EVAN CARSON – Ocipinski (Evan Carson Music – ECMCD001)

OcipinskiOcipinski is percussionist Evan Carson’s first solo album inspired by Jerzy Ocipinski and the Polish Resistance Movements of the Second World War. Why this subject matter you ask? It just so happens that Jerzy Ocipinski was Evan’s grandfather.

The album has taken somewhat longer to complete that originally planned, but as we all know Evan is a busy man recording and/or performing with The Willows, Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys, Carousel and more recently The Tweed Project, to name just a few. It was also recorded in places as far afield as the UK, Russia, Iceland and Australia so it was somewhat logistically challenging.

The music was co-written by Evan and Gleb Kolyadin, who also plays piano on the album masterfully. The lyrics are credited to Evan, Georgia Lewis, Jim Grey and Hannah Sanders who also provide their highly impressive vocal talents along with Evan himself and Ben Savage. Other musicians involved are Karl James Pestka (violin & viola), Graham Coe (cello), Toby Shaer (flutes), Chris Heales (electric guitars and bass), Josh Franklin (bass and synths), Chris Cawood (acoustic guitar and bass) and Archie Churchill Moss (melodian). You are probably already getting the feeling this is something you have to listen to.

The way the album flows is like a prog folk version of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, albeit shorter and without all the psychedelic imagery. Four of the seven tracks are over six minutes long and all are filled with intricate percussion, piano and vocals. The album is obviously percussion driven and those of you who have seen Evan with any of his bands will know he is not one to stick with a standard drum kit and 4/4 beat.

‘Sky’, the opening track is the shortest on the album and it creeps up on you like an instrumental dawn, it builds gently and then leads into ‘Shards’ (for me the best track on the album) with it’s syncopated drum beat and frenetic piano and wonderful lead vocals from Georgia (someone I must find out more about). This leads into ‘Chrysalis’ with more haunting vocal which has an Eastern feel to it.

‘Otriad’ starts with more great piano from Gleb, features Evan/Jim on lead vocal and has the strings from Karl and flutes from Toby which come to the fore in a middle instrumental section. ‘Bloodlines’ starts slower, but then there is more of that driving percussion with Hannah on lead vocals and Ben’s warming backing vocals. This leads into ‘The Fireflies Of Falaise’ which is mainly instrumental with a multi-vocal chant to take it to the end. The final track ‘Anders Prayer’, has an industrial feel to it with Georgia again on lead vocal and it closes out the album in fine fashion.

This is a truly original piece of work brilliantly produced by Joshua Franklin, which I encourage you to take 43 minutes out of your day to sit down and listen to from start to finish. If you’re at the more open-minded end of the folk world, you will thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Duncan Chappell

Artist’s website: www.evancarsondrums.com

‘Shards’ – in rehearsal:

STARK: Blues with a banjo

Stark3Stark brings together three highly creative musicians – lead singer and guitarist Jamie Francis, drummer Evan Carson and bassist Josh Franklin. Together, they are pushing the boundaries and taking the blues somewhere very new.

Jamie grew up in Maryport, West Cumbria, and played his first ever gig on the Maryport Blues Festival Trail at the age of 12. As a teenager, he was lucky enough to see legends like Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards play the main stage at Maryport. Then, as he got older, he was blown away by The White Stripes – and found out that Jack White was influenced by blues greats like Son House and Robert Johnson. Somehow all roads led back to the blues…

Jamie paid his dues in several Cumbrian bands, including Feed Me, who made a name for themselves in the blues world – opening the main stage at Maryport in 2010, getting a track played by Paul Jones on Radio 2, performing in venues like Charlotte Street Blues, and receiving rave reviews for their CD ‘Blood on the Moon’ from ‘Blues in Britain’, ‘Blues Matters’ and ‘R2 Magazine’.

By the time he turned 19, Jamie had played over 200 gigs and had opened for famous blues artists including Sherman Robertson, Matt Schofield, Marcus Bonfanti, Ian Siegal and The Hoax.

He then headed down to the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), which has produced some outstanding young blues musicians in recent years, including Dani Wilde and Ben Poole. There, Jamie gained a first-class music degree and became known as one of the best young guitarists on the Brighton scene, specialising in top-class slide and finger-picking. While studying at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, he met drummer Evan Carson and bassist Josh Franklin, and Stark was born.

Evan is a gifted and versatile drummer who has studied with renowned percussionists, including Damian Manning, Pat Garvey, Cormac Byrne and Alex Reeves, and has toured Europe several times. His performing experience has encompassed everything from samba to prog rock, and he once had the great pleasure of playing with jazz legend Sir Johnny Dankworth.

Brought up in a musical family, Josh grew up playing an eclectic mix of Motown, funk, Beatles and hard rock. Starting on piano before moving onto bass, he built his musical knowledge on solid foundations. He is a brilliant bassist, who brings unique melodic flair and feel to the band.

Stark have come a long way in a short time. They have already started making waves on the British festival circuit, having appeared at Tenby Blues, Bowness Bay Blues, The Alternative Escape and the Brighton Festival Fringe. They have been featured as a Critic’s Choice in Time Out, and R2 magazine described their last CD as ‘an unexpected joy’.

StarkFor the last three years, they have been honing their songwriting and performance skills, recording, producing and releasing their own music – to huge critical acclaim. Their highly original blend of 1930s American blues and British prog rock, their infectious melodies, poetic lyrics and unique arrangements are winning Stark a dedicated and growing fan base. Their latest release, Stories From The Ground, will put them on the map as a force to be reckoned with.

‘… bursting with tight, driving melodicism’ – Time Out, Critic’s Choice

‘Fantastic technique and full of feeling’ – Tenby Blues Festival

‘Next up were the startlingly youthful looking but exceptionally talented Stark, with a harder powerful sound that took us out of 1950s rockabilly into a late 60s bluesy heavy rock vibe, akin to Led Zeppelin. All three members of Stark were incredibly impressive, and the sound whilst rocking was also soulful and full of great tunes.’ – Brighton Music Blog

‘full of intense, frantic, captivating instruments blended with rich vocals, and delightful harmonies. Stark has it all!’ – Fatea Magazine