Monday, 30 July 2012


Alas! I did not manage to make it to this year's Cambridge Folk Festival. Not even for one of the four days of fantastic music the event offers. When seeking permission to feature the contemporary folk singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow in one of the podcasts, I mentioned my frustration at having just missed his recent UK tour (my timing was all off as I'd only come across his music as the tour ended - oh if only my time machine was in full working order). His reps advised me I should definitely apply for a press pass ticket citing my recent music writing and the podcast I put together. Naturally the temptation flooded me and I'm kind of gutted I didn't follow that through but when one has a full time job there is the issue of having enough annual leave remaining in order to attend the days of the festival that aren't a Saturday and Sunday. Deciding against applying this year I did of course contemplate making use of the opportunity to buy just a day ticket to ensure I saw James perform. However, I'd still have needed a day or two off work which I was unable to take at this time. 

Having a good friend to stay for a few days in June I also missed an email (I'm always right on my emails too, having a phone app that allows me to check them pretty much non stop all day long should I need to - isn't there an app for just everything these days? Again, I could have rectified the situation if the troublesome time machine weren't on the blink) from Prescription PR asking me to complete an attached form which the festival organisers/press folk would process to see if I could indeed be granted a press pass ticket. 

Gutted times a million! Although I was only a day over the deadline, I've convinced myself I missed the email because on some level my mind knew I wouldn't be able to attend anyway (the annual leave issue and having two other festivals either side of this particular one). My mind also knew full well that had I seen it in time I would have applied and thus now be a burned out comatose wreck. Not to imply I'd have relished the excesses of sublime tasting ales, of course. Anyway, I'm digressing and this isn't even strictly my post per se.

What a sensational and breathtaking debut album from James. Early In The Morning hits all the right notes and ticks boxes that weren't even on the list to be ticked. Sample it at the bottom of this post and see (or rather hear) what you're missing. I'm very jealous of all those who got to experience what would have no doubt been a phenomenal live gig. 

It's no wonder this year's Cambridge Folk Festival is  being hailed as a big success (cue lots of folk in fantasy garb a la Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones shouting 'HAIL!' in unison). Not even the traditional British summer of endless rivers of rain stopped the masses from descending on this truly magnificent event. Have a read of the final press release below from Prescription PR and make sure you get buying your tickets for next year as soon as you possibly can. That's right folks, they went on sale today. No beating around the bush for these Cambridge folk! Now, get on it!


Tickets on sale 12 noon - Monday 30 July

AFTER weeks of rain, summer finally arrived at the other greatest show on earth this weekend, with thousands enjoying this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival.

Sunday afternoon’s hailstorm did nothing to dampen everyone’s spirits at the end of four days of otherwise fantastic weather and the very best in folk. Legends including Clannad, June Tabor & Oysterband, and Nanci Griffith thrilled audiences with their performances, while a new generation of cutting edge young artists, including Charlene Soraia, King Charles and Jake Bugg made their mark on the Festival’s massively popular emerging talent stages. The Festival has showcased many rising artists over the years at the very start of their careers, including Newton Faulkner, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Seth Lakeman, Noah & The Whale and this year was no different with acts like The Staves, Lucy Ward, Benjamin Francis Leftwich & Rachel Sermanni.

One of the country’s best loved and most outspoken songwriters, Billy Bragg played a unique set on the Festival’s opening night on Thursday, celebrating the 100th birthday of legendary political folk and blues singer Woody Guthrie. Other weekend highlights among so many included: a stirring and haunting performance from the Unthank sisters, their exquisite blend of traditional and modern folk complemented by a stunning performance from Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band; a rousing Saturday night closing set from The Proclaimers; a surprise appearance from Green Wing and Episodes actor, Stephen Mangan presenting a guitar workshop with Martin Simpson and on Sunday blistering performances from one of the greatest forces in African music Angelique Kidjo and Festival favourite Seth Lakeman plus an emotionally charged return to the stage after 30 years for legendary folk artist, Nic Jones.

With the exception of Friday day tickets (Olympic Opening Ceremony night) all tickets for the Festival completely sold out. The Festival was broadcast live on Sky Arts across the weekend.

Festival Marketing Manager Neil Jones said: ‘2012 has been a fantastic year for the UK and appropriately also a fabulous year for the Cambridge Folk Festival. In a summer that has seen atrocious weather for many UK Festivals we were blessed with mainly beautiful conditions and we are delighted to have sold out all Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Weekend Tickets. Tickets are now on sale for 2013.'

Tickets for the 2013 Cambridge Folk Festival are available from midday on Monday 30 July via

Cambridge Folk Festival is promoted by Cambridge City Council.

Broadcast partners: Sky Arts, BBC Radio 2
Principal supporters: Crabbies
Supporters: Creative Scotland, English Folk and Dance Song Society, Unison, MOJO

Sunday, 29 July 2012



Ben Glover's Do We Burn The Boat is the latest Americana album I have had the pleasure to review. However, listening to it leaves me thinking he shouldn't be pigeonholed into the category because he does cover more in scope, as greater artists tend to. Having drawn comparison with the highly praised talents of singer-songwriters like Tom Petty, David Gray, Damien Rice and the legendary Boss, Bruce Springsteen, I'd say with this latest album he sure is climbing nearer to their heights if not already touching the tail end.

From the off, What Ever Happens Will is delightful with its mellow sounding harmonic woooh oooohs that accompany the chorus. It washes over you, cleansing you of all worry and stress leaving behind it a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which the rest of the album is to be enjoyed. With lyrics like, ‘Don’t let time get the better of you……Tomorrow’s just a ghost waiting to be born….’ it bequeaths a laid back chilled out approach that is quite infectious.

While the many positive comparisons are flying about, Memo buffers you along with a sound akin to Paul Simon. All the many comparisons aside, it is clear Ben Glover has established his own unique sense of style so thankfully he’s never at risk of getting lost among them.

Do What You Do sneaks up on you beginning its journey with a gentle guitar melody before picking up Ben’s soft yet haunting vocals. It builds up with a multitude of instruments joining the voyage along the way. Like they’re all part of a travelling band, adding their own component to the musical puzzle as they meet up. This is a real hidden jewel in the crown even while light on lyrics, the musical arrangement and vocals are what build on the simplicity creating a considerable depth.

From the rockier sounding War To Believe, with its impressive electric guitar to the bluesy dulcet tones of No Means Yes and the heartfelt ballad And Only You And I, Ben demonstrates the true extent of his skills. Break Away is perfectly paced packing such a force it fills you with a sense of strength while Rampart Street brings things to a close with a delicate grace hinted at and already glimpsed throughout. The string arrangement is sublime with just slender guitar at its core accompanied by startlingly emotive cello and violin. Whereas Do What You Do is a hidden jewel, Rampart Street shines out bold and beautiful yet in hues remaining as subtle as the music.

While perhaps Ben hasn’t yet been universally recognised for the talent he clearly possesses, the comparisons keep coming to include Ryan Adams and even Bob Dylan, particularly with regards the writing. To an extent these are more than justified even if he does still have a little way to go and something still to prove. This is the third album in three years and fourth overall and it oozes quality and confidence. Ben sounds comfortable, like he has found the place he needs to be to produce accomplished records. I’ll admit this is the first I’ve heard of him but Do We Burn The Boats has definitely left me wanting more. His previous albums are already on my shopping list.

Do We Burn The Boats is available via iTunes by clicking >> here << but do check Ben's website for more purchasing options.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012



If you haven’t met Lera Lynn beforehand, you will feel like you have done so by the end of this sensational debut record. With nine of her own superbly crafted songs and a Leonard Cohen cover, she demonstrates a raw talent by the ocean load. The end product is anything but raw sounding of course, being finished with a delicate yet intricate style and wrapped up in comfortable grace by her stunning, if at times haunting, vocals. Haunting at all the right times, I might add, complete with twists and turns that will have your heart rising and sinking as she pulls the door to your emotions right off its hinges.

From the very first track, the remarkable ability of this young singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia bursts from the speakers in a powerful torrent to bowl you over. Prepare to be held down on your back as the flow continues washing over you until Lera is satisfied you are suitably acquainted. Even though it portends grim things to come in terms of the lyrical melancholy, the fact Whiskey is so autobiographical does more to move you than to make you wish for something less dark. Indeed, through this darkness there is the dazzling light of experiencing an artist who breathes so much passion into murky depths they end up smelling like roses in full bloom anyway.

The chorus to Happy Ever After belies the fact the gloomy mood continues as it threatens to latch itself on to your tongue and have you singing along before you know it. She achieves this again flawlessly with the outstanding Gasoline. A song which gradually builds up a flammable atmosphere before culminating in a final verse that rains fire all over the failed relationship it’s evidently about. With a subject matter that has been so flogged to death leaving little that would even constitute remains, it is a pure delight when someone like Lera Lynn comes along and delivers it from such a cheapened place.

If Bobby, Baby doesn’t break your heart then it must be made of stone and you should seek urgent medical attention before it festers! With its distinct country twang and traditional folk sound this is the one to prize the tears from the driest of eyes. There’s a touch of Alison Krauss to the breathtaking vocals as Lera shares a tragic and deeply personal moment so openly. Good Hearted Man is pure country born and bred that will get your shoulders as well as your legs moving whether you want it to or not. A contemplation of the dark and brooding journey being only For The Ride marks the penultimate track before ending more positively, in relative terms anyway, with You And Me Alone.

While it is clear Lera embraces Country as her main genre, she has managed to produce something much more multidimensional here. Maybe that is why the music is travelling so far, as it rightly deserves to. There is such an eclectic mix of sounds from the Blues evident in Whiskey and Fire and Undertow to the Folk Roots of Happy Ever After and Gasoline which also manages a hint of Jazz.  While Alternative Country dominates it is in no way overbearing thus making this a wonderful addition to the Transatlantic Americana tradition. Perhaps there isn’t anything strikingly different here but with such personal poetry and the sheer exuberant passion she packs into each track, it has a very distinct feel to it. I find myself already eager to get to know Lera Lyn even more.

There are also two FREE songs available from Lera. In the first instance check out the website but they are available via the Slow Records soundcloud page too. Just a listen to her wonderfully original rendition of the Johnny Cash classic Ring of Fire should entice your fingers to click for such a great freebie. New original song Don't Make Me Wait is also a gem.

If you're in the UK and off to the renowned Cambridge Folk Festival this coming weekend (I'll admit I'm very jealous of those of you that are) make sure you do not miss out on Lera's performance on Sunday because all the promise she delivers via her recordings and the sessions videos (two of which are included above) means she no doubt possesses the power to render her audience into a magnificent melted mess of musical goo with her outstanding live set. If you haven't yet got tickets then what are you waiting for? Some have sold out but there are still variations available including the last remaining weekend tickets. Check out the final press release below and do the right thing. Enjoy what bit of summer we've been blessed with a top quality festival in the historical city of Cambridge. The Line up is top notch!

26, 27, 28, 29 JULY 2012


All Sunday tickets are now sold out for the Cambridge Folk Festival. Saturday tickets are also sold out. Friday tickets are still available, as are a few final weekend tickets.

Friday is just £41 and features some exceptional music including highly anticipated veteran American country folk singer-songwriter John Prine; Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow; English folk legends June Tabor & Oysterband; acclaimed US singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters; incredible Irish rhythms and tunes from storming Festival favourites Four Men & A DogTreacherous Orchestra, the thrilling folk big band, taking Scottish dance music to a new dimension; Raghu Dixit, whose unique blend of Indian and Western music coupled with a stunning voice have made him such a hit in this country; Louisiana’s finest contemporary Cajun dance band Pine Leaf Boys; English folk singer-songwriter Steve Tilston, recipient of this year’s BBC Folk Award for Best Original Song; a kids’ ceilidh with Steamchicken and an array of stars in the making, including Jake Bugg, all appearing in the gorgeous setting of The Den – last year’s brand new emerging talent stage which proved a huge Festival hit. Plus the opening ceremony of the Olympics on a screen in the main Festival bar!

Full line-up below. Online booking and information, including details of who’s on which day: Phone booking: 01223 357851

Tickets: Full Festival £120; Friday £41
Camping: (Full Festival tickets only, per 2-3 berth tent) Cherry Hinton £52, Coldhams Common £36 (second site).
Online bookings subject to booking fee.

Cambridge Folk Festival is organised and promoted by Cambridge City Council.

For further information contact: Claire Horton, Richard Wootton Publicity    020 8545 9299


Clannad Black diamond (cards) Joan Armatrading Black diamond (cards)The Proclaimers Black diamond (cards) John Prine
 Loreena McKennitt Black diamond (cards) James Vincent McMorrow Black diamond (cards) Nanci Griffith
June Tabor & Oysterband Black diamond (cards) Roy Harper Black diamond (cards) Angelique Kidjo Black diamond (cards) Keb Mo Band
Billy Bragg celebrates Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday   
The Unthanks with Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band   
Seth Lakeman Black diamond (cards) Nic Jones Black diamond (cards) Lau Black diamond (cards) Gretchen Peters Black diamond (cards) Ruthie Foster 
Karine Polwart Black diamond (cards) Four Men & A Dog Black diamond (cards) Dry the River 
Benjamin Francis Leftwich Black diamond (cards) Treacherous Orchestra Black diamond (cards) Raghu Dixit Black diamond (cards)
Pine Leaf Boys Black diamond (cards) The Unwanted Black diamond (cards) Jim Moray’s Silent Ceilidh Black diamond (cards)
Tim Edey & Brendan Power Black diamond (cards) Ana├»s Mitchell Black diamond (cards) Kan Black diamond (cards) JuJu
Lazy Lester & Friends Black diamond (cards) Steve Tilston Black diamond (cards) The Mighty Doonans Black diamond (cards) The Destroyers
Spiro Black diamond (cards) Brian McNeill Black diamond (cards) Megson Black diamond (cards) Phantom Limb
 Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party Black diamond (cards) The Staves  
Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson Band Black diamond (cards) ahab Black diamond (cards) Naomi Bedford
Habadekuk Black diamond (cards) Blackbeard’s Tea Party Black diamond (cards) Steamchicken Black diamond (cards) Lera Lynn
Ioscaid Black diamond (cards) Paul Cookson Black diamond (cards) Polly Paulusma


Lucy Ward Black diamond (cards) O’Hooley & Tidow Black diamond (cards) The Young’uns
Rachel Sermanni (acoustic) Black diamond (cards) Pilgrims’ Way


Adam Beattie & Brooke Sharkey Black diamond (cards) Annie Dressner Black diamond (cards) Cath & Phil Tyler  Charlene Soraia Black diamond (cards) Chasing Owls Black diamond (cards) Dan Wilde Black diamond (cards)David Gibb & Elly Lucas  Dear Winesburg Black diamond (cards) Eska Black diamond (cards) Gerard & the Watchmen Black diamond (cards) Fred’s House  
House of Hats Black diamond (cards) Jake Bugg Black diamond (cards) Jay Leighton Black diamond (cards) Karima Francis  
Keston Cobblers’ Club Black diamond (cards) King Charles (acoustic) Black diamond (cards) Klak Tik Black diamond (cards) Lee Mitchell  Liz Green Black diamond (cards) Lucy Kitt Black diamond (cards) Magic Lantern Black diamond (cards) Max Baillie & Sura Susso  
Moulettes Black diamond (cards) Nick Mulvey Black diamond (cards) Robin Gillan Black diamond (cards) Seamus Cater & Viljam Nybacka Solarference Black diamond (cards) The Beguilers Black diamond (cards) The Half Sisters Black diamond (cards) The Miserable Rich Black diamond (cards) Three Cane Whale Black diamond (cards) Tom Copson

And finally:

Another current freebie on offer at the moment is the first track from the outstanding latest album from McDermott's 2 Hours' lead man, the hugely talented Nick Burbridge. For Gathered, released in March this year, Nick teamed up with Tim Cotterell to produce something of star quality. Grab yourself Last Train Home and if it speaks to you like it should (if it doesn't then please do open your ears, it helps) head to his >>website<< and make a very worthy purchase. I played Song of Sisyphus on a recent podcast and while that is perhaps my top favourite, the album is packed with superbly intellectual and thought-provoking songs (something one comes to expect from Nick and he never disappoints).