Monday 30 January 2017



Coming Your Way

Blair Dunlop is hitting the road for a new tour on the back of his successful album Gilded. Dunlop will be accompanied by his regular musicians JJ Stoney - Keys and vocals and Fred Claridge - Drums and vocals. 

Blair Dunlop
The ReGilded Tour kicks off on February 2 at Club Ifor Bach, 11 Womanby Street, Cardiff. CF10 1BR. 
Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £11. Support is from Kitty MacFarlane.
On February 3 the show moves on to Victoria Hall, Church Street, Radstock, Bath. BA3 3QG. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12 in advance £14 on the night. Support is again from MacFarlane. The following night February 4 is at Selby Town Hall, York Street, Selby, North Yorkshire. YO8 4AJ. Doors open 7.30pm and tickets are £13 in advance or £15 on the night.
On February 5 he heads north of the border to be part of Celtic Connections at the Hug & Pint, 171 Great Western Road, Glasgow G4 9AW. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £9. It's back to England on February 6 to play The Live Rooms, Station Road, Chester. CH1 3DR. Doors open 7pm and tickets are £11. On February 8 you can see the band at The Greystones, Greystones Road, Sheffield S11 7BS. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £13. Then it's off to Derby on February 9 to The Flowerpot, 25, King Street. DE1 3DZ. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £10. Tickets are available from the venue but it has a strictly cash only policy.
The show moves on to Hampshire on February 10 to play The Lights, West Street, Andover. SP10 1AH. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £12 or £10 with concessions, plus booking fee. On February 22 you can see the show at The Fleece, 12 St Thomas Street, Bristol, BS1 6JJ. Tickets are £13.50 and doors open 7pm.
The following night, February 23, Dunlop plays Sage, Northern Rock Foundation Hall, St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead. NE8 2JR. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £14.51. The band is off to Manchester on February 24 to play The Ruby Lounge, 28-34 High St, Manchester. M4 1QB. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £14.85 including booking fee. Then to finish the month off it's off to Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London. NW1 7AY. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £14 or £10 for U-26s and there is a booking fee.

If you are interested in Broadsides and the origins of folk traditions in general then on February 25, in association with the English Folk Dance & Song Society(EFDSS) and the Traditional Song Forum(TSF), the Bodleian Library, Oxford will be staging its annual conference celebrating street literature with Broadside Day which runs from 9.30am to 5pm.
There will be talks on topics from Cumbrian ballad sellers to urban hazard songs, and Andrea Franklin (Department of Special Collections) will introduce highlights from the Bodleian’s collections. Tickets £18 and £15 for TSF and EFDSS members.
Later in the evening at 7pm at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, those who have attended the Broadside Day can get reduced price tickets to Broadside Ballads, a new musical commission featuring Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann leading a five piece band. The music brings to life broadside ballads found in the collections of the Bodleian Library. Tickets for conference attenders are £10 and £7 concessions

Peter Knight's Gigspanner will be out on the road this month starting on February 23 at the Preston Minster, Church Street, Preston, PR1 3BT. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £15. The following night, February 24 you can see them at Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, M33 7ZF. The show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £15. Finally on February 25 they will play Hepworth Village Hall, Towngate, Hepworth, Holmfirth, HD9 1TE. Doors open 7.30pm with the show at 8pm. Tickets are £12.50 plus an extra 50p if booked online.
Please note tickets will not be posted out but you will receive an email confirmation and tickets will be reserved on the door.

Daria Kulesh will be releasing her latest album Long Lost Home this month. She will officially launch the album at Cecil Sharp House on February 23 where she will be playing with the full band and joined by friends Jonny Dyer, Timur Dzeytov, Vicki Swan, Pete Morton, Phil Underwood, Jason Emberton and Kate Rouse. If you can't wait until then she will be performing on February 2 at Crookes Folk Club, The Princess Royal, Sheffield, S10 1NW. Show starts 8.30pm and entry is free.
Then on February 5 she is the special guest singer at the Russian Balalaika Evening with Bibs Ekkel and Sergey Pushnin, Rossotrudnichestvo, Kensington, London, W8 5ED. Show starts 7pm and tickets are £15. Please be aware that this event has sold out for the last two years.
On February 8 she will be playing as part of KARA at The Mermaid, St Albans, AL1 3RL. Show starts 9pm and entry is free. Then on February 20 the band move on to The Pheasantry, Chelsea, London.  SW3 4UT. The show is a double bill with Pete Morton. Doors open 7pm and show starts 8.30pm, tickets are £15. The following night, February 21, you can see Daria and Jonny Dye​r at Bracknell Folk Club, The Sun, Windlesham, GU20 6EN. Show starts 8.30pm.
Then on February 23 it's the big night with Daria and friends for the official launch of her new album Long Lost Home at Cecil Sharp House, London, NW1 7AY. Doors open 7pm and the show starts 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 or £10 for U-26s and there is a booking fee.

Mike Giverin, Lucille Williams and Jay Bradberry who are the Jaywalkers have released a new 5-track EP, Songs We Like, which is available from their website for £5. They will be on the road this month kicking off on February 10 at Bury Met, Market Street, Bury, Lancs. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £10. Then on February 12 they can be seen at Wallasey Folk & Acoustic Club, In Spire Coffee Shop, Breck Road, Wallasey CH44 3BD. On February 17 you can catch them at EDDA Community Arts Centre, Ainsdale Liverpool Rd, Southport PR8 3NE. The following night, February 18, you can see them perform in the main hall at Bollington Arts Centre, Wellington Rd, Bollington, Macclesfield SK10 5JR. Doors open 7pm and show starts 7.30pm with tickets £10. To round the month off on February 23 you can catch them at Burnett's Hill Chapel, Pembrokeshire Martletwy, Narberth SA67 8AX . Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £10.

Guernsey born British/Portugese singer Nessi Gomes has released her debut album Diamond & Demons and will be taking to the road to both perform and promote the release starting on St Valentine's Day, February 14, where she will play The Melting Pot Cafe, Cornwall, Krowji, West Park, Redruth. TR153AJ. Show starts 7pm.
On February 16 she will be with a full band  which is Gomes, Misha Mullov, Lotte Cutts, Angelique Lihou, Scott Jowett at the The Old Malt House, Little Ann Street, Bristol, BS2 9EB. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £8.54 including booking fee.
On February 18 you can see her at The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester. M4 2AF. She will be part of the Music As Medicine show which kicks off at £6pm and tickets are £10.11 in advance or £12 on the night. On February 21 she will be with special Guests at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £10 online or £12 on the door. Finally on February 28 she is off to Groove & Move, Steffisburg, Switzerland. Show starts 6.30pm.

If you haven't heard Good Times Will Come Again, the latest album from duo Megson, then you are missing out on a fine album but you can catch up with Stu and Debbie Hanna, and maybe pick up a copy, as they go on the road this month starting on February 3 at the Village Pump Club, Trowbridge. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £13. Support is from Camilla Johns and Andy Nowak. Then on February 4 it's off to North Shropshire Folk at the Talbot Theatre, Whitchurch Leisure Centre, Heath Road, Whitchurch, Shropshire. SY13 2BY. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £10 or £8 with concessions.
They are off to the north on February 5 to play The Greystones, Sheffield. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £14.30 including booking fee. On February 7 it's back to the Midlands to play Roses Theatre, Sun Street, Tewkesbury, GL20 5NX. Show starts 8.30pm and tickets are £15. Then they hop back up north on February 16 to Copmanthorpe Methodist Church, Main Street Copmanthorpe, York. YO23 3SU. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £14.30 including booking fee.
On February 17 you can catch them at The Sage (two), St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2JR. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £13.44. Staying in the north on February 18 they perform at St Barnabas Church, 1a St. Barnabas Road, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough.TS5 6JR. Doors open 7pm and show starts 7.30pm, tickets are £13.20 or £11 with concessions, both include booking fee. To round off the month on February 24 you can see them at Aylesbury Folk Club, at the Limelight Theatre, Queens Park & Limelight Theatre, Queens Park, Aylesbury, Bucks HP21 7RT. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £15 or £13 concessions and £12 and £11.70 concessions for club members.

The legendary Ralph McTell has announced the first dates on his About Time Tour where he will be appearing with Wizz Jones. Unfortunately the first of the dates on February 9 at the Tolmen Centre, Falmouth is sold out. However, on February 11 McTell will be performing at The Beehive, Dowell Street, Honiton EX14 1LZ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £20 plus a 60p booking fee. On February 11 you can catch the show at The Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. RG9 2BP . Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £23 or £21 concessions and includes a £1 restoration levy. The following night, February 12, you can see the two musicians at Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Road, London. W12 7LJ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £22 and £20 concessions and under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.

Prolific singer/songwriters Luke Jackson and Amy Wadge, who have last year both released new albums Tall Tales & Rumours and Amy Wadge respectively, will be touring together throughout this year and their first gig on February 3 at the Corn Exchange, Corn Market, Faringdon, Oxfordshire is sold out. The following night, February 4, you can see them perform at Coolham Live Music Club, Billingshurst Road, Horsham, West Sussex. RH13 8QN. Doors open 7.15pm and show starts 8pm. Tel: 07889 775173.
Then on February 5 it's off to Anteros Arts, 7-15 Fye Bridge Street, Norwich. NR3 1LJ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12. On February 7 you can catch them at Junction 2, Cambridge, Clifton Way, CB1 7GX. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £14 in advance which includes booking fee.The pair come to the Midlands on February 9 to play Huntingdon Hall, Worcester. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £14 or £12 with concessions. Finally on February 10 they will play Stanley Halls, London. Doors open 7pm and tickets are £14 plus booking fee.

Northern Irish songstress Cara Dillon last year released her latest album Upon A Winter's Night and has also featured on her father-in-law Geoff Lakeman's debut album After All These Years. She will be playing her first gig of the month on February 4 at Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA), Falmouth University, Treliever Road, Penryn, Cornwall. TR10 9LX. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £20 or £17 concessions plus booking fee.
The following night you can see her perform at The Plough Arts Centre, , 9-11 Fore St, Great Torrington. EX38 8HQ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £22, £20 with concessions and £18 for supporters of The Plough. She is off to Lincoln on February 26 to play the Performing Arts Centre, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 7TS. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £20.
The following night, February 27, she will be performing at Nettlebed Folk Song Club, The Village Club, High Street, Nettlebed, nr. Henley, Oxfordshire. RG9 5DD. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £18. To round off the month she will be play Junction 2, Cambridge, Clifton Way, CB1 7GX. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £22 in advance.

On FebruarySteve Tilston, who last year teamed up with Jez Lowe to release The Janus Game, will be playing Davy Lamp Folk Club, Washington Arts Centre, Biddick Lane, Fatfield, Washington NE38 8AB. Show starts around 7.30pm. Then on February 15 you can catch him at The Willows Folk Club, Willows Catholic Club, Bryning Fern Lane, Kirkham PR4 2BQ. He will be appearing with special guest Hugh Bradley. Show starts 8.30pm and entry is £10.
A few nights later on February 18 he will be performing at Farnsfield Acoustic, Village Centre, New Hill, Farnsfield. NG22 8JN. Again he will be joined by Hugh Bradley. Doors open around 7.30pm and show starts 8pm. Tickets are £12.50. To finish the month on February 24 Tilston will play Everyman Folk Club, The Riverside Centre, Great Glemham Road, Stratford St Andrew, Saxmundham IP17 1LL. Doors open 7.30pm and the show starts 8pm, tickets are £5 in advance or £6 on the night.

Ange Hardy is coming from a busy and successful year and will be starting this month on February 1 with Lukas Drinkwater playing at Biddulph Up In Arms, St Lawrence's Church Congleton Road, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 7RG. Doors open 7.30pm and show starts 8pm, tickets are £12.
Then on February 3 they are off to Ruskin Mill, Old Bristol Road, Gloucestershire. GL6 0LA. Doors open 7.30pm and show starts 8pm, tickets are £8 or £6 with concessions. The following night, February 4, you can see the two perform at Calstock Arts, The Old Chapel, Sand Lane, Calstock. PL18 9QX. Doors open 7pm and show starts 8pm. Tickets are £12 advance, £13 on the night and there will be a £1 reduction for Friends of Calstock Arts and it's £6 for under-18s. You can also hear them at an afternoon show on February 5 at Galmpton Village Institute Hall, Greenway Road, Brixham, Devon. TQ5 OLT. Doors open 2pm and show starts 2.30pm, tickets are £12 in advance or £14 on the day.

Double winner of the Scots Singer of the Year, Siobhan Miller will be releasing her second solo album, Strata on February 24 while also kicking off her promotion tour starting at The Queen’s Hall, 85-89 Clerk Street, Edinburgh. EH8 9JG. Doors open 7pm and show starts 8pm, tickets are £17.
The following night on February 25 she plays Beacon Arts Centre, Custom House Quay, Greenock. PA15 1HJ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12 and £10. She is coming to the West Midlands on February 26 where she will play Hare & Hounds, High Street, Kings Heath, Birmingham. B14 7JZ. Doors open 7.30pm and tickets are £10 plus £1 booking fee.
The following night, February 27 you can catch her performance at St Mary's, Parish Church, Kingskerswell, Newton Abbot, Devon. TQ12 5LD. Show starts 7pm and tickets are £11 including booking fee. She finishes off the month on  February 28 at the Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London. EC1V 0DX. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £13 in advance.

Like The Full English Shake The Chains is a collective which this time has been commissioned by Folk By The Oak with support from Arts Council England, Help Musicians, and Folk Alliance, to explore the role of song in militancy, social upheaval and unrest and trying to bring about change to create a more equal society. The band, which will perform classic and new protest songs, includes Nancy Kerr, Findlay Napier, Hannah Martin, Greg Russell and Tim Yates.They start the tour on February 23 at  St George's Hall, Great George Street(off Park Street), Bristol, BS1 5RR. Their special guest for the show will be Steve Knightley. Tickets are £18, £15, £5 Students and U-18s plus fees.
The following night, February 24 you can see them at Firth Hall, The University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield. S10 2TN, when the special guest will be Martin Simpson. Show starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £14, over-65/Unwaged/Staff £10, U-26/Student £6 in advance or £16, £12 and £7 on the night.
Then on February 25 they play Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 1SP. The special guest will be Chris Wood. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets range from £7.50 to £15. The following night February 26, they head off to The Guildhall, Derby. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £15.75. Special guest is Boff Whalley formally of Chumbawamba. The final gig of the month is on February 27 at St Johns, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London. E2 9PA. Show starts 7pm and tickets are £17.60 including booking fee. Special guest for the concert is Peggy Seeger.

Scottish songstress Barbara Dickson will be touring on the back of her new EP Five Songs. The tour includes featuring Troy Donockley. The EP contains three traditional tracks, Farewell to Fiunary, Palace Grand, The Laird O’ the Dainty Dounby, October Song and The Hill a new song from Dickson. She kicks off the tour on February 1 at Town Hall, Birmingham. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets range from £29 to £32.50 but there are limited numbers left.
Then it's off to the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl on February 2. The show starts 7.30pm and tickets range from £22.50 to £24.50. On February 4 you can see her at the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £25.50 or £24 concessions including fees. She is off to the Isle of Wight on February 5 to play the Medina Theatre. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £32.50. The concert on February 7 at Customs House, South Shields is already sold out. You can catch her performance at the Playhouse, Harlow on February 9. Show times as above and tickets are £32. Dickson is off to the Regal, Evesham on February 10. Doors open 7pm and there are a few tickets left at £34.10.
The following night, February 11, she plays Union Chapel, London. Doors open 6.30pm and show time as above and tickets are £30 plus booking fee in advance or £38.70 plus fee. The show at Lowther Pavilion, Lytham St Annes on February 12 is sold out.
She heads to the Midlands again on February 14 to play Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury. Show time as above and tickets range from £26 to £29.50 with a 10 percent discount for friends of the theatre. It's off to Weston-Super-Mare on February 15 to the Playhouse. Show time as above and tickets are £27 or £26 for over 60s including booking fee. The following night, February 17, she will perform at the Princess Theatre, Hunstanton. Show time as above and tickets are £36.
The next gig is on February 18 at The Harlequin, Redhill. Show time as normal and tickets are £29. She is off to West Cliff Theatre, Clacton on February 19. Show time as above and tickets are £29.50 including booking fee.
The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft is the next venue on February 22. Show time as shown and tickets are £24 or £22 with concessions. The February 23 gig at The Stables, Milton Keynes is sold out and so is the next concert is at The Garrick, Lichfield on February 24.
The next gig is across the border at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline. Show time as above and tickets are £32 plus reservation fee. She is then staying in her home country to play the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh. Show time as already stated and tickets are £30 plus £2 booking fee. She finishes the month at the Concert Hall, Perth on February 28. Show time as stated and tickets are £25 plus £1.50 fee but it seems there are few spaces left.


As well as being part of musical production The Transports, this year The Young'uns are on a vocal mission to bring communal singing to the heart of cities across the nation. On the Singing Cities tour they intend to explore communal harmony singing and song writing through fun, workshops through informal gatherings in pubs.
The trio, Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes, want to celebrate grassroot songs and stories. The tour promises special guests, concerts, singing pub crawls and lots of laughs. Places are limited to 45 per weekend and all attendees must be over 18. Ticket cost is £105 plus VAT and includes access to all workshops, concerts and events. Accommodation and food not included and the cities they will be visiting are Sheffield for two dates, London, Durham and Manchester.

The Bromyard Folk Festival is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. The weekend-long festival which runs from September 8 to 10 has put together an impressive line-up of artists to celebrate its 50th year. The artists involved include Le Vent du Nord,  Jamie Smith's Mabon,  The Mighty DoonansGoitse Rusty Shackle, CrowsKeith Donnelly and Granny's Attic to name but a few.

American-born blues supremo Eric Bibb will be joining the line up for the folk festival at Hatfield House on Sunday, July 16. He joins the bill which includes the Levellers, Show of Hands, Kate Rusby and Shake the Chains on the main stage line-up at Folk By The Oak's 10th festival at the Hertfordshire stately home.

Among his other projects Martin Simpson will be back in the studio to record his 20th solo album and will be touring later in the year.

Sadly Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston have decided it's the end of the road for them and they will be playing their last concerts as a duo over the next few months. The pair have been gigging and recording for seven years but they both feel it's time to go their separate ways. Sykes has a solo tour coming up in May and Rex will carry on with teaching mandolin, writing and producing.
They said: "We would like to express our sincere thanks to all who were a part of our team – promoters, our agents Amanda, Vicky and Liz, and to Steve (Knightley) and Phil (Beer) who have given us so many great opportunities.
"We would also like to thank all of our fans for all of the support you have given us over the years. And hope to see you at one of our final gigs."
You can see them on February 4 at Kingskerswell Parish Church, Kingskerswell, Newton Abbot, Devon.  TQ12 5LD. Doors open 7pm and show starts 7.30pm, tickets are £12.10 including booking fee. Then on February 10 you can catch them at Jubilee Hall, Bowden Lane, Market Harborough, LE16 7JD. Doors open 7.30pm and show starts 8pm, tickets are £11 plus booking fee.
Then on February 17 it's  on to Victoria Sports & Social Club, 84 High Street, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6AA. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12 and £10. On February 24 they will be performing at The Beehive, Dowell Street, Honiton, Exeter. EX14 1LZ. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £12 plus booking fee. To round the month off on February 25 you can catch them at Victoria Hall, Church Street, Radstock, Bath. BA3 3QG. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12 in advance or £14 on the night.

Tom Robinson, Steve Knightley and Martyn Joseph will reform as the Faith, Folk and Anarchy trio that will be the final act on Shrewbury Folk Festival’s main stage on August Bank Holiday Monday. The trio haven’t performed together since a reunion show in 2004. Other headliners who have been confirmed include Squeeze co-founder Chris Difford, Irish Music Award-winning band Cara, and Jamie Smith’s Mabon. They will join the likes of  Loudon Wainwright III, Eric Bibb, Jon Boden, The Unthanks, Oysterband, The Young’uns, Le Vent Du Nord and Seth Lakeman among others.

Scottish musician Gary Innes of Mànran, who have recently released a new album The Two Days, is releasing ERA, his first solo album in 12 Years. Innes released his first solo album, How’s the Craic, back in 2005 and has since released multiple collaborative albums with Ewan Robertson, of Breabach, all-accordion band Box Club and has three albums with his current band Mànran. However, after 12 years of working on other projects, he is now back with a full album of self-composed tunes and even some self-penned songs, performed by some of the very best musicians and singers in the Scottish music scene.

Fellow Scot Ewan McLennan is heading off to Holland for a short tour. He will also be teaming up with George Monbiot this month to carry on with the Breaking the Spell of Loneliness tour taking it to Scotland. They will play Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. From there they will head south to Aberystwyth and then Birmingham. You can look forward to McLennan playing festivals later in the year. For more information visit the artist's website.

Flamboyant eight-piece band The Amazing Devil have released their debut album Love Run and will be playing at Underbelly, Hoxton on February 15. Doors open 7.30pm and tickets are £5 and £6.

Kate Dimbleby will be releasing her new album Songbirds on February 23 at the Now Gallery, London starting at 7pm and tickets are £8. The album has been produced and will be released on the growing Folkstock label. It features 11 original tracks from the artist which are mainly a Capella.

Thursday 26 January 2017


CD Review

After All These Years

If ever there was an album waiting to be made where all the parts were already there, like an Airfix kit just needing piecing together, then this must be it. Geoff Lakeman had everything for this venture at his fingertips and most of them in his family, the only real question is why did it take so long?

Geoff Lakeman
Like his son Seth, there are many strings to Lakeman Sr's bow, and he is a wonderful example of you are never too old... .
He was a long-serving journalist on a national tabloid; he has been heavily involved in the folk scene for most of his life; he is a respected musician in his own right and there is the little matter of he and his wife Joy producing one of the most prominent folk dynasties.
His own family apart, Lakeman is surrounded by a Who's Who? of folk dignitaries on this collection, many of whom have gladly put their hand to the wheel to create his debut "solo" album.
AATY is wonderfully nostalgic and restful, and although brand new is incredibly old school which is a testament to the skill of his son Sean who produced the album.
He has certainly not overproduced it which allows his father to be at the heart of the tunes and not be overshadowed by modern musical interjections or his more prominent friends and family.
Lakeman has a simple and honest folk voice which comes across from the first track, The Farmer's Song. Written by Roger Bryant, this has been part of his repertoire for many years and tells of the plight of farmers being forced out of business by the constant pressure for cheap food.
Lakeman's singing and squeezebox is enough to tell the tale but it is given more character and depth with the light touch from Seth's fiddle playing and the chorus vocals from Kathryn Roberts, Jim Causley, Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis.
Tie 'em Up is the first of Lakeman's own compositions and once again it's a protest song, this time highlighting the plight of fishermen strangled by red tape. The gentle tapping bass of Ben Nicholls perfectly complements the staccato gasps of Lakeman's concertina as the tune almost mimics the rhythm of the waves hitting the fishing boats.
This gives way to a gentle but cutting ballad written by Reg Meuross which Lakeman certainly does justice to and there is the added gem of Nic Jones providing the harmonies.
Lakeman goes solo for his arrangement of the traditional Ye Lovers All where the integrity of his voice comes through with shades of Martin Carthy in his tones.
Rule and Bant is another from Lakeman's own pen. A ballad of two miners trapped underground in 19th Century Cornwall. Lakeman's style is the uncomplicated storytelling of the troubadours of old. There is close to a spiritual layer given to the song with the harmonies from Causley, Francis and Kelly.
Geoff, Sam, Seth, Joy and Sean Lakeman
The veteran folk musician brings a touch of Americana to proceedings with the standout A Wide, Wide River To Cross.
All the cogs click into place with Lakeman's gentle singing style, son Seth's fiddle, Nicholls' harmonium and the ethereal harmonies of Cara Dillon to create a song that can reach deep into the emotions. It's when you listen to this track you realise how much the folk world could have missed by Lakeman not releasing albums much sooner in his career.
Lakeman's version of the traditional Jim Jones, a ballad of deportation, is very evocative. As he plays your mind conjures up images of hardened men in the half-light of a campfire near the shore, listening intently to the lone concertina player, tears leaking from their eyes and their hearts yearning to be back with their loved ones.
In another arrangement Lakeman connects with the sentiment in the lyrics of Galway Bay. This is a further example of his ability to strip back a song yet keep all its folk credentials and history to create a tune which seems so familiar, that even if you're hearing it for the first time you feel like you have known it all your life.
It wouldn't really be right for an album such as this not to include a song about someone's love going off to war, and Lakeman's arrangement of The Green Cockade is it. His son Sean's production of this track gives it the feel of a folk club meeting where the audience join in on the chorus, only this time he is fortunate enough to have Roberts join the line up of Causley, Kelly and Francis.
As you listen to When The Taters Are All Dug, and indeed the whole album, you realise this is a perfect example of what grassroots folk music should be. Of course there has to be room for more contemporary folk which introduces all kinds of electronica and sound effects into its makeup and even moves over into other camps, but it would be a great loss to the scene if music such as this was ever sidelined or left behind in a wave of modernism. Besides you have to love a tune which includes both a jaw harp and a banjo.
There is something almost church-like in the sound of Lakeman's concertina as it brings in Bonny Irish Maid. This arrangement of a migration ballad ticks another box on the list of what could become an instant classic. What more could you ask for, one man and his concertina and a ballad of leaving home - perfect.
Geoff Lakeman releases
his debut album at 69
The Road Together is the only instrumental on the album and was given to Lakeman by Galwayman Mairtin O'Connor. Apart from being a gorgeous tune to let wash over you it's a wonderful example of the skill Lakeman has acquired with his Crane Duet concertina over the many years of being a musician.
The final track is another of Lakeman's own creations. The Doggie Song. Like many a good folk song, it is about an everyday event which catches people's interest.
It's a lighthearted seaside tune about dogs being banned from Cornish beaches. Lakeman has captured the end of the pier sound with the bouncing piece and light up and down cadence of his singing, and he even manages to throw in the odd double entendre just for good measure.
Admittedly Lakeman has the kind of experience rarely enjoyed by musicians who are bringing out a debut album but nevertheless it's that same experience which has made this album such a great collection of songs which embody what folk music is about. It can only be hoped that this will be the launchpad for Lakeman to put together more albums in the future.

After All These Years is released on February 1 and is available from the artist's website.

You can catch Lakeman on the album launch tour on February 4 at the David Hall, South Petherton, Somerset. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £14 or £13 with concessions. Then on February 11
Sat, Feb 11th- NR. MINEHEAD - Blazing Stump Folk Club, Carhampton Recreation Centre, Carhampton, Minehead, TA24 6NH. Doors open 7.30pm, show starts 8pm and tickets are £10. Then on February 16 you can see him perform at Black Swan Folk Club, Peasholme Green, York. Doors open 7.45pm and tickets are £8 in advance, £9 on the night and half price for students. On February 17 he will be playing Northwich Folk Club, Harlequin Theatre, Northwich, Cheshire - supporting Pete Morton. Show starts 8.30pm and tickets are £8 or £6 for club members. You will find him at one of Mike Harding's favourite haunts Lion's Den Inn, Settle, Yorkshire on February 18. The following night, February 19 you can see him at Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Park Road West, Southport. Then rounding off the month he will play Folk on the Moor, Ivybridge, Devon on February 26. Show starts 7.45pm and tickets are £10.

Monday 23 January 2017


CD Review

An Dà Là - The Two Days

After more than three years on the road Scottish band Mànran finally got to land in Glasgow and put together their new album which brings some of their travels to life musically along with the idea of great change.

From left, Ryan Murphy, Gary Innes, Mark Scobbie,
Craig Irving, Ewen Henderson and Ross Saunders
The six piece band, which is Gary Innes -accordion; Ewen Henderson - vocals, fiddle, pipes; Ross Saunders - bass, vocals;  Ryan Murphy - uilleann pipes, flute; Mark Scobbie - percussion and Craig Irving - guitar and vocals, seem be among a wave of Scots who are determined to push the boundaries of their traditional homegrown music. However, it has to be said there is more than a tinge of Irish influence in their work too.
The album opens with a triplet Fiasco, a traditional march Captain Grant and two written by band members Hard to Get and Fiasco.
It comes in quite ordinarily but just in case you were in any doubt this wasn't a Scottish/Gaelic album, in come the highland pipes which eventually give way to the uilleann drones.
Half way through, the tune is filled out further by Scobbie's percussion. The track gives way to Trod which is a fun piece telling a familiar tale of a husband in the doghouse due to his over indulgence. Sung in Gaelic the lively tune relates the row between the spouses and perhaps it's best the exchange won't be understood by most of us.
The band go back to the instrumental triplet for Inspector which consists of The Pot Inspector/MacLittle's March/Pushing Mist all of which were composed by members of the band.
One of the most remarkable aspects of folk music is that so many good pieces can be inspired by the most mundane of situations.
In the case of The Pot Inspector Innes composed it around Martin O'Neill, with whom he lived for a while, and his penchant for washing pots and pans.
The fast-paced tunes are produced with a modern feel but you can still feel the Celtic roots in their music particularly with Innes' lively accordion playing.
Pandora is a song from Canadian David Francey which the band picked up on their travels. The song is an indictment of the digital age and how every shade of opinion good, bad or indifferent is readily available.
They bring back the instrumental this time with four tunes, all but one inspired by something personal to each of the band members.
Murphy contributes Echo Falls, Innes The Double Stag and Little Vegas and the final piece 12 Weeks & A Day coming from Jarlath Henderson. Innes' accordion skill features heavily in the fast pace pieces as they hurry along driven by the strong drum beat.
Jarlath Henderson
They continue with a double feature in Autobahn the first inspired by the German motorway of the title. It's a million miles away from the Kraftwerk version of the same name and in fact through the pace doesn't give the impression of the speeds associated with the roads at all.
The cadence only picks up for the second half with Wee Ewan's Strathspey. Sung in Gaelic, the pace of words would test the lung capacity of the most proficient of rappers.
It does have that jumping beat you associate with highland dancers and towards the end they throw everything into going out with a bang.
In complete contrast, Fios chun á bhàird or Message to the Bard, while sung in Gaelic has a deep melancholic sound. The strong words in this epic song are underpinned by the accordion and uilleann pipes until once again the band fill out the tune for the big finish.
Innes brings in Alpha29, one of three tunes, with the distinctive sound of his accordion. Along with the traditional The Laird of Corrie and Going to Gruline his bellows feature heavily throughout. The Gaelic lyrics are breathtakingly speedy and seem to be almost racing the instruments to get to the finish line first.
Newest band member Irving gives his voice some exercise on I Shall Not Walk Alone a song from US musician Ben Harper. It's a straightforward ballad and apart from the uilleann inserts doesn't really fit into the mould of traditionally Scottish.
The title track comes from an old Gaelic expression meaning great change. Sung this time in Gaelic and English Henderson provides a gentle almost plodding song.
Although the song is about the unsettled and nervous times we live at first it doesn't convey any sense of fear or foreboding. However, the drums do bring in a feel of growing tension and as they take over from the singing the band goes for the full out instrumental break before gently bringing things back down.
The penultimate track, Strong Behaviour, is put together by Irving and Murphy from their travels in Australia.
The strong drum beat carries it along with the accordion and fiddle for what is a strangely restful piece that's easy to listen to.
The new album
The album goes out with a triplet The Hour Jig/Lochan na h-Achlaise/Great Torrington all of which have a really strong beat and carry along at a fair old pace.
The change comes when the pipes take centre stage and push the music even faster, the drums working up the musical frenzy to go out on the biggest sound of the album but instead of ending abruptly, which you expect, it sort of fizzles out.
Mànran is an album very close to the band and drawn together out of their experiences and along with this, and the overall use of Gaelic doesn't really make it inclusive.
Although it does a have a great deal of modern-style traditional music in there, unless you are into Scottish/Gaelic culture there isn't a great deal to draw you to the album which is a shame.
This said, the effort and enthusiasm exercised by the band in putting down their experiences in music is evident and for that alone is worthy of praise.

Mànran is available now on Mànran Records and can be bought from the band's website and online.

You can see the band live as they tour on March 3 at Crawfordjohn Village Hall, Crawfordjohn, South Lanarkshire. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £17 plus £1.70 booking fee. U-14s are £10 plus £1 booking fee. From there on March 4 they move to Nevis Centre, An Aird, Fort William. Doors open 8pm and tickets are £15. Then on March 8 you can see them as they take a tour of Germany starting at Illipse, Burgweg 2, Illingen, Germany. On March 9 they move on to Scala, Leverkusen. Then on March 10 they play Stadthalle, Falkensee. Followed on March 11 by a gig at Kulturhaus, Torgau. On March 12 it's off to Theater am Schloß, Arnstadt. March 13 they appear at Kulturwerk MSH, Eisleben. Then on March 15 you can see them play at Hapaghalle,Cuxhaven. This is followed on March 16 by a show at Kleines Theater, Bargteheide. On St Patrick's Day you can catch them at Pumpwerk, Wilhelmshaven. The following night, March 18 they play Lindenpark, Potsdam. Then on March 19 they appear at Werner Richard Saal, Herdecke. Two days later on March 21 you can see them perform at Parktheater Göggingen, Augsburg. Then on March 22 they play Kulturzentrum franz.K, Reutlingen. Then it's off to Scala, Ludwigsburg on March 23. They move on to Löwensaal, Hohenems, Austria, on March 24. Then it's back to Germany on March 25 to play Bürgerhaus, Garching. They round the month off on March 26 at K1, Traunreut.

Sunday 22 January 2017


CD Review

Alone On The Road

The enigmatic Sheila K Cameron has her mojo in full flow for Alone On The Road, which is the third in a series of reissues of her work. The 16 tracks which make up the album have been given more than a boost by Geoff Allan, Brian McNeill, Fraser Spiers and Brian Young.

Sheila K Cameron
Cameron's Cohenesque style of singing comes straight out of the speakers over the top of Spiers' blues harp which sets the tone for what is a real thumper of an album.
There's An Old Sadness in Me is a wonderfully ponderous 12-bar song on which Cameron keeps a tight rein and allows the gobiron of Spiers to have the last word.
This gives way to I Looked Alright This Morning which has a retro feel about it, with the production sounding similar to the rawness of the early days of blues recordings.
The song has more of a travelling cadence with a deep rumbling and almost menacing beat underneath her words which is once again accented by the blues harp. It's a song which almost defies you not to get into stomp mode.
The single strumming of the guitar accompanies Cameron as she sounds like she is standing too near the mic in a small and cramped studio to record Baby How Long.
Cameron's dour and understated way of singing adds a depth of character in the same way someone such as Bessie Smith did.
I'll Play You Sweetly is a great song where Cameron and co pick up the beat and it's one of those where you just can't sit still until she puts the handbrake on in the middle. Her call and refrain with the dancing sound of the harmonica is just a sheer delight to hear.
When The Sun Rose This Morning goes back to the most recognisable strain of the blues with the slow wave of the music and the repetition of the lines. Cameron's voice manages to sound both world weary and menacing at the same time.
It cannot be overstated how much the superb blues harp underneath so many of the tracks add such colour and character to her songs.
She Put My Baby In The Draw is one of those blues songs which is bordering on the nonsense rhyme, where the story is just a simple tale and never intended to be taken seriously. Cameron uses a stripped-back version with just the simple strumming of the guitar to accompany her repetitive verses.
Stay With It Baby runs more like a poem and, once again, that world weary sound Cameron does so well seems to be almost reluctant to move along to the sound of the harmonica.
Fraser Speirs.
  Pic Glasgow Herald
Like the previous track, When I Say You Owe Me Nothing is from poet Joan Ure, which was the pen name of Elizabeth Thoms Clark.
Cameron puts some real grit into the song and the way she crams the words to fit in with the rhythm moves close towards rap. It's the type of song which you could easily see Seasick Steve hammering out on his three-string guitar.
Things lighten up slightly for Bluebird Outside My Window which has more of a New Orleans' club feel to it. You can easily imagine a band passing under the balconies through the streets of The Big Easy.
I Don't Believe You Care brings back the world weary sounding Cameron with the blues beat once again lit up with the occasional incidental from the bone playing.
There is a softer and sadder tone to Cameron for Goodbye Baby Blues where she moves into speech and sounds more like a beat poet of the fifties than a blues singer.
Fortunately the blues harp brings her back into the mojo where she adopts an almost lazy and reluctant style of singing.
Motherless has more of an ethnic beat to it and feels like it wouldn't be out of place in Buffy Saint Marie's repertoire. The echoed blues harp underneath gives it the character of a film noir soundtrack. This gives way to the slightly out of sync Mr Moon: I'm Working Against Time which comes across as more of a doo wop than anything.
It's probably the most luxurious track on the album and Cameron gives it the feel of a torch song. This carries on with You Don't Know My Mind, where you can almost see Cameron behind a big lozenge-style microphone in a smoky night club where the customers are hidden in the half shade of small table lights. The slightly lazy sound of the blues harp is almost hypnotic behind her voice which has shades of the legend Billie Holiday.
Sounding more contemporary and carrying the electric sound of the Chicago blues makes When I Was Bad Girl stand out from the other tracks.
The third of the reissues
The combination of the faster pace, the electric guitar and driving percussion makes it feel like is has moved over into rock 'n' roll.
The final and title track keeps that more modern feel which tones down the blues elements.
You can still feel the 12-bar beat but the use of electronics muddies the waters so you are never such which camp the song is supposed to be in.
Cameron has been hidden away for too long and albums such as this one where she puts her own stamp on the blues style deserve to be listened to by a wider audience.
Anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre should listen to it and if you can keep your feet, hands and head still all the way through the album then your probably don't like the blues anyway.

Alone On The Road is available now online and through bandcamp

Wednesday 18 January 2017


CD Review

Songs of Robert Burns

The influence of Robert Burns on folk culture, especially music, both in Scotland and the wider world cannot be overstated. With this album Robyn Stapleton's beautiful voice, considerable musical talent and obvious production abilities have created a fitting tribute to the great man.

Robyn Stapleton
It should be mentioned also that she has surrounded herself with some of the most respected musicians for an album which is Scotland through and through.
Stapleton learned Coming Through The Rye as a young girl and it has been covered by others but her light and dancing style of singing, and definite Scottish accent give it a real depth and fill it with the character of Burns.
This gives way to the much more ponderous Westlin' Winds. In some ways it's a real feast for musicians to have the wonderful words of Burns to hand and Stapleton's respect for the material comes through on every track. Stapleton gives this track a real history in her style of singing, keeping a contemporary feel while at the same time bringing the lineage of the words almost as a spiritual offering.
She captures the romantic side of Burns with AE Fond Kiss, a song inspired by the solitary meeting of lips between Burns and Nancy Maclehose. The peaceful intro of the lone piano brings in the definite Gaelic tone of Stapleton's gorgeously evocative singing. It is a wonderfully emotive and thoughtful song and once again she does it justice.
What follows is a medley of tunes I'm Oer Young/Marion Dewar's Jig/Hey Ca' Thro'/Brose & Butter. Stapleton's voice comes in clear and dancing over the top of light piano music and it's just such a pleasant sound, you may not understand all the broad accented words but that doesn't detract from the lovely song which she produces.
Robert Burns
This gives away to the fiddle creating the jaunty dancing sound before Stapleton's voice comes dancing back like a hare, full of the juices of Spring, leaping through the highlands.
In complete contrast Stapleton's haunting voice brings in The Slave's Lament. It comes gracefully sliding over the top of Alistair Paterson's harmonium playing. On this occasion Stapleton's style does seem to have a hint of Yiddish about it which is reinforced by the superb violin accompaniment.
In yet another change of tack, Ca The Yowes gives Stapleton a chance to show the depth of character and gentleness her voice can exercise.
The soft tune allows the Scottish songstress to stretch her vocal range without a hint of effort. Stapleton stays in the high range for Tae The Weavers, a cautionary tale of getting involved with those who will break your heart. The light tune belies the slightly more serious subject matter of the tale which is warning the local lasses to give the weavers a wide berth.
The skill of Burns is seen in just the two verses of John Anderson, My Jo which portrays a lifetime of love. Sung like a lament, Stapleton once again shows her vocal versatility with her powerful a Capella version.
This gives way to perhaps one of Burns' most famous offerings My Love Is Like A Red, Red, Rose. Stapleton's version of the ballad, sung over the gentle piano accompaniment, is full of emotion as she sings it to the tune of Low Down In The Broom.
The church hymn like singing of Parcel O' Rogues tells the tale of those who made a killing out of the Act of Union of the 18th century. Stapleton's singing is again precise and invests the track with a deep level of emotion with the song summed up in the last two lines "We were bought and sold for English gold, Sic a parcel o' rogues in a nation."
It doesn't get much closer to Burns than the autobiographical poem There Was A Lad.
Stapleton tones down her voice to  almost a gentle whisper and goes for an extremely traditional ballad style as she puts the ode to the tune of Dainty Davie. It seems rather appropriate that the last song on the album should be the words which have been adopted almost worldwide, those of Auld Lang Syne.
the tribute album
The song seems to have become the universal anthem for seeing in the New Year and is almost certainly Burns' most famous composition. Stapleton strips it right back and keeps it simple, she also sings it to its original tune.
It may seem a little unfamiliar but somehow it does give it a new life and makes you listen to the words more intently.
Stapleton also brings a gentleness to it rather than the loud, usually booze fuelled, party version we are used to which in a strange way earths it back into its Scottish roots, almost as if it has been reclaimed for Burns himself.
The singer has created an album which is as Scottish as the tartan, the haggis, whisky and Dundee granite.
There is not a bagpipe to be heard and there is no jingoism although Stapleton has conveyed a deep sense of pride and respect for one of the truly great literary figures of all time. If someone else wanted to put together an album which paid tribute to one of Scotland's finest sons then they will have their work cut out to come up with one better than this.

Songs of Robert Burns is released January 20 on the Laverock Label and can be bought from the artist's website and from the usual download sites.

Tuesday 17 January 2017


CD Review

Driftwood Harp

The harp has to be one of the oldest instruments known to man, perhaps that's why it carries with it such a historic way of speaking music along with a magical and ethereal voice, so much so it could be argued you can't fully play the harp if you are only a musician, you have to be a storyteller too.

Pippa Reid-Foster
Pippa Reid-Foster has something of an unfair advantage as coming from Argyll she has all the inspiration of the Scottish scenery and Celtic legends at her fingertips.
Something you notice from the first track, The Selkie, is that while keeping the traditional sound of the ancient instrument alive she also invests it with a contemporary feel.
The lilting notes do give you a sense of undulating water as the music creates a feel for the mythical, seal-like creature which can take human form. You can almost feel the changes in the creature as her strings bring the narrative to life.
This gives way to a couplet of Colours of Autumn/Pip's jig where the gentle yet crisp sounds of her strings ease you softly into trying to visualise the colours and sights of the season. This gives way to the lighter and playful second part of the piece.
The island of Iona has it's own history, legends and myths and what better instrument to give a taster of these than the harp.
Reid-Foster keeps a gentle sound for Iona, Straid nam Marbh which is The Street of the Dead. There is an obvious respect in her notes for this sacred site but there is also, as you would expect, a melancholic tone to parts of the tune which almost force you to reflect on the transience of life.
This moves into the lighter tones of Steam Boats on Crinan/The Herring Lassies of Argyll. First it is a tribute to the "Puffers", which were flat bottomed boats that used the tides to both moor them and move them as they brought supplies, especially fish, to remote parts of Scotland. The second part, which is more dance-like, mirrors the activities of the women who worked manically when the steam boats brought in the herring shoals.
The harp is a wonderful instrument for unlocking and stimulating the imagination and the use of its distinctive voice in the hands of an exponent such as Reid-Foster can speak into the mind and spirit, creating images just as a painter does on a canvas.
A puffer boat which finally went
out of use in the 1990s
This she does with Elements 1 where she uses the precision of her playing to conjure up the characters of earth, air, water and fire.
On this track she sets the scene musically and then almost invites you in to fill in as much or as little of the detail as you choose until the dying embers of the notes fade away.
You can't really get harp music without faeries appearing somehow and Kintraw is it for Reid-Foster.
Like all the music of the album, it is inspired by the history and stories of the harpist's native Argyll and Kintraw is a small village which stands in the shadow of two cairns and a hill where it's believed there have been fairy abductions, so be warned.
The quick pace of the tune gives the impression of people going about their everyday business unaware of any danger and yet you get a sense there is always one eye kept on the land which is surrounded by myths.
The premise of  The Mermaid Song is a traditional folktale but one that never gets old or dull. The mermaid sings of her loneliness and how she misses her human husband as she returns to the sea. Such is Reid-Foster's skill that you do get a sense of the harp telling the tale in it's own language.
There is a sadness in the notes as the tune gently unfolds and once again the Scottish musician draws in your imagination to let you create the scene.
The penultimate track is a triplet starting with Kilmartin Glen Campsite then moving on to Kilmichael Glen and McGoldrick's No1. All three of these jigs lightly dance across the mind and, like all the previous tracks, there's no harshness about them.
The harp is a soothing instrument and Reid-Foster never allows the music to trample over the listener but creates an atmosphere where they want to go and stay awhile, a little like the allure of the sirens of myth but without the danger.
the album of harp music
The final track, Deidre in Dreams, is perhaps the most melancholy of the album.
The slower and almost broken pace of the tune takes it to a new level of ethereal and pondering. It does have a modern feel to it but again, through the player's skill, it has that traditional feel deep within it.
It's a very thoughtful piece and you get a sense it's a very personal piece.
It's a wonderful track to go out on and just reinforces the sense that Reid-Foster has produced an enchanting album.
Like most artists Reid-Foster can only lay down the music in a form that creates the narratives she is looking to convey, the rest must then be left to the listener to interpret or envisage in their own way. This is an imaginative collection of songs which have been inspired by her personal experience of her surroundings and their culture and turning that understanding and vision into the language of music for others to try to see and hear what she is saying is no mean feat, but Reid-Foster has given the listener all they need to connect with the sound of her harp playing, so much so that the only limit is that of the listener's imagination.

Driftwood Harp is available now from the artist's website and, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.