May 28, 2012

Summer's just around the corner

Actually, it's Right Here, Right Now; for anyone not in the UK, or in the future, it's fantastically hot and sunny this week. This is because the bank holiday and half term have been moved to next week. When it will rain. Oh yes.

Anyway, it's about to be festival season! Chippenham Folk Festival will be the first of the year for us, so we need to air our camping gear and pack up our instruments.

The festival I'm looking most forward to this year is the reimagined Big Session, now on a greenfield site in Derbyshire and being run by Mrs Casey (who also do Towersey). I don't *think* it will be as big or as crowded as Towersey! It would be hard if it is, because it's still in school term and it's not close. But the lineup is looking really good and it's always been a very lovely, chilled festival, with a great family area, excellent beer, and a lovely crowd. It also remains good value for a festival, though is not as cheap as it used to be (is anything?)

I've pulled together a massive Spotify playlist of bands playing at the Big Session, mostly so that I can listen to it on 'shuffle' to keep an eye out for the people I don't know.

Rest of the summer plans (still not quite firm): the English Country Music Weekend, Cropredy, Castellans Folksommer, Broadstairs, Tegeingl, Towersey. Ish.

And because I don't believe that free mp3s are *quite* obsolete yet, you can get the full version of one of Jonathan's favourite pieces of music in the whole world completely free from at the moment:

Kandakoran by Elephant Talk

Posted by Alison Scott at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2012

Love May or May not Tear Us Apart

Tomorrow you can go and buy an actual single release of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", by June Tabor and the Oysterband, and there's a video!

Filmed at the Union Chapel, probably the best venue in the world.

I'm just quickly finishing up the Week 9 deadline for MITx 6.002, so no time for an extended entry. But I feel like I'm finding it a lot easier than I did in the early weeks.

Dinner notes: We had Jamie Oliver's spring poached chicken on Friday night, with the vegetables substituted for 'whatever happened to be around at the time'. It is as delicious as advertised though I am not sure whether I'll be able to get a second stock out of the bones or whether I should just throw them away. [Memo from the future: I made a quick cloudy stock from the bones and put the veg from it and some of the stock into the lasagne, and the rest of it into the chicken and celeriac curry. Well worth doing.] I was out all day yesterday and the family had takeaway. Today Steven made us chilli, enlivened by the pepper grinder imploding and tipping several hundred peppercorns into the chilli. We fished them all out again but that pepper mill has lasted less than a year and I will be invoking the gods of 'Merchantable Quality' on the morrow. The other meal today was the duck liver pate, on toast.

Posted by Alison Scott at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2012

Kinnersley Castle

Kinnersley Castle is the first of the two 'Mazurkas' played by Mabon. I have it in the excellent Jamie Smith tunebook Tunesmith, which I'd recommend to anyone. Anyway, it's in the only partly melodeon friendly key Bm, but every note is playable on a standard 2 row D/G and most of the chords are at least approximatable. So that has amused me this evening. Target date for playing this out: perhaps July?

I thought I'd written a little this morning about dinner, too. We had Jonathan's parents' night tonight, so something cooked in advance was called for. Soup, then, given the duck stock. I also have fresh kaffir limes. First time ever, thank you Ocado, but they were very expensive (about £2.50 for two small limes) so I want to make sure I use them. Thai-influenced soup then, but without additional fat (the duck stock still had a little fat in it so I left that in rather than skimming it). I ended up making a lentil soup with the duck stock (perhaps four pints), a bag of red lentils (puy are more traditional with duck but I didn't have any), a couple of onions, several sticks of the Floppiest Celery in the World (thank you Walthamstow market for selling me celery suitable only for stew), and a couple of pounds of halved cherry tomatoes (also from the market). Flavoured with some indifferent red curry paste and the zest of one of the limes. This turned out very tasty indeed; the original plan was to add sliced peppers, fennel and courgettes when I returned from the parents' night, and perhaps some peanut butter, but the soup was splendid without it.

Posted by Alison Scott at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2009

Current Listening

I realise it has been months and months since I did a 'new music' post. So obviously I can't tell you everything. First, how to buy this stuff: eMusic now has Topic, Fellside, Navigator, Fledg'ling and Talking Elephant records. Most wanted label for me is now Free Reed. Some of the stuff that's not on eMusic is on iTunes, and iTunes is now entirely "iTunes Plus", which is sort of "DRM-free". Sort of because the music has your unique ID in it so they can track it back to you; but the important thing is that you can use it how you want. You are not going to be sitting in 20 years time befuddledly trying to work out how to play music you've paid for. And frankly, that's a sight better than the position I'm in with cassettes. Finally, you can buy CDs by pressing tenners into the sweaty hands of your favourite musicians after gigs in pubs. That's neither the cheapest nor the most efficient approach, but it's very satisfying.

One of the most exciting things going on in my music collection at the moment is Navigator Records. You may remember that their launch lineup of artists was notable because I had seen every single one of them live; that's no longer quite true, but still. Of 17 albums on eMusic on the label, I own 14 of them. I keep hearing that bands I like are signing to Navigator or that Navigator is releasing an album that was previously self-pressed. Fantastic label. Highlights include the various projects of Jon Boden and his mates, the various projects of Kris Drever and his mates, and the new Mawkin:Causley album.

I've bought a couple of songs specifically to learn to sing: a field recording (by Alan Lomax) of William Rew singing "The New Mown Hay", and Ian Dury's "England's Glory", specially for St George's Day.

A request for French music in the melodeon forum (not by me) resulted in a recommendation of La Chavanée, which contains Frederic Paris and several of the other musicians who contributed to Mel Stevens' fantastic collections of tunes from the Massif Central. I grabbed one album from eMusic, but I want more.

On eMusic, I'm filling in my collections of Ashley Hutchings, particularly Albion Band and Morris On, and John Kirkpatrick.

Amazon launched its mp3 store with a huge range of cheap albums, and I picked up a wide variety of stuff for amazingly little, including the fantastic Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band retrospective, Cornology. The entire recorded output of the band, for less than a tenner. A lot of regular albums were on special offer for £3 or £4 (many still are), which is a psychologically important price point for me, and I picked up a lot of the sort of albums that people talk about in magazines. Fleet Foxes, Elbow, The Killers, that sort of thing. I don't like any of them as much as John Kirkpatrick, but there you go. And I filled in several dozen gaps in my record collection at £3 each.

Finally, I took advantage of iTunes' 'upgrade your iTunes purchases to de-DRM them' offer. In my case this cost me the staggering sum of £2.79. I have been very, very, careful not to buy that stuff; all but one of those tracks were bought with a free gift certificate I got once.

Posted by Alison Scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2009

Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings at the Luminaire

Songs from the FloodplainJon Boden is a busy lad. He fronts folk big band Bellowhead, and has a regular partnership with squeezebox player John Spiers. But tonight, we're over at The Luminaire for one spot in the short launch tour of his new solo album, Songs From The Floodplain.

The last time I visited the Luminaire, I castigated it for being totally cut off from civilisation. I think that must have been a special TFL train-free night, because this time we had no trouble either getting to Kilburn, or getting home. In all other respects the Luminaire is a venue of utter stonkingness; small, with great sound, and with splendid signs on the wall saying things like "This is a live venue, not a pub. If you want to chat to your mates, you're in the wrong place. Please leave." I have rarely wanted to hug a wall so much.

Jon Boden has brought a band with him, the Remnant Kings; I googled it and so should you. On the album he plays all the instruments himself; tonight he has teen multi-instrumentalist Sam Sweeney, this time mostly on drums, ace concertina player Rob Harbron on concertina, Dave "not the chap who takes the photos" Angel on guitar, and Matt Grime on double bass. Boden plays guitar, concertina, melodeon, and, yes, fiddle a bit. But this is nothing like Bellowhead. The live sound is not quite like the album; less brooding, with little dribbles of folk melodies slipping in here and there. The livelier tunes are rocked up considerably in the live set; the album is very restrained by comparison.

Songs From The Floodplain is a linked set of folksongs from the future. They're all set in a world with no oil; or rather, there's a very little petrol, which we are led to believe is hoarded by the Government for unspecified purposes. Instead we have village life, and the necessary foreshortening of outlook caused by restrictions on travel. There's a new religion, the making of music, a new set of folk traditions. The little remaining plastic becomes the precious jewellery of a new age. The songs on the album do not form a coherent narrative; instead they are snapshots sung by the characters living in the world, at different times. We see people gradually coming to terms with the new world in which they live, and hear their tales of doing the ordinary things that people do, but in a different environment.

SF fans will recognise the world we are inhabiting. This is a peculiarly English vision of the future; Boden is a sublime interpreter of English folk song, and this infuses his future England. "Songs from the Floodplain" sits firmly in that favourite English subgenre of science fiction known as the "cosy catastrophe". Disaster has befallen us, but our essential Englishness survives. This is one of those worlds described by John Wyndham, or, especially, Richard Cowper. They're not so commonly written these days; SF readers are suspicious of post-apocolyptic futures where people live simply but comfortably.

Tim Chipping buys his coats at the same charity shop as Jon BodenMusically, it all succeeds terribly well. It's compelling, thoughtful but not bleak or sombre. I think it will be claimed for filk, though I am unsure whether Boden has any awareness that there's a whole genre of science fiction music out there. It is, without question, far better than most filk music. The underlying material is very well thought through, and it's performed by one of our finest folk singers at the peak of his game. The world-building is relentless, the incluing subtle, and nothing is extraneous. Boden does not join all the dots for you; he drops you in the world and leaves you to make sense of it. I just wish that there was tons of filk out there as good as this.

Back at the Luminaire, the evening was filled out with songs from Painted Lady, Jon Boden's first, very low key, solo release. Oddly, these songs felt less polished than the new ones. It was still lovely to hear favourites like "Blue Dress". Support came from Lauren McCormick with James Delarre and Roz Gladstone; a varied and assured set that ranged from Edward Lear to Marie Lloyd by way of some of the bloodiest ballads of all.

I bought the album from Jon Boden at the concert, but was far too tongue-tied to ask for a photo, or query whether he had ever heard of filk music. Luckily, heading back to Walthamstow, we made the happy discovery that Tim Chipping has the identical post-apocalyptic coat to the one that Boden wears on the album. How cool is that? Must be some special case of wearing the band t-shirt to the gig.

Posted by Alison Scott at 12:50 AM | Comments (1)

June 30, 2008

Folk Rising 2

Blatant commercial plug really; for Folk Rising 2, a two CD sampler from those nice people at Proper, featuring lots of people who've been nominated for the Horizon award for emerging folk singers or who ought to have been. I like sampler CDs because they come at a great price; in this case £6 for 23 tracks. Of the 23 up and coming artists, I've seen 9 live (some, like Mawkin, I've been following for years, and others, like Tom Kitching & Gren Bartley, I heard for the first time just recently). And of the nine I've heard, I like eight (no, never telling!). So that's a pretty good hit rate. Out on July 7 but using the Snazzy Intarwebs Proper have given me a widget that lets you hear all the tracks. Luckily, it doesn't autoplay; if you want to hear the music you'll have to hit the play button.


Posted by Alison Scott at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2008

Navigator Records

It's uncommon for a new record label to launch, signing only music I really like. However, Navigator Records is one such. This is a folk imprint of established indie label Reveal Records. I think it's a first for me; they have nine artists signed, and the only one I haven't seen live is the new collaboration Drever McCusker Woomble. I've seen them all individually though. Anyway, I'd thoroughly recommend any of this music. Not on emusic though (shame).

Posted by Alison Scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2008

So what have I been listening to?

I am entirely aware I haven't blogged here for four months. Sorry. The explanation is that I bought a new computer that didn't have the web address on the bookmark bar. I know that's not a very good explanation, but there you go.

In the only non-spam comment I've received in the hiatus, Ken Josenhans perfectly reasonably asked for news of what I'm listening to. I know it's a poor substitute for blog entries, but I direct you to my homepage, or indeed to the 'recently listened' widget in the sidebar of this very blog. I appreciate that nobody reads the blog directly any more. But still, it is there; also in the sidebar are my links.

As to what I am listening to, overwhelmingly it's new music. In the last four months I have picked up: