Come you folk musicians all, the final ‘Searchlight’ event until the next Folk Weekend: Oxford will be on the evening of Saturday 14 October at St Luke’s Church, Canning Crescent, Oxford.

If this isn’t ringing any bells for you, this event is sort of an open mic night that I’m hosting with my ‘FWO Artistic Director of Local Artists’ hat on*. And it’s basically a way of allowing me (and any other festival organisers who might be interested) to see any local folk artists that we might otherwise be unaware of. Continue reading

Johnny Cash apparently believed that he was of Cherokee ancestry, and this later turned out not to be the case. Had he known it wasn’t true, would he have made this album, I wonder? I think it’s an intriguing question: how much does the actual blood matter? If you were told it, and grew up believing it, and identifying with that culture, would it make a difference if your DNA later proved otherwise? I’m not claiming to know the answer…

But I think that ‘Bitter Tears: Johnny Cash sings the Ballads of the American Indian’ is an extraordinary album, full of visceral anger about the unjust treatment of Native Americans through America’s history. Continue reading

Just as there is now a genre known as ‘Liam Neeson takes a series of kidnappers / terrorists / wolves apart with his fists in a frighteningly realistic way’, so there is also the genre we’re going to call ‘Oh, you’re going to fuck with Jessica Chastain, are you? Are you… sure that’s a good idea?’ Continue reading

  1. It's Not Unusual James Bell 3:05

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So, when it comes to items ‘from the vaults’, I think I’ve shared a number of videos before. But I haven’t really delved into the troves of recordings I’ve made over the years. Something I might be doing a bit more of from now on. Continue reading

So a while ago, Sam Taplin (of ‘Sam Taplin’ fame) sent me an email with a link to the latest Ed Sheeran song, which (at that time) was called ‘Castle On The Hill’. I thought this might the kind of song you’d like, he said.Knowing that my motto is “No song too obscure, no song too ubiquitous” (or… it is for this blog post at least), this was a fair assumption.

I thought it was okay. Obvious Mumford influence, with a bit of U2 thrown in. Nice sentiment, but… did I really believe the song? I wasn’t sure. Continue reading