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NEW CD SILVER COLLECTION

Review by - W. John Wallace

A TREASURE TROVE OF RICHES 

Celebrated singer-songwriter Mike Silver has chosen to sing others’ songs on his latest album – re-imagining them with delicacy, deftness and sensitivity

 

It’s the voice that you can’t miss, right from the get-go - a warm, seasoned instrument in its own right that brings to life each of the fourteen songs on this latest album by the voice’s owner, time-served roots and acoustic singer-songwriter, Mike Silver. Accompanied by his crystal-clear guitar work, together with restrained instrumental and vocal accompaniment, Mike makes each of these songs – all created by other writers and musicians – totally his own.  

 

A regular and long-time performer on the English folk scene for many years, Silver has always been known for his self-penned songs, solo performances and, more recently, acclaimed concert and album collaborations with Johnny Coppin – always with the emphasis on home-grown songs; so this departure into performing the works of others is a major change.

 

It’s a fascinating collection, including narrative ballads by Mike’s beloved (and now sadly departed) friend and fellow musician Ewen Carruthers, as well as melodies from the folk tradition, plus classic jazz and Americana songs – all of which are treated with respect and affection, with the re-invention of each song as if it were freshly minted and brand-new. So whilst you may have heard traditional songs like The Water is Wide and Lord Franklin many times before, in Mike’s hands, they slip the moorings of their historic roots and speak to the listener as if these were songs of a modern era, addressing love in our time and the tragedy of loss on today’s high seas.

 

It’s rare for singers from the folk tradition to take on songs sung by vocal greats such as Ray Charles, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Billie Holliday, but Mike sings Charles’ Lucky Old Sun, Cole’s Nature Boy and Holliday’s chilling Strange Fruit (about lynching in the USA’s southern states) with deft assurance, once again easing them from their expected contexts of smoky period jazz, and re-imagining them as contemporary ballads whose messages are timeless and universal.

 

Many musicians have covered Bob Dylan songs, but Mike takes Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather, and transforms it into a ballad that sounds as if it has a heritage of centuries. The words are brought to life anew when sung in Mike’s rich voice, and – as with each of the songs on the album - Mike’s fluid guitar accompaniment, and tasteful instrumental flourishes by guest musicians Nils Tuxen and Jo Partridge, ensure that each song is imbued with its own character and memorability.

 

So treat yourself to Mike Silver’s Silver Collection, and you’ll be assured of a refreshing re-introduction to songs that you will already know and love, now presented with originality and affection by this consummately skilful and sensitive artiste. 

JACK DANCES  -

CD AND LYRICS NOW AVAILABLE VIA THIS WEB SITE
 

HIGHLY POLISHED SILVER by: William Villiers

Superbly crafted songs are the hallmark of the new Mike Silver album, ‘Jack Dances’

If anyone can capture a story, a movie, a vignette of time - then embrace it within the measure of a single song - it’s Mike Silver. Long heralded as a master craftsman of song-writing, singing and performing, his albums have retained a consistently high standard of storytelling and musicianship all down the years - and happily, his latest album, ‘Jack Dances’ further confirms his position as one of the UK’s foremost roots-and-acoustic singer-songwriters.

The album title (referring to the fourth song on the CD) is a prime example of Mike’s ability to synthesise an entire life into just a few verses - and for everyone who’s ever attended a small-scale music gig, the scene will be eerily familiar. This is about the eternal drunk (‘Jack’ in the song’s title) who insists on getting between the audience and the performer and performing that self-absorbed, windmill-weaving seaweed dance so beloved of brain-fried hippie-generation lost souls who seem to populate bars all over the world. Mike nails the whole story in a scattering of perfectly honed verses, with the augmentation of supremely confident and competent guitar, plus his trademark rich, warm voice that so effortlessly soothes seduces and delights the ear.


Family tribulations, holiday hell-holes, love songs (to a grandson and to a guitar!) all fall within the remit of Mike Silver’s song-writing abilities on ‘Jack Dances’ - but their seemingly effortless ebb and flow, their soft sinuousness and vivid memorability, bespeak an artist who labours long and hard to create perfect and crystalline songs of vividness, purity and perfection.

Ably partnered by Nils Tuxen on dobro, Christi Andropolis on fiddle and Stewart Hardy on violin and viola, ‘Jack Dances’ is a master-class in restraint and time-served musicianship. So if you appreciate true artistry, great songs - and all the trademark brilliance to be expected of Mike Silver, ‘Jack Dances’ is definitely one for your collection!

**          **          **          **           **          **           **            **               ** 

 

When preparing a new album,  there is always a conversation held about whether or not lyrics should be printed in the sleeve cover?

From a listeners point of view..It's always a bonus when you are enjoying an album to be able  to enjoy the lyrics too. Or if you love a song so much you want to learn  how to play it or sing it yourself.  Having the lyrics in print, means it makes the job a little bit easier when you do start to get to grips with the song. 

Then there is always the thought that the lyrics are too small to read on a CD cover,  or it's not environmentally friendly waisting all that paper, never mind the ink to print and so on...

So with my new album (Available now)  I have decided on trying another angle, which is to upload the lyrics into my web site on the CD and tracklistings page. You just click on the link provided and it will open up giving you the option to either save it on your PC or print it out so you have a larger more readable version available.

I would be interested to find out what you think about doing this way?

See ya soon !

Mike


October 2012

Mike his working in Europe at the moment. His tour dates can be found on the gig guide. On his return he continues to work throughout the UK as a solo artists and along side Johnny Coppin. 

Mike has also just taken delivery of his new 'Powell' Guitar. Further details to follow soon.

Bye for now....

 


Performance Workshop 15–18 September 2011

As a musical performer have you ever wondered how others see you?

 

  • How do you see yourself?
  • Do you want to perform but don’t know how/where to begin the leap from home to stage?

We may just be able to help you answer these questions and more!

There will be a 3½ day performance workshop in the lovely surroundings of the village of Chackmore, Buckinghamshire where opportunities will exist for you to share performances with other workshop attendees and also pick up hints, advice and tips on all aspects of performance from experienced tutors.

Topics to be covered:
 

  • DeliveryVocal
  • Instrumental
  • Content
  • Choice of material
  • Arrangements and accompaniments
  • Use of  microphone/PA

The course is not restricted to song writers or instrumentalists and will cover many aspects of musical performance.

The fee for the course is £220.00 including food and soft drinks with tea and coffee available throughout each day. For more information and to book your place, contact: Linda Watkins on 07808 258223 or email lindawat1@hotmail.com

Tutors
           
Mike Silver
A very experienced performer and commensurate musician and song writer who has, (because of his ability to get right to the heart of what people are going for, facilitating their abilities in the process) already run many successful songwriting and vocals skills workshops both in UK and Europe - and continues to get requests to run more!

Linda Watkins
A singer, songwriter and determined woman has spent the years since her family flew the nest honing her already considerable performance skills in local venues as well as on large folk festival stages. She regularly works with children & adults from 7 to 70 sharing her passion for music.

This will be a unique opportunity to tap into a great wealth of knowledge on all aspects of musical performance.

Mike and Linda know each other well having worked together and become firm friends along the way so the atmosphere, whilst focussing on the tasks in hand, will be both relaxed and enjoyable.


 

2010

May News

 

Just got home from playing Huntingdon Hall with Johnny Coppin. We enjoyed the gig immensely, the in-house sound system and engineer were great and the audience warm and very receptive. It doesn’t always follow that gigs ‘one’ enjoys as an artist. come across as well as this one did to the press but this review (verbatim) appeared in Worcester News, Saturday, May 1, in print and online. The online version also included on Gloucestershire Echo website:

 

Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver/Huntingdon Hall, Worcester

INTENSELY personal, superbly crafted and seamlessly delivered. These are songs for parlours, pubs and if there was any justice in the world;  for great stadiums, too. Coppin and Silver have been partners in rhyme for many a long year. But these days, the ex-Decameron tunesmith from the Gloucestershire valleys and his slick pickin’ pal seem to have gained a new maturity and breadth of musical vision, like a vintage wine ripe for the corkscrew to unlock its secrets. For when it comes to contemporary collaborations, it surely doesn't get much better than this. Silver's percussive four-finger Nashville claw-hammer style is the perfect foil to Coppin's lyrical piano lines and warm strumming approach. The result is magical and there are indeed times when this duo's music is breathtakingly beautiful. On Beacon Hill, a poem by Laurie Lee, is delicately handled. You can almost taste the dry mouth of nervousness here as Coppin presented the tune before Cider With Rosie creator Lee, as the great man himself quite probably frowned as he downed yet another pint of cider in his Slad watering hole. From the Cotswold ridges we journeyed to the American Civil War Appalachians as weary soldiers climbed Reunion Hill. Then it was Survival, a story of how humanity¹s indomitable spirit can ultimately triumph, regardless of circumstances. And in between, we heard song after song, journalistic essays in verse that effortlessly observed the human condition. Wrong Side of Midnight, How Many Rivers, Angel In Deep Shadow; these were but a few of the wonderful soundscapes painted by two of Britain¹s finest songwriters, stories capable of warming even the coldest heart. John Phillpott

2010

April News

Hi there,

Just home briefly before going to London, Trowbridge and Whitstable.

The two Cornish concerts with Johnny were brilliant and we had a great turnout at both venues.  The BVH is a super place to play; really cosy and lots of my friends from the 'Welly' singaround in Boscastle came to the gig and sang their heads off. The Western Hotel in St. Ives was really well attended and there seems to be a rumour that we're going to play the St. Ives  festival next year which will be just the job.  Had to make an early start the next day to get to Hitchin on time but it was well worth the effort. I supported Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham and they were simply out of this world; wonderful entertainment and breathtaking musicianship. I thought it was very gracious of them to remind the audience about my set before they played their last set of tunes. It was lovely that Julie was able to come along for the ride and we had a few  days visiting friends and family before heading off to South Wales to play Newport Folk Club and the Valley Folk Club at Pontardawe. We were given a warm welcome by everyone at both clubs and it was very enjoyable to play acoustically at the Valley. After using a PA almost exclusively for so many years, I have rediscoverd the joy and simplicity of just a room, people and no microphone barrier. If the opportunities present themselves I'll be doing more of this.

The last stop before coming home was to play The Acoustic Tearoom in Kirkby Stephen., Cumbria. Fantastic night! Penny and Paul run a really tight ship, the venue (their promotions now take place at the Masonic Hall in 'KS') is just about perfect, the food was delightful, Penny does it all herself; and we were sold out. I really enjoyed myself, managed to take care of one or two requests for favourites and played the last song without the PA just for fun.

 

2010

February/March News Letter

 

The year ahead looks like it’s going to be fairly full-on,  There are some miles to travel and it will be great to be playing some dates alongside Johnny Coppin again, he is such a brilliant musician and when we sing together it gets close to flying!

As you can see I am in the process of creating a new website so in the meantime, if there is anything you can’t find here, I have set up an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) with an organisation called Sonic Bids. For instance a complete list of my dates which is now available on this site: is also duplicated there. Please go to: www.sonicbids.com/mikesilver

My first working day this year was a short trip to Germany to play some session guitar for Reinhard Mey’s new album www.reinhard-mey.de Reinhard is well loved by his audience, he writes in French as well as German and his tours take him to many cities all over Europe, he’s a talented writer and a real gent too. It seems that Old Fashioned Saturday Night is his family ‘anthem’. I worked on a recording of his two years ago and afterwards he wrote me a charming letter thanking me and enclosed a DVD which he had put together with OFSN as background music. It was just for the weekend but I had a brilliant time working with his producer and now a good friend Manfred Leuchter. My other breaking news is that I have just heard that I have been booked to play Wimborne Folk Festival www.wimbornefolkfestival.co.uk this year. I honestly can’t remember how many times I have played there but it has to be close to the most I have ever played any festival.

In this early part of the year I will be playing some dates here in the Southwest, two in South Wales and a couple ‘up country’ thrown in for good measure. They say travelling is character building...  anyway here is the information about them:

19th February 8.15pm. Bodmin Folk Club www.bodminfolk.co.uk

This is a great club of many years standing and viewed with love and respect by many visiting artists and they can’t half sing too! In recent years, since I moved to Cornwall, I have been going to a few singarounds locally and rediscovered the joy of playing acoustically and incidentally, the relief, of not having to schlep a sound system up narrow stairways etc. and through myriad doors that all open the other way!

5th March 8.00pm Beehive Folk Club 16 Union Street Harthill Sheffield South Yorks S26 7YH Contact: Peter Garratt 0114 235 2850. garratt-p@sky.com This my first gig with Johnny this year, looking forward to it a lot!

12th March 8.00pm.  Boscastle Village Hall with Johnny Coppin. The ‘BVH’ is a lovely venue, intimate with a warm atmosphere. Bring your own ‘refreshment’ or walk to the Napoleon just up the road for a pint. The tickets are £10.00; we can’t get a huge number of people in and some seats are already gone (the Cornish bush telegraph is too efficient sometimes) so it is best to book up soon. Please send an email to info@mikesilver.co.uk or call 07886 813343 to reserve.

13th March 8.00pm. Weston Hotel St Ives with Johnny Coppin. This one is for you chaps and chapesses that live ‘down Cornwall’. The Weston is special; the stage area is down on a lower level with some seating and there more places a few steps higher. Tickets are £9.00 (because this venue is bigger than the ‘BVH’) however some seats have already been reserved so booking early, info@mikesilver.co.uk or call 07886 813343, is favourite.

14th March Hitchin Folk Club www.hitchinfolkclub.idnet.net I am supporting Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham this time and can’t wait to be back there again.

18th March, Newport Folk Club www.newportfolkclub.co.uk The Lyceum Tavern, it’s been a while since I played Newport, a friendly reception is always guaranteed.

19th March Pontardawe Folk Club www.pontardawefolkclub.co.uk The Ivy Bush Hotel 103 High Street, SA8 4JN. This is a club of very long standing and all of us on the road feel like we got a feather in our cap to be able to play there.

20th March The Acoustic Tea Room Kirkby Stephen Tel:- 017683 72123. Fax:- 017683 72132. acoustictearoom@aol.com www.acoustictearoom.com This is one of the best gigs on the planet to play. Penny and Paul, two of my favourite people, provide a really warm welcome, it’s a supper evening, wonderful home cooked food and a really warm atmosphere. I love this job!

25th March 8.00 pm Otterton Mill www.ottertonmill.com Box Office: 01395 568521 Otterton, Budleigh Salterton Devon EX9 7HG. Otterton Mill is so much more than an Arts Centre and well worth a visit just on its own merits. They serve excellent food and wine and it’s worth taking time to arrive early for a meal before the gig. This one sold out early last year and it was a lovely evening.

27tth March is a private house concert in North London

28thMarch Peewee’s Bar Trowbridge peeweehuntattheswan@hotmail.com Church Street Trowbridge BA14 8DR. Peewee is great guy and a good mate from a long time back. His love of music makes it always a pleasure to be in his company.

I do hope that you’ll be able to come to one, or more, of these shows, I have a number of new songs to share with you and wonderful new guitar made by Ken Powell www.powellguitars.com to show off. Ken builds truly remarkable instruments and this one is really special.

See you very soon

Mike