Reading and listening – August
I’m having a little break from political reading at present, as I draw up a new reading list for the rest of this year.
The only thing I’m reading at present is the memoir of H.E. Bates, one of my favourite novelists and short story writers. It was originally published in three volumes, but I’m reading the omnibus edition. I’ve finished The Vanishing World (which covers his life from birth in 1905 until his first novel was published in 1925, when he was only 20) and am part-way through The Blossoming World. He ended up a bit of an old reactionary critic of the unions and welfare state but, oddly enough, kept a real humanistic feeling for people and their problems in his novels and short stories.
Listening-wise I’ve had Damien Dempsey’s Almighty Love CD on a lot over the past few days. Brilliant. Also some powerful political stuff. For instance, put on “Born without hate” and turn it up loud. It’s very hard to sit still. Much thanks to Mick (Healy) for introducing me to his music.
The other CD I’ve been listening to a lot recently is Chase and Status’ No More Idols. Fantastic, it is too.
And, of course, as usual, heaps of Seth Lakeman. I even bought the last Equation CD, Return to Me. A lot of it is a bit too bland form of folk-pop for me, but it has some great moments. It’s interesting that Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman basically took this kind of sound with them to their post-Equation career, while Kathryn Roberts, Sean Lakeman and Seth Lakeman developed a harder-edged sound. Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman’s Hidden People was one of the great CDs of 2012 and they deservedly won best folk duo at the BBC Folk Awards at the start of this year. Seth’s Tales from the Barrelhouse was another standout CD of last year.
If you like muscular folk music, that has you up and dancing too, as opposed to the twee stuff, go and catch Seth live. He tours almost constantly.
Oh, and lastly, This is Proper Folk Too, featuring the likes of Sean and Kathryn, Seth, Karine Polwart, Imagined Village, Show of Hands, and other stalwarts of Nu Folk, as well as veteran June Tabor.