Äl Jawala: Hypnophonic
It's no secret that you can perfectly party on Balkan Beats. But what Germany's Äl Jawala concoct on their third studio album, makes you dance even more hypnotic than usual. Although dancing still is absolute priority, it works in another dimension - somehow dark, relaxed and anchored a few levels deeper.
Marty Moonshine McKernan & Don Banjo Smith: The Rose Sessions
Back in the 1990s, Don Banjo Smith and Marty Moonshine McKernan, who have been on the Irish pub and festival circuit for many years, started a recording project revolving around a Rose theme, as there seemed to be many Irish songs with that recurring subject. 15 years later, an obsessive dream has become a reality.
Buffy Sainte-Marie (*20 February 1941, Piapot Cree First Nation Reserve, Saskatchewan, Canada). Throughout her career, Native Canadian singer-songwriter, visual artist and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie has focused on issues of the Indigeneous peoples of the Americas. She spent a considerable amount of time in the coffeehouses of Toronto's Yorkville district and New York's Greenwich Village as part of the 1960s folk scene. In 1963, she witnessed wounded soldiers returning from Vietnam, which inspired her protest song "Universal Soldier" and later became a big hit for Donovan. Her song "Up Where We Belong" was performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for the film An Officer and a Gentleman and received an Academy Award for Best Song in 1982. Her latest album Power in the Blood was named the winner of the 2015 Polaris Music Prize.
Michael Doucet (*14 February 1951, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA). Fiddler, singer and songwriter Michael Doucet, who received Grammy Awards in both 1998 and 2009 for his work with the Cajun band BeauSoleil, learned the banjo by age six, the guitar by his eighth year, and was researching Cajun music as a college student. He revived many old Cajun songs that had not been recorded and whose musicians of that era were gone. As an adjunct professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, he designed the first university course on Cajun music. Doucet's individual style incorporated elements of Western swing, 1930’s string band and Creole music into traditional Cajun music.
Dolly Parton (*19 January 1946, Locust Ridge, Tennessee, USA). Dolly Rebecca Parton Dean is the most honored female country performer of all time. She rose to prominence in 1967 as a featured performer on singer Porter Wagoner's weekly syndicated TV program; their duet single, a cover of Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind", was a top-ten hit on the country singles chart and led to several successful albums and pop-country hits. In the late 1990s, she returned to classic country/bluegrass. Non-musical ventures include the Dollywood theme park in Tennessee and her efforts on behalf of childhood literacy.
Frankie Armstrong (*13 January 1941, Workington, Cumberland, UK). Involved with folk and political songs since the 1950s, blind singer Frankie Armstrong has performed and/or recorded over the years with Blowzabella, John Kirkpatrick, Leon Rosselson, Dave Van Ronk and Maddy Prior. In 1964 she had joined The Critics Group directed by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. Her first recording, in 1965, was at the invitation of Bert Lloyd who as director of Topic Records was putting together an album of erotic songs with Anne Briggs. In the mid-1970s Armstrong pioneered workshops based on traditional styles of singing.
Joan Baez (*9 January 1941, Staten Island, New York, USA). American folk singer and activist Joan Chandos Báez has performed publicly for over 55 years, releasing over 30 albums. She began her recording career in 1960 and achieved immediate success. Her first three albums all achieved gold record status and stayed on the charts of hit albums for two years. She is regarded as a folk singer, although her music has diversified since the counterculture days of the 1960s and now encompasses everything from folk rock and pop to country and gospel music. Her recordings include many topical songs and material dealing with social issues.
Sergey Starostin (*1 January 1956, Moscow, Russia). The Russian folk and jazz composer and performer Sergey Nikolaevich Starostin (Russian: Сергей Николаевич Старостин) is a famous for his modern interpretations of archaic Russian (as well as Lapps and Tuva) folk music. After graduation from Merzlyakov College of Music and Moscow Conservatory, he abandoned academic music, switching to traditional folk instruments, tunes and non-tempered scales.
By the mid-90s, he started to collaborate with jazz musicians Mikhail Alperin and Arkady Shilkloper, forming the Moscow Art Trio and mixing together jazz and ethnic (Russian and Balkan) music. Starostin plays folk flutes (kalyuka, svirel, pyzhatka), reed instruments (clarinet, zhaleyka, berben) and gusli, and has collaborated and recorded with Mari Boine, Bulgarian Voices Angelite and others.
Robb Johnson (*25 December 1955, Isleworth, Hounslow, UK). The British singer has been called "one of the last genuinely political songwriters", and is known for his mix of political satire and wit. Robb Johnson began his musical career playing in folk clubs in the 1970s and ran a folk club at the University of Sussex. He released more than 30 albums since 1985, either solo or in several collaborations, on his own record label, Irregular Records. In 1997 he composed the song cycle Gentle Men, based on the experiences of his grandfathers in the First World War, recorded in collaboration with Roy Bailey and performed at the commemorative Passchendaele Peace Concert.
John McEuen (*19 December 1945, Oakland, California, USA). Multi-instrumentalist, entertainer, composer, and especially recognized as a pioneer stylist on the 5-string banjo, John McEuen has performed and recorded prolifically as a solo artist and in various group settings, especially the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1966 to 1986, 2001 to present), which currently is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Their groundbreaking 1972 Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, which assembled the living legends of country and bluegrass music (Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, Roy Acuff, amongst others), has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Tommy Sands (*19 December 1945, Mayobridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, UK). Folk singer Tommy Sands was the prime songwriter for the Sands Family, one of Ireland's most influential folk groups of the 1970s. He still performs with his three siblings, solo, and with son and daughter Moya and Fionán Sands. His parental home in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains had been a focal point for both Catholic and Protestant neighbours to enjoy music and craic. His song There Were Roses has been described as "... certainly one of the best songs ever written about the Irish Problem".
Seán Cannon (*29 November 1940, Galway, Ireland). Immortalised in the Christy Moore song "Lisdoonvarna" ("Seán Cannon Doing Back Stage Cooking"), Seán Cannon travelled to all music festivals in the late 1970s with a converted caravan and sold curry. Since 1982 Seán Cannon had been a member of The Dubliners and keeps on touring after their retirement in 2012 with former band members Patsy Watchorn and Eamonn Campbell and banjo player Gerry O'Connor under the name of "The Dublin Legends". With his sons, James and Robert Cannon, he occasionally performs traditional Irish as well as American folk and country music.
Neil Young (*12 November 1945, Toronto, Canada). In 1966, the Canadian-born singer-songwriter Neil Percival Young co-founded the band Buffalo Springfield in California together with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, and later joined Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969. He released his first album in 1968 and has since forged a successful and acclaimed solo career, spanning more than 45 years and 35 studio albums.
His music is characterized by his idiosyncratic electric and acoustic guitar playing, deeply personal lyrics and a high singing voice. Most of his best known work is either acoustic folk/country rock or electric hard rock (often in collaboration with the band Crazy Horse); the latter has caused some to dub him the "Godfather of Grunge". Neil Young is an environmentalist and advocate for the welfare of small farmers, having co-founded the benefit concert Farm Aid in 1985.
Tom McConville (*6 November 1950, Newcastle, UK).
Brought up in a Tyneside pub with clientele drawn from the Irish and Scottish communities,
Tom McConville experienced traditional singing and fiddle music at first hand.
Turning professional in 1971, he joined Bob Fox as well as Magna Carta to play all over Europe.
He has played on hundreds of albums, including Richard Thompson, Allan Taylor and Lindisfarne.
Partnerships with Irish singer Kieran Halpin and Northumbrian piper Pauline Cato
produced award winning albums.
Tom McConville is widely acknowledged as THE authority on the music of 19th century fiddler-composer
James Hill and produced the first CD devoted entirely to his compositions.
Roy Harris (1933-2016). The folk singer Roy Harris, who has died on 9 February 2016 aged 82, has been known for his influential role in the rise of the folk club movement. While doing his National Service with the Royal Artillery he heard his first folk song, McCafferty – the story of a soldier executed for killing two of his own officers – and his passion was ignited. He lost several jobs after taking time off to play gigs and, after an acclaimed appearance at the 1964 Sidmouth Festival, decided to turn professional. In 1967 he founded the Nottingham Traditional Music Club, one of the most important – if controversial – folk song clubs in the country, with a rigid policy of promoting traditional song to the exclusion of everything else. (Still existing as the weekly Traditions at the Tiger in Long Eaton.)
Harris continued to perform until ill-health forced him to stop touring in 1999. He sang primarily a cappella, and he went on to become one of the mainstays of the folk club scene, despite relying on public transport or lifts to gigs since he never learnt to drive. He often carried a guitar case, containing a change of clothes but no guitar, because he said it made him feel like a proper folk singer.
Pete Huttlinger (1961-2016). Before he emerged as a solo artist in the late 1990s, Pete Huttlinger was best known as John Denver’s lead guitar player. In 2000, he won the National Fingerpick Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas. The song cycle McGuire’s Landing, about the westward expansion in America as seen through the eyes of an Irish immigrant, earned him particular acclaim only recently. Born with a rare heart defect, Huttlinger underwent a series of operations that ultimately failed. He chronicled his ordeal in his 2015 memoir, Joined at the Heart: A Story of Love, Guitars, Resilience and Marigolds.
Andy M. Stewart (1952-2015). The Scots singer and songwriter Andrew MacGregor Stewart was at the forefront of the Scottish folk scene in the 1970s as the voice of the Edinburgh-formed group Silly Wizard. They were also quite popular in the US and Europe – particularly Germany. Stewart toured with Silly Wizard from 1976 to 1988. In the following decade, he released four solo albums and three more in collaboration with Manus Lunny (Capercaillie).
Stewart died on 27 December 2015, aged 63, after suffering a stroke and a bout of pneumonia. Several of Stewart's songs have become well-known, including "The Queen of Argyll" and "The Ramblin' Rover": “If you’ve been a man of action / though you’re lying there in traction / you will get some satisfaction / thinking ‘Jesus, at least I tried’”.
John Trudell (1946-2015). The Native American author, poet, actor, musician and political activist was the spokesperson for the United Indians of All Tribes' takeover of Alcatraz beginning in 1969. During most of the 1970s, he served as the chairman of the American Indian Movement. After his pregnant wife, three children and mother-in-law were killed in 1979 in a suspicious fire at the home of his parents-in-law, John Trudell had turned to writing, music and film.
Armand (1946-2015). The Dutch protest singer Herman George van Loenhout, better known as Armand, came to the fore during the hippie generation and was well-known as an advocate of cannabis. He is best known for his song "Ben ik te min" ("Am I not good enough?"), which spent 14 weeks in the Dutch top 40 chart in 1967. Hailed as the best-known protest song in Dutch popular music, in it the speaker lashes out against the bourgeois father of his girlfriend.
David Rodriguez (1952-2015).
Folk singer-songwriter and poet David Roland Rodriguez was born and raised in Houston, Texas, with paternal roots in Mexico,
but had been living in Holland since 1994.
Influenced by Lightnin' Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker,
he was voted the best Texan songwriter by music magazine Third Coast Music in 1992, 1993 and 1994, respectively.
Butch Hancock called David Rodriguez a “detour well worth the trouble”.
In his earlier concerts, he was accompanied by his daughter Carrie Rodriguez on fiddle, who is flying the Rodriguez family flag.
Fingerstyle Guitar Journal
Introducing Fingerstyle Guitar Journal, a quarterly digital magazine owned and published by Bill Piburn. Each issue will include interviews, workshops, transcriptions and reviews. Play buttons allow you to hear audio and see video performances. The magazine is delivered to your email as a download. You can purchase single issues for $6 or subscribe for $20.
Issue #1 features an interview with John Knowles CGP and a transcription of his composition "After Paris." Dr. Troy Gifford is also featured with an interview and transcription of his composition "5 O'Clock." Issue 1 includes 12 Workshops and 11 full compositions!
Fingerstyle Guitar Journal is a quarterly magazine.
Contributing staff writers include, Tim Sparks, Eric Lugosch, Sean McGowan, Tim Lerch, Zana Forshee, Bill Piburn, Dennis McCorkle, Troy Gifford and Dylan Ryche.
Cover Art App for Independent Musicians
Mr. Lee Jones, singer/guitarist for the now broken up Australian new wave band The Solicitors, just launched an app for musicians, producers & singers, to create their own HQ cover art for online releases (iTunes, Soundcloud, Bandcamp etc). It's a really quick and easy way to get great artwork. A lot of musicians struggle with getting the artwork up to standard for their releases, usually due to time and financial constraints.
There's a preview video and full press kit including founding story available on www.tadtheapp.com.
Under The Apple Tree Roots Festival
WBBC and WhisperingBobTV are delighted to announce the launch of a brand new music festival curated by legendary broadcaster ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris. This exciting two-day roots music festival will be held at Silverstone Woodlands over the May Spring bank holiday weekend 27th to 30th May and will bring together a plethora of different genres across four stages.
Some of the artists appearing at the inaugural festival will include Sam Palladio, The Lake Poets and Ethan Johns on Friday, Danny & The Champions Of The World, Liam Bailey, Boo Hewerdine and Thea Gilmore on Saturday and Keston Cobblers’ Club, Judith Owen, Nell Bryden, Martyn Joseph and Ward Thomas on Sunday, with many more acts to be announced.
The choice of site and the facilities on offer mean that the weather will have little chance to spoil the enjoyment. The audience can take in performances from major artists in the 5,000 capacity main stage marquee, or head to the smaller on site pub – ‘The Tree Stump Inn’ - to enjoy pints of Whispering Bob ale and acoustic performances. Fans will even be able to experience Nashville without leaving the festival site. Inspired by Music City’s renowned Bluebird Café, UTAT Roots will also host a special songwriters’ ‘In-The-Round’ stage, curated by Chris Difford where audiences can experience the techniques behind penning songs from some of the world’s greatest writers.
“We are so excited to be hosting this festival” says Bob Harris “it’s an opportunity to give many new artists the chance to play in front of people who are as passionate about music as I am. I am very grateful to be immersed in music for a living. This is something I do not take lightly. My hope is that this festival becomes one big extension of the warmth and happiness I feel every time I sit in the studio and listen to a live session."
22 - 24 April 2016 Il Fanciullo e il Folklore (The Child and Folklore), Ravenna, Italy www.fitp.org 23 Apr - 1 May 2016 folkBALTICA, Flensburg & Sønderjylland-Schleswig, Germany/Denmark ft. Phønix, Kraja, Lyy, Árstíðir, Stockholm Lisboa Project, Cathy Jordan, Kalüün, Kofelgschroa, ... www.folkbaltica.de 4 - 7 May 2016 ExibMúsica (Iberoamerican Music Expo), Évora (Portugal) www.exibmusica.com 5 - 7 May 2016 European World of Bluegrass, Voorthuizen, Netherlands www.ewob.eu 7 - 10 July 2016 Rudolstadt Festival, Germany ft. Focus: Colombia, Cumbia; Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard, Ernst Molden, Lorcán Mac Mathúna, ... www.rudolstadt-festival.de 11 - 17 July 2016 Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, Finland ft. Piirpauke, Basco, Puhti, Aallotar, Troy McGillivray & Tim Edey, Karen Tweed, ... www.kaustinen.net 18 - 23 July 2016 Meitheal - Residential Summer School, Limerick, Ireland www.tradweek.com 18 - 31 July 2016 Viljandi Folk Music Festival, Estonia www.folk.ee 28 - 31 July 2016 Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge, UK ft. Afro Celt Sound System, Solas, Blazin' Fiddles, Kila, Le Vent du Nord, Breabach, Gogol Bordello, Songs of Separation, Eliza Carthy, Sam Lee, Duncan Chisholm, Kate Rusby, Michael McGoldrick, Glen Hansard, Sam Kelly, Christy Moore, Brian McNeill, ... www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk
29 July - 5 August 2016 Sidmouth FolkWeek, Devon, UK ft. Oysters 3, Blazin' Fiddles, Le Vent du Nord, Jamies Smith's Mabon, The Young'uns, Show of Hands, Riccardo Tesi, Bob Fox & Jez Lowe, Kathryn Toberts & Sean Lakeman, Sharon Shannon, John McCusker, John Kirkpatrick, ... www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk 4 - 6 August 2016 Urkult Festival, Sweden ft. Ahlberg Ek & Roswall, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Sallyswag, ... www.urkult.se 4 - 7 August 2016 Wickham Festival, Hampshire, UK ft. Steeleye Span, Oysterband, Hayseed Dixie, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Blazin' Fiddles, Lynched, Le Vent du Nord, The Young'uns, Keston Cobblers Club, Manran, The Chair, Ewan McLennan, ... www.wickhamfestival.co.uk 5 - 7 August 2016 Castlefest, Schloss Keukenhof, Lisse, Netherlands ft. Saltatio Mortis, Cesair, Ye Banished Privateers, ... www.castlefest.nl 5 - 14 August 2016 Festival Interceltique de Lorient, France ft. Year of Australia: Celts Under The Southern Cross www.festival-interceltique.com 11 - 13 August 2016 Fairport's Cropredy Convention, UK ft. Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell, Demon Barbers, Gilmore & Roberts, Gryphon, Hayseed Dixie, Young Folk Award winner(s), ... www.fairportconvention.com 12 - 14 August 2016 Parkfest, Eindhoven, Netherlands ft. Kadril, Faran Flad, WÖR, Sarah McQuaid, ... www.parkfest.nl 25 - 28 August 2016 Tønder Festival, Denmark ft. Rosanne Cash, Blind Boys of Alabama, Scott Wood Band, Treacherous Orchestra, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Eliza Carthy, The Chair, Mick Flannery, Steel Wheels, Mánran, Shooglenifty, A Blues & Roots Revue with Hans Theessink, Big Daddy Wilson, Eric Bibb ... www.tf.dk 26 - 29 August 2016 Shrewsbury Folk Festival, UK ft. Treacherous Orchestra, Shooglenifty, The Levellers, Dervish, Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band, The Urban Folk Quartet, Show of Hands, Ten Strings And A Goatskin, Andy Irvine, Andy May, John McCusker, Karen Matheson, Rosanne Cash, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra, ... www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk
Last but not least: Brooklyn
A few weeks before Christmas I wrote up my cinema visit to see the movie Brooklyn. By and large my review was a positive one, which pleased me since I have long been an admirer of Colm Tóibín, and have expressed my admiration several times down the years. I did not however comment on his use of the great sean-nós singer, Iarla Ó Lionáird. It comes in a scene where down-on-their-luck and lonely Irishmen are given a charitable Christmas dinner, and Iarla Ó Lionáird provides a parting of the waves moment as he memorably sings a hauntingly beautiful song that is a personal favourite of Colm Tóibín.
But it is pure indulgence on the part of the film makers: a totally false moment. It would never have happened in a thousand years, even if all the assembled down-on-their-luck chaps had hailed from the Gaeltacht !! (Which they assuredly would not have all so stemmed from!) Let me tell you what they’d have sung. It would have been English language songs like When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, The Rose of Tralee, Danny Boy, I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen, etc., and the assembled would have joined in the chorus.
A lovely moment in the film it may have been to sean-nós lovers like me, but alas a false one. As false as the moment in the Welsh miners’ welfare hall, in that great film on the 1984 Miners’ Strike when the director absurdly has a young woman sing the turgid Bread And Roses, and even more absurdly have the assembled all join in the chorus! It would never have happened...not in a million years. We Welsh have a better ear for a good song than that!! They would either have sung something like Tom Jones’s Delilah, or a rousing Welsh hymn (in English) like Cwm Rhondda. It was alas, another totally false moment.
Why do film directors so attempt to ruin their work by deliberately choosing the esoteric? Beats me. Whatever... here is a snatch of that a cappella ballad from the movie Brooklyn: you will find it at 5.30 as the credits roll.
And before I leave the subject, I recently read this heartening piece on a London Muslim scholar becoming a sean-nós singer. This tells us there is hope for the future. And if you wonder how the guy sounds, pin your ears back and prepared to be shocked. Here he delivers live that very same Brooklyn song. And nails it. What a performance! Okay, so Iarla Ó Lionáird he ain’t. But golly he is impressive here.
And to show he can do it too in the English language and play a persuasive fiddle to boot, here he is with The Boys of Barr na Sráide, a famous traditional song from a poem composed by the Irish writer, Sigerson Clifford... the same guy whose poem was the basis of that magnificent song The Tinkerman’s Daughter. Click on “show more” here beneath the screen on this next link, for the full lyrics!
David "Dai" Woosnam