NANCY KERR & JAMES FAGAN – An Evening With Nancy Kerr & James Fagan  (Little Dish LiDiCD003)

An Evening With Nancy Kerr & James FaganTwenty years playing together! It seems like only yesterday they were cast in the role of ‘brat pack’ young folk upstarts. And now we’re talking the language of ‘retrospective’ with a new offering An Evening With… to showcase the impressive repertoire and instrumental prowess that has kept them at the top for this long. A live album is always a risk; you can never quite rekindle the full experience of being there. But they’ve made a good shot at it, with recordings from two shows – Hertfordshire and Sheffield – just as it happened. The exceptional sound quality doesn’t mask the participation of the audience who sing in harmony with Nancy and James on two tracks.

The songs include some of their most requested from the previous five albums – ‘Barbara Allen’, ‘Anderson’s Coast’ – plus some previously unrecorded tunes such as Willy Taylor’s ‘Sir John Fenwick’. Nancy’s stellar album Instar also gets a look in, with ‘Fragile Water’; but for many of us who’ve seen them live, the big number is ‘The Flaming Drones’ intertwined with the melody of ‘Dance To Your Daddy’, in which Nancy sings one melody while playing another on the fiddle – how does she do it?!

‘The Herald Of Free Enterprise’ is about the 1987 Zeebrugge ferry disaster, a song written by Robb Johnson and famously recorded by the late Roy Bailey. James added it as a tribute to Roy, and also because it includes some very fine audience chorus singing. Taking us into antipodean romantic poetry is Henry Lawson’s ‘The Outside Track’, set to music by Gerry Hallom and beautifully sung here by James with Nancy adding some tasty harmonies.

It’s been nine years, a house move, and two children since the duo’s last album, and both James and Nancy have branched out into their own respective projects – The James Brothers, The Full English and Melrose Quartet to name just three. They both come from renowned musical dynasties and this album is proof again that roots music runs deep through their every vein.

Jon Bennett

An Evening With Nancy Kerr & James Fagan is now available to pre-order.

Artists’ website: www.nancykerr.co.uk

‘The Outside Track’ – live:

More acts announced for Towersey 2019

Towersey Festival 2019

Newton Faulkner and Bruce Foxton’s From The Jam are among the latest line-up additions announced for the 55th Towersey Festival (23-26 August 2019, Oxfordshire).

They’ll be joining previously revealed acts The Selecter, Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Fisherman’s Friends, Oysterband, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The festival has also revealed the artists booked for the very special tribute concert dedicated to the memory of the late folk singer and activist Roy Bailey. These include Tom Robinson, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and John Kirkpatrick.

Having previously visited the festival in 2017, Newton Faulkner’s return coincides with the release of his new album The Best Of … So Far, which spans the acclaimed guitarist’s career.

Since releasing his debut album, 2007’s Hand Built By Robots, Faulkner has sold over 1.5 million records and amassed 180 million streams, making him one of the millennium’s most successful UK singer-songwriters. Increasingly in demand, he recently returned to the stage to perform The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist in Jeff Wayne’s spectacular The War Of The Worlds UK Arena tour.

Featuring The Jam’s legendary bass player Bruce Foxton, From The Jam have played almost 1,000 headline shows in the UK since their inception in 2007. Throughout their time, they’ve consistently delivered the kind of incendiary live performances that sealed the reputation of The Jam all those years ago.

Their visit to Towersey will see the band delve into their powerful catalogue, which includes such hits as ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘Town Called Malice’, ‘Start’, ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’, ‘Going Underground’ and more.

Both Newton and From The Jam top off the festival’s Saturday night bill (24 August 2019).

Roy Bailey, who passed away in November aged 83, was a key figure in the foundation of Towersey and performed at the very first festival, way back in 1965. Later a patron, he appeared more times at the event than any other artist, with his much-loved Monday afternoon shows always packed to capacity.

In honour of his countless achievements, both on and off stage, as well as his long-running association with the festival, Towersey presents Roy Remembered: A Celebration of the Life and Times of Roy Bailey, on Monday 26 August 2019.

An afternoon of music, stories and collaborations, the concert features an A-Z of friends and associates, all of whom worked closely with Roy over the years. Among those appearing are songwriter and BBC 6Music presenter Tom Robinson, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting, John Kirkpatrick, The Wilson Family, Boff Whalley (Chumbawamba), Stephen Taberner (The Spooky Men’s Chorale), Ray Hearne, Kit and Max Bailey, Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, and Marc Block. With host Steve Heap, they’ll be sharing their memories and performing choice songs from Roy’s vast repertoire.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “From The Jam are undoubtedly one of the best live acts in the UK right now, their shows have such energy, while it’s fantastic to welcome Newton to Towersey again. We’ve had loads of requests to get him back since he last appeared, so we know people are really looking forward to seeing him.”

Discussing the special one-off tribute show, Joe added: “Roy’s afternoon concerts were an utter joy – warm, funny, poignant. We miss him greatly, but hope everyone will join us in celebrating the great man’s life on August Bank Holiday Monday – it’s going to be an unforgettable event with some truly fantastic guests.

“He helped shape Towersey, from the very beginning, and his influence and beliefs remain very much with us today.”

Situated in easy reach of London and Birmingham, on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border, Towersey is one of the UK’s longest running independent music festivals. Boasting nine venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features over 30 hours of ceilidh, daily workshops, well-stocked bars, street food, spoken word, film screenings, roaming performers, an acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August 2019 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 3) from £139 (adult), £130 (conc), £97 (youth), £65 (child), with under 5s free. For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

Weekend Tickets (4 days)
Tier 1 & Tier 2: SOLD OUT.
Tier 3: Adult £139; Conc £130; Youth (12-17yrs) £97; Child (5-11yrs) £65; under 5s Free
Tier 4: Adult £149; Conc £140; Youth (12-17yrs) £104; Child (5-11yrs) £65; under 5s Free

Day Tickets: Adult £46; Youth £32; Child £21; U5 Free.
Weekend camping and per-night camping options available.

No booking fees. Instalment Plan available. Car parking free.

Festival website: www.towerseyfestival.com

 

MELROSE QUARTET – Dominion (own label MQCD03)

DominionDominion is the long-awaited second album from Melrose Quartet: Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith. If you haven’t heard them you should remedy that oversight as soon as possible: four voices and four instrumentalists, equally gifted with unaccompanied harmony and instrumental dexterity. And that’s before we begin to discuss songwriting.

The album is a delightfully eclectic mix of material, you know, the way people used to make albums back in the 70s. It begins, unexpectedly, with a southern Appalachian song, ‘Mariah’s Gone’ originally from Jean Ritchie. Unaccompanied, it makes an arresting statement from the outset – you are going to listen to this record. It is followed by the title track, ‘Dominion Of The Sword’, further adapted from Martin Carthy’s version with a new verse by James. You must expect some politics from the quartet but this is as heavy handed as it gets and the tunes that follow, ‘A Generous Man/Carthy’s March’ are as bright and joyful as you could wish for.

The ebb and flow continues throughout the record. Nancy Kerr’s ‘Hand Me Down’ is about the unifying effect of music and ‘’Ware Out Mother’ is a huge joke. It started out in the tradition but was probably written in its present form by Charley Yarwood and Tom Brown. Jess Arrowsmith’s ‘Anthem Of A Working Mum’ is a song that should be adopted by the tradition. Like the best writing it says a lot in a few words and leaves you to colour in the picture while Nancy’s ‘Rise No More’ is a lament for the lost steel industry told in complex metaphor. Around these we have ‘The Seeds Of Love’, Paul Davenport’s ‘Davy Cross’ and Paul Metser’s lovely ‘Good Intentions’.

Melrose Quartet could play Dominion from start to finish in a folk club and you’d go home knowing that you’d had a good night out. I don’t think that you could ask for much more than that.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the MELROSE QUARTET – Dominion link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

ORDER – [CD]

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

Melrose Quartet live at Chester Folk Festival:

Melrose Quartet announce their second album, Dominion, plus launch tour dates

Melrose Quartet

Melrose Quartet are Nancy Kerr (voice, fiddle), James Fagan (voice, bouzouki, guitar), Jess Arrowsmith (voice, fiddle) and Richard Arrowsmith (voice, melodeons). November 2017 sees them release their eagerly-awaited second album, Dominion.

From deep roots in their hometown’s vibrant music, song and dance scene, to smashing concert appearances all over the UK, Sheffield-based Melrose Quartet have attracted a reputation for making music that truly connects with people. All four are internationally renowned singers, instrumentalists and writer/composers and this year they were proud to be named the new patrons of Whitby Folk week. Dominion expands and strengthens the musical presence they first asserted with Fifty Verses, their 2014 BBC Folk Award-nominated debut CD.

Dominion was recorded as close to “live” as possible in a sweetly resonant chapel schoolroom near Sheffield, and captures the quartet’s deft and heartfelt musical spontaneity. Whether the music has its origins in 17th century political poetry via Martin Carthy’s modern-era lens (‘Dominion Of The Sword’), or the lived experience of 21st century women wryly detailed by Jess Arrowsmith (‘Anthem Of A Working Mum’), the intention is to communicate and connect.

The fervour of social dance and the stateliness of Morris have infused Melrose’s repertoire from the start and flourish here on instrumentals ‘Rosslyn Castle’, Dave Swarbrick’s classic ‘Carthy’s March’, Fagan’s ‘Low Quebec’ and wild reel set ‘Gallery/Venus’.

A capella traditions from Britain, America and beyond (‘Mariah’s Gone’, ‘The Seeds Of Love’) are visited with the quartet’s famed unaccompanied zeal, while the voices of the extraordinary ordinary people who populate our folk songs are freshly amplified in a traditional tale of migrant workers facing down bigotry (‘Ware Out Mother’), Paul Davenport’s tragic sea-réquiem ‘Davy Cross’ and Nancy Kerr’s echoing steel-town hymn ‘Rise No More’. And appropriately, Kerr’s ‘Hand Me Down’ and Jess Arrowsmith’s ‘Raise Your Voice’ are songs that embody our needs and our hopes for peace, belonging and community. What Melrose Quartet want is for their music to land squarely in the listener’s heart.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

Artists’ website:  www.melrosequartet.co.uk

‘Anthem Of A Working Mum’ and ‘Dominion Of The Sword’ – live:

CARA DILLON – Upon A Winter’s Night (Charcoal CHARCCD008)

upon a winter's nightIn the absence this year of a new Kate Rusby festive collection for folk fans to warm their chilly cockles, Cara Dillon, aided and abetted by husband, musical partner and producer Sam Lakeman, steps up to the seasonal plate for her first Christmas offering, Upon A Winter’s Night, an 11-string stockingsworth of traditional nuggets, hymns and originals.

It’s one of the latter, the title track, written by Sam and Noah Lakeman, that kicks things off, a jaunty Nativity scene setter that also features Uilleann pipes, Luke Daniels on accordion and Kathryn Roberts on backing vocals. There’s three other originals, Cara and Sam providing the piano backed ‘Standing By My Christmas Tree’ with its interpolation of ‘Silent Night’ and bells-pealing keyboard notes as well as the simply arranged lullaby closer ‘Mother Mary’, he on acoustic guitar and she joined on vocals in the final refrains by a family affair of Colm, Noah and Elizabeth Lakeman. The third is Sam’s own instrumental contribution, a lively woodland romp with ‘The Huntsman’, again featuring Jarlath Henderson on Uilleann pipes and Daniels on accordion alongside fiddle from Niall Murphy and James Fagan’s bouzouki with Ben Nicholls providing stalwart bass.

The other numbers are the couple’s arrangements of, by and large, very familiar seasonal tunes, first up, introduced by Murphy’s fiddle sounding like a hunting horn, being a traditional folk-sounding reading of ‘The Wexford Carol’ that gathers to fulsome fiddle finale. Rather less known, based on a traditional Polish carol, ‘Infant Holy, Infant Lowly’ is another lowing lullaby and introduces John Smith on guitar. Considerably better known is the evergreen ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, here taken at a swayalong tempo on the back of fiddle, pipes and accordion and featuring guest viocals from both Roberts and Sam’s father, Geoff.

By contrast, while often given a rousing chorus flourish, here ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ is an altogether more contemplative affair etched out by just her voice and Sam’s piano, a fine companion piece to the wholly a capella ‘O Holy Night’, Adolphe Adams’ 19th century setting and translation of a French poem (Midnight Christians) on which she duets with older sister Mary, their version joining a list that includes Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Bing Crosby and, more recently, Ellie Goulding.

This is, in turn, followed by another breath of fresh winter air with ‘Mary Bore A Son To God’, one of the earliest known Irish language carols and sung here in the original Gaelic (‘Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia’),a slightly softer reading than that previously done by Horslips with Henderson’s Wilson taking the fiddle parts.

Finally, once whisperingly recorded by Bono, there’s another traditional Irish carol, ‘The Darkest Midnight’, which taken from the Kilmore Carols collection of South Wexford (albeit a trimmed down version) is again arranged for just her voice and Sam’s acoustic guitar and piano, another lovely grace note to a collection that very much has its mind set on celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. A touch more contemplative than Rusby’s South Yorkshire offerings perhaps, but likely to prove an equally enduring bauble on folk’s festive fir.

Mike Davies

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

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

THE JAMES BROTHERS – The James Brothers (Drover Records DROVCD001)

The James BrothersThe James Brothers aren’t brothers, of course. They are James Fagan and Jamie McClennan and nowhere near as mean as the look on the cover. James is Australian but it might be less well-known that Jamie was born in New Zealand – so it was just a matter of time before they got together to record some “Colonial Roots Music”.

A couple of the songs are familiar but the majority are gleaned from collections that will be familiar in the antipodes but unknown in the northern hemisphere. The opener, ‘Run Away Wilder’ comes from a book of poetry called Black Billy Tea – New Zealand Ballads by Joe Charles with a tune by Fagan and McClennan. Its subject is George Wilder, a very polite burglar still known to be around in 2009.

Another source is Shanties By The Way, a collection of New Zealand ballads. Some, like ‘The Voyage Of The Buffalo’ are definitely sea songs but ‘Shearing’s Coming Round’ is clearly a dry-land work song anticipating the muster of shearers. It was written by Irish émigré David McKee Wright around the turn of the 19th century and has the ring of authenticity. Bill Scott is another author and ballad collector whose work is liberated. His ‘Hey Rain’ is a typically spirited Australian reaction to the coming of the rainy season.

The best known songs here are Trevor Lucas’ ‘The Ballad Of Ned Kelly’, ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’ written by Tim Finn in his Split Enz days and Michael O’Rourke’s melancholy ‘The Poison Train’, a meditation of the death of rural communities. The James Brothers have a freedom of spirit that we seem to associate with down under – or is that a cliché? Actually, I don’t mind if it is, this is a fine album.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

Artists’ website: www.thejamesbrothers.co.uk

‘Hey Rain’ – live: