I recently dug out some aging slides taken at a Carthy & Swarb gig at Rotherham Arts Centre on 23 September 1989. They’re not the best quality but I thought they would be worth sharing for reasons of historic interest.
This was part of the second annual UK tour (the ‘Second Farewell Tour”) following on from the previous year’s reunion gigs. Support was by Dave Burland.
I made a recording of the complete show and although the only copy was stolen many years ago I still have a note of the set list:
The Rose and Monkey Hotelis a new venue on the edge of Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter and right next door to the historic Band On The Wall. It’s a small venue and tonight’s sold out gig was nicely crammed.
Martin continued his recent exploration of his older back catalogue and gave further hints that a new album might be on the horizon. John Barleycorn, High Germany and The Bedmaking (a request) are quite familiar by now and tonight he included the slightly less familiar (in terms of recent gigs) Bruton Town to the list of resurrected songs from his ‘60s and ‘70s repertoire. It came with an amusing intro featuring Davy Graham breaking into Martin’s 1960s flat and Martin ‘teaching’ Davy the tune Moanin’, only to subsequently discover Davy had already recorded his own version.
I hadn’t previously realised that Martin actually wrote one of the verses to Mike Waterson’s A Stitch In Time, but that appears to be the case based on that song’s intro tonight. I’m not sure I’ve heard Martin sing The Taylor’s Britches since the late 1980s, although I have a niggling doubt about that – maybe I have heard him sing it more recently? Either way, it that was a nice amusing addition. Martin expressed his indifference towards the well-worn tropes characteristic of songs such as Harry Cox’s The Barley Straw, from which Martin cribbed the tune for The Foggy Dew.
Bendigo, Champion of England has been a relatively recent addition to his repertoire and the rest of the set was fairly familiar from recent gigs. Martin abandoned Young Morgan after forgetting the words and there were a couple of other touch-and-go memory lapses but nothing that came close to spoiling the night. The first set was pretty low-key and quite short but the second was much longer and a bit less restrained.
First set: John Barleycorn Her Servant Man The Foggy Dew Bruton Town High Germany A Stitch In Time Bill Norrie
Second Set: Don’t Go In Them Lions Cage Tonight Bendigo, Champion of England Young Morgan Georgie The Deserter My Son John The Bows of London The Tailor’s Britches Long John The Bedmaking Downfall of Paris Oor Hamlet
It’s almost two years since my last Martin solo gig and this one was in the same venue. The Midway in Stockport is a proper old school folk club, with all the attendant pros and cons that come with grass roots music promotion. The seating was cozy to say the least, with people rammed into every available corner, and the lights took on a life of their own, deciding to stage a strike for at least 90% of the gig and only intermittently bursting into life at a few odd, unscheduled moments (see for example my Bows Of London video below at around 6:14).
The set was fairly familiar with only two items I’d not heard Martin sing before: Scarborough Fair has been back in his set recently in a version from Goatland originally learned for the BBC short drama Remember Me and there was a nice introduction referencing his experiences of that recording and his reaction to the finished version; Tea’s Made was one of only a handful of self-written songs regularly sung by Mike Waterson and it’s nice to hear Martin keeping this one alive and with Mike’s introduction/explanation pretty much entirely intact.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that Martin forgot the words to two songs during the evening: Bill Norrie missed a couple of verses (Martin stopped and gave a brief précis of the missing verses before carrying on) and The Devil And The Feathery Wife had to go without its last verse.
First Set: The Bedmaking Her Servant Man Scarborough Fair When I Was A Little Boy Nancy Of London Bill Norrie A Stitch In Time
Second Set: Don’t Go In Them Lion’s Cage Tonight Bendigo, Champion Of England The Deserter High Germany My Son John The Downfall Of Paris Invitation To A Funeral The Bows Of London Young Morgan Georgie The Devil And The Feathery Wife Tea’s Made
Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson have been friends and have worked together for many years, most notably in the The Four Martins quartet (aka ‘Martins 4’). They have also played the occasional – very occasional – gig together over recent years. Roots Music Club in Doncaster have been trying to get their schedules to coincide for several months and were finally able to get them together on the same night on 1 July 2016. Here are a few shots from that gig (after the set lists)…
First Set (Martin Carthy): High Germany Lovely Joan Her Servant Man Farewell Lovely Nancy Swaggering Boney Young Morgan The Trees They Do Grow High The Heroes of St. Valery My Son John Second set (Martin Simpson): In the Pines Delta Dreams Reynardine Home Again The Plains of Waterloo Jasper’s / Dancing Shoes Heartbreak Hotel Third set (Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson): The Downfall of Paris Stealin’ Peanut Shoes Princess Royal
One of Martin Carthy’s more interesting recent ventures has been the Imagined Village project. The first Imagined Village album had a lengthy gestation period and their first tour – which included Billy Bragg, Sheila Chandra and video contributions from John Copper and Benjamin Zephaniah – took place in November 2007. Since then they have settled into a semi-permanent lineup that has usually only tended to fluctuate when members have been unavailable due to other commitments. The current lineup of Barney Morse Brown, Sheema Mukherjee, Jackie Oates, Simon Emmerson, Johnny Kalsi, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Ali Friend, Ged Lynch and Simon Richmond toured to promote their new album in May 2012 and the following photographs were taken at their concert at the Royal Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool on May 25th.
During this tour the Imagined Village asked various people to help them out by singing Chris Woods’ part in their encore of “Cold, Haily, Rainy Night” and I was lucky enough to be asked to sing at the Liverpool gig. Johnny Kalsi also wanted to get in on the act so he sang the first verse. It was the first time either of us had sung on stage but I think it’s fair to say that I was slightly more nervous than Johnny. This was also my fiftieth Martin Carthy gig of one sort or another and my big moment was caught on video. Here it is:
I’ve been watching Martin Carthy live for 25 years and during that time I’ve seen him in a number of different ensembles and lineups. But for all the excitement of the latest Waterson family project or new band lineup (see my previous Brass Monkey post, for example) it has always been his solo gigs that I’ve found most interesting and occasionally unpredictable. He’s never stopped gigging as a solo artist but in more recent years his solo shows have sometimes seemed to be further and further apart as tours with Waterson:Carthy, various Waterson family projects, The Imagined Village, Brass Monkey, Four Martins and a number of other ad-hoc ensembles have dominated his touring schedule. So it’s always nice to get the chance to see Martin on his own and catch up with his latest repertoire and these few shots are from Martin’s gig at Studio 1 in The Lowry, Salford on Sunday 15 April 2012.
It’s 30 years since Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Howard Evans, Roger Williams and Martin Brinsford first performed together as Brass Monkey and to mark the occasion the band are touring the UK throughout April 2012. After the death of Evans in 2006 they continued as a four-piece for a while but eventually recruited Paul Archibald as their new trumpet player in 2009. On the few occasions that Archibald’s other commitments clash with Brass Monkey dates he has been replaced by one of his former students Shane Brennan. For the April 2012 tour and for all subsequent festival dates this year the band will include both Archibald and Brennan in a unique six-piece lineup. These photographs are from their date at the Electric Theatre in Guildford, Surrey on 5 April 2012 – their third date as a six-piece.