A mixed bag, jam packed with 20 tracks from the talented Miss Thea Gilmore. Some older tracks and some brand new tracks to encounter. The songs are often woven around intelligent, inventive and sometimes just plain strange lyrics; as in the case of “Razor Valentine”.
Not all the tracks hit the mark in my opinion, but there is such a rich selection that a small wobble here and there is no big deal. There are an array of guest artists on the album, such as Joan Baez, King Creosote and The Waterboys, adding variety and counterbalance to the songs. From upbeat rocking style to mournful ballad (and even, dare I say it, folk) [yes, you dare – Editor], this album covers the ground in style.
It’s incredible to think that some of the tracks on this album stretch back some 17 years and yet still come over as relevant. Age has not dated them.
Stand out tracks, for me? The opener ‘Copper’, ‘Start as We Mean to Go On’, ‘Coming Back to You’ ‘Razor Valentine’, ‘Sol Invictus’ and ‘Wrong with You’. Plenty of other goodies in the bag, but these are the tracks that pressed my buttons on the first play.
So if you acquire this CD you are getting a potted history of Thea Gilmore’s musical work, with the added bonus of new tracks. Plus a glossy booklet which has an introduction by the author Neil Gaiman, who became a fan of Thea Gilmore in the early years.
So, a thumbs up for Ghosts & Graffiti. Well worth the money in your pocket or adding to your birthday list.
I had heard of the Cropredy Festival before, and had even heard of Fairport Convention, but as I had grown up with British Heavy Metal and Rock, listening to such bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC and the like, my experience of Folk music was limited. I remember taking a guitar to a chap in the Medway Towns for rewiring, and him telling me he would be travelling to Cropredy that summer as he always did and always had.
However, it was several years before I attended the festival at the village of Cropredy, near Banbury in Oxfordshire. I went with my wife Sue and a couple of friends; Paul Johnson of Folking.com and his partner Yvonne.
Paul had a press pass, and was kind enough to organise a guest pass for me before the event so I could help with the photos for the backstage interviews that Paul and Darren Beech, of Folking.com had arranged to do with Chris Leslie (of Fairport Convention) and Edwina Hayes.
I saw some famous people backstage (including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who attends Cropredy regularly and Steve Hogarth of Marillion) which added to the excitement of the weekend. My wife was particularly taken with Edwina Hayes, purchasing her CD, and I passed her message on to Edwina herself, who told me she would be spending time with friends near the bar that evening and would be happy to sign the CD.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Bertha had decided to visit Cropredy too, spoiling that plan and sending pretty much everybody, artists included, back to their tents and campers to dry out. I have been to festivals before, including Download in 2012, and was no stranger to camping in the wet, but despite the storm our field (the newly added Field 8, to cater for the sold out show’s additional camping) did not flood, although Bertha did her best to make striking camp as unpleasant as possible on the Sunday morning.
The concert area (Field 9) has a single stage and around the perimeter are the various food stalls and other emporia. The food prices were a little on the high side, but this was expected; the quality was good, although a pizza we bought could have been passed through the machine another time, and queues got longer as the time went on (which was not surprising due to the festival selling out). We sampled the very tasty Cropredy Hop ale too.
As for the music, it was mostly very good, and I enjoyed the Chas and Dave and Marillion sets, and the Australian Pink Floyd Experience (who I have seen before in Rochester in Kent). The Waterboys were excellent, as were Edwina Hayes and Blackbeard’s Tea Party.
Fairport Convention concluded the show, and theirs was a polished performance, ending with the traditional Meet On The Ledge, their second single, released in 1968.
I didn’t see every artist, but the general atmosphere was very pleasant. The place was secure, and despite warnings of thieves operating we saw nothing to trouble us. This festival is a family event, with plenty of young people and dogs too. We took Jack, the Giant Chihuahua, who enjoyed it as much as the rest of us.
Although Bertha did her best, we all had a great time and look forward to going there again.
The 49th Cambridge Folk Festival ended in rousing style on Sunday night in what organisers Cambridge City Council have hailed as a ‘bumper year’.
The Festival was a complete sell out (14,000 total attendees) and included performances from The Mavericks, KT Tunstall, Levellers, The Waterboys, Amadou and Mariam, Steeleye Span, Martin Simpson and Capercaillie plus a range of folk, americana, blues and world music performances across the Festival’s four stages.
Performance highlights included: Bellowhead joining Levellers on stage for a run through the “Levs” The Recruiting Sgt; KT Tunstall performing versions of The White Stripe’sSeven Nation Army performed on a kazoo and a stirring version of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer; the eccentric and electric Bombay Royale performing on stage with a large inflatable elephant; a hilarious kids concert from UK comedic-poet John Hegley; landmark sets from Hertfordshire sisters The Staves who graduated to Stage 1 on their third appearance at the Festival; singer/songwriter Lucy Rose who headlined Thursday’s Stage 2 and US sisters Larkin Poe who’s two sets wowed the Festival audience over the weekend.
As well as the eclectic musical offering on the stages, Festival-goers also enjoyed a range of workshops from a guitar workshop from virtuoso instrumentalist Tommy Emmanuel, reed garland making, how to play Northumbrian pipes, storytelling and children’s instrument making. Attendees were also able to soak up the weekend’s glorious sunshine at the Festival’s duck pond and wilderness areas.
Media partners BBC Radio 2 broadcast two live shows from the Festival with Dermot O’ Leary and Mark Radcliffe both happily posing for photos with delighted Festival goers. Commenting on the Festival, Dermot described the unique and friendly vibe of the event saying that he looks forward to returning in future years. Mark Radcliffe also commented during his live show that, in his opinion, the audience represented a diverse cross section of ages and was getting younger. Both shows are available to watch via the BBC’s iPlayer
The Festival’s newest performance area, the 100-capacity ‘ The Den’ was once again a big hit, showcasing some of the hottest rising talent in the folk and acoustic worlds including ‘ones-to-watch’ sets from Common Tongues, CC Smugglers and Hudson Taylor.
Saturday night at the Festival was also brought to a close with the event’s third ever ‘silent ceilidh’ (hosted by Jim Moray) which saw the odd sight of people dancing to traditional jigs and reels whilst wearing headphones to hear the music.
Festival fans also took to Facebook and Twitter in their thousands throughout the four days and exclusive footage was added throughout the weekend to the Festival’s website, making the event one of the most digitally interactive to date. Interviews and footage are available to view on the Festival’s website.
The Festival also had a great range of Scottish acts which were supported by Creative Scotland.
Sarah Brown, Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing said, said ‘2013 has been a bumper year. We are delighted to have once again sold all the tickets for the event in what has been a difficult year for UK Festivals. We’d like to thank all the artists, traders, staff, sponsors, volunteers and of course, the audience for their support and involvement in creating such a great atmosphere and making it such a huge success. We look forward to welcoming everyone again next year for the 50th anniversary in 2014’.
The 2014 Cambridge Folk Festival runs from 31 July to 3 August. Tickets go on sale on Monday 2 December.
The folkmaster also wrote a “day by day blog” that includes media footage from each day. The links to these blogs are below (day 4 blog is still in progress of being written):
A welcome return of the Swedish based sextuplet West Of Eden for this, their seventh album. On hearing the first bars of the opening track “Haul Away” you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d just walked into a session with Fisherman’s Friends such is the force of the multi-layered wall of sound. The lead vocals of Martin & Jenny Schaub and the texturally sublime instrumentation including fiddle, guitars, accordion, bass and percussion bring vividly to life reflections of a life based at sea. And that, of course is the whole point of this project…songs and tunes with a nautical flavour. The recent popularity for all things nautical based will see this CD sit nicely in a market place that even the great Gareth (We Are Not Worthy) Malone has found irresistible and by the very nature of titles such as “Safe Crossing”, “13 Knots” and “Waiting For The Storm” will focus your attention much like the aroma of a good fish and chip supper. Drawing on sources including The Waterboys styled “Coffin Ship” and even a Vladimir Cosma sounding “Wrecker’s Weather” with its evocative use of brass band arrangement you’ll soon forget that the lyrics are jointly the work of the Schaub’s and not ‘trad arr’. Unlike most artists West Of Eden trawled (sorry about that) painstakingly long and hard in his research on the subject of all things ‘sea’ based and the result is a recording that should be admired by an audience further reaching than its ‘folk’ heritage should allow. This recording would make an outstanding contribution to any folk-rock collection and should rightly take its position on your shelf of the genre…surely an act of Cod!
THE SHIPPING NEWS is the brand new album release on The Global Sessions Label by singer songwriter Graham Robins emphasising his love of soul, blues, country and Gospel music along with the occasional dip into Celtic and Folk; all delivered in his signature rich deep voice. The album takes the listener on a journey into the heart and soul of a singer songwriter who has composed a well crafted collection of songs that underpins an experience and love of roots music in all its many forms.
Stand out cuts include the stunning title track The Shipping News, where Graham’s vocal delivery teases every emotion, guaranteed to move the listener, the pedal steel led Now All Of The Heartache’s Gone, the soulful Snow Blindand emotionally charged Roll Back The Years, but special mention must be made of the stunning Drown In Your Eyes which really shows a songwriter at the top of his game. This is an album of twelve killer songs, no fillers here.
Graham Robins truly is an outstanding singer songwriter and live performer, with two previous albums under his belt, SPIRIT WITHIN and ROLL BACK THE YEARS but with THE SHIPPING NEWS he has taken his recorded output to another level. Graham’s soulful voice and unique guitar style knit together perfectly wrapped around lyrics gathered from a lifetime of experience. Whether performed live or on record, his delivery becomes a passionate embrace of his heartfelt songs, revealing great depth and sincerity.
The album was recorded at the Echo Studios in Buckingham and was produced by Graham himself. Graham, who plays electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica and supplies lead vocals, is joined by guest musicians Stuart Buckle on Dobro and guitar, Dave Baldwin on keyboards (Van Morrison, Chris Farlowe, James Hunter, Larry Garner, The Norman Beaker Band), John Devine who supplies Uillean pipes (Wild Willy Barratt, Sleeping Dogs), Olly Dowlen on upright bass (Don Mescal, writer for Ronan Keating), Mark Burr on drums, Rol Walker on percussion, Cliff Weston gives us pedal steel, Cliff Ward on violin and not forgetting Jade Rhiannon Ward on backing vocals.
Graham Robins has been performing live and recording music since the mid 1960’s and has played at The Edinburgh Festival, The North Devon Music Festival, The Castlebar International Blues Festival and The Westport Arts Festival. He has shared the stage with numerous artists including The Waterboys, Seth Lakeman, Glen Tilbrook, Georgie Fame and Chris Farlowe. He was a 2008 Indie Award Nominee and tours the U.K. and Ireland regularly either solo or with his band and also with virtuoso guitarist and former Van Morrison sideman Ronnie Johnson. At London’s Borderline as part of Shana Morrison’s 2007 UK tour they performed together on Van Morrison’s Sometimes We Cry to great acclaim.
With influences that are vast and eclectic that go way back to the days of tuning into Radio Luxembourg and Radio Caroline, listening to Stax, Motown and Atlantic Records and with a love of artists with cross border musical links, it comes as no surprise that THE SHIPPING NEWS is an album covering many musical genres.
Graham Robins is constantly playing live shows up and down the UK and to support the release of THE SHIPPING NEWS will be touring the UK over the winter of 2011/2012.
Release date – November 7th 2011 on the Global Sessions label…
“Magical rootsy stuff, gloriously uplifting and with atmosphere by the spadefull!”