Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 2

Foxy Fri 300x400Blimey, its 6.00am and I’m in the shower… what the folking heck is going on. It’s not what your thinking… unless you are talking about it being “probably the best festival shower block in the world“… hot water at daybreak – on a campsite – who’d have though it, but after all, this is the 49th Cambridge Folk Festival, so they have had plenty of practice getting it right.

Due to the time it takes putting these things together, I didn’t actually get to see yesterdays opening act on the main stage as I was working on the folking day 1 review, but could hear, from the press office that it was lively set by a band called Korrontzi.

So my first visual act of the day was Finland’s frigging brilliant Frigg. A blend of Nordic folk and American bluegrass dubbed “Nordgrass”. See them in action below.

I then needed to head off and sort out the accommodation arrangements for the folking new resident photographer, who had finally turned up… the son of Clicker… for those old enough to remember the intensely focused original, he has got a lot to live up to.

LAPD 300x224Got back just in time to see the final number from Patty Griffin and then rushed down the front to wait in anticipation for one of the highlights of my weekend, LAPD, which for those of you in the know, are three quarters of Planxty (Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny) and the original Bothy Band fiddler (Paddy Glackin). We were treated to the Sweeney’s Men’s classic, My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland  and the Planxty standard, The Blacksmith. What a set, from one of the original Irish boy bands!

Now with son of clicker joining the folking team we raced round for the next hour or so and managed to catch Amadou & Mariam, for a bit African electric blues and then SOC (Son of Clicker) made it over to see Darrell Scott, of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy fame doing his own improvisational set. SOC thought it was brilliant and I was folking pissed I missed it!

Ross Couper & Tom OakesSOC headed for the club tent and shot some great footage of Ross Couper and Tom Oakes, a dynamic young, fiddle player and guitarist duo, adding a modern touch to the Scottish and Irish tradition.

Then we plunged into the double whammy of the Levellers followed by Bellowhead, two headliners in one night!

Levs1 300x225The Levellers played a storming set of old favorites and newer numbers, finishing with the unique experience of a stage full of Levs and Bellowhead for ‘The Recruiting Sergeant‘. How they get them all on the stage I don’t know!

Bellowhead followed with their own set with tracks from their latest ‘Broadside‘ release and Jon Boden’s ever natty suit jacket!

Emily Barker 300x225 Cams FFWe also managed to get over to Stage 2 to see the angelic Emily Barker , a compelling singer-songwriter and mesmerising live artist, who along with her band The Red Clay Halo blend classical, rock, country and folk influences to stunning effect. Emily’s appearance recently on the BBC Radio 2 Dermot O’leary show and performance with Frank Turner at the London 2012 Olympics in front of a global televised audience is certainly moving her and the band up the musical genre food chain.

Roving Crows 300x224Then over to the Club Tent to see the Roving Crows, we covered the last album Bacchanalia back in May last year and I had been itching to see them ever since.

Here is the link If you missed NANCY DUNHAM’s review: http://folking.com/the-roving-crows-bacchanalia/

They gave a great closing performance to the Friday night in the club tent and any festival organiser reading this, I urge you to book them as soon as possible as they are a folking brilliant live act!

The queue to the bus back to Coldham’s Common campsite was huge so we decided to reenact the Richard Thompson song and walk those long miles home. The temptation of bed was calling but the lure of another beer and the campsite stage was too strong and as we watched the current act finish, we found a seat and a beautiful young girl took to the stage, with a solitary guitar and opened her mouth, and wow, what came out made my night, a sound somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny. Sue Marchant, from BBC Radio Cambridge had arranged the last minute slot and boy am I glad she did! We’ll feature one of her own compositions called “Fall across the sea” as a later feature, but to wet your appetite now, here is her version of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the devil blues”… Ladies and gentlemen and general reprobates, I give you Leila Jane… The end to what Lou Reed would describe as “a perfect day”.

The folkmaster

Thea Gilmore announces new single, ‘Love Came Looking For Me’

Thea Gilmore Regardless

Critically acclaimed songwriter Thea Gilmore has now released her new studio album Regardless, to celebrate its release folking is giving you a chance to take a listen to the single ‘Love Came Looking For Me’.

If the name’s familiar, it may be thanks to the many plaudits the press have directed Gilmore’s way, or the endorsement of fans including Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez, or perhaps even her posthumous Sandy Denny collaborative track ‘London’, which dominated last year’s BBC London Olympics coverage, climbing into the upper reaches of the iTunes singles chart.

Gilmore is nothing if not prolific – Regardless is her 14th album in as many years – but this latest album grew out of an enforced hiatus.  In 2011 she gave birth to her second son, and had to take several months out from music– a potentially frustrating state of affairs for a musician with a fierce work ethic. The break, however, allowed her a distance to look at her own work with fresh eyes.

 ‘When you write as much as I do, it would be easy to get stuck in a rut and end up putting out the same album. This helped me relearn what I do.’ Thea continues ” I once had a conversation with a friend about a female artist who had had kids… he thought the album she released subsequently sounded as if she thought she was the only woman ever to go through the birth experience.  I never wanted Regardless to come across like that. For me, these are songs about being the custodian of somebody, but also about the process of letting go’.

The expression of unconditional love is something Gilmore pulls off on Regardless by shooting her lyrics through with a sense of human fallibility, and an eye ever mindful of the dark side. At times it’s as if her own emotions unnerve her (“this path is so well trodden but it still feels so unreal”) and elsewhere she muses movingly on the changing cycles of the human heart (“I find it best to be prepared for tricks of the light, and the shadows things throw if you hold them too tight. Time is a train and it’s lost to the bend.”)

Gilmore and long standing musical partner/producer Nigel Stonier have journeyed into new territories this time around, with Regardless featuring more lush string sections than scruffy acoustic guitars and harmonicas. 9 months were spent in 5 different studios, hooking up with collaborators Seadna Mac Phail (Elbow)  Danish producers The Suppliers (Ron Sexsmith, Martha Wainwright) and string arranger Pete Whitfield (Plan B). There is a widescreen finish present, and the painstaking process has clearly been worthwhile, resulting in an album that feels like an evolution of Gilmore’s songwriting talents – bigger and glossier, but with the wit and honesty that sets her work apart.

“Don’t look now, the view just changed…” Thea asserts on lead single “Love Came Looking For Me”. For Gilmore and her growing body of fans, the view has surely never been better.

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LUMIERE – My Dearest Dear (IRL Records IRL075)

Lumiere My Dearest DearThe art of successfully bringing ‘folk’ music to a wider audience has been surmounted before by the likes of Steeleye, Fairport and The Corrs and with the duo Lumiere it looks as if we have another artist batting for ‘our’ side. Whether we in the folk world deserve it or not remains to be seen as sometimes it would appear a thankless task pleasing the die-hard ‘traditionalists’. Personally speaking, to scorn anything ‘commercial’ would, in my opinion be churlish as both Eilis Kennedy and Pauline Scanlon have fine voices and, when joined by the more brittle vocals of guest Sinead O’Connor on Sandy Denny’s timeless “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” this really would be an unfairly negative response. Adding a touch of gloss to this musical undercoat producer John Reynolds has assembled an exemplary band of musicians including ex-Lunasa guitarist Donogh Hennessy, Clare Kenny (bass), Caroline Dale (cellos), Kevin Armstrong (guitars), Eamonn De Barra (piano/keyboards), Julian Wilson (Hammond organ), Catriona MacKay (Harp) and Reynolds himself on drums. Although the album is unashamedly commercial it will undoubtedly appeal more to say a Radio 2 audience than Radio 1 listener but there’s nothing wrong with that so long as you’re also happy to be tagged “easy listening”. Reflecting the duo’s passion for traditional songs such as “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”, “The Streets Of Derry” and a nicely understated “Ye Jacobites” it will sit nicely among those ethereal sounds of Clannad you have in your collection.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: http://www.lumieremusic.net/

Kate Rusby releases New Album ‘20’ to Mark 20 Years of Music Making

Kate Rusby 20FEATURING COLLABORATIONS WITH THE CREAM OF ROCK, FOLK & BLUEGRASS ARTISTS INCLUDING PAUL WELLER, RICHARD THOMPSON, NIC JONES, DICK GAUGHAN, PHIL SELWAY, MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER, CHRIS THILE, EDDI READER AND MORE…

The Barnsley nightingale Kate Rusby has released a new album to celebrate 20 years of making music. Entitled ‘20’ the album features new recordings of Kate’s favourite songs from throughout her illustrious career.

From the trad folk of ‘Jolly Plough Boys’ and ‘Annan Waters’ from her solo debut ‘Hourglass’ (’98) to the seasonal beauty of ‘Home’ from her 2011 Christmas album ‘While Mortals Sleep’ via ‘Unquiet Grave’, ‘Sho Heen’ and ‘Wild Goose’ from her Mercury nominated ’99 album ‘Sleepless’, the title tracks from ‘Underneath The Stars’ (2004) and ‘Awkward Annie’ (2007) and many more, Kate dips into every corner of her catalogue to create a set that is a wonderful introduction for the uninitiated and a fabulous reinterpretation of her ‘greatest hits’ for the committed fan. In addition Kate has written and recorded a beautiful new song for this album called ‘Sun Grazers’, on which she duets with Paul Weller, who has never sounded in finer voice. Other collaborators on the album include folk giants Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway, bluegrass upstarts Chris Thile and Sarah Jarosz, American folk & country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eddi Reader and many more.

‘20’ has been released on the Rusby family’s Pure Records label via Island Records. For this release Island has resurrected the legendary ‘Island Pink’ label on which albums by Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Sandy Denny, and Richard & Linda Thompson were released during the 70s.

‘20’ is available on double CD and digital download from the folking store link below. The full tracklisting is:

DISC 1

1. Awkward Annie (feat. Chris Thile)

2. Unquiet Grave (feat. Aoife O’Donovan)

3. Sun Grazers (feat. Paul Weller)

4. The Lark (feat. Nic Jones)

5. Planets (feat. Sarah Jarosz)

6. Wandering Soul (feat. Eddi Reader & Dick Gaughan)

7. Who Will Sing me Lullabies (feat. Richard Thompson & Philip Selway)

8. Jolly Plough Boys (feat. Dick Gaughan)

9. Sho Heen (feat. Eddi Reader, Phillip Selway & Jerry Douglas)

10.Bitter Boy (feat. Damien O’Kane)

 

DISC 2

1. I Courted a Sailor (feat. Jim Causley)

2. Mocking Bird (feat. Sara Watkins)

3. The Good Man (feat. Joe Rusby & Jerry Douglas)

4. Annan Waters (feat. Bob Fox)

5. All God’s Angels (feat. Paul Brady)

6. Elfin Knight (feat. Dave Burland)

7. Wild Goose (feat. Stephen Fretwell)

8. Home (feat. Mary Chapin Carpenter)

9. Underneath the Stars (feat. Grimethorpe Colliery Band)

10.Bring me a Boat (feat. Declan O’Rourke)

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Words and music on all songs are by Kate Rusby except ‘Jolly Plough Boys’ and ‘Annan Waters’, which are traditional songs arranged by Kate, ‘The Good Man’ whose words are a combination of trad and Kate with the tune written by Kate, and ‘Bring Me A Boat’, which has lyrics by Kate and melody by Phil Cunningham.

Kate Rusby was born into a musical family in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Her parents had a ceilidh band which Kate and her sister Emma joined at a very early age. Kate’s musical world is still very much a family affair – her parents, along with Emma and her brother Joe manage her, run her label, record her albums and book her tours, while her husband Damien O’Kane co-produces her records and plays guitar in her band. Kate’s first album release was a collaboration with another young singer – ‘Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts’ (’95). She has since released 9 solo albums: ‘Hourglass’ (’98), ‘Sleepless’ (’99), ‘Little Lights’ (2001), ‘Underneath The Stars’ (2004), ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly’ (2005), ‘Awkward Annie’ (2007), ‘Sweet Bells’ (2008), ‘Make The Light’ (2010), and ‘While Mortals Sleep’ (2011). She was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in ’99 and has won Folk singer of the year (2000), Best album (2000), Best song twice (2002 for “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies” and 2006 for “No Names”) and Best Live Act (2006) at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Proof that the cottage industry approach can pay off in the 21st century, Kate has quietly sold over a million records on the family-run independent label Pure Records and regularly plays sell-out tours around the country.

DAISY CHAPMAN – Shameless Winter – Songs And Whispers SW17/Folkwit Records f0090

ShamelessWinterSometimes I really don’t know where to start, other than to advise you to listen to this album as soon as you can. Shameless Winter is Daisy’s second album, on top of two EPs, all original material except for Billy Corgan’s ‘Disarm’, with a small group of musicians in support.

Two things stand out: Daisy’s powerful voice and her equally powerful songwriting. Written on tour, the songs embody the dilemma of doing what you want to do – need to do – while wanting to be back home with equal fervour. The closing song, ‘The Girl In Hannover’, with just solo piano exemplifies it best – ‘one man’s triumph is another man’s trial’, she sings. Much earlier comes ‘Better Me’, a title that leads to certain preconceptions until you realise that better is used as a verb not an adjective. That’s very different. Next is ‘The Gentleman In 13B’, a long song describing a flight from Moscow to London. In fact, Daisy has a facility for narrative songs, narratives in which not a lot happens but a great deal is learned.

On paper, the arrangements seem to be rather mainstream: strings, bass, a little brass and some mighty drums from Tim Smith with Daisy’s piano well to the fore. The reality is different. The gypsy violin on ‘Better Me’, for example, suggests the life of a wanderer which is the focus of the record and the pizzicato passage in ‘The Gentleman In 13B’ suddenly breaks the pattern of the song before you get too relaxed. Recorded by Ali Chant, the sound is big and rich and all the instruments have room to work – a remarkable balance. To provide a comparison by which to judge Daisy I want to say Sandy Denny – she’s there in the piano, the songwriting style and the voice. I hope that neither of them will object.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.daisychapman.com

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Sandy Denny – The Notes and The Music – A Collection of Demos and Rarities

Sandy Denny was one of the UK’s finest singers. She was voted Melody Maker’s greatest female singer for 2 years in a row in 1970 and 1971. She was also, legendarily, the only guest vocalist Led Zeppelin ever used. Robert Plant later said, ‘It was a beautiful spectacular moment for both of us. A beautiful exchange of two vocalists.’

Sandy Denny’s signature song Who Knows Where The Time Goes was voted All Time Greatest Folk Song by BBC Radio 2 listeners but this is just one song among over fifty songs she wrote and recorded between 1968 and 1978, the greatest body of work by any British female songwriter of her time. Sandy Denny’s finest recordings and song writing were celebrated on a sell-out UK tour in May this year. The Lady: A Homage to Sandy Denny featured an array of singers interpreting her work, including Maddy Prior, Joan As Policewoman, Green Gartside and Thea Gilmore alongside fiddler Dave Swarbrick and guitarist Jerry Donahue who originally played with Sandy in Fairport Convention and Fotheringay. The Barbican Show on May 23rd was filmed and will be shown on BBC4 in the coming months (the final date is yet to be confirmed).

Now, due to the phenomenal and totally unprecedented demand for Island’s Complete Sandy Denny Box Set, released in November 2010, Universal Music is issuing a limited edition 4 CD version.

The original box set has become one of the most collectible box sets of all time; changing hands for between £1000 – £1500 and now, for fans that missed out, this new four disc edition will include choice selections from the box set’s 19 discs. The new 4 CD edition will be limited to 3500 copies worldwide and boasts 75 tracks, including 17 demos taken from Sandy’s home recording tapes. Among these is the first known recording (from 1967) of Who Knows Where The Time Goes, plus further home demos, rarities and alternate versions of many Fairport and Fotheringay classics as well as outtakes and demos from her solo albums.

Housed in a hard back book style package like the 2007 Live at the BBC collection, The Notes & The Music – A Collection of Demos and Rarities also includes rare photos, art work, and explanatory notes about the tracks selected.

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