Tag Archives: Music

Music to Chill To – Some Recommendations

The other day Ian commented about how do you find out about interesting music and new music. Well alot of it is trial and error, happening to see the right flyer or happening upon the right tent at a festival. Another element is word of mouth. On that basis I thought today I’d share some recommendations of some stuff worth exploring. Some of it will be familiar to UK and Greenbelt based regulars…..some won’t. Some is explictly Christian, some is explicitly secular and some is a mix of the two. Anyway here are few artists you might want to explore. Please feel free to share other recommendations in the comments section.

Gareth Davies Jones is a bit of a Greenbelt regular act and not a bad. Certainly one worth seeking out if you are looking for something to chill to at the festival.

Rose Grigg is a new artist I have come across. Ignoring that she includes Graham Kendrick in her influences her work is really good and has a haunting celtic element to it. Listening to it and looking at the explicitly Christian way she was promoting herself I had to smile to myself. I remember first seeing Martyn Joseph back in 1986 when he was working the Christian curcuit. Rose’s work is folk, some of which happens to reflect her faith. Listening to her reminded me though that not all music which markets itself as Christian should be immeadiately written off. Also interesting to follow the links for the CD through and see she appears to be linked to a small Cornish Christian indie company, Soteria, which has a worship music division aswell as doing a magazine and stuff. Any of you who are youth leaders and looking for stuff to link your young people to might find it useful.

I don’t know if Transient Frog are still going, but their My Space site also contains some good new music which is more AOR than anything else and is worth exploring.

Brenda Freed is an American singer who has quite an impressive back catalouge and an amazing voice. Her music is sung with a passion that comes out really well in countryish stuff. If you like the Dixy Chicks or Indigo Girls I’d really advise you to listen to her stuff. (Whilst surfing around for links discovered that the Indigo Girls have a tour of the UK in the autumn).

What all the above have in common is that they have some amazing songwriting talent, some excellent guitar playing and some class vocal performances. Hope you enjoy at least some.

On a slightly different note a plug for the Park Cities Presbyterian Chruch Chancel Choir of Dallas, Texas who are playing a free gig (collection being taken up in aid of the Aquila Way charity) at Durham Cathedral next Friday, (31st July) at 7:00pm. If you’re in the area sounds like an inspiring way to spend the evening.

I leave you with a You Tube video of Gareth Davies-Jones performing Princess Victoria

Listening Up

Britain’s New Folk Music by Will Hodgkinson is an article in the Times today which is basically promoting The Ballad of Britain. The online version of the article also contains a couple of links to some folkie tunes, which don’t make a bad listen. It’s appears to be the folk equivilent of Colin Irwin’s Sing When You’re Winning. However, there is a twist on the usual read the article buy the book and then go hunting yourself for some obscure CD ….this one appears to link to a series of concerts aswell. The Ballad of Britain My Space site has details aswell as some downloads.

Also worth listening to is this weeks GCN Radio Show , if you are interested in hearing abit more about the retreat I went on a week or so ago. I sat and watched the original recording of this, rather than joining in, and have to say am liking the way it was edited. What it gives a useful insight into are the dynamics of online communities and how they work when it comes to virtual life occassionally becoming real life. Third Party did ask me the other day why I had Your Child and the Internet on the book shelf. I explained I had got it at some point when I was in “responsible parent” mode; she just replied “um…I don’t think I’m the one who spends most of their spare time online and goes off around the country meeting strange people off the internet.” This programme explains what some of the benefits of real life meets are. Have to say whilst the programme explicitly puts this in the LGBT context the basic thing of enabling like minded people to meet up and share goes across. In my former life when I was, it seemed, the “radical heretic” on the edge of my church meeting up with interesting Christians I’d met online helped me loads. I realised that there were a whole bunch of us struggling with the same types of issues related to church and the God of “messy reality” we encountered.

Have to say these days the issues that took me into most of the online communities I’m part of no longer exist – or certainly not in the same ways. It’s cool now just to sit and read, joining in the discussions as and when appropriate and sometimes having the priviledge of being able to encourage others.

La Bottine Souriante – A bit of French Canada

Last night went to see La Bottine Souriante, which was what won the vote about what gig I should go to as part of Durham Brass Festival. I really enjoyed, as expected.

The band play some excellent French Canadian folk music, which basically fuses Celtic, French, jazz and country together into a unique blend of kick ass tunes. They also have a dancer with them who comes out and does something that looks like it may have been adapted from Irish dancing, and is primarily tap based.

Musically they are excellent, visually they just look like a bunch of guys who should mostly be called Dave or Nigel (no offence to any readers named Dave or Nigel, but you know what I mean). The squeeze box player, who I think they may have changed since the picture below, was also the lead vocalist and I have to say he just looked like he should be presenting the Canadian version of Top Gear. The two exceptions were the bass trombone player who was in a sheriff’s outfit and looked like he had wandered in from a Village People reunion tour and the sax player. Now the sax player was interesting. He looked like he should be called Chuck or something and had a real stage presence and just moved about the stage like he had played with some of the worlds top artists, doing stadium gigs. I’m ready to be wrong on that one, but he definately had something about his performance the other guys didn’t.

The venue proved a bit restrictive. They are the sort of group you really need to be able to dance to; their concert is effectively set up as one big party. As it was there was no dance area, as there had been for the Destroyers on Wednesday and so you were sat in standard theatre type seating. Nobody stood to dance until directed to do so by the band during the last song. They are a band I would like to see again in a proper festival setting, like Cambridge Folk Festival or similar.

However, enough moaning…it was an excellent night which I really enjoyed. I leave you with a bit of their music:

The Destroyers

As part of Durham Brass Festival went to see the Destroyers last night. Liked the fact that the theatre had removed the first few rows of seats to create a pit in what one has to say is a very gentile venue. Managed to pull something in my calf dancing a little too hard to their folk punk.

I could try describe their music to you, but will just insert their new single at the end. Out of Babel gives a good indication of what they’re like musically, although the video is alot more theatrical goth than last nights more boho feel. Despite some of their stuff being pure folk punk alot of it is more chilled in flavour. The best way I can describe their gig is by saying if you have ever seen the river party scene in Chocolat it had that sort of vibe. A really fun evening.


Brass Festival – where do you want to send me?

It’s the Brass Festival up here at the moment and they have a fantastic offer for 16 – 26 year olds, free tickets to certain performances sponsered by the uni.

Alas, I am too old to take advantage and so have to make a choice and this is where you guys (+ anybody who reads my Facebook status) come in. Seeing as I really have no idea of which of three performances to spend my money on I want you to vote on which adventure I should go on.

(i) Jimi Tenor and Kabu Kabu which is apparently Finnish techno, jazz, rock

(ii) The Destroyers who are a 15 piece gypsy punk outfit playing Eastern European Klezmer music.

(iii) La Bottine Souriante who are described as “a 10-piece Quebecois band known for rip-roaring, live performances that blend cajun, salsa, jazz, celtic folk and more”

Place your vote in the comments box below, if you can be bothered, and tell me which musical adventure I’m going on. Voting ends on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning depending on when I can be arsed to go down to the box office.

Easy Reading on Easy Listening

Recently found myself reading My Life My Way by Cliff Richard. It wasn’t so much an intentional choice as a convienient one….something going cheap at a sale of 2nd hand books at church which I could switch off totally with.

Have to say it’s the sort of book which should probably only be read if you want something that is so mind numbing it enables you to switch your brain into neutral. Basically the book takes a couple of hunderd pages to tell you that this guy has a private life he intends to keep private. It can also be summed up by saying: he has cares about his family, had an inspirational English teacher at school, has had a successful career singing, believes in God, likes tennis, has some famous friends and acquaintences and owns a few houses. These facts are generally already well known but are trotted out repeatedly at various points in the book.

There are odd paragraphs where you feel you might be learning something about the guy and what makes him tick but these are few and far between.

Critics might accuse this bland easy reading of being the literay equivilent of his music, but I would beg to differ. In 1988 I saw Cliff live at Greenbelt and realised that actually his music is v.g. and not only has the catchy sing-a-long element but has some good tunes and lyrics to it. Not saying everything he’s done is to my taste but alot of it is. Carrie, for example, is I think one of the classic tunes of the 20th century.