A Night for Lynn-Rockingham Arms Wentworth

Lynn Morawski memorial concert – Rockingham Arms wentworth 6 June 2014
This was a tribute gig for Lynn , who sadly died last year and as Rob Shaw said in his introduction, was his right hand person when running the club here in the almost distant past. And how strange for so many people to be back in the Rockingham Arms barn, complete with Rob’s unique understated intros, for this one off event. Each artist gave their personal tributes to Lynn, including the absent Alan Taylor, who sent a message from Vienna read out by Paul..
Appropriately, Adam and Paul started the night, straight into Lynn’s favourite songs from the Everleys and The Eagles, all done with thoughtful harmonies and much love. An acapella version of Over the Rainbow from Paul & Kelly While really tugged the heart strings. Adam always includes a Dylan song or two – trading verses on My Back Pages showed us how well Paul vocals have developed. A lovely opening set.
Next up was Billy Mitchell, with his son Tom and ex-Lindisfarne mate Ray Laidlaw. We were first treated to a few old Lindisfarne numbers, competently done, interspersed with Billy’s black geordie humour. Tom did a great cover of Michael Marra’s “Frieda Kahlo” and Billy reminded of what a great song writer he is with the “traditional” Pitman and the Black and Coliery Laddie’s Wife. They finished on an old rocker, We can swing together, which had the whole Rock audience swinging their arms high on the chorus – Certainly a first in my experience!
The night’s final act was Chris While and Julie Matthews, joined by Kelly While. From Rob’s introduction, it was apparently Julie who came up with the idea for this tribute gig, and Julie did mention more than once the wave of nostalgia she was feeling about being back in the old folk club venue.
Chris and Julie were straight into familiar territory with On My Way, one of their great optimistic songs done really well. Kelly came in after a couple of songs, the their family combination of the evening, and had the challenge of harmonising with her mum on Baking Bread. She passed successfully! Julie did a lovely tribute to another Rock regular, Roy Machin, with George Jones “She thinks I still care” Other covers include two Gillian Welch songs. Now my Dad is huge fan of Miss Welch and, while he loved to hear the songs he did think they were a little bit too over done compared to the sparse spirituality of the original. His words!!
Springsteen’s “I’m on fire” was something else, much better and in fact really beautifully done. The old motown number “tracks of my tears’ from Chris showed what a fantastic soulful voice she has, and brought another wave of nostalgia for many in the audience. The set finished with that favourite chorus song “Faith”.
Everyone was on stage for the encore, including Rob and Jan perched on the steps, Carole King’s “you got a friend”. A fitting end to a great evening.
All proceeds for the gig were to Rotherham Hospice and MacMillan Nurses

Jim Moray

Photo by Phil Carter

Jim Moray cast Theatre doncaster, Sunday 25th May

Sunday, 25 May saw the conclusion of Doncaster Folk Festival with a special finale concert by Jim Moray and his band. This took place at the new Cast Theatre in the centre of town within the venues more intimate studio theatre space. Jim started off the evening with a solo set, a pleasant surprise as I think most of the audience were expecting Jim to be joined by his band all the way through . This gave the audience the chance to experience both aspects of Jim’s live performances, I know that if they’re anything like me i always enjoy seeing a singer both solo & with a band.
During the first set Moray gave  us 2 new songs from 2 very different projects he has been working on. The Elizabethan sessions is a project similar to the Cecil Sharp Project, imagine eight singer songwriters from the folk world together in a house for a week to write music inspired by the Elizabethans including; Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Bella Hardy, Hannah James, Rachel Newton, Emily Askew & John Smith. If you can’t imagine it, the CD will be released in September. The Second project Jim has been involved in is with Sam Carter & fellow band mate Nick Cooke in a trio called False Light playing mainly traditional material  folk rock style. Jim gave us a great example of one of the songs from False light, performing a version of the traditional song ‘Made of Australia’
After a 20 minute break it was time to rock when Jim came out with his full band featuring Nick Cooke on melodeon, Dave Burbage on drums and Barn Stragling. This second set featured many of Jim’s best known material from all 6 of his albums. ‘Leaving Australia’, ‘Sweet England’ ‘Jenny of the Moor’ and ‘William Taylor’ were all performed with the high energy folk rock style we have come to expect from Jim and he is fantastic band. I think Jim’s music is great for introducing people to folk as it is more accessible to the younger generation & those who are yet to be introduced, with a good balance of traditional & self penned material. I dragged a friend along who isn’t quite yet a converted folky & he thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing i would have requested from Jim was for him to play ‘All You Pretty Girls’ as its my favourite song & one I know he used to finish with on occasion, however he finished the evening with a beautiful version of ‘Valentine’ with Nick from his previous album ‘Low Culture’.
Look out for Jim at the Lantern Theatre in Sheffield on Friday 6th June. You won’t be disappointed!

Blair Dunlop

Blair Dunlop the Greystone 28th of May 

On Wednesday night young singer-songwriter Blair Dunlop bought his house of Jack’s tour to the Greystones in Sheffield. Blair who this time appeared with a band featuring Katriona Gilmore on fiddle and mandolin, Fred Claridge on drums, Jacob Stoney on keyboards & Blair himself on lead guitar. They started the evening with the 2 opening tracks from his new album, ‘Something is going to give way’ and ’45s C 69′ a song about a London nightclub back in the 60s . Also featured on the album is a track called ’45s C 14′ which is about the same nightclub only what it would be like now.
The band had a great relationship on stage and considering this was only a few days in to their tour they sounded like they’d been together for years, supporting Blairs growth from a solo performer and bringing new life to a few of Blairs older material .  Dunlop has a natural presence on stage with a light sense of humour & a great rapport, not only with his band but also with the audience, which included his dad so inevitably jokes & heckles were perfectly timed. Halfway through the gig the band left the stage and Blair gave us a couple of solo acoustic numbers including ‘Light and blossom’ the title track of his debut album, and a version of Richard Thompson’s 1952 ‘Vincent black lightning’. As a fellow Thompson fan – Great choice!  Blair has an inspiring guitar style, full of character & i would say Richard Thompson has a fair bit of influence to his electric playing.
I’ve been watching Blair perform since he played at Derby Festival 2012, it’s been great to watch him grow from strength to strength through various collaborations (Larkin Poe & The Albion Band)    Solo & now with the band. After having him on the show with Dave Eyre on Thank Goodness it’s Folk & catching up with him after the show, he’s still just a really down to earth nice kinda guy, thanks for the dedication. Blair finished the evening off without the band, stripping everything back & played a beautiful version of Turlough O’Carolan’s tune ‘Si Bheag Si Mhor’. Thanks for a great evening & Good luck with the new album, it comes highly recommended!
(Edited by Kirsty Bromley)

The Full English 2013

On Tuesday 29th October the Full English tour arrived in Sheffield, to the beautiful and intimate setting of Firth Hall Sheffield University.
‘The Full English is a groundbreaking project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society that draws together for the first time the early 20th century folksong collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams. The result is the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.’ – Fay Hield
An extremely talented bunch of musicians have been put together to perform songs and tunes from and inspired by the Full English archive. Musicians included Fay Hield, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman, Sam Sweeney, Nancy Kerr, Ben Nichols and Rob Harbron. Arriving on stage to a great reception the gig was underway with Fay and Seth leading the rest in some fabulous harmony singing, it quickly became clear how much work had been put into this entire show, the band sounded fantastic and very slick. As well as the music there were also pictures and film footage of the collectors displayed along each song. A memorable example of this was when Rob and Sam playedThe Princess Royal while a clip of Maud Karpeles performing a morris dance was being shown on the screens either side of the stage. My favourite piece from the first half came from Mr Lakeman with a beautiful song he found in the archive from Frank Kidson – Portrait of My Wife, with an additional chorus from himself.
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that this is very much a collaborative project and not just each individual getting up to do their own thing separately. The selected musicians have spent time working on each song together and arranging the material as a band. The hard work has paid off, as during the interval, inevitably there was a discussion between folk about the performance they had just seen so far and how amazing and inspiring they thought it was, many people commented saying it was like having a concert in their own front room, I have to agree. The atmosphere was relaxed, friendly and everyone was completely spellbound by the musicians in front of them.
Time for the second half, kicking off with the traditional song Linden Lea which in fact is not part of the archive but a song Fay thought was just too beautiful to miss out of the show, I again have to agree. The only other song in the performance not from the Full English was a contemporary piece written by Nancy Kerr – Fol The Day-O. ‘This was written as a homage to Joseph Taylor (1882-1961), in which Nancy examines the interplay between folk song’s ancient rural imagery and the modern world, and the transporting, transformational capabilities of a great singer.’ Without the introduction to this song, you would have easily mistaken it for a long surviving traditional song.
It was hard not to notice how much fun the band were having on stage, I’ve seen the individual musicians perform their own material on various occasions, however you could really tell the difference, they all sounded as if they had been playing together for years. It was a tight performance and the relationship between the band was glowing. Martin Simpson came off stage evidently buzzing, Seth Lakeman was stamping and tearing his fiddle apart as usual. The second half seemed to fly by, before we knew it the show was coming to an end, the audience however had a different opinion, with such a raucous applause the band came out to do the perfect encore led by Fay Hield, a song she found after a long day trawling through the various notations at the library she told us she was feeling tired and bored or searching through bits of writing she couldn’t read when she came across a beautiful song called Man in the Moon a perfect chorus song joined by the band and the entire audience raising their voices in appreciation to the hard work by Fay for putting together this brilliant project that will hopefully continue for many more years to come, and the outstanding talent of the band for recreating the life of all these songs that should never be forgotten and the people who sang them all those years ago.
Well done and congratulations have to go to everyone involved in this project. The tour itself its merely a percentage of the project, as there are many strings to its bow. Please do go and check out the website and look up more about the Full English online. You are missing out on an absolute treat and we are very lucky to have such hard working and inspiring people in our folk community.
Review: Sam Hindley
Photos and Editing: Kirsty Bromley

The Wayward Tour

The Wayward Tour – Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray at Buxton Opera House 27th May
Wow, looks like Eliza’s back in town! Mr Carthy’s Wayward daughter is celebrating 21 years of being on the folk stage in style, touring along with Jim Moray and an 11 piece band of fine musicians. I caught up with this
grand event in the apt setting of Buxton Opera House, about half way into the tour.
Jim, who is also enjoying 10 years as a major performer, kicked off the show with a solo song at the keyboards, then quickly brought on the full Wayward Band. A well thought out duet with Lucy Farrell on Jenny of the Moor set the scene for the evening. Moray’s set also included Lord Douglas, a beautifully adapted Child ballad and a well-deserved winner of  Best Traditional track in this years Folk Awards. After no more than an hour we were hearing the familiar rousing chorus of All You Pretty Girls signalling the end of Jim’s set. Post interval Eliza took to the stage, heading first to the piano which was probably surprising to most people in the room. The result was a gorgeous version of Diego’s Bold Shore, from Waterson Carthy’s DARK LIGHT album but rarely heard in this form. From there Eliza gave us a tour through her immense and varied back catalogue, starting with Cold Haily Rainy Night which was the first song that she’d recorded with band members Saul Rose on melodeon and bassist Barn Stradling some 16 years ago – and she still made it sound as fresh as ever, with lots of little yells and dances. I was great to hear Eliza in good voice again, hardly a trace of the throat problems she has suffered in recent years.
Having a big band to play with allowed both Jim and Eliza to fill out the arrangements they usually do on stage, creating something as big and in many cases better than the original studio versions. A good example was Worcester City, popular song from the Rat Catchers days, but this time with the distinctive percussion intro from the album.  Also from the Rat Catchers era was Gallant Hussar, heavily featuring some great brass playing by Nick Malcolm on trumpet and Adrien ‘Yen Yen’ Toulouse on trombone.
21 years in the business has given Eliza depth and variety, and this showed up on the Grey Gallito, which is actually a version of The Lovers Ghost originally picked up from her father. However, she recorded this with the great dance band Salsa Celtica, with the addition of a Spanish chorus – result, simply gorgeous. More treats to come with a lovely version of Mike Waterson’s Jack Frost, with Dave Delarre on guitar and Lucy Farrell with backing vocals. My only slight disappointment of the show was the limited material from Eliza’s RED RICE album, only 2 songs. These were never the less brilliant, particularly Billy Boy/the Widdows Wedding with Eliza and Sam Sweeney playing together. Last song before the encore was a fine version of Willow Tree. This song used to appear at the same point during the Ratcatchers set and it was great to hear it again in an even fuller arrangement.
To round off the evening everybody joined in the vocals on a rousing Glory Land, then a big band treatment of TheCobblers Hornpipe, the only full instrumental set of the evening, sending all home with smiles on our faces.
It was evident watching how much fun the band seemed to be having up there. Sam Sweeney confirmed this after the show. Sam said “It’s great to play Eliza’s old material, she was one of the big reasons I started playing folk music in the first place” Well, I think you speak for a lot of people there Sam.
The Wayward Tour play Southwell folk festival on Thursday 6 of June, Cheltenham 21st of August, Birmingham 22nd of August. Catch them if you can.
Sam Hindley

Transatlantic Sessions – Celtic Connections 2013

The final Friday evening of the 2013 Celtic Connections festival saw the first of two performances from the annual event ‘Transatlantic Sessions’. The long running TV show of same name, was first brought to the concert stage in 2004 as a special event for Celtic connections and has been a permanent fixture ever since. For the past three years there has been a tour of the event straight after Celtic Connections festival.
This year’s Sessions kicked off with some good old-fashioned jigs and reels from the house band, which as usual included musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas with John McCusker, Michael McGoldrick, Danny Thompson and many more. Guests are invited to perform and bring 2 or 3 of their songs to the show. The first guest this year, Teddy Thompson, was an interesting choice I thought. Every year on both the concert and TV series there is always one singer-songwriter who is totally different to anyone else on the bill, and you always wonder how are they going to fit into this?
In my opinion some of the performers from outside the Traditional folk genre do not always work on the show, although there are very few of these. I’m happy to say that Teddy Thompson worked perfectly. Although from a famous folk family Thompson’s solo work has drifted away from the folk scene, taking his own direction and establishing his own fan base, of which I am one. Obviously mindful that his backing band included mostly traditional folk musicians, Teddy’s second song for the evening was Dear Mary,a song which he wrote with his mother, Linda Thompson. Describing it as the ‘folkyist thing he could think of’, the song was the opening track for Linda’s 2002 comeback album FASHIONABLY LATE, a great song choice.
Teddy remained onstage to provide backing vocals for the next guest, Scottish singer Emily Smith, whose song choices included Archie Fisher’s The Final Trawl.
Transatlantic Sessions has always been about getting the performers to join in with each other and not to just do their own bit with the house band. The trio of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emily Smith and Aoife O’Donovan, from Crooked Still, provided beautiful backing vocals on each others material throughout the evening. As well as the guest singers there were also regular contributions from members of the house band. Musical director Jerry Douglas led the band in his own composition Gone to Fortingall. Douglas wrote this tune after filming the last two Transatlantic TV series in the highlands of Scotland in the area which he now loves and would like to live.
Bluesman Eric Bibb brought a different vibe to the stage. With his wide brimmed hat, distinctive voice and rousing guitar playing he treated us to gospel, traditional American Going Down The Road Feeling Bad and of course the blues. While on stage Bibb remarked ‘I feel embraced’, in fact we all did. Everyone in the 17-piece band expressed their delight at being part of this patchwork of musicians.
The house band also included some of the top American roots musicians, most notably Old Time fiddler Bruce Molsky and Cajun musician Dirk Powell, who incidentally produced Eric Bibbs 2012 album DEEPER IN THE WELL. Molsky’s main contribution tonight was a duet with Aoife O’Donovan singing Pretty Saro which I believe is an old time version of a song covered by Martin Simpson, Batchelor’s Hall.
Probably the most anticipated appearance for a lot of people was a Transatlantic debut for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Mary Chapin’s songs for the evening seemed to be the most transformed. I Have a Need for Solitude from her 2010 album AGE OF MIRACLES was given the addition of a McCusker/McGoldrick style riff. Transcendental Reunionfrom her latest album ASHES AND ROSES was, I hear, totally different to how they had rehearsed it. Instead of the planned ‘full house band works’ it was delivered to us totally stripped down with just McCusker, O’Donovan and Danny Thompson. By the look on the drummer’s face, not even he was aware of this change! This demonstrates the ever changing arrangements and one suspect that each night of the tour could be slightly different to the last. All 17 musicians were on stage for the finale, Mary Chapin led her classic Down at the twist and shout, absolutely incredible.
Sam Hindley
Photos by Phil Carter

Mary Chapin Carpenter / Shawn Colvin

Derby Assembly Rooms 17 October 2012
On Wednesday night, I found myself in familiar surroundings at the Derby Assembly Rooms for an intimate acoustic evening with two of America’s greatest female singer songwriters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, together, no support, no backing band, just them and their guitars complimenting their beautiful voices. You could really appreciate what fantastic vocalists they are. Having enjoyed Mary’s music from being a young child, I’ve always loved her voice, but I don’t think I had ever really appreciated how deep and rich it is. Colvin’s voice is very lovely too, and they go together perfectly especially when Colvin is taking the lead and Chapin sings harmony above her.
Hardly surprising then that they kicked off the evening together with a really lovely version of Donovan’s Catch the Wind, which appears on Colvin’s latest album. Then a Mary Chapin song, I Have a Need for Solitude, from her 2010 album THE AGE OF MIRACLES. Following this, the pair played one solo number each, Shawn chose her song,Trouble, while Mary gave a taste of her latest album ASHES AND ROSES with Chasing What’s Already Gone, which is my personal favourite from the album. This album in Chapin’s words is a ‘narrative arc’ and covers times in her life from divorce, depression and joy. A lovely album, but for me, there is not enough about joy, however on the evening she did pick my favourites, so that was ok.
Another song together followed, a cover this time of Paul Simon’s The Only Living Boy in New York, which was absolutely brilliant. More solo songs from each, Colvin, sang her song Diamond in the Rough, which turned out to be my favourite from her on the night; it has been stuck in my head ever since. Carpenter chose another from her latest album with What To Keep and What to Throw Away. It was at this point that I was sat there thinking ‘three new songs in a row, very nice, thank you, but I need a hit here soon Mary’. She must have read my mind, as her next song was the old favourite, This Shirt, and a great version too. Their next choice, together was Colvin’s own composition A Change is on the Way, followed by the interesting choice of Crowded House’s Four Seasons in One Day and a really nice version of Steve Earle’s Someday.
The next highlight came just before the encore in the form of a fabulous version of Mary Chapin’s classic song, The Hard Way, really good to hear this again. A four song encore was to follow consisting of two more covers songs and one solo number from each. Colvin performed her song Therapy and Carpenter another song from her new album. As a Mary Chapin fan, I could have done with one more old song, but I’m sure the Shawn Colvin fans in the audience were thinking the same thing. The final cover songs ranged from Tom Waits’ Hold on to the beautifulThat’s the Way Love Goes (Lefty Frizzell), finishing off another wonderful evening.
Sam Hindley

Interview: John McCusker

An interview with a musical hero of mine,  John McCusker at the Wath Festival back in 2011. Thanks to Allan Wilkinson for hosting this on his page ‘Northern Sky’  (Photo: Phil Carter) (Audio to follow)