Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Live Review

Newhampton Folk Club

As you would expect from a musician who is passionately behind preserving local and small folk venues, John Richards launched his latest CD in the upstairs of a local pub which does its best to keep a folk club going.

Chris Drenin and John Richards of The John Richards Band
at the launch of their new CD at the Newhampton Folk Club
John, originally from Coseley in the West Midlands, has a music pedigree which many would be proud to lay claim to.
His songs have been picked up by legends such as Fairport Convention and his past successes have been many in bands such as Maurice and the Minors and Desperate Men .
The John Richards Band, which is very much from the Midlands, was formed in 2004 and has now released The Lifeboat which is essentially an EP with bonus tracks but this doesn't detract from the fact it is very much created in the fine tradition of folk music, carrying radical messages and reflecting real lives.
Many of the songs are drawn from John's experiences and battles with life and institutions and carry on that great tradition of using song to give warnings and point out the unfairness of society.
It's title and opening track was inspired by one of his many run ins with the banks who are those wonderful institutions which lend you an umbrella when it's sunny and ask for it back when it's raining.
Don't let this gentle track which has a Ralph McTell feel to it fool you, it has cutting lyrics which using John's doleful voice sets the right tone for someone who is weary of having to battle the bankers just to follow his dreams.
"When did they tell you, that you could go gambling with so many good people's lives? How can it be you're the only ones never to lose?" are words many of us can relate to.
John Richards at the Newhampton Inn
With so many of his songs, John speaks softly and carries a big guitar and if you have been part of the big pension rip off, then the jaunty No More Milk & Honey will quite literally strike a chord with you. This features the solid banjo playing of former Maurice partner Chris Drinan.
John's daughter Emma, who is now a regular member of the band, although she has been singing with her dad from an early age, comes into her own with Fool In Love. She is accompanied by former band member, fiddle player Julia Disney. Emma doesn't have the strongest of voices but it does fit in perfectly with the mellowness which is such a feature of the band.
A more Celtic feel is brought in with a trilogy Hanging Out To Dry/Encantadora/Gassed & Gone which gives Chris a chance to show more of his repertoire this time on the flute. His light tones producing a toe-tapping run of tunes.
The last of the newly recorded tracks This Home's Got A Heart is almost a signature tune for the band. The tune and harmonies perfectly capture the feeling of being on the move and longing to get back where you feel you belong.
Emma really gets to spread her vocal wings on The Smuggler's Song which has a gutsier beat and is woven with eastern sounding undertones.
Foundryman's Daughter, which is pretty much John on his own, is about how people can be isolated by prejudice in all its many forms. It features the gentle backing of guest Allie Fellows on piano.
She also features on the accordion with Chris' fine flute playing opening another trilogy of Celtic inspired music which gently washes over you until you find yourself almost unable to stop your feet or your fingers from tapping along.
The bonus tracks finish with Missing, opening with the haunting sound of Allie on the piano leading into Emma's gentle vocals.
This album is a fine example of local talent keeping the tradition of folk music very much alive and if nothing else this CD shows the Midlands is capable of producing not just fine musicians but impressive songwriting too. The Lifeboat, £7, can be bought on the band's website along with their other albums.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Birmingham and the Midlands

As part of an impressive list of musicians for the coming year, the Glee Club, Birmingham welcomes back Low from Minnesota on April 24 2013. They have a unique sound which is both experimental and ethereal if you want to listen to something different then get down to Brum.

Seth Lakeman
- picture copyright
Darryl Stubbs Photography 
One of the most talented musicians on the folk circuit at the moment Seth Lakeman has announced his May 2013 tour dates. Seth is also playing quite a few festivals this year.
He will be at Oxford Town Hall on Friday May 17. The concert is seated and for details contact 01865 252334.
Seth will also be touring Australia in March and April 2013 see his website for full details.

Roddy Woomble
Roddy Woomble is also making a return to the Glee on the back of his third solo album, Listen To Keep, which is due for release in March.
Roddy will be in Brum on Tuesday, March 12. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are £14 or £12 for students.

The Wolfe Tones will be celebrating 50 years of bringing Irish music and history to audiences and 2013 will be their last tour as they decided to call it a day for life on the road.
They will finish their tour in 2014. Since their first release in 1964 The Wolfe Tones have sold millions of records worldwide. Tour dates have yet to be announced so keep checking their website for dates.

The Old Dance School
The Old Dance School is playing three gigs in the Midlands with the first on February 20 at the Red Lion Folk Club, Birmingham, then on February 24 they play the Guildhall, Lichfield and the Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham on March 20.

If you want to see one of the grand dames of folk, then you need to hurry as one of the last dates of the Ragged Kingdom tour for June Tabor and Oysterband is at Gloucester Cathedral on Tuesday February 19.
The Leisure Society

Fay Hield and The Hurricane Band are coming to The Artrix, Bromsgrove on March 25. Show starts at 8pm and tickets are £14.

Following the release of their new album, Alone Aboard The Ark, The Leisure Society start a full UK tour with one of the dates being at the Glee Club, Birmingham on Wednesday April 17 also coming to the Glee are Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn of Paper Aeroplanes Band who are touring on the back of their new album which has yet to be announced, they are in Brum on Sunday May 19.
Richard Llewellyn and Sarah Howells -
Paper Aeroplanes

Acclaimed Wolverhampton singer/songwriter Scott Matthews is also playing the venue on April 7.

Thursday, 10 January 2013



A Wolverhampton pub is kicking off its new season of folk concerts with the launch of a Midlands band’s latest CD.

The Newhampton Folk Club, which is held upstairs at the Newhampton Inn, Riches Street, Whitmore Reans, will be playing host to The John Richard’s Band who have just finished their latest album, The Lifeboat.
Tickets for the gig on Saturday, January 26, which kicks off at 8.30pm, are £9 on the door or £8 in advance. 
Call 01902 820958 or visit www.newhamptonfolk.co.uk for more information.

The new CD from The John Richard's Band

One of the elder statesmen of folk music is coming to Wolverhampton later this month.

Vin Garbutt
- picture courtesy of www.vingarbutt.com
Vin Garbutt will bring his more than 40 years of humour, observation and songs to the Newhampton Arts Centre on Saturday, January 19.
The award-winning singer/songwriter will be in concert at the theatre in Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans where doors open 7.30pm.
For tickets, which are £12.50, or for more information call 01902 572090 between 8.30am and 5.30pm or email office@newhamptonarts.co.uk.