Out of the Green – Reviews
Penguin Eggs Magazine Review
Tim Readman and Jennie Bice Out of the Green (Big City)
Geordies, the people of northeast England, have a particular liking for songs that tell stories—as anyone who’s ever heard Vin Garbutt or Jez Lowe can attest. Tim Readman, who hails from Newcastle, certainly has a keen nose for a good yarn, and on Out Of The Green the Vancouver-based singer and guitarist offers an eclectic collection of six traditional and four contemporary folksongs from England, Scotland and Ireland.
Backed by fiddler Jennie Bice, mandola player Ed Weaver, accordionist Allan Dionne, and multi-instrumentalist Bill Buckingham, Tim hits the ground running with a boisterous Irish version of John Barleycorn learned from Ron Kavana. “He had it from a Cork singing family, and encouraged me to sing and record it. It’s really interesting how many threads of the same story appear in different cultures.”
The song tells how Barleycorn, the personification of the barley, grows to manhood and is then cut down, threshed and crushed, only for his spirit to come triumphantly back to life in the form of beer and whiskey. Tim sings it with the verve of a tipsy Viking in a Lindisfarne mead hall.
There’s a great range of songs on the album. The Sheep Stealer is a feisty song from the hills around Geordieland that paints a picture of resistance to the authorities and economic desperation. Limbo is another gem, a comic stage ballad about the 18th century equivalent of a hipster-slacker who’s in and out of the bawdy house and the debtor’s prison like a yo-yo.
The chilling Who Put the Blood (Edward) is a medieval murder mystery in ballad form, a dialogue between mother and son in which she winkles out the grisly truth. “Mother’s have this sixth sense when it comes to their children,” says Tim dryly.
Out Of The Green isn’t all about ritualistic dismemberment, murder and criminality however. English folkies also have fun in other ways, and there’s a couple of great comic songs about sexual encounters. The Barley in the Rye manages to compress the entire short story of a doddering cuckold, his wife, and her lover into three verses. The more ample The Cobbler and the Butcher, the album’s closer, is a saucy broadside ballad with more double meanings than you can shake a steak at. “I like what we did to it musically—it has a bouncy swagger and seemed nice to have something tongue-in-cheek at the end.”
For Tim, what makes a song great—whether contemporary or traditional—is the story and poetry. Out Of The Green includes two classics of our time, Richard Thompson’s haunting lament set in war-torn Belfast, How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?, and A Pair of Brown Eyes by former Pogue frontman and dentists’ poster boy Shane MacGowan.
“What I’ve always loved about both of them is that you don’t know what’s happening yet you get these incredibly evocative images. It’s getting away from the sequential, pedantic way of telling a story—leaving it to the listeners to piece together for themselves. That’s what I really like in folksong.”
– By Tony Montague
Celtic Connection Newspaper Review – November 2011 edition
Tim Readman – Out of the Green – Big City BC021
Tim Readman and Jennie Bice, both excellent musicians in their own right are well-known in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They recently collaborated and recorded a CD, titled Out of the Green.
A decade after ‘Into the Red’, Tim Readman’s last release under his own name, comes this collection of six traditional and four contemporary folk songs from England, Ireland and Scotland. Sometimes some of the best things are spur of the moment and Tim Readman speaks about how unplanned the recording of his new CD was.
“Out of the Green came out of the blue really. After ten years of thinking about songs to record, it took ten minutes to make up my mind, ten days to record it all and ten weeks to get the record out!”
It all started at a gig with Jennie Bice. “She threw a set list down and I said ‘Yes that looks good-where did it come from?’ She said ‘I have had it for fourteen years since our first gig together’. Bloody hell I thought – it is time we recorded this stuff! I had been trying in my head to mix my own songs with folk material and also include some pop and rock songs I like to play in a folk style and it just wasn’t working.
I still have a load of originals and other songs ready to record but that’ll all have to wait until another time. In the meantime I wanted Out of the Green to hold together as a solid body of work. We hope you agree that it has been worth the wait.”
Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne England, Tim readman has an impressive biography as a musician, folksinger, songwriter, producer and music journalist, and he plays guitar sings and writes.
Tim is the former leader of Canadian Celtic/folk favourites Fear of Drinking and has played for years with The Arrogant Worms. He has produced a number of CDs for other folk acts. He writes for Canada’s folk roots magazine Penguin Eggs. He was the Artistic Director for the 2008 and 2009 CelticFest Vancouver and is still with them as performer, musical host and MC.
He also has an extensive repertoire of original songs and can also perform everything from traditional murder ballads to more contemporary material by artists as diverse as The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Steely Dan and Madonna, and has performed in many settings, from concert halls to more intimate venues.
Some of the tracks on the album include Barleycorn; Ballad of Cursed Anna; The Barley and the Rye; How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?; The Sheep Stealer and The Cobbler and the Butcher
Musicians on the CD include Tim Readman on acoustic guitar and vocals; Jennie Bice, fiddle and vocals; Ed Weaver, mandola; Allan Dionne, accordion and bodhran; and Bill Buckingham, cello, bass, harmonium, percussion and hammered dulcimer.
All of the songs on Out of the Green are folk tales set to music and Tim Readman delivers the lyrics in the clean convincing manner of a true shanachie.
Out of the Green is available at www.timreadman.com, www.cdbaby.com, and iTunes.
Review featured in FolkWorld #46, see http://www.folkworld.eu/46/e/cds.html
Tim Readman, originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, has made Vancouver, British Columbia, his adopted home. When not writing reviews for the Canadian folk magazine Penguin Eggs, he is playing gigs with a mixed repertoire of original songs, contemporary stuff from The Beatles to Madonna, and last but not least traditional music from Britain and Ireland. The latter is featured on his recent album “Out of the Green”, a selection of six traditional and four contemporary folk songs. It kicks off with the Ron Kavana version of the ancient English drinking song “(John) Barleycorn”, followed by Shane MacGowan’s boozing “A Pair of Brown Eyes”. Trad music alternates with more recent tracks: Richard Thompson’s “How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?” is followed by the classical murder ballad “Who Put the Blood?” (courtesy of Karan Casey) and “The Sheep Stealer” (thanks to The Voice Squad; Martin Carthy also used to do it, see review above). With gentle vocals and an easy-going folkrock-like delivery, driven by Tim’s guitar as well as mandola (Ed Weaver), fiddle (Jennie Bice) and accordion (Allan Dionne), “Out of the Green” is in some way as characteristically Canadian as the rolling western prairies or the gentle hills of the Ontario countryside. This always makes it enchanting and entertaining to lend an ear!
© Walkin’ T:-)M
Thomas Keller, Salzgitter, Germany
TIM READMAN & JENNIE BICE – Out Of The Green – Big City BC021
November 22, 2011
An album of British traditional and modern songs by a Canadian artist is an intriguing prospect. Even more intriguing is Tim Readman’s track record which embraces every influence available between Newcastle and Vancouver and digging deeper you find that Tim is a Geordie born and bred, which explains quite a lot. As well as being a singer, guitarist and songwriter Tim is a producer and journalist and sometime artistic director of CelticFest Vancouver and now the picture is complete.
The material on Out Of The Green would not be a surprise on any CD by a young British singer. Tim’s sources are impeccable and, although many of the titles are familiar, he has interesting variants on the traditional material and an interesting approach to the contemporary material. He opens with a brash Irish version of ‘Barleycorn’ and follows that with a rather polite version of ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ in which he covers Shane McGowan while not falling into the trap of sounding like him. Next is probably the album’s best track, Jonathan’s Kelly’s ‘Ballad Of Cursed Anna’ which, if you didn’t know otherwise, you’d attribute to Bob Pegg. His supporters are fiddler Jennie Bice, who shares top billing, plus Ed Weaver and Alan Dionne on mandola, accordion and bodhran – tight and dynamic but not intrusive… Dai Jeffries
Musician Tim Readman’s road to Vancouver a long one
By John P. McLaughlin, Special to The Province Newspaper, Vancouver BC,
January 25, 2012
Suffice to say no matter how fabulous a performance Meryl Streep turned in as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Tim Readman will not be settling down with a tub of popcorn to see it. He was in a movie theatre recently and the Iron Lady trailer alone “got my blood boiling, I felt sick to my stomach”.
Readman is from Seaham Harbour in Britain’s Northeast, near Newcastle upon Tyne. The town was home to, and completely dependent on, three coal mines when Thatcher decided coal was no longer profitable, went up against the powerful coal miners’ union and shut down the entire industry.
It had a devastating effect on Seaham Harbour and ultimately precipitated Readman to come to B.C. A pro musician from an early age, he’s also an occupational therapist — working in the mine was certainly out — and a woman he studied with in Newcastle came from Lantzville on Vancouver Island and invited him to visit.
“She said she could put me up for a night and give me a tent,” says Readman. “I was not well traveled at all, I’d never really been outside of the Northeast of England and I was used to a very industrial landscape. I came out here and it just blew the top of my head clean off. It’s absolutely gorgeous. So I hitchhiked to the Okanagan and I went to the Rockies and I did all over Vancouver Island and got back to Newcastle and went right, that’s it, I’m moving to Canada.”
Not so fast, Bucko. Back home his band got signed to a record deal, they had a big regional hit with a ska version of the Hawaii Five-O theme and years passed by. As the band eventually came apart Readman saw a newspaper ad for an occupational therapist job in Vancouver and he emigrated in 1987, just after the big buzz that was Expo.
He’s made a huge and positive impact on his adopted hometown and country. His band, Fear Of Drinking, was a much loved staple in the Celtic and folk scene for a good 10 years and he has played and toured with Celtic fiddler Shona Le Mottee for years. He’s opened for and joined with the comedy troupe The Arrogant Worms since they first met in the 90s. It’s quite the eclectic career.
He has produced CDs for a number of other folk acts. He a regular contributor to the Penguin Eggs roots/folk magazine. He was the top guy at the Celtic Fest for a couple of years and still contributes. And after living off the avails of music for so long he’s now the executive director of Stroke Recover Association of BC, a full time, regular day job.
That’s how he found the money to record his new album, Out Of The Green, which he’ll showcase on Friday with fellow players Jennie Bice, Ed Weaver, Allan Dionne and Bill Buckingham.
“It was probably about 10 days to record,” says Readman, “but it was spread out. I went to Mission where Jennie Bice lives, she has a recording studio with her husband. We’ve worked together at the Mission Folk Festival for many years. The [album’s] set list was provided by her — it turned out to be the set list from the very first gig we did together which was about 15 years ago.”
Laurie-Ann Copple – CKDJ 107.9 FM, Ottawa
There’s an on-line review of the new CD here: http://www.facebook.com/l/iAQFdb7QrAQEYlGR0ldM3QbvrHabwW07kg2aN2SdJnjebeg/soundcloud.com/ottawafolkradio/l-a-coppleout-of-the-green-cd – they do call me Reedman instead of Readman but the rest is great!
…and here’s a few comments from the DJs who are spinning Out of the Green…
I received your CD today, listening now as I type this and wow! I like it – your music is excellent – great stuff my friend…What a wonderful CD, you have taken the original and traditional and made them your own.
Terry Ferdinand, The Folk Show, Bishop FM Radio, UK
Congratulations on the fine album…
Roman and Brenda, Regina’s Mighty Shores, CJTR 91.3 FM, Regina, SK, Canada
Thanks for your e mail I used the link and downloaded your stuff and have
very much enjoyed it and I will be playing some on my show in the near
Liz Franklin – Folkal Point , Radio Teesdale, UK
Thanks very much Tim, I like what I hear.
Menachem Vinegrad Radio Upper Galilee, Israel
Thanks for reaching out to me via my folk station “Folk Tyme”. I listened and downloaded your 4 tracks on the website. I’m adding Barleycorn and The Cobbler and the Butcher into rotation right away!
John Enger, Folk Tyme, Live365.com Internet Radio
Thanks for the recording. You and Jennie sound great together. I don’t know where you find these songs but I just love listening to the lyrics of The Barley and the Rye and The Cobbler and The Butcher. We’ll playlist those straight off with nods to Ballad of Cursed Anna and the apropos Winter Song.
Cal Koat, Worldbeat Canada www.worldbeatinternational.com and Celt In A Twist CJVB AM 1470, Vancouver, BC, Canada
I really do love the CD – especially Winter Song. I hope you like the sentiment about your versions being like hitting a refresh button online. It’s not easy to do others’ covers in a way that is better than the original…My Stoke the Folk co-host and our intern absolutely adored the songs we played on the show last week.
Laurie-Ann Copple, Stoke the Folk, CKDJ 107.9 FM, Ottawa, Canada
Thank you very much for sending “Out of the Green”, it is a true delight. I enjoy listening to your entertaining renditions of the old traditional songs and of the new ones.
Menachem Vinegrad, Worldwaves, Radio Upper Galilee, Israel
Tim Readman “Out of the Green”
Big City, 2011