Band of the month – 2015 archive
Even if you know your African music, it’s unlikely that you’ll have heard anything from Rwanda. It’s a country savaged by war and genocide, a country with no record industry to speak of. Yet it’s also a country that’s always loved its music. In 2009 Californian producer Ian Brennan was travelling the country in search of artists to record when he heard about this group. The group had been formed by a farmer, Adrien Kazigira, a genocide survivor then aged 47. Despite the extreme ethnic violence that Rwanda had experienced, the three original members of the band included a Tutsi, a Hutu and a Twa. Once he’d heard them play, Brennan knew that he had something special, and in the course of one evening he was able to record enough material for an album.
So the band were given a name – The Good Ones – and that first album, Kigali Y’ Izahabu, was released internationally in 2010. Here’s one of the songs which like a few others on the album is in honour of a woman :
The Good Ones – Sara
The album was a success, and in 2014 the band was invited to England to play at the Womad festival. “None of us in our group have ever stepped foot outside of our country’s borders,” remembers Kazigira. “We didn’t even have passports before. In fact, two of us have lived on the same family farms our entire lives … We are glad that some people are interested in what we have to say. Most people from our country have very little money and instruments are rare. We often play with broken guitars we find or we have to borrow them from friends, but what matters is what is in our hearts. And we try to show what is inside through our voices and with our words … The music we play is folk music from the workers. It is what we know. That is who we are. We choose to write about love, because really what else is there ?”
Now there’s a second album : Rwanda is my home. Again, it’s sung in a street dialect of the Rwandan Kinyarwanda language. But it’s easy to listen to, and to like. The music is simple, uncluttered and acoustic; the melodies are sweet; and Kazigira’s vocals are gentle and heartfelt.
The Good Ones – Rwanda is my Home
The Good Ones – Nyamwanga Kumva! (Stubborn Until the End)
The Good Ones -Bijya Gucika, Guca Amarenga (When things were starting to go badly (There were signs))
After 25 years of writing songs that have inspired people from Christy Moore to John Peel, Little Sutton’s Ian Prowse has just released an album of covers. And it may just be his best work yet …
Ian Prowse’s career has had its share of ups and downs. Pele were a good band, people loved their songs, but somehow when Britpop came along it passed them by. Ian has bitter words for the label : “The A&R man who signed Pele left the label and the new fella’ tried to make his mark and make me go solo … and set my career back by seven years. We missed the Britpop boat and watched with great distress as all of our previous support bands like Cast, Travis and Sleeper hit the big time, while we argued with that idiot!” He started again with a new band, Amsterdam, but it was hard work : “To go from full venues right back to the very start again was hard: playing gigs to 10 people in awful London venues, when two years before 700 cockneys loved us, felt like musical snakes and ladders. The first reality TV show to manufacture pop stars hit our screens around then too and the music industry deemed you were too old at the age of 25! For a few years Amsterdam just made music and waited for things to change.”
With a combination of determination, strong songwriting, and Ian’s always engaging vocals, Amsterdam built up a loyal following. Their last studio album was in 2008. When in 2012 a Best of Ian Prowse compilation album was released, even though it contained a few new tracks even diehard fans must have wondered how much more he had to offer. But once again he came back, in 2014 releasing under his own name the crowd-funded album Who Loves Ya Baby, which included the wonderful anti-racist song The Murder of Charles Wootton.
Last week Ian tweeted that his new album Companeros “will NOT appear on Spotify or Apple.
#theft“. Instead you can download it here. It’s a collection of songs by friends and mostly little known songwriters whom he admires, concluding with a gorgeous 9 minute live cut of an old Amsterdam tune Name & Number. Although they’re not his songs, Ian wears his heart on his sleeve, both in his very interesting choice of material and in his delivery. St Patrick’s Brave Brigade is a nice arrangement of a song written by Damian Dempsey about Irish-American soldiers who fought on the side of Mexico in the US-Mexican War of 1846-7; Derry Gaol was Alan Burke’s humorous reworking of a traditional song; while What Am I to You is a rather fetching appeal to his beloved by Dublin born songwriter Eoin Glackin. Best of the bunch though is Alun Parry’s tribute to Des Warren, the trade union activist jailed with Ricky Tomlinson in the early 70s. “His version has blown my socks off!!” wrote Alun on his website. “It’s absolutely brilliant. Fist punchingly good. I’m beyond delighted, not just because he has paid me the highest compliment that any singer can pay a songwriter, by putting my song on his new album – but that he has done such an awesome job of it too.”
Ian’s appearing in Liverpool next month with the full Amsterdam band – Sat 5th December 7pm @ Liverpool Arts Club.
Ian Prowse – Derry Gaol
Ian Prowse – My name is Dessie Warren
In song, as in life, Kath Reade is the champion of the underdog and the downtrodden. Edith is living in a nursing home without family to care for her – but Kath Reade finds the dignity in her life and makes us care. Lily McQueen is a 15 year old girl hauled in front of the magistrates for stealing a can of coke : Kath Reade wants us to understand her, she wants to “tell her truth”. The song Where the Good Hearts Dwell finds hope in unexpected places : there’s humanity in all of us, the instinct to do good to others is not easily suppressed.
Kath is a Londoner who’s spent nearly all her working life in the industrial northwest of England. She’s worked as a carer (for her mother) and as a social worker. After qualifying as a teacher she spent many years as a lecturer / course tutor in child development and social policy. Outside of her day job she used to work as a music therapist with teenagers in trouble in deprived communities. She also became a local councillor, and then the first woman leader of Burnley Council. During her tenure she helped to bring about the town’s first purpose-built women’s refuge. Later she became Chair of an NHS Primary Care Trust. It must have been a lot to take on at times in addition to her family life, but she cared passionately about making a difference.
Finally she retired from her public roles to pursue her love of music, though with Kath nothing’s ever quite that simple : as well as being a very active singer songwriter, she’s a practitioner of Qigong and Reiki and a music therapist.
The album Where the Good Hearts Dwell has 11 tracks including one traditional song (Four Loom Weaver). The lyrics are hugely important on it : Kath has so many stories to tell and messages to impart, and she wants to make every song count. I appreciate this, but I want the song and the music to draw me in as well, and I felt that she succeeded in this better on some songs than on others. All the tracks below though are both wonderful songs and great stories that deserve to be heard. All I ask is that you give them your undivided attention.
Kath Reade – Edith
Kath Reade – The Ballad of Lily McQueen
Kath Reade – Where the Good Hearts Dwell
Kath Reade – Four Loom Weaver
Whatever’s Left, Grace Petrie’s fourth studio album, was released in June 2015, but it’s already in some danger of becoming a museum piece.
“It’s like a bad dream” she sings (in her trademark spoken word style) on the title track : a dark piece which expresses her feelings from around the time of the UK general election about living in Tory Britain, with a none-too-subtle side swipe thrown in at the then Labour leader Ed Miliband (Grace voted Green, if you’re asking). Another track, Revolutionary in the Wrong Time, is a lighthearted, engaging depiction of someone who feels like they’re always out of step with the world.
Who else but Leicester singer songwriter Grace Petrie would promote their album by giving an interview to the Morning Star. ““I am against austerity, against the privatisation of public services and I believe massively in a living wage for young people,” she told them, “and it astounds me that the Labour Party were not behind them.” Meanwhile in an impassioned piece on her website, she wrote, “Perhaps protest songs help, perhaps they don’t, but if I have any skill that I can lend to the leftwing effort to both resist this evil government and to help elect a different one when the time comes, then writing and playing songs that can, in some small way, soundtrack the struggle is it.”
And then, after the album came out, everything changed – because of Jeremy Corbyn. Suddenly politics had become exciting and inspiring again. Suddenly, left wing revolutionaries in the UK stopped questioning whether they were living in the wrong time.
Fortunately there are still plenty of songs on this sparkling album which revolutionaries – and anyone else with a brain and a heart – can draw strength and inspiration from.
This is my favourite : You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys.
The opening song If There’s a Fire in your Heart, mostly sung a capella, is a stirring call to action :
I Do Not Have the Power to Cause a Flood I don’t rate quite as highly as a song, but it’s worth a mention : one for the activists, an entertaining rant against homophobia.
Why Bob Dylan Sang is a superb breakup song inspired by the bard.
And The Last Love Song is a brutal and funny reflection on a past love affair.
On the aptly titled Home, Anoushka Shankar returns to her musical roots. The result is stunning : the music darts from one place to another, an endless series of subtle variations, so natural and beautiful that before you know it the music’s captured your soul.
It may seem a world away from hit factories like X Factor. But we’ve been here before. In 1966 Ahoushka’s father Ravi Shankar met George Harrison. Weeks later George was in India learning sitar from the master and Ravi had become an international superstar. For George Harrison this was no passing fad : he later described Ravi Shankar as “the first person who ever impressed me in my life.” The unlikely marriage of western pop and Indian classical music was consummated at the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, co-organised by George and Ravi.
When Anoushka was born in London in 1981, her father was already 61. But he was to play a vital role in her life, teaching her the sitar from the age of 7. From the age of 14 she began accompanying him as he performed concerts around the world. Her early albums were pieces of Indian classical music written by her father : the third album Live At Carnegie Hall won her a first Grammy nomination at the age of 20. Since then she’s been on a creative journey, exploring other genres such as flamenco and collaborating with a range of famous musicians. On this track she performs with her half sister, multiple Grammy winner Norah Jones :
Anoushka Shankar with Norah Jones – Traces Of You
Of course Hindustani classical music has always remained at the bedrock of her live performances; but the death of her father in December 2012 has motivated her to honour him by putting her heart and soul into a classical music recording.
Although Home clocks in at 55 minutes, it only includes 4 tracks. Anoushka has this advice on listening to the album : “This music is a slow burn, you know? If someone’s used to the average two-and-a-half-minute song on the radio, it can be hard to understand what’s going on, because at two and a half minutes we’re still just playing the first notes and establishing things. Give it the time to open up and play, and then it sort of seeps under your skin, and it has a very profound impact as a result.”
Raga Jogeshwari- Jod, Jhala is a raga composed by Ravi Shankar, to which Anoushka has added her own improvisations :
This description of Raga Jogeshwari—Gat in Rupaktal is better than I can manage : “Shankar begins a journey with a raga that the listener has now come to know well, and adds the flavour of an accompanying tabla. The jugal bandi of the two instruments together creates a depth that is hard to describe—as tracks get longer and longer, one barely notices that this track in particular lasts for more than 15 minutes. There is pace and beat, with a long, built-up rise to a slow and passionate fall.”
Beans on Toast is on a post-Glasto high. Glastonbury loves him : he’s played there every year since 2007. On July 25th he’s appearing in the bombed out church as part of the Liverpool Calling festival; in August he’s supporting Flogging Molly in Manchester, Leeds and Norwich; in September and October he’s supporting Frank Turner on a massive 30 date American tour; then in November / December he’s the headline act on an 18 date UK tour (and at the Kazimier in Liverpool on November 17th). That’s a seriously hardworking programme for someone who seems so relaxed and easygoing, and who’s been married less than a year.
If you deduce from this that Beans on Toast already has legions of fans, you’d be right (19,000 likes on facebook for starters). This article is long overdue. He’s released six albums already, released every year like clockwork on his birthday, December 1st. And the songs show no sign of drying up : ” I’m always making up new songs. I’m not the greatest guitarist in the world, I play simple three chord folk songs, but if I see something that interests me, something that intrigues or angers me, I pick my guitar up and I write a song.”
The name came about because “I wanted something that was basic, simple, easy and English; something that would reflect my music”. He’s a folk poet. The songs, spoken rather than sung, are observations and comments on life. Their appeal lies in his matter of factness, his manner of telling it as he sees it without preaching, his humour, his easygoing character. The songs are full of little delights and he is well on his way to becoming a national treasure.
These songs are all taken from the latest album, The Grand Scheme of Things.
Beans On Toast – The War on War
a war on drugs ain’t a war worth fighting. What about a war on misunderstanding? What about a war on stupid politicians? What about a war on organised religions? What about a war on war, what about a moment of peace.
Beans On Toast – Folk Singer
I came for a one-handed applause and I stayed because on stage I feel at home
Beans On Toast – A Whole Lot of Loving
We need a spiritual revolution, I believe you Russell Brand, We need food and we need shelter, friends and family at hand, And apart from that we don’t need nothing, except a whole lot of loving
Beans On Toast – The Chicken Song
Well the chicken gonna get their revenge one day you just wait and see they’ll be a giant monster hybred chicken that eats humans for tea
Beans On Toast – Flying Clothes Line
Your mum met your dad and went to Nottingham. My mum did the same and went to Essex. They always stayed in touch while they raised their families and they’d meet up every Christmas.
Noone quite seems sure how to categorise Danny & The Champions Of The World, and that includes their own record label :
“Wilson and his band, Danny & The Champions, spent much of 2014 on the road, playing shows all over the world, the kind of legendary, life-affirming rock and soul revues (with country fringing) that have seduced them a global following …”
I don’t know what vibe that conjures up for you, but it leaves me confused. So what I’d say to you is this : forget anything else you may have read. Now just imagine it’s the early 70s, you’re driving in your Cadillac, and a Motown band is jamming away on the radio, playing some of the finest ballads you never heard before. Songs of love and longing with timeless melodies, georgeous backing vocals, and a saxophone cutting in from time to time to create that big sound. Now you’re beginning to get close to what you might hear on the album What Kind Of Love . Only released this week, the album is one of those rare instant classics.
In fairness I should mention that Danny & The Champs are based in London, they’re all white as you can see, and they’d previously released four studio albums with different musical makeups. On this older track the influences are Americana / country. The song, says Danny, is “a tribute to my folks, my dad’s always been a huge music fan. His first job was keeping the jukebox stocked with the hits back in the 50’s in his folks’ Milk bar in Melbourne, so he can name pretty much any doo wop or R‘n’B hit within the opening bars – a great education… He saw Buddy Holly – now there’s qualifications for you.”
Danny & The Champs don’t write songs to order, or plan out how their next album is going to sound. It all happens naturally and organically from the music they’re all listening to, and from what feels right when they begin writing and recording. On Best Fit Danny’s provided some revealing track by track notes which I’m going to quote from now in case you want anything more to read – but you may prefer simply to listen to these superb songs.
Danny & The Champions of the World – Clear Water
“Every album I’ve made seems to really start moving when a certain song is written … a kind of catalyst that seems to define the feel and approach of the whole process from there on in … Clear Water was that song for this album … it set the tone for everything that went on from that point … This song reminds me of Chairman Of The Board and that makes me very happy.”
Danny & The Champions of the World – Just Be Yourself
“Another one where the backing vocals really blow me away … I was going for a Rod Stewart type of feel on this … with a healthy dash of Van the Man.” The Rod Stewart comparison works for me : a British guy with a great range to his music and while not trying to imitate anyone else able to inject that natural soulfulness that one associates with black American singers.
Danny & The Champions of the World – Thinking About My Friend
“I really love this song … got a real Steely Dan vibe … one of those bands that I couldn’t get into as a younger man but now I can’t get enough of them … a bit like wine and jazz I guess! All of that has started to happen to me … along with an unexplainable love of bric-a-brac and cravats.”
Danny & The Champions of the World – What Kind Of Love
“I love the pedal steel on this track … you don’t hear it much … this blend of country and soul music … I guess without the steel guitar this album would be a pretty straight ahead soul record.”
Anna & Elizabeth make these incredible collages called ‘crankies’ to illustrate their songs : “A crankie is a long scroll placed in a frame … as you sing a ballad or tell a story, the scroll is cranked around so you see one part of the scroll at a time. We make the scrolls together. Some of them are quilted and stitched together, so they’re giant 16-yard collages, basically. It’s all embroidered on. We make them with paper cuts, and we put a light behind them so they can be in silhouette.” Here’s an example. Lord Bateman is an ancient ballad with a very strong storyline and was one of the Child ballads collected by FJ Child.
Elizabeth LaPrelle – Lord Bateman
Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt have both been listening to old-time Appalachian music since they were teenagers. Elizabeth majored in Appalachian traditional performance, while Anna took a few years longer immersing herself in Kentucky music before writing a thesis on it. They met by chance thanks to a broken down car, and bonded immediately. They’re now both 27, they’ve just released their second album simply called Anna & Elizabeth, and on the strength of this they’re among the foremost old-time singers in America. Indeed veteran Alice Gerrard, who guests on the album, says that “these young women follow in the footsteps of many of our idols and mentors who’ve gone before, and they do them proud.”
There are 16 tracks on the album. Instrumentation is sparse : both women play banjo, Anna chips in with fiddle and guitar, Joey Abarta guests on the uilleann pipes. The singing style is also unadorned : no dramatic rise and fall, no big emotional display. It’s not that they’re purposely setting out to sound authentic – after all, they’ve given the songs their own arrangements. These are songs that they have a deep feeling and respect for (on some of them they’ve already spent months making crankies), many of them are ballads that tell stories, and they understand that the point of the performance is to let the stories shine through.
On May 12th Anna and Elizabeth are playing at Liverpool’s Caledonia pub. Come along if you want to see some crankies for yourself …
Anna & Elizabeth – Lovin’ Babe
A tune by roots legend Uncle Dave Macon.
Anna & Elizabeth – Greenwood Sidey
“The Greenwood Sidey is a very dark ballad about a woman who kills her children. She becomes pregnant, she goes into the forest and gives birth, and then kills her children. Then they come back to her as ghosts in the forest and she talks to them. She’s like, ‘What will happen to me now that I’ve killed you?’ and they say, ‘You’re going to spend the rest of your life in hell.’ It’s a very dark, creepy, beautiful song. We wanted to make a crankie that could explore that dark, macabre side of Appalachian music and these old stories.”
Anna & Elizabeth – Voice From On High
Gospel song written by the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe.
Anna & Elizabeth – Orfeo
Another Child ballad. The magical story is based on a medieval romance of which the earliest text is almost 700 years old. The drone effect is created by Joey Abarta’s pipes.
Quebec music never sounded so good.
Last week, Le Vent Du Nord finished a whirlwind UK mini-tour, signing off on facebook with the words “Magnifique semaine en Angleterre qui vient de se terminer!!! A big thank you at Buxton Opera House, Kings Place, E.R.T East Riding Theatre, Salisbury Arts Centre and BBC Radio 3! Full houses and fantastic public! See you this summer! Maintenant, la France!!!” This week they release their 8th album in 12 years, Tetu.
On this short video the band members introduce themselves :
The four band members are all singers and multi-instrumentalists. Theirs is a fresh take on traditional music. So the accordion – an important instrument in Quebec’s music – takes its place alongside guitars and the esoteric hurdy gurdy. Their material is a mix of the traditional and self-written songs, and it’s all brought to life by the energy, attitude and humour that they bring to their performances.
“Pour nous, le Québec est un pays.” : they are passionate supporters of independence. On their previous album the key song Lettre à Durham references Lord Durham, author of a report in 1839 which helped to pave the way for the assimilation of French speaking Canadians into a unified Canadian state. On the song Confédération on Tetu they sing “N’avons jamais signé leur chère constitution. Les Français d’Amérique ont toujours un pays sans nom.”
Le Vent du Nord – Lettre à Durham
On Tetu the band demonstrate an equal adeptness in writing instrumental footstompers and thoughtful songs. It’s never dull, as each number is different, and they breeze through the full set with great enthusiasm. Here’s a few I picked out :
Le Vent du Nord – Amant Volage
Le Vent du Nord – Papineau
Le Vent du Nord – D’Ouest En Est
Le Vent Du Nord – Noces Tragiques (Live at Celtic Connections 2015)
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project is a crowd-funded project focusing on songs recorded by pioneering American folklorist Alan Lomax. Award winning Canadian banjoist Jayme Stone is the man who dreamed up the idea, but he emphasizes that this was a collaborative project which involved a group of talented musicians working together over many months. The group are now in the middle of a lengthy American tour and the album comes out on March 3rd. The CD comes with a 54 page booklet (currently available online) which reflects the amount of care and research that’s gone into choosing the songs.
This year is the centenary of Lomax’s birth : click here to read a tribute by his daughter Anna Lomax Wood. Thanks to his daughter there’s now a vast resource of Lomax material available online, including 15,000 audio recordings spanning half a century. Jayme tells us that ” I’ve also visited the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, where there’s another 15,000 songs that you can listen to on reel-to-reel, as well as original field notes, film footage, interviews and other archival material. It was a powerful feeling to leaf through Alan’s notebook from the day he met Muddy Waters, or to read the irreverent, heartfelt and often hilarious letters that Woody Guthrie wrote to Alan. ”
This isn’t an attempt to preserve the past. The original recordings served as an inspiration and a starting point from which the musicians explored the songs and developed new arrangements and creative ideas.
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Lazy John
One of the few songs written by Lomax himself. With Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage (guitar),
Joe Phillips (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Susan Anna Gal
Lomax’s recording was of Tommy Jarrell : “Tommy played fiddle and banjo in a style of old-time music now known as Round Peak, named after a mountaintop near his home in Toast, North Carolina. He grew up playing with neighbors at local work gatherings—wood choppings, barn raisings, bean stringings and corn shuckings — that would typically end with a dance.” Here we have Eli West (vocals, bouzouki), Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Greg Garrison (bass), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Goodbye, Old Paint
“In 1885, at the age of seven, fiddler Jess Morris learned to sing and play Goodbye, Old Paint on the jew’s harp from Charley Willis, a black cowboy and former slave. Morris went on to recast the song on the fiddle, which he set in the unusual tuning of DADD. John Lomax was so taken with Jess’ inimitable arrangement that he recorded him for the Library of Congress in 1942. Fast-forward to New York, 1948, where Alan invited singer Vera Hall to perform at Columbia University … Alan tested her abilities by singing songs she’d never heard to see how well she could hum them back. Among these was Goodbye, Old Paint, which Vera reflected back in her singular and soulful way. It was this recording that inspired Margaret, some sixty-five years later, to reshape the harmony according to her sensibilities, highlighting the lyric’s underlying sadness. Tim’s signature singing and verse selection brought the song full circle. As Ol’ Jess himself said, ‘Most every cowpoke who sang it added something.'” With Tim O’Brien (vocals, mandolin), Margaret Glaspy (vocals, guitar), Moira Smiley (accordion), Greg Garrison (bass), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Shenandoah
“In May 1939, Alan recorded some thirty-seven deepwater shanties and fo’c’sle songs sung by Captain Richard Maitland who lived at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, a retirement home for sailors, on Staten Island.” Appearing on this Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage (guitar), Joe Phillips (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Moon Bandits are a vegan straightedge folk punk band from LA.
Ooh, that sounds scary – what does it mean ?
Straightedge is a philosophy, born in the punk underground, about living your life according to certain precepts, respecting your body, being selective about what you ingest and generally being conscious and in control of your actions. Moon Bandits don’t believe in doing harm – either to themselves, or to others, or to the planet. They stress that this is a matter of personal choice, and they respect everyone’s right to choose their own way of living. Their music is a reflection of who they are : it’s impassioned, it’s politically conscious, it’s about inspiring people to change themselves and to change the world.
Moon Bandits are Astrid (violin & squeezebox) and Tommy (banjo). On the new album Property Damage : A Love Story , they’re joined by Tiffany (bass), Andrew (washboard) and Rileigh (pure radness). Pay at least $2 for the full album, or for $5 you can get a 30 page zine thrown in which contains “some cool art as well as lyrics and song explanations by us and several of our friends”. They say they worked just as hard on the zine as on the album, which is impressive, because the album is [expletive deleted] brilliant.
Moon Bandits – It’s Gonna Roll
I’ve been spending most my life looking for something true, you know. And it aint in plastic shrink wrap wrapper or a bigger home. I’ve been looking for answers, aint quite sure they exist, like why we trade in paradise for trinkets and credit slips.
Moon Bandits – Right in my own Life
We’re not gonna change the world in a day, I don’t honestly expect to change anything half the time. But if I refuse to do anything well, I don’t think I can live with myself that way.
Moon Bandits – We Ain’t Lazy
They’ll tell you you’re lazy if you’re sick of their shit, better get with the game its America you prick. If you’re sick of making money for those you hate, show up at their doors with mobs at their gates.
Moon Bandits – Sea to see
And the ocean vast as it is will be destroyed by greedy trolls. Whales wash up on the beaches trash filled bellies and souls. Dolphins snared in nets so we can watch them perform. Orca whales as another babies taken when it’s born.
Moon Bandits – Property Damage – A Love Song
This song’s about deforestation, and incarceration, progress in the name of masturbation. It’s the lies that they told you as a kid so you could sleep at night. And these bastards have homes. Yeah, these fucks have faces. Most have yachts and acres, own jets and public spaces.
You may want to suspend judgement until you’ve listened to the music of C.W. Stoneking. For he can do this – at a lot more besides.
The son of American parents who emigrated to Australia in 1972, CW played in rock bands at high school, but “ended up with all these old dudes, busking, playing blues and stuff.” He immersed himself in old acoustic blues and early 20th century music while playing outback bars either solo or with his band The Blue Tits. A couple of albums were self-released in the late 90s, but it all started to happen for him with the release of three albums of original material : King Hokum (2005), Jungle Blues (2008) and Gon’ Boogaloo (2014).
The albums and gigs were off the wall, edgy, funny. CW played on the retro theme, dressing up in white suits and introducing his songs with colourful tall stories. But what drew audiences most of all was the music. It was unlike what anyone else was doing, and for all the gritty lo-fi production values it was obvious that this was a band with a deep knowledge and love of old-time music, who’d put a lot of care into their songs. On Jungle Blues CW accompanies himself on banjo and acoustic guitar while backing band the Primitive Horn Orchestra give some of the songs a Dixieland flavour. The jungle-themed album is full of unexpected delights :
CW Stoneking – Jungle Blues
CW Stoneking – Jungle Lullaby
Gon’ Boogaloo took a long time in its gestation because “I was tryin’ very hard to make something different but it takes me a long time to be getting’ where I want to be … the more time you take the more stuff leaks in and definitely you can penetrate ideas and styles and small pieces that make up the rekkid.” Out went the banjo and the horn players, in came the electric guitar, in came female backing singers. The album was finally recorded live over a couple of days using just two mics and 2-track tape machine, with the band shuffling around in the small studio to achieve the right mix of sound. The result is an album that’s elemental and stripped back – and stylistically very varied. For me, it evokes the 1950s rather than the 20s or 30s : the moment in history when blues music became more about the rhythm, and R&B and rock’n’roll were born.
CW Stoneking – How Long
CW Stoneking – Zombie
CW Stoneking – The Thing I Done
CW Stoneking – Mama Got The Blues