KATHRYN TICKELL – Northumbrian Voices (Park Records PRKCD121)

KATHRYN TICKELL Northumbrian VoicesThere can be nobody prouder than a father and raconteur (Mike Tickell) witnessing his daughter entertaining an audience from centre stage and in this case the daughter (Kathryn Tickell) vice-versa. That much is obvious from the camaraderie of everyone involved on this wonderfully crafted 2-disk set from those very fine chaps at Park Records. Now, where do you place a recording that would comfortably settle on either an audio book or music CD shelf? Well, for me it sits alongside my previous recordings of her albums of which I profess to own most of them. Although internationally recognised for her achievements in ‘folk’ music circles as one of its major driving forces when it comes to her native Northumbria this beautiful part of the North-East couldn’t find a better ambassador. After sifting through many old cassettes Kathryn had the unenviable task of selecting certain recordings that represented her friends, family and neighbours. With respect, that part of the process must have been made easy as all involved impart their wit and wisdom with such convivial jocularity that you’ll wish you could have been there in person. For those of us lucky enough to witness the ‘Border Shepherds’ (Willie Taylor, Will Atkinson and Joe Hutton) in the early 80’s have much to be thankful for and it’s a treat to be reminded of their gentle banter and good humour celebrated by Martin Simpson’s song simply titled “Will Atkinson” and sung acapella by the girls. Talking of which…hearty congratulations all round to Tickell’s accompanying musicians; Hannah Rickard (fiddle), Kit Haigh (guitar), Patsy Reid (fiddle), Julian Sutton (melodeon), David McCracken (voice) and Amy Thatcher’s piano accordion. This album was obviously a labour of love and one that will warmly embrace the listener like a freshly stoked fire and if somebody can kindly get my slippers, pipe and bottle of Newcastle Brown I’ll be an even happier man. Finally…anyone who can complement me on my use of polyrhythm guitar (and know what they’re talking about) at Gosport & Fareham Festival is alright in my books!


Artist web links: www.kathryntickell.com


In March 2012, folk-inspired, multiaward winning singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman played with the renowned BBC Concert Orchestra at Plymouth Pavilions in Devon. Seth will release a five track LIVE EP on 03 December featuring recordings from that night mixed by Richard Evans.

The live EP features versions of some of Seth’s best known songs, arranged by Anne Dudley and conducted by Matthew Coorey. It features Blacksmith’s Prayer (streamed below)  from his current album Tales from the Barrel House, Kitty Jay the title track from his 2005 Mercury nominated album, Lady of the Sea and King & Country from his gold-selling album Freedom Fields and Changes from Hearts & Minds.

Artist’s website: http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

GREEN DIESEL – Now Is The Time (Own Label)

Perhaps it’s the late 60’s, Fairport styled introduction that appeals to me on Green Diesel’s take on Steve Ashley’s “Fire And Wine” complete with obligatory ‘riff’. Whatever it is, the band play to the strengths of the folk-rock genre of that era featuring Ellen Care’s fiddle/vocals, Matt Dear (lead guitar), Matthew Fraser (accordion), Ben Holliday (bass guitar), Colin Ireland (drums) and Greg Ireland on rhythm guitar/mandolin/bouzouki etc). On the second track “London Pride” (more commonly known as the shanty “Let The Bulgine Run”) the band are happy playing to the strengths of that bygone decade with crash, bang wallop drums and layered singing although, without wishing to sound uncharitable, I’m not sure about Dear’s lead vocal on his own self composed “The General’s Lament”…a case to me at least of where’s the gravitas? I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with the judges panel of the recent TV “Superstar” auditions but please, if you’re going to sing a song sing it with passion…from the heart! That aside, this album should provide a reasonable ‘calling card’ to what the band are capable of and will undoubtedly sell well to their Kent based fans and anyone who sees them at a festival.


Artist’s website: www.greendieselfolk.com

Ray Cooper aka Chopper is leaving Oysterband…

We have just had word that Ray Cooper, also known as Chopper, is leaving Oysterband to pursue a career as a solo singer-songwriter.

Ray says; ” After 24 years of constant touring and recording, it is not easy to give up the friends, the fans and the life I have known. We shared a lot of ups and downs and have grown together to be more like a family than a band. However, since the release of my solo album ‘Tales of Love War and Death by Hanging’ a couple of years ago, I knew that a door had been opened for me and another, more challenging path lay waiting. I have to sing”.

His last show with OB will be February 23rd in Treorchy, Wales, which is also the last date of the highly successful Ragged Kingdom tour featuring Oysterband with June Tabor.

Artist’s website: www.raycooper.org

Tim Carter, presenter of ‘Off the Beaten Track’ reviews Show of Hands live

Show of Hands at Yeovil Octagon Theatre Saturday 27th October, 2012

Amongst the many acts that populate the current and seemingly ever-expanding British folk scene, few are as reliably rewarding in the live context as Show of Hands. It would seem that this is a view shared by many, since every seat in the house was taken for the band’s performance at The Octagon Theatre this evening.

Unlike many live concerts, in which the support act offers a truncated set to an indifferent audience, Show of Hands consistently present their discerning followers with an act worthy of further investigation. On this occasion the Yeovil audience was treated to a highly entertaining duo comprising of Canadian musician, Leonard Podolak and his musical partner from the United States, Matt Gordon. This pair performed some endearing Appalachian Mountain music, complete with nifty footwork and rhythmic slapping of limbs on a sand strewn wooden platform. The audience was entreated to participate in the musical body slapping and it was an oddly amusing sight from my vantage point to see an entire audience gamely clap a sequence of limbs in unison. Each partner in this entertaining duo was equally engaging, performing either solo or with the other and established a warm, good humoured atmosphere for what was to follow.

Quite clearly Show of Hands have much confidence in their newly released album ‘Wake the Union’ a work that combines perspectives on challenging times, historical and contemporary, on both sides of the Atlantic. The set began with the album’s opening track ‘Haunt You’. The appeal of this song, like so many Steve Knightly compositions before it, owes much to the composer’s ability to set an evocative narrative within a rousing musical setting.  Other highlights of the set included another ‘Wake the Union’ stand-out: ‘Katrina’. In this song the horrors of the New Orleans’ hurricane are made vivid through an evocative musical arrangement and Knightley’s quietly insistent vocal.

Elsewhere in the set Phil Beer provided an arresting moment in his superb and darkly atmospheric rendition of Charles Causley’s ‘Innocents Song’ set to dramatic fiddle playing. The towering shadow of Show of Hands’ virtuoso  multi-instrumentalist on one wall of the Octagon Theatre provided a striking visual counterpoint to the song’s eerie lyrical content.  Of course, Show of Hands could scarcely perform at this venue without a rare outing for the track ‘Yeovil Town’, a grimly humorous yarn about a late night encounter in a chip shop with one of the town’s less than folk-friendly denizens. It’s not often that a band can play a song that urges the audience to “stay away” from the town in which it’s performing yet Show of Hands pulled it off with aplomb, bringing much mirth to the house as they did so. Amidst the excellent new material there remained time for the band to perform a number of the song’s on which the high esteem in which they are held is founded. These include ‘Roots’, ‘A.I.G’ and perhaps Show of Hands’ best loved number ‘Cousin Jack’, an elegiac yet impassioned song about mass emigration to foreign climes in the wake of the collapse of the Cornish mining industry.

Show of Hands remains the folk act most likely to win over even those most resolutely antipathetic to folk music, effortlessly dispelling any preconceptions as they do so. The quality of the song-writing and musicianship on display this evening provide ample reason why after twenty years they continue to go from strength to strength. Tim Carter

Tim Carter presents ‘Off the Beaten Track’ every Monday at 6pm on Somer Valley FM. The show can be listened to on-line at www.somervalleyfm.co.uk

See Artist web link for latest tour details: www.showofhands.co.uk

Seth Lakeman Band live review plus new EP: live with the BBC Concert Orchestra

Seth Lakeman Band Ipswich Corn Exchange Sunday 21st October 2012. A top-class night at the very nicely refurbished Ipswich Corn Exchange.

After watching Seth grow as a musician on and off since his late teens with his brothers and Equation, through his emergence as a solo performer and post Mercury Prize nomination take off, this was Seth, and band, at one with the stage more than it has seemed in a while and firing on all cylinders, it was great to witness.

Two elements have lifted the live performances lately, one is the return of the much missed Cormac Byrne, the beating heart of a band on Bodrhan and anything else he can hit, including an anvil this time! Now the perfect band line up is complete with the addition of Lisbee Stainton an inspired decision alongside the four guys , and I hope they don’t let her go. Having a female voice on stage has now opened up Seths back catalogue more and taken his shows into a new phase. A live Lakeman show has always had an edge,drive and theatre but now the edges have been softened a bit which is very refreshing. Apart from vocals, Lisbee is a pretty handy musician too, the toys on stage have been added to with a harmonium and she plays a mean Banjo.

We were treated to songs covering the last 10 years and 6 albums. It was great to hear songs rarely given an airing from John Lomas from Kitty Jay to up to date songs like The Sender From Tales From The Barrel House.

It was a fast paced evening and the opening two song weld of More Than Money and the brilliant Blacksmiths Prayer set the tone of the night and it didn’t let up until the end of Race To be King that had everyone up and dancing .

Highlights at Ipswich were Seth and Cormac thrashing out Bold Knight and the band driving a full on Zeppelin like Blood Red Sky (I could always hear their influence in this ) and then as contrast the lovely Changes and White Hare with Lisbee.

I could not write a review without highlighting Seths signature song, the bow shredding Kitty Jay with added eerie back lighting for extra drama, I have never yet seen him play this and the room not been worked into a frenzy and exploded when the last note fades, it’s still thrilling after all these years .

Seths albums from kitty Jay on-wards have always had a sense of the dramatic, now he and his band have the tools and the graft behind them to bring that onto a stage fully, it’s taken a while, but I think they really have a show that they have been trying to perfect for a few years, and now should be proud of.

Seth really has come a long way down the road from the rough and ready gigs with the sudden endings,dare I say he is turning into a showman.

Go see him next time he hits the road.

Trish Roberts

Artist’s website: http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/