BILLY BRAGG & JOE HENRY
NEW ALBUM – ‘SHINE A LIGHT: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad’
To be released on 23rd Sept ‘16 On Cooking Vinyl
+ UK SHOWS ANNOUNCED
Recorded while travelling across America by train Shine A Light features songs originally made famous by Hank Williams, Lead Belly, The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Glen Campbell, Gordon Lightfoot & more
WATCH BILLY BRAGG AND JOE HENRY PERFORM 'THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL' HERE
Like many a British musician before him, Billy Bragg, bard of Barking, singer songwriter, political activist, and musical historian has made no secret of his obsession with the songs and the mythology of the Americas, not least those of his artistic and philosophical forebear Woody Guthrie. With his friend and collaborator, US singer songwriter Joe Henry, he has made an album that focuses on the transformative part the railroad played in disseminating the songs that gave birth to the rock’n’roll era. ‘Shine A Light – Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad’ by Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, released on Cooking Vinyl on 23rd September ’16, is a collection of railway-themed classic songs recorded in the course of a 65 hour journey across the US on the Texas Eagle railroad service. Featuring thirteen songs originally recorded by legendary singers such as Lead Belly, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Glen Campbell and more, the album is an atmospheric travelogue, a gripping lesson in musicology, but most importantly it is a beautifully recorded collection of wonderful tunes.
In March 2016 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, guitars in hand, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station. Winding along 2,728 miles of track, the pair recorded songs while the train paused to pick up passengers. In waiting rooms and at the track side in St Louis, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Alpine TX, El Paso and Tucson they set up their recording equipment, and performed classic railroad songs while keeping half an eye on the train and jumping back on board just before pulling out for the next town. After four days crossing the country, they pulled into Los Angeles at 4:30am, recording their final song in Union Station accompanied by the first chirpings of the dawn chorus.
The resulting album ‘Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad’ features the perfectly matched voices of Bragg and Henry and captures the varied atmospheres of the environments in which they recorded—from the close proximity of soft-furnished sleeping cars to the cathedral-like ambience of historic railway stations.
Says Billy: "Railroad songs provided the bedrock of American popular music, from Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, to Lead Belly, whose repertoire provided several of the songs for this project. In this country, Lonnie Donegan’s 1956 hit ‘Rock Island Line’ sparked the skiffle craze, inspiring a generation of British teens to pick up guitars and form the groups that invaded American in the 60s, from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin.
Growing up in the UK, I'd always been aware of this tradition but when I travelled to the US, I was surprised to find how few people look to the railroad as a means of transport. With this project, we wanted to explore the transformative power that the coming of the railroad had on the lives of ordinary people by taking these songs back to the places that inspired their creation. Travelling on the train and recording the songs as we went allowed us to both visit places that were important 125 years ago when the lines were laid, but to also explore the viability of the railroad as a means of transport in the 21st century."
Says Joe: "The emergence of the railroad in America boasted of our might and sprawling enormity, yet signaled a deep desire for close community, connectivity. The songs that grew out of and alongside this innovation remain to tell this story of collective national character."
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry most recently worked together when Henry produced Bragg's acclaimed 2013 album Tooth & Nail. The duo will tour the UK together later this year, performing songs from ‘Shine A Light’ and more. Full tour details are as follows:
7 LONDON Union Chapel
8 LONDON Union Chapel
9 CANTERBURY The Marlowe Theatre
10 BRIGHTON St.George's Church
12 PORTSMOUTH New Theatre Royal
13 COVENTRY Warwick Arts Centre
14 GUILDFORD G Live
15 BURY ST EDMUNDS The Apex
17 NOTTINGHAM Playhouse
18 MANCHESTER The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM)
19 LINCOLN The Engine Shed
Track Listing for Shine A Light…
1. Rock Island Line – Traditional (Recorded by Lead Belly, Lonnie Donegan)
2. The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore – Jean Ritchie
3. The Midnight Special – Traditional (Lead Belly)
4. Railroad Bill – Traditional (Riley Puckett)
5. Lonesome Whistle – Hank Williams
6. KC Moan – Traditional (The Memphis Jug Band)
7. Waiting For A Train – Jimmie Rodgers
8. In The Pines – Traditional (Lead Belly, The Louvin Brothers)
9. Gentle On My Mind – John Hartford (Glenn Campbell, Aretha Franklin)
10. Hobo's Lullaby - Goebel Reeves (Woody Guthrie)
11. Railroading On The Great Divide – Sara Carter (The Carter Family)
12. John Henry – Traditional (Doc Watson)
13. Early Morning Rain – Gordon Lightfoot
Billy Bragg has been a fearless recording artist, tireless live performer and peerless political campaigner for over 30 years. Among the former Saturday boy’s albums are his punk-charged debut Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy, the more love-infused Workers Playtime, pop classic Don’t Try This At Home, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee-timed treatise on national identity England, Half-English, and his stripped-down tenth, Tooth and Nail, his most successful since the early 90s. The intervening three decades have been marked by a number one hit single, having a street named after him, being the subject of a South Bank Show, appearing on stage at Wembley Stadium, curating Leftfield at Glastonbury, sharing spotted dick with a Cabinet minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, being mentioned in Bob Dylan’s memoir and meeting the Queen. At their best, Billy’s songs present ‘the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal’ (the Guardian).
In a career spanning 30 years, Joe Henry has left an indelible and unique imprint on American popular music. As a songwriter and artist, Henry is celebrated for his exploration of the human experience. A hyper-literate storyteller, by turns dark, devastating, and hopeful, he has an author's eye for the overlooked detail.
Henry has collaborated with many notable artists on his own body of work, from T Bone Burnett, Daniel Lanois, and Van Dyke Parks on one side of the spectrum, to Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Brad Mehldau, and Bill Frisell on the other. A three-time-Grammy-winning producer, Henry has made records for Bonnie Raitt, Hugh Laurie, Lisa Hannigan, Elvis Costello, Solomon Burke, and many others. In 2015, Henry helmed a recording session for the late Allen Toussaint. The resulting album, American Tunes, will be released this year. In 2013, Algonquin Press published, Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him, a book co-written by Joe and his brother Dave Henry.
Henry’s most recent studio album, Invisible Hour, was released on his own Work Song label. The album features numerous guests including The Milk Carton Kids as well as Lisa Hannigan, who co-wrote the title track along with Henry and best-selling novelist Colum McCann. As a solo artist and a producer alike, Henry’s records are marked with a consistent sonic depth, attention to narrative, and emphasis on the beauty of spontaneity.
See Billy & Joe performing The Midnight Special here http://po.st/ShineALight1. This track is also available to download immediately when you pre-order the album from the official store or iTunes.
OFFICIAL STORE: http://po.st/SaLStore
Published Thursday 05th May, 2016Impressing all with their debut show, Spanish bred, London based VERTICES played their second ever gig at one of FFRUK’s renowned Reggae Punk Monday nights and swiftly showed why their post punk spiced, power rock fuelled sound was brewing a buzz.With influences from the likes of Television, The Jam, B-52s, Gang of Four, Wire, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Jesus and Mary Chain spicing the raw fascination of their tenacious sound, the trio of MIKE CANNIBAL, JOSE REILLY, and AULLADOR THURSTON III proceeded to ignite ears and venue that evening in London.SEGS JENNINGS (Ruts DC) and TARA REZ (The Duel) from FFRUK TV grabbed the band before they hit the stage to find out about their not so distant early days, how they met, and the band’s recent emergence on the UK rock scene. Coupled with a tasty slice of their set that night, FFRUK TV introduces Vertices.
Published Thursday 19th March, 2015Source: trueactivistBySophie McAdamFascinating interview covering everything from dreams to synchronicity, alien abduction to quantum theory
[caption id="attachment_37077" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="Alien ‘seed’, courtesy of the University of Buckingham"][/caption]
At January, scientists in Britain found a Titanium sphere filled with a ‘gooey substance’ which they think could be evidence of an alien plan to propagate life on Earth. Using this bizarre news as a conversation starter, RT asks Joe Rogan what he makes of it all.
The comedian and host of the Joe Rogan Experience describes himself as a ‘confirmed moron’, but his passion for off-the-wall topics has earned him a reputation as the go-to man for all things inexplicable. Rogan‘s successful radio show has attracted big names in science and spirituality, such as writer Graham Hancock and English physicist Brian Cox.
Rogan talks about theories relating to alien life, parallel and multiple universes, the possibility of dreams being played out in other dimensions, and the collective consciousness. He touches on Neil de Grasse Tyson and quantum theory, and he explains Rick Strassman‘s ground-breaking research on the pineal gland as a natural DMT producer (and how this could account for alien abduction experiences).
Finally, he discusses psychic phenomena: is it a lot of old bull, or are we entering a stage of human evolution where telepathy and other supernatural abilities are beginning to emerge as the norm?
This is a fascinating conversation for anyone who is passionate about mysteries, space, and that fuzzy grey area between science and spirituality.
Published Sunday 10th May, 2015
There's not much more to learn about Paul McCartney, he's probably the most famous musician on Terra Firma, So what can l learn in this book, about Macca in the seventies. Pretty much as it happens,I love a lot of what McCartney did in the seventies, stuff like Ram and McCartneys first solo album are wee gems, and lets not forget the stuff he did with Wings marvellous.
So one was was definitely interested in reading an indepth book, about his life during the seventies period.
After recording his debut solo album, he missed the camaraderie of a band, so he put together a band with his wife Linda and Denny Laine who would become the main stalwarts of Wings, the first line-up featured Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell, and they started turning up unannounced at various colleges, and started making a melodic racket. This worked well at first, but soon the press caught on, and scuppered that plan. Might as well make some records then, which they did including a protest song Give Ireland back to the Irish, The songs kept coming out, as been in a band with McCartney you never had to worry about lack of songs. Talking of songs what about the epic Live and let Die after which the original line-up split, and off went the 3 stalwarts to Lagos to come up with Band on the Run.
Now growing up in the seventies as l did, you could surely be almost forgiven for thinking that Wings were verging on being classed as light entertainment, due to songs like Mary had a little lamb, the theme from Crossroads, and not forgetting Mull of Kintyre this of course is tosh, now enter into this, Scottish guitar player Jimmy McCulloch and have a listen to Juniors Farm that song is a wee cracker. Other great songs are Helen Wheels,Rockshow, Wino Junko and the Denny Laine penned Again and again and again to name a few of the top of my head.
Wings were a very troubled band, with many line-up changes due to all manner of things, like money issues to general not getting on, were the main concerns, but it must have been weird to be in a new band with Paul McCartney who is a giant amongst musicians, it could never be equal being in a band with an ex-Beatle. On Paul's side he also found it difficult having grown-up in The Beatles and now finding himself with session men and yes men.
In the end Wings disbanded, this may be due to the japanese drug-bust and the tragic death of John Lennon,plus l think Denny Laine had enough, as he loved to tour and McCartney by this time had enough of the hassle that touring endured on him. Man on the run; Paul McCartney in the seventies by Tom Doyle is the book, if you want to check out the whole shebang, but like it says on the cover, it deals with a specific timeframe, this l have noticed is a current trend, in books l have recently read, where it deals with events over a certain period of time, so your not, for example going to read about McCartney chomping vegetables for The Super Furry Animals in the 21st century.
Published Saturday 25th April, 2015
Nothin' To Lose, is the book about the making of the band Kiss, put together by band members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and helped by writer Ken Sharp.
It kicks- off with their formation, starting with the band Wicked Lester, which featured Gene and Paul who turned down their record deal, because they felt not ready for it, which it has to said is a really ballsy thing to do for a band starting out, and getting a major-label deal, it showed the determination and their vision for what lay ahead. So instead, they set up a new shop with Peter Criss, and later, when they found Ace Frehley and decided a name change, they were now called Kiss, and the foundation to what became now known, as the greatest most entertaining rock band ever was born.
So what do l know about Kiss, well not too much, when l think back to when l first discovered Kiss, l remember their image, but l struggle to remember their songs. thinking back, l was blind-sided, l hear explosions and visualise flash's and remember stomping sounds and big guitar riffs, and their costumes were wow, one was a demon with bat wings, that could also spit fire, another a cat and here's one as spaceman who had a guitar that was smoking, and then there was a guy with the star around his eye, by the way, this was in my childhood. What l do know is this, l had mates that were die- hard fans, that you could never win an argument with about music, l found this utterly fascinating, it was like, me "hey! l like the Who' , Kiss fan would then say "well ok, but they aint as good as Kiss, me: l like Slade!, Kiss fan: ok but not as good as Kiss, or "What about Humble Pie, forget it chum there not as good as Kiss. These guys totally adored Kiss, respect.You almost felt like it was a cult, very dedicated to Kiss, it was like giving yourself over to God, and the church but loads more fun and different benefits. I succumbed, and went to see Kiss in concert, and l really loved it, and l'm glad l got to see them, l even read Ace Frehleys book and that was mighty fabulous too.
So this book was a particular must for me, as l had much still to learn about Kiss, so Nothin to lose, gave me good insider information, about the early days of Kiss, it deals with the period from their beginnings and ends when, they finally won over the hearts of the youth of America with the Kiss Alive album.
This book is written in a vox-pop type approach, you know, where you just get quotes of the people who witnessed their rise to the top. l like this style and you get the sense your travelling along with them,you get all sorts of great quotes from The Ramones, The New York Dolls and even Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper.
Kiss were way ahead of the game, and got on with it, first Gene got them great management, with Bill Aucoin and Joyce Biawitz, and not forgetting Sean Delaney, who was a bit of a jack of all trades. The band would sign to Neil Bogarts Casablanca label, they recorded their debut album and got their shit together, They went on the road, which was a nightmare for the bands that headlined over them, and soon they had to do their own headline dates as their stageshow was so awesome. But with hardly any help from the radio, who would not play their songs (unless, the Casablanca record promo guys, handcuffed the DJs to their seats at Kiss shows, so they could not escape), even though they had done TV, and the fanbase was growing, recording albums and endlessly touring, they got their breakthrough. What l really learned about Kiss was how the fans, the Kiss army got behind the band, and how Kiss really appreciate their fans, l also learned how Kiss also really respected other artists to like, The Who, Slade and Humble Pie. I have to say this is a smashing read,and l now know how the songs go.
KISS larking about in New York 1974
Published Friday 17th April, 2015
Ain't too proud to beg is the definitive book about the band The Temptations, from their troubled beginnings, and the troubling times, during their rise, and the tragic things that lay in their path. A highly detailed opus by Mark Ribowsky, its attention to detail over the rocky road to stardom, and the bringing together of the Primes, Siberians and The Distants, all bands that would eventually merge into The Temptations, who I'm sure everyone has heard of. Of course you must of heard My Girl, that song is everywhere, well l know it well and l don't even own a copy of it.
The book's main focus is on the line-up that recorded My Girl, and that was Otis Williams, Melvyn Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, and boy did they have tough upringings, really tragic and scary in the case of Ruffin. As much as this is a telling of the tale of The Temptations, it is equally about the rise of Motown, and Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, and other key fiqures such as Mickey Stevenson and the musical genius of The Funk Brothers, all held the cards to the making of the Temptations and what great singers they were, blending beautiful harmonies and great dance moves.
It took a wee while, before finally the temps hit the number one spot with My Girl, followed by more greatness in songs like Ain't too proud to beg which remains the fans favourite. Then came the departure of Ruffin who kept coming back and making unannounced appearances, employing guerilla style tactics to get onstage. His replacement Dennis Edwards, signaled a change in direction, and they entered a new era of musical stylings that owed a lot to flower power and the emerging funk scene with bands like Sly And The Family Stone. To me this was my favourite period, and there is a great compilation album out there called Psychedelic Soul which has all the hits and funky stuff to, look at numbers like Cloud Nine, l can't get next to you, Ball of Confusion all classics.
Afterwards the hits kept coming, Papa was a Rolling stone, Just my lmagination pure gold right. Sadly many of the Tempts died in dire circumstances, and only Otis stll remains from the classic line-up,Paul Williams apparent suicide,Melvyn from a coma, and one time, he had even being shot while trying to to stop a car jacker he was not killed cause the jacker recognised his voice from the Temptations and choose to kick him out of his car instead of killing him outright, Ruffin took far too much cocaine and blew up his heart, and Eddie died of lung cancer. Its a heavy book that's for sure, but what a superb band of brothers they were.
Published Friday 10th April, 2015
Right l'm off to Ardrossan, Scotland which l know is near Glasgow It's close to the sea , lt's the sort of place that when there's a storm coming to Britain, the news stations send out reporters to experience strong gales and the plan is, they try not to get blown away while delivering the state of the weather. Lucky for us the weather is behaving, in fact at times it's rather splendid.
The reason l'm here, is to play with Darrell Bath who has arranged with Davey for us to play at the Ardrossan Bowling club. I've been to Ardrossan before, with Darrell, we came up by national express last time and we brought Pumpy a drummer with us, to be honest the journey was a bit grim travelling by bus for up to 12 hours each way, this time its just Darrell and l and we got smart and took the train up, which was most pleasing, we're gonna use a local drummer who as it turns out is fantastic.
What's also great about coming up here, is the guy we are staying with, Davey is his mantle, he his very hospitable, he's also got impeccable music tastes, this trip we get an eclectic choice we have Frances Beby, then Alan Vega and Gemma Ray, and Marriot and Lane, and Panda Bear so its a good mix.
Darrell Bath and l have been playing for a few years now, l first got together with him when l joined the Dave Kusworth Band, although we did meet many years previously, well Darrell's a major talent and a nice geezer which is always a plus. Another plus is, he's a walking crawling musical encyclopedia he could earn millions on the pub quiz circuit, but would rather pass on his knowledge through his musical abilities. He writes his own songs, sings well and can throw in covers of the cuff. Me l find myself thrown into this melee, the songs he covers are a pastiche of well known stuff like Debris by the Faces maybe get a bit of The Stones Honky Tonk Woman to flight 505 we even get the Themes from Minder and Auf weidersehen Pet, blimey.
In the band tonight we have Gordon another major talent, not only on the drums for us but he's even made it in the support band which he fronts, playing guitar and singing. Darrell tells Davey and l later that Gordons the kind of guy you want in your trench we all agree. Gordons band Sonny Daze and The Restless Knights are great and lovely peops as well.
The gig goes well, and we get em up on the dance floor, many generations have turned up from grandparents, parents, and offspring, so its a varied crowd and we are well received, So we are all happy it's been such a blast. The next day l get to see my cousins, Carolyne and Julia, I don't get to see them enough, l have seen them twice in the last 400 years, so its great to meet and catch-up, we go to the local pub and hang out there with big Ian and later on after my cousins have left, we end the evening with a meal and going to some bars and having a top night. The next day, we go and see Sonny Daze and Darrell has a go, and jams well, with the gang of Gordon McNeil on vocals and mouth organ and guitar, and Will Harvey on guitar or is it bass, Louis Kolodziej on bass or is that guitar, John Blair on guitar and Gordons daughter Ash McNeil on drums and they are all fantastic musicians and they play lovely music, fantastic.
Of course l drink far to much Gin and the next day l don't enjoy the train ride back but l have to say we had a brilliant time and l hope we can return very soon.
Photo by Big Ian
Published Friday 02nd October, 2015
You must have heard about how in the last 10 years the council has shot down legendary UK venues such as the 12 bar and Madame Jojo’s in the Soho area, where UK subculture thrived for hundreds of years before.
Maybe you have thought that soon, there won’t be a place where you can hang out after a tiring day at work. Because if things keep changing so fast, the beating heart of London will soon be replaced by retail money grabbers of soulless corporations.
What they don’t know is that the highest bidder won’t keep London alive. It’s something that local people do. And here’s some proof of that.
The UK’s Tin Pan Alley – A Place Once Home To Anyone
We are, of course talking about Denmark Street, where The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Small Faces used to hang out, getting their first demos ready or just having fun.
Up until recently, you could see bands, DJs, cabaret and all kinds of unusual entertainment. It was a place where people could enjoy complete creative and sexual freedom and break away from the stigmas of everyday society.
It was a place well and alive with music gigs of all kinds to choose from. But if you visit a few years from now, the only choice you’re gonna get is to shop at Tesco or enjoy a drink ’til 11pm, then it’s off to bed with you.
It’s like someone up there declared that this disease of individuality must be stopped once and for all...to give way to mindless consumption and a force-fed, boring middle-class lifestyle.
But There’s Still Hope For Alternative Culture
Even though the council shut down local venues, they can’t get rid of its people so easily. We are still out there, even though somewhat scattered and sometimes directionless.
At FFR UK, we want to gather under one banner anyone who’s into different subcultures, let that be punk, folk, goth, reggae, hardcore or anything that goes against the norm. The goal is, to get together so we can organize amazing, fun music nights with live bands anywhere.
We also want to keep some memories of our favorite venues and share them with you. So we (Tara Rez of The Duel and Segs Jennings of The Ruts/Ruts DC) went out to interview some fine people who were still active in the music life of Soho before the end.
On our Youtube Channel dedicated to counter-culture reports, interviews, and live music gigs you can check out and share what may be the last records of something great and unique.
You will remember to never give in to the pressure of big businesses and their wicked allies. Stick to where your heart is at. The sound of our guitars will break through the silence and our people will be free to enjoy life once again.
Published Wednesday 18th March, 2015Source: trueactivistBy Amanda FroelichItalian architect Luciano Pia merges the best of urban landscape with natural living.
Luciano Pia, a brilliant architect in Italy, has an inspired vision of how people and nature can successfully live together – even in a thoroughly urban landscape. 25 Verde, a lush apartment complex he designed in Turin, Italy, is a woven 5-story mix of trees and steel girders that allow urban residents to feel like they live in a giant urban tree-house.Every process of planning in the building’s design was taken with natural integration in mind. The asymmetric shape of its terraces and organic architecture allow potted trees to “sprout” out from the building at random intervals. Ponds in the courtyard offer residents a refreshing place to relax in the summer, and the 150 deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in the winter, allow natural light to filter into the building during its darker months.
Not only that, having an abundance of flora around the building keeps the city’s air cleaner and isolates the residents from the urban sounds and smells that surround them. The mass amount of trees surrounding the building are estimated to absorb 200,000 liters of carbon dioxide an hour! Completed in 2012, this building is located at Via Chabera 25 in Turin, Italy – you can even check it out from afar using Google Maps’ street view![gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]
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