Friday, 20 April 2018

Off The Beaten Tracks 20 April 2018

First radio show I've recorded in a while complete with intro music from Kate Rusby's Elfin Knight. Here's the playlist - 

Ninebarrow - The Hour of the Blackbird
Sarah McQuaid - One Sparrow Down
Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar - Warwick Road
Michael Chapman - Waiting For A Train
Kris Drever - If Wishes Were Horses
Salt House - Old Shoes
Geoff Lakeman - Jim Jones
Show of Hands - If I Needed Someone
Cara Dillon - She's Like The Swallow
Chris While and Julie Matthews - So Long Old Friend
Ninebarrow - Gather It In
Peter Knight's Gigspanner - The Blackbird



Saturday, 14 April 2018

Gregson Open Mic recordings

About ten years ago I started volunteering at Diversity FM and at the same time I was going along to the open mic nights at the Gregson. As Diversity was a community radio station, they were keen to link up with the local music scene and when I told them that Wes was recording the performances at the Gregson someone came up with the idea of doing regular broadcasts of the open mic nights. It wouldn't have been possible to do live broadcasts so instead Wes gave the radio station copies of his recordings for us to edit. I don't think we ever got round to doing any hour-long broadcasts but instead I would edit the files and extract songs to include in my folk music show, Off The Beaten Tracks. In Dec 2010 Wes joined Diversity and he and I co-presented the show until the station went off air in March 2012. 

So that is how I came to be in possession of a dozen of Wes' recordings and I have just edited the one from the 2nd of November 2008. I have left in some of the between-song chat and this selection includes a lovely duet between Wes and Jo singing the song Tonight You Belong To Me from the Steve Martin film, The Jerk.

There are plans for a fundraiser\tribute night for Wes at the Yorkshire House at the end of June. In the meantime, have a listen to Joanne, Kish, Rob, Steve, Wes and Jo. 

https://www.mixcloud.com/cmbertram/gregson-open-mic-2-november-2008/



Monday, 26 March 2018

Some words on Wes Martin

I first met Wes Martin when he and Nigel were running the Open Mic night at the Gregson Centre. Wes would play his banjo and as I subsequently discovered, he was equally good on guitar and ukulele among other instruments. Back then he was a member of Nigel and Els’ band, The Low Countries, and contributed to their album, "The Failing of the Strains" which was influenced by the film The Wicker Man. Later on, when he and I co-presented Off The Beaten Tracks on Diversity FM, I played ‘Summerisle’ by The Bailey Sisters and Wes would join in singing the chorus with great gusto.

I can’t remember how it came about that Wes joined me on the radio station but I think it was because I wasn’t happy doing the show on my own and someone suggested that I find a co-presenter. At that time Wes was a full-time house-husband looking after two young sons and I got the impression that family life was, at times, quite stressful. Initially when Wes joined me we were doing live shows and he would often arrive with minutes to spare and then rush off at the end as there was some chore to do or a kid to be collected from school or wherever. But for those hours in the studio on a Friday lunchtime he could relax. To say he messed around would be unfair, as he was knowledgeable about the tracks he brought to the studio, but he certainly lightened the mood and I regained my love of broadcasting thanks to him.

We really were the classic straight man/funny man duo with me driving the desk (sliding faders up and down, playing jingles etc) while Wes brought his unique personality to the show. There was a book lying about in the studio titled something like This Day In History and it became a regular feature of the show with Wes reading bits from the book. He always had to mention who had died on this day in whichever year. He did seem to have something of a preoccupation with death though he never seemed to take it too seriously.

We recorded our final show in March 2012 when the funding ran out for Diversity FM and the YMCA pulled the plug on it. Wes had sometimes sat in with Reza Mills on his show and the three of us did one last live broadcast together on the day Diversity went off air. 


I didn’t see much of Wes after that, apart from one very drunken Xmas night out with Oli joining myself, Wes and Reza and the only other time I saw him was when we saw Mike Harding at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. We went for a drink after the show and Wes had got a real buzz from Mike’s brand of humour. He was a proud Northerner was Wes and I think he had a lot of admiration for Mike, both of them being from the North and having a shared love of folk and roots music.

But now Wes is gone. Inevitably, in these tragic circumstances, all his friends and family will find themselves asking why, and what we could have done to stop Wes from taking his own life. But ultimately it’s a pointless exercise. I, like many others, have been in the very dark places that depression can take you. It doesn’t matter how many people love you or how many friends you have offering you their support - when you are alone and the black cloud envelopes you, death can seem like the only way out and the only solution to your problems.

We will miss you Wes. We have your music, your paintings and I have a few recordings of our radio shows. The final song you selected on Off The Beaten Tracks was 'We’ll Meet Again' by Johnny Cash. I hope we do. So long Wes. It was a real pleasure knowing you.


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Listen to our final Diversity FM show on Mixcloud

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Folk gigs in North Lancs and South Cumbria


For full listings, online bookings etc

Image Acoustic* - imageacoustic.com/index.php/concerts
Brewery Arts Centre - breweryarts.co.uk/whats-on/live-music
Garstang Unplugged - garstangunplugged.com/index.html
The Hothouse - www.moremusic.org.uk
The Platform - uk.patronbase.com/_ThePlatform/Productions

Luke Daniels
Date: Saturday 28 April
Venue: The Hothouse, Morecambe
Tickets: £8 adv / £10 on the door

Chris While & Julie Matthews*
Date: Thursday 3 May
Venue: Chaplaincy Centre, Lancaster University
Tickets: £15

Sam Amidon
Date: Saturday 5 May
Venue: The Hothouse, Morecambe
Tickets: £12 adv / £14 on the door

Ninebarrow
Date: Sunday 6 May
Venue: Arnside Educational Institute
https://www.ninebarrow.co.uk/gigs

Show of Hands with special guest Geoff Lakeman
Date: Friday 11 May
Venue: The Platform, Morecambe
Tickets: £22

Rory McLeod
Date: Saturday 12 May
Venue: Halton Mill, Halton, nr Lancaster
https://haltonmill.org.uk/

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith
Date: Thursday 17 May
Venue: Garstang Unplugged
Tickets: £10

Sarah McQuaid
Date: Thursday 24 May
Venue: Victoria Hall, Settle
Tickets: £10

Lucy Ward*
Date: Saturday 30th June
Venue: Ellel Village Hall, Galgate
Tickets £12

For folk and Americana shows and mixes - mixcloud.com/cmbertram

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Top Folk & Acoustic Albums of 2017

I've put together my list of favourite albums of the year. As ever, thanks go to the promoters and artists who have sent me cds and free downloads. Along with the albums listed below I should mention a couple of releases which were made up of just a few tracks - they might have been called EPs back in the days of vinyl - namely 'Five Songs' by Barbara Dickson and 'The Wren And The Salt Air' by Jenny Sturgeon.

2017 must be the first year in quite a long time that I didn't make it to any music festivals apart from the one here in Lancaster. I've only been to about a dozen gigs this year but most have been very enjoyable, the best being the Pitmen Poets, Breabach, John Doyle, Jamie Smith's Mabon, The Young 'Uns, Rory McLeod and Edgelarks. 

My favourite album and gig would probably go to The Young 'Uns as I was blown away by their harmony singing when they came to the Dukes Theatre here in Lancaster and their album "Strangers" is packed full of brilliant songs. 

Top UK Albums 

Ross Ainslie - Sanctuary
The Deadly Winters - Ravynstoun
Amy Duncan - Antidote
Robert Foster - Raven
Peter Knight's Gigspanner - The Wife of Urban Law
Rosie Hood - The Beautiful & The Actual
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys - Pretty Peggy
Geoff Lakeman - After All These Years
Madam Tsunami - Long Way From Home
Siobhan Miller - Strata
Moonlight Gazette - Moonlight Gazette
Damien O'Kane - Avenging & Bright
Oka Vanga - Dance Of The Copper Trail
Old Blind Dogs - Room With A View
Skinner & T'witch - The Fool's Journey
Turnstone - Hollow Ground
The Young 'Uns - Strangers 

Top Albums from North America

Bruce Cockburn - Bone On Bone 
Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough - Mockingbird Soul
Stephen Fearing - Every Soul's a Sailor
Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors - Souvenir
Steve Hussey & Jake Eddy - The Miller Girl 


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

CB
Lancaster, UK

Friday, 27 October 2017

Off The Beaten Tracks radio show 27 October

I thought I'd record a show with songs written about refugees and immigrants and their journeys around the world. I found quite a few suitable ones just by UK artists, though there is a song by German group Fellerband, with my first choice being a very powerful song by The Young 'Uns titled 'Dark Water'. It was written about two young men who decided to swim across the sea to Greece as they didn't have the money to pay the people smugglers. There are a couple of songs about Calais where people used to gather in a camp called the Jungle though it has since been destroyed by the French authorities. But I'm sure people are still heading there to try and get across the Channel to England. 

https://www.mixcloud.com/cmbertram/off-the-beaten-tracks-27-october/

Darwin Song Project - Trust in the Rolling Ocean
Roving Crows - Refugee
Richard Thompson - Take Care the Road You Choose
Gilmore & Roberts - Warmonger
The Young 'Uns - Dark Water
Kate Rusby - Life in a Paper Boat
Fellerband - Road to Calais
Skinner & T'Witch - Calais Nights
Thea Gilmore - I Pity the Poor Immigrant
David Ferrard - I am an Immigrant (I'm From Here)
Julie Matthews - Road to Eden
Geoff Lakeman - The Road Together
June Tabor - Across the Wide Ocean

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Breabach gig review

Breabach at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal - 25 Feb 2017

At the start of this gig singer and guitarist Ewan Robertson said it had been a few years since they had played at the Brewery Arts Centre and asked if anyone in the audience had been there on that previous occasion. The silence was deafening, which took Ewan aback a bit, but by the end of the evening it didn't matter where all their old fans had gone as the new audience were on their feet applauding them like they were homecoming heroes.

Ewan, along with fiddler Megan Henderson, double bass player James Lindsay and pipers James Mackenzie and Calum MacCrimmon were in good spirits thanks to the Scottish victory over the Welsh at Murrayfield and the Cumbrian crowd was happy to join in the celebrations. While I'm sure I wasn't the only Scot in the audience, that old saying about the enemy of your enemy being your friend certainly applies in the Six Nations rugby tournament.

As for the music, there were plenty of tracks from their latest cd 'Astar' which includes compositions written on their travels to Scandanavia and Down Under. Each band member took it in turn to chat between numbers and there was some nice Outer Hebrides humour from James (We were poor but we were miserable!). I was mighty impressed with his flute playing - they are all accomplished musicians but I felt James' playing in particular was superb. Megan's Gaelic singing and step dancing are also worth a mention and there were some nice vocal harmonies when Ewan and Calum stepped up to their mics to accompany Megan. Ewan also gave us a lovely rendition of the Dick Gaughan song, "Outlaws and Dreamers".

With this having been the final date of the English leg of their current tour, they had the unenviable task of driving up to Inverness for a gig the following night, but on their current form I'm sure they will go down a storm in the Highlands. 

Hopefully it won't be another few years before Breabach play in the north-west of England again and all I can say to the band is, haste ye back!