So farewell to Butlin’s Rock & Blues weekends, Skegness 13-15 January 2023

For more than a decade an out-of-season trip to Butlins has been a fixture in my diary at least once each year: numerous trips to Minehead for the Giants Of Rock weekends, several trips to Skegness for the Great British Folk Festival and a handful of additional trips to the same resort for the Rock & Blues weekends. Over the years I’ve rented chalets with large groups, with smaller groups, with family, with friends and with friends I’ve made along the way. Thanks to Butlins I’ve enjoyed tons of live music, met various bona fide music legends in the flesh and connected with likeminded fans from across the country. But now it was finally all coming to an end. Butlins had pulled the plug on Giants Of Rock last year and now this year both the folk weekends and the rock & blues weekends were going the same way.

In response to customer complaints about the demise of the Great British Rock & Blues Festival, the Butlins team have been at pains to stress that the event had been in decline commercially for a number of years. Certainly, the various tribute band weekends that the company stage these days seem to be a far more lucrative option, attracting higher visitor numbers and the stag and hen weekenders who are there primarily for tongue-in-cheek fun and spending vast amounts at the bar rather than the quality of the music per se. And no fat fees for big-name acts to worry about either. If I were running Butlins I’d probably go down the same route myself, particularly as it was becoming increasingly clear that the crowds at the rock, folk and blues weekends weren’t getting any younger and simple demographics dictate that the existing punters weren’t going to be going along forever.

Of course, as an actual punter it did feel rather sad that it was all coming to end. I had vainly hoped that the Rock & Blues weekends in Skegness might continue once Giants of Rock had bitten the dust. But it was not to be. Although my tastes generally lie more at the rock end than the blues end of the spectrum, there was plenty of both to enjoy over this final weekend, however.

Highlights this year included the tremendous Ten Years After (a band I only properly rediscovered live at Minehead last year after seeing them once at Reading Festival back in the early 80s); the irrepressible Steve Gibbons (who announced at the end of his set that he’d had a clear out of all the old merch in his garage and that all the money raised from it was going to the relief effort in Ukraine – of course I bought some); sixties girl singer turned seasoned blues legend, Dana Gillespie (who delivered perhaps the filthiest set of the weekend, with some gloriously innuendo-laden blues lyrics); the Chicago Blues Legends (Billy Branch and John Primer with upcoming legend, Jamiah Rogers); and finally the Verity Bronham Band (I’d seen both John Verity and Del Bronham on numerous occasions at similar weekends over the years and it was lovely seeing them join forces for a stupendous sing-along set of rock classics.)

So farewell then Skegness Butlins. I really can’t see myself trekking across the country for a bunch of tribute bands in future. However, there’s still a decent bunch of off-season festival weekends out there offered by other holiday firms so it could well be time to explore some of those in future.

[Images Steve Gibbons on stage, Steve Gibbons and Darren at the merch desk, Dana Gillespie on stage]

The Great British Rock & Blues Festival 2018

Giants of Rock 2022

Giants of Rock 2020

Giants of Rock 2019

Giants of Rock 2018

Giants of Rock 2017

Graham Bonnet at Giants of Rock 2016

Ian Hunter at Giants of Rock 2016

Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Giants of Rock 2016

Procol Harum at Giants of Rock 2016

Bernie Marsden at Giants of Rock 2015

Slade at Giants of Rock 2015

Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Giants of Rock 2015

‘Normal’: a gorgeous slice of lush Americana – the new single from Little Lore

“Storytelling is at the heart of Duffy’s songwriting but she finds a unique angle or topic on each track that brings a fresh perspective to a common and relatable issue.” – Maverick magazine on the debut Little Lore EP

‘Normal’ is the latest single from Little Lore, the alter-ego of London-based Americana singer-storyteller Tricia Duffy, and will be released on 20th January 2023. Featuring Little Lore’s characteristically astute storytelling and beautifully heartfelt vocal, in tandem with Oli Deakin’s equally engaging arrangement and exquisitely empathetic production, ‘Normal’ is another gorgeous slice of lush Americana from the acclaimed singer-songwriter.

Little Lore: “I wrote ‘Normal’ when I was isolated in my bedroom with Covid. I had been locked in my room for about five days at the time I picked up the guitar – I was feeling much better, but still testing positive. My husband travels a lot and couldn’t risk catching it so I had to stay away from the family. I am a huge fan of Jeanette Winterson’s writing. Her memoir is called ‘Why be Happy When you Could be Normal’ and this title really resonated with me as I have a lot of very strong feelings about how socialised we are to accept things because that’s what is done or expected rather than what makes us happy or fulfils us. I was using an old Guild Songbird guitar to write with – it has a very twangy sound which instantly inspires me to write in a higher registers.”

“As always Oli Deakin has worked his magic with the arrangement and production, really emphasising the syncopation and building the energy of the song. When I briefed Afiya for the artwork she came back with multiple ideas for how she could approach it.  I decided to leave it to her discretion – after all she is an artist herself!  When she sent me the final artwork I was absolutely blown away.  It is a brilliant visual of female empowerment – perfect for this song.”

The single will be released in all the main digital formats on 20th January, available from https://littlelore.uk or https://littlelore.bandcamp.com 

About Little Lore:

Little Lore is a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. You’ll want to listen twice. When you combine British wit and wordplay with cherished Americana roots, musical magic starts to happen. Based in Chiswick, west London and originally hailing from Portsmouth, Tricia Duffy started her singing career in a live covers band performing popular rock classics. Over time, however, a strong desire emerged to begin writing and performing her own material and she formed an acoustic Americana duo with fellow musician, Al Bird. Duffy & Bird released a well-received album ‘5 Lines’ in 2017 and a follow-up EP ‘Spirit Level’ in 2019. While Al subsequently decided to take a back seat from recording and performing, Tricia was keen to take things a step further. Little Lore was born. Her debut solo EP, Little Lore, was released in 2021 to glowing reviews. The single, ‘Shallow’, was released in April 2022 to similar acclaim, followed by ‘Brown Liquor John’ in October 2022 and ‘Birds’ in December 2022. In her songs, Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds.

Release information:

Vocals, lyrics and music: Tricia Duffy

Production and instrumentation: Oli Deakin.

Drums: Morgan Karabel

Artwork: Afiya Paice, a West London-based artist and designer.

Website: https://littlelore.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littleloremusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littleloremusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/littleloremusic/

Related post:

Little Lore: the magical new project from UK Americana singer-storyteller Tricia Duffy

This week’s featured artist: blues guitarist Patrik Jansson – new album ‘Game Changer’

Starting out his professional career as a drummer, Patrik Jansson performed with a variety of blues bands, jazz combos, hard-rock and metal acts in his native Sweden. Keen for change in direction he picked up a guitar and began honing his skills as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Inspired by the heavy blues of the Texas blues scene, Jansson then began putting a band together with a clear idea for the kind of direction he wanted to take things in.

Jansson: I wanted to play blues with a more modern approach. Blues is supposed to feel fresh and alive, it’s a most vital music in my opinion. In short I wanted to play the kind of music that I would like to hear myself and that I think a lot of other people would like and appreciate”.

Several albums with the Patrik Jansson Band followed: a self-titled debut in 2007, Here We Are in 2014, So Far To Go in 2017 and IV in 2020. At the end of October 2022, another change in direction came with the release of Jansson’s solo album, Game Changer. In contrast to previous band releases this one features Jansson playing all the main instruments himself, save for a few appearances by sundry guest musicians on a handful of tracks.

Just as my own musical tastes and the type of acts I cover on Darren’s music blog have always been pretty eclectic, Jansson’s latest album nicely echoes such eclecticism in its own influences, too. Jansson draws on his own musical background playing rock, metal, punk, pop, Americana, reggae, blues, jazz and fusion, bringing all of those influences to the fore in Game Changer.

”I believe there is only two kinds of music, good and bad. Listening to and playing so many different kinds of music, from Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, John Coltrane, Chic Corea and Weather Report to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath to name a few, there has never been a shortage of influences. If it sounds good, it is good! This time it was quite liberating to create music without putting up any limitations or boundaries and the mix of different genres and styles is bound to be nothing less than interesting.”

“This is the first time I have played all the instrument myself. It was a great experience and it was great to have the time to really find the right feel and sound for each song. This album is 100% Patrik Jansson. It’s a mix of everything that I have played and listened to throughout my career. It’s dark, beautiful, rootsy, heavy, groovy and moody. It’s music played with passion and I’m very proud of it.”

From mellow bluesy ballads, to jam-style instrumentals, to Hendrix-esque hard rock, to infectious rhythm and blues, to pumping reggae, Game Changer is an entertaining album featuring Jansson’s  creative and highly personal take on the blues. Well worth checking out.

Released: 28th October 2022

https://patrikjanssonofficial.com/

Latest folk reviews: Janice Burns & Jon Doran, The Land We Love, Breabach, Sam Sweeney, Lady Maisery

Janice Burns & Jon Doran – No More The Green Hills

A duo formed in 2017 while the pair were still at university in Newcastle, Janice Burns is originally from Glasgow while Jon Doran comes from Gloucestershire. Their first full-length album, No More Green Hills follows a well-received self-titled EP which came out in 2020.

With the pair sharing lead vocals, Janice Burns plays mandolin, guitar, harmonium and piano while Jon Doran can be heard on guitar, bouzouki, harmonium  and fiddle. All of the songs on the album are traditional and tracks like ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, ‘As I Roved Out’ and ‘The Greenmore Hare’ will be familiar to even the most casual of folk fans. However, with the duo’s vocals perfectly complimenting the elegant simplicity of the musical accompaniment, all eleven songs are delivered with such warmth that you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by this wonderful debut.

Released: 28 October 2022 https://www.janandjon.com/

Ian Bruce, Pete Clark, Ian Lowthian & Bruce MacGregor – The Land We Love

A small charity set up in 2011 with the aim of preserving the culture heritage and history of the Scottish Borders, Well Road Productions commissioned four musicians to create a new body of music celebrating the work of Borders poet, Will H. Ogilvie. Long-convinced that some of Ogilvie’s poems would make for fine songs, the organisation brought together Ian Bruce (guitar/vocals), Pete Clark (fiddle), Ian Lowthian (accordion) and Bruce McGregor (fiddle).

Born at Holefield, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders in 1869, Will H. Ogilvie spent time in Australia as a young man, becoming a notable ‘Bush poet’ there before returning to Scotland. It his work from this latter stage that is the focus for this album. The musicians, and particularly vocalist Ian Bruce, do such a fine job interpreting his work that it is hard to imagine that the words here were not originally conceived as songs. The Land We Love is a fascinating insight into Borders life, lovingly curated.

Released: October 2022 https://www.wellroadproductions.org.uk/

Breabach – Fàs

Breabach’s seventh studio album, and their first for four years, Fàs introduces new member Donal McDonagh on pipes and whistles, joining established members Megan Henderson, James Lindsay, Callum MacCrimmon and Ewan Robertson.

Callum MacCrimmon: “Fàs is much more song based than our previous albums and is deeply rooted in nature. It features original instrumental compositions from each band member, inspired by global climate-action youth movements, seed-vaults, figures close to the band and places close to our heart.”

While it the key ingredients of a typical Breabach album, the band have not shied away from experimenting in recent years and with Fàs they introduce progressive and avant-garde elements alongside the Breabach signature sound. The album features guests, Keir Long on synthesiser and Inge Thompson on programming, percussion and kalimba. The ecological theme, too, is especially welcome. It’s so easy to feel an overwhelming sense of despair about the state of our world and with our collective failure to tackle the climate crisis. Fàs injects a note of hope.

Released: 14 October 2022 https://www.breabach.com/

Sam Sweeney – Escape That

Celebrated as fiddle maestro extraordinaire with Bellowhead and for any number of collaborations with contemporary folk royalty, Sam Sweeney has also been pursuing a parallel solo career in recent years. Escape That is Sweeney’s third solo album.

The only instrumental album in this current round-up, the musical journey Sweeney takes us on is more of a gentle meander than a Bellowhead-style romp but is no less enjoyable for that. Infectious melodies (which draw as much from modern pop as traditional folk) showcase Sweeney’s exceptional playing which is backed up by a stellar cast of supporting musicians comprising Jack Rutter, Ben Nicholls, Louis Campell and Dave Mackay.

Sam Sweeney: “Escape That is the most ‘me’ music I can imagine making. It ties together my love for traditional dance tunes with my obsession with pop music hooks and textures.”

“It’s not trying to be anything. It’s as close as I’ve ever got to sharing the sound of the inside of my head.”

Released: 21 October 2022 https://www.samsweeneymusic.com/

Lady Maisery – Tender

When Tender dropped through my letterbox, I thought to myself that I haven’t seen a new album from the excellent female vocal trio, Lady Maisery, for quite a few years. On checking, I discovered that Tender is actually their first new album since 2016’s Cycle.

Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans bounce back with a highly inventive album comprising new original songs as well as their own unique interpretations of work by Björk, Tracy Chapman and Lal Waterson.

On the tour to promote the album late last year the indomitable Rowan Rheingans hilariously revealed on Twitter that one overbearingly entitled male audience member sent them a lengthy email setting them “homework” to do before their next tour. There’ll certainly be no homework from me.  It’s a beautiful album. Gorgeous harmonies, compelling storytelling and musically adventurous. A deserved success.

Released: 11 November 2022 https://www.ladymaisery.com/

2022 in Darren’s music blog – the ten most popular posts of the year

I wish everyone a happy New Year. My thanks to everyone who has visited Darren’s music blog during 2022. As usual an eclectic mix of classic rock, folk and glam and a mixture of live reviews, album reviews, tour news and a plug for my own book appearing amongst the ten most viewed posts of the year.

1. Live review: the final ever Giants of Rock, Minehead 21-23 January 2022

Barring the gap due to Covid I’d been going to Butlins at Minehead each January since 2015 for the Giants Of Rock festival. But now the festival is no more, replaced by a tribute weekend, so I’ll be heading to Skegness in January for the Rock & Blues festival instead (although, sadly, that is coming to and end, too). Relive the last ever Giants of Rock weekend here with my review covering the likes of Ten Years After, Geordie, Atomic Rooster and Nazareth.

Read full review here

2. Live review: Suzi Quatro at the Royal Albert Hall 20/4/22

2022 was the year of all things Suzi Quatro for me. Not only did my book for Sonicbond’s Decades series, Suzi Quatro In The 1970s, come out in July but earlier in the year I could celebrate getting it finished, proofread and finally off to the publishers with a trip to London for Suzi’s incredible performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo credit (above): Gary Cosby

Read full review here

3. Live review: the Eagles at Hyde Park 26/6/22

I was back over to London a couple of times in the Summer, too, with two separate trips to Hyde Park for the British Summertime series of concerts. The first of these was for the Eagles. Long on my bucket-list of must-see bands I finally got to see them. Even without the late, great Glenn Frey, it was still an incredible experience and just magical being in Hyde Park late on a summer evening as the sun started set watching them perform ‘Hotel California’.

Read full review here

4. Live review: the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park 3/7/22

Just a week after the Eagles I was back in Hyde Park for the Rolling Stones. It’s been over thirty years since attending my first and only previous Rolling Stones gig, when I went with my dad to Manchester’s Maine Road back in 1990. My dad’s thinking back then was that if I wanted to see them live then 1990’s Urban Jungle tour might be my last chance. It wasn’t quite! Thirty years later I’m back for more and what a memorable evening it was.

Read full review here

5. Live review: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention August 2022

After a two-year gap due to Covid restrictions it was nice to be back in Oxfordshire in August for Fairport Convention’s annual Cropredy festival. Both tickets and line-up had been carried over from the event initially planned for 2020 but the passage of time had necessitated some tweaks to the line-up and in my case (due to a change in domestic circumstances), the reallocation of my second ticket to a Cropredy newcomer. Highlights included Clannad, Trevor Horn, Turin Brakes, Richard Thompson – and Fairport, of course!

Read full review here

6. New book: ‘Suzi Quatro In The 1970s’ by Darren Johnson coming in July 2022

Definitely, one of the highlights of 2022 for me was the publication of my book on Suzi Quatro for Sonicbond’s Decades series, which followed on from the book on The Sweet I had written the previous year for the same series. As Suzi herself says: “If you talk about the ‘70s, I was a hardworking artist. I did nothing but tour – recording, touring, TV, you know. I had constant jetlag. Constant black shadows under my eyes but, oh, what a ride! What a wonderful ride. And I’m still doing it now.”

Read original post here

7. Album review – Graham Bonnet Band ‘Day Out In Nowhere’

My most popular album review of the year, I wrote that Graham Bonnet is “clearly on something of a roll at this late stage in his career. Whether you are the more casual fan of his most celebrated albums from the late 70s and early 80s or a dedicated fan who’s loyally followed each and every stage of his long career, there’s lots to like in Day Out In Nowhere. It deserves to do well.”

Read full review here

8. Album reviews: four recent solo releases from the extended Uriah Heep family

Going online to treat myself to the newly-released CD from former Uriah Heep singer, Pete Goalby, I ended up having one of those “customers who viewed this also viewed these” impulse purchase experiences. Before I knew it I had, not one, but four recently-released CDs from the extended Uriah Heep family popping through my letterbox, three of these being released posthumously.

Read full review here

9. Bowie and Iggy Pop icon, Tony Fox Sales, celebrates 45 years of Lust For Life

One of the things I am really looking forward to in 2023 is the tour by Iggy Pop / Bowie bass legend, Tony Fox Sales.  With an all-star line-up, Tony is joined by legendary Blondie drummer, Clem Burke; vocalist, renowned broadcaster and Pet Shop Boys dancer, Katie Puckrik; Iggy Pop and David Bowie guitarist, Kevin Armstrong;  guitarist, Luis Correia, who’s toured internationally with Earl Slick; and classical pianist, composer, and touring member of Heaven 17, Florence Sabeva.

Read original post here

10. Gaelic singer Kim Carnie – debut album ‘And So We Gather’

Gaelic singer, Kim Carnie, launched her solo career in 2018 with the release of her EP, In Her Company. Since then she’s worked with the bands, Mànran and Staran, been much in demand as a session vocalist and in 2021 won the Gaelic Singer of The Year prize at the MG Alba Trad Awards. In June this year she released her debut album, And So We Gather.

Read original post here

2021 in Darren’s music blog

2020 in Darren’s music blog

2019 in Darren’s music blog

Tony Fox Sales re-records the Iggy Pop classic ‘Success’ with Blondie’s Clem Burke

Tony Fox Sales, the legendary bass player from Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album and David Bowie’s Tin Machine has released a brand-new version of ‘Success’ from Lust For Life. The single is released ahead of a tour to mark forty-five years since the release of the classic album. The all-star line-up on the single features Tony Fox Sales alongside Blondie drummer, Clem Burke; vocalist, broadcaster and Pet Shop Boys dancer, Katie Puckrik; Iggy Pop and David Bowie guitarist, Kevin Armstrong;  guitarist, Luis Correia, who’s toured internationally with Earl Slick; and classical pianist, composer, and touring member of Heaven 17, Florence Sabeva.

Tony Fox Sales: “The Lust For Life album as a piece of work itself meant so much to me. To work with David and Iggy in Berlin was the highlight of my career at that point. It was a very creative and inspiring project to work on. It’s been fun for me to revisit ‘Success’ and re-record it with Clem and the others. I’m forty-five years older. I put a different bass track on it and I’m very proud of our new version. It moves. It’s going to be a lot of fun to perform it live. I hope you come and see us. Everybody’s pumped to do this.”

Vocalist, Katie Puckrik, adds: “Out of all the great songs on Lust for Life, ‘Success’ has a tangy little hold on my heart, which is why I wanted it as the single for our project. The glammy swagger of the tune is so damn cocky, but it’s the wit of the lyrics that tickles my pickle. After a tally of the winner’s spoils (a car, a Chinese rug), the line “here comes my face” cracks me up every time I sing it. It’s braggadocio meets neediness, the perfect distillation of the fame game.”

“It was a blast to perform this wry, sly song along with Tony Fox Sales’ thundering, musical bass, Clem Burke’s rhythms-within-rhythms drumming, and Kevin Armstrong’s soaring/slashing guitar. So thanks to some of the coolest musicians in the world—here comes my face.”

The single is available from 16th December on all the main digital platforms.

The same line-up will be touring next year, with a full UK tour alongside dates in Ireland and Japan. On the tour, the band will perform the Lust For Life album in full, as well as revisiting songs from across the individual band members’ careers with legendary artists such as Blondie and David Bowie.

Looking forward to the tour, Tony adds: “I’m very excited to get back on the road. I haven’t been on the road since I last toured with David Bowie and Tin Machine in 1991, but I’ve been a professional musician since I was twelve years old and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The full 2023 tour dates are as follows:

Mon 20 Feb – Billboard Live, Osaka, Japan

Thur 23 Feb – Billboard Live, Tokyo, Japan

Tue 28 Feb – Exchange, Bristol, UK

Wed 1 March – The 100 Club, London, UK

Thur 2 March – The Cavern, Liverpool, UK

Fri 3 March – Social, Hull, UK

Sat 4 March – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, UK

Sun 5 March – The Vodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, UK

Wed 8 March – Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland

Thur 9 March – Arts Centre, Colchester, UK

Fri 10 March – The Piper, St Leonards, UK

Sat 11 March – The Lexington, London, UK

Sun 12 March – The Lexington, London, UK

All tickets available via: https://tonyfoxsalestour.com/

New book coming soon: ‘Slade In The 1970s’ by Darren Johnson out in April 2023

Following my books on The Sweet and Suzi Quatro I’m absolutely delighted to confirm that my third book for Sonicbond’s ‘Decades’ series, Slade In The 1970s, will be published next April.

You can pre-order from Amazon’s website here and it will also be available via the publisher’s online shop at Burning Shed as well as other major retailers in due course.

Slade In The 1970s – synopsis

Slade were one of the biggest British bands of the 1970s. One of the early pioneers of glam rock they enjoyed an incredible run of six number one singles, four top-ten albums and a succession of sell-out tours. However, after a failed attempt at an American breakthrough in the mid-1970s, Slade returned to Britain and faced dwindling record sales, smaller concert halls and a music press that had lost interest in them. By the end of the decade, they were playing residencies in cabaret clubs and recorded a cover of a children’s novelty song. But then came a last-minute invitation to play the 1980 Reading Festival, setting into motion one of the most remarkable comebacks in rock history.

As we come to the fiftieth anniversary of Slade’s 1973 annus mirabilis that saw ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’, ‘Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me’ and ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ all enter the UK charts at number one, this book celebrates the music of Slade. From the band’s beginnings in the mid-1960s through each year of the decade that gave them their biggest successes, every album and single is examined, as well as their raucous live shows and colourful media profile.

About the Author

A former politician, Darren Johnson spent many years writing about current affairs but after stepping away from politics he was able to devote time to his first love: music. His first book, The Sweet In The 1970s, was published by Sonicbond in 2021, followed by Suzi Quatro In The 1970s in 2022. Now he turns his attention to the first band he truly fell in love with: Slade. A keen follower of both rock and folk, he maintains a popular music blog Darren’s Music Blog and has reviewed albums and gigs for a variety of publications. He lives in Hastings, East Sussex

Related posts:

The Sweet In The 1970s

Suzi Quatro In The 1970s

‘Birds’ – the new single from UK Americana singer-storyteller, Little Lore, released 2 December

“Storytelling is at the heart of Duffy’s songwriting but she finds a unique angle or topic on each track that brings a fresh perspective to a common and relatable issue.” – Maverick magazine on the debut Little Lore EP

‘Birds’ is the latest single from Little Lore, the alter-ego of London-based Americana singer-storyteller Tricia Duffy, released on 2 December 2022.

With the lush instrumentation from Oli Deakin beautifully complementing Little Lore’s heartfelt vocals, ‘Birds’ came out of a visit to the Hampshire countryside, close to where Tricia grew up. With the chorus of birdsong that rang out around her providing a calming backdrop as she wrestled with some challenging personal news, all the while gently strumming her guitar with just an ageing and rather deaf cat for company, the melody took shape and the creatures around her began to inspire the lyrics.

Little Lore: “I wrote ‘Birds’ at a friend’s home in Hampshire.  They live near the Hamble river, very close to where I grew up just outside Portsmouth. I had been devastated by a terrible event that had happened to someone close to me a few weeks before, which all sounds a bit cryptic, but without going into details I’ll just say I was craving some time away to be inside my head.  My friends have a gorgeous black Manx cat called Scooter. Poor Scooter is rather old and almost completely deaf, but seemed to enjoy the vibrations created by my guitar. He spent my entire stay close to me, purring a lot of the time at full volume. The birds in that area are also incredible, doves, blackbirds, thrushes, woodpeckers were enveloping me in warm calming song.”

“So that’s the scene – which you can hear described in the first verse. Along with that, I was trying to challenge myself to try different approaches to song-writing. My usual process is to start with lyrics, then build harmonics and melody comes last. This time I was playing guitar – building a palate which included some gorgeous suspended chords and I started singing what I could see and what I was feeling over the top. It was one of those rare moments that songwriters become quite addicted to, when you almost lose awareness of time and motion and you’re just in the song.  What seems like ten minutes later (but in reality is a lot longer) you have a song and it feels like it wrote itself.  So ‘Birds’ was created.”

Released in all the main digital formats on 2 December, available from https://littlelore.uk or https://littlelore.bandcamp.com 

About Little Lore:

Little Lore is a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. You’ll want to listen twice. When you combine British wit and wordplay with cherished Americana roots, musical magic starts to happen. Based in Chiswick, west London and originally hailing from Portsmouth, Tricia Duffy started her singing career in a live covers band performing popular rock classics. Over time, however, a strong desire emerged to begin writing and performing her own material and she formed an acoustic Americana duo with fellow musician, Al Bird. Duffy & Bird released a well-received album ‘5 Lines’ in 2017 and a follow-up EP ‘Spirit Level’ in 2019. While Al subsequently decided to take a back seat from recording and performing, Tricia was keen to take things a step further. Little Lore was born. Her debut solo EP, Little Lore, was released in 2021 to glowing reviews. A follow-up single, ‘Shallow’, was released in April 2022 to similar acclaim, followed by ‘Brown Liquor John’ in October 2022. In her songs, Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds.

Production and instrumentation: Oli Deakin.

Drums: Morgan Karabel

Artwork by: Afiya Paice, a West London-based artist and designer.

Website: https://littlelore.uk

Satisfy / So You Say – Double A-sided debut from The Resolve

The Resolve are a five-piece rock band from Kent who channel the big choruses, catchy melodies and high energy delivery from bands like Oasis, Kasabian and The Who with those stadium-sized guitar riffs instantly reminiscent of the mighty Foo Fighters.

Formed in 2019 as the covers band, Paisley Park, they cut their teeth on the local music scene around London and Kent and soon gained a faithful following, rapidly progressing to regular slots at local festivals – including headlining the Danson Park Firework Spectacular for an audience of 35,000. Now, with a new name and a new determination to create high-quality original music, The Resolve released their debut double A-sided single. ‘Satisfy’ / ‘So You Say’ on 25th November.

The Resolve: “After a number of years working the circuit as a covers band, we cannot wait to release our own music. We are so excited to finally get the songs out there, and to see where this new path will take us. The first track of our debut double A-side is ‘Satisfy,’ which is a song that jumps straight in to capture that feel of a great classic rock tune. For the second track, ‘So You Say’, we wanted a song that grabbed your attention from the start and then took you on a journey, from its mellow acoustic feel early on into that huge great chorus!”

“The inspiration for our music has come from all over, and from knowing exactly what a crowd wants through all our past work as a go-to covers band. Our mission is to channel the high energy from bands like The Who and The Foo Fighters with the crowd-pleasing, catchy choruses that define all of those great songs from The Beatles, The Jam and Oasis.”

The Resolve are:

James Cox – Drums

Simon Hawkins – Lead Guitar

Matt Kemp – Rhythm Guitar

Chris Regan  – Bass

Tom Wiltshire – Vocals

Both tracks were recorded at The Joplin House studio by producer Dan Lucas who says of The Resolve: “After nearly twenty years in the production chair, it’s amazing how many bands I’ve encountered who can play but can’t really write a ‘song’. I had my faith restored this weekend. So many artists are out there with cobbled-together tunes, throwaway lyrics or tracks that are devoid of any substance. There’s a reason the ‘90s was such a successful decade for guitar music!”

Work is currently underway on The Resolve’s debut album, scheduled for release in 2023. The album promises everything from hard hitting rock tracks to melodic catchy belters.

‘Satisfy’ / ‘So You Say’  – released 25th November on all the main digital platforms.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheResolveMusic/

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Latest folk reviews: Siobhan Miller, Arthur Coates, Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe & Daniel Quayle, Pauline Vallance and The Magpies

Siobhan Miller – Bloom

Back in 2020 I reviewed Siobhan Miller’s fourth solo album, All Is Not Forgotten, praising the pure voice that is “just made for Scottish folk”. Now Miller is back with a fifth album, Bloom, that reunites the all-star line-up from her celebrated second album, Strata, which was released back in 2017.

Siobhan Miller: “I wanted to capture the energy of performing with these incredible musicians – the energy that happens when you’re in a room together making music and feeding off each other.”

Kris Drever, Eddie Reader, Louis Abbot and Ian Carr are all back, along with other leading musicians, to deliver an album that celebrates traditional songs and much-loved classics of the Scottish folk scene.

Joining ‘I’m A Rover’ which was released as a single back in the summer are the likes of ‘Queen of Argyle’, Cold Blows The Night’ and ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, serving to make this a truly joyful album from one of Scotland’s most talented folk singers.

Released 16 September 2022 https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

Arthur Coates – Trapdoor To Hell

Whenever I’ve been at folk festivals I’ve always found acts like Le Vent du Nord from the Québécois folk scene to be an exhilarating ride. 20-year-old Arthur Coates takes some of that energy, blends that with the influences of the Scottish folk scene he’s been steeped in since early childhood, throws in a Lancashire folk song, some Irish tunes and a bit of blues and comes up with the rather splendid Trapdoor To Hell, his second  album.

Arthur Coates: “The trapdoor to hell is a funny expression my dad uses for the plank of wood we use in Quebec music for the feet-tapping, and it felt like a fitting name that matches the tone of the album.”

Joining Coates on fiddle, vocals, foot-tapping, guitar, bass, synthesiser and percussion is a talented line-up of supporting musicians, including his musical collaborator, Kerran Cottterell and Québécois folk luminaries, Eric Beaudry and Pierre-Luc Dupuis. An album just ramp-packed full of energy and verve.

Released 6 October 2022 https://www.arthurcoates.com/

Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe & Daniel Quayle – The Coast Road

No sooner had I written that I hadn’t heard much from the Manx folk scene before (while reviewing the recent album from Ruth Keggin & Rachel Hair) when another one turned up in the post. The Coast Road is the debut album from Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe & Daniel Quayle. Now both based in Douglas, the island’s capital, fiddle-player Davidson-Blythe is originally from Boston while multi-instrumentalist Quayle (bouzouki, guitar, piano, samples, synths) is Manx born and bred. The album’s nine instrumental tracks bring together a mixture of contemporary and traditional tunes, some originating from the Isle of Man itself while others come from Ireland, Scotland and Estonia.

The duo are hugely talented, the quality of the playing is simply exhilarating and the choice of tunes inspired. This is an instrumental album well worth checking out.

Released 30 September 2022 https://elizabethdavidsonblythe.com/

Pauline Vallance – The World’s A Gift

Pauline Vallance is a singer-songwriter and clarsach harp player from Ayrshire in Scotland and The World’s A Gift is her fourth album. A lovely album with gentle yet captivating story-telling, it explores the theme of legacy.

Explaining in the sleeve-notes, Vallance writes: “The idea came after losing my parents within a year of each other and going through all the material ‘stuff’ left behind. I quickly came to the realisation that the important legacy people leave is that of ideas, of principles, of arts and culture and not of material possessions.”  

Ten of the eleven tracks are self-composed, including the title track which gives a flavour, both of the album and of Vallance’s gorgeous harp-playing.

Joining her on the album are James Grant, who also produces, (guitar, harmony vocals); Maya Burman-Roy (cello); Signy Jakobsdottir (percussion); and Ursula Grant and Niahmh McElhill (harmony vocals).

Released 30 September 2022 https://www.paulinevallance.co.uk

The Magpies – Undertow

The Magpies are a folk trio comprising Bella Gaffney (guitar, banjo, double bass, vocals); Holly Brandon (fiddle, vocals); and new addition, Kate Griffin (banjo, vocals). The Magpies burst on to the folk scene with their debut, Tidings, back in 2020. They now follow that up with Undertow.

Holly Brandon: “Undertow was written following two years of lockdowns at a difficult moment in the arts. It features themes of reflection and the passing of time, but with a forward-looking optimism that we hope resonates with listeners.”

As well as a handful of traditional songs that are elegantly arranged by the trio, along with the self-penned material that makes up the bulk of the album, there is also a surprise cover of the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’.

Somewhat quieter and more contemplative than the other albums reviewed here, it is no less enjoyable for that. The Magpies deliver a beautifully poignant album which expertly soaks up traditional influences from both sides of the Atlantic .

Released 14 October 2022 https://www.themagpiesmusic.com/