Mary Chapin Carpenter (*21 February 1958, Princeton, New Jersey, USA). The singer-songwriter has won five Grammy Awards and is the only artist to have won four consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, which she received from 1992 to 1995. Her most successful album is 1992's "Come On Come On", which yielded seven charting country singles. In the 2000s, Carpenter's albums departed from her early work, becoming less radio-friendly and more focused on topical issues. Throughout her career, she has supported various charities and conducted fundraising concerts for causes such as the elimination of landmines. (www.marychapincarpenter.com)
Finn Olafsson (*16 February 1953, Copenhagen, Denmark). Danish guitarist Finn Olafsson began his career in 1968 as co-founder of the legendary rock band Ache. Around 1970, he started exploring acoustic, finger-picked steel-string guitars. His second solo album "Acoustic Guitar" (1980) solely presents such instrumental guitar music, re-released on CD in 2004. "Acoustic Guitar 3" has been released in 2018. All tracks have been printed in a music book with staff notation and tablature. Together with Anders Roland, he had been nominated for a 2007 Danish Folk Music Award in the category Best Composer of the Year. (www.finnolafsson.com)
Eric Anderson (*14 February 1943, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA). His songs had been recorded by Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, the Grateful Dead and many others. Early in his career in the 1960s, Eric Andersen was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in New York. In the late 1970s, he teamed up with Artie Traum, Happy Traum and John Sebastian; in the early 1990s, he joined Rick Danko (The Band) and Norwegian singer-songwriter Jonas Fjeld.
Eric Anderson is currently living in the Netherlands. His latest album, "Silent Angel," was released in 2017 celebrating the centenary of the writer and Nobel prize laureate Heinrich Böll's birth. "The Essential Eric Andersen," a 42-track double CD release covering fifty years of his recorded history, is scheduled for release in March 2018. (www.ericandersen.com)
James Keane (*7 February 1948, Drimnagh, Co. Dublin, Ireland). The Keane house in Dublin was a musical landmark in the 1950s and 1960s. Keane's mother and father would play host to the legendary players who came to perform in the capital. These guests greatly affected James and his brother Seán, the later fiddler with the Chieftains. James reportedly began playing the accordion at age six, and lilting since before he could talk. While still in his early teens, James co-founded what would become one of Ireland's most heralded music ensembles, the Castle Céilí Band.
James Keane moved to New York City, where he became part of the traditional scene through the 1980s until the present day. He is a founding member of the group Fingal, featuring American-born Irish-style fiddler Randal Bays and Northern Irish guitarist-singer Dáithí Sproule (Skara Brae, Altan). The Italian Castagnari company has issued a line of signature instruments called keanebox in his honour.
Shawn Phillips (*3 February 1943, Fort Worth, Texas, USA). The Texas-born singer-songwriter Shawn Phillips has been described as "the best kept secret in the music business" by the late rock impresario Bill Graham. He has lived with singer-songwriter Donovan in England in the 1960s and appeared as a session musician on several of his albums. Primarily influential in the 1960s and 1970s, Shawn Phillips has recorded more than twenty folk-rock albums. (www.shawnphillips.com)
T-Bone Burnett (*14 January 1948, St. Louis, Missouri, USA). American record producer Joseph Henry "T Bone" Burnett III has received Grammy Awards for the soundtracks of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), "Cold Mountain" (2004), "Walk the Line" (2006) and "Crazy Heart" (2010), thus renewing the interest in American roots music. T-Bone Burnett helped start the careers of rock bands Counting Crows and Los Lobos as well as singer-songwriters Gillian Welch and Sam Phillips (married to Burnett), and has released several solo albums himself. (www.tboneburnett.com)
June Tabor (*31 December 1947, Warwick, England). The English folk singer June Tabor is known for her solo work as well as for her collaborations with fellow vocalist Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span) and with folk-rock group The Oysterband. Besides traditional music, she has worked in other genres such as jazz and art song, but generally with a sparse and sombre tone to it.
Mike Heron (*27 December 1942, Edinburgh, Scotland). In 1965, Scottish singer and multi-instrumentalist James Michael Heron successfully auditioned to join a new trio with Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer, the Incredible String Band. Heron said "it was an exploring era in the Sixties and people were rebelling from the boring pop stuff into folk and blues and world music." He has also released a number of solo recordings, mostly more rock-oriented, but equally eclectic blending rock, folk and world music and employing musician friends such as Pete Townshend, John Cale, Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Elton John and Steve Winwood. (www.mikeheron.co.uk)
Shane MacGowan (*25 December 1957, Pembury, Kent, England). Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan got his first taste of blood and fame at a concert by British punk band The Clash in 1976, when his earlobe was damaged and a picture of it made the papers. Shortly after, he formed his own band, The Nipple Erectors. In 1982, MacGowan drew upon his Irish heritage when founding The Pogues and changing his early punk style for a more traditional sound.
The Pogues released several successful albums. After MacGowan was thrown out because of his heavy drinking habits, he continued touring and recording with his trademark Celtic folk punk style under his own name. In 2015, MacGowan fell fracturing his pelvis. He has been using a wheelchair ever since.
Billy Bragg (*20 December 1957, Barking, Essex, England). English singer-songwriter Stephen William Bragg blends elements of folk music and punk rock with lyrics that mostly span political themes. In 1985 his song "A New England" became a Top 10 hit for Kirsty MacColl. The same year his EP "Between the Wars" made the Top 20 and earned him an appearance on Top of the Pops.
Woody Guthrie's daughter Nora asked Bragg to set some of her father's unrecorded lyrics to music. Bragg and country rock band Wilco released the albums "Mermaid Avenue" in 1998 and "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II" in 2000. In 2007 Bragg moved closer to his English folk music roots by joining the WOMAD-inspired collective The Imagined Village, who recorded an album of updated versions of traditional English songs and dances. His latest album, " Shine a Light," has been a collaboration with American singer Joe Henry recorded at various points on a train journey between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Ric Sanders (*18 December 1952, Birmingham, England). The English fiddler Richard Sanders has played in jazz-rock, folk-rock and folk groups, including Soft Machine and The Albion Band. In 1984 he joined Fairport Convention. Since 2002, he has also been working regularly with his own trio, featuring Vo Fletcher on guitar and Michael Gregory on drums. (www.fairportconvention.com)
Chava Alberstein (*8 December 1947, Szczecin, Poland). Israeli singer Chava Alberstein (Hebrew: חוה אלברשטיין) moved to Israel with her family in 1950. She was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1965 and became one of many artists to rise to stardom by entertaining the troops. Alberstein has released more than 60 albums and has become what is probably the country's most important female folk singer. Throughout her career she has been an activist for human rights and Arab-Israeli unity. In 1989, her song "Had Gadya," in which she criticizes Israel's policy towards Palestinians, was banned by Israel State Radio.
Terry Woods (*4 December 1947, Dublin, Ireland). Irish folk musician Terence Woods, noted for playing the mandolin and cittern, is known for his membership in such folk and folk-rock groups as The Pogues, Steeleye Span, Sweeney's Men, Ron Kavana's The Bucks, Dr. Strangely Strange, as well as Phil Lynott's rock band Orphanage and first of all in a duo with his then wife, Gay Corcoran, billed initially as The Prentice Folk. His best known song is "Young Ned of the Hill", co-written with Ron Kavana and released on the Pogues album "Peace and Love" (1989).
Maria Farantouri (*28 November 1947, Athens, Greece). The singer and political activist Maria Farantouri (Greek: Μαρία Φαραντούρη) left Greece in 1967 and sung and recorded protest songs against the Greek military junta, often collaborating with songwriter and composer Mikis Theodorakis. In the early 1980s, she performed together with Turkish singer Zülfü Livaneli protesting the traditional hostilities between Greek and Turkish nationalists. From 1989 to 1993, she was an elected member of the Greek Parliament representing the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). (www.farantouri.gr)
Billy Connolly (*24 November 1942, Glasgow, Scotland).
In the late 1960s, Sir William Connolly gave up his trade as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards
to pursue a career as a folk singer, firstly in The Humblebums
alongside Gerry Rafferty and subsequently as a solo artist.
Quite soon, he made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to a fully fledged comedian.
Connolly has also appeared numerous films such as "Mrs. Brown" (1997), "Still Crazy" (1998),
"The Last Samurai" (2003), "Timeline" (2003) and "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014).
Terry Evans (1937-2018); Eamonn Campbell (1946-2017).
»One of the greatest voices in American music won't sound no more.
Our friend and colleague Terry Evans went home on the evening train. We're devastated about his parting but are also thankful that his suffering is over. For several weeks we've lit candles and listened to his music, knowing that he was on his way out. Our thoughts are with his son Terry Jr. and the Evans family.
We had a fantastic tour in Europe last September and Terry enjoyed doing what he loved most: singing with heart and soul. Singing with Terry was a powerful experience. He promised to be back for my 70th Birthday Bash in April. This will not be but his soulful voice will always be with us in spirit. His kindship and friendship will always have a very special spot in our hearts.
John Dickinson (†2017).
»It is with regret we have been informed of the passing of John Dickinson of The Valley Folk who died on the 19th January 2018. He was signed to TOPIC in the Sixties and they made ‘All Bells in Paradise’.«
Hugh Masekela (1939-2018). The South African trumpeter Hugh Ramapolo Masekela has been described as "the father of South African jazz." The agony, conflict, and exploitation South Africa faced during the 1950s and 1960s inspired and influenced Masekela to make music and also spread political change. His music protested about apartheid, slavery, government; the hardships individuals were living. He wrote the well-known anti-apartheid songs "Soweto Blues" and "Bring Him Back Home". Masekela died in Johannesburg on the early morning of 23 January 2018 from prostate cancer.
Daniel Viglietti (1939-2017). Singer, guitarist and composer Daniel Alberto Viglietti Indart was one of the main exponents of Uruguayan popular song and also of the Nueva Canción or "New Song" of the 1960s and early 1970s. Viglietti was imprisoned in 1972 and supported by Jean-Paul Sartre as an international man of conscience, a voice for peace, and an opponent of the fascism and tyranny that plagued South America in the 1970s.
Peter O'Loughlin (†2017).
The flute, fiddle and uilleann pipes player Peter O'Loughlin
peacfully passed away at his home in Culleen, Kilmaley, Co. Clare on October 23rd.
His unique flute style–characterized by strong rhythmic flow with sparse ornamentation,
occasionally punctuated by unusually long silences to emphasize the rhythmic
structure–had earned him All-Ireland champion titles in 1956 and 1957, respectively.
Peter O'Loughlin was best known for having played on the highly influential
1959 LP All-Ireland Champions - Violin (with Paddy Canny, PJ Hayes
and Bridie Lafferty), which was one of the first LPs of Irish traditional music.
He performed in the Tulla Céilí Band and Kilfenora Céilí Band and recorded duet
albums with uilleann piper Ronan Browne and fiddler Maeve Donnelly.
His final CD, The Legacy, was released in 2015,
followed by the 2016 compilation A Musical Life
going back as far as the 1950s.
Compass Records Group Acquires Red House Records
Compass Records Group has announced the addition of Red House Records to its label family. The 34-year-old St Paul, MN based imprint is an iconic brand in Americana and folk music and has been home to a long list of cornerstone artists of the genre, including The Wailin’ Jennys, John Gorka, The Cactus Blossoms, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky, Robin and Linda Williams, and Greg Brown, the legendary Iowa-based singer/songwriter whose debut album launched the label.
Officially established in 1983 by Bob Feldman after meeting singer/songwriter Greg Brown, Red House went on to become one of the most iconic labels on the folk and Americana scene. Under Feldman’s guidance, up to his untimely death in 2006, Red House received indie music awards, numerous GRAMMY nominations and a GRAMMY award for Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s album, South Coast, in 1995. Feldman himself became widely recognized as a leading advocate for roots music and a leader in the independent label community. Compass co-founders Alison Brown and Garry West are long admirers of Red House and fans of its artist roster. They first met Feldman at a conference in 1995 in the early days of their label. Both were struck by his transparency and willingness to share his inside knowledge of the business, and over the next ten years their mentoring relationship evolved into a mutual friendship, with Feldman and West often serving as an advisor and sounding board for each other.
West said: “When we first launched Compass we were really learning the business from the ground up. Of all the people from whom we would seek advice, Bob was always the most straightforward and would tell it like it was. His support was immeasurable and we were extremely grateful for his willingness to take us under his wing. I have to admit it gave me a great feeling of accomplishment when, over time, Bob started calling me to compare notes.”
“It’s a great accomplishment and I couldn’t be prouder or more grateful,” says Red House owner Beth Friend, who has kept Red House going since Feldman’s death. “We have believed in and worked hard for every artist on the label and it’s been our privilege to — as Bob used to say as he’d leave for work in the morning — “bring music to the people". This was a very personal and very difficult decision for me to make,” she says. “It’s simply time for me to bring this chapter of my life to a close and move on. Compass founders Garry West and Alison Brown were friends of Bob’s and have often commented on how his mentorship helped them in the early days of launching their own label. I know they will bring a level of care to the Red House imprint that I don’t believe I could have found in another buyer.
2017 has been a busy year for Red House, with releases from Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams and Minnesota songwriter Charlie Parr. Most recently, Red House released the long-awaited follow-up album, Fifteen, from contemporary folk darlings The Wailin’ Jennys. The new project, which streeted on October 27, was the # 2 album on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart and # 31 on the iTunes album chart in its first week. First quarter 2018 will include a new studio release from critically acclaimed singer/songwriter John Gorka among others.
Compass Records was founded in 1994 by Grammy-winning musician Alison Brown and bassist/producer Garry West. The label group, which boasts multiple GRAMMY, Indie and IBMA awards, has over 600 titles in its catalog from a diverse artist roster including Colin Hay, The Infamous Stringdusters, Shannon McNally, Mike Farris, bluegrass luminaries Bobby Osborne and Claire Lynch and label co-founder Alison Brown, and is also home to two seminal Irish catalogs, Green Linnet and Mulligan Records, both acquired in the mid-2000s. Compass’ latest signings include NYC indie darling Elizabeth Ziman (Elizabeth and the Catapult) and rising bluegrass/Americana star Molly Tuttle.
Uilleann Piping - The Sound of Ireland
A stellar line-up from the world of Irish traditional music, song and dance did headline a concert at Dublin's iconic Abbey Theatre on 30 January 2018 to celebrate UNESCO recognition of Uilleann Piping - The Sound of Ireland. Leading artists included Noel Hill, Liam O'Connor, Seán McKeon, Paddy Glackin, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Robbie Hannan, Jimmy Canavan, the Rowsome Quartet and many more. The strength of the piping community - in Ireland and abroad - had been be showcased during the concert.
Last December UNESCO included Uilleann Piping on its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This important global accolade reflects heritage cultural practices that are considered to enrich all of humanity. UNESCO has now agreed that Irish Uilleann Piping - often referred to as "The Sound of Ireland" - merits this recognition.
Uilleann Piping is the first Irish element to be recognised by UNESCO, and the campaign for inscription on the Representative List was led by Na Píobairí Uilleann, who lobbied for Irish ratification of the UNESCO Convention, and assisted the Irish Government in preparing the nomination.
Now in 2018, it is a thriving art-form in Ireland and also worldwide where it is celebrated in 50 countries and on six continents, in places as diverse as Cuba, Finland, Australia, Argentina and Germany. There are more than three thousand uilleann pipers around the world, playing Irish music on this Irish instrument. They can be found in dedicated clubs throughout Europe and in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Gay McKeon, CEO of Na Píobairí Uilleann and himself a celebrated player said: "To mark this global milestone for Uilleann Piping we felt it was appropriate to gather many of our greatest Irish artists together for a celebratory performance and we're delighted to be able to stage the event at such an iconic cultural site."
Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), the Society of Uilleann Pipers was founded in 1968 when there were less than 100 uilleann pipers remaining. Today NPU is a thriving arts organisation dedicated to Sharing the Sound of Ireland through Access, Education, Performance and Preservation, delivered through the organisation's commitment to excellence in Values, Governance and Processes.
Since unveiling its restored Georgian premises at 15 Henrietta Street, Dublin, in January 2007, NPU has been busy catering for the expanding demand for regular tuition, as well as releasing a number of significant publications and recordings. With demand for pipes considerably exceeding supply, a dedicated Training Centre - PipeCraft - has been established to deliver training in the very highly skilled craft of uilleann pipemaking.
Up and Coming
Germany's Rudolstadt Festival from 5 to 8 July 2018 puts Estonia in its artistic focus, quite fitting for the centenary of this small Baltic republic. Maarja Nuut and Mari Kalkun, two of the best known artists in Estonia, were part of the short list quite from the beginning. The festival is happy they both have accepted the invitation to Rudolstadt!
Maarja Nuut was chosen artist of the year in Estonia and is also celebrated abroad. „A transfixing performance”, describes Mojo/The Art Desk Maarja Nuut’s music. This effect is created by her voice, violin and a loop machine. She combines the sounds of villages with electronic aesthetics, telling fairy tales from the North of her native country or sometimes just stringing together single syllables. Critics and audience are in rapture likewise and Maarja’s Rudolstadt concert will most probably be no exception.
Mari Kalkun is another exceptional musician who has been awarded as a singer of the year and who is strongly inspired by Estonian music and stories. Mari plays the Kannel, a plucked string instrument belonging to the Baltic box zither family. She sings in her Southern Estonian dialect Võro and is deeply rooted in her country’s song tradition, but also eager to try new things like experimenting with Hip Hop. Her band Runorun will be with her in Rudolstadt, their last album TII ILO is a „musical jewel“, writes Global Music Magazine.
The lyrics and sounds of the pUULUUp duo are a daring mixture: Ramo Teder and Marko Veisson draw inspiration from Estonian punk and folk, satirical Russian poems, surrealism, Sahel’ blues, Polish TV series and much more. The result are stories about wind turbines or–as they out it–„about the uncomfortable feeling that your neighbor's dog might try to bite you while you take out the trash.“ Regarding music instruments one seems to be completely sufficient: the talharpa, a horsehair stringed instrument that is mostly played on the Estonian island of Vormsi. But they sent it through a looper and use various electronic means. What you get is an alienating sound which at the same time underlines the natural sound of the talharpa. Way-out and charming.
Bells and cymbals belong to the oldest music instruments on earth, while Arsis is only about 30 years old. But its talent and skills for handbell music are outstanding in a way that makes this ensemble from Estonia one of the best in the world. With dozens of bells the eight artists create a listening experience of its own. Since the melody line is created through all musicians, exact timing is even more important than usual and playing as a handbell ensemble is considerably more complicated than in other bands. Traditionel and contemporary Estonian music, compositions by Bach, Chopin, Tschaikowsky are part of the repertoire. Singing is also part of the performance and not entirely by chance – the ensemble has strong ties with the Arsis Chamber Choir. When its conductor, Alvar Mäe, went to the US and listened to a handbell concert for the first time in 1991, he was determined to take this special sound to Estonia. What a lucky coincidence.
22 February - 6 March 2018 Cambridge Folk Festival presents City Roots, UK ft. Sona Jobarteh, Megson, Sam Kelly, McGoldrick McCusker Doyle, ... www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk 25 - 18 March 2018 Kilkenny Tradfest, Kilkenny, Ireland ft. Caladh Nua, Henry Girls, The Bonny Men, Moxie, Finbar Furey, ... www.kilkennytradfest.com 21 - 29 April 2018 folkBALTICA, Flensburg & Sønderjylland-Schleswig, Germany/Denmark ft. Alma, Habadekuk, Floating Sofa Quartet, Ganes, Sutari, Huldrelokkk, Dragseth, Ramsch & Rosen, Mattias Perez, Natasa Mirkovic, Albin Paulus, ... www.folkbaltica.de 4 - 7 May 2018 Rhythm n Roots Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland ft. Molly Tuttle, Mary Gauthier, The Deep Dark Woods, ... www.kilkennyroots.com 22 June - 26 July 2018 FESTIM - Festival Intermunicipal de Musicas do Mundo, Portugal www.festim.pt 5 - 8 July 2018 Rudolstadt Festival, Germany ft. Focus: Estonia (Maarja Nuut, Mari Kalkun, Puuluup, Arsis, ...) www.rudolstadt-festival.de 23 - 27 July 2018 Meitheal Residential Summer School, Limerick, Ireland www.tradweek.com 3 - 12 August 2018 Festival Interceltique de Lorient, France www.festival-interceltique.com 9 - 11 August 2018 Fairport's Cropredy Convention, Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK ft. Fairport Convention, Brian Wilson, Afro Celt Sound System, Le Vent du Nord, Al Stewart, Kate Rusby, Sam Kelly, Midnight Skyracer, Police Dog Hogan, ... www.fairportconvention.com 12 - 19 August 2018 Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, Drogheda (Co. Louth), Ireland www.fleadhcheoil.ie 17 - 19 August 2018 Folk East, Glemham Hall, Suffolk, UK ft. Oysterband, Show of Hands, Tim Edey, McGoldrick McCusker & Doyle, ... www.folkeast.co.uk 23 - 26 August 2018 Tønder Festival, Denmark ft. BB King Tribute ft. Mike Andersen, Shaka & James Loveless, Otis Grand, Thorbjørn Risager, Henrik Freischlader; Basco & DR Big Band, Oysterband, Cóig, Ìmar, Sharon Shannon, Vishtén, The Secret Sisters, The Dead South, The Chair, Skerryvore, 3HatTrio, McGoldrick McCusker Doyle, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, ... www.tf.dk 24 - 28 August 2018 Shrewsbury Folk Festival, UK ft. Richard Thompson, Steeleye Span, Show of Hands, Gretchen Peters, Usher's Island, Skerryvore, O'Hooley & Tidow, Megson, Blowzabella, ... www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk 24 - 28 October 2018 WOMEX World Music Expo, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria www.womex.com