Issue 31 1/2006

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Bollywood Brass Band "Movie Masala"
Label: Own; No. BOLL CD 2004; 2004; Playing time: 43.35 plus bonus CD 37.55 min
Bollywood Brass Band is a unique London based brass band playing Indian film music, combining musicians with Indian background with English ones, giving the Bollywood music a bit more of a European flair and attraction. On their latest CD the band celebrates 50 years of hits from Bollywood, the Indian film world. They chose 9 songs which they feel have been among the greatest of the last 50 years, and give them their usual Bollywood Brass Band treatment - interesting and exciting arrangements around their brass section, with plenty of percussion. The result is, as per usual, a lot of groove and wildness, along with impressive hymns. As a bonus, the band has added this time a whole second CD with remixes, by Temple of Sound and Future World Funk. These remixes always keep the unique Bollywood Brass Band feeling, but I have to admit that I prefer the "real" BBB. This double album is once again of high quality, although I personally was more impressed by BBB's previous album, featuring music from A.R.Rahman - the tunes somehow do more appeal to me.
I found that on both CDs there are a lot of tunes which are usually played - in a lot poorer quality - in the local Indian restaurants, showing that these are more the Bollywood classics. May I suggest that a good promotion activitiy would be to send this CD to all Indian restaurants in the UK (and in particular to my local ones!) to replace the mellow piped music there - this would add so much to the Indian curry experience!
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Michael Moll

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana "Lune"
Label: Felmay; No. ISBN 21-750-8089-7; 2005; Playing time: 52.13 min
Another offering from the excellent Italian Banditaliana. Riccardo Tesi is an extraordinary accordion player and composer, and with his Banditaliana he delivers a highly attractive blend of original songs and tunes, Italian folk and world and jazz influences. His Banditaliana has remained the same, with singer and guitarist Maurizio Geri, saxophonist Claudio Carboni and percussionist Ettore Bonafè. On "Lune" you will find the typical Baditaliana songs and tunes, lively and in full swing. Some of them have this time a bit more of a world edge to them (e.g. parts of "Lune" and the tune "Macedonia"), other are more chanson-like. All have a lot of flair. While most of the songs are sung by Maurizio Geri, one song features the beautiful voice of Ginevra di Marco.
The final two titles on the CD are remixes of previously recorded numbers - to fill up the CD or as bonus tracks, whichever way you want to see it. These are the song "Maggio", a Banditaliana classic, and the tune Tevakh. The remixes don't do it for me, thus the CD stops for me after title number 10.
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Michael Moll

Briganthya "viaje de bruxas"
Label: Own; 2005; Playing time: 45.14 min
The Basque folk music scene has given us Kepa Junkera and Oskorri, but other then these no Basque have really made it onto the international folk music scene. This might be bound to change, with two impressive folk rock releases reviewed in this issue (see also Kukuma review below).
Briganthya are an impressive young Basque folk rock band, with an excellent and charismatic singer, Laura Latienda with her pop style voice. The songs are all in Basque and are very catchy, presenting a perfect marrying of pop/soft rock songs with folk music themes. The song style reminds me of the French folk rockers Glaz. The other element of Briganthya's musical universe are folk rock instrumentals, usually either in a typical Celtic folk rock style or focussed on the Basque accordion style à la Kepa Junkera. The number of band members totals to a substantial 10, and the most significant and distinctive instruments in the band's sound are Basque accordion, the unique Basque Txalaparta percussion, Gaita (Spanish bagpipes), piano, fiddle, bass, electric guitar, drums. The band is joined for part of the album also by the musicians of the popular Galician band Luar na Lubre.
The band clearly has found their niche and concept - the combination of pop songs and Basque and Celtic folk rock tune is very strong, and no doubt the songs have very high radio appeal. The CD has been published by the band itself,yet looks very professional, with an attractive cover design and full sleeve notes (however only in Basque and Spanish).
This is a most exciting folk rock album, which has every potential to find a large international audience. One to watch out for!
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Michael Moll

Kukuma "Kukuma"
Label: Elkarlanean; No. KD-669; 2004; Playing time: 42.33 min
Innovative distinctively Basque world music. Kukuma offer an eclectic blend of music styles - within the 11 titles of this album, I discovered Samba, Eastern European, Cajun, African and Celtic influences, but always felt that there was a distinctive Basque feeling about the music. There is also a bit of punk, rock, a pop ballad with a samba flair, a Galican gaita tune, and also quite a bit of the typical Basque accordion music..
Instrumentally, Kukuma features the Basque accordeon, Galician gaita and uilleann pipes, percussion and drums and guitars. All material is original; the focus is on songs in Basque language, which sometimes do not sound Basque at all with all their influcences. There is one song (Ezusteko arrantza) which sounds to me like noise, but apart from that I did find all titles appealing.
This is one of those albums where each title awaits with a new surprise, and where you never quite know where it will take you to. The CD has the feeling of a concept album, trying out a lot of things, without deciding on one style. But what is being created is exciting. I shall be interested to see what their next CD is like.
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Michael Moll

Eric Eid-Reiner "Grand Tour: Traditional Music on Piano"
Label: Late Nite Productions; No. 005; 2005; Playing time: 72.35 min
Eric Rid-Reiner is a talented pianist from Massachusetts. At only 15 years of age, he presents here his debut. While the album is entitled "Traditional Music on Piano", it features additional to a range of traditional folk music - Irish, Cape Breton, French Canadian, Jewish - also Bluegrass, Jazz and Ragtime. I feel that it would have been better to stick to the traditional music - the range of music is a bit too wide. I feel that the Jazz classics, e.g. Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer", feel a bit out of place between the traditional tunes. Similarly, the bluegrass tunes do not quite work. Maybe it would have been wise to be more selective, rather than filling the album up to 72 minutes. The other thing I have to note is that the quality of the fiddle playing on some tunes, by Eric's dad and brother, does not have quite the same standard as Eric's excellent piano playing.
No doubt Eric has every potential to make himself a name as folk piano player.
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Michael Moll

Lister "Cold Start"
Label: Own; No. 002; 2004; Playing time: 57.04 min
A dutch quartet playing mainly Eastern European influenced music. The band features accordion, bass guitar, violin and electric guitar/baglama. The material is a combination of traditional tunes, usual Eastern European, and own compositions, with the odd Celtic contribution. While the melody instruments accordion and violin are overall not bad, I got quickly irritated by the dominance of electric guitar and bass guitar, making every tune sound the same. It actually also results in a cold sound - is that where the title of the CD comes from?
Shame, as I did quite enjoy the chosen material, and also the original material is overall not bad.
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Michael Moll

Rick Lee: “Look What Thoughts Will Do”
Label: Swift River Music (SRMCD101); 2005; Playing time: 55.38 min

Here is a man with a voice that is warm enough to fry eggs on. This is also a guy who has lived more than a bit, and is now approaching the veteran stage.
Now, I ask you to put these two facts together. And this is what you will get: an immensely pleasurable album that exudes a sort of folksy wisdom. Note I said “folksy wisdom” [good], not “folksy whimsy” [bad].
Above all, I like his eclecticism. Judging from this CD, nearest to his heart seems to be the traditional ballad from the British Isles. But hot on its heels comes a love of country artists like Lefty Frizzell and the Louvin Brothers; relatively recently deceased folk icons like Richard Fariña and Kate Wolf, and ace contemporary songwriter Bill “Country Roads” Danoff (here represented with a fine song of his – co-written with autoharp virtuoso Bryan Bowers).
The Lee voice has a very special DNA. I guess if some boffin could cross the voice of Johnny Cash with Burl Ives, then Rick Lee would be the result. And this great voice is backed by some consummate musicianship.
If I had to pick out one musician then it would have to be Hal Rugg on dobro and pedal steel. His work on the best track on the album (Kate Wolf’s “Sweet Love”) is nothing short of sublime.
An album I intend to keep and play. And not send to the charity shop.
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Dai Woosnam

Ron Lindsay: “Americelt Union”
Label: Americelt Records (no number); 2005; Playing time: 47.15 min

Ron Lindsay is a new name to me. But that said, he is not some new kid on the block. He has been around a while and has paid his dues.
He pulled out of the singer-songwriter role in 1980, and turned his back on it. But some 20 years later, a chance meeting with producer John Wooler (a man with 26 Grammy nominations under his belt!) got the career back ontrack.
And here is the album that has resulted. And very good it is. Several things jump out at one from the getgo: perhaps foremost is the fact that Ron has put most of his own songs on the backburner. Instead, 10 of the 12 songs are by other people, mostly famous contemporary writers.
Now this I find commendable. Far too many singer-songwriters insist on giving you an album of exclusively their own compositions: with the result that the albums have too many makeweight numbers that are not really cutting the mustard.
Instead, Lindsay just gives us two songs from his pen. And pretty good they are, though that said Ron, if I were you, I would not apply for a job as a lecturer in Scottish political history! (“Where the Eagle is King” is not about a Scotland that I know!)
Lindsay has surrounded himself with some very tasty musicians and backing singers and come up with a very creditable CD (recorded in the Steakhouse Studios in Los Angeles).
My favourite cut is his version of Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely”. And this is what I love about it: he puts his own stamp on it. (One cannot always say this for the other tracks: his “When I’m Dead and Gone” is phrase-for-phrase pure Gallagher & Lyle.)
But that Orbison song is sung in his own voice: and what a sweet voice he has. I look forward to hearing more from Ron Lindsay in this vein.
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Dai Woosnam

Scuttlebut: “Tall Ships”
Label: Soundside (SB01); 2000; Playing time: 69.58 min
They always used to say that real film fans preferred to see films in black and white, because such films were more COLORFUL. And it is that thought that is foremost in my mind having listened three times all the way through to this CD.
What a joy it is! Scuttlebutt is three American folk performers (augmented by two guests) who play sea shanties. Note I said “play”. Not “sing”. And that is their USP (unique selling point) it seems to me.
And play these tunes wonderfully well, to boot. With perfect good taste always to the fore. I cannot recall when I last heard a solely instrumental CD that gave me more pleasure. And not just “pleasure” in the HAPPY sense. Some of it really tears at your heartstrings: I defy you to hear their exquisitely plaintive “Shenandoah” which segues into “The Water is Wide” without tears running down your cheeks.
Buy this album. And if you are a shanty singer manqué, without the nerve to sing in your local folk club, let it be like a kind of karaoke machine for you, and sing along, in the privacy of your home.
I tell you this: you will not get better accompaniment.
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Dai Woosnam

Janis Haves: “Big Front Door”
Label: Own; No.; 2005; Playing time: 39 mins, 23 secs
The thing that strikes me about this album is that it is ideal material for consideration should they be wanting to bury a capsule that incorporated all that is quintessentially ENGLISH in 2005. Note that I said “English” and not “British”.
Janis has a pleasant warm voice that seems blissfully unmannered. And Praise God she is not singing in an English regional accent (about three notches up from the regional accent in which that performer would SPEAK!): but rather in RP (“Received Pronunciation”) English with diction that thus makes her splendidly readable lyrics (in white on charcoal grey in the liner booklet) a bit superfluous.
Janis and husband/producer Geoff Haves have built a solid reputation these past few years as performers. She has one of those sweet fragile voices: just like an English version of Irish songstress, Dana. Janis is a former staff writer of potential hit records at the famous Rockfield Studios in Monmouth. And it shows.
My favourite track is her opener. “Gwendoline” evokes the memory of her singing teacher. You might think it too personal a song for other artistes to pick up on: but no. It does not matter that you or I did not have a singing teacher called by this name: we can all relate to it. She marvellously evokes the kind of memory we ALL had as kids of certain people in our life. A mixture of love, respect and – yes, a little – FEAR too! I certainly felt just the same way about the lady who taught me piano as a small boy, and I am sure I would get much the same sensations should I return to her house today after half a century.
There is a commercial aspect to the sound of her songs: they all are knocking at the door of instant memorability (essential if one’s writing pop songs). Of course Janis will say that these songs (aimed incidentally at the memory of several now-deceased women who had made an impact on her life) are the very antithesis of pop. And of course they are: but that said, her knowledge that the HOOK is everything in pop, never leaves her. So “Waiting For Jesus” (a very serious song) has the catchiest of choruses.
She won’t thank me for saying that I see her voice as more Lynsey De Paul than Joan Baez! (Yes, dig myself out of THAT one! Well actually, I don’t have to: Lynsey De Paul was a very tuneful singer!)
But what the heck! Janis is NATURAL. She is sweet and a breath of fresh air.
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Dai Woosnam

Belinda O’Hooley: “Music Is My Silence”
Label: RabbleRouser Music (RR001); 2005; Playing time: 51mins, 40 secs.
I came at this CD blissfully ignorant. After playing it through the once, I then read the accompanying notes (I always play review copies three times, but only read notes AFTER the first playing, as I always want my first listening to be totally free from preconceived notions); and on reading the notes, I discovered that in 2001 Belinda had won the massively popular British television programme “Stars In Their Eyes” with her impression of Eurythmics diva Annie Lennox.
Now, seeing as I am the only person I know who never looks in at this light entertainment programme, it is conceivable that I am one of only a few people in Britain who had never heard of her!
But now, 51 minutes X3 later, am I glad that I finally got around to hearing her voice? You bet. She is a seriously accomplished singer. (One can hear - in that voice of hers - Annie Lennox bursting out at regular intervals.)
But one suspects that it is as a SONGWRITER she really wants to be taken seriously. And these ten self-penned songs put down an impressive marker. With subject matter running the gamut, and melody and instrumentation avoiding the obvious, the songs draw you in and like a good novel keep you turning the page.
That said, I think none of the songs are destined to become “standards” amongst floorsingers in folk clubs. They have just too much of the nighttime cabaret singer about them. One can imagine Marianne Faithfull or Jane Birkin delivering them.
The opening and closing tracks have more than a touch of the avant garde about them. They make you check if you have your ears on wrong, and this can be no bad thing.
My favourite cut is track 3 “Moon Over Water”. Belinda’s voice and Rachel Unthank’s cello blend so naturally.
One senses that this is the first of several albums that will come from this lady in the years ahead. She has obvious talent, and will not be a “one album wonder”! But it is whether these albums will be a bit more mainstream will be the interesting question. No artist can be too far ahead of their market (not if they still want to pay their mortgage that is!)
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Dai Woosnam

Brendan Devereux: “Songs From A Yellow Chair”
Label: Sitric Records(SITCD02); 2005; Playing time: 42 mins, 57 secs.

I get to review a lot of CDs. It is part and parcel of the times we live in.
Just as I came of age in the late 60s at a time when anyone with a half-decent chemistry set could produce hallucinogenic tablets in their back bedroom, so it is that in the Noughties, recording equipment has come on leaps and bounds, and so it is that folk performers can now produce albums with close on “studio fidelity” without ever leaving their house.
Now this has proved a mixed blessing. Sure it’s great for the creative process, but it has meant that a plethora of folkies have produced albums, when in truth they only had an EP in them.
And to my shame, when I picked up Brendan’s CD, I foolishly thought it one from what I call my “produced in a bedsitting room” pile! How wrong I was.
From the getgo, I could tell that this had such a crisp sound that it just MUST have come from a recording studio. And on investigating the sleeve, I noted that it had come from a set-up just celebrating its 20th anniversary: the prestigious Westland Studios in Lombard Street, Dublin 2. He doesn’t do things by half, does our Brendan.I then discover that in 1996 he had released a previous LP called “Copper Alley”. Where has he been hiding himself? How come I never heard of him?
And having listened to this CD several times, I have to tell you that whilst Brendan’s diction is a bit of an acquired taste (mid Atlantic vowel sounds laid over a spectacularly unadulterated Irish accent… just listen to the way he several times pronounces the word “think” on track 7 “Deadman’s Tale” and track 8 “Beyond The Blue”! Just charming!), his singing always engages and his guitar work always commands one’s attention. But best of all, his songwriting avoids the cliché and covers an impressive range of subjects.
There is one song on this album that has all the chances of becoming a classic. A standard in folk clubs everywhere. It appears early-on in the CD. It really made me sit up and take notice. “Dromin” is a song for all of us who are unlucky in love, and Brendan delivers it with real passion. He is aided here (as he is throughout) by truly superb fiddle accompaniment from Fionnula Devereux. Who she? Sister, wife…mother?
I think we should be told. Indeed that is a fault of this album: no liner notes.
Okay, we do not need the lyrics printing (Brendan’s diction is so clear as to obviate the need for written lyrics), but as sure as heck we could be given some bio details on the musicians, and maybe some information on what prompted certain songs. Look, my friend: you wisely hired a fine studio. No need to penny pinch on the liner booklet.
Now as I sign off from this review, I think I will play “Bohemian Cowboy” for the fifth time. It won’t have the legs of “Dromin”, but it sure is a nice cut.
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Dai Woosnam

Jenny & Martin Schaub: “Kite high”
Label: West of Music; (WOMCD5); 2004; Playing time: 41 mins, 06 secs.
What would happen if you crossed the voice of Judy Collins with that of Alison Krauss? Well, apart from receiving the inevitable reproach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, you’d end up with a thing of joy. A voice that is the hybrid of the two: a voice that is Jenny Schaub’s.
She and Martin are members of the Swedish group “West of Eden”, but here they perform as a duo. And what a revelation this album is. A blissful surprise that fair bowled me over. WEST of Eden these two ain’t. More like this is music from the centre of paradise: the Garden of Eden itself.
I normally play review copies of CDs three times: this one in contrast has had at least a dozen plays. I am deeply taken with it. It came to me from left field: that so often is the source of the albums that win my heart. Shotgun marriages don’t work with music. When the big publicity machine hails a new CD with fireworks to herald its release date, you can be sure they’ll have got my back up. And (subconsciously, you understand) I will be determined NOT to like it.
But here, it was love at first sight…or rather hearing. Jenny Schaub is a singer who exudes warmth, as indeed does Martin (though he takes more of a back seat with the vocals, and concentrates on his exquisite guitar accompaniment). The songs are partly Irish traditional, and partly written by Martin and sometimes by Martin/Jenny. Seven of the tracks were recorded in Limerick, with some stellar names from the Irish folk scene lending a hand.
Every track pays its rent on the album. There are no squatters here. And despite the fine traditional songs they have chosen, the masterpiece on the album is a song written by Martin. “New Year’s Prayer” written in an elegiac minor key, but not remotely a downer! Au contraire, it is a life-enhancing little song. Check the lyrics on their website – In fact the website makes up for a paucity of info on the CD itself: what passes in the jewel box for “liner notes”, actually barely pass muster.
But a piffling criticism, methinks. This is a very fine album indeed.
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Dai Woosnam

Kieran Kane & Kevin Welch (with Fats Kaplin) “You Can’t Save Everybody”
Label: Compass Records; (4385); 2004; Playing time: 42 mins, 03 secs.

Kane and Welch have toured together on-and-ff for a few years now. But this is the first time these two fine performers and decent songwriters have got into the recording studio to lay down an album where they share the vocal and the writing credits. Fats Kaplin complements the duo’s own not-inconsiderable mastery of their acoustic instruments
So they finally made it into the recording studio together! Not before time, I reckon, on the strength of three listenings to this CD. They have produced an atmospheric anthem to the American blue collar worker wherever he works (or LOOKS for work) in that big and varied country.
To this British ear, it sounds very much the real thing. Although produced in Nashville, the CD is commendably earthy and eschews the glib chocolate boxy sound that seems to have permeated the scene there in the last dozen years.
Kieran Kane/Sean Locke’s “Callin’ Me” really made me sit up and listen hard, but it was the following track – with a melody almost straight out of the Moody and Sankey Sacred Songbook – that really made the greatest impression on me. “Till I’m Too Old To Die Young” proved irresistible. It was nearly caught on the rails though by the final track, “A Prayer Like Any Other”, a song that has more than a touch of the John Prines about it. It maybe lacks some of his flourish with a lyric, but it makes up for that with its patent sincerity.
To sum up then: this is an album that whilst not a masterpiece, still contains a serious body of work.
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Dai Woosnam

Various Artistes (showcase): “Girls With Guitars, London”
Label: Girls With Guitars;(Egham Records) 2004; Playing time: 50 mins, 23 secs.

This is a trailer CD showcasing the talent of six UK female singer-songwiters/guitarists. They are performers of varying abilities and also artistes who have achieved varying levels of audience awareness.
“Girls With Guitars” is an international female singer / songwriters group. It had its origins in Nashville 9 years ago. The London branch opened in 2003 and is organised by ex-Nashvillean Jae Avery and runs monthly showcases at the Porter House, Covent Garden.
All the core members of the group are featured on the “Girls With Guitars” web site, which can be found at www. girlswithguitars. co. uk and are featured regularly at the showcases.
Here 6 of the leading lights sing two songs each. Jae Avery kicks off with an authoritative performance that sets the standard for what is to follow. All six artistes seem worthy of an album of their own, and although it is perhaps invidious to pick out one or two, I feel compelled to say that Carrie Lennard (who comes from west London) just oozes class, and Silvia Rox has a foxy quality to the voice that makes me suspect she could successfully cross over to the mainstream pop market and make lots of money. But I am sure that is the furthest thing from her thinking!
I think them all better performers than writers. None of their songs seem destined to be covered by their peers. But that said, every song on this CD is at very least workmanlike and worthy of respect for the effort involved in the creation.
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Dai Woosnam

Rosalie Sorrels: “My last go round”
Label: Red House Records; (RHR CD 167); 2004; Playing time: 59 mins, 22 secs.
Rosalie was born in 1933, and this album is a recording of her farewell concert 69 years later in March 2002. And what a wonderfully warm hour’s listening it presents!
Rosalie Sorrels is a woman who has known and sang with many of the leading lights on the American folk scene in over 4 decades. She is something of an icon to the American folkie. A solid singer and (especially) a storyteller of note. Here in Britain it is fair to say that she is only known to the Folk cognoscenti: and then, only those of more mature years. (The fact she is not a household name to the British folk audience, is their loss.)
How I wish they could all hear this album. Oh sure, she had some stellar names join her on stage that night, in the Sanders Theater at Harvard University: Christine Lavin, Jean Ritchie, Peggy Seeger, Patrick Sky and Loudon Wainwright lll. But had she just appeared with her glorious guitarist Mitch Greenhill, she’d still have had the audience hollering for more (if “holler” is quite the right word for an audience at Harvard!)
She sings some of her own songs and really shows that she is a gifted writer. But even more telling are her versions of the fine songs of her dear friend Bruce “Utah” Phillips. His song to the then recently departed Dave Van Ronk, “I Think of You” perhaps steals the album (well the sublime acoustic guitar of Mitch Greenhill helps!), but the album finishes with one contender for “best song” after another.
First, a moving Peggy Seeger ballad, then a song unknown to me by Larry Penn called “Rondinelli’s Castle”. This song straight out of the school of Dory Previn charmed me to bits (this time with Greenhill dazzling on electric guitar), and then that was almost trumped by a quirky little number called “Wind Chimes” which writer Christine Lavin delivered with real brio, and had me laughing out loud. Then a Joe Dolce song that had its feet commendably on the ground.
The time just flies. Before you know it, the hour is up. And you’d like another, but are thankful for what you’ve had.
Farewell concerts are seldom so splendidly memorable as this one methinks. The CD really does justice to a seminal figure of the American folk scene, and if you have nothing in your CD collection by her, this will plug a gap that really should be filled if you have any serious desire to be a bona fide student of the Folk scene on both sides of the Pond.
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Dai Woosnam

Dr. Max: "Logarhythms"
Label: Private, no cat. number; 2004; Playing time: 58 mins, 17 secs.

Every so often you get an album for review that you so WANT to be able to write good things about. Oh for sure, one does not want to slate anyone’s work: but let’s admit that there are so many albums that one tries to find the glass half full (rather than empty), but having written one’s review realise that you are left with no warm feeling as a reviewer.
Now this was a curious album. Max van de Kamp whose work this is, strikes me as a thoroughly decent fellow. Where do I get that from? Well, you can TELL somehow, in the liner notes in the letter that accompanies the CD for review: and I am rarely wrong.
And even if he wasn’t, one would have to admire the sheer amount of work he has put into the making of this CD, with his faithful 4-track cassette recorder in his (then) Toulouse apartment. And one admires his clear musicianship and multi-instrumental virtuosity, as he dubbed layer over layer.
And at the end of it all he also presented us a very handsomely produced set of lyrics in the liner booklet. So I so wanted to love this CD.
Alas I could not. But I respected it: and I guess Max should not be too disappointed since I occasionally get review CDs that I cannot respect.
So why did I not like it more? Was it his singing voice? No. I’d say that he has a voice like the guy in your local folk club: perfectly adequate, without having any special DNA.
No, it was the material. One longed for strong songs. We only got one: Jacques Brel’s powerful “Port of Amsterdam”, which he delivered in a thoughtful and (deliberately?) less impassioned way than that used by the Belgian master, in those glorious days when he used to use crescendo so memorably and end up HOLLERING those words out.
There is a brave attempt at freeing us from the Muzak-fodder that a once interesting song like “Ride On” has become, and Max makes some changes including (slightly) the words: it becomes in his hands “Drive On”. Alas Max, your version will not LIVE on!
Oh, I nearly forgot: there is a creditable version of that old favourite “Lanigan’s Ball”. And it was also great for this British reviewer to read the lyric sheet as Max sang in Dutch at motor-cycle speed. Not for nothing do us Brits talk about “Double DUTCH” as being our idea of the incomprehensible!
So I end this piece by saying that this is a CD really for Max’s fans. I wish both it and him well.
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Dai Woosnam

Shannon Saunders & The Splinters: "Cold November"
Label:None; SAS20042; 2003; Playing time: 40 mins, 38 secs.
Shannon was a new name to this British reviewer, but on the strength of this album, one I am happy to become acquainted with. She has a warm and pleasant voice, and she can handle a song lyric with real intelligence. Backed, as she is here, by some very tasty musicians, this bluegrass album manages to deliver the goods.
But, that said, one felt that it could have delivered a whole lot more. It had everything going for it: some of the best studio engineering in British Columbia produced a fabulously clean and crisp sound. But in the final analysis it fell down on the last hurdle: the material.
Look. You can have the best musicians in the business to back you: the best guys to do the mixing and the mastering; you can get well-produced liner lyrics. But you cannot make bricks without straw.
In the final analysis, what is the point of checking you can jump all the hurdles when you know full well that the last one (song quality) will bring you down? Shannon is a fine performer, but on the strength of this CD, just an adequate song writer.
And the best chefs should only work with the best ingredients.
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Dai Woosnam

Plethyn: "Best of the rest on CD"
Label: Sain; SCD2437; 2004; Double CD; Playing time: 50.19 min and 50.46 min
I started my last review of a Plethyn album with the following words: ‘Plethyn have long been one of the glories of Wales. This trio performed in public for the last time some 5 years ago, after having been going strong since the late Seventies. They had built a massive reputation in their native country, especially amongst their Welsh-speaking compatriots. Then, in 2003, after the five year absence, they returned to the recording studio to produce this “best of” collection. Eleven of the 18 tracks were specially re-recorded for the album.’
Well, those words of a year ago from my review of their “goreuon” album still hold true today and work well as an introductory paragraph to my review of this double CD. All the songs are proudly and unashamedly in the Welsh language. Most of the songs are traditional Welsh songs, but there is the occasional translation of an English-language number (e.g. “Wild Mountain Thyme”) and there are a few contemporary pieces (chiefly members of the group performing self-penned efforts).
The typical Plethyn recipe is here: gorgeous harmonies, passionate lead vocals, and fine self accompaniment (augmented by some tasty work from well known local musicians). None of the tracks grated, and it was pleasant listening from start to finish. And despite the fact that the tracks here are culled from 5 albums recorded between 1979 and 1987, Sain make their usual excellent job in production terms. It is as clean as a whistle and if there were recording variations between the 5 albums, well all I can say is that they make a fine job of making that non-apparent.
If I am to be brutally honest though, I would say that this is a double set that is really only for true Plethyn fans. Whereas by contrast, their magnificent “goreuon” has almost been worn out by my constant play. There every track pays its rent on the album: here one or two – though well performed – do not quite cut the mustard in their melodic impact.
But that said, I wish this double set a fair wind.
Contact to label:
Dai Woosnam

The pickPocket ensemble: "Fingerpainting in Red Wine"
Label: Odd Shaped Case Records; OSC 1008-2; 2004; Playing time: 42 mins, 27 secs.
The pickPocket ensemble consists of composer Rick Corrigan on accordion, Marguerite Ostrovski on violin, Tim Fox on guitar, Greg Kehret on bass, and Katja Cooper on percussion.
This is the fourth album from a band who clearly specialise in those dreamy meditative albums so beloved of the likes of Bob Salmieri and his Milagro Acoustico. They are a group of musicians who constantly strive to think outside the square, and more importantly make us the listener realise that the brain is a muscle … and just like any other muscle, we use it or we lose it. The band's meditative sound has been described as "cafe music without borders." That is not such an accurate description, even if it does SOUND impressive. Truth is that you would be hard-pressed the world over to find café music of this quality! More pertinently, someone made this brilliant observation “ It can't be characterized as folk music, yet people of many different ethnic backgrounds... hear the music of their homeland when they hear the pickPocket ensemble”. YES! Absolutely spot-on.
The pickPocket ensemble have been described as “making music at the [world’s] crossroads”. This again is neatly observant. For their myriad influences manifest themselves in every other bar. They have I’d guess been inspired by many world folk and instrumental traditions, from Roma to Balkan, to North African music of the Souk and the Casbah, to Klezmer, to Contemporary Classical, to Swing, and French Musette.
The album is seriously HYPNOTIC. The stand out cut is the 10 minute and 23 seconds long third track, “The Serpent Cure”. This features some sensationally good clarinet playing from Peter Jacques, who is not a band member. My advice to the ensemble is to sign that man up for immediate group membership please.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Dai Woosnam

Neil Macdonald Thomson: "Common Ground"
Label: Ardura Music; 452002; 2001
This is the third album by this Scots singer-songwriter. It is an album that has its moments.
He is clearly a performer of some substance. His opening track has vocals that would do justice to Jez Lowe, and the total instrumental sound would also not be far behind that of the Bad Pennies. The performance aspect of this CD is top-class.
Where the album falls short is in the material. He is a competent songwriter, but on the evidence of this, his own songs will not be covered by other performers on the Folk Circuit. There is only one real quality song and that is the old favourite “The Old Armchair”. This he delivers with brio. It made me wonder just how good this album could have been had Neil raided the Music Hall archives.
I see he has a penchant for putting other people’s poems to music. And he is pretty good at it. Trouble is that they are not really the right poems. He says in the well-produced liner notes words to the effect that various poems so impressed him that he felt compelled to set them to music.
Now, hold on Neil! That is not the way to do it. Some poems will never be song lyrics: you can try until the cows come home. And if he doubts me, ask Country Joe McDonald. He once made an LP of the splendid poems of Robert W. Service (I have the album on my shelf), and not one poem made a half-decent song. I have played the LP twice in about 27 years!
But you are on to something, my friend. You show talent in this department. Just look for poems that have the FEEL of a potential song-lyric about them.
Contact to label:

Dai Woosnam

Rik Barron: "The Quiet Faith of Man"
Label: Odd Sock (via CDBaby [US] and Barndance [EU]); Pro 105; 2003; Playing time: 33 mins, 28 secs.

Rik Barron is a multi-instrumentalist with a fine rich baritone voice. His delivery is straight and uncomplicated. If someone told me that he had sat at the feet of John Stewart, then I should not be surprised.
Here we have a variety of traditional and contemporary material. Songwriters include Cape Breton Island's, Duncan Wells and Newfoundland's Trad/Rock pioneer, Dave Panting. The latter incidentally, performs with aplomb in his roles as multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist on this album
Rik has toured throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. With stronger songs he could well find the breakthrough album in all those countries. For sure the quality of the voice, the instrumentation and the album production are all first-rate.
I mention the songs on this album: truth is that they are all very decent efforts. None of them caused me to grind my teeth. But only one stood out as really worthy of the combined talents: a mini-masterpiece called “No Place For Children” by Daniel Masters of Staten Island, NY. I thank Rik for putting it my way. He tells us in the not-too-easy-on-the-eye CD notes, that the song won the prestigious Woody Guthrie Festival song-writing competition in 2000. This festival is held every July in Woody’s old home town of Okemah, Oklahoma.
Well, I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of Masters, but clearly that was my loss. It is a quite magnificent song. It stands out head, shoulders and torso over any other song on the CD. And it’s a CD by the way, that is not exactly overlong, at a measly 33 minutes!
Let’s have more for our money next time please Rik.
Homepage of the artist:
Dai Woosnam

Seamus Gavin & The Ocrastra: "Justice"
Label: Ocrasata; unnumbered; 2004
A cynic might say that this is a decidedly inapposite album title given that Seamus Gavin is a lawyer by trade. After all, since when have lawyers been about “getting justice”? They are surely about “winning cases”, and justice can more-often-than-not, “go hang”!
However, it becomes apparent from this CD that Gavin is a rare breed: a lawyer with a conscience. And that conscience is all over this CD in spades.
And it has to be said that the album is none the worse for his inability to sit on the fence. This is a bloke who clearly sings what is in his heart and soul: there are no deliberately artful songs here where the songwriter’s “first person” viewpoint is that of a character in the song, and thus at variance with what the songwriter actually feels himself. No, I think Gavin would think that course was really for wimps.
The album runs the gamut in subject matter, but has justice (or often rather, FAILURES to get justice) as a theme. All the words and almost all the music is by Gavin, and the latter is very well played by the Ocrastra (or “Ochrastra”, if you are to believe some of the PR material accompanying my review copy of this CD: they cannot make their minds up on the spelling). Also there are rather good sound effects occasionally woven in.
Gavin clearly brings to the recording studio the same passion he displays in the Courts: and I must say that I find his brio engaging. The songs are well constructed and often use rhyme and scansion, but do not really grab me as SONGS. The stories (and the pictures they conjure up), well, that is a different matter. I salute Sean Gavin for his courage in writing about subjects that are often off most songwriters’ radar.
When I got to track 9, I had a déjà vu experience. I thought for a moment I was losing the plot: surely I had heard this song recently? (I had just minutes before come back from the 4-day Cleethorpes Folk Festival. It must have been there.)
No, it was just 25 minutes earlier. Track 9 is just a shortened and slightly different version of track 3. A rum affair this: one that clearly went over my head.
I see that proceeds from the sale of this CD will go to the costs involved in taking the UK Government to the European Court. Such is my feeling toward Antonio Blairescu that I am tempted to order a thousand copies.
Contact to artist:
Dai Woosnam

Waking The Witch: "Hands & Bridges"
Label: Witch Records; Witch-01; 2005

It’s rare to find a four girl group these days, and even rarer to find one in which all four women play acoustic guitar. This group based in Leeds, Yorkshire in Northern England, have released this CD as a follow-up to their 2003 debut album “Like Everybody”, and very pleasing on the ear it is. As pleasing as they are on the eye, judging by the jewel-box cover photo.
Their publicity hand-out likens them to a female Crosby, Stills Nash & Young! Now that is SOME praise. Is it hyperbolic?
Well, as someone who used to pounce on a CSNY LP the very moment it was released, I have to say that (believe it or not) it isn’t remotely. Their harmonies are very akin to those of the famed heroes of Woodstock. However, the major difference in the “end result” - apart from CSNY’s instrumentation being more forceful and dynamic (these CD notes claim that there are four guitars at work on track 9: I must have my ears on wrong!) - was that at least those LPs of years ago would perhaps have three or four high quality songs.
Here we have ten perfectly respectable (often reflective and occasionally angst-ridden) songs, but songs that all forgo immediate memorability. The pick of the ten is the last one, “I Can’t Breathe”, and that is quite a clever move as it winds the album up on a high note. Thus leaving us wanting more.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Dai Woosnam

Barry Dransfield: "Unruly"
Label: ViolinWorkshop (via; 1CD; 2005; Playing time: 46 mins, 45 secs.
There are occasions when a CD reviewer knows that he has stumbled upon something that, whilst not an unqualified success, will still be an album that at the end of the reviewing year will give him more pleasure than most. This is one such: an album that provides many pleasing moments, and one that just oozes gravitas throughout.
I have to declare an interest of sorts: I first saw Barry perform live as far back as 1970. I was hooked from the start: and I have purchased many of his albums since, and never been disappointed.
But I will not let that interfere with my role of Reviewer: my first duty here is to take the side of the potential purchaser. Would buying a copy of “Unruly” represent money well spent? In order to answer that question, let’s look at some of the most significant tracks.
As the great Shirley Collins so perceptively says in an “overview” sent me by Barry’s PR people, “my appreciation grew when Barry told me recently that he couldn’t read music and was self-taught. Some people may think that this is a hindrance for a singer and musician, but I believe it gave Barry a head start […]every song he has learned BY HEART”.
We start with “Haul Away”. Talk about a song “redolent of place”! Just listening to it and I was back in Hastings on the south coast of England. I was going up the East Cliff funicular railway again, looking down on the tall narrow wooden houses where the fishermen keep their nets. Having had their share of the sea, generations of fishermen now wanted their share of the sky (a fact that Barry zeroes in on, in his lyric). A lyric by the way set to the Largo from Telemann’s Trumpet Concerto in D. (Are you beginning to see what I mean about “gravitas”?!)
Whilst the opening track puts down an impressive marker, Barry follows this with a song that is often regarded as an exercise in profundity. “The Grand Conversation On Napoleon” was a song collected by Vaughan Williams and sung my many famous names down the past. Barry learned what he calls “this blockbuster” from Gordon Hall at the famous Empress of Russia club in Islington, London. The song is perhaps most famously associated with Frank Harte.
Now, whilst he makes a great job of the delivery, I have to tell you that I have always been of the opinion that the song does not merit its usual epithet of a “mighty” song, but rather, I hold the view that it flatters to deceive. It is a song that borders on the pretentious and appears to say much more than it really is saying. But, such is its haunting melody, I can forgive it the overblown lyric.
We follow with one of several fiddle solos: here, I will cover all the instrumental tracks with a one sentence comment. They are all pieces played with passion and a very real artistry.
“Silent Worship” comes next. Composer G.F. Handel, no less. This is not your run-of-the-mill Folk CD, alright! Barry handles the lyric with aplomb.
Then the great Sussex favourite (Two) “Constant Lovers”. Never fails, this great song. Barry reminds us that this was a song written for the Tin Pan Alley of its day…and is not the pure folk song many of us think it to be. The liner notes point out that here Barry not only has his vocals and simultaneous fiddle recorded, but also has 2 fiddles by him overdubbed. Makes for a really atmospheric 4½ minutes, and was so evocative as to immediately take me back to my days 35 years ago as a lighthouse keeper on Sussex’s Beachy Head lighthouse.
It would have been the best cut on the CD were it not for two numbers to come up on the rails and take it by a short-head. The first is another G.F. Handel biggie: his very famous “Where’er You Walk”. And golly, this really cuts the mustard. It is the first time I have ever heard ANYONE sing this aria who has not make me long for the glorious version by Kathleen Ferrier. So Barry should realise that coming from me, this is some tribute.
And then comes a curious little song for the walking wounded: “Harps in Heaven”. Never heard it before, nor had I read the novel by Mary Webb it was drawn from. Such was its ability to get under my skin, that I will immediately go to my local public library and put in a reservation for her book “Gone To Earth”.
Who needs to try to be a Renaissance Man and attempt the hopeless task of trying to immerse oneself in all branches of the Arts? After all, there are not enough hours in the day. Instead, on the basis of this CD at least, one can let Barry Dransfield take the strain and take you on his magical mystery tour of his potpourri of influences.
I end this review by highlighting a remark Barry makes at the end of his liner notes: “All the music on this recording was learned and played by ear. Any classical material herein is guaranteed to be played inaccurately and in an unruly fashion.”
Well, you can strike the “inaccurately”: that is just “modesty” talking! But I’ll go along with the word “unruly”. So indeed does Barry: he makes it his title for the album.
It is an “unruly” CD in its triumphant defiance of the rules of “Folk convention”: he ploughs his own furrow, and judging by the reaction of some of my Folkie friends to this album, it will be far from being a LONE one.
Homepage of the artist:
Dai Woosnam

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas - "Fire and Grace"
Label: Culburnie Records 2004 - CUL121
Greentrax label includes this album in its Top Ten Sellers. At first, I was attracted by the originality of the issue, that is the uncommon combination of solo fiddle and cello performing traditional tunes from Scotland and around. Another appealing reason for purchasing it was the renowned name of the fiddler, Alasdair Fraser, being nearly unknown to me the name of cello player Natalie Haas, apart from her participation in Fraser's second album "Legacy of the Scottish fiddle". About her, I could so discover that she is a young Californian musician, credited of having been part of Mark O' Connor's band. I was quite curious about this release, because I think that cello, in the family of bow instruments, is the one that has more troubles finding its role and identity when performing traditional music from the British Isles. After having listened to the album, I think that no great progress has been made in this direction.
The music includes tunes from Scotland, Shetland, Northumberland, Cape Breton and Scandinavia. The skills of the interpreters, and the accuracy of the recording, are undisputable; the first impact with the music is captivating; but as long as he music flows, very soon dissatisfaction comes.
Natalie Haas shows strong commitment in obtaining from her cello some non-orthodox voices. Despite her angelic features (judging from the cover photo) she handles the bow with warlike fury, furnishing in most cases a rhythmical and harmonic base for the melody played by the violin. There are some pleasant episodes indeed, but, especially in fast tunes, the final effect is often boring. The situation does not seem to get better when the two musicians swap their roles, devolving the leading melody upon the cello and leaving the accompaniment to the fiddle. Some annoying "bridges" between the tunes do not help: they tend to cancel that pleasant surprise-effect, that should come from the clever joining of different melodies in a set. And even in the fastest episodes, despite Alasdair Fraser's mastery, the ostinato played by the cello makes the whole thing as light as a Christmas pudding, and as sunny as a fjord's bottom in a winter's afternoon.
So the best tracks can be found in the few real duets of the two instruments, and in the rendering of the slow airs. It would be unfair to avoid mentioning some pleasant tracks. Among my favourites, I would like to mention a meditative and charming performance of the Swedish "Josefin's Waltz", the one that many know as a hit of the Irish band Dervish; the Scandinavian set "Slang Polska / Rumbling Quadrille", probably more fit for this orchestration than the Scottish material; and an interpretation of classical flavour, nearly in the J.S.Bach way, of the one set that is fully dedicated to the dames. This latter is introduced by two ancient airs, "The Duchess of Bedford" and "Lady Hope of Pinkie", ad ends quite happily with the traditional and lively "Lady Montgomery".
In my opinion this is not much of a result, if we consider the level of the two musicians and the ambition of the project: what is missing, indeed, is some real enthusiasm. And if we are not moved to emotion when listening to music, what is the point in it?
Luigi Fazzo

Anne Wylie "Silver Apples of the Moon"
Label: Vollton Musikverlag 2003
Anne Wylie comes from Dublin and her music is based in the ancient Celtic inheritance of the bards and the druids. Her latest album "Silver Apples of the Moon" is another evidence of musical talent and creativity coupled with the mystic touch of Ireland's culture. Anne sings and plays guitar and djembe and she is accompanied by her long time musical partners Florian King on Irish bouzouki, guitars, dobro, percussion loops and backing vocals and Henrik Mumm on 6-string bass, fretless bass, double bass, cello and backing vocals. Since 2003 the excellent Norwegian percussion player Helge Andreas Norbakken regularly tours with Anne Wylie and he plays a very important role in the line-up. Brian O'Connor on low whistles and Friedemann Witecka and Ingo Rau on backing vocals are guest musicians.
There're two versions of the title track on the CD: It starts with the radio version of W. B. Yeats' poem "The Song of the Wanderin' Angus". Yeats' brilliant poetry has been brought to music by the band, rhythmic and hauntingly beautiful, the final concert version being my preferred.
The album features three more self crafted songs including the short Irish sean-nos "Aisling". Even though the ancient traditional songs deserve to be kept alive, I think the tradition of writing folk songs should still be maintained. Folk music is music from the people for the people and I bet that today?s excellent musicians still have something to say. Henrik Mumm is a great bass player and he gives the jazzy touch to the music, even more when supported by Helge Andreas Norbakken?s stunning percussions. Florian King is a master on the bouzouki and it's also a pleasure to listen to his dobro. And last but not least Anne Wylie showcases her excellent singing whenever she raises her voice. 1976 Maire Brennan sang Dúlaman on Clannad's 3 rd LP and Anne Wylie don't have to dread comparison with her rhythmic and fantastic version of this Donegal song. My absolute favourite is the Waterford traditional praise of the calves, "Aililiú Na Gamhna". I've heard two versions of this song by Karan Casey and it has become one of my all time favourite Irish song. Anne's version is as spell binding as Karan's are. Each time I listen to this song my mind is wandering through green pastures, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
If you like traditional music fused with modern influences, if you appreciate brilliant musicianship and musical creativity you should get hold of a copy of this breathtaking CD.
Adolf "gorhand" Goriup

Dirk Hamilton "The Relative Health of Your Horse"
Label: Outside Horizon (a division of Comet Records) - HZ 016/2
Few people have heard of singer-songwriter Dirk Hamilton, although his career first took off in the early 1970s. Despite a good range of music from rock 'n' roll, R&B to gospel and reggae, Hamilton has often been overlooked whilst the likes of Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp hit the spotlight and broke through the mainstream charts. With his previous releases - "You can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right (1976), "Alias I" (1977) and "Meet Me at the Crux" (1978) - Hamilton's audience has always remained a small, but tasteful, one. The release of a 2-CD live album, however, "The Relative Health of Your Horse Outside" looks set to change things. Hamilton's rugged vocals reminds one of Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen (especially on the track "Colder Than Mexican Snow", track 4 on Disc 2), and the soulful guitar on "In the Eyes of the Night" (track 1 on Disc 2) certainly tugs at those rusty heartstrings. The sound quality of the album is also remarkable, crystal clear acoustic guitar and the clarity and precision of a studio recording. It's a shame that this double CD won't be available in all record shops, given its limited distribution. If you want a copy though, and the money's well-worth it, you can purchase one directly from Dirk Hamilton's website:
Kathy Tan

Shad Weathersby "Chomp Chomp"
Label: Singing Rock Records - B0007LVJ8Y
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Shad Weathersby has a busy schedule when he is not recording his latest children's song in the studios. Usually he can be found performing in children's classrooms or at expos in front of an audience of thousands. His latest CD, Chomp Chomp, has received nothing but praise since its release. Child therapists have highly recommended the CD for not only children, but their parents as well. No wonder, for here is an album of not only fun, but also educational, tunes that covers the range of genres from folk and country to pop. The themes that are touched upon in the songs are familiar, yet seen from a wonderful new perspective: the weather, bugs (a chomp-chomping caterpillar) and butterflies, the days of the week ("Calendar Song", and the beauty of friendship. On this CD, Weathersby is often joined by his chorus of young back-up singers. The result is a cheery and uplifting mix of tunes that appeal to both a younger and older audience alike. The last song on the CD, "In My Room", is a soothing and intimate bedtime song that parents can play their little precious ones when they drift off to sleep at the end of a long day of excitement, fun and play. Now, could one possibly ask for more?
Shad Weathersby has his own website- Check out this website for more information on his latest CD, "Chomp Chomp", as well as his three previous albums available to order- "Light Outside that Door" (1984), "Dreamworld" (1996), and "To Behold The Light" (2003).
Kathy Tan

Stephen Simmons "Last Call"
Label: Locke Creek Records - SS1873
The opening strains of the mouth harmonica on the first track of Stephen Simmon's second album (the first being the self-released acoustic album "Stephen Simmons Live: Five Song Sampler", which received rave reviews in the Nashville music circles) pretty much describes the rest of the album - plaintive, soulful, verging on the poetic at times- and sets the mood for the album's main theme: the tension between last call for alcohol, tomfoolery (especially with women, that oh-so-dangerous and exotic species) and the last call for your soul.
Born and raised in the small town of Woodbury, Tennessee, Simmons was exposed, at an early age, to a strict, Church of Christ upbringing. "When you're raised in the Church of Christ, if you're sensitive at all, it leaves you with a lot to struggle with," explains Simmons. This sense of struggle is revealed in the songs on this album, which collectively portray the tension between a life of rural simplicity and the opportunities and temptations represented by the city. The song "Country Lines", for example, contains the lines "County Lines/ Run in funny ways/ But once they draw 'em up/ They don't ever change/ They say you can't go back/ So don't even try/ Take one more step/ And kiss your County goodbye."
To categorize Simmons' music would be a hard task: not strictly country, folk or even Americana, but somewhere in-between, the songs on the album definitely reveal the influence of artists such as Steve Earle, Gordon Lightfoot and even the Small Faces, as well as Simmons' raw passion for his acoustic guitar. For more information, pics and downloads, visit Stephen's homepage:
Kathy Tan

Peter Funk & Herbert Wegener "New Day Dawning"
Label: T&TT - LC 10417
This is a rather unusual CD, not least because it showcases tunes from St. Anne's Reel / Soldier's Joy, to the Super Mario Theme! The 11 tracks on the duo's second album are played entirely on the steelstring guitar, resonator-guitar, a lap-style instrument made out of metal and wood, and the autoharp. The genres range from swing and blues to folk and country, and accompanying the lads on the album are Listening to the album, I discovered that it's not too hard to close your eyes and pictures the swaying palm trees in a Hawaii-esque setting. In fact, as the duo explains, Hawaii folklore is an important source of their musical compositions, as is obvious on tracks such as "Waikiki Waltz" and "Every Pinch Grows an Inch" (ahem… excuse me?!) The self-confessed guitar freaks are certainly very inventive and their musical craftsmanship is no less than a "Note 1". If you'll excuse me, I think I'll just go look for my Nintendo 64 set now…
Peter Funk & Herbert Wegener have their own homepage:, inclusive of musical scores and other interesting links. You can also get hold of a copy of their first album, "Great Dreams from Heaven", here.
Kathy Tan

Scallywag "Entschuldiger"
Label: Friskin Records
First of all, let me say that these six "red haired and sober" lads look extremely gorgeous and resplendent in their black suits, and not at all like the scallywags they claim to be. Nice press photo, guys! J At present, the line-up consists of Stefan Beer (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals), Patrick Rehm (accordion, vocals), Thomas Wirthensohn (acoustic guitar, trumpet, vocals), Michael Moosbrugger (violin), Christian Manser (drums, vocals), Florian Waldner (bass). With a nod to The Pogues, The Whisky Priests (with whom the band have toured), and closer to home, bands such as Fiddler's Green and The Shanes, these six lads spin out a collection of folk-festival friendly tunes. What is so great about Scallywag, however, is not their studio albums, but the various other projects that they have been, and are, involved in, such as Jazz Seminars in Dornbirn for the theatre project, "The Wall", soundtrack projects for films and folk festivals in their local Bregenzerwald area.
"Entschuldiger" the album itself is definitely a promising album, ending on a rousing Pogueian note ("Barrels of Beer", track 12), although I'd like to see more instrumental pieces, which I think would show off the lads' musical proficiency. I'd also love to see these guys perform live sometime. If you'd like to too, check out their website- - for more information on tour dates, projects, music downloads, etc.
Kathy Tan

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6 - Page 7 - Page 8 - Page 9 - CD Special
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3
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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 1/2006

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