Monday, 29 September 2014

Acoustic Spectrum playlist 29 September

The show returns after another week away and today sees the release of an excellent new collection of songs by Ewan McLennan called 'Stories Still Untold'. This is Ewan's third release in the last few years and he has been included in the latest series of the Transatlantic Sessions. 

His new album features Ross Ainslie on whistles, Beth Porter on cello and Lauren MacColl on viola. So two tracks from him on tonight's show and I've already added another of his songs to next week's playlist. Check out his web site

Tune in tonight at 9pm on Acoustic Spectrum radio to hear...

Richard Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Polly Barrett - Lay Me Down
Ewan McLennan - The Shearing
Crosby, Stills and Nash - Guinnevere
Patsy Matheson - From Your Computer
Chris Bradley - To Your Darkness
Linsey Aitken & Ken Campbell - Wild Roving
The Low Countries - Summer's Last Hurrah
Moll Baxter - Bits of White
Ewan McLennan - Tales from Down At The Harp
Skerryvore - Blown Away (Acoustic)
Kris Drever - Farewell to Fuineray
Kate Bush - Rocket's Tail
Nick Drake - Day Is Done

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Mondays at 9pm / Tuesdays at 2am
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Acoustic Spectrum playlist 15 September

Slightly belated posting of last night's playlist due to me being away from home and my own computer. 

Dick Gaughan - No Gods and Precious Few Heroes
Ollie King - End of an Era & Mr Cunningham's Maggot
Kathleen McInnes - Song of the Highland Soldier
Kate Rusby - Who Knows Where The Time Goes
Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham - Waltz for Father
Martin Simpson - When First I Came to Caledonia
Patsy Reid - Lost in Green
The Imagined Village - The Handweaver And The Factory Maid
Kris Drever, Eamonn Coyne & Megan Henderson - Shady Grove
Ollie King - Santa Fe Trail
Blazin' Fiddles - The Shoemaker
Fairport Convention - Over The Next Hill
Darwin Song Project - Mother of Mysteries

The featured album was Gambit by Ollie King.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Acoustic Spectrum playlist 8 September

Coming up at 9pm tonight on Acoustic Spectrum Radio. The featured album is 'Break & Bloom' by Jane Kramer which is released today. 

Locust Honey String Band - Sally in the Turnip Patch
Jane Kramer - Nobody's Woman Tonight
Skerryvore - Moonraker
West My Friend - Missing You
Steeleye Span - Dark Eyed Sailor
Chris & Kellie While - Persuasion
Will Pound - White Jock
Jane Kramer - Any Way You Like, Child
Luke Jackson - Ghost at the Crossroad
Matt Woosey Band - That's My Baby
King Creosote - Pauper's Dough
HMS Ginafore - Suzy 4 Jack
Ross Ainslie - Clans

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Mondays at 9pm / Tuesdays at 2am
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Locust Honey String Band "He ain't no good"

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Nice Problem to Have.

I first got into radio in 2008 when I started volunteering at the Lancaster & District YMCA. They were running a radio project called Diversity FM which was broadcasting to the local area on FM and online. At the end of June that year I started presenting a weekly folk music show which I called “Off The Beaten Tracks”.

One of the first cds which arrived in the post for me was 'Poor Man's Heaven' by Seth Lakeman and I arranged to do an interview with him just before he headlined at the now defunct Brampton Festival. This was a bit foolhardy of me as I was very new to radio but despite being somewhat nervous, the interview went okay. I only did one other telephone interview on Diversity which was with one of the organisers of the Ingleton Folk weekend. Unfortunately we had some technical problems which meant the poor chap was left hanging on the line for over 20 minutes while Tony, the studio manager, tried to patch him through to the studio. After that experience I decided not to do any more interviews over the phone and instead concentrate on the music.

These days I get a regular supply of music from various promoters and artists but back when I started at Diversity I realised that it was up to me to email singers and bands and ask if they could send me a cd. This wasn't a problem with local artists who were, on the whole, happy to give me copies of their music in return for some airplay but it was a bit hit and miss with more established artists. And as for getting free tickets for concerts – forget it. The best offer I got was a “buy one get one free” deal for a Karine Polwart show at the Platform in Morecambe but sadly I couldn't find anyone to take the other ticket.

I did feel I had made a bit of a breakthrough one week when I found a large envelope waiting for me at the YMCA. It was from none other than Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention. Not only had he sent me a copy of Fairport's latest studio release but there were also copies of four other albums along with a programme from the tour the band was currently on. I was quite overwhelmed by his generosity though I think he had taken pity on me as I had told him that I had been unable to attend their show in Kendal as I'd been unwell.

These days many of the albums I receive are in mp3 format which obviously doesn't have the same thrill as opening an envelope and fishing out the disc and accompanying press release or occasional hand-written note. I have received four cds from a singer songwriter called John Rigby who likes recording in remote locations such as Cape Wrath in the north of Scotland and I enjoy getting letters from him giving me some background to the music. He has virtually no web presence apart from an email address which is quite unusual in this day and age but he seems happy enough just writing and recording songs when the mood takes him.

Receiving music digitally over Dropbox is impersonal but makes sense from the promoter's point of view in that they can send multiple copies of albums out over the internet with little cost to themselves and from the presenter's point of view it means you have fewer cds piling up around your home. All the cds I receive I copy on to my computer as I need the music in mp3 format to include in the shows I record. Yes, there is a drop in quality but for those of us recording and uploading shows remotely to radio stations it is really the only way to do it.

All this brings me on to the matter of how those of us working as DJs manage to listen to all the music we are sent. I imagine I get only a fraction of the cds the likes of Mike Harding or Bob Harris must get through the post but there are still only 24 hours in a day and there's only so much of that time that anyone can spend listening to new music. I read an interview with Mark Radcliffe who said that he uses the time he spends driving between the BBC and home to listen to new music. An assistant at the studio puts new cds in a box which he puts on the passenger seat and goes through them presumably just listening to two or three songs per album.

I remember hearing about a musician friend of mine who criticised a DJ who said he only listened to a minute of each track on a cd before hitting the fast forward button. But if you are snowed under with new music to listen to, sometimes that is the only option. I don't like listening to music like that but sometimes if a song doesn't grab your attention immediately it is all too tempting to skip on to the next track. Personally I think it is better to do that than listen to just one track and not bother with the rest of the cd or not listen to the cd at all. Then there's the whole issue of how some albums grab your attention immediately but others need repeated listens for you to really get into the music.

I could use the analogy of a kid in a sweet shop. Say folk music is chocolate. Normally the kid buys the occasional bar from the sweet shop, takes it home and savours it from the first bite to the last. But what happens if the sweet shop starts sending him bars of chocolate to his house? If he tries to eat everything he's sent he'll make himself sick and not want to eat any more. So he just eats a bit of each bar. If he likes that first taste then he'll have some more otherwise he'll try another bar. Likewise with music. If I sit and listen to every album I'm sent from start to finish I'll probably find myself getting sick of that type of music and reach for something different from my collection. The equivalent for the kid with the chocolate is that he gets fed up with being sent chocolate bars and goes out for some crisps or whatever. You get the general idea, I hope.

But it is a nice problem to have. I have discovered many new artists especially from the other side of the Atlantic who I would never have heard of if I hadn't got involved with Diversity FM and, since its demise in 2012, Acoustic Spectrum radio. At least with mp3 players you're not limited to listening to music at home or in the car though I must admit that when I'm walking round town I prefer not to listen to music. But sitting here, as I am, at my computer I should really be listening to one of the new releases I've received recently and start putting together my next playlist. But I can't do that and listen to the cricket at the same time. Though with England's current dismal form I think I'll go back to the chocolate, I mean music.

Colin Bertram presents The Folk and Acoustic Music Show on Acoustic Spectrum Radio each Monday at 9pm with repeats on Tuesdays at 2am and Friday at 1pm. You can also listen to his shows at

Monday, 1 September 2014

Acoustic Spectrum playlist 1 September

Tonight's playlist on Acoustic Spectrum

George Harrison - My Sweet Lord (demo)
Red Molly - 1952 Vincent Black Lighning
Richard Thompson - One Door Opens
Cam Penner - Cool Cool Nights
The Handsome Family - My Beautiful Bride
Jarrod Dickenson - Ain't Waiting Any Longer
The Rails - Send Her to Holloway
Heidi Talbot - Whispering Grass
George Harrison - Let It Be Me
Barney Bentall - The Ballad of Johnny Hooke
James Duncan MacKenzie - Second Sight
Linda Thompson - It Won't Be Long Now
Dick Gaughan - Both Sides of the Tweed
Karine Polwart - Four Strong Walls

The featured album is "Early Takes Volume 1" by George Harrison.

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
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