Only the occasional faint clanging of the bar can be overheard whilst Darlingside play. The audience are fittingly pin drop silent to embrace all the intricacies the band offer. Huddled up shoulder tight to harmonize around a single vintage condenser microphone, the result is quite magnificent. Over the course of the evening, banjos, fiddles and upright bass are swapped by this multi instrumentalist Boston four piece and whilst that all may sound – so far – so bluegrass – this they are not. As evidence there’s the second song of the night, ‘Eschalton’, aided by loops and notes via a small keyboard sequencer plus some Peter Hook like Rickenbacker bass riffs. There’s more than a sprinkling in the set of their 2018 LP ‘Extralife’. A perhaps more brooding affair than previous releases which they explain as some of the album being written whilst on recent UK visits as they were looking back toward their homeland. “It’s over now, the flag is sunk, the world has flattened out” they sing on ‘Extralife’. Then there’s “Tomorrow’s beginning to take, an equal and opposite shape” from ‘Orion,’ performed whilst a simple spinning mirror ball works a perfect sky gazing ambience. For the stillness of ‘Hold Your Head Up High’ even the dry ice appears to hang onstage without movement. Continue reading “Darlingside + Wildwood Kin, Shepherds Bush Empire, 1st November 2018”
Wildwood Kin were opening this City Roots Festival gig for Ward Thomas – who would go on to give their expected high gloss pop-country set with only one real surprise to it, that it ran for a shade less than an hour. Wildwood Kin however did their half an hour with as little fuss as possible – the three piece of sisters Emillie on guitar and Beth on bouzouki and keyboards with their cousin Meg between them on a stripped down drum kit suitable for playing standing up. Championed by Bob Harris, Wildwood Kin have toured and recorded with folk hero and fellow Devonian Seth Lakeman, as well as taking support slots with the likes of The Stereophonics. Continue reading “Wildwood Kin, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 4th March 2018”
Oh well, this will wreck our Google search result listings – what possessed them to use the terms “americana” and “UK” in the same headline? Billboard has an article today entitled “U.K. Americana Hits America, and Vice Versa, In New Roots Exchange” which is an incredibly interestingyou read about our symbiotic relationship with the genre over in the States, selling snow to the Eskimos as it were. They report: “The idea of U.K. artists playing Americana, not just at home but in the U.S. itself, might once have seemed hopelessly ambitious. But as the genre, and the reception of it, has expanded into an ever-broader church, British acts are not only nudging doors ajar, but the two countries are enjoying something of a cultural Americana exchange — to the benefit of roots musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading “Billboard: Americana in the UK is a thing”
Every festival, everywhere, delivers a special moment or two, things that it will be remembered for in years to come. This year’s Cambridge Folk Festival was no different, with two hugely significant moments.
The first was the sad death of Joan Woollard a few days before the start of the festival. The widow of Ken Woollard, who started the festival back in 1965 and was its director until his death in 1993, she was a huge folk music fan and hugely instrumental in helping Ken establish and run it. A round of applause from the crowd on Saturday night in the main stage marquee and a lower key singaround by Ken’s commemorative bench on Sunday were fitting tributes.
The second took place on Friday, when the entire main stage bill was female, as were the comperes. No tokenism here, the artistic ability and commercial clout of all nine acts meant that their slots were completely merited. There has been much debate about female musicians, or rather the lack of them, on festival bills generally and Cambridge showed that in its 52nd year it can still show the way to other events in any genre and the programmer, Bev Burton, deserves massive props. Continue reading “Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, 27-30 July 2017”