Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 34 - Awna Teixeira - Wild One

To be quite honest this is a heads-up for March 2015 but after her 2012 début 'Where The Darkness Goes', which I still play often, I couldn't resist giving it a mention right now. The album itself is done and dusted. What she is trying to do now is raise money via Kickstarter to give it the launch and promotion that it deserves. Here are the bare facts: she is aiming to raise 9900 Canadian Dollars (£5500 to all intents and purposes) and in old music industry terms that is small change - the sort that would soon be frittered away on 'expenses' by those that...

Here is ten minutes of music from the album accompanied by stunning video of the wilds of her adopted home of Canada.


You can pledge a minimum of Canadian $1 (£0.56) and every little helps. For CAD 25 (about £14.35) you can have a signed CD and that includes delivery to the UK if that is where, like me, you are located.
She is going to reach the target but it has to happen by 10 October. I want that signed album so I pledged. Needs and wants are quite different things.
She needs this to happen more than any of us want material goods.

There is a theme that the LP both explores and seeks to support the wider understanding of; and that is depression.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marnhull Acoustic Session - Jinder & Pete Millson

After missing Marnhull Acoustic Sessions on its 31 August return, because I was a End of The Road Festival, I reacquainted myself with it this evening. I have just returned from what proved to be a very worthwhile and enjoyable performance from two acoustic guitarists and songwriters neither of which I was very well aware of before. Both hail from Bridport, which is clearly a veritable treasure trove of musical talent.

It was interesting to contrast their respective approaches to song writing and playing. First to play was Peter Millson with a set that included a number of songs taken from his latest LP 'The Love That Meets Return' (2014).

Indeed here he is playing the title track of that very album.

Following the short break was Jinder who presented songs from his most recent album 'Crumbs of Comfort' (2012) along with some earlier material, relevant cover versions and some choice anecdotes that threw interesting light on the songs themselves and the twists and turns of fâte that connected them. He also played a couple of songs that are to appear on his forthcoming LP that will be released early in 2015. I am sure that he mentioned the title but I didn't take notes and have now forgotten.
I'm not going to write more in detail about the music of either at this juncture. It is getting late and in any case I did something that I very rarely do at such events; I bought both the aforementioned albums on CD and quite likely I will return in due course to reviewing them in more detail.
There is no Marnhull Acoustic Session in October: It is better than that for its place is taken by the 3rd North Dorset Folk Festival on 25 October and that will take place at the same intimate venue (and may possibly be the smallest festival in England). I'm going to write a preview of that very soon but suffice to say it will be a treat and it is only £25 (+booking fee). There are not many tickets to start with and very few remain.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Live and local - Domenic DiCicco 'Seeds of Evergreen' album launch

As summer fades into autumn so the outdoor festivals are replaced with the return of regular indoor music events as the staple of my live-listening timetable. The organisers of Acoustic+, an event that I have often mentioned here, decided to bow out at the start of the summer recess having put on 100 shows.
In its place a new approximately monthly event, The Green Room, has arrived on the scene here in Frome. It is not a carbon copy, nor should it have been. From what I saw yesterday I very much like that which I saw and heard.

The opening act was Simon Allen, unaccompanied other than by his own acoustic guitar.

The main act was the album launch for Domenic DiCicco's latest LP 'Seeds of Evergreen'. He is, although Canadian, well known in Frome where he now resides and in particular as part of Praying For The Rain.
While 'Seeds of Evergreen' is a solo LP that is far from implying that he appeares solo, although on one song that was indeed the case, despite the unexpected absence of Paul Sax on violin due to illness. Indeed there were still eight on stage at times. My initial thoughts on the music is that it is slightly less obviously influenced by world music that that of Praying For The Rain, in generality if not specific songs. It was certainly most enjoyable and I think it would stand up well to repeated listening. Here are a couple of pictures.
Domenic DiCicco (2nd left), with Mal Darwen (bass), Delagh King (vocals) and Richard Kennedy (vocals).


As a harbinger of Green Room events in the future it bodes very well indeed. The next, on 24 October, looks like a real treat. It is headlined by The Black Feathers, whom I mentioned here not so long ago, and also includes Exeter trio Wildwood Kin amongst others

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Catherine Maclellan - The Raven's Sun

It is true that I haven't written much in the last week. This is neither a reflection of my attention or inclination towards music. Far from it in fact but possibly changes too. That is all still at the planning stage. Not all plans come to fruition.
One thing for sure is that there is certainly no shortage of new music and another is that I have not written enough about new music from Canada of late. If I am to hear a more poignant album than this in 2014 then the truth is perhaps I would rather not.

It is at times devastating. There is more like this out there.
The issue is finding and then writing about it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 33 - Caitlin Rose - Gemini Moon

I certainly wasn't planning on writing a post this evening. Then again you never know what might happen. Some things, many things indeed, I could happily have just left to my current mañana instinct. This simply isn't one of them. It is exactly what I needed to hear.

If I haven't worked out the lyric before I go to bed then I shall be somewhat disappointed with myself.
This is supposedly just a demo recording. If that is true, or even if not quite so given the premise of the song and the tease that she is, then the third album should be quite something.
It is now revealed that this song was written with Justin Hayward-Young of The Vaccines. On reflection that makes a lot of sense.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 32 - Charlie Rose - Stowaways

I just got to hear this, it is released next week, and I think it to be the kind of music that suits the mellow days of early autumn.

Charlie Rose is something of a musical journeyman but also a recording member of the act Arc Iris, which I have already mentioned several times this year. That is, along with my increasing focus on Americana music in all its forms, how I came to hear of this his début LP.
You can listen to it too, then please consider buying. I will be doing so.


I haven't got to the point of choosing any favourites but the impression I have is that this is something I like as a whole, and that is never a bad start.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 31 - Jennifer Crook - Carnforth Station

Two thoughts immediately come to mind as I write this and neither is directly about the LP itself, so here it is. It is released in the UK tomorrow, 15 September 2014.

The first of them is that I'm not especially given to siding with  The Daily Telegraph but in this case I must do so, and wholeheartedly. I too have been bowled over; I have had the album for a couple of months now and it is not going anywhere far away from my playlist. The second is that it is, indeed, probably better suited to the lengthening nights and cooler days of autumn.
She has said that she was unaware of the Noël Coward 'Brief Encounter' connection with Carnforth. To be fair the lyric makes no direct reference to that story whatsoever - it is more about the locomotives and stock stranded adjacent, seemingly in limbo, and the passengers that they might have carried. I'd like to think that this is true - it seems better that way.
Be that as it may it is an astonishing album and, with the time of list-making getting ever closer, I very much doubt that that of the aforementioned newspaper will be the only one on which it appears.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 30 - Girlpool

I thought it time that some new music appeared here after a welter of festival related posts. This turned out to be too good to waste any time in sharing. It is the short but not entirely sweet 'Jane' by Los Angeles based duo Girlpool, comprising Cleo Tucker (guitar), Harmony Tividad (bass) and both of them on vocals. Girlpool is now signed to UK label Wichita.


The EP Girlpool is released in November.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

End Of The Road 2014 - something old, something new

One thing that I have left unmentioned thus far is the 'limited programme' provided on Thursday evening. It was instituted a few years ago for the then small proportion of festival attendees that arrived on Thursday afternoon. All indications suggest that this fraction is rising year by year, probably exponentially.
This all took place on the Tipi stage and comprised four acts from 6:15pm. The last, and easily the pick of them, was Ezra Furman. He also played the Garden Stage Friday evening (which I did not see, but apparently excellent too.)
Here he is on the smaller stage on Thursday evening. The easiest way to categorize him is to say that I can't. I think that this might be key to his seemingly burgeoning appeal. He would have it that he has made greater inroads in the UK than in his native USA (originally from Illinois). It's rock albeit of a more-or-less pop persuasion, it is certainly camp (his band is The Boyfriends), it is clever and knowingly so, but surely we have seen all those things combined before?

That is probably true but if we took that approach more widely then we would have nothing left to listen to. NOTHING. AT. ALL. The majority of the tracks came from his 2013 LP 'Year Of No Returning'. The point is that it was everything it should be; unpredictable (not least the self-deprecating asides), sometimes challenging but above all it was hugely enjoyable. What's not to like?

In some ways the next artist tells, through his songs and his career, an equally unlikely story. From an icon of the UK folk-rock boom in the late 1960s to, more than four decades later, being held in the highest regard, in the US as much as in the UK, as one of the totems of the Americana/roots explosion. Richard Thompson made his recording début as a founder member of Fairport Convention in 1967.
His latest LP 'Acoustic Classics' (2014) is less a greatest hits, though of course they are, but more an attempt to regain his own songs that in many cases are now better known by many people via the cover versions of others. He played this set on the Garden stage, Sunday evening solo and acoustic except for the finale for which he was joined by his daughter and son in law.

The next is an example of how live music plays out in other ways to that which is recorded. The LP 'Rain Plans', by Israel Nash, has been recommended to me more times than I am inclined to count yet still languished in the "saved for later" section of my on-line cart and I never committed to purchasing it. That situation was very conveniently resolved. Without any on-line dealings!
Israel Nash, Tipi stage, Friday evening, End Of The Road 2014.


When Futur Primitif appeared on the Garden stage on Sunday morning there were plenty of comments concerning his new, jacketed visage and that was quite understandable. 
I'm happy to say that he retains his maverick streak but only the early birds amongst us, and we were quite numerous, really got to see it (during the sound check). Any which way the songs are so good.

Monday, September 08, 2014

End Of The Road 2014 - more highlights

Over the last day or two I have pondered whether to try and theme my further thoughts on End Of The Road 2014 by genre, chronology or stage. In the end I concluded that such divisions were largely immaterial. What really matters is this - more of the acts that I really liked. There are plenty of them and therefore this might cover two posts in time.
To start with is Lau, whose members I have all seen playing live at least once but never together as such. The link above reads like a textbook exercise in hyperbole until, that is, you see it happen live. Here they are, Garden stage, Saturday afternoon.

This is of course one reason that, in the ten years Lau has existed, it has taken away the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for 'Best Band' four times, most recently in 2013.
Whilst on the subject of quality, another thing to note is that of the printed EOTR festival programme; it is absolutely worth the price (£6) and that is nothing new. The writing, the editorial style and the layout are top notch. The only mistake I noticed was that it said that Cate Le Bon's performance, again on the Garden stage on Saturday, was her EOTR début: it wasn't, she played the same stage in 2010 but no matter.
That was before the release of her first full LP 'Me Oh My' and she was clearly someone to watch. 'Cyrk' was then followed by her latest, 'Mug Museum', and she just gets better and better. More importantly people both here and in the US (she now divides her time between Wales and California) are starting to take notice.


Someone very accustomed to both the Garden and Tipi stages at EOTR is Jocie Adams. That was however with Rhode Island indie stalwarts The Low Anthem. This was her first EOTR outing fronting her own band Arc Iris here as a four-piece and which, as her tradition dictates, played both stages on Friday.
Lunch time, Friday, on a rather breezy Garden stage.
All four in the frame. Tipi stage at the very end of Friday evening.

On the basis of this you might be thinking that I never even visited the Big Top stage. It is true that in comparison with previous years I spent very little time there but one of the few occasions was to catch part of the Pink Mountaintops set.

It is probably true that I spent less time at the Woods stage than in previous years, though I have already mentioned Jenny Lewis playing there. For all my pre-planning I always end up reinventing much of my schedule on-the-hoof and I will continue to do so. This next band was not, pre-festival, particularly on my radar. It just goes to show how very wrong I can be...
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Woods stage, Friday evening.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Three to see twice - Green Man and End Of The Road 2014

I mentioned this earlier in the week. Now, having caught up with sleep and the pictures, I'm no longer in la la land. Well mostly I'm not; to be quite honest a part of me is still at EOTR 2014!
I made a deliberate policy of seeing three acts that I saw at Green Man all over again, just a fortnight later, at EOTR. The three are Samantha Crain, The Rails and Alice Boman. The curious thing is that all appeared on the Walled Garden Stage at Green Man and on The Tipi Stage at EOTR but, in the latter case one each day. I intend to illustrate this post with pictures I took at both festivals.

When it comes to the stage the Walled Garden wins over the Tipi for its outdoor ambience, but when it comes down to the bottom line it is the band that really matters. I had high expectations of The Rails before I saw them live for the first time at Green Man. They blew me away then --- and then they did it all over again, only more so, last Sunday afternoon. 'Fair Warning' (2014) is the début album and it more than delivers on the promise.


'The Rails' Tipi stage, Sunday afternoon, End Of The Road 2014.

As regards photography, well for all that I am learning faster than I thought I might, it is very much a case of simply handling the cards one is dealt as best one can: everything changes, every time.
One thing that few people seemed to disagree about, at either festival, is the perfection of Alice Boman's vocals. She may not yet be an artist that people buy festival tickets on the strength of but either that time will come or perhaps equally importantly, the strength in depth of the offering will.
Alice Boman, Walled Garden Stage, Green Man 2014, Friday afternoon, squinting into the sun.
Alice Boman, Tipi Stage, EOTR 2014, 10:40 pm Friday.
Here she is selling and signing CDs thereafter. She got through most of that box come the end of the line.

Last but certainly not least, and with more released recordings than either of the aforementioned, this is Samantha Crain from Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Tipi Stage, End of The Road 2014, early Sunday evening.

Samantha Crain, Walled Garden Stage,  Sunday afternoon, Green Man 2014.

Three acts from different countries, UK, Sweden and the US respectively, that exemplify the increasing strength in depth of the folk-roots revival in recent times.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

End Of The Road 2014 - Part 2

Shortly before I headed off to the idyll that is Larmer Tree Gardens and the venue for End of The Road I posted a "must see" list of eight acts that does not include any of the three, mentioned in my post yesterday, that I saw at both Green Man 2014 and EOTR 2014. This is how I got on with that. I saw the complete sets of seven out of eight; the exception was Pink Mountaintops and largely because of a time (and day!) scheduling change, but I still saw a few songs in the Big Top tent on Friday.
Lily and Madeleine opened proceedings on The Garden stage on Saturday morning.

They played songs from the forthcoming second LP 'Fumes' and, from what I was able to tell when talking to people during the weekend, gained a whole load of new fans too.

On Saturday evening Marissa Nadler took to the Tipi stage, the smallest of the four main music stages. She has been on my list of "ones to see" for an age, or so it seems, and never more so than since the release of her most recent LP 'July' in February 2014.
This is her seventh studio album in a run that started with 'Ballads of Living and Dying' in 2004. It is the first to have a UK release on Bella Union. Regular readers will be well aware of the importance that I attach to this.

Much the same could be said of Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep since the 2012 début LP 'Into The Diamond Sun'. I mentioned the dragon yesterday.
Stealing Sheep playing The Garden Stage on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon. The songs are short, sharply conceived and based for the most part around a percussive format. In the moment it was hard to imagine anything more perfect.  
Stealing Sheep, Tipi Stage, early Monday morning.
Until that is Stealing Sheep became one of very few acts I have seen play two live sets within twelve hours. It is things like this and, more than one might realise, the people you meet that make festivals very special.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

End Of The Road 2014

I'm back home and, unlike yesterday, no longer dog-tired. I have started to think about it all with some clarity and also, this helps with the foregoing, view it through the perspective of the pictures that I took throughout the weekend.

Was my sixth consecutive EOTR adventure up to the standards of the previous five?
Well. Let's put it this way; I am clearly not alone in my opinion. I have my 'Early Bird' ticket for EOTR 2015 (4 - 6 September). They went on sale this morning (2 September) at 9am BST and by 6pm BST more than two-thirds of those available had already sold! It will be some months before we know the identity of a single act to play then but my view is that if I can't trust the EOTR team to deliver then there is no longer any trust to be found.


It is going to take me much of the rest of this week to complete this self-debrief process. Here are a couple of pictures to kick things off. 
Jenny Lewis, Woods stage, late Friday afternoon.

The Stealing Sheep dragon, Tipi stage, 1am Monday.

Yes it was this glorious; endless blue sky on Sunday afternoon. This is the Woods stage about 16:45. Deer Tick was still playing but I was on a mission. The Tipi stage and a little project that had only occurred to me after I had got back from Green Man Festival. 
What if... ?
Two festivals a fortnight apart, the same three acts, all playing on the same stage at each festival. It was technically possible, that much I had worked out. The rest was down to fâte and my ability to harness it. I have only myself to blame.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Green Man 2014 (again) and an End Of The Road preview...

Right. Just over 36 hours until it is time to head out again for another long weekend of festival fun at End of The Road 2014. At the moment the weather is looking reasonable, and importantly the remnants of Hurricane Cristobel shouldn't play a part in the proceedings. I'm hoping for more of the same meteorological good fortune that accompanied my trip to Green Man 2014 the weekend before last. We shall see.
I shall start with a picture of the band that were first support on the Mountain Stage on Friday evening and that I first saw live on the Garden Stage at EOTR 2013.

Daughter, or here just Elena Tonra thereof, Mountain Stage, Green Man Festival 2014.

So then, what's cooking at End of The Road 2014 and what do I particularly want to see?
Let's start with just eight of them that I want to see live for the very first time. Here listed alphabetically:
I chose the particular links to each above based on those that I feel best explain my reason for wanting to see the act or artist live.
There are plenty that I would be delighted to hear again, including two or three from just two weeks back, and many more besides. As my recent post about First Aid Kit mentioned it is interesting to see just how artists develop of the space of a few years. This is another example of that. It is third time I have seen her live and while she was good then she has really grown in stature and confidence. I was blown away the second time, at EOTR .
Anna Calvi - Mountain Stage late Sunday afternoon, Green Man 2014.

Sometimes it takes a lot longer for me to to catch up live. Blue Roses - Blue Roses was one of my favourite albums of 2009. I even wrote about it in January of that year. It has taken more than five years to see her play live, now under her own name, Laura Groves. She played the Walled Garden Stage and it was a perfect foil on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Luck had it that conveniently scheduled not to clash with the above.
Laura Groves, Walled Garden Stage, Sunday, Green Man 2014.
Astonishing though the Mountain Stage is, the Walled Garden Stage is as good as any with the possible exception of The Garden Stage at EOTR. If you know me then you will realise that this is high praise indeed.
This consideration has made me decide that, if I get around to it [before this coming weekend], then the next post will be about Green Man other than the music - the ambience, facilities and all other things that make a festival more than just the line-up. If I don't write it before I return from End of The Road 2014 then maybe my detention homework will be a compare and contrast assignment!