THOMPSON – Family (Fantasy FAN36392)

ThompsonAfter last year’s Linda Thompson album saw a family gathering of sorts, in as much as her children, Teddy and Kami, son-in-law James, grandson Zak and ex-husband Richard, as well as his other son, Jack, variously featured on different tracks, this, as the title suggests, is much more of a united reunion. Conceived as a means of putting the family back together, Teddy contacted parents and siblings with the proposal that each should contribute two songs to the project, which he would orchestrate and produce. Everyone duly responded, writing and recordings their songs at their individual bases, which were then forwarded around the clan for overdubs, before coming together for four days in London and New York for the final recordings. They weren’t all in the room at the same time, something that might have well-tested Richard and Linda’s cautious rapprochement, but, if it wasn’t a full reunion in the flesh, it was certainly one in terms of emotion and spirit.

Embracing an overall Thompson-esque folk-rock sensibility, Teddy kicks the album off with the strumalong title track’s upfront dose of confessional therapy as, as well as referencing his own romantic implosion, he admits to the self-doubt that, can come from having parents, one of whom is “one of the greatest to ever step on a stage” and the other “has the most beautiful voice in the world”, and, as he says Sean Lennon will well know, never being quite able to be your own person, never quite able to deal with the pain. He shouldn’t beat himself up, like his own past albums and the material he wrote for mom, the song clearly shows the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, though it would be understandable if his older sister, Muna was not best pleased by the line about how Kami “is prettier still”.

Like his dad, rock‘n’roll is also in Teddy’s blood, hence his other song, ‘Right’, a country boogie kiss-off you could imagine Dave Edmunds doing where those Roy Orbison echoes sound out. Richard’s own numbers, on which, as per Teddy’s scheme of thing, he cedes electric guitar to either Jack or James, highlight his stylistic diversity, ‘One Life At A Time,’ a swipe at people sticking their nose into others’ business, sounds curiously like Creedence’s ‘Almost Saturday Night’, while ‘That’s Enough’, with its soaring family harmonies and a lyric about the “fairy dust” and “pie in the sky” politicians keep dishing out, is firmly in the tradition of those early R&L swayalong folk rock anthems.

Zack and Jack provide a track each, the former the fingerpicking 60s folk blues ‘Root So Bitter’ and the latter ‘At The Feet Of The Emperor’, a brooding five minute guitar and bass showcase, while Kami, though initially reluctant to enter what she felt could well prove the songwriting equivalent of a pissing contest,   has two credits, one solo and one with her husband. The second, which closes the album, is the rather lovely Gram and Emmylou-like yearning acoustic ballad ‘I Long For Lonely’ while the first, ‘Careful’, is a sprightly, poppy, ringing guitar (that’ll be dad) rocker of a Buckingham-Nicks persuasion. It also confirms her reservations about the competitive element in that it apparently prompted Linda to go back and rework one of her two songs in order not to be overshadowed.

Not that was ever much danger of that since, good as the second and third generation may be, it’s the parents, if only by dint of experience, shine brightest, her piano-accompanied, achingly vulnerable hymnal ‘Perhaps We Can Sleep’ and the acoustic guitar backed ‘Bonny Boys’, a mother’s heartfelt and hard won advice to her son about finding love, providing the album’s most potent emotional charge. Although the Thompsons may give the lie to the old adage (and Spirit album title) that the family that plays together stays together, the album is fulsome evidence that the bonds are far greater than the divides.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ websites: www.teddythompson.com www.richardthompson-music.com www.lindathompsonmusic.com

Cropredy 2012 Interview with Dave Pegg at this years Fairport’s Cropredy Convention…

Glorious weather and a great musical line-up ensured success for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention this year as music fans enjoyed themselves at the three-day Oxfordshire festival.

The organisers have now announced the dates of next year’s event. Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2013 will be staged on Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 August.

Although the continuing recession hit many outdoor events in 2012,  Cropredy’s ticket sales remained bouyant. And despite exceptionally wet weather recently, the 175-acre farmland site at Cropredy remained in perfect condition with no sign of the mud and flooding that caused problems and cancellations at festivals earlier this summer.

Folkings very own, Paul Johnson caught up with Dave Pegg backstage. Click the play button below to listen.

Big thanks to Dai Jeffries for the use of the photos.

“Attendance at Cropredy has held up very well given the current economic climate,” says Simon Nicol, Fairport founder-member and festival co-organiser. “Advance ticket sales were surprisingly strong and the sunshine boosted numbers over the weekend. Everything ran smoothly, the audience had a fine time, and the weather was about as good as it gets. ”

Festival Director Gareth Williams agrees: “The festival was a great success again. Were it not for the very wet weeks immediately before we opened we might have sold out. But even though there were a few tickets left at the end of the day, we are very pleased with sales this year. More importantly, though, we’re delighted our festival-goers enjoyed such a great weekend.”

This year’s festival saw Fairport Convention celebrating its forty-fifth anniversary as a band with onstage appearances from many former members, among them Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Mattacks, Maart Allcock, and Jerry Donahue. Offspring of Fairport alumni also performed at the festival including Blair Dunlop (Ashley Hutchings’ son), Kami Thompson (Richard and Linda Thompson’s daughter) and Kristina Donahue (Jerry Donahue’s daughter).

As in previous years, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention was filmed for Sky Arts HD as part of the television channel’s festival season. The programme, due to be screened on Sky Arts 1 at 9pm on Friday 31 August 2012 and repeated 2pm on Saturday 1 September, will be fronted by celebrated music broadcaster Bob Harris OBE. “I love Cropredy,” says Mr Harris, “and I’ve been coming for years with my family. The selection of bands and great weather helped to make this year really special.”

BBC Radio Oxford attended all three days of Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. The station’s coverage culminated in a six-hour festival special on Saturday which included a live broadcast of the entire Fairport Convention set.

As most of you are fully aware by now, Fairport are celebrating their forty-fifth anniversary all this year. By Popular Request was released as a result of that and is precisely “what it says on the tin” – an album of 13 songs, voted for by the fans and rerecorded by the current line-up of Fairport Convention. The album was produced by John Gale.

Here is the track listing:

01 WALK AWHILE 4:22
02 CRAZY MAN MICHAEL 4:41
03 THE HIRING FAIR 5:42
04 THE HEXHAMSHIRE LASS 2:30
05 RED AND GOLD 6:42
06 SIR PATRICK SPENS 3:34
07 GENESIS HALL 3:29
08 FAREWELL FAREWELL 3:01
09 ROSIE 4:16
10 MATTY GROVES 5:06
11 FOTHERINGAY 3:24
12 JEWEL IN THE CROWN 3:32
13 MEET ON THE LEDGE 4:23

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Dai Jefffries full photo collection from the festival is available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daijeffries/sets/72157631034934710/

DAVE SWARBRICK – Swarbrick/Swarbrick 2/Smiddyburn is reviewed by Pete Fyfe…

This tremendous 2-disk, 3-album set by that quintessential fiddler Dave Swarbrick should be required listening and possibly one of the best boxed sets to grace any ‘folk music’ CD collection. Containing as it does his two ‘solo’ albums from the late 70’s and the excellent “Smiddyburn” (1981) the record company Beat Goes On [BGO] deserve a round of applause for releasing yet another ‘must have’ anthology. If you haven’t already got them (and why not?) the first two albums feature predominantly ‘acoustic’ sets whilst the third utilises the services of his band mates from Fairport Convention to buoy what to me is probably one of the best ‘instrumental’ albums in the ‘folk-rock’ genre. From a preference point of view and, although having made his mark for his flashy flourishes of Celtic brilliance it is the English personified Playford tunes “The Hole In The Wall” and “Once I Loved A Maiden Fair” that stand out from the crowd. Mind you, if it is the dazzling display of showmanship that you’re looking for I’d suggest you check out the sparkling three-handed mandolin arrangements jointly performed by Richard Thompson, Dave Pegg and Swarb on “Sir Charles Coote/Smiths” and “When The Battle Is Over” or the Japanese sounding “Ribbons Of The Redheaded Girl”. By the way if you’re wondering where Dave got some of his inspiration from check out the sadly now departed Beryl Marriott’s solo on “Lady Mary Hay’s Scotch Measure”…simply brilliant!

PETE FYFE

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Fairport Convention celebrated their 45th year anniversary today…

Fairport Convention, legendary pioneers of British folk rock and still one of the most enduring names in popular music, celebrated their 45th birthday today as band (Sunday 27 May 2012).

Happy Birthday Fairport!

Formed in north London during the ‘summer of love’, Fairport Convention played its very first gig on 27 May 1967 in a Golders Green church hall. Avidly championed by John Peel, the band rapidly became popular on the club and college circuit. A record contract followed and Fairport went on to ‘ invent’ the musical genre of British folk rock.

Fairport Convention went through frequent personnel changes in its early days nurturing world class talents such as Richard Thompson and the late Sandy Denny along the way. However, maturity has brought stability and the current line-up has been together for over a dozen years.

Fairport Convention has outlived most of its contemporaries from the fertile 60s music scene and, 45 years on, remains one of the busiest bands around. During that time, Fairport has won a coveted BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and Radio 2 listeners voted their groundbreaking album Liege & Lief  ‘The Most Influential Folkrock Album of All Time’.

Fairport Convention and its 45-year history will be the subject of a major music documentary to be screened on BBC4 television in summer 2012.

The current line-up of Simon Nicol (lead vocal, rhythm and electric guitars), Dave Pegg (backing vocals, bass guitar, mandolin), Ric Sanders (violin), Chris Leslie (lead vocal, fiddle, bouzouki, mandolin) and Gerry Conway (percussion and drums) still packs venues on its annual UK-wide tours.

The band is also well-known for staging one of the UK’s major music festivals, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Now in its thirty-second year the festival attracts up to 20,000 festival-goers and was described by The Guardian as “as much a British summer institution as Wimbledon.” The event is also a partner of the BBC Young Folk Award and provides a main-stage showcase for each year’s winner.

This year, Cropredy will also reflect the anniversary with special guests and Fairport alumni joining the host band on stage – confirmed guests include co-founding member Richard Thompson, fiddle maestro Dave Swarbrick, drummer Dave Mattacks and guitarist Jerry Donahue. Thompson will also play a headline set in his own right.

Fairport will be celebrating its forty-fifth anniversary throughout the year. The band started 2012 with a forty-date British tour, the concerts featuring songs from Fairport’s recent studio album, the critically-acclaimed Festival Bell, as well as material drawn from the band’s extensive repertoire.

By Popular Request is precisely that – an album of 13 songs, voted for by the fans and rerecorded by the current line-up of Fairport Convention and produced by John Gale. Fairport tell us, that they are absolutely delighted by the results and hope the fans are too. Here is the track listing:

01 WALK AWHILE 4:22
02 CRAZY MAN MICHAEL 4:41
03 THE HIRING FAIR 5:42
04 THE HEXHAMSHIRE LASS 2:30
05 RED AND GOLD 6:42
06 SIR PATRICK SPENS 3:34
07 GENESIS HALL 3:29
08 FAREWELL FAREWELL 3:01
09 ROSIE 4:16
10 MATTY GROVES 5:06
11 FOTHERINGAY 3:24
12 JEWEL IN THE CROWN 3:32
13 MEET ON THE LEDGE 4:23

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EMILY SMITH – Traiveller’s Joy (White Fall Records WFRCD004)

Since 2002 when she won Scotland’s Young Traditional Music Award Emily Smith has garnered many accolades from the folk music press with no less than Mike Harding citing “…As far as I’m concerned she can walk on water!” Possibly a little over the top but certainly heading in the right direction this young lady is a fair old chanter and in company with her musicians including James Fagan, Stuart Duncan and long-time collaborator Jamie McClennan makes a more than pleasurable sound. With a traditional background it’s unsurprising to find the likes of “Gypsy Davy”, and “Lord Donald” in her repertoire along with Richard Thompson’s “Waltzing’s For Dreamers” and her own self composed tracks nestling comfortably within a set that showcases her not inconsiderable talents as both musician and songwriter. Possibly my favourite track on the album is the gently sweeping acoustic funk of “Sweet Lover Of Mine” a setting of one of many traditional puzzle songs although I have to say that the rather abrupt ending isn’t quite so much to my taste. Perhaps it could have been rounded off by a tune…but, a minor quibble on what is a well-produced recording and a further feather to Smith’s burgeoning career.

PETE FYFE

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Artist website: http://www.emilysmith.org/