VARIOUS ARTISTS – 1989 Newport Folk Festival (Air Cuts AC3CD8060)

NewportHats off to the Air Cuts label for this box-set of the Ben & Jerry’s 1989 Newport Folk Festival – a near 30 year old recording, made to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the original 1959 event. While in many ways, this release harks back to the boxed editions of Newport Folk Festival recordings released on the Vanguard label back in the day, one of the most striking things about this set is the sheer completeness of it.

Indeed, it, quite noticeably, captures the ethos of Newport; fusing the old and new, while showcasing the variety of styles which the ‘folk music’ banner has to offer. Furthermore, while it would have been easy to cherry-pick the event’s best bits for one single record, we instead get three discs, each boasting a generous portion of live sets from the Festival’s contemporary headliners; along with a handful of stand-alone tracks from (then) up and coming talents and folk music royalty.

Disc one begins strongly, with a six track set from John Hiatt, featuring Ry Cooder on ‘Lipstick Sunset’. Very soon, we are given a taste of the vastness of the Newport soundscape; being presented with ragtimey numbers by Leon Redbone, a Russian Gypsy song – sung in Yiddish – by Theodore Bikel and the Cajun-influenced sounds of Buckwheat Zydeco. Interspersed among this, is one of the entire album’s standout tracks; ‘Mill Town’ by Cormack McCarthy, recorded on the Workshop stage for “today’s rising folk singers”. Disc two’s highlights include blazing sets from Laura Nyro and BB King, as well as shorter contributions from the Clancy Brothers and Odetta. The third and final disc employs a similar format and once again, (sizable and enjoyable) sets follow from John Prine and Emmylou Harris, along with a slightly shorter contribution from John Lee Hooker, while Pete Seeger closes both the Festival and the album with ‘Old Time Religion’ and ‘Sailing Up, Sailing Down’.

As a true reflection of Newport, this album is almost as accurate as it gets; something which most live festival-type recordings fail to express, let alone in quite so much depth. It is a really is a great set and whether it provides a re-visit of familiar material in a different setting, or an all-out introduction to completely unheard works, it is a very welcome release, and I hope, it is just one of many such sets to be issued by Air Cuts.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Lipstick Sunset’ – John Hiatt with Ry Cooder:

RY COODER – The Prodigal Son

Photo: Joachim Cooder

The Prodigal Son, Ry Cooder’s first new solo release in six years, is set for release by Fantasy Records on May 11th, 2018. Listen to the lead track, “Shrinking Man” here: https://rycooder.lnk.to/ShrinkingMan

Recorded in Hollywood, CA, and produced by Ry and his chief collaborator, drummer Joachim Cooder, The Prodigal Son is all America – that country’s spiritual, hopeful voices, raw cries and sly provocations, voiced through the songs of the Pilgrim Travelers, The Stanley Brothers, Blind Willie Johnson, and Ry Cooder himself.

The album’s 11 tracks, including three Cooder originals and a carefully selected collection of his favourite spirituals of the last century, share a particular resonance in this time and place, forming an unflinching look at the state of play in modern America.

“I do connect the political/economic dimensions with the inner life of people, since people are at risk and oppressed on all sides in our world today,” he stated. “There’s some kind of reverence mood that takes hold when you play and sing these songs. ‘Reverence’ is a word I heard my granddaughter’s nursery school teacher use, a Kashmiri woman. She said, ‘We don’t want to teach religion, but instill reverence.’ I thought that was a good word for the feeling of this music.”

For nearly 50 years, the immense scope and influence of Ry Cooder’s music has been felt as much, or more than heard. As master musician, producer, songwriter and sage, the Santa Monica, California native has explored music and culture from across the city, the state, the country and around the world. Framed by his expressive vocals and elegant guitar work, this is music for these times. A deft commentary on our ailing moral state, The Prodigal Son is a fearless dive into the country’s soul, and the man, Ry Cooder.

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The Prodigal Son Track List:

1. straight street (James W. Alexander / Jesse Whitaker)
2. shrinking man (Ry Cooder)
3. gentrification (Ry Cooder / Joachim Cooder)
4. everybody ought to treat a stranger right (Traditional; Blind Willie Johnson, Arr. by Ry Cooder)
5. the prodigal son (Traditional: Arranged by Ry Cooder /Joachim Cooder)
6. nobody’s fault but mine (Blind Willie Johnson / Arranged Ry Cooder / Joachim Cooder)
7. you must unload (Alfred Reed)
8. i’ll be rested when the roll is called (Blind Roosevelt Graves)
9. harbor of love (Carter Stanley)
10. Jesus and woody (Ry Cooder)
11. in his care (William L. Dawson)

Artist website: http://rycooder.com/

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 Winners Announced

The winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 have been announced in a ceremony broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Now in their 18th year, the Awards are a key highlight of the folk music calendar and serve to raise the profile of folk music. Talent, new and old, received accolades including Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Album, Musician of the Year, Young Folk Award and more. Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Ry Cooder and Al Stewart.

American roots-rock musician and songwriter, Ry Cooder, took to the stage for a rare UK performance, singing Jesus On The Mainline. A career-long champion of folk music, he is renowned for his inspired slide guitar playing, and through his own work and collaborations with others, from The Rolling Stones to The Chieftains and Buena Vista Social Club.

British singer-songwriter Al Stewart also took to the stage for a performance of his 1977 song, On The Border. Al started his career on the 1960s London folk scene, and has worked alongside Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page, John Renbourn, Rick Wakeman, Tori Amos, Roy Harper and many more. Appearing at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, he became known for his brand of folk-rock, which he combined with tales of characters and events from history. He’s best known for his 1970s hits Year of the Cat and Time Passages.

Tony Blackburn presented Al Stewart with his award and regaled the audience with his own personal story of Al. He explained that in the early 1960s, he had in fact been the lead guitarist in Tony’s own group, ‘Tony Blackburn and the Swinging Bells’.

Tony said: “We used to practice at my parents’ house and, as good as he was, he always played his electric guitar far too loud as it always drowned out my vocals… The fact I’m here tonight will do Al’s credibility a lot of damage but I don’t care as I’ve enjoyed playing ‘Year of the Cat’ very much over the years and I haven’t seen him in a long time. It really is an honour to present this Lifetime Achievement Award to such a talented musician.”

The evening opened with a rousing performance by Afro Celt Sound System. And across the night there were spectacular performances from Shirley Collins MBE (performing Washed Ashore), Daoirí Farrell (Van Diemen’s Land), Jim Moray (Fair Margaret And Sweet William), Billy Bragg (I Ain’t Got No Home), and Fara (Three Fishers).

There was a powerful and moving performance taken from the Ballads of Child Migration, which tells the story of the enforced migration of over 100,000 children to Australia and Canada between 1863 and 1970. The specially-curated performance was narrated by Barbara Dickson with original songs performed by Kris Drever, Jez Lowe, While & Matthews, Boo Hewerdine, O’Hooley & Tidow, John McCusker, Andy Cutting and Michael McGoldrick.

Folk icon Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame, to celebrate his lasting influence. Billy Bragg performed a special tribute with a rendition of Guthrie’s I Ain’t Got No Home. The celebration marked 50 years since Guthrie’s death in 1967, aged 55. The musician wrote some of the most enduring standards in the genre with his life and work dedicated to supporting and documenting the rights of workers and the downtrodden. His songs have been covered by countless singers from Bruce Springsteen to Lady Gaga and he was a mentor to a young Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: “Huge congratulations to all the winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 – the calibre of all the nominees was outstanding. This annual event is a wonderful celebration of the vibrant folk music scene and tonight’s show was spectacular, featuring some of folk’s most long standing, biggest and newest stars which Radio 2 is committed to supporting throughout the year.”

The Folk Awards will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 9 April at 10pm as an hour-long highlights programme which will include all the performances.

Alternatively, click on any of the links below to see the individual performances:










The full list of winners:

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR presented by Sharleen Spiteri
Kris Drever

BEST DUO presented by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations
Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton

BEST GROUP presented by Sir Ray Davies
The Furrow Collective

BEST ALBUM presented by Mark Kermode
Songs of Separation – Songs of Separation

HORIZON AWARD presented by Rachel and Becky Unthank (of The Unthanks)
Daoirí Farrell

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR presented by Gus Unger-Hamilton from Alt-J
Rachel Newton

BEST ORIGINAL TRACK presented by Susie Dent
If Wishes Were Horses by Kris Drever

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK presented by Pauline Black of The Selecter
Van Diemen’s Land by Daoirí Farrell

BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD presented by Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention
Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Tony Blackburn
Al Stewart

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Nick Lowe
Ry Cooder

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Woody Guthrie

Building up to the Awards, Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Drivetime programme was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. In the show, Simon counted down the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on Radio 2. Compiled by PPL, the Number 1 track was Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ Wild World – released in 1970, which featured on his fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman. It wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but reached No 11 on the US Billboard chart. Jimmy Cliff released his recording of Wild World in 1970 – produced by Cat Stevens – reaching No 8 in the UK; with Maxi Priest hitting No 5 with his version in 1988. Cat was presented with the Lifetime Achievement honours at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2015. Number 2 of the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on Radio 2 was Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal; at No 3 was Bellowhead’s Roll the Woodpile Down; at No 4 was Meet Me On The Corner by Lindisfarne; No 5 was Underneath The Stars by Kate Rusby; at No 6 was River Man by Nick Drake; No 7 was Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys; No 8 was Thea Gilmore & Sandy Denny’s London; at No 9 was Streets of London by Ralph McTell and at No 10 was Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford and Sons.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens said: “I’m surprised that we actually pipped to the post all these great folk singers and that it’s still being played. That makes me feel very satisfied and it shows that the song and the meaning is still relevant. Of course it is relevant because wild world is exactly what it is and exactly what we’re living in right now and it’s getting wilder perhaps.”

JOHN HIATT – DIRTY JEANS AND MUDSLIDE HYMNS

Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns, the new album from acclaimed musician and songwriter John Hiatt, will be released August 8th2011 on New West Records. This is Hiatt’s twentieth solo album and follows his acclaimed 2010 release, The Open Road, which was an Uncutmagazine Americana Album of the Month, while the The Arts Desk declared it (with severe understatement) “a rather fine collection.” As an added bonus, a deluxe version of the album will be made available, which will include a special behind-the-scenes DVD, The Making of Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns and 24/96 High Resolution audio mix of the entire album. Additionally, Hiatt will undertake UK tour dates in the Autumn of this year.

“…one of rock’s most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years.”––Los Angeles Times

Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns was recorded at Ben’s Studio in Nashville and was produced by Kevin Shirley(Led Zeppelin, Silverchair, Joe Bonamassa, Aerosmith, The Black Crowes). In addition to Hiatt, the album features Kenneth Blevins on drums and percussion, Doug Lancio on electric guitars, mandolin and Hammertone and Patrick O’Hearn on bass guitar.

John Hiatt’s career as a performer and songwriter has spanned more than 30 years and his work has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, BB King, Ry Cooder, Rosanne Cash, and Bonnie Raitt to Iggy Pop, Three Dog Night and The Neville Brothers.

Hiatt began his solo career with the 1974 album Hangin’ Around the Observatory. His landmark 1987 release Bring The Family received critical praise and was his first album to chart in the U.S. In 1991-92, Hiatt was one-fourth of roots-rock ‘Supergroup’, Little Village, alongside Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, and Jim Keltner. In 1993, Rhino Recordsreleased Love Gets Strange: The Songs of John Hiatt, which collected many of the cover versions of his songs that were recorded during the 80s and 90s. 2000’s Crossing Muddy Waters was released to critical acclaim and was called “The most natural and relaxed John Hiatt album in years…” by All Music Guide. In 2008, Hiatt was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and was honored by the Americana Music Association with their prestigious “Lifetime Achievement in Songwriting Award.”

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