Category Archives: tom williams and the boat


By ‘Folkdates’ I wish I meant ‘dates in which folk music was discussed and/or heard’ (I’m looking at you, Charlie Fink doppelgänger in the corner), but in this context I mean updates. Folk updates. Get it? Thankfully, the winter season seems to bring out the best in acoustic music; I guess it’s natural for folkies to get in the Christmas spirit, but there’s plenty of non-seasonal folk popping up as well, like Three Blind Wolves‘ new single ‘Parade’ on Spinner. Anyway, onto the updates:

Anyone who’s ever met me has probably heard about Folkroom, the label/folk night that showcases an increasingly wide variety of artists from ye olde Londontown. I visited one of their nights at The Queen’s Head when I visited London last year, and co-founder Stephen Thomas even wrote me a guest post a while back. I’m a fan.

For the holiday season, Folkroom artist Lucy Cait has been running an advent calendar on her new website, From giveaways to gingerbread recipes to new songs, these treats are way better than the usual advent offering of stale chocolates. Lucy’s music is the gift that keeps on giving, and she seems to have quite a bit up her sleeves for 2013.

My past few Christmases have been accompanied by the excellent For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas albums, and this year is no exception. The latest version features some of my favorite up-and-coming UK folksters: Ellen and the Escapades, Tom Williams, Gerard & the Watchmen, Feldspar, Admiral Fallow, Gibson Bull, Stylusboy, and more.

Feldspar doesn’t just cover one of my favorite Christmas songs on the FFS album (‘In the Bleak Midwinter’), they’ve also released a video for awesome original track ‘The Flat and Paper Sky’. Watch the video below, and catch them at my all-time favorite London pub, The Old Queen’s Head, on January 16th.

Props to the old lady getting inked in the church.

Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister: “How’m I Gonna Get Back Home”

I never really liked that song (the post title–not the above track, of course), but it’s nonetheless true: today being December 1st, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. So I thought I’d bring to your attention a few ways to give and receive this holiday season, folk-style.

You all know I’m a big fan of PledgeMusic. Besides my general enthusiasm for direct-to-fan anything, I happen to love a lot of the artists that end up on here. This holiday season, support some up-and-coming musicians in their creative endeavors–and get some awesome, unique merch while you’re at it. (I just got my signed Summer Camp tote, and I still can’t get over those brownies.) Although I’d encourage you to check out all the offerings on the site, I’ll highlight two:

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister
LA sextet He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister describe themselves as “Flamboyant Folk, Glam-a-billy, Circus Rock, Vaudeville Pop, Cabaret Blues.” And truthfully, that’s about as succinct as it’ll get. The band is a rollicking good time, full of catchy tunes and a healthy dose of sass. They have some free downloads on Bandcamp–I dare you to listen to “How’m I Gonna Get Back Home” (above) and not love it. Dare you.

Right now the band needs a tour van, and you can help them out: in exchange, you can get them to play your wedding, give you tap dancing lessons, or (my favorite) go on a naked skydiving trip. Click the link above to see more and pledge.

Tom Williams & the Boat
English folk-rockers Tom Williams & the Boat borrow slightly from the Frank Turner style of anti-folk, but do so with a bit more youthful oomph. They’re partnering with Moshi Moshi (can’t go wrong with that, can you?) for their Too Slow follow-up, and want you to be a part of it. And part of the proceeds go to the charity Kent Air Ambulance, so your pledge will certainly outweigh any lingering Scrooge-iness. And getting a drum lesson, house gig, or painting (yes, painting) wouldn’t hurt either. Check the band’s website here and click the link above to pledge.

For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas
The wonderful For Folk’s Sake are back with Christmas album Volume 2, and it’s nothing short of splendid. Featuring holiday tunes new and old, it features some of the finest folk artists on the scene–from Caitlin Rose and Cocos Lovers to the Leisure Society and Laura Boyle. The full track listing is below, but you can buy and listen on Bandcamp.

1. Howard Carter – Christmas Blues 03:09
2. The Leisure Society – Christmas Mistakes 03:48
3. Caitlin Rose with Keegan DeWitt – You Never Come Home For Christmas 02:58
4. Cocos Lovers – Christmas is Coming/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 02:02
5. Devon Sproule – Send Me To Coventry 03:49
6. Darren Hayman – Lost In The Snow 04:04
7. Paper Aeroplanes – In The Bleak Midwinter 03:06
8. Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl – Christmas In Hell 03:27
9. Fiona Bevan – Love In A Cold Climate 03:45
10. Hollows – Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing 02:26
11. Adam Killip & Mi Mye – O Come All Ye Faithful 02:53
12. Laura Boyle – Silent Night 02:49

Tim Wheeler & Emmy the Great’s This Is Christmas
As I mentioned a while back, Emmy the Great and Ash’s Tim Wheeler have released This Is Christmas, an album of rocking new holiday tunes. It includes instant classics like “Jesus the Reindeer”, “Zombie Christmas”, and “Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)”. Any other Christmas party soundtrack is tame by comparison. To support the album and celebrate the December 1st-ness of today, Emmy and Tim have also released an online advent calendar–today’s offering, “Christmas Do’s and Don’t’s”, is below, but you should see the calendar just for kicks. And if you’re wondering about the frame in the video below, one of the holiday don’t’s is “don’t play naked twister with your family.” Sage advice, guys.

p.s. Yep Roc Records (Peggy Sue, Alessi’s Ark, Cheyenne Marie Mize, and more) has a sweet holiday sale going on now. Besides some theme albums and a free sampler, they’re offering free shipping on all US orders (through the 20th), and 15% off all orders (through the 31st) with the code HOHOHO.

First Shepherd’s Bush, Then the World

Communion Takes Over Shepherd’s Bush for Bushstock 2011

All the way back in February I was heartbroken to be missing Communion’s Bushstock Festival. The new-folk launch pad/label/international(!) club night was set to put on their first Shepherd’s Bush takeover on May 7th, but it was postponed until this coming Saturday. And while I obviously still can’t go, those of you who can will find it worth the wait: the lineup looks pretty darn fantastic. The four venues (St. Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bar, the Goldhawk, and Ginglik) all feature prominent up-and-comers, as well as some mainstays, in the new-folk world. I’ve previously typed my fingers off about performers like Peggy Sue and King Charles, and certainly the Mystery Jets needs no introduction. So here are some other Bushstock artists I’ve had my eye on for a while, and I would encourage you to check out. But remember, this is really just asmidgeon of the great acts lined up for the event–so take a gander at the schedule and give them all a listen.

I’ve already written about Elena Tonra, who performs as Daughter. Her Demos EP (which is still the glorious price of free) is a lovely thing, delicate and serene. With a beautifully pure tone, Elena’s voice is captivating and expressive. If the four recorded tracks on the EP already feel intimate, a live performance would be stunning indeed. She’s been all over BBC radio, just recorded a session for Daytrotter, was featured in Q Magazine, and likely won’t be underground for very long.

Goldheart Assembly
I was bummed to miss these guys at SXSW. The tight harmonies of Goldheart Assembly’s “King of Rome” will lodge themselves in your brain for weeks, especially as you find yourself yearning for summer sunbathing music. All of last year’s Wolves and Thieves is filled with these retro stylings, a West Coast vibe that alternates between mellow (the soft and gorgeous “Last Decade”, for example) and hyped up (the cheery “Under the Waterway” almost sounds like Fun.’s folkier cousin). It’s supposed to rain here in the Bay Area on Saturday, but London looks sunny and warm. Pull out your Ray Bans and let Goldheart Assembly put you in the mood.

Three Blind Wolves
There’s no other way to say it: I frigging adore Three Blind Wolves. The Glaswegians’ seven song debut, Sound of the Storm, came out on Communion at the end of March, and has been taking over my iPod ever since (it’s easily in my top five fave discoveries of the year so far).The lyrics are clever, melodies catchy, and presentation confident. Lead singer Ross Clark uses his voice like a true instrument, shifting registers and manipulating texture with control. They’ve been called a ‘countrified Modest Mouse’, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Tom Williams and the Boat
First of all, check out the Station Session they did in July last year. It’s great. Tom Williams and the Boat are of that Frank Turner ilk, where singing morphs into shouting and words are squished together or strung out into conversational phrases. As Tom triumphantly shouts on new single “Concentrate” (check out this version, recorded in a bathroom), he’s a ‘modern man’–and the lyric-driven songs are nothing if not contemporary. The band’s dynamic rock-twinged style would provide a welcome burst of energy in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Treetop Flyers
Treetop Flyers sound like they’ve been around for a while, by which I mean two things: a) they sound like the modern answer to bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and b) they sound like old pros, even though their debut EP was only released in 2009. They also just won Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition, which earns them a spot on the giant festival’s main stage. Check out their amazing Bandstand Busking session, as well as For Folk’s Sake’s interview with vocalist Reid Morrison.