Posts Tagged ‘folk’

Peggy Seeger The Sage 22 October 2018

For this entry, my daughter Laura has written an account of her experience of the concert.

Although I was much more familiar with the music of her brother Pete, I was very much looking forward to seeing Peggy peggy tixSeeger in concert. Her track “I’m Gonna be an Engineer” had been a favourite in our house, featuring on a family play-list we’d created for my daughter. The obvious feminist messages of this track had sparked my interest and made me intrigued to hear more of Seeger’s output. So, when Dad told us of the up-coming Sage concert, both Dale and I were keen to go. Baby-sitter secured, Dale and I headed to the Sage where we met up with Dad and his carer Jackie.

As a political activist, who has spent most of her life campaigning, Peggy Seeger’s music speaks of working-class struggle, feminism, environmentalism, peace and social injustice. Her two-part set included tracks which focused heavily on such themes and reflected her political beliefs. Particularly striking was “Reclaim the Night”, a dark folk song examining sexual violence and consent which Peggy performed a-cappella. However, although the set had many sombre moments when such tracks were performed, Peggy managed to deliver these serious messages whilst still keeping the evening warm and full of charismatic banter.

Seeger created a friendly, light-hearted and good-humoured relationship with the crowd. She joked between tracks and encouraged the audience to speak up and sing along with the songs, unifying the crowd and giving the evening a traditional folk feel at times. Indeed, the Belfast review stated, “Seeger’s greatest asset is her uncanny ability to dissolve the gap between artist and audience.” (Belfast Review, 2017)

At the age of 83, Seeger treated us to stories about her fascinating life, mentioning her late husband Ewan MacColl and her brothers Mike and Peter. There was the sense that we were seeing a living legend perform.

peggy bookSeeger “saw folk music as inherently political” referring to it as “the expressions and artistry of people who are not in power.” (Freedman, 2017) It was evident from this concert that Seeger’s performance was not just a musical expression but more-over an externalising of a set of beliefs.

Peter adds: I knew of course, on the famous love affair between Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, and how he wrote the song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” about Peggy. I also knew that sometimes Peggy performs the song, and I was hoping that she would do so. I was a little disappointed that you did not sing it this time; however, this did not detract from a wonderful concert and a lovely evening spent with friends and family.

I bought a copy of Peggy’s book, which tells the story of her fascinating life. A rare opportunity to see a legend in concert.

Set List: I’ve been Wisconsin, I’ve Been a Bad Bad Girl, Buffalo Boy, Different Therefore Equal, Reclaim the Night, Brony on the Isle of ST Helena, Ballad of Accounting, Everything Changes, Concerning the Three Young Men, The Creel, Right to Life, Careless Love, Do You Believe in Me, We Don’t Talk Any More, The Joys of Living, Song of Choice, Donald’s in the White House,

Shining Levels Pop Recs Sunderland 7 June 2019

How could I forget to review this concert? The Shining Levels are a band that features my own daughter, Laura, and who has been performing songs based on the book the Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers. I saw them several times before the lockdown and this concert was very local, in Sunderland, and only a few streets away. The concert took place at Pop Rex, which some of you will remember as The Bunker, a recording studio and, in its previous location, a venue where I saw anarcho-punk bands such as the Poison Girls and Dirt.

Pop Recs Ltd is an independent record shop, which also has an art gallery, shop, and steaming cups of coffee. Pop Recs Ltd, which is owned by local band Frankie & The Heartstrings, is currently located on Stockton Road. In its time at its previous location on Fawcett Street, Pop Recs Ltd played host to some of the most exciting live music gigs in Sunderland, pretty much every week and more often than not for free. Great bands playing gigs at Pop Recs Ltd have included Badly Drawn Boy, Maximo Park, Edwyn Collins and James Bay.

What can people expect from your show at Pop Recs on Friday 7th June? (NARC, June 4th 2019)
An hour or so of complete musical escapism, we will set the tone for meditation, a musical seance which we can all enjoy together.

And that is exactly what we got, the lovely swirling vocals of the three girls, complete with flute and violin and the earthy, grounded vocals of the two boys. Unfortunately, we arrived late, at least in terms of getting a good space, and I was seated at the back in my wheelchair unable to see much over the heads of the people standing in front of me. But such is life nowadays, nonetheless, I could hear the lovely sounds which filled the room and made their way out into the dark street outside.

“Inspired by the real life events of 18th century Yorkshire criminal gang the Cragg Vale Coiners who operate in the Upper Calder Valley in the Pennines, the album’s source material, The Gallows Pole by author Benjamin Myers, has rapidly become a modern cult classic. It is the first novel to be signed to Jack White’s Third Man Books and will be published in the US/Canada in November 2019. It has also been optioned for film adaptation.

Drawing on a shared childhood and background with the author, The Shining Levels’ music explores themes from the book: an England divided, the potency and mystery of remote rural landscapes, industrial progress, the changing seasons, shifting fortunes, self-delusion and self-aggrandizement, poverty vs wealth, societal power structures – and strange visions of mythical creatures….. the bucolic meet the technological, and the rural collides with the digital to thrilling effect. “There’s certainly a nod towards what many may consider English folk, certainly in Laura’s beautiful plaintive voice,” elaborates Davey [of the band]. “But there’s also pounding drums, overdriven electric guitar, loops, and samples all over the place. So I think to call it folk music would actually be doing it a disservice. It’s a set of quite different songs and moods forming a larger soundscape that hopefully takes the listener on a unique journey.” (Piccadilly Records, 2019)

Another lovely evening with a fantastic band who I look forward to seeing again once we are out of the lockdown. I know that the band is working on new material which I look forward to seeing them perform very soon.

Roy Harper Sage Gateshead 20 March 2019

roy 1969And O how the sea she roars with laughter
And howls with the dancing wind
To see my stupid poetry burbling” (McGoohan’s Blues, Roy Harper, 1969)

The first time I saw Roy Harper in concert was in 1969. I was 12 years old and Roy was 27. Roy was just about to release Folkjokeopus his third album. The album is notable for the lengthy track “McGoohan’s Blues”, which Harper states was “inspired by actor Patrick McGoohan’s depiction of the establishment rebel in his TV series, The Prisoner“.

Here I am 50 years later seeing Roy once more. Roy is a sprightly 77-year-old and I am 62 years old.

The advertisement for the Sage concert stated: “Renowned folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper is celebrating 50 years of classic tracks including the famed epic ‘McGoohan’s Blues’. In 2013 his album Man & Myth was lauded by press across the UK. Uncut said “Harper’s first album in 13 years is a magnificent, ambitious rejuvenation.” Harper will joined by Bill Shanley and an ensemble of musicians.

HARPER TIXOn why he has decided to tour again, Harper said: “Partly because many of the things I wrote about in McGoohan’s Blues in 1968 are still very relevant 50 years later, and partly because my third record was a watershed moment in my recording life, it’s been long in my mind that I should dust it off and bring it on tour again.”

The concert was in two sets and drew from throughout Roy’s extensive back catalogue. Roy was on good form, chatting with the audience as usual; although he didn’t get quite as much banter (or heckling) in response as he usually does. His voice remains strong and soulful and his passion and commitment is as undiminished as ever. Roy was accompanied by a small string section which gave an added texture to the songs.

So we were treated to some of my favourite Harper songs such as “Don’t You Grieve”, the classic “Another Day” and “Highway Blues”. Roy closed the set with “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”. The encore was a more recent song “I Loved My Life”. It was great to see Roy again, still touring and still a delight. I would love to have heard him Roy-Harpersing “I Hate the White Man” but, hey, you can’t always get what you want. Jackie my carer is now a Roy Harper convert, which is great. Me, I had a lovely evening, spent with an old friend.

Setlist. Set 1: Hors d’oeuvres; Time Is Temporary; Don’t You Grieve; Man In the Glass Cage; McGoohan’s Blues. Set 2: Another Day; Drawn to the Flames; The Wolf at the Door; Highway Blues; Hallucinating Light; When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease. Encore: I Loved My Life

Ian Anderson Christmas concert Durham Cathedral 14 December 2017

jethro durham tixThe Ian Anderson Christmas concerts have become a regular part of his concert calendar. Each year he plays a few of these concerts at selected cathedrals around the country. This time we were lucky enough for him to come to the majestic surroundings of Durham Cathedral. The concerts take a similar format; a mix of festive songs, songs from the Jethro Tull Christmas album, often a special guest, and a selection of Jethro Tull favourites.

The concert was billed as “Ian Anderson plays the Christmas Jethro Tull: Ian Anderson brings his Christmas Jethro Tull concert to Durham Cathedral. A fundraising event in support of Durham Cathedral.”

Durham_Cathedral_20_July_2019So I turned up on a cold winter’s night in my taxi, with Jackie my carer, which dropped me off right at the door of Durham Cathedral. I was greeted inside by my friends Norman, his sister Barbara and our old friend Doug. Now Durham Cathedral is a wonderful venue for a concert. “Durham Cathedral is a Norman church in England, designed under the direction of the first Bishop of Durham, William of Calais. It was built to house the remains of St. Cuthbert, but also to show off the might of the new Norman rulers. Construction began in 1093 and lasted 40 years.” (study.com)

The audience were seated in the pews in the central nave of the cathedral, with the stage situated in front of the high altar. I was seated in my wheelchair, in the aisle at the end of a row, around halfway back in the cathedral, with a good view of the stage. Ian was accompanied by the rest of his “Jethro Tull” band.

1024px-Durham_Cathedral_NaveThe concert was in two halves; the first set opening with festive classics “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” followed by “Gaudete” made famous by Steeleye Span. This was followed by a selection of tunes from the Jethro Tull Christmas album, including the great single “Ring Out, Solstice Bells”. Highlight of this set was a performance of Greg Lakes’ “I Believe in Father Christmas”. The set ended with the beautiful flute solo “Bourrée”, written by Bach and featured on Jethro Tull’s Stand Up album.

After a short break, the second set featured Ian’s friend Loyd Grossman playing his former punk band Jet Bronx and the Forbidden’s single “Ain’t Doin’ Nothing”. The set ended with Tull classics “My God” (a particular favourite of mine), “Aqualung”, closing with the encore (as always now) “Locomotive Breath”.

jethro durham progIan was on great form all evening, entertaining us with his usual anecdotes and some excellent flute playing. I can’t think of a better way of spending a cold Christmas evening than one with old friends, festive music and Ian Anderson and his band playing Jethro Tull classics. A great start to Christmas.

Setlist.

Set 1: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Gaudete; We Five Kings (Jethro Tull); A Christmas Song  (Jethro Tull); Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Jethro Tull); Pastime With Good Company; Christmastime Romance; I Believe in Father Christmas (Greg Lake); Jack-in-the-Green (Jethro Tull); Bourrée in E minor (Johann Sebastian Bach).

Set 2: Holly Herald (Jethro Tull); Ain’t Doin’ Nothing (Jet Bronx and the Forbidden AKA Loyd Grossman); Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Johann Sebastian Bach); My God (Jethro Tull); Aqualung (Jethro Tull). Encore: Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull)

Image of Durham Cathedral courtesy of: Rubbish computer / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Image of Durham Cathedral nave courtesy of: Michael D Beckwith – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79861899

Julie Felix Old Cinema Launderette Durham 28 September 2019

Screenshot felixI have many happy memories of the sadly missed Julie Felix. She first came to my attention in 1966, as the resident singer on the BBC television programme The Frost Report, presented by David Frost. Born in America, and of Mexican origin, Julie became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, Decca Records. In 1965, she was the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall, and was described by The Times as “Britain’s First Lady of Folk”. But I remember her best for her own TV shows for the BBC (1967 to 1970). Among those featured on her show were the Kinks, The Hollies, The Incredible String Band, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen and Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, who played the guitar solos “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side”. I have particularly fond memories of seeing Jimmy Page on her show.I also, of course, remember her for the children’s song “Going to the Zoo“.

julie felixI first got to see Julie Felix live at a free concert in Hyde Park in 1974, which was headlined by Roger McGuinn and also featured an epic performance by Roy Harper, accompanied by David Gilmour, John Paul Jones and Steve Broughton. Julie was just great that day in Hyde Park, singing a selection of folk songs and getting the crowd to sing along to “Going to the Zoo.” I went to the concert with my friend Will and have written about it in an earlier blog entry.

The next time I saw Julie Felix, again with Will, was at her 70th birthday concert at the Sage Gateshead. This time Julie did a much longer set than that which I had experienced in Hyde Park, reminiscing about her friend and protégé Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and other friends and fellow folk singers.

So when I saw she was appearing at the Old Cinema Launderette in Durham I couldn’t resist the opportunity of seeing her again in such an intimate venue. I arrived at the venue with my carer, Joanne, just after the doors opened and managed to get a place close to the front. First up for the evening was local folk singer Bethany Elen, who got the audience singing along and warmed us up nicely for the main performance. Julie performed two sets, singing a selection of folk songs from across the decades. Julie Felix had a unique, beautiful voice which remained strong, even though she was 81 at the time of this performance. felix debut

It was wonderful to see her again in such a small venue. Sadly, it came to an end all too soon, as my taxi arrived and Joanne and I had to leave the concert before the end, picking up Chris along the way to help me on my way into my bed.

Julie Felix sadly passed away on March 22, 2020 after a short illness, and we lost yet another of my 60s heroes.

The set list was probably something like this (to my shame, I can’t recall the exact songs she sang and I had to leave before the end anyway 😦 ): Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan); Masters of War (Bob Dylan); Pack Up Your Sorrows; Valenzuela; Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen); Chimes of Freedom (Bob Dylan); Anything Less Than Beautiful; Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie); Woman; El Condor Pasa (Simon & Garfunkel); We Wish You Love; Rock Me Goddess; Healing Hands; Going to the Zoo; This Land Is Your Land; Peace Is A River

 

The Shining Levels the Old Cinema Launderette Durham 11th October 2019

shining levels tix durThis was my second Shining Levels experience. This one was a bit special because it was part of the Durham book Festival, and based around the Gallows Pole book by local author Benjamin Myers. The author was in attendance at the event, signing copies of the book (see my signed copy below).

gallows pole cover“Benjamin Myers was born in Durham, UK, in 1976. He is an author and journalist, translated into several languages. Published in May 2017 and now in its 9th print run, The Gallows Pole won the Walter Scott Prize – the world’s biggest award for historical fiction – was recipient of a Roger Deakin Award and longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. It has been optioned for film/TV by Element Pictures and also available on Audible.”(Benjamin Myers site)gallows pole signed

The Old Cinema Launderette is a wonderful, quirky little venue which is an actual launderette by day and (sometimes) a music venue by night. It is a lovely venue to see artists in an intimate setting and regularly features legendary names such as, for example, the late and sadly missed Julie Felix who I recently had the privilege of seeing there, not long before her passing (review to follow very shortly). The acts perform in front of the washing machines and the audience are in seats very close to the stage. You have to turn up early to get a good spot, so Jackie, my carer and I arrived just before the 7 p.m. opening time to ensure a place near the front.

The evening began with a short video telling the story of Benjamin Myers, how he grew up locally and how his writings draw from his north-east roots. There was then a short interval, at which point a bar magically appeared in the corner of the launderette, before the Shining Levels took the stage. The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW (Dan) Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin). I have written earlier about the Shining Levels and their haunting, swirling mix of sounds. The eclectic combination of folk music, book readings and mix of flute, violin, a female trio of vocals and male vocals has to be experienced to understand just how beautiful, yet at the same shining levels 2 durtime dark and powerful, their sounds can be.

Their set takes us through the novel, the Gallows Pole , starting with the ladies taking the lead and introducing the story with the beautiful, drifting “Moonless Nights” and then over to the guys who become the “Valley Boys”, climaxing with a joyous, yet dark, “Death of the King”. The set is interspersed with readings from the book by Dan. The band receive a rapturous ovation from the crowd who hang around to speak to the musicians, buy copies of the album, have their books signed by Ben before slowly venturing out into the cold, dark streets of Gilesgate.

Setlist: Stag Dance; Moonless Nights; Tipping Of The Scale; Broken On A Wheel; Valley Boys; Progress!; Deighton; Men Of Straw; Veil of the Vale; Death of the King

The Shining Levels Darlington Library 22nd November 2019

From the original blurb on the excellent site Tracks Darlington

HARK! The sound of stories. An evening of music inspired by tales from times past. Historical. Mythological. Folkological. Fill your ears and your souls with songs of stagmen, golden apples, coiners, diamond rings and murder for love. History is darker than you think.

THE SHINING LEVELS: Presenting music inspired by the award winning novel The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers. Haunting harmonies and beautiful folk fusion, interspersed with readings from the book. Written on the edge of the Northern English moors and using rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, their debut album is a heady brew of gritty landscape hymns, ethereal acid-folk, borderlands ballads, 70s folk horror atmospherics, moor-top drones and much, much more.”

hark tixA taxi from Sunderland to Darlington (return) is expensive. But, what the hell, my lovely daughter Laura was singing in the band The Shining Levels at Darlington Library. Well I had to go, didn’t I? So my kindly Station Taxis driver drove me, along with my carer Jackie, waited for me, and then drove me back home afterwards.

“The Shining Levels are a brand new music collective based in Durham and Northumberland, who record on the edge of the Northern English Moors and seek inspiration from books. Their new album, Music Inspired By The Novel The Gallows Pole (a novel written by Durham-born author Benjamin Myers) uses rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, takes influence from the likes of Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Tom Waits alongside a love of ambient music, hip-hop production and musical obscurities. The result is music that is as exquisite as it is interesting.” Narc The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin).laura shinning levels

Jackie and I arrived at Darlington library, entered a lift which took us from the street into the library itself, where the performance took place surrounded by shelves of books; quite a strange and unique, yet very appropriate, setting for an evening of book readings and folk roots world music, some of which was inspired by a book (namely the Gallows Pole).

We were seated at the side of stage with a great view of the performance. The evening started with some book readings, followed by the exquisite Storm Chorus, a duo from the edge of the North Yorks moors whose music is a haunting mix of folk and Goth. Then the Shining Levels took the stage and delivered a set of songs, written by Davy and Dan, which draw from the book the Gallows Pole, laura black n whiteand transfixed the audience in their haunting, swirling mix of sounds. The eclectic combination of folk music, book readings and mix of flute, violin, a female trio of vocals and male vocals has to be experienced to understand just how beautiful, yet at the same time dark and powerful, their sounds can be. Live in London Of course I am biased, being the very proud father of Laura, but the review above also demonstrates just how haunting a combination it is. Jackie and I are both getting to know the songs and the music and each time we experience it we notice new nuances and textures. The performance was over far too soon and then we were off downstairs in the lift, after a quick word to congratulate Laura and the others, and into our waiting taxi. Soon we were back home, having picked up Chris, who helped me back into my bed, the music still swirling around in my head.

 

Bob Dylan Manchester Apollo 28th October 2015

Bob Dylan Manchester Apollo 28th October 2015FullSizeRender(2)
Bobby; he keeps reinventing himself. These days he has become a crooner, the ultimate smokey lounge singer, paying tribute to all those great balladeers who went before. It sort of suits his croaky gravelly rasp. Like he has found his way back home. His latest album “Shadows in the night” covers songs made famous by Frank Sinatra. It has been a big success; reaching Number 1 in the UK album charts and achieving rave reviews. The Telegraph declared it Dylan’s “best singing in 25 years.” The crowd at Manchester Apollo knew the score. Two nights sold out in the blink of an eye. Everyone wants to go see Bobby sing those sad winding poetic tunes. FullSizeRender(5)From Rolling Stone: “He felt that a lot .. of it was written from the heart …He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. …. ‘I’m not gonna write a song; I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as young boy.'” So no “Like a Rolling Stone” or “All along the Watchtower” this time around, although we were treated to “Tangled up in blue”, “She belongs to me” and, for an encore “Blowing in the Wind”. The rest of the set was drawn from Dylan’s recent albums. But hey I’m not complaining. Bob Dylan is singing great; better than he has been for years. Sure; I never dreamed I would see Bob Dylan sing Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I do”, but it works, and seems so natural. Dylan’s voice fits these songs like an old glove. Of the more recent Dylan tunes, “Scarlet Town” is dark and powerful. Closing classic “Autumn Leaves” was truly emotional, and a great way to end an excellent and enjoyable concert. As we made our way out of the Apollo, I could hear everyone around me commenting how good it was. Very different to shows I attended 10 years ago, which left some people disappointed. Me; I went back to my little hotel room in Piccadilly and got some sleep; I had to get up at 5am to catch a train to London for a meeting. Till next time Bobby.
Set 1: Things Have Changed; She Belongs to Me; Beyond Here Lies Nothin’; What’ll I Do; Duquesne Whistle; Melancholy Mood; Pay in Blood; I’m a Fool to Want You; Tangled Up in Blue
Set 2: High Water (For Charley Patton); Why Try to Change Me Now; Early Roman Kings; The Night We Called It a Day; Spirit on the Water; Scarlet Town; All or Nothing at All; Long and Wasted Years; Autumn Leaves
Encore: Blowin’ in the Wind; Love Sick

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015
FullSizeRenderDonovan is out on the road again, working his way down the country on a 22 date 50th anniversary tour. He started in his home town of Glasgow, worked his way through Edinburgh and Dundee and then stepped over the border to come and play to us in Newcastle. From there he continues to Scarborough, Leeds and onward further south.
Now, Donovan is a bit of a story-teller and he is also a bit of a name-dropper. If you have ever been to one of his concerts you will know exactly what I mean. You are guaranteed to hear stories of the ’60s and of all the friends he made. At the Tyne Theatre Donovan tells us of his folk influences Buffy St Marie and Shawn Phillips as way of introduction to their songs “Universal Soldier” and “The Little Tin Soldier”. He mentions, of course, The Beatles and how George Harrison contributed a verse to “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and asks “Would you like to hear George’s verse?” to which we reply a rousing “YES”! He talks of his old friend and fellow traveler Gypsy Dave; and how they would have to run from crowds of screaming girls, comparing the scene to that of the Beatles running through the station at the start of “Hard Day’s Night”. Gypsy asked Donovan “Why are we running? Let’s stop and let them catch us!”. And he tells us of his muse and wife Linda, the subject of many of his songs; one of which “Madrigalinda” he sang for us. Linda and all the “Donovan clan” came to the Glasgow concert, “flying from every corner of the world” he declared proudly.
Donovan-Donovan's_Greatest_HitsDonovan sat alone cross-legged on a carpet laid across a raised platform, as he must have done many times over the years. He told us that we would “never be more than two or three songs away from a hit” and he was true to his word. He started the show with “Catch the Wind” and then went straight into “Colours”, many singing along with him. The mood then moved from “The Voice of Protest” from his 1975 7-Tease album to “Sleep” a lullaby from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then he took us back to 1965 and one of my favourites “The Little Tin Soldier” the “Fairytale” album. “Jennifer Juniper” was followed by the title track from 1976’s “Slow Down World”. Donovan then told a story of how “we all went to Jamaica” for a rest and a holiday during the ’60s and he came back with a new song “First There is a Mountain”. The first half of the concert closed with two old songs “To Try for the Sun” from “Fairytale” and “Donna Donna” from his first 1964 album “What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid”.
After a short interval Donovan returned and sang “Universal Soldier” which sounds just as powerful today as it ever did. This was followed by the beautiful traditional folk song “The Trees they do Grow High”, “Madrigalinda” for Linda and the excellent “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” took me right back; I used to have the EP of the same name, and I played it endlessly. FullSizeRender(1)As introduction to “The Promise” Donovan told us of his lovely green guitar,”Kelly”, which was designed for him using the colours of the Book of Kells. This led into a story of how he once visited Jimmy Page’s house, and how Jimmy had 300 guitars all lying across the floor in their cases, all in tune because, as Jimmy told Donovan, “You never know when you might need to play one”. “The Promise”, said Donovan, is to be played by “Kelly”, always live, and will never be recorded. The ballad “Lalena” led into the jokey fun “Intergalactic Laxative” from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then came the inevitable singalong of “Happiness Runs” with the men singing “Tralala…”, the women singing “Happiness Runs”, and Donovan singing the verse of top; all a bit too embarrassing for me. I didn’t join in (sorry Donovan). “Sunshine Superman” took us safely back to the hits. Now it I thought “Happiness Runs” was embarrassing, the final song took the meaning of the word embarrassment to whole new level. For “Mellow Yellow” Donovan finally took to his feet, and mimed and danced awkwardly to a recording of the original track. Still, you have to forgive him. It was great to see Donovan again. He has a tremendous back catalogue of tunes, and his stories are always fun (even if I have heard most of them before).
Set 1: Catch the Wind; Colours; The Voice of Protest; Sleep; The Little Tin Soldier; Jennifer Juniper; Slow Down World; First There is a Mountain; Try for the Sun; Donna Donna
Interval
Set 2: Universal Soldier; The Trees they do Grow High; Madrigalinda; Hurdy Gurdy Man; The Promise; Lalena; Intergalactic Laxative; Happiness Runs; Sunshine Superman; Mellow Yellow

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974 Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi

Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974
brinsleyFor three Saturdays in Summer 1974 a stage appeared in Sunderland’s Backhouse Park and a series of concerts were held. The park was filled with music from a host of local bands and headliners Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Local heroes Saltgrass played at each event and a grand time was had by all.
13th July 1974 Jack the Lad
When Lindisfarne’s split and main songwriter Alan Hull went off to follow a solo career (and eventually reform Lindisfarne with Ray Jackson) the remaining members: Rod Clements, Si Cowe and Ray Laidlaw formed Jack the Lad with their old friend Billy Mitchell. Jack the Lad followed the folk sound of their former band, and in many ways remained truer to their roots, while the new Lindisfarne went down more of a pop/rock road. Jack the Lad live were great fun with a lot of humour, traditional folk and a set full of jigs, reels, singalongs and dancing which went down well on a sunny afternoon in the park.
27th July 1974 Brinsley Schwarz
Brinsley Schwarz were stalwarts of the pub rock scene. This gig came towards the end of their career, and their line-up was Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe and Carlos Luna. They had just released their sixth and final album “The New Favourites of… Brinsley Schwarz” which featured Nick Lowe’s classic “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”.
The Brinsleys were heavily influenced by The Band and Eggs Over Easy, had a laid-back country-rock sound, with some catchy poppy songs, and were a great live act, and gave us another great afternoon in the sun. They split in 1975 and Schwarz and Andrews joined Graham Parker & the Rumour; Rankin joined Terraplane, and Nick Lowe joined Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Lowe of course then went on to have a very successful solo career and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” became a hit for Elvis Costello.
3rd August 1974 Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers
The last of the trio of concerts featured Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, who were one of the main pub rock groups, and were very popular during the early 1970s. They released three albums and toured as part of the 1975 Naughty Rhythms tour with Dr Feelgood and Kokomo. Their members were Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, Martin Stone, Paul “Dice Man” Bailey, Paul “Bassman” Riley and Pete Thomas. After they split in 1975 Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello, Riley played with Graham Parker; and Stone played with the Pink Fairies.