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Joan Armatrading – Not Too Far Away

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Joan Armatrading has been making glorious music for over 45 years. She has the gift of story-telling and the talent to combine it with melodies that transcend the generation divide. A fact that is demonstrated superbly on her new single “I Like It When We’re Together”

The song gets straight to the heart of the matter. There’s no shilly-shallying with this message, it’s clear and to the point. Its very directness takes it from the personal to the universal, it’s a sentiment everyone has felt (and sometimes wished they’d expressed more often). 

In Armatrading’s own words, “It’s a song that I hope will bring people together. This is why we are on this planet after all. It’s to like being with one another.”

The positive message of the lyrics is echoed by the jauntiness of the music yet there is still an element of the poignant, something Joan Armatrading does so well.

“I Like It When We’re Together” is from her forthcoming album Not Too Far Away out May 18 through BMG. 

 

On Not Too Far Away, Armatrading presents 10 new tracks that take the deeply personal and make it universal. It is Joan at her very best.  A love album of intensity that gets better on every listen.

From the Cri de Coeur of the opening song, “I Like It When We’re Together”, to the heartfelt “No More Pain” where she jumps straight in with “This pain is my protection”, these are lyrics that don’t prevaricate, they tell it how it is. In that seemingly effortless way of all good writing, they touch the heart and mind of the recipient. Listen to “No More Pain” here:

There is the haunting and rather melancholic “Cover My Eyes”, the tough and complex “Invisible (Blue Light)”, the wistful “Not Too Far Away” title track infused with longing, and the instantly memorable and anthemic “Any Place”. From “Always In My Dreams” with its solo piano accompaniment to the jaunty “This Is Not That” there is a glorious array of rhythms and tempos.

Not Too Far Away is Armatrading’s 21st album and, once again, she has written, sung, arranged and produced all the tracks as well as playing all the instruments except for drums which she programmed. It comprises the studio follow-up to the genre based trilogy, This Charming Life (2010), the jazz orientated Starlight (2012) and the blues based Into The Blues (2007), which went straight to the top of the Billboard Blues Chart, making Armatrading the first British female artist ever to do so.

 

Perfection is not attainable, but “Ma Polaine’s Great Decline – The Outsider” gets close.

Described as “like a young Billie Holiday gate-crashing a Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones recording session”, blues and roots duo Ma Polaine’s Great Decline continue to build a reputation as an intriguing and hard to pigeon-hole act.

2016’s EP release Small Town Talk gained rave media reviews, building on 2015’s nomination as an emerging artist in the British Blues Awards, winning a Reveal Records emerging act competition, an international song-writing semi-final spot for Suffer It Well from 2013 EP of the same name. Throughout last year Ma Polaine’s Great Decline toured the country, taking in the finest of intimate venues and enjoyed a busy festival season, culminating with triumphant sets at Towersey Festival and Purbeck Valley Folk Festival.

From the start Beth Packer and Clinton Hough always sought to keep their song-writing influences open. A strong base of blues is there, with jazz and country also holding sway, original writing is the focus, with oddness, sparsity and a subtle quality that is their own. There is a freedom for Packer to explore her vocal qualities and lyric writing, creating tales of haunting beauty, veiled sorrow, and a darker image of happiness.

The live band has moved through several line-ups and have returned to their roots as a duo. Live Packer moves between double bass, accordion and harmonica, with Hough on electric or acoustic guitar, all accompanying Packer’s powerful yet sensitive vocal.

TME.fm Radio

99/100. This awesome album lost one point because “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

Roots Music Report

“5 stars”, “Ma Polaine’s Great Decline once again generates a dark, highly seductive atmosphere part jazz, part cabaret; the potency of which is magnified by their minimalist approach”.

​​

Folk All

“Ma Polaine’s Great Decline inhabit that twilight zone between decadence and respectability but they never let you know in which camp they are going to plant their musical foot”.

Blues And Soul Magazine

“8/10”, “Crying out to be used on sound tracks. A very cinematic sound.. The icing on the cake is their vocalist. Stunning singer Beth Packer is someone to get to know”.

Northern Sky Magazine

“4/5”, “an utterly compelling soundscape”.

 

Wildwood Kin’s – Warrior Daughter (Single)

I think we can all accept that there are not enough women in the music scene at the moment. Being an all female outfit can often been seen as a gimmick, but in reality it’s anything but. Let me introduce you to all female Wildwood Kin, an Exeter based indie-Americana act. The trio recently released their latest single ‘Warrior Daughter’. It’s taken from their forthcoming EP, produced by Jamie Evans (Mexicolas) and mixed by Brad Spence (Radiohead, Coldplay, Alt J).
There’s a distinct Alt J feel to ‘Warrior Daughter’ in the instrumental. Fast and detailed but not overdone, the music has a rustic feel that combines perfectly with the smooth vocals that seem to melt together. Lyrically, the song is bold and empowering. ‘Warrior Daughter’ feels fresh faced and original, it’s easy to like and leaves you feeling like you’ve struck on something wonderful in discovering Wildwood Kin.
The trio consists of sisters Beth and Emillie Key and cousin Meghann Loney. This probably accounts for how well their voices blend into each other. 2015 saw the band release their Salt Of The Earth EP and subsequently receive BBC radio play, and the rest of 2016 sees them continue their non-stop touring schedule. Like a snowball accumulating energy, Wildwood Kin seems like a rather unstoppable force.

The Young’uns – Another Man’s Ground

I’ve been closely following the progress of these Teesside lads over the decade since I experienced their tentative early outing on a singers’ night at Stockton Folk Club. They may not have quite bowled me over on that occasion, but I sensed a tremendous potential even then. Great individual singers for a start, but with an unusual empathy and prescience when singing together, including an inordinately keen grasp of harmony; then as a bonus a vigorous and upfront performing style and a truly canny choice of material ranging over the whole folk spectrum. Since then, Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes have progressed in leaps and bounds, and inevitably matured apace (tho’ I guess that, having thus far stuck with their nominated group moniker, they’ll always tend to be regarded as new kids on the block!) – to the extent that a couple of years back they took the brave and risky decision to give up their day-jobs and take to the musical road professionally.

Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade of Time

Sam Lee’s American debut The Fade in Time presents an artistic wanderer with a deep reverence for the British folk tradition, an ear tuned to the broader world’s rhythms, and a restless heart.  A journeyman whose varied endeavors range from wilderness survivalism to burlesque dancing, it is fitting that his chance encounter with renowned Scottish Traveller singer Stanley Robertson set him upon his musical career. Robertson’s tutelage led Lee to understand the need for a new generation of song collectors to keep the old songs alive and make them vital in a new millennium. 
The British folk ballad tradition is an endless store of inspiration and variation. Like the stories of The Old Testament, they collectively contain the beauty, tragedy, faith, and folly of humankind, and like that collection’s influence upon the literature of the centuries that followed, so have these old songs guided the development of the American and British popular songbooks. Lee’s interpretations of these songs is both a distillation of all that has come before and an adventurous beckoning to follow him into an uncharted future. 
Lee brings a scholar’s care to annotating his songs’ origins in his liner notes, crediting his teachers and sprinkling soundbites of the past songkeepers throughout the album. We hear Charlotte Higgins sharing an “old old song” with collector Hamish Henderson from 1956 in the intro to “Lord Gregory” while “Bonny Bunch of Roses” opens with a sample of a Serbian singer from a 1952 Smithsonian Folkways recording. As many of the versions of the songs Lee sings have their origins in Traveller and Romany Gypsy cultures, they offer creative and surprising variants upon their formally known sources. “Over Yonders Hill” offers a variation of “The Bold Young Farmer” with its lament of, “I wish my baby was born and sits smiling on his own daddy’s knee.” And the ancient and familiar “The Cuckoo” appears within the refrains of “Moss House”. Lee’s rich baritone on these songs shows the depth of his learning from Robertson and from others such as Martin Carthy and Ewan MacColl.
It is in Lee’s musical arrangements under the guidance of producers Arthur Jeffes (Penguin Café) and Jamie Orchard-Lisle that this album takes off into uncharted territories, suggesting a wide mix of influences and inspirations. One hears the psychedelic-tinged influence of the first British folk revival artists like Fairport Convention and, especially, their jazz-influenced contemporaries Pentangle. There are ample neo-traditionalist flourishes, such as dominated Celtic music of the 1970s like the Bothy Band and Silly Wizard, and even a (thankfully small) whiff of the airiness that defined the genre as it crossed into mass appeal during the 1980s. But the album’s sonics are dominated by an adventurous worldliness and sometimes cacophonic layering of surprising sounds and instruments. Hints of Bollywood and arabesque styles merge with more percussive modern classical or post-rock elements. At times, the instrumentalists—particularly Steve Chadwick on horns, Jonah Brady on koto and ukelele, Flora Curzon on Violin, Francesca Ter-Berg on cello, and Josh Green on percussion—build into a trance-like backing that evokes the neo-psychedelic folk of Erland and Carnival. Their playing is organically connected even when working in dissonant counterpoint.
This album, which follows upon Lee’s 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated release Ground of Its Own, rewards repeat listening. It’s an album that, even in its quiet moments, refuses relegation to the background. In short, it serves to announce the arrival of a great talent who promises to find new ways to keep us singing the old songs well into another century.

Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 Cherry Hinton Hall, 27 – 30 July

Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 
Cherry Hinton Hall, 27 – 30 July 

TICKETS ON GENERAL SALE: THU 1 DEC
PRIORITY BOOKING OPEN: THU 24 NOV

*NEW FOR 2017*

JON BODEN TO BE GUEST CURATOR

*PLUS*

“THE 1965 CLUB” MEMBERSHIP INTRODUCED TO SUPPORT THE FESTIVAL’S WORK WITH EMERGING ARTISTS

WATCH THE 2017 TRAILER HERE

“This three-day folk classic shows no signs of ageing” – Sunday Times

Tickets for next year’s Cambridge Folk Festival will go on general sale on Thursday 1 December 2016 at 10am. Priority booking opened at 10am on Thursday 24 November. Full details and ticket prices follow below. Early booking is advisable.

In an exciting Festival first, folk star Jon Boden will take the role of Guest Curator of Cambridge Folk Festival 2017. Jon will programme up to five artists appearing across the festival’s four stages and festival weekend.  Jon will personally introduce each of his selected artists live onstage and will be on-site all weekend presenting additional unique happenings and the odd surprise event in his Guest Curator role.

In addition, Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings will perform their first live show in several years with a one-off preview performance on the festival’s main stage of material from the brand-new Jon Boden album to be released in autumn 2017, giving festival goers the first chance to hear the new material before it is released. The performance will also dip into material from Bellowhead, the A Folk Song A Day project and more.

“Like many folk artists Cambridge Folk Festival has meant a huge amount to me over the years so I am incredibly excited to be asked to be guest curator. Cambridge has always excelled at bringing together the many varied and disparate aspects of the folk scene and beyond so I am looking forward immensely to being a part of that process in 2017. I have played at Cambridge many, many times but it’s rare that I have been able to stay for more than the day of my gig so I am particularly thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the event for the full weekend and to immerse myself in the rich culture of Cambridge Folk Festival. I can’t wait to get stuck in!” Jon Boden

Another innovation leading into 2017’s Festival is The 1965 Club Membership Scheme. Starting life in 1965, the Festival has gone on to become one of the most prestigious folk festivals in the world and enjoys sell-out success year after year. Now, it is offering loyal supporters three different types of membership, each providing various benefits such as priority booking and discounts, with the donations raised going to support the Festival’s unique work with new and emerging musicians.

Artist development has always been central to the values of Cambridge Folk Festival, as evidenced by dedicated emerging talent stages The Den, The Hub and the Club Tent showcases, which have hosted artists including Jake Bugg, Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman and The Staves early in their careers. The 1965 Club will help to nurture the next generation of headliners. More information here:
https://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/folk-festival/folk-festival/memberships

“Cambridge Folk Festival is renowned for its genre-defining programme which gives our audiences a chance to broaden their taste in music and see the next big thing before anyone else. We are very excited to be working with our new Guest Curator Jon Boden who will bring his unique artistic vision to the 2017 line-up, and I hope that lots of our loyal folks will want to help support our work with emerging artists by becoming members of The 1965 Club.” Steve Bagnall, Managing Director of Cambridge Live.

Ticket information:  

Full Festival ticket: £167; Day tickets: £27.50 (Thu), £59.50 (Fri), £70 (Sat), £70 (Sun)

Camping at Cherry Hinton Hall and Coldham’s Common is available. Glamping at Coldham’s Common is also available. Concession tickets (disabled access and carer, Under 21, Cambridge City Resident) are available. Please see the website for more information and full ticket prices: www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

About the Festival: Cambridge Folk Festival is held over four days in the picturesque grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall. Celebrated for its relaxed atmosphere, excellent facilities and diverse programme, the Festival brings together the best of folk in its broadest sense, from international stars to breakthrough new artists and special one-off performances, talks and workshops across several stages. Previous headliners have included: Joan Baez, Nick Cave, Ray Davies, Buddy Guy, Christy Moore, Van Morrison, James Taylor and The Waterboys amongst many others.

Follow Cambridge Folk Festival on:

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INSTAGRAM

Sam Lee – The Fade in Time

(The previous album was better, but he still got it. The video I picked features Freda Black, who sings this traditional British Romany song, followed by Sam Lee’s version. Jasmine)

Sam Lee’s American debut The Fade in Time presents an artistic wanderer with a deep reverence for the British folk tradition, an ear tuned to the broader world’s rhythms, and a restless heart.  A journeyman whose varied endeavors range from wilderness survivalism to burlesque dancing, it is fitting that his chance encounter with renowned Scottish Traveller singer Stanley Robertson set him upon his musical career. Robertson’s tutelage led Lee to understand the need for a new generation of song collectors to keep the old songs alive and make them vital in a new millennium. 
The British folk ballad tradition is an endless store of inspiration and variation. Like the stories of The Old Testament, they collectively contain the beauty, tragedy, faith, and folly of humankind, and like that collection’s influence upon the literature of the centuries that followed, so have these old songs guided the development of the American and British popular songbooks. Lee’s interpretations of these songs is both a distillation of all that has come before and an adventurous beckoning to follow him into an uncharted future. 
Lee brings a scholar’s care to annotating his songs’ origins in his liner notes, crediting his teachers and sprinkling soundbites of the past songkeepers throughout the album. We hear Charlotte Higgins sharing an “old old song” with collector Hamish Henderson from 1956 in the intro to “Lord Gregory” while “Bonny Bunch of Roses” opens with a sample of a Serbian singer from a 1952 Smithsonian Folkways recording. As many of the versions of the songs Lee sings have their origins in Traveller and Romany Gypsy cultures, they offer creative and surprising variants upon their formally known sources. “Over Yonders Hill” offers a variation of “The Bold Young Farmer” with its lament of, “I wish my baby was born and sits smiling on his own daddy’s knee.” And the ancient and familiar “The Cuckoo” appears within the refrains of “Moss House”. Lee’s rich baritone on these songs shows the depth of his learning from Robertson and from others such as Martin Carthy and Ewan MacColl.
It is in Lee’s musical arrangements under the guidance of producers Arthur Jeffes (Penguin Café) and Jamie Orchard-Lisle that this album takes off into uncharted territories, suggesting a wide mix of influences and inspirations. One hears the psychedelic-tinged influence of the first British folk revival artists like Fairport Convention and, especially, their jazz-influenced contemporaries Pentangle. There are ample neo-traditionalist flourishes, such as dominated Celtic music of the 1970s like the Bothy Band and Silly Wizard, and even a (thankfully small) whiff of the airiness that defined the genre as it crossed into mass appeal during the 1980s. But the album’s sonics are dominated by an adventurous worldliness and sometimes cacophonic layering of surprising sounds and instruments. Hints of Bollywood and arabesque styles merge with more percussive modern classical or post-rock elements. At times, the instrumentalists—particularly Steve Chadwick on horns, Jonah Brady on koto and ukelele, Flora Curzon on Violin, Francesca Ter-Berg on cello, and Josh Green on percussion—build into a trance-like backing that evokes the neo-psychedelic folk of Erland and Carnival. Their playing is organically connected even when working in dissonant counterpoint.
This album, which follows upon Lee’s 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated release Ground of Its Own, rewards repeat listening. It’s an album that, even in its quiet moments, refuses relegation to the background. In short, it serves to announce the arrival of a great talent who promises to find new ways to keep us singing the old songs well into another century.

The Curst Sons

The Curst Sons have been playing their powerful stripped back take on early American traditional music since 1998.  Performing mainly original material with a few distinctive arrangements of traditional songs they have released five CDs -and one 10” vinyl EP on their own Curst Mountain label. The bands sixth CD THE JUMPING FLEA will be released in February 2016.

 Over the years they have played venues ranging from tiny country pubs to festival main stages, appeared on several local radio shows and recorded two live sessions on the much missed Mark Lamarr BBC Radio 2 show.

They were runners up in the 2013 International Song Writing Competition, nominated for Best Alt Country Album in the 10th Independent Music Awards 2011 and for Best Americana Act in the British Country Music Awards 2010.

Tim Dunkerley (slide guitar, mandolin, vocals). Tim’s interest in music was first awakened by his father’s tales of wild living in a harmonica band on the minesweeper HMS Hound. Loath to leave his nautical background Tim coast hopped east from his Portsmouth home and soon washed up on the beach at Brighton. He is also a teacher/ facilitator with Unified Rhythm, a samba/fusion marching band for young adults, including those with learning difficulties.

Willi Kerr (vocals, percussion). Born on Mersea Island on the marshy fringes of Essex, Willi abandoned his agricultural roots and took to the sinful ways of the city. Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (an incurable cancer of the bone marrow) in 1998 he was given 6 days to live. Being a cantankerous old cuss he decided that this was the perfect time to re-launch his musical career, and The Curst Sons were born. Thanks to the healing power of hillbilly music he is now in the rudest of health.

Dave (Specky) Simner (banjo, lead guitar, vocals). Raised in the Black Country on a diet of heavy metal and motorbikes Dave fled south till he hit the coast. He lost the long hair and leather jacket and soon became entangled in the Brighton music scene. He has played in more bands than he can remember and somehow took up the banjo. He also plays with his own 60’s R&B outfit The Spectones, and in his day job leads music sessions for adults with learning disabilities.