the Miners' Hall, Flass Street
Durham. DH1 4BE
A powerhouse of Northern talent and a truly authentic voice, Richard Dawson was the first ever artist we put on as Seagull & Circle back in 2013. We are delighted to be bringing him back for our first gig in the spectacular 350 seat ‘pitman’s parliament’ at Redhills, a stunning, historic hall which we are helping develop into a community/cultural hub as part of the renewal of the building.Backing up Richard will be Durham’s own Onsind – fresh off the back of their hugely successful new album release and a tour de force in their own right. We are working with Down by the River to make this happen and it’s sure to be one hell of a gig.
Watch the video for ‘Ogre’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfaW-yD7DoA
Rising up from the bed of the River Tyne, a voice that crumbles and soars, that is steeped in age-old balladry and finely-chiselled observations of the mundane, Richard Dawson is a skewed troubadour at once charming and abrasive. His shambolically virtuosic guitar playing stumbles from music-hall tune-smithery to spidery swatches of noise-colour, swathed in amp static and teetering on the edge of feedback. His songs are both chucklesome and tragic, rooted in a febrile imagination that references worlds held dear and worlds unknown.
Both live and on record Dawson is a barrage of musical expression and personality. A shambling exterior, amidst tales of pineapples and underpants, ghosts of family members and cats, his stage presence is at once inviting and awe-inspiring. The visceral power of his voice against the lurching modality of his guitar lines conjure false memories of Tim Buckley and Richard Youngs duetting with Sir Richard Bishop and Zoot Horn Rollo. There is a rawness to the music that embodies timeworn singing traditions – the fire and pestilence gait of the Sacred Harp singings, the fractured call and response of the Gaelic Psalms, the unbridled power of Mongolian throat singers – its power tempered by intimacy, flecked with human emotion anchored by a sense of place.
From its first beguilingly muted fanfare to its spectacular climax exploring a Dark Ages masseuse’s dangerous fascination with a mysterious artefact called the Pin of Quib, Richard’s new album ‘Peasant’ will grab newcomers to his work by the scruff of the neck and refuse to let them go until they have signed a pledge of life-long allegiance.
Driven forward by exhilarating guitar flurries, Qawwali handclaps and bursts of choral ferocity, Peasant’s eleven tracks sustain a momentum worthy of the lyrics’ urgent subject matter. Dawson describes the themes of these songs as “Families struggling, families being broken up by circumstance, and – how do you keep it together? In the face of all of these horrors that life, or some system of life, is throwing at you?” The fact that these meticulously wrought narratives all unfold in the pre-mediaeval North Eastern kingdom of Bryneich – “any time from about 450AD to 780AD, after the withdrawal of the Roman Empire”- only makes their contemporary relevance more enduring and vital.
Dawson’s objective was to create “A panorama of a society which is at odds with itself and has great sickness in it, and perhaps doesn’t take responsibility – blame going in all the wrong directions”. But encountering Peasant’s captivating sequence of occupational archetypes (‘Herald’, ‘Ogre’, ‘Weaver’, Scientist’), listeners might find themselves wondering if these multitudes could somehow be contained with one person – surely we all have a ‘Shapeshifter’ and a ‘Prostitute’ within us?
Watch the video for ‘Soldier’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7iW5OEeCUw&t=2s
Watch the video for ‘Weaver’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G54_PYN1Sp4
Interview on The Quietus: http://thequietus.com/articles/22157-richard-dawson-peasant-interview-michael-hann
Since the release of ‘Anaesthesiology’ in 2013, Daniel Ellis and Nathan Stephens-Griffin have been impressing the indie-pop world with their new band Martha, releasing awesome albums, and a bunch of 7″s. ‘We Wilt, We Bloom’ is a welcome return to their decade long band Onsind. Recorded earlier in 2017, the new album sees the addition of bass, drums and extra vocals expanding upon their usual acoustic sound, and manifests musically somewhere between the Proclaimers and Propagandhi.
Politically the last 4 years have been rough and this album encapsulates the despair of living in modern day Britain as a young, leftwing, progressive. Onsind can’t offer any answers but here’s an album which might leave you feeling a little less alone.
Released on Specialist Subject in the UK, and Salinas in the US. Available to listen/download/buy here: https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/we-wilt-we-bloom
“We Wilt, We Bloom is a laser-focused scalpel of an album. It cuts into the politics of 2017, peeling back the veneer of civility that covers the everyday lies we’ve heard for so long now”