Saturday, 15 July 2017

A new track - Good Heavens!

Yes I've finally written something and recorded it.   Been ages I know.

So - this features my home built 12 string and my new octave mandolin....

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Great Kate Bush Cover...

Just plugging a friend of mine who contributed the vocals to this Kate Bush cover...

Saturday, 13 May 2017

CD Review. Big Big Train Grimspound

Seems hardly anytime when I waxing lyrical about thier last offering Folklore.

This is a highly credible effort, the growing membership bringing new talents notably the string work and arrangements via Rachel Hall have added greatly for me.

If you've heard Folklore this is very much part 2 and that very British prog rock with folk overtones runs through much.

Experimental Gentlemen is a favourite of mine but each of the 8 tracks is well written, constructed and performed. Meadowland has be lying in a field by a brook with swallows swooping overhead.... beautiful.  Dave Longton's vocals are brilliant throughout with that slight Genesis feel but then possibly that's the hole I think Big Big Train fill in the space a truly British old style prog rock band.

Highly recommended.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Ashbury Octave Mandolin

A frankly ludicrous and frivolous purchase!   Mrs F and I went to Canterbury for some shopping and I headed over to Hobgoblin Music, which is one of my favourite places to wonder about.  It covers from all rock guitars to banjos, keyboards, violins, recorders, then into more and more esoteric instruments you've never even heard off let alone expect to see in essentially a high street music store.

The manager said twice "Please try anything you like".   I bought some mandolin strings, my excuse for heading there in the first place.  Then lured towards the more obscure stringed instrument section I spotted an octave mandolin, which I've wondered about as an addition to the collection.  I picked up one in particular - walnut back and sides, spruce top, simple but reasonably well put together in what looks like a more hand then factory assembly hit and A chord and was like - "oh that sounds really nice"....   A little picking later Mrs F said the fatal thing "Go on ... treat yourself".  I did say "You shouldn't say that!"   A few mins later we're striking a deal that involved essentially a free set of strings for it and I'm lugging it out the shop!

Here's me trying it out as soon as I got it home - I've not taken the price tag off!

Impressions - It has a really nice open clean sound.  Being an octave down from a standard mandolin it probably better suits ears trained for decades on guitars.  As I say it's a simple instrument but well put together and particularly the tuners are really nice and smooth and reliable, i.e. no slip.

Just need to improve my mandolin playing now... of course now I'm looking at my original mandolin a budget Stagg model and thinking - I should upgrade from that now!  Never stops does it!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Gig Review - The Shires Folkestone 28th April 2017

Mrs F really like The Shires.  We saw them on tour a year or so back ... anyway I saw them back at Folkestone and only two weeks after Mrs F's birthday - so ... Birthday Treat!

First up a quick mention of Catherine McGarth who was support act and suddenly has invaded my world.  I heard a track on Bob Harris' show on Thursday, she was there live on Friday and then my Guitarist magazine falls through the door on Saturday and there's a full page intro and interview with her in that.  She'd only 19!!!  One to watch.

The Shires - just brilliant.  One of those acts that can simply deliver.  They can sing so well live, if anything better than in the studio.  A good collection of songs from both albums, varying of tempo etc. and a simply stunning cover of Robbie Williams' Angels.  That should be a single - it was just fantastic!!!

My ear was a bit problematic at times, tinnitus was bad that day, but good old noise reducing earplugs helped and I enjoyed it all.  Thoroughly recommended

CD Review - Bear's Den - Red Earth and Pouring Rain

Every now and then you get an album and you find it spends so long in the car before you replace it.  Bear's Den Red Earth and Pouring Rain is just such an example.

Take Snow Patrol, City and Colour and mix together.  That's Bear's Den but also the quality and quantity of terrific tracks on this album mean I struggle to pick any stand out tracks.  Red Earth and Pouring Rain itself, Greenwoods Bethlehem, My Jerusalem, Dew on the Vine, Broken Parable.... best stop there I'll list the whole album!

By the smallest of margins my suggestion to listen to is Auld Wives... love the bass on this.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Long over due album reviews...

Gordon Giltrap and Paul Ward - The Last of England

The really good news about this release is that Gordon is well enough to be talking about it.  He's been through the ringer over the last 18 months or so with a cancer issue needing some big surgery.  That he is back at all is a real pleasure to say.   And this is a great Gordon Giltrap release.  He's teamed up with Paul Ward and with Paul's orchestral knowledge on the keyboards this takes Gordon's guitar skills to a new dimension.  There are parts where you try to just turn off the slightly obvious synthy strings and imagine this in an Albert Hall like setting with a large orchestra.  There are others too that are a real hark back to Gordon's band albums with some really terrific proggy like stuff.   Really terrific album which my wife also says is incredibly soothing when on a long drive around South London the other day.  Search out A Promise Fulfilled - terrific progressive folk rock track.

Tom Chapin - The Wave

Keane frontman's first solo effort.  There's no mistaking his voice, it's tricky for the singer of a band to do a solo album as their voice is the bands voice all too often.  However this does have a different vibe in some way, more laid back less driven I'd sum it up as.  There are a couple of tracks I'm not so sure about being worthy of being on the album but then some others especially Quicksand which are simply classics in creation.  Search out Quicksand - just a terrific track.

Blackberry Smoke - Like an Arrow

Now Blackberry Smoke aren't going to win any awards for the most original music however what they do do is great southern country rock.  From the kick off track of Waiting For the Thunder the ghost of great Lynyrd Skynyrd hovers over every drum beat guitar riff and drawled vocal.  But hey - they do it brilliantly.Songs like Sunrise in Texas have a more country feel but this is still southern rock at its very best.   Search out - Waiting for the Thunder or Let it Burn.