RMHQ EXCLUSIVE Interview With Peggy Seeger by Kris Wilkinson

by Kris Wilkinson

June 2023

“So..Rocking Magpie? Why would you want to speak to somebody like me?” Peggy asks.

“What?” I thought, “Interview a living Folk legend and extraordinary crafter of songs?”

Our website, The Rocking Magpie loves great music from many different genres and Peggy represents the Folk genre, although she most definitely cannot be pinned down in one simple genre.
She writes ballads, lullabies, ragtime, traditional folk, uptempo, political attention grabbers, heartbreakers…she is all things unto herself.
If an idea has sticking power, she writes about it. 

Peggy: So! What do you want to ask me about?

MGTR: I have pulled together a couple of questions for you. I tried to think outside the box because I suspect you get asked the same couple of questions many times over.

Peggy: (big sigh) Oh, you bet.

I congratulate Peggy on her number one folk album released in 2021 called ‘First Farewell’. I draw her attention to a song I enjoyed ‘Gotta Get Home By Midnight’ (which I swear could have been written by a Ragtime great or a Blues legend).
I particularly love the lyric
‘…Eyes are the colour of time
and so I mention this and ask Peggy if any artists have inspired her through the years or does she herself have a favourite lyric?

Her answer is no surprise – she is a steely eyed craftsperson when it comes to songwriting and has no time for ‘good enough’ lyrics.
But first she tells me where that particular lyric came from.
And I will say now that I suspect I could chat with Peggy an hour once a week, every week for a year and she would still have volumes of incredible stories from her time as a Folk singer travelling the world; and so she shares her story recalling it with clarity and fine detail.

‘Well, first of all, ‘my eyes are the colour of time’, that was said to me by an Israeli boy in 1956, it would have been in March, and I was in Denmark staying at a youth hostel and he was going away to the Finnish logging camps because that’s where the money was.
He was putting the touch on me and asking if I would go along with him.
He said ‘there’s good money there’ and I asked what would I be doing and he said ‘you would probably be working in the kitchens and the laundries’.
Here Peggy deadpans ‘Oh goodie’ and I have to laugh.
She continues, ‘‘That was what a woman would go to a logging camp for. He was eager to have me as his lover and he would say ‘your eyes are the colour of time’.
Fortunately Alan Lomax made me a better offer and I came to England instead.’
I comment that had she gone to the logging camp we probably wouldn’t be talking.
(Thank goodness Peggy had no dreams of working in a Danish logging camp laundry!)
She circles back to my question.

‘I haven’t necessarily been ‘inspired by’ other artists directly.
I am an intense critic of craftsmanship and of picking out weak lines and feeling that that one weak line just ruins it.
(I often tell students beware of the ‘weak line’ because it will haunt you. You’ll cringe when you hear that song and think you could have done better).
*Tune in soon for a future conversation with Peggy about the craft of songwriting!

Peggy continues, ‘That’s one of the reasons I love Paul Simon. I haven’t picked a hole in any of his songs. It really takes something to please me.
I do have favourite songwriters, but many songwriters, myself included, can produce amazing works of art and then they’ll produce something that is SIMPLY ‘not good’.
I have produced some songs that are not good and fortunately I had Ewan MacColl or I had my present partner to critique my writing, or I had some innate thing inside my head that said to me ‘why hasn’t anybody picked up on this’ and so I withdraw those songs.
I soon realised very quickly that songs tell me themselves that they’re worth finishing.
I haven’t found any of Paul Simon’s, I haven’t found any of Danny Ellis’, whom you probably have not heard of but I will tell you about the best overall CD.
For me, I don’t like superlatives. I think it’s a man thing.
They have to be better, they have to be louder, they have to be quicker, they have to be smoother, it’s always the best, the best, the best.
Women, I think we share more and realise there’s lots of us who are the best which of course is an oxymoron.
To me the one album that I can listen to all the way through without a single cringe moment is Danny Ellis’ album called ‘800 Voices’.
It’s the story in twelve songs about him being dumped in a Christian Brothers orphanage in Dublin when he was eight years old. His single mother took a new lover and this man didn’t want Danny around so she took him to an orphanage and said she’d be back at Christmas and he’s sixty and still waiting for her to come back.
It is an astounding and amazing album.
He knew how to construct it and sequence it. He takes you from his first sight of 800 boys playing in the playground, every song is different.
She goes on to tell me more about this album and of course I’ll be tracking it down because if it’s one of Peggy’s favourites it absolutely must be worth a listen

‘If I want to listen to a song more than once, that says something to me. Another one of my favourite songwriter’s is Peter and Lou Berryman.
In my travels as a touring Folksinger, I meet a lot of Folksingers.
Some that never make it but make it in their own circle.
Peter Berryman is one – I want his brain saved for prosperity.
If you get my previous album ‘Everything Changes’ there’s a song on that called ‘Do You Believe in Me’. That’s one of his songs.
The two of them, they were married at one point but they divorced but they still sing together.
She makes the tunes and plays the accordion, he plays the guitar, every single song either has one or both of them singing, but these songs are absolutely zany!
The logic of them or lack of logic is unbelievable! (she laughs).
I also like Flanders and Swann. They are so English. They are so musical and so clever.
I haven’t heard a bad song of theirs. And then there is the odd one offs and I have collected a database of 5000 songs and I have collected them from EVERYWHERE.
So as a song crafter, I’m writing for the new album, and I’m writing with my daughter-in-law and we work very well together.
There’s one song that has taken six months to perfect between the two of us.
We work differently. She’s a trained musician and absolutely superb and her input is different to mine as a Folksinger.
I spent the last week trying to pick out one note, a final note in the penultimate verse and I think I’ve finally got it.’
We continue talking about craft and come full circle back to Paul Simon in which she adds ‘he knows what to leave out.’

I bring up the song The Invisible Woman. I ask her amongst all the ‘new talent, young talent, emerging talent’ what inspires her to keep writing? 

‘Other people, and things that are happening (in life, in the world).
I could not have written ‘The Invisible Woman’ without my older son, Neill.
We had never written a song together previously. So he came up and laid on the sofa and neither of us had an idea.
So he’s lying there and he says ‘You know mom, I’m sixty, I feel invisible.
Now, I never met a sixty year old man that felt invisible.
I think he meant in the way people pay attention to him, especially younger women.
I’ve felt invisible for twenty five years but chiefly invisible to young people and especially to men. I’m so happy to be invisible to men!! (she laughs)
So I said if you want invisibility try being a woman of eighty or eighty five. So he quite happily just turned it over to being an invisible woman.
So we both worked on that song. So I wanted to mention that he started that idea and we both worked on it.’

She continues about inspiration. ‘What does inspire me is different song forms. For this new album I’m working on I desperately need a funny song. I’ve got the subject – but I’m no spoiler. It’s something that I feel very strongly about but I’m going to treat it with humour.’ 

Peggy does not hide her feelings when it comes to political views or anything else, for that matter. We spoke more about Paul Simon’s writing and his ability to write a song where it starts out about one thing and then turns a corner and is about something else.
Peggy calls these ‘wedge songs’.

‘On the album First Farewell, ‘How I Long For Peace’ is a wedge song.
It opens up with the chorus and you get an idea of general longing for peace. People don’t want to talk about capitalism, or hypocrisy or greed, they’re not expecting what comes in verse four.
We all want peace.
The wedge, you get to people who don’t want to talk politics but who feel that they want peace.
Then you have to go into why we don’t have peace. It even goes into the fact we will never have peace until men abandon fighting.
I sang it as a new song to several people, men and women, and there were a number of men who objected to that line.
They said what about Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher, yeah ok, you can pick them out because there are so few of them.
They felt the line should be ‘until WE abandon fighting…. No, absolutely not!’ she says emphatically. 
We continue on this topic for a few minutes. Peggy says to me ‘Men are fighting and the hypocrisy and greed, both men and women, and I’m trying to write songs that are inherently political yet trying to keep hopeful.
I don’t write apocalypse songs anymore. We all know how bad things are.’

I tell her that her latest version of ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ with just her on piano is just wonderful and steals my breath away.
(If you haven’t heard it yet please stop reading and go listen to it now. Thank me later.)
She thanks me for the compliment. I tell her I can feel it all happening as she sings it.
Her voice is so rich and emotive. I ask her how this newest version came to be.
‘Well, I love the song. I’ve written a book, a memoir called First Time Ever, and I devoted a whole chapter to that song.
But you need to read the whole book to understand the context.
It’s an easy read.
So, when Ewan sang it to me, I know where he got the idea for the song.
It’s based on an old folk melody, which we can talk about another time.
I always sang it like a bird with a gentle guitar accompaniment and there was a great freedom singing it like that because my voice could do it.
My voice won’t do it now. I’m taking singing lessons now to adapt to my new voice.
So I hadn’t sung it for twenty years because I couldn’t.
I have a piano where I transpose it down and just idly play.
I took it down to A flat, and I found I could just settle into it and let my mind drift over the two life partners that I’ve had and I sing it to both of them.
There are different aspects to both of them.
My mantra is ‘been there done both’ in love. (Peggy has changed part of the last verse from ‘And I knew our joy would fill the earth and last ’til the end of time’ to ‘I thought our joy would fill the earth and last ‘til the end of time’…it’s a heartbreaking moment.)
I sank into playing the song and it was such a pleasure. And when Neill and I were talking about what we would do on our tour of last year, 2022, in Autumn, five of them were with Neill and the previous concerts were with my younger son.
When Neill heard it he said that it had to go into my concert, just me on piano and he on a little synth.
I’ll tell you what really hits me, this song is a warhorse. It’s been ridden by over a thousand other singers each in their own style.
I’ve heard it in gospel, reggae, heavy metal, as a rap, as fast country bluegrass banjo, and then there’s Roberta Flack, and others.
It’s amazing that a song can last through all of that.
Some of the pop songs have, I guess … Smoke Gets In Your Eyes for example.
Some are tied to their own accompaniment but mine wasn’t tied down so the other artists were able to put it in their own style.
For a song to last through all of that.
It’s amazing. I’ll tell you what hasn’t lasted since my version is that the melody of the first line and the melody of the last line are not the ones that Ewan MacColl wrote.
If you listen to my version, you hear the tune that he wrote. If you listen to Roberta Flack and to Peter, Paul and Mary, the first line and the last line and the cadence is different.
Maybe it just needed somebody with a new take of it?
And maybe a ‘face’ needed to sing it?
What I really would have liked would have been some kind of conversation between myself and Roberta where the voice talks to the face because we’re both invested in the song big time.
But that can’t happen now because she’s ill (For those that don’t know Roberta, very sadly, has been diagnosed with ALS and can no longer sing).’

I tell her that my hope for this new version is that a new generation will discover Peggy through it because of its simplicity and its power and to just hear a woman’s voice honestly sing.
She responds, ‘People hop into bed so easily these days. They didn’t when this was written. Maybe they did and I just didn’t notice.
But people still fall hopelessly, helplessly in love and that’s what this song is about.’ 

With my remaining time I ask Peggy about modern technology and streaming (Peggy did a regular series during lockdown).
‘Well it took me a long time to learn how to do that. The new technology, for one, is putting on makeup.
I didn’t used to put makeup on to go on stage, I just got up on stage, that’s what you do as a Folk singer. But I put makeup on for those programmes, I think I did twenty of them, Peggy at Five on Sunday.
It was merely an attempt to give people who follow me something to look forward to at five o’clock on Sundays.
And it kept me in trim because I would be looking up songs.
I might start it again because I feel a bit like I’m on lockdown now because I don’t have any concerts. Right now I have conversations.
And just getting ready for that, with the merchandise, and I’m going by myself, and it’s heavy stuff. I’m 87 going on 88.’ (I can only hope to be as whip smart and capable at Peggy’s age!)

At this point Peggy graciously asks about me and what I do.
I mention I met a British man and listening to that accent charmed me.
Peggy says, ‘Tell me about it.’ and we both laugh.
So we have this in common; and writing and appreciating good songwriting too.
That will be part two of this interview, a chat focused mainly on the craft of songwriting.
I recommend you take notes because Peggy knows what she’s doing; and is still writing circles around people more than half her age.
Aren’t we lucky to live in the age of folks like Paul Simon and Peggy Seeger?
I absolutely think so.
And can we just touch on the fact that in casual conversation Peggy threw out the line ‘That song is a warhorse. It’s been ridden by over a thousand singers.’
Incredible with words, isn’t she?

*A follow up interview by Kris will be published by the end of June (hopefully)

Interview by Kris Wilkinson

Peggy Seeger

Roseanne Reid LAWSIDE

Roseanne Reid
Last Man Standing

Exceptionally Mature and Inspiring Americana From the East Coast of Olde Scotia.

The old cliche ‘the second album is always the hardest‘ doesn’t appear to apply here. I loved Roseanne Reid’s debut album TRAILS; which erred on the side of her Folk upbringing; but hinted at Americana and even Alt. Country leanings across quite a few songs; but here?
Today, I defy anyone in a ‘blind tasting exercise’ to tell me that this young lady doesn’t come from the Mid-West of Americae instead of the East Coast of Scotland; not that her voice is ‘effected’;’ in any way; it is 100% natural, but the arrangements and instrumentation throughout LAWSIDE are targeting a much bigger audience than the Folk Clubs ever can.
It’s not often I get ‘blown away’ by an opening song that I already know; but all preconceptions were thrown right out of the RMHQ window when I first heard All I Need.
Roseanne’s beautiful, yet melancholic voice simply aches throughout the full heartbreaking four minutes of a cleverly written song.
For only a second album, the songwriting here is exceptionally mature and the inspiration for the songs come from some very interesting places; not least Shine On, which sounds incredibly personal with the singer grieving for a lost loved one; and then the notes tell us that it was written for and about the suicide of TV personality *Caroline Flack; a death that caused us all to question the tabloid press and Social Media (for 5 minutes it appears) …. but I feel many people will find solace in Roseanne’s words too.
I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets by saying the extraordinary Made Just For You is about her baby son and the feelings a new parent has at this time in their lives.
Plenty of other songs here have backstories too; but at the same time we all interpret songs in our own personal ways; which is why Daisy Chain, All My Days and especially the rambunctious Call It Love will appeal to you and I both; but most likely for totally different reasons to the woman who wrote them from her own experiences.
After the success of her debut album Roseanne was on the cusp of something special; just as Covid and the associated lockdowns put everything on hold; but she used that time wisely; not just creating her son, but fleshing out the songs she was writing for the follow up …. and the results (at least in the case of the songs) are better than could have been hoped for had she been rushed into the studio.
The arrangements on Mona Lisa and Till Kingdom Come, especially are deceptively simple, with a production that allows Roseanne’s words and tunes the space to breathe and linger in the air for a long time after the song has ended.
As I said at the beginning all of my preconceptions were quickly out the window in Track #1 and that follows through all 13 songs; with a couple being very, very special indeed, which is why I’m currently calling a Tie for Favourite Song.
Couldn’t Wish More For You uses a simple singer-songwriter love song template for what goes on to be a complex story of Joni Mitchell proportions as a cello joins Reid’s gentle rolling acoustic guitar playing that will bring a lump to your throat.
The other, What Constitutes a Sin? Is one of those handful of songs that genuinely stops you in your tracks and sounds horribly personal.
Maybe it is about her own life, maybe not, perhaps it’s completely made up …. but … phew, the way Reid uses her velvet tinged vocals to tell this desperately emotional story could be a game changer for her … especially across the Atlantic.
Personally I love the Americana instrumentation and flavoured production, and I can’t wait to see and hear Roseanne play these songs alongside a similarly assembled band
Even playing LAWSIDE the very first time, I knew it was going straight into my Top 10 albums of 2023 …. and it’s certainly the next step on what promises to be a star studded path to glory.

Released June 2nd 2023



*Caroline Flack

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:53 @NovaRadioNE #Newcastle

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 53
Nova Radio NE

Saturday 27th May 23

My Sunday evening radio show was transferred to Saturday afternoon this week; as the Premier League football season was coming to an end with 4.30 ko’s on Sunday. At the time of planning we all thought the excitement could extend to Newcastle United; so a three hour programme was pencilled in.
Thankfully (?) on the Monday night a draw meant they couldn’t drop out of the European Cup places so Sunday would be a ‘dead rubber’.
The Music!

As it was going to be a very sunny afternoon I planned to play ‘fun’ music from the Rootsy genres; but as usual that plan quickly went adrift, starting with Tina Turner who sadly died a couple of days before broadcast and ending with Tom Petty’s ‘Refugee’ for pretty obvious reasons if you follow UK politics!
In between we had loads of new tracks and singles coupled to a few older songs that I re-discovered tucked away on the Nova Super Computer.

Tina TurnerNutbush City Limits
Wily Bo & ED BrayshawLive With Me
Guy DavisGot Your Letter in My Pocket
Chuck ProphetFelony Glamour
Kyshona TrioWe The People
The Countess of FifeHumans Are a Bad Breed
Stefan GrossmanVestapol
Ruthie FosterWar Pigs
Marty StuartThe Sun is Quietly Sleeping
Margo PriceShotgun Willie
Casey James PrestwoodDay Drinking
Amanda Shires & Bobbie NelsonSummertime
Zach AaronTruth is a Mirror
Bella WhiteWorth My While
Dean MuellerLife Ain’t All Roses
Ben HemmingThe Devil’s Dance
Lee HunterThe Sycamore’s are Turning
Cowboy JunkiesMike Tyson (Here it Comes)
Stephen FearingGone But Not Forgotten
Beau JenningsI Know The Guys
Chastity BrownLoving the Questions
Tom BlackwellKill Me With Kindness
Malcolm HolcombeBits & Pieces
Annie KeatingCowgirl in the Sand
Helen McCookerybookCoffee & Hope
The ByrdsSo You Want to be a Rock & Roll Star
Tom PettyRefugee

Chastity Brown & Tom Blackwell @ Jumpin Hot Club #Newcastle

Chastity Brown & Tom Blackwell
Jumpin Hot Club
The Cluny II
Thursday 25th May 2023

First up was Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Tom Blackwell, looking very dapper in a suit and pristine white shirt. He opened with the slow and simmering I Can’t Help It, which seamlessly went into Paradise Blues without missing a note.
With only 40 minutes to showcase his back catalogue and imminent new release; Tom was like a magician the way he changed harmonicas and re-set his acoustic guitar between songs; generally with some self-depreciating quips to entertain the appreciative crowd.
Just over half way through he played the title track, Regency Cafe from the new album; and while I have my own review copy at home; I only realised how much he reminds me of the solo work from Ray Davies in the way he arranges and sings his songs; the subject matter is similar too.
The other two new songs found him dipping his toes into the Americana waters with Tom Trouble and what he introduced as his ‘daft song’ Kill Me With Kindness which was filled with wheezy harmonica bursts ala Neil and Bob which merited two stars in my notes.
For a virtual unknown this far East I was pleased to hear Tom receive a request for The King of Doubt, from the back of the room, which was actually one of the highlights of a razor-sharp set.
Tom has recently re-located to the NE, so hopefully I will get to see him a lot more in the near future.

I’ve seen Chastity Brown a few times over the years so was surprised to see a drum kit as the back of the stage; which was filled by an intricate lady drummer called Tara who wonderfully Chastity’s ‘Jazzy set’.
You will have to forgive me as we go forward, because not only did I become immersed in the music; occasionally forgetting to scribble notes; Chastity didn’t introduce any songs; bar one …. and her set list, which I photographed seems to be written in some secret code!
Her opening song, Cult Classically set the tone for the Jazzy vibe that prevailed all evening; intricately soft drums accompanying some clever piano or guitar; but with Ms Brown’s stunning vocals very much front and centre.
This was followed by Boston from the latest album; and the sparse guitar and drums with an intense vocal performance took a beautiful song into a whole new dimension.
Wonderment from the same album followed and Chastity’s choppy guitar breaks were quite astounding at times; which while I know she can play guitar, tonight she used her Semi-Acoustic as a lead instrument which was a great surprise.
On previous visits Chastity was accompanied by a pianist, but tonight she played it herself and just like her guitar playing, left me stunned as she channeled her inner Carla Bley at times with her passionate all encompassing playing as Tara watched her like a hawk for key changes.
As the gig ebbed and flowed, Chastity introduced a new song; Mosaic as a ‘work in progress’ for a project she’s working on with the Minnesota Orchestra …and sort of beggared belief as she played it solo on the piano which was beautiful; but I haven’t got the imagination to think what it might be like with a full orchestral backing.
One of the joys of watching music being played live, is when something goes slightly wrong ….which occurred tonight when Chastity got her verses mixed up in a song …. no one else in the world apart from us witnessed it, which I think is rather cool and special.
After 60 very special and intimate minutes Chastity and Tara thanked us for being there; then left the stage only to come back on for an obligatory encore, a particularly ‘heavy’ version of Curiosity, which was met with reverential silence from the audience then a torrent of applause at the end.
This was a really special evening of music from two very talented singer-songwriters who chopped and changed songs into barely recognisable from their recorded versions; but proving that there’s never just one version of a song.



photo-set https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Chastity-Brown-Tom-Blackwell/i-ZFFKvv9

Graham Nash NOW

Graham Nash

A Gleaming, Fresh Bundle of Engaging Folk-Rock Songs from a 60 Year Veteran

This is the year my mum turns 80: whilst any significant birthday can be a time of reflection, nostalgic serendipity is fuelling me towards this first new release in seven years from a music veteran; nay LEGEND.
The common thread?
We all grew up in Salford, my mum as a youngster marched alongside Mr Nash in the same Whit Walk Parades, my Nan served their school dinners.
So, it feels quite remarkable some 70 years later that I am delving into a bunch of shiny, brand-new songs that represent this same landmark junction for him as it does my Mum, and I’m curious to find out how this artist is taking stock of his own life, far away in time and space from those cobbled streets.

After just one listen, it was clear this album should be a winner with his fans: the songs giving a respectful musical nod to what has gone before, whilst lyrically providing a fresh, honest perspective and insight into his past and present mindset. Don’t get too comfy though as sprinkled in are some heavier weighted surprises: Graham Nash is showing no signs of putting his feet up anytime soon.

So how does this artist weave a trail of six musical decades within a new album?
Buddy’s Back encapsulates the early days of The Hollies, a buoyantly pure Rock n Roll pleaser: he’s not the first musician of course to pay tribute to this fifties legend but accompanying on backing vocals is his fellow founder member bandmate Allan Clarke, giving this track extra gravitas.
It’s sure to sit well in a live set.

Moving forward a decade sees him plucking an instrumental piece from a soundtrack by Alan Price to the 1973 film ‘O Lucky Man!’ all these years later, adding lyrics to create In A Dream.
Bordering on musical theatre territory, this is not my usual bag, but this soft, reflective orchestral ballad has a message that love can make everything alright and who am I to argue with that?
Sad strings are once more used for dramatic effect on I Watched It All Come Down where he gives a personal take on the rise and pitfalls of the Crosby, Stills and Nash years:

I watched it all come down
To reflector shades and telegrams at dawn
Changing highways on and on
I’m gone, been there too long
And although I’ve watched it fall
I want you to know, I’ve seen it grow, let go

The backbone of the album for many will be the heartfelt vintage folk pop tracks: A Better Life poignantly recognising the passing of time and contains a direct message for us all to try and leave behind an improved World for the next generations.
It Feels Like Home, complete with an emotive, old-school harmonica intro, is wrapped up with the right amount of country twang to make even the most adventurous folk homesick: it’s a feel-good love story that catches me off guard, evoking memories of my own early Salford years, making it an unexpected favourite.

The recurring theme of love provides affirmation that a point of personal contentment has been reached, whilst acknowledging there is always more to learn when it comes to matters of the heart.
The soft picking Ballad Love Of Mine conveys a touching regretful apology to his partner, with vocals upfront and confessional, whilst the piano led When it Comes to You is tenderly open about the sweet emotional place he is in:

You’re teaching me all that I thought I knew
Free from doubt, free from fear
I know what I need to do
When it comes to you’

Homelife aside, there are political frustrations voiced with the bluesy Golden Idol and Stars And Stripes which both convey Graham Nash’s thoughts on the MAGA era as he sings
I won’t fall for this illusion,
Just tell me the truth’.

In fact, the two songs jostling for the top slot both serve as a reminder this album is as contemporary as it is nostalgic.
Right Now is the upfront, rocky opener of the album, setting the gauntlet down with a punchy guitar rift designed to uplift and energize as the artist assesses his next steps, he’s still evolving:

Trying my best to be the man I know I am,
I’ll try to take it easy, moving right ahead’

By a tiny margin the boisterous ‘call to verbal arms’ track Stand Up wins the day.
Urging us to speak out against injustices, this one caught me by surprise and spirited me to a virtual ‘90s indie mosh pit!
In my book, a dead cert crowd pleaser for his upcoming ’60 years of songs and Stories’ tour, demonstrating just how worthy this album is to be the latest addition to Graham Nash’s musical timeline.
Glad to have checked back in after all these years, just as I’m planning my mum’s first visit back to Salford post Pandemic.
We’ve all come a long way and this album inspires us not to slow our journey down just yet.

Review by Anita Joyce

Released May 19th 2023


RMHQ Radio Show Ep:51 @NovaRadioNE #Newcastle

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 51
Nova Radio NE

Sunday 14th May 2023

Even before I’d pressed a button, I already knew that my playlist of new songs for tonight’s show was 5 too many to fit into the two hour format; and didn’t allow for any older tracks that I love re-discovering on your behalf.
I started with Little Richard as I’d just watched a documentary about him, then slid in Bo Diddley and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to get the party well on its way too.
So Every now and again I slipped a song in that fitted with the ‘mode/vibe’ then gt back to the new songs …. until I decided on a whim to drop everything and go full on Laurel Canyon towards the end, as I’d watched a documentary on the subject earlier in the day … then once I’d done that I couldn’t resist ending the show with songs from Chastity Brown and Jason Ringenberg who I’m going to see in the next few days at the Jumpin’ Hot Clun in downtown Newcastle.

Little RichardTutti Frutti
Bo DiddleyI’m a Man
Sister Rosetta TharpeTeach Me To Be Right
8 Ball AitkenOnly Guiding Light
Hannah Gillespie (AUS)This Burning Desire (03/05)
Willie NelsonFace of a Fighter
Tracy Nelson (ft Willie Nelson)Honky Tonkin’
Hugh ReedBuliders
DEAN OWENS & CalexicoMother Road
Ags ConnollyI Trust My Heart These Days
Ana PopovicQueen of the Pack
Samantha Fish and Jesse DaytonRippin and Runnin
Hannah AldridgePsycho Killer
Luke MorleyKilled By Cobain
David G SmithI Wanna Go Out (lp June)
David OlneyFerris Wheel
Margo CilkerLowland Trail
Dennis EllsworthHold You Close
Jerry LegerPretty Girl in an Ugly World
Kassi ValazzaSmile
Buffalo SpringfieldMr Soul
Joni MitchellCarey
Crosby, Stills & NashYou Don’t Have to Cry
Neil YoungUnknown Legend
West on ColfaxThe Desert Lies Outside the City
Watson TwinsNever Be Another You
Chastity BrownI Went Home
Jason RingenbergEddie Rode The Orphan Train

Jerry Leger at The Old Launderette, Durham City

Jerry Leger
Old Launderette
11th May 2023

To call the Old Launderette in Durham, ‘small’ would be a huge exaggeration; as it probably holds 36 or so patrons; but it’s a fabulous place with a great atmosphere; and is a venue that I should frequent more regularly; as the last time I was here was 2018 to see … Jerry Leger!
With no introduction to speak of and no support act; Leger started tonight’s concert with Nothing Pressing which set the tone for an evening of intimate and often ‘raw’ songs from his more recent back catalogue.
Swathed in red lighting which created an almost eerie atmosphere that felt in many ways like the type of Greenwich Village coffee shop vibe we’ve all read about in memoirs of the American singer-songwriters from the 1960’s; not least because his style of writing and the way he performs reminds me a bit of latter day Roger McGuinn or perhaps even Eric Anderson.
Not a surprise but Jerry got a bit emotional talking about the passing of Gordon Lightfoot earlier in the week; describing it as being like a ‘death in the family’ and he actually felt like he should be back in Canada, mourning with family and friends then dedicated one of his own songs to the late songwriter.
Very few songs were named in the occasional introduction; but when he did Leger proved to be a wonderful story teller; detailing the background to Jump In The Humber as being “a soundtrack to a mob movie set in Toronto, that never got made” and with that knowledge one of my favourite songs took on a whole new life.
This was followed by the first of the evenings’ 3 Star songs’ the metaphor laden love song, I Would which received a tumultuous ovation from the packed crowd as it ended.
Without name checking every song across the two sets; highlights were definitely Have You Ever Been Happy, Factory Made and Baby Got a Rare Gun (not Ray-gun which I wrote in my notes!!)
Yet there were other songs that I didn’t recognise but were at the very least intriguing; which is the best way to describe the beautiful Kill It With Kindness, And The Time Flew By and the brittle Bad Ole Dog, none of which I recognised …. but have now downloaded this morning.
Yet again it was a joy to see Jerry Leger in concert; but … and no disrespect to Richard from The Launderette; this singer-songwriter deserves to ply his trade in front of much larger audiences.

The Time Flew By


Del Barber ALMANAC

Del Barber
Acronym Records

Deeply Personal Blue Collar Canadiana

Del Barber has been on our radar for ten years now since Prairieography in 2014; and this, his eighth album is as good as he’s released in that time; and possibly his finest honed as he sings from his own life story; rather than his previous observations of those around him.
He gets the show on the road with the sublime Something To Say; which is something of a political song with a small ‘p’; as he explains how hard life is for the modern day working man; with a sigh instead of a scream …. which neatly compliments the pedal-steel and guitar combo in the background.
It suits Barber’s singing style to sound ‘laid back’; but don’t fall for that and think this is easy listening; his biting songs most certainly aren’t as you hear when you listen properly to Still Got You, Flash In The Pan or the caustic Me and Jim too.
In my little world I probably receive ten or more albums every week from North American singer-songwriters; and while all have their merits; very few have the ability to sound like an old friend shooting the breeze after not being in contact for years; and that’s how Del Barber and his songs feel to me.
When Barber gets ‘angry’ you know about it; but it’s not in a snarling punk manner; it’s totally underplayed; but the articulate words and phrases he uses on Spade, the brittle I Told You So, or the over sweary One Good Year leaves you in no doubt about his feelings; and because of the manner in which he gets his message across the average listener will no doubt nod their head in agreement too.
Although from Winnipeg in Canada; Del Barber’s version of Folk or dare I say it, Americana (Canadiacana?) is universal and will resonate with blue collar, working class people the world over; most especially when they hear Bulls, when that pedal steel sounds like a stiletto knife to the heart or the Bluegrassy finale On My Way Out The Door which is North Americana all wrapped up in four minutes.
Bizarrely my two Favourite Songs here both sound very personal to Barber; but will tug at everyone’s heartstrings when they hear Jared and Maria; as we all have someone in our lives just like them.
While quantifiable success would be nice, I doubt Del Barber sits at home worrying about World Stardom; predominantly because his day job is running a farm coupled to having a young family taking up most of any free time he has; but like most of the musicians I know; his songwriting and singing is something that just comes naturally to him, and the songs just ‘have to be written, recorded and sung’ regardless of the amount they sell (as long as he gets his money back, I guess.)

Released 28th April 2023


Trapper Schoepp SIREN SONGS

Trapper Schoepp
Siren Songs
Grand Phony Record Company

Transfixing and Slightly Dangerous Songs To Make You Giddy With Excitement.

It has been said that a “Siren’s Song” is alluring, enchanting, transfixing and ultimately dangerous. Trapper Schoepp’s newest record, Siren Songs is all of that … and more, ensnaring this listener to lose time, space and eventually a few tears over the course of 12 tracks and 46 minutes. 

Opening with the rhythmic anthem, “Cliffs of Dover,” a staccato-pulsed, lyrical pop poem that takes us on an emotional journey through the eyes of a soldier who is wrestling with PTSD, post tour of duty in Iraq.
The tune takes off, opens up, and spills out like a wound begging to be healed as the driving strum and brilliant drumming by Jon Radford propels the tune forward with a forceful optimism that sets the tone and implies that perhaps this journey might not be so dangerous.
Or will it?

“Devil’s Kettle” flips that on its head and we are immediately slogging through swampy terrain with a groove that puts us in the “belly of the beast” waiting for peril so greasy that even Al Capone slips into frame and the introspection of residing inside Lucifer’s bubbling vessel creates an uncertain, exciting, claustrophobic “blues.”

The influence of Irish music through drumming, traditional instrumentation and open guitar tuning is immediately heard in “Secrets of the Breeze,” a song that fully brings all of the nautical elements together to entrance and romance with an uplifting tempo and a call to the sea that might be an undoing of sorts.  Schoepp’s narrative poetry and vocal delivery is powerful and hypnotic folk music as is the band’s spiraling and throbbing meter that pulls us under the waves and wraps us in the fabric of the song.

“Good Graces” keeps this heartbeat pounding but “The Fool” snaps the head back upright and brings on a bit of 60’s Simon & Garfunkel tied into a perfect three-minute tune that shows up at just the right time to remind the listener that Trapper Schoepp is a brilliant songwriter that draws inspiration from many deep wells where the water is pure, cool and quenches the thirst of those who are parched and looking for satisfaction. 

I could gush for each and every track as they all have standout moments and keep me coming back for more. If I had to pick out my standout tracks: “Cliffs of Dover,” “Diocese,” “Eliza,” “Silk & Satin” and “In Returning.” All of these songs possess a magnetic quality that tugs at my core. 

Recorded at Johnny Cash’s Cash Cabin in Hendersonville, TN and Produced by John Jackson (Jayhawks, Ray Davies) and Patrick Sansone (Wilco), Trapper Schoepp’s Siren Songs is undeniably one of the best records I have heard in a very long time.
Songs that feel brand new and all at once like they have lived inside your soul forever. 

I am giddy with delight. I have indeed been enchanted and transfixed.
Yes, Siren Songs feels kinda dangerous, and I LOVE it!

reviewed by Emily Duff
Released 21st April 2023


Hector Gannet Live at Hall 2, Sage Gateshead

Hector Gannet
Hall 2
Sage Gateshead
Saturday May 6th 2023

Before a guitar was strummed, a lone voice filled Sage 2; filmed in 1944 following the re-opening of Tyneside’s shipyards at the start of the World War 2 a cloth-capped Geordie states
 ”Tyneside’s busy enough today,
owldens and youngens hard at work makin’ good ships…
will it be the same again five years from now?” 
The  footage, courtesy of the North East Film Archive plays on a screen above the heads of Aaron Duff and his band as the music kicks in.
Tonight’s opener – The Launch was taken from their 2020 debut album Big Harcar – it’s a beautiful, largely instrumental track with only the haunting, echoey lines

 ‘When you’re ready to go, let me know’ transporting us backwards. 

Of course, this historic newsreel/live music territory has been richly mined of late by Public Service Broadcasting, but there’s a feeling tonight that Hector Gannet’s short cinematic opening set has meaning beyond entertainment; beyond commercial aspirations, beyond nostalgia.
It gave a sense of community perhaps, a sense of pride, not only in Tyneside’s industrial heritage, but pride in a band, who are on the verge of taking a step up on the music industry’s notoriously slippery ladder.

There was no support act tonight, just two Hector Gannet sets.
However, there was an interlude of sorts which featured a presentation from eco-tourism social enterprise Wild Intrigue, whose stated aim is to inspire, educate and re-wild. 
Cain Scimgeour skillfully managed to hold onto a [live music] crowd armed only with words and a few visuals and told us that after spending six months out at sea, our neighbours, the Kittiwakes return to nest on the buildings and bridges of the Tyne and as we are well aware, their calls are the audio to a jog and/or a pint along the quayside.

The second set kicked off with Emmanuel Head, the opening track from Hector Gannet’s latest release The Land Belongs to Us and there was more film, some beautiful drone footage of the white pyramid beacon at Emmanuel Head on the north eastern point of Holy Island.
It was the affecting Last of the Buffalo that marked the halfway point of the set, then bathed in gorgeous white LED spotlights, songwriter/frontman Aaron James Duff stepped forward and performed two solo tracks; The Wailing Wall and Serpentine. 
He then told us that Alan Hull’s family were with us [‘no pressure then’] as the full band returned for their version of Hull’s Blue Murder lifted from songwriter’s 1973 solo album Pipedream and also featured on 2023’s The Land Belongs to Us.

Much of Hector Gannet’s appeal lies in their love and respect for the environment (generally) and the land and sea north of the River Tyne (specifically).
The set peaked with the atmospheric Into The Deep, performed against a backdrop of stunning animation by Newcastle artist Deborah Snell – conceivably, it’s music in a genre all of its own – EAR – Environmentally Aware Rock.
Copyright pending!

I spotted a bottle of Brown Ale in the crowd, held aloft in a time-honoured salute to a local hero.
A show of kinship and respect for a young Geordie musician who is following in the footsteps of those who have gone before. The songs, though contemporary and original, have their roots in the teachings of Dylan, Neil Young and of course, local hero Alan Hull.
The bands love of these forbearers is, I suspect, a big reason why their music connects and why it reaches out to a wide demographic, as evidenced tonight. 

The evening’s close out tune, The Haven of St Aidan’s is as much of a homage to the Motorik sound of Neu! as it is to Aidan of Lindisfarne and it is arguably the highest point in the HG set.
A run-up of looping keyboards and mesmerising lights erupt into a pulsating psychedelic wig-out, which over the course of 10 delicious minutes, combined film of the crossing to Holy Island, the sound of the autobahn and the dancefloor and threatens to turn the climax of the show into a rave.
It may represent something of a Krautrock/Northumbria crossover, but this is Hector Gannet’s sweetest spot.
In a way it was a slight-shame they didn’t press this button till the end, but maybe that’s me being pedantic.
In reality, the only way is up for Hector Gannet and like any great band, it’s exciting to think where the journey goes next, both sonically and visually.

photo courtesy John Fletcher