Another of my CD reviews for Folking.com. I’ve forgotten what little Welsh I knew (well, I know you slow down when it says Araf on the road…) but I really liked this anyway. (And some of the lyrics _are_ in English.)
Last week I was in Shropshire and visited no less than three local venues. That’s probably more than I did in a single week all the time I was living in Ludlow. FWIW, these were my impressions.
(1) Chris Greve’s every-Tuesday session at the Loggerheads in Shrewsbury. Far from my first visit to the Loggerheads, but the first time I’d been to that particular session, and it was excellent.
(2) Fergus Reid’s open Mic at the Wheatsheaf in High Street, Shrewsbury. Every first and third Wednesday. I’ve known Fergus for ages and been to sessions at the Wheatsheaf, but that was my first time at the open mic. Again, an excellent evening.
(3) Ann Merrill Gray’s first-Friday session at the Blue Boar in Ludlow (formerly held at the Unicorn). My first time since the move to the Blue Boar, and I think it’s going to settle into being even better than the Unicorn sessions.
I had to return home too early for the 2nd Friday of the month session at the Dog and Pheasant in Shrewsbury, but here’s some news about the one coming up:
‘This Friday the 2nd in the month sees us at the Dog & Pheasant once again, in the back room with plenty of songs, tunes, poems etc. Last time quite a sizable group got together and enjoyed a mixed bag of traditional, modern and light hearted ‘folk’. 8pm for 8.30pm start. Hope to see you there,’
It’s a bit late on April Fools Day to make a big deal out of this, but I came across an interesting article today from the Library of Congress on April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition. Written by Stephen Winnick.
One of the interesting aspects of the article is the link with hazing apprentices and so forth, an issue I touched on in this song.
I just updated the Coming Up page, and this is the current listing. As ever, I make no pretence that this is comprehensive, and obviously I can’t guarantee that things will happen as and when currently advertised: check before you leave home. There’s more information on regular venues here.
EMMA & THE PROFESSOR
Old Black Crow – (OWN LABEL) http://www.emmaandtheprofessor.co.uk
Old Black Crow is the latest high-energy musical offering from Shropshire couple Emma Heath (guitar and vocals) and Mark Davies (bodhrán and Cajon). The duo is joined by an impressive array of guest musicians including Benji Kirkpatrick (banjo and bouzouki); Ben Walsh (fiddle); Jack Rowe (fiddle) and Marion Fleetwood (fiddle and string arrangements).
Many of the songs are self-penned and inspired by the ancient history and beauty of the couple’s native Shropshire. Emma has a rich and powerful voice and driving guitar style while Mark’s no-nonsense bodhrán playing roots the music and sets its direction. The end result is an uplifting and exciting listening experience.
Right from the opening title track it is clear that this is an album of full-throttle songs! ‘Old Black Crow’ is a rockin’ bluesy romp, driven along nicely by Benji Kirkpatrick guesting on banjo.
Mark’s ‘Battle Of The Marches’ features Kirkpatrick on bouzouki and tells tales of the mysticism that lies in the hills of the duo’s native Shropshire. This is no wimpy fairy story, more a full-on battle of Middle-earth epic proportions!
The beautifully sensitive ‘Servant Slave’ is of marked contrast. With its Middle-Eastern overtones reinforced by Kirkpatrick’s bouzouki, here Emma’s voice is showcased to good effect.
The traditional American murder ballad ‘Rain And Snow’ is given a makeover, with impressive fiddle provided by Jack Rowe. The concluding ‘Rivers’ is like an Indian Raga, Emma harmonising with herself across Mark’s driving rhythm section.
Old Black Crow radiates with the energy that lies within the ancient lands of the Welsh Marches. Here are tales of sorrow, loss, hope and love all delivered with deep passion and soul.
Another review for folking.com: TERENCE WINCH, MICHAEL WINCH, AND JESSE WINCH – This Day Too: Music from Irish America (Free Dirt Records CTM-CD-002)
Here’s another of my reviews for Folking.com: RODNEY CROWELL – Close Ties (New West Records 6354)