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...