Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Live and local - just part of one weekend in October.

The title says it all. This weekend just gone was a blast - right up there with anything else in my 2013 in music. It is true that on Saturday I ventured a full twenty miles away from my home town of Frome to a tiny hall in a village that, I guarantee, most people even round here are quite unaware of. Why would I do that?
We won't start there. On Friday evening I was less than a mile from home - Acoustic+, Cheese and Grain, Frome. Usual format: four bands, roughly half-hour set from each, all for a fiver. To be honest, can you go wrong with that? The answer is no. In this case it was more a matter of pinching oneself in order to check that this was indeed for real. That is not a trivial thing to say, but that I still feel the same in the light of that which I saw on Saturday says a very great deal.
Of the three acts that I had never seen live before I can't speak more highly. Blue Midnight is the exception, I have seen them live several times and so I hope that their omission from this post is excusable. This is Salisbury-based Arch Garrison, with acoustic tales of landscapes and the thoughts that they evoke. He was prescient: this would prove to be something of a theme throughout the weekend.

That the next chance to catch him live is at Union Chapel, Islington says a great deal about the artist and also the standard that Acoustic+ sets for itself.
The opening act was another that I had not seen live before - Kelly and Alana, so here they are.

First support was South Divide. I'd say that this was my highlight of a very good evening. It is not just about the music for all of that was excellent, nor raw ambition either, it is about the presentation of it as a coherent whole. On that basis this is why I think it the most impressive of the four acts that evening. Here are a couple of photos from the set.
Full band, in the usual Acoustc+ setting.

On lead vocals and keyboards - Chloƫ Warren.
As I have recently been commenting on the remarkable resurgence of the EP, both physical and digital, you will find it continues with this one.
If you missed the forgoing then all is not lost. On Saturday, November 9, South Divide is playing The Griffin, Frome.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An annoyance revisited and a work around...

Thank you to all the many people that have added reports and suggestions to work around the problem updating links and list in the sidebar. I have tried these and, for me at least this has restored functionality that has been missing for almost a week now!
Go here:
In the 'Go To Post' Tab, chose 'More Options' > 'Layout'
Create new side bar widgets and edit existing one exactly as you would do it you had reached this point from the options at the head of your blog page. The only difference, aside from being slightly long-winded, is that when you click 'SAVE' something actually happens!

The only blot I have discovered thus far is that, at least in list widgets, it adds new items to the bottom of the list rather than the top and, while they can be "promoted" using the up/down arrows it is a little tedious. Maybe there is an 'invert list' option that I have yet to find? It is however less tedious than simply waiting for Google/Blogger to fix the primary problem.
In addition, so another slight issue, I cannot add links to the list items but I haven't the faintest idea why that might be. It is, I guess, just all part of the fun - the learning process. Were that not so I would no doubt have given up long ago.
No doubt Blogger will fix the underlying problem, probably sooner rather than later. It may be frustrating, particularly at first, but don't quit for there is plenty of free help out there and, at the very least, a carefully worded Google search will point you towards it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thinking ahead... Folk Festivals 2014

I've only just got back home, from something completely different, and now I am listening to Mike Harding Folk Show Number 43. You can also find it, and all the previous editions, on Mixcloud here but I recommend consulting the former for it also has a plethora of links to all the acts/artists ever featured and to listings of forthcoming live music events.
One more good piece of news is that Bristol Folk Festival is to return in 2014, after a hiatus in 2013, and at two new venues. Indeed venues that I believe are ones far better suited to it: 3 - 4 May 2014 at St. George's, Clifton, Bristol and Bristol Folk House.
To go with that theme, here is another 2013 album of which I was quite unaware of until today. Bare Foot Folk, the second album by Somerset-based Ange Hardy.

Amazon.co.uk only have it to download but the CD is available, signed if you wish, directly from the artist.
How one chooses to define 'folk' or 'roots' is open to endless debate but, any which way you chose, I doubt that I have ever listened to more of it than I have in 2013. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gwobr Gerddoriaeth Gymreig 2013 Welsh Music Prize

From the Brits and Mercury to the Grammys, AMA and CMA, via any number of others, many of them interesting, the world seems awash with music awards. Canada has the Juno Awards and Australia the ARIAs and the UK has the British Blues Awards that at least in part mirror the Blues Music Awards in the US.
New on the scene is the one mentioned in the title and it is, in some ways, just as interesting as any of the aforementioned. Last week it was only the third time the Welsh Music Prize had been awarded. OK, you might simply think "what is all the fuss about?"
Well, whilst Wales is not quite like Iceland as a musical volcano (yet), it seems to be simmering with musical talent. The above award was whittled down by those that do such things to a short-list of twelve albums. Of those I already had three, so I was clearly aware of what was cooking, and was surprised that several others that I have were not amongst them. Release dates for consideration, too-old or too-recent, may well have a lot to do with some of them.
The winner, announced in Cardiff on Wednesday, October 16, was one of the artists whose album I do already have and have already mentioned in passing... Week Of Pines - Georgia Ruth from Aberystwyth. Take it as read that this was already a certainty for my list of albums of 2013. I was already smitten as I have the 'In Luna EP' on 12" vinyl.

To be honest the title track of that EP is actually one of the weakest on Week Of Pines.

Thinking ahead...

Last weekend it occurred to me that, with so much live music to see in the last week of October and much of November, it would be wise to start considering all the new music that I have acquired during 2013 so far as it relates to those inevitable end-of-year lists. I made a start then and then during the week made a long-list that actually turned out to be rather scary even well before Hallowe'en!
I'm not listening to it all over a few days, which would be like an alternative Glastonbury but without the crowds. Nevertheless my neighbours, if not actually Mendip District Council, might have something to say about that.

If all that were not enough then suddenly my in-box seems to have become filled with enticing new prospects for the months ahead.
Another slight problem is that in order to keep a sense of perspective about all the new music it is necessary also to revisit some that was in that place in previous years. That must include things that I still listen to regularly and also consideration of that which, however enamoured I was at the time, now languishes in the racks of LPs and CDs and is rarely listened to.
This is an impossible ideal.
[And a 'Black Box Recorder' lyric - you need to imagine it with Sarah Nixey's crystal diction.]
It is however the continuation of a very improbable journey. Seven years ago I could never have foreseen what that first post would lead to and, looking back, I wouldn't change it for anything.
The next issue is all those 2013 albums and EPs that I haven't heard but intended to do so and all those that are still to be released in the next six weeks or so. Arrows - Polly Scattergood, released October 21, being a case in point but as it happens it arrived here today. 
This is not only unfinished business but actually impossible to finish. Back then I would never have imagined that albums such as this, which is another I need to hear, would even be under consideration but one thing leads to another. 

It is a concept related in some ways to "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"!

The EP category was traditionally where I used to start as back in 2007 it seemed a format doomed to extinction and I had few to choose from. I got that idea well and truly wrong, I'm delighted to say!
Fast forward six years and nothing could be further from the truth for - whether digital or physical - it has become the calling card for new artists and existing ones wishing to explore another side to their music. I could spend the whole of the rest of the weekend listening to nothing but EPs released in 2013 that I have come upon during my travels both virtual and to festivals and some of these rank amongst my most listened-to and prized recordings of 2013.

Just to recap, all of this, including the wonderful people I have met along the way and the 1000 or so live acts I have seen, happened simply because I was bored one weekday evening and wished to comment on a blog post. At that time to do so I had to create my own account and, once that activation barrier had been overcome it seemed a waste of effort to not then put it to further use.

Friday, October 18, 2013

An annoyance revisited...

Last week I had reason to comment about this. Now it has happened again!  Again I know, from reading other comments to Google issues, that I am far from the only one that is experiencing this.
"For some reason that as far as I can see is not of my own making, I can't currently update my blog side-bar. If this works, and the problem continues although I'm trusting that it will soon be fixed, I shall simply add all content here in the meantime."
As you can see, I can add new posts and also edit them (or indeed earlier ones). The problem seems simply to afflict the side bar. It is hardly the case that Google can't afford to fix it:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just a thought... North Dorset Folk Festival

This is what you are missing as I write and, indeed, so am I.

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire is an all-seated venue of approximately 2000 capacity.  It is now too late to go to this concert anyway. On the other hand the very same are headlining North Dorset Folk Festival on 26 October. The venue, Marnhull Village Hall, is much more intimate and as of an hour ago there were about twenty tickets still available. See you there? 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A minor annoyance...

For some reason that as far as I can see is not of my own making, I can't currently update my blog side-bar. If this works, and the problem continues although I'm trusting that it will soon be fixed, I shall simply add all content here in the meantime.
OK. That experiment worked! Watch this space...
Note added October 10, 2013:
It worked better still, not that I can in any way claim the credit. The problem, and I soon discovered that I was not the only one suffering from it, is now fixed!