Friday, March 13, 2009

Kathryn Tickell - NXNE versus SXSW!

SXSW is the largest "altenative-indie" showcase in the world and it takes place in venues across Austin, TX each March. Although called a festival it is much more an industry convention but strange in that sense. In an industry that is in many sectors on the verge of desperation, it also has the ability to bring UK artists to popular attention here as well, if not more so, than in North American markets. It has probably also done much to increase the profile of US-based folk/roots/country inspired music in the UK, something that has been a very apparent, and in my view welcome, trend in the last three years or so.

What they are wont to forget is that we also have a huge traditional canon of our own, played in a bewildering range of styles and on a vast range of instruments, that cover almost every topic from the positively ancient to the most modern in almost every way imaginable. What is not so easy to do, quite so simply, is to scan a 12" album cover as it is too large.

Ranting Lads - High Level Ranters

I mentioned this 1976 album [on the phone, in a private conversation, yesterday] and not even a half-decent image can seemingly be found on the internet. That is not a problem - or at least not round here - for this a photo of the original 12" album (TOPIC - 12TS297) taken about an hour ago. In keeping with the album there were no clever digital tricks involved, except to employ a lack of them; no flash, no tripod, and a 1/16 second exposure on my F20 using only the diffuse background lighting in my sitting room. It was originally 2048 pixels each way but, to make it more suitable for posting, I have reduced it to a more manageable 800 x 800 pixels but it seems to have lost little, if anything, in the transformation. Using flash for this kind of thing always results in undesirable brightness and burnt-out reflections. Using a tripod is fine but I decided to try without --- it is easier to centre the image this way. The challenge is to stay sill enough for 1/16 second - and this was the best of three.
I can't wait until Saturday when I'm going to see the Kathryn Tickell Band. It's been a long, long time since I have heard Northumbrian pipes (and Hardanger-tuned fiddles) played live and The Cheese & Grain has much to recommend it as a venue for such music.

Kathryn Tickell - live in 2004

The slightly rustic surroundings do nothing to spoil the atmosphere but nevertheless it also has surprisingly good acoustics for such a venue, a bar serving real ale from Frome's own 'Milk Street Brewery', and it is less than a twenty-minute unhurried walk from home.

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