Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A brief hiatus in posts...

Please bear with me because there will be a short hiatus here... it will last until the beginning of the coming week but with it should come rewards, or at least I hope so. In the meantime here a a few more memories from Green Man 2016.  Two acts that call Devon home:

Sam Green and The Midnight Heist, Chai Wallah stage, Friday evening, Green Man 2016.

Ardyn, Walled Garden stage, early Saturday afternoon, Green Man 2016.

The reason for this hiatus is End Of The Road Fesival 2016. This is a picture of a band that is performing there but one that I took at Green Man 2016. 

From Athens, Georgia, this is Mothers. Walled Garden stage, Friday afternoon.
Mothers is a four-piece band; this is Kristine Leschper and Drew Kirby thereof.

It takes a determined attitude to entitle your début LP 'When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired'.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Green Man :: 2016 :: Dyn Gwyrdd - Part 4 - five more acts; all are new to me live.

In three days time I shall be at End Of The Road 2016, so I had better get on with this! Here are five more acts from Green Man 2016 that I had never before seen play live. I have mentioned already that I really rate the Walled Garden stage and particularly in its new configuration. Three of these artists played that stage but I shall start and finish with the ones that played the smaller Green Man Rising stage.

Opening the Green Man Rising stage on Sunday was London's Paradisia, performing as a six-piece formed around the core of Anna (harp), Sophie-Rose (vocals) and Kristy (keyboard and vocals), and much influenced by Bruce Springsteen.

Their set included, as well as their own material, a cover of 'Dancing in the Dark'.

Now we shall head over to the Walled Garden stage on Friday afternoon to catch an artist who quite deliberately doesn't rock.
Trevor Sensor from Illinois just rambles.

It was a shame in so many ways that he played to such a small audience. It was easy to detect the vibe of the audience that was there however. It was like being a guest at a private performance and therefore a highlight of the day or indeed of the festival; totally captivating.

Trevor Sensor, Walled Garden stage, Friday afternoon.
Texas Girls and Jesus Christ EP (Jagjaguwar Records, 2016).

This is the Walled Garden stage on a Saturday afternoon of fleeting sunshine and blustery showers. She commented that it would be regarded as a fine day where she comes from and the flattery worked for the sun shone, albeit briefly, on this performance.

Emma Pollock, Walled Garden stage, Saturday afternoon.

The Magnetic North started as a one-off project with an album of the same name about the Orkney Islands. It could have ended there but in 2016 a second LP was revealed and it had one of the most unlikely titles in recent history: Prospect of Skelmersdale - and yes they really can pull these songs off live  - and the patter was just as good too.
Tracks from both LPs were included, and explained.

The Magnetic North, Walled Garden stage, Saturday evening.

What is less than obvious is that, lurking in the background, there is a string section - violin and cello.

To finish this post we return to the Green Man Rising stage on Saturday afternoon and the artist known as Bryde; the solo project of Sarah Howells who was one half of Paper Aeroplanes. This, however, does not sound anything like Paper Aeroplanes. It is rather more forceful and that might be an understatement.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dyn Gwrydd :: 2016 :: Green Man Part 3 - new to me live...

This post is going to feature five acts, all of which I have never seen live before, and all but one of them played live on Sunday.
The one that didn't played on Friday and is the artist that, when announced for Green Man 2016, I most wanted to see live and resulted in me committing to buying a ticket there and then. I could have been disappointed but, as I rather suspected, the exact opposite was true.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Mountain stage, Friday evening.

The fact remains that were he not performing I would have decided to go to Green Man anyway and still had a great time. Two of the other artists I was well aware of, as regards their recorded music, so that leaves two more; one of which I was faintly aware of and the other not at all. This is exactly why I like to focus on the small stages and the opening artists on any stage at festivals.

Opening the Mountain stage on Sunday was Margaret Glaspy. I have been listening to her recent LP 'Emotions and Math'. I like it a lot but I didn't anticipate quite how she would translate it to live performance. I think that a great many of the others there in the drizzle felt much the same way too. This was yet another live show that it would have been a tragedy to have missed.

Headlining the Walled Garden stage on Sunday evening was an artist from the Netherlands. She plays End Of The Road Festival 2016 too.

Amber Arcades is the performance name of Annelotte de Graaf. The LP is Fading Lines.

Late Sunday afternoon I availed myself of the tented darkness of the Far Out stage to see a band from Canada with whose music I am well acquainted but had never previously had the opportunity to see play live. Its core is Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas and heavy psychedelic rock is what they do but it not necessarily all of the gloomy kind...

The Besnard Lakes:  husband and wife dualling on 12-string guitar and bass in a smoky haze.

Then this, an artist whom I had never heard about until I perused the artist list in the programme on Thursday afternoon. Janileigh Cohen from Bolton has the five-song 'As a Child EP' to sell. That might not appear to be much of a pitch but sometimes you just can't tell...

 Green Man Rising stage, early Sunday afternoon, and a very rare standing-ovation from a seated audience.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Green Man :: 2016 :: Dyn Gwrydd - Part 2 - acts seen live before

Time to get on with the music that I went to see and hear. Where better to start than a band whose career playing festivals almost exactly matches in time that of going to them myself? The correlation goes further - from Latitude 2007 to Green Man 2016, via No Direction Home 2012 and others, it always rains when I see Sheffield's Slow Club play. They have come a long way since first I saw Charles and Rebecca on the 'BBC Introducing stage' at Latitude Festival back in 2008. It involved wooden chairs and empty bottles as percussion. I will have to go back in time and find some pictures of that...

"You look so colourful in your cagoules". Rebecca's comment was true Yorkshire wit.

This post, I've just decided, is going to cover artists and acts that I have seen live at a festival at least once before. This is, I think, the fifth time that I have seen Slow Club play a full set at a festival. That's not a record, in fact it is not even close.

This next band is something of a nightmare to categorise: alt/indie country-rock but (with the exception of a judicious cover in their set this time) all sung in Welsh. This was the only picture that I managed to take that included all six members of the band!

Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Walled Garden stage, late Sunday afternoon.

Rhos Botwnnog is a village in the Llŷn peninsular, North Wales from which the band hails. I guess you can translate cowbois yourself. This is only the second time I have seen the band live; the first was also at the ill-fated No Direction Home Festival in 2012.

Thursday aside when it was almost the only place anything was happening, my forays into the vast tented gloom of the Far Out stage were then limited to Sunday. Of all those only one falls into the category of artists that I have seen live before. That is this one and it was a tremendous set. I first saw him play the Tipi stage on the Thursday evening at End Of The Road Festival 2014 and I wrote about that here.

Ezra Furman, Far Out stage, Sunday evening.

All these artists have new releases in tow, which they wish to promote and of course that is just how it should be. That is also true of this next, a four-piece from California that I saw live at End Of The Road Festival 2013.  Rather than focus on the front line this time I took this for it is the rhythm section that keeps the whole show on the rails.  Warpaint was first support on the Mountain stage on Sunday evening, which Belle and Sebastian headlined.

Stella Mozgawa, Warpaint, Mountain stage, 21 August 2016.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Green Man :: 2016 :: Dyn Gwyrdd - A quick site tour.

I week ago that's where I was, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, so I guess it is about time for some words and pictures about that. I still haven't got any real idea about how to group the artists that I saw and heard into posts.  I'll just start with something else and see whether that leads me to some kind of logistical inspiration.
That somewhere might best be a picture of the (main) 'Mountain stage' taken from a distance and under a glowering sky on Sunday afternoon. For the record the artist playing here is Julia Holter, to whom I shall return somewhat later.

It is true that the weather was less than perfect much of the time but that did nothing of significance to detract from the overall experience. Having started with a scene of the site maybe I should continue the theme for now.

The smallest of the four dedicated music stages is the 'Green Man Rising stage', which principally showcases new, up-and-coming acts.
Here it is viewed from across the pond. I had just returned from seeing Paradisia play there and was on my way back to the Mountain stage. This was Sunday lunchtime and the weather was playing nice at that point.
The Green Man, after which the festival is titled, is a large mythical figure of a different design each year, that is burned just after Sunday midnight. This is this year's incarnation.
Indeterminate weather on Saturday afternoon.

The big blue tent is the 'Far Out stage', the only dedicated music stage that is fully undercover and with a capacity of several thousand standing. Whilst the setting of the Mountain stage is arguably only rivalled by the Garden stage at End of The Road Festival, my pick of the bunch at Green Man is the Walled Garden stage and here it is.

Friday midday. The band is Welsh three-piece Plu.
Not only is it intimate and characterful but it has some of the most interesting artists, at least for my money, gracing it.

The layout at this stage (and indeed elsewhere throughout the festival site) has been much enhanced since last year, which was also rather wet. It's not possible to engineer the weather but it is certainly possible to mitigate the worst of its effects. Another change in the Walled Garden stage is this.

The bar has moved to the back of the garden and changed radically. Now, as well as a handful of beers and the usual other drinks, it hosts an array of thirty draught ciders all brewed in Wales. The seventy draught beers remain for sale in the Courtyard Bar, which is just a minute or two walk away. The result was that both bars were far less overcrowded.

Next I shall turn my attention to some of the music. That is after all what I was there for.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 45 - Lady Nade - Hard To Forget

When you are at a little gig and you hear something that seems too important to ignore...  I am glad to say I have been in that situation plenty of times. Some of those artists are now well known, some are not. There seems to be little rhyme or reason concerning which fall into one category or the other.

Any which way, this is one such; Bristol artist Nadine Gingell whom I first saw play live here in Frome, Somerset way back in 2011. This is her first full length release.

Lady Nade - Hard To Forget (Kitchen Sink Records/Lady Nade, 12 August 2016).

  • Hard to Forget
  • Waiting for You
  • Mind's Made Up
  • Those Late Nights
  • Don't Make Him Wait
  • I Got You Daddy
  • Complicated
  • Kiss This Troubled Mind
  • 6AM
  • Get You on My Own
The genre floats effortlessly between acoustic soul, pop and folk and that's not remotely a problem. The lyrics raise the bar and then the voice that sings them nails it.
That's what made me take notice back then. In that sense alone the title of the album is absolutely spot-on too.

Mind's Made Up

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A festival road trip...

I have had ideas about this, as the time comes near for two three-day festivals in quick succession. On Monday I read an interesting, albeit statistically flimsy (only 504 interviewees, for one thing) article on the BBC website.
I'm not one of those polled and not least because I have never bought a ticket via Eventbrite. I could argue with a few other 'facts' too. There are  actually many hundreds of UK festivals - the figure mentioned is probably just that for which Eventbrite handles ticketing and therefore has data.
Nevertheless, although I would not self-identify as a 'super-fan' (their description but maybe there is a ring of truth) I do share several of the traîts highlighted: I am male and I quite happily attend festivals alone. I am also inclined to rail against the tendency of festivals to become more 'corporate', that is dependent on brand sponsorship.
One thing I certainly do not do is spend my money on is luxury camping. My basic tent is there for just one reason - shelter whilst sleeping - and its contents therefore only what I regard as vital and can therefore be bothered to carry from the car park to the camp site. The car acts as a repository for everything else, should it be needed.
Another point that I will mention is that attending a festival solo does not in any way correlate with loneliness. I find that the opposite is true and think about that when I observe groups of friends that spend most of the festival in the campsite. Each to their own; if you attend alone but are gregarious then there is only one option - and that is engaging with strangers. 

I admit that the prospect was scary the first time but on arrival (at Latitude 2007) the matter was almost immediately rendered void. In a queue with lots of strangers, waiting at the wristband exchange, the obvious thing to do is that you talk to one another. It happened again, but in a rather different way, a few weeks ago at Truck Festival 2016. I was there, with not a care in my own little world, but in front of me was a group of teenagers at their first ever festival: totally stressed and already arguing with each other, about nothing remotely important, before they had even got to the ticket exchange.
"What's the problem?" A short silence... and then every one of them was suddenly talking (to me) all at once. There was no real problem except that, even as a group, they felt adrift in an alien environment.
Once at a festival it is another world - I got back from Truck Festival still entirely unaware of the coup attempt in Turkey.

Before I head off to South Wales in ten days time here are a few things that, while not necessarily at all relevant to where I am headed, would form part of my virtual road trip. The first has been released but the other two have not, which is a slight snag I guess. I'll see what I can find as regards track releases from the forthcoming records.

Amy Goddard - Secret Garden (self released, 18 April 2016).

This is from the album launch...

The Maiden's Leap -  recorded live, 22 April 2016.

Amanda Shires - My Piece of Land (BMG Music licensing, 16 September 2016).
Here is the track 'Harmless' from the forthcoming LP.

This next is somewhat tricky, for I have listened to the album throughout several times already. I'll just have to see what I can come up with...
M. Lockwood Porter - How To Dream Again (Black Mesa Records, 16 September 2016).

... from How To Dream Again, this is 'Charleston'.

Continuing the theme of dreams, this is already released. Haley Bonar is a Canadian artist who is long resident in Minnesota.

Haley Bonar - Impossible Dream (Memphis Industries, 5 August 2016).

'Kismet Kill'.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Preview: North Dorset Folk Festival 2016

In six weeks time the season of outdoor festivals will be all-but over for another year. What to do then other than hibernate?

Here is a suggestion that I thought I might mention before all tickets are gone - North Dorset Folk Festival 2016. It is a one day, indoor festival held in Marnhull Village Hall in rural Dorset from noon - 10pm on Saturday 22 October 2016 and this is the fifth edition.
'Bijou' is a word widely used, maybe sometimes over-used, to describe festivals and other things. It's original meaning is 'jewel' but nowadays it also means 'small, exclusive' (as in hotels) for example.
Well NDFF is certainly small - less than one hundred tickets (£29 + £2.61BF) in total! The artist list is where the jewels appear.

Here is a quick-link to each of the artists, should you wish to investigate:
I will add more soon but here are a few things to note:
  • Bijou does NOT mean snooty, exclusive or anything remotely like that.
  • Nobody will assume, let alone expect, you to know anything about what you have come to see and hear. The artists, organisers and audience DO NOT BITE.
  • If you have ever wondered about folk music (it is a very broad church), but never dared test the water, then this is an opportunity to do so without committing to a major investment. 
I bought my ticket before any acts were announced because I have been to all four previous editions. I was certainly not planning to miss out on the fifth such!