Archive for ‘Recent Posts’
Words by Kevin Bourke
With a Songlines cover and an ecstatically reviewed new album, Rokia Traoré is riding high. On the evidence of this exhilarating live show, her current UK tour, which is destined to reach many thousands at this year’s Glastonbury (June 26-30), only confirms her position as one of the world’s most consistently exciting singers and performers.
The revered Manchester venue Band on the Wall, is at its best when the music gets sweaty and intimate. Fortuitously, those are two adjectives that spring readily to mind about this particular show – as well as humble, sweet, sassy and, whisper who dare, rocking.
That last may not come as much of a surprise to fans of the John Parish-produced Beautiful Africa, who came fully prepared to groove and move to some sinuous riffing from the perma-grinning female bass-player and a white guitarist apparently as enamoured with Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour as the desert blues. Drummer Seb Rochford was imperturbable as Rokia’s vocals swooped, soared and glided through some of the many moods of Beautiful Africa, from the impassioned title-track to the slinky soukous-style ‘Tuit Tuit’ and the riff-tastic ‘Kouma’. Ngoni player Mamah Diabaté infused the proceedings with an agile musical wit and backing singers Fatim Kouyaté and Bintou Soumbounou, albeit a bit underused on this night for my tastes, provided an invaluable foil for Rokia’s mercurial voice.
The great Malian singer has always been something of a shape-shifter, and this current manifestation is one of her most intriguing.
Words by Luke Shekerali
Hear the ancient, retro and contemporary at this year’s Knockengorroch
Set in a beautiful corner of Scotland at one of the world’s five International Dark-Sky Parks, you can expect a collaboration of some of the best acts world music has to offer, set against a luminous starry sky at this year’s Knockengorroch (May 23-26).
The festival is set in the uplands of Galloway – one of Scotland’s hidden beauties. Originally created in 1998 the organisers set out to spur on Galloway’s rural regeneration with Knockengorroch. Since then, the festival has gone from strength to strength, boasting acts from around the globe and attracting audiences from all over the UK.
The impressive line-up this year includes Asian Dub Foundation, Mungos Hi-Fi Sound System, The John Langan Band and Dizraeli & the Small Gods.
Dizraeli & the Small Gods are a seven-piece small band from England, who pride themselves on their ‘folked, melodic, unashamedly heartfelt reinvention of hip-hop.’ Formed in 2009 after Dizraeli released his solo album Engurland, they have since toured all over the UK, with shows including a collaboration with Shlomo and a spot on the West Holts stage of Glastonbury. You can read more about them in our current issue (June 2013, #92).
Find out more at www.knockengorroch.org.uk
Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate perform ‘Lady’ down at the docks
In the second of our Songlines Boat Sessions, hip-hop singer-songwriter Joe Driscoll and kora virtuoso Sekou Kouyate joined us on the boat, along with band members John (bass) and James (drums).
Whilst we provided the stew and drinks, the guys treated us to an acoustic version of ‘Lady’ taken from their 2012 album Faya, which was nominated in the Songlines Music Awards 2013. The duo can also be heard on the official Songlines Music Awards 2013 compilation CD, available exclusively at Amazon: http://bit.ly/SLMA2013
To see a selection of photos from the afternoon click here.
Due to demand, they are currently taking part in their second UK tour in support of Faya. Last Friday (May 17) saw the boys play to a crowded Jazz Café in North London. The evening was jam-packed full of ripping kora licks, tongue-twisting vocal lines and a raucous sing-a-long encore. The band managed to conjure a genuine sense of communal musical appreciation and pleasure; a perfect segue into the weekend. This feeling was reaffirmed by the large queue of well-wishers that formed to greet Driscoll following the set.
Remaining UK tour dates:
May 23 – Theatr Brycheiniog, Powys
May 25 – Mount Pleasant eco, Cornwall
May 26 – Kaya Festival, Wales
May 27 – The Lantern Theatre, Sheffield
May 28 – The Source Collective, Carlisle
May 31 – Bath Fringe Festival, Bath
Jun 1 – Feeding the 5000, Bristol
Jul 7 – Beat Herder Festival, Lancashire
Jul 20 – Sheep World Music Festival, Wales
Jul 21 – Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Scotland
Aug 18 – Greenman Festival, Glanusk, Wales
Aug 25 – Shambala Festival, Northamptonshire
Look out for more Songlines Boat Sessions this summer.
Words by Tim Cumming
Hardy’s fifth album was recorded with her touring band The Midnight Watch: Blazin’ Fiddles guitarist Anna Massie; Braebach bassist James Lindsay; and keyboardist/accordionist Angus Leyton of The Halton Quartet. It features new versions of traditional material, often retitled and augmented with verses displaying Hardy’s assured songwriter’s touch, alongside a handful of self-penned tunes. These include the wonderful ‘Three Pieces of My Heart’ – a tune that would fit perfectly into country singer Willie Nelson’s repertoire of broken-hearted love songs. The original material on this album has the depth, strength and melodies to stand tall alongside her take on Phoebe Smith’s ‘Yellow Handkerchief’ or ‘The Outlandish Knight’ and ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsies’ (here titled ‘The Seventh Girl’ and ‘Good Man’s Wife’ respectively).
Acoustic guitar and piano predominate; the village-hall upright piano sound on the closing shanty of ‘One More Day’ is haunting and ethereal over a spare guitar backing. There’s plenty of space in the arrangements that allows the voice to lead with a clarity and tenderness of feeling. There are touches of the 70s West Coast singer-songwriter tradition of Laurel Canyon – perhaps in the predominance of piano arrangements – and Bella Hardy has a natural ability to fashion catchy pop hooks in the forge of big, doom-laden folk songs.
TRACK TO TRY: Yellow Handkerchief
(On Noe Records)