Appleseed Recordings is celebrating its 21st anniversary with a monumental 57-song compilation that illustrates some of the most important matters of our time: gun violence, the opioid epidemic, dark money in politics, criminal justice reform, weaponized misinformation, injustice at the U.S. southern border and much more.
The 3-CD Roots and Branches features contributions from singer-songwriters, blues and rock musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Donovan, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Roger McGuinn, Judy Collins, Ani DiFranco, Tim Robbins, John Wesley Harding, Tom Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Jesse Winchester, Pete Seeger and Jackson Browne.
Since its foundation in 1997, Appleseed has lent its voice to significant issue: protesting Apartheid in South Africa and the Iraq War, fighting for peace in Northern Ireland and marriage equality in the United States and much more. As Tom Morello says in the album’s liner notes, “a musician’s responsibility is a simple one, and that is, through your music, to tell the truth.”
Acclaimed world, folk and roots music festival Celtic Connections 2017 has announced some of the acts scheduled to perform in 2017. Although the full program will be revealed in October, tickets for Billy Bragg and Joe Henry’s concert at Celtic Connections 2017 are now on sale. Celtic Connections 2017 will take place from Thursday. January 19 to Sunday, February 5.
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry will be performing songs included on their album Shine A Light, that was recorded on a four day railroad trip across the United States, along with favorites from their own back catalogs on January 26 at the Old Fruitmarket.
In March 2016 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, accompanied by their guitars, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station seeking to reconnect with the culture of railroad travel and the music it inspired. Wandering along 2,728 miles of track over four days, the two musicians recorded classic railway songs in waiting rooms and at trackside while the train stopped to pick up passengers.
The UK’s number one star in the blues rock world Joanne Shaw Taylor, will be playing at the O2 ABC on January 20.
The following night The Felice Brothers will bring their classic American folk-rock and country-rock music to the O2 ABC, playing songs from their well-received album, Life in the Dark.
Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel will appear at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 23.
On the road to eternal rest, perhaps one of the greatest challenges that a person can face is how to raise a child. The answer is complex and layered but it surely includes listening to folk songs. Folk songs cultivate empathy. Rhiannon Giddens plays folk songs that will enthrall any contemporary soul. The Mermaid Avenue albums are collections of songs that do the same.
Folk songs perform magic. For one, they allow us to feel along with others in a grassroots sort of way – they delight not because of heavy marketing’s affect but because of genuine sentiment. Like all things that delight, they are not taught in school and are associated with the “wild” or the “reckless” to be consumed in humorous “doses.” It should not be the case. Listening to a great folk song is a communion with years of sentiment, interpretation, and expression. As a child learns of his or her world, it would be wise for that child to feel the world, the weight of it, by listening to folk songs. He or she will feel the soul of the times that came before his or her own and that will have shaped the times that he or she will live.
Rhiannon Giddens is mixed raced folk singer waist deep in the business of dwelling in the South, the same dwelling in the South that has often been horrific to African Americans. The public lynchings and other torture many African Americans suffered still hurt. The South has also been a great region for the production of American culture. The South has hosted folk courage beyond belief and its folk songs are products of this. Giddens plays with folk songs: sings them beautifully and always while committed to the grandeur that a song may have. By doing so, she sings us magnificence.
The Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco reveal the twists and turns of American history. They sing Woody Guthrie’s collected songs along to well played instrumentation and never singing these songs in a way that will not thrill themselves.
It’s always wise to dance and sing along to songs that have gone from one singer to the other, as if a song that collected mounds of sincere nods about delight and detail. It’s even wise to do it with one’s child. Then, you will have raised a beautiful, comprehending, soul.
Headline photo: Rhiannon Giddens – Photo by Dan Winters
Lining up the likes of Simon Emmerson, Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Benjamin Zephaniah, Chris Wood, Paul Weller, Sheila Chandra, The Gloworms, Tiger Moth, TransGlobal Underground, Tunng, Johnny Kalsi and The Copper Family seems like a mere fantasy, but that is exactly what The Imagined Village is all about. Daring to re-imagine, break down and remake English folk music, The Imagined Village careens headlong and hell bent on dragging traditional tunes through the modern streets of England, picking up the current flavors and textures of today’s English musicians. Now if you are a folk purist, this might not be the CD for you, but if you’re willing to jump on the genre bending, rip-roaring ride through the modern soundscape of English folk, then be prepared The Imagined Village will knock your socks off.
The Imagined Village is proof that good things happen when great musicians are left to their own devices. Opening with “John Barleycorn,” The Imagined Village band sets this traditional English tune ablaze with Martin Carthy on acoustic guitar, Paul Weller on electric guitar, Eliza Carthy on fiddle, Nigel Eaton on hurdy gurdy, and Simon Emmerson on cittern. Dipping into the exoticism of Rastafarian writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the extravagant richness of Trans-Global Underground, the dub retelling of “Tam Lyn” is darkly exhilarating with guitars, bouzouki, sitar and some sizzling programming. The edgy “Death and the Maiden” with Tunng and the thrilling “Cold Haily Rainy Night” with Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Chris Wood, The Young Coppers and TransGlobal Underground do more than bend these tunes – they turn them inside out!
The CD just gets better with “The Welcome Sailor,” with the lovely vocals of Sheila Chandra and “Acres of Ground,” with its folksy swing punctuated by tabla and dhol drum by Johnny Kalsi. “Hard Times of Old England” with Billy Bragg, The Young Coppers, Eliza Carthy and Simon Emmerson and “Kit Whites I & II” with The Gloworms are infectiously wonderful. The bright and sassy “Slow on the Uptake” is a hair raising roundhouse slap of pure delight with Tiger Moth. “’Ouses, ‘Ouses, ‘Ouses” with vocals by John Copper and Sheila Chandra against a sea of guitar, cello, violin, bass, Northumbrian pipes, nickel harp, drones and keyboards is a precious piece of storytelling wrapped in a compelling composition that brings the past into the futures.
I have to admit that I’m partial to these “what if” collaborations with musicians scattered across the musical map. Songs on these type of collaborations tend to be fully realized and fully executed, some tracks stretching longer than the average MBA record exec would allow. There is also the collaborative spirit that seems to shine through on these types of recording, so that the listener can actually feel the expansive joy come through in the musicianship. The Imagined Village certainly possesses that heady mix of stellar musicianship and free flowing fusion of ideas and genres. The Imagined Village isn’t just about retelling or remaking English folk – it’s about glorious reinvention.
London, UK – This February the Barbican hosts Folk Britannia, a festival focusing on the rich and compelling history of traditional music of the UK. Featuring among others: Vashti Bunyan, Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy and Lou Rhodes.
Folk Britannia program:
Which Side Are You On?
Billy Bragg with Martin Carthy, Dick Gaughan, Robb Johnson & Maggie Holland
An evening hosted and curated by Billy Bragg
2 Feb 06 / Barbican Hall
Daughters of Albion
June Tabor, Norma Waterson, Eliza Carthy, Kathryn Williams, Sheila Chandra & Lou Rhodes
Bringing together some of England’s finest female folk artists and contemporary singer-songwriters.
3 Feb 06 / Barbican Hall
Into the Mystic
Vashti Bunyan, Bert Jansch, Mike Heron, Adem & King Creosote
A concert exploring the psychedelic, neo-folk music of the 60s and the new generation of artists it inspired.
4 Feb 06 / Barbican Hall
Tunng, Fence Collective, The Eighteenth Day of May
An afternoon of sessions and performances by a number of budding folk talents.
4 Feb 06 / FreeStage
Joe Boyd & Friends
Legendary producer talks about his lifetime love affair with British folk music
4 Feb 06 / Garden Room
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion