Ryley Walker, Frazey Ford, Houndstooth…

…And the highlights of End Of The Road 2015

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Not sure how your festival summer has panned out this year (maybe you could let me know your highlights in the comments box?), but next weekend Uncut will be making our annual belated entrance into the fray, with plenty of activity at the tenth anniversary End Of The Road festival. Once again, we’ll be sponsoring the Tipi Tent, one of the more intimate venues at the Larmer Tree Gardens, where we’ll be hosting Sam Amidon, Julie Byrne, Euros Child, a bunch of late night surprise sets and, I think best of all, a performance by Jessica Pratt early on Sunday evening. Also, Uncut’s Tom Pinnock will be conducting Q&A sessions each day (as well as blogging from the site all weekend), with the aforementioned Jessica Pratt (Sunday, 1.30 at the Tipi Tent), Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson (Saturday, 3.15 on the Library Stage), and someone as yet unannounced that will probably turn out to be Ryley Walker (Friday, 3.45, Library Stage). Please drop in and say hi.

Last week, another website asked me (along with Edith Bowman, Tom Ravenscroft and some other folk) to put together some potential highlights from the End Of The Road bill. Ryley, predictably, was one of them, and I was actually playing yet another Walker album, a duets set with Bill MacKay called, maybe aptly, “Land Of Plenty”, when the request came in. Walker moves so fast, and has such an energised and dispassionate attitude to his previous work, that it’s hard to imagine quite what he’ll do this weekend: a clue came in a tweet last week when he announced, “Band is crushing right now top form long jams and new things and old things and ale yes ale in UK for a bit come witness.”

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More and more, he comes across as a genuinely unmediated talent, a free spirit who at the same time is so commendably unabashed about his influences. Also his vibe is rowdy and unprecious, quite the opposite of what you might imagine: he’s often my favourite person on Twitter (Aug 30: “Went to rave in Manchester and now I’m in happy Mondays”. Aug 30: “Manchester is great a guy barfed on my hand last night”. Aug 31: ” My new nick name is beans. Nobody gets called beans anymore.” Etc), and every time I write something like this I get retweeted by his parents, sweetly.

Walker is opening the Garden Stage at midday on Friday, kicking off maybe the best run of this year’s End Of The Road given that it also includes Frazey Ford, Natalie Prass and Ty Segall’s Fuzz before a headline set by Low. Two of the albums I’ve played most in the past year or so have been by Prass and Ford – here’s the extended review of the Natalie Prass album I wrote at the start of the year. My knowledge of Ford and her old, folkish band The Be Good Tanyas is pretty sketchy, to be honest, but the solo album she put out last year, “Indian Ocean”, is wonderful; a southern soul record made with members of Al Green’s old band, that is nuanced, groovy and emotionally engaged in a very artful way (I reviewed it in greater depth here). Ford’s voice is very impressionistic, understated, and she conveys passion, heartbreak, ecstacy etc with the merest flecks. Also, this video is wonderful…

One last recommendation. I think this might be the first time Houndstooth have played over here, which is cool. They’re from Portland, and they’ve released a couple of albums on the great No Quarter label: initially they reminded me of something like Avi Buffalo, something fairly indie, but the more I listen, the more I hear Richard Thompson, late chugalong VU, a spindly psychedelia which, on record, never quite stretches itself as far I want it to. I noted last week that I hoped they’d head into looser, jammier territory, and in response this morning they got in touch to say, “Not to worry, plenty of long jams in our live set!” So there you go. Have a great time, everybody…

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