sufficiently strong and was chosen as the album’s only 7” single.

Even Sandy – though happy with the finished album – recognised that the financial and personal strain it had put on the band made a split inevitable and by the end of 1975 guitarist Jerry Donahue and then Sandy and Trevor decided to leave the group. The original Rising For The Moon is now ripe for reappraisal whereas at the time it raised the question was it a Sandy Denny album or a Fairport album? Of course it’s both and, whichever way you look at it, it is one of Fairport’s and Sandy’s best and most underrated records.

Now enriched on this Deluxe edition by 21 additional tracks – including; a beautiful, previously unreleased performance of ‘White Dress’ (discovered in the LWT archive), an alternate mix of ‘Dawn’; a studio demo with Sandy and Trevor of ‘What Is True’; plus Sandy’s home demos of ‘After Halloween’, and ‘King And Queen Of England’, the latter written for the album but never recorded.

The album reviews at the time were largely positive. The Guardian judged the album “their best for six years… it ought to re-establish Fairport as a significant British band.” In the end it wasn’t to be; the rigours of touring and financial problems essentially drove the band to split. A truncated Fairport went on to record their final album for Island, Gottle O’ Gear, and in 1976, Jerry Donahue went off to work with Joan Armatrading; Trevor went on to produced Sandy’s 1977 album, Rendezvous; but within a year Sandy was dead and the folk scene lost its greatest heroine. Despite her solo success, the Sandy many of her admirers remember with most fondness is the lady who fronted Fairport Convention during their glory years. So here then, are the beautiful songs she wrote and the music she made with the band second time around.

DISC ONE

01: RISING FOR THE MOON  ( 4.08 )
02: RESTLESS   ( 4.01 )
03: WHITE DRESS   ( 3.44 )
04: LET IT GO  ( 2.00 )
05: STRANGER TO HIMSELF  ( 2.51 )
06: WHAT IS TRUE ?   ( 3.33 )
07: IRON LION   ( 3.27 )
08: DAWN   ( 3.42 )
09: AFTER HALLOWEEN   ( 3.38 )
10: NIGHT-TIME GIRL   ( 2.56 )
11: ONE MORE CHANCE   ( 7.58 )

BONUS TRACKS

12: WHITE DRESS ( 3:24 ) Live on LWT – 9/8/1975
13: DAWN – ALTERNATE VERSION ( 4:11 )
14: WHAT IS TRUE ? –  STUDIO DEMO ( 3:16 )
15: AFTER HALLOWEEN – DEMO ( 3:00 )
16: THE KING AND QUEEN OF ENGLAND – HOME DEMO ( 3:12 )

DISC TWO – LIVE AT THE LA TROUBADOUR

01: DOWN IN THE FLOOD    ( 3:13 )
02: BALLAD OF NED KELLY ( 3:59 )
03: SOLO ( 5:40 )
04: IT’LL TAKE A LONG TIME ( 5:35 )
05: SHE MOVES THROUGH THE FAIR ( 4:09 )
06: THE HENS MARCH THROUGH THE MIDDEN & THE FOUR POSTER BED (3:17 )
07: THE HEXAMSHIRE LASS ( 2:44 )
08: KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVENS DOOR ( 4:33 )
09: SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD ( 3:38 )
10: LIKE AN OLD FASHIONED WALTZ ( 4:19 )
11: JOHN THE GUN ( 5:10 )
12: DOWN WHERE THE DRUNKARDS ROLL ( 4:14 )
13: CRAZY LADY BLUES ( 3:54 )
14: WHO KNOWS WHERE THE TIME GOES ( 6:54 )
15: MATTY GROVES ( 7:05 )
16: THAT’LL BE THE DAY

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RICHIE HAVENS – IN MEMORIAM

(JANUARY 21st 1941 – APRIL 22nd 2013)

RICHIE HAVENS IN MEMORIAM

It is with great sadness that folking report that the great RICHIE HAVENS, forever known as the man who opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969, richly gifted singer / songwriter, innovative song interpreter, and without doubt one of the most genuine nice guys in rock and roll, has passed away at the age of 72. He suffered a sudden heart attack at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey, yesterday (Monday 22nd April).

My old mate Lesley “legs” Shone from Indiscreet PR had the honour of working with Richie from 2002 until his retirement from performing in 2010. Here is a lovely quote from Legs

We had come to know Richie very well, and found him to be one of the warmest, most sincere, charming and funny people you could ever hope to meet, let alone work with. Richie’s inclusive and amiable demeanour, as well as his incredible powers of recall, made him a unique interview subject. On one occasion, Richie came straight from landing at Heathrow airport to do a radio interview with Danny Baker at BBC Radio London, in advance of a sell-out run of shows at the Jazz Café. Most artists would want to talk about themselves; instead Richie regaled Danny with his thoughts and reminiscences on the unlikely career of Tiny Tim!

Richie Havens will always be associated with the Woodstock Festival; every interview he ever did inevitably included the question “What was it like to open Woodstock?” Richie never tired of retelling the story – or saying how he was sat with Albert Grossman at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when Dylan shocked the Folkie throng by ‘going electric’, or meeting Jimi Hendrix in Greenwich Village in the mid-60s, or making the movie ‘Catch My Soul’, directed by a mostly-AWOL Patrick McGoohan, or playing for president Bill Clinton in 1993, it was all there. After the legendary folkie Fred Neil quit New York to live in Coconut Grove, Florida, apparently to watch dolphins, Richie was the only guy from the old Village days that he kept in touch with. Most of all, though, Richie’s music shines on; his utterly personalised takes on songs such as Just Like A Woman, Strawberry Fields Forever, Here Comes The Sun, Going Back To My Roots, and, in the last decade,Woodstock, Won’t Get Fooled Again and more linger loud and long – although he was no slouch as a songwriter himself. His recent albums, such as Wishing Well, The Grace of the Sun and Nobody Left To Crown feature many choice examples of Havens’ own writing talent.

Richie Havens made a powerful impression as a human being; surgery in 2010 meant that he could no longer perform, and Havens performances – that i interaction between artist and audience, his songs propelled by his powerful footstomp – his honeyed vocal tone wrapping and wringing out the emotion of a song lyric – and his between song banter – made his concerts a vivid, enduring celebration of the freedoms that came from the 1960s. Richie’s gone now, but the electric vibe that he channelled throughout his career will not be dimmed. Rest in Peace, Richie.

Jerry Leger – TRAVELING GREY

What possesses a young person to pick up an acoustic guitar and write a song? One reason is certainly the eternal desire to find the ideal lover, although the inherent failure in doing so remains an equally powerful motivator. This is how life’s hardest lessons are learned, and after the shock, anger, sorrow, bitterness, and fear subside, what we are left with is wisdom.

If there is one quality instilled in Jerry Leger’s songs, it’s wisdom, gained not only from his past five years of life as a troubadour, but also from what led up to that: a childhood and adolescence spent waist deep in the river of North American roots music; a baptism that marked his destiny.

His first mentor, albeit unknowingly, was an uncle, Ronny Rose, who earned his reputation from playing St. John’s, Newfoundland bars. It served him well when, like many of his fellow Maritimers, he landed in Toronto in the early 1970s and was absorbed into its country music scene whose epicentre was, and still is, the Horseshoe Tavern. Jerry also grew up with a Dylan fan for a father and Lennon fan for a mother. On weekend visits to his grandfather, the soundtrack was inevitably Hank Williams. By age 12, he had already realized that these were his teachers.

“I wrote my first song on a topic yet to be experienced, but I had learned from all these passed down records I was listening to and studying,” he says. “These were the artists that I wanted to be like, as if I was lost in my own little world, no matter what year I was supposed to be living in.”

TRAVELING GREY is Jerry Leger’s fourth album and finds him poised to indelibly add his name to the roll call that has built Toronto’s international reputation as a singer/songwriter Mecca. One of the members of that elite group, Ron Sexsmith, has said “Jerry Leger is one of the best songwriters I’ve heard in quite some time,” while another, Fred Eaglesmith, has on several occasions invited Leger to share stages with him. In many respects, it is a world that is all-too-real, a side of Canada that has slowly been disappearing in the post-industrial age. The characters that populate TRAVELING GREY provide the testimonial; some have made bad decisions and are living with the consequences, like the narrator of Isabella,while some have simply never had the chance—“Looking out the window of the old hardware store / Twenty-five feels a lot like twenty-four.” (Truth Is All Around You). When everything is at a standstill, every word, glimpse, and touch is packed with potential to be life altering. Leger catches these moments like June bugs, allowing us to briefly observe their gorgeous nuances in the jar before they must be set free back into the ether. That’s the sense we get from songs like Wrong Kind Of Girl, and especially Is He Treating You Good, which cuts as deep as any love song you’ll hear in a long time.

It’s the kind of song-writing that was second nature to the artists who defined country music’s golden era of the 1950s and early ‘60s, and one of them, Nova Scotia’s Hank Snow, is surely smiling somewhere knowing that Leger has written a song as bawdy and rollicking as East Coast Queen.

“Whenever I write, I’m just dipping into myself or keeping my ears and eyes open,” Leger says. “I study conversation, pay close attention to detail.”

“His genuine talent and songwriting is an example of what has been a part of the WSM playlist for many years.”
WSM Radio, Nashville

“One of the best songwriters I’ve heard in quite some time.”
Ron Sexsmith

 “Hums to the tune of possible legendary status.”
Maverick Magazine

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For more information and the latest tour news, please visit:- www.jerryleger.com

Interview with Joziah Longo from Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams have been called  “the hillbilly Pink Floyd,” which is an apt description, particularly if you throw in elements of Incredible String Band, Neil Young, The Band, Dylan, and maybe even some Frank Zappa as well. Their contagious brand of quirky Americana has taken them on tour across the UK promoting their fourth studio album, The Grand Slambovians which is also the name of the band’s latest reincarnation. Joziah Longo, (lead singer/songwriter for the band) describes the new collection of songs as – “A more extreme dose of what we’ve always been – a country prison music meets British invasion type of thing”. For the uninitiated, the band’s all over the map melodic avant folk conjures Tom Petty, Dinosour Jr., and a fuller Buffalo Tom, possessing an exotic instrumental arsenal in addition to standard rock regalia. Equal parts Washington Irving and Woodstock, the band taps a broad palette of styles ranging from dusty Americana ballads to huge Pink Floydesque cinematic anthems. Playing art school roots rock, sometimes folk and quirky Americana, they possess an exotic instrumental arsenal (accordion, cello, mandolin, theremin) in addition to standard rock regalia. “The entire root system of Rock Family Trees is embedded in Longo’s voice.”- The Big Issue, Scotland, U.K. 

Paul Johnson and I caught up with Joziah Longo after the stunning show The Grand Slambovians did to kick off Camberley Theatre’s folk & acoustic music with Attitude” nights in Camberley, Surrey, UK on the 12th April 2011 which was promoted in association with folking.com.

Click on the button below to play the interview:

Together since the late 90’s where they met in art school, they settled in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and formed Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. The band has toured nationally and abroad since forming in 1998. Known for electrifying live performances, and strong original music, they have a devoted and ever expanding fan base. In 2010 they brought their legendary Halloween show,  “The Grand Slambovian Extraterrestrial Hillbilly~Pirate Ball’ to London’s Electric Ballroom and NYC’s Gramercy Theater. “Saturday was a blast! I want you to know how great I thought your show was – you guys really made the Gramercy shine and ooze with your own personality.” – Harvey Leeds, Live Nation NYC

“. . .simply one of the finest American bands” – All Music Guide

“They may term it ‘Hillbilly-Pink Floyd’ and sure, they have an air of both Floyd and maybe Bowie at times, atop their folkcountry roots (note, not fauxcountry) but it’s done with a warmth and comfort of a mystical Nebraska or poetic Crazy Horse.” – Sleazegrinder, UK

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