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A rare opportunity to see two outstanding folk musicians perform their new collaborative project, Plaint of Lapwing.
***ALASDAIR ROBERTS & JAMES GREEN***
Alasdair explains how the project came about:
"Mayday 2012: an email from James Green in Sheffield reached me in Glasgow. I knew James a little – not particularly well; we had met a few times over the years and had collaborated a little too (I'd sung on a couple of songs on the album Folk Songs 2 by his group The Big Eyes Family Players). I understood that he played the harmoniflute, an instrument somewhere between a harmonium and an accordion, and seemed very enamoured of it. His email read: “had an idea about approaching you with... an ep or few songs (trad or otherwise) accompanied by my harmoniflute, and nothing else... just an idea once the dust has settled, maybe...".
The dust was not long in the swirling before coming to rest upon both of our past endeavours, and shortly we set to work on the project which became Plaint of Lapwing. My initial thought was to concentrate on just four pieces – I'd just recorded the Drag City LP/CD A Wonder Working Stone and had some songs left over from that. In a process which James was later to characterise as 'surreal', I started emailing him recordings of my disembodied voice; in response I would eagerly await, tracks featuring aforesaid voice with James' harmoniflute accompaniment.
The project gradually, almost imperceptibly, developed in scope and complexity over two years. I began sending James more vocal takes as well as other sonics I'd generated, for a variety of original compositions and some by other authors (including a song by the Perthshire folklorist Hamish Henderson, an arrangement by Benjamin Britten of a piece by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, a lyric by beekeeping Cornish film maker Timothy Neat and a setting of a work by the Angus poet Violet Jacob). James in turn increased his instrumental palette to include drums, guitars and all other kinds of musical things.
As the project developed, so did a wonderful friendship blossom between James and myself. I found I was sending vocal tracks attached to emails detailing current grievances in my personal life, as if envisaging James as some kind of agony aunt. James, in return, sent completed tracks and, apparently regarding me as some kind of sounding board, emails venting his strident opinions (invariably in line with my own) on whatever political matter ruled the day. Before we knew it the disembodied sounds had become incarnate and James and I found we had an LP's worth of material."
Alasdair Roberts: http://www.alasdairroberts.com/
Big Eyes Family Players: http://www.big-eyes.co.uk/
Nat Johnson is a singer-songwriter and guitarist based in Sheffield, UK. Nat's work has earned her national press acclaim, songwriting commissions, several live sessions for BBC 6 Music and support from various BBC DJs including Gideon Coe, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Tom Ravenscroft, Marc Riley, Tom Robinson and Janice Long.
Nat's first outfit Monkey Swallows the Universe (2003-2008) drew praise from everyone from the Guardian to the Sun with attention focused on Nat's songwriting, lyricism and “golden" vocals. Highlights for MSTU included performing on Radio 4's Loose Ends and on Gideon Coe's BBC 6 Music show, touring with Richard Hawley, Camera Obscura and the Long Blondes, appearances at Green Man, End of the Road, Latitude and other festivals and inclusion on Rough Trade's Counter Culture 06 compilation. After MSTU split in 2008, Nat released a solo single Dirty Rotten Soul (Steve Lamacq's Single of the Week on its release) and then formed Nat Johnson & the Figureheads; releasing albums on Damaged Goods / Thee SPC and recording sessions for 6 Music's Marc Riley and Tom Robinson and XFM's John Kennedy.
In late 2014 Nat released a solo album, Neighbour of the Year on her own label, Straw & Hay Records. Lauren Laverne called it “a very beautiful record indeed," and Subba Cultcha hailed it as “a treat for fans of PJ Harvey and Alela Diane". Two singles were also released from the album: Not Now, Horse and DOG; the latter making an impact on YouTube with its animated video receiving 50k+ views in its first week.
Recent projects have included the Arts Council supported 'Roving Women: Nat Johnson plays Connie Converse' (which garnered a further live Gideon Coe session), contributions to a University of Sheffield songwriting course, a collaboration with The Beautiful South's Dave Rotheray, appearances at various festivals and support slots with Low, Rozi Plain, Marika Hackman and others . Nat is currently working on a new commission as well as writing a new album with accompaniment from her band: Katherine Jackson, Hannah Cartledge, Oliver Allchin, Chris Loftus and Neil Piper.
Regather ales on the bar (amongst other tipples), friendly folk around you, and a cosy room in which to spend your evening. Yes.