- 30 Aug 18
There’s five Irish dates to look forward to, in what is a marathon jaunt around the UK, to support the release of a new album, entitled Hummingbird – on which Irish singer Cara Dillon guests.
John Smith, one of Ireland’s fave English folkies, has announced a major UK and Irish tour. The dates, which begin in Aberdeen in Scotland on 4 Oct – there’s 28 in all – include five in Ireland, opening with two nights in Coughlan’s in Cork, on 10 and 11 October. Over the following three nights, he plays Dolan’s Limerick (12), the Unitarian Church, Dublin (13) and the Studio Theatre, Bangor (14). The full list of John Smith dates is set out below.
Hummingbird was recorded in the Somerset studio owned by Sam Lakeman, the multi-instrumentalist folk singer – whose own album The Well Worn Path was released earlier this year. One of the guest artists featured on the record is Ireland’s Cara Dillon, who sings a duet with Smith on the old Child ballad ‘Unquiet Grave’.
"Ever since my teenage epiphany at the altar of Folk Music, hearing Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn for the first time, I have been a devotee,” John Smith – who is a musical close associate of Ireland's Lisa Hannigan – says by way of introduction to the new record, which contains John Smith’s versions of six classics from the folk songbook, as well as some original compositions.
"The six strings of my guitar have granted me access to a sacred space between things, the unconscious interweaving sensations that allow us that gentle buzz on hearing a good folk song," he.
"I’ve been immeasurably fortunate to open for and even play with some of my heroes and influences in the folk world: John Renbourn, Davy Graham, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Nic Jones, Joan Baez, Wizz Jones, John Martyn, Danny Thompson, Martin Simpson and Paul Brady. Their work and their generosity of spirit has been a constant reminder that I must keep playing, recording and touring, no matter the cost. There is always work to be done in the service of good music.
"It was with this in mind that I returned to Sam Lakeman’s Somerset studio in March of 2018, two years since recording Headlong in that same place, to commit six of my favourite folk songs to tape, alongside one cover version and three original songs.”
In recording the album, John Smith and his producer decided not to over-adorn the material, instead letting the songs and the way they are sung become the focus.
"With my guitars and notebook, I sat for a week and dug into these songs,” John Smith recalls, "some of which I have performed hundreds of times, but never recorded. I always chose instead to concentrate on my own writing. If I didn’t record these songs now, representing the Folk Music that I love, I felt I was going to regret it.
"The tracks quickly took on their own shape in Sam’s able hands. I invited several good friends to join me in this process: Cara Dillon, John McCusker and Ben Nicholls. Each a giant in their own right, they offered subtle and deeply nuanced performances to what I feel are my most restrained recordings so far.
"Sam and I adopted the motto ‘less is more’. We all know that a Folk Song’s clarity of purpose is exactly the reason why it has been played in pubs, living rooms and concert halls for hundreds of years. I made this record for myself, for my heroes and for you,” he concludes.
Among the songs featured on Hummingbird are ‘Lowlands Of Holland’, ‘Hares On The Mountain’, ‘Lord Franklin’, ‘Willy Moore’ and ‘Unquiet Grave’. It also includes a cover of Anne Briggs’ classic ‘The Time Has Come’.
The full list of tour dates reads:~
04 Oct Aberdeen The Lemon Tree
05 Oct Ullapool Guitar Festival
10 Oct Cork IE Coughlan’s
11 Oct Cork IE Coughlan’s
12 Oct Limerick IE Dolan’s
13 Oct Dublin IE Unitarian Church
14 Oct Bangor NI Studio Theatre
17 Oct Chipping Norton The Theatre
20 Oct Whitby Musicport Festival
21 Oct Liverpool St George's Hall
22 Oct Gateshead Sage Gateshead
24 Oct Leeds The Wardrobe
25 Oct Sheffield Picture House Social
26 Oct Thames Ditton The Ram Club
30 Oct Newbury Arlington Arts Centre
01 Nov Bury The Met Arts Centre
02 Nov Scunthorpe Cafe Indiependent
03 Nov Halifax Square Chapel
04 Nov York The Crescent
07 Nov Middlesbrough Town Hall
09 Nov Bristol Rough Trade
10 Nov Plymouth Barbican Theatre
11 Nov Dartmouth The Flavel
12 Nov Exeter Phoenix
14 Nov Southampton The Brook
15 Nov London St Pancras NEW Church (Bloomsbury)
16 Nov Brighton Unitarian Church
17 Nov Guildford St Mary's Church