[Our monthly correspondent Paul Castle is a songwriter and journalist from London, England. Even if you aren't there to follow these concerts and tours, this column is goldmine of information about the British folk scene and of URLs for artist and venue websites. Enjoy.-HB]
Anyone living in the UK will tell you that the place to be on 'any' New Year's eve is in Scotland for 'Hogmanay'.
If I could choose to be anywhere I like on that night, other than home, I would probably choose Edinburgh - more specifically, the Waverley Stage Hogmanay celebrations for "a wee bit a' Quebecoise cajun 'n jazz" (try saying that after midnight) with the nine-piece folk band 'La Bottine Souriante'. You really get the feeling that they have finally cracked the UK this year. Their name is all over the place, with major UK chain stores like Our Price getting behind them in their Christmas advertising campaigns, boldly quoting the 'Folk Roots' review "the tightest and most exciting band of any nature anywhere". I'm pleased to see they're on their way down to London in January, so already the New Year is lookin' up! Can't find their own site but this gets you somewhere: http://www.millepattes.com/Anglais/bottine/index.html
To find out more about 'Hogmanay' in Scotland go to http://www.caithness-mm.co.uk/discover/essential/esshogm.html or if you want the words to 'Auld Lang Syne' go to http://home1.gte.net/malcolm/Hogmanay.htm
Personally I prefer John Lennon's 'Across the Universe' for
my midnight song. This Beatles lyric site worked well for me:-
and click on the 'Let it Be' album cover and then Across the Universe.
Here's this month's gigs, with Lucy Kaplansky and Ani DiFranco over from America and Maddy Prior on the South Bank to get us all in the mood.
Fri 3rd Dick Gaughan
(Cecil Sharp House)
"One of Scotland's finest folk voices.." - The [London] Times
"A truly masterful performer." - Folk Roots
Fri 3rd &
Sat 4th The Saw Doctors
(Shepherds Bush Empire)
"If they could bottle the sort of bonhomie that can make an entire concert hall feel better, the Saw Doctors would have the medicine show to end them all." - Paul Sexton, The [London] Times
Lunasa, described by the Irish Voice as "the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet" include Trevor Hutchinson (formerly The Waterboys) and Donogh Hennessy (formerly the Sharon Shannon Band).
Fri 3rd Muzkikas & Marta Sebestyen
"Sebestyén is one of the finest singers on the European folk scene, and her lovely voice has the high, lonesome sound of the great traditional singers." - The Boston Globe
Sat 4th Bill Caddick
(Cellar Upstairs. O'Reilly's)
"Bill has been one of the great figures of the British music scene over the last two decades. The subtle, powerful poetry of his songwriting is matched by the fire and technique of his singing and the brilliance of his instrumental work - all illuminated by his sheer charisma in performance." - Redditch Festival 1999
Mon 6th Robb Johnson.
(Herga Folk Club)
"There is no doubt that Robb Johnson is up there with the best of our contemporary muses..." - Mike Raven
Tue 7th Leadbelly - The Celebration of a Legend
featuring Ramblin' Jack Elliott
(Royal Albert Hall)
A veritable host of legendary performers out to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Huddy Leadbetter, aka Leadbelly - "The King of the 12 String Guitar". Should be a wonderful night.
Thur 9th &
Fri 10th Ani DiFranco
I found an interesting letter from Ani to Ms Magazine bemoaning the fact that even they seem more interested in her business acumen than her skills as a 'folksinger'. http://www.columbia.edu/~marg/ani/letter.html
Sat 11th Lucy Kaplansky
Touring the UK promoting her new album, '10 Year Night', before returning to the States for the farewell performance of Cry Cry Cry (in Boston on 2nd January) (See UK tour dates below)
Sun 12th The Two Duos Quartet
Ian Carr & Karen Tweed,
Chris Wood & Andy Cutting
(Cecil Sharp House)
Two of the UK's most influential traditional music duos
combine to create one outstanding quartet.
Tue 14th New Deal String Band
Originally formed in 1966 by Tom Paley and Joe Locker, two banjo-and-guitar playing ex-New Yorkers living in London. Their repertoire comes from material recorded by early country stringbands in the 1920s and 1930s. (Cecil Sharp House)
Tue 14th &
Wed 15th Billy Bragg
+ Kate Rusby
Billy's latest album "Reaching To The Converted" is a collection of B-sides and rarities spanning his entire 16-year career. A recent champion of lost Woody Guthrie songs on the 'Mermaid Avenue' album, Billy is supported by the truly wonderful Kate Rusby, whose version of Iris Dement's 'Our Town' is one of the many highlights of her latest 'Sleepless' album. See full tour dates below.
Wed 15th Van Dyke Parks
+ The High Llamas
A musical career spanning four decades of working with artists like Randy Newman, Phil Ochs, Little Feat, Ry Cooder, Arlo Guthrie etc
Thur 16th Maddy Prior
(Queen Elizabeth Hall)
Celebrating her 35 year career with a special evening, visiting the earliest days of Steeleye
Span through to her latest album Ravenschild [Park Records], with a band that includes Tim Hart, Peter Knight, Rick Kemp Nick Holland, Troy Donockley and Teri Bryant.
Mon 20th Shane McGowan
Ex-Pogues singer with his current band The Popes' and their latest album "The Crock of Gold."
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