by Norman Warwick

There was a time when my staff and I (that´s me, then) despaired of the folk scene I had once graced with my almost anonymous presence in Lendaear. Throughout the seventies Colin Lever and I, a folk duo viewed as a contemporary act by the traditionalists and viewed, in a way that still asked will they sing any songs we know, as  contemporary by the contemporaries who wanted Alan Bell, Tom Paxton and Bob Dylan singing all their contemporary songs, such as Bread And Fishes ( a biblical telling), Wish I Had A Troubadour (a yearning for the traditional) and (Ain´t Gonna Work On) Maggie´s Farm, written in the traditional strophic form by Bob Dylan. Those folkies who believed the past is another country could never get along with those in the other half of the folk clubs who believed that tradition must be preserved at all costs by repelling all boarders (or borders).

Lendanear, (Colin Lever and I) seemed to infuriate both camps whenever we played a full concert in clubs or at festivals. We wrote and recorded all our own songs (right) but modern titles like Cup Finals Every Night and Mr. Cole The Haircut Man were rooted in traditional working class roots and Fishes And Coal rose from the ashes of abandoned  industries of the nineteenth century. Admittedly we perhaps didn´t deliver these songs, or our definitely contemporary Just Listen, Don´t Talk or Heart Between Beats with quite the sophistication we heard in our heads as we wrote them, but this division between ancient and modern made us feel,…er,…let´s say it did our heads in, really !

Had we been as locally famous as was Alan Bell, or universally loved as was Tom Paxton or as religiously followed as was Dylan, I don´t suppose we would have as bothered by divided opinion.

Dylan in fact often wrote in the very traditional sophic style, as evidence in Maggie´s Farm. For all its observation of contremporary attitudes and hypocracies it was in fact written in a format of century old tradtions.

The Strophic form he adopted is also called verse-repeating form, chorus form, AAA song form, or one-part song form – is a song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. Common examples of the strophic form include hymns and folk songs. The hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ is a strophic hymn; the same music is sung for each of the seven verses of the poem. And ‘I Surrender All’ is a hymn that uses a refrain with the strophic form.

Perhaps those who claimed to favour either traditional or contemporary didn´t really know what they were actually listening to. And anyway did it matter?

But now, in Top Of The Pops speak:  we have 4 new entries, and a new No.1! All in the Folk Charts for February. You can hear it all by going to the web site.

lisa O Neil´s (left) all of this is chance is fresh off 2018’s collection Heard a Long Song Gone for the River Lea imprint, The Wren EP in 2019 and an adaptation of Bob Dylan’s ‘All the Tired Horses’ for the final scene of Peaky Blinders, Lisa O’Neill now returns with her latest album, the beautiful All Of This Is Chance (on Rough Trade). It has gone straight to the top. Number One

Following it almost all the way there, but resting for now at number two, is Nowhere And Everywhere (Billingham) by Unthank Smith(right)

Rachel Unthank and Paul Smith are both from England’s North East, and are foremost talents in their respective fields. In this album, they set out to collect songs and pen originals that claw at the beating heart of the region

In fourth place in the chart counting February 2023 sales we have Rozi Plain´s Prize. On this album Rozi (left) has assembled her widest cast of players to create an album that not only preserves the intimacy of her signature guitar-and-vocal sound, but accentuates these moments of calm, and explosive emotion, midst a soaring, collective spirit.

The last new entry in this month Official Folk Albums Chart is, ‘The Dog Show Sessions Live’ (Track Dogs) by Show of Hands and Track Dogs, at number 13. Recorded at Eggbeer Farm and Exeter Cathedral, it delivers the full set list of the two band’s recent collaborative tour. The first single released was the full six-piece, rip-roaring joint effort on a bluegrass, Americana classic, ‘Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man’

Following the highly successful Spring Tour, 2022,  with Track Dogs (left) – Show of Hands are pleased to announce the live album The Dog Show Sessions Live will be released on 1st February,2023 (Pre order details below). Recorded at Eggbeer Farm and Exeter Cathedral this album includes the entire Dog Show Sessions set list.

The first single will be the full six-piece, rip-roaring joint effort on a bluegrass, Americana classic, “Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man”. 

2022 saw a great alliance and friendship between the two groups, culminating in an electrifying killer set for the headline gig of Shrewsbury Folk Festival. The combination of these two bands has all the depth of the shared folk genres with a whole new level of in-your-face energy.

The Track Dogs (left) will be joining Show Of Hands, as one of their special guests for The Royal Albert Hall on 10th April! There will be more collaborations and plenty of surprises yet to come, so make sure not to miss out on “The Last Post”.

The Track Dogs comprise of 2 Irishmen, 1 Englishman and 1 American and the band came together in 2011 to make their unique brand of acoustic music; a veritable 4×4 of voices and instruments identified for their dynamic fusion of styles including folk, latin, Americana & even some bluegrass.

The four Madrid based  “madrileños” (Garrett WallDave MooneyHoward Brown Robbie K. Jones) whose artistic names derives from the dark subterranean world of New York’s subway system,  8th Studio Album,  Fire On The Rails is a kicking album that grows on the work that has opened so many doors for the band.


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