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Archives for February 2010

Ethiopia by Rachel Unthank - Part 2

Mike Harding | 12:20 UK time, Friday, 26 February 2010

Rachel Unthank writes:

Another inspirational individual we met was a man called Melaku Belay. Melaku was a Sudanese refugee. His family was dispersed, and he ended up as an orphan and street kid in Addis Ababa. To survive he danced for tips at a music club, where he asked if he could sleep on floor. He managed to earn enough tips to eventually buy the club - an amazing feat! He is now a world famous dancer, performing with the Ethipiques, yet he always comes home to dance in his club and invest in the community. 

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Ethiopia by Rachel Unthank - Part 1

Mike Harding | 13:50 UK time, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Rachel Unthank writes:

In February, two days after the Folk Awards, I was lucky enough to take part in the latest Africa Express trip to Ethiopia. Africa Express was started by Damon Albarn and Ian Birrell who along with a collective of like minded  people aim to promote African music. They organise trips to Africa to explore music and make contacts and collaborations with musicians across genres and generations, promoting positive views of Africa.

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Shipwrecks & Static

Mike Harding | 16:07 UK time, Friday, 19 February 2010

I wouldn't think of trying to sum up / be glib about / make a crass joke about Inge Thomson's new CD. You know how it is sometimes when you put a CD on the player thinking it's going to be a certain kind of music and then you find that it isn't, but you keep on playing it because you sense that there is something very important going on in there?

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Chuck Berry, Albert and the Lion

Mike Harding | 16:31 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

There are moments when I sit before my lap-top staring at the screen in amazement and wondering. My music directory has more than songs and tunes on it, all folk and all great stuff.

And on my shelves in the shed are hundreds more CDs that I haven't transferred to the lap-top yet...

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Songs about coal and mining - suggestions please!

Mike Harding | 13:29 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

For those of you that haven't heard, there is going to be a brand new Radio Ballad 'The Ballad of the Miners' Strike' broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesday 2nd March, to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of that bitter year-long dispute.

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Mingling with the Moulton Morris Men

Mike Harding | 23:20 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

As I was saying earlier, it's the opportunity to catch up with good people that makes the Folk Awards for me. The great and the good were piling into The Brewery this evening when I bumped into these three fine figures: Dick Gaughan, actor Geoffrey Hughes and fiddle maestro Aly Bain. Amongst such great folkies mingled famous folk fans like Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, actor Bob Hoskins, Crowded House's Neil Finn, poet Ian Mcmillan, and musicians as diverse as Nitin Sawhney and Benny Gallagher.

Our guests tonight were entertained by the frenetic Moulton Morris Men, accompanied by the tremendous melodeon playing of Simon Care and Saul Rose.

The dancers formed an archway under which the guests filed into the Porter Tunn room in anticipation of a great night of world class music, and a real celebration of all things folk.


My heroes

Mike Harding | 22:44 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

I arrived at the The Brewery this evening to the familiar strains of 'I Fought The Law' by The Clash, but played on mandolin, uilleann pipes and fiddle. It could only be Adrian Edmondson and his Bad Shepherds (aka Andy Dinan and Troy Donockley), wrapping up their soundcheck in the otherwise empty Porter Tunn room. Brilliant stuff.

Another year gone, and I can't believe it's our eleventh BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. The guests will be arriving shortly and I'm looking forward to catching up with some old faces who I sadly don't see often enough. The wonderful Robin Dransfield is coming tonight, as is my hero, the great Dick Gaughan. Dick's picking up a Lifetime Achievement Award later, and I'm sure you'll agree he is a most deserving recipient.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Nanci Griffith

Mike Harding | 12:28 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

I'm really looking forward to seeing Nanci Griffith tonight at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - she's getting a Lifetime Achievement Award and will be performing live too with her band.

I've heard she's going to sing the title track from her latest CD 'The Loving Kind', a terrific modern day folk song about the first inter-racial marriage in the USA. A video of Nanci's performance will be available to see online tomorrow, when you can also hear her on Drivetime with Simon Mayo.  

What first attracted me to Nanci Griffith's music was the way the pulse of truth came through in all her songs whether they were about small town love in 'Love at the Five and Dime', or about cruelty and racism in 'It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go.'

She seems to me to do what the folk world at its best - does best - she makes us feel more human - angry at times perhaps, sorrowful at others - but on everything from her love songs to her work with the Vietnam Veterans ofAmerica and the Landmines Advisory Group world she makes us feel, as the best folks songs do, that we are not alone.

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