How we made Brassed Off 

‘I spent months learning the flugelhorn – and I didn’t even have to play it’

Pete Postlethwaite, who was playing my father, took me down to Grimethorpe a week before filming to talk to locals and let them know this was their story. The miners were reticent at first. Not long before, a TV crew had stitched up the town, getting kids to throw stones at derelict buildings and making it seem as if it was a regular occurrence, as if Grimethorpe had become a wild west town. [ . . . ]

More at source: How we made Brassed Off | Film | The Guardian

Rachel Unthank: how I fell in love with the defiant songs of Nick Drake’s mother Molly

She fled Burma and made it to Delhi on foot – where she discovered her voice. The singer of the Unthanks explains why the band fell for her spellbinding songs about heartbreak, loss, fragility and fear

“Destiny, do your worst,” declared my five-year-old son the other day. It’s a line from The First Day, a Molly Drake song he has been hearing a great deal of, as we take our new album on tour. I’m confident he doesn’t understand what it means, but he’s certainly taken by its drama. The song – hopeful and defiant, melancholic and searching – captures the essence of Molly’s bittersweet poetry.

A woman came up to me after a recent Unthanks show, with tears in her eyes but smiling warmly, and said: “That was utterly devastating.” This has been the pattern of post-show exchanges: a steady flow of women deeply moved by Molly’s words. They are confused and confounded that they don’t know more about the woman whose songs and poems they have just spent two hours listening to.

Mother of singer-songwriter Nick Drake and the actor Gabrielle Drake, Molly came to public attention in her own right only in 2013, with a limited edition release of her songs and poems, 20 years after her death and almost 40 years after the suicide of her son. We had always been fans of Nick’s music – our album Cruel Sister featured my sister Becky’s interpretation of his beautiful River Man – and we developed a relationship with Gabrielle and the Drake estate. Like many Nick fans, we were eager to hear Molly’s songs, not least because of what we might we glean about her son. [ . . . ]

Read Full Article: TheGuardian

Why British film needs to form a countryside alliance

Out on Friday, new British film The Levelling is a breath of fresh air from its very first shot of a country lane. Why? Because this is a film that has escaped the cities with which British filmmakers are so obsessed – and not only that, offered an authentic depiction of our nation’s countryside for once.Our film industry has an awful habit of regurgitating successful movies until way after the dead horse has been flogged. Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels led to a plethora of cheap East End gangster film replicas. As we laughed and cried at Four Weddings and a Funeral, producers Working Title were busy starting a conveyor belt of upper-middle-class metropolitan comedies. Merchant Ivory created a cottage industry around [ . . . ]

Read Full Story: Why British film needs to form a countryside alliance

The female screenwriter hidden from history

I saw Diana Morgan’s film Hand In Hand in grade school. It was one of the few non-Disney movies the Sisters of Mercy allowed for us to see on the rare and exciting Movie Day in the school cafeteria. The film is about the friendship between a Jewish and a Roman Catholic child, and their attempts to understand each others’ faith. I believe our parish also presented an “encore” presentation of the film one evening for parents to see, and I remember later discussing the film with my dad. Hard to believe, but Morgan’s film was somewhat controversial in some households, though not with Dad who loved it. Miss you Dad.
– Johnny Foreigner

Just as in other aspects of British life, women were at last getting a chance to do jobs that had for decades been the sole province of men.Women are working lathes making munitions; land army girls bring in the harvest; female pilots deliver spitfires; female crews work canal boats and at least one woman is writing the scripts of patriotic comedy films.I had heard that the inspiration for the new film was screenwriter Diana Morgan, who was one such woman and that the part of Catrin Cole in Their Finest was modelled on her. [ . . ]

More: Morning Star :: The female screenwriter hidden from history | The People’s Daily

Twitterstorm: why British birdsong is vital to music

From the nightingale to the linnet, via the blackcap and the corn bunting, UK birdsong is as unique and inspiring as the music it influences

Nightingales have played the unwitting muse to human poets, playwrights and composers for centuries, from Shakespeare and Hardy to Coleridge and Tchaikovsky. Last year, Nitin Sawhney received a front-row performance from one such feathered troubadour during the making of TV show The Animal Symphony – an experience the initially sceptical composer described to me as “a revelation” [ . . . ] More at source: Twitterstorm: why British birdsong is vital to music | Music | The Guardian

BBC Radio 6 Music – Lauren Laverne, With The Unthanks

With The UnthanksLauren LaverneLauren welcomes The Unthanks to the Live Room.

The Northumbrian folk five piece’s latest album Diversions Vol – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake is due out on the 26th of May on the Rabble Rouser label.

The project seeks to understand, connect with and share the great writing of Molly Drake, mother of Nick who was a wonderful, yet unknown poet and songwriter. She made a number of home recordings with her husband in the 1950s and now, some 60 years later, her work is being loving brought to new audiences.With the help of Molly’s daughter Gabrielle, The Unthanks have created an extraordinary album, which sets Molly’s poetry to music.

The draw of creating such a record was simple, with the band saying “Hearing a woman, a mother, from that time, expressing the struggle between darkness and light, so beautifully, with such artistry, confidently, and yet kind of from behind closed doors, is as compelling a listen as we’ve ever experienced”.All this plus Lauren has this week’s Memory Tapes, a celebration of a listeners beloved mixtape, Just Added, a Headphones Moment and as much music as we can pack in.

Listen at: BBC Radio 6 Music – Lauren Laverne, With The Unthanks

Rare blackbird spotted in Orkney causing birdwatchers from all over UK to flock to island – Daily Record

The red-winged blackbird is common in North America but has never been seen before in Europe.

Birdwatchers on Orkney reckon they’ve caught sight of a bird never seen before in Europe.

The spotters in North Ronaldsay have seen the red-winged blackbird on the island.

The creature is common in North America and may have been blown over to Scots shores by strong winds across the Atlantic during peak spring migration.

An adult female was photographed by Simon Davies of the island’s bird observatory
[ . . . ]

Source: Rare blackbird spotted in Orkney causing birdwatchers from all over UK to flock to island – Daily Record


The Unthanks have never been an act to shy away from a challenge, especially in their occasional Diversions releases, which so far have seen them work with a brass band, soundtrack a film about the shipyards and interpret the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons to singular and powerful effect. So it should come as no surprise that the latest Diversions volume, The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake, is not only one of their most intriguing releases yet but also, according to their musical director and pianist Adrian McNally, might even be their best work

So can I first ask how the idea for the Molly Drake project arose? Was it on the back of the 2013 album or had it been on your minds beforehand?

“Our relationship with the Drakes goes back beyond the release of Molly’s work in 2013. The actress Gabrielle Drake, Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister, had already been to see us perform years ago, having been made aware of our readings of Nick Drake songs, by the man known only as Cally, who runs the Drake musical estate on behalf of and alongside Gabrielle. They’re sweet, smart, brilliant people. Both of them. From time to time, Gabrielle tours around with Cally, talking generously to those of us still engaged with the enigma of her brother, who in his lifetime, she was at least if not more famous than. Cally sent us the Molly Drake record when it came out, but it wasn’t the first music he’d ever sent us. He’s sent us lots of bits and bobs. Had we known each other twenty five years ago, I’m sure we might have sent each other compilation tapes. We’re all music mad, and he is music madder. So whether he meant to plant a seed by sending us Molly, I don’t know, but I don’t think we got through our first listen without that feeling that would have to do something with these songs.” [ . . . ]

Continued at Source: INTERVIEW: THE UNTHANKS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Review: Laura Marling’s ‘Semper Femina’ Seeks the Cryptic in the Plainspoken

It’s a woman’s world on Laura Marling’s sixth album, “Semper Femina,” her latest set of cozy, folky melodies carrying profoundly enigmatic tidings. The characters in her new songs, from start to finish, are women; men, except for someone’s mean father, are absent, simply irrelevant to her current intentions.Between albums, Ms. Marling has also been busy with “Reversal of the Muse: An Exploration of Femininity in Creativity,” a podcast series of conversations with female musicians, producers, engineers and executives. But her backup musicians and technicians on “Semper Femina” are men: most prominently, the album’s producer, Blake Mills, the guitarist who has lately worked with Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple and John Legend [ . . . ] More NY Times

Katell Keineg – Interview – Louder Than War

Currently working alongside Gareth Bonello of The Gentle Good, Cardiff-based musician Katell Keineg is playing a one-off show in support of Joan Osborne at London’s Union Chapel.  Louder Than War’s Melz Durston caught up with Katell for a chat. 

Some stars shine the brightest when out of view, and this would be true of Katell Keineg, BretonWelsh musician who never quite embraced the glaring lights of fame and fortune, despite a voice that soars, and cuts you to the core, and a life lived fully and courageously. You can live your life in an endless wait, or build it high on the present tense, are the words Katell sang on One Hell of a Life, and she has surely lived up to that philosophy.

Born in Brittany, Katell spent the first eight years of her childhood travelling back and forth between there and Wales, where eventually she would settle with her family before leaving to study in London.  Propelled towards sonic adventures from an early age, aged 16, Katell and her friend made a pilgrimage to Bron Yr Aur, having identified where Led Zepellin wrote their third album [ . . . ]

Full Story at Source: Katell Keineg – interview – Louder Than War | Louder Than War

‘Genius’ Review

National Geographic’s first scripted series features Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn doing strong dual work as Albert Einstein.



Like time or space, criticism can also be relative.

For example: If you were to have told Albert Einstein that something he did was “above average” chances are good that he would whack you upside the head with a violin. If, however, you were to tell National Geographic that a scripted program the network produced was “above average,” well, maybe accustomed to reviews for TV movies based on Bill O’Reilly books about killing historical figures, NatGeo would know how to take a compliment.

Genius, National Geographic’s adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s book Einstein: His Life and Universe, is an above average event series about an extraordinary man. In form and execution, it may be an unremarkable depiction of being remarkable, but it’s also handsomely produced, reasonably intelligent and well-served by paired leading men Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn.

“Time is not absolute,” Einstein says in a 1922 classroom lecture in Berlin. “The distinction [ . . .  ]

Read Full Review at Source: ‘Genius’ Review | Hollywood Reporter

Bruce Robinson on the inspiration behind Withnail, disbelief in politicians and his hatred of smartphones

Driving towards the Herefordshire home of writer and director Bruce Robinson was already proving something of an ordeal. Here I was, about to interview the creator of what must be the UK’s and possibly the world’s most iconically cool film, Withnail and I, and I was driving a non-descript VW Polo and feeling distinctly sober. Of course, I should have been in a clapped out 1960s Jag, dragging on a Gauloise and recklessly swigging from a bottle of Haut Brion while listening to Hendrix [ . . . ]

More: Bruce Robinson on the inspiration behind Withnail, disbelief in politicians and his hatred of smartphones | The Independent

Banned BBC horror documentary comes back to life on Shudder, after causing national British panic in 1992

Ghostwatch was created by screenwriter Stephen Volk, but British audiences didn’t quite get the joke, leading to lawsuits and even a suicide

While it’s rare to hear of a movie in 2017 leaving audiences running out the door in panic or to the ER after deliriously passing out, 1992 was apparently a vastly different time. It was still in the early days of the faux-documentary style horror movies we’re used to now, a la The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity.

So when, on Halloween night in 1992, BBC premiered Ghostwatch, a 90-minute “news report” claiming it had real evidence of supernatural activity in a haunted London house, audiences quickly went into an uproar. There had been no warning that the show was fictional [ . . . ]

Read Full Story: Banned BBC horror documentary comes back to life on Shudder, after causing national British panic in 1992 | National Post

A Lump of Rock, an Otter and a Secessionist

SANDNESS, Shetland Islands — With gray clouds building and rain slanting in over the Atlantic, Stuart Hill pointed to a small lump of land inhabited by an otter, a few seals and a variety of seabirds.

To the rest of the world, this barren, inhospitable and largely inaccessible rock off the coastline of the Shetland Islands is a part of Scotland, on the northernmost tip of Britain. To Mr. Hill, it is the sovereign state of Forvik, whose independence he proclaimed in 2008, arguing that it — along with the oil-rich Shetland Islands themselves — is legally neither part of Scotland nor Britain.

Needless to say, the authorities here do not agree. The police have confiscated three vehicles from Mr. Hill after he drove in Shetland with [ . . . ]
Read Full Story at: NY Times

Withnail and I at 30:  10 reasons why Bruce Robinson’s caper is the greatest British comedy of all time

Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made.

Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made. For its one-liners alone Bruce Robinson’s sweary caper is rightly regarded as a classic: “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake”. “Don’t threaten me with a dead fish”. “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now”. These droll zingers are fired off at such a clip, multiple viewings are required to savour them in their full glory. [ . . . ]

Full Story at: Withnail and I at 30:  10 reasons why Bruce Robinson’s caper is the greatest British comedy of all time

You Know What You Could Be review – a Scottish tale of psychedelic folk


This enjoyable joint memoir by Mike Heron and Andrew Greig has at its centre late 60s hippiedom and the Incredible String Band

This book is a freak, a fairground mermaid, half monkey, half fish. It is therefore entirely in keeping with its subject, the Incredible String Band, the 1960s group that was never quite one thing nor another – folk or rock or world music – but always a mingling of influences, voices and styles.

You Know What You Could Be is a joint memoir, at times a joints memoir, written by the String Band’s Mike Heron and the poet Andrew Greig. Despite being the marquee name and main draw, Heron here plays the support act in his own story. His contribution comes first and takes up not quite a third of the book. He sometimes uses the present tense (“I’m back at the drug emporium two days later”) to describe the years between 1957, when he is a 15-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy, and 1966, when he is on the brink of becoming a star. Greig picks up the story in the late autumn of ’67, writing in the past tense about how he, still at school in Fife, had his mind blown by the String Band [ . . . ]

Read Complete Story: You Know What You Could Be review – a Scottish tale of psychedelic folk | Books | The Guardian

On my radar: Shirley Collins’s cultural highlights


Brought up near Hastings in a musical family, Shirley Collins moved to London aged 17, where she became involved in the early folk revival. After her debut album, Sweet England, in 1959, she released a number of seminal folk records, including collaborations with artists such as Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, and her sister, Dolly. However, in 1978 Collins withdrew from music following a traumatic divorce. She was awarded an MBE in 2007, and last year released her first album in 38 years, Lodestar, to wide acclaim. Collins is nominated for album of the year and singer of the year at this year’s Radio 2 folk awards, which will be broadcast on BBC4 at 10pm tonight. Her tour begins on 29 April in Warwick. [ . . . ]

Full Story: On my radar: Shirley Collins’s cultural highlights | Culture | The Guardian

The Essential British Films

By Tom Jolliffe

Any film student worth their salt will tell you that absolutely essential viewing is Withnail & I. When I started at University studying film about 100 years ago give or take (actually it was 14 years ago) I hadn’t seen Withnail. Within two weeks of starting it became apparent that I had not actually lived, and thus needed to see it immediately. I watched it, I like it but upon that first viewing it didn’t quite inseminate me fully with its genius. The second time I got it. The third, fourth and beyond, the film just got better and better.

This is a film that represents Britain at its cinematic finest. Firstly it beautifully captures the [ . . . ]

Read Full List: The Essential British Films

Review: Johnny Flynn’s Sillion 

Johnny Flynn’s Sillion is a strange, affecting and beautifully realised album, one with many hidden (and manifest) depths. Go and listen.


After four years, Johnny Flynn makes a very welcome return with his fourth album (give or take a live CD and soundtrack) with Sillion – an old English word which means the thick, voluminous, and shiny soil turned over by a plough.

And it’s a particularly apt title, as Johnny’s songs dig through the dirt and detritus of everyday life revealing a shiny life-giving loam under the surface (while still sounding like it refers to an ancient mythical beast, perhaps that figure depicted on the cover?).

But the time between releases does not represent a furrow period for Flynn. Indeed it’s been a time of immense creativity and acclaim, just not in recorded music. He’s acted and scored films, starred in a TV series, and performed in stage plays. In fact, the last time I saw Flynn was as a boy player at London’s Globe Theatre starring as Lady Anne opposite Mark Rylance in Richard III. And very good he was too. [ . . . ]

Read More at: Johnny Flynn: Sillion (Album Review) | Folk Radio UK

Johnny Flynn: the ‘Lovesick’ actor/ musician on yoga, nature and how becoming a father triggered panic attacks 

It’s early on Monday morning and Johnny Flynn is sitting in a faded cafe in east London. He is wearing a grey Patagonia fleece, over a red-and-green check shirt as though he’s just been out hiking, but he’s actually just dropped his son off at school. He looks like he should smell of camp fires, but when we hug, I discover he smells of washing powder.He orders green tea and apologises for his “murkiness”; yesterday was his son Gabriel’s sixth birthday party, but Flynn has just turned 34 too, so they had a party in the park, where the kids played in the trees and the adults drank wine, looking on.“I’ve just woken up, not too hungover but just a bit groggy from the energy of that. I was wrangling 30 kids into playing bulldog and catch the tail on the… thing.” He apologises with a smile. [ … ] More at: Johnny Flynn: the ‘Lovesick’ actor/ musician on yoga, nature and how becoming a father triggered panic attacks – The i newspaper online iNews

Paddy Summerfield’s best photograph: a girl reading a Christian book in the swinging 60s 

‘A sexual revolution was happening – but it seemed to be taking place somewhere else’ – Paddy Summerfield

“I came across this girl in the Oxford University parks, lying in the summer sun reading a book. It was in the late-60s, not a laptop in sight. It was surprising to find an unshaven armpit, almost as shocking as pubic hair. It’s from The Oxford Pictures, my first photographic essay. It was very much a young man’s vision: anxiety, desire and sexual guilt run right through it, maybe because of my strict upbringing with Sunday school lessons and Christian teaching”.[ . . . ] Read More: Paddy Summerfield’s best photograph: a girl reading a Christian book in the swinging 60s | Art and design | The Guardian

Martin McGuinness, an I.R.A. Leader Turned Peacemaker, Dies at 66 

Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander and Sinn Fein political leader who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government, died on Tuesday in Derry. He was 66.

Sinn Fein said on its website that Mr. McGuinness died after a short illness. When he [ . . . ] Read Full Story in NYTimes

New Names for Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 Line-up

The latest names have been announced for Cambridge Folk Festival 2017, including legendary folk singer and respected song collector Shirley Collins, who recently returned to recording and performing after 38 years; a Festival exclusive from multi-platinum selling Indigo Girls, whose celebrated and influential career spans almost four decades and chart-topping, English country twin-sister duo Ward Thomas, part of an all-female line-up on Main Stages 1 and 2 on the Friday. International superstar and multiple Grammy Award-winner Olivia Newton-John, originally from Cambridge, Grammy nominee Beth Nielsen Chapman and SOCAN Award-winner Amy Sky bring their unique collaboration ‘Liv On’ exclusively to the Festival on Saturday evening. Acclaimed US singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, promises another awe-inspiring Festival performance on the Sunday[ . . . ]

Read Full Story: New Names for Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 Line-up | Folk Radio UK

Laura Marling: ‘I’m unsure of my femininity’ – BBC News

Folk star Laura Marling explores what it means to be a woman on her new album, Semper Femina.

Laura Marling’s latest album was recorded in her adopted home of Los Angeles, so coming back to London to promote it in mid-February has been something of a rude awakening.

There are some circumstances in which I employ more of a masculine approach in order to protect myself; and there are circumstances where I indulge in my more feminine side because that vulnerability seems more important

“I stupidly got on my bike this morning and got the sleet right in my face,” she winces.

Having dried off and freshened up, she settles down to chat. Marling has a reputation for being a shy, sometimes reluctant interviewee – but LA clearly has rubbed off on her.

She chews gum as we talk, laughing bawdily as she discusses her penchant for dating drummers. (“What do they bring to a relationship? Rhythm!”)

The 27-year-old also reveals her mum keeps a “very meticulous scrapbook” of her career, and admits to cooking up her own brand of Halloumi cheese.

“I’m aiming for direct competition with Alex James,” she says, referring to the cheese-making Blur bassist. “But bloody hell, what a boring thing to talk about”. [ . . . ] Read Full Story at BBC



Source: Laura Marling: ‘I’m unsure of my femininity’ – BBC News

Review: Laura Marling’s ‘Semper Femina’ Seeks the Cryptic in the Plainspoken 

It’s a woman’s world on Laura Marling’s sixth album, “Semper Femina,” her latest set of cozy, folky melodies carrying profoundly enigmatic tidings. The characters in her new songs, from start to finish, are women; men, except for someone’s mean father, are absent, simply irrelevant to her current intentions.

Between albums, Ms. Marling has also been busy with “Reversal of the Muse: An Exploration of Femininity in Creativity,” a podcast series of conversations with female musicians, producers, engineers and executives. But her backup musicians and technicians on “Semper Femina” are men: most prominently, the album’s producer, Blake Mills, the guitarist who has lately worked with Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple and John Legend.

Ms. Marling is a subtly virtuosic guitarist with a voice that’s pensive, consoling, poised and wise beyond her years [ . . . ] Read Full NY Times Review

Ken Loach Interview

Fresh from his Outstanding British Film BAFTA win for I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach tells me how troubled he is by the lack of working class voices at the ceremony. Typical of his quiet modesty, there is no mention of the film’s multiple successes or of the award itself, nor the second Palme d’Or of Loach’s career after The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Instead, he’s more interested in an issue that has been at the heart of his ground-breaking cinema for over fifty years.“The people who presented the prizes, never mind the people who won, there were more presenters from Eton than any working class voices. You heard no working class voices amongst the presenters. Where were all the voices from the regions? I didn’t hear one. Where are the voices from the working class Londoners? I didn’t hear one. I mean, just think about the image they’re projecting. Why does every presenter have to be posh?” [ . . . ]

Read Full Interview: The Quietus | Film | Film Features | The Voices From The Regions: Ken Loach interviewed

First Listen: The Food of Love Project

Last year, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death was marked by numerous events across the country celebrating The Bard’s legacy. One such event was The Food of Love Project concerts which took place in Oxford, London and Stratford featuring performances by the likes of Alasdair Roberts, Kirsty Law, Thomas Truax, Dead Rat Orchestra, Nick Castell, Flights of Helios and more.Now, we can finally hear The Food of Love Project in all its glory with the full and remarkable lineup.

Full Story: First Listen: The Food of Love Project | Folk Radio UK

Bert Inspired: a Concert for Bert Jansch review – fond renditions and a lot of guitar tuning

Jazz-folk veterans, Britpop pin-ups, classic rock icons, up-and-coming singer-songwriters – how many other musicians except Bert Jansch sit at such a spaghetti junction of influence? A stellar lineup assembles to remember the late Pentangle founder member and finger-picking guitar hero in his city of birth at the first of two Celtic Connections curtain-closing concerts in his honour. An evening of fond renditions and recollections, and a lot of guitar tuning.

Graham Coxon had written beforehand of how nervous he was on meeting Jansch. The Blur guitarist looks twitchy here, too, as he performs an affectionate One for Jo and a “Bert-imbued” solo composition Latte, but returns later, much more at ease, for a tricksy twang on Angie together with Martin Simpson. Elsewhere before the interval we get songs from Jansch’s former fellow Pentanglers Jacqui McShee and Mike Piggott, and Jansch’s one-time mentor Archie Fisher doing Down by Blackwaterside – Jansch’s arrangement that he once famously accused Led Zeppelin of ripping off with Black Mountain Side.

Not one to bear a grudge, Robert Plant lends superstar magnetism to proceedings, backed by his superb five-piece band the Sensational Space Shifters. The opening notes of a whispered Babe I’m Gonna Leave You are met with an almost disbelieving collective intake of breath; his second set will end with an entrancingly amped-up Poison. [ . . . ]

Read Full Story: Bert Inspired: a Concert for Bert Jansch review – fond renditions and a lot of guitar tuning | Music | The Guardian

Kate Tempest announces North American tour dates

Kate Tempest – 2017 Tour Dates
March 20 San Diego, CA Casbah
March 21 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex
March 22 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room
March 24 San Francisco, CA Slims
March 26 Boise, ID Treefort Festival
March 27 Seattle, WA Neumos
March 28 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
March 29 Vancouver, BC Fortune
March 31 Calgary, AB Commonwealth
April 2 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
April 3 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
April 5 Toronto, ON Mod Club
April 6 Montreal, QC Sala Rossa
April 10 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
April 11 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle
April 12 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall
April 13 New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge
Kate Tempest has just announced 2017 North American tour dates, her first since releasing 2016’s excellent Let Them Eat Chaos. Her tour wraps up in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on April 13. Tickets for that show will be on sale soon. All dates are listed below.

Kate Tempest’s second album plays like a table read of a screenplay for an Altman-esque anthology that visits the only seven residents of a particular London block who all happen to still be awake at 4:18 AM. Tempest, dropping perfect little details, sets the scene for each of them: some desperate, some drunk, all a little lost. A master storyteller with seriously impressive flow, Tempest draws you into the lives of the characters, finding the humanity in all of them, and eventually tying them together with a thunderstorm. Collaborator/producer Dan Carey matches terrific backing to Tempest’s rhymes, for what is one of the more moving works of the year.

You can stream Let Them Eat Chaos below. Kate’s last show in NYC was one of my favorites of 2015, so if she’s playing near, you don’t miss her.

Read More: Kate Tempest announces North American tour dates |

Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez scene from Brassed Off

One of Johnny Foreigner”s favorite British films of the ’90s was Mark Herman’s Brassed Off – 1996 British-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Mark Herman and starring Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor. These’s so much to love about the movie, including the brass band music, but especially the performance by one of the greatest British actors of all time – Pete Postlethwaite as the bandleader/miner “Danny.” If you’ve never seen this movie, grab it from Netflix or Amazon.

The film is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit. The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the plot is based on Grimethorpe’s own struggles against pit closures. It is generally very positively received for its role in promoting brass bands and their music. Parts of the film make reference to the huge increase in suicides that resulted from the end of the coal industry in Britain, and the struggle to retain hope in the circumstances. [Wikipedia]

Margaret Barry: wild Irish woman of the British folk scene

Margaret Barry.jpg

Discovered on a street corner by Alan Lomax, the ‘queen of the Gypsies’ was an untamed talent who outdrank Brendan Behan, insulted Bob Dylan, and filled the Royal Albert Hall. The author of a new show tells her story

Bob Dylan called her his favourite folk singer. Christy Moore says she still inspires him. Norma Waterson likens her to Edith Piaf and Bessie Smith. Sir David Attenborough put her on live TV. And even Van Morrison stops being grumpy to talk animatedly of “a great soul singer” when her name is mentioned.

A hundred years since her birth in Cork, the legend of Irish street singer Margaret Barry continues to grow. From her early days busking during some of Ireland’s most troubled years, she went on to become a revered attraction in London pubs where the Irish labourers who’d migrated after the war to help rebuild Britain’s capital congregated after work for a few jars of stout and a flavour of home. At a time when Irish traditional music might have been heading for extinction – a victim of state and church disapproval – exiled musicians kept the flame burning, resulting in a vibrant Irish scene in the English capital, coalescing around pubs such as the Favourite on the Holloway Road and the Bedford Arms in Camden. The uncompromising voice and raucous banjo of Margaret Barry were at its formidable heart.

Teaming up with the great Sligo fiddle player Michael Gorman, she became a star on the burgeoning British folk club scene of the time, recording her first album, Street Songs and Fiddle Tunes, for Topic in 1957. Several others followed, notably Songs of an Irish Tinker Lady (1959) and Her Mantle So Green (1965), as she went on to headline concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall, singing the same songs just as she’d sung them on the streets: traditional ballads, travellers’ tunes, populist Irish songs such as The Blarney Stone, or anything else she had thought would earn her enough to buy lodgings for the night.

She gained considerable fame within folk music circles but remained gloriously untouched by it. She smoke, she drank, she cussed, she span yarns, she marched on stage carrying pints of Guinness, she didn’t care who she offended and she spent money as fast as she earned it. She acquired not one ounce of polish or gentility along the way and sang the only way she knew how – as if her life depended on it (which, when she started out, it almost did).

Competing for attention with traffic noise and the chatter of shoppers, her voice had acquired a bloodcurdling intensity exacerbated by her furious banjo accompaniment. There was coarseness and conviction, but beauty and elegance, too, in the way she delivered great ballads such as The Galway Shawl and Factory Girl; while her thick black hair, rugged features and stern expression gave her a ferocious charisma that was enhanced by the endless fund of anecdotes that enveloped her. Continue reading

Review: Thoroughly Modern ‘Victoria,’ Still Nursing That Crush

Rufus Sewell’s portrayal of Lord Melbourne was the best thing about the  the premiere episode of Masterpiece’s “Victoria.” Overall, the pacing in the episode  one was a bit weird, and the look recalls a tv perfume commercial from the ’70s, “Your Windsong® stays on my mind…” However, the growing tension/attraction between Lord M and Victoria kept it interesting. I’ll be watching part 2, but I want to see at least some heavy petting from the height-challenged queen and Lord Dreamboat by the end of the episode! Read the New York Times Review below, and as Chuck Berry sang, “Go, Go,Go! Little Queenie!” 
– Johnny Foreigner

Disney had the princess game to itself for a while, but recently there’s been some competition. From real princesses. Why resort to computer-animated Polynesian or Nordic teenagers when you can watch a tale of empowerment and agency about a young woman who actually became queen of the United Kingdom?

First, Netflix gave us “The Crown,” 10 sumptuous and slightly stuffy episodes about the woman who would become Queen Elizabeth II. Now PBS jumps back a century for “Victoria,” eight episodes about Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother, beginning on Sunday on “Masterpiece.”

And while sumptuous still applies, stuffy is not a word that in any way describes “Victoria,” [ . . .  ] Read the full NY Times Review

The Rails “Bonny Portmore”

Bonny Portmore is an Irish traditional folk song which laments the demise of Ireland’s old oak forests, specifically the Great Oak of Portmore or the Portmore Ornament Tree, which fell in a windstorm in 1760 and was subsequently used for shipbuilding and other purposes.

The Rails is a folk rock band from London, England, composed of husband and wife James Walbourne and Kami Thompson. Kami Thompson is the daughter of British folk rock legends Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson and her brother is musician Teddy Thompson.

lyrics (traditional)
O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore. Continue reading

Donald Trump ‘highly likely’ to face impeachment within first 18 months as US President, expert warns 

Donald Trump is “highly likely” to face impeachment within 18 months of taking office, an expert in American politics has warned. The President-elect deflected the latest wave of explosive allegations to rock his administration on Wednesday during his first news conference since his election, adding to the growing list of scandals that emerged during his campaign. The Republican leader denied claims by a former British spy that Russian intelligence agencies had compiled compromising material on him of a sexual nature. The dossier also allegedly pointed to links between the Kremlin and his campaign, exposing one of the world’s most powerful leaders to blackmail [ . . . ] Source: Donald Trump ‘highly likely’ to face impeachment within first 18 months as US President, expert warns | The Independent

Ewan McGregor: ‘What if I’m not Scottish enough any more?’

Twenty years after Trainspotting made him a star – and the poster boy of 90s excess – could Ewan McGregor become Renton again?

The characters were people you felt you already knew. There was Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, the booze-fuelled, unpredictable psycho, a small-town Scottish version of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. Spud (Ewen Bremner): hapless, surreal, a lovable, smackhead loser. Sexy Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), out for whatever he could get, mostly women and drugs. And Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, the heroined-up antihero, who kept kicking drugs and then going back, and doing the same to his mates, until he finally robbed them all (except Spud) and ran away. [ . . . ] Read Full Story: Ewan McGregor: ‘What if I’m not Scottish enough any more?’ | Film | The Guardian

‘Lady Macbeth’ Turns Sound And Fury Into Victorian Noir  

It’s not Shakespearean but the no-nonsense leading lady of the new movie Lady Macbeth lives up to her name.

Source: ‘Lady Macbeth’ Turns Sound And Fury Into Victorian Noir : NPR


This Is the Kit: Moonshine Freeze review – a fascinating take on alt-folk

Paris-based Kate Stables returned to Bristol for her fourth album, with production duties undertaken by longtime PJ Harvey foil John Parish. There might be echoes of Dry-era Polly Jean on Hotter Colder (if Dry had featured wild sax solos), but for the most part this is a highly individual take on alt-folk. Musically, there’s a wealth of ideas, Parish’s minimalist arrangements allowing each instrument room to breathe and foregrounding Stables’s vocals – a wise move, as her lyrics are intriguing. Whether she’s singing about numerology or swimming off the Dorset coast, imaginative phrasing and vivid imagery abound. A fascinating album that only slowly gives up its secrets.

Source: This Is the Kit: Moonshine Freeze review – a fascinating take on alt-folk | Music | The Guardian

The Unthanks – Diversions, Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake

Enlisting Gabrielle Drake, The Unthanks provide the perfect outlet for Molly Drakes’ songs and poems. An unassuming yet transcendent album.

Molly Drake is perhaps best known as the mother of Nick Drake, the uniquely talented, famously fragile and ill-fated songwriter whose three albums attained a status that quickly grew from cult to classic after his death in 1974. But what is less well-known is that Molly was a prolific songwriter and poet in her own right, at a time when that sort of thing was considered a pastime rather than a valid vocation for women. She was born in Rangoon in 1915 and spent much of her life abroad – much of her life’s path was dictated by British colonial activity in South Asia. In 1944, four years before Nick was born, Molly gave birth to a girl, Gabrielle. [ . . . ]

Source: The Unthanks – Diversions, Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake


Richard E Grant Never Met The Real Withnail – But Tonight He Met His Brother

he character of Withnail, played by Richard E Grant, in the seminal movie classic Withnail And I, was based on a man called Vivian MacKerrell, with whom the movie’s writer and director Bruce Robinson once shared a flat.Grant never met MacKerrell – he was discouraged from doing so by Robinson. MacKerrell died over twenty years ago and tonight [ . .  . ]

More: Richard E Grant Never Met The Real Withnail – But Tonight He Met His Brother – Bleeding Cool News And Rumors