Category Archives: Music news

News: 40 years of Thunderstick celebrated with limited-edition live album – released 20/3/20

Something Wicked This Way Came – Live in France

Released 20/3/20 on Roulette Records

Order from: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/thunderstick-store

By way of marking forty years since the emergence of the infamous masked drummer ‘Thunderstick’, who became the iconic figure for the then burgeoning ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ movement, his eponymously-named band are ready to release their first ever official live album. The limited-edition CD will be released by Roulette Records on 20th March.

Thunderstick’s alter ego and creator Barry Graham Purkis announces: “I am so happy to announce that after 40 years of ‘Thunderstick’ a live album will be released this month to celebrate. Comprising both Thunderstick and Samson material with the odd ‘cover’ thrown in for good measure, there has never been any official recordings of the band in concert before so for us this is pretty damn special..!!”

Lead singer Raven Blackwing adds: “I am really excited about the upcoming release of our live album ‘Something Wicked This Way Came’ Thunderstick live in France. The whole gig was a blast from start to finish with so many new friends made, a beautiful way for me to cherish that memory of that performance. It’s my first album with the band and I’m really hoping that people listening to it will pick up on the enjoyment that I and the guys had on stage that night. Much love Raven xx”

Live in France - cover artwork

Recorded live in France in November 2019 the album features a full concert with the following track listing:
Riding With The Angels
Go Sleep With the Enemy (I Dare Ya)
Earth Mother
Buried Alive
Dark Night Black Light Monologue Teenage Suicide)
Dark Night Black Light
Vice Versa
Witches Trial
Blackwing …… The Curse
Dark Princess Thunder
Thunder Thunder
Time Warp

Best known for his time with Samson and an early Iron Maiden Barry Graham Purkis (AKA Thunderstick) has been the legendary icon for the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) scene since the late 70s. His eponymously named band, renowned for its female fronted power rock and theatricality, have a considerable heritage. The band played live and recorded for six years both in the UK and in the United States until playing their last gig in October 1986.

Then In 2016 former lead vocalist, Jodee Valentine, tragically died. In recognition of her memory Barry decided to record some songs that Jodee had performed live. This became the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album, the first new Thunderstick product in over thirty years. It was released in July 2017 to enthusiastic reviews worldwide. Following the success of the album Barry put a live band together who have brought the Thunderstick magic to a series of festival dates and live gigs. Now signed to Roulette Records an eagerly-anticipated follow-up studio album is currently being recorded and is scheduled for release in July 2020.

Baz Crowcroft, the band’s resident artist has, once again, delivered spectacular artwork for the album. He was responsible for the artwork on the last album as well as the recent single ‘Go Sleep With The Enemy’. He will, of course, also be creating artwork for the forthcoming new studio album in the summer.

The full Thunderstick band line-up is:

Vocals – Raven Blackwing
Drums – Barry Graham Purkis aka Thunderstick
Guitar – Vinny Konrad
Guitar – Lee Quenby
Bass – Rex Thunderbolt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thunderstickofficial/
Roulette Records: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/

News: Slade’s Don Powell recovering from stroke

Drummer and veteran Slade legend, Don Powell, suffered a stroke on Saturday 29th February at his home in Denmark. Fortunately, his step-daughter Emilie, a doctor, was with him when it happened and was able to act swiftly to call an ambulance and get him to hospital. The subsequent day, 1st March, his wife Hanne released the following statement via Don’s website:

“On Sunday afternoon I picked Don up from the hospital. He will be monitored from home until Wednesday afternoon as it is less stressful for him to be at home, and that is important at the moment. The MRI and CT scan results shows two blood clots in the left frontal lobe, and he is now on medication. There is a narrowing on his artery on his neck so we will know in a few days if he will need an operation. The scan results are sent to the cardiology surgeons to decide. Don is tired but in good spirits and he is happy that he can use/feel his right arm and leg again. So we are all very relieved and thankful.”

Accompanying the update was a photo of a convalescing Don looking in very good spirits.

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The stroke follows a snapped tendon in 2019 which put Don out of action as a drummer for the rest of the year as well as more recent news of Don’s sacking from Dave Hill’s continuing version of Slade last month.

http://www.donpowellofficial.com/

Don’s former colleague Jim Lea, who played with him from the original band’s formation in 1996 through to 1991 released the following statement via his own website:

“Hi Don – It was terrible to hear of your stroke. A real body blow!! Although the band finished many moons ago, we were like brothers during that 25 years together. You were and still are the quickest wit in the band. You kept us laughing through the ups and downs of those years. I’m sure that everyone who’s met you thinks the same. Keep smiling Don and get through this. Get well soon. Jim.”

http://www.jimleamusic.com/

The Sweet’s Andy Scott, who collaborated with Don ,along with Suzi Quatro, on the QSP project in recent years also released his own statement via his band’s Facebook page.

“I am in touch with Don on a daily basis and of course wish him the speediest recovery. After the trauma of injury in 2018 and his fight back to fitness in 2019 the last thing one needs in 2020 is another setback. Knowing Don he will be cracking jokes again very soon. Chin up my old mate. I am in DK this week so will pop in with some good cheer if you are receiving visitors. Love & best wishes from all in the Sweet camp x. Andy.”

https://www.facebook.com/TheSweetOfficial/

Related posts:

Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade

Slade legend Jim Lea releases video footage in bid to locate recently stolen guitar

EP review – Jim Lea ‘Lost In Space’

Interview with former Slade legend Jim Lea

Jim Lea at the Robin 2, Bilston 2017

Header photo: Don and Darren in Birmingham
Photo of Don: via his website

News: The Roke – debut album from Scottish piper Ross Miller

The Roke is the town tune of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow where Ross Miller was brought up and where he is the official Town Piper. The Roke is also the title of Miller’s debut album, released on 9th March – his 25th birthday.

“This album has been years in the making,” Ross Miller tells Darren’s music blog. “I’ve been writing tunes and putting sets together for years with a variety of different groups but I felt that the time had come to record my music and release it into the world. The recording process was spaced out over three months and the sound evolved so much into what you hear on the CD. I am over the moon with the way it has turned out and I am hugely grateful to everyone who has supported me through the process either musically, financially or just generally being there to listen to my constant thinking out loud!”

A finalist in the 2019 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year and a Celtic Connections award winner, Miller has also won the World Pipe Band Championships and an array of Solo Piping prizes in his career so far. The tunes on this instrumental album are all either Miller’s compositions or his personal favourites to play. The music ranges from tunes he has played in pipe bands that have been given a new twist to modern Reels and Jigs. The album features full band arrangements as well as more stripped back solo performances and even includes a pipe quartet where Miller performs all four parts.

Co-produced with Craig Irving,  Ross Miller has assembled a strong cast of musicians for the album:

Ross Miller – Bagpipes
Craig Irivng – Guitar (a BBC Young Folk Award winner and former member of Scottish bands Manran and Talisk)
Charlie Stewart – Fiddle, Double Bass (BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017)
Rory Matheson – Piano (Fara)
Callum Edwards – Drums, percussion, marching snare drum (Red Hot Chilli Pipers)
Craig Baxter – Bodhran (Gnoss)

The Roke by Ross Miller is released on 9th March 2020 by Avontoun Records.

RossMiller_PR1

Photo credits: Martin Venherm

https://www.rossmillermusic.com/

News: Cladaich Loch Iù – debut album from Gaelic folk singer Steven MacIomhair

Cladaich Loch Iù is the debut album from Gaelic folk singer Steven MacIomhair. In English meaning ‘Shores of Loch Ewe’ his album has been inspired primarily by songs from his own part of the world combined with other well-known Gaelic songs that he has picked up over the years.

“It was a great experience to come together with such brilliant musicians and take some of my favourite Gaelic songs and breath new life into them. Everyone involved in the album brought a different element with them which created a final product of which I’m very proud,” Steven tells Darren’s music blog.

“It was important for me to include, in the album, some songs from my own village and bring these excellent works to a wider audience’s attention.”

StevenMacIomhair_PR3-scaled

Born in a small village in the West Coast of Scotland, Naast, near Poolewe, he grew up in a musical home where he developed a love for singing. During his school years his interest and passion for the Gaelic language grew and lead him to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig where he completed a course in Gaelic broadcasting, and most recently, an Honours Degree in Education and Gaelic. Steven started competing in both local and national Mòds when he was 12 years old and won the James C MacPhee Memorial Medal in 1999, just 10 years later he went on to win the coveted An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal. He is currently a Gaelic primary school teacher in Dingwall.

Initially launched on the 28th of August 2019 at a gig he organised in Dingwall and available digitally the album is now also available on CD.

StevenMacIomhair_PR1

The CD, Cladaich Loch Iù, is available to buy from:

Glasgow: Gaelic Books Council Shop, Mansfied Street, Partick.
Stornoway: An Comunn Gàidhealach Office
Online: www.BirnamCDshop.com

The album can also be downloaded through:

iTunes
Spotify
Amazon Music
Google Play Music

News: Comfort Zone – debut album from Prophecy Playground released on Friendly Folk Records

Prophecy Playground is an alternative-folk project founded by guitarist singer-songwriter and composer Or Izekson. They combine gently-written melancholic songs and instrumental themes with a carefully-arranged string section, taking elements from classical European chamber music. The melancholic nature of the songs combined with Izekson’s distinctive guitar means comparisons have often been made with the likes of Nick Drake.

Founded in 2018 in Tel Aviv, Prophecy Playground started performing in local bars and small music venues with the band’s live setup consisting of a cellist, violinist and percussionist plus singer-guitar player Izekson surrounded by his four acoustic guitars, each tuned differently.

pp3

Released on the Dutch International folk label Friendly Folk Records, Prophecy Playground’s debut album Comfort Zone is something of a concept album. Izekson’s lyrics deal with themes such as the struggle for inner-self embetterment, the lack of purpose in the virtual age, and a perpetual longing for a home, both in the physical and the spiritual one. The album contains three instrumental pieces and two cover versions – a tribute to 60’s British folk-rock pioneer Kevin Ayers and legendary blues guitar player Mississippi John Hurt, two of Izekson’s most influential musical figures.

A single from the album ‘Politely Polluting’ was released in December with this experimental video filmed in Wales.

The instrumental arrangements for the album include the violin, cello, upright bass, harp, trumpet and flute, and were written by the Tel Aviv pianist/composer Yasmin Raviv. The aim behind the album’s production was to combine skillful acoustic guitar playing with carefully-written arrangements for string section and other orchestral instruments, whilst taking care not to harm the gentleness and fragility of the songs. The album was recorded with producer Gil Smetana, one of Israel’s leading and most experienced music producers, who contributed his distinctive touch.

The band is currently touring Israel in different venues and festivals and will hold album launch mini-tours in US and UK this coming spring, followed by a full European tour in the summer.

Comfort Zone released 15th February 2020 on Friendly Folk Records

pp1

https://www.facebook.com/ProphecyPlayground/

News: Slade legend Jim Lea releases video footage in bid to locate recently stolen guitar

Jim Lea, one of the four members of Slade throughout the original band’s entire twenty-five year career, has released a video in the hope that it will prompt members of the public in helping reunite him with his guitar. The multi-instrumentalist’s cherished Fender Stratocaster was stolen in central London on 31st January.

jim-strat-2_orig (1)

After an initial appeal for information two weeks ago proved fruitless, Lea’s website has issued the following statement, along with a video of him playing the guitar in question.

“Tuesday 18th February 2020 – Two weeks ago we advised that Jim’s prized Fender Stratocaster was stolen from Central London. We put out the word for fans to share the details of the theft on social media in a bid to try and get it recovered.

Unfortunately the guitar has still not been returned or found. We do not have the serial number to pass on to fans – and to date we have only shared photos of the guitar on social media in a hope that fans might see it and recognise it.

However today Jim has released this, previously unseen studio footage, for fans to see. It shows close ups of the famous guitar and we hope this will help fans recognise it.

​Once more we ask that fans look out for the Stratocaster in music shops, or on internet websites such as Gumtree and eBay. A reward is offered. Please email website on jimleawebsite@aol.com with any info if you find it’s whereabouts.

We have made the video downloadable. Please share on social media.”

As well as being downloadable direct from Jim’s website the video can also be viewed via YouTube here:

Photos and video courtesy of Jim Lea's website

http://www.jimleamusic.com/

Related posts:

EP review – Jim Lea ‘Lost In Space’

Interview with former Slade legend Jim Lea

Jim Lea at the Robin 2, Bilston 2017

Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade

Preview: Hastings Fat Tuesday weekend 21st-25th February 2020

This article was originally published by Hastings Online Times here

Fat Tuesday festivities break out on Friday

Now in its eleventh year, Hastings’ annual Mardi Gras celebration, Fat Tuesday, where scores of acts converge on dozens of venues to entertain thousands of punters for five days of music and general madness, launches on Friday 21 February this year. Darren Johnson surveys the rich offer of music and entertainment which lies in store.

Friday 21st

In what organisers claim is the most diverse line-up ever this year, Baxter Dury (indie singer-song-writer and son of the legendary Ian) will headline the opening night at the White Rock Theatre. He’ll be supported by Hastings’ own Kid Kapichi.

Earlier in the day the White Rock Hotel next door will host another Unconvention conference, a day of panel debates, discussion and workshops for those involved in some way in the grass-roots music industry – or looking to break into it. Keynote speaker is singer and broadcaster Tom Robinson.

While most of the Fat Tuesday weekend gigs are free, these two are ticketed events which you can book via the Fat Tuesday website.

Saturday 22nd

As usual the centrepiece of Saturday’s proceedings is the mega Saturday Unplugged session. Running from 1pm until 5pm 40 artists from a wide variety of genres will play 15-minute sets across a number of participating bars and restaurants in Hastings Old Town. Brand new for this year, St Leonards will also be part of the action with 10 acts spread across five venues.

Always a great opportunity to seek out new talent or enjoy old favourites, you can either stay in one place and catch the whole programme for that venue or you can move from bar to bar seeking out the acts that particularly catch your eye. For the really dedicated you can simply stalk your favourite artist all afternoon and watch them perform each of their sets.

In the evening there’s another ticketed event at White Rock Theatre, where the The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, featuring Red Dwarf and Corrie star-cum-radio DJ Craig Charles, is the headline act at Le Grande Mardi Gras Ball.

Sunday 23rd

The pace, but not necessarily the volume, quietens down a notch on the Sunday when two venues, The Carlisle and Printworks, play host to Under The Radar. Aimed at showcasing the best emerging young talent from across the country, it’s curated by BBC Introducing, the Academy of Contemporary Music, Incubate and the Joe Strummer Foundation. The organisers are touting Kudu Blue, Brighton-based indie rising stars, as one to watch out for this year.

For those on the look-out for something a bit more traditional, there’s always the eccentrically quirky Umbrella Parade which culminates in an afternoon of music and some flamboyantly extravagant brass at the White Rock Theatre.

Monday 24th

Now an established fixture on the Monday evening, the Lord Nelson plays host to acoustic blues/roots musician King Size Slim for a laid-back evening prior to the frenetic madness of The Fat Tuesday Tour the following day.

Tuesday 25th

This is the big one. Twelve venues will host The Fat Tuesday Tour where 24 bands will play 20-minute sets in three venues apiece. Again, there’s a ticketed aftershow at the Brass Monkey with live music from Buddah Triangle and a DJ set from Greentea Peng.

Announced so far

While the full weekend programme is yet to be announced, all of the following acts have been confirmed so far:

Baxter Dury, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club, Plaid, DJ Food, Greentea Peng, Sam Wills, Kudu Blue, Kid Kapichi, Duke Garwood and the Rank Panache, Nova Twins DJ set, Dizraeli. Hayley Ross, Buddah Triangle, Loud Noises, Georgia Meek, The Great Malarkey, Funking Barstewards, Mzz Kimberley, Sister Suzie, Dr Savage, Aris, The Colleens, Blabbermouth, Otto, The Curst Sons, The Shady Pines, King Size Slim, Johanna Bramli, Georgia May, Trevor Watts with Grassy Noel & APE, Leila (DJ Set), Mr Thing, Creature Creature, The Village Metronome, Massicot, Tim Exile, Silent Natives, The United Stoats Of America, Victoria McDonnell Band, Milton Hide, Sugar Loaf Band, Frank From Blue Velvet, Anna Page, Kahlla, Dayana, Claire K Nicolson, Edward Sanson, Oli Barton & The Movement, Glashin, L, Now and Then, Someone Anyone, Abstract Source, Crunchy Bat, David Toop & Rie Nakajima, Gawd Status, Dave Malone.

Keep an eye on the Fat Tuesday website for more information as it’s published.

Header photo: Loud Noises - image supplied by Fat Tuesday PR team

Related posts:

Fat Tuesday preview 2017

Review: Hastings Fat Tuesday 2017 – Unplugged Saturday 25/2/17

Dodgy at The Carlisle, Hastings (Fat Tuesday headliners 28/2/17)

Live review: Glen Matlock headlines Hastings Fat Tuesday 5/3/19

News: Kankou Kouyate’s ‘Kuma’ album – when the Mali singer-songwriter met the Scottish folk-rock guitarist…

Back in 2017, Kankou Kouyate a singer and songwriter from Mali from a renowned musical family, met Scottish musician Mark Mulholland. A collaboration ensued which led to a batch of original songs fusing both African and western influences. The ten-track album Kuma (meaning “words” in Bambara – Mali’s most common language)  is the result of that collaboration.  Parisian musician Olaf Hund adds electronic beats and on a couple of tracks Vincent Bucher provides some beautifully evocative harmonica. Combined with the rock, blues and folk influences of Mulholland’s guitar work and Kankou’s enchanting voice they have created something altogether special.

Mali. Bamako. 06/2017. Kankou et Mark Mulholland.

In Mali, Kouyate has worked with musicians such as Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate and Cheick Tidiane Seck. She’s collaborated in Africa Express and also contributed to the soundtrack for a 2015 documentary about musicians displaced by Mali’s civil war while internationally she has worked with the likes of Damon Albarn, Brian Eno and Nick Zinner.

Released: Cannery Row Records 6th December 2019

KANKOU_0916_RZ.indd

https://www.facebook.com/Kankou-kouyate-Malian-music-300084397563791/

News: a Blue Öyster Cult reissue plus a brand new fortieth anniversary live album

Back in April 2016, on the 40th anniversary of their Agents of Fortune album Blue Öyster Cult marked the occasion by performing the album in full for a televised concert at Red Studios in Hollywood.  Frontiers music is now releasing the recording in CD, vinyl, DVD and Blu-Ray formats.

On the recording BÖC’s original core duo of vocalist/lead guitarist Donald ‘Buck
Dharma’ Roeser and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Eric Bloom are joined by Richie
Castellano on guitar/keyboards plus the long-standing rhythm section of bassist
Kasim Sulton and drummer Jules Radino. Founding member Albert Bouchard also appeared as a special guest on selected tracks.

Originally released in 1976 Agents Of Fortune was BÖC’s fourth album, going on to
achieve platinum status in the States on the strength of songs such as ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,’ the band’s biggest hit and a staple of classic rock station playlists. Here in the UK Agents of Fortune has featured in numerous publications’ lists of the greatest rock/metal albums of all time, including the likes of Kerrang! and Q magazine.

Frontiers are also reissuing BÖC’s thirteenth studio album Heaven Forbid. Released in March 1998, it was the group’s first full studio set containing original material since Imaginos a decade earlier. Science fiction author John Shirley contributed
heavily, writing lyrics for all except two of its new songs, while a live version of ‘In Thee’ (from 1979’s ‘Mirrors’) was also included.

40th ANNIVERSARY AGENTS OF FORTUNE 2016 live album and HEAVEN FORBID
both released 6th March 2020 by Frontiers Music

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http://www.blueoystercult.com/

News: Thunderstick – masked drummer and his band return to Leo’s Red Lion for launch of new single

Single: Go Sleep With The Enemy/ I Close My Eyes released 7/2/20 on Roulette Records pre-order via https://www.roulettemedia.uk/product-page/thunderstick-go-sleep-with-the-enemy-i-close-my-eyes

First live gig: Leo’s Red Lion, Gravesend, Kent – Saturday 8/2/20 8pm
Tickets via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/leosredlion/t-amaznk

Following a series of fantastically well-received live dates last year Thunderstick, with their mesmerising singer Raven Blackwing, are back with a new single and a return to live shows. Kent’s legendary rock venue ‘Leo’s Red Lion’ will be the first to support the release on Saturday 8th February.

Barry Graham Purkis aka Thunderstick: “The band will be touring our eccentric ‘Anomaly stage show’ throughout 2020. For those about to experience us live for the first time prepare yourself for the journey. We are the ‘Dark Cabaret Theatre Hooligans’ and we will steal your Rock’n’Roll hearts.”

CD Cover - Front

Raven Blackwing: “I’m very excited about the upcoming release. It’ll be my first Thunderstick recordings. I was given so much love and support throughout my first year with the band, we thought a ‘limited edition’ reworking of a couple of tracks from the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album would be a cool way to say thank you. My own particular milestone. It also sets the scene for the band’s very first live album ‘Something Wicked This Way Came…Thunderstick Live in France’. I hope that our fans enjoy both. Luv Raven xx”

The single features the tracks ‘Go Sleep With The Enemy’ and ‘I Close My Eyes’ which will be familiar to fans, reworked for the unique voice of Raven Blackwing. The single is available in both CD and digital formats.

Charismatic Raven Blackwing will lead her thunderous band mates Vinny Konrad (guitar), Lee Quenby (guitar), Rex Thunderbolt (bass) and the legendary Thunderstick/Barry Graham Purkis (drums) on a series of UK and European dates throughout the year. UK festivals ‘Breaking Bands’ on 25th May and ‘Cornwall Rocks’ on 20th November have now been confirmed, with many more to be announced. A new live album ‘Something Wicked This Way Came – Thunderstick live in France’ is set for release in March on Roulette, followed by a brand new studio album currently being recorded for release in July.

Raven Blackwing

Best known for his time with Samson and an early Iron Maiden Barry Graham Purkis (AKA Thunderstick) has been the legendary icon for the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) scene since the late 70s. His eponymously named band, renowned for its female fronted power rock and theatricality, have a considerable heritage. The band played live and recorded for six years both in the UK and in the United States throughout the 1980s until playing their last gig in October 1986. Then In 2016 former lead vocalist, Jodee Valentine, tragically died following a five-year battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. In recognition of Jodee’s memory Barry decided to record some songs that Jodee had performed live. This became the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album, the first new Thunderstick product in over thirty years. It was released in July 2017 to enthusiastic reviews worldwide.

Barry: ‘It was never my intention to put a performing band together but In light of the positive encouragement I received and much deliberation a new Thunderstick was formed. Staying true to its theatrical recognition we have been gathering momentum once more amongst the rock fraternity. The next chapter in this amazing story is ready for the writing.”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thunderstickofficial/
Roulette Records: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/thunderstick