Jon Boden Releases First Solo Track “All Hang Down”

Jon Boden
Image Courtesy of Jon Boden

Folk singer Jon Boden, known as the frontman of Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden as well as the amazing A Folk Song A Day project, has finally ventured out on his first official solo project.

Boden has is about to embark on a massive solo tour of his native UK and has just released a video for the track “All Hang Down”. We have a feeling this is the beginning of a much bigger project so stay tuned for more news soon – in the meantime watch “All Hang Down” below:

An Australian Folk Song A Day on CD

An Australian Folk Song A Day
Image Courtesy of Cloudstreet

Last year on Australia Day John Thompson (Cloudstreet) picked up the gauntlet laid down by the UK’s Jon Boden and started the blog An Australian Folk Song a Day. The aim was to record and post a new Australian folk song every day for a year and with that year well and truly over we have the results: Thompson was able to upload 367 songs in 2011/12.

A big congratulations has to go to John Thompson for his tireless work on the project. Folk singers now have this wonderful online resource that not only houses the recordings but also lyrics and some background information as well – and it’s still proving popular with over 300 hits a day.

As an added bonus John Thompson is offering up a bunch of the recordings in MP3 and audio CD form. The two-disc MP3 set containing 287 songs (track listing here) while the audio CDs contain the recordings on a month-by-basis. The two-disc set is $50 and the individual month CDs are $10 each, with postage included in both costs.

To get your hands on these recordings follow this link.

iFolk 2.0 Part 3: Podcasts

Sing in a Can

While the music we listen to and rave about here at Timber and Steel may have its roots in a tradition that stretches back decades if not hundreds of years the way we consume that music in today is vastly different to even five years ago. High internet speeds, portable music devices and music on demand have shaped the way we discover music, share music, value music even think about music. In this series of articles we look at and recommend the best in folk music in the new media space.

Part 3: Podcasts

With the iPod and iPhone replacing the radio over the last few years the opportunity to hear new music has been rapidly decreasing. When your iPod is your alarm clock, your stereo and your portable music device the ability to listen to anything outside of your own playlists is extremely limited and unless we seek out new music ourselves rather than passively stumbling upon it it’s very easy to get trapped in a sheltered musical environment. But don’t worry, there is a way to get new music recommendations directly to your MP3 player – and that’s with the humble podcast. The world of folk and acoustic music is very well represented in the Podcast sphere so we thought we’d share with you some of our favourites:

Folkcast

The brainchild of journalist Phil Widdows and musician Ken Nicol (Steeleye Span), Folkcast is one of the best music Podcasts currently coming out of the UK. The between-song banter can be a little naff but these guys are second to none when it comes to showcasing the best in traditional and contemporary folk, especially from the British Isles. Folkcast is produced monthly although there are special shows throughout the year such as their recent special series from Fairport’s Cropredy Convention.

Folk Alley

Not to be confused with the Harry Potter podcast of the same name, Alleycast is the official monthly podcast from US based internet radio station Folk Alley. Alleycast takes the best of Folk Alley’s content – interviews, concerts, live studio recordings – and weaves it in between new releases from (mainly) American and Canadian artists. We love Alleycast for the live content and the access they have to some amazing artists.

Thistlepod

Thistlepod is the podcast version of Fiona Richie’s radio show The Thistle & Shamrock. Distributed via NPR in the States, The Thistle & Shamrock focuses on traditional or traditionally inspired Celtic music. Thistlepod collects Richie’s conversations with influential and inspiring artists inter-cut with their recorded or live music, with each podcast dedicated to a single artist. Although it doesn’t come out to regularly it’s always exciting when a new Thistlepod hits the web.

Daytrotter

While they’re not strictly a podcast the Daytrotter Sessions do fall into the same category of downloadable audio. Every day Daytrotter unleash a new session on their audience, featuring a band performing about four tracks all recorded in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. Not everything Daytrotter releases is folk but it’s obviously a genre they are fans of with a lot of the sessions heavily swinging towards the roots end of the spectrum. The archive of artists, in particular prominent folk artists, is absolutely staggering and it’s all free. Timber and Steel tries to alert you guys to Daytrotter Sessions we think you’ll like but the best way to be on top of these guys is to subscribe to their weekly e-mail newsletter.

TransAtlantic Acoustic Show

Although the TransAtlantic Acoustic Show is coming to an end it’s well worth diving into the archives for brand new music – we’ve never ever heard a band we’ve recognised on this Podcast and that’s kind of what we like about it. Presented rather uniquely by Sam Salter in the UK and Jill Nojack in the US the TransAtalantic Acoustic Show focuses on folk and acoustic music that’s uploaded to the parent site IndieHeart.com. They are notorious for their sporadic postings (you can go months without a show and much of each podcast is dedicated to apologising for not posting for so long) and the conversation between the presenters is more than a little naff (which seems to be a running theme on folk podcasts) but the music is sublime. According to the web site there are but two podcasts left in the series – we wonder if anything will appear to take its place?

HearYa Live Session

In the same vein as Daytrotter Sessions, the HearYa Live Sessions (from the indie blog HearYa) are recorded in Chicago and offer up some awesome live performances from a number of high profile acts. Again, they do more than just folk but a quick glance over their archives (and upcoming sessions) shows that it’s a genre they’re passionate about. We’re constantly astonished by the high profile artists these guys get considering HearYa pitch themselves as just a blog.

A Folk Song A Day

On Midsummer’s Day (24th June) last year Jon Boden (of Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden fame) launched his A Folk Song A Day podcast with the aim of singing and uploading a traditional song every day for a year. The project was spawned by the rich history of folk songs that are sung socially at festivals and folk clubs throughout the British Isles (and beyond) but are not always suited to being performed or recorded by artists. Boden completed his project in June this year and has since released the recordings as albums and taken a number of songs on the road in a live show. A few of the original podcasts are still available for download and there’s promises from Boden that the project will evolve into something new in the near future.

Somglines Magazine Podcast

UK based magazine Songlines is probably the most widely acclaimed world music publication available. Since 2006 the monthly magazine has been accompanied by a podcast which features much of the music discussed within its pages plus playlists put together by their feature artists. Meant as companion piece to the magazine, the Songlines Podcast is worth downloading by itself for any fan of folk music from around the world.

Dylancast

We’re not quite sure where Dylancast sprung from, who puts it out (apparently it’s The Mighty Quinn but that could be anyone) or whether they even have rights to the material they produce but we’re taking an ask-no-questions approach here. Every month Dylancast delivers a complete Bob Dylan concert, rehearsal session or recording outtakes. There’s about two hours worth of content in each podcast so definitely a must for any Dylan fan (which is everyone, isn’t it?)

Most of the Podcasts featured here can be subscribed to and downloaded from iTunes – but if you can’t find them there (or you don’t use iTunes) you can listen to, download and subscribe to them from the links above. Next up on Timber and Steel’s iFolk 2.0 series we look at the best in folk and acoustic online video channels.

iFolk 2.0 Part 1: Blogs and Web Sites

Folk Computer

While the music we listen to and rave about here at Timber and Steel may have its roots in a tradition that stretches bakes decades if not hundreds of years the way we consume that music in today is vastly different to even five years ago. High internet speeds, portable music devices and music on demand have shaped the way we discover music, share music, value music even think about music. In this series of articles we look at and recommend the best in folk music in the new media space.

Part 1: Blogs and Web Sites

While we’re sure you’re getting all the folk news, reviews and opinion you need right here on Timber and Steel we don’t mind if you occasionally have a look over the fence and see what else is out there in the online folk world. We can’t cover everything after all – just as long as you come back once in a while. So here’s a list of our favourite folk-related blogs and sites on the web:

Folk Radio UK

Striking a balance between indie, nu-folk, traditional and contemporary, Folk Radio UK is a not for profit Internet radio station broadcast out of, obviously, the UK. Surviving on donations from its supporters (similar to community radio stations in Australia) and a handful of advertisers, FRUK operates twenty four hours a day. It also is a great source of folk news, specialty mixes and reviews (plus the occasional free MP3).

In The Pines

The companion blog of the fantastic folk, alt-country and Americana show of the same name on Sydney’s FBi Radio written by presenter Emma Swift. Swift only updates In The Pines about once a week (usually a day or two after her show on Tuesday nights) but when she does it’s insightful, funny and full of gorgeous music, both classic and new.

Cover Lay Down

Stemming from the tradition in folk music of covering and reimagining music as a way keeping it alive, Cover Lay Down specialises in exploring folk covers of familiar songs, reimagined versions of folk songs and everything in between. Not only does Cover Lay Down unearth some absolute gems, it’s also so well written it makes us want to try so much harder.

For Folk's Sake

If there’s one blog we aspire to emulate it’s the UK’s For Folk’s Sake with its mix of news, reviews and artist spotlights. For Folk’s Sake leans quite heavily to the nu-folk end of the spectrum and consistently introduces us to new and exciting music from the other side of the world

Spiral Earth

Another UK folk site Spiral Earth is one of the most highly respected resources for traditional and contemporary folk on the web. You won’t find a lot of cross over into the indie scene here (although they occasionally champion Laura Marling and Mumford and Sons) but their knowledge is second to none and if you love your international folk music you’re likely to read about it here first.

A Folk Song A Day

Jon Boden’s epic A Folk Song A Day podcast may have finished (for now) but the website is still a fantastic resource for information on all of the songs performed including a new audio file each day (at the moment Jon Boden is repeating all the folk songs from the very beginning). More new material from A Folk Song A Day is promised soon – we’ll just have to wait and see what exactly that new material is.

An Australian Folk Song A Day

Taking his lead from Jon Boden, John Thompson of Cloudstreet fame is attempting the folk-song-a-day challenge but focusing only on Australian music. The thing we love most about An Australian Folk Song A Day? Every song comes with lyrics.

Rhythms Magazine

Rhythms Magazine is probably the best roots related publication in Australia and they’ve transitioned very well to the online world. They have pretty up to date news articles, blogs, reviews and coverage of most of the major festivals on the roots calendar.

Properganda Magazine

Another magazine that’s made the successful jump to the online world, Properganda is like the UK’s version of Rhythms Magazine. They get access to some of the biggest names in folk so their exclusives are usually very exclusive – well worth a regular visit.

The Johnny Cash Project

The Johnny Cash Project has to be one of the most innovative and artistic uses of the internet we’ve seen to date. Basically artists are asked to take a single frame from Johnny Cash’s final video, for the traditional track “Ain’t No Grave” and then illustrate over the top of it. All of these illustrated frames are then voted on and thrown together to create a unique animated video. As more and more artists illustrate frames and the public continues to vote on their favourites so to does the video evolve. Take a look to see exactly what we mean.

NPR Music

We’ve tried to make this list about folk specialist sites only, which NPR Music clearly isn’t. But we’ve included it just for the sheer volume of folk related content they have available – from streaming full albums to exclusive concert audio to interviews and more. We’ve been lost on NPR Music for days at a time.

Trad and Now

If you don’t manage to get to a gig or festival its quite often impossible to get your hands on an artist’s recorded music – so many folk artists self produce their CDs so they’re not readily available in stores or on iTunes. Luckily Trad & Now have a wide range of hard to get CDs in stock and if it’s not on the web site you can usually reach out to guys and they’ll be able to help you track something down. Now if only we can get them into the download business…

Folk Alliance Australia

Folk Alliance Australia is probably the best resource online for all things folk. We use it mainly for its mailing lists, festival calendar and useful links.

So hopefully we’ve managed to help you discover some corners of the web you’ve yet to explore. Next up on Timber and Steel’s iFolk 2.0 series we look at the best in folk related Phone Apps.

An Australian Folk Song a Day

Cloudstreet
Image Courtesy of Cloudstreet

It was only a matter of time before someone did it. Inspired by Jon Boden’s blog and podcast A Folk Song a Day, John Thompson (one half of popular trad and contemporary act Cloudstreet) has decided to try his hand at producing 365 folk songs on his blog, this time all Australian. The blog, entitled An Australian Folk Song a Day, began rather aptly on Australia Day and can be found here. The first song off the rank, “Moreton Bay” is below as performed by Cloudstreet. It’ll be really interesting to see where the project takes Thompson.

The Best Christmas Songs of 2010

Christmas

One of the greatest, kitschiest parts of the whole Christmas experience is that of the Christmas song. And given that folk music has been intrinsically linked to Christmas from the very beginning (most of the best loved Christmas songs from “Jingle Bells” to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” are in fact traditional folk songs) we thought it was our duty to share some of the best folk-tinged holiday tunes released this year. So turn on your twinkly lights, make sure your eggnog is nice and strong and prepare yourself to get into the Christmas spirit.

The Priests feat. Shane MacGowan – “Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth”
The Pogues’ Shane MacGown was involved in probably the best modern Christmas song of a generation. Sadly this isn’t it. But it is certainly a different take on the classic Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy”. Although there’s something about teaming a group of opera singing priests with Ireland’s most famous drunk that sounds a little too close to a plot from Father Ted

Kate Miller-Heidke – “White Wine in the Sun”
What got lost in the controversy surrounding Kate Miller-Heidke’s version of Tim Minchin’s ode to Christmas Day is just how perfectly it captures the Australian holiday experience. No matter where you sit on the religion fence you have to admit that “White Wine in the Sun” really is exceptionally touching.

Paul Simon – “Getting Ready For Christmas Day”
We have to warn you – Paul Simon’s Christmas song is very … earnest. But it’s free to download from his web site so if you like what you hear you don’t have to go far to own it.

Emily & The Woods – “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”
Our favourite UK folk blog For Folk’s Sake have released their first ever Christmas album titled For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas. It’s jam packed full of awesome indie folk goodness but one of the best has to be this gem from Emily & The Woods. Just simple vocals and guitar. Gorgeous.

Sufjan Stevens – “Silent Night”
Sufjan Stevens has never been one to shy away from Christmas songs and this year is no different. This version of “Silent Night” also features Aaron and Bryce Dessner from The National and Richard Parry from Arcade Fire (I’m pretty sure you can’t get any more indie than that) and is part of an unreleased EP titled Gloria! Songs for Christmas Vol. 6 that you can listen to here.

John Conolly – “I Am Christmas”
For the tradionalists amongst you “Fiddler’s Green” writer John Conolly has produced the lovely “I Am Christmas” from his album The Grumpy Old Men of Old England.

Liz Frencham – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
According to the YouTube blurb for this track “This is what happens when you get Vince & Tan for an afternoon close to Christmas and then you add some beer & Sauv Blanc”. It’s kitsch and Christmassy and just wonderful.

And if that’s not enough for you make sure you head over to A Folk Song A Day where Jon Boden has been featuring some of the best in traditional Christmas music.

Merry Christmas!

Jon Boden on Social Singing and A Folk Song a Day

Jon Boden
Image Courtesy of Jon Boden

“If I had to choose between being a professional musician and being able to sing socially, the two aren’t mutually exclusive particularly but if they for some reason they became so, I’d choose social singing because that’s real” – Jon Boden

Jon Boden of Bellowhead fame has been delighting folk fans for months now with his A Folk Song a Day podcast. The podcast, available on iTunes and via the A Folk Song a Day web site was initially begun as a way of recording and distributing traditional songs that generally only get sung socially (in singing sessions) rather than performed on stage by professional artists. Boden took some time out from recording the podcast to talk to Bright Young Folk about the importance of social singing and what drives him to continue on with the project. The interview, along with a live version of the song “Sea Coal” (featuring Fay Hield) is embedded below:

Spotlight On: Bellowhead

Bellowhead
Image Courtesy of Bellowhead

If you’ve been listening to the podcasts coming out of A Folk Song a Day you’ll already know that Jon Boden is an absolute treasure trove of traditional music. And while getting a new song from Boden each day is an absolute treat the format – Jon singing solo or accompanied by an accordion or violin – really doesn’t do justice to the musicality contained within many the tunes. Luckily Jon Boden has another outlet which allows him to flex his traditional music muscle with a band overflowing with outstanding musicians. That outlet is the UK folk band Bellowhead.

If A Folk Song a Day is traditional music stripped down to it’s bare bones then Bellowhead is orchestral in comparison. Comprised of 11 musicians in total including drums and a four piece brass section, Bellowhead’s music pulls folk tunes and songs out of the pub and festival tent and plants them firmly in the concert hall and theatre. The music may be traditional but sound created by the band is truly classical in every sense of the word.

Formed by Jon Boden (vocals, fiddle) and John Spiers (melodeon, concertina) in 2004 Bellowhead is rounded out by (deep breath!) Pete Flood (percussion), Justin Thurgur (trombone), Brendan Kelly (saxophone, bass clarinet), Andy Mellon (trumpet), Paul Sartin (oboe, fiddle), Rachael McShane (cello, fiddle), Ed Neuhauser (helicon, tuba), Benji Kirkpatrick (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki) and Sam Sweeney (fiddle, pipes). Bellowhead truly are a big band combining elements of jazz and soul to there classical-folk sound. Think Fairport Convention if they had chosen the big band route rather than folk-rock.

Bellowhead have just released their third album entitled Hedonism and are touring all over the UK in the coming months. And if their music wasn’t enough they have also created a new ale named after the album (which they no doubt will consume while they play). Their live show is apparently not to be missed so if you ever see them on a local festival bill jump at the chance. And if you like Bellowhead’s stuff but haven’t been listening to Jon Boden’s podcast subscribe to A Folk Song a Day today!

Country of Origin: UK
Sounds Like: Fairport Convention took the classical route
File Under: Trad
Official Site: www.bellowhead.co.uk
Myspace: myspace.com/thisisbellowhead

A Folk Song a Day on iTunes

Jon Boden
Image Courtesy of Jon Boden

A couple of weeks ago we here at Timber and Steel reported that UK folk singer Jon Boden will be recording and releasing one folk every day for a year from the 24th a June. Well, it’s just been confirmed that you can download the daily song FREE via his iTunes podcast. How easy could this be?

Subscribe today by clicking here and let the folk times roll.

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