Laura Barton's Notes From A Musical Island

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101Living By Water20160305

The music writer Laura Barton visits four corners of Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

In this first episode, Laura visits parts of the rugged countryside of Northumberland and the coastal city of Sunderland on Tyne and Wear to explore how music and landscape are intimately related.

In an environment defined by a beautiful coastline and great northern rivers, Kathryn Tickell, the violinist and Northumbrian piper, and Adrian McNally of the folk group The Unthanks share their experiences of performing and arranging traditional tunes that seem to have emerged from the sea and been hewn from the soil.

Members of the Sunderland band Frankie and the Heartstrings take Laura on a tour of the shop they established in the heart of the old industrial city to sell coffee, artworks and records, as well as to provide a rehearsal and gig space. They also perform acoustically in the famous Watch House, from which volunteer lifeboatmen would keep an eye on the Roker seashore.

And Peter Brewis of Field Music, based in a former industrial unit on the banks of the River Wear, tells Laura about the distinctive accents of music from this part of the North-East.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Put A Donk On It!20160312

The music writer Laura Barton visits four corners of Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

Crossing into Lancashire through the Upper Calder Valley, Laura visits the Great Bride Stones with musician and cultural geographer Rob St John, who's attuned to the unique sound qualities of this rural-industrial landscape.

Then she visits the Queen Street Mill Museum in Burnley and meets Colin, a weaver of fifty years and lover of elegiac Vaughan Williams, and listens to the loom-inspired music of Chaines.

She musically unpicks the origins of Donk, a high bpm (beats per minute) dance style unique to the North-West, with Tony Sabanskis of The Blackout Crew, and attends a band practice of a former colliery brass band, a more traditional musical emblem that flourishes still in post-industrial Haydock.

Produced by Alan Hall.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0103Floorboards And The Blues20160319

The music writer Laura Barton visits four corners of Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

Long ago, the city of Birmingham was dubbed "the home of heavy metal", suggesting a connection between the manufacturing industries of the Black Country and the music of Black Sabbath and others. Now James and Jibs of 'metalcore' group Oceans Ate Alaska have inherited - and trumped - their own fathers' heavy tastes.

And in a programme as much about community as cults, Laura talks with Birmingham's celebrated R&B singer Jaki Graham and traces the story of music in the clubs and on the streets of city.

Then, Laura heads west to South Wales to experience how another musical tradition associated with established industrial communities has been reinvented for modern times. During a rehearsal, conductor Richard Vaughan explains how Côr y Gleision - the Cardiff Blues Choir - has found a new home for famed Welsh singing.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0104 LAST20160326

The music writer Laura Barton visits four corners of Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes. In this final programme, Laura explores two aspects of musical life in the capital.

Musical migrants, such as the Nigerian-born guitarist Femi Temowo, found a route into London's music scene via the church, whereas the American composer Nico Muhly has been adopted by the city's cosmopolitan contemporary music and arts milieu.

Their experiences contrast with archetypal London musicians Chas 'n' Dave, who made a point of singing in their own accents and created 'rockney' - a hybrid of cockney rock.

Laura examines immigrant and indigenous music within the landscape of London.

Produced by Alan Hall.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0201Blackbirds And Drums2017061320170923

Laura visits Belfast to gauge its musical temperature with composers and performers.

The music writer Laura Barton visits three corners of Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

In Belfast, a city known for its industry and its Troubles, Laura is accompanied by the composer Deirdre Gribbin, who grew up in west Belfast and went to school along the Falls Road. They take a stroll along the towpath of the River Lagan, which Deirdre often visits to think through her orchestral music against the rhythms of the water.

Also, Laura visits three figures who still live in Northern Ireland - the avant garde performance artist Die Hexen, the musician David Holmes and the singer Susan McCann. She discusses how growing up during the conflict shaped their musical tastes, why country music is so popular in Belfast and what it's like to be at the cutting edge of musical innovation in the city.

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0202Ebb And Flow20170620

Laura is in east Kent talking to musicians drawn to the coast around Ramsgate.

The fortunes of seaside towns in east Kent ebb and flow, just like the tides off the sands at Margate and the marina in Ramsgate.

Laura Barton visits an instrument-maker's workshop in Ramsgate where Shem Mackey, a long-time resident originally from Ireland, makes viola da gambas from fruit woods. She contemplates the light over the English Channel and the relentless rhythms of the water with Jules Bigg of Ramsgate Music Hall.

Laura also finds a musician who's colonised unlikely spaces for music-making. Johann Karlberg has built an immaculate studio in an industrial complex next to a tyre dump. Originally from Sweden, he's now happily settled in this corner of Kent making a global brand of music with The Very Best. And Daisy Emily Warne, aka Kub, has returned to the town of her childhood to walk her dog on Margate's 'golden mile' and make her distinctive electronic music.

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0203 LASTSurf And Furze20170627

Laura Barton takes a close listen to the music of Cornwall.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to the music of one of Britain's long-isolated locations, Cornwall.

The tradition of communal singing known as a Shout hasn't just survived in Cornwall. As Laura discovers in a pub outside Redruth, it's thriving. In a bar packed with young and old, songs about mining and fishing, in Cornish and English, compete with hymns and the occasional import from overseas, in high energy performances that define an oral tradition. None are sung more full-heartedly than Kerra Kernow, beloved Cornwall.

Laura talks with Hilary Coleman of the celebrated Cornish folk group Dalla about the qualities of the folk tradition in the Duchy and with two singer-songwriters. Florence MacDonald, who also teaches music in primary schools, describes what drew her back to Cornwall, and Ruarri Joseph, aka William the Conqueror, considers the balance he maintains between the demands of touring and the allure of the surf off Newquay and the woods and hills of his childhood home.

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

03Cloak of Mist20180731

Writer Laura Barton listens closely to music on the Isle of Man.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The writer Laura Barton listens closely to music on the Isle of Man. Surrounded by the tempestuous Irish Sea, the island is said to contain all the landscapes of Britain in only 220 square miles. There's a strong tradition of Celtic music but many say you can hear the particular landscape and character of the people in Manx tunes.

On the rugged northern coast, Laura meets a young harpist, Mera Royle, who plays traditional Manx music and received the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award this year. In the western town of Peel, Laura listens to a variety of performers, including Breesha Maddrell and Aalin Clague from Moot and Clash Vooar, at the Yn Chrunniaght festival. And in a fishing village in the south, Laura meets Gyp Buggane, the bassist of the psychedelic band 13th Pillar, who also runs a studio recording the diverse mix of musicians on the island.

Produced by Andrea Rangecroft and Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

03Silver City2018071020180804 (R4)

Laura Barton samples musical life in Silver City - Aberdeen.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The music writer Laura Barton visits another four locations in Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

Today it's Aberdeen - Silver City. Sparkling silver in the sun, but a dour grey under a heavy sky, Aberdeen is built from granite hewn from local quarries and nestled on Scotland's north-east coast between green hills and the forbidding North Sea. In recent years, gas and oil money has changed the city, bringing in workers from around the world, but it's retained a distinctly Scottish culture.

Laura walks the golden sands of Aberdeen beach with singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph, whose recent success has taken her to live in Glasgow. She also catches an impromptu folk performance in the Blue Lamp, visits daughter and father Katie and Charley Buchan who perform as Best Girl Athlete and live at the top of a high rise in the centre of the city, and she accompanies the 'psych folk' musician Alan Davidson on a stroll along the River Don and through Old Aberdeen.

Music in this programme:
Best Girl Athlete - In Your Head and Silver City (Album: Best Girl Athlete, Fit Like Records)
CS Buchan - Unpredictable Energies (Album: Material Others, Emubands)
Kitchen Cynics - Strandloopers, Harlaw and Jon Justice (Album: Apardion, Songs of Aberdeen, Fit Like Records)
Best Girl Athlete - Hills (Album: Carve Every Word, Fit Like Records)
Kathryn Joseph - The Why What, Baby and The Weary (Album: Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood You Have Spilled, Hits the Fan Records)
Kathryn Joseph - And You Survived (pre-release white label)

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

03Silver City2018071020180804 (R4)

Laura Barton samples musical life in Silver City - Aberdeen.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The music writer Laura Barton visits another four locations in Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

Today it's Aberdeen - Silver City. Sparkling silver in the sun, but a dour grey under a heavy sky, Aberdeen is built from granite hewn from local quarries and nestled on Scotland's north-east coast between green hills and the forbidding North Sea. In recent years, gas and oil money has changed the city, bringing in workers from around the world, but it's retained a distinctly Scottish culture.

Laura walks the golden sands of Aberdeen beach with singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph, whose recent success has taken her to live in Glasgow. She also catches an impromptu folk performance in the Blue Lamp, visits daughter and father Katie and Charley Buchan who perform as Best Girl Athlete and live at the top of a high rise in the centre of the city, and she accompanies the 'psych folk' musician Alan Davidson on a stroll along the River Don and through Old Aberdeen.

Music in this programme:
Best Girl Athlete - In Your Head and Silver City (Album: Best Girl Athlete, Fit Like Records)
CS Buchan - Unpredictable Energies (Album: Material Others, Emubands)
Kitchen Cynics - Strandloopers, Harlaw and Jon Justice (Album: Apardion, Songs of Aberdeen, Fit Like Records)
Best Girl Athlete - Hills (Album: Carve Every Word, Fit Like Records)
Kathryn Joseph - The Why What, Baby and The Weary (Album: Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood You Have Spilled, Hits the Fan Records)
Kathryn Joseph - And You Survived (pre-release white label)

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0301Silver City20180710

Laura Barton samples musical life in Silver City - Aberdeen.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The music writer Laura Barton visits another four locations in Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes.

Today it's Aberdeen - Silver City. Sparkling silver in the sun, but a dour grey under a heavy sky, Aberdeen is built from granite hewn from local quarries and nestled on Scotland's north-east coast between green hills and the forbidding North Sea. In recent years, gas and oil money has changed the city, bringing in workers from around the world, but it's retained a distinctly Scottish culture.

Laura walks the golden sands of Aberdeen beach with singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph, whose recent success has taken her to live in Glasgow. She also catches an impromptu folk performance in the Blue Lamp, visits daughter and father Katie and Charley Buchan who perform as Best Girl Athlete and live at the top of a high rise in the centre of the city, and she accompanies the 'psych folk' musician Alan Davidson on a stroll along the River Don and through Old Aberdeen.

Music in this programme:
Best Girl Athlete - In Your Head and Silver City (Album: Best Girl Athlete, Fit Like Records)
CS Buchan - Unpredictable Energies (Album: Material Others, Emubands)
Kitchen Cynics - Strandloopers, Harlaw and Jon Justice (Album: Apardion, Songs of Aberdeen, Fit Like Records)
Best Girl Athlete - Hills (Album: Carve Every Word, Fit Like Records)
Kathryn Joseph - The Why What, Baby and The Weary (Album: Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood You Have Spilled, Hits the Fan Records)
Kathryn Joseph - And You Survived (pre-release white label)

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0302Wide East Anglian Sky2018071720180721 (R4)

Laura Barton visits Norwich to experience the playfulness of music-making.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

Music writer Laura Barton visits four locations in Britain and listens closely to the music found in different landscapes. Today - Norwich.

John Betjeman wrote, "What would you be, you wide East Anglian sky / Without church towers to recognise you by?"

But in the shadow of the Anglican Cathedral, Laura discovers that music and mischief seem to go hand-in-hand. She talks with Jenny and Rosa of celebrated teen pop duo Let's Eat Grandma about clapping songs and messing about by the river, electronic music composer Emma Catnip (AKA Catnip and Claws) about mischievous monks and the sound of bouncing balls in the underpass and, in their downtime after Evensong, members of the girls' choir at the Cathedral.

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0303Pirates And Agitators2018072420180728 (R4)

Music writer Laura Barton takes a close listen to the music of Bristol.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The music writer Laura Barton heads west to listen to the music of Bristol. Surrounded by hills and divided by the River Avon, she finds a city where music is made with the roguishness of pirates and agitators.

In the south of the city, Laura's invited into the tranquil new home of Invada Records, the studio of music producer and Portishead instrumentalist Geoff Barrow. Down on the Harbourside, neo-soul singer China Bowls busks with the band Snazzback and talks to Laura about the sense of freedom moving back to Bristol has given her music. Japanese-born artist Yoshino Shigihara has similarly found a home there, drawing energy for her band Yama Warashi from the nearby M32 motorway and late night reggae sessions in St Paul's. Laura finds Tom Friend leafing through the Bristol section in his record shop, Friendly Records, on North Street. Together they try to put their finger on the source of the "Bristol sound" and mull over concerns about gentrification. And Joe Talbot, the singer in post punk band IDLES, muses on how the city's dark history of slavery has lead to a more accepting place to live and make music today.

Produced by Andrea Rangecroft
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0304Isle Of Man2018073120180804 (R4)

Writer Laura Barton listens closely to music on the Isle of Man.

Laura Barton takes a close listen to music found in different landscapes around Britain.

The writer Laura Barton listens closely to music on the Isle of Man. Surrounded by the tempestuous Irish Sea, the island is said to contain all the landscapes of Britain in only 220 square miles. There's a strong tradition of Celtic music but many say you can hear the particular landscape and character of the people in Manx tunes.

On the rugged northern coast, Laura meets a young harpist, Mera Royle, who plays traditional Manx music and received the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award this year. In the western town of Peel, Laura listens to a variety of performers, including Breesha Maddrell and Aalin Clague from Moot and Clash Vooar, at the Yn Chrunniaght festival. And in a fishing village in the south, Laura meets Gyp Buggane, the bassist of the psychedelic band 13th Pillar, who also runs a studio recording the diverse mix of musicians on the island.

Produced by Andrea Rangecroft and Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.