Thursday, 25 April 2013


Friday 17th, 
Saturday, 18th, 
Sunday 19th May.

Pic by Andy Sheppard/Redferns/Getty taken from
Given how modern times have altered so much beyond what was, say the 60s and 70s, it is rare to find any kind of event that might even hope to shadow what some all-out peaceful festival of music and nature would have been like back then. Look no further though folks because have I found the festival for you! Wood seems to me to be a bit like literally stepping through a time portal directly into the summer of 1967 (whatever the British weather attempts to throw at us). This is a REAL nice small family-oriented 'something for all' kind of festival. For those watching their carbon footprint too (and this should be every single one of us by now - come on peoples), Wood is run on 100% renewable energy. Not only this but you pay a set price for the parking pass and if you have over a certain number of people/festival revelers in the car when you arrive, you will get part of that fee back. If there is just one of you, you will be asked to pay a bit more. It's a great way to encourage folk to car share so for any individuals who were planning to travel in alone, get in contact with each other and enjoy what is a wonderful little community. More money for pints too, of course...erm, I mean treats for the kids (if you have them that is - I don't so mine will go on pints). It describes itself as a celebration of music and nature set amidst the beautiful Chiltern Hills. Located in the grounds of Braziers Park in Ipsden, Oxfordshire, the surroundings are stunning. Add all of that top quality live music to the mix, with the rich blend of workshops and stalls, there is no finer way to kick-start your summer.

Organized by the Bennett brothers of The Dreaming Spires (who will be performing a set), this is their little beauty of a gathering of some of the best folk, roots, americana and alternative country acts out there although other genres are catered for as well. Going hand-in-hand with the theme of being eco-friendly, Wood also cuts down on emissions in other ways by sourcing a whole host of top local talent from the surrounding area. I've previously nicknamed Oxford as being a bit like Seattle in the US. There are so many inspiring and fantastic bands/artists that come from and/or originate in this county. It's like a music hub. It must be something about the Oxfordshire air. Or perhaps something in the water. Whatever it is, there will be plenty of acts performing over the weekend to support my claim.You be the judge. Get your excellent value for money tickets NOW and you'll be privileged to see sensational acts from much further afield as well.

As part of its commitment to being ecologically friendly towards the environment - and also no doubt an important part of promoting the celebration of nature component of its ethos - there are many green issues highlighted. These come in the form of composting toilets, showers heated by wood-burning stoves, a solar-powered stage and a people-powered fairground (yes, I too am imagining people on bicycles peddling as fast as possible to keep that merry-go-round going round - but hey, perhaps this wouldn't be such a bad idea and ideal for burning those extra festival calories). It really is all about being green. More importantly it demonstrates clearly how putting on something as potentially power-zapping as a music festival can still be achieved through more environmentally friendly means. Okay, it may become more of a logistical nightmare the bigger the festival but organizers of those larger ones should take heed. I hope the time is dawning when ALL such events will have little choice than to operate in such a way. And what's this? A bicycle-powered discotheque. I honestly cannot wait to check this out!

Considering the small size of the festival there are more workshops operating at Wood than I've seen put on at any of the larger events I've been to over the years. These are wide-ranging too, both in terms of subject matter and targeted age. Indeed, many will cater and satisfy folk of all ages, from children to grandparents. The workshop village will be running ALL day Saturday and Sunday giving revelers time enough to try out more things than ever before.

Everything from making a willow lantern to light your way back to your tent (no need for wretched chemical batteries for invasive torches here), to getting creative with your junk by making funky stuff like wallets, jewellery, musical instruments and much more. These in particular cater for the nature loving environmentalist.

For the musician wannabes who have never really made it beyond strumming more than a G on a guitar (me then) there's things like learning to play the spoons. Hmmm - Spoon Idol....I'm thinking I should pitch this idea to ITV perhaps. If singing is more your thing but you sound like a fog horn crossed with a sheep, Katy Bennett wants you signing up for her Harmony Singing workshop. She will soon have you sounding like a choir of angels or a Barbershop quartet.

For me, it gets even more interesting with the likes of learning Acupressure massage techniques or how to give a Indian Head Massage. There will be tai-chi, which I have always wanted to get into but is one of those things I've not been able to find affordable lessons for. Perhaps with this taster I can find a way to develop a self-teaching path. Or at least become more confident in finding and joining a class. Then yoga, which again would be great to try but I am not in the slightest way bendy enough for such an endeavour. Even so, just having the opportunity to try these things out is one of the many fantastic things about this festival. There is even a Shamanic Ritual Theatre workshop (for 18+ only) if you'd like to open you third eye and your heart to become more informed about the energetic field within and around us.

In addition to all the main activities available, most of which will be suitable for both adults and children, there will also be separate workshops in the Kids Tent.

There's so much more, to boot. From working with herbs, making a wormery and taking a soundwalk to wood working and carving out a totem pole. Nothing has been spared here with such a well-thought out and inspiring selection of choices. It's a wonder you'll have time enough left in which to eat. Fear not, for those who wish to sample the provided catering facilities, there will be ample opportunity for that too.


As part of the homegrown mix is alternative folk singer-songwriter Adam Barnes offering, who's debut EP Blisters is available from iTunes (>>here<<). That in itself is enough to whet your appetite for what promises to be a superb live performance. There is more, however. Blisters is also available via Adam's bandcamp page along with a FREE download of Come Undone and a rather awesome live EP titled Live From Washington to York. There is even more. Adam has been working like a Trojan on his debut album The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath. I may have only caught up with his previous tunes over the last week or so but given the high quality I am really excited about hearing him perform live at Wood. And for the host of new tracks that will be on the album. In order to complete this album Adam has had to enlist the help of music fans via a Kickstarter campaign. Akin to the Pledgemusic programmes, fans and pledgers can offer up a certain amount of money (from as little as £1) that counts towards a set goal amount. Testament to the calibre of Adam's music making in just three little days he was already at £1920 of his £2500 goal. With still 23 days to go he has already smashed through the target and is currently sitting pretty on £3000! Now he will get the all-important financial support to enable him to complete and release The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath.

On a seperate note I need to enlist his assistance in beard growing because he sports one absolutely amazing beard and I find myself rather envious. I need tips on how to encourage my face fuzz to grow and look so cool!

There's a reason why Co-Pilgrim have been getting a lot of radio attention recently - because their music is AWESOME! Seriously, it is the kind that induces spine-tingles. Spine-tingles, folks! The charming velvety vocals from Mike Gale alone are enough to hook you to this wonderful group but one cannot neglect the tremendous talents of the other core members, Joe Bennett, Andy Reaney, Claire Bennett and Tom Wenzel. They recently released (in February) their 2nd LP A Fairer Sea which is available via iTunes >>here<< or via various other download methods, including a physical CD >>here<<. Last year I missed their set at Truck Festival *slaps own face* and I don't intend to make that mistake this year at Wood.

Again, this is another band I'm sad to have missed at Truck last year. There was just so much to fit in and sacrifices are just part and parcel of trying to navigate a festival. It goes without saying I will not be missing out on the opportunity to see them here at Wood this year. Grief-wave is what their Facebook claims as their genre so this will be something very different to the more general americana offerings on the line-up.

Flights of Helios really do take you high up into the atmosphere with their post-progressive psychedelic drone pop. Had I seen them at Truck I have no doubt I'd have been raving about them from last July until now but with how I'm (happily) drowning in so much new music, I have neglected to go back and feature the band on the blog. My bad *slaps own face again*! I shall rectify this with the coming Wood review of course. Just listen to this, though. It is mesmerizing. This will sit perfectly with the likes of fellow progressive band Syd Arthur. Their sound takes in so much from Sigur Ros (yes, I am still on a high from that gig in March) to Enya via Talking Heads, Arcade Fire and more. Moreover, Flights of Helios prove how progressive music is completely ALIVE on the contemporary scene!

From just the snippets I've heard and seen thus far, I must admit Katy Rose & The Cavalry Parade is near the top of my list of MUST sees at Wood. Head to the Reverbnation page >>here<< and just feast your ears (that's a thing, right? If it isn't then it should be!) on the likes of the haunting yet so so stunning Indelible Ink (the title track of her last album available below via Katy's Soundcloud page). Those vocals melt me each time I listen to it. 

Katy has been rather busy over the last 10 years. Under the name KTB she's released three albums to critical acclaim, toured the UK folk circuit and supported the likes of Willy Mason and Karine Polwart to name just two. The rootsy folk nature of a musical collective comes into play by way of the Cavalry Parade. This includes an array of talented musicians varying from 1 to 10 (wow, that will sound out of this world!) including multi-instrumentalists Phill Ward, Julia Higgins and Joe Bennett (Mr Joe gets around a fair bit, Co-Pilgrim, The Dreaming Spires and The Cavalry Parade, you busy boy Mr Joe - good work man!). At this stage I can only use imagination to contemplate the heavenly dimensions Katy will take us with her beautiful music when played live. Excited doesn't even come close to describe my anticipation at how much higher she'll take us with assistance from her Cavalry. This is not a Parade to miss!

I featured the awesome EP I'll Never Go Anywhere Without Her Now from Reichenbach Falls as part of the blogcast on Band of Badgers Presents...#12, so I'm uber-excited to be getting to see these stunning tunes played live next month. I have no doubts of any kind that the super talented Abe Davies & Co will use their marvelous musical skills and render the tranquility of the actual Reichenbach Falls for us. This is a festival of music AND nature after all so this will be doubly appropriate come this set.

I did feature a little about this brilliant UK americana band on my most recent music sharing post (>>here<<) so I won't waffle too much. I just wanted to feature them again as The Cedars are one of the bands right at the top and who I'm super excited about seeing. Like I mentioned in that last post, when a UK band take the deep-set alternative country sound and make it completely their own, they need to be applauded. Heck, they deserve a standing ovation in my opinion. Make sure you go buy their recently released album Little Copper Still. Now please.

It will be a treat to get to see Jackie Oates again for the first time since I saw her twice in 2011. First she was supporting on one of the numerous legs of Seth Lakeman's seemingly endless tour (keep going Seth because I get more chance of seeing you as you keep on touring - he's back on the road in the UK in about 3 weeks). Later that year she appeared at Beautiful Days Festival. It comes as no surprise she's been receiving more and more attention and gathering more acclaim as the years pass because she weaves such marvelous magical musical stories that completely captivate you.

As an accomplished singer and fiddle player, Jackie's beautiful, flawless and at times haunting (in a give you mega goosebumps kind of way) vocals have established her at the forefront of the recent English folk revival. Checking out the latest from her Soundcloud I've been freshly WOW'd by some absolutely stunning Bob Dylan covers she has recorded. As a big Bob fan, these are just fantastic and I highly recommend you check them out. Even if you're not so much a Dylan fan. You will love these versions of the songs. 

There are so many golden things to note about singer-songwriter Jack Day. For starters, his superb and original music slowly reveals a deep, mature soul. There's a uniqueness that echoes the greatness of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Christy Moore or a more contemporary comparison would perhaps be Willy Mason. There's no mimicry here though, trust me. What is further striking is that for his relative youth he already writes and plays at a level so accomplished, it would take most musicians an entire lifetime to reach. 

Whether it is through the powerful and heartfelt piano-led No One Moves Like You, the lamenting guitar-led Isn't It Strange or the likes of Shadows In The Sun and I Often Think Of You, Jack opens himself up and let's you get right inside his mind. I wholeheartedly agree with Allan Jones of Uncut magazine because with such exceptional talent as this he is '..definitely one to watch out for'. Jack Day is going big places! I am stoked I get to see him play at this more intimate affair before he packs out venues in the years to come. And with guitar playing like that on >>this video<< for Birdsong, recorded for Songs From The Shed, I'm thinking Jack could provide green power for the entire weekend.

WOW! I've been tweeting bits here and there as I've been checking out these artists and bands and I have found myself WOWing a heck of a lot. None more so than when I watched a YouTube video from The Arlenes for Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone. Goosebumps galore. Even after the song had finished. I was somewhere out in deep space I was so blown away. Captivated by Stephanie's gorgeous vocals! Her voice cuts through EVERYTHING. It holds some kind of unparalleled vibration, resonating to just the right degree that stills me before I blow away into dust on a wisp of wind. Sublime!

Headlining the Friday night of the festival, Mary Epworth is a scoop indeed. She's been gathering rave reviews and plenty of attention following the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Dream Life last year. An interesting blend of 1960s West Coast psychedelia with gospel and dream pop combine to produce a rather sensational sound. It is big. It is loud. It is tremendous and triumphant! Mary is another one on the line-up who is linked in with the whole progressive part of the musical spectrum, albeit in a different kind of direction compared to Flights of Helios and Syd Arthur. Her set will be one of the top highlights!


It seems wholly fitting and ironically appropriate that highly regarded US duo The Wood Brothers are appearing at a festival bearing their good name. Taking the music they loved as kids - blues, folk and US roots -adding their own original evocative sound and mixing it all together with some hallowed heavenly harmonies, they are proving great things come to those who wait. They have both been heavily involved in separate musical projects but after 15 years they decided to fuse together for this current venture.

The brothers are performing at Wood as part of their European tour and judging by a few videos I've seen alone, this set will be something special. Chris and Oliver have such a rich blend of influences and have been perfecting their skills so much over the years they are masters of their art.

Featured now multiple times on this blog, whether it's via the review of debut album On An On I wrote almost a year ago (you can read that >>here<<) or the last few singles they have released off that album, Syd Arthur are a force to be reckoned with. Having been unable to get to one of their nearby gigs on the tours last year I may have expressed my excitement a little too loudly when I read they were to play at Wood.

Their sound is wonderfully progressive and it offers music fans something extraordinary. With the whole feel of Wood Festival being something akin to a bygone era, Syd Arthur will provide that direct link to the past (by way of a time portal or some such). They excel at what they do with their music, managing to transport you back through time. They don't stop there, however and they certainly do not mimic the psychedelia of the times they recreate before your ears. Their flare of originality is so bright it is blinding. Within the same instant as taking you back in time they will bring you crashing back into the 21st century, proving they are masters at work in creating a fresh contemporary subset of this genre.

This little beauty of an event (well actually it's going to be a rather big beauty) will prove to be another magnificent and special part of the festival weekend. To mark the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska, Clubhouse Records gathered together a group of musicians at The Betsey Trotwood pub in London to pay tribute to this fantastic album. Throughout the course of that one day, 10 bands recorded the albums 10 tracks live and straight to a 4-track cassette tape. The sessions were filmed for prosperity and all the videos are available on the Clubhouse Records YouTube channel >>here<<

An album of this stunning collection was produced and released as a limited edition CD which have now sadly (but quite rightly) sold out. You can still purchase a digital copy via iTunes >>here<<.

It didn't end there of course and all the bands involved performed the entire album live to a sold-out audience at The Slaughtered Lamb in London. Now, exclusively for Wood Festival the album will be recreated live once more by Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou, The Dreaming Spires, Danny The Champ, Jack Day, The Cedars, Case Hardin, The Redlands Palomino Company, Paul McClure, The Mad Staring Eyes and The Arlenes.


Naturally I can't feature something about all the artists on the line-up as the festival will have come and gone by the time I've finished. And while all of them are worthy of a special mention I must single out those like The Dreaming Spires, Sally Archer, Band of Hope, Danny And The Champions, Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou and Paul McClure, all of whom I am eager and excited to see.
Photo by Sterling Munksgard taken from Wood Bros Fbook

So, after reading this rather in-depth preview/feature of what promises to be one of the top highlights of your musical summer, what are you waiting for folks? It is only a mere 3 weeks away! Quite probably less depending on when you're actually reading this. So get clicking, get moving, get listing all those camping necessities you're going to need for your little adventure into the Wood! Don't forget this is no ordinary musical adventure either. Be prepared to travel back in time and be dazzled by how close you can get to nature. This is an opportunity for you to experience just how intimate and wonderful a music festival can be. Just how it used to be done in the good old days. This is more a cohesive community of approximately 1000 revelers all coming together to celebrate the good life. I can smell the magic already.

Ticket details and links are below!



Tickets are very reasonably priced considering this is a 3 day event. Click >>here<< to BUY NOW!
TEEN TICKET (AGES 13-17): £65
*Under 15s MUST be accompanied by a paying adult over 21*

CAR PARKING: £10 - As mentioned, this charge varies depending upon vehicle occupancy, as part of Wood's environment commitment. For example, if the vehicle has one occupant you will have to pay a further £5; if it has 3 or more, you will receive a £5 refund.


What others say:

an incredibly magical, inspirational and beautiful place, filled with great music, plenty to do and an atmosphere you could never create with bigger, more commercial festivals.
Flying With Anna

this is the greenest festival we’ve ever been to, and that’s some achievement. Music wise Wood’s organisers seem to have pretty much hit the nail on the head too… an eclectic and upbeat lineup of artists which for the most part seem to appeal to both the adults and kids.
More Than The Music

Wood Festival was like those days you dream of… breezy sunshine, children running through the grass, plenty of good music. From the workshops to the music acts everything was timed to fit together and allow for maximum participation without boredom.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


I say it again and again but I will say it again and again and then again some more! Soooooooooooo much music!! I am drowning in it but you know what? I like this kind of drowning. I want more of the drowning please, so long may it continue to pour in by the ocean load. Do keep it coming folks.

I recently had a load of new bands start following me on Soundcloud. This is in addition to the many who have done and continue to do so on Twitter. I sincerely wish I could get through you all in better time but there's just too much. Seriously, when I started doing this more so a year ago I thought I was drowning in it then but now it is a phenomenal amount. A staggering amount! There is so much fantastic music out there in the world. Away from the humdrum rubbish from repetitive commercial or public radio stations. So much unsigned stuff that is just completely insane that it isn't signed. Still, I'd say a lot of those are in a better position for themselves than if they were snapped up by some huge record label and then molded into something they are not. It happens and will continue to happen so long as the soulless executives (most who know little about quality music) only see £'s (or $ or whatever your currency) in the acts. With all these unsigned independent bands and artists, I understand there's not a huge amount I can do to assist but for every one music fan who stumbles upon this humble little music blog to see what it's all about, all the acts I feature may gain one more fan. One more person to add to their free download figures, or their YouTube viewing figures. Or even indeed one more person to buy some of the quality music on offer at such reasonable and affordable prices.

I am going through as much as I can given my limited time so hopefully I'll get through most, if not all of it. Eventually. It may take a while so 'bear with'. I'm still waiting for that sponsor to give me a job doing this full time. I won't hold my breath or else I'll be finished quite quickly and won't be able to do even this. Jesse Korby of US rock band Wings of Apollo wrote a perfect piece about making music and the current state of the music industry. You should give it a read >>here<<. Make sure you check out their tunes as well. I will be playing two tracks from their debut album on podcast #14. I had to settle with two and it took me long enough to get it down to just those. HELL YEAH!!!!
Anywho, with my regular famous ramble out of the way let's crack on and actually get some of this fantastic music shared. That is, after all, what it is all about! Like I say, there is so much music and every day more and more gets added to the list. I should be (and am) working on two other posts at the moment I write this. Multitasking, oh yes. I honestly could do with staff but I can't even afford to pay myself. Right! On with the MUSIC.

Fear not folks! Indie Britpop is NOT dead. Not while we have the likes of Welcome Pariah releasing music. This is an alternative rock band steeped in that early to mid 90's Brit pop sound that I think was responsible for creating this genre that isn't a genre 'indie'. At the time when asked what kind of music they were into I recall many people jumping on the Oasis and Blur bandwagon (to name just two of the biggest at the time) and claiming that it was 'indie music' they were into. Indie meaning this kind of alternative rock and pop which later gathered under the umbrella term Britpop. 

Welcome Pariah are not pop I wouldn't say but they do have everything that goes with sounding like this alternative rock and pop a la Britpop. They are better, in fact. Why? Just listen. The guitar work on Liberty Pill for a start. Not just that, though, it's the whole package. How flawlessly their sound comes together and the results to our ears. It's easy to see why they have already supported bands and musicians like Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller), The Moons, Mark Morris (The Bluetones), Chris Helme (The Seahorses) and The Dexters.

Londoners and all those music fans visiting at the time need to pencil (or type - does anyone still use pencils these days?) in Friday 26th April because the band are playing the most prestigious rock and roll club night This Feeling at The Macbeth in Shoreditch. This will be the gig to launch their new single Neither Here Nor There, which you can listen to above. Smashing isn't it?! Trounces on and blows out the water all the humdrum, mundane rubbish that is technically 'popular' because you're all told it is so.

After hearing just these two tunes so far I count myself a MASSIVE fan. I feel genuinely rather excited about what is to come from them. Based on the strength of Neither Here Nor There alone, it's understandable the band are gathering so much interest across the board. They have a number of top gigs and established festival slots (see dates below) lined up over the coming months. Not only this but they were recently interviewed and featured in The Huffington Post (read that >>here<<). Reading this gives you a true personal feel about them and it's a good one. They talk of the download culture that erupted at the time the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian broke out on to the scene, claiming they were the last bands who were snapped up by major labels. Similar to Adrian Banks' (The Scholars) comments about the industry. There are so many unsigned indie bands and musicians out their who clearly have a universe-worth of talent to display, yet they cannot get picked up due to the risk factor. And the money factor of course. Also, something humbling about Welcome Pariah is how if they were to be offered any deal, it can only be on their own terms. This is important because true fans will want the band as they are and as they are meant to be. Not ending up like puppets on a string putting out soulless records after their first few big 'real' albums. From what I've learned about them so far I doubt that would ever happen to these guys. They are indie to their core with a sound that is going to propel them on to the music scene in a huge way over the next year or so. The industry has been damaged, yes but with all the great offerings about at the moment, bands like Welcome Pariah are proving there's still so much to give. Indeed, I believe it is bands like this who will be responsible for repairing the damage done to the music industry.

They are currently working on new material to showcase at the live gigs and will be getting their heads down in the studio to record more tracks for a longer release. Bring it on, I say. I need more tunes from this band please and soon. 

25th April - RMA Tavern, Portsmouth
26th April - This Feeling Club Night, The Macbeth, London
27th April - The Essex Arms, Brentwood
10th May - This Feeling Club Night, Cellar, Southampton
11th May - Pulse Festival, Sunnyfields Farm, Hampshire
17th May - Lennons, Supporting Catfish and the Bottlemen, Southampton
24th May - Coburgs, Ryde, Isle of Wight
25th May - The Tap, Sandown, Isle of Wight
8th June - The Adam & Eve, Scooterists For Heroes, Birmingham
14/15th June - March of the Mods Festival, Santa Pod Raceway, Wellingborough
21st June - The Fiddlers Elbow, Cool Britannia, Camden, London
29th June - The Good Ship, Kilburn, London
19/20/21st July - Tonefest, Dorset
26th July - Gabefest 5, Hampshire
2nd August - Frolic Fest, Kent

This is one of those just added to my ever-growing list. Like literally just added the very evening I began writing up this post. Thanks to someone on Facebook posting the video. Goodbye Stereo are an alternative rock band who will be releasing their debut album Island, on 24th May. Have a watch of the video for this single Waves which is also available as a FREE download at the band's Soundcloud page >>here<<.

I fully intended to share more from this amazing singer-songwriter long before now but you know how it is. This is another video I came across a tweet for literally as I was gearing to write this post. I have to do this though or else it could be ages before I get back around to it. As I hadn't featured Sean Taylor in far too long, here it is. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel for more and to keep updated on any new videos that go up. The Road is stunning! It was recorded in London last October and features the talented percussionist James Taylor.

As I mentioned when featuring Sean last time round, I'm fortunate to have seen him play live already. That's the beauty of quality independent festivals and you don't get more independent than the medium-sized Beautiful Days. Tickets for this year are booked and paid for. There was no way I was missing out like I had to last year. There will be more on Beautiful Days in due course as Wood Festival is long before that so on with that feature first. Sean has a number of live dates up on his website so get checking those out and get yourself along if he's playing near you. As well as some April dates including a Bob Harris BBC Radio 2 session on 21st (what a performance that promises to be), he is embarking upon a UK tour in May. In fact, he is kindly stopping by The Castle in Wellingborough (a mere 25 minutes away) so I've just bagged me some tickets to that. Expect a write up shortly after.

In the meantime grab yourself his latest album, Love Against Death, a sampler for which is below:

That headline/title says it all really. This is the debut EP from Dorset-based indie-pop group Let's Go Safari. What we have here is a wonderful amalgamation of all that's great about indie pop music. These guys add to what I've shared before in what REAL pop music should be and is about. None of that rubbish played on endless repeat on some radio stations. You know the sort I mean, just nonsensical noise for the most part. Curiosity Killed from Let's Go Safari offers up well constructed pop beats. Tunes that will get inside your head the way pop should, but ones that have substance to them. A dash of alternative rock sounds thrown into the mix make them something much more than general pop. This is fun music and after such a terribly long winter, they make the sun shine even if it isn't out to greet us with its presence. The EP is released on 28th April on Red Dragon Records.

I get so busy finding new music from everywhere around the globe it is true I have neglected Northampton a little (okay, a lot). This is not in any way intentional of course. Just the sheer amount of it I have sent or that comes my way, it gets impossible to focus on any particular geographical area. In the past I have made a point of supporting the Midlands local talent, particularly Birmingham as that is where my roots are. That is where I am from (minus the dodgy accent I must add - not that there's anything wrong with it - accents are fun).

More recently I've been setting things right by looking into more music from the Northampton area. Thanks first to Lew Bear who I shared a few posts back, and now Will Rogers. Will is a self-taught singer-songwriter, well-known on the local open mic nights circuit for his clever lyrics, guitar rhythms and catchy choruses. He recorded this debut EP, Breaking Boat, last September and you NEED to go buy it from iTunes >>here<<. Just check out the tunes for yourselves and then get clicking the links. Click, click, click and own some top music for just £2.49.


It took me long enough to get on to Northampton music but it is me who has been missing out on this. Such local talent needs supporting that's for sure. Expect more from Will on the blog in due course. It goes without saying I have little excuse to miss gigs given they are literally on my doorstep and I''m really looking forward to seeing him live.

What's great about Will is how he brings a host of different styles to the table. He goes from the emotive and sublime of title track Breaking Boat and Forever Dreaming (already instant favourites of mine) to the faster, busier More and Unplanned. He's now added a loop pedal enabling him to build up his live show offerings. The excellent Cracked, above, demonstrates what we can expect from this.

Now, I reckon I know a fair bit of music. That's handy, you may think considering I write this here musical blog. And yet I may very well know a fair bit of music spanning a number of genres, but my knowledge is the smallest tip of  the biggest iceberg. How can I have not come across Bell X1 before now I ask myself? Thankfully, I don't answer myself. That would be the time to worry. This 'find', if I can call it thus, comes courtesy of my wonderful contacts at Prescription PR (this time with thanks to James, but I must also give a shout out to Jay again who sent me The Webb Sisters EP, featured below - not forgetting Ellie too who is always sending me some awesome music, most recently Dave McPerson, who will be featuring in a future post). 

When you discover a band has toured the US 11 times, the reflex thought is something along the lines of, 'Wow, 11 years and they've been going back again and again'. But oh no. Bell X1's tour bus must have had several new engines fitted, a new exhaust for each tour and who knows how many tyres. Those 11 times they have achieved in just 4 years! That doesn't even take into account the other locations they've played. Madness! It's like a walk in the park for this Irish band and their alternative ambient sound. I'll be making a point of getting acquainted with previous works (Chop Chop will be their 6th studio album) but these first two songs from this latest record (due out at the end of June) have bowled me over, to say the least. They are angelic, sublime and sensational all rolled into one. Chop Chop has been produced by The National's long time producer Peter Katis and the entire album is a wonderful experiment using textures and minimalism. Starlings Over Brighton Pier! WOW! There's a way to open an album and then there is this stunning song. The build up. The melody. Those lyrics and vocals. It is so gentle but not. Makes no sense I know but listen to it and it's like all the sense in the world is made clear in that moment. This is music at its most beautiful. Likewise, Careful What You Wish For takes aural beauty even further. The same stripped back elements are used but in such a fundamental way there is a profundity inherent in the finished tune.

The video for Starlings moved me quite deeply too. The music fits the flight of the mesmerizing murmuration of starlings so perfectly I'll be hearing it in my head every time I see a flock of birds take flight. It's as if the two are intricately linked on some spiritual level. For the simplicity of these tunes, they are breathtaking and I am left ravenous for the remaining 7 tracks.

Leonard Cohen refers to Charley and Hattie Webb as "the sublime Webb Sisters". And he should know as the sisters are backing singers to the mighty Canadian music legend. A listen to this, their latest EP (but my first) When Will You Come Home and it becomes instantly apparent why he calls them thus. They have harmonies so beautiful I think sending them to a galaxy far far away a long time ago and all they'd need to do would be to sing and The Force would come into balance. Just like that. No more Empire, no more death and destruction at the hands of the Sith and their dark side cause (even though personally I am a Sith fan, I must confess). Just an opening line and The Webb Sisters would bring peace to the universe.

Even as this EP is released the sisters are in the midst of a very long Leonard Cohen tour. There are 5 magnificent tracks on the record including a few new songs, two stunning versions of Cohen's own Show Me The Place and also a wonderful cover of Elvis classic Always On My Mind. If songs could be diamond encrusted then opening track Missing Person would sparkle as bright as any star in the night sky. It instantly sets the mood and there's no doubt you are in for a real gentle musical treat. Something special from a terrifically talented duo. Then they stun you with that wonderful version of Always On My Mind which I could happily listen to on repeat for years. Years, I tell thee. Head to their online shop >>here<< which has links to the various places you can buy their music. Alternatively head to the ProperMusic website to get a CD from there.

There are no limits to their achievements and abilities with proficiency not only vocally but as accomplished multi-instrumentalists. There is guitar, piano, mandolin and drums as you might expect from such a skilled duo but also harp, to boot. Harp! This to match their divine vocal sound. Drawing from the British and US folk pop traditions, The Webb Sisters have recorded three albums and built up a following on their extensive touring around the globe. They have also performed for royalty, twice for Princess Anne and once for The Queen. (Never thought I'd be writing those two names in a music blog post.) The sisters were also invited to sing on Sting's album If On A Winter's Night and have toured with the likes of Jamie Cullum, Rufus Wainwright (legend), Jason Mraz, James Morrison, Katie Melua and Joe Echo.

I wasn't sure what I should expect from The Scholars guitarist Chris Gillett's solo EP Secret Sin. As part of the band he plays some pretty awesome guitar. This solo project is a completely different approach and sound. It is one that works damn well too. The 6 tracks comprising this collection demonstrate the diverse range of Chris' abilities and talents. Just how he is able to use so many different individual sounds, manipulate them, tweak them here and then a bit more there. All using vocals and acoustic guitar. The guitar comes through wonderfully on opening track Promise and also on my personal favourite Your Eyes Depict All The Time You Wasted On Me.

I love how ambient it is overall but that really comes to the fore with tracks like Paranoia. There's a real menace behind it. The paranoid atmosphere is built up nicely, leaving you looking around you before too long. Then again on Your Eyes, Chris has built up a sense of such depth it feels like if you fall you'll never hit the bottom. The lyrics are incredibly thought-provoking, highly emotive, and at times on the darker side but they are a perfect match to the music. There's an electronic undercurrent throughout, something that comes fully to the surface on Stay and reminds me of some Aphex TwinSecret Sin is fantastic and quite accomplished considering it is only a debut. It isn't just moody by default either, it pulls you right in to those moods so you can taste and smell them. This is definitely one you should be checking out and when it's available for just £1 what are you waiting for??

It do be time for some bacon! I must apologise to the good Mr Alex Harford of The Cakes because I have been planning to feature this since some time in February. Such is the hectic nature of all the music toppling down on me. I'm still loving it so please keep sending it and just accept my most humble of apologies for any delay in me sharing stuff.

Believe In Bacon is the latest EP from this indie post-punk alternative pop rock band from Newstokastle-Underon-Lentyme. Sounds like a magical fantasy land doesn't it? A land where bacon cakes are a delicacy of the noble lords. The 3-track collection is available from their bandcamp page as a FREE download but if The Cakes get some money they can make a full album and this is something that needs to happen. It could even be a concept album based in this bacon cake filled fantasy world. The noble House of The Cakes (complete with their cakey sigil on their cakey banners) are at war with House Bacon (complete with....well you get the picture). Am I taking it too far? Apologies, but the humour of these guys and their penchant for wordplay is infectious. Their lyrics are lighthearted packing enough humour to render you laughing like you've been on laughing gas. The music is interesting, moody and atmospheric.Overall, this is inspiring, original music

Love this, taken from their bandcamp site: the music is usually lighthearted and fun, but occasionally The Clash tickling Spandau Ballet and accidentally beheading them.

Described on their Facebook page as the soundtrack to a wild, liquor-fuelled hoe-down is enough to entice people in by the jet load! Bringing the alternative country rock from across the Atlantic and rooting it deep in the UK is not an easy task by any stretch. Okay, not ALL the US bands or artists in the genre are going to be amazing but when people from different lands take up the mantle and make the sound their own, they have to be given the credit. When it is as spot on and awesome as what The Cedars achieve there should be awards flying here, there and everywhere.

Their debut album Little Copper Still was released digitally on  11th March this year. A physical CD release followed on 8th April. So, I'm not too late then with this one although this is not an album review. Not yet anyway. I just wanted to feature them because what I've heard so far fills me with joy. It is snap your fingers, strum the guitar, pick the banjo fuelled beauty, with a bad ass bass and drum beat to boot!

The band also contributed the song Used Cars to their record label's (Clubhouse Records) superb tribute album to mark the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. There are some live dates up on their website so get checking them out as they get ready to to dazzle folk at a few festivals. My time to be dazzled by them will come at Wood Festival where they will also partake in re-creating the Nebraska tribute gig they participated in with the other Clubhouse Records acts. My apologies for having to keep this brief but there will be more from The Cedars in the future.

I must agree with Leeds Music Scene when they say Happy Daggers are 'One of the hottest acts on the scene' because it is true! This is the kind of energetic indie rock n soul that will get the most lethargic of listeners up off their backsides to have a little boogey. It is absolutely awesome stuff and I wish it wasn't only a 'thing just in' feature because I'd like to explore them much more. I will do soon enough though so expect more from this terrific band in the near future. Their musical craftmanship is of the highest quality and the production is stunning. I fell instantly for the vocals as well. This has the lot. There has been something missing from the music scene, I think and finally Happy Daggers show up with this superb solution.


25, 26, 27, 28 JULY 2013



Amadou & Mariam (Fri)  The Staves (Sun)  Tommy Emmanuel (Sat)
Thea Gilmore (Sat)  The Rambling Boys of Pleasure (Sat/Sun)  Darrell Scott (Fri)
Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo (Fri)  Jamie Smith’s Mabon (Thurs)
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band (Sun)  Valerie June (Sun)


Ross Couper & Tom Oakes (Fri)  Blair Dunlop (Sat)  Ewan McLennan (Sat)   
Nick Mulvey (Sun)   Emma Sweeney (Sun)


Marika Hackman (Thurs)  Hudson Taylor (Fri)  Common Tongues (Fri)
Blue Rose Code (Sat)  Rae Morris (Sun)


The Mavericks (Sat)  The Waterboys (Sun)   Bellowhead (Fri) 
KT Tunstall (Sat)  Levellers (Fri)
Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine, Paddy Glackin & Dónal Lunny aka LAPD (Fri)  Capercaillie (Sun)  Shelby Lynne (Sat)  BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet (Sat/Sun)  Heritage Blues Orchestra (Sat)  Patty Griffin (Fri)  Lucy Rose (Thurs)  
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick (Sun)   Mud Morganfield Band (Sun)  
Martin Simpson (Sat/Sun)  Le Vent du Nord  (Sat/Sun) Sam Lee & Friends (Fri)  Breabach (Sat/Sun)  Heidi Talbot (Sat/Sun)  The Chair  (Sat/Sun)  
Mokoomba (Sat)  Willy Mason (Thurs)  The Bombay Royale (Fri) 
Bella Hardy & The Midnight Watch (Sat) Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (Thurs)
John Hegley (Sun)  Frigg (Fri/Sat)  Larkin Poe (Thurs/Fri) 
Jim Moray’s Silent Ceilidh (Sat)  Brian McNeill (Fri/Sat)   We Banjo 3 (Sat/Sun)  Korrontzi (Fri/Sat) Sketch (Sun) Monster Ceilidh Band (Fri) 
State Of The Union (Sat)  English String Band (Fri)   The Willows (Thurs) 
Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (Sat/Sun)  Rusty Shackle (Thurs)
The Brass Funkeys (Thurs)  Peter Buckley Hill (Sun)

No sooner as our rather late Spring sprung than the 2013 festival season will soon be upon us too. Look out for my Wood Festival post coming up very shortly but in the meantime I MUST share with you the final announcement about Europe's most acclaimed folk festival. I was sincerely wishing, dreaming and even preying that I would be able to make this festival a part of my 2013 mission of coverage for the blog. BUT, sadly due to the regular financial issues it just can't be done. Maybe next year, ay? Anywho, just because I'm unable to attend doesn't stop me featuring news and information about it on here. Who knows, as tis' the season and all that perhaps there will be some miracle and I'll bag that job in music journalism or PR meaning I can go after all. We have to dream.

If I had time I would cry for not being able to make it as there are acts on this smashing line-up I desperately want to see live. Like, headliners Bellowhead, The Waterboys and KT Tunstall for instance, but that merely scratches the surface. What I'd give to see Thea Gilmore, Blair Dunlop and Ewan McLennan. There's the legend that is Patty Griffin, the legend that is becoming Willy Mason; not to mention legends in their own rights given their masterful musicianship and flawless vocals such as Larkin Poe, Lucy Rose and Sam Lee. *whispers and gestures you to come closer* 'Come here, there's more...' The BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning duo Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman will delight festival goers with their sublime mix of traditional folk songs with their own unique contemporary twists. Expect many a tune from their most recent fabulous album, Hidden People. Those mighty Levellers will headline the Friday night with folk juggenaut Bellowhead. That alone ought to start you jigging and moshing into a momentum that won't cease until Sunday!

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman aren't the only married duo who will be wooing the crowd, either. They will be joined by groundbreaking and world renowned Malian husband and wife Amadou & Mariam with their superb and infectious vocal interplay and captivating blues sound. The heavenly harmonies of the sublime sibling trio The Staves will take the audience to paradise. It's important to point out here how much Cambridge Folk Festival does to promote promising young talent at the event. They have nurtured The Staves over the last few years. From their 2011 debut in The Den through to the Club Tent and Stage 2. Quite rightly, this years sees them billed on the Main Stage on Sunday. Thea Gilmore has been described by MOJO as 'the most coherent, literate and charged British singer-songwriter of her generation...' and Saturday sees her strut her musical finery on the main stage. Prepare to be majorly WOW'd because you're in for a right treat!

Tell some people (mostly people not quite so much into music) you're going to a folk festival and you may get a funny look. Or a stunned silence before being handed some tweed or something. One thing I've always noticed about Cambridge is how it embraces diversity with the genres of music it promotes. On the one hand you have the folk punk rock of The Levellers, balanced out by the more traditional folk but nevertheless rock-infused Bellowhead. While there is this and a range of much more, there will always be many an act for the more traditionalist fans. Look no further than folkists The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, a group boasting some of  the finest musicians on the Irish traditional music scene. A long way from home and passing through on Friday is US singer, writer and guitarist Darrell Scott with his addictive alternative country soaked heavily in and dripping with boisterous blues. From even further afield you'll be treated to the compelling, the stunning, the magnificence of Western Australia's Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo. That will be one not to miss, if you ask me! Take heed please folks.

As mentioned, this festival supports up and coming talent and this year the five acts selected to play prestigious showcases in the Club Tent are, Ross Couper & Tom Oakes; acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Ewan McLennan (who's music has been described as 'a mix of the Tradition, social history and political awareness'); founding member of Mercury Prize nominated Portico Quartet Nick Mulvey; exhilarating fiddle player Emma Sweeney; and last but certainly by no means least will be the 2013 BBC Folk Horizon Award winner Blair Dunlop. (Previous examples include Seth Lakeman, Karine Polwart, Newton Faulkner, Rachel Unthank, Jackie Oates and Jim Moray)


Dens were the 'in thing' at one point weren't they? I think they had started going out of fashion (if that even applies in this case?) during my childhood but I remember we had one on some recreation grounds at the back of my Nan's garden. It felt pretty cool to us, anyway. We were about 6 or 7 so judge us not harshly. Anyway, I digress and must not. The Den is the acclaimed fourth stage at the festival. It plays host to some top quality emerging talent across the weekend including: 20-year old folk singer Marika Hackman, who has already been receiving attention from Radio 1; fresh from supporting Jake Bugg on tour will be busking YouTube sensations Hudson Taylor, featuring Irish brothers Harry and Alfie who have blown me clean away with their stunning music; Brighton-based 5-piece indie folk band Common Tongues who continued the theme by blowing me away with such magnificent music - such great stuff. 

So let's see then: International headline artists and young emerging talent will be singing and playing their wares across FOUR stages this July. The quality and calibre of acts drawn to perform at Cambridge Folk Festival is a chief reason why year after year it enjoys sell-out success! There's its beautiful and unique parkland location, its superb facilities and family-oriented nature; it really offers something for EVERYONE. From street theatre, music workshops and sessions to open stages, a youth area and even an internet cafe for you to plug yourself in for your online fix. There's a free creche if you parents need a wee break, including a paddling pool and playground. Most importantly of course - well, okay not really MOST importantly but pretty important, in my book anyway - there are REAL ALE bars. 

For online booking please visit:
Phone booking, call: 01223 357 851

Tickets: FULL FESTIVAL: £126; Thursday £20; Friday £45; Saturday £55; Sunday £55. CAMPING: (Full Festival tickets only, per 2-3 berth tent) Cherry Hinton £54, Coldhams Common (second site) £37. Online bookings are subject to a booking fee.

Another HUGE thank you to Jay Taylor at Prescription PR for the Press Release for this festival.