December 17, 2013 by Robb Powell
I didn’t need much encouragement after seeing an update on Brian Player’s Folk and Roots page advertising for radio shows or podcasts to broadcast as part of a Boxing Day 24 hour Folk and Acoustic marathon-type thing at UK Health Radio. In fact, I was a little surprised just how long it had been since I connected up that microphone and rambled on while playing some cracking tunes. It has been a busy year. Needless to say I had an absolute blast putting this show together. There were so many songs from musicians and bands I wanted to include I’m having to do a part 2 to the programme to make sure they are included. Even though it is a podcast there is no download available I’m afraid. This is to protect the hard works of those artists on the playlist. Please do take the time to check each of them out because they all have so much great music to offer you. So, this show will be broadcast at some point during that 24 hour special at UK Health Radio but if any other internet station would like to play it please let me know as I’d be happy to get the tunes out there for as many ears as possible. Also, please do share this link and page if you enjoy what you hear. You can always fast forward my waffling of course. It can then simply be a good mixtape of superb songs.
1. KENNETH J NASH
The first of the five to feature who played for me at the Oxjam Northampton Acoustic Folk Night. With this being a folk and acoustic special I thought it a perfect opportunity to play a song from each of them. Slow Burn is the stunning opening song (although track 2) from Kenneth’s newest album The Fall of Eden, which is due for release in January/February 2014. Yes I do have my physical copy already, thanks to attending a phenomenal private pre-launch launch party at Sofa Sessions in Kettering on Saturday. These gigs are really the way to go. Like Kenneth said himself, it was a chance for him to play these songs and the result of this work to a bunch of people he considers to be friends. It is a living room gig. Wonderfully intimate. Crisp sounding acoustics. It is the way a Saturday night out but in should be spent.
It was only my second (but of many more to come) Sofa gig but yet again I returned home to the flat and could not stop my mind from rearranging the clutter of furniture we have, to see how best we could potentially squeeze in some acoustic musicians and a small audience. Seriously. I don’t think Poppy Cat would be best pleased if we did that. It would be pretty awesome though. The backing vocals you can hear are provided by the delightful Fran Taylor (see below). What was wonderful about The Fall of Eden is that I’ve kind of been following the recording process as it has unfolded. Kenneth has been posting regular updated versions of the songs while he’s been hard at work. Although I did come away with the record on Saturday my insanely busy schedule lately means I only actually sat down while at work this afternoon and listened to it in full. It’s really something I can tell you. Such a perfect mix of instruments have been laid down providing real deep layers to already deep songs.
There was a bit of a band going on at the gig too. To make it even more special the aim was to recreate as much of the sound from the album as possible. So, in addition to Fran Taylor we had J M Jones (who opened up proceedings just brilliantly – and about whom I will feature more soon in a future) on second guitar (or guitars as there seemed to be so many being swapped over in between songs) and backing vocals. The line-up was topped off by Nye Parsons on big double bass. The aim was well and truly achieved. Once the songs from the new album were done we were treated to a number of other gorgeous tunes from Kenneth’s back catalogue (of which I collected 2 other records on Saturday – lucky me). To bring the night to a close was a revisit to what started it so magically and another performance of Slow Burn. Magnificent! http://www.kennethjnash.com/
2. FRAN TAYLOR
Just as she did at the Oxjam night, Fran performed a solo set at the gig on Saturday prior to joining Kenneth & Co for more. Music itself is incredibly addictive. I simply cannot get enough of Fran’s beautiful and faultless voice. She is out of this world amazing! Fact! I want a CD. I want a hundred CDs. I admit I fall into the same kind of listening loop as when I start playing the songs on her soundcloud page as when I start them off on the Apollo’s Mob page. I could easily sit there listening for days (months, even). You will see when you start. https://soundcloud.com/frantaylor
3. LEW BEAR
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Lew had the task of opening the Oxjam night and he did so with such brilliance it was a real pleasure to enjoy his music, live for the first time. Checking back through posts recently it was way back in March when I first came across his music. It is crazy how time is just whizzing by so fast. How is this happening?
Lew released his uniquely recorded Down By The Riverside LP earlier in the year and is an album you should check out. Click >>here<< and get these superb tunes in your ears for the smashing value of £3. Merry Tom is one of my favourites but Echoes of the Past is so moving I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play it on the podcast. When I bought my physical copy of the album recently he kindly sent another older album Done in the Dark too. Sadly, with time so limited I’ve not managed to get to it just yet but it is very high on my list. I really need to sort out this time issue don’t I? Full time non-music related work takes up far too much of it. https://www.facebook.com/LewBear
4. PHOEBE LOUISE
DARKER STORMS THAN THIS
Talking of being moving, this song performed live at the Oxjam gig was so powerful it may well just have floored us with all the emotion therein. Phoebe is remarkable! The power and skills she possesses belie her young age and there is a very long bright future as a musician and songwriter ahead of her.
You can listen to the whole of the album from which Darker Storms Than This is taken, This Wreck, in it entirety at her soundcloud page. If you’re local do not miss her play live and then you can buy your own physical copy of This Wreck from her too. https://www.facebook.com/PhoebeLouiseMusic
5. APOLLO’S MOB
THE PEOPLE’S TREE
There’s something supernatural, otherworldly and magical about the music these two girls play together. As I mention on the podcast and above, it is easy to fall into an endless cycle of continuously listening to all the songs they have up on their Soundcloud page. The vocals are perfection incarnate. The way they blend together so effortlessly is a joy not only to listen to but to watch when live.
Amazing Radio‘s Jack Parker is a big fan and has played them on his show a few times since I’ve been listening to him. It’s hard to imagine anyone who comes across their music not falling hopelessly in love with it. Again, I feel I need a CD but even more importantly I desperately need to repeat the live experience. It topped off what developed into some kind of spiritual experience as I wrote in a brief write up shortly after the gig. https://www.facebook.com/Apollosmob
6. THE LEVELLERS&MADDY PRIOR
One of my top favourite bands EVER here accompanied on lead vocals by true British folk legend, Maddy Prior. She delivers this song from the band’s third eponymous album with such vigour the recording makes me feel like I am actually in attendance. If I had a time machine this is surely one of those special music moments I would go back to experience in person. Julie, and the album from which it is taken celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year but is rarely omitted from the band’s acoustic shows. http://www.levellers.co.uk/ http://www.maddyprior.co.uk/
7. McDermott’s 2 Hours
Tod The Ranter
As McDermott’s 2 Hours have a new release out right now by way of the compilation album Anticlockwise (about which I’ll be featuring more in a post soon but you can find out more about now from >>here<<) I wanted to play a song from them here. And what better than the superb opening track from their album Disorder (McDermott’s 2 Hours vs The Levellers). I lament that I’ve only seen Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours play live once but rejoice that I’ve been fortunate to have seen them at all. They supported The Levellers in 2005 and this gig in Cardiff was my very first time seeing them live as well. The memory this burned into my mind is so vivid I can relive it constantly. Fabulous! http://www.burbridgearts.org/
8. BEN GRANT
FASTER (NEVER BE THE SAME)
It was time for a much more upbeat sounding song and this one taken from Ben’s excellent album Winnemucca was perfect. Bags of musical and songwriting talent in this US musician. You need to go and check out this album which is available via iTunes >>here<<. Before you get clicking here is a beautiful acoustic version. I’ll be sharing Ben’s Christmas songs in the forthcoming Christmas Special post. https://www.facebook.com/BenGrantMusic
9. JOHN SMITH
FREEZING WINDS OF CHANGE
The recent secret gig John squeezed in at Sofa Sessions last week was supposed to be my second time before Saturday’s gig. Sadly, I could not make it even though I’d probably been looking forward to it more than a four year old waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. On his return there next year wild horses nor hurricanes or snow drifts will keep me away.
I’m currently thoroughly enjoying his most recent album Great Lakes which he has just finished touring the UK with. After seeing John at his Union Chapel gig Rufus Hound tweeted that everyone needs to buy all of his records immediately. I wholeheartedly agree with this command. Get on it! http://johnsmithjohnsmith.com/
10. THE BLACK FEATHERS
STRANGERS WE MEET
It is on the MUST DO list of 2014. I MUST see this stunning folk duo perform live. Perhaps when I’ve managed to get Poppy Cat’s written permission and rearranged this furniture Sian and Ray will be amongst the first to play the Band of Badgers Presents…Live Lounge? That is if they are not busy touring over in the US, where they have built themselves up a promising following. Their music and performance speaks for itself though. No wonder they have fans lining up to see them.
They have been busy recording their debut EP Strangers We Meet which you will be pre-ordering right >>here<< after hearing it just one time. You will then repeat that experience or your ears and mind will know the reason why! They smashed through the target of their kickstarter campaign enabling them to get this finished and I cannot wait to hear lots more from them as their successful future unfolds. http://www.theblackfeathers.com/
11. JAMES KIRBY
WITH THE ANGEL
Introduced in the post >>here<<, James writes for this blog and has contributed some awesome articles and features so far. As the huge music fan I am, after just checking out previews of a few of the songs on his 16-track album Lifeline I bought myself a copy from iTunes (>>here<<). This young musician is so incredibly talented I’m surprised he hasn’t burst!
He kindly sent me a couple of new songs yet to be released that further blew me away. I didn’t realise it was possible to be blown away much further. I seriously need to see him play live at some point soon. Thanking him once again for the contributions and please support this REAL talent. Buy the music. Link again for your ease is right >>here<<. https://www.facebook.com/Jameskirbymusic
12. DRY THE RIVER
LION’S DEN (ACOUSTIC)
And so to the final track of the list and what a tune to finish with. I claim Dry The River as my new best favourite marvellous magnificent band of all time EVER because they are out of this world amazing! After being forced to miss a headline gig they did in Cambridge over a year ago now (I still cry about this folks, seriously), I made sure I was at the front of that Market Stage tent at Truck Festival in July when they closed the Saturday night. Goosebumps aplenty. One of my top live music experiences of the entire year (and there have been like thousands, including Sigur Ros & Robert Plant – okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration but there have been a lot (maybe in excess of 30+ if you include the three festivals)).
I’m not going to ramble on here because I won’t stop (I know myself well by now). All I will say is get your ears around both their albums. It is the same album but one is acoustic and trust me, you will want both. They are rising fast but I must say I do hope I can catch a couple more intimate gigs before they go selling out the big venues. Another one for Band of Badgers Presents…Live Lounge perhaps? It would be a dream come true, make no mistake! http://www.drytheriver.net/