I was at Mekonville. Where were you?

When The Mekons first emerged as a young, brash, ragtag, loose-knit art-school punk-rock band in Leeds, U.K. in those golden late ’70s, I bet nobody who heard or saw them — or even the band members themselves — ever envisioned that in 2017, hundreds of people from many nations would answer the band’s call to “destroy your safe and happy lives before it is too late,” and gather in rural England to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary at a three-day music festival. But that’s what just happened. And I was there. Where were you? [ . . . ] More at: I was at Mekonville. Where were you? | Terrell’s Tune-Up | santafenewmexican.com

Let’s go down the pub deluxe: The Wigmore and Dead Rabbit at Claridge’s signal the rise of the posh pub

It’s news that will have the real ale brigade chuntering into their pints of warm beer: the good old-fashioned boozer has had a makeover and this time it’s gone deluxe.The latest iteration of the traditional pub – let’s call it the ‘pub deluxe’– takes off from where ‘90s gastropubs and hipster craft beer bars left off, and is edging its way into the luxury sector.Leading the charge is The Wigmore, the posh new pub at London’s Langham Hotel which launched last month with a menu by Le Gavroche’s Michel Roux Jr and glamorous interiors by Martin Brudnizki, the internationally renowned designer best known for such A-list hot spots as Scott’s, The Ivy and Sexy Fish. [ . . . ] More: Let’s go down the pub deluxe: The Wigmore and Dead Rabbit at Claridge’s signal the rise of the posh pub 

Lost ‘folk noir’ masterpiece Bright Phoebus from Waterson siblings is a chart hit 45 years on

A lost folk “masterpiece”, recorded by a brother and sister duo from Hull, has entered the charts 45 years after its initial release. “I knew Lal wrote son

Just 1,000 copies of Bright Phoebus by Lal and Mike Waterson, a stark album of “folk noir” tales encompassing pagan child slaughter and nuclear apocalypse, were pressed in 1972 [ . . . ] More at: Lost ‘folk noir’ masterpiece Bright Phoebus from Waterson siblings is a chart hit 45 years on – The i newspaper online iNews

Paul Robeson in Wales

Paul Robeson’s interactions with Wales were shaped by the violence of mining life: the everyday hardship of long hours and low wages, but also the sudden spectacular catastrophes that decimated communities. In 1934, he’d been performing in Caernarfon when news arrived of a disaster in the Gresford colliery. The mine there had caught fire, creating an inferno so intense that most of the 266 men who died underground, in darkness and smoke, were never brought to the surface for burial. At once, Robeson offered his fees for the Caernarfon concert to the fund established for the orphans and children of the dead – an important donation materially, but far more meaningful as a moral and political gesture.

“There was just something that drew Welsh people and Paul Robeson together. I think it was like a love affair, in a way.” And that seemed entirely right.” [ . . . ] Read More – The Guardian


This troupe celebrates the earthy allure of a strange English folk dance. And beer

Mitch Diamond first saw a Morris dance 47 years ago, at a folk-dancing camp in Massachusetts. He locked eyes with one of the dancers as the man leapt into the air.“You could just see this look,” Diamond said, waxing nostalgic after his own performance in Bethesda on Tuesday. “It was strong. It was earthy. It was primal.”He paused for a moment, reminiscing. Then he remembered the urgent task at hand.“Come on, guys!” he called. “We gotta get to the beer.” [ . . .  ]

Full Story: This troupe celebrates the earthy allure of a strange English folk dance. And beer. – The Washington Post

The snarky improvisers continue to one-up each other in The Trip to Spain 

In which Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continue their joint sojourn through the eateries of Europe, this time taking Coogan’s Range Rover from London to the coast of España and further south.

Once again, this team of rivals is working on tasks relating to food and travel, with Coogan again positioning himself as the senior partner.Actually, I should say that about Coogan’s character, as well as Brydon’s, who only happen to be named after the stars. The frequent references to Philomena and other past projects are real enough. But domestic scenes and phone calls with Brydon’s wife and young children, as well as Coogan’s current (and married) girlfriend, are invented, as is a subplot about Steve losing his agent and being asked to share his new script with an up-and-coming writer. “I’ve already up-and-come,” complains the two-time Oscar nominee [ . . . ]

Read Full story: The snarky improvisers continue to one-up each other in The Trip to Spain | Georgia Straight Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly

An incredible journey with the Incredible String Band – BBC News

The Incredible String Band were one of the most influential bands of the swinging Sixties but their roots lie in the folk clubs of Edinburgh.

Their incredible journey took them from experimenting in Scotland’s all-night venues to an infamous appearance at Woodstock, the biggest counter-cultural event of the decade.

Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were all said to have been influenced by the psychedelic folk rock of the band, who played “world music” a decade before the term was coined.

Comedian and banjo-player Billy Connolly, who was a massive fan and who got to know them when they played the folk clubs of Glasgow, described the band as “hairy, exotic and interesting”.

The story of how a group of folkies playing the Crown Bar in Edinburgh and late night clubs in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street rose to become musical pioneers, who are still revered around the world, is told in a new book by the Incredible String Band’s Mike Heron and long-time fan Andrew Greig [ . . . ]

Full Story: An incredible journey with the Incredible String Band – BBC News

A sea of brollies and a world of fabulous music at the Cambridge Folk Festival

An amazing thing happens when the rain falls on the Cambridge Folk Festival, as it did, with considerable ferocity, several times this weekend.

An amazing thing happens when the rain falls on the CambridgeFolk Festival, as it did, with considerable ferocity, several times this weekend. Almost instantly, and with minimal fuss, a thousand umbrellas emerge from a thousand neatly-packed day-bags; and the fields around the two main stages become an object lesson in British stoicism and weather-preparedness
[ . . .] Musical highlights glittered across the weekend. The Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan was a memorable high point early on Friday afternoon, delivering a main stage performance of such musical accomplishment and melodic beauty that I wondered if anything could top it. Accompanied by a responsive four-piece band, she switched between guitar, mandolin and harmonium, and worked through a setlist drawn mostly from 2016 album, At Swim. On the record, these unhurried, water-themed songs are so subtle and gently realised that they almost fall into the background; but on stage, propelled by her voice – which has touches of Sinead O’Connor and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons – they grabbed both lapels. Her a cappella voicing of the Seamus Heaney poem Anahorish, mid-set, was the finest single piece of singing I’ve heard all year [ . . . ]

Read Full Review: A sea of brollies and a world of fabulous music at the Cambridge Folk Festival

Folk Festival Guest Curator, Jon Boden takes you through his chosen acts… | Cambridge Live

I first played at Cambridge Folk Festival back in 2003 with John Spiers. I was still fairly new to the folk scene at that point but I can remember clearly the exhilaration of pulling up to the legendary site, the two of us and all our instruments crammed into John’s Ford Fiesta.

It’s always had an aura, Cambridge Folk Festival. It’s a festival that exudes quality, is always looking outwards and upwards, is always bringing audience and artists together to make a particular kind of magic. Arriving on site back then I remember feeling that the history of the festival seemed to be palpable, coexisting with the present and bringing a warm, vibrant glow to the whole affair. Mind you I probably hadn’t had much sleep (we were both holding down day jobs at that point) so that may have had something to do with it.

But there is no question that Cambridge Folk Festival holds a very special place in the composition of the folk scene, and in the cultural pantheon of the nation as a whole. It brings folk musics from around the world into a tightly packed field and glories in their variety and difference, as well as celebrating the unity of all music.

I was therefore overwhelmed to be asked to be the first “guest-curator” of Cambridge Folk Festival this year.

Festival season can be a strange experience – bumping into the same artists week after week in a different field, or catching a fleeting ‘hello’ with someone you haven’t seen for a decade as you pass in the melee of a stage-swapover scrum. There are so many amazing artists around who I count as friends and with whom the “we should really do something” conversation has happened so many times it has become embarrassing. To be presented with the opportunity of not only recommending some artists for the festival but also to be given space and context to play together a bit, or to interview them on stage and ask them about their musical journeys, or to hang out around a campfire for an hour or so… is a fantastically exciting proposition and I am over-the-moon to be able do so with six such amazing acts.

Belshazzar’s Feast
Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are both masters of their instruments, and masters of musical comedy. They were one of the first acts I ever saw perform in a folk club and to me they have always set the bench mark for how to combine great music with humour, without allowing the latter to undermine the former. Between them they have an incredible wealth of musical knowledge and experience and that shines through, even in their most irreverent moments. Moving, engaging and often hilarious, they are a perfect festival act and I am delighted to be able to present them.


I first met Martin Green of Lau in a pub session in Southampton in 1999 or thereabouts. I knew of him through his playing on Eliza Carthy’s ‘Red’ album, but at that point the idea that someone could feature in my CD collection and could also stroll nonchalantly into my local session was not a concept I could readily process. His playing electrified the session and I went home convinced that fiddle was for losers and that really the piano accordion was the only way forward. Fortunately that conviction wore off before I could trade in my fiddle but the energy of his playing that night has stayed with me ever since. When, in 2007, he teamed up with one of the finest fiddlers there is and one of the greatest guitarist / singers on the scene it was clear something special was in the offing.

Sure enough Lau have become a gold standard for experimental traditional music and continue to reach music lovers from way outside of the folk scene, as well as thrilling those of us within it with with their ever changing, ever challenging, ever so slightly-bonkers take on tradition-based music from Scotland and beyond.

Martin Simpson

I’m not sure exactly how many times I played “Heather Down the Moor” on repeat when I first came across it as a teenager, but the CD had certainly worn out within a week of me buying it. The intricacy and drive of Martin’s solo guitar on that track was like nothing else I’d ever heard. English folk music excels at ‘feel’ and ‘grunge’ and ‘swagger’, but ‘virtuosity’ can get often lost along the way. So it takes a genius like Martin to combine the groove and soul of English folk music with a virtuosity so singular, so extraordinary that really no-one else gets close. And as for his American trad stuff, it really is breathtaking. More recently he’s become one of the foremost songwriters on the scene as well. I have been lucky enough to count him as a friend since moving up to Sheffield in 2005 and our various musical collaborations have been a source of great joy to me.

Kate In The Kettle

Fiddle singers are ten-a-penny these days 😉 so it’s really exciting to meet someone who is taking the whole thing up another notch. Kate Young’s incredible talent as a singer and as a fiddle player is a wondrous thing to behold and as a writer she excels in finding incredibly exciting new musical spaces to explore.

Chris T-T

Chris is a massively influential figure on the low-fi, acoustic punk scene. Frank Turner has performed a number of his songs and cites him as an inspirational figure. As a performer of his own political material he is uncompromising, aggressive, forensically deconstructive in his observations. So it was something of a surprise when a few years back he announced that he would be taking a one-man show of original settings of A. A. Milne’s children’s poems to the Edinburgh Festival.

It was an enormous success, not least because he managed to inject a fair amount of that punk vivacity into the settings whilst totally staying true the the melancholy, tender, drily humorous tone of the poems. I am so excited to see him perform these songs once more before he hangs up his plectrum – he announced in April this year that he would be retiring from live performance, so don’t miss him!

Furrow Collective

It’s incredibly exciting when a bunch of musicians who you admire individually, announce they are forming a group. The four members of the Furrow Collective are all at the top of their game and indeed they all lead busy, successful solo careers. The sound they make together is so refreshing because it has a sense of effortless style and authenticity. Listening to them reminds me a bit of listening obsessively to Planxty as a teenager – brilliant, inventive, fresh but also with a sense of timelessness that chimes beautifully with the antiquity of the material.

Fiddle Workshop

Jon Boden will be looking at the ways in which English instrumental music – a musical idiom in which the squeezebox is the dominant stylistic driving force – can be interpreted on the fiddle. He will look at the technical and stylist tools available and consider where English fiddle style comes from, where it is now and where it is headed in the future.

So you’ve discoverd all about Jon’s curated acts but let’s discover a bit more about the man himself…

Jon is a singer, composer and musician, best known as lead singer and main arranger of Bellowhead. His first instrument is the fiddle and he is a leading proponent of “English traditional fiddle style” and also of “fiddle singing”, both of which he employed in Bellowhead, in the duo Spiers & Boden, and previously as a member of Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers. To date Jon has been the recipient of 11 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, more than any other musician. Jon also fronts his own band the Remnant Kings, put together in 2009 to perform his post-apocalyptic song cycle Songs From The Floodplain, he has also made contributions to many other albums as a fiddler, singer and guitarist, most notably two albums with Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party. In 2010 he launched an ambitious project to record and deliver A Folk Song A Day online, aiming to inspire others to build a repertoire of songs and engage in social singing. All 365 songs are now available on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube, as well as on the www.afolksongaday.com website. Jon holds a master’s degree in Composing for the Theatre and has worked on numerous, prestigious theatrical productions, including two plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2012 Jon was commissioned to create a staged classical piece based on The Ballad Of Little Musgrave And Lady Barnard as part of the Benjamin Britten centenary celebrations

Source: Folk Festival Guest Curator, Jon Boden takes you through his chosen acts… | Cambridge Live

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

Book Review: Folk Song in England by Steve Roud

Folk Song in England by Steve Roud Faber & Faber – 17 August 2017

Anyone who has an interest in Folk song or folklore and superstition in Britain will have more than likely stumbled upon the books of Steve Roud (if not his Roud Folk Song Index). In 2012, he, along with Julia Bishop, gave us The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, a long overdue update of the 1959 classic with the addition of lesser-known discoveries, complete with music and annotations on their original sources and meaning [ . . . ] More at: Book Review: Folk Song in England by Steve Roud | Folk Radio UK


The Trip to Spain feasts upon its stars’ fear of obsolescence

Once more, into the brie — or, in this case, the manchego. For the third time, now, for Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, it’s the feast as improv proving ground, the sumptuous meal as arena of competitive discernment: Who can better parse and parody the particularities of some beloved British film actor? And, most crucially, Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Spain is a breezy study of aging men afraid they’ve lost their potency, their command of life, their once-certain enshrinement in the culture. It is at once a desperate echo of long-gone glories and a glory itself.

Source: The Trip to Spain feasts upon its stars’ fear of obsolescence | L.A. Weekly