This week’s Folk Show features rituals, Cuckoos, poachers, Lapwings, Gypsies and a Golden Plover to name just a few of the themes that crop up in the folk songs we’ve pulled together. We’ve also got a sneak peek at some advance releases from Martin Simpson, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, Tom Russell, The Young’uns and Mairearad Green and Mike Vass. Plus new releases from Jon Wilks, Allysen Callery, Trembling Bells and McKasson & McDonald. It all holds together beautifully, so we hope you all enjoy listening to it. If you do, make sure to repost and favourite the show on Mixcloud.
Folk Show Ep. 5 Playlist
Lisa Knapp – The Night Before May Day
Taken from Lisa Knapp’s latest album Till April is Dead – a Garland of May. Lisa was our Artist of the Month for May, which seemed only right…for the opening track, I chose The Night Before May which sets the scene perfectly for the tracks that follow, all helped by the ticking clock and Tawny owl. In case you were wondering May is a month rich in folklore and tradition, as touched on in our interview with Lisa here. The night before May was often a time for decorating buildings with greenery and flowers whilst in Lancashire and Yorkshire it was Mischief Night…a time to play tricks on your neighbours. According to Steve Roud‘s The English Year this custom was ‘strangely schizophrenic’ with some people celebrating it on November 4th…in the mid twentieth century it ‘gravitated to Hallowe’en…Many young folk in Yorkshire now celebrate Mischief Night on 31 October.
Stick In The Wheel – Seven Gypsies
Stick in the Wheel have an uncanny knack of breathing new life into old songs as they do hear with Seven Gypsies from their 2015 album From Here. As Thomas said in his review of the album…” it’s now only a small imaginative leap to get from the tale of an unfulfilled wife running off with travellers to a modern tabloid story of infidelity. ”
Kim Lowings and The Greenwood – The Cuckoo
The Cuckoo is a popular folk song and Kim Lowings and The Greenwood have made this brilliant rendition which features on their new album Wild & Wicked Youth which is out on 8 September. It features songs of the sea, soul searching, murder, treachery, triumph, love lost, love gained and a girls’ night out! Guest artists include Shannon Johnson and Ami Oprenova on fiddle and Lewis Jones on Melodeon. They are also touring the album so go and find out more here www.kimlowings.com
Martin Simpson – Rufford Park Poachers
We couldn’t resist playing another fine track from Martin’s eagerly awaited new solo album entitled Trails and Tribulations, out on September 1st, via Topic Records (Pre-order link: http://smarturl.it/umdp3x). According to Martin’s richly detailed liner notes this was one of the first traditional songs to be commercially recorded by Australian song collector and composer, Percy Grainger who recorded Joseph Taylor of Saxby All Saints singing it in 1908. The song is based on the story of local poachers rising up against the gamekeepers of the Dukeries Rufford Park near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. Such incidents were not uncommon after the Enclosures Acts which changed the countryside dramatically. Open-field ploughland or common grazing land was transformed into enclosures which tended to favour straight-lines over the boundaries which traditonally followed contours. These boundaries were hurriedly planned and give us the distinctive patterns you see in the countryside today. More importantly common land was lost – it was a triumph of wealth over democracy. Something we see more and more of today with Corporate power.
Jon Wilks – The Sandgate Dandling
This is taken from Jon’s new single. He told me “My mum and grandmother – both from Liverpool – sang this song to me as a child. I assumed it was a Liverpudlian folk song until I heard Cilla Black (of all people) singing it years later. When I recently researched it, however, it turned out that a far older and more sinister version came from Newcastle (isn’t it always the way?)”
“It’s about a song by one Robert Nunn, a blind fiddler from Newcastle who died in 1853, which was subsequently adapted over 100 years later by Stan Kelly-Bootle, a folk singer/songwriter…read more about it on his blog here.
Tom Russell – Just Like Tom Thumb Blues
In case you missed it, Tom Russell provided us with his own playlist this week on which he chose ten songs he’d play at an imaginary ‘Folk Hotel‘ (listen here), which is the title of his new studio album. Being a Dylan fan, I couldn’t resist including this track. A duet with Joe Ely, featuring Joel Guzman on Tex-Mex accordion. Augie Meyers and Eliza Gilkyson also make guest appearances on the album, which was recorded at Congress House studio in Austin, Texas. It’s out on Proper Records 8th September. Pre-Order it here http://smarturl.it/folk-hotel
Allysen Callery – Prince of the Morning
Yes, New England singer-songwriter Allysen Callery is back with an outstanding new release. Prince’s Pine, five-track EP. Read our review of the album here. You can download the Ep via Bandcamp: https://allysencallery.bandcamp.com/album/princes-pine
Jack Sharp – Bedfordshire May Carol
Another great folk song about May. Sung here by Jack Sharp of Wolf People. He sang this for the Stick in the Wheel compilation From Here: English Folk Field Recordings. In the liner notes, he explains that the song is believed to originate “from Northill, about four to five miles from the village I grew up in, Clophill.”
Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys – Bonny Lass of Fyvie
Another album that is sure to excite the folkie tastebuds is Pretty Peggy by Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys (main image). Bonny Lass of Fyvie is the song that gives the album its name Pretty Peggy – the Scottish ballad of a thwarted romance between a soldier and ‘pretty Peggy’. Pretty Peggy is out on the 6th October and available to pre-order now via ProperMusic | Amazon | iTunes
Trembling Bells – Golden Plover
Golden plover is taken from the new EP Avocet Revisited – a four track EP, commissioned by Earth Recordings as a companion piece to Bert Jansch’s 1979 avian-themed masterstroke ‘Avocet’ (reviewed here). Again drawing inspiration from the resplendence of birds native to British waters (Bert himself was a keen ornithologist), Earth invited this quartet of artists – Edwyn Collins and Carwyn Ellis, Modern Studies, Alasdair Roberts, Trembling Bells – to each choose a species that particularly speaks to them, and base a track around it. The results have been universally graceful, evocative, and majestic – much like the creatures themselves.
Performed by Trembling Bells, Golden Plover has a Harvest feel – the last days of summer invoked by the warm refrain and gentle orchestration found on ‘Golden Plover’. In another lifetime, this song – infused with the sounds of yesteryear – could very easily have made it onto the Wicker Man soundtrack… which should tell you all you need to know. A pagan hymn reimagined for the Scarfolk era! The band is joined by Callum Calderwood (violin), Rory Haye (vocals), Andrew Pattie (vocals) and Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson (12 string guitar). Order via Bandcamp – https://avocetrevisited.
Merry Hell – Come On, England!
The title track of Merry Hell’s latest EP which we reviewed here this week. Written by Mery Hell’s Bob Kettle. It features the band’s voices en-mass and is a stirring call to celebrate England’s historical tradition of seeking tolerance and equality in this age of rising nationalism. Order it via Merry Hell here: http://www.merryhell.co.uk/shop.html or Amazon
The Young’uns – Lapwings
A gorgeous song from The Young’uns fourth studio album Strangers. Sean Cooney’s songwriting shines throughout this album which is released on September 29th. This song was by “the beautiful diary entry of Private Thomas Williams of the 19th King’s Liverpool Regiment in the First World War which ended with the line ‘My dreams were of English fields, horses at work ploughing and the spring cries of peewits.’ Taken from http://smarturl.it/ox0wmnTommy Ark: Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War by Richard Van Emden.” Pre-Order Strangers here:
Mairearad Green and Mike Vass – Dhomhnuil
Taken from A Day a Month, the new album from Mairearad Green and Mike Vass. Both musicians are well-known composers in The Scottish Traditional Music scene. However, this album includes only Traditional melodies and not any of their own compositions. The music was sourced from books such as The Gesto Collection of Highland Music, The Atholle and Highland Collections and The Moidart Collection. The pair recorded the album in a small croft house in Mairearad’s home village of Achnahaird.
Mairearad says, “It has been so exciting to discover such great old melodies, and I can’t wait to perform the album with Mike in some of Scotland’s most idyllic places.”
To launch the album, Mike and Mairearad will be performing at Blas Festival on 7 Sept at The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, at Folklub in Glasgow on 8 Sept, Knoydart Village Hall on 13 Sept and at Colonsay Folk Festival on 14 Sept.
McKasson & McDonald – Theme For Scotland
I was spoilt for choice in choosing a track from this album which arrived with a handwritten note. It features bi-coastal duo from the USA – Eric McDonald on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan McKasson on fiddle (pictured on the show image) and backing vocals and guest accordionist Jeremiah McLane. As I say, I was pretty spoilt for choice, it’s such a fine album so, in the end, I opted for an Alasdair Fraser tune – Theme for Scotland which featured on his 1995 Dawn Dance album.
I did track this duo down on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/mckassonandmcdonald so if you love this as much as I did, then please show them your love and support, as indeed all the artists featured on the show by buying their music and going to see them play live.