Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Artist Profiles: The Unthanks

The Unthanks

The Unthanks, from Tyneside, are one of the biggest names to come out of the English folk scene in the last years. The group was formed in 2004. Their stunning arrangements, haunting vocals and absolute dedication to sourcing, arranging and telling the stories of these isles is second to none.

The Unthanks is a family act for sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank. Rachel married pianist, producer, arranger and composer, Adrian McNally. Even though McNally has scored symphony scale arrangements for The Unthanks, all three are musically untrained, and put their collective musical vocabulary down to the music they grew up listening to, rather than playing, for which both McNally and the Unthank sisters have parents to thank for.

Using the traditional and folk music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band’s albums.

In 2012, The Unthanks released 3 project albums in 12 months, under the banner ‘Diversions’ – a reimagining of the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony Hegarty, an orchestral scale adventure with National Champions Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, and a live soundtrack to a film about the shipbuilding industry.
The Unthnaks released four volumes of the Diverions series during 2011-2017.

In 2018, The Unthanks released a trilogy of albums with a poetic theme titled Lines.

Discography:

Here’s the Tender Coming (Rabble Rouser Music, 2009)
Last (Rabble Rouser Music, 2011)
The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons (Rabble Rouser Music, 2011)
The Unthanks with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band (Rabble Rouser Music, 2012)
Songs from the Shipyards (Rabble Rouser Music, 2012)
Mount the Air ( Rabble Rouser Music, 2015
Archive Treasures 2005–2015 (2015)
The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake and The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake: Extras (Rabble Rouser Music, 2017)
Lines Part One: Lillian Bilocca (Rabble Rouser Music, 2018)
Lines Part Two: World War One (Rabble Rouser Music, 2018)
Lines Part Three: Emily Brontë (Rabble Rouser Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson is considered one of the finest finger pickers and slide players of Great Britain. His live performances alternate between great subtlety and ‘feel’ and driving bottleneck blues, keeping alive the original country bluesmen like Blind Willie Johnson and McTell. He takes a basic song and augments it so skillfully with astonishing fretboard harmonics and other devices that make it an epic.

Simpson was born May 5, 1953, in Scunthorpe, South Humberside, England. He started playing the guitar at the age of 12. The young guitarist began playing professionally at the age of 14. One of his first breaks came when Bill Leader, who owned the Trailer label, discovered him. Leader recorded Simpson’s first album Golden Vanity. A few months later, Simpson was asked to join June Tabor’s band. In 1979 he joined the Albion Band and played with them on two subsequent tours.

In 1987, Simpson moved to the USA where he formed a duo with his American wife, Jessica Radcliffe Simpson. The duo released several albums. Simpson also played with the American band Metamora, and worked with Henry Gray, the Louisiana blues pianist.

Martin continued to extend his diverse talents in new directions including projects like Kambara Music in Native Tongues, with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and sets recorded at the “Masters of Slide Guitar Tour” with Bob Brozman and Indian slide guitar master Debashish Battacharya.

Martin Simpson

In 2015, Simpson recorded Murmurs with Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr. This was followed by Trails and Tribulations on Topic Records (2017). Trails and Tribulations guests included Andy Cutting, Kathryn Tickell, Nancy Kerr and John Smith.

Also a renowned teacher, Martin gives workshops and master classes around the world, is a regular artist-in-residence at the prestigious National Guitar Summer Workshops, and has several teaching videos to his credit, produced by Homespun Tapes and Alfred Publishing. In addition, he is an honorary guitarist for the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA), a prominent instrument builders guild. Martin also frequently tours with his longtime bass player and all-around musical cohort, Doug Robinson, who has appeared on most of Martin and Jessica’s recent albums.

Discography:

Golden Vanity (Trailer, 1976)
Special Agent ( Waterfront Records, 1981)
Grinning in Your Face (Topic Records, 1983)
Sad or High Kicking (Topic Records, 1985)
Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Dambuster Records, 1986)
Leaves of Life (Shanachie, 1989)
When I Was on Horseback (Shanachie, 1991)
A Closer Walk with Thee (Fledg’ling Records, 1994)
Smoke and Mirrors (Thunderbird Records, 1995)
Cool and Unusual (Red House Records, 1997)
Live ( Red House Records, 1997)
61 Highway (1999)
Bootleg USA (High Bohemia Records, 1999)
The Bramble Briar (Topic Records, 2001)
Righteousness and Humidity (Red House Records, 2003)
Kind Letters (Topic Records, 2005)
Music of Ireland: Airs, Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes and Marches (2005)
Prodigal Son (Topic Records, 2007)
True Stories (Topic Records, 2009)
Purpose + Grace (Topic Records, 2011)
Vagrant Stanzas (Topic Records, 2013)
Trails & Tribulations (Topic Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson was born April 3, 1949 in Notting Hill Gate, London. He has consistently set songwriting and performance standards others aspire to. He has long been acknowledged both as a sensitive writer and a brilliant and innovative guitarist.

His career began with Fairport Convention with whom he recorded five essential albums including 1969’s Liege and Lief, long regarded as a milestone recording in defining British Folk/Rock and his final album with the group, Full House, released in 1970.

During the 1970s, Richard recorded six albums with his wife Linda, including 1974’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight which met with universal critical acclaim, and its title track provided Richard with a hit single in the UK.

The 1980s and 1990s saw a series of highly successful solo albums which superbly demonstrate not only his song-writing talent and guitar wizardry, but also his ability to play a whole range of musical styles – from the mellow and melodic to hard-driven guitar rock.

Released in 2005, Front Parlour Ballads marks Thompson’s first acoustic solo album since 1981 and his first acoustic album of all-original material. Encompassing everything from rollicking tales of quickie marriages in “Let it Blow”, a lilting love song dedicated to “Miss Patsy”, and the devastatingly beautiful lament of “Precious One”, Front Parlour Ballads is a treasure box of stories and characters, all delivered with Thompson’s masterful guitar work, sonorous voice and bittersweet lyrics.

Also released in 2005 were a CD and DVD of a 2001 Richard Thompson performance at Austin City Limits, Richard Thompson – Live From Austin Texas; a DVD of Richard Thompson Band Live in Providence recorded in 2003, Richard Thompson – And Band – Live In Providence ; a 5 CD boxed set, RT – The Life and Music of Richard Thompson, of classic and unreleased songs; and 1000 Years of Popular Music, a live CD and DVD of two performances spanning everything from 13th Century Italian ballads to Hank Williams and Britney Spears.

In early 2010 Thompson formed a band with Pete Zorn on acoustic guitar, flute, saxophone, mandolin, vocals; Michael Jerome on drums, vocals; Taras Prodaniuk on bass and vocals; and Joel Zifkin on electric violin, mandolin, and vocals. They released Dream Attic.

Thompson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011 for services to music.On July 5th, 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen.

In early 2013 Thompson released the album Electric, recorded in Nashville (USA).

In 2014, Thompson released Acoustic Classics, an album with acoustic versions of 14 songs from his back catalogue, on his Beeswing label.

In 2017, Thompson released a second acoustic album titled Acoustic Classics II and Acoustic Rarities, an album of new recordings of rare songs in the Thompson catalogue.

Thompson’s eighteenth studio album, 13 Rivers was released on September 14, 2018.

Discography:

Henry The Human Fly (Island Records, 1972)
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, with Linda Thompson (1974)
Hokey Pokey, with Linda Thompson (1974)
Pour Down Like Silver, with Linda Thompson (1975)
First Light, with Linda Thompson (1978)
Sunnyvista, with Linda Thompson (1979)
Shoot Out the Lights, with Linda Thompson (1982)
Hand Of Kindness (Hannibal Records, 1983)
Small Town Romance -Live / Solo In New York (Hannibal Records, 1984)
Across A Crowded Room (Polydor, 1985)
Daring Adventures (Polydor, 1986)
Amnesia (Capitol Records, 1988)
Rumor And Sigh (Capitol Records, 1991)
Mirror Blue Capitol Records, 1993)
You? Me? Us? (Capitol Records, 1996)
Industry, with Danny Thompson (Hannibal Records, 1997)
Mock Tudor (Capitol Records, 1999)
The Old Kit Bag (Cooking Vinyl, 2003)
Grizzly Man (Cooking Vinyl, 2005)
Front Parlour Ballads (Cooking Vinyl, 2005)
Live From Austin TX (New West Records, 2005)
Sweet Warrior (Proper Records, 2007)
Dream Attic Proper Records 2010
Live At The BBC ‎(Universal Music/BBC Music, 2011)
Electric (New West Records, 2013)
Acoustic Classics (Beeswing Records, 2014)
Still (Proper Records, 2015)
Acoustic Classics II (Beeswing Records, 2017)
Acoustic Rarities (Beeswing Records, 2017)
Acoustic Classics II + Rarities (Beeswing Records, 2017)
13 Rivers (New West Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Simon Thoumire

Simon Thoumire

Simon Thoumire was born July 11, 1970 in Edinburgh, Scotland. An acknowledged concertina virtuoso, Thoumire has dazzled audiences all over the world with his playing.

A winner of the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Tradition Award in 1989, Simon has always been interested in exploring different genres of music, releasing many records over the years delving into folk, jazz, improvisation and composition.

Simon has also pursued interests in the industry side of traditional music forming Foot Stompin’ Records in 1997, Scottish Traditional Music Trust (2000) and Hands Up for Trad (2003). United Kingdom Europe

Discography:

Exhibit A, with Fergus MacKenzie ‎(Iona, 1995)
The Big Day In, with David Milligan ‎(Foot Stompin’ Records, 2001)
Brothers In Music ‎(DUNS, 2004)
Third Flight Home, with David Milligan ‎(Foot Stompin’ Records, 2007)

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Artist Profiles: Tony McManus

Tony McManus

Guitarist Tony McManus was born in 1965 in Paisley, Scotland. He is a leading figure in contemporary Celtic music. His style is influenced by the entire Celtic diaspora – Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, Cape Breton, Quebec – along with still further-ranging flavors, such as jazz and east European music.

His skills are also in constant demand by fellow musicians and he has featured on over 50 albums by other artists, including Kate Rusby, Alison Brown, William Jackson, Brian McNeill, Liz Doherty, Colin Reid and Catriona Macdonald, in addition to innumerable live guest appearances.

Other collaborations include his celebrated partnership with master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. In 2005, McManus released a CD with Breton fretless bass player, Alain Genty titled Singing Sands.

Discography:

Tony McManus (Greentrax, 1996)
Pourquoi Quebec (Greentrax, 1998)
Return to Kintail, with Alasdair Fraser (Culburnie, 1999)
Ceol More (Compass, 2002)
Singing Sands with Alain Genty (Compass, 2005)
The Maker’s Mark (Compass, 2008)
Mysterious Boundaries (Compass, 2013)
Round Trip, with Beppe Gambetta (Borealis, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar was born on June 9, 1981 in London, England. Anoushka is the daughter of the late Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, and she is the first and only sitarist in the world trained completely by him.

Growing up in London, New Delhi and, later, Encinitas, California, Anoushka at first resisted the legacy of the sitar, a complex and ancient instrument with between 17 and 21 strings. Anoushka learned her first Indian songs and dances from her mother, Sukanya, and she became her father’s student at the age of nine. Her initial dislike of the specially built “baby sitar” on which she cut her musical teeth gave way to a love of the instrument and the music. She made her performing debut at age 13.

Ravi Shankar guided his daughter through her emergence as a performer and as a recording artist, writing and producing the five works she plays on Anoushka, her debut album. For Anourag, her second recording, Anoushka once again performed music written and produced by her father. This time, Ravi Shankar also joined Anoushka as performer.

When Ravi Shankar’s friend and protégé George Harrison first worked with Anoushka in 1997 — when she conducted on the Chants of India album — he saw that she had inherited not only her father’s virtuosity but also his musical soul. “Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument when they play that instrument, the music appears,” Harrison said. “But Ravi — to me, he is the music; it just happens to be that he plays the sitar. And it’s like that with Anoushka. She just has that quality. She could play the banjo, and it wouldn’t matter – she is the music.”

The release of Anourag coincided with the extensive “Full Circle” tour of the United States, in which Anoushka and Ravi Shankar performed together in concert in celebration of Ravi’s 80th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the beginning of his career in music. On August 15th, India’s Independence Day, Anoushka performed alone in New York at Summerstage in Central Park. Throughout the tour, she shared the stage with her father, performing his Sitar Concerto No. 1 and conducting master classes.

Anourag continued the Shankar family’s extraordinary presence in the world of Indian classical music. The recording’s six tracks feature traditional ragas that reflect Ravi Shankar’s influence on both the composition and performance of sitar music. In his first new recording as performer in several years, Ravi Shankar joined Anoushka on “Pancham Se Gara,” the final track on Anourag. In addition to her father, Anoushka was joined on the recording by Bikram Gosh on tabla and mridangam, Tanmoy Bose on tabla.

After graduating from high school with high honors in 1999, Anoushka decided to delay her entry to college to tour the world once again with her father. Highlights of their 1999 schedule included performances together at London’s Barbican Theatre and at the Evian Festival in France, where Anoushka joined the world-renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in playing the world premiere of a new work for cello and sitar by Ravi Shankar.

In 1998, the British Parliament presented Anoushka with a House of Commons Shield in recognition of her artistry and musicianship — at 17, she was the youngest as well as the sole female recipient of this honor. She toured extensively with Ravi throughout her cultural homeland of India, as well as Europe, Asia and the United States. In 1998, Anoushka played at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival in Seattle, at Carnegie Hall and in a special concert at New York’s Town Hall. Anoushka also joined her father in London in March 1997 for a historic performance of his Concerto No. 1 for Sitar and with Zubin Mehta conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

Rise, Anoushka Shankar’s fourth album for Angel Records, marked a defining moment in the career of the young musician in 2005. Having previously recorded strictly in the classical tradition, Anoushka emerged as a potent creative force. “It’s very much my own music and my journey and who I am right now,” said Anoushka, who turned 24 in June of 2005 “I felt that on a personal level, Rise signifies growth.

Anoushka Shankar – Photo credit Simonyc

On Rise-which was composed, produced and arranged by Anoushka-she collaborated with a select crew of virtuoso Eastern and Western musicians wielding a variety of both acoustic and electronic instruments often engaging in unexpected ways to create tantalizing new sounds.

Having toured almost non-stop since her adolescence, in addition to attending school until her graduation from high school in 1999, Anoushka felt that she needed a break and elected to take 2004 off. But her vacation quickly became a working one as concepts were planted for the album that ultimately became Rise.


Anoushka Shankar – Rise

“I was going to go disappear for a while but wouldn’t you know it, I made an album,” she says “The sabbatical gave me the space to take risks. It was really an organic, natural experience. I was traveling from India to the States and meeting friends and adding people along the way. It was really beautiful.”

From the first notes of “Prayer In Passing,” which opens Rise, it becomes instantly clear that Anoushka is on to something inspiring and uncommon here. The track features Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, a renowned Indian slide guitarist alongside the flamenco-style piano of Ricardo Miño, Pedro Eustache’s bansuri flute and duduk (a Middle Eastern wind instrument) and Anoushka’s sitar. “This one’s very languid,” says Anoushka. “It’s just nice and dreamy-it’s set in a morning raga that’s very moody and simple. It was lovely to have so many different things that shouldn’t go together but seemed to flow really nicely.”

“Red Sun,” the second track, features Anoushka on keyboards and is highlighted by the percussive Indian “bol” vocalizing of Bikram Ghosh and Tanmoy Bose, her longtime tabla players. “We’ve always incorporated that into my shows when they play with me, and I definitely wanted to feature that-they’re improvising on that,” says Anoushka.

Anoushka performing live with her father, Ravi Shankar

“Mahadeva” is based on a four-line song by Ravi Shankar that was re-composed and arranged by Anoushka. “He never developed it into a piece of music,” Anoushka explains. “It was just something that I sang as a kid and it came into my head while we were in Calcutta recording. It started developing into a really strong rhythmic, dark-feeling track, which I was really excited about. Mahadeva is another name for Shiva, and one aspect of Shiva is that he’s the destroyer. This sort of brings out that feeling of anger and insanity.

“Naked” turns the mood around completely-Anoushka, all alone, on sitar and keyboards. “It was a very conscious decision to add a little pretty track with sitar being the focus,” she says. “We’d gone very mysterious and heavy and it seemed nice to have something light.”

“Solea” was co-written by Anoushka and pianist Ricardo Miño. The luminous background sounds, Anoushka explains, were all created on the piano. “I’m holding the piano strings muted while he’s playing one of the other background synth sounds. It was really creative and fun for me, and very physical, too, because of the rhythm, the flamenco approach.”

The album’s other sitar-less track, “‘Beloved,'” says Anoushka, “was my first experience writing lyrics from scratch and fitting it to a melody. It was flute-focused and I thought it would be nice to have it be about Krishna because he’s always associated with the flute. The lyrics are from the viewpoint of Radha, who’s his eternal lover. She’s searching for him everywhere and then she understands that the reason she hasn’t been able to find him is because she’s not looking within herself.”

The intriguingly titled “Sinister Grains,” like “Prayer In Passing,” is another instance where Anoushka juxtaposed seemingly incongruous ingredients, here using Indian shehnai and vocals, didjeridoo, South American vocal percussion, bass and electronic elements, including her sitar which was fed through a filter to create some of the track’s ambient effects. “It’s just a funky little mysterious track,” she says. “The song is in a Sufi-sort of mood where he’s talking about the pain of living, and the music is also very moody.”

Anoushka compares “Voice Of The Moon,” which matches the Western cello and violin to the Eastern sitar, tabla and santoor, to her father’s collaborations with the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin. “It’s very much composed within an Indian raga yet the fact that the cello is there gives it a smoothness,” she says. The Indian percussion is amended with an electronic HandSonic drum pad as well, “to give it a little more depth,” Anoushka explains.

Anoushka Shankar

Finally, “Ancient Love,” the longest track on Rise is “my favorite one by far,” says Anoushka. “This is the one closest to my heart. It was also the easiest track because it constantly flowed. Every time someone added to this track, it would get more beautiful. We ended up taking out a lot, too, to retain a bit of simplicity. It’s got a nice mix of the electronics and several flavors.”

The sequencing of the tracks on Rise, adds Anoushka, is hardly random. “Each one is in a certain raga, and it flows from morning to evening through the course of the album, which is a pretty unique feature. It’s not something that happens very often or that can be made to work, but if you do believe that ragas have moods and have significance it does enhance the overall flow.”

In 2007, Anoushka collaborated with world music innovator Karsh Kale, combining Indian classical music with electronica and other influences.

Anoushka Shankar – Home – Anoushka Shankar

After releasing several experimental, fusion and crossover albums, Anoushka released Home in 2015. It’s a pure Indian classical album that showcases the meditative and virtuosic qualities of the Indian raga. Home includes two ragas, one of which is a creation of Ravi Shankar’s.

Anoushka Shankar – Land Of Gold

Land of Gold (2016) is Anoushka Shankar’s whole-hearted response to the trauma and injustice experienced by refugees and victims of war. The music was inspired by recent news images of people fleeing civil war, oppression, poverty and agonizing hardship. “The seeds of Land of Gold originated in the context of the humanitarian plight of refugees,” Anoushka recalls. “It coincided with the time when I had recently given birth to my second child. I was deeply troubled by the intense contrast between my ability to provide for my baby, and others who desperately wanted to provide the same security for their children but were unable to do so.”

Hang virtuoso and co-writer of many of the album’s ten pieces Manu Delago joined Anoushka Shankar. Other guests included Sanjeev Shankar, a master of the spellbinding Indian reed instrument, the shehnai, who studied with Anoushka’s father Ravi Shankar.

Land of Gold also includes guest appearances by singer-songwriter Alev Lenz, jazz bassist Larry Grenadier, dancer Akram Khan, cellist Caroline Dale, rapper and refugee advocate M.I.A., and actress and political activist Vanessa Redgrave. All-girl children’s choir Girls for Equality makes its debut on the album’s closing song, “Reunion.”

Everyone is, in some way or another, searching for their own “Land of Gold”: a journey to a place of security, connectedness and tranquility, which they can call home,” said Anoushka. “This journey also represents the interior quest that we all take to find a sense of inner peace, truth and acceptance – a universal desire that unites humanity.”

“My instrument,” comments Anoushka, “is the terrain in which I explore the gamut of emotional expression – evoking shades of aggression, anger and tenderness, while incorporating elements of classical minimalism, jazz, electronica and Indian classical styles.”

In 2019, Anoushka Shankar released Reflections, a compilation featuring including Anoushka’s favorite tracks, with pieces from Land of Gold, Traces of You, Rise and other albums.

Discography:

Anoushka (Angel Records, 1998)
Anourag (Angel Records, 2000)
Live at Carnegie Hall (Angel Records, 2001)
Rise (Angel Records, 2005)
Breathing Under Water, with Karsh Kale (Manhattan Records, 2007)
Traveller (Deutsche Grammophon, 2011)
Traces of You (Deutsche Grammophon, 2013)
Home (Deutsche Grammophon, 2015)
Ravi & Anoushka Shankar Live In Bangalore, 2 CD + DVD (East Meets West, 2015)
Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon, 2016)
Reflections (Deutsche Grammophon, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: John Carty

John Carty

Born in London, England and now residing in Co. Roscommon, Ireland, John plays in the Roscommon and Sligo styles of his family roots. He was named Traditional Musician of the Year for 2003 by Irish Television TG4. He has released a number of well-regarded albums and also plays with his band At the Racket.

Discography:

The Cat That Ate The Candle (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1994)
Last Night’s Fun (Shanachie, 1996)
Yeh That’s All It Is (Shanachie, 2001)
At It Again (Shanachie, 2003)
I Will If I Can (Racket Records, 2005)
Upon My Soul (2006)
Pathway To the Well (Racket Records, 2007)
On the Fly, with Patrick Street (2007)
It’s Not Racket Science – At the Racket (2008)
Meadbh (The Crimson Path), with Ann Joyce (Racket Records, 2010)
At Complete Ease, with Brian Rooney (Racket Records, 2011)
The Good Mixer (Racket Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: John Renbourn

John Renbourn (left) with Pentangle

Guitarist and composer John Renbourn was born August 8, 1944 in Marylebone, United Kingdom. He was one of the world’s leading fingerstyle guitarists. His unique sound was a fusion of British and Celtic folk music with jazz, country blues, ragtime, classical, Middle Eastern and pre-Renaissance music; a style often called “folk-baroque.”

As a teenager, Renbourn played folk and blues guitar in his hometown of Torquay in southwest England. In 1964, after two years studying classical guitar at the George Abbot School in Guildford, a twenty-year-old Renbourn moved to London to break into the Soho folk circuit and to record solo albums for Transatlantic Records. There, he met fellow guitarist Bert Jansch and singer Jacqui McShee, with whom he founded the influential British folk-rock ensemble Pentangle in 1967.

Pentangle’s pioneering combination of traditional folk melodies with jazz improvisations created an influence that continues to inspire folk musicians around the world. From 1967 through 1978 the group’s career spanned six albums, numerous television appearances and three movie soundtracks, as well as several American and world tours.

Later, John continued as a soloist, recording memorable albums like The Hermit and The Black Balloon, before forming the John Renbourn Group, which integrated Indian tabla with guitar and jazz reeds. A subsequent partnership with Stefan Grossman yielded several albums and world tours.

Ship of Fools, a return to the ensemble format, explored John’s interest in Celtic music, as did Wheel of Fortune, with Scottish harper and storyteller Robin Williamson. Both Wheel of Fortune and the John Renbourn Group’s Live in America were nominated for Grammy Awards.

John Renbourn and Robin Williamson often toured together, and John continued an active solo career. He also maintained his artistic relationships with Jansch and McShee, with Stefan Grossman and with jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. He also developed a stunning two-guitar show with American expatriate Isaac Guillory.

John Renbourn died on March 26, 2015 in Hawick, United Kingdom.

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Artist Profiles: McCalmans

The McCalmans

The McCalmans was a Scottish band formed in 1964 that performed for over forty years and all members of the group played instruments and sang.

Ian McCalman was a founder, along with Derek Moffat and Hamish Bayne. The Macs collected and performed traditional and contemporary material (mainly from Scotland) with unique harmony and idiosyncratic, off-the-cuff presentation. Their mission was to make a statement with their music, combined with their commitment to humor.

They recorded 26 albums, countless radio and TV series plus completed numerous world tours, headlining shows in London?s Albert Hall right down to the smallest of folk clubs.

Scots Abroad (Greentrax, 2006) contains almost all the songs from their concerts.

Discography:

All In One Mind (1968)
Singers Three (CBS, 1969)
Turn Again (CBS, 1970)
No Strings Attached (RCA, 1971)
An Audience With The McCalmans (RCA, 1973)
Smuggler (Xtra, 1975)
House Full (Xtra, 1976)
Side By Side By Side (Transatlantic Records, 1977)
Burn The Witch (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
The Best of (1979)
The Ettrick Shepherd (1980)
At Your Service (1980)
Bonnie Bands Again (1982)
Ancestral Manoeuvres (1984)
Scottish Songs (1986)
Peace and Plenty (Greentrax Records, 1986)
Listen To The Heat (Greentrax Records, 1988)
Flames on The Water (Greentrax Records, 1990)
Songs From Scotland (Greentrax Records, 1991)
Honest Poverty (Greentrax Records, 1993)
In Harmony (Greentrax Records, 1994)
Festival Lights (Greentrax Records, 1995)
High Ground (Greentrax Records, 1997)
Keepers (Greentrax Records, 1999)
Hard Night’s Day (2000)
Where The Sky Meets The Sea (2002)
Tangled Web (2004)
Scots Abroad (2006)
Coming Home (2009)
The Greentrax Years (Greentrax Records, 2010)
Lost Tracks (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Harriet Earis

Harriet Earis – Photo by Mike Peters

Harriet Earis was classically trained on concert pedal harp, but now specializes in the Celtic harp. She was the ‘Harper of All Britain’ in 2000 and 2002.

Harriet studied Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh and has a degree in Celtic Studies from Trinity College, Cambridge. She is a member of Siansa, a six-piece, London-based traditional Irish band that includes several All Ireland Champions.

Harriet’s first solo recording was Jumping Ahead, released in 2003. It featured Irish and Scottish harp music with backing from a variety of world music instruments.

Her second album, From the Crooked Tree (2007), featured The Harriet Earis Trio (harp, bass and drums). Another trio album, Alignments was released in May 2016.

Harriet has recorded on various other albums, including the London Irish group Siansa’s debut album (2001), two CDs titled “Through These Eyes” (1999) and “A Hundred Thousand Angels” (2000) by pop singer Luce Drayton and “Shake the Blossom Early” (2004) by London Irish singer Helen Roche. Other collaborations include “Craic of Dawn” by the German-Irish band An Tor (2006), “Ear to Ere”, an American-Welsh crossover album produced by Red Kite Records (2007), “Dragons” (2007) with Welsh trio Triban.

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