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Preview: Home Gathering 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 10:00 am
 

After the success of its first year, Home Gathering is set to return with one of Tyneside’s most celebrated bands, The Unthanks. As last year, the band will oversee and curate the festival across two of Newcastle’s most historic sites on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of September. The Unthanks have long held ambitions of running their own festival one day, and after the triumph of their first Gathering last year, the festival has continued to grow and is set to be even bigger in 2016.

The Mercury Prize-nominated Tyneside band were thrilled to have some Newcastle’s finest acts such as Hyde & Beast and Richard Dawson on their first bill. Describing Home Gathering as a festival of everything they like, Adrian McNally of The Unthanks says this event is “Not just music, our favourite local beers and food artisans, stalls with local artists and makers. We’ll have a hand in every detail to ensure that despite our own largely miserable music, it will be a party from start to finish!” The magnificent Richard Hawley will headline the Friday night, supported by The Young’uns, winners of Best Band at the BBC Folk awards for the last 2 years running. Richard Hawley’s eighth studio album released last year, ‘Hollow Meadows’, has received national acclaim.

Saturday will see London three-piece Kitty, Daisy & Lewis take to the stage. The sibling-led band, renowned for their love of everything vintage, are signed to Radio 1 presenter Rob da Banks’ label Sunday Best, have opened for massive acts such as Coldplay and Jools Holland. Finally taking centre stage themselves, The Unthanks will headline the Saturday night with their award-winning brand of English folk firmly celebrating their North East roots. In the decade between Rachel Unthank and the acclaimed debut Winterset’s ‘Cruel Sister’ and The Unthanks’ eighth record and BBC Folk Award-winning ‘Mount the Air’, the band have achieved a lot. After touring Africa with Damon Albarn and being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank have always done things their own way. Bringing their own unique blend of award- winning jazz and folk to the stage will ensure a show the audience will not forget.

Improving on from last year, the atmospheric post-industrial Boiler Shop, which will be used as the main venue, has been expanded vastly. Adding a lot of indoor toilets, a bigger bar and relocating the artisan food sellers outside, in a bid to reduce the background noise suffered by quieter artists last time. Furthermore, for more intimate shows, there will also be performances at the beautiful Mining Institute just around the corner. The festival will also play host to spoken word poet Liz Berry, folk royalty in the form of Marry Waterson and fearless musical maidens The Moulettes. There will also be an exceptional airing of Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which will be performed by the Liverpool String Quartet.

McNally says further of the festival: “The line-up not only reflects our tastes but our influences too. We don’t think music fans will find a more varied bill and we hope, most of all, you’ll like something you weren’t expecting to. Having covered a lot of musical ground ourselves as The Unthanks, we know we are very lucky to have an open-minded and venturesome audience, ready to trust and join us on our journeys. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it’ll be like the weather – if you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes.”

To purchase day or weekend tickets to Home Gathering Festival 2016, go here.

 

Deer Shed Festival 2016 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Go here to start at the beginning of Martin’s review of Deer Shed 2016.


Anna Calvi Deer Shed 2016 / photo by Martin Sharman

I mentioned in my Deer Shed preview that this year there were a notable number of female performers, and Anna Calvi‘s set completed my Saturday triumvirate. Hers is an intense sound: led by dominating Telecaster work and architectural voice, Calvi is a true guitar hero to both girls and boys alike. Speaking of which, Richard Hawley can play a note or two as well. His was a proper headlining performance, bringing out one vintage guitar after another: Gibson ES-335, gold top Les Paul with Bigsby and a stunning, enormous green Gretsch. This was near enough the perfect headlining performance, reminiscent of Johnny Marr‘s similarly triumphant show a couple of years before. Hawley has meandered through a number of styles over his long solo career, including pastoral acoustica, but tonight he was doing what he’s best at: being a guitar hero. It’s easy to forget that before becoming a frontman Hawley was primarily a guitarist, and all his impressive chops were on display tonight. His songs are epic, powerful things, dominated by his sublime guitar work, and solos that take one on a journey into the cosmos. As the centrepiece of the festival, there couldn’t have been a better choice.


Richard Hawley Deer Shed 2016 / photo by Martin Sharman

As for the kids, they had an absolute blast. The science tent was where it was at for the 4-and-a-half year old, making a flying buggy from some plastic Meccano, learning how to plant seeds, making his own pin badge, and – a better father-and-son activity it’s difficult to imagine – ripping apart the innards of a defunct laser printer with side-cutters and pliers. “This is a circuit board, those are capacitors… now destroy it with tools!” The theme this year was movies, so there were plenty of themed activities for the older ones to have a crack at, including making your own film set from a cardboard box and lolly sticks, and being tutored on how to make Gromit out of plasticine by Aardman Animations themselves. The activities are too numerous to list here, as the list of delights goes on and on. The mechanoid that filled its wader boots with air and let it out through a car horn was a particular hit. A new addition for 2016 was the sports field in front of Baldersby’s manor house: something for everyone, including proper football, a brilliant slacklining course, various yoga and keep-fit activities and a dedicated skate park. Yes, a dedicated skate park. Is there anything they haven’t thought of?


Martin's son at Deer Shed 2016

The beauty of Deer Shed is that, even though some of the kids activities are familiar year-on-year, as one’s kids grow up, they prefer to do different stuff every time. The festival grows up with the kids, an annual treat that they wouldn’t miss for the world. And Deer Shed did seem to grow up this year – there were more random sideshows and “happenings” than ever before. The Leeds Brass Band were a particular highlight, marching through the arena with gusto, occasionally stopping for a quick blast of ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’, as an impromptu, grooving crowd gathered underneath the sunny skies.

On Sunday, Beth Orton was unlucky enough to play the only rain-sodden set of the day, the damp conditions hampering what would otherwise have been a collection of wonderfully chilled-out songs, ranging from 20-year-old classics to new ones from her latest release ‘Kidsticks’. But really, Sunday belonged to the final performance of the entire festival from Holy Moly and the Crackers. As befits a closing set, theirs was a raucous, whisky-sodden blast through their sea shanty-inspired gypsy-folk tunes, frontman Conrad the perfect mischievous ringleader. The tent was jumping from the first moment to the last, their expanded band thrashing out a cacophony of off-beat rhythms and trombone blasts. Wherever there’s Holy Moly, a party can’t be far away. And that was it. Ears ringing, we set off to collapse a damp tent, with perhaps one or two tear-dampened eyes to go along with it.

Well done, Deer Shed. I was a bit harsh about 2015, but this year was the best yet, by a considerable margin. The music policy, always good, got the headliners right (big indie band Friday, a proper legend Saturday), and the undercard was a delight to behold. There’s loads I haven’t mentioned, including the eclectic Big Top lineup, as well as some excellent comedy, but, as they say, there’s not the space to tell it all. All I can add is, if you’ve got kids and you love music, come to Deer Shed and find out what goes on there – I challenge you not to be surprised and delighted. Or else I’ll come round to your house and do the washing up for a year. In 2016, Deer Shed Festival was back. With a capital bang.

 

Preview: Deer Shed Festival 2016

 
By on Thursday, 21st July 2016 at 10:00 am
 

Do you think having kids means you can’t indulge in a festival weekend of nonstop, top class music, comedy and the odd craft ale? Deer Shed Festival 2016, nestled in the heart of beautiful North Yorkshire, is here to prove that little ones are no barrier to such delights. Now in its seventh year, and having grown bigger and better every year, Deer Shed prides itself on not just catering for kids in one corner of the festival arena, but actually integrating activities and attractions for your offspring throughout the festival itself. Activities break down roughly into Arts, Science, Sporty and Workshops categories, and there’s far too much going on to do justice to here. But here’s a list of the more, ahem, unique activities: Sock Wrestling, Tree Identification, Guerilla Archaeology, Taking Things to Pieces (my favourite!), not to mention loads of kid-friendly comedy and films.

So whilst the kids are busy deconstructing the inner workings of a cathode ray tube, the adults’ attention turns to the music stages. And I can confidently say that no festival has their finger on the pulse of contemporary alternative music as precisely as Deer Shed does. Between their modestly-sized stages, they put on an extraordinarily diverse and beautifully-curated lineup, the strength of which will make even the most clued-up muso stroke his or her beard and exclaim, “Forsooth, whence has this talented beat combo passed me by, for they are excellence personified!” (Translation: there’s loads of brilliant bands, some of which you’ve never heard of.)

There’s a lot of ladies at Deer Shed this year; it might even be the unofficial theme, like Celts were last year. By my calculation, almost exactly half of the acts are either actual ladies or lady-led, which is how it should be, but rarely is. Amongst others there’s Tuff Love, a pair of chiming, Glaswegian ladies with a melodic sensibility; Gwenno, ex of The Pipettes, her of the Welsh-language dystopian album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’; a rare festival appearance from famously reclusive Mancunian groovenik Lonelady; a touch of nu-soul from Mahalia; and Irish ethereality from Saint Sister. Phew.

Let’s turn to the headliners. And if I may indulge myself in a reminiscence, here’s some words from last year’s review (in which I got a bit huffy in parts): “the hope was that future years would essentially duplicate the pattern for well-regarded contemporary indie band on Friday for men of a certain age, big name from the parents’ past on Saturday for everyone.” Well, that’s exactly the formula that’s been used this year, and it promises to be a triumph. Everything Everything should need no introduction: now they’ve got three albums to go at, so expect their characteristic jumpy rhythms and highly-strung vocals, perhaps with a bit more guitar than we’re used to if their latest material is anything to go by. Beth Orton is the closing act on the Sunday, and a more gentle and apposite comedown is difficult to imagine. Her dreamy arrangements and almost-whispered vocals became the soundtrack to coming-of-age for a certain generation around the millennium that have all grown up a bit now but still remember fondly those hazy, lazy days.

When Deer Shed management asked on Facebook for suggestions as to future headliners, my answer was clear: Jarvis, Jarvis, Jarvis (I also made this suggestion in my 2014 review). If I’d thought harder, that answer actually could have been expanded to “any former member of Pulp with a decent solo career”, and who better fills that brief than Richard Hawley (pictured at top), Saturday’s main stage main man. He can pick and choose from an oeuvre spanning decades, varying from gentle pastoral acoustica to transcendental psychedelic jams. He’s rapidly becoming one of the country’s most well-renowned songwriters and performers, managing to be both a ‘50s throwback and achingly contemporary simultaneously and effortlessly. It’s difficult to think of a more appropriate talent to be this year’s main attraction… Unless he’s joined by Jarvis, of course!

All in all, it really is no exaggeration to say that 2016 could and should be the best year yet at Baldersby. The secret to Deer Shed Festival? It’s not just for kids.

 

Video of the Moment #1909: Richard Hawley

 
By on Friday, 11th September 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

To celebrate the release of his latest album ‘Hollow Meadows’ this week on Parlophone Records, Sheffield guitar troubadour Richard Hawley has a new video out for ‘Nothing Like a Friend’, a track from the new album. (Read my full review of the LP’s loveliness here.)

Just like on the album’s cover, the video takes the theme of a broken window and literally, as you watch the countryside through this cracked glass. Hawley has said that the songs of ‘Hollow Meadows’ have been coloured by him looking at the world with different eyes and a different point of view, after being forced to rest and recuperate after recent leg and back injuries made him bedridden, so it’s interesting to watch this promo as what you’re seeing isn’t entirely what you expect or as they seem. What an original concept. Watch the video below.

‘Hollow Meadows’ is out today on Parlophone. Past coverage of Richard Hawley on TGTF is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FB85wPh3p0[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows

 
By on Wednesday, 9th September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Richard Hawley Hollow Meadows album coverYears ago when I first became a follower of Richard Hawley’s in the ‘Coles Corner’ era, my mum asked me to describe him. “He’s like the Sheffield Morrissey”, I suggested, being put on the spot. I was trying to come up with an appropriate singer to compare Hawley with. For me, it’s always been Hawley’s velvety voice that has kept me a devoted fan. (Behind his voice, his peerless songwriting comes in as a close second.) ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’, Hawley’s 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated disc of psychedelia was in your face and certainly loud, but it left me completely cold. So I’m truly chuffed to announce that 3 years later, he’s gone back to the floaty, softer aesthetics of ‘Coles Corner’ for his eighth studio album ‘Hollow Meadows’.

Hawley has certainly earned his stripes musically as a member of the Longpigs and Pulp and then as a solo artist. But interestingly, it was a recent period of involuntary, bedridden convalescence – caused by a broken leg sustained on the ‘Standing…’ tour campaign and an ensuing sit-up injury to get back into shape – that caused Sheffield’s elder statesman of rock, still in his leather jacket and smoking a fag, to reflect on life and re-evaluate his own existence:

“I remember the sight of two wrens making a nest in the icy cold, with all this snow – that totally poleaxed me, and in essence, told me to get a grip on my own situation. I wouldn’t have wished it upon anybody, but it’s a good test of your humanity. You could lay there and get vitriolic. Or you could slow down and allow yourself to notice things that we’re normally too busy to notice. You can allow your world to become smaller or bigger. And, actually, the world started to seem much bigger to me. Watching the crows fly past the window in the morning, and then watching them go off again at night. Listening to the kids playing outside.”

It makes total sense, then, that Hawley’s latest effort, borne out a greater awareness as well as appreciation for the world around him, has a more thoughtful bent. Any heaviness on ‘Hollow Meadows’ is the weight of the observations he makes about what he sees through new eyes, processed through a hazy filter. Beginning with ‘I Still Want You’, he proves he’s still a deft hand at writing a beautiful ballad. This gorgeousness is revisited flawlessly in ‘Serenade in Blue’, then in ‘Sometimes I Feel’. ‘The World Looks Down’ disapprovingly, though in a way that still comes across dreamy and ephemeral, while ‘Nothing Like a Friend’ conveys regret as Hawley previously broached on ‘Valentine’, albeit now in a more restrained way.

‘Long Time Down’, whose title directly addresses Hawley’s forced downtime, is jaunty in its own sweet way, also features the banjo-playing talents of his Sheff neighbour Martin Simpson. On ‘Welcome the Sun’, slow but wigged out guitar notes are the closest Hawley gets back to the psychedelic bent of the last album. However, the expansive nature of the 6-minute track is more cinematic than trippy.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr2JTS0XQ5Y[/youtube]

However, the linchpin of this new collection from Richard Hawley is ‘Heart of Oak’, a song inspired in part by his friendship with Yorkshire born folk singer Norma Waterson. Classic guitar chords bolster the simple yet stunning lyrics, such as “You’re precious to me / like Blake’s poetry / I wish you well / my heart of oak”. It’s a moment like this that makes ‘Hollow Meadows’ feel like a personal greeting card from the man himself.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of ‘Hollow Meadows’, we are reminded that Richard Hawley knows not only how to do beauty, but he does nuanced, gentle beauty very, very well. Evocative, yet effortless.

9/10

‘Hollow Meadows’, Sheffielder Richard Hawley’s eighth solo studio album, is out this Friday, the 11th of September, on Parlophone Records. He will be touring the UK and Ireland in October and November. For previous posts on Hawley on TGTF, go here.

 

Richard Hawley / October and November 2015 UK and Irish Tour

 
By on Friday, 10th July 2015 at 8:00 am
 

Sheffield’s Man in Black Richard Hawley has announced a headline tour for October and November 2015 for the UK and Ireland. The tour follows a month after the release of Hawley’s eighth studio album ‘Hollow Meadows’, which drops on the 11th of September on Parlophone. My thoughts on the LP’s first taster ‘Which Way’ can be read in this In the Post feature from last week.

All shows below are on sale now except for Southampton (on sale Saturday the 11th of July at 9 AM) and Leeds and Manchester (on sale Saturday the 11th of July at 9:30 AM). TGTF’s past coverage on Richard Hawley is this way (no pun intended).

Sunday 25th October 2015 – Brighton Dome
Monday 26th October 2015 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Tuesday 27th October 2015 – Birmingham Institute
Wednesday 28th October 2015 – Scarborough Spa Grand Hall
Friday 30th October 2015 – Dublin Vicar Street
Sunday 1st November 2015 – Leeds Academy
Monday 2nd November 2015 – Manchester Albert Hall
Tuesday 3rd November 2015 – Gateshead Sage
Thursday 5th November 2015 – Glasgow Barrowland
Friday 6th November 2015 – Sheffield Arena Steel Hall
Sunday 8th November 2015 – London Roundhouse
Monday 9th November 2015 – Bristol Colston Hall
Tuesday 10th November 2015 – Southampton Guildhall

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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