Hello and welcome to edition 16 of fRoots Big Ears, the weekly roundup of folk news and World Music tidbits. It’s cold outside but there’s plenty going on. So let’s get stuck right in, shall we?

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Parish notices

If you’re a fan of the late, great Bert Jansch, you’ll want to be keeping an eye on the Around The World in 80 Plays project. Here’s what the Bert Jansch Foundation have to say about what they’re doing:

“Musicians around the globe are saluting the legendary guitarist and singer song-writer Bert Jansch who would have turned 75 in November 2018. A special guitar is travelling across continents from artist to artist, enabling them to connect with the man and his music.” 

As you can see from the Ben Walker contribution above, a lot of great musicians are having a lot of inspired fun with that beautiful Yamaha. There are recordings from Johnny MarrBernard Butler, and a cursory look across Instagram suggests there’s plenty more to come, including Lankum (see below). Fingers crossed that some of these excellent pieces see the light of day on an album of some kind.

We picked up on this a few weeks ago, but there’s some good news from Watersons World, as Eliza Carthy takes original music and music by her uncle, Mike Waterson, and performs it live as part of Hull Truck’s production of Jack Lear. It runs up until February 2nd. Grab the tickets while you can.

If you’re in need of a bit of folksie “rocking out”, we recommend following Bendrix Benji Kirkpatrick on any of his social meeeeja channels. Here he is, either rehearsing for his Excess project or putting a few Metallica licks through their paces on the zam… zam… what is that exactly?

Apropos of nothing, here’s a cute dog for you. We specialise in Twitter and Instagram snaps, after all.

If you’re one of those people who spend most of their evening trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, rather than actually watching something on Netflix, this recommendation is for you. Read the tweet. You’ll see why. (The “msimpsonian” she speaks of is the Twitter name for Martin Simpson, if you hadn’t already realised.)

The Nest Collective seem to be building up to something. If you’re not on their mailing list, click the link in the tweet. Otherwise, stay tuned to Big Ears and we’ll keep you informed.

There’s another great video out from Dust to Digital. (Seems like we write that sentence every week… they’re so good!) Take a look at the Zatiopsya Band performing ‘Malonda achona ansakha.’ Filmed by Moya Aliya Malamusi in Malawi in 2008.

And finally in this week’s Parish Notices, some sad news from Ewan Maclennan who appears to be hanging up his gigging boots (and possibly even any recording intentions… we hope not!) At least he seems to have a whole future of exciting plans ahead of him. We wish him all the best.

Who’s releasin’? 

Although it looks like it’s still a few months away, here’s an Instagram post from Dominie Hooper (currently working with Band of Burns). She’s been doing backing vocals for the second Nick Hart album. It’s being produced by Tom Moore, and if it’s anything like the first, it’ll be something special.

We’ve spoken about this a few times over the last few weeks, but it feels like a bit of an event. It’s not often a piper catches the attention of press outside the folk scene, but Brìghde Chaimbeul may have crossed the divide. The album is now officially out, and it’s a real joy, deserving all the accolades coming its way. A definite 100% hit rate for the new and exciting River Lea record label. One to keep an eye on in the coming months.

The aforementioned Ben Walker seems to be cooking up a storm, and capturing some wonderful selfies in the process. For all your gurning needs, follow his Instagram page today.

Jim Moray is taking an interesting approach to the album he’s currently preparing. There’s a lot of crowdsourcing going on on his Twitter channel. Get involved if you want a say in the title of his next release…

The first taster from forthcoming album by Glasgow’s Burd Ellen has made an appearance. They’ll be appearing at Celtic Connections this month, and making their English Festival debut down in fRoots Cellarful of Folkadelia at Sidmouth this coming August.

7 days on the road

Celtic Connections is well underway, and there’s so much going on we’d recommend you visit the official website to find out what you’re missing. We have our eyes on…

Daoirí Farrell and Friends, performing tonight (Sunday) at City Halls; The Rheingans Sisters and Ryan Young & Jenn Butterworth, also tonight (Sunday) at the National Piping Centre; Mariza, performing Monday night at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; Sharon Shannon, Seckou Keita & S.O.N with Usher’s Island, performing Tuesday night at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes and Unoma Okudo, performing on Wednesday night at the Old Fruit Market; Sam Amidon and Soham De, also on Wednesday night, performing at the Blue Arrow; Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita and Rachel Newton, performing on Thursday night at the Mackintosh Church; Sam Sweeney, performing next Sunday at the Strathclyde Suite… Ach! The list goes on! 

American songwriter and bluesman, Chris Smither, is currently on a UK tour. You’ll find him in London (tonight; Sunday), Leicester (Monday), Exeter (Wednesday), Mylor (Friday) and Bristol (Saturday).

Martin Carthy, having recently been floored by the flu, will hopefully be up and about and on the road this week. He’s playing at Keighley (Friday) and Ormskirk (Saturday).

The other legendary Martin (Simpson) gets back in the saddle tonight (Sunday) in Nottingham. Go along and watch him fly!

Fare thee well

Sadly, this week we’ve had to say goodbye to writer, Dave Laing, a walking encyclopaedia of a man. His contributions will be greatly missed.

Elsewhere, there’s brighter news for fans of Scots folk singer, Matt McGinn. 42 years following his tragic demise, a plaque has been unveiled at his birthplace on Ross Street, Calton. At the height of his fame, McGinn drew a larger crowd to Carnegie Hall than Bob Dylan. This memorial is long overdue.