Here‘s a blast from the past.  Eight years ago.  Me referring to recently turning 30, so that dates it.

It’s from an old YouTube account which is riddled with copyright infringements, but which Google won’t let me log into in any way shape or form, so I can’t delete it.  It’s just stranded there, floating in space forever, like one of the main characters from the film Gravity[belated spoiler alert]

As soon as I’ve caught up with the admin side of this new mailing list enterprise, I’m going to start recording new material – apologies (to myself mainly) for not having anything new right now.  But the goal is to keep producing new stuff, but good quality stuff, and that does take a certain amount of organisation; hence the delay.

Iggy Pop, incidentally, is now 68 of course.  And Debbie Harry is 70.

More ‘songs’ in the second recommendation this month.  This time, not of separation but just of… stuff, I guess.  Ditte is now based in the North East, but for a long time was one of the brightest stars on the Oxford acoustic scene, and her album features, amongst others, Laura and Rosie, who have each recorded albums recently – and the three of them have returned the favours to each other and have all appeared singing harmony on each album.

She played a fantastic gig at St Columba’s Church in Oxford the other night, and it was this harmony singing that really blew me away.  Great melodies, extraordinary voice, and seriously great guitar playing, incidentally – although perhaps it’s something only guitar players notice.  But I wish I played with that kind of elegance and clarity.  (If you’ve seen what my guitar looks like, it’s fairly obvious that elegance and clarity have seldom troubled it.)

Current favourite track: You Find It Easy

https://ditteelly.bandcamp.com/album/songs

Okay, this is a fun new thing for my website: a recommendations section.  This month it has mainly been Jenny Hill’s project Songs of Separation.  As the website puts it:

Songs of Separation brought together ten female folk musicians from Scotland and England, to create a recording which reflects on the issue of ‘separation’ in its many forms, through traditional song. Celebrating the similarities and differences in our musical, linguistic and cultural heritage, and set in the context of a post-referendum world, the work aims to prompt new thinking about the issue of separation as it occurs in all our lives.

Throwing a bunch of random musicians together for a short period of time and getting them to record an album is always a bit of a gamble: it can easily sound like less than the sum of its parts.  Or, as in this case, it can sound like a band that’s been playing forever.  Right from the first track, Echo Mocks The Corncrake, you know you’re in for something special.  And it really is the best trad album I’ve heard in a while, and the reason is because it’s really strong in an area where so many traditional artists are weak: variation.  There are many great artists out there who are technically really proficient, but after about Track 4 you know you’re just going to hear more of the same.  And with the really great artists, that’s okay, because the same is really good.  But so few people in traditional music focus on creating interesting and varied sound on record.  Perhaps because it’s considered a bit sinful in traditional music to do anything but capture the same bunch of musicians playing in a room.  But I love the percussion on this album, the strange noises, the constant shifts in tone like the Hebridean weather.

And watching the documentary above, it looks like they all had a blast.  And I think you can hear that (in a good way) on the record.  Go check it out!

Current favourite track: Unst Boat Song

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/songs-of-separation/id1053151093

25423503564_b39e5fe638_k_instant

I love this photo.

Fellow Morris-dancing-survivor Angie has set up a new local branch of the Women’s Institute round our way, and one of her recent coups has been to get Peggy Seeger to be a guest speaker, talking about her life and singing a bunch of songs.  Would I like to do the sound, should there be any specific requirements?  Absolutely.  Not every day you get to meet a legend. Continue reading