Like any band with a long history, Strawbs have gone through many changes over the decades. Musicians have come and gone; they’ve seen dozens of members come and go since their inception in 1964 – including legends Rick Wakeman, Sandy Denny and Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina – with each one bringing something different to the band. Through it all, Dave Cousins has been there to steer the ship. In fact, aside from very occasional silences, Strawbs have always existed in one form or other even though a lot of people would believe they threw in the towel some time during the mid 70s.
Vincent Carr’s fifth album ‘Rekindled’ (released under the name Vincent Carr’s SUMIC in 2016) was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. Taking influences from Nick Drake, John Martyn, various 70s prog bits and a smidgeon of trad English folk, the album took the listener on a very pastoral musical journey. Traces of Freddie Phillips’ children’s TV scores also added to the album’s very English qualities. It was an album only heard by a relative few, but those who did, invariably loved it.
A product of the late 60s freedoms and musical experimentation, British folk-rock gave the world a few classic albums in its formative years. Fairport Convention’s ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’ and ‘Leige & Leif’, both released in 1969, arguably took the musical fusion from being of cult status and into the more mainstream. Now considered indispensable by fans everywhere, these are albums without which Led Zeppelin’s third album might not exist in quite the same way…or even at all. Often taking a more trad direction in their early years, Steeleye Span captured the fingered-ear of folkies with 1970’s ‘Please To See The King’, whilst Lindisfarne also gained a great deal of commercial success with a slightly more raucous take on a rapidly growing genre, even if that success has been somewhat overlooked in the passing of time.
Up Down Go Machine are a hard working Americana themed band from the UK. In 2015, the supported the legendary Shawn Smith (Brad/Pigeonhed) on a handful of intimate dates. It resulted in a rare sighting of a “must-see” support act. [A few more thoughts about the London gig can be found here.]