Saturday 31 December 2022

New Year Waltz

Christina Alden and Alex Patterson spent much of the past year on the road, touring the UK relentlessly in support of their wonderful 2021 album 'Hunter', taking their folk-baby Etta along for the ride. In the Autumn they released a stand alone single named after Etta, which garnered considerable critical acclaim, not least from Chris Difford, who played the song on his Radio 2 show in November, sandwiched between Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell no less! I didn't get to many concerts in 2022, but I made sure to catch Alden & Patterson whenever they were playing nearby and already have tickets for three 2023 shows pinned to my noticeboard.

Wishing friends old and new all the very best for the coming year.

Christina Alden and Alex Patterson - New Year Waltz

Monday 19 December 2022

Monday Long Song

All being well, there'll be one more pre-festivities post on Thursday, but just in case that doesn't come to pass, enjoy James White's jolly tale of 'Christmas With Satan' from the reloaded edition of the Ze Christmas Record, an album that also contains one of my very favourite seasonal songs, 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses.

James White - Christmas With Satan

Friday 16 December 2022

Friday Photo #31

We may have dodged the heavy snow that blanketed so much of the country over the past week, but my little corner of Suffolk nevertheless felt the sharpness of winter's arrival. The temperatures have been hovering around zero and there was a severe hoar frost on Sunday that made everything look stunningly beautiful, though I'll admit that beauty hasn't been at the forefront of my mind at 5.15 every morning as I've hacked away at my ice encased car.

The river that forms the border between Suffolk and Norfolk flows 100 yards from my front door and I spend a lot of time over there, clearing my mind and keeping my eyes open for any interesting wildlife that might be about. Kingfishers are a regular, if fleeting sight, whizzing by a couple of feet above the water in a silver blue blur. On Sunday, however, set against the heavily frosted trees, these remarkable birds lost their usual camouflage and I was able to observe several of them quite extensively, sitting on overhanging branches gazing into the glass calm river and occasionally diving in to make a catch. I use the word too often I know, but the whole experience really was magical. Today's photo was snapped on Sunday, from one of my vantage points on the Norfolk bank. Unfortunately my trusty camera phone simply isn't powerful enough to actually capture a decent shot of a Kingfisher.

Cabane (featuring Kate Stables) - Now, Winter Comes

Wednesday 7 December 2022

This Life is Mine

Quietly chuffed with this shot I managed to capture from my front row seat 

Overall, 2022 has been a pretty quiet year for me on the live music front, though it's finishing with a flurry of folk gigs, the penultimate of which was last weekend when folk royalty visited the area in the shape of Peter Knight and John Spiers. 

At 47, John Spiers is generally acknowledged to be the foremost melodeon player of his generation, performing over the years with Bellowhead, Gigspanner, Eliza Carthy and Jackie Oates. On Saturday evening he bought five different melodeons and a concertina to the stage - not for nothing is he known affectionately as Squeezy. Outside of music he's a fervent allotmanteer, with much of his social media presence being given over to plants, crops and recipes.

Peter Knight is a classically trained violinist who was an integral member of Steeleye Span for the best part of 40 years. These days, in addition to the duo work, he leads the various iterations of Gigspanner. The dexterity and creativity in his playing belie his 75 years and it was a mesmerising privilege to witness this music at such close quarters.  

Knight and Spiers have been playing as a duo since 2016 and in performance communicate on an almost telepathic level, via a series of barely perceptible raised eyebrows, nods and smiles. It really is a joyous traditional music masterclass. As always, bottom lips wobbled and eyes moistened when Peter stepped forward to sing his wonderful 2014 composition 'From a Lullaby Kiss'.

Peter Knight - From a Lullaby Kiss

Monday 5 December 2022

Monday Long Song

Fronted by Everton Dacres, cousin of Barrington Levy, The Majesterians released a clutch of singles between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, before disappearing from view. 'So Many Times' was recorded in 1979 at The Black Ark, though with band member Phil Mathias at the controls rather than Lee Perry. Bud Beadle, who played sessions for everyone from T.Rex to Otis Spann and Suzi Quatro to Alexander O'Neal, in addition to being a fully paid up member of Ginger Baker's Airforce, contributes flute to the tune.

The Majestarians - So Many Times

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