Tuesday, 29 March 2011

We're back!

Finally, about a week after it went "Pfttt!" and died, the FolkCast website is back up and running. Apologies to all who have been trying in vain for the last seven days to access the best in folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter and roots-based music...

And there's more good news. FolkCast has acquired a snazzy new portable audio recorder, so expect a few more folkie artist interviews in the coming weeks and months as we plan to get up close and personal with the tunesmiths and roving minstrels.

Thanks for your patience - please feel free to re-insert OUR finger in YOUR ear!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

FolkCast website problems


UPDATE: Website problems now resolved. Website back up - go to www.folkcast.co.uk

Visitors to www.folkcast.co.uk over the last few days will have noticed that the website is DOWN. We're very sorry about this, and action is being taken, but it might take a little time to get it back up.

The problem is two-fold: 
1) our web hosting company has had a server meltdown, and
2) Ken is currently touring in New Zealand. As he is the registered owner of the website, the web hosting company will only deal with him directly, but it's very difficult for him to contact them by phone because of the time difference.

Please be assured that steps are being taken, and we're using this nightmare as a springboard to the future! We're transferring FolkCast to a big, shiny new server with lots more room where we can store all the shows we've ever made and ever will make, so for the first time we'll be able to have complete control over what episodes of the show we can make available at any one time. We hope to make them all available, right back to 001.

We've had various messages via Twitter and Facebook about this, and thanks for the support and your patience. It might take a few more days but WE WILL BE BACK!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Cecil Sharp Project

In spooky cult documentary "The Cecil Sharp Project" a gang of musicians go off into the deep, dark woods of Shropshire in pursuit of the rural legend of "The Collector", a mysterious old man said to roam the countryside gathering up the Trad and storing it away in a far off and dangerous place known only as That London

Did they find Cecil? Did he take their Trad? No-one knows...

The musicians - Steve Knightley, Jackie Oates, Andy Cutting, Caroline Herring, Jim Moray, Patsy Reid, Leonard Podolak and Kathryn Roberts - were never seen again* and all that was left was this shaky, handheld video footage....

*....well, not until Thursday night (24 March), in Shrewsbury, and then again this weekend (26 & 27 March), when they will be presenting the songs they've written about Cecil Sharp at Cecil Sharp House in That London.

(video footage via Jim Moray).

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ken Nicol heads for New Zealand

As we discussed on the latest edition of the show, FolkCast's very own sultan of strings, KEN NICOL, is packing his bags ready to travel 20,000km for a second homecoming. 

The United Kingdom-based singer, songwriter, guitarist and podcaster is returning to New Zealand - the land of his father's birth - for his second visit in two years.
Ken Nicol in his studio
Half-Kiwi Ken has performed with many of the biggest names in British folk and folk-rock, including Steeleye Span, The Albion Band and Fairport Convention, as well as having a recording career that covers 36 years and well over 50 albums.
Ken first visited New Zealand in 2004 – but only for one day! He returned in 2009 and now he will be playing a major series of dates across New Zealand in March and April 2011.

Ken said: "Growing up listening to my father’s stories of this far away land, it’s hard to believe I’d wait almost 53 years before having the opportunity to visit for myself. And though the first time I was there for only 24 hours (a concert at the Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland), there was a strong sense of connection. I felt that the journey had only just begun, and I’d be returning very soon indeed. 

"I was enchanted by the beauty of the country and friendliness of the people. Visiting New Zealand really did feel like a kind of homecoming."

As FolkCast listeners will know, Ken's music covers the spectrum from blues to rock, and effortlessly takes in folk, jazz, ragtime and more along the way. Renowned for his super-fluid fingerpicking acoustic guitar technique, Ken also plays electric guitar, steel resonator guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin and ukulele.

He will be delighting New Zealand audiences with music drawn from throughout his career, ranging from mesmerisingly fast instrumentals to heart-stoppingly beautiful ballads and even some comedy numbers. 

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Ken had early success as one half of Nicol & Marsh's Easy Street along with Pete Marsh. They recorded four albums on the CBS and Polydor labels, and moved to Los Angeles in the late-1970s.

Returning to the UK in 1989, Ken recorded solo albums Living In A Spanish Town, Two Frets From The Blues, as well as working with other artists including Chris While, now of renowned duo While & Matthews. In 1996, Ken started working with Ashley Hutchings - the man who founded British folk-rock giants Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band. It was to prove a very fruitful partnership which continues to this day.

Ken has worked with Ashley in The Ashley Hutchings Dance Band, The Albion Band and, currently, as a duo. After recording four albums with The Albion Band and continuing to record and release his own solo albums, Ken joined legendary folk-rockers Steeleye Span in 2002, touring the world and recording a further four albums with the band. 

It was after a 2009 tour with Steeleye Span which took him to Australia that Ken first ventured to New Zealand, playing a string of solo performances which took him to both The North and South Islands. Ken also took a motorhome tour vacation of the country, and knew then that he wanted to return. 

Ken added: "In 2009 after a series of Steeleye Span concerts in Australia, there was a three week gap in my schedule, and the chance to spend some quality time in New Zealand, travelling not only as a tourist, but also as a musician.

"The experience of meeting relatives, witnessing the country’s breathtaking views, visiting the clubs and festivals I performed at, making so many new friends and especially acquainting myself with my father’s home city, Dunedin, was meaningful to such a point that I struggle to find the adjectives."
During his visit Ken turned detective to trace an area of land purchased by his great great grandfather, David Nicol, in the 19th Century. He discovered that scenic Nicols Creek at Otago, near Dunedin, is now popular as a mountain biking route.

In early 2010 Ken took the difficult decision to leave Steeleye Span, in order to concentrate on his many other projects which see him performing across the UK and Europe, both as a solo artist and as part of various duos. 

Ken is hoping to meet some New Zealand FolkCast listeners while on his visit, so do make yourself known using the secret phrase "I am a FolkCast listener - let me buy you a drink!". New Zealand is frequently in the Top 10 of international download destinations for FolkCast, so there must be hundreds of Kiwis with Ken's finger in their ear. Any reviews of Ken's shows will be gratefully received - contact us via the website.

Another of Ken's musical partnerships is with British comedy star Phil Cool, and in 2009 that duo played as special guests to folk-rock giants Fairport Convention on their 40-date UK tour. 

Ken recorded his experiences of a very busy year as a touring musician in an online blog, which he is currently expanding into a book. It will be entitled ‘12’, and is to come complete with a corresponding collection of new music inspired by a year that was by far the busiest and most travelled of Ken’s career to date.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Children Of A Factory Nation

A New Zealand musician is raising money to fund the recording of a concept folk album about a family in Wales living through the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution.

Jordan Reyne
Kiwi recording artist Jordan Reyne - whose style has variously been described as  "industrial folk", "folk noir" and "Antipodean Steampunk" - has launched an online appeal for funds to allow her to record the album, titled Children Of A Factory Nation. She's seeking to raise $3,500, and is offering contributors exclusive music bundles in exchange for their donation.

Jordan, who has recorded five albums, says that her latest project tells a story that is "a mix of what facts we know, and the folklore used to tie those facts together. It is a story told as legend, using celtic melody and and the sounds of steam, sea, and iron."

She adds that Children Of A Factory Nation has already been written, and the majority of it has also been recorded. Donations will allow the recording to be completed, as well as mixing, mastering and pressing the album.

"There are some special, unreleased songs that will be made available in return for your help. These songs don't appear on any previous albums and are for you and other supporters only to enjoy."

You can read more about the project, hear a preview of one of the songs and make a donation here.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Way Of The Morris

FolkCast was sorely disappointed, unamused and downright bored by the alleged comedy film, Morris: A Life With Bells On, although we know that many in the folk world, and even quite a few Morris dancers, enjoyed it.

However, a new movie set to make its debut at the SXSW Film Festival in Texas next week looks likely to be a far more watchable affair.

Way Of The Morris is a documentary, made by Tim Plester, and from the trailers (below) appears to be both respectful and lyrical in its presentation of this much-maligned English folk art.

Largely made in the Oxfordshire village of Adderbury and concentrating on its Cotswold Morris team, it features Fairport Convention's Chris Leslie (a long-time member of Adderbury Morris) and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.

We've yet to see Way Of The Morris but, apart from its title sounding slightly like a Bruce Lee kung-fu epic, we have high hopes for it. Morris deserves a proper film to be made about it, and it deserves to be given respect, too. Not that Morris people care too much about what others think of them ... but FolkCast says "three cheers for Morris!". Hopefully we'll be able to say the same about Way Of The Morris too.

Top Ten Albums From The Golden Age of UK Folk Music

A good guide to those looking to further their education about the first coming of British folk-rock.

Top Ten Albums From The Golden Age of UK Folk Music

Featuring Fairport Convention, Roy Harper, Incredible String Band, Comus, Steeleye Span, Bert Jansch, Shirley & Dolly Collins , Nick Drake, John Martyn, Lal & Mike Waterson.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

FolkCast 059

The latest edition of FolkCast has hit the (back of the) net, and in podcast 059 Phil and Ken play music by: Debra Cowan - June Tabor - Phillip Hartley - Mark Handley - Battlefield Band - Alan Reid - Steve Knightley - Linney Magic - Trembling Bells - Pilgrims' Way - Gavin Davenport - Ken Nicol.

There's news of Ken's tour of New Zealand and Babba looks at hiring fairs and Late On Lady Day by Decameron in The Story Behind The Song.

Full details and download from: http://bit.ly/folkcast059  Pass it on!

Friday, 4 March 2011

MySpace? My Arse!

Right - that's it! MySpace has gone from useful to useless to unusable and FolkCast is bailing out.

MySpace: a depressing mess
The spam and the ads were bad enough, but now it's actually started completely freezing up our computers, which is a massive pain, a waste of our time and could be catastrophic if it happened at the wrong moment.

So, we're outta there! MySpace friends, please contact us via our own website - www.folkcast.co.uk - where you'll find email, Twitter and Facebook links. We won't be using MySpace again or responding to any messages received there. We'd close our account, but we can't find the appropriate button to press ... if one even exists. Which we doubt.

Ciao, My[____] - you're history!

PS: In future we will also not be including MySpace links in our ShowNotes. Several listeners have told me they can't or won't follow them. Please, artists, use an alternative service such as ReverbNation or SoundCloud

UPDATE: Following the sale of MySpace by News Corp, the site is getting its act together. It's still a complete mess, but it does seem to be changing. We'll keep an eye on the situation and - if and when MySpace becomes useable again - we'll reinstate it.