Monthly Archives: July 2016

Diggeth at The Carlisle, Hastings 15/7/16

The Carlisle pub in Hastings is the town’s premier rock venue, hosting a range of up and coming bands, more established (yet not major league) acts as well as various tributes to some of the big name bands (usually all free). After a trawl around Hastings old town with an old friend, we made it into the Carlisle just as the night’s headline band, Diggeth took to the stage. If you’re not familiar with a band already it’s sometimes a bit of a hit and miss affair: you are never going to like everything after all. But this band immediately grabbed my attention.

Diggeth are a Dutch three-piece who’ve been around for about a decade now. Loud, crunching bass, powerful drumming, some great guitar riffs and those austere slightly Germanic-sounding, slightly American-sounding vocals that Dutch rock singers can pull off so well. But, very importantly, they had some really, really good songs, too. It’s all original material but pays enough dues to heavy metal and hard rock heritage to give some of the songs the immediate air of sounding like would-be classic rock staples. In fact it’s a sure sign of musicians making an impact on their audience if a band that you’ve never heard of before, play you songs that you’ve never heard of before and get you enthusiastically humming and moving along to them while at the same time still sounding fresh and original.

In terms of influences the band cite AC/DC to Metallica to Michael Schenker to Slayer, as well as many more. I was certainly impressed enough by Diggeth to fork out a fiver for their CD – Kings of the Underworld, released in 2014. No souvenir purchase that’s soon forgotten about this: I’ve played it at least half a dozen times in the three or four days since I bought it. Songs like the title track ‘Kings of the Underworld’ and ‘See You in Hell’ have already become memorable classics to my ears and this is a band I’m certainly pleased to have stumbled across.


Folk: album review – Ray Hearne ‘Umpteen’

My review originally appeared on the Bright Young Folk website here

Umpteen is a new album from Yorkshire-based folk singer and songwriter, Ray Hearne. From an Irish family who settled in South Yorkshire he has his cultural roots in the traditional Irish tunes of his parents but is deeply influenced by the stories, surroundings and dialects of the South Yorkshire coal and steel communities he grew up in, and in the post-industrial landscape they have become, where he still resides.

As Hearne says in his own words: “Where were the songs of South Yorkshire steel and coal? I knew songs about the Ohio, Thames and Shannon but not about the Don and Rother which had flowed through the whole of my life. Where were the songs in our accent? Shocking to say, they were nowhere to be found. It dawned on me that we would have to write them ourselves.”

Following on from the well-received previous album The Wrong Sunshine, Umpteen is a collection of fourteen self-penned songs. As well as bringing in some evocative lyrics, delivered in a warm, rich, no-holds-barred South Yorkshire tongue, there’s also some fine musicians and guest singers performing on this too, including Belinda O’Hooley, Jude Abbott, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.

Highlights on the album include opening track ‘Moonpenny Hill’, a passionate, powerful folk anthem, bitingly, savagely political but equally full of warmth and humanity. Here, Hearne reflects on the everyday struggles of the 84/85 miners’ strike where, in spite of “bitter the wind from the south” there is the warmth provided by comradely solidarity, supportive sisterhood and thoughts of the coming spring.

Away from the political narratives ‘The Longest Hot Summer’, with lovely accompanying piano from Belinda O’Hooley, is a nostalgic recollection of the gift of long hot summer days where “blossoms are garlanded in ginnel and vale”, the old folk are on their allotments, and there is an age to wait between “clocking on and clocking off.”

‘The Hales of Henry Street’ is written in memory of Private Henry Hale of Rotherham and thousands like him slaughtered in the First World War. Folk listeners will have heard many similar, equally heart-rending, recollections in recent years. But the lyrics eloquently capture both the horrors of the trenches and the impact on the folk back home. Lush brass from Jude Abbot gives the song an evocative, mournful and thoroughly South Yorkshire feel.

Whether it’s hard-hitting protest songs about the Thatcher era, wistful memories of growing up or historical tributes to fallen brothers a century ago, the spirit of South Yorkshire oozes out of every groove of this CD with typical honesty, humanity and good humour. Ray Hearne has done his adopted and beloved homeland proud with this fine set of songs.

Released: May 2016

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