There’s no denying it: the 8th week of Big Ears has been a sad week indeed, with no less than three good friends leaving in quick succession. Scroll to the bottom of this article to our “Fare Thee Well” section for the unfortunate news. In the meantime, we’ll try and find reasons to be cheerful.

Parish notices

Those summer festivals may seem a long way off, but they’re already giving us good reason to reach for our credit cards…

And one from Shrewsbury, while we’re at it…

Rehearsals for the Lau tour are due to go swimmingly, once they’ve managed to unpack and plug in their vast kit. Let’s face it, that may take years…

Rough Trade are offering discounts on the latest Lankum album. Can’t say the band look too chuffed about it!

And then there was this, though, eh? Just listen and remember that the world isn’t all that bad after all.

Who’s releasin’? 

There’s a wintery-looking recording session taking place for Band of Burns, up in the Highlands. The 12-strong outfit have only released a live album so far, so we’re very keen to hear what they’ll emerge with. No release date noted as yet, but their website suggests a tour in the New Year.

Young upstarts, Out of Hand, are in the studio doing something that looks promising. Those of you who saw “Faustus And Friends”, the hastily cobbled together Who’s Who of folk at the Ham, Sidmouth, this year, may recognise Will Sartin – a mandolin player of some promise. One to keep an eye on.

Stick in the Wheel have a new project/release that once again pushes the traditional envelope a little further. This And The Memory Of This is a 10-track selection of sketches and fragments that the band have worked on in conjunction with Lisa Knapp, Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Jack Sharp. Unfortunately for anyone reading this now, their website already lists the cassette-only release as sold out. However, there are Youtube videos around, and you can find the full album on most streaming websites.

Purveyor of #AmericanPrimitive guitar stylings, Gwenifer Raymond, has a new single out. The Three Deaths of Red Spectre is a mad and furious fingerpicking tumble that sounds as though it may have been recorded near the Mexican border on a very uncertain night. Gwenifer describes it as her, “Non-holiday specific single for a cold climate.” Make of that what you will! It’s a streaming and digital-download only release, so head over to your favourite digi-platform right this instant (try Amazon by clicking here).

BBC Folk Award nominees, Ninebarrow, released their first official music video yesterday to accompany news of another release. Come Spring, the duo will put out a book of walks – maps and observations for strolls across the landscape that inspired the writing of the songs within. As they explain themselves, “The 60-page, full-colour book contains ten beautiful and distinctive walks for all abilities, each the inspiration for a Ninebarrow song and each accompanied with detailed instructions, stories, photography and hand-drawn maps.” Fascinating idea. We’re strapping our walking boots on as we speak.

James Yorkston, musician and novelist, has shared a new video and announced the release of a new album on Domino Records this coming February. The Route to the Harmonium (or, ‘the search for peace’) was recorded in his attic studio in Cellardyke, Scotland, and is the result of his latest collaboration with producer, David Wrench. To pre-order, click here.

Lastly, there’s news of a new release from the basement. (Crumbs… that sounds ominous.) Fear not, though, as it’s something well worth celebrating: a career-spanning compilation of work by the Godfather of Psychfolk himself, Ian A. Anderson. You can grab a copy of Onwards by heading over to his Bandcamp page, here.

7 days on the road

Touring this week, you will find…

Chris Wood continues his pre-Christmas jaunt, hitting London (Friday) and Cambridge (Saturday).

Faustus work their way towards the end of their autumn tour this week, with gigs in Bath (Wednesday), London (Thursday), Somerton (Friday) and Canterbury (Saturday).

You’ll catch John Kirkpatrick for caroling and crumpets in Kettering this coming Friday night. (How can anyone resist alliteration like that?)

The legendary Martin Carthy rides forth this week, bringing the Folk Gospel to Guildford (Monday) and Rishworth (Wednesday). Living legends don’t come along all that often. See him now!

The aforementioned Stick in the Wheel keep the fires burning this week with shows in Norwich (Thursday) and Aldershot (Saturday). Who knows? They may still have a few of those cassettes on the merch stand. Worth a look, eh?

Nancy Kerr also brings her 2018 touring schedule to an end this week with gigs in York (Wednesday) and Gateshead (Friday), after which we’re assuming she’ll be settling in for a well-deserved long winter’s nap.

Fare Thee Well 

This week, it is with great sadness that we’ve had to say fare thee well to these wonderful people.

Bill Caddick, a singer and songwriter for the ages, RIP.

Jumbo Vanrenen, a key figure in the global discovery of African music, RIP.

Singer, folk musician of huge influence, and a friend and supporter to those who were influenced by him, young and old – Roy Bailey, RIP.

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