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Band of the month

September 1, 2016

SEPTEMBER 2016

Hard Swimmin’ Fish have got some flippin’ good taste in music : Muddy Waters, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf. On their new album they even take on a song made famous by the mighty Howlin’ Wolf himself – and succeed in kicking some ass :

Hard Swimmin’ Fish – Howlin’ for my Darlin’

Singer Demien Lewis claims responsibility for the band name :  “I have this stepfather, and he is kind of a one-of-a-kind individual. He and I did home improvement work together. If you put in a good day’s work, he’d look around, and say, ‘Man, you Fishare one hard-swimmin’ fish!’ We liked the sound of that.” Demien is joined by Waverly Milor on blues harmonica and vocals, Randy Ball on upright bass and bass guitar, and drummer Jason Walker. Demien, Randy and Jason had been playing together in Maryland for several years already before becoming Hard Swimmin’ Fish, and the quartet was completed when Waverly joined then in 2008. The band was working hard, but money was tight :

“We recorded our first album on a portable studio in the t-shirt warehouse in which Randy worked, with one microphone in the centre of the band. And it came out pretty killer! We moved up in the world and built (out of mud and straw, no less!) a studio building at Randy’s house … It was there that we recorded our second album … Our third album was recorded live at the old train station in Shepherdstown.”

Then for album four, One Step Forward (2014), they brought in a producer, Mitch Easter, who got what they were trying to do, and helped them create that lo-fi old-timey sound. With the band now writing most of their own songs, the album title seemed pretty appropriate.

True Believer (2016) was financed by crowdfunding.

“Because we want all of your contributions to go directly into the creation of the album we’ve stuck to our DIY mentality and produced this campaign without outside costs, doing all the storyboarding, filming, editing, and copywriting ourselves. The cost of album art is taken care of using the incredible talents of our own Randy Ball … We’re heading into the studio well prepared …”

The album’s packed with great driving blues tracks on which Easter has again worked his magic; the vocals sound so rootsy and authentic that you wouldn’t believe this has only just been recorded :

Hard Swimmin’ Fish – Come Together

Hard Swimmin’ Fish – Mess Around

The band show their versatility with the soul classic Need Your Love So Bad and the gospel blues Don’t let the Devil Ride.  But it’s perhaps in the original songs that the band’s character comes out most strongly, as they take a cynical but lighthearted view of male / female relations. This is the title track :

Hard Swimmin’ Fish – True Believer

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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.”