MCDERMOTT’S 2 HOURS VS LEVELLERS | OYSTERBAND – Besieged/Anticlockwise (On The Fiddle OTFCD028F)

BesiegedMcDermott’s 2 Hours are best known for their live performances. Besieged is only their eighth album in a thirty-odd year career but it is rather special because it promises (or threatens) to be Nick Burbridge’s final outing with the band. Burbridge was a founder member of McDermott’s playing Irish folk-rock even before The Pogues; they inspired a bunch of friends to become Levellers and borrowed their members from time to time. Jeremy Cunningham and Simon Friend are part of the band on Besieged, Dil Davies is a long-time member and Al Scott has been roped in to produce and play bass.

The opener, ‘Firebird’ a co-write with Cunningham, perhaps refers to the parting of the ways: “the firebird escapes the fire” suggests that Nick’s departure won’t lead to a conflagration. He has flourishing solo careers in music and as a novelist and dramatist which are surely set to continue and he wrote all the other songs here. The second track, ‘Erin Farewell’, is a classic story of the Irish diaspora told from one man’s point of view. That man could be Burbridge except for the fact that he’s second generation Irish but he knows what he’s writing about.

The Troubles figure large in Nick’s songs. ‘This Child’ and the brilliant ‘Forlorn Hope’ are explicit but elsewhere conflict also looms large. ‘The Warrior Monk’ is set in the Crusades and the title track refers to an unspecified European war but Nick has other concerns. ‘All In Your Name’ is about child sexual abuse in the church, as far as I can judge, but even the more personal songs don’t go in for the happily-ever-after meme. Except perhaps for the closing title, ‘The Ring’, which could also be his valediction.

Early risers will also receive Anticlimax, a fourteen-track “best of” collection which also includes ‘Erin Farewell’ and ‘All In Your Name’. It opens with the stomping ‘Dirty Davey’, a song which sums up the band’s attitude perfectly. Other top tracks include ‘Harry Brewer’, ‘Black Sun (In Genoa)’, ‘Molloy’ and  ‘A Fable From Aigge’.  These early recordings are rather more classic folk-rock and heavier on the fiddle, but no worse for that and the set really rocks.

McDermott’s 2 Hours and indeed, Nick Burbridge, should be better known names. It’s still not too late to start enjoying them.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.burbridgearts.org

‘Fox On The Run’ – live:

McDermott’s 2 Hours announce final album with Nick Burbridge

Besieged

When writers wax lyrical about the rugged Celtic beauty that came to fruition with The Pogues and Shane MacGowan, they often seem to suggest that time has stood still and that Irish music had been sitting, waiting since the mid sixties ballad boom of The Dubliners et al for something suddenly to connect the urgency of punk with the heart and soul of traditional music. But out in the rough and ready bars of Hamburg and a hundred other German hostelries a band was carving out and whittling  its  own take on the beauty of Irish folk music; adding fire, vitality and punk-style energy while handling the travails of fights and frolics, women, dark streets and the drink.

This was before it was trendy or cool to take Irish folk music and add a rock edge, long before Pogue Mahone turned it all upside down. The band morphed into McDermotts 2 Hours in 1986 (named after a wonderfully unexpected happening on pirate radio during the Battle Of The Bogside as recalled in Eamonn McCann’s War And An Irish Town) ‘being Irish and in the wrong place and at the wrong time’ – to paraphrase MacGowan. In the pubs and clubs of Brighton and London they built a reputation for their incendiary live performances that have become legend.

Among their wild and youthful admirers were a gaggle of friends who, a few years down the line, influenced by the spirit, fire and camaraderie of Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours, would strap on guitars and call themselves The Levellers. Those in the know realise that Nick Burbridge has been, and continues to be one of the best songwriters in the Anglo-Irish tradition. He fashions songs that as well as perfectly capturing the gritty underbelly of the Irish experience in 60s/70s mainland UK, they beautifully capture the longing for home and reality of the Troubles with all the evocative magnificence of Beckett or Joyce.

But that was then and this is now.

Besieged is not so much a final curtain as a magnificent encore.

Serving as the last installment of a magnificent career singer, songwriter, poet, playwright and frontman with folk, rock, roots and punk outfit McDermott’s 2 Hours, Nick Burbridge releases his final album with the band on 8 February. Besieged sees Nick again team up with members of The Levellers (Jeremy Cunningham and Simon Friend), Oysterband (Dil Davies and Al Scott), Ben Paley (son of the late folk music giant Tom Paley), plus Tim Cotterell and friends for the album’s twelve tracks. Released via The Levellers’ On The Fiddle Recordings, advance orders will also secure a bonus CD, Anticlockwise, featuring a fourteen-track ‘best of’ McDermott’s 2 Hours.

I left in the autumn and settled in Camden, Two in a room with a flute and accordion, Site-work was hard and the foreman a bastard, But we’d rakes in our pocket and hours our own, At the end of a long day we’d wander round Archway, Fit for the tunes and the women as well, When I called home I lied for now I knew why, I always believed I’d bid Erin farewell – ‘Erin Farewell’ – McDermott’s 2 Hours

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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


Click 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.

Artists’ website: www.burbridgearts.org

‘Dirty Davey’ – one of the tracks on Anticlockwise:

Last but not least,’Fox on the Run’ – one of our favourites from The folking Archive:

Rowan Piggott talks about the Songhive project

Rowan Piggott

Songhive is a folksong project concerned with raising awareness of the current plight of the bees, but now it’s time to raise some money as well! We are soon to release a compilation album of Beelore and Folksong in the British Isles, all the proceeds of which will go to The Bee Cause. The following questions were answered by Rowan Piggott, the project founder.

Tell us a little about the project? Why bees?

Bees are responsible for 80% of pollination in the UK, are essential to biodiversity, and ultimately the future of humanity. Despite all this, we continue to obliterate the pollenrich plants they depend on, and our governments insist on legalising pesticides that do them harm.

Folk music has long been fraught with political dissent and attended by social change; perhaps this collection will serve to highlight how the decline of bees has entered the public consciousness. Here isn’t the place to wax lyrical, but hopefully this small project can raise some money for our friends; “the little musicians of the world”… (The King & The Hermit, 10th c. Irish Verse).

How did it start?

The project began as I noticed more and more folk artists including songs and tunes in their sets which referenced the bees… it seemed to me that almost every album I bought in the last year has had some mention of them. Who’s to say whether this was a result of the stories that reached mainstream media or the fact that folkies are generally more interested in conservation, but either way, a pattern emerged! For all the ages of man, bees have been revered & respected: honey was the nectar of the gods, bees were thought to carry human souls, every culture had important bee gods and traditions… to reach a time when we care about them so little that we’re not worried about them becoming extinct is dreadful.

You were awarded a creative bursary by EFDSS for your writing on the project?

It was great to have the backing of EFDSS and really helped give us the resources to write new material! You can hear a couple of my original songs on the compilation album (Queen & Country and Soul Wake Dirge) and I actually collaborated on nine of the eleven tracks, whether writing lyrics, playing fiddle or singing harmonies. It’s been a very exciting project to be part of and I’m looking forward to debuting some of the songs live at a gig at Cecil Sharp House on 6th June.

The Songhive Album

With tracks from Nancy Kerr, The Rheingans Sisters, Rosie Hodgson, Nick Burbridge, The Georgia Lewis Trio, Ray Chandler, Duo Keryda, The Hivemind Choir (a scratch choir put together through social media for a mournful choral contribution) and of course, project founder Rowan Piggott, it looks to be a varied and musically exciting selection from all corners of the folk scene.

Project Website: www.songhive.co.uk

NICK BURBRIDGE & TIM COTTERELL – Resolved (On The Fiddle OTFCD032)

ResolvedNick Burbridge is one of music’s renaissance men: poet, singer, songwriter, novelist and playwright; generally held to be one of the finest songwriters that the world, for the most part, hasn’t heard of yet. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Cotterell also works alongside Nick in McDermott’s Two Hours and plays all the melody parts except for Philippe Barnes’ flute.

Before you start to listen you need to know that a tanka is classical form in Japanese poetry, thirty-one syllables long. Nick intersperses Resolved with six sung tanka, topping or tailing certain of the songs. You also need to understand that this is not easy listening. It’s not a night out with McDermott’s. Having listened to it once I had to put it to one side and clear my head – that’s not a criticism, it’s just that you don’t come across many songs that include words like quincunx.

These are powerful, serious songs and with Nick being an associate of the Levellers, politics are never too far away. Even ‘Another Song’, the first major track which is ostensibly about love, separation and death has a dig about “tyrants and corrupt laws”. ‘Song Of A Pacifist’ and ‘Song Of A Partisan’ are the yin and yang of the struggle. The former highlights Nick’s Irish background with its passing reference to Bloody Sunday while the latter betrays something that we’re all feeling – if only there was a gun in the attic.

‘Song Of A Seeker’ with its traditional feel strikes me as an modernised metaphor based on ‘Bonny Black Hare’ just as the original was in its own way while the final ‘Song Of A Celebrant’ is perhaps the most complex song here. Again metaphorical, it feels like a commentary on the dreadful year that has been 2016 and I only hope that I’m not reading too much into it. Even the superficially optimistic tracks like ‘Song Of A Seafarer’ and ‘Song Of An Old Quaker’ hide a streak of bitterness and Nick doesn’t always sing the words he writes, if you get my drift. Live, I suspect, you’ll get the full force of his writing.

Resolved is a superb set of songs but not one to be entered into lightly.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.burbridgearts.org/

Listen to ‘Another Song’:

Maggie Boyle (1956-2014)

Photograph: Nigel Hillier
Photograph: Nigel Hillier

It is with deep regret we announce that London-Irish singer Maggie Boyle lost her life to cancer on 6th November 2014, aged 57.

Brought up in a vibrant musical family in London during the 1960/70s, Maggie Boyle developed a love and appreciation for traditional music and community. As a youngster, Maggie performed with the local branch of Comhaltas, gaining All-Britain singing titles. In the 1980s she formed a duo with her then husband Steve Tilston, recording several highly acclaimed albums and later, three further solo albums. Over the years, Maggie collaborated with luminaries such as The Chieftains, Incantation, Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch and regularly performed in numerous line-ups, the most significant as a duo with Paul Downes and the all-female trio Grace Notes. Maggie also engaged in cultural works outside the folk scene including the Ballet Rambert’s performance piece Sergeant Early’s Dream and John Renbourn’s Ship of Fools. She also contributed to film soundtracks, notably Patriot Games and Legends of the Fall.

Throughout her musical career, Maggie was dedicated to supporting younger singers and developing the tradition. She was instrumental in establishing artist-run co-operatives Three’s Company and Skinnymalinks through which she helped develop new talent, including The Demon Barbers and The Witches of Elswick. Maggie organised concerts promoting young performers and taught regularly at Breton Hall and Newcastle University. Since 2012 Maggie pioneered a scheme to visit her musical heroes and record intimate exchanges with the support of BBC Radio Leeds. The Kitchen Songs Project gets to the heart of luminaries such as Ralph McTell, and demonstrates Maggie’s innate love, respect and passion for this music and her fellow musicians far beyond the bounds of ‘career’.

Revered for her ability to enchant a room with her ethereal voice, this captivating quality penetrated her very being; Maggie had a pure soul which brought joy and peace to others wherever she went. She was dedicated to her wider family and had a profound impact on many more. After touring the country constantly for the past three decades, Maggie is well known to many throughout the folk scene. Those who met her, even briefly, were greeted with an open warmth and generosity of spirit they haven’t forgotten. Her family are immeasurably grateful for the astounding love, care and generosity shown to Maggie over the past year by countless people in the folk community and beyond.  Maggie leaves behind an exceptional presence; her absence is felt most keenly by her devoted partner, Bill, two children, Molly and Joe, and beloved granddaughter, Betty Sue.

There will be a Memorial Service at 12 noon and a celebration of Maggie’s life and times from 2pm on Monday 17th November, both at Victoria Hall, Keighley. All are welcome, please bring instruments and memories.

Fay Hield

For further details please contact Fay Hield: info@fayhield.com

Maggie, accompanied by Paul Downes, sings Nick Burbridge’s ‘Old Man’s Retreat’. It seems an appropriate choice.

Folk Legend Nick Burbridge Releases McDermotts 2 Hours Best Of Album

Anticlockwise - McDermotts 2 HoursNick Burbridge, the mastermind behind legendary Brighton-based folk-punk-poetry pioneers McDermott’s 2 Hours has announced an extensive partnership with the Levellers’ and their “On The Fiddle Recordings”. In celebration of this event, the McDermott’s back catalogue will be released digitally via iTunes and Spotify for first time, alongside some new material. Nick has also signed past and future song-writing to the band’s On The Fiddle Publishing enterprise.

This marks the climax to a long and fruitful association between Nick, McDermott’s and The Levellers dating back over twenty years, from the time the Lev’s put out a CD version of the original 1989 vinyl classic The Enemy Within, through several collaborations and other recordings, to Besieged, the forthcoming Levellers album that award-winning producer Al Scott (June Tabor/ Oysterband) is busy arranging and producing, which will emerge early in 2014.

This pre-existing two decade old musical relationship has previously seen Nick’s songs covered by The Levellers themselves, notably ‘Dirty Davey’ and ‘Prisoner’, as well as All Kinds of Disorder CD, which was a highly original set of compositions that fiddle player Jon Sevink came up with to accompany Nick’s reading of his own poetry.

However, this bit of folking news is all about Anticlockwise, a fourteen-track Best Of compilation hand-picked from McDermott’s long musical history.

I’ve been a fan of Nick words and music since first getting my hands on a copy of “Claws and Wings” back in 2003. The whole idea of the McDermotts 2 Hours project has always fascinated me and “Anticlockwise” is 14 tracks of handpicked gems that really makes this statement case in point. Darren Beech folking.com

The selection was made to highlight McDermott’s dynamism as a full band whilst also featuring acoustic tracks, to give the first-time listener a powerful and lasting impression of their versatility, and the seasoned enthusiast a single recording that best exemplifies the endeavours of the many different musicians involved over the years.

All those tempted to explore or rediscover the source albums will then be able to find them in digital form, along with the highly acclaimed 2012 acoustic album, Gathered, made with multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim Cotterell.

As the 2013 Spiral Earth Awards Best Songwriter – an award Nick won convincingly, despite obstinately remaining on the fringe of the music industry and, for the most part, eschewing live performances through a combination of ongoing mental disorder and unceasing work in other forms (he has been published or produced as a novelist, playwright, poet, short story writer and journalist) – he continues to compose songs prolifically, and, these will now be part of the ongoing “On The Fiddle” publishing deal.

After so many years crossing paths, this seems a fitting trail to take now, on both sides.

For more details visit Nick’s website http://www.burbridgearts.org/