Posts Tagged ‘Patsy Reid’
Photo of Caroline Herring by Thomas Fahey
The autumn programme at London’s home of folk, Cecil Sharp House, got off to a fine start with a wonderful performance by southern American singer-songwriter and guitarist Caroline Herring, accompanied by Scottish fiddler and singer, Patsy Reid.
Herring is a relatively recent discovery for me, having come across her for the first time in last year’s Cecil Sharp Project – a song initiative commissioned by the Shrewsbury Folk Festival and the English Folk Song and Dance Society. The inspiration for the project was the English folk collector’s trip to the Appalachian mountains, and Herring, the sole American on the project, wrote one of its most poignant songs, ‘Black Mountain Lullaby’ – about Jeremy Davidson, a three-year-old boy, killed by a boulder dislodged during the illegal process of mountaintop removal.
“It’s not the first time I’ve written about tragedy,” she confesses to the audience as she finishes this heart-wrenching song. There’s a bitter-sweetness to all of Herring’s songs; stories from the Deep South about individuals who come to life in the simple yet insightful lyrics. Several of the characters from her new album, Camilla, are beautifully illustrated on the cover artwork by the artist Alice Pattullo, who is sat in the audience and introduced by Herring.
An engaging performer, Herring is warm and expansive in her introductions to the songs, many of which deal with the American civil rights movement, “a guiding force of my life,” she says. She jokes after one particularly long preamble that “the lecture is over.” But that’s very much part of Herring’s charm – her songwriting and storytelling are never just straightforward, but thought-provoking, often painful tales of injustice but ultimately of hope too.
The concert isn’t without mishaps – a crucial screw from Herring’s guitar pings off after the first couple of songs, forcing an early interval. But an old banjo is found, dismantled and its parts used to mend the afflicted guitar. Herring remains calm and collected and after a quick reshuffling of the set list, she and Reid sing a gorgeous a capella song, ‘Traveling Shoes.’
Herring finishes with two of her more optimistic songs: ‘Flee as a Bird,’ a Methodist hymn written in 1840 and ‘Joy Never Ends (Auld Lang Syne),’ which uses Robert Burns’ words on friendship, rounding up a highly enjoyable and enlightening evening.
Camilla is a Top of the World review in the current issue (October 2012, #87) and you can hear the track ‘Black Mountain Lullaby’ on the covermount CD.
The English Folk Dance Song Society (EFDSS) at Cecil Sharp House has another great series of unique concerts lined up for us. Here are the highlights…
First up are the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops – they’ll be kicking off the Spring/Summer season on January 23 with their modern takes on traditional string tunes.
Next in line is the Cecil Sharp Project on January 27. The project has received critical acclaim from the Guardian, who gave it an excellent four stars. The work is a memoir to Cecil Sharp – be sure to check it out. Musicians include Steve Knightley, Jackie Oates, Andy Cutting, Caroline Herring, Jim Moray, Patsy Reid, Leonard Podolak and Kathryn Roberts. On the following day, January 28, Caroline Herring and Kathryn Roberts will be pairing up for an exclusive concert.
Fans of Bellowhead will be pleased to hear that Sam Sweeney will be returning to the stage at Cecil Sharp House again on February 15. He had a brilliant time during his last gig with Rua Macmillan, to the point where his fiddle snapped! It didn’t keep him from playing though. This time he’ll be playing for the launch of his new album, with former colleague Hannah James.
Then Lucy Ward will be supporting Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow on April 25. She was nominated the 2012 BBC Folk Award’s Horizon category, so this is guaranteed to be a good one. The House will then host Irish singer Cara Dillan the following day. She’s considered to have one of the most stunning voices in traditional music, so make sure you don’t miss her on April 26.
Folk and hip-hop will collide on May 19 – this should be interesting! Chris Wood (BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year) will be collaborating with rapper/singer Dizraeili (BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam award winner). Finally, Oslo Jammerkor will be making their London debut on April 29 and they’ll be joining the Cecil Sharp House Choir for a collaborative performance.
Also, don’t forget the Folk Rising evenings throughout the season, which will be bringing the best acts in emerging folk music to one of London’s most celebrated venues.
For more details on the Cecil Sharp House concert series, please visit the EFDSS website.
We’ve just returned from a sunny/rainy/sunny/rainy weekend at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival where one of our highlights was the Cecil Sharp Project (who consist of Steve Knightley, Caroline Herring, Kathryn Roberts, Patsy Reid, Andy Cutting, Leonard Podolak and siblings Jim Moray and Jackie Oates).
Check out this video by Bright Young Folk which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the project while they worked on their material in a Big Brother style set-up.
If you missed them at Shrewsbury, fear not – the project will be on a short UK tour again in January 2012. You can find the details here.