DELTA LADIES – Hillbilly Trance (own label)

Hillbilly TranceHillbilly Trance was originally released as a limited edition earlier this year but, due to difficult circumstances, it was essentially unfinished. Now the “missing” tracks have been added and the whole album remixed for general release. I suppose that I was expecting a stomping hootenanny of an album but it’s not like that at all. In fact, the title is totally accurate: on the one hand you have the elements of bluegrass/country music – guitar, banjo, fiddle and harmonica – and on the other there are the ingredients of trance – kandela, Tibetan bowls, whistle and keyboards – and the two come together.

Delta Ladies began as a duo of Vicky Martin and Dee Stone playing all the lead instruments and have now been joined by Danny Bryan’s percussion. They are augmented here by Tali Trow, who was also responsible for most of the production, Alan Glen on harmonica and, on two tracks, flautist Nick Newell. The expanded line-up has changed again since the album was completed.

The key tracks are probably ‘Trance Dance’ and ‘Rock Of Ages (Tranced)’ which follows it. The indigenous trance dance was intended to be consciousness-altering and certainly the rolling rhythms of some of the tracks lead the listener down new paths. The closing eleven-plus minutes of ‘Hear Me Calling’ is a masterpiece of interlinking sounds and instruments.

In contrast are the little banjo solo, ‘Redcar Blues’; ‘Hot Chat Line’ which starts out as a fifties style rock’n’roller and just about manages to hold on to that concept although Dee’s fiddle tries to take it away, and the gospel blues of ‘Praise The Lord’. Don’t go away with the idea that Delta Ladies lack direction because they know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. It may take some people a while to catch up with them is all.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.deltaladies.com

‘Devil’s Work Today’ – official video:

FLEETWOOD CAVE – People Like Us (Rhythm Records FCPLU2016))

People Like UsMarion Fleetwood and Gregg Cave met with the formation of TRADarrr and things went from there. Unlike their parent band, Fleetwood Cave’s debut album, People Like Us, consists of original material plus one cover version. Supporting Marion and Gregg are Tali Trow and Paul Johnston on double bass and drums with guest appearances from Simon Nicol, Chris Leslie, Anna Ryder, Gerry Colvin, Edwina Hayes, Debs Earl and Chris Cleverley.

Like TRADarr Fleetwood Cave enjoy big arrangements with lots of fiddle but the opener, ‘18th Day Of May’ is a relatively simple and very catchy slice of folk-rock beginning with gorgeous acapella harmonies and a nod to ‘Bonny Black Hare’ in its refrain. ‘Dancing Girls’ follows: initially a gentle song with Marion’s voice and Gregg’s acoustic guitar and some delicate electrics (Gerry Colvin?). It ups the power after a couple of minutes but maintains the mood even through its big finish mainly because Marion avoids the histrionics that pop music would demand.

There are delightful twists all the way through the album so ‘Guinea Golden’ slips into a Morris tune in the middle; ‘Gypsy Queen’ sounds biographical but is probably a rural myth written sometime last year and ‘Passage Of Time’ turns into a growling, driving rock song. There is one instrumental, the wild flying ‘Lazarus’ which gives everybody chance to go to town and the cover is Fairport Convention’s ‘Wizard Of The Worldly Game’ taken rather more slowly than the original. It’s an overlooked part of the Fairport canon but this version will undoubtedly revive its popularity.

There is a huge amount of festival potential here with anthemic songs and great hooks. I can imagine sitting in the sun singing “The bigger the tree, the deeper the roots”. This is a really good debut.

Dai Jeffries

’18th Day Of May’ – live:

New duo Fleetwood Cave announce debut album and spring tour

Fleetwood Cave

Fleetwood Cave, the new folk duo featuring Marion Fleetwood and Gregg Cave, will be launching their new album, ‘People Like Us’ with a tour of England and Wales starting in late January 2017.

Marion and Gregg met through new folk supergroup TRADarrr, who will be visiting Canterbury later in the year. Both are familiar faces on the folk circuit, having played many folk clubs and festivals between them, including Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival.
 
Marion has a voice which has been described as ‘mesmerising’ and ‘siren-esque’, and plays all things bowed. Ashley Hutchings MBE has said she ‘deserves to be ranked amongst the finest singers in this country’. She has been a well known figure on the Stratford music scene for many years, and is multi-instrumentalist and singer with new folk supergroup TRADarrr. She was a member of Meet On The Ledge, The Jigantics and the award winning ColvinQuarmby – now known as The Gerry Colvin Band, which she still performs with.  

Since forming folk-rock band CAVE when he was 18 years old, Gregg Cave, has been performing in concerts and at festivals in the UK and mainland Europe. In recent years Gregg has collaborated with musicians and storytellers and has been commissioned by the Arts Council and National Trust to produce two separate pieces of performance. He sings lead vocals with TRADarrr.

Their debut album as a duo, People Like Us, was Crowdfunded in eight weeks and recorded over five days in a village hall in Northampton, with the added musical input of Tali Trow (double bass) and Stratford based musician and producer Paul Johnston (drums and percussion). It includes new material from both Marion and Gregg, along with one cover – Fairport Convention track ‘Wizard Of Fhe Worldly Game’ (with the definitive lyrics to the final verse sent to them by Simon Nicol himself after an exhaustive on-line search showed much confusion!). Friends of the pair joined them to complete the recording and include Simon Nicol and Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention, Anna Ryder, Gerry Colvin, Edwina Hayes, Debs Earl and Chris Cleverley.

Their 25 date tour includes gigs across England and Wales, from Hull to Redruth and Canterbury to Wigan. They are also taking their music to Holland later in the year.

The People Like Us tour starts in Kingston, Canterbury with a gig for Folk In The Barn on 22nd January and ends at Cecil Sharp House on April 30th.