Welcome to our latest Singing from the Floor. This week’s show features plenty of new folk music from the likes of Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson, Mary Ann Kennedy, Bella Hardy, Reg Meuross, Leveret, Topette!! (pictured above), Greg Russell and more. Listen below, I’ve also included extensive notes on the tracks I’ve chosen.
This weeks Singing from the Floor series opens to the voice of Cyril Poacher singing The Bonny Bunch O’ Roses. The extract followed by a powerful driving version by June Tabor And Oysterband. A read through Voice of the People (vol 8. – A Story I’m Just About to Tell: Local Events and National Issues) explains how “The French Revolution, the Revolutionary Wars and Napoleon Bonaparte stirred new thoughts in the minds of the working population of Britain and Ireland and brought about the most repressive Westminster policy against reformers, radicals and revolutionaries. Even though the UK was at war with France, there was still a widely-held sneaking admiration for Napoleon among the organised working population.” The Bonny Bunch O’ Roses was one such song in praise of Napoleon, and it is Great Britain and Ireland that are the Bonny Bunch of Roses…Tabor’s rousing version certainly has a rebellious spirit.
Folk music and politics enjoy a long relationship – whether you like it or not…I like that link personally, it wasn’t about collecting the morning dew. The fabulous Greg Russell also shares a love of politics and his latest album, Inclined to be Red (a Featured Album of the Month), flys its colours high with songs like Storylines and Crooked Jack which is included here. A song, written by Dominic Behan and made famous by the likes of Dick Gaughan. It is based on the accounts of appalling working conditions for Irish and Scottish works on a hydro dam project.
Dick Gaughan could not be mentioned and not included so he’s there in all his glory with his superb cover of Richard Thompson‘s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Richard is our Artist of the Month and you can hear his brilliant acoustic version of Gethsemane from his new album Acoustic Classics II (out on August 11th, via Beeswing, which we reviewed here).
There’s plenty more new music included, some yet to be released including: The East Pointers ‘Party Wave‘ from their forthcoming new album What We Leave Behind, due out on 29th September. They will be touring the UK in October so keep an eye out on their Facebook page for more news.
We also have new music from Martin Simpson‘s forthcoming new album Trails & Tribulations (out Sept 1st on Topic Records) with a great cover of my favourite Jackson C Frank song, Blues Run the Game. Anyone who has read of Jackson C Frank will know he had a terribly tragic life. This song featured on his only album, released in 1965 and produced by Paul Simon. This has become a firm favourite for many covers including Bert Jansch and Nick Drake yet it was a commercial flop on release.
We also have new music from Mary Ann Kennedy with the beautiful Gaelic song Mise Fhuair, from her first solo album An Dàn, Gaelic Songs For A Modern World, also a Featured Album of the Month which Neil McFadyen reviewed here.
A glimpse of Bella Hardy‘s new album ‘Eternal Spring‘ is offered with the unusually titled Gathering The Mouse-Ear. The album is based upon research and writing she undertook as British Council and PRS for Music Foundation Musician in Residence in Yunnan Province, China between November and December 2015. The words for this song were adopted from the Shiking, poem number 3. It’s followed by a Dai people tune ‘Yue Guang Xia De Feng Wei Zhu’ played on guzheng (a Chinese 21-string zither) by Daixiao.
Another Featured Album of the Month is Alex Seel‘s Circles EP, reviewed here by Thomas Blake. In his review, Thomas spoke of Curious Heart – “although the song’s gentleness is deceptive: the lyrics manage to be both timely and timeless, concerns that are undoubtedly contemporary are handled with a quiet, universal wisdom. Jansch is again a musical touchstone, as are Paul Simon and the much underrated Ralph McTell.”
Three top English folk musicians in the form of Sam Sweeney, Andy Cutting and Rob Habron join forces again as Leveret and Sidney Forlong / Misty Morning is taken from their forthcoming new album Inventions which is released on September 15th, via Root Beat Records.
Andy Cutting crops up again on Venture which also happens to be my favourite Topette!! track from their debut album C’est le Pompon (available on Bandcamp). Andy is joined by Julien Cartonnet (French pipes, Banjo), James Delarre (Violin), Barnaby Stradling (Acoustic Bass) and Tania Buisse (Bodhran, Feet). If that this doesn’t set you feet dancing then I don’t know what will. Flighty numbers are also on offer from Irish supergroup Usher’s Island featuring two generations of the finest and most influential of Irish traditional musicians: Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle. You can read our review of their self-titled album here.
There’s also new music from:
John Smith with the beautiful Coming Home from his long awaited follow-up album Headlong.
The Bookshop Band‘s Edge of the World from their latest album Before I crack. Following on with their book theme, this song was inspired by Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie.
Another mighty lineup arrives in the form of Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band, a collaboration between Peter Knight’s Gigspanner (Peter Knight, Roger Flack and Sacha Trochet) with Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. This live album will be well received as their appearance together are rare but highly sought after affairs, thanks to performances of dazzling musicianship and arresting chemistry as you can hear on The Butterfly. We’ll have more on this release very soon. The official album launch is August 9th, you can find their tour dates here which include Fairport’s Cropredy: http://www.gigspanner.com/live.html.
The mix ends on Cicero, taken from Reg Meuross‘s latest album Faraway People. It draws on the eleven comments on occupation and social status laid down in 42 BC by the Roman philosopher the song takes its title from. Read our review here.
Singing from the Floor No. 3 Tracklisting
Cyril Poacher – The Bonny Bunch O’ Roses (Extract)
June Tabor And Oysterband – Bonny Bunch Of Roses
Topette!! – Venture
Ushers Island – Wild Roving
The East Pointers – Party Wave
Dick Gaughan – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Martin Simpson – Blues Run the Game
Richard Thompson – Gethsemane
Greg Russell – Crooked Jack
Bella Hardy – Gathering The Mouse-Ear
John Smith – Coming Home
Mary Ann Kennedy – Mise Fhuair
The Bookshop Band – The Edge Of The World
Alex Seel – Curious Heart
Leveret – Sidney Forlong / Misty Morning
Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band – The Butterfly
Reg Meuross – Cicero