Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Artist Profiles: Andrew Cronshaw

Andrew Cronshaw

Andrew Cronshaw was born April 18, 1949 in Lancashire, United Kingdom. He is known for both his music and his writing. His writing appears frequently in British publication FRoots and other magazines. And he is also the author of the chapters devoted to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Faroes, Iceland, the Baltic States and Portugal in the most recent version of the Rough Guide to World Music.

Musically, Andrew’s voyage began as a child with a piano and a tin whistle. His primary instrument is now the zither, which lives at the heart of a collection of instruments that have come into his life through his travels, research and enormous musical curiosity. These include: a fujara, which Andrew describes as “a five-foot long Slovakian shepherd’s flute that yields shivering breathy harmonics;” aba-wu from China’s Yunan province, which is his “seductive-toned” brass-reed instrument, and many other string and percussion instruments.

In the early 1990s, Andrew chose to tour most often as a solo performer. With his instruments and a small PA, he played more than 100 performances in ancient English village churches. Solo, in his case, meant he would book the concert, meet the audience at the door, perform, pack up and move on.

Although a U.K. native, over the past twelve years more and more of his time has been spent in Finland. He is fascinated by and increasingly involved in new Finnish music rooted in its folk traditions. Andrew says he is drawn also by the sense of community, especially in Kaustinen, a music center and home to one of the world’s finest music festivals. It was at the Kaustinen Festival he initiated Hauenleuka: a large performance project that involved the floating of a giant seven-meter, five-string kantele down the river Perho accompanied by four hundred local musicians and dancers.

His album On The Shoulders Of The Great Bear, is based on a dozen traditional tunes from Finland, one from Siberia, and three from the Scottish Gaelic-speaking tradition.

Andrew founded an ensemble called SANS, a collaboration with Finnish musicians.

Andrew’s approach to music includes the belief that instruments “find a particular tune they like.”

Discography:

A Is For Andrew, Z Is For Zither ‎(XTRA, 1974)
Times And Traditions For Dulcimer ‎(Trailer, 1976)
Earthed In Cloud Valley (Trailer, 1977)
Wade In The Flood (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
The Great Dark Water (Waterfront Records, 1982)
Till The Beasts’ Returning ‎(Topic Records, 1988)
The Andrew Cronshaw CD ‎(Topic Records, 1989)
The Language Of Snakes (Special Delivery, 1993)
On The Shoulders Of The Great Bear ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2000)
Ochre ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2004)
The Unbroken Surface Of Snow ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2011)
Live, with SANS (Cloud Valley CV2014, 2014)
Kulku, with SANS (Cloud Valley Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland has had the good fortune of being the only current performing fiddler to have been taught by both Hector MacAndrew of Cults, (whose grandfather was a pupil of James MacIntosh of Dunkeld, the last pupil of the famous Neil Gow) and Donald Riddell of Clunes, who was the leader of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society, also a prolific teacher in the Inverness area. Both these fiddlers are now legendary in Scottish traditional fiddle
music.

Gregor has also had much success in competitions, winning the Daily record Junior Golden Fiddle Award in 1978 and then going on to win as many as eight Scottish Championships throughout Scotland over the next five years, including the “Henry Williams Trophy” at the Scottish Championship Contest, held in Inverness.

He has recorded and toured with many bands and artistes, including the Kathryn Tickell Band, Burach, Caledon, (With Davie Steele) and also Jim Malcolm to name but a few.

Gregor currently is living in Spain with his family where he has started a Traditional Scottish Fiddle School, in the beautiful town of Biar, north of Alicante. He is also a fully qualified piano tuner. Gregor has also recently started making fiddles, he now faithfully plays one of them on tour.

The CD Bowstroke demonstrates Gregor’s versatility. He is a traditional fiddler, but also has a contemporary side, as he has played with some of the best British folk groups, Kathryn Tickell Band and Burach to name a couple and this contemporary element comes out on the new cd. He is accompanied by Julian Sutton on melodeon & Ian Stevenson on guitar and harmonium.

For the traditional portion, Greg has three pianists, James Gray, Morag MacAskill, and last but not least Bob Turner. They all add a different flavor with their wonderful playing and it all adds up to a very enjoyable mix of old and new.

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Artist Profiles: Calasaig


Calasaig – Photo by Alan Wylie


Since the group’s formation in the late 1990s, Calasaig secured an admirable reputation in the world of traditional music through their numerous performances and recordings. Their albums, Until Then, Making For The Shore and Near & Far have brought the band critical acclaim and have ensured their continued inclusion in the top ten of several traditional music album charts in Europe and the US, as well as on radio play lists around the world.

Their 4th album, Merchants’ City, was recorded in Phase One studios in Toronto and at The Foundry in Glasgow. It was released in North America on REL Records in August of 2003 and was released in the UK and Europe by Lazy Mist Records in February of 2004.

The band: Keith Johnston – cittern, guitar, vocals; Celine Donoghue – fiddle, tenor banjo, mandola, vocals; Andy Webster – guitar, bouzouki, vocals; Keith Easdale – Highland pipes, small pipes, mandocello, whistle, flute, mouth organ, vocals; Kirsten Easdale – vocals, viola, bodhran

Discography:

Until Then (Bellcraig Records, 1998)
Making For the Shore (Lazy Mist Records, 2000)
Near & Far (Lazy Mist Records, 2002)
Merchant’s City (Lazy Mist Records, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Daimh

Dàimh

Dàimh offer a fresh, up to date approach to Scottish traditional music, with a rich sound that moves from driving, fiery reels to slow sets of lyrical beauty.

Based in the West Highlands, with musicians from Cape Breton Island, Ireland, the West Highlands of Scotland and the ever-innovative Irish/American scene, the band effortlessly blends music from their native traditions with a few more tunes picked up en-route, producing a breathtakingly fluid and exciting sound.

Their music is a very high energy, fast-flowing mixture of tunes and songs from the traditions of their countries represented. Fusing together their individual styles on bagpipes, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bodhran and mandola to create a unique and compelling sound, their music knows no boundaries.

Its members are Angus MacKenzie (whistle, highland and border pipes), Gabe McVarish (fiddle), Ellen MacDonald (voice/bagpipes), Murdo Cameron (mandolin/accordion) and Ross Martin (guitar).

Discography:

Moidart to Mabou (2000)
Pirates of Puirt (2004)
Crossing Point ( Greentrax , 2007)
Diversions (2010)
Tuneship (2014)
The Hebridean Sessions (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Dele Sosimi

Dele Sosimi

Dele Sosimi is a British-Nigerian musician born February 22, 1963 in London, England.

Dele Sosimi stands out as one of the most active musicians currently on the Afrobeat scene worldwide. Dele’s career began when he joined Fela’s Anikulapo-Kuti’s Egypt 80 (1979-1986) and then subsequently with Fela’s son Femi Anikulapo-Kuti’s Positive Force (1986-1994). In both bands he was musical director and keyboard player.

Since Fela created Afrobeat, Dele’s Afrobeat pedigreee is therefore impeccable. The music is a blend of complex but highly danceable funk grooves, Nigerian traditional music (including hi-life), African percussion, underpinning the jazz horns and solos from other instruments, as well as rhythmical singing.

Dele toured extensively around the world with Fela and Femi, re-orchestrating and arranging music and also handling the recruiting and training of new musicians. His keyboard work can be heard on Fela’s Power Show, Original Sufferhead, MOP 1 (Movement of the People), Authority Stealing, Army Arrangeement, ITT (International Thief Thief), and Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense, and on Femi’s albums No Cause for Alarm and Mind Your Own Business.

Dele has also performed often with Tony Allen, the king of Afrobeat drumming. Following his first solo album “Turbulent Times” (Eko Star 2002), he was invited to select the tracks for the 3-CD compilation titled “Essential Afrobeat” (Universals Family Recordings, 2004).

He was producer and co-writer of “Calabash Volume 1: Afrobeat Poems” by Ikwunga, the Afrobeat Poet (2004). He is a central member of the Wahala Project, whose single Wahala appears on Puma’s 2006 Soccer World Cup Compilation CD. He has also featured on British rapper TY’s recent album Closer (on the track Sweating for your Salary), and his Turbulent Times is featured on The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (2006).

Currently based in London, Dele is an educator and instructor in Afrobeat (via his Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Foundation, and as a Visiting Lecturer in Music and Media, London Metropolitan University). Sosimi is abetted by a group of musicians, most of whom have either played with him on previous records or have gigged with him on the live circuit.

Discography:

Turbulent Times (Eko Star, 2002)
Identity (Helico Records, 2007)
You No Fit Touch Am (2015)

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Artist Profiles: The Breath

The Breath

The Breath is a Manchester-based innovative folk band inspired by Celtic music, rock, ambient electronic, and other influences. The group is led by vocalist, lyricist and flute player Ríoghnach Connolly and guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum. They met through MySpace in 2010 when McCallum was looking for a singer.

Ríoghnach Connolly was born in Armagh (Northern Ireland) and is currently based in Manchester. She is known for her work with Afro Celt Sound System and Honeyfeet. Ríoghnach has an extraordinary voice.

Stuart McCallum was born in Manchester. He is an exploratory guitarist, known for his masterful loops and effects. He worked with Cinematic Orchestra and released various solo albums.

The other two members of the original The Breath are drummer Luke Flowers and pianist John Ellis.

The group attracted a lot of attention in 2016 with its debut album Carry Your Kin on Real World Records, recorded in Manchester and at Real World Studios, mixed by Tchad Blake.

Discography:

Carry Your Kin (Real World Records, 2016)
Let The Cards Fall (Real World Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Sona Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh

Maya Sona Jobarteh was born in London in 1983. She is the first professional female kora player. Sona is part of the Jobarteh/Diabaté family of jelis (griots), one of the five major kora-playing jeli families from West Africa.

She is the granddaughter of the master jeli musician Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, who migrated from Mali to the Gambia. Her cousin is the well-known, celebrated Kora player Toumani Diabaté. Her mother is English.

A virtuoso kora player, Sona Jobarteh is a modern day pioneer in an ancient, male-dominated hereditary tradition that has been exclusively handed down from father to son for the past seven centuries. The British-Gambian artist has modernized the presentation of kora music and brings a rhythmic approach to her compositions that fits with her remarkable voice.

Discography:

Afro Acoustic Soul (Sona Soul Records, 2008)
Motherland: The Score (African Guild Records, 2010)
Fasiya (African Guild Records, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Dub Colossus

Dub Colossus

British producer and multi-instrumentalist Dubulah (a.k.a. Transglobal Underground founding member Nick Page), collaborated with outstanding Ethiopian musicians in Addis Ababa and the result is Dub Colossus.

Influenced by the Ethiopian music golden era, Dub Colossus explored traditional Azmari styles, 60s Ethiopian pop, Ethiojazz and 1970s Jamaican Dub Reggae. A Town Called Addis, their critically acclaimed debut album was released in October 2008.

Dubulah (Nick Page)

Echoes of such diverse acts as The Abyssinians, Sun Ra, Tlahoun Gesese, Pablo Gadd, Hirut Beqele, Dick Dale and King Tubby can be heard amongst the ever-changing musical backdrop that is the album.

Discography

* A Town Called Addis (Real World Records CDRW155, 2008)
* Return To Addis
* Rockers Meet Addis Uptown (Real World Records, 2011)
* Dub Me Tender Vol. 1 (Real World Records, 2011)
* Addis Through the Looking Glass (2011)

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Artist Profiles: UB40

UB40

For several decades, UB40 have been popularizing reggae around the globe. UB40’s fortune changed at the beginning of 1980. They had spent many years performing live and developing a name for themselves when they were asked to joining ‘The Pretenders’ as their support act on a national tour. The group’s first album was released in September 1980. The album cover was a reproduction of the unemployment benefit card with the title Signing Off rubber stamped in red. It referred to ‘signing off’ the dole i.e. getting a job. It was an acknowledgement of the launch of the band as well as a celebration of their new status.

The first single with Graduate, their initial label was a double-A coupling of Food for Thought about third world poverty and ‘King’ an expression of grief for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘King’ had seemed to be the favorite with live audiences but it was ‘Food for Thought’ that got the airplay and became the first hit. The single was released during the tour without the benefit of major label marketing or promotion and headed straight for the top five.

The group released their fourth album Labour of Love in 1983. It was their first direct tribute to the musicians who had inspired them. ‘Red Red Wine’ was the first single to be released from Labour of Love and it went straight to number one in the UK charts upon its release. The phenomenally popular single was in the British charts for two years. It gave UB40 their first worldwide hit and first American number one.

Success continues throughout the Nineties with the release of Promises and Lies which becomes the group’s biggest selling album worldwide selling in excess of 9 million copies worldwide and contained the hit single ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love ‘ giving the band their third UK number one.

Fathers of Reggae, a project which took three years to complete featured a series of legendary reggae artists such as Toots Hibbert, Gregory Isaacs and John Holt was released in 2002.

In 2003, UB40 received an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement and secure a Top Ten album with the ‘Platinum Collection Labour of Love I II & III a triple box set comprising the whole ‘Labour of Love’ series. Their 22nd album, Homegrown includes ‘Swing Low,’ the official anthem for the England rugby team’s triumphant 2003 World Cup campaign in Australia. The song became the group’s 49th UK chart single.

In April 2005, UB40 united with Roger Daltrey Eric Clapton and John Mayer to play their first ever show at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. The band was then invited to perform at the Live8 event in London’s Hyde Park, alongside U2, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Madonna, Robbie Williams and The Who. A successful sell-out tour in the UK, Ireland and Europe completeds the year.

UB40 continued to tour throughout 2006 visiting Mozambique Australia New Zealand the Pacific Islands (i.e. New Caledonia Tahiti Tonga Fiji) Hawaii and continuing on to the US and Canada.

Discography:

Signing Off (1980)
Present Arms (1981)
UB44 (1982)
Labour of Love (1983)
Geffery Morgan (1984)
Baggariddim (1985)
Rat in the Kitchen (1986)
UB40 (1988)
Labour of Love II (1989)
Promises and Lies (1993)
Guns in the Ghetto (1997)
Labour of Love III (1998)
Cover Up (2001)
Homegrown (2003)
Who You Fighting For? (2005)
TwentyFourSeven (2008)
Labour of Love IV (2010)
Getting Over the Storm (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Talvin Singh

Talvin Singh

Talvin Singh was born in London in the early 1970s; as a young boy he was inspired to play tabla on his grandmother’s knees upon hearing the great masters on the TV or early recordings. His upbringing in a vibrant and multi cultural city and the sacred heritage of Indian classical & folk music provided an inspiring background. His tastes ranged from Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha Khan to local bands like the Jam. It was this diverse appreciation for music that inspired the young boy to seriously consider training in tabla.

At 15, after convincing his parents and teachers to allow him to take early examinations Talvin was initiated to become a disciple of the great academic and musician Lachman Singh Seen of Punjab. After initially spending 3 years learning, the young man returned to London with a life long effort in mastering his instrument and upholding the traditions of the famous Punjab Gharana (school).

At 18, Singh continued his formal education in Art History. In demand for studio sessions, the young musician was becoming a sought after programmer producer and tabla artist in the late 1980s underground scene. This was an exciting period. Acid House was emerging as well as a fledgling UK dance scene. Still only 18, Singh embarked on a tour with renowned saxophonist Courtney Pine to Russia and Eastern Europe. An estimated 25 Pop albums of that time had the melodic tabla rhythms or frenetic programming of the ambitious tabla artist and producer. He worked with seminal artists Sun Ra and Massive Attack.

Talvin Singh closely collaborated with Bjork on her Debut (1995) album and her subsequent World Tour. Madonna asked him to do remixes for both her Ray of Light (1997) and Music (2001) albums. As a producer and cutting edge artist his studio sense is unique.

At the age of 23 he created his own record label Omni and released the concept album Calcutta Cyber Cafe as a limited release.

Singh toured the United States with the seminal record breaking Lollapalooza Tour playing to sold out mega stadiums in North America.

The early 90s urban club and music scene was rapidly progressing. Jungle and Drum & Bass was being born in clubs like the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, east London. His club night hosted early experiments with the self-invented Tabla-tronics instrument. New acts such as The Asian Dub Foundation, Joi and The State of Bengal were presented, as well as the music of A.R Rahman were introduced to a western audience for the first time. He conceived and licensed a compilation album Anokha Soundz of Asian underground (Island 1996) on his Omni label. One evening the electronica wizard Square Pusher (Warp) Bjork and India’s great Hari Haran jammed on the same stage. It was to celebrate Talvin’s 25th birthday.

Anokha was received to instant acclaim and his weekly Mondays became the stomping ground for tastemakers clubbers and recotrd label A&R reps. The highly evolved melody and complex rhythmic intensity of Indian Classical music meeting the technology and gritty electronica in Jungle began a music sub-genre a sound of Asian underground. Having created the environment & marketplace for the burgeoning movement he went to New York for a meeting with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. Blackwell had introduced Bob Marley and U2 to the world. Island Records offered Talvin a world-wide recording deal andthe company was rewarded for its belief when Singh’s debut solo album OK (Island 1999) won the celebrated Mercury Music Prize for Popular Music and South Bank Prize for Popular music in the same year. OK was recorded over 3 continents and featured many musicians.

Singh presented a single pre-sold live show at the Barbican Centre London. Performing on stage were pianist Ruichi Sakamoto sarangi maestro Sultan Khan vocalist Cleveland Watkiss trumpeter Byron Wallen and other musicians. OK was hailed a rare achievement in modern electronic music its sophistication and depth making it an instant classic.

His relationship with Guruji his musical master is one in the true Guru-Shishya tradition. During his meteoric rise to acclaim the student would visit Jalandhar to be with his musical master time spent refining his musical aesthetic and spiritual focus.

His composition Butterfly (OK 1999) was chosen by choreographer Durshan Singh Bullah to celebrate midnight at the Millenium Dome London (1999); attended by British Prime minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries.

In 2000, the celebrated producer released his second solo album Ha (Island 2). During that Singh artist embarked on his debut Tabla solo World Tour Untouched. A film made titled Drum & Space. Also in 2000 Singh curated a festival at London’s South Bank Centre which included Iranian artist Susan Deyhiem Sultan Khan and DJ Howie B.

In 2001 Singh presented a composition at the Barbican Centre London. The Electronickfestival which included his contemporaries William Orbit Craig Armstrong & Aphex Twin Richard D. James; commemorated the achievements of Karl Heinz Stockhausen a pioneer in post-modern music and theory. He also opened the new wing of the Tate Britain gallery with a solo tabla performance attended by the Queen of England.

In 2002 Singh recorded his first Indian Classical solo tabla.

In 2003 Singh composed a piece for a Choir and Orchestra intended for performance in the cathedral Abbey Church of Saint Denis an 11th century gothic masterpiece in Paris.

Talvin Singh continues to write and produce music for personal projects & teaching as a Music Director, Hollywood & Bollywood icon.

Discography:

Ok (Island Records, 1998)
Ha (Island Records, 2001)
Back to Mine (DMC, 2001)
Vira (Navras, 2002)
Sweet Box (2008)
Songs for the Inner World (Naive, 2007)
Together (World Village, 2011)

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