Friday 10 May 2024

Off The Beaten Tracks 13 May 2024

This week's show includes three tracks from the compilation album Steeleye Span released last year titled The Green Man Collection. Listen now on Mixcloud or from Monday on Ginger Feather FM.

Steeleye Span - New York Girls [2023] 
Steeleye Span - Dodgy Bastards [2016] 
Jack Badcock - The English Samurai 
Eddi Reader - Patience of Angels 
Richard Thompson - Crazy Man Michael 
Patsy Matheson - Red For Danger 
Eliza Carthy & The Restitution - Mr Magnifico 
Steeleye Span - Ship Building [2023] 
Kate Rusby - True Colours 
Jamie Smith's MABON - Huzzah 
James J Turner - Breaking of the Ties 
The Alt - One Morning In May
Peatbog Faeries - Trans Island Express

Sunday 5 May 2024

Steeleye Span at Lancaster Grand

Steeleye Span came to the Lancaster Grand theatre as part of their 55th Anniversary tour and I must admit that this was my first ever Span gig. I wasn’t quick enough to get a ticket the last time they played in Lancaster but on this tour they have been playing a few dates in the North of England so getting a ticket was not a problem. 

Since Peter Knight’s departure from the band, just over ten years ago, they have had three female violinists the latest being Athena Octavia who has not only brought the average age in the band down by quite a few years, but I got the impression that she may well have injected some new life into the band. Guitarist Spud Sinclair referred to her as his sparring partner before they launched into the Rick Kemp song Genocide. And not only does Athena more than hold her own among these - how shall I put it – more senior musicians but she adds another female voice to the vocal harmonies singing the higher notes which are perhaps not in Maddy Prior’s range.

The set list included quite a few selections from last year’s The Green Man Collection which is mostly songs recorded over the last ten years and includes new recordings of old favourites such as Hard Times of Old England and New York Girls. Both of these got an airing last night along with Demon of the Well and January Man which I particularly enjoyed hearing. 

Being more of a Fairport fan when it comes to folk rock, I was slightly taken aback at how heavy they sound in comparison. Spud is a fine guitarist and both he and Julian Littman didn’t hold back on the electric guitars though Julian does play acoustic guitar and keyboards on a few numbers. There was a moment of calm when they performed an atmospheric cover of the Elvis Costello song Shipbuilding but otherwise it was full on but not deafening. Praise should also go to Roger Carey who played solid and at times funky bass guitar and long-time drummer Liam Genockey who I had a good view of from the circle. 

As is the case with these sorts of gigs, many in the audience have been following the band for a few decades now. During the interval I heard two women chatting, with one asking the other if she had seen the band before. “Yes”, came the answer, “back in the 70s”. Me, I was at school in that decade and certainly felt like I was one of the younger members of the audience.

Maddy told us that Status Quo’s Francis Rossi had guested on The Green Man Collection and the encore included, as she put it, their cover of Quo's cover of All Around My Hat. Athena launched the band into one final instrumental number (Dodgy Bastards I think) and that brought the evening’s entertainment to a close. 

I imagine the band will carry on for as long as Maddy wants to stay at the helm and on last night’s performance I can say I’m looking forward to the 60th Anniversary tour but hope to see them again before then. 


Friday 3 May 2024

Off The Beaten Tracks 6 May 2024

Radio show featuring two tracks from Sarah Deere-Jones' album A Little Piece of Eden. Listen now on Mixcloud or from Monday at 1pm or 8pm on Ginger Feather FM.

First Aid Kit - Blue 
Sarah Deere-Jones - By The Green Grove 
The Bad Shepherds - The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum 
The Imagined Village - My Son John 
Martin Simpson - Ridgeway (live) 
The Young 'Uns - Dark Water 
Megson - Rain 
The Levellers - Carry Me 
Frank Turner - Be More Kind 
Honey and The Bear - Over Land Over Sea 
Sandy Denny - It'll Take A Long Time 
Sarah Deere-Jones - Searching For Lambs 
Ralph McTell - Tickling The Trout 

Friday 26 April 2024

OTBT May Day mix 2024

A mix of protest and anti-war songs with two tracks from Grace Petrie's new album Build Something Better. Listen now on Mixcloud or on Ginger Feather FM from Monday.

Siobhan Miller - Go, Move, Shift 
The Bad Shepherds - London's Calling 
Grace Petrie - King and Country 
Grace Petrie - Meanwhile in Texas 
Billy Bragg - Take Down The Union Jack 
Graham Nash - Military Madness 
June Tabor - No Man's Land/Flowers of the Forest 
Show of Hands - Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed 
Kirsty Merryn - Thieves of Whitehall 
Ewan McLennan - Song of the Lower Class 
The Pogues - The Gentleman Soldier 
Faustus - Cotton Lords 
Geoff Lakeman - England Green England Grey 
Dick Gaughan - No Gods (live)
Norma Waterson - The Wild Colonial Boy 
Jez Lowe - Barnardo's Party Time 


Friday 19 April 2024

Off The Beaten Tracks 22 April 2024

Some folk rock on this week's show with two tracks from Jethro Tull's live album A Little Light Music which featured Dave Pegg on bass and Dave Mattacks on drums. Listen now on Mixcloud or from Monday on Ginger Feather FM.

Steeleye Span - Hard Times of Old England 
Jethro Tull - Living In The Past (live) 
Martin Simpson - Alan Tyne of Harrow 
Eliza Carthy - Here's A Sad Goodbye 
Bert Jansch - Rabbit Run
Kyrre Slind - Kevin's Melody 
Linda Thompson - Do Your Best For Rock 'n Roll
Will Pound - The Liberty Bell March 
Skerryvore - By Your Side (live)
Jethro Tull - John Barleycorn (live) 
Grace Petrie - Northbound 
John Kelly - The Shamrock You Sent Me (band mix) 
Damien O'Kane & Ron Block - Soundcheck Sonics \ Andy Brown's  

Sunday 14 April 2024

The Royal Albert & non-doms

I have been reading about the Royal Albert hospital in Lancaster which was built in the 1800s. It is an impressive Gothic building which mainly treated children who suffered from mental health issues and physical disabilities. Patients came from across the north of England and reading extracts from reports made by visiting commissioners, much good work was done there by the dedicated members of staff who often spent long hours working with quite severely disabled youngsters.

But it is the funding of these institutions which is of interest looking back from the 2020s. Back then there was little or no public money available for such projects and instead wealthy local people would see it as their civic duty to donate the money to build these hospitals and contribute towards their running costs. And it wasn't just hospitals. 

According to the book I'm reading*, in 1863 local businessman Samuel Gregson financed the public baths and wash-house in Lancaster. Other donations came from Julia Ripley who founded the Ripley Hospital for orphaned children and the Storey and Williamson families gave large sums of money not only to the Royal Albert, but also towards a new Town Hall and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. The book also notes that there was much support for the Royal Albert from many less well-off people.

How times have changed. These days the equivalent of Gregson, Ripley et al seem to be addicted to money and to them, amassing more and more wealth becomes a game of moving funds around to avoid paying taxes. In the news recently we have seen how non-doms are apparently outraged that the government is planning to scrap their tax status. Subsequently they are all flying off in their private jets to whatever tax havens there are that will enable them to carry on living their Scrooge-like existences. 

On the positive side there are philanthropists who are putting their money to good use but we rarely hear about them apart from the big names like Bill Gates. And there is a growing number of wealthy people who are not happy to be living in a world where they get all the tax breaks and see so many of their fellow citizens struggling to make ends meet. Check out Tax Justice UK and Patriotic Millionaires on social media. 

Hopefully such a change in attitudes towards taxation will lead to those wealthy members of our society taking a leaf out of their forefathers, and mothers, book whose generosity set such a good example of how individual wealth can be used to benefit those less well off. 


Endnote. Of course, these old hospitals all closed down years ago, many during the Thatcher years when Care in the Community became the new mantra. The Albert is still involved with the education and care of children but these days it is the Jamea Al Kauthar boarding school. 

* The Royal Albert - Chronicles of an Era 1992, selected by Joe Alston and published by the Centre for North-West Regional Studies at Lancaster University.

Friday 12 April 2024

Off The Beaten Tracks 15 April 2024

A mainly American playlist this week. Listen now on Mixcloud or from Monday on Ginger Feather FM at 1pm or 8pm.  

Asleep At The Wheel - (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 
Jerry Lee Lewis - I Can Help 
Allison de Groot & Tatianna Hargreaves - Nancy Blevins 
Ragged Union - Way Up Here 
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway - Crooked Tree 
Led Zeppelin - Gallows Pole 
Led Zeppelin - Going To California 
Rhiannon Giddens - Hen In The Foxhouse 
Johnny Cash - Man In Black 
Larkin Poe - Summertime Sunset 
The Soggy Bottom Boys feat Tim Blake Nelson - In The Jailhouse Now 
Allison Russell - Nightflyer 
Rita Hosking - Sierra Bound 
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Wooden Ships 
Locust Honey String Band - Boogerman