Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey.

This is that long-promised virtual road-trip.

In the light of recent developments, social, political and criminal and on both sides of the Atlantic it isn't a planned journey, made through choice. It is more a consideration of emigration, immigration or simply migration. The driving forces that control these movements are not always the same. War, poverty and such are drivers of emigration. Then there is the voluntary kind: The fabled pot of gold (sometimes literally, as in the various gold-rushes) can lead folk to leave modest, yet fairly safe, circumstances for much more dangerously insecure ones and sometimes within the same country. There is also the more subtle issues of identity, belief and belonging.
The really odd thing about the way certain countries are behaving just now is that they are precisely the same ones that, throughout their histories, have benefited the most from these processes.

I'm going to try and write "live-in-process" over the next 24 hours. The reason for that is that this way I hope that I won't overthink it and will actually get it finished. The down-side might be that it doesn't flow smoothly from start to end. Most real migration journeys don't either.

It is appropriate to start with the artist whose album gives this post its title.  It is taken from a proverb in her native Haiti - a country that has had, since time immemorial, the worst of luck on almost any humanitarian measure. She now lives in New Orleans.

Leyla McCalla - A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey (Jazz Village, 27 May 2016).

This is the title track from that LP.

This next act comprises Clayton Linthicum and Kacy Anderson, cousins from southern Saskatchewan, that form the acoustic duo Kacy and Clayton. They play music that has influences derived from both southern Appalachian tradition as well as that of the UK.

Kacy & Clayton - Strange Country (New West Records, 6 May 2016).

The song that I have chosen is 'Seven Yellow Gypsies'. It is a demonstration of just how songs travel with people and both evolve and adapt to the new horizons. It is from, to use a biological term, a clade of songs in which a noble lady falls for (one or more) men of lesser standing and leaves her home with him or them when her husband (often referred to as 'Lord' or 'Master') is away on business. The lovers are unrepentant. The outcome for all those complicit in infidelity is fatal. It sometimes involves a duel between the male protagonists. Various versions of this are included in The Child Ballads.
An example, when the lady inveigles her desire, is Matty Groves. Fairport Convention recorded the classic version on 'Liege and Lief' (1969) and Alela Diane covered it (with Alina Hardin) in 2009 (Alela and Alina). I'm thinking that this version is likely late 16th century in origin.

The version by Kacy & Clayton is akin to a (probably 18th century) incarnation in which the woman leaves with a group of (typically seven) travelling entertainers (often referred to as gypsies in the song).
A fine modern UK interpretation is to be found on the 2015 LP 'From Here' by London act Stick In The Wheel.

Eskimeaux is the solo incarnation of Gabrielle Smith, a veteran member of Brooklyn-based collective Epoch, and she is not inclined to traditional strategies. Most artists do not produce the artwork for their LP by embroidering it. This is explained in a song.

O.K. - Eskimeaux (Double Double Whammy, 9 June 2015).

Taken from that LP is this.
The Thunder Answered Back - Violitionist Sessions, Denton, TX, June 2015.

And now this:
Year of The Rabbit EP -Eskimeaux (Double Double Whammy, 15 April 2016).

This journey concludes with two recently released works. The first is actually a collection of songs that the very prolific Darrell Scott wrote as long as fifteen years ago but, until his recent move from Nashville to the relative quietude and countryside of the Cumberland Plateau, he could never complete to his own exacting standards. The result is this and it was surely worth the wait.
Couchville Sessions - Darrell Scott (Full Light Records, 13 May 2016).

The opening track is 'Down To The River' and it's easy to imagine how a move towards rural self-sufficiency helped him to complete the oeuvre.

While that was very much the work of a man, his songs and a guitar the journey ends with a young band that is, in my view at least, rather more interesting than the alt-folk tag that they seem to have been lumbered with.
Dear Misery - Colonial Blue (self released - 17 June 2016).

Colonial Blue is a three-piece from Texas, comprising Stephanie Rice (vocals, songwriting and sometimes an instrument), Jonathan Ward (guitars, etc.) and Corey Chierighino (drums, etc.), and this is their first LP. Do not fret about the title - this is a parting letter to the bad times. It is one good listen and one that, until very recently, was completely unknown to me.

'Break Your Bones' is the rather downbeat introduction to the album.

If you are going to Glastonbury 2016 then stay safe, have a great time, and go listen to as much as possible including acts that you have never even heard of. They will be all around you on the smaller stages. One of them might make your day, but you will definitely make theirs!

Treat everyone you meet exactly as you would wish them to treat you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 38 - The Moon and You - A White Light That Sings

Once upon a time I used to find "new music" by listening to that which some suits in label A&R and in radio deemed was "good" and should therefore be play-listed. I'm not singling out any genre of music here - all of them were guilty in their own particular ways.
In recent times I have become far more proactive when it comes to new music - both recorded and live at festivals. It is very true that I have a certain independent streak when it comes to music and tend towards missionary zeal when it comes to seeing support artists and those playing the smallest stages at a festival.  I'd like to believe, however, that I'm not someone that disowns acts that become successful but readers really need to be the true judge of that!

There is nothing more rewarding than when new music comes calling. I suppose that is because I do have an ego and it engenders a warm feeling. On the other hand the guiding principle of 'Thoughts on music' is that I don't waste my limited resources on writing about things that I don't like.

The Moon and You - A White Light That Sings (self released, 24 June 2016).

The Moon and You is, at its core, the duo of Melissa Hyman and Ryan Furstenberg that hails from Asheville, NC. They share vocal duties. Melissa plays cello, Ryan guitar, except when they decide to play ukulele and banjo instead and oft-times they are joined by various co-conspirators on the eleven tracks that comprise their début album.

The Moon and You - A White Light That Sings
  • Clever Worms
  • Dress of Your Own
  • Micro-chip Electrode Brain
  • Somebody Else
  • Diamonds
  • Bottom of the Road
  • Lion and the Rabbit
  • Ghost
  • Autumn Days
  • Currituck County Moon
  • Austen's Lullaby
This is where I am with it right now...  or more specifically where I wish that I could be in just over a week's time. I happen to be a fan of poster art too.

Just imagine this looking down at you from the arching platform billboards on The London Underground!

I don't often mention individual tracks but I'm feeling rather tempted to do just that on this occasion. Genre-defying is what I read, before listening to the work in question. I like that idea...

In the meantime here is opening track 'Clever Worms' recorded live in 2013.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 37 - Lydia Loveless - Real

OK. Here I go again - there's no rest for the wicked!
Or, for that matter, the followers of those independent record labels that really matter so much once again. Here is the latest from just one such, and the welcome return of a very significant artist with her third (or fourth, maybe) LP.

Lydia Loveless - Real (Bloodshot Records, BS239, 19 August 2016).

Lydia Loveless - Real:
  • Same to You
  • Longer
  • More Than Ever
  • Heaven
  • Out On Love
  • Midwestern Guys
  • Bilbao
  • European
  • Clumps
  • Real
'Longer' is the first track from the album to be revealed:

Somewhere Else (2014) was a fine album, indeed it still is. There is, however, no reason to suppose that it was the high-water mark of Lydia Loveless' career or ambition. She has kept the same core musicians again and also producer Joe Viers. The album was recorded in Columbus, OH.
It may even be too 'real' for some folks' taste. She has never been shy of unlovely images, or raising awkward subjects, and it looks like they are here aplenty; that's just how it rolls. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Live - Life in the Great Western Saloon.

This is the promised sequel to my earlier post concerning the Great Western Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival 2016. It took a bit longer to do than I had planned but ain't that just the way...  I intend to mention, if only with links, all the acts that I did not mention in the previous post. It's increasingly looking as though that ambition will require more than this post to achieve!
This looks like a particularly interesting prospect: The Lavens is a five-piece from St. Antonio, Texas and is a band that consists of members of the same extended family. It is certainly not very widely known in the UK:

The Lavens live at The Cove, San Antonio, TX.

Now things get really complicated.
Brighton-based The Raving Beauties does exist, it is signed to At The Helm Records, but started life as a wholly fictional band; the only reason that it exists is the result of the vivid imagination of a writer. Having published the story to some acclaim it seemed a logical step to create the act retrospectively, and so it happened.

Oh Lover - The Raving Beauties (2013/2015).

It's not my desire to retell the story of a story of a story. [I have deliberately kept the sources visible in such cases, in part to fully credit them].
The link below starts with the author explaining the reason for the origin of the written work of fiction:

The final result was this recorded work of eleven songs packed into just 30 minutes of playing time. The reviews are solid too:

Now we shall get to see it played live.
The Raving Beauties - (At The Helm Records, 28 August 2015).

I intend to be there, inside the iron shed that is the Great Western Saloon Bar, on 16 July, to see how this plays out in an intimate live setting. It's quite clearly going to take several more posts to cover all of this! Will I even be able to tear myself away to visit the other stages?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 36 - Joanne Shaw Taylor - Wild

Let's just get straight to the point here. This is what this post is about.

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Wild (30 September 2016, Axehouse Records).

This is the playlist:
  • Dyin’ To Know
  • Ready To Roll
  • Get You Back
  • No Reason To Stay
  • Wild Is The Wind
  • Wanna Be My Lover
  • I’m In Chains
  • I Wish I Could Wish You Back
  • My Heart’s Got A Mind Of Its Own
  • Nothin’ To Lose
  • Summertime

I don't know quite what it sounds like but suffice to say that when I saw her play live (once again) a few months back the omens were good. Very good indeed. This is her fifth studio album and the second to be released on her own independent label Axehouse Records; so take it as read that she has a fine sense of what she wants her music to sound like and who would be the people to work with in order to make that happen.

If you don't believe me then see this piece:

Of course no record producer, it is Kevin Shirley in this case, would seek to undermine their own work or that of the artist that has employed them. On the other hand this, coming as it does more than three months before the recording is released, is a considerable departure from the normal state of things: Muted expressions of understanding, of shared values and so on are the most one usually hears. If one hears if anything at all that is and even when one does it comes from the artist more often than not. I for one am hoping that he is right.
Any which way Joanne Shaw Taylor is a phenomenal live artist and she is touring widely in support of 'Wild'. That is something you need to experience.

Monday, June 06, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 35 - Kelsey Waldon - I've Got A Way

Before I continue with my thoughts concerning the Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival 2016 I have decided to mention an artist that is not playing there or indeed anywhere else in the UK in so far as I can currently discover.
This was prompted when today Kelsey Waldon announced a few details of her second album. I decided that, since I had not specifically mentioned the first, it was high time to look at both. 
This is the forthcoming one:

Kelsey Waldon - I've Got A Way (self released, 12 August 2016).

The previous one is this:

Kelsey Waldon - The Gold Mine (self released, 24 June 2014).

There is a great deal going on in this territory just now. The thing is that this seems to be a community of artists, based in East Nashville and elsewhere, that are determined to push for recognition but on their own terms. I can't see that this can be anything other than for the good.
The first track from 'I've Got A Way' is 'All By Myself' and here it is:

I also need to find a live video from 'The Gold Mine' LP.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

If you want me I'll be in the bar...

Another attempt to write a post about a road-trip through music has just been cunningly subverted, this time by a festival announcement. As for the title, it's just a case of me with apologies to Joni.
For all that I shall start with the artists and the LP that I was intending to start with anyway.

This album has been out in the US for a while now but is released in the UK very shortly and there is a tour in the offing too. It should be clear that we are on a trip and that we are starting in California. Or at least this outfit is.

Speedbuggy USA - South of Bakersfield (Wagon Wheel Records, 2015).

The four-piece are purveying the Bakersfield sound of Californian country rock that grew up in counterpoint to the increasingly highly polished and produced sounds emanating from Nashville in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This music is definitely the concern of ordinary, blue-collar folk.  They are coming to a small festival that takes place on a farm in Oxfordshire, England in July. It is rather appropriately called Truck Festival. Those trucks may run on rails as in this, taken from 'South of Bakersfield'. Speedbuggy USA plays Truck Festival on Sunday 17 July.

In fact this trip through music is defined only by the end-point of the various journeys and that is a single small stage - The Great Western Saloon Bar - at the above mentioned gathering. The starting points vary wildly and indeed some of the artists have already been mentioned in these pages. Here is the full schedule.

Applewood Road headline on Friday. Top of the bill on Saturday is BJ Barham, perhaps better known as the on-going lead singer and songwriter for American Aquarium. This is his solo side project that includes the soon-to-be-released LP 'Rockingham'. Robert Chaney, whom I mentioned with regard to his album 'Cracked Picture Frame' early last year, is a must-see as far as I am concerned. In fact there is nothing that I don't want to see, whether I have seen that act or artist live before or have not! Indeed, and as well as the above, at the very least these six have already been mentioned by me specifically in regards to LP releases: The Black Feathers, Danni Nicholls, Delta Bell, Redlands Palomino Company, The Rosellys, Paul McClure. I know quite a bit about them. I have seen Stevie Ray Latham live too, I think, but I need to look into that.
What interests me now is all the rest of the artists on the above list; many of which I know little or nothing about. There is no point whatsoever in going to festivals just to see acts that one is already well aware of.
What I dig up about this will form the second part of this post.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

A meander through music...

This isn't quite the virtual road or rail trip through music that I have been mentioning in my plans for some while, though I expect I'll come to that sooner rather than later. It's just a spur-of-the-moment thing and I don't really know where I'm headed. Its genesis was last week when I had been listening to lots of stuff that is new to me and, every so often, something quite unexpected ended up in my path.
It really started just fifteen minutes walk from home with live music at the Grain Bar Roots Sessions in my home town of Frome, played by an acoustic trio from down the road in Devon. This is folk (of the English variety) but not quite just that. 
Amongst the summer rain, so typical of England, touches of blues and even jazz seep in through the cracks whilst the stories told are relevant to those in almost any place or time. That trio is Velvet & Stone and they were touring their six-song début release.

The Storm - Velvet & Stone (self released, 8 December 2015).

Not a weak track on this and how this band has passed under my radar completely requires an investigation. These are not traditional songs but new songs that embody traditional themes and the distinction is a rather important one.

The next is certainly the result of a improbable set of coincidences. It all started with a local (but not particularly so to me) community radio show called FNARW (Folk is Not A Rude Word) that is primarily broadcast on Hailsham FM (Sussex, England) but is also available (almost) worldwide on Mixcloud here. Chris Giles, the presenter, cited his awareness of this duo as a result of 'networking'. I'm going to continue that theme...
He introduced me to this next act and played a couple of tracks from it yesterday. I couldn't wait to find out more. This one is a collection of folk songs revisited and reinterpreted:

Wolf Hunter - The Creek Rocks (self released, 2016).

The Creek Rocks is husband and wife team Cindy Woolf and Mark Bilyeu both from the territory covered by the Ozark Mountains (they are similar in altitude to the "mountains" in the UK so not Rocky mountains or Alps style) but cover extensive tracts of southern Missouri and north central and north western parts of Arkansas. Wolf Hunter is their first truly collaborative work although both have released music before.
It is released on vinyl, CD and d/l but finding the physical versions in the UK is a slight issue at the moment. I rather like the idea of buying the vinyl for myself as a birthday present, even if it has to ship from the US. The album certainly deserves a listen and you can listen to five tracks from it here.

Last but not least is this news from today, about new music from an artist possibly better known on both sides of the Atlantic than either of the aforementioned. This is the follow up to 2014 self-titled début Arc Iris.

Moon Saloon - Arc Iris (19 August, Bella Union in the EU and possibly also the UK too).

The first track released from the second LP from Jocie Adams and her cohort is Kaleidoscope. I'm guessing that the title might serve as a good guide to the rest of the offering.

Arc Iris, The Garden Stage, End Of The Road Festival, 6 September 2014.