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 rĂ´le 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.

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