Well, 2010 is drawing to a close and, I'm sorry to say, so is this blog. We hope to replace it with some more folky content in the future, but in the meantime I want to say "thank you" thanks to all of you for reading, and thanks to the great many guest bloggers who dropped by to give us an insight into their musical worlds.
Before I wrap things up, I wanted to share with you my ten favourite albums of the past twelve months. Let me know yours!
Chumbawamba - ABCDEFG
All the notes in the musical scale are there in the title and this is an album all about singing and music, why we do it and how we do it, and the whole CD is chock full of great songs sung with absolute meaning and total craft.
Coope Boyes & Simpson - As If ...
Great voices in harmony with a brilliant collection of songs. A world-class album from the depths of the tradition. English folk music at its very, very best.
Danu - Seanchas
One of the greatest Irish bands ever with a brilliant collection of music and songs. Everything flows, nothing jars, there are no bulky seams. Yet there is also nothing slick or insincere about this album. A brilliant piece of work.
Emily Portman - The Glamoury
A terrific young English singer with a majestic voice and a skewed and compelling look at the ballad as a vehicle for magical and mysterious stories - a great CD.
Peter Carberry - Traditional Irish Music From Co. Longford
Manchester/Longford box and banjo player Pete Carberry has produced an album of deeply rooted, unhurried and glorious sets of Irish music. This will be a classic for ever. I've played it over and over and over again.
Lizzie Nunnery - Company of Ghosts
I was stunned by this album the first time I heard it and have gone back to it over and again. There's something riding under all the songs that, as in all great music, makes for more than the sum of its parts. Lizzie Nunnery is better known as a playwright but her songwriting and singing, wherever they have come from, seem to me to move in epic and mythic worlds that are as memorable as any great play.
Pete Coe - Backbone
One of the stalwarts of the folk scene and a man to stand up and be counted. His hard hitting songs, and versions of other writers' works and traditional songs are deeply rooted in the tradition and come deep from a well of dissent. Not for the fainthearted or those who think folk songs should be nice and comfy. Laughs and good music a-plenty, but loads of kick too.
Fisherman's Friends - Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends
A cracking album of sea songs sung by blokes who do it for the greatest of all possible reasons: because they love the music. I know they won't mind me describing them as not quite packaged, polished and groomed for the Middle Way. They're about as pretty as I am but sing it and tell it like it is. They are having a great time riding the roller coaster of their success knowing that if it ends up back in Cornwall they'll have had a lot of fun along the way. One of the best albums of sea songs in years.
The Demon Barbers - The Adventures of Captain Ward
One of my favourite live bands ever - they sing with gusto and commitment and put on a great show too. They are doing a great job taking English folk music out to a really wide audience. This album captures the essence of the band.
Ewan McLennan - Rags and Robes
A great voice, a great guitar style and a total saturation in the music produce something really rare and valuable. I get lots of CDs from brilliant young women singers but most blokes seem to be more interested in becoming great instrumentalists. Now, with the advent of people like Ewan it looks as though young male folkies are digging deep into the tradition and coming up the better for it. I think great things will be heard from him in time to come.
Well, thanks for reading, have a great Christmas, take care if you're travelling and keep listening to the show or I might end up having to go on the X Factor, and you know what that will lead to.
To quote old Joe Gargery from Great Expectations,"Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together" So take care, and, as the Vuddha of Karrow said, "Gan canny marra"
Oh, I forgot to mention: I'm on the road from mid-February, doing my own bit to spread misery and discontent. See you around somewhere.