Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Mike Harding Folk Show

Don't get me wrong here, I love the BBC and it is a Great British institution. It has taken a beating in 2012, for a number of reasons. It also made a misjudgement of a less sensational kind that, while it did not make headlines around the globe, certainly annoyed some of its followers.
I refer, specifically, to the axing of Mike Harding's Folk Show on Radio 2. He had built it from a mere niche curiosity that filled some airwaves to the point where it had an audience that would have seemed quite improbable. Maybe that was the problem...

He has done what anyone might do in such circumstances. The first entirely free-of-all-influence version goes live at 17:00 UST (in less than 20 minutes time) here, assuming Sputnik and the aerial made from a coat-hanger both work as they should. Heady days.

[To be continued - after listening]
Indeed after not listening. It was one of those glorious disasters - so successful was the launch that it overwhelmed the servers and the result was almost nobody could actually get to receive it at all!  Teething problems are to be expected and the cross-forum banter hints at nothing less. It was a very British triumph.
Indeed it is. It may have arrived slightly late but here it is - the very first independent Mike Harding Folk Show! The rest of the site seems to be working as intended too - its a spoiler but this is the playlist, much debated, so just go listen:

I'm getting the idea that this might be something more than it seems. With the inclusion of 'Wind and Rain' - Be Good Tanyas it is hard to conclude otherwise in the current situation.
Just in case you didn't hang on long enough to record this event, I did. If that were to prove a disappointment then I'd have felt it. I'm listening to it again now...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 6 - Forbidden Fruit

Not so long ago I wrote a post about the resurgence of the live album. One that I mentioned then was by a Finnish blues artist, Erja Lyytinen, and I mentioned that she was touring in Spring 2013 and that, hopefully, this also presaged a new studio album. Here it is.

This is the track list:
  1. Joyful Misery
  2. Hold On Together
  3. At Least We Still Fight
  4. Forbidden Fruit
  5. Death Letter
  6. Change Of Season
  7. Jealousy
  8. Press My Button
  9. Things About Coming My Way
The penultimate track might seem to have a title that suggests 'girl power'. It is indeed a cover version, and one with lyrics that might have made the promoters of 1990's 'girl power' think twice before releasing it.
Press My Button (Ring My Bell) was written by Lil Johnson and recorded, with herself doing duty on vocals, early in 1936. Chicago was quite the place back then. It probably still is.
The album is released by Ruf Records on January 28, 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 27 - Melody's Echo Chamber

Continuing the theme of the last post this is another 2012 début album that I have only very recently found out about. Melody's Echo Chamber is the nom de plume of Paris-based Melody Prochet, who is the principal singer, songwriter and instrumentalist behind this confection that was released in November. (Weird World Records - vinyl, CD and d/l).
I have several previous convictions for mentioning French artists that some might consider left-field, champ-gauche, perhaps? I have not actually done so for a while but this is another and with good reason I believe.

A few of the eleven tracks on the LP are sung in French, the remainder in English. The exception being 'isthatwhatyousaid', which despite its title is without lyric whatsoever.  Her conspirator in this duo, as both artist and producer, is Australian Kevin Parker who is probably better known as the driving force behind the band 'Tame Impala'.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 26

Here we go again! This comprises two acts that I really should have paid more attention to in 2012. The problem is that I didn't and therefore I don't have sufficient experience of their LPs to include them in any current list (except those albums that I want for Christmas). Here are two that come to mind.
This first Stealing Sheep, a three-piece, from Liverpool or thereabouts. The début album, Into The Diamond Sun, is right up there. It's diverse, somewhat electronic, somewhat folky and quite lovable.

This next is quite possibly less well known. It is the début album, Star Map, by North Wales-based duo Golden Fable and was released in September 2012.
It is hauntingly good. Watch out for both acts in 2013 and more links to follow.

If you think this is worth a listen several other tracks will surprise you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 5 - The Stand-In (again)

I have mentioned this album once already. This is the second track to be released from it:

'I Was Cruel', with its mandolin and pedal-steel, would be worth it for that alone. It is actually a whole lot better than that might imply. It is the second track on 'The Stand-In', for which a vignette of what I believe to be the LP cover is in the side-bar and the track-listing as follows:

  • No One to Call
  • I Was Cruel
  • Waiting
  • Only A Clown
  • Dallas
  • Pink Champagne
  • Golden Boy
  • Silver Sings
  • Everywhere I Go
  • When I'm Gone
  • Menagerie
  • Old Numbers
Will it be available on vinyl? Well, it would be cruel not to... and I shall be on the case.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A strange retrospective...

It is strange, the things one ends up discussing at work.
Here is one from today and it is anything but new music! (This album was released on September 18, 1970 in the UK: Reprise Records, RSLP 9004). Here it is...

Album artwork and design: Christine McVie.
I don't expect you saw this post coming and... the above picture is one I took, of my example of RSLP 9004 about an hour ago! It is music from the days that I am too young to remember, but I have owned this LP for twenty-three years now, and I love it to bits.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The lure of the 'Live LP'. Again.

The third 'live LP', that I alluded to in my earlier post has finally arrived at the additional cost of £3.07 in VAT to George Osbourne (no relation of Ozzy, we are led to believe) and a further £8 that went to Royal Mail for conniving with the UK Border Agency. Enough of that, which I suspected might happen anyway, the question is was it all worth it?

Just to have it on US vinyl (complete with the dire piracy warnings) most certainly is!
That all actually matters less than I thought that it would and I couldn't care less about the customs charges now. This is very possibly the best live album (on vinyl or otherwise) since forever though you may suggest others; indeed I invite you to do so - PLEASE DO.
It contains songs from his time with the Drive-By Truckers, material from his 'solo' albums including the AMA-winning 'Alabama Pines', and finishes with (the vinyl that is - it comes with a free download code that contains some extra things!) a cover of Neil Young's 'Like A Hurricane'.
If people say there's nothing good today, and no point in revisiting old themes, just point them here. The album was recorded over two live performances in August 2012; at WorkPlay, Birmingham, AL and Crossroads, Huntsville, AL on 16 and 17 August 2012. I can only try and imagine what it must have been like to be there.

Monday, December 03, 2012

2012 In Music - Albums - Part 2

No real change in presentation here from the last two years; two lists of a dozen albums each and both strictly in order alphabetical by artist.  Despite what I said in Part 1 there is a slight change in format this year... there will be more than two parts and I'm not yet decided how many albums will be in the third.
As always, however, within each list the albums will always be alphabetical by artist and their inclusion in a particular list rather than another is also a matter of chance and in no way a reflection of my rating of their status. This explains why, for those who know me well, several albums that would have been assumed almost 100% certain to be be included in my selection were not in the first list. Two are, however, in this list of six:

  • Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts In Snow
  • Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
  • Beach House - Bloom
  • Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
  • Tamara Schlesinger - The Procession
Once again links and additional commentary will follow fairly soon and please feel quite free to add comments, queries, suggestions or questions. It is what this is all about, whether negative, positive or simply mystified!
Equally let me know what is amongst your 2012 favourites that I haven't included, either in these lists or throughout the year.
In a related vein, it surprises me just how many and often I still listen to albums in the lists of previous years. This is, for cumulative reasons, becoming something of a problem. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

2012 In Music - EPs and mini-albums

At first I used to start my annual round-up with this category, so-titled as to avoid pedantic arguments about what strictly constitutes an EP!  Where a mini-album becomes an album is similarly obscure, is it the number of tracks or the overall running time?
It was a genre that I suspected might die out but I'm happy to report that a combination of circumstances has seemingly resulted in rather the opposite. This selection is a bakers' handful of ones that caught my attention during the year and subsequently have found myself listening to repeatedly. Another new development is that I hope to include links to tracks from at least some of the works mentioned.
The illustration associated with the first, Craze EP - I Am Harlequin, rather befits the arts-space that the artist seems to inhabit; one where nothing is actually quite what it seems.

My personal favourite is the last track 'Wild One'

The trio of  sisters Haim, with Dash Hutton on percussion, has been cropping up on any number of 'Ones to Watch in 2013' lists in the last month or so. With, I must add, very good reason. Were I to write such a list they would be on mine too. There's a thought; maybe I will.
Earlier this year the band released the Forever EP. As well as the d/l format there was also a very limited UK release on 10" vinyl and this is it.

The next artist is the first from this selection that I have actually seen playing live - at Deer Shed Festival 3 back in July though I was aware of Pip Mountjoy somewhat before that - and the first here that generally plays acoustic and solo. This is her first EP - although, at six albeit fairly short songs, it could be a mini-album.  It is available digitally but also on CD - this latter format being an entirely self-released and home-made work of art.
Lousiana EP - Pip Mountjoy

Pip Mountjoy at Deer Shed Festival 2012, performing one of the "new" songs.
Added 15 December 2012: her second EP, Your Skeleton,  is due out early in 2013 - February, hopefully.
This one is also self-released, by Devon-based artist Alice Jemima, and also available on CD as well as download. She is also a huge favourite amongst the writers of the blog Breaking More Waves, which I highly recommend too. Enjoy!

The following, again available on CD if you are lucky, was probably the first that I knew would be in this list. The good news is that the duo behind it are working towards an LP release of original material in 2013. In the meanwhile check out the 2009 LP One Light Is Gone.

Should you be wondering why my version is black and that next to the audio stream is red it is because these too are all hand printed. Mine is red for the track-listing on the reverse and white versions also exist. As of today (1 December) the CD is still available here.
Last, but certainly not least, is an artist who has just completed a pan-European tour, comprising about seventy performances, promoting this EP and also the very recently released début LP 'Under Mountains' (about which in due course).
Rachel Sermanni is another artist that I saw live at Deer Shed Festival.
You can get a free download of 'The Fog' (live, acoustic version), one of the four songs on the Black Currents EP, in exchange for your e-mail address, here.
Rachel Sermanni, live at Deer Shed Festival, July 2012.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 In Music - Albums - Part 1

No real change in presentation here from the last two years; two lists of a dozen albums each and both strictly in order alphabetical by artist. In no way is this intended to be a balanced list, far from it in fact: It is quite utterly biased to what has caught my attention in a lasting way in 2012.  It is vastly influenced by artists that I have seen live, either this year or somewhat previously, and I make no bones about that fact. Here it is:

  • Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls
  • Awna Teixeira - Where The Darkness Goes
  • Bex Marshall - The House of Mercy
  • Boy - Mutual Friends
  • Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog - Draw Dros Y Mynydd
  • Ellen and The Escapades - All The Crooked Things
  • First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
  • Hurray For The Riff Raff - Watch Out Mama
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor - Almost Always Never
  • Karine Polwart - Traces
  • Phantom Limb - The Pines
  • The Tatsmiths - Curiosity Shop
  • Trailer Trash Tracys - Ester
Please feel quite free to add comments, queries, suggestions or questions. It is what this is all about, whether negative, positive or simply mystified!  All comments are moderated (by me alone, so you know that I read them) and while I prefer it that you can put your real identity to your piece, because you should believe in what you are saying and be prepared to stand up and be counted, I will sanction the publishing of "anonymous" comments. Comments that are defamatory, offensive or totally irrelevant will not be published.
I don't bite either. I'll attempt to answer questions and comments either in comments of my own in reply or in a more general 'round-up' post.
I intend to post the second of these lists later this coming weekend. I am intending to add links to related content in both the above mentioned posts as soon as I can.  It is my intention to deal with the ever more interesting category of "EPs and mini-albums" in the meanwhile and I'd like to do that as a post complete with such links from the get-go.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The lure of the 'Live LP' returns...

The season of 'lists of 2012' is almost upon us but, before I get into that gambit, here is something that I've been getting increasingly excited about for a couple of years now.
Back-in-the-day plenty of live LPs were released (often but not always on double-vinyl) that were recorded during at most a couple of public tour gigs and were not then messed with too much (in the sense of over-dubs and such like).

They largely disappeared with the advent of the slick-as-film 'live' DVD offerings. Now the tide is just starting to turn and, at least in my opinion, very much for the better.
I'm going to mention just three for now and the first was recorded in England in 2011. It is also the only one of the three not to be recorded anywhere near the artist's home patch (Rock City, IL) but at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, London.

Ever since the time of her 2009 EP 'Why You Running' Lissie had been touring the UK, starting in really dive venues. By the time of the release of her début LP 'Catching A Tiger' in 2010 she was playing small stages at some well regarded UK festivals. The album made the top ten of The Official UK album chart. She put in the hard work and the affection was mutual. This live album is testament to that and is a 2-disc set: CD and also full concert DVD. Lissie is expecting to release her second studio LP in 2013 (late Spring?).

That 2-disc CD/DVD format applies to the next artist too. This 2012 release was recorded at the Savoy Theatre in her home city of Helsinki.
In this case the DVD is more extensive than the CD, as it contains several extra tracks, but as long as you can play the audio through a decent system there is nothing to complain about there. Erja Lyytinen is touring the UK in the first half of 2013 and I'd like to think that a new studio album might be the reason. Neither of the above are currently available, or known to become available, on vinyl --- unless you know otherwise.
I have not seen either of these artists live as yet. On the other hand you will soon see that my 'Best of 2012' lists are heavily influenced by those that I have.

There is a slight problem with the third item in this list. It is another 2012 'live LP'. I could have it in a minute or two (as legal mp3), on Wednesday morning on CD (if I wished to pay for express delivery) but I'm not doing either. It is already on its way to me but, as there is no known UK release date for it on vinyl it is, as I write, making its way to me from the US on 2 x 12" vinyl.
I'm expecting it any time in the next ten days or so - when Christmas will come a little bit early. As well as being the only one of the three available on vinyl as of the present it is also one by a male artist (and band).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Live Music 2012 - A Weekend in Frome (Part 2)

This may seem illogical to you but not to me. I decided to divide the six acts that I saw over Friday and Saturday evenings into two groups of three. For a reason I have decided to do this - the result is that, having counted Acoustic+ backwards in order of appearance, it was time to do the remaining three in running order. That the first was on a different stage fully 24 hours before the others is merely a spatial and temporal quirk of fate.

I shall start with the first artist to appear at Acoustic+ on Friday evening. I have always felt for anyone who opens a show and I'm sure that it can never be more nerve-racking than when performing solo.  This may have been the Cheese and Grain but rather larger stages beckon (sooner rather than later)...

Molly Ross solo and performing her self-written songs.
I started with that for a very good reason. TV talent shows do turn up talented artists and the key to lasting success is quite possibly not winning. Think about it. 
Sam Kelly didn't win 'Britain's Got Talent 2012' but in the process he earned himself a solid support base and, judging from his performance with a band at Rook Lane Chapel yesterday evening, it is very well deserved. The combination of traditional, covers and self-penned songs was very well judged and, best of all, they looked like they were really enjoying themselves.
And it was quite handy for my meagre photography too.
The next photo is from towards the end of yesterday evening's performance. 
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - a duo recently short-listed for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 but certainly no newcomers to the performance scene - a 'cello, three fiddles, a flute, two guitars and a keyboard liberally plastered in kids' stickers, with Patsy Reid joining them on fiddle and 'cello...  and have them play in a Grade 1 listed building that is currently also home to the 155th Royal Photographic Society Exhibition of Prints.
That pretty much sums up Frome.

Live Music 2012 - A Weekend in Frome (Part 1)

When I decided to live in Frome, back in 1995, I can't honestly say that the town's music scene was one of the factors involved. More likely the considerations that made the town so appeal to me are in some intangible way connected with those that have led to the enviable situation we currently enjoy. Long may it thrive.
Here is a glimpse of the six live acts that I have seen this weekend, all within fifteen minutes walk of home.
Friday evening at the Cheese and Grain saw the latest edition of Acoustic+. This is an event that takes place approximately 8 times each year.
The final act of the evening was Gren Bartley and one who, although he had appeared at the first Frome Folk Festival back in February, I had not actually seen because of the inevitable clashes across three main venues.

Back then (1995 and some time thereafter) goodness knows; you might have tried to persuade me about some of what has now become Americana but anything that approached country influences... NO!  How times and I have changed.
Griff Daniels (R) and Richard Kennedy (L) took the Americana-influenced road but with new songs and Richard's style of guitar playing, of which I am a big fan.
I find it hard to describe adequately - there is just something gritty and authentic to it.
While I don't think that I had ever seen Griff Daniels live before that was not true of Richard Kennedy. Neither is it true of Kimwei, who hails from Exminster, Devon and whom I saw playing as part of Acoustic+ at the Frome Festival Food Feast in 2010.
Her song-writing and playing style is no less unusual; but convention changes nothing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 4 - Funding For Something to Happen

We all know it. Music costs - illegal music costs us all more - but that aside making it is far more expensive than buying legal recorded music. There are various options, rarely ever open to new and aspiring artists until recently, to harness the enthusiasm of music fans to directly fund a project they want to reach realization. One such, that has recently rolled-out in the UK, is Kickstarter. I have previous experience with it in its US version and that was without issue (a US based project that was very successful).
As is all such speculative investment it is not without risk but there are upsides - the investment can be small (from £5 typically, but that may be proportional to the sum required for the project), a definitive end date for the appeal for funding and no penalty if the desired target is not reached. Funds are only taken and then released to the appellant upon successful attainment of the target - if it isn't reached you lose nothing.
OK I thought, when I heard Kickstarter was coming to the UK; I won't go looking. I'll wait and see what comes along and grabs my attention although it was never likely to be anything other than music...
This, though I didn't know it at the time, proved to be that appeal. About five weeks ago I attended the first North Dorset Folk Festival. It was a great day and one of many acts was Cloudi Lewis.

I have reviewed it briefly.
So why did I choose to support this? Well, quite simply that performance was wonderful. A band doing what they want to do and if that is the current vogue then that's all to the good. If it wasn't then, hell, they'd probably do it anyway. That, to be honest, is the attitude that the music industry needs even more of right now. I'm prepared to put a small sum of money behind that dream...

There are green shoots, as the old saying goes, but they still need feeding and encouragement to survive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 3 - Waiting For Something To Happen

What I suspected would be the case after hearing them play several new songs live at festival performances last summer has come to pass. Veronica Falls' second LP 'Waiting For Something To Happen' will appear, again on Bella Union, on February 4, 2013.  It will be available on vinyl and this, I believe, is the album cover artwork:
The lead song from it is one that was played both times that I saw them perform live last summer, which makes sense, and is 'Teenage'. I remember taking note that all the new songs were arresting.
Here it is...
...and also 'Teenage' performed live at No Direction Home 2012.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 2 - The Stand-In

February 25, 2013 (UK and Europe, Names Records) and March 5, 2013 (US & Canada, ATO Records) sees the release of the second LP from Caitlin Rose, 'The Stand-In', and the follow up to the 2009/2010 début 'Own Side Now'. I shall be disappointed to a huge extent if this new album does not feature on the lists that I will be writing this time next year... that is a measure of the weight of expectation I attach to the twelve tracks on this release.  Is that unreasonable? In the circumstances I believe not.
More to follow soon - in the meantime here is a picture of the artist in question that I took on the smallest stage at End of The Road Festival 2010.

The lead song is 'No One To Call'.  Here, if I've got the code embedded correctly, is a link to a stream of it:

Here is a thought: she is playing Bristol 'Fleece' on February 26.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Looking Forwards :: Listening Back

Yes. It is true that I have just had the better part of three weeks away from posting.  That does not however mean that I have lost interest in music or even writing about it.  I have also now gone three whole weeks without seeing any live music! There comes a point where, in order to assimilate that which I have seen and heard in the last few months of new music, both live and recorded, I have to pause :: rewind.  I need to listen to it again, when I can, think about it, read other people's thoughts (something that the internet has totally revolutionized) before I can establish some kind of personal equilibrium with it.

This is important for several reasons.  Like it or not the end of the year is approaching and with it come those "Best of" lists which, to be honest, I love thinking about (my own) and reading (those of others) and also, of course, what to expect in 2013!

There are of course many albums/artists that I have wanted to listen to but have failed to do so for one reason or another. A few of the most obvious ones that I have come to notice in the last fortnight are however currently winging their way to me in time for possible inclusion and one of them falls in a category that I'm not going to include in such a list, because my selection is going to cover the period from 2010 onwards, the renaissance of which I'm detecting and a genre of recording that I'm delighted to see coming to attention again. The proper 'essentially single concert' live LP (with minimal editing and over-dubs). This conveniently has some cross-over both with my own "Best Of" lists and also new music that I am anticipating the arrival of in 2013.

While writing this it is all too much like complicated to listen to new music. I have instead been listening to a slice of wax released forty-two years ago this month in the UK as CBS S64087 ---  Abraxas - Santana. It contains another recently discussed topic, that being an example of a cover version that widely becomes assumed to be the original. This is something that I have been guilty of on many occasions but not, as it happens, this one: Peter Green's 'Black Magic Woman' (1968) is the case in point here. 

Very early on in this adventure, in 2006, I mentioned that I had no particular wish to review things that I don't much like, especially to the extent of acquiring them for that purpose. I have, however, just succumbed to something rather akin to the opposite - buying an album by an act that I saw live this summer (and have mentioned in a post here) because of the negative review that it was given in The Guardian a fortnight ago today... Either things went very pear-shaped on the album or the review was harsh --- I shall let you know my verdict in due course. (That is enough information to work out the identity, if you want to try!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Live Music 2012 - North Dorset Folk Festival (Part 2)

I told you that I wasn't finished with this, for there was too much goodness for one post. 
Here is the first glimpse into the rest of the acts that I had the good fortune to see last Saturday.

I saw the last two songs of their set at End of The Road Festival, on the TiPi stage, after I had decamped from watching another on the Garden Stage. They were both remarkable acts - so I deemed it necessary to seek out The Moulettes sooner rather than later.  The 2012 album 'The Bear's Revenge' is excellent, but live they are quite something else.
Bassoon is not an instrument that is used throughout a set or always even just a song. It was, from time to time, supplanted by autoharp.
Why hug it, when not playing it, you might ask.
Now, returning to the Studio Stage, here is an artist that I have had the good fortune to witness live several times before and, whilst originally from North Dorset, is now resident further east on the south coast of England.
Emily Baker: singing and playing with vocals unamplified. This new song is 'Tennessee'.
Her second full-length album, All At Sea, is due for release early in 2013.
Owing to issues, mainly to do with half-term traffic, Tom James from Falmouth, Cornwall, became the first solo artist and only the second act to perform at NDFF when switching sets with Flatland Wolf.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 1 - Wash The Sins Not Only The Face

As it was in 2011 so it is in 2013. The first post about new music for 2011 concerned the début album Violet Cries by Brighton trio Esben and The Witch.  The first about new music 2013 concerns their sophomore album.

You might guess by the title that this is not likely to be a whole bundle of fluffy music.
'Wash The Sins Not Only The Face' is scheduled to be released by Matador Records on January 21, 2013 in the UK. More detail as soon as I have it.
I anticipate adding at least one more, unrelated, post on New Music 2013 before the end of this coming weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Live Music 2012 - North Dorset Folk Festival

Another weekend, another newly fledged indoor one-day festival to keep the chill autumn winds at bay. The musical subject matter was very different to last weekend and so was the choice of venue. Last Sunday I was at the extremely familiar-to-me Cheese and Grain in Frome whereas as yesterday I was only thirty-something miles away in the totally unfamiliar surroundings of Sturminster Newton High School.
One of the first acts to play the main stage (there was also the studio stage) was an acoustic four-piece that met at Southampton Solent University and the first of several acts that had made it inevitable that I should decide to purchase a ticket.

Flatland Wolf - North Dorset Folk Festival. 27 October 2012.
They are preparing an EP for release but if you want an idea of their sound then avail yourself of this:

I'm sorry about the delay. Here is some more from Saturday, starting with the Studio Stage:

Cloudi Lewis and her band.
The seven-song set started with a cover version of  KT Tunstall's 'Black Horse & The Cherry Tree' and then continued with six original songs:
  1. Black Horse and The Cherry Tree
  2. Middle Man
  3. White Dress
  4. The Woods
  5. Over 
  6. Stop
  7. Rambling
This is the way to do it and they are recording an EP in early January, which will hopefully be released soon thereafter. Very definitely one to watch in 2013.

Back to the main stage and an artist that won 'Best Young Artist' at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2009. One I have wanted to hear live for some while and, quite possibly, the reason I got wind of North Dorset Folk Festival in the first place.

Megan Henwood and her Fylde custom-made guitar 'Rosie' - the other one is 'Coco'.
She also revealed that she will be releasing her second album before too long.
Rather than attempt all my thoughts and ramblings in one post I'll rattle though just a couple more that caught my attention before mentioning others and some more general reflections on the whole event in a subsequent post later in the week.
All the way from Liverpool came Jaywalkers.
Very conveniently their 'Early For A Thursday EP' has just been reviewed by North West Folk and another to consider treating oneself to for Christmas, if not before.
Last for this post but certainly not least is the act that preceded them on the main stage:
Tinderbox, recently back from a major festival in Germany and touring in support of their 2012 album 'Counting Time'. On Saturday the duo was joined, as they were in Germany, by Bob Burke (on the right here) on additional guitar and vocals.
Here's something to think about. I have now mentioned about half the acts that I saw on Saturday. The ticket, including booking fee, was £27.50.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Live Music 2012 - Frome Blues Festival

This was always going to prove a tricky proposition for me to review. Firstly I have never been to a whole day of music dedicated to blues before and secondly because just nine days earlier I had seen Joanne Shaw Taylor live at Tavistock Wharf. That was amongst the most astonishing performances that I have seen in any genre this year - and well up in those of all time.
As a result of this I am not going to cover the six acts in order of appearance. I'm going to start with the one I found the most disappointing...
...Stan Webb's Chicken Shack, the headline artists.
A slightly clumsily chosen preamble at the start didn't go down too well with the audience assembled in Frome and I get the feeling that I was not the only one to think that. The impression increasingly became that it was a rattling experience, not least when Mr. Webb forgot the lyric to one song part way through. After that it was, I guess, just a case of getting it all over and done, which actually raised the bar considerably.
One thing that I must say is that he generously praised the foregoing acts, the organisers and crew on sound and stage duties and the audience and rightly so. It has actually crossed my mind that fulsomely could be used here but it seemed quite sincere and the audience greeted it as such.

Now I have another problem: in what order should I review the other acts?  If any other showed signs of nervousness then it was Oli Brown at the start of his set but that evaporated after the first few minutes. The remainder, increasingly confident and beguiling, was pretty much as good as I had imagined that it would be - he is signed to Ruf Records and in my opinion that is a good sign. As I have mentioned a couple of times recently I am much liking the re-emergence of  recording labels that one can rely on - in the sense that artists they choose to release are dependably good.
Oli Brown - Frome Blues Festival 2012.
Once he and his band had got into their stride there was no stopping them. If there was a problem with the audience it was a curious one - that it was too quiet, bordering on the obsequious, while the bands were setting up and sound-checking. Artists at End Of The Road Festival have also commented on this and the fact that it is actually rather unnerving.
Here is Oli Brown and his band in full flow.
Opening proceedings, something that I have always thought must be an unenviable task, was Laurence Jones. If he felt the weight on his shoulders he and his band didn't let it show.
They certainly got proceedings off on solid foundations.
The next act, Jo Harman & Company, was a quite different proposition but as, since Jo is hiding at the far left of this next picture, it is not immediately apparent why.
This is where the fault-lines started to appear.
   This was very much blues-rock, just for starters, but it seemed to go down well.
Eddie Martin isn't exactly prototypical blues either, as it has a rather prominent brass section, and they played next. Actually a six-piece but you can't see the Hammond organ and its player in this photo...

...but in this one you can. They were good --- very, very good indeed.
Therefore I am left with one artist to get a mention and, as I had been led to believe, when she is playing live her début album 'Like No Other' (2011) offers little clue what to expect...
There comes a point, however, when the game is finally up.
This is about that point.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Enforced house-keeping...

You may notice that there are now currently two "Recently Listened To" lists.

This is because Blogger has some kind of limit on the number of entries and/or changes to any given list after which it can no longer be added to or edited.
From time to time, and this is not the first occasion, it is then necessary to start a new one and today is one of those times. I shall keep the old one in place until the new version reaches a sufficient number of entries that, therefore, the old one is effectively redundant; until then links in it will, or should, continue to work.

Time now for some more listening, then some more writing...

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Live Music 2012 - Grip of the Blues

While the title of the post is borrowed from a 2008 album by Finnish blues guitarist and songwriter Erja Lyytinen, who is not actually touring the UK until 2013 but I very much intend to see her live then; it happens to sum up my live music forays in the next couple of weeks rather well.
It all kicks off next weekend and involves only small venues...
If you were watching footage of the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London earlier this summer you might have noticed a rather special guitarist accompanying Annie Lennox for her performance. That was Joanne Shaw Taylor. She is a songwriter and singer too and has very recently released her third album on Ruf Records (Ruf 1181). Here it is.

Live at Bristol Tunnels, 11 October and Tavistock Wharf, October 12.
Having never seen her live before I'm very much anticipating that it will be amongst the live highlights of my 2012 - and there have been many.
This next artist I have seen live, in 2009 supporting Seth Lakeman, after the release of her excellent 2008 album 'Kitchen Table'. Bex Marshall also has a new album out and is playing at The Griffin, Frome on 20 October. Here is that album, released on House of Mercy as HOM 002.

The following day, Sunday 21 October, is the first Frome Blues Festival held at the Cheese and Grain. In an exciting line-up one highlight is Chantel McGregor, the recently announced winner of 'Best Female Vocalist' at the British Blues Awards 2012 and an award that Joanne Shaw Taylor had been the recipient of in both 2010 and 2011.
  'Like No Other' is her 2011 début album - released by Tis Rock Music as TRM001.
The twelve tracks on it include inter alia a splendid cover of Stevie Nicks' Rhiannon (3:39) and yet the self-written songs vary wildly in length. Track 8 'Cat Song' is just 2:16 but follows the rather remarkable 'Daydream' and another truly astonishing cover version...