Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lyrics again - Wine and Roses

It is ages since I have done any lyrics, which once was a regular event. Thank-you to whoever has just asked me for those for 'Wine and Roses', a song from Heidi Talbot's latest album 'Angels Without Wings' (2013), released by Navigator Records. They will be posted here tomorrow, once I have checked them against the aforementioned original recording.
Indeed this is likely to become a post featuring at least one other artist to release on this label in 2013.

Wine and Roses

I see the young ones slowly strolling
On the Friday Promenade.
The sun is low, their faces glowing
Hopeful hearts out on display.

In their dreams are wine and roses
Quiet picnics in the park.
Holding hands and rubbing noses
Softly kissing in the dark.

I was much the same in my day
All impatient and unsure.
But alone I soon surrendered
Pledged my soul, so young and pure.

For he gave me wine and roses
Quiet picnics in the park.
Held my hand and we rubbed noses
Softly kissing in the dark.

I see the young ones slowly strolling
On the Friday Promenade.
The sun is low, their faces glowing
Hopeful hearts out on display.

I'd never trade our life together
Though we had our rocky times.
My heart it rose and fell so often
Like the constant shifting tides.

It wasn't all just wine and roses
Quiet picnics in the park.
Holding hands and rubbing noses
Softly kissing in the dark.

I am old and all alone now
My children gone and far away.
They used to ask what lovers are
I never knew just how to say.

But love is more than wine and roses
Quiet picnics in the park
Holding hands and rubbing noses
Softly kissing in the dark.

If you have never seen Heidi Talbot live then really you owe it to yourself to do so. I had the wonderful fortune, at Truck Festival 2011, to do exactly that. It was a tiny stage and she was part of a trio with John McCusker and Kris Drever. To be quite honest, in the UK folk world at least, things don't come much better than that.  This fuzzy photograph is the best that I could muster in the circumstances...

Even a folk trio should not have four members! Roddy Woomble was a surprise guest here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Music - Part 18 - PJP Band - ...and so it goes

I can honestly say that, whilst most of my family live there, in the more than six years of writing this blog I have never once mentioned a band that is based in Plymouth.
Until today...
... and so it goes - PJP Band. I certainly didn't see this coming, so thanks to Amazing Radio for alerting me this evening. It is a fine album, indeed I have since spent too much time listening to it streamed. Better still it is available now either as download or as 2 x 12" LP contained in a gate-fold sleeve (limited to 250 copies).
It is not cheap but their bargaining chip is good...

"This is a deluxe run, and a beautiful product to own, even if you don't have a record player... yet." 
Well, at least that is not a problem for me and both have very recently been treated to a new stylus too. It is, as far as I can tell, the first release by Plymouth-based independent label OUF Records.
I hope to hear more music out of Plymouth, in any genre, sooner rather than later. To state it another way - Plymouth has a population broadly similar to the whole of Iceland...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Music - Part 17 - The Graphite Set - These Streets EP

This is a rare case indeed.

I know I want this on vinyl, because I can and therefore it is already on pre-order, but that is not just because I want the music with the tone that 12" vinyl affords. I want it as much for the artwork that the 12" EP has and the download will either not have or will at best only have bundled as a pale imitation. That is not, however, to slight the music for a single moment. One of the best things that happened yesterday is that, as part of the final artist announcements for End of The Road Festival 2013, The Graphite Set was amongst them. The release date is June 3 (vinyl) or, if you can't wait, June 2 on download.
To help you wait, here is 'In Your Eyes' from said EP.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Live in Frome - Chantel McGregor

It is now much tidier and no longer weed-overgrown as it appears in this picture, which is obviously a good thing, but would you have suspected that it is as well as a Grade 1 listed building and after 251 years in use as a non-conformist chapel, and subsequently the better part of fifty years quietly decaying, now an arts venue, including live music whilst also home to a thriving architectural practice?

It is a bit much to ask, I know, but it is true. Maybe it was meant to be slightly forbidding.
Whether that is true I can't say but it is still formidable, not least because it is a very intimate venue indeed. There are no corners in which to hide and that applies as much to the audience as to the artists. I still wonder, however what the founders and subscribers for the building, when Frome was a town very rich indeed on the wool trade, would make of it all now. I'd like to think, as in their time they were forward-looking and sometimes almost to the point of revolution, they could see the positive side of it all. It might have been a challenge...

Rock four-piece Albany Down kicked things off with a solid set only marginally disrupted by some issues with the lead vocalist's mike and associated lead that were soon sorted out. Two albums, 'South of The City' and 'Not Over Yet' notwithstanding, these things can happen to anyone at any time and so here is Albany Down, live at Rook Lane Chapel Frome.

A great deal of stuff on one of the shallowest stages, which is why the monitors are actually placed on chairs in front of the stage and barely out of the way of the legs of those in the front row of the audience. Sometimes the publicity says "intimate gig" and this was that and then some.  There were a number of memorable tracks, all their own, and some fine guitar moments too.
On another day they could have been headlining and almost everyone, myself included, would have gone home happy but it was not to be one of those days.
This is where I started to wonder really what those wealthy subscribers, who paid for the building of this edifice over three centuries ago, might be thinking.
Not only is it being used for wicked enjoyment. This happened: Chantel McGregor...
"Tis a Wednesday evening; you should be a-busy weaving."
It only got better after that: this is after all an artist who only the previous day (and the first day of this tour) had not only been nominated in the short-list for 'Best Female Vocalist' by The British Blues Awards 2013 (an award she won in 2012) but also in the short-list for 'Best Guitarist' and the first time a female artist has ever been nominated in the category.
You might even have got the impression that she was thoroughly enjoying herself and, with music and the faultless backing of Richard Ritchie (bass) and Keith McPartlin (percussion), who can blame her.
Towards the middle of the set she played and sang three songs, all cover versions, solo:
  • Rhiannon ( Stevie Nicks)
  • I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt)
  • Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
That is not to say that the many tracks from the album 'Like No Other' were not equally noteworthy, the album opener 'Fabulous' particularly so, or indeed the new track 'Disco Lover Suicide', for they were. I think, however, that the final straw for the luminaries behind the founding of Rook Lane Chapel came with the sudden revelation. They had been changing the playlist throughout and she had to tell her band-mates, there and then, that the penultimate track of the main set would be a cover and here they are playing it:
Jimi Hendrix' 'Voodoo Child'.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

New Music - Part 16 - Americana Both Sides of the Atlantic

This is about two albums that I have come to my attention in the last couple of days. One has been released only recently and the other is due in six weeks or so: both incorporate several trends in the way new music, and the music industry in general, is changing shape in an almost organic way.
I'm actually going to start with the one that has not yet been released for, without it, I would very likely not have discovered the one that has.

This is the début album from the Brighton/London based singer-songwriter. Crowd-funded, it is self-released on June 30, 2013. This is not to say for a minute that it is going to be some parochial take on Americana.
It was recorded in East Nashville under the guidance of Chris Donohue (Emmylou Harris and, more recently, The Civil Wars) with many well known roots musicians playing parts. Neither is it an album of covers and standards for, with one exception she has written or co-written all but one of the songs in this collection. For a more extensive biography see here.

The second album is this - the history behind it is even more complicated than at first it might seem.

This is their latest studio album and a 2013 release by, as were the forgoing ones, Chicago-based independent label Bloodshot Records. At the heart of the band are two natives of Detroit, MI who some while back decided to reverse the migration that led to the explosion of blues and rock, and relocate to Tennessee: Kurt Marschke (lyric, guitar vocals)  and JD Mack (drums), not brothers as it might seem, and the line-up had already been prone to evolution as is so often the case. The fact is that then it did include brothers from London: Spencer Cullum (guitar, lap-steel and pedal steel) and Jeff Cullum (bass). Then the dynamic changed again.
These two albums serve to define, to an extent, just where things are now and how much has changed; much of it for the better I believe.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Or perhaps some East Coast singer-songwriters...

This is an idea that only really crystallized for me today. In truth it has roots that go back much further. Consider this a start - a declaration of my intent to do something. In a strange way the catalyst was reading the Latitude 2013 line-up. I had so many good times there in 2007-2011 but I really don't regret the fact that I'm not attending in 2013. There are of course many acts/artists that I'd like to see - some of which I already have seen and others that, at the festivals that I am attending this summer, I will have the chance to see in smaller surroundings. Aside from that, Latitude in east Suffolk is a long way from home - a round trip of almost 500 miles - and that costs in both time and fuel. I suspect that, sooner or later, the lure of Latitude will tempt me back.
All I need to do now is work out what it is that I want to write.
In some ways the hardest part is now done - for me the hardest part of any project is getting started and this entire blog is a fine example of that!

Samantha Twigg Johnson performing with 10-string cuatro at Folk Weekend Oxford 2013.
Studio stage, Old Fire Station. In this instance the artist, originally from Illinois but now based in Oxford, UK, and album 'Organ of Habit' (2007) were unknown to me up until this point.
This is not however the case with the following. The 2011 album 'Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names', by New Yorker Annie Dressner, has been known to me for a while.
Further to that she has been on my list (albeit a rather lengthy one) of artists that I wish to see live. That particular issue has been neatly resolved as she too has moved this side of the pond and, even better still, is one of the artists at Frome's Acoustic+ on May 24. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Anyone for a little West Coast pop?

This will not be to everyone's taste. I know that but if you fancy an early summer dose of West Coast pop, and obviously I do and that is why I am mentioning it, how about this from Seattle-based Seapony?

It won't change the world - it doesn't need to.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Why opportunity can be everything and budget nothing.

Given a suitably massive budget, and the access to resources that it brings, then surely commercial musical success will be assured? Well, for some decades that was very much the modus operandi of the major labels and for a long while it worked, in so far as the successes were more than able to bank-roll the flops as well as the often ridiculously wasteful corporate processes, functionaries and flunkies that the industry acquired along the way.
It has been seen before, and indubitably it will be seen again, in a great variety of industries... The idea that something is 'too big, for which read too self-important, to fail'.
Trains it has repeatedly been discovered do not actually run at all well when fuelled by gravy and, as any fireman will tell you, the best strategy is almost always to keep the fire even, lean and hot: The costs, both pecuniary and physical, within proportion to expectation and yet the ambition beyond both. This is a fact that the legion of independent record labels have long been acquainted with and this is a 'taster CD' from just one of them that arrived here with me today.

Owlet Music is based in beautiful, rural mid-Wales, very far from the centres of the UK music industry. That doesn't matter one bit - they have both the talent and the opportunity available to them but without the commotion and distraction of the cities. I suspect that I shall be writing much more on this and related themes in the coming months but, in the meantime, Owlet has just delivered one of the finest LPs of 2013 so far. It is hardly shaping up as a barren year and neither does it look like changing in that respect in the coming months.
That is Trwbador - Trwbador, the début album from the duo that I have mentioned before. Another one to watch, by the way, is Casi Wyn from Bangor and her EP1 (Recordiau IKaChing).