JOHNNY COPPIN – 30 Songs (Red Sky RSKCD122)

30 SongsCovering four decades 30 Songs, a new compilation from the Stroud-based singer-songwriter amply serves, were it needed, to underscore his status as one of the folk world’s finest alumni. Compiled as two CDs (that one’s red and the other blue surely a Beatles nod), with the second disc a personal acoustic selection, it spans material from his solo debut, 1978’s Roll On Dreamer, to 2014’s Borderland with a roll call of guest musicians that include Phil Beer, Mick Dolan, Mike Silver, Dik Cadbury, Bill Zorn and Pete Acock, not to mention actor Anthony Head who lends backing vocals to ‘Believe In You’ from 1979’s Going Back.

That appears amid the first fifteen tracks, the same source album also providing the Jackon Browne influenced ‘Part In My Heart’ and the hymnal-like ‘We Shall Not Pass’, both featuring Beer on violin. In fact the basic track for the opening uptempo and ‘When All Is Said And Done’ was recorded for the same sessions, eventually ending up on the now impossible to find 1986 charity album Where Would You Rather Be Tonight. It’s one of two charity recordings, the other being the gentle ballad ‘It’s With You That I Will Stay’, another winter hymnal-coloured number that appeared on 1989’s For Every Child.

His third album, Get Lucky has the lion’s share of selections, first up being the upbeat ‘New Day’, followed by the Eltonish piano-based ‘Catherine’, a ballad once rumoured Cliff Richard was considering recording, ‘Celebrate My Life’, ‘First Time Love’, another piano ballad, and, lifted as a single, ‘Everybody Knows’.

Still in the 80s, ‘Keep A Little Light’ comes from 1985’s Line of Blue while English Morning offers a dramatic setting of Ivor Gurney’s poem ‘East Wind’ before moving into the 90s and, featuring trumpet, another poet, this time Charles Causley whose ‘Innocents’Song’ was given a big building treatment on West Country Christmas and was later covered by Show of Hands.

1993’s Force of the River accounts for the remaining two numbers, an edited version of ‘Border County Road’, apparently written on the A49 between Leominster and Shrewsbury, presumably not while driving, and the near six-minute ‘May Not Be Far Away’, co-written with keyboardist John Broomhall and featuring showstopping exultant guitar solo from Mick Dolan.

Turning to Disc 2, it opens with ‘Rydal’, written after his first visit to Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount and featuring on Line Of Blue. The same album also yields ‘Hallelujah’, an anti-war number written during the Falkands War, and, written to commemorate the 375th anniversary of Bermuda, the potted history ‘Pride Of All The Ocean’ featuring just Coppin on acoustic guitar.

One of his finest albums, Forest And Vale And High Blue Hill was a setting of poems from Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, represented here with a shimmering piano and violin setting of Leonard Clark’s ‘This Night The Stars’ celebrating the view across the Severn Vale from the Forest of Dean and, with Geoff March on cello, ‘Costwold Lad’, written by Frank Mansell for his father, the last of the line to farm near Bisley. He also goes to the Mansell well for ‘The Holy Brook’, an unpublished poem with March’s cello and Paul Burgess on violin from Early Morning.

Remaining with the poets, Edge Of Day was his 1989 collaboration with Laurie Lee, here showcased with the lovely keyboards accompanied ‘On Beacon Hill’ while, written for a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, there’s ‘Come Live With Me And Be My Love’ which, despite being from 1997’s The Shakespeare Songs, was actually a poem by Christopher Marlowe, the other bard being John Drinkwater whose 1914 ‘Moonlit Apples’ was set to music for a show named A Slice of Apple and subsequently recorded for 2014’s Borderland with Burgess on recorder.

Fellow folkie Mike Silver provided the lyric and acoustic guitar for both the bluesy ‘Survival’ and the folksier ‘We Had It All’, both lifted from 2005’s The Winding Stair, the title track of which, a tribute to Dublin bookshop, also appears. Johnny also teamed with Silver for their collaborative 2007 album Breaking The Silence, playing guitar and sharing vocals on ‘Postcards From Cornwall’, co-written with Dave Bell for a Decameron reunion concert in memory of their early days in the county. It was after the band broke up that Coppin went solo and it’s from that debut album that the remaining two songs come, the fingerpicked ‘Never Lost For Love’ and, written after a tour of Ireland, one of his simplest and finest numbers, the piano and violin sway of ‘Angelus’.

His last studio album now three years ago, it’s time he was back in the studio, but, for now, both as an introduction to his work for newcomers and a treasury for the faithful, consider 30 Songs an early Christmas gift.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver live – ‘Not For You’:

JOHNNY COPPIN – All On A Winter’s Night (Red Sky Records RSKCD121)

all on a winter's nightChristmas is nearly upon us, and acclaimed Gloucestershire singer/ songwriter and Radio Gloucester presenter, Johnny Coppin is currently on his annual tour taking the All On A Winter’s Night Christmas concert to various place in the country. Johnny has been doing a run of Christmas concerts in December for a number of years, with various musicians in his band such as Paul Burgess, Dik Cadbury, Karen Tweed, and Geoff March. Sadly missing is the guitar playing of Mick Dolan, who died in 2014, and who had played in bands with Johnny for a number of years, going back to his Decameron days.

Johnny decided to put some of the lovely songs which are played at these concerts on an album, and it has now just been released.  All of the above artists play on the new album with the addition of Steve Trigg on flugelhorn and trumpet and percussionist David Pickering-Pick.

This album is a real treat to listen to, a selection of songs that warm you for the Festive season and midwinter.  Johnny has a lovely melodic voice that brings out the best in all these tunes, whilst playing his haunting keyboard in his own inimitable way.  I’m not a big fan of Christmas, but love this album, as it takes us back to the true value and meaning of Christmas.  Not about rushing out to feed retail outlets and less meaningful things.  It’s about the true tradition and anticipation of Christmas, of family and reunions, of loved ones not present, The Nativity and all things of midwinter including warm fires!

The tracks included on the album are ‘All On A Winter’s Night’ – a lovely intro, that conveys the joy of anticipation of Christmas, ‘Counting The Hours To Christmas’ – a song of reunion, ‘The Christmas Star’ ( by Kimmie Rhodes) which is one of my favourite tracks, ‘Halsway Carol’ (by Nigel Eaton) named so after Halsway Manor – the National Centre for Folk Arts based in Somerset, ‘Welcome In Another Year’ (by Zoe Mulford), ‘A Connemara Christmas’ written by the late Mick Dolan, especially for the Christmas shows, ‘Snow In The Street’ (from a poem by William Morris), and classics like ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’, the traditional carol ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ (to Gustav Holst’s tune ‘Cranham’) which we all know and which is a fabulous version on this album, ‘Gabriel’s Message’ (A Basque carol with English words by the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould from Devon), and ‘O Holy Night’ – which you may not know – is a 19th century carol.

All the photos on the album are by Martin Fry, who does the amazing pictures for the Christmas shows and the album is on sale at the Christmas concerts in December 2016. Alternatively purchase through Johnny’s website where you can also find out where Johnny is out on tour.

Jean Camp

Artist’s website:

The Armistice Pals

armistice pals header non internetEveryone remembers the charity version of ‘Perfect Day’ with its myriad of voices from the pop and rock world.

Let’s hope everyone will also remember the upcoming answer from the Folk World – ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – with a plethora of voices from across the acoustic folk and roots spectrum representing the great and the good, young and the old, seasoned and emerging, all on the same single. The group is called The Armistice Pals and is releasing a fitting tribute to Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year as well as marking the 100 years anniversary of the breakout of the First World War. All profits will be distributed between four peacekeeping charities.

However, perhaps it’s not a perfect world after all and the late Pete Seeger’s classic anti war song, ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’, points a finger at the carnage, supposedly ‘ the war to end all wars’ which tragically mislead us to believe it was worth the sacrifice.  The sacrifice, not only of the lives of those who died, but the resultant desolation and struggle of the loved ones who were left behind. Whole swathes of communities were left bereft of their young men-folk who trustingly signed up into ‘Pals Battalions’, many of whom were never to return, with those who did too often spending lives blighted by the experience.

Armistice Pals is the name of the folk community ‘super band’ who are all performing on this single, which is due out on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014. It was the brain child of Damian Liptrot (manager of folk-rock band Merry Hell), who, as the project expanded, has invited Folkstock’s Helen Meissner on board as co-organiser. The project has attracted over 30 names including Chris and Kellie While, Julie Matthews, Judy Dyble, Christine Collister, Dave Swarbrick, Ray Cooper, Sally Barker, Peter Knight, Boo Hewerdine, Gavin Davenport, Blair Dunlop, Lucy Ward, Ken Nicol, Merry Hell, Luke Jackson and Kelly Oliver. A line up so good that, were it to be a festival, it would undoubtedly be the event of the summer.

The single will be released via the usual digital outlets as well as a physical CD and as a nod to the historical element, a limited edition vinyl 45, on new community label, Folkstock Records.

As this is intended to be a community project, we are inviting Folk Clubs across the country to contribute by organising an ‘Armistice Pals Night’ during the week of the release of the single. This can take any form but should include a collective version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ at some point during the evening, followed by a passing round of the hat to support the Armistice Pals charities.

If you would like to know more about the project, all the artists, the charities and the inspiration can be found at or contact us direct via

We hope that you will feel able to enlist and offer your support.

Helen and Damian
for The Armistice Pals


Attila The Stockbroker (poet/musician and sheer force of nature, whose father survived the Somme).

Billy Mitchell (one time Jack the Lad, ex-Lindisfarne and much else besides).

Blair Dunlop (One of our brightest, youngest singer-songwriters, currently telling tales from the ‘House Of Jacks’, he also found time for a stint in The Albion Band..).

Bob Pegg (Storyteller, singer-songwriter and member of the legendary Mr Fox).

Boo Hewerdine (one time Bible basher, all time songwriting phenomenon).

Chris While and Julie Matthews (singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, award winners in their own right and members of more prestige bands and projects than you can shake a stick at).

Christine Collister (one time She Devil, ex-Daphne’s Flight, much sought collaborator and loved by Q magazine).

Dave Mather & Peter Robinson (singer/songwriters (one of them has written an opera you know), ex-Houghton Weavers, stand up comedy and currently presenters of Salford City radio’s first folk show).

Dave Swarbrick (simply a living legend. As it says on the flyers, ‘needs no introduction’).

Edwina Hayes (multi-million You Tubed singer-songwriter with the ‘sweetest voice in England’).

Eric Bazilian: (Hooter, hitmaking songwriter worldwide for self and others, now he’s One Of Us!).

Flossie Malavialle (multinational singer et chanteuse aussi, gig travelling traffic reporter).

Gavin Davenport (much vaunted solo singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, award winning, ex-Albion band member).

Gren Bartley (the spine tinglingly beautiful guitarist, banjo playing poet).

Helen Watson (Singer/Songwriter, multi genre artist, producer and erstwhile member of Daphne’s Flight, Carmel and Sons of Arqa, as well as taking a great photo).

Johnny Coppin (broadcasting singer-songwriter, ex-Decameron and now sufficiently multi-faceted to be considered a true diamond).

Judy Dyble (singer/songwriter, ex-Fairport, nearly King Crimson and Facebook dog blogger).

Kellie While (singer-songwriter considered to have one of the outstanding voices of her generation, ex-member of The Albion Band and so much else, her arrival makes The Pals a family affair as her mother and sometime singing partner Chris is also involved).

Kelly Oliver (singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist who has taken Boots Of Spanish Leather to places most of us can only dream of).

Ken Nicol: (globetrotting, guitar endorsing, ex-Albion Band and Steeleye Span virtuoso).

Kevin Brennan MP (an accomplished musician, fan of folk music and passionate supporter of live music).

Lavinia Blackwall (the vocalist who is both a Trembling Bell and a Crying Lion).

Linda Simpson (singer/songwriter, ex-Prog/Folk/Rock legends Magna Carta and supplier of some ideas that are so good that I’d like to present them as my own).

Lucy Ward (singer/song writer and possibly the current heart of British Folk Music as she gets played on virtually every folk show I listen to regardless of the other tastes of the presenters!).

Luke Jackson (bright young purveyer of Fumes and Faith).

Merry Hell (8 piece folk-rocking explosion of melody and joy).

Ninebarrow (award-winning, Dorsetshire folk duo).

Patsy Matheson (singer/songwriter, spent time Waking The Witch, now The Domino Girl).

Peter Knight (singer/fiddle player, Gigspanner, Feast of Fiddles, Steeleye and holder of the world record for continuously playing the violin whilst travelling up and down the lift in the Empire State Building).

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers (30 Year veteran of punk-folk luminaries, The Men They Couldn’t Hang).

Ray Cooper (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, ex-Oysterband and now a pearl in his own right).

Richard Ryall (singer/songwriter, member of the band Litmuss and he comes from a land Down Under).

Robb Johnson (Irregular singer/songwriter and social conscience).

Said The Maiden (3 rising doyennes with harmonies the envy of angels).

Sally Barker (folk singer and by popular acclaim, the true winner of The Voice).

Sian James (Singer, writer, harpist, composer, conductor and actress from Wales, a big Armistice pals ‘Creoso’ to her).

In addition, there is also The Pals Chorus, made up of friends and members of several folk clubs who will be recorded together to help swell the voices and to represent the fact that this is a true community project.

Johnny Coppin – Borderland (Red Sky Records RSKCD120)

BorderlandJohnny Coppin’s latest album, Borderland, is a collection of songs from England, Ireland Wales and the US. Johnny also has an impressive list of guests singing and playing on the album – Karen Tweed, Paul Burgess, Mike Silver, Geoff March, John Neilson, Kevin Harcourt and David Pickering Pick who all have their own successful careers in their own right.

Borderland is a stripped-down acoustic album with a ‘live’ feel.  Shut your eyes and you have him in your living room or as a passenger in your car. The songs are about ‘real’ people and experiences, about war, romance and feelings. Twelve songs for your delectation and all of them are superb.  The three songs in the “war” section are gut-wrenching and bring home the horrors of WW1 and dreaming of home, lying about their age to get to the front and death. I love Johnny’s voice as it is melodic, haunting and just plain fabulous, and he has done a great justice to this album, also playing guitars and piano in his own inimitable graceful style.

The other nine tracks include arrangements of traditional songs.  Self penned numbers include ‘When The Morning’s Here’, ‘Cariad Cyntaf (First Love)’ and the title track tune ‘Borderland’ in collaboration with John Neilson.

This album has not been off my player and is already a favourite in my extensive music collection.  Do buy the album, and better still, go see him live! Borderland was produced by having sponsors who are all mentioned on the album cover, and the cover and booklet illustrations were exquisitely produced by Johnny’s partner Katharine Neilson, with design by John Neilson. Very pleasantly packaged and presented.

Johnny will be taking his album out on a tour in the spring of 2014, and the official release date of the album is April 7th. A regular Festival favourite, Johnny also has his own long running successful Acoustic Music show on Radio Gloucestershire every Saturday at 17.30.

Jean Camp

Check out his website for live gigs:

New Album from JOHNNY COPPIN – Borderland

BorderlandLabel – Red Sky Records RSKCD120
Release date – 7th April 2014

Borderland is a new collection of songs from England, Ireland, Wales, and the USA. Included are the much requested song ‘Homeward’, ‘Joseph Baker’ (by Pete Coe) and ‘Safe Home’. In this Centenary Year, there are three songs of the 1st World War- ‘John Condon’, ‘Dream of England,’ and ‘Gloucestershire From Abroad’. The album also includes three traditional songs, ‘The Brazier’s Daughter’ with new tune by Johnny, ‘Mary from Dungloe’ – learnt from Christy Moore’s sister Eilish, and the Welsh song ‘Cariad Cyntaf (First Love)’ with new words in English written by Johnny. Also included is the superb ‘Moonlit Apples’ – a setting of a poem by John Drinkwater. Guest musicians include Karen Tweed – ex-Poozies, and ex-Swap on accordion, Paul Burgess – John Kirkpatrick Band and Old Swan Band on violin and recorders, Mike Silver on guitar and backing vocals, Geoff March, ex- Decameron on cello), and John Neilson on accordion and co-writer of the title track.

Johnny is a singer/songwriter and composer who began his career as a founder member of the folk band Decameron. After going solo, he went on to work for many years as a duo with Phil Beer (Show of Hands). He has recorded over twelve albums including The Winding Stair, Forest and Vale and High Blue Hill, Edge of Day (a collaboration with Laurie Lee), and Roll on Dreamer.

“The aim of the new album was to capture a solo performance, and get right to the heart of these songs of borderlands – about people and places, love and war.I had such a great time recording with fine musicians like Karen Tweed – and it’s wonderful that the CD design has artwork by my partner Katharine Neilson “.

Johnny tours solo and also as a duo with singer/songwriter Mike Silver. Playing guitar and piano, his music is essentially English and always melodic and evocative. Johnny has performed at many festivals and was commissioned to write songs for the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. This year he will be launching the Borderland album on a tour in the Spring, and performing his tribute to Laurie Lee at his Centenary celebrations June 2014 onwards.

He presents an Acoustic Music programme every Saturday at 5.30pm on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. listen again for 7 days. TV appearances include his own programme Song of Gloucestershire for the BBC, Stars in a Dark Night for Channel 4, and Between Two Rivers for ITV.

His original music for theatre includes ‘Songs on Lonely Roads’ (the story of composer/poet Ivor Gurney) and ‘Edge of Day – a tribute to Laurie Lee’ (both with David Goodland and Paul Burgess) as well as for all The Festival Players Theatre Company’s open-air productions of Shakespeare plays since 1991. This professional company has a 3 month tour every summer with all the music written and directed by Johnny. Productions of both “The Comedy of Errors” and “Macbeth” will be touring the UK during summer of 2013.

He has edited two poetry anthologies – Forest & Vale & High Blue Hill, and Between the Severn and the Wye, and his book, A Country Christmas, is a collection of prose, poetry, carols, songs and folklore based on his Christmas albums and annual Christmas touring show- All on a Winter’s Night.

“One of our most underrated folk artists”- THE LIVING TRADITION
“Eloquent, evocative and romantic” – BIRMINGHAM POST

Artist’s website:

Karen Tweed – Essentially Invisible to the Eye

ESSENTIALLY INVISIBLE TO THE EYE is Karen Tweed’s latest recording and, in being entirely solo, is a departure from her extensive collaborative work which has dominated her career since the early 1990s.

Born in London in 1963 to an Irish mother and English father, Karen took up the accordion at the age of eleven. Since turning professional in the late 1980s, she has appeared on over thirty albums from her early days with The Kathryn Tickell Band to being a founding member of the pioneering all female Poozies, through the Anglo-Swedish ensemble SWAP, American collaboration Undertoe with Stuart Kenney, Marko Packard and Rodney Miller, to The Two Duos Quartet with Andy Cutting, Chris Wood and Ian Carr. Karen’s duo work with Ian Carr, Andy Cutting and also Roger Wilson and John Dipper has left many an audience mesmerised at her breathtaking musicianship, while her trios with Hannah James and Becky Price in Hell Said The Duchess and with Carolyn Robson and Kevin Dempsey are more examples of her diversity and creativity.

Her larger scale projects include Circa Compania, a 14-piece all-singing, all-dancing tour-de-force and The No 1 Ladies Accordion Orchestra where she has brought together accordionists from all over the UK. More recently she has been Musical Director of ‘Land of Liberty’ a community play directed by Philip Parr of Parrabola and her duo work includes singers Jackie Oates, Kevin Dempsey and Johnny Coppin. Karen’s teaming up with highly respected Finnish pianist and composer Timo Alakotila to form May Monday led to phenomenal praise and accolades for their artistic grace, beauty and breaking down of musical barriers.

Her playing has been described as mercurial, soulful, effervescent and sensitive, while as a teacher, she’s proved to be an inspirational and encouraging role model, whether teaching university students performance and arrangement skills or leading accordion workshops and master classes.

ESSENTIALLY INVISIBLE TO THE EYE, produced by Bruce Molsky, brings all of these influences and ideas from her career so far together and illustrates just how dynamic, sensual, joyful and inspirational she can be. Karen often cites those she has worked with as major influences and inspiration and this fine recording shows how she continues to incorporate and further develop those ideas. Following conversations with Bruce, Colum Sands and Lorraine Carpenter, Karen began to think about a solo project and their thoughts that her music could be seen as songs or stories without words rather than a collection of tunes, sparked off the seed for this CD.

Bruce Molsky was the perfect choice as producer, because of his diverse and superb skills as a musician and his understanding of storytelling through traditional song. The CD has five tracks, all solo accordion but performed as a suite of Karen’s much loved collections of tunes, a blend of original and traditional and intended to be played as one, taking the listener on a lyrical journey, sometimes autobiographical, sometimes whimsical but illustrating how much the accordion has become Karen’s voice and pen and muse.

ESSENTIALLY INVISIBLE TO THE EYE is possibly Karen’s most emotive work to date and will be toured in its entirety in 2012.

For more information and the latest tour news, please visit: