The terms folk music, folk song, and folk dance are comparatively recent expressions. They are extensions of the term folk lore, which was coined in 1846 by the English antiquarian William Thoms to describe “the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes.” The German expression Volk, in the sense of “the people as a whole” was often applied to popular and national music by Johann Gottfried Herder and the  movement for German Romantics over half a century earlier.

Eyeplug focus on mainly Brit-centric Folk, but will include native tradtional music from around the globe thats has roots in the folk traditions with an open mind on progressive forms too!


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Folk Tags:,
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DozenQ – Darren Deicide

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series DozenQ5

Darren Deicide was born on Halloween in the rhythm and blues filled environment of Chicago. Colorful reviews describe his playing style as ‘blending the best aspects of blues, rock n’ roll, and punk!’ We recently caught up with Darren and here’s what he had to testify…

01 How did you get started?

One day Satan said ‘Give them hell’, so I did.

02 Where did your name come from, being based on the IOW how does that influence things?

‘Deicide’ was a nickname I was given from old friends, and it has stuck since childhood. I think a combination of alliteration and my natural disposition named me.

03 Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

I think any artist that is genuinely engaged in their process absorbs influences from every angle, like a sponge. I couldn’t exactly point to everything that makes each one of my songs what it is. I’m simply a byproduct of Americana, a mutt living against the grain of an empire in decline. So I consider my music a return of sorts. It’s a return to the aesthetic trends that existed before we bred a certain type of pretension into American culture, and I despise all the forces that are driving this decline. The complacent, the obedient, the fake, and the willfully ignorant are all at the top of my shit list at the moment.

04 What drives you to make music?

I wake up and ask myself that question all the time. I think this goes back again to the difference between a genuine artist and someone just repeating a schtick. I make music because, for whatever reason, I was hardwired to do so. To not, would be a life bereft of something. There are a lot of musicians like that right now, who exist in the undergrounds of America, and regardless of whatever the zeitgeist, they will continue doing what they do simply because they are compelled to push the aethers in one direction or another. Musicians are explorers who just can’t not take the muse into new and strange places.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live show?

They can expect to boil a hell-broth with me. They can expect to be taken to an unholy church of drunkenness and rage. They can expect to hear the primal call of shamanistic blues. They can expect an infernal juke house. Don’t be surprised if I wind up stomping on your coffee table.

06 Who writes your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I write all of my songs. Inspiration comes from many different directions, but I consider my music a type of playful terrorism. To me, that has been the tradition of the blues, from its roots to all of its mischievous children that have been spawned through the decades. The blues is a subtle rebellion, an innuendo of that which dare not be spoken. In this day and age, there is no shortage of subjects that need to be mocked and ridiculed with the prod of surrealism, eros, and fantasy. I am merely assuming the mantle.

07 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

I think it has gone a number of different directions. It began as a sort of amateurish and crude version of what I do now, as I started in a bunch of punk bands. I still was working that energy out, until I started exploring some conceptual angles with Temptation and the Taboo, Part 1 and The Jersey Devil is Here. The Blues Non Est Mortuum really feels like a finished product to me, the culmination of everything that I’ve been doing with equal parts of everything and nothing overstated.

08 What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

I think the biggest challenge I, and most musicians face, is to overcome the invasive presence of media. Just about every venue, especially in America, has televisions up and an audience with their eyes glued to cell phones. It has created a horde of people that just aren’t present and it is sapping energy from the value of musical performance. On a great night, that is overcome, smothered by hand claps and a singing audience that have given themselves to the rapture. How else can we overcome it? Might I suggest smacking cell phones out of people’s hands and leaving its fate to the mosh pit?

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I have covers up my sleeve, but I generally don’t play them live. I do like the idea of taking ‘traditionals’ and reinventing them, as what had been common practice in the folk tradition. I’ve always liked to see the evolution of Americana classics in that process, which somewhat mimics ‘The Telephone Game’. My contribution was to take Skip James’ ‘Devil Got My Woman’ and transform it into ‘Devil is my Woman’. I was nudged by Rev. Adam Campbell to do it. Don’t worry, buddy. I didn’t forget you. I played it for Back from the Dead: The Harsimus Sessions, my live video series, and it’s on The Blues Non Est Mortuum. But I don’t get into covers as a matter of course. The bar cover band is a useless, old charade. It’s time to get relevant and original, people.

10 Where do you envisage being in five years time?

I don’t know. Predictability is overrated.

11 Who would you most like to record with?

My partner in crime, Ethel Lynn Oxide. Soon she will be evoked from the fog.

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

See question 11. There will be no spoilers yet, but don’t expect me to disappear anytime soon. There will definitely be more touring in the works if I don’t wind up in a place like jail. You’re all going to have a hard time shaking this guy.

Web Links


Tour dates:
Shows can be found at

Link to buy the current LP:
The Blues Non Est Mortuum, the latest vinyl release, can be found RIGHT HERE



Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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April 3, 2017 By : Category : Blues Dark DozenQ Folk Interviews Music RnB Tags:, , , ,
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It Suits Me Well – Dave Swarbrick

It Suits Me Well: Dave Swarbrick The Transatlantic Recordings 1976-1983 (Cherry Tree CRTREE017D)

Cherry Red’s value pack of four LPs by the late, great Dave Swarbrick, shoehorned onto two CDs, takes in his masterly recordings from the mid-seventies to the early eighties, and is sure to delight all folkies and fiddlers.

Taken from that ‘difficult’ period when punk ‘n’ funk ‘n’ electronic noodling were cutting a bloody swathe through the music industry, the folkie’s stock was as low as it could possibly get. The music industry’s money men may have underestimated Dave and his folk rebel brothers, however. Dave soldiered on with his fiddle and became a legend in music, a status which seems to have eluded the synth poppers and funkateers of this period.

The simply titled ‘Swarbrick’ opens, with the winding speed ride of ‘The Heilanman/Drowsey Maggie’, suddenly coming to a halt and into ‘Carthy’s March’, and if a violin could smile, it surely did here, in this jolly tune. ‘The White Cockade/Doc Boyd’s Jig/Durham Rangers’ once again shows off that mastery over the bow Dave had in spades, in a seamless medley of tunes that surely threaten to provoke a dance.

‘My Singing Bird’s sweet harp accompaniment beautifully sets off the plaintive fiddle figure, contrasting with the full speed wynd of ‘The Nightingale’. ‘Once I Loved a Maiden Fair’ practically takes the listener back to some Arcadian past, with its gentle picking and interplay with guitar. A trip across the Irish Sea is called for in ‘The Killarney Boys of Pleasure’, a typically winding, interweaving piece of Celtic whimsy.

‘Lady in the Boat/Roisin the Bow/Timor the Tartar’s jolly jig has you reaching for a flagon of ale as your feet start to feel itchy. ‘Byker Hill’, a little more pedestrian, still has life to it, and ‘The Ace and Deuce of Pipering’s apparently simple back-and-forth figure is a delight. ‘Hole in the Wall’s melancholic, even courtly styling provides a contrast to the manic bowing of the LP, neatly turning around with a harsh, contrasting note. ‘Ben Dorian’s sad fiddle bowing, playing over sweet picking, is simply beautiful, but no sooner spun, than the lively ‘Hullichans/Chorus Jig’ bursts in, gleefully disturbing the peace. ‘The 79ths Farewell to Gibraltar’ is appropriately upbeat and hearty, while ‘Arthur McBride/ Snug In The Blanket’ is a simple jig for a cold winter’s night.

‘Swarbrick 2’ opens up with the insistent, jumpy ‘The Athole Highlanders’, and sticking with the Celtic theme, ‘Shannon Bells/Fairy Dance/Miss McLeod’s Reel’, more tunes to test the legs-and stamina- of keen dancers.‘The King of the Fairies’ sawing, wistful fiddle figure leads you to who-knows-where, with ‘Chief O’Neill’s Favourite/Newcastle Hornpipe setting you back on dry land-at least temporarily.

‘Sheebeg and Sheemore’ has an easy, courtly, romantic air, perhaps in preparation for ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin/Sir Philip McHugh’s rougher and readier entertainment, a jig that reaches knuckle-breaking speed toward its end. ‘Planxty Morgan Mawgan’s gossipy, swinging tune with a hint of trickery is welcome here, and is followed by the full-on Gallic dance of ‘The Swallow’s Tail/Rakes of Kildare/Blackthorn Stick’, enlivened by zesty accordion.

‘Sheagh of Rye/The Friar’s Breeches’ is a typically ribald affair, the fiddle winding in and out of the vamping guitar. ‘Derwent Water’s Farewell/The Noble Esquire Dacre’ is the most melancholy offering here, Dave’s fiddle almost weeping its tale of longing out, but our first CD ends happily with the jolly reels of ‘Teribus/Farewell to Aberdeen’.

A packed first disc means the second disc 2 has to finish off the second LP, with the sliding reel, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’, followed by the rambunctious march, ‘Shepherd’s Hey’, the sweet, agreeable ‘Lord Inchiquin, and the heartfelt lament of ‘The Coulin’.

We pass on to the third LP, ‘Smiddyburn’, and its opening pair, ‘Wat ye Wha I Met the Streen/The Ribbons of the Redhead’, a slice of folk rock with the first appearance of electric guitar accompaniment on this swinging piece. ‘Sir Charles Coote/Smiths’ nimble picking will have some of us wondering if Dave had six fingers on each hand, such is the intensity of the work on this faintly nautical piece. ‘I Have a Wife of my Own/Lady Mary Haye’s Scotch Measure’s literal take and frantic bowing shows off the sort of skills that surely made Ashley Hutchings say that Dave was ‘the most influential British fiddle player bar none’.

‘Wishing/The Victor’s Return/The Gravel Walk’s reprise of the folk rock sound of Dave’s Alma Mater, Fairport Convention is more than welcome, rounded out by electric guitar and military drum. ‘When The Battle Is Over’s plaintive picked chords evoke, to a world-weary beat, the sadness and hopelessness of war. ‘Sword Dance/The Young Black Cow’ continues the folk-rock theme, Dave’s fiddle screeching out like the clashing blades of the former title, tempered by the sweet melody of the latter. ‘Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen/The Hag with the Money/Sleepy Maggie’s beautiful candlelight piano opening raises goose bumps, then into a characteristic, leaping reel. The collection’s only vocal performance is the final track, ‘It Suits Me Well’, a tale of the resignation many feel in their daily round.

‘Flittin’ opens with ‘The Bride’s March/The Kelman’s Pertition/Shew Me the Way to Wallingford/Sword Dance, the former an ironically funereal affair, contrasting with the lively ‘Pertition. ‘Parthenia/Pittengardener’s Rant’ begins with a light touch of piano and fiddle neatly complementing each other in this chamber piece, followed by the sort of rambunctious march that belongs to another world entirely. ‘Grey Daylight/The Hawk/The Ten Pound Fiddle’ brings together another finger-breaking reel and a slow march. ‘Jamaica/With All of my Heart’s courtly opening with piano accompaniment contrasts well with the rollicking tune it accompanies. ‘Nathaniel Gow’s Lament on the Occasion of the Death of his Brother/Rory of the Hills’ needs little in the way of explanation, and ‘The Rakes of Sollohad’s’ jaunty picking livens up the latter part of this LP. ‘Dr Isaac’s Maggot/Cupid’s Garden’ makes good use of piano, a braced tune with a wandering fiddle figure that resolves itself beautifully. Our closing track, ‘Boadicea’ is, by turns, dignified and comradely, a fitting closer to this masterly LP and this whole collection.

If you’re not so familiar with folk music, you’re missing out on the simple joys of tales well told and music played with a skill that borders on the devilish. Make room in your collection for this man and his many friends.




Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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January 19, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Folk Heroes Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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DozenQ – Sam Green

Sam Green who comes from an intellectual family, where his older brother as a peace maker in Jerusalem and his younger brother is a leading academic doctor. Sam pursues a life of music and words. Supporting his habit in a spiritual sense by having being close to his late father who died in 2008 at the age of 95. He was a learned well-read man versed in the ways of mankind, as well as a watchmaker and poet too.

Boris his father coming out of the Second World War witnessing much blood shed he was disillusioned in the ways of mankind. Being kind caring trying to do what good he could do worked hard. Most of his time was spent repairing watches with his son Sam. Writing poetry between times they both grew and learnt much, talking and laughing as a father and son. Both Green’s would write poetry in their native tongues philosophising Sam in English and Boris in Russian Polish and Yiddish trying to make sense finding peace to understand.

By working part-time after school at a young age Sam had enough money to buy a crystal radio and tune in to the folk radio of 3UZ, 3 KZ, and 3DB in Melbourne Also enough time to enjoy the teachings of his music teachers. With many peers at school and private lessons growing up in a world full of academics, poets and musicians, the course and journey set. Through heart aches of life in ways he passes on the knowledge how life reflects and how to make it a little bit better and easier to adjust and be part of the happy human experience conveyed.

01. How did you get started in music?

My mother who when she was alive had such a sweet and wonderful voice and would always sing to her children. In fact the family was a music gifted family.

02 . Where did your direction come from?

Folk singer, school teachers playing guitar, music teachers friends radio media records everywhere and everything in music. In six grade friends would go to the library looking for music. I learnt music also from listening to old 78’s of my father’s record collection.

03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Peter Paul and Mary, Irish Rovers, ballads, local artists in the city square, The Seekers, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, many, many, many, it’s still happening, there are many great as grains of sand, all with insight and knowledge, gifted.

04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

The guy in the film Monty Python and the Holly Grail. The guy looks outside the window and say dad I just want to sing. Then his father closes the curtains and not the curtains. As he said I just want to sing. For that is the bug that writers and singer have. The curtain can be dry cleaned later.

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?

I do my best for those who wish to come, and mostly happy.

06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

The first song I wrote in complete was called The Peace Ship, about a radio ship call the voice of peace. We played in the street radio and our love brought me to writing more.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

At habonim which was like scouts, we wrote and performed for each other, from the age of 7 to 18 years old.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?

Death and sickness its hard on the system. No one should died no one should get sick, facts I can not change. I have been close to both, but will a good song brings back hope health and love. Music heals. Now that is a fact.

09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?

I released on my album Reflections from the Sun the two songs written by Bob Dylan, Blowin’ in the Wind, The Times are A Changing and may be Little Boxes by Pete Segar.

10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?

Travel is a traveller, who has time to think.I look for love of a woman kindness of
a family.

11. Who would you most like to record with?

Paul McCarthy, Ralf McTell, Paul Simons Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, many,
many, greats.

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

I am busy, producing all the time.

Youtube Links:
Angel of the Morning
Sam Green in review

Web Links:

Link to buy the current single:

On iTunes Amazon Spotify and cdbaby


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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April 10, 2016 By : Category : DozenQ Folk Front page Interviews Music Tags:
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews March 2016

Roo Panes


Paperweights (CRC Records)

With his sophomore album, the wonderful “Paperweights”, Dorset born Andrew Panes proves himself and his work worthy of notice and places him firmly in the “One To Watch” category. While the “classical folk” category typically gets the short shrift with connoisseurs, that could be down to the overarching diary entry style most artists deliver. Panes may not be the happiest bloke on the pebbles, yet he communicates his longing with the kind of powerful imagery that speaks volumes. The elegiac “Water Over Fire” threatens to evaporate into thin air, only a distant, tinkling piano figure providing a tiny beacon in the mix. The psychedelic sway of “Summer Thunder” with its muted trumpet and diaphanous curtain of sound is mesmerizing. Panes’ voice is a honeyed treat, rising at just the right times into a subtle falsetto to distil the mood perfectly. There is a quietness here that doesn’t drag you into some kind of miasmatic undertow; more considered that than the banalities of some of his peers. Every intricate note bears fruit and with “Paperweights” the 27-year-old Roo Panes should be considered top of his class. (CD: 10 tracks, plus hidden live track) BUY HERE!

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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March 9, 2016 By : Category : Folk Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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DozenQ – Gavin Chappell-Bates

This entry is part 17 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Gavin Chappell-Bates is a singer, guitarist, songwriter and live looper from Cambridgeshire, England performing effervescent emotive yin/yang indie pop. His music shape shifts from acoustic balladry to punk to Britpop to anthemic alternative rock. He sings songs about growing up, politics, suicide, love, hope and determination.

Gavin features regularly on BBC Introducing, and other radio stations worldwide, and has been played nationally by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music and XFM and Amazing Radio DJ Jim Gellatly. He was nominated for Best Male Solo Artist in the 2015 NMG Awards.

After playing in various local bands, Gavin decided in 2014 to embark on a solo career. He released his first EP – ‘Black Holes’ – in February 2015, followed by second single – ’95’ – in July. His third release – ‘We Are The Ones’ – was released on 5 October 2015. His debut album, recorded by James Coppolaro at Mix 66, will be out early 2016. Friends, family and fans voted for their favourite songs to appear on the album.

We caught up with Gavin recently on his travels…

01. How did you get started in music?

I picked up the guitar around the age of eleven inspired by some of my friends who were playing and from being introduced to The Beatles. I had a couple of lessons from Ezio’s Booga to begin with but then I began to teach myself, both to play the guitar and to sing.

02 .Where did your direction come from?

I think a lot of my early musical direction came from trying to prove people wrong. My family didn’t think I’d stick with the guitar and then, once I’d been playing a while, I was a figure of fun at school for my ability and passion. I suffered with depression and anxiety and would often just lock myself away in my bedroom with my guitar. It, therefore, became my way of getting through dark times. It was my solace and my only real friend so my playing and song writing stemmed from that.

03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?

The Beatles were my first major influence, and that followed into some other rock ‘n’ roll artists such as Buddy Holly. I then discovered rock music and became a big Aerosmith fan. My ambition was to be able to play the guitar like Joe Perry (I’m still working on that!). I was then lucky enough to be growing up in the 90s so I was surrounded by Britpop, alternative and grunge music. I was, and still am, heavily influenced by bands like Placebo, Suede and The Smashing Pumpkins. My biggest influence, however, has been Manic Street Preachers. When I was a teenager and I first discovered their music so much opened up for me. I heavily related to their music, lyrics and style. I knew from the first seconds of listening to ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ that they would be my most important influence now and forever. That is still the case.

04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

All of my influences and experiences go into the music I make but I am very determined to write songs that are uplifting, positive and emotionally resonant. Whilst there are darker elements to my forthcoming debut album, I hope people can find some kind of cathartic experience in them. It is all about letting go, moving forward and turning things into something positive. My current single ‘We Are The Ones’ is a good example of that.

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?

Because my songs are written and recorded as full band arrangements and I am a solo artist, I live loop on stage. I transform my songs and play variations of what people will hear on the recordings. I layer things up to create a big sound and so I can covey that same feeling of euphoria that is on the recordings.

06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Sometimes I just sit down with my guitar and play around until something happens. Mostly this is completely unintentional (i.e. I am not trying to write a song). With lyrics, I have a pad that I keep close by and I am constantly jotting down ideas, themes and lyrics that come into my head. I am already starting to write my second album which will have a clear theme running all the way through so I am constantly adding bits to that musically and lyrically.

In terms of themes; as mentioned earlier, I want my songs to be positive mainly, but I am looking at the whole cycle of life. Birth, death, love, loss, our place in the universe, society, politics, etc. I studied philosophy at university and am therefore heavily interested in politics so that comes out in some of my music. I am, however, more interested in the ability of human’s to achieve greatness and push ourselves on to better things.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

I hope it has evolved quite a lot. When I read back through my early lyrics they were very adolescent and highly influenced from the pain and anguish I was feeling at the time. My lyrics are a lot brighter now and (hopefully) more mature. Musically, I understand a lot more now about the structure of songs and melody. I have also stopped trying to rip off my favourite artists and instead am just writing songs that come naturally. I am sure their influence can still be heard in my music but in a non-deliberate way.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?

Anxiety and depression. That is not the friend of a performer. It meant for many years that I didn’t get on stage. When I did it was almost physically unbearable. It also meant that I didn’t engage with the audience and I probably came across as quite rude. Whilst I still get nervous I understand that the most important people in the room are the audience and I am there to make them feel good. Engaging them is such an important part of being a musician, and that includes talking with them after the show and finding out what they thought. I faced up to my mental health issues a few years ago and since then it has become a lot easier to perform. Not only that but I was holding myself back musically. When I finally released myself was when I started my solo career and planning my debut album, something I’d always dreamed of doing.

09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?

The one song I often cover at gigs is ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E King. It is such a beautiful song, lyrically and melodically. I have put my spin on it though and I am hoping to record that in the near future.

10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?

I currently work part-time to pay the bills so I hope that in five years’ time I won’t have to. I’m no longer a 12 year old boy looking for fame and adulation, I just want to be playing music to people that enjoy what I do. I hope to have a core fan base and be touring and recording regularly.

11. Who would you most like to record with?

I don’t think I’d cope in the studio with many of my major idols, the pressure of recording is hard enough as it is. I am thinking about quite a few collaborations for my second album however. There are so many talented musicians in the Cambridge scene who I would love to work with. So that may include people like Bouquet of Dead Crows, as well as some Taiko drumming, choirs, orchestras and possibly even some rapping (not from me)!

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

My debut album will be out in spring 2016. This will be accompanied by a full UK tour. I’ll then be hitting the festival circuit before looking to tour Europe later in the year. I’ll see where that all takes me but then I’ll be looking to record album number 2 as I have lots of ideas and demos bubbling away for that!

Web links:


Tour dates:

My next tour will be in Spring 2016 to support the release of my debut album but I have a few local gigs dates before Christmas:

31 October – Norwich Arts Centre
6 November – The Portland Arms, Cambridge
7 November – The George, Huntingdon
26 November – The Oliver Cromwell, St. Ives
19 December – The Pembroke Arms, Biggleswade

All gig info can be found here:

*Link to buy the current single: ‘We Are The Ones’


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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October 19, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ Folk Front page Interviews Music Post-punk Rock Tags:, , ,
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DozenQ – Daniel Bennett Group

This entry is part 16 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Manhattan-based saxophonist Daniel Bennett has been hailed as one of the most original and unpredictable musical voices of his generation. Daniel Bennett can be heard throughout the world performing his award-winning compositions on saxophone, flute, clarinet, and oboe. Daniel Bennett is currently touring the United States with renowned guitarist Nat Janoff, bassist Eddy Khaimovich, and master percussionist Matthew Feick. The Boston Globe describes Bennett’s music as “a mix of jazz, folk, and minimalism.” The Daniel Bennett Group was recently voted “Best New Jazz Group” in the Hot House Magazine NYC Jazz Contest. The Daniel Bennett Group has been featured in the Boston Globe, NPR, First Coast Living (NBC), Indianapolis Public Radio, St. Louis Public Radio and the Village Voice. Daniel Bennett is also very active in the New York City musical theater scene. He recently composed the musical score for stage adaptations of “Frankenstein” and “Brave Smiles” at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan. Daniel Bennett recently played woodwinds in “Blank! The Musical,” the first fully improvised Off-Broadway musical to launch on a national stage. The New York Times called the show, “Witty, Likable and Ludicrous!” Daniel Bennett’s theatrical works have strongly influenced his eclectic sound and musical storytelling abilities as a bandleader. We caught up with him recently…

01 How did you get started in music?

I live in Manhattan, but the Daniel Bennett Group actually formed in Boston in 2004. I had just finished my masters degree in saxophone performance from the New England Conservatory. I was also doubling on flute, clarinet, and oboe quite regularly. I was composing music that blended modern jazz with American Folk music and elements of experimental classical music. My musical journey began when I was ten years old. My older sister took me to the high school jazz band Christmas concert. I’ll never forget it. I heard the jazz band play a rendition of “The Pink Panther.” I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a full time musician, and it’s hard to imagine I have been leading a band for over 10 years. The Daniel Bennett Group has toured extensively and recently shared concert billings with Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter Trio, Steve Kuhn, Greg Osby Duo, James Carter Organ Trio, Joy Electric, and Billy Martin. In addition to leading the band, I recently toured Italy and Switzerland with world music ensemble, Musaner. I have performed with the Portland Symphony, the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, and other symphonic groups. I am very active as a pit orchestra musician in Manhattan. I composed and performed the original score for the stage adaptations of “Frankenstein” and “Brave Smiles” at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan. I also recently performed in the off-Broadway show, “Blank! The Musical.” The show was produced by the insanely gifted comedians at Second City, Improv Boston, and Upright Citizens Brigade. It was the first fully improvised musical to launch on a national stage. My work in the theater world has strongly influenced my eclectic “storytelling” approach to musical performance. I would say that the Daniel Bennett Group is very “theatrical” in our performance aesthetic and stage presence.

02 Where did your direction come from?

My direction is fueled by the energy and musical output of the people whom I perform with. Daniel Bennett Group just released our 6th full length album, “The Mystery At Clown Castle,” on the Manhattan Daylight Media label. The album was produced by MP Kuo at Lofish Studio in Manhattan. I play alto saxophone, flute, piccolo, clarinet, and oboe on the album. I am joined by guitarist Nat Janoff, Eddy Khaimovich on bass, and Matthew Feick on drums. Nat Janoff has performed with artists like Michael Brecker, Matt Garrison, Kenny Burrell and Dave Samuels. He also leads his own band at the 55 Bar in Manhattan every month. Matthew Feick is very active in the musical theater scene. I met Matthew when we were in the pit orchestra for “Urinetown” at the Secret Theatre in New York City.

03 Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

I love the music of Ornette Coleman, Paul Desmond, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. I generally love any music that has a great melody and displays a vibrant sense of honesty. I despise any music that lacks integrity or soul.

04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound

I am inspired by my surroundings. I am always trying to evolve and grow as an artist. “The Mystery at Clown Castle” is a bold departure from anything we have done in the past. I threw away all conventional “rules” in the production process and really did this record my way. Surprisingly, this album features electric bass prominently. Eddy Khaimovich plays fretted and fretless electric bass brilliantly on the album. This album also features special guest poet, Britt Melewski. I first read Britt’s poetry in the Philadelphia Review of Books. I was so honored to have Britt contribute two poems on The Mystery at Clown Castle. Our producer, MP Kuo, auto-tuned Britt’s voice to increase the intensity and creepiness of the poem. We also feature pianist Jason Yeager on a few tracks. Jason is a very prolific sideman and bandleader on the Inner Circle record label. I have known Jason for many years. Jason performs frequently with Ran Blake, Greg Osby, and John McNeil. Jason has a sound and feel that is perfect for this music. The Daniel Bennett Group has released six albums in the last ten years: A Nation of Bears, The Legend of Bear Thompson, Peace and Stability Among Bears, Live at the Theatre, Clockhead Goes to Camp, and The Mystery At Clown Castle. Each album is a very honest snapshot of who I am in that moment in time.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?

Expect the unexpected! I am currently touring with guitarist Nat Janoff and Matthew Feick on the drums. I am playing alto saxophone, flute, piccolo, and oboe on this tour. We have been performing most of the songs from “The Mystery At Clown Castle.” You will hear original melodies, as well as American folk music references and elements of Celtic music. Our live concerts take many creative detours and spontaneous turns. We love to engage the audience. Every night can be so different!

06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I am a saxophonist, but I actually write all of my songs from the guitar. The process is somewhat simple in many ways. I only writes songs that I can easily sing. I don’t restrict myself to any time signature or key signature. The composition goes wherever the melody is leading it. I have studied the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass extensively. I am drawn towards repetition of phrases, gradual shifting of melodic shapes, and slightly free-form improvisation. I am a classically trained, even though I make my living as a jazz player. I have a masters degree in Saxophone Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. While studying at NEC, I performed music by contemporary classical composers like Ingolf Dahl, Paul Creston, Eugene Bozza, Pierre Max Dubois, and Alfred Desenclos (to name a few). I also performed numerous transcriptions of pieces by Rachmaninoff, Bach, and Mozart. In 2002, I performed the Concertino da Camera by Jacques Ibert as a soloist with the Roberts Wesleyan College Orchestra. All of these experiences have shaped who I am as a composer. I love any song with a great melody. I am equally influenced by Steve Reich’s “New York Counterpoint,” Ornette Coleman’s “Skies of America,” and the Smiths “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” All are masterpieces. I grew up playing in the church, so I love hymns like “It is Well with My Soul” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I see no boundary line between any genre of music. I transcribe Paul Desmond saxophone solos every week. I just transcribed his solo on “Out of Nowhere.” Some of his lines could have been pulled from a Bach invention. No joke. Some would say that I have a slightly twisted mind when it comes to my conceptual approach to music. The Daniel Bennett Group recently released a “trilogy” of albums based on a fictional bear named Bear Thompson. I’m a big fan of cartoon animation, storytelling, and programmatic music. The albums were entitled, A Nation of Bears, The Legend of Bear Thompson, and Peace and Stability Among Bears. I frequently collaborate with visual artists who design our album artwork. I have been very fortunate to have Timothy Banks design most of our album covers. Banks has done a lot of work for Paste Magazine and Cartoon Network and is a real super talent!

07 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Our earlier musical material was more influenced by American folk music. I grew up listening to Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel. After moving to New York City, my music has taken on a more “back-beat” driven vibe. There is almost a pop aesthetic to our new songs.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Have you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

My worst moments happen when I am too focused on myself. Every day I wake up and try to think of ten people I can help. This takes the attention off myself and focuses my heart and mind for the day. It’s not always easy. I pray a lot! The music industry requires us to basically “sell ourselves” every single day. There is nothing wrong with our desire to make money. My wife and I just welcomed our second child in September. And it’s not cheap to live on the upper east side of Manhattan! So I need to find balance in everything that I do. A wise man once told me, “worship God and serve the people.” That is something I strive towards. It’s a tough challenge, but so rewarding!

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

We do play covers occasionally. We just played a concert at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club in Maryland. We spontaneously played “Daniel” by Elton John as an encore. It actually sounds quite nice on the flute. It’s a beautiful melody. We also mix jazz standards into our repertoire frequently. People don’t know that I actually spent a decade playing mostly straight-ahead jazz all over the world. I love the music of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter.

10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?

I envision myself meeting many new people. Music is about relationships and love. We just returned from a tour in Kansas. We met so many great people that we now consider to be our friends. It’s a great thing!

11 Who would you most like to record with?

I would love to record a saxophone and vocal duet with Morrisey. Maybe I could even convince Johnny Marr to burry the hatchet and reunite with Morrissey for one song!

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

Daniel Bennett Group is touring on the west coast, Midwest, and parts of Florida this year. We also perform every month at Tomi Jazz in midtown Manhattan. We are recording the next album in December. Stay tuned!



Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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September 30, 2015 By : Category : Blues Eyeplugs Folk Front page Jazz Modernist Pop Tags:, , , , , , ,
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The Trans-Siberian March Band – Interview

Formed in London in 2007, the band is a colourful explosion of flamboyant, high-energy performances and musical miscellany. As well as originals, the mix includes traditional Balkan, Klezmer, Turkish, Russian and Gypsy tunes, plus even a small hint of hip-hop.

TSMB is a fearsome blend of clarinets, brass, percussion, guitar and vocals. Highlights from its strange and wonderful history include shows at Glastonbury, the Royal Albert Hall, WOMAD, Kensington Palace, HMV Forum and The Roundhouse, as well as recording at Abbey Road and Air Studios. The band has taken the music all around the Balkans and as far afield as Georgia in the Caucuses and beyond!

Always open to adventure, the band’s recent projects have included a unique collaboration with DJ Yoda which proved a firm festival favourite, and curating an ongoing series of events as part of a residency at Shoreditch arts hub Rich Mix.

You got together around 2007, what were you all doing prior to this date?

Nick: Some of us had been in the London Gypsy Orchestra. The TSMB was formed out of the LGO brass section, plus our bandleader Issy and some others. There was a violinist and a mandolin player initially.

Issy: I had originally studied as a clarinettist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and originally had trained to play clarinet in a symphony orchestra. However over the course of college realised that although I loved classical music, I wanted to explore other musical styles too – I had spent some time in West Africa and Czech Republic and realised that I need to play more than just classical music. After leaving college I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to really do, but then discovered this style of music through the LGO and fell totally in love with it and haven’t looked back since!

Emily: I’m a relative newcomer, having joined in late 2011, and the band was a total change of scene from what I had been used to – jazz, and before that some classical whilst studying. I had just returned to the UK feeling slightly negative about pursuing music after teaching it abroad, and TSMB was exactly what I needed to revive and completely reinstate my enthusiasm for playing!

What brought you all together and how did you decide on that moniker?

Issy: Some of us would meet up before LGO rehearsals and jam different tunes. Then at one of the LGO gigs, we were short on the set length and the conductor asked if we wanted to play some of the tunes we had been working on, and TSMB was born! After that, we then got to play at a Balkan Beats night in the Buffalo Bar and Radio Gagarin night at the Notting Hill Arts Club and things just sort of grew from there onwards.

There was a bit of a joke at the time about how it would be awesome to have a gig as the in-house band on the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of our members has actually contacted them a few times to offer this service, though we have never heard back. However, the name stuck!

What are the diverse influences that shape your current sound?

Nick: We like a range of current and past Balkan sounds. I like everything from Klezmer from the 1920s to the soundtrack pop of Goran Bregovic, the somewhat traditional sounds of bands like Taraf de Haidouks and Fanfare Ciocarlia to modern electronic oompah from any of the countries, east of Berlin, doing it.

 Issy: When choosing songs, I also have been looking a lot at Turkish artists such as Selim Sesler, Tarkan, Sefarad and Candan Ercetin. I have also learnt a lot from other musicians I have played with in the past such as Çiğdem Aslan (She’koyokh) and Illana Cravitz (London Klezmer Quartet).

Emily: Our repertoire spans a pretty wide geographic area. It’s mostly arrangements of traditional tunes, but through our mish-mash of musical backgrounds and influences (not only Balkan and Klezmer but classical, jazz, South American, African, punk…) the band has come to develop its own distinctive sound. From this, some of the tunes have grown into rather personalised takes on the original style, as opposed to faithful reproductions!

Nick: Too add to what Emily says, there are so many of us, and our ages range from mid-20s to mid-70s, so we all bring something with us from our own experience and memories of music, and culture in general. One of our trumpet players, Pippa, saw Louis Armstrong play in the late 50s, for instance, and quite a few of have lived abroad, in Eastern Europe and Turkey, and you can’t help but pick up a bit here, a bit there, not all of it conscious, but it definitely emerges, helps us onto the same wavelength, I think.

At present you are a 13-piece band, how does that function when touring and the onstage set-up?

Nick: We’ve toured using just public transport – long train journeys through Austria, Hungary and Bosnia – and using local drivers and minibuses. It looks chaotic from the outside, I guess, but usually everybody and everything gets gathered up together! We are lucky enough to have several sound engineers in the band, who have been able to quickly sort out the various onstage set-ups – sometimes, in the Balkans, these have been products of enthusiasm rather than expertise, lethal in the wrong hands…

Issy: I think we have known each other for a while and have learnt to deal with difficult situations together. Also, even though we are numerous, we don’t actually need a lot of onstage equipment such as drumkits, and we are equally at home playing acoustically or plugged in.

Emily: We have a giant water bed big enough for 13 that we take with us on overnight trips. Not really, but we did once manage to get some people to believe that in the bar after a gig.

What can someone that has yet to see your live show expect to see and hear?

Nick: We put on a big show, I think, no matter where we play. We are kind of loud, and now have a large repertoire of songs. We dress up a bit, make up a bit, wear clothes from the Soviet Union, are into wigs and frocks. We feature horse-dancing competitions, singalongs and trumpet duels.

Issy: The live show is generally quite interactive – I can be quite merciless on the audience! I think though our main feature is fun – both for the performers and for the audience. There is definitely no standing around looking moody and staring at our shoes whilst onstage.

Emily: It’s very energetic stuff, and works best of all when the audience are willing to throw themselves into the spirit of things! Recently we have had a massive, high-speed, hokey-kokey-style circle-dance, people on each other’s backs pretending to be galloping horses, and Madonna singalongs in a Russian oompah style. I’d like to say it makes more sense when you’re there in the middle of it, but maybe it doesn’t. You’ll have to come and see and judge for yourself!

What types of people do you attract along to your events?

Nick: I’m not sure there’s a typical TSMB audience member. We’ve played for late-night crowds off their faces in clubs and at festivals, for shoppers innocently heading for Primark, for tourists and locals passing by in squares in Bosnia, for people in parks in Georgia, and for children and their parents in Regents Park, and none of them have thrown things at us.

Issy: We generally have quite a mixed audience of all ages and nationalities. This has been quite noticeable at our monthly events at Rich Mix, where there have been people who come along every month to see us.

Emily: For a while there was a group of people dressed as Elvis that used to show up quite regularly.

Nick: Oh yes – the Elvi. (Presley, not Costello…) Where are they now, I often wonder… sometimes wonder…

You have played many big established festivals and historic venues, what were the high and low points and stand-out memories?

Nick: I loved playing on the bridge in Mostar in Bosnia on our first tour. It was a real highlight, the first of many. I also loved playing to big mad crowds one night in Glastonbury, while the next day’s gig by the side of some tent – it wasn’t even in a field – to some hippies, toddlers and a dog (and the dog didn’t even stay) was NOT the best experience. However, you play to whoever’s there. One of the many gigs we did during the London Olympics was so badly organised we played to about 5 people, but we still played our socks off, as did everybody on that bill I love regular nights like the Hootenanny in Brixton, where people go determined to have a good time, and you can really feel that.

Issy: Playing in Sarajevo was real privilege and it was incredible to play to a room full of people who sang along to every word and jumped to their feet at each new tune. Also playing at WOMAD was absolutely unbelievable. I think my least favourite gigs have been when we have played at corporate events – although those gigs are good for the bank balance and allow us to invest in new albums etc, they are somewhat hard work…

Emily: We’ve played to some of our biggest and most enthusiastic crowds at festivals, and I have to say I enjoy playing at our current ‘home turf’ Rich Mix as well. It’s also great to play at specific Balkan nights as you get to perform for people who already really love the music. My least favourite gigs are any that book us to march for long periods of time in the freezing cold and rain, which happens more frequently than I’d like as a downside of the implication of having ‘March Band’ in your name.

What Countries are most receptive to your current set?

Nick: We’ve played in the Balkans, and had no ‘coals to Newcastle’ moments. Imagine if a group from Sarajevo came here playing Morris Dancing music, we’d probably throw rocks at them. We get a good reception wherever we go. A kid in Gori (Stalin’s birthplace in Georgia) did ask us to play some Led Zepplin, which we weren’t able to do!

Issy: Also randomly according to our online sales, we get an awful lot of downloads in Japan!

How do your songs develop? What is the usual process of writing new material?

Nick: Music for the TSMB has to fit a certain brief: usually minor chords, a tune that will fit into the modes used in eastern music. I’m a bit crap at lyrics, and don’t care for them, much, but the ones I write are on-topic: sad tales from what I call the Soviet Onion.

Issy: It tends to be a mixture of traditional tunes which myself and other members transcribe and arrange for the band and then originals in a similar style written mostly by Nick, but also Emily and Sarah (our trombone player). We have also brought in tunes and jammed/arranged them as a group.

Emily: They often come in fully arranged (as it’s easiest to approach writing for a band of this size with a certain degree of organisation), but do also evolve. When we’ve played with new percussionists they’ve sometimes added their own spin to an ‘old favourite’ tune and we end up with a totally different and fresh feel underpinning it which the rest of us will follow and develop.

What are your Heroes and Zeroes from music and beyond?

Nick: I have a lot of respect for people who stick their necks out to do something that goes against the grain. So in pop I like early Roxy Music and 1970s Bowie, from punk I was a big fan of early Adam and the Ants and The Clash. I’m a big fan of people like Lee Perry and Toots Hibbert (the most unique voice in reggae). Joni Mitchell is brilliant, an innovator, and without the ego of the other people from that whole sixties thing, a lot of which I hated – I love sixties pop. I’m a big Shangri-Las fan, too. I’ve liked most of what Bosnian bandleader Goran Bregovic has done, though part of his drive to create new music in the Balkans seems to have involved not crediting a lot of the original musicians. Filip Koutev, who brought lots of Bulgarian music to the fore, was amazing. I love Balkan music pioneers the Three Mustaphas Three. And I still love bands from what now seems like long ago, like The Monochrome Set and The Band of Holy Joy, still innovating after all this time.

Issy: I am a huge fan of ska and reggae, so probably one of my all-time favourite bands is the Specials. I generally admire people who try and say and do something with their music or art form, such as Pete Seeger.

Emily: In a similar vein, I respect artists who are innovative and original (Björk, Miles Davis, Prince, The Beach Boys). Having said that I can also appreciate the craftsmanship, if not the artistic vision, behind a well-produced pop song.

What is your current favourite music and influences? What do you think of the current music scene?

Nick: Being well over the age of anybody I would have listened to when I was young, I sort of don’t offer a strong opinion. Ha ha, but here’s one anyway: A lot of it seems very bland, X-Factor-type stuff, young people’s music paradoxically determined by old farts. Middle-aged parents seem to like the same music as their teenage kids, and I don’t think that’s ever good for culture in general. However, I’m sure that’s not the whole picture! The current bands I know and like are Vampire Weekend and Bastille – there, that’s their cred gone… I also think Imogen Heap is doing some interesting work.

Issy: Malian musicians such as Amadou and Mariam are great and I really love the guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. I think there is a massive schism between how the music scene is represented in the mainstream media and what is actually happening. I would say it is a really exciting time to discover music: whatever you think of it, the Internet has given us the ability to access music from around the world and the live music scene in London particularly, is incredibly diverse – on any night of the week you could probably see any style of music you wanted. I mean the fact that we, as a bunch of English people in London, play Balkan music, and people actually come and see us is amazing, and I think testament to the vitality and inclusivity of the current music scene.

Emily: I agree that a narrow range of music is hugely over-represented in the mainstream media. I think Issy is completely right about the diversity of interesting music available, if you just scratch the surface. In booking bands to play during our residency at Rich Mix we have tried to represent this and offer something to people that is outside of their usual listening habits – prog rock, Bollywood, folk, a funk band with 5 trombones – nothing is off limits! In terms of my current favourite music, I like Beirut a lot – they also heavily incorporate the Balkan brass sound and other ‘world’ musics – we play a Turkish song called Şiki Şiki Baba in the style that they covered it in.

You have collaborated with DJ Yoda, how did that come about and work out?

Nick: Rob Kelly, our percussionist and soundmeister at the time, wrote him a fan e-mail, almost, suggested we do a collaboration, and so it happened. (I make it sound easy; it took a lot of hard work from our bandleader Issy.)

Issy: We thought we were playing a gig that DJ Yoda was headlining and I had been quite a fan of his for many years (went to quite few of his early gigs when first arrived in London as a student). Down the pub after rehearsal I was talking to Rob about how awesome it would be to play a track with him and Rob said why not? So the next day he sent him an e-mail and he got back to us! It transpired he wasn’t actually playing the event (was the promoters’ mistake) but had listened to our stuff and was up for a collaboration. So we met up, chatted about some ideas and then jammed some in our next rehearsal. The initial process comprised of trying stuff out, recording it, seeing what worked until we pieced together a set.

What shows/events have you got planned for the near future?

Nick: We’ve been booked to play at a brass band festival in Paris, in the Champs de Mars, underneath the Eiffel Tower, which will be brilliant. Our residency at Shoreditch Rich Mix continues till July (middle Wednesday in the teenths each month) and on July 15th we have the Band of Holy Joy headlining. We haven’t played the Hootenanny for a year or so, and being back there will be great.

Issy: Also got some upcoming gigs in London (Hootananny and Magic Garden) as well as some festivals (Wilderness and Boomtown so far confirmed).

Are you involved with any other outside projects?

Nick: I’m working on a bunch of tunes for an imaginary eighties girl band called the Angri-Las as part of one of my writing projects. I also play in a Clash covers band – not so much ‘dad rock’ as ‘walking stick punk’.

Issy: Just started recently rehearsing with a group called Klezmer and Cake.

Emily: I play in a Mariachi band, as well as in various bands’ brass sections as and when the opportunities come up!

Nick: Various members of the band are professional musicians, and work on a variety of projects – percussionist Chris gets around playing everything from a full kit to a triangle, and Sarah, one of our trombonists, is running away to join the circus for a while and playing in the band, putting up tents and, possibly, some tiger / clown management.

How does the Media generally respond to you?

Nick: We are generally ignored. Does that sound bitter? I’m not sure that we mind! We got a bit of mainstream press coverage when we worked with DJ Yoda, though some of it was on the lines of ‘Yoda’s got this brass band in tow’, and mentions of us ‘wiggling, tooting and parping along’, as if we we’d been slotted in as an afterthought.

Issy: A certain famous daily newspaper has on numerous occasions got its facts wrong which is quite amusing, once described us a “Bavarian oompah band” and another saying we are from Russia! However we have had some lovely reviews, particularly memorable was the review the Times did of our WOMAD show (“But better than both was the  Trans-Siberian March Band, a 13-piece Balkan brass ensemble of flamboyantly dressed Londoners, who played a hugely entertaining collaborative show with the hip-hop turntable virtuoso DJ Yoda. Lively and witty, they proved to be perfect festival crowd-pleasers.”) and also a great review form the Arts Desk when we supported Mahala Rai Banda.

Emily: I would say that the reviews we have had have been generally very positive (particularly of our festival shows), but that the vast majority of the time they do get our name wrong (‘Trans-Siberian MarchING Band’).

Nick: Yes, the ‘-ing’ thing. On the one hand it’s not that big a deal, but on the other it’s slightly annoying if we’re working with people who can’t even pay THAT much attention. There was even a teeshirt printed after one series of gigs we took part in, with our name spelt wrong.

Is there anyone that you would dream to work with on a mini-project?

Nick: I think Imogen Heap would be perfect to work with; open to ideas and influences, and not afraid to be adventurous. I think we could do great things with almost any kind of act, but it’d have to be something we could contribute to, in the same way in which we worked with DJ Yoda – part of the main course, and not the watery side salad.

Issy: Quincy Jones or Nile Rodgers.

Emily: Open to suggestions. As well as mashing our tunes up with 90s hip hop, we have also been on stage with banjos and with Bollywood Brass Band, so I’m pretty confident we could make just about anything work. In fact we always enjoy as good challenge!

Please feel free to plug any of your recordings that may be for sale?

Our first CD The Tractor Makers’ Ball is a collection of originals and classic Balkan tunes, and is available as a CD or download. 

What does the future hold for you all?

Nick: We carefully plan all of our chaos: the ‘difficult second album’ has been recorded and will come out sometime this year; we have a load of gigs arranged up to the summer.

Can you tell us a joke please?

Emily: What cheese would you use to hide a small horse?

Nick and Issy: We don’t know. WHAT cheese would you use to hide a small horse?

Emily: Mascarpone! (# Total silence ensued for quite some time as did the sound of distant Church Bells)

Nick and Issy: Hmm, lucky we’re musicians, and not comedians…

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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March 17, 2015 By : Category : Exotica Eyeplugs Folk Front page Interviews Post-punk Tags:, ,

Cherry Red Album Reviews – Mar 2015 by Scenester

Demis Roussos

On The Greek Side Of My Mind (RPM Retro 915)

Continuing their policy of making available albums which inspired, entertained and even did a tidy bit of business in their day, those discerning folk at RPM have turned their attention to the first solo LP by Demis Roussos. Recorded whilst still a member of prog-rock legends Aphrodite’s Child, Demis’ concept LP, released in 1971, explores his roots, both musical and familial, blending the styles and rhythms of Greek folk music with those of psychedelic rock, enriching the stew with orchestral arrangements and overlaid with Demis’ slightly eerie high register singing, a voice which would propel him to superstardom in the mid 70’s.

Opening with sublime Gregorian chanting and Demis’ spoken word vocal, the LP’s title track is a meditation on the rich and ancient culture of his home country, and an invitation to join him.

‘She Came Up From The North’s military-like drum rhythm and  gentle lute and guitar picking suit this lament perfectly, but it serves as an early warning to expect the unexpected, as the song quickly builds into a psyche horn and drum wig-out.

‘Good Days Have Gone’ must have sounded a little anachronistic by release, a fairly typical ‘Swingin’ London’ tune, replete with ‘la la la’s, although admittedly enjoyable and commercial. ‘We Shall Dance’ has a sharp Europop feel,  a psyche organ sound with a twang to the notes, and a little tingling harpsichord, one of the LP’s more upbeat tracks, with perhaps a nod to his future light music career.

‘I Know I’ll Do It Again’s wistful childhood reminiscing comes in all urgently, then turns into a pedestrian beat as the sweetheart is recalled fondly. The abruptness of the end will have you guessing why, but not for long. ‘Fire and Ice’s mystical imagery is realised by the deft use of lapping harpsicord, hollow, bone-like horns and drums, setting up the polarity that drives this track. The song’s primacy would be celebrated on the LP’s British release, which was re-entitled ‘Fire and Ice’ in
its honour.

‘End of the Line’s folksy atmosphere is evoked well with acoustic guitar and voices that build to a pleasant lead out, a refreshingly simple track that makes no demands on the listener. It isn’t long before the listener is shaken out of torpor by ‘My Blue Ship’s A-Sailin’, effortlessly moving between lament and jaunty, exuberant celebration, then back again. ‘Mountains Beyond’s dolorous beginning leads us into the story of a journey through changing rhythms, building to a happier state of mind in the twists and turns of the tune.

‘My Friends You’ve Been Untrue To Me’ has a commanding guitar, shrieking its way through a song of anger and regret, horns blaring their disapproval, and is a robust standout. ‘Lord of the Flies’ has an exuberant ‘Hair’ style intro that turns into a great, sprawling lament that could have been a single. ‘Without You’s bird-like voice intro, harpsichord and piano backing and tense violin make for a lament which is a perfect end to the LP.

Demis’ lengthy and varied career has often been overlooked as a result of his success in light ‘supper club’ pop music, and his namechecking in 70’s naff-fest ‘Abigail’s Party’ seemed to set the seal on a completely false image of him. There’s more to this Egyptian-born Greek superstar than meets the eye, as a listen to this solo LP will attest. BUY HERE!



Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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April 14, 2015 By : Category : Folk Front page Music Pop Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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The Monks Kitchen reviewed by Nick Churchill

The Monks Kitchen: Title: Music from the Monks Kitchen

Tracks: 16, Website:

Label: Wonderfulsound

Having dropped a superlative set of foxy folk flavoured hipster grooves and moves on their 2007 debut, The Wind May Howl, The Monks Kitchen were on their way – or so it appeared. Paul Weller/Noel Gallagher producer Stan Kybert was in the driving seat, the sound was as louche as it was lush, they were on the road with Badly Drawn Boy, playing Glastonbury, recording for the Beeb … in other words at least eight of the whole nine yards.

But then it went quiet. Completely quiet. For six (count ’em!) years.

Until late last year when a hazy daisy version of Sam Cooke’s Shake popped out as a single that nobody but the band themselves was expecting. And now an album, more than half of which is instrumental. Not that it matters. For this is a complete listening experience from beginning to end, the instrumental interludes serve as scene setting for the next vocalised tale of oddity and peculiarity.

Faultlessly melodic, the influences are as likely to arrive from far out in leftfield as they are from the plumb centre of the middle of the road. Thus, dusty cowboy chords giddy up next to Weimar cabaret moves and outback drones make their presence felt behind a grainy Ivor Raymonde string arrangement as apple pie vocal harmonies stretch Stylophone melodies and vintage guitar decoration.

The sound is so lo-fi it’s practically no-fi, but always beautifully presented. The songs exist in the cracks between folk and pop, riffing on gentle themes that don’t always resolve into traditional structures involving verses, choruses and middle eights. The very thing that may frustrate some about Music from the Monks Kitchen – that it’s a bit like spinning through a sketchbook – is actually
its greatest strength.

Only in this context can the musical setting of Poe’s The Raven make sense next to the gossamer weight whisper-thon that is Whirlwind and the jingle jangle Smiths-beat excursion of Bluebird. Hollow of the Night flirts with Spanish eyes, while Instrumental X takes a tango down the main street of Blackgang Chine and I Wanna Go sounds like a long lost Roger McGuinn demo for The Monkees.

Wide-eyed and wondrous in its scope, Music from the Monks Kitchen is a monument to making music without the rulebook and is both literally and metaphorically among the most unexpected albums of the year. BUY HERE!

Nick Churchill

Nick Churchill has written professionally for more than 25 years. Currently a busy Journalist undertaking a wealth of celebrity interviews and human interest features to writing speeches, generating web and media content and production scripts. His first book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth - got great reviews. He has also worked on projects for Duncan Bannatyne, Harry Hill, James Caan, Scott Mills and Peter Dickson, the voice of The X Factor. His obvious passion for words and natural genuine integrity is most refreshing.

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June 27, 2014 By : Category : Folk Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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