Saturday, February 25, 2017

Girls That Own The Blues

This follows on from my previous post about Rebecca Downes. It is easy to underestimate what is going on here and the title of this post is adapted from the title of one of the songs on this next EP
Quite possibly you have seen me reference Joanne Shaw Taylor in the past and both are, coincidentally, from the West Midlands. The thread of live music, including recorded releases thereof, continues here.


Elles Bailey is from Bristol and her second EP, 'The Elberton Sessions', was recorded  live (self-released, 2016).

I very rarely post links like this but listen and then buy it and maybe her previous EP 'Who Am I To Me' (2015) too.  She is right near the top of must-see live artists in 2017.

Note added 7 March 2017:
Elles Bailey's full length is due in June, title t.b.a.

This next artist is one I have seen live several times before and would quite happily see once again. This is her latest LP, and the follow up to 'Dirt On My Tongue' (2013). This picture harks back to the days of that self-released début album, the interest it garnered and the touring that ensued.

Jo Harman, Cheese & Grain, Frome. 27 October 2013.

Jo Harman - People We Become (Total Creative Freedom, 3 February 2017).


She has released a live album too, for live is the theme here, and it was recorded in 2014 for the BBC, no less, and the venue was hardly shabby either.

Jo Harman and Company - Live at The Royal Albert Hall (Total Creative Freedom, 27 October 2014).

New Music 2017 - Part 10 - Rebecca Downes - BeLive

My liking for, and the revival in fortunes of, the live album is something that I have mentioned in the past. Few are more welcome or rewarding than this.

Rebecca Downes - BeLive (Mad Hat Records, 27 January 2017.)

I have seen Rebecca Downes live a few times and she and her band are always top of their game. The studio CDs are good, really good, but live there is just a whole new dimension. For want of a better one that word is tension - you discover that the power she sings with is far away from some studio-created phenomenon.
Rebecca Downes was voted 'Best Emerging Artist' and 'Best Female Vocalist' at the British Blues Awards 2016 and this thirteen-track recording, that includes a few covers as well as many of the band's own songs, is where you get to find out why. Nothing, of course, is a substitute for attending a live gig.


Cheese & Grain, Frome, 8 May 2016.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Festivals - a road trip through music

In the last week or so all three festivals for which I have a ticket have released details of the first tranche of artists that are appearing. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in all cases these are festivals that I have attended on multiple previous occasions and so I had established trust sufficient to purchase tickets prior to having any associated acts announced.

Not all of this post concerns artists announced as mentioned above but it does go some way towards explaining my method and rationale for discovering music that is new or new to me and why festivals play such an important rôle in that. The road trip analogy is apposite - it is a journey for which there is a defined starting point but neither is there a predictable end point or a route.
In addition there is the BCR analysis of this approach, which is similar to the formula applied to assessing the economic value of public works projects. In this case it stands for Benefit-Cost-Risk (as a calculation), rather than Benefit : Cost ratio!

Festival tickets are good value in comparison with individual concert tickets (assuming one makes good use of what is on offer) and there is far less time and money spent on travel.  One can take risks on seeing artists that are little known because if disappointment strikes, and occasionally it does, there will always be others to see instead.  There will also be completely unexpected delights (one from EOTR 2016 here), however much pre-festival homework one does. Indeed I am coming to the conclusion that it is possible to do too much beforehand and that it stifles instinct.

With that in mind here are a few artists that I have on my radar.

Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life (Loose Music, 2017) plays End Of The Road 2017.

This one however is not playing the UK festivals as far as I am currently aware.  If she turns up at a festival I am attending then I'll be watching. This is another great album of careworn alt-country.

Goodluck Man - Carson McHone (Good Horse Record Company, 2015).


In recent years there have been accusations that a number of festivals (and I'm not going to name names before you ask, just figure it out for yourself) book a relatively small proportion of female (or female-fronted) acts, particularly as headline artists.
Just for a moment let us put that aside. Here is something that is almost never mentioned at all.
Gaelynn Lea is one of the most astonishing virtuoso fiddle players of recent years, of both her own and traditional music, but you may possibly never even have heard of her. She is playing End Of The Road 2017 and is on my must-see list.

Here are her interpretations of the traditional Scottish song 'The Parting Glass' although it is now often most associated with emigration from Ireland, and 'Brenda Stubbert's Reel' (and similar spellings) that is an Irish tune that has become particularly associated with Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Music travels!  Gaelynn Lea herself is from none of these places; she hails from Duluth, Minnesota.


The Songs We Sing Along The Way EP - Gaelynn Lea (CDBaby, 2016).

Consider it and then read this article and watch the longer live set. You hadn't guessed that had you?


That seems a natural place at which to end this post. I shall return to the road-trip theme soon. There will be some male artists too on the second leg of this haphazard journey.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Festivals - from 2016 into 2017

It's time to start thinking about festivals again except of course for Glastonbury 2017; that sold out months ago and I had no desire to even consider it!
I have tickets for a few, no secrets there, and now that the first artist announcements are revealed it has reminded me that these things have - as well as so many options to see acts that are new, or just new to me - a rather likeable sense of continuity and even community.
This is Green Man 2017, as currently revealed.


Of course I want to see PJ Harvey and Ryan Adams headline. I must say that Future Islands is unknown by comparison in my experience, but the forthcoming album 'The Far Field' is getting great previews and I guess that, at least from their perspective, Green Man would count as exactly that!
Of extreme interest are those a little lower down in this list.

Angel Olsen was astonishing on The Mountain stage at Green Man 2014.

I have never seen Micheal Kiwanuka live, and I very much want to. There are others that I have seen live and that I very much wish to see again. Here is one that for some reason I haven't mentioned before and I can't imagine why. She opened the Tipi stage, the smallest regular one, on the Saturday of End Of The Road 2016. It isn't that I failed to pay attention, because I did.

Julia Jacklin. Tipi stage, End Of The Road Festival, 3 September 2016.

Another fine artist hailing from Australia. In 2014 Green Man served up Courtney Barnett and in 2015 End Of The Road bought us Tame Impala.  Julia Jacklin isn't much like either of them. She is another one-off; Australia has strength in depth.


Julia Jacklin - Don't Let The Kids Win (Transgressive Records, 24 October 2016).

Her début album passed me by at the time of release. That annoys me. Clearly I had lost the plot here because it was released only a few weeks after I saw her play live. There is no excuse for that.

Note added 8 February 2017:
Julia Jacklin is now confirmed to play End Of The Road Festival 2017.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 9 - Dryadic - Gongoozling for two

I'm not sure that I'm actually allowed to share this but I'm going to do it anyway. There are at least two burning reasons to do so. The first is that this is a new song from an artist that I have been missing for some time now, albeit in a new outfit and style - as duo Dryadic. Dryads are the wood nymphs of Greek mythology just in case you were wondering.
The other thing is this song involves in its title a very unusual English word seemingly derived from the 18th century dialect of eastern England  - gongoozling. You may think that this is a Trump-era "alternative fact" but I believe with good reason that it is not so!
Gongoozling is, in effect, the canal equivalent of train-spotting and with that comes a whole lot of time when nothing much happens on the waterway.



It is far too good not to share, to be quite honest! And I can't wait to see those spring bluebells.