Gentles, all. Thank you so much for receiving our Big Ears with such kindness last week. Your response has prompted us to assume that it’s all worthwhile after all, whatever “it” might be. And so, here we are with lugholes primed, social media scouts alerted, eyes and minds open, and tonnes of fRootsish things to get excited about.
If you’ll kindly take a seat, strap on your ear goggles and eye protectors, we’ll begin with a few health and safety rules and regs. In the interests of our health and safety, may we suggest that anyone who hasn’t so far bought the latest edition of fRoots, or subscribed for a longer period of folk and world music bliss, do so immediately. The pilot can’t sort out the fuel bills until you do, and we want to get this thing off the tarmac.
In the interests of your health and safety, may we advise that you support any and all of the artists mentioned below by attending their gigs and buying their wares. Otherwise they’ll go away, and then where would you be?
The control tower reports that we’re good to proceed, so let’s get this thing airborne.
It says a lot about the nature of the folk fan that either of the following videos could send them into a spasm (of the most positive kind). Heavy beats or heavy history? It’s all the same to us. Bring it all on!
First up, it’s the band that are pricking up all the ears… Ímar.
Turns out our new track 'Revenge' is also the same tempo as Party Rock Anthem! Come and see for yourself on Wednesday at @drygate #lmfao #BPM #avalanche #avalaunch pic.twitter.com/o5UfMlg5au
— Ímar (@ImarBand) October 8, 2018
And that’s swiftly followed by a half-hour ramble through your past and ours, undertaken sometime in the midst of a more innocent era. Here’s Dave Arthur and a bunch of scallywags uncovering “The People’s Music”.
Why exactly is that news, we hear you cry? Well, it only recently turned up on Youtube, and in this meta, crazy world we call home, when the old stuff goes digital, the new kids go snap! Or something like that.
Case in point. Here’s a snappet of something old (but also kinda new and wonderful) from those Stateside legends, Dust to Digital. If you need us, we’ll be in the corner, getting our Gamelan on.
Incidentally, over on Instagram we’re “living our best life”. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Care to join us?
And while we’re on the subject of living one’s best life, how’s your session attendance keeping up? Are you missing out? Well, not to make you jealous or anything, but Suffolk seems to be the place to be at the moment. If you were at the Blaxhall Ship Inn last night, you’ll have found yourself in illustrious company. Here’s Nancy Kerr to show you why…
Had a wonderful trip to Suffolk and the iconic @BlaxhallShip where @MelroseQuartet were afforded the most hospitable welcome imaginable! Lovely times. pic.twitter.com/K0w7xnJ6sQ
— Nancy Kerr (@NancyKerrMusic) October 14, 2018
Nancy is playing with the Melrose Quartet at Manchester Folk Festival this coming weekend, along with pretty much everyone else in the known folk universe…
ONE WEEK TO GO!
Yes, you heard right. Not sure where all the time's gone. But the nights are drawing in, the leaves crunch underfoot and soft autumn days tell us that it's truly October.
Several gigs now sold out, so if you're keen, get booking!https://t.co/Te5r09F9ys pic.twitter.com/Svs74uRfBY
— Manchester Folk Fest (@McrFolkFest) October 11, 2018
Meanwhile, if you were in Lewes last night, you may have caught Jim Causley dancing with death. He’ll be gigging in Birmingham later this week, hopefully not with his newfound friend in tow.
Surprise guest at last night’s gig pic.twitter.com/nvl35UikwS
— Jim Causley (@jimcausley) October 14, 2018
And what’s this we hear on the indie grapevine?
Who’s that releasin’?
We’re not sure if that’s a nice-sounding subheading, but what the hey… let’s roll with it.
There’s a new folk label in town, folk label watchers. It’s called River Lea Records, and it’s an imprint of the might Rough Trade. Among its first releases is this cracking thing from Lisa O’Neill. Her fourth album, Heard a Long Gone Song, is out on October 19th (that link will take you to a place where you can pre-order it). Here are a few more useful links:
Lisa O’Neill on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
River Lea on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
And here’s Lisa doing ‘Rock the Machine’. Big love!
Meanwhile, those Afro Celts are gearing up to take Flight…
We're playing 10 shows in November – right before the new album comes out! #flight #sanctus
Get your tickets ▶️ https://t.co/yFeDL1321f pic.twitter.com/SedWIuEyM4
— AfroCeltSoundSystem (@ACSSofficial) October 4, 2018
…and John Smith’s Hummingbird is also, er, soaring. (Is it Flight Week, perhaps? Is there a theme thing going on that we don’t know about?)
Dear friends, Hummingbird is now available throughout Europe. Link in bio.https://t.co/65GlNOM4JU pic.twitter.com/WAPAcBCViW
— John Smith (@thejohnsmith) October 5, 2018
Yer man Ian A. Anderson, psychfolk pioneer and venerable sage, has somehow managed to compress a fifty-year career into a 21-track CD, and he announced its upcoming release only this morning. Over the course of half a century (he won’t be particularly fond of us phrasing it that way), he has recorded 16 albums, either alone or with one of half-a-dozen bands, taking in umpteen styles. Quite how you manage to choose the best of all that with any sense of objectivity remains to be seen, but we’re very much looking forward to seeing how he got on. Set your dials for Onwards and await further instructions.
A week on the road
Gigging it up in Folkland (specifically the Manchester precinct) this week, Jim Moray is living the fRoots dream. Looks amazing, doesn’t it? Here’s to a continued slew of Moray/Farka Toure-shaped dreams. (Sorry… did we think that out loud?)
Today I got confirmation that I’m going to be jumping up on stage with the great Vieux Farka Toure in Manchester next week. A bit daunting, but really honoured to be asked. It’s for a thing. Come and cheer me on if you’re in the area. https://t.co/D8IUXITCp4
— Jim Moray (@jimmoray) October 11, 2018
Stick In The Wheel will be bringing their mission to the good people of Maidenhead, Southport, Glasgow and Oxon this week. You can find out gig specifics here, and admire this very fine photograph from their recent Islington gig over on their Instagram page…
Unless you’ve been living under a non-folkie rock, you’ll know very well that Kitty Macfarlane has an album out and everyone loves it (there are no exceptions). She’s on tour with it already, albeit a tour that moves in fits and starts; she’s included a breather here and there, possibly to hunt for massive crustaceans (see below), and we can’t say we blame her.
She’ll be back on the road this week, however, and those of you with a few readies to spare can pick up tickets to see her in Kenilworth and Hartlepool (two towns that have probably never appeared side by side in the same sentence before, but hey-ho… that’s folk touring for you). Check out her dates here, and follow her adventures in “Extreme Rock-Pooling” on her Instagram channel below.
Lovers of stringed things plucked with immense speed, precision, fire, talent and passion; of old music brought vividly to life using merely the power found in 10 fingers and a mind to roam the ages… well, this gig in Brighton is for you. We’re specifically talking about the incredible skills of Gwenifer Raymond, however. The Welsh specialist in “American primitive music” continues her tour schedule that very evening (two gigs in one day! A twofer!) and then throughout the coming weeks and beyond. Here’s her schedule, and just for the record…
Lovers of stringed things plucked by men of immense talent and goodly lengths of hair should get themselves down to a Jim Ghedi and Toby Hay gig. The pair begin a nationwide tour today in Bakewell, and then continue throughout the week in Leeds, Glasgow and Huddersfield. You’ll find gig info on Toby’s page, right here, and – for good measure – have yourself a ‘Gram.
Those Dublin Folk miscreants, Lankum, are touring this increasingly sodden isle this autumn, and the hijinks kick off this week in Bristol before heading to Nottingham, Glasgow, Hartlepool, Gateshead and beyond. As the poster says, we think they’re, “funny, compelling, engaging, exhilarating”, not to mention purveyors of some of the finest harmonies currently being bottled. Put some fire in your belly. Get out and vote Lankum!
We're hitting the UK in a week's time folks. Please tell your friends.
You look great today.
— Lankum (@LankumDublin) October 10, 2018
Lastly, but soooo not leastly, The mighty Faustus begin their Cotton Lords Autumn Tour at the tale end of this week with a showing at The Old Market in Hove. After that, they’ll be weaving their way through Denmark before sewing things up back on these shores throughout November. The whisperings suggest that there are new songs aplenty, and that there’s even the possibility of a new release in the not-too-distant future.
Paul Sartin provides the Faustus backstage social snapshots. For all that, plus occasionally stiring sunset and flat-cap shots, check out his Instagram profile here.
Speaking of Faustus, it’s well worth mentioning that they’ll be playing at a brand new folk venue once they’re back on British soil. We’re up for anything that seeks to breathe new life into the old world of trad, so let’s take a moment to welcome Good Honest Folk to the fold. Launching in the Oddfellows Hall in Dorking at the end of this month, they’re promising, “music with bags of character and finesse”. More of this, we say! Let us know if you’re thinking of launching your own folkish club (and make sure you read our article on this very subject in the latest edition of our print magazine).
One month to go til the red doors open for this small-venue gig with cracking musicians. Think old songs and new songs, think music with bags of character and finesse. Think cosy room with a glass of something Autumnal in your hand. https://t.co/l1i0fLe6nl pic.twitter.com/qEVmzpZTvu
— Good Honest Folk (@goodhonest_folk) September 27, 2018
If you’re here for the World Music, then turn yourself right around and head to London‘s Cafe Barcelona. Loiter there until October 19th, and then settle in for Greek Night ft. the superb Katerina Clambaneva, who’ll be paying tribute to Sofia Vembo. Click to register your interest.
Also well worth checking out is the Urban Sound/Asian Sound Project, combining East Asian instruments with Western-style piano and experimental sounds, as part of the K-Music Festival at Kings Place. October 19th is the date, and the bamboo virtuoso Seayool already has us searching for more. Check him out in this clip below.
And that’s all the folk news for this week. You can find us by clicking Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram. Follow us, do, but please refrain from trying to bribe us into publishing your news. While the Rolls Royce that turned up on the office doorstep last week was welcome, the decisions of our social media moles are final. We filter so that you don’t have to.
Main photo by Linnea Sandbakk/Unsplash.