What News

On 23rd March 2018 Drag City Records will release What News, a new album by Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness. A collection of eight traditional Scots ballads arranged for piano, voice and electronics, it was recorded by Neil McDermott in Glasgow and mastered by Calum Malcolm in Edinburgh.

The What News album launch will take place at The Glad Cafe, Glasgow on Tuesday 27th March. Cucina Povera will perform an opening set.

Here are some kind words about What News from the great English folk singer Shirley Collins:

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been so excited and enthralled by an album, an immediate response to those first beautiful, brave and brilliant opening notes of ‘The Dun Broon Bride’. There is an urgency to Alasdair Roberts’ commanding performances – a need for the story to be told – that underlines each of his interpretations of the ballads.
He has never sung better nor more fearlessly, yet with such subtlety, gravity and beauty.

The arrangements written and played by keyboard genius David McGuinness and Amble Skuse work perfectly with the ballads – uncompromising, spirited, thrilling, tender and heart-breaking. Audacious, too. Their pride and confidence in their Scots ballad tradition is clear in every note. The quality and brilliance of the sound is like stars bursting in your bloodstream!

What News is a triumph – a masterpiece; a powerful and intriguing album that demands and holds your attention. Album of the Year? Album of the Decade, I’d say.

Howls

Film director Catriona MacInnes, who made the pop video for the song ‘Pangs’ from Alasdair’s album of the same name, has recently directed a new short film. The drama, entitled Howls, is a Third Film Production and features music and performance from Alasdair and friends.

Howie Reeve Album

Alasdair sings guest vocals on the new album Not So Secret Garden by Howie Reeve. The album is a joint release by Red Wig and Mon Cul and can be found on Howie’s Bandcamp page.

BBC Radio Two Folk Awards

Delighted to announce that The Furrow Collective (Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts) have won the award of Best Group at the 2017 BBC Radio Two Folk Awards.

Pangs – new album and tour

Drag City Records will release the new album by Alasdair Roberts, Pangs, on 24th February 2017.

It features ten new songs recorded by the power trio of Alasdair (guitars, voice), Stevie Jones (bass, keys) and Alex Neilson (drums, percussion) at Analogue Catalogue in Ireland by Julie MacLarnon, with special guest appearances from Debbie Armour, Tom Crossley, Rafe Fitzpatrick and Jessica Kerr.

Alasdair Roberts Trio (Alasdair, Stevie and Alex) will be touring UK in February and March 2017 in support of Pangs. Please see the Live section of this website for more information and ticket links. The dates are:

FEBRUARY

23 – LONDON Cafe Oto *
24 – READING South Street Arts Centre *
25 – BARTON-UPON-HUMBER Ropery Hall *
26 – COLCHESTER Arts Centre *
27 – NEWCASTLE Cumberland Arms *

MARCH

1 – EDINBURGH House Concert
2 – GLASGOW Glad Cafe *
5 – PRESTON Vernal Equinox Festival @ The Continental (with Trembling Bells/Mike Heron)
15 – COVENTRY Warwick Arts Centre *
16 – HEREFORD The Courtyard *
17 – CARMARTHEN – The Parrot *
18 – PLYMOUTH B-Bar *
19 – SWANSEA Noah’s Yard (with Chris Cundy and Izzy Layne & Jenn Kirby)
21 – CHELTENHAM Smokey Joe’s (solo; with Chris Cundy)
23 – STROUD Prince Albert (solo)
24 – BODMIN Folk Club (solo)
25 – CARDIFF First Space @ Chapter Arts Centre (solo)

All dates marked with * feature special guests Sound of Yell.

Estuary Songwriting Project

Alasdair is delighted to be involved in the upcoming Estuary Songwriting Project, organised by Leigh Folk Festival. The estuary in question is that of the River Thames; the project was conceived in tribute to the late Jack Forbes, a musician from Leigh-on-Sea, and also involves Hazel Askew, M.G Boulter, Lucy Farrell, Piers Haslam, Roshi Nasehi, Nick Pynn and Kate Waterfield.

Plaint of Lapwing

This summer, Clay Pipe Music will release a limited-edition vinyl-only collaborative LP by James Green and Alasdair Roberts entitled Plaint of Lapwing. All the songs were arranged by James Green and written by Alasdair Roberts (except where noted). The artwork was created by Frances Castle.

The tracklisting is as follows:

Ananke
Peacock Strut
At the Mid Hour of Night
(Thomas Moore/Benjamin Britten)
If There is Any Light
The Evening is Growing Dim
The Left-Hand Man
(Timothy Neat)
Boy of Blazing Brow
Ballad of the Speaking Heart
(Hamish Henderson)
Plaint of Lapwing
The Wronged Blacksmith
Hallowe’en
(Violet Jacob)

Plaint of Lapwing artwork by Frances Castle

Upcoming collaborations

Alasdair’s delighted to be doing a new collaboration with the great English melodeon player Andy Cutting at Bath International Music Festival on Friday 27th May, as part of the New Meetings series. The precise details of this unprecedented collaboration are, as yet, unknown, but might involve Andy deftly shedding new musical light on some of Alasdair’s self-written and traditional songs, Alasdair valiantly attempting to keep up with Andy’s gifted musicianship on a selection of his tunes and pieces, and perhaps some entirely new and unexpected things too.

Also in May, Alasdair will collaborate with the great Alex Neilson (an English drummer/percussionist living in Glasgow) and the mighty Ivor Kallin (a Glaswegian viola player/vocalist living in England) as part of Tectonics Festival at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on Saturday 7th May. The name of this new grouping is Ane Unquietatioun.

On Friday 13th May, Alasdair will be at Birmingham Town Hall for the Imagined Isle event, along with Emily Portman & The Coracle Band, Rachel Newton and Katherine Priddy. Alasdair will perform solo and also as part of The Furrow Collective along with Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton.

In June, Alasdair will be collaborating for the first time with the American folk singer Frank Fairfield. They’ll play in Leeds on 9th June and Bristol on 10th June. This collaboration is an Opera North production.

Full details of all of the above live appearances and collaborations can be found on the Live page of this website.

Missed Flights and Fist Fights

A reminder that the Missed Flights and Fist Fights limited-edition, vinyl-only 12″ release featuring Bill Lowman, Brad Gallagher and Alasdair Roberts is still available to order.

Recorded entirely to tape at Analogue Catalogue, County Down, Ireland in January 2015, it features eight tracks, is available in a run of 470 copies and is available for £12 (or €15 or $17US) plus postage and packaging.

It can be ordered by emailing missedflightsfistfights [at] googlemail [dot] com