Special guest artists announced for Richard Thompson’s birthday bash

Richard Thompson
Photograph courtesy of Mojo magazine

An incredible array of special guest performers has been announced for Richard Thompson’s 70th birthday celebration show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 30th 2019. This once in a lifetime concert will see eminent fellow musicians, friends and family grace the stage to mark the milestone birthday of this iconic and much respected artist.

Joining Richard Thompson on an exceptional night will be: Alistair Anderson, Ashley Hutchings, Bob Mould, Christine Collister, Danny Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Dave Pegg, David Gilmour, Derek Smalls (formerly of the band formally known as Spinal Tap), Eliza Carthy, Hugh Cornwell, Jack Thompson, James Walbourne, Judith Owen, Kami Thompson, Kate Rusby, Linda Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Maddy Prior, Marc Ellington, Martin Carthy, Olivia Chaney, Simon Nicol, Teddy Thompson and Zara Phillips.

The show sold out swiftly when it was announced in April. Look out for the release of last minute tickets: https://www.alttickets.com/richard-thompson-tickets

Richard Thompson’s enduring musical influence and accomplishments are unparalleled.  Having co-founded the ground-breaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 1960s, he and his bandmates invented a distinctive strain of British folk rock.  He left the group by the age of 21, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.  Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in folk rock history.  Powered by evocative songcraft, jaw-dropping guitar playing, and indefinable spirit, this venerable icon holds a coveted spot on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and counts Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Americana Music Association in Nashville and the UK Americana Music Association, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Folk Awards, a prestigious Ivor Novello Award and, of course, an OBE, among his many accolades.

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including David Gilmour, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more.  His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man.  Thompson’s latest album 13 Rivers (Proper Records) was released to widespread acclaim last September and appeared on many 2018 ‘best of the year’ lists. His accompanying tour was met with glowing reviews, including The Observer, in its Artist of the Week spread, who concluded, “Half a century after his first gig with Fairport Convention, folk-rocker Richard Thompson – trademark Stratocaster and beret intact – is as cool, energetic and contemporary as ever.”

Artist’s website: RichardThompson-Music.com

‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ – live and acoustic:

Judith Owen & Harry Shearer – ‘Christmas With The Devil’

Raising funds for SANE

Christmas DevilWelsh singer/ songwriter Judith Owen and her actor/ humourist husband Harry Shearer have combined their talents to recreate the Spinal Tap classic ‘Christmas With The Devil.’ Alongside this, Judith will be releasing ‘The Dancing Tree’, accompanied on cello by Gabriella Swallow, in which she sings of the things that really matter at Christmas time. “Maybe the most beautiful, moving Christmas song ever, played and sung with restrained yet unmistakeable emotion,” says Harry.

Says Judith of the tracks, “These two songs represent the two sides of Christmas, the joy and the bitter-sweet nostalgia, the light and the dark. They couldn’t be more opposite but both mean Christmas to me. The jazzed up Spinal Tap classic that Harry and I try to sing straight-faced (and was the first song we ever collaborated on and which we still perform at every Christmas show).”

“We always hear about what holiday time is like for Santa and his elves. But what’s going on around that time with the Supreme Evil One?” adds Harry. “This song fills that much-needed void and swings as well.

Speaking about ‘The Dancing Tree’ Judith explains “It’s the free things like decorating the tree with your mother, as I did as a little girl. We all get so lost in the commercial aspect of the day, but it’s the simplest of pleasures that we remember and hopefully pass on from generation to generation. I love singing this song, because it’s honest and true and it makes people cry…in a good way!

Judith and Harry will be performing their well-known Christmas sing-a-long shows around the US starting on December 5th and finishing on December 18th. Proceeds from the digital single will be donated to mental health charity SANE.

SANE was established in 1986 to improve the quality of life for people affected by mental illness. SANE’s vision has remained consistent throughout its twenty five year history: to raise public awareness, excite research, and bring more effective professional treatment and compassionate care to everyone affected by mental illness.

“I’m glad we get to raise some money for mental health organisations via these songs and our annual Christmas shows,” says Judith. “It’s a time when a lot of people struggle and feel even more overwhelmed by the pressures to be “seasonal”. I certainly do every year, just like my mother.  It takes a lot of humour and humanity to get through. I hope these songs and our equally reverent and irreverent shows help in some small way to touch on and connect with that.”

With two contrasting singles, the musical and comedic duo have covered all bases when it comes to celebrating Christmas through song.

Artist’s website: www.judithowen.net

 

Judith Owen – ‘Ebb & Flow’ album released 7th April 2014

Judith OwenThat Judith Owen’s new album Ebb & Flow evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is not accidental.

In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition – and to do justice to the songs, she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies’ troubadour sound.

Between them, her core band of drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Lee Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era by the likes of Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.

“The kind of music I write is so influenced by that sound and period that I wanted to go direct to the source,” Owen explains. “When I write songs, I’m hearing a sound in my head – and they knew the sound because they invented it.”

The songs on  Ebb & Flow  touch on the deepest emotions of Owen’s own storied life with an unswerving honesty. But although her songs are highly personal, the emotions are universal.

“Singing about the human condition, living under the shadow of loss and frustration and sadness and loneliness and not being gratuitously sentimental about it, instead making something beautiful out of  it – that’s the songwriter’s job,” Owen says.

What she describes as the “bookends” of the album are two particularly heart-rending songs, “You’re Not Here Any More”,  about her mother (whose suicide when she was 15, was the catalyst for her foray into serious song-writing)  and “I Would Give Anything”, about the recent loss of the greatest musical influence, her opera singer father.

Both songs are poignant expressions of the bittersweet duality that is perhaps the album’s strongest theme and which is reflected in the title Ebb & Flow. “Yes, they’re incredibly sad,” admits Owen. “But they’re also cathartic because they’re the most loving songs I could write and are totally honest about the reality of loss.”

The theme of how to make it through the darkest night informs several other compositions on the album, including “Under Your Door”, “You Are Not My Friend” and “Train Out Of Hollywood”, songs about emotional vulnerability, but always shot through with glimpses of hope and salvation.

But, although Ebb & Flow is a highly personal, solo singer-songwriter album, in a real sense it’s a ‘band’ record too. “One of the great things is that Judith makes space for what we add,” Kunkel notes. “She turned it into a real ensemble thing,” Wachtel adds.

There is a seductive wit and playfulness alongside the introspection too.  A trademark of Owen’s career has been her irreverent ability to subvert well-known songs with unexpected and improbable covers. Over the years she has turned-inside-out songs by the likes of Deep Purple and The Police to render them almost unrecognisable from the originals.

Here it’s Mungo Jerry’s 1970 smash hit “In The Summertime” that gets the unique Owen makeover treatment, rendered as it might have sounded if the song had appeared on Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of The Canyon. “Great songs are like great bones. You can hang whatever you want on them,” she says.”In The Summertime” is a ridiculously silly song, and so I asked  ‘What Would Joni Do?’ It’s warm, with a glint in the eye and a sense of fun.”

The result is the most confident and assured album of Owen’s career to date. After emigrating to America in 1993, Ebb & Flow is Judith Owen’s eighth album since her 1996 debut Emotions On A Postcard. She’s married to the actor and humorist Harry Shearer and in addition to her acclaimed solo work, Judith has for many years been Richard Thompson’s female foil of choice. Both have appeared on each other’s albums and Owen played a leading collaborative part in Thompson’s projects 1000 Years Of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls. She also co-created “Losing It” with Ruby Wax, a funny yet devastatingly honest two-woman show chronicling descent into mental illness that was a box-office hit in London’s West End in 2011.

But it is her role as an unflinching singer-songwriter baring her soul that remains at the core of Owen’s creativity.  Ebb & Flow, she says, feels like a homecoming.  “It’s the sound I heard as a kid and which made me light up. I’ve brought it home and it feels nice to be here.”

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Artists’ website: www.judithowen.net