Who Needs A Pyramid!!? (when you have a Melodrome or a Barn)


17 june 30 2013Here we are just a little later than intended, but I held fire on so I could combine acts from Off The Tracks with those from The Dock of the Bay minifest (the second smallest festival in the world, I have no idea which one is the smallest) and that Laurence my esteemed webmaster and I have been uploading all my podcast from past years since I started putting them together in 2008 (I’ve also enjoyed listening to them again myself, there is a hell of a lot of good stuff on there) you can find them all here. On top of that my podcasts are now available via iTunes, Miro, Stitcher, Zune, Blubrry & DoubleTwist. Ha ha, so the empire grows.

Back to the current cast

17 POD 3 2013

Here’s the track listing the RED text takes you to websites

  1. Bleeding Hearts – Folk “n” Glory
  2. The Dust Club – Victorian Values
  3. Sarah Poole – Better Days Are Coming
  4. Stuart Forester – Star Of The West
  5. Tiger Factory – Devils
  6. MiniKing (accoustic) – Gospel Song
  7. Chas Ambler – Kangaroos
  8. Bill Lloyd/Willy Ruby – Fields Of Summer
  9. Free Control – Balloon
  10. Jay Betts – Please Don’t Go Away
  11. This Frontier Needs Heroes – George Clooney
  12. Woolley Mammoth – Aerial Boundaries

I must point out that not all the acts featured performed at the festivals mentioned so here’s a little bit about them and why they are on the podcast.

The Dust Club. This is a superb little set up by Andy Atherton who’s based just outside Aspatria and the tracks came to me after meeting him in the Co-Op and I really must take up his offer of going to visit his studio. Everything you hear on this track is Andy, bar Paul Fligg on drums and his daughter Alix on violin and backing vocals. The more I listen to it the more I like it and The Dust Club will feature on future Wireless Shows for certain.

Sarah Poole is someone I’ve known for years and remember in session late at night0_0_0_0_450_314_csupload_56465778 when the serious tigers who dominate such musical soirees have had their growl and pissed in the corner to mark their space before going to bed. The time when the quieter, less ego led and often better musicians get their chance to shine (calling Nick Ellis, how’s it going my man) that’s the time when Sarah (or Sid as we knew her then) would sing, a quiet tentative voice but no less sincere for that. Merely a confidence thing, well she’s brushed that reservation away with style and we can hear the wonderful voice that’s been inside all this time. She reminds me of Gillian Welch which is a huge plus, but she doesn’t sound like her. She is Sarah Poole through and through. Her beautiful version of “Silent Night” can be found of my December 2012 podcast *1 (* footnote links).

Jay Betts was featured on the new years edition of the podcast with his brilliant “A Night Out” and I’ve wanting to put more of his stuff on here, and dammit I want to run a stage again so i can give him a booking. I have never ever been into rap, well not since Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and The Sugarhill Gang anyway who I felt said it all and of course Gil Scott Heron and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” which probably said it all before they did. But Jay is in a class all his own pure white Yorkshire genuine superbity (I don’t even know if that’s a real word, but I don’t care) enjoy it as it’s great.

This Frontier Needs Heroes are Brad and Jessica Lauretti and I had them on the Drystone Stage at Solfest a few years back. Brother and Sister from the U S of A, they are part of the rise in Americana the musical genre that has revitalised Country and Western making it “grown up” by going back to it’s roots, like folk music has been doing over here for years. This month sees a big Americana Festival in Newcastle (featuring acts that have shone at local festivals and have been on this podcast more than once. Rob Heron can be found on my December 2008 *2 cast and the February 2009, though music is making now as Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra is far different to that represented here, Dan Walsh (here performing with Christ Andropolis *3) and boy can that guy play.


This has slipped me away from Brad and Jessica though. This track “George Clooney”, (which is the single from their new album “Hooky” which they are “cloud funding” to pay for the costs of it’s release *4) is available as a limited time free download *5 (read this if you want to know why it’s called George Clooney *6 )  Simply put they do songs that bring to mind the dust bowl, endless landscape of driving orange wind in The Old Panhandle of the depression. Haunting vocals filled with the ghosts of America and much much more. They can also be heard on this podcast fro 2010.



Right on to the festivals and first Glassons mini fest The Dock Of The Bay at which I’d been invited to Compere the main stage in the Village Hall. Unfortunately as the event is run on a shoestring, a lot of the acts are so new they still don’t have recordings to blag and play. So the festival isn’t as well represented as I’d like. Of the acts that are here I’ll start with the most experienced.

Chas Ambler has been around for years and I don’t think he’d be upset at that description. He’s not only been there, seen it, and done it he designed the proverbial T-Shirt. His album “Borders Of Love” is a collection of some of his more recent compositions and these are songs in the truest sense of the word. Well crafted and with proper arrangements. You could say there is retro feel to the CD, but that is so good a thing in Chas’ hands. Mark me too when I say retro I’m not meaning dated, this is beautiful music from start to finish, story songs, Americana, protest songs and love songs. Check out his facebook for more of this brilliant stuff from an album that’s rarely been off my CD player since getting it.

Banjo Bill Lloyd. What can I say “The Master” nothing else, possibly the purest folk you could ever hear sung by one of the best male vocalists on the planet. The track here is from his album Willy Ruby and I played his version of “Galla De Ceilo” *7  on the August 2012 podcast. He sang with Diana Denney on Chas’ superb Melodrome Stage and the video (though poor quality) is on my video channel. I think too that this inclusion here makes Bill the holder of the dubious honour of being featured on here more than any other artist.

Tiger Factory are an act formed by students at LIPA, a truly international group that blew the roof off Glasson Docks Village Hall, a big sound that really took you to another Place. The track here was taken off a YouTube video so the quality is maybe not the best.

Mini Kings1

MiniKing here (another conversion from YouTube) represented by just Aaron and Becky Perkins as a trio they did a lovely afternoon set on The Melodrome a video of which is on my YouTube channel and that evening with full band they prevented the ceiling blown off earlier from being reinstated (it never really made it back onstage that night of such quality was the music. There was also the incident of the smoking amp accompanied by the pungent smell of an electrical fire, and later the accidental triggering of a fire alarm.) with special mention to Mick Fuller and Chel Stephenson organizers with Chas Ambler of the festival who finished a great event with their own band The Manfredis who finally finished the building off. Fantastic festival and thanks to Chel, Mick and Chas for letting me be a part of it.



I was itching to get back to OTT after having the best time on the Black Barn stage at the Summer Festival in September and thinking I’d be Master of Ceremonies on there again. I was wrong in Spring there’s no Black Barn it’s the Threshing Barn and that’s where I’d be.

But one of the tastiest acts wasn’t on there, or main stage either he played a short set in my good friend Helens’ open mic tent. I’m talking about

DSCF3266Stuart Forester and he was something special. You can see him singing “Factory Girl” there on my YouTube channel. There is a definite resurge within the English folk music scene of the “Folk Singer” someone with a good voice, a good guitar and a good song, which may or may not have one or several of the standard clichés of walking out one morning and meeting up with a wronged woman, falling in love and then drowning. Just because they are clichés doesn’t necessarily make a bad song. But Stuart avoids all that anyway, he’s such a singer that you are just listening to him and not playing spot the cliché. Like Bill Lloyd and Jack Karl Badcock of Larsa (OTT Summer Fest) he has a pure voice. As my mate Tim said of such a voice “A proper FOLK voice” But in Stuart it seems to have an urban edge that takes it into a different place, instead of the grit in the hedgerows of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex the tradition is alive in the inner city. You can find out for yourself if you get yourself the Off The Tracks in September for the Summer Fest when I shall have the pleasure of introducing Stuart on The Black Barn stage. Do come along and hear a good voice, with good guitar and some damn good songs.


Off The Tracks Summer Festival will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this September, it’s easy to see why though it’s reasonably priced, it consistently has great acts. The right mix of big names and newcomers that are something special. Boz and Andy know how to pick them.

They’re not all newcomers mind, take Shamus O’Blivion and the Megadeath Morrismen they’ve been around for ten years or so and well the name says it all. If it was on a tin what’s inside would do what it said. But front man Mental Mick is a man of advanced years and his wearing of pink tights is quite scary, but you cannot fail to get you feet moving and just lap up the enthusiasm, energy and humour of this great folk showband. You can grab a whole free live album from their website too.

PROMO band picBleeding Hearts are the same in that they’ve paying their dues at festivals here and abroad for a few years now, and supported the likes of The Levellers, The Oyster band and The Damned. They are kick ass and take no prisoners but the audience are by no means unwilling and these guys rock.

gallerypic_big_5Free Control from Leicester are fresh and bang up to date, fronted by Sally Hossack whose vocal delivery is hypnotising. They’ve been likened to Moloko and Faithless and that’s not far wrong. They make soundscapes that range in tone from the darkest black to a bright rocking groove that fairly trips along, and I mean trip in every sense of the word. They too have a free track on their website.



Woolley Mammoth craft unbelievably complex melodies of such beauty that it’s difficult to say anything else about them, they closed they live music on Sunday night in the Threshing barn at OTT with such breath-taking music, I had to put them on here and the track “Aerial Boundaries” is available on their website.

And that’s it for now.



*2 http://www.wizardmarra.com/wizardmarras-drystone-wireless-show-7-theres-a-fella-with-a-big-nose-on-it/

*3 http://www.wizardmarra.com/bubbles/

*4 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1129053850/hooky-this-frontier-needs-heroes-new-album

*5 http://www.cmtedge.com/2013/06/10/hear-george-clooney-by-this-frontier-needs-heroes/

*6 http://www.wizardmarra.com/coming-around-again/

*7 http://www.wizardmarra.com/the-journal-of-billy-no-mates/


About Alan Whittaker

A storyteller like no other. Weaving traditional storytelling with madcap posing and stand up comedy riffing. Taking the listener from here to there and back again at break neck speed; with panache and a fine sense of the ridiculous.For more information about Alan, read his biography.

2 thoughts on “Who Needs A Pyramid!!? (when you have a Melodrome or a Barn)