Sunday, September 12, 2021

WOODWINDS: FLUTE LOOPS

 Flutes tend to get a lot of stick these days, whether hewn from a stick or crafted in the finest bamboo, brass or even bone. They just aren't seen as cool anymore. Even in folk music, for long the mainstay of this edge blown aerophone(!), there is a danger it is being surreptitiously supplanted by the low whistle, that new usurper on the scene. (The low whistle, whilst based on the simple "penny" instrument, probably only became an entity when Finbar Furey, the Irish Uillean piper asked Brian Overton to fashion a "big" whistle from, legend has it, a piece of surplus plumbing. However, culture vultures, it likely existed before in the format of a fipple flute, an instrument that then later lost favour.)

But the flute isn't yet history and has life beyond ridicule, however hard Ron Burgundy has tried. Jazz flautists have a small yet important page in the history of that music, if often more an extra trick up the sleeve of saxophonists, than necessarily the main deal. Herbie Mann came closest to making the jazz flute cool, if also, by that dreadful album cover, near inventing the parody above. In the 1970s he had even enough crossover appeal to be seen as cool to have a copy of any other of his works under your arm. I especially liked Memphis Underground, from 1969. Other notable jazzers with a taste for tooting, sorry, fluting, as many many jazz musicians allegedly had a penchant for tooting, would include Eric Dolphy and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who could switch effortlessly between any number of saxes and flute. He could play more than one at a time, but am uncertain if that were ever possible between saxophone and flute. And, yes, that was nose flute at one stage in that clip, sparing having to mention it later.....

Rock flute had a very narrow window, beginning and near ending with Ian Anderson's manic persona in Jethro Tull. But, ahead of their folk-prog prime, they were a more straight ahead blues band, and the blues-rock scene was littered with flute solos. If were a band I was particularly fond of, with their vibe a mix and match of jazz, blues, rock and r'n'b. Both their reedmen, Dick Morrissey and Dave Quincy, were adept on the instrument. Of course, prog rock was awash with flute, much appreciated in whimsical and pastoral interludes in sidelong epics about dragons and princesses. Early Genesis were enthusiasts, as Peter Gabriel could play a bit, something he has kept distinctly quite about since going solo.


Folk flute has had two distinct rotes, in trad. inspired music and in fey singer-songwriter, of which the former has tended to date better. The list of Irish and Scottish bands able to whip out a flute, amongst all the all other panoply of pipes and fiddles are legion, with the name Michael McGoldrick perhaps standing out. Initially with Capercaillie, he has a successful solo career alongside working with and in Mark Knopfler's band, as well as in the house band for Transatlantic Sessions. His name, and that of Brian Finnegan, are two names that can act as a guarantee of classy playing, should you ever spot either on a CD  cover. Before Capercaillie, they actually played together, in the same band, Flook, along with a third flautist, Sarah Allen. Here's an old clip, followed by some early John Martyn, who was certainly anything other than fey, even if this example may be. The flute is by estimable jazz parper Harold McNair, often alongside Donovan in his early recordings also.


Country flute? Blues flute? Well, not a lot. I suppose Marshall Tucker Band might (just) about fulfil the first and Canned Heat, arguably, the latter, but that isn't all there is to this to this piece as I have to include a nod to more modern forms of music. A clip or two, even, from this century might help give some semblance of my not being some ancient dinosaur, even if I am. So, with a leap and a bound it is, oh, still only 1994, but the Prodigy, hey, kids, Granpa's gone all hepcat, daddio. Actually before they hit their chart topping prime, I remember hearing this and being absolutely astonished, and unable to get the ear worm flute melody out my head. I still can't.

Is 2010 near enough for you? Ever heard of Shpongle? I love 'em, that weird hinterland of dance and world musics, bundleed up into a somewhat lysergic trance like state, not that I have any experience of that particular trip, and placed into the somewhat niche genre of psybient: psychedelic ambient. Whilst it is true that one of the duo, flautist Raja Ram, actually kickstarted his career as far back as the late 60s, as a member of Ladbroke Grove raga-rock stoners, Quintessence, his, um, diet, has clearly done little harm, and he continues to ply his chosen path with no little wizardry. Whilst Ram is still upright, flute still has a place.

Too much here to pint you to all their product, so let's just go here, for something completely different. Keep them flutes a tooting!!




Thursday, September 9, 2021

Woodwinds: Sing, Sing, Sing

Benny Goodman: Sing, Sing, Sing
[purchase

My last couple of postings haven’t been all that popular with the readership. I’m not sure why an instrumental cello cover of a King Crimson song, or a difficult Velvet Underground song featuring a droning viola might not be all that attractive…..So to try to pander to the readers and rack up views, I’m going to write about a 12 minute jazz song that was performed in 1938. I suspect that it will blow up the Internet! 

When the great clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman considered playing a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the late 1930s, jazz had never been performed there. Initially concerned that jazz would not go over well at the bastion of classical music propriety, it was only after his movie, Hollywood Hotel, was a hit, that Goodman decided to go for it, and canceled recording dates to rehearse inside the venerable venue. Goodman’s initial concerns about financial success proved unfounded, when the 2760 seats sold out weeks in advance—the best seats cost $2.75, but third balcony and standing room seats cost 85 cents (depending on the website, $2.75 then is worth somewhere between $30 and $55 today, which is not bad, considering that if you wanted to go to Carnegie Hall next February to see Jon Batiste, the tickets range from $46-$65—but if you wanted to see Michael Feinstein, it would set you back between $83-$100). 

Goodman’s orchestra was racially mixed, which was also groundbreaking for its time, and many writers have remarked that this concert was the point at which jazz became respectable (although some might consider that a bad thing, I guess). 

In addition to performances by Goodman’s small groups and big band, there was a jam session that included members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestras. But the finale was what Goodman considered a “killer-diller” designed to get the patrons up and dancing—the Louis Prima penned “Sing, Sing, Sing.” As a brief aside, my introduction to this great song was when my high school band director, Mr. Sitts, had us play a marching band arrangement of the song at halftime of a football game. What I most remember about that was that I was playing bass drum, and had to keep a steady beat with one hand, while playing another rhythm with my other hand, which to this day, I remember being difficult. But Clarkstown North had a pretty strong marching band back in those days, so we did what we had to do. 

The song begins with drumming from the great Gene Krupa, who had zero problems playing independent rhythms with both hands and feet, and eventually, pretty much everyone gets a solo, with Goodman’s appearing to ascend above the clarinet’s range. The song brought the audience to its feet, with some dancing in the aisles, not something that happened during the classical performances at Carnegie Hall. 

The concert was recorded onto acetates as well as on aluminum transcription discs, but were not released contemporaneously because Goodman was distracted by other projects, and because of the use of musicians from various bands, there were difficult contractual issues to resolve. The aluminum discs, which were of higher quality, were filed away by CBS and forgotten. In 1950, Goodman’s niece, who had taken over his apartment, found the degraded acetate, and through difficult work, much of it was restored, and similarly difficult legal work cleared the music for release in 1950, becoming one of the first 33 1/3 records to sell over a million copies. Phil Schaap, who passed away on Tuesday, found a second set of acetates and worked to improve the quality, and the album was re-released in 1985. In 1998, a CD version was released based on the aluminum masters, improving the sound quality again, and there have been various CD releases and remasters since.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

WOODWINDS: KATE ST.JOHN

Woodwinds seem often made of brass, which is confusing, but don't include horns, except the english horn, which seems to be a form of clarinet. And, even more extraordinarily, that includes bagpipes and accordions, but don't panic, I'm not going there, at least not this week. So, choices, choices and I think I'm going for oboe, as it looks so darn difficult, like trying to blow a hard-boiled egg down a curtain rod. And because the list of greatest oboe player in rock is a short and exclusive list. To be fair most people falter after Andy Mackay

I'd like to show you and explain how Kate St. John has a better claim to that title. And, as I write this down, I find myself suddenly panicking, realising she is probably playing cor anglais, or some such, in the songs I use to apply my thesis. Luckily, hardly any reader will be capable of telling the difference; it seems it is all to do with available pitch, the cor anglais (or english horn, see above, who knew) having access to the lower notes.

So, that exquisite sound on Julian Cope's 'World Shut Your Mouth' album is oboe/cor anglais and is played by Kate St John. Originally classically trained, well, you'd have to be, she will be familiar to older readers as being a core member of those fey purveyors of winsome pop, The Dream Academy, who, for some strange reason I confuse with the nothing like them at all Dream Syndicate, who never knowingly branded woodwinds at all, in love or warfare. (OK, I lied.....). I like the video below as it actually shows off Ms St. John on active service, the Smith's cover version being the one from the film, 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'.


At this time she was married to Sid Griffin, the all americana leader of the Long Ryders, who actually were label mates of Dream Syndicate, adding to the confusion. The oboe never comes to mind often in country tinged music, but, hey, she gets there, not until his next band, the Coal Porters. (And it is cor anglais here, nitpickers!!) A Gram Parsons song, too, no less.


Later, in the 1990s, she worked with a lot withVan Morrison, often on saxophone but still managing to to get her chosen out for when Van needed to go his most transcendental. A lovely, evocative sound, it also transfers well into new age music. In the short lived band Channel Light Vessel, she hooked up with Roger, brother of Brian, Eno, Bill Nelson and Laraaji. I suspect I was one of the few who bought anything by them, with it being, it's true, seldom the record I need to hear too much of, but it has its moments.

 

Other contributions have included playing with the Waterboys on their 2011 'Appointment With Mr Yeats'; if she could do Donne with Van, she could certainly do Yeats with Scott!! Whether it all works is arguably up for grabs, but it has the song below is worth it for the burst of play that comes after Scott's doleful sing song recital.


In more art imitating life, she got also to tour with Morrissey, perhaps getting to play her oboe part for 'Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want' with one of the songwriters. Other folk who paid up for her live contributions have included Marianne Faithfull and Damon Albarn. And she has been credited to discs for those as varied as the Pet Shop Boys, XTC and Boyzone. However, by now married to Neil MacColl, son of Ewan and half-brother of Kirsty, she has found a niche as the musical director for a number of big production shows and projects. These have included Joe Boyd's Nick Drake tributes, some of the late Hal Willner works, like his Rogues Gallery Sea Chanteys project, and various collective performances of the Richard Thompson and extended family performances. Husband and wife have also worked together on a number of film and TV scores. Whilst this means she is now more often arranging and on keyboards, like the song below, it is too good not to include, her link with MacColl drawing her into folk networks and the songs of her late father-in-law, had he ever been alive to meet her.


Busy, busy woman, and, now you know, I dare say there is way more of her you have heard than earlier you ever knew. 

Take a chance?










Sunday, September 5, 2021

Bigger Strings: Jack Bruce

 



purchase [Wheels of Fire]


I confess that I have never given much attention to the bass player. Yeah, I know that the bass and drums are critical to the ryhthm, but the paucity of notes that the bass plays belies the importance of a song's underlying structure. 

A Quora post I read recently asked "why can't you ever hear the bass?" While the question strikes me as a bit "out of it", I fear that there is some truth to the question: the bass (player) rarely gets the spotlight. And I confess it wasn't until I started digging this week, that I paid much attention to Jack Bruce. 

Musically trained as a cello player and then moving to the standing bass, Bruce moved through various groups, including time with John McLaughlin and Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Quartet, and with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton.

Although I owned a copy of Cream's double album Wheels of Fire as well as one of Fresh Cream, neither, particularly in comparison with Disraeli Gears did much for me. Although we generally think of Cream as a trio (Clapton, Bruce, Baker), a majority of Wheels of Fire is a quartet, with Felix Pappalardi as the fourth member (later to head off and help found Mountain with Leslie West - with whom Bruce later founded West, Bruce & Laing)

Jack Bruce, of course, is the bass player of the original trio, but he also did a lot of the lead vocals as well as writing  quite a few of the songs. He was a multi-intrumentalist and you can find videos of him playing the piano and more. On Wheels of Fire, we get Bruce and Pappalardi playing cellos, violas, bass ... but I bet you wouldn't know it unless you read the credits/liner notes. Pappalardi is playing the viola in "White Room" up top. Here, in "Passing the Time", Bruce is credited with playing the viola.



At one point in his early career, we find him playing with Charlie Watts, among others at the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club.



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

BIGGER STRINGS: DANNY THOMPSON

Well, strings don't  come much bigger than Victoria. Who she? Victoria is the stand-up bass guitar Danny Thompson bought for a fiver (£5) in around 1954, when he was fifteen. And who Danny Thompson? Shame on you for asking, but I guess not all tastes are as rarified as mine. Sir Danny of Thompson, as he has yet become officially recognised as, an MBE having to suffice, is the fella who has gone as far as most in making stand-up bass other than an old fogey associated item. If you are familiar with Pentangle, Nick Drake, John Martyn and Richard Thompson, the chances are that you are familiar with his work. If you have watched the Transatlantic Sessions, live or on TV, the chances are that you have seen him, an avuncular presence, holding all the virtuosi musicians also featured in check, more that likely with a beatific beam on his face, itself usually under a hat of some intrinsic coolness.

With Martin Simpson, 2014

I used to hate the double bass, it encompassing everything old and fuddy-duddy of the pre-rock era. All these bloody b&w jazzers, with the bass perpetually walking up and down in the background, whilst the usual focus of attention showed off in the foreground, besuited drummers tip-tapping away politely alongside. Sometimes they crossed over into my awareness, notably in the Seekers, my father's favourite band, courtesy the comely charms of Judith Durham. They could always be relied upon to turn up on BBC Saturday night variety shows, I finding the grinning buffoon on bass an offence to my pre-pubertal sensitivities. (Apologies thus due, now, to Athol Guy, the player in question, even if I have not the heart to go back and actually check out his playing.) This prejudice took forever, a bit like trumpet, to rid, but, boy, when I did....

With Richard Thompson, 2001

Thompson was the man from the start, even if I was slow to get up to speed. As an RT freak, it was when he first started appearing alongside Richard, his Thompson 'twin', that I got up to speed. You know how it is, when you sometimes 'get' something, the scales fall from your eyes like roof tiles in a hurricane. Suddenly I was hoovering up John Martyn and, even, if a bit later, Nick Drake. (His vocals still alienated for longer than I care admit.) Suddenly big ol' bass was cool, she even when one Gordon Sumner came on board, I was already, o yes, on message.

So, Daniel Henry Edward Thompson..... Like the recently deceased Charlie Watts, he too was an alumnus of Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, taking over bass duties from Jack Bruce. Following that four year period, 1664-7, he became a member of Pentangle, that undersung folk-jazz hybrid, ploughing their idiosyncratic acoustic vibe at the same time as Fairport and Steeleye were inventing an electric folk tradition. He and Terry Cox, drums, both crossed the then gulf between traditions, joining nominal folkies Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, with the consummate purity of Jacqui McShee on vocals. 

With Pentangle, 1972

The John Martyn years, which followed, were as famous for their onstage "dynamic" as for the often mercurial music, both not averse to the occasional pre-, per- and post-stage snifter. Thompson was able to take a longer view, and withdrew. Martyn, sadly not, his death as much to do with the ravages of alcohol as anything else, if sober at the time of his death. 

With John Martyn, 1977

A solo career beckoned, or at least as bandleader, his band, 'Whatever' a sonic free for all, genre-wise, with some astonishing material. When this expanded to into an even wider ubiquity, as 'Songhai', featuring flamenco purists, Ketama, alongside Malian kora maestro, Toumani Diabaté, any sense of categorisation became redundant.

Songhai, 1988

Round about the same time he hooked up with kindred spirit, Richard Thompson: each had embraces Islam, possibly, in part, as an escape from the hedonism of the musical life. For several years he was the right hand man to his namesake, whether in a band format or as a duo. An interesting memento of that time comes with 1997's 'Industry', a joint production, encompassing both the songs of RT and the music of Whatever. It's a worthwhile listen.

Industry, 1997

A jovial presence, he was also getting work as an amiable onstage presence at Fairport Convention's Cropredy Festivals, as host and master of ceremonies. I remember my horror, I think in 1998, as it was announced from the stage that Thompson had sustained a stroke. The audience were invited to sing Danny Boy, so that, by phone, he could hear their well wishes. I thought that the end, but he made a decent recovery and was soon playing again, seemingly as well as ever. The couple of times I caught the Transatlantic Sessions tours, in the early 20 teens, he was terrific, the cheer for him, when introduced, as big as for any of the other performers. Grab a look at his website for a list of records he has appeared on, a ridiculously large roster, encompassing jazz, folk, blues, world, everything, including a number of surprises. Did you know he played on Cliff Richards' Eurovison winner, 'Congratulations'? Or with artists as diverse as T.Rex, Kate Bush and David Sylvian, let alone most of Donovan's recordings. Not bad for an old jazzer!

Transatlantic Sessions, 2016
Back with RT, 2019

Here's rather a good interview, from only a year or so ago.

Get this!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Bigger Strings: The Black Angel’s Death Song


Velvet Underground: The Black Angel’s Death Song
[purchase

John Cale is another musician whose work I’m aware of and have enjoyed, but never (until now) spent much time learning about his life and career. I knew he plays the viola, among other instruments, that he was one of the founders of the Velvet Underground, put out some solo albums, at least one of which I played back in my WPRB days, and did an album with Brian Eno a couple of decades ago (gasp!). This turns out to be, somewhat embarrassingly, a pretty pathetic summary. So, in brief (and admittedly, mostly gleaned from Wikipedia), Cale was born in Wales in 1942, adopted the viola as his primary instrument and studied music at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Cale once described the viola as the “saddest instrument of all and, no matter how adept you get at it or no matter how fast you play it, you can’t get away from the character of it.” 

Cale quickly became enamored by the more avant-garde and experimental classical music becoming popular in the 1960s, including organizing a Fluxus concert in 1964 and conducting the first U.K. performance of a John Cage piece. He obtained a scholarship to work with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood, but they “fell out,” and Cale then moved to New York where he participated in an 18 hour performance of an Erik Satie composition and joined La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music. 

OK—enough with the classical music (I mean, really, two posts in a row writing about classical music which I know basically nothing about…. I’m really not trying to pull a Metal Machine Music and alienate you all). 

Cale also liked rock music, and joined up with Lou Reed to found what became the Velvet Underground in 1964. Cale’s taste for the experimental, particularly drones, when combined with Reed’s penchant for rock and poetry (and manager Andy Warhol’s Andy Warhol-ness) resulted in early albums that were kind of all over the place. 

One of the more experimental songs from the debut album, Velvet Underground & Nico is the cheerily named, “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” which, for the most part, features Cale’s droning and dissonant electric viola with Reed and Sterling Morrison each playing away on guitar, while Reed chant/sings wordy lyrics in a style that had to be influenced by Dylan. There’s also what sounds like feedback, but was actually Cale hissing into the mike. I know that description doesn’t make it sound all that appetizing, and the song got the band fired from their residency at Manhattan’s Café Bizarre. But while it isn’t something that I’d listen to regularly, there’s something intriguing about it that made me glad that I checked it out again for this piece. 

So, what’s the song about? It is hard to say. Reed himself has said that “The idea here was to string words together for the sheer fun of their sound, not any particular meaning.” But the imagery is so strong, I find that hard to believe. I’ve seen claims on the Internet that the song is about life’s choices, heroin, suicide, the Holocaust, and Communism. Check it out, and let me know what you think. 

Eventually, Reed and Cale fell out over the direction of the Velvets, and Cale was replaced by Doug Yule (I guess you had to have four letters in your name). Cale went on to a career as a producer (for, among others, the Stooges, Jennifer Warnes, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers, Squeeze, and Alejandro Escovedo), collaborator (including with Reed on Songs for Drella in 1990), and solo and soundtrack artist.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Bigger Strings: I Could Have Used More Cello




I always remember the spring of 1989 as the season where I discovered thrash metal. Inspired by repeated viewings of MTV’s Saturday night all-metal show Headbangers Ball, I purchased a copy of Anthrax’s State of Euphoria. The biggest shock to my 11-year-old brain was not the album’s bone-crunching riffs nor the numerous f-bombs, it was the fact that the opening track “Be All, End All” started off with a cello riff. These days, it’s fairly common to associate classical stringed instruments and heavy metal. After all, Metallica has released two albums performed in conjunction with the San Francisco Francisco Symphony. But at the time I purchased the Euphoria album I found the inclusion of the cello to be almost a form of sacrilege. “How dare these headbangers defile their album with a classical instrument,” I thought. Okay, I didn’t quite put it in those terms, but you get the idea. Thirty-plus years later I’m happy to admit I was wrong. The short, stringed section of the track is actually one of the most memorable parts of the album. So much so that even today, I can easily hum it. “Ba-Da, Ba-Da-Da-Da, Da-Da.” It was the first song that popped into my head when I associated the words “cello” and “rock n’ roll.” Kind of like Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and “cowbell.” Surely, I’m not the only Anthrax fan who feels this way. There’s a clip of the band performing the track at one of the fabled Big Four concerts in 2010 (which featured Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth) where vocalist Joey Belladonna encouraged the crowd to sing the melody in unison. Such a precise performance by the audience was no doubt inspired by that wonderful cello.


Studio version:




Live 2010:





BIGGER STRINGS: CHOPPER

Should you ever wish to seduce me, let me give you a tip: whilst food would help, and I am really quite flexible in my tastes there and needs, likewise with the alcohol I would also expect to be plied with, when it comes to the music, one sure fire guarantee is the cello. I adore the warm mellifluous tones of a cello, sweeping emotion into my breast and out through my heart. No great fan of the classics as a whole, it all being a bit too clever for me, a Bach cello concerto can fully stir my loins. and, for a long time, that was the only place you could find this instrument, in orchestras and string quartets.


Things sort of got better in the whatever it was, as Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne revoked the Move and came up with the Electric Light Orchestra. I confess I loved much of the debut, ahead of Wood jumping ship. I then found the band all bit much, sawing away in abandon, substituting schmalz for the searing angst the instrument can evoke, all the songs sounding, ultimately, the same, orchestral gloop. Never mind, nice try, thought I, going back to guitar and keyboard based musics. Folk became my go to as the 1980s beckoned, and I became a subscriber to influential magazine, Folk Roots. (Later FROOTS, and sadly, as of a year or so ago, no longer.) They had a flexidisc on an early edition, a thin bendy 45rpm record, which included a bevy of artists from the nascent Cooking Vinyl record company, including Oysterband and Michelle Shocked. Each appealed enormously.


Moving ahead a little, as I have touched on this band a few times before, as it is but one part of their joyous clatter I wish to concentrate on here. And that is the part of one 'Chopper', or Ray Cooper, as his mother called him, not, by the way, the percussionist, had to play. Oysterband have always had an issue with their rhythm section. Initially drummerless, once they added drums, they have got through a number, the current incumbent being number, I think, five. Bassists have fared slightly better. Chopper was their second, in the band between 1989 and 2013.


Let's retread a little. Prior to joining the Oysters, Chopper had been part of the extraordinary faux-balkan world music collective, 3 Mustaphas 3. Predominately the brainchild of Ben Mandelson and Lu Edmonds, together with a changing cast of additional musicians, they played a bizarre blend of ethnic musical styles, often from the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, treating the concept as part parody, yet tackling the core of the music with all seriousness and with an obvious affection. Sort of if the Bonzo's came from Albania. Chopper, if then under the pseudonym Oussack Mustapha, was their cellist for a while, including on the song above. Perhaps an acquired taste, they were then only on the fringes of my awareness. (Edmonds, who had earlier been in th Damned, is now the extravagantly bearded guitarist in John Lydon's Public Image Ltd.)

So, no surprise, when he was drafted into his new band, he brought his cello with him. I must have seen them a dozen of times during his time with them, increasingly playing more and more cello, rather than the bass he had been employed to play. A wonderful sound, and, I believe, contributory to the increasingly common presence of a cello in rock, folk and, increasingly, even country music. Here, below, are a couple of songs that well display his mellow tones. Unsurprisingly, when he left the band, they, clearly, had to be able to replicate that part of their repertoire, and it actually took two musicians to fill his gap on stage and on records, one on bass and another on cello.



Was that the end of Chopper? Or Ray Cooper as he was increasingly again becoming known, and the answer is a definite no. A resident of Sweden, he has now released four records in his own name, all sturdy singer-songwriter fare of a recognisably rootsy origin, at times not dissimilar to his old band, but encompassing a wider range of influences, often those of his adoptive Scandinavia. Again, a couple of clips, the first to show off his stellar technique on a traditional air, the second a song, the title track, from his latest project. I had been due to see him a month ago, my first projected post lockdown concert. Sadly, it had to be postponed, given the still travelling embargo  between Sweden and the UK. Pity. I have a ticket, instead, for next year.