Song of the Day – Folk Special.

Seeing as how it actually feels like summer now, festival season is definitely here, and I’m cursing the days I have to be at work when I should be outside, here is a folk playlist for you all! It was too hard to pick but one song, so there’s plenty to choose from. I did spend quite a while “doing the garden” this afternoon, as might be mentioned in a Steeleye Span song, but I was using a power tool. Which sounds more appropriate for Peatbog Faeries maybe. Like I said, something for everyone.

Folk times

(This is Bellowhead by the by)

Song Of The Day#28

The Chieftains – Raggle Taggle Gypsy

There’s a potential this song has been done to death, but it’s the whole “trad-arr” thing, so oh well, here it is again. And I know I’ve already done a song of the day post today, but it’s my blog, so have another. And I think, given the diversity from the last one to this, one can’t complain. Without sounding ridiculous, this version MUST BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD, IT’S THAT GOOD. It’s has a good mix of traditional instruments and slightly not-so-traditional singing, along with a sense of fun – what’s not to like? At least no one seems to die in this particular folk song. Not really anyway. So, listen, think about summer and folk festivals, cider, dancing round a maypole, and enjoy the outstanding bit where, at approximately 2 minutes and 23 seconds, the whole ensemble join together, with a moment’s pause before cracking out the big folk guns for one last big song and dance about everything. AMAZING STUFF.

Song Of The Day – #1.

This is an absolute “choon” – I feel it can’t really be called this as it’s hugely folky and, unless it’s folk rock, it can’t really fall under the ‘choon’ category, but it’s still epic.

Using lyrics taken from a Robert Burns poem of 1791, this Scottish folk song tells of the signing of the Act Of Union with England in 1707, and how the government at the time went against popular opinion. It compares their abandonment of Scotland to other historical figures (and heroes of the land) such as William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, who dedicated their lives to their independence. Relevant today, this is folk at its best. Listen!

Mezzo Forte – Seth Lakeman.

Or – Seth “I’ve got freaking awesome guns” Lakeman.

Playing at The Brook in Southampton on the 15th April, it was finally my first experience of live Seth. I’ve been wanting to see him for ages, and I have no idea why it took me so bloody long as he always seems to be touring.

Everything about his music seems to be pretty awesome – he has is one of those rare musicians who can write brilliant songs that are immediately accessible, but also last. They can be listened to again and again, and don’t get boring. I’m not sure if any names of others who can do that actually come to mind… And he really is a musician – this word can be applied so very well to him. Being a violin player (and the violin seeming like such a frail instrument compared to, for example, the guitar), one can always feel slightly on edge when he’s playing as there is such opportunity to get a note wrong or fail completely, but not once did this happen. Indeed, the only minor ailment to his performance was his intensity in one song that started to fray his bow. Did Yehudi Menuhin even manage this? His playing technique is outstanding too – he looks classically trained in his stance and hold, although this seems slightly unorthodox for a folk singer. Throughout the set, he switched from violin to tenor guitar, and somehow managed to sing at the same time as playing the former. The logistics of this always confuse me but he did it brilliantly.

Better still, he appears to be having fun! There’s nothing worse than a moody frontman to bring the audience and backing band down. He interacted with his audience and band, frequently ‘jamming’ with individuals of the band (which includes his brother Sean), and there was a general sense of enjoyment from all there. Good choice of venue too: not too big to give it an empty feel, but cosy enough as it was full.

Starting with ‘The Hurlers’ and ending, before the encore, with just him and his violin playing ‘Kitty Jay’ (wonderful stuff!), Mr Lakeman played lots of new stuff and I am seriously considering buying the next album. A rarity, considering I am hardly ever able to buy albums 😀 It was an excellent live experience, with a combination of good playing, good songs, and a happy ensemble of people. Go see them live!

The only pity about him is that he feels to popular and too big a name for a folk artist. I always thought folk music was about using song to tell people about what was happening to the lambs and chickens, and how some bird threw herself off of a bridge because her true love has to marry someone else – traditional stuff, really, and Mr Lakeman does sing about such things, but shouldn’t folk be in the pub at the end of a long day in the fields, with a pint in one hand and a violin/guitar/hurdy-gurdy etc in the other?