Dervish announce The Great Irish Songbook

Dervish

As one of the world’s most renowned and imaginative interpreters of Irish folk music, Dervish have devoted the last three decades to gently reinventing the traditional songs of their homeland. On their debut release for Rounder Records, the Sligo-based band join up with over a dozen luminaries across an eclectic range of genres.

Featuring guests Steve Earle, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Brendan Gleeson, Jamey Johnson, Kate Rusby, The SteelDrivers, Abigail Washburn and others, The Great Irish Songbook both preserves the spirit of each song and brings a new vitality to iconic traditional songs of their homeland.

Throughout The Great Irish Songbook, Dervish build off the dynamic they’ve brought to their thirteen previous albums and dazzling live performance: a kinetic union of technical brilliance and undeniable soul, endlessly fortified by their immense creativity. With the help of their guest artists, Dervish’s intricately sculpted sound expands and widens and takes on new textures, revealing the limitless possibilities within a single song. The result is an album that instantly transports you to a more charmed state of mind and-like all the most illuminating journeys-imparts a deeper understanding of what’s most essential in life.

Produced by Graham Henderson (a musician known for his work with artists like Sinéad O’Connor), The Great Irish Songbook delivers some of the best-loved songs in the Irish tradition. In assembling their lineup of featured guests, Dervish reached out to the many artists with whom they’ve bonded over a shared passion for Irish folk, then called on each musician to select their most cherished song within the genre. Recorded mainly at The Magic Room in Sligo, the finished product finds each collaborator imbuing the album with their own distinct sensibilities while lovingly upholding the time-honored character of the songs.

 The Great Irish Songbook encompasses everything from lovelorn ballads to traditional dance music to songs customarily sung at funerals, its moods continually shifting from longing to joy to delicately rendered heartache.

Within its first few tracks alone, The Great Irish Songbook shows the extraordinary scope of the album and the musicianship behind it. On “There’s Whisky in the Jar,” Nashville-based bluegrass band The SteelDrivers channel their freewheeling energy into one of the most widely performed traditional Irish tunes of all time (recorded by everyone from Thin Lizzy to Metallica to Jerry Garcia).

Poetry also infuses much of The Great Irish Songbook, such as on the Kate Rusby-sung rendition of “The Sally Gardens” (a W.B. Yeats-penned serenade) and the D.K. Gavan-authored “Rocky Road To Dublin,” a 19th-century story-song delivered with unabashed brio by famed Irish actor and part-time fiddle player Brendan Gleeson. Meanwhile, “On Raglan Road” transforms Patrick Kavanagh’s lovesick verse into a moment of sublime melancholy, thanks in no small part to the tender tenor of country star Vince Gill.

One of the two newly written pieces on The Great Irish Songbook has Steve Earle accompanying Dervish for a wistful yet rousing version of “The Galway Shawl,” closing out the track with a full-hearted sing-along.

Through the years, Dervish have toured the globe and shared stages with the likes of James Brown, Neil Young, and Sting, becoming the first Irish band ever to play Rock in Rio (the world’s most massive music festival), and steadily making their name as one of the foremost purveyors of Irish folk music.

As they approach their 30th anniversary, Dervish again prove the enduring significance of even the most timeworn songs. And in a way not unlike the folk revival of the 1960s, much of The Great Irish Songbook celebrates a spirit of togetherness, with a conviction that’s gracefully understated but powerfully felt. For Dervish, that sense of community and connection is both an ideal takeaway for the album and the driving force of its creation.

Accordionist Shane Mitchell, a founding member of the band, noted, “With this record we brought in people from genres sometimes totally unrelated to what we do, but still found a way to create some beautiful music together.” He reflects, “I think that’s an incredibly important thing to consider in life as well, especially now: everyone can find a way to collaborate, even if you’re coming from what feels like completely different places.”

In the coming weeks, Dervish will announce full details of The Great Irish Songbook Live, a show that will begin touring internationally in late 2019 and will feature guests from the album.

Artists’ website: https://www.dervish.ie/

‘As I Roved Out’ – live with Kate Rusby and Kevin Burke:

Steve Earle back with new album

Steve Earl & The Dukes
Photograph by Tom Bejgrowicz

Steve Earle & The Dukes are set to return with Guy on March 29th, 2019. A return to New West Records, the 16-song set is comprised of songs written by one of his two primary songwriting mentors, the legendary Guy Clark. Guy appears ten years after his Grammy Award winning album Townes, his tribute to his other songwriting mentor, Townes Van Zandt. Produced by Earle and recorded by his long-time production partner Ray Kennedy, Guy features his latest, and possibly best, incarnation of his backing band The Dukes including Kelley Looney on bass, Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle & mandolin, Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel guitar, and Brad Pemberton on drums & percussion. Guy also features guest appearances by fellow Guy Clark cohorts Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Terry Allen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mickey Raphael, Shawn Camp, Verlon Thompson, Gary Nicholson, and the photographer Jim McGuire.

Steve Earle first met Guy Clark after hitchhiking from San Antonio to Nashville in 1974. A few months after his arrival, he found himself taking over for a young Rodney Crowell as bassist in Guy’s band.

“No way I could get out of doing this record,” says Earle. “When I get to the other side, I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the Townes record and not one about him.”   Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark were like Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to me.”

The mercurial Van Zandt (1944-1997) who once ordered his teenage disciple to chain him to a tree in hopes that it would keep him from drinking, was the On The Road quicksilver of youth.  Clark, 33 at the time Earle met him, was a longer lasting, more mellow burn.

“When it comes to mentors, I’m glad I had both,” says Earle. “If you asked Townes what it’s all about, he’d hand you a copy of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.  If you asked Guy the same question, he’d take out a piece of paper and teach you how to diagram a song, what goes where. Townes was one of the all-time great writers, but he only finished three songs during the last fifteen years of his life. Guy had cancer and wrote songs until the day he died…he painted, he built instruments, he owned a guitar shop in the Bay Area where the young Bobby Weir hung out. He was older and wiser. You hung around with him and knew why they call what artists do disciplines. Because he was disciplined.”

Guy wasn’t really a hard record to make,” Earle says. “We did it fast, five or six days with almost no overdubbing. I wanted it to sound live…When you’ve got a catalogue like Guy’s and you’re only doing sixteen tracks, you know each one is going to be strong.

There was another reason, Earle said, he couldn’t “get out of” making Guy.  “You know,” he said, “as you live your life, you pile up these regrets. I’ve done a lot of things that might be regrettable, but most of them I don’t regret because I realize I couldn’t have done anything else at the time. With Guy, however, there was this thing. When he was sick — he was dying really for the last ten years of his life — he asked me if we could write a song together. We should do it ‘for the grandkids,’ he said. Well, I don’t know…at the time, I still didn’t co-write much, then I got busy. Then Guy died and it was too late. That, I regret.”

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Artist’s website: http://www.steveearle.com/

There are no videos from the new album yet but here’s a live version of a classic recorded a few days ago:

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES – Terraplane (New West)

TerraplaneTaking its title from the 1930s classic car that also lent its name to Robert Johnson’s ‘Terraplane Blues’, Earle’s 16th studio album sees him and the band digging into all shades of Texas blues (though ‘The Usual Time’ does take a ticket to Chicago), the songs paying musical tribute and homage to a variety of legends and heroes, from the Fort Worth sound of Freddy King to the Houston style of Lightnin’ Hopkins, embracing the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Winter and Billy Gibbons along the way. As such, while it may be personal from a musical perspective, lyrically Earle’s seeking to mirror the genre rather than as a channel for his own feeling and views. As such, it may be hard for those who worship at the altars of ‘Copperhead Road’ or ‘Jerusalem’ to get their head round the harmonica-sucking, down and dirty swagger of ‘Baby Baby Baby (Baby)’, the chorus of which consists of the repeated title, though the drawled line “a little town they call ‘shut my mouth’” sounds like prime Earle to me.

It’s not the greatest opening track ever, but it sets the mood for what follows with the wet-lipped baby let your hair hang down mojo of ‘You’re The Best Lover That I Ever Had’, the 60s Muddy Waters blues rock groove of ‘King of the Blues’ and ‘Go Go Boots Are Back’, a swamp blues number that can’t quite decide whether its borrowing its riff from Creedence’s ‘Green River’ or the Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’.

If these represent the gutsier, electric side of the blues, there’s several counterpoints that take the fingerpicked, acoustic route, first up with the baccy-chewin’ feel of the fiddle accompanied ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now’, the drawled slurry of the mandolin backed ‘Gamblin’ Blues’ (a track as haunted by the ghost of Guthrie as any of the Texas bluesmen) and the 30s string band swing of the lyrically wry ‘Baby’s Just As Mean As Me’ duet with Eleanor Whitmore.

Although, as I say, Earle’s voice isn’t particularly personal here, there is one track where it’s hard not to read the lyrics as referencing his seventh divorce, this time from Allison Moorer, namely heart-aching resignation of the spare slow waltz blues ‘Better Off Alone’, which also happens to be the best number here.

Being a blues album, there are, of necessity, a couple of staple requirements. The scuffle-along ‘Acquainted With The Wind’ provides the obligatory rambling man song, fired up by Whitmore’s fiddle and a riff that evokes The Who’s ‘My Generation’, but then Townshend probably stole it anyway from the blues anyway. Naturally there also has to be something about the devil, a crossroads, a battle for a bluesman’s soul and, if possible, mention of Robert Johnson. All these boxes are dutifully ticked by ‘The Tennessee Kid’, an hypnotic track that has Earle speaking the narrative in hell-fire preacher tones (particularly unsettling as he recounts the devil breathily rasping “hey hey hey hey”), opening with a suitably Doorsian drone before sliding into a low humming Canned Head boogie and throbbing guitar solo.

It’s unlikely to make many Steve Earle’s Top 5 albums list, but then, as he says in the notes “everybody’s sick of all my fucking happy songs anyway.”

Mike Davies

We have set up a new UK & U.S Storefront for brand new CD/Vinyl/Download releases recently featured together with a search facility for older stuff. The link for the folking store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/

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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.

Artist’s website: http://steveearle.com/

‘You’re The Best Lover That I Ever Had’ – live on the back porch:

Can’t get enough of the “Earle and the Dukes” so folking ‘ave a bit more…

Rachel Harrington and THE KNOCK OUTS

NEW ALBUM NOW AVAILABLE!

Imagine Loretta Lynn playing Otis Redding songs in a garage in Seattle – in 1963. That gets you somewhere near the new territory being scouted out by country soul sensation Rachel Harrington as she heads for the hills and honkytonks with her newest adventure.

Over the course of the past three striking albums, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Rachel Harrington has proven an ability to conjure songs and stories that are real and resonant and timeless – whether she’s singing about yesterday’s heartache or tomorrow’s dreams. “Ancient sounding country noir” (Q – 4 Stars) with “songs that conjure the ghosts of old America” (Mojo – 4 Stars).

So what happens when a true original like Harrington gets a full band behind her? And what if that band is dedicated to excavating the very soul of American roots music, to mining the old school sounds and sentiments from Etta to Loretta? And let’s just say that band is comprised of some of the finest female musicians in the Northwest? That band would be called Rachel Harrington and the Knock Outs.

Asked to perform some songs at Seattle Theater Group’s annual Patsy Cline tribute concert, Harrington found herself talking backstage with a host of fellow girl singers and musicians. It didn’t take long for their shared love of honkytonk, classic country, early rock and the Bakersfield sound to become obvious. As the story goes, the Knock Outs were born backstage and christened with a few shots of whisky.

“It was a meant-to-be kind of moment. We were all women who all knew that Don Rich and Loretta Lynn and Ray Charles all started out here in Washington State. All I had to do was make us some new songs to sing.” Harrington then set to work on writing fresh material for the fledgling group.

The new album, simply titled Rachel Harrington & The Knock Outs, was recorded at Avast! Studios in Seattle (Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes, Jesse Sykes) with Harrington’s long-time producer, Evan Brubaker, and features Alisa Milner on fiddle, Rebecca Young on bass, Moe Provencher on guitar, and Aimee Tubbs on drums. Special guests include Mark Erelli, steel player Tommy Hannum (Steve Earle) and guitarist Tim Carroll (Elizabeth Cook). Harrington and company circle the wagons on true-blue Americana from the wall-of-sound 60‘s soul rave-up of ‘He’s My Man’, to the women’s lib honkytonk of ‘Wedding Ring Vacation’, to the cry-in-your-beer gem ‘I’d Like To Take This Chance’.

A 2011 winner in Merlefest’s esteemed songwriting contest (previous winners include Gillian Welch and Tift Merritt), Rachel says her past few albums came largely of her study of the Old West and turn-of-the-century American musics, circa 1900-1930. “And the new record may sound a little different, but I’m still writing essentially the same stuff. I’m still lifting my skirts and letting my influences show. I’m still channeling the old writers and singers and storytellers I love.” She winks.“It’s just that I moved forward in time about 40 years.”

We have set up a new UK & U.S Storefront for brand new CD/Vinyl/Download releases recently featured together with a search facility for older stuff. The link for the folking store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/

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Artist’s website: www.rachelharrington.net

Bap Kennedy THE SAILORS REVENGE

For nearly any singer/songwriter on the planet, the idea of collaborating with Mark Knopfler would be the stuff of fantasy. But for Bap Kennedy, it was just the latest in a long line of projects with high profile, and highly respected, musical legends. For a man who has worked with Steve Earle and Van Morrison, to name just two, an offer to record an album in the Dire Straits frontman’s own studio was another musical milestone. THE SAILOR’S REVENGE, the album that Kennedy wrote and Knopfler produced, features songwriting that grows stronger with every listen, assisted of course by Knopfler’s distinctive delicious guitar and tasteful widescreen production.

“The best singer songwriter I ever saw” Steve Earle

Bap’s first encounters with the record business were as rhythm guitarist, lead singer and primary songwriter for Belfast rockers Energy Orchard, with whom he recorded 5 albums. When the band left Belfast, they established themselves as legends of London’s live music scene. It was while he was in Energy Orchard that Kennedy first worked with compatriot Van Morrison, who gave the band several support slots to supplement their own hectic touring schedule of both the USA and Europe.

When Energy Orchard split up, Bap had little time to rest, because alt-country superstar, and longtime Energy Orchard fan, Steve Earle soon contacted him, suggesting that he would produce Bap’s first solo album.

Kennedy agreed, and soon found himself on the plane to Nashville, TN, where he would record DOMESTIC BLUES. The album featured several of Nashville’s most highly regarded musicians, including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan and Nanci Griffith. It was a real success, getting into the top ten of the Billboard Americana chart.

The follow-up album, LONELY STREET, was an artistic project based on, and dedicated to; two of Bap’s childhood musical heroes, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley and his next album THE BIG PICTURE would see Bap returning to work with Van Morrison, who had supported Kennedy since his Energy Orchard days. THE BIG PICTURE was recorded at Morrison’s studio, and included a Bap and Van co-write, Milky Way. The album also featured guest vocals from Shane MacGowan, lead singer of the Pogues, on the song On the Mighty Ocean Alcohol, and a reading from Carolyn Cassady, one of the leading figures from the Beat generation of American writers, at the end of the beautifulMoriarty’s Blues.

For Howl On, released in 2009, Bap recorded in his native Northern Ireland for the first time in his solo career and, much like with LONELY STREET, returned to writing a series of songs on a subject that had fascinated Bap in childhood.

THE SAILOR’S REVENGE features Kennedy’s most mature and sophisticated songwriting to date, an achievement in itself when you consider his back catalogue. Bap is joined by guest musicians such as Jerry Douglas, Glenn Worf and of course Mark Knopfler, all combining to ensure that the musicianship on the album is every bit as good as the songwriting. When it comes to the songs there are simply too many superb compositions to list here. Highlights include the album opener Shimnavale, a place that sits between the Irish Sea and the mountains of Mourne in County Down, inspired by old photographs of a family who lived there and Bap’s own experience as an immigrant. Working Man tells of Bap’s life as a builders labourer in the mid eighties while waiting for a record deal to come along and Jimmy Sanchez was written about the Chilean miners rescue where nineteen year old Jimmy, the youngest miner trapped was quoted as saying that God must want him to change, powerful words, hence the line in the song “I know I must change”.

THE SAILOR’S REVENGE is a phenomenal body of work and as “game changing” as a Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan with no brakes… We urge you all to buy it! folking.com

We have set up a new UK & U.S Storefront for brand new CD/Vinyl/Download releases recently featured together with a search facility for older stuff. The link for the folking store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/

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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.

Bap Kennedy is touring the UK, this month (March 2012), more information and the latest tour dates can be found at www.bapkennedy.com