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Band of the month

December 3, 2016

DECEMBER 2016

Here in the UK we’ve got accustomed to taking our lead from America. You can hear it in pop culture, but you can hear it in folk culture too, with many folk club regulars inspired by anything from blues to Dylan to bluegrass. But where do you think that bluegrass came from ? – how about all those Irish and Scottish immigrants whose descendants ended up in the Appalachians. So wake up people ! Leaving aside for now the ignorance of England’s folk traditions, we have on our doorstep a living tradition that is absolutely buzzing with life and energy. I’m talking about Irish trad music.

Raw Bar Collective

The Raw Bar Collective (Raw Bar just means music that’s real and spontaneous and rooted in tradition) announce themselves as “a rare gathering of Irish musicians, each of them an acknowledged standard bearer within the tradition.” Like some of their promo material this is said with a twinkle in the eye – they know they’re not exactly household names. But they are great musicians  with years of experience who have earned the right to blow their trumpet, so to speak. The three founder members are Conal Ó Gráda (noted for his unique style on  the flute), Benny McCarthy (a member of the band Danú, on accordion) and Dave Sheridan (fiddle).  “We met” says Conal “at a session in Donacadh Gough’s pub, The Local in Dungarvan. It was a packed session, but the three of us knew that we were on the same wavelength. We knew just by looking at each other as we were playing there was potential for something else here.” On their first album Millhouse Measures (2011),  bodhran player Colm Murphy and the young sean nós singer Nell Ní Chróinín are named as guests. On the second album Ag Fogairt an Lae (2016) these two seem to have become a permanent part of the group.

Their secret, says Dave Sheridan, is that they have nothing to prove to anyone – “we know who we are as musicians and that gives us a freedom to explore the music for the music’s sake.”  The 11 tunes on Ag Fogairt an Lae hit the spot again and again : they’re natural, free flowing and of course totally danceable; they’re supplemented by four pieces of unaccompanied sean nós singing by Nell Ní Chróinín. Do something radical – buy it; you’ll be giving yourself a treat.

Raw Bar Collective – Reels: Here’La, The Magic Boomerang, Desperate Dan  

Raw Bar Collective – The Drummer, Peter Turbit  

Raw Bar Collective – The Drumshanbo Tramp, Sonny Brogan’s, Budgies Ball  

Raw Bar Collective – Baile Mhúirne (song)  

 

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Pity the Downtrodden Landlord : songs of tenants rights

February 7, 2016

I’ve resisted the temptation to include songs about homelessness as well. These are songs with strong lyrics and a linking theme. I understand that the Alistair Hulett and David Rovics songs are about actual historical struggles, but please do leave a comment if you have background to any of these songs. If you have similar songs that you want to share, please leave a link if you can.

Fred Hellerman – Pity the Downtrodden Landlord

Stan Kelly & Leon Rosselson – Greedy Landlord

Malvina Reynolds – The Faucets Are Dripping

Mike Rawson & Rob Rosenthal – Talking Tenant Blues

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – Raisin’ the Rent

John Lee Hooker – House Rent Boogie

Mercy Dee Walton & Thelma Walton – Rent Man Blues

The Mersey Wreckers – Back Buchanan Street

Charlie Poole – Moving Day

Jimmy Collier – Rent Strike Blues

The Pogues – Boys From The County Hell

Public Order Act – Pay Your Rent

Alistair Hulett – Mrs. Barbour’s Army

David Rovics – Landlord

Rory McLeod – Defending Our Homes

It would be wrong of me not to give a passing mention to the recently discovered Woody Guthrie song Old Beach Haven Ain’t My Home, written when he was a tenant of Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump. Sadly no recordings exist as far as I’m aware, but we can get the gist from the lyrics : “Beach Haven looks like Heaven/Where no black ones come to roam!/No, no, no! Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

 

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2 million hits

January 26, 2016

On Wednesday 27th January this site will pass 2 million hits.

To mark the occasion, I’m giving some free songs away. If you email me at nctwall@hotmail.com before midnight Wednesday, I’ll send you two or more songs from any country in the world of your choice. The only restriction is that it can’t be a country where you’ve ever lived.

My music of the world project is still in the works : you can read about it here – https://foreverycountryasong.wordpress.com/about/ .

Nick

 

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The blues ain’t dead

December 13, 2015

… you just need to look in the right places. These guys got the rhythm and they got the blues. All from albums released in the last 12 months (a couple from December 2014, so they just qualify).

Boubacar Traoré – Hona

Malian blues. “He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré.” In 2015 Kar Kar still has that rhythm.

Charlie Parr – Empty Out Your Pockets

Folk blues by perhaps the greatest bluesman in America today.

Dead Sara – Mr Mr

Californian blues rock, fronted by Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley.

Fiona Boyes – I Done Quit

Aussie blues. “I ain’t never heard a woman finger pick a guitar like that since Memphis Minnie.” – Pinetop Perkins

Holly Golightly – As You Go Down

British blues rock, by a former protégé of Billy Childish.

Ironing Board Sam – Baby You Got It

Rhythm & blues. “This is the time when in my life it seems to be that I’m at my best because I know more on how to write music, know more how to play it, know more how to get it to the audience, know more about everything. I’m 70 years old. It took this time, you know.”

JD McPherson – Mother Of Lies

Okie blues. Getting fired from his job as a teacher “had to happen at that exact time or I wouldn’t have done it. Because I had a wife and kids. I’m not gonna tell them, ‘Hey, daddy is gonna quit his steady job just out of grad school, and I’m gonna go get in a band and play.”

The Josh Garrett Band – Goodnight, Goodnight

Southern blues. “I’m drawn to all things Louisiana, it’s my culture and I try to embrace it.”

Left Lane Cruiser – Tres Borrachos

Hard rockin’ blues. “The core group of songs on this record were written at soundchecks during a nine-month period of touring the U.S. and Europe. After a long drive, we would get to the club. Burn one down. Fuckin’ jam at soundcheck. Then we had a new tune. It went on like that for a while. This album was written entirely under the guidance and influence of marijuana. No dirty spliffs were used in the making of this record.”

Lou Shields – Little Town

Chicago blues. “Lou is a solo performing artist; he sings, plays National Guitar, Banjo and harmonica. He sits on top of a stage riser built from reclaimed materials and can reproduce that front porch sound anywhere he goes. Lou uses a bass stomp on his left foot and a broken skateboard with bottle caps nailed to it on his right foot.”

Parvathy Baul – Apon Moner Baghe

Indian blues ? The Bauls are a Bengali sect who pass down teachings, philosophy and folk music from generation to generation. Some like Parvathy choose to commit themselves to a life of asceticism, renouncing family and possessions, becoming travelling minstrels and living off alms.

The Reverend Shawn Amos – Joliet Bound

Harmonica blues. This is a Memphis Minnie song.

Seasick Steve – Barracuda 68′

Beardy blues. Cool video.

Songhoy Blues – Soubour

Malian desert blues. “Though their music bears elements of contemporary rock and hip hop, at its heart is Songhoy Blues‚ deep attachment to the homegrown songs and dances of Mali‚s Songhoy people as well as such iconic West African guitar heroes as Baba Salah and Ali Farka Touré.”

The Vaudevillian – Luke’s Blues

Canadian stringband blues. Purveyors of old-time music.

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF – What Is This False Life You’re Leading

Punk blues. “Billy Childish is an international cult figure, painter, poet and novelist. He has released over 120 independent albums and influenced a vast range of musicians from Kurt Cobain, Beck and Mudhoney, through to Jack White, The Hives, The Strypes and Kylie Minogue. ”

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Cumbia, cumbia, cumbia !

December 6, 2015

Many of the best drop-down-dead dance rhythms this year came from South America. Here’s a sample. Most of it’s cumbia based, but Sonora Carruseles demonstrate that there are still bands around who know their salsa.

ARGENTINA

Lagartijeando – Congo Ya 

Sonido Guay Neñe – Dejala Llorar

CHILE

Chico Trujillo – Malgeniosa 

Señor Chancho – Momposound 

COLOMBIA

Arrabalero – Kumbia Aguacero 

La-33 – Te Lo Voy A Devolver 

Lucho Campillo feat. Daniel Leon – Cafecito Colombiano 

Magin Díaz y el Sexteto Gamerano – Yo me voy con tigo 

Paito – La Cumbia Islena 

Sonora Carruseles – Como Baila Micaela 

Tomborato – Negra Rosa 

Totó La Momposina – La Candela Viva 

MEXICO

because the South American beats are also big in Mexico

Sonido Mamalón – Varúsi Mericaríya (Madre Rayo)

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The art of songwriting

November 29, 2015

I continue my survey of 2015 with selections from some of the best singer songwriter releases of the year.

Krista Detor – Can I Come Over   (Barely)

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Mississippi, It’s Time  (single)

Craig Finn – Newmyer’s Roof   (Faith in the Future)

Gilmore & Roberts – She Doesn’t Like Silence    (Conflict Tourism)

Bella Hardy – Oh! My God! I Miss You    (With the Dawn)

The Honey Dewdrops – Loneliest Songs   (Tangled Country)

Gurf Morlix – 50 Years   (Eatin’ at me)

Old Man Luedecke – Wait a While   (Domestic Eccentric)

Grace Petrie – The Last Love Song   (Whatever’s Left)

Rod Picott – Drunken Barbers Hand   (Fortune)

Dave Rawlings Machine – The Trip   (Nashville Obsolete)

Joe Topping – One Beat Away   (The Vagrant Kings)

Will Varley – Concept of Freedom   (Postcards from Ursa Minor)

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Back to Trad

November 22, 2015

Not all strictly trad, but a lovely collection of tunes from albums released by British and Irish artists in 2015. This is just the tip of a large sized iceberg, so please also check out the distressingly small number of other sites that feature this music : folkwavestradconnect, folk radio uk,  bright young folk, irish music magazine, uk folk music.

Bryan O’Leary & Colm Guilfoyle – Slides: The Bicycle; Johnny O’ Leary’s
“This is our debut album. It was recorded in Tureencahill National School and not too far from ‘where the bog is’. This is an expression of our respect and appreciation for the music and history of our native Sliabh Luachra.”

Caitlín Nic Gabhann & Ciarán Ó Maonaigh – Joe Cooley’s Morning Dew / The New Mown Meadow’s
Irish fiddle and concertina

Daimh – Raasay
‘Gaelic Supergroup’ based around West Lochaber and the Isle of Skye

Danu – Passage West
“For over a decade, Danú’s virtuosi players on flute, tin whistle, fiddle, button accordion, bouzouki, and vocals (Irish and English), have performed around the globe and recorded seven critically acclaimed albums.”

Éamonn O’Riordan & Tony O’Connell – Áine’s Reel/Gan Ainm/The Clare Reel
Duo from West Limerick : Tony is a self-taught concertina player and is a multiple All Ireland winner from under 15,18 and senior. Eamonn is a flautist with four All-Ireland titles to his name.

Eliza Carthy – Thirty-Foot Trailers
From the compilation album Joy of Living – A Tribute to Ewan MacColl

The Foxglove Trio – The Owlesbury Lads
The trio’s debut album contains “mostly traditional songs from around the British Isles in English and Welsh”

John Kirkpatrick – I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier
Former member of the Albion Country Band, Magic Lantern, The Richard Thompson Band, Umps and Dumps, Steeleye Span, Brass Monkey, Trans-Europe Diatonique, and Band of Hope, as well as numerous ceilidh bands. Tunes from the Trenches is a collection of songs from two world wars.

Mairearad and Anna – Jerry & Otis
Mairearad plays pipes and accordion on the album, and Anna helps out on guitar, fiddle and banjo.

The Rheingans Sisters – Dancing in the Cow Shed
Rowan and Anna are fiddle-singers who grew up in the Peak District

Sam Lee – Over Yonders Hill
The Fade in Time is a collection of songs gathered from the gypsy community. Sam Lee’s unconventional interpretations challenge all preconceptions of what ‘traditional folk’ should sound like.

Séamus Begley – Annie Laurie
Irish accordionist turned singer : “I’ve never in my life been as busy. At 66. My musical world took off at pension age. And when Oisín [Mac Diarmada] asked me to join Téada, I never thought that at 62 years of age I’d be joining a boyband. It’s been fantastic. I’ve exposed myself to the world. But these are songs that I like singing. They might be a bit emotional, but I love them. And anyway, I’m 66 now. I have nothing to lose.”

Triona Marshall – O’carolan’s Farwell to Music
One of five in a family of musicians from Portlaoise, Triona started playing the harp when she was seven. She held the post of principal harpist with the RTE Concert Orchestra for five years until 2003, since then she’s played both solo and as harpist for the Chieftains.

The Young ‘Uns – The Drift from the Land
“Inspired by the actions of a group of Stockton residents who chased a Benefits Street film crew from their doors, The Young’uns new album Another Man’s Ground celebrates working class heroes of the past and present with powerful and poignant tales of struggle, poverty and peace.”