FolkWorld #61 11/2016
© Rachel Jackson / Riverboat Records

Calaita Flamenco Son

Brexit Blues

As morning scorched itself open on the 23rd June 2016, radios, televisions and newspapers broke word to their nation. Brexit. It happened. It actually happened!

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues offers a light-hearted yet poignant collection of folk, roots and blues music from across Europe, lamenting a decision that confounds those of us who openly welcome our neighbours and celebrate cultural diversity.

Chłopcy Kontra Basia [58]
Söndörgő [46]
Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis [49]
She'Koyokh [41]
John Renbourn [57] & Wizz Jones [33]
FatDog [56]
Bela Lakatos & The Gypsy Youth Project
Faith i Branko [61]
Calaita Flamenco Son
Dimitris Mistakidis
Aidan Coffey with Frankie Gavin, Alec Finn,... [61]
Boris Kovač & La Campanella
Olcay Bayir
Various Artists "Riverboat Records presents: Brexit Blues", Riverboat Records / World Music Network, 2016

Depending on the owner's orientation, arms up and down the country were thrown up in surprise and exclamation. 'Bugger!' or 'Bingo!' (as is your preference) echoing out across the fells, lakes, dual carriageways and tower blocks. Only one thing remains for sure - the times they are a-changin'.

Billy Bragg

»Worst of all outcomes: Very narrow victory. England votes out, Scotland in. Boris in debt to Farage. Rancour and division ahead.« (Billy Bragg)

»I have a lot of misgivings about the way the E.U. is run, but they don't make me want to ditch the whole idea. I feel the E.U. is one of the only restraints on the kind of neo-liberal market fundamentalism that has seen inequality rising throughout the world.« (Brian Eno)

This chronicle of music from across Europe laments the decision. For those of us who quite liked being able to swap proverbial spare keys and borrow the odd cup of sugar from our neighbours, Brexit is bolster to a seeping mood indigo. Music though is a healer. Can music help to break down the very borders Brexit seeks to impose? Here's hoping.

Polish trio Chłopcy Kontra Basia open the album with 'Wieczerza', a butterscotch jazz bounce. Basia Derlak's immaculate vocal knits folklore tales to arthouse concept without fuss as double bass and drums fuzz out the edges. Hungarian band Söndörgő offer up 'Evo Scru', a trembling tightrope walk through two Serbian melodies from the northern region of Vojvodina. Another Hungarian stalwart, the prodigious Bela Lakatos is heard on 'Pal O Forro' hurtling full-speed with chanting vocals, foot-stomping and slapped percussion. Slip-sliding across the fretboard in to Serbia, we have husband and wife duo Faith I Branko on dramatic Balkan ode 'Rose'. Branko leans heavily on his violin strings whilst Faith pumps the accordion. Another accordionist, Aidan Coffey, flies the Irish flag on wistful track 'Air - An Pastin Fionn (The fair-haired child)'.

'Erhetai Heimonas' is mercurial, a dose of Greek psychedelia complete with Mellotron tincture. Another Greek contribution comes from Rebetika rogue Dimitris Mistakidis on guitar cascade 'Gkiouzel'. We hear perfectly formed klezmer from London-based band She'Koyokh. Violin, clarinet and guitar dance in perfect step whilst accordion takes up the bellows on their Moldavian dance 'Hora De La Munte'.

John Renbourn & Wizz Jones beautifully sum up the Brexit mood with their classic rendition of 'Blues Run The Game'. This recording is taken from the duo's 2016 album Joint Control recorded just before the passing of Renbourn: a gem in the archive showcasing two of the UK's most influential acoustic guitarists.

'Quedate Con Tus Anillos' is a seguiriya, a form considered the hallmark of the most serious corner of flamenco, cante jondo. Here Glenn Sharp's guitar struts confidently below Chico Pere's commanding vocal.

'Polonäs Från Sexdrega' is a Swedish processional, almost dirge-like but with a recurring glint of hopefulness peeking the parapet. The band, FatDog, host members from the folk and jazz scenes of Sweden, Norway and England.

Boris Kovač's saxophone ends the album with 'Pannonian Blues'. The track takes its title from the East-Central European region of Pannonia that belonged in part to Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Croatia; an ancient province that cut across modern-day borders now lost to the sands of time. Pause for thought indeed.

A secret bonus track from Turkish-Kurdish London-based Olcay Bayir hypothetically extends the European Union even further, ready to welcome Turkey one day. Upbeat Albanian love song 'Jarnana' illuminates Olcay's velveteen soprano.

Aidan Coffey

Artist Video Aidan Coffey @
FW#9, #61


Artist Video Söndörgő @ FolkWorld:
FW#46, #55


Artist Video FatDog @ FolkWorld:

Faith i Branko

Artist Video Faith i Branko @


Artist Video She'Koyokh @ FolkWorld:
FW#41, #53

Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis

Artist Video Kristi Stassinopoulou @ FolkWorld:

Photo Credits: (1) Calaita Flamenco Son (2) 'Brexit Blues', (4) Aidan Coffey, (5) Söndörgő, (6) FatDog, (7) Faith i Branko, (8) She'Koyokh, (9) Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis (unknown/website); (3) Billy Bragg (by Walkin' Tom).

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