Issue 31 1/2006

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Barbara Blue "Memphis 3rd & Beale"
Label: Big Blue; BR 033; 2004; Playing time: 50:58 min
If you never heard of Barbara Blue I hope you soon get the chance to hear her, for the lady from Memphis is really a great singer. On her album "Memphis 3rd & Beale" she gets great accompaniment by Taj Mahal´s Phantom Blues Band and the Texicali Horns, so the playing is very tight and powerful. The musicians also helped in producing (drummer Tony Braunagel) and as engineer and mixer of the album (guitarist Johnny Lee Schell). Barbara Blue is the right singer for powerful Rhythm and Blues but is equally great as an interpreter of ballads as she proves in her version of Lucinda Williams´ Lake Charles which divides her from singers only suited for power. For my taste she could do even more of this kind of material. On Janis Joplin´s One Good Man (as on Don´t Put No Headstone On My Grave by Charlie Rich) she really manages to sound like Janis´ older sister. On 24-7-365, If I Had You and other pieces she shines like an uncrowned soul queen. And Barbara Blue is also a writer, getting writing and co-writing credits on four bluesy selections including the albums center piece The Road Comes To Me. As a singer both powerful and sensitive Barbara Blue really should get some attention. She is an independent artist and I think you won´t find her records in stores, so those interested should look for information on her website.
Barbara Blue/Big Blue Records
Ansgar Hillner

Janiva Magness "Bury Him At The Crossroads"
Label: Northern Blues; NBM0022; 2004; Playing time: 48:04 min
Janiva Magness belongs to the best interpretative singers in the field of roots and blues music, this getting her first nomination for WC Handy Award in the category „Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist“. This new album is produced by guitar ace Colin Linden and features a small band consisting of himself, Richard Bell (once Janis Joplin´s keyboarder), Stephen Hodges on drums and longtime Magness collaborator Jeff Turmes, mostly on bass. The material ranges from blues standards (Robert Wilkins´ That´s No Way To Get Along) to versions of R & B material like Lost And Looking (once sang by Sam Cooke on his Night Beat album) to new compositions mostly by Turmes. There is solid ensemble playing. Some of best cuts are the ones dominated by acoustic guitar like the Linden co-penned Wasn´t That Enough and Eat the Lunch You Brought. A Woman Knows with Turmes on baritone sax is also great. These two and the title cut are written by Turmes, who seems to know best what material suits to Magness´ powerful voice, which makes her sound like a modern honky-tonk lady. Surprisingly good sounds One More Heartache (Smokey Robinson among the writers) which is treated as a number from the deep South instead of the Motor City. In some moments Janiva Magness manages to sound like Bonnie Raitt like on Less And Less Of You (again penned by Turmes) and the above mentioned Wasn´t that Enough. Fans of powerful roots singing should check this one out.
Northern Blues
Ansgar Hillner

Pete Gavin "100 Years Tampa Red - a Tribute"
Label: Redox; Rdx 1055-04; 2004; Playing time: 45:02 min
There were some tribute samplers released in the last years, sometimes by labels with an audiophile direction. Here comes a charming little album by only one artist, the British Guitarist Pete Gavin who is living in Germany [-> FW#30]. It is dedicated to the work of Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker or Woodbridge) who as commonly accepted was born on the 8th January 1904. The only accompaniment comes from the bass guitar of „Pick Stevens aus Shanghai“. In the old times there would often be a line-up like this, the bass often being a single-stringed one. There are no thrills here. On tracks like New Stranger Blues and No Matter How She Done It, the two sing harmony like it was often on hokum recordings which gave Red his greatest successes. But Pete Gavin is mainly interested in Tampa Red as the wizard on the slide guitar and so we have the opportunity to enjoy an album full of the sound of his 1933 National Duolian (Tampa Red used a Tricone which was not made as a left hand model so the left handed British bluesman decided for the next best thing).
Of course we hear classic tracks like The Sky Is Crying, Don´t You lie to me, Love Her With a Feeling, the groovy Anna Lou and the guitar solos Denver Blues and You´ve Got To Reap What You Sow. My Favorite here are New Stranger Blues complete with conversation with Pick - it sounds very authentic and lively -, the dramatic Stormy Sea Blues and the unusual instrumental Tampa Tingles. This album is a lovely little tribute album for fans of traditional blues. Another great tribute would be a career spanning selection of Tampa Red´s best recordings in one anthology.
Ansgar Hillner

Tony McManus & Alain Genty "Singing Sands"
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX274; 2005; Playing time: 49:46 min
Two musical giants at work! Scottish guitar wizard Tony McManus (-> FW#2, FW#4, FW#10, FW#22) and Breton fretless bass master Alain Genty (-> FW#8, FW#10). "Singing Sands" is a place at Bruce Peninsula Park in Ontario, the duo's music comes mostly from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton. There is also a Breton march, Isaac Guillory's "Desert Dance", a tune written by Annbjörg Lien (-> FW#13, FW#29), a traditional Balkan tune learned from Nikola Parov (-> FW#21, FW#30), and some of Alain's own. Best of all, the gorgeous "Hungry Rock" by Ireland's trad stars Dervish (-> FW#3, FW#19). That makes appetite for more. Though the duo's work is both subtle and sensitive, it is not built on sand, but rock-solid.
Walkin' T:-)M

Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra "My Aunt Jane"
Label: Fowkgates; FGCD007; 2005; Playing time: 53:13 min
There's some common bias concerning folklore in Northern Ireland: There's austere Protestants that bang away with the monstrous lambeg drum, an instrument apparently therapeutic and can cause out of body experiences, maybe they have some blues and soul music (Van the Man etc.). Then there's sensual Catholics that have traditional jigs & reels as south of the border. A musical divide since lowland Scots migrated to Ulster in the 17th century?
The Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra says: definitely not! Confirmed by their choice and arrangement of music. One set brings together the party tunes "Roddy McCorley" and "The Sash" and the Orchestra claims that prior to the 'troubles' it has been common to play these together: Both of these tunes have their ironies and neither of them should cause offence to anyone. Roddy McCorley was one of the mostly Presbyterian during the 1798 United Irishmen Rebellion. McCorley was hanged and has become one of the folk heroes of today's Irish Nationalists. The Sash celebrates an Ulster Orangeman's trip to Glasgow to meet with fellow Scottish Orangemen on the 'Twelft'. The 12th of July is when Orangemen celebrate the victory of Protestant King Billy over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. King Billy's victory was enthusiastically celebrated in the Vatican. The tune of the Sash is apparently a very old Irish air.
A great influence in the Orchestra's work is Rabbie Burns and the weaver poets of the 19th century. Featured tunes asscociated with Burns are "I'll Gang Nae Mair Tae Yon Toon" and "Low Doon in the Broom" (better known as "My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose"). A Stephen Foster medley, whose grandparents were from Ulster, makes clear that it were Ulstermen who invented hillbilly music (the term referring to King Billy).
22 musicians, poets, singers, storytellers and dancers gathered round John Trotter (fiddle, accordion, fife & drums) and Willie Drennan (fiddle, whistle, fife & drums), custodians of the Ulster-Scots musical tradition. Everything from fiddle and flutes to bagpipes, fife and drums. They say, it is Scottish music played with an Ulster flavour and you will hear the Scotch snap and the Irish lilt. So be it, and thanks for this effort bringing together what belongs together.
Walkin' T:-)M

Skychasers "Full Moon Session"
Label: Canyon; CR-7070; 1999/2004; Playing time: 49:01 min
James Bilagody & The Cremains "Sacred Stage"
Label: Canyon; CR-7068; 2003; Playing time: 48:33 min
Since 1951 Canyon Records is specialized in Native American music. For us Germans, two samplers with songs taken from the Canyon back catalogue are already available on a national label (-> FW#30). Now here's some news: Skychasers' music is something what European ears might think typical of Native American music. Lush flute sounds and guitar playing from Aaron White and Tommy Lee. However, it is not that traditional but newly written original music. You may call it traditional ethnic music with a contemporary flair. They take you on a journey from Oahu to Wapatki and beyond the Sky (so are some of the tunes' titles). Their attitude is both traditional and contemporary. we are only the instruments for which the music flows, they say
Nowadays, native Americans grow up with rock and pop music and don't stay away blending it with the tradition. Singer-songwriter James Bilagody is one of them. He was exposed to traditional Navajo song at an early age. Later he played guitar with a country band and became converted to Elvis Presley and rock and roll. While singing traditional and fusion vocals on several albums ("Sing For Me" in 1999 was nominated for a Grammy), he now joined forces with the Native hard rock band The Cremains. The result, "Sacred Stage", is a cracker. James Bilagody's vocals and original Navajo songs backed by traditional drumming evolve into a full rock'n'roll set and heavy guitar-driven thunderstorm. Wow. A furious trip from the traditional ways into contemporary America.
Canyon Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Ian Smith & Stephen Campbell "Keadue Bar"
Label: Own label; KB 001; 2004; Playing time: 41:56 min
Keadue Bar (Oitir an Cheididh in Gaelic) is the long-awaited debut album from guitar player and vocalist Ian Smith and fiddler Stephen Campbell. Two Scotsmen who settled in North West Donegal, on either side of the bar in question, and became devotees of the session scene in Gweedore, especially Monday nights in Teach Huidie Beag in Bunbeg. Ian has a solo album with original contemporary songwriting under his belt (-> FW#25), both were performing at the German Celtic Halloween Festival (-> FW#20) and are featured on Guido Plüschke's "Bodhran World" (-> FW#30). This is an all traditional album, there is not a single contemporary song or tune, and that makes it very special for a long time coming. The tunes are mostly reels, Ian chose four Scots song and two Irish ballads. Besides that couple of old songs and tunes, there is a couple of old friends (Manus Lunny, -> FW#24, FW#29, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh & Dermot Byrne, -> FW#2, FW#14, FW#22, Phil Cunningham -> FW#3, FW#24, FW#30). A beacon in the north west of Ireland.
Walkin' T:-)M

Eugene Brosnan "Solid Ground"
Label: Wabisabi; WAB-021; 2004; Playing time: 47:54 min
"Solid Ground" is the third album from the Corkonian Eugene Brosnan, and unlike many traditional musicians from Ireland (and him being a stone's throw away from the traditional music centre Sliabh Luachra) he favours Anglo-American song in the 20th century revival version. Besides his originals, Eugene covers songs from Warren Zevon ('Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner', 'Mohammed'S Radio'), Dylan ('Man in the Long Black Coat', 'Oh Sister', 'Masters of War') and Springsteen ('Ghost of Tom Joad'). And solid it is: stout vocals, strong guitar. There's not that much to write about, but I like it and I will hold it in high esteem for some time. Simply because Eugene Brosnan's "Solid Ground" is one of the most enjoying and convincing efforts of this genre I heard in recent times.
Wabisabi Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Kalio Gayo "Fearless"
Label: Own label; 2004; Playing time: 43:54 min
Simple as it is: sit around the table, tune the instruments and go for it - fearless! Kalio Gayo from Utrecht play music with both Celtic and Gypsy music roots. Mostly original songs, the lyrics written by guitarist Anja Pleit and the music composed by her and banjo player Egbert den Braber. Add some accordion, flute, mandolin, bass, percussion and tender and cordial female vocals. Compared to other bands within the genre, Kalio Gayo is not that highly polished, but they have fun and that is what counts in the end.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Kane Sisters "Under the Diamond"
Label: Dawros Music; DM002; 2004?; Playing time: 52:15 min
The Kane Sisters, Liz & Yvonne, (-> FW#24) are from Letterfrack at the foot of Diamond Mountain in County Galway, Ireland (where many a session is held and both are part of the Sharon Shannon band -> FW#17, FW#28). This is West Galway, however, their twin fiddling resembles rather the typical style of East Galway. The sisters' repertoire is part traditional, part only recently composed. Names ring such as Paddy O'Brien, Ed Reavy, Martin Mulvihill, Finbarr Dwyer (-> FW#26 FW#29), Junior Crehan (-> FW#21, FW#30), Martin Hayes, and Paddy Fahey. Though celebrated players and composers, many of them had not been that popular in recent times. Liz and Yvonne's splendid fiddling is aptly backed by John Blake (guitar -> FW#27, until recently with Teada -> FW#23, FW#29), Mick Conneely (Bouzouki -> FW#21) and James Blennerhassett (double bass). All together it makes another shining precious stone.
Walkin' T:-)M

Graham Dunne "Giotáraí"
Label: Own label; 2004; Playing time: 35:05 min
Guitar player Dennis Cahill was once questioned on the traditional validity of his chords, and he replied: Fine, pick a date and I'll not play anything from after that date. This little anecdote illustrates the suspicion guitarists in traditional Irish music are raising. And I was only talking about guitar backing of traditional tunes. But meanwhile a generation of versatile musicians even put their hands on playing the tunes himself and using the odd guitar as a melody instrument. This giotarai from Dublin, Graham Dunne, is one of them. You may not know him yet, but he already accompanied Liz Carroll (-> FW#24), Paddy Keenan (-> FW#23) and Tommy Peoples (-> FW#25). I recall seeing him as backing of Niamh Parsons (-> FW#16, FW#19, FW#23), but here Graham is highlighting his guitar artistry. He's playing dance tunes and slow airs alike, a Bulgarian horo (learned from Andy Irvine which he cites as one inspiration -> FW#11, FW#23, FW#30), and a Django Reinhardt piece. He is finishing off with "Margaret's Waltz" (which is not traditional but an Aly Bain composition I think -> FW#3, FW#24, FW#30). However, that's the only inaccuracy I can find. As a guitar player he's flawless.
Walkin' T:-)M

Peggy Seeger "Love Call Me Home"
Label: Appleseed; APR CD 1087; 2005; Playing time: 44:05 min
Approaching her 70th birthday, Peggy Seeger recorded her 21st solo album, not counted the hundreds of records featuring her. Besides her half-brother Pete (-> FW#29) and her late husband Ewan MacColl, she is a folk music icon herself, making a name as a singer, lecturer and prolific songwriter (e.g. "Ballad of Springhill" -> FW#28, FW#30). "Love Call Me Home" features ten traditional Anglo-American songs and two new Peggy Seeger compositions. "R(e)ynerdine" and "Logan County Jail" got new tunes. Peggy sings and plays guitar, 5-string-banjo, Appalachian mountain dulcimer, autoharp and piano; her backing musicians include her sons Calum und Neill and her daughter Kitty. The spirit of this music is a spirit of the past. Not as much to the distant past where traditional song comes from but rather to the hey-days of the 20th century folk music revival. These are pure and plain folk songs, music that is essentially simple. No experiments, no frills, but timeless in itself. At least, one treasure in this hectic pace of ours.
Appleseed Recordings
Walkin' T:-)M

The Duggans & Friends "Rubicon"
Label: MDM Records; MDMCD005; 2004; Playing time: 64:14 min
Like a Roman conqueror, Donegal twin brothers Noel and Padraig Duggan crossed the Rubicon for their first solo (or duo) album. The twins were founder members of Clannad which took Irish music into the pop charts in the 1970s (-> FW#6, FW#30). These days both tour regularly with Thomas Loefke's Norland Wind (-> FW#3, FW#7, FW#22, FW#26, FW#28, FW#29). Now Noel and Padraig gathered some friends and relations, including niece Moya Brennan (-> FW#27) and other family members, Thomas Loefke, Kerstin Blodig (-> FW#21 FW#24), and Ian Melrose (-> FW#8, FW#22), Maire Breathnach (FW#25), Finbar Furey (-> FW#9), Eamon de Barra (-> FW#19) and Patsy Dan Rodgers, the king of Tory Island where the Duggan and Brennan families came from. "Rubicon" is Clannad before the band went into pop and new age music in the mid 1980s. Four traditional songs and eleven Duggan originals, including Padraig's "Lisa", the pop song in the Gaelic language that won Clannad the Letterkenny Folk festival in the early 1970s. If I were you, I wouldn't wait for the next Clannad album!
Walkin' T:-)M

Mic Harrison "Pallbearer's Shoes"
Label: Valley; VLT 15184; 2004; Playing time: 41:32 min
Singer-songwriter Mic Harrison hails from Bradford, West Tennessee. In the mid 1990s he was playing with Knoxville's roots rockers V-Roys alongside Scott Miller (-> FW#23) and were backing Steve Earle (-> FW#30) for a while. Now Mic is back again on his own terms while maintaining the spirit and the sound of the V-Roys' American roots rock. On one hand there are straight, powerful rockers with singable choruses and roaring electric guitars. The other half are slower, acoustic tracks and some reflective ballads. A bit independent pop and modest country rock. After all, he sounds very sanguine and full of confidence.
Valley Entertainment
Walkin' T:-)M

Helen Roche "Shake the Blossom Early"
Label: Own label; HRCH 2323; 2004; Playing time: 50:41 min
Helen Roche grew up in England of Liverpoolian stock and Irish ancestry. "Shake the Blossom Early" is a marvellous collection of love songs from the Irish tradition: good old standards such as "As I Roved Out" and "I Wish My Love Was a Red Red Rose", as well as songs I didn't encounter yet, e.g. "The Lisburn Lass". After all, songs that Helen learned from my father. He learned it from Planxty, who learned it from Paddy Tunney, who learned it from his mother Brigid. That kind of thing. The ballad collection is spiced up by some dance tunes from her backing band, featuring harper Harriet Earis, piper Colman Connolly (he tours with Deirin De -> FW#30), accordionist Conan McDonnell, guitarists Michael Lempelius and Andy Metcalfe, and cellist Richard Bolton.
Walkin' T:-)M

Anne Price "Remember Me"
Label: Own label; 2004; Playing time: 53:06 min
The urban American folk revival is history now, not mentioning the rural roots of this music. However, Anne Price is a versatile and gifted singer from the New York area. Since 1979 she is performing in a Joan Baez like manner, i.e. vocals and acoustic guitar, sometimes playing the Appalachian mountain dulcimer. Her choice of traditional Anglo-American songs being more risky than the odd "Cuckoo". The sources go back as far as the 18th century, up to Mississippi John Hurt and Woody Guthrie. Familiar to the genre, many songs are reflecting the hard times of workers, hobos - and wild women that don't get the blues. Almost anything is worth remembering.
Walkin' T:-)M

Rod Picott "Girl from Arkansas"
Label: Own label; RP4372; 2004; Playing time: 34:41 min
Sing that song baby sing it again, that's what turns boys into big mean men... One voice singin' those sad old songs, though New England's Rod Picott is not the big mean man, but a stout folk troubadour, carrying the sounds of the 1960s into this century. Contrary to his two previous albums, his "Girl from Arkansas" is a cordial, tender and seductive babe. The accompaniment is sparse, stripped down to the core. Some dobro, lap steel guitar or strings here and there. However, Rod's understatement, both lyrically and musically, is clever. He is a very strong writer. Simple but effective.
Walkin' T:-)M

Red Wedding "Red Wedding"
Label: Downwarde Spiral; DR011CD; 2004; Playing time: 42:33 min
Listen to my story now listen while I sing of iron and coal of Lybian gold of spite and suffering ... Joseph Porter usually leads the punk folk rock engine called Blyth Power (-> FW#19, FW#23). He always has a story to tell, and he did it acoustically and unplugged before with the Whisky Priests brothers, Gary and Glenn Miller (-> FW#18). Red Wedding is Joseph Porter on acoustic guitar and Steven Cooper on guitar and mandolin. This ten songs have been written by Joseph over the last 20 years and never seen the light of day until now. Stripped down and bare, this is the Joseph Porter experience at the very most. An English experience from Alford to Lydford and down the Fossway, and going Continental from Poland cold to the rolling plains of Saxony and Westphalia. "In The Wilderness" is a poem by Robert Grave with an added chorus and a tune. Lyrics, sometimes hard to get through but made to think hard about it.
See also the Joseph Porter interview in this FW issue!
Walkin' T:-)M

Claire Mann & Aaron Jones "Secret Orders"
Label: Tradmusic; TMRCD05; 2005; Spielzeit: 47:54 min
A dream team came together - by secret orders or rather mutual understanding: flutist Claire Mann (-> FW#25; also no mean fiddle player) and singer and bouzouki/guitar player Aaron Jones (Craobh Rua -> FW#15, currently with Old Blind Dogs -> FW#26). "Secret Orders" is the recording debut of the duo that toured for several years since both met on the Edinburgh folk scene. With some guests, best known is accordionist Leo McCann (Malinky -> FW#14, FW#16, FW#24), Claire and Aaron play traditional and original Scottish and Irish music. Resting well in English hands, Claire is actually from Newcastle upon Tyne and Aaron from Poole in north east England. That doesn't matter, jigs and reels, waltzes and laments are quite stimulating. Aaron's choice of songs (he is currently writing a historical and instructional book on the bouzouki) adds a touch of country music, be it David Francey's (-> FW#30, see also the Tonder festival review in this FW issue) "Saints and Sinners" or Steve Tilston's "Slip Jigs and Reels". From the latter they get the most enjoyment: Rollin' of dice and spinnin' the wheel, but he took most delight in the slip jigs and reels.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Border Collies "Unleashed!"
Label: Own label; BC01; 2004; Playing time: 53:09 min
The six piece group, which named itself The Border Collies, is based in County Sligo, Ireland. They got together in 2002 and became recent winners of the Comhraigh Ceol competition held in the National Concert Hall in Dublin that was seeking out new traditional groups. Winning against 500 entries that must mean something. These unleashed animals play flute, piano accordion, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, piano, bodhran, and guitar (it's the Shane McGowan that played with At the Racket, -> FW#3, and the Geraldine MacGowan Band, -> FW#29, I suppose). Some fiendish tune sets. Vocalists Siobhan and Colm O'Donnell have a mixed bag of traditional songs ("Here's a Health to the Company", "Dilin O Deamhas", "Wild Mountain Thyme", o.k. the latter is from Mr McPeake, but that's nearly traditional) and some contemporary ditties (Stewart/Cunningham's "A Lover's Heart", McConnell's "Tinkerman's Daughter"). Let's not play too much on silly word jumbles, "Unleashed!" is a tame affair. North west Ireland is no wilderness. So: Let loose the hounds!
Walkin' T:-)M

Emily Smith "A Different Life"
Label: White Fall; WFRCD01; 2004; Playing time: 52:59 min
Again, Emily Smith (-> FW#24, FW#27) proves to be one of Scotland's finest interpreters of traditional song. The singer and accordion player from Scotland's south west and member of The Unusual Suspects (-> FW#30) continues the success of her debut album "A Day Like Today" after winning the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition. Almost effortlessly Emily took sides with song princesses such as Kate Rusby (-> FW#20) and Karan Casey (-> FW#20, FW#25). Her band members Jamie McClennan (fiddle) and Steve Byrne (guitar, bouzouki, also Malinky -> FW#14, FW#16, FW#24) and guests such as Brian Finnegan (-> FW#30) show their mastery at two instrumental tune sets. But it's the song department where Emily is best. Ten tracks, both traditional and original, and traditional songs with new tunes etc. Her "Always A Smile" is a moving tribute to her granny from Poland. Eventually, she had to write "Go To Town" after looking long and hard for a happy song to sing I decided to write my own. There can never be too many happy endings, especially in Scots song. "A Different Life" is happy ever after, but no ending, only a new beginning.
White Fall Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Mindy Sotiri "Drink it"
Label: Own label; 2004; Playing time: 42:34 min
According to the album title, Mindy Sotiri's second recording "Drink it" is about boozin' on and exploring alcohol, sobriety, and the dynamics of relationships struggling to make sense of these states. Strange enough, that kind of songs from a young lady from Sydney with pleasant vocals and a couple of sweet-sounding tunes, but Mindy fell quickly and easily in love with the sounds and words of grumpy Jewish men who had smoked too many cigarettes, that is Dylan, Cohen and. Reed. Mindy's folk pop is top-notch and hunky-dory. So drink it, but don't swallow.
Walkin' T:-)M

The pickPocket ensemble "Fingerpainting in Red Wine"
Label: ODD Shaped Case; OSC 1008-2; 2004; Playing time: 42:48 min
The pickPocket ensemble (-> FW#26) from Frisco is on the musical road since 1998. Led by composer and accordionist Rick Corrigan, violin, guitar, double bass and percussion perform music at the crossroads. Inspired by many world, folk and instrumental traditions, rhythms and grooves, it is an Old World voyage on the Oriental Express from Paris into the Orient/ Near East. Maybe the trip is much shorter, from the cafes of Montmarte to the suburbs meeting Algerian and Maroccan immigrants and their music. I don't know how Californians came into cafe music, ragtimes and Gypsy swing. But I don't care, it is no crime at all. It only steals away your time. But that's alright.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Love Hall Tryst "Songs of Misfortune"
Label: Appleseed; APR CD 1089; 2005; Playing time: 50:20 min
The Love Hall Tryst is singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding (-> FW#30) plus Kelly Hogan, Brian Lohmann and Nora O'Connor. The British singer-songwriter who's living in the US of A wrote a 19th century historical novel called "Misfortune". The book is based on one of his older songs, meant to complete the song's story. It is filled to the brim with traditional songs and fragments (e.g. "Lord Bateman", "Lambkin") as well as some original compositions in a traditional vein and things such as Leonard Cohen's "Joan of Arc". These songs demanded to be sung. So here we are. Grand, mostly original songs in the British folk tradition. English roots music, largely unaccompanied, in four-part harmony. In the vein of The Copper Family and The Watersons. When playing two of the songs electrically at the end, with The Minstrel in the Galleries, a mediaeval rock band from Seattle, it's Steeleye Span (-> FW#25) eventually. And tradition becomes present: None have happy endings. Everybody dies in them. The sheer carnage of babies is almost like a comment on the current political climate in America.
Appleseed Recordings
Walkin' T:-)M

Lais "Douce Victime"
Label: EMI/Virgin; 07243 5784012 5; 2004; Playing time: 38:16 min
Three young ladies, Annelies Brosens, Jorunn Bauweraerts and Nathalie Delcroix, that is the Belgian Flemish group Lais and no lazy girl group they are (-> FW#8, FW#14, FW#18). In deed, their interpretation of the Flemish tradition became that popular that their third album was released on a major record label. And that meant a big production, acoustic instruments clash with programming and the London Chamber Orchestra. This might easily could have failed, but fortunatly the songs are not drowned in a wall of sound, it is appealing and even more popular and commercial than before. Both for the die-hard folkie and the pop audience alike. The oriental-sounding "Rinaldo" already made the charts in Belgium (we could already experience an ethnic success in the Eurochanson competition). There are traditional ballads sung in French and Flemish, mainly heartbreaking and bleak lyrics, two Lais originals, and covers of Jacques Brel ("Marieke") and Herman van Veen ("Opzij"). The song tunes seem mostly of Lais' own production, at least I cannot recognize the original Brel song for example.
Walkin' T:-)M

Le Vent du Nord "Les amants du Saint-Laurent"
Label: Borealis; BCD 169; 2005; Playing time: 50:11 min
Quebecois Le Vent du Nord (-> FW#29, FW#30,) succeeded even their great and impressive debut album "Maudite Moisson". The lovers of the St Lawrence, that's the title and it's the oldest travel route through Quebec, take you on a trip with up-lifting French-Canadian music. Traditional but contemporary. An experienced bunch they are, Nicolas Boulerice played with Les Batinses (-> FW#27), Olivier Demers with La Bottine Souriante (-> FW#30). Nine traditional songs, five contemporary pieces in great arrangements. We get powerful vocals, accordion, fiddle, hurdy gurdy, piano, guitar, plus step dance and foot tapping. This is French Canadian at its best.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Bismarcks "Joanna"
Label: English Folk Dance & Song Society; EFDSS CD10; 2005; Playing time: 66:03 min
Dearman, Gammon & Harrison "Black Crow White Crow"
Label: English Folk Dance & Song Society; EFDSS CD11; 2005; Playing time: 57:03 min
Pete Coe "In Paper Houses"
Label: Backshift; BASH CD53; 2004; Playing time: 61:34 min
Traditional English music to the core. Let's start with the Bismarcks, an English dance band with a rather bizarre name, be it as slippery as the hering or as iron the German Chancellor. Ed Rennie (melodeon), Nina Hansell (fiddle) and Gareth Kiddier (piano) perform country dance and ceilidh music. Solid it is. Besides some original compositions, it is traditional music dating back to the 18th century, somewhere between Lincolnshire and Northumbria: marches, polkas, hornpipes, jigs, rants, Australian schottische. Plus a Calabrian Tarantella from the Alan Lomax (-> FW#23) Collection which had been bismarcked to become a jig.
Annie Dearman (voice), Vic Gammon (voice, anglo concertina, banjo, 1-row melodeon) and Steve Harrison (1- and 2-row-melodeon, mouth organ) hail from Yorkshire and the three are devoted to traditional English song: narrative ballads and lyrical songs (plus three dance tunes added) that have been taken from traditional singers, manuscripts, ballad sheets, and the great folk song collections of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They took those songs, or bits of it, and welded it together. The sound is pure 19th century, the era when all their instruments became popular. Regarding their repertoire, I just like to mention "Pleal's Allemand" (Pleyel's Fancy), Igantius Pleyel (1757-1831) had been an Austrian composer and a pupil of Haydn, and "Pretty little Feet" which had been derived from "The Lass of Loch Royale", the tune is "Willy of Winsbury". "Rosemary Lane" is probably the best known. "Daddy, Don't Go Down the Mine" had been learned from Doc Watson and changed into three time since Vic's grandmother sang a fragment of the chorus in three time.
Vic Gammon and Annie Dearman are also singing and Steve Harrison is playing sax on fellow-Yorkshireman Pete Coe's "In Paper Houses". Pete himself sings and plays bouzouki, melodeon, banjo and Appalachian mountain dulcimer on ten English traditional (well known might be only the "Outlandish Knight") and four contemporary songs. The latter includes his original "Seven Warnings"; Petes says that we wrote this as a stadium anthem for the band Red Shift, but unfortunatly no stadium gigs were forthcoming. Since the 1970s, the one man folk festival plays mainly as a soloist, and I guess that's better for the music.
Traditional English song and dance music never sounded better!
English Folk Dance & Song Society, Backshift Music
Walkin' T:-)M


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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