Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Is it too late in the year for a harvest song? Possibly, although I harvested the last of the carrots and parsnips only yesterday, but this great, stripped down live version of John Barleycorn by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, aka Traffic, just seems to perfectly suit the mood of the day.


Read Full Post »

R.I.P. Lou Reed

Here’s one of my absolute favourite Lou Reed moments and, for me the highlight of 1992’s Bobfest. This is a masterclass in how to take someone else’s song by the scruff of the neck and kick it straight into the stratosphere. Alchemy!

Read Full Post »

…that’s all it does around here.

Patty Griffin finally attracted some mainstream attention when she toured with Robert Plant and The Band of Joy a couple of years ago, by which time she had practically an entire career, including six solo albums behind her. Such great, great songs, and what a voice…

Below is a song from the terrific new album, American Kid.

Patty Griffin.com

Read Full Post »

Tomas Gubitsch

51Ui0+hYnDL._SL500_AA280_I have a deep-seated fear of the accordion, probably rooted in some ancient childhood trauma. I dislike string quartets, even those by Beethoven, and have little or no interest in Tango. So how come I like the music of Argentinean guitarist Tomas Gubitsch so much? There’s guitar there obviously, which is much more up my street, and there’s that gitano thing that certain musicians can tap into, but that can’t explain everything. I love the virtuosity of course – who wouldn’t – but if I had to nail it I think it has a lot to do with the element of surprise. Watching and listening to this you’re never quite certain of what’s going to happen next, and there’s a sneaking suspicion that some of the musicians don’t either. Fascinating music with that rarest of qualities these days – playfulness.

Sarah Harmer

cd_ohlittlefireIn a world crammed full of earnest, competent singer-songwriters strumming acoustics and bumming us out with their personal ups and downs one of the few that really stands out is the Canadian Sarah Harmer. With four albums in 12 years she’s not exactly a prolific recording artist, and as far as I know not much in the way of recorded work has been heard from her since 2010’s excellent Oh Little Fire. But what she has done stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Her website’s currently down, which is a shame, but judging by her busy Twitter account she’s heavily involved making music in support of environmental issues. And God knows, Canada’s environmental movement can use all the help it can get at the present time.

Mor Karbasi

0794881999422Ladino, otherwise known as Judeo-Spanish, is the language of the Jews of Spanish origin which developed after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, and this is the language heard in many of the songs sung by Mor Karbasi. Born in Israel of Moroccan and Persian heritage she is clearly a mesmerizing singer and performer. She writes original material as well as collecting and arranging songs from Andalucian, Hebrew and Arabic traditions, and apparently there’s a new album due out soon featuring top flight  flamenco musicians.

The guitarist is Joe Taylor,  himself an interesting musician and producer of Mor Kardasi’s debut album The Beauty and the Sea.


Tomas Gubitsch: The official website

Sarah Harmer: The official website (currently down)

Mor Karbasi: The official website

Read Full Post »

Nic Jones

2011-05-25-albums_nic_jonesIt’s a sad fact that we’re never again going to hear Nic Jones perform a song with the power and fearlessness he brought to his music in earlier years. Indeed it’s a miracle that he’s still able to occasionally perform after the terrible accident that almost took his life in 1982. Singer/songwriter Sam Carter makes a decent fist of re-creating Jones’s magic, particularly in his excellent guitar work, but somehow all the other versions of this song I’ve ever heard, including Bob Dylan’s, (actually especially Bob Dylan’s) leave me longing for the original.

Mari Boine


An Introduction to Mari Boine

For some reason, my own lack of insight maybe, or marketing campaigns that seemed to want to sell her to the same crowd that bought Loreena Mckennit records I’ve long avoided listening to Mari Boine. Don’t get me wrong, I like everything about the idea of revitalising traditional music, in this case music from the Sami culture by experimenting with contemporary influences such as jazz and rock. If I’d ever had the chance to see her live I would probably have formed a clearer picture of what it was that she was doing, one in which both the political and Pagan aspects made more sense. Still, better late than never I suppose.

The added bonus in this clip is the polite applause from the audience following the stunning performance. It’s hard to tell whether they’re mystified by the spectacle or had simply arrived at the Opera House expecting to see the Norwegian equivalent of Cilla Black.

The Decemberists

ab65d6cdSandpiper Books in Brighton is one of the best independent bookshops in the city and unfailingly has music on the cd player that hooks me every time I manage to find my way there. A few years ago, when the friendly man behind the counter told me that what I was listening to was The Decemberists I went next door, bought “The Hazards of Love” and couldn’t stop playing it for weeks afterwards. Shades of Neil Young, REM, and Liege and Lief era Fairport, with plenty of entirely original weirdness thrown into the melting pot.

They look like quite a strange bunch, a suspicion confirmed if you live with their recordings for any length of time. I have a theory that The Decemberists are the band that Mumford & Sons would like to be if only they could summon up the energy. Gillian Welch adds colour to the vocals in this great clip.


Nic Jones: The official website

Mari Boine: The official website

The Decemberists: The official website

Read Full Post »

Being the second part of my journey through an attic full of old music magazines, cassette tapes, and forgotten recordings of various kinds on the off-chance I might have missed something the first time around.

Yulduz Usmanova

I have an abiding memory of seeing Uzbekistan’s Yulduz Usmanova in concert at a European festival sometime around the mid 1990’s. In a huge tent rammed with festivalgoers everybody seemed to know who she was except me. Tiny Yulduz Usmanova turned out to be a powerhouse singer and an absolute firecracker of a performer who had the crowd in her pocket by the second number. Playing Uzbekian folk/pop with a heavy dose of Western rock and dance by the time the band hit their stride the place was heaving, a sea of bodies swept up and carried along by a band that rocked so hard and so hypnotically they could have blown Led Zeppelin off the stage.


Cover of “Binafscha”

I haven’t yet been able to find a recording or video clip of her that even comes close to showing what she was capable of back then. Much of the available material is almost of Eurovision quality and pretty cheesy. She’s become “the Madonna of Central Asia”, and more power to her I suppose because she works her socks off. But I doubt that Madonna has ever been within a mile of a band that rocked as hard as those Uzbekians did that day.

Kevin Eubanks

Influenced as much by Segovia as Wes Montgomery, by the early 1990’s Kevin Eubanks had developed an idiosyncratic style that made him the natural successor to players like George Benson and Jim Hall. Recently I had the chance to listen to his latest CD The Messenger and couldn’t believe how much I disliked it. Where was the nimble creativity of earlier albums like 1993’s

Cover of "Spirit Talk"

Cover of Spirit Talk

Spirit Talk or even 2002’s spacious Shrine? Surely a musician who once played alongside the likes of Dave Holland and Steve Coleman shouldn’t be wasting his time on predictable jazz-rock? Of course he spent about 15 years as leader of the house band on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, so maybe that tells us something.

The clip above, despite the incongruous frogs, butterflies and whizzing traffic (there’s a message there somewhere?) is a great version of Adoration, a track mercifully rescued from his 2010 CD Zen Food where the melody is played on what sounds  like a plastic piano.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Back in 1993 I was convinced that Me’shell NdegeOcello’s album Plantation Lullabies was the best thing I’d ever heard.

Cover of "Plantation Lullabies"

Cover of Plantation Lullabies

A year or so later I watched her and a band that looked very much like the one in this clip blow the roof off the North Sea Jazz Fest – twice. The first time in a cavernous empty hall at a Sunday morning sound check that I was lucky enough to wander into, the second to a packed house later that same day. The astonishing musicianship and high-octane mix of jazz, soul, and funk reminded me then, and still does, of Miles Davis and the Bitches Brew band, at least in the level of intensity.

It’s a rare thing to find an artist who’s achieved a great career while avoiding categorisation and formula, choosing artistic integrity above all else. While it’s true that she’s mellowed considerably over the years her latest release, Pour une Ame Souveraine – a Dedication to Nina Simone, features some interesting collaborations and is certainly worth a listen.

Yulduz Usmanova : A link to the MySpace page which seems to offer more than the official website.

Kevin Eubanks : The official website.

Meshell NdegeOcello : This isn’t the official website but there’s a huge amount of stuff here to track down. Lots of broken links though.

Read Full Post »

To attain knowledge, add things every day.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.

Lao Tzu

2667220-stack-of-old-magazines-in-sepia-tonesFor the past few weeks, while clearing out and redecorating the attic
I’ve been confronted by and obliged to deal with the past. It’s there not only in all the old books, photos and unused possessions that have lived there since God knows when, but also in the form of a mountain of old music magazines, some of them dating back to the 1980’s, unseen and forgotten for many years.

Rather than listening to my sensible better half and dumping them at the recycling plant I thought it might be interesting to trawl through them for whatever I may have missed, disregarded the first time around, or simply forgotten about as time passed. Old, new, borrowed or blue – anything that pricks my interest or nudges my intuition can now, with the aid of Grooveshark and YouTube etc. be quickly hunted down, rediscovered, re-experienced, or newly delighted in.

froots-march-2012Invariably it’s the specialist magazines, Downbeat, Folk Roots, Songlines, or The Wire, for example, that tend to throw up the really interesting stuff, having always focussed on music that has less to do with contemporary trends or industry driven nostalgia than say Rolling Stone or Mojo Magazine. Special mention however should be made of the early Q Magazine which, in the 1980’s had a wide-ranging, inclusive philosophy and a level of erudition almost entirely absent from today’s pop and rock mags.

Plucked at random from the precarious and haphazardly organised piles these old magazines, (not to mention several suitcases crammed full of old cassette tapes) are once again opening up broad new avenues and half-remembered or entirely forgotten side-streets of wonderful music. An added bonus with the older stuff is the frequently intriguing “where are they now” aspect, and of course it’s often much more interesting to find and listen to the music a particular artist is currently making, rather than what they’ve done in the past. Inevitably collaborations and connections lead on to other musicians known and unknown in an endless and fascinating labyrinth. Meanwhile for me it’s become as much about how my own ability to hear and experience music has changed and adapted over time.

Downbeat-March-1983-001And so, with complete disregard for genre, chronology, or any other form of tedious categorisation I’ll regularly be placing my more intriguing (re)discoveries here, hopefully for others to enjoy. It’s great fun to hunt down often relatively obscure artist’s tracks and videos to see where they lead, and to be able to bring them together, entirely out of sync with trends, timeframes or familiar contexts.

If you’re anything like me after hearing these tracks you may soon find yourself rooting about in your own attic wondering where the intervening years have gone and realising that the best music really has little to do with a fixed place in time but can take on a life of its own, waiting patiently for you to come to it again.

Anais Mitchell

I’ve been meaning to listen to Anais Mitchell for a few years now but have somehow never got around to it. My loss. I could have been enjoying her beautiful songs for a long time already. So deceptively simple at first hearing these are songs that get under your skin and stay there.

Steve Tibbetts

Sound sculptor Steve Tibbetts works as much with space and silence as with the filling of it. Possibly better known for his ambient soundscapes and adventures in World Music, this clip from the mid 80’s shows the band constructing a dense wall of sound before proceeding to break it down.

Divna Ljubojevic & ensemble

This is Serbian Orthodox Church music, and so beautiful that it brings a lump to my throat. Whoever said that the Devil has the best tunes surely had his silly head firmly jammed up his rear end.

Anais Mitchell

Steve Tibbetts

Divna Ljubojevic

To be continued…


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Drone Wars UK

Information and comment on use of drones

Jack Angelo

Writer & teacher

The Garden Smallholder

Allotment - Chickens - Kitchen Garden

Eléctrica in the Desert

News, photos, stories, and trouble from the borderland

The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog

Doing Something Good and Green Every Day

The New Sylva


Coyopa : words by Tom Hirons

lightning in the blood

Deconstructing Myths

Social justice is built one idea at a time...

The Green Farmacy Garden

Medicinal Plant Education


Recent work and work in progress and anything else that interests me

Food Freedom

Decentralize, Grow Your Own, Buy Local.

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: