Monday, 19 December 2016

Best Gigs of 2016

I didn't get to a huge number of gigs this year but enjoyed seeing the following at various venues mainly in the local area. The Lancaster Music Festival had another successful year with its mix of local, national and international acts and it was good to see local bands The Low Countries play to admittedly a rather small number of people at Lancaster Castle and Stephen Hudson & The Fiat Pandas play to a good-sized crowd at The Hall. 

Further afield The Village Pump Folk Festival in Wiltshire included a rousing set from The Proclaimers on the Saturday night, some good banter from Mark Radcliffe and his pirate pals in Galleon Blast and the discovery of the festival was Keith Christmas who has been around for many years but his music was new to me. Other highlights were Martin Simpson & Don Flemons, The Willows, Fara and Barluath.

If I'm pushed to choose a favourite gig I'll probably go for King Creosote. It was the first time I'd seen him with a band since the days of the Fence Collective when I lived in Fife back in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Top 10 Gigs of 2016 (in date order)

Tim Dalling, The Gregson, Lancaster
Steve Knightley, Glasson Dock Village Hall
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, The Hothouse, Morecambe
Gilmore & Roberts, Garstang Unplugged
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests, The Gregson, Lancaster
9Bach & Twelfth Day, The Hothouse, Morecambe
King Creosote, Cloudspotting Festival
Rory McLeod, Lancaster Music Festival
Jamie Smith's Mabon, Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere
Belshazzar's Feast, The Hothouse, Morecambe

And check out my Recommended Albums of 2016

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On 103.5FM and online at

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Recommended Albums of 2016

This year has seen community radio return to the Lancaster & Morecambe area in the form of Beyond Radio. I started broadcasting my weekly Folk & Acoustic Music Show back in August and it's been great to be back on air doing live shows despite the odd technical hitch and occasional operator error! Thanks to Duncan, Chris and the rest of the team for getting the station up and running and great news regarding the successful Lottery bid which will provide much needed funds to further develop the station.

As far the music is concerned, my thanks once again go to the promoters and artists who have sent me CDs or free downloads of their music. I haven't had so many albums from North America this year which explains the mainly UK feel to the following list of releases since the start of the year. But I have enjoyed listening to albums by The High Bar Gang, Howard & Skye, Locust Honey String Band and Roger Roger from the other side of the pond. 

This list is purely in order of date of release.

Recommended Albums of 2016

Jamie Smith's Mabon - The Space Between
Nuala Kennedy - Behave the Bravest
Chamberlain & Haywood - First Impression
James J Turner - Spirit Soul & A Handful of Mud
Claire Hastings - Between River and Railway
Paddy Garrigan  & The Stroller Priests - I Jumped Ship
Megson - Good Times Will Come Again
Alice Jones  - Poor Strange Girl
Jenny Sturgeon - From the Skein
The Low Countries - An Extended Play
Barbara Dymock  - Leaf an' Thorn
Kaela Rowan - The Fruited Thorn
Kim Edgar  - Stories Untold
Broom Bezzums - No Smaller Than The World
Wire & Wool - Wire & Wool
Liza Mulholland - Fine 'n' Rosy
Kate Rusby - Life in a Paper Boat
Sarah-Jane Summers  & Juhani Silvola - Widdershins
Eddie & Luc - Tirade
Emily Smith - Songs for Christmas

I have put together a mix of tracks from many of the above albums and uploaded it to

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On 103.5FM and online at

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

OTBT radio show 1 August

It's been a while since I recorded a show but I felt in the mood to do one after listening to Beyond Radio at the weekend which is the new community radio station based in Lancaster. I hope to be doing a folk music show on Beyond but need to attend an induction and training session before they'll let me loose on the airwaves. If you live in the Morecambe Bay area you can tune in on 103.5 FM.

I've also been to a couple of music festivals recently, the Village Pump Folk Festival in Wiltshire and the Cloudspotting festival here in Lancashire, though it may be in Yorkshire now as they've been messing about with the county borders to increase the size of the Dales. But I've included tracks by some of the bands and singers I saw at those festivals.

Listen to the show at

Kaela Rowan - Mary & the Gallant Soldier
Richard Thompson - Beatnik Walking
Megson - Burn Away
Barbara Dymock - Usher's Well
Kim Edgar - Anchor in the Sky
King Creosote - Not One Bit Ashamed
Michael Chapman - Prospector
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Cindy Girl
The Willows - Roseville Fair
The Proclaimers - Let's Get Married
Kaela Rowan - Bratach Bana
The Slambovian Circus of Dreams - The Trans-Slambovian Bipolar Express

Friday, 15 July 2016

OTBT mix 15 July

I started to put this playlist together yesterday before the awful news came through about the latest terrorist attack in France. I must admit to feeling complete despair and cannot comprehend why these terrible things keep happening. I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels this way. Coming on top of the political upheaval which has followed the Brexit vote, it feels like we are constantly being battered round the head by one bad news story after another just now. But as the death toll rose in Nice I turned to music to find some solace. 

I had recently been sent a free download of the latest album by French Canadian band Le Vent Du Nord so thought that would be a good place to start and found myself removing songs from yesterday's playlist which didn't fit my sombre mood. I stopped after selecting 12 tracks but realised I was making myself more upset by some of the songs - especially the Cara Dillon track which brought tears to my eyes - so deleted some and added some slightly more positive numbers including 'You've Got A Friend' by Carole King. But I think Quiet Desperation sums up how I've been feeling today.

Le Vend Du Nord - Petit Reve IX
Cara Dillon - Falling Like A Star
Billy Bragg - St Swithins Day
Christy Moore - Quiet Desperation
Le Vent Du Nord - Pauvre Enfant
James J Turner - Remember Me
Calum MacLeod - Calm Creativity
Claire Hastings - Son of No-one
Bill Malkin & Band Wagon - Let It Rain
Crosby, Stills & Nash - You Don't Have To Cry
Martin Stephenson - All Ways Us
Carole King - You've Got A Friend
Patti Smith - Helpless
Jimi Hendrix Experience - The Wind Cries Mary

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

LPs and Cassettes

I've hooked up a cassette player to my hi-hi and been revisiting some music I haven't listened to in a while. Some of my tapes I bought back in the 1980s and they still sound ok. I've been playing some LPs too as a friend posted on Facebook about those covers compilation albums we used to get back in the 1970s before someone came up with the idea of the 'That's What I Call (chart) Music' cds. I still have one called 16 Chart Hits which may well have been the first LP I ever bought. The opening track is a song by The Rubettes and it does sound very close to the original but most, if not all those albums were covers of Top 30 hits played by session musicians. 

So some of those old albums I've been listening to on analogue include...

ZZ Top - Deguello & El Loco * 
Led Zeppelin - (self-titled debut album)
Steve Howe - The Steve Howe Album
George Harrison - George Harrison & 33 1/3 * 
Sting - The Dream of the Blue Turtles
Iggy Pop - Lust For Life
Status Quo - 12 Gold Bars
The Rolling Stones - Undercover
Grateful Dead - In The Dark
Supertramp - Breakfast in America
16 Chart Hits - Volume 16
Sailor - Trouble
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - Stranger in Town
Ride - Nowhere

* these were 2 on 1 where, as the name suggests, you'd get 2 albums on 1 cassette. 

So many great songs on those albums but if I had to choose a favourite it might be this one. This is a song Iggy is still playing to this day, most recently in his collaboration with Josh Homme...

Friday, 17 June 2016

OTBT radio show 16 June

This week's playlist has a French feel to it showing the links there are between not only British and French folk music but also the influence of French music in Canada and Louisiana. I also thought it would be a suitable theme seeing as how the Euro 2016 football tournament is on just now. 

I've also included two tracks from Alice Jones' debut solo album 'Poor Strange Girl' which she released last week.

Alice Jones - Poor Strange Girl
Chamberlain & Haywood - Tango Pour Claude
Mad Pudding - Le Beaujolais Nouveau
Dead Belgians - Au Suivant
Mabon - La Randonnee
Calum Stewart & Heikke Bourgault - L'Heure Avant L'Aube
MacMaster Hay - Breton
Steve Knightley - Tout Va Bien
June Tabor - Le Vingt-Cinquieme Du Mois D'Octobre
The Revelers - La Jolie Fleur DuBois
Alice Jones - Adieu to Old England
Breabach - Les Pieds Joyeux

Here's one on the subs bench...

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tina Turner and Bryan Adams, Edinburgh Playhouse, 1985

In March 1985 Tina Turner came to the Edinburgh Playhouse on her Private Dancer tour. This was one of the comebacks of the 1980s as just a year or two earlier she had been playing much smaller venues. I went to the concert with my cousin Jenny who had been working out in Bahrain and had seen Tina play there, I think at the Hilton hotel where Jenny was working. After the huge success of the 'Private Dancer' album she was back playing big theatres and arenas and the UK leg of her world tour included four nights at London's Wembley Arena.

For the UK dates, support came from Bryan Adams who was also enjoying chart success with his fourth album 'Reckless'. The single Run To You just missed out on making the UK Top Ten and it was one of six singles to be released from the album which seems a little excessive as there were only ten tracks on the album in total. 

So when Bryan and his band took to the Playhouse stage, there weren't too many empty seats that I could see from where we were sitting in the front circle. But what I remember most from his set was that while the rest of the audience remained in their seats, one solitary long-haired fan in a sleeveless t-shirt made his way to the front of the stalls and punched the air in time to all his favourite Bryan Adams songs. This didn't go unnoticed by the singer who towards the end of his set went to the edge of the stage and shook the guy's hand, thanking him for being there. That must've made that fan's night!

I hope he stuck around for Tina's set as Bryan joined her mid-way through for their duet, It's Only Love. Looking at the set list I see that we not only got most of the Private Dancer album and a couple of classic Ike and Tina numbers but also covers of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top and David Bowie. She's one of the great female vocalists of all time. I'm glad I went to see her.

Here is Tina with Bryan recorded on that tour in Brimingham...

If you'd like to read more of my concert memories, check out my self-published book Drum Solos, Bottles and Bands 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Swarb Tribute \ Fiddle Mix

It's been a week now since Dave Swarbrick passed away. I saw him a couple of times in concert, once in 2009 with his band Lazarus at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and the following year at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow where he shared the stage with Dick Gaughan and the Jason Wilson Band. I also saw him at Cropredy with Fairport when the Liege and Lief line-up were re-united to play that classic album from start to finish.

So I've included a few Swarb-related tracks including one from the Swarbtricks album Duncan Wood released in 2013. You can read about that collaboration on this web site

The rest of the mix is made up of some of my favourite fiddle players all of whom I'm sure will have been influenced by, and may even have played with, the folk fiddle maestro known simply as Swarb.

Fairport Convention - Sir Patrick Spens
Swarb's Lazarus - Kilty Town / The Road to Cashel / Dog Big and Dog Little
Carthy, Hardy, Farrell & Young - June is the Coldest Month
Gilmore & Roberts - I Don't Want To Say Goodbye
Duncan Wood - The Happy Welcome / The Cat Among The Pigeons
Fairport Convention - Rosie
VAMM - The Burnt Leg
Nancy Kerr & James Fagin - Queen of Waters
Seth Lakeman - Lady of the Sea
Fairport Convention - A Sailor's Life

Thursday, 26 May 2016

OTBT radio show 25 May

An all-English line-up on this week's show with two tracks from the new album by Megson which is titled "Good Times Will Come Again." It is being released tomorrow and has already had good reviews from the likes of fROOTS, R2 Rock n Reel and Acoustic magazine. You can read the reviews on the Megson web site at

The full playlist for the show is... 

Megson - Burn Away
Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies - The Judas Bus
Eliza Carthy - Stumbling On
Fairport Convention - Over the Next Hill
Lucy Ward - Summers That We Made
Martin Simpson - Spoonful
Philip Henry & Hannah Martin - Letter (unsent)
Show of Hands - Reunion Hill
The Willows - Maid of Culmore
Megson - Good Times Will Come Again
Patsy Matheson - From Your Computer
Michael Chapman - Hi Heel Sneakers

Listen to it at

Fairport Convention are currently on their spring tour with dates coming up at... 

26 May - Redruth
27 May - Stroud
28 May - Hay-on-Wye
29 May - Coventry

Here they are in acoustic mode, minus Dave Pegg, performing "Over The Next Hill"...

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

OTBT radio show 18 May

Thought I'd play a track from Ollie King's debut album as he's in the process of recording the follow-up and has an appeal on Kickstarter. On a recent Facebook post he says...

"I am very pleased to announce that next week I will be starting work on my new album Diffractions, due for release in 2017. It will feature songs and tunes from both within and outside the folk canon, and it a bit of a leap of faith for me.

However, in order to make it, I need your help. Today, I am launching a Kickstarter project to help make my ideas happen. There's some lovely things up for grabs, but any help would be gratefully appreciated. I'm incredibly excited for this record, and I cannot wait to share it with you all.
Here's the link to the Kickstarter campaign, and it would be great if you could share it around with anyone who you think will like my music."

Listen to this week's show at 

Claire Hastings - Let Ramensky Go
Jack Johnson - No Good With Faces
Twelfth Day - Street Lights
Megson - Generation Rent
Kyrre Slind - Borders
Gilmore & Roberts - Fleetwood Fair
Ollie King - Taro Fair
Chamberlain & Haywood - Czardas
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests - Now I Want More
The Handsome Family - Up Falling Rock Hill
Sarah McQuaid - In Derby Cathedral
Mary Hampton - Florence Foster Jenkins

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

OTBT Radio Show 4 May

There are three tracks from James J Turner's new cd 'Spirit, Soul and a Handful of Mud' on this week's show. James was joined in the studio by Amy Chalmers on violin and backing vocals, Vicky Mutch on cello, Etienne Girard on bass, Jay Hughes on drums and Henry Priestman on accordion. Check out his web site

I have included a Richard Thompson track which features the sax playing of Pete Zorn whose recent death was overshadowed by the passing of Prince. Pete was a regular member of Richard's touring band for many years and also joined Steeleye Span in 2009 standing in for Rick Kemp who took time out due to ill-health. Pete tried to get his affairs in order while battling the cancer that killed him but most of his money went on his funeral so his children are trying to raise some cash to help their mother. If you'd like to make a donation please go to

Listen to the show at

James J Turner - Spirit Soul & A Handful of Mud
Richard Thompson - Tear-Stained Letter
Cara Dillon - Black is the Colour
Peter Knight's Gigspanner - Two Constant Lovers
James J Turner - Alive Inside
Fabian Holland - Four Inch Screen
Chris and Kellie While - Van Diemen's Land
Bridget Marsden & Lief Ottosson - On The Moors
Kate Rusby - Underneath the Stars
Oysterband - When I'm Up I Can't Get Down
John Rigby - Fotheringay
James J Turner - Heart of Gold
World Party - Call Me Up

The intro music is from Kate Rusby's song The Elfin Knight.

Here is Pete Zorn with Richard Thompson performing Tear Stained Letter

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Film review - Emma Watson in Noah

NOAH (2014)  co-written and directed by Darren Aronofsky

It is always interesting to see what child actors do once they reach adulthood. The Addams Family films are a case in point. Christina Ricci has gone on from playing Wednesday to a host of many and varied roles whereas Jimmy Workman, who played Pugsley alongside her, only appeared in two or three more films before retiring from acting and he now earns a living behind the camera doing technical work. But the young actors who appeared in the Harry Potter films have a much larger audience watching their every move, particularly via social media which is something Ricci and actors of her generation didn't have to contend with, at least not in their teenage years and early twenties.

Emma Watson’s first post-Potter role was a small part in My Week With Marilyn but she made a bold statement of intent with her performance in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Gone was the awkwardness of having to kiss Rupert Grint in the final Harry Potter film – in …Wallflower not only was there snogging with co-star Logan Lerman but her character dressed up in full Rocky Horror garb which, one suspects, is a million miles away from anything Hermione would ever have done.

But on to Noah in which she found herself working once more with Lerman but not as his love interest, rather as his step-sister. Seemingly Watson shed tears of joy when she learned that she had won the role of Noah’s step-daughter Ila as she would be working with the likes of Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins. With the other main characters being played by Ray Winstone and Jennifer Connelly this certainly looked like a film worth watching.

When we first see Ila she is running through a forest being pursued by her stepbrother Shem, played by Douglas Booth. He catches up with her and we see that their relationship is rather more passionate than you might usually find with step-siblings but then as their family is living in isolation, being the last descendants of Seth, (third son of Adam and Eve) there is rather a lack of young women around. This is a source of constant frustration for brother Ham who spends much of the film moping around generally feeling sorry for himself.

Ila is infertile due to an injury sustained in childhood but this is magically reversed by Noah’s grandfather, played by Hopkins. Despite his long acting career, I still think of The Silence of the Lambs whenever I see him and there did seem to be something slightly menacing about his portrayal of Methuselah. Ila subsequently becomes pregnant but Noah has decided that it is the will of God that all humans, including his own family, should be punished and if Ila has a girl, Noah announces he will kill the new-born infant.

Watson does a pretty good job of showing how frightened Ila is as her pregnancy come to an end with two baby daughters being born. But they are spared by Noah who finds he only has love in his heart for his granddaughters.

We all know how the story ends with the ark finding land and the final sequence in the film shows the family building a new life, with the exception of Noah who has grown his own vines and is spending his days getting drunk in a cave looking out over the ocean. Ham is still as miserable as ever but decides to give his family a break and wanders off into the wilderness. Seeing as how there are presumably no other people alive, his future looks bleak and one can only surmise that he will end up as food for any hungry bears or wolves he encounters. But all ends well for Ila with her managing to get Noah to see sense and he is re-united with his wife and family.

Since then Emma Watson has appeared in two thrillers, Regression and Colonia, but I see she has also guested in an episode of the UK comedy series The Vicar of Dibley. Hopefully we can look forward to many more varied and enjoyable performances from her in the coming years. Maybe at some point in the future if another Addams Family film is made, we might see her cast as Morticia.

Colin Bertram
30 April 2016

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Off The Beaten Tracks 27 April

I'm able to record shows once more having replaced my ageing PC with a new HP laptop. I used the in-built microphone to record this show so the sound quality isn't as good as when I previously used an external mic but it does the job. But on with the playlist.

I've been sent some tracks by Paddy Garrigan who is releasing his new album tomorrow. On his Facebook events page it says... 

"We will be launching our debut album 'I Jumped Ship' at the Gregson Centre and playing it in full with special guests including Burst Horns, Paul Sherwood, Sian Phillips and more! The album has been two years in the making and features ten great songs from Paddy, it'll be on sale on the night for £10. We've got two great support acts on the night, solo folk singer Joanne Levey (Turnstone) and DIY indie punk band Family Selection Box. £5 on the door."

And Claire Hastings also releases her debut album “Between River and Railway” tomorrow, the 29th April. 

Listen to the show at

Claire Hastings - The House at Redhill
Mariearad & Anna - The Red Poppy
Linda Thompson - The Way I Love You
Chris Wood - Spitfires
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests - Sea Monsters
Clype - Now My Home
David J Kelly - Hemingway's Lemonade
The Paul McKenna Band - One More Time
Didi Bergman - Edit Piaf Dressing Room
Christy Moore - Smoke and Stong Whiskey
Claire Hastings - When A Knight Won His Spurs
Sandy Denny - One More Chance
Chamberlain & Haywood - Hungarian Dance No 2 in D Minor
Twelfth Day - Young Sir
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests - The Way Of The Muse

And for any Prince fans here's a cover of When Doves Cry you may not have heard

Thursday, 14 April 2016

OTBT mix 13 April

Since winning the “BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year” in 2015, Claire Hastings’ debut album Between River and Railway has been hotly anticipated. The album features exciting arrangements of traditional folk songs alongside Claire’s self-penned material, including the stunning ‘The House at Rosehill’.

Songs are brought to life with band members Jenn Butterworth (guitar & vocals), Laura Wilkie (fiddle) and Andrew Waite (accordion) as well as guests Martin O’Neill (percussion) and Duncan Lyall (bass). 

Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston play Wadsworth Community Centre in Hebden Bridge on Friday 15th April and Ellel Village Hall near Lancaster on 16 April. Full tour dates at

Gilmore & Roberts play the Portland Arms in Cambridge on the 19th of April and Garstang Unplugged on 21st of April.

Listen to this week's mix at

Claire Hastings -  The Gretna Girls
Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston - Windowbox
Rab Noakes - All in Down and Out Blues
Jo Philby - The Shore Neath The Tide
Gilmore & Roberts - Time Soldiers On
Becci Wallace - Little Moth
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman - The Red Barn
Seth Lakeman - The Setting of the Sun
Steeleye Span - Child Owlet
The Deadly Winters - Hand to Heart
Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston - Do Not Surrender

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman gig review

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman at The Hothouse, 9 April 2016

Kathryn and Sean have been playing music together for many years, going back to when they were in the band Equation with Sean's brothers Seth and Sam along with Kate Rusby who made up the final part of the equation which was based on their initials SL and KR. While the Lakemans are from Devon, Kathryn, being from Barnsley, is a Yorkshire lass so I got the feeling she was quite at home playing to an appreciative Northern crowd at the Hothouse in Morecambe. Sean talked about their home in West Devon and I got the impression people down there feel the same about London and the south-east as folk do up north.

But before we heard from them, we were entertained by Lancaster-based band The Low Countries with songs about Boris Karloff, a Flemish bar and Sun Street which at previous gigs has included a flash mob joining in with the chorus. Sadly there was no flash mob in Morecambe though as their drummer Rob quipped afterwards, maybe they were there, but they just didn't get up to sing.

Next up we had the Lighthouse Keepers which was the end result of a project a local student has been doing which involved taking traditional folk songs and arranging them to feature an interesting line-up which included herself on baritone sax. The rest of her band comprised another two sax players, three fiddlers, a vocalist, guitar, bass and drums the latter two being members of her family including dad on bass guitar. This sort of community-based music project is something they are good at doing at More Music (aka The Hothouse) and it got the approval of Kathryn Roberts who seemed impressed by their two support acts.

The last time I saw Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in Lancashire was at Glasson Dock village hall the best part of 11 years ago. I did catch them at a festival two or three years back but you really need to see them in a small-ish venue to appreciate their songwriting and musical prowess. As well as playing in Equation, Sean was a part of his brother Seth's band for a number of years and he really is a very fine guitarist. I'm not sure what effects he was using but with one of his guitars he had an impressively full sound with bass notes as well as what he was doing further up the fretboard. This we discovered was an old guitar which had new strings on it which he likened to getting new knickers for your granny. Unlike his more serious brothers, Sean has a great sense of humour which, along with between-song banter with his wife Kathryn, made for a relaxing and good-humoured evening.

On a more serious note Sean told us of the days they spent touring in the USA, especially in the southern states where the flow of migrants from Mexico seems to be never-ending. This was in prelude to a cover of a song Bruce Springsteen wrote about such matters but the majority of the set was their own material. They played several songs from their most recent album “Tomorrow Will Follow Today” including the lovely track '52 Hertz' which tells the sad tale of a whale which scientists have discovered sings at the wrong frequency so never gets any replies from potential mates. Other highlights included 'The Banishing Book' and 'The Red Barn'.

They are now midway through their spring tour and play a sold-out gig in Shrewsbury tonight. On current form I'd say they deserve many more sell out shows so do go see them if you get the chance. Check out their web site for upcoming dates -

Colin Bertram
10 April 2016

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

OTBT mix 5 April

Another selection of new releases with two tracks from each apart from the first song which was sent to me by Lancaster-based band Montana Wildhack. 

Listen at

Montana Wildhack - Tomb
Dallahan - The Reaper
Dallahan - Stretched on you Grave
Breabach - The Midnight Sun
Breabach - The Last March
Annie Raitt & Brigit Forsyth - Hush
Annie Raitt & Brigit Forsyth - Angel of the North
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc - Deliverance
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc - Hall's Little Waltz
The Paul McKenna Band - The Banks of the Moy
The Paul McKenna Band - Dodging The Weather

Here's another track from Dallahan's new album "Matter of Time" which is released on 11th of April.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

OTBT mix 27 March

James J Turner releases his new album, "Spirit, Soul and a Handful of Mud" on the 22nd of April and before that The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc release their second album titled "Deliverance" on the 1st of April. The group includes Shetlander Kevin Henderson who is also a member of Boys of the Lough.

Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston are currently on tour with their next dates being Great Torrington on Saturday the 2nd of April and Hitchin Folk Club on Sunday the 3rd. They are playing at Ellel Village Hall just south of Lancaster on the 16th of April and have a new album out called "The Watchmaker's Wife".

James J Turner - The Long Way Around
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc - The Hen Hunt
Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston - Sweet Pea \ Mean To Me
Show of Hands - The Napoli
Fotheringay - The Sea
Nick Drake - At The Chime of a City Clock
Blind Boys of Alabama - Jesus Gonna Be Here
Equation - Cross The River
Blazin' Fiddles - Mama Come Let's Dance
The Cadbury Sisters - Barefoot
John Renbourn - Come On In My Kitchen
Michael Roach - Bring It With You When You Come
Janis Joplin - Half Moon
Crosby, Stills & Nash - To The Last Whale

I've been in the mood for some Janis Joplin after watching the documentary Little Girl Blue which was on BBC4 on the other night. It's well worth watching on the iPlayer if you're a fan.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Steve Knightley gig review

Steve Knightley at Glasson Dock Village Hall 11 March 2016

The first gig I ever went to when I moved to Lancaster in the summer of 2005 was to see Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman supporting Martin Simpson at the village hall in Glasson Dock. The Lakeman family, like Steve Knightley, hail from Devon and Sean's brother Seth got a couple of mentions during Steve's very entertaining sold-out gig.

The title of his current tour is 'All at Sea' and there is no shortage of martime songs in both folk music in general and Steve's back catalogue. The set included songs from his solo albums as well as some Show of Hands numbers, plus cover versions including Don Henley's 'Boys of Summer' – with Deadhead being replaced by Bellowhead – and the Otis Redding classic '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay'.

Steve is never short of a humourous story, some of which were aimed at the previous night's gig in Liverpool and some at his SoH bandmate Phil Beer. He even did a passable impersonation of radio DJ Mark Radcliffe.

He had been interviewed on local radio in Liverpool and remarked on how this can be something of a chore at times especially if the presenter hasn't done their homework and knows little more about Steve than the fact that he is a folk singer. And the radio station was a bit nervous about playing a new track called 'Breme Fell at Hastings' as it included some old Saxon words. So much so that they faded the song out before the end as one of the words sounded a bit like a swear word. This caused much hilarity among the Lancashire audience that their Scouse neighbours might be upset by some strong language.

On a more serious note Steve gave us an update on his son who has been quite seriously ill over a number of years. I'm sure I wasn't the only audience member who recalls the Show of Hands gig at Lancaster University when Steve had had to return home suddenly due to his son's illness and left Phil Beer and bass player Miranda Sykes to play the gig without him. But the good news is that his son has recently finished a course of treatment and is now much better. Steve then played the SoH song 'The Dive' which he said he had found very difficult to play when his son had been unwell. The song relates the story of a lad who surfaces when his air is running low only to find that his marker buoy had broken loose and the boat with his father in it was nowhere to be seen.

Other highlights included 'Tall Ship Story' with Steve strumming away on his cuatro (a South American ukulele-type instrument) and 'The Napoli', a song about the ship that ran aground several years ago and was one of many songs the audience was encouraged to sing along to - “scratch Joe Public, what's underneath – a looter and a pirate and a thief!”

Thanks should go to Nikki from ImageAcoustic who arranged the gig and she is bringing another member of Show of Hands, Miranda Sykes with Rex Preston to Ellel Village Hall on Saturday the 16th of April. Tickets are availalble from

Another gig to mention is Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman who are playing at More Music in Morecambe on Saturday the 9th of April. More info and tickets from

Colin Bertram
12 March 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

Sea shore mix

Steve Knightley is on a "All At Sea" tour and is playing at Glasson Dock near Lancaster tonight, Friday 11th March. There are numerous folk songs about the sea, ships, sailors and the like so I've put this mix together. Check out where else Steve is playing this year at

Listen to the mix at

Steve Knightley - Tall Ships Story
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc - Talon's Trip to Thompson Island
Cara Dillon - The Shore of Lough Bran
The Rails - Jealous Sailor
June Tabor - Shipbuilding
Steeleye Span - Dark Eyed Sailor
Breabach - The White Sands of Jervis Bay
Annie Raitt & Brigit Forsyth - Sand
Kate Rusby - Bring Me A Boat
Jim Neild - The Black Sails
Rowan Ross - Sail Through
Barrule - The King of the Sea
Richard Thompson - Johnny's Far Away
Show of Hands - The Falmouth Packet Haul Away Joe

Friday, 4 March 2016

Off The Beaten Tracks 4 March

Two tracks on this week's show from Breabach's new album Astar. Listen to the show at

After a whirlwind five years traversing the globe, touring Australia, New Zealand, Asia, North America, Scandinavia and the middle East, Breabach are delighted to announce their fifth studio album Astar (translating from Scottish Gaelic as distance or journey). The music on the album takes inspiration from the beauty of both the places and people the band have visited and the wonderful musicians and cultures encountered along the way.

Breabach unites the talent of Ewan Robertson (guitar/vocals), James Lindsay (double bass), Megan Henderson (fiddle/vocals/stepdance), Calum MacCrimmon (pipes/whistles/bouzouki/vocals) and James Mackenzie (pipes/flute/whistles). Since launching their career as winners of the Open Stage Award at Celtic Connections in 2005 the band have steadily moved from strength to strength, picking up accolades and performing at esteemed events along the way. 

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman play at More Music in Morecambe on Saturday 9th April at 7.30pm. Support comes from The Low Countries and The Lighthouse Keepers.

The Eskies - Jesus Don't Save Me
Breabach - Murwai
Juey - Gin
Hamish Napier - The Dance
Nuala Kennedy - Fair Annie of the Loch Royanne
Joanne Levey - Rain and Snow
The Low Countries - Everyon'e Mental
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman - The Red Barn
Emily Smith - The Earl of Darwin's Farewell
Breabach - Ciosich A Ruin
Daimh - O Fair a-nall am Botal
The Imagined Village - Space Girl

Emily Smith with the Darwin Song Project at the Shrewsbury Festival in 2009

Friday, 26 February 2016

Green themed mix

Please note: I've had to edit this mix as Ms Shocked says I'm infringing her copyright by including one of her songs. I'm feeling quite upset and dejected by this incident and am going to concentrate on artists from this side of the pond in future. I don't need this added stress in my life from Americans threatening to sue me.

Listen to it at

Jane Kramer - Your Ever Green Heart
Cara Dillon - Green Grows The Laurel
Pentangle - Turn Your Money Green 
Gilmore & Roberts - Tennessee Green
Patsy Reid - Lost in Green 
Tumbling Bones - Shady Green Pastures
The High Bar Gang - Green Pastures in the Sky
Booker T & The MGs - Green Onions

One that didn't make the final list...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Off The Beaten Tracks 17 February

This is the first show I've recorded in a while. I've included two tracks from Amelia White's new release "Home Sweet Hotel". On her press release it says...

Like most all singer-songwriters, Amelia travels to scratch out a living. The endless parade of coffee houses, bars and house concerts can overshadow any attempts to have a life at home with somebody you love. That tension is at the heart of her new record, produced by Marco Giovino (Band of Joy, Buddy Miller), with appearances from a wealth of stellar players backing Amelia, including multi-instrumentalist Sergio Webb (David Olney), Stuart Mathis (Lucinda Williams) on guitar, Ron Eoff (The Band) on bass, Paul Gordon (the B52’s) on keys and Julie Christensen (Leonard Cohen) adding some guest vocals.

“This new record,” she says, “in a lot of ways, it's about love. There are definitely a lot of songs about living your life away from home, and then you come back to your family. It's almost equally split between aspects of beauty in the hard weird life on the road, and how good it is to come home to your lover feeling like you've accomplished something.”

Listen to the show at


Crosby Stills & Nash - Shadow Captain
Malcolm Holcombe - Another Black Hole
Chas Ambler - Bees (Honey will be the Death of Us)
Amelia White - Dangerous Angel
Chris Bradley - Not What It Was
The Rising Souls - Sail Along The Distance
Joni Mitchell - Chelsea Morning
Gordie Tentrees - Deadbeat Dad
Martin Stephenson & Jim Hornsby - Rag Time Groove
Amelia White - Leaving In My Blood
Johny Corrigan - Let Go
Natalie Merchant - Space Oddity
Eagles - Train Leaves Here This Morning
Veloninos - Hillbilly Girl

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sampler mix 4 February

Lots of new releases to share with you so I thought I'd pick two tracks from each of the following albums:

Veloninos - Veloninos
 Mad Cat Dynamo 
Locust Honey String Band - Never Let Me Cross Your Mind
 Lonesome Song
Cara - Yet We Sing
 Land of the Midnight Sun 
 Anchor in the Sky
Hamish Napier - The River
 Fate of the Kelts \ Out to Sea 
 The Whirlpool
Nuala Kennedy - Behave the Bravest
 Death and the Lady 
 Glen Where The Deer Is / The Ivy Leaf / The Dublin Lasses
Kirsty Potts - The Seeds of Life
 If I Had a Hammer 
 Betsy Belle

Sunday, 24 January 2016

OTBT mix 23 January

Kris Drever is playing at Celtic Connection today and is touring between the 26th of March and the 14th of May. All dates on his web site

Sofia Talvik's new album 'Big Sky Country' was released on January 22. 

Unmistakably Nordic in flavour, Sofia Talvik somehow still conforms to American interpretations of her music; a North Sea siren blending sparkle and melancholy. With five full length albums and numerous EPs, singles and tours behind her, Sofia is poised to gain wider recognition with her new album Big Sky Country. Growing up in Sweden, Sofia’s music has always been imbued with her Scandinavian heritage, though Big Sky Country sees her sound incorporating elements of the Americana tradition.

A storybook of adventures and hardships, Big Sky Country features ten original songs written on the road and in the contemplation after, as well as an entrancing cover of ‘Starwalker’ by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Kris Drever, Eamonn Coyne and Megan Henderson - Parcel of Rogues
Sofia Talvik - Big Sky Country
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Can't Take It With You
Tom Kitching - Buffoon
Ewan McLennan - Song of the Lower Classes
Ralph McTell - Chattanooga Choo Choo
Sharon King & The Nevernever Cowboys - Cairn O Mohr
Rod Picott - Uncle John
Sofia Talvik - Give Me A Home
Dougie MacLean - For a' That

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Celtic Connection mix

A selection of Scottish and Irish artists who are playing at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow this month

Skerryvore - By Your Side
Daimh - Angus John MacNeil of Barra
Iain Morrison - Stones & Matches
Scott Wood Band - Sheep Running About
Boys of the Lough - Liffey Side
Freeland Barbour - The Sea
Kathleen MacInnes - Sing It With Joy
Peatbog Faeries - The Dragon's Apprentice
Marierad & Anna - She Loves Me
Ewan Robertson - One For The Ditch
The Alt - The Letter Song
Rura - Cauld Wind Blast

Friday, 8 January 2016

Off The Beaten Tracks 8th Jan 2016

First show of the new year and it starts with a song by Ewan McLennan. He is donating all money raised from the sale of this song to Doctors Without Borders aka Medecins Sans Frontieres. You can download it for just £1 from

Jane Kramer releases her second solo album today. It is titled Carnival of Hopes and on the press release it says, "Carnival of Hopes feels both celebratory and frank. It is filled with songs of regret and insight found after deep and gritty self-reflection. At its core, the album tells the story of facing down dark inner demons while still clinging to that tiny chirping of light in your bones that somehow keeps you tethered to keeping on,” Kramer says.

Carnival of Hopes boasts a sparkling cast of local producers and players, and was recorded at Asheville’s awardwinning Sound Temple Studios. Kramer’s long-time friend Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios, whose portfolio of clients includes such names as Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma, produced and engineered the album. Kramer is backed by Chris Rosser, Eliot Wadopian and River Guerguerian, the virtuoso trio that comprises Free Planet Radio, and by master Georgia-based bluegrass musicians/ multi-instrumentalists, Pace Conner and Michael Evers who arranged the songs for recording and perform and tour with Kramer regularly.

Ewan McLennan - Lampedusa
Jane Kramer - Carnival of Hopes
Danny Schmidt - Looks Like God
Chris Flegg - Everybody Gets The Blues Sometimes
Rita Hosking - Sing
Pete Kennedy - Rise Above
Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro - Money Don't Matter
Nuala Kennedy - The Lion's Den / The Burning House
Cara - A Wee Dobro Tune
Jane Kramer - My Dusty Wings

Here's a track by the band Jane used to be in...