Monthly Archives: October 2019

Kris Drever in Concert – The Basement, York – October 15 2019

October 27, 2019

I was surprised to find out that Drever is still only 40 years old. Stood there in front of a packed small basement he looked clean cut and youthful. Yet as the night unfolded his stories of drunken revelry, festivals and several musical projects, including the folk band Lau, confirm he’s been around for a while. In fact he had a lovely wicked self-deprecating sense of humour.

It’s fair to elevate him to the best of Scottish folk music and despite still producing fine music, his commercial peak came with 2006’s Black Water. This album is how I discovered him. When I espied that he was playing York I had to gird my loins and get there.

His voice is unique and places him north of the border to my Sassenach ears. Whilst tuneful and strong, it has a bagpipe drone quality that compliments the traditional songs he mainly sings. Such a song is “Beads & Feathers” that comes off the above ‘hit’ album. The words place you in a different time with different politics:

“You’ve been sailors for your souls, You’ve been soldiers unto many wars, You’ve been miners for your peaceful hearts, You’ve been fighters for your fallen tears and mine, This flowing water never ends, These granite mountains cannot fall, Just like them you live forever, And trade it all for beads and feathers”

Drever is a fabulous guitarist and switches between acoustic and a Telecaster. It’s not a hardship when he lets his fingers do the talking and we get instrumentals such as “Unst Bridal March”. Unst is a northern island in the Shetlands – the most northerly part of the British Isles. Like many of his tunes they are Celtic in their construction and rhythm. Drever dwells on the Shetlands but also on another more southerly archipelago, the Orkney Islands. It’s from here he reveals one of his latest compositions – “Scapa Flow 1919”. After the Armistice of World War One the surrendered German fleet was corralled in this natural harbour. He sings from the point of view of the sailors. The German High command decided to scuttled 52 ships; the biggest loss of shipping in one day.

He chirps that he’s off to Manchester tomorrow night to a BBC Folk Awards night to see if this song has won the award for the best folk song of 2019. He lamented that his attendance would involve meeting up with old friends and things could get “messy’. I note he didn’t win but I hope the hangover wasn’t too bad.

Over 20 songs he covered all bases in respect to the audiences’ favourites including mine, which was “Harvest Gypsies”, a derogatory name given to the migrant fruit pickers in the US 1930s dust bowl. Other highlights included “I Didn’t Try Hard Enough”, “If Wishes Were Horses”, “Shady Grove” and “Navigator”. 

It is a 10 date tour of England and now that he lives in Glasgow with his young family he can enjoy the easy access to the south and a loyal fan base. He said the trains were a key factor in leaving the Scottish islands, I don’t think he was joking! Despite his departure from the watery north, I hope he’ll continue to sing about the islands.

Record Of The Week # 77

October 24, 2019

Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County

This is the next step in the emergence of Enderlin with her third solo album. It’s very much is a continuation of the sound and arrangements of her 2017 effort Whiskeytown Cryer. Her credentials as a songwriter, for the top-drawer Country music artists, are well established yet her own solo profile only merits acoustic sets in smaller clubs. This must surely change.

Over 14 tracks with assistance from some stellar friends (Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Alison Krauss, Jon Randall and Dillon Carmichael) she delivers staggering Country songs. Her rich and expressive voice suits these traditional arrangements. Such is the power of this instrument that your attention cannot waiver from absorbing the poignancy of each ‘story’. Each narrative is classic Country – drinking, heartbreak, loneliness and moving on. 

Continue reading Record Of The Week # 77

Record Of The Week # 76

October 17, 2019

Whiskey Myers

Whiskey Myers after 12 years together and five albums have hit the big time with an album at Number 1 in the Billboard Country chart and Number 2 in the Billboard Rock chart. This release took just under three weeks to record in Texas. It rocks. The PR says “Whiskey Myers continue pushing in all directions and sharpening their attack, whether country, rock, blues, whatever — even adding the legendary McCrary Sisters’ gospel influence to the project on background vocals”.

Continue reading Record Of The Week # 76

Murder, Discounts & Christmas Pudding : Week 42 : 2019

October 17, 2019

I have several cycling routes that I ride fairly regularly. One takes me out and back into the Yorkshire Wolds. It’s quite a lonely ride with few settlements: just sharp hills and lots of arable farming land. On my way home on such a four hour jaunt I ride through the peaceful village of Full Sutton. I say peaceful because on the outside it is anonymous albeit with a reasonable amount of residential housing and a large prison. I’ve reflected that as the prison is designated ‘high security’ it contains the worst of humanity. However I trundle past and look at the pigs running around in the field opposite reflecting on the free range nature of their existence before becoming sausages.

Despite this tranquility it is somewhat disturbed by being the location of a recent horrific stabbing that led to a prolific paedophile being murdered in his cell. This awful development even made it onto the CNN website. Incarceration can be a violent and hellish existence. I suppose being locked up with malevolent and mentally disturbed men for decades, with no hope of a better future, is a situation that spawns this terrible environment. My next cycle past will make me shudder at what goes on inside its high walls.

Continue reading Murder, Discounts & Christmas Pudding : Week 42 : 2019

Downton Abbey – The Movie/Film – Week 40 : 2019

October 9, 2019

I was sat at my desk and a voucher from Lloyds Bank caught my eye. As a customer they gave us six cinema tickets. I’d had half a mind to go and see the above film from its release. So on a cold Friday afternoon with nothing better to do than various chores that seemed deeply unappealing, I wended my way to north York to the Vue cinema. 

I grew up with musical films – South Pacific, Calamity Jane, My Fair Lady, High Society, The Sound Of Music. Most of these were from the 60s with no pretence at gritty realism or more ambition than seeing off a baddie and the guy getting the gal after a bit of a chase. The soundtracks were all sublime: how could you fail with Cole Porter, Rogers & Hammerstein or Frederick Loewe. Unfortunately there was no music involved in Downton Abbey but the harmless beautifully overdressed fun was similar.

Continue reading Downton Abbey – The Movie/Film – Week 40 : 2019