Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'North Wind' from Canada blows in for UK tour

Hats off to Le Vent du Nord!
Réjean Brunet (basses, diatonic accordion, jaw harp, piano, vocals),
Nicolas Boulerice (vocals, hurdy gurdy, piano, piano accordion),
Olivier Demers (fiddle, electric guitar, clogging, mandolin, vocals), 
Simon Beaudry 
(vocals, bouzouki, guitar)

Quebec’s progressive folk band Le Vent du Nord return with their seventh album entitled ‘Tromper Le Temps’ which translates as Cheating Time!

Renowned as ambassadors of Francophonie, Le Vent du Nord are also largely acknowledged as one of the key groups in Quebec’s traditional folk music revival. Since their formation in August 2002 the band has enjoyed great success which has allowed them to take their music to other countries - and later this month that includes the UK, with dates from Orkney to Hampshire.

May 2012

Thurs 31. Orkney Folk Festival 2012, Orkney Islands, Scotland 
Venue: The Stromness Hotel, The Pierhead, Stromness, Orkney KW16 3AA  
Tel: 07543 013006 Tickets £13.00 -- From 7.30 p.m.  

June 2012

Fri 1. Orkney Folk Festival 2012, Orkney Islands, Scotland,
Venue: The Pickaquoy Centre, Muddisdale Road, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15
Tel: 07543 013006 Tickets £20.00 -- >From 7.30 p.m.  +

Sat 2. Orkney Folk Festival 2012, Orkney Islands, Scotland  MIDDAY CONCERT
Venue: The Stromness Hotel, The Pierhead, Stromness, Orkney KW16 3AA 
Tel: 07543 013006 Tickets £13.00 -- From 12.00 Noon

Sat 2. Northern Roots Festival, Bogbain Farm, Inverness, Scotland,  IV2 5BD
Tel: 08443 954000 Tickets £17.50 -- From 7.30 p.m.

Mon 4. The Gate To Southwell Festival, Upton Road, Southwell, Nottingham NG25 0QB
Tel: 01636 812933 Tickets £15.00 -- From 6.00 p.m.

Wed 6. Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale nr Manchester, M33 7ZS
Tel: 0161 912 5616 Tickets £13.50 / £6.50 (15 years & under)  From 7.30 p.m.

Thurs 7. Saltaire Live, Victoria Hall, Victoria Road, Saltaire, Shipley, West Yorkshire,  BD18 3JS 
Tel: 01274-588614 Tickets £13.50 -- From 7.30 p.m.

Fri 8. Songlines Encounters Festival, King's Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross, London 9AG
Tel: 02075 201490
Tickets £13.50 / £16.50 / £19.50 / £24.50  CD Launch of Tromper Le Temps

Sat 9. Gower Folk Festival, Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill, Gower, Swansea, Wales SA3 2EH
Tel: 01792 850803 Tickets £20.00 -- From 7.30 p.m. - Band on stage 9.45 p.m.

Sun 10.Theatre by the Lake, Lakeside, Keswick, Cumbria  CA12 5DJ
Tel: 01768 781108 Tickets £16.00 -- From 7.30 p.m.

Mon 11. Forest Folk, North Boarhunt, Trampers Lane, PO17 6DD
Tel: 01329 833625 Tickets £14.00 -- From 7.30 p.m. 

Le Vent Du Nord (Wind from the North) perform traditional Québécois music in French which is heavily influenced by Celtic music from both Ireland and Brittany. The group use a very diverse range of musical instruments augmented by Québécois Foot Percussion presented via a most entertaining, energetic and engaging stage show.

Tromper Le Temps - “Cheating Time” - is as much a statement as an observation. Nicolas Boulerice, Olivier Demers, Réjean Brunet Simon Beaudry are four musicians exploring and playing music of yesterday, today, and possible tomorrow. The album features a sound that has found its identity over the course of a decade of touring; the band has played close to 1,000 concerts in North America and Europe.

The album sees Le Vent du Nord pushing their own limits and exploring their vocal harmonies and musical textures. Through the course of the thirteen tracks the band takes us on a trip through several historical periods. 

Say the band: "The lyrics and poetic scenes that have marvellously survived the passage of time are wonderfully pertinent to our present day realities, socially, politically and personal."

Like all artists Le Vent du Nord are not afraid to take chances and experiment in new musical areas. They thumb their nose at the passage of time and proudly continue to anchor their musical traditions in the present with fluid arrangements, great instrumentals and vocals, and the best in contemporary production.

Le Vent du Nord have been the recipients of numerous awards. The latest arrived in the Spring of 2011, when they received their second Juno Award for their previous studio album La Part du Feu. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Demon Barbers dance away with dosh!

Well done to The Demon Barbers for snagging £120,000 to take their folk and dance show Time Gentlemen Please out on the road in bigger and even better style later this year. And well done to Arts Council England for having the great taste and sense to give them the money!

Hurrah! Time Gentlemen Please bangs the drum for folk and folk dance
Here's what the Barbers have to say about it: 

The Demon Barbers are 1 of only 10 successful applicants to the first round of Arts Council England's new Strategic Touring Fund for their Traditional English Folk Dance & Hip Hop Extravaganza, 'Time Gentlemen Please!'

Fast-paced and innovative, the show brings together some of the UK's top clog, sword and Morris dancers with their counterparts from the worlds of B-boying, popping & krump. Time Gentlemen Please! promises to do for English folk dance what Riverdance did for Irish dance and Diversity did for street dance, bringing lesser known forms of dance into the mainstage.

The Strategic Touring Programme is designed to increase access to the arts, especially in places with low levels of arts engagement and those that rely on touring for much of their arts provision.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:

'These projects all represent creative and innovative ways to give audiences across the country access to high quality work... We're really excited about the potential of these projects to get more people involved in the arts and to ensure that wherever they live, they have the chance to experience and be inspired by the arts'.

The grant, which is just under £120k, will be used to continue The Demon Barbers' mission to raise the profile of traditional English dance through performance and education.

Damien Barber, Artistic Director, said:

'It's fantastic that our work has been awarded this significant investment from Arts Council England, which will not only enable us to develop the show further but also to tour it to new audiences.'

Elements of the project include:

*    A national UK tour in Autumn 2012 & Spring 2013
*    A bespoke education programme
*    Support slots for BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist Maz O'Connor
*    Opportunities for local Morris and Hip Hop Groups to perform alongside the show
*    Training new artists in traditional dance
*    Rebranding of the show for the revitalised production

The Demon Barbers are very excited that they have been given this excellent opportunity to develop their show and raise the profile of traditional English dance even further.

TOUR DATES 2012 / 2013:

Autumn 2012 Tour

  12 October     The Carriageworks, Leeds

  13 October    Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
  14 October     The Lowry, Salford

  18 October     Canterbury Festival, Gulbenkian Theatre

  19 October     The Apex, Bury St Edmunds

  20 October     Newbury Corn Exchange

  21 October     Plowright Theatre, Scunthorpe

10 November     Durham Gala Theatre

13 November     Shrewsbury Severn Theatre

14 November     Buxton Opera House

17 November     Lichfield Garrick

Spring 2013 Tour

 6 February     Loughborough Town Hall

 7 February     Burnley Mechanics

 8 February     Theatre By The Lake, Keswick

 9 February     Whitley Bay Playhouse

15 February     The Stables, Milton Keynes

16 February     Barnsley Civic

18 February     Harrogate Theatre

19 February     Harrogate Theatre

21 February     Colston Hall, Bristol

22 February     Octagon, Yeovil

23 February     Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe

24 February     Lighthouse, Poole

25 February     Phoenix Theatre, Exeter

26 February     Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

27 February     Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton

More dates TBC

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Who's in The Den?

Below is the final line up for The Den at Cambridge Folk Festival, the stage for emerging talent. 

The Den is a stage for emerging talent, located just round the corner from The Hub, away from the bustle of the main stages. Introduced in 2011it is a partnership between the Festival, Cambridge’s premier acoustic night The Living Room and folk club The Nest Collective. It is set within an Indian marquee and decorated to create a quirky, welcoming and intimate space. In addition to booked artists, 15 minute slots are set aside daily for musicians attending the Festival. These slots will be allocated via a signing up system on site, details available in the Festival programme.

Charlene Soraia - things are looking up...
Among the artists confirmed for The Den are singer, songwriter Charlene Soraia, best known for her cover of the The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go which reached No.3 in the Top 40; Nick Mulvey, formerly of acclaimed Cambridge band Portico Quartet; hotly anticipated new Mercury signing Karina Francis; acoustic alt-folk from hotly tipped King Charles; blue inspired sounds from Liz Green; a melting pot of folk, jazz and rock from Moulettes, and Eska who will also be appearing at Queen Elizabeth Hall this year alongside an 80 piece choir!

The full line-up for The Den is confirmed as:

Thursday July 26
Dan Wilde
Fred's House
Max Baillie & Sura Sussa

Friday July 27
Adam Beattie & Brooke Sharkey
Chasing Owls
David Gibb & Elly Lucas
Jake Bugg
Land Shapes 
Lee Mitchell
Liz Green
Nick Mulvey

Saturday July 28
Charlene Soraia
Dear Winesburg
Gerard & the Watchmen
House of Hats
Jay Leighton
King Charles (acoustic)
Klak Tik
The Miserable Rich
The Half Sisters

Sunday July 29
Annie Dressner
Karima Francis
Keston Cobblers' Club
Lucy Kitt
Magic Lantern
The Beguilers
Three Cane Whale
Tom Copson

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ten Pound Poms

FolkCast's co-host Ken Nicol is back behind the microphone and making new music! 

Ten Pound Poms is the first cut from his forthcoming solo album, Historic Events And Other Subjects. Check it out!

Ten Pound Poms

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Alan Stivell: Reinterpreting Folk Music For Six Decades

Alan Stivell
In a career spanning six decades Alan Stivell has become a cult favourite among many folk fans – and  the release of a brand new “Best Of” compilation album called “Ar Pep Gwellan”  will bring his interpretations of Celtic as well as British folk classics to the fore once again, writes Imogen Reed.

Alan Stivell (though originally from Brittany and a Breton speaker) has done much to quietly highlight the traditions and beautiful music that Britain has produced over the centuries throughout many of his albums – and his talent is simply not celebrated enough.

In the earlier part of his career he toured with some of folk’s greatest acts – in the 1960s he performed with The Moody Blues and in 1972 performed with Steeleye Span on their Winter Tour.

Ar Pep Gwellan
The release of this retrospective double album provides us with a flavour of the best of Stivell’s work over the last six decades, perfect for newcomers to his music as well as people who may want to revisit his distinctive sound. It’s available to buy from the usual outlets on the Mercury Imports label for delivery from a courier company like parcel2go or any other reputable parcel service. 

The track listing runs as follows:
01.Tri Martolod
02.Pop Plinn (Album Version)
03.Suite Sudarmoricaine (Album Version)
04.Ys (Album Version)
05.La Memoire De L'Humain
06.Mna Na Heireann (Women Of Ireland)
07.Brian Boru
08.Suzy Mc Guire
09.A United Earth
10.Ian Morrisson Reel (Album Version)
11.Gouel Hollvedel
12.La Celtie & L'Infini
13.La Dame Du Lac
14.Let The Plinn (Album Version)
15.Suite Irlandaise
16.Miz Tu

01.The Wind Of Keltia (Live)
02.An Dro (Live)
03.The Trees They Grow High (Live)
04.An Alarch (Live)
05.An Durzhunel
06.Telenn Gwad
07.Pop Plinn (Live)
08.Tha Mi Sgith
09.The King Of The Fairies
10.Tri Martolod (Live)
11.Kost Ar C'Hoad
12.Suite Sudarmoricaine (Live)

Looking At The Album
There are so many wonderful tracks to listen to it’s hard to imagine where to start – and it would be impossible to go through every track here - let’s begin slap bang in the middle of the first album with the story of “Brian Boru”. Brian Boru was probably Alan’s most successful album of the 1990s and was highly critically acclaimed for its unusual takes on classic folk music. It contained many renditions of traditional songs – such as “Mna Na hEireann (Women Of Ireland)” and “Ye Banks and Braes” as well as a spooky arrangement of the Welsh anthem “Lands Of My Fathers” (here called “Bro Gozh Ma Zadou”). “Mna N hEireann” is included here and is a fantastically paired down version of the song with just Stivell on vocal and harp accompaniment (of course Stivell is rated as the man who brought the Celtic Harp back to prominence in modern folk music). Brian Boru itself is the story of the Irish monarch who fought to bring peace to his nation:
Brian Boru with Irish to English Translation
It starts off so simply, so gently and explodes into a folk rock melee combining elements of electric guitar and harp – such a soaring anthem that really imbibes the spirit of Boru himself.

Tha Mi Sgith
“I am tired and I am lonely, cutting the bracken” another beautiful Irish song, again rendered with Stivell’s trademark fiddle and electric guitar sound – so unusual, it manages to sound old and new at the same time. Made most famous on his A’La Olympia album recorded live in 1972 this song has been one of his most popular tracks. Stivell has the most weirdly hypnotic voice – it’s not the strongest you’ll hear, sometimes he sounds a little bit reedy in places, and if criticisms are levelled at him, it’s maybe that he doesn’t always get the pronunciation of the Irish/Welsh languages right. Of course, in reality they’re difficult enough to master to speak, let alone sing, so when all’s said and done he just does a good job!
Tha Mi Sgith

Traditional (and not so traditional!) Celtic Reels/Jigs
King Of The Faeries
The King of The Faeiries – an oft covered classic, look on many folk albums and you’ll find it at some point in a band’s repertoire. The Horslips have covered it – a very rocky, pumped up version too and probably just about any other Irish band you can think of too. Just when you think you don’t want another version Stivell’s pops up. Again, though – a very unique spin on it, a diving, forceful version – played in such a sprightly manner you can’t help tapping your feet and whistling along to. It’s one of those tracks that really gets you in the mood to listen to more of the same.
Finally, it would be remiss to not highlight the track Pop Plinn which is just outstanding on every level.

Pop Plinn
A Plinn is a traditional Breton dance set to very upbeat music and performed historically when someone was laying the foundation for a new house – groups of people would dance on the foundations of the building to tightly pack down the ground so that building could commence. Pop Plinn is such an upbeat jaunty melody – again, one you can’t help but feel enamoured to get up and dance to.

If you’ve never heard anything of Alan Stivell’s before this is a great place to start. If you’re an ardent fan it’s always great to discover new workings of his songs, all of which appear on this album. It’s very worth a listen!