Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Time for a change.

After weeks of listmania it is time for a change. All the time spent thinking about my own lists and more recently reading those by others and listening to things thereupon that have piqued my curiosity have, when combined with the infinitely grey and gloomy weather of late, persuaded me to look for things away from the mainstream both new and old (sometimes both at the same time).
What transpired has several catalysts, one being my liking for bluegrass and things derived at least in part from it. If it includes some Appalachian old-time fiddle and banjo, or gypsy influences then that is not bad thing either. Neither is a foundation in the UK and Irish folk sound for that matter.

This post is going to mention some things that I have discovered so far during this ongoing quest. Though it has deep roots in my listening it is only really during this year that I have really taken note of how this adsorption (rather than absorption, though it may happen subsequently) of influences takes place. I define the turning point, for the sake of this post, as taking place on the evening of Thursday 30 July at Cambridge Folk Festival when I saw this band live and failed to take a single usable photo of it.
WTF, Richard? The answer is that I was totally distracted.
That band was Dublin four-piece Lynched. They played between Orcadian five-piece Fara and Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker and despite that there was something special and memorable about the set. Some of it came from their most recent recorded offering that contains some traditional, some dance-hall and some new material. Salonika may be familiar to many, not least from the version recorded by The Dubliners.

Lynched - Cold Old Fire (self released, 2015).

This is music for the coming, press-entitled, "Panic Saturday". It will surely rain again and all retail outlets and travel options are to be avoided at any cost - this is a day that is therefore destined to be spent with good, simple food and maybe a pre-season tipple whilst sat in front of the fire in the company of good music. Not a Christmas pop ditty to be heard; that said, possibly an exception might be made for 'Fairytale of New York'.
Other appealing options are available and I suggest this one from No

Go on, treat yourself!

Irish music more generally is another thing that has returned to my attention in the second half of this year and here is an act that I haven't seen live yet, but now I really want to. This five-piece is also from Dublin.

I Draw Slow - White Wave Chapel (Pinecastle Records, 2014).

While this is the Dublin band's latest album I highly recommend its predecessor Redhills (2011) too. In both the American bluegrass/country influence is more apparent than it is on the above-mentioned work by Lynched.
This is 'Goldmine' from the LP Redhills.

Crossing the Atlantic I have already commented on my liking for The Newpart, which is the latest album from April Verch. As well as singing and playing fiddle she often provides clog-dancing accompaniment too. This Ottawa valley bluegrass is a distinct and seemingly thriving scene and I want to hear more of it.
Next is the Seattle based duo, Charlie Beck and Charmaine Slaven, that is Squirrel Butter. The latest full length offering is this and it is heading deep into traditional and old-time territory.

Squirrel Butter - Chestnuts (2015, CD Baby).

A suitable place to end this long ramble is in the rolling Piedmont landscape of North Carolina with the music of acoustic string four-piece Mipso and this little gem of an LP.

Old Time Reverie (2015, Robust Records).

All of this post is an antidote to the madness of the Christmas retail experience.

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