The newly released Imagined Village album is the cover feature of Songlines magazine Issue 48 (December). An article by Tim Cummings and extensive photo coverage by York Tillyer from the Real World studios session gives the full story behind the project. To complete the picture, the free covermount CD features 5 tracks chosen by Benjamin Zephaniah - who brings an outstanding performance to The Imagined Village album with his re-working of Tam Lyn.
Jump 11m11s into this piece available on the BBC's listen again service to hear a great section on The Imagined Village projects with contributions from Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy and Simon Emmerson
After their fantastic trip round the world in 2004, fellow actors and bike fanatics Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman couldn't shake the travel bug. And after an inspirational UNICEF visit to Africa, they knew they had to go back and experience this extraordinary continent in more depth.
Riding from John O'Groats right down to South Africa, leaving on 12 May 2007, they travelled through Europe, and then Africa from Tunisia to South Africa, via countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia - a total of 15,000 miles. The team arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on 4 August 2007.
Real World Records has been delighted to work with the Long Way Down production to provide the soundtrack to the journey. You can hear Real World music on the 6 part television series which starts on BBC 2 Sunday 28 October and the accompanying DVD and CD to be released on December 3rd.
Drawing from the catalogue of outstanding artists Geoffrey Oryema, Ayub Ogada, Joseph Arthur, Sheila Chandra, Adrian Sherwood to name but a few and introducing new tracks from Big Blue Ball and Sasha and BT, Ben Onono and The Boxer Rebellion, this is also an amazing musical journey
Of the forthcoming soundtrack Russ Malkin, Executive Producer/Director of Long Way Down said: Music unquestionably enhances the enjoyment of life and, through the careful selection of tracks, this CD conjures up a lot of the emotions felt by the team on the Long Way Down adventure.
You can hear Peter Gabriel's thoughts about the project on this month's Moon Club update: Africa is often portrayed as a problem, a continent in crisis. But in this film, in this music and most importantly in these people, you will also see and hear the real Africa that has been an incredible inspiration to me, Ewan and Charlie."
Episode 1 : Sunday 28 October BBC 2
Soundtrack CD release: December 3
Real World Records was knocked out to be asked by Nine Inch Nails to create a remix for their forthcoming album. Stef Goodchild took up the challenge and, along with the some outstanding percussion tracks from the mighty Dou Dou N'Diaye Rose (one of Senegal's greatest drum masters), has created an outstanding and epic remix of 'The Warning'.
The track will come out on the album release on November 20 - which appears on 3 different format - digital, CD and three disc vinyl.
Trent Reznor says of the new album: "I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. Remix records can be disposable garbage (of which I myself have been guilty of to some extent) but this collection feels good to me. I reached out to heroes, friends and strangers. I encouraged those I approached to do anything and insert themselves as much as possible into the track. "
It may have been a momentary mention (and rather curiously slotted in the middle of a feature about archive Dylan footage) but BBC 2's Newsnight Review on Friday 12 October included a live clip of The Imagined Village. A short cameo of Martin Carthy being interviewed and Billy Bragg launching into England Half English at Real World can be viewed again on line.
October 15 sees the release of the much anticipated album 'The Imagined Village'. Outstanding reviews so far have been very exciting for everyone involved. The November tour starts on November 11 so check in again for news of details of what will be happening live.
Aminatou Goumar from Toumast has just return from her extraordinary adventure to the far north where the Cape Farewell has taken a ship full of artists, musicians and performers to expore life at the 78th parrellel at Eastern Greenland.
The voyage turned out to be a demanding and sometimes overwhelming experience, as described by the David Buckland director of Cape Farewell, in his final report from onboard ship as they sailed south:
"A calm night entrance to Northern Iceland, my last watch ended at 6am a mixture of sadness [voyaging is addictive] and relief that yet again we have all travelled safely. It always feels like a Shakleton moment, all accounted for and no damage to life and limb. This expedition will go down in Cape Farewell folk law as the extreme one - the longest sea passage, the hardest physically on all of us, the most violent weather and that dance with ice and more ice. Yesterday Greenland really didnt want to let us go as we did one of our famous nautical circles to find a way through an endless band of icebergs and sea ice offshore. Eventually we hugged the coast and literally pushed blocks of ice the size of busses out of our way to emerge to seaward just as the night closed in. Greenland has given us the extreme beauty to match the extreme hardship, days of unimaginable senses which have beguiled each of us. For me, he overall impression left from this expedition is a sense of awesome power; the power to shift a warm undersea river of water north that would take 100,000 nuclear power stations to generate, the power of wind and sea forces, the power of ice, how it shapes, melts and threatens. There is no human repost for this scale of activity, we have only just managed to witness and survive. We now know without doubt that our human activity and waste in the form of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is destabilising the status quo of the planetary systems we are blindly stirring a hornets nest with our self obsession and greed and it is getting angry. Here in the Arctic the temperatures are up 6 degrees Centigrade, weather patterns worldwide are destabilised: witness the floods in the UK, more violent hurricanes, drought in parts of the USA and Australia and recently a solid month of rainfall fell south of the Sahara from Ethiopia to Senegal. Each event on its own can be explained as a freak event but this is a pattern of events predicted as a consequence of our heating planet. The changes of climate will increase and become more unstable. If we have learnt anything on this expedition it is that the forces that will be released against us will not be manageable. And then the magic rides in. We have not seen another human or even a trace of human endeavour for 17 days, we have been beyond any safety net, we have depended on our own resources and have engaged and become overwhelmed by the shear magic of bears, ice, light, emotions and our own shared company. Not totally true - we did manage to get close enough to civilisation to get Brian picked up by helicopter, satellites have fed us with information of position and weather and we have communicated using high tech devices. Escaping is not a desire but I am motivated to try to retain what we stand to lose. Small adjustments to our expectations of what defines our individual lives could achieve new technologies and ways of living that are sustainable. Somehow embracing this change seems more fun and fulfilling than the status quo of more need, more aggression, more tension. I am doing what we all have agreed is futile preaching. During this expedition we have all been inspired artistically, new works are in embryonic form and now we need to refine them, get them out into the public domain and hopefully engage, illuminate and inspire. David Buckland (Cape Farewell)
Iarla Ó Lionáird has a busy Autumn schedule coming up including live performances with Crash Ensemble in Dublin and Flight of the Earls commemorative shows in Paris and Belfast.
Crash Ensembles SHINDIG, running at SSMJ in Temple Bar on October 12th and 13th, is a mammoth weekend featuring two concerts; Free State a look at some of the most interesting contemporary music in Ireland today including the premiere of a new Crash Ensemble commission by Gerald Barry, and Marathon a whopping 11 hours of new music by the godfathers (and extended family) of contemporary classical music.
Iarla will also be touring with Crash Ensemble in Ireland during October and November and in Australia in March 2008.
'Music and Poems of the Earls' - The Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
A reading and musical performance of the great outburst of poetry written by the Gaelic Court Poets when their dynastic leaders, ONeill and ODonnell set out by ship from Donegal for Continental Europe in 1607 now known as The Flight of the Earls.
'Turas na dTaoiseach - The Flight of the Earls', Belfast Opera House
An evening of music, song and art commemorating the 400th anniversary of The Flight of the Earls. The evening will feature newly composed music by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Niall Vallely performed by a stellar cast of Irelands foremost musicians. Singers Iarla Ó Lionáird and Karan Casey will join musicians such as piper Cillian Vallely and percussionist Mel Mercier along with the Carolan String Orchestra. The concert will be recorded for broadcast by BBC Northern Ireland and will also have an important visual aspect with stunning new paintings dramatising The Flight of the Earls story by John B. Vallely, one of Ireland's foremost painters, being exhibited in the Grand Opera House foyer throughout the Belfast Festival at Queen's.
Iarla will be accompanying Irish President Mary McAleese on her first official state visit to New Zealand. The itinerary is reported to include meetings with the Irish community, local business people and the Maori community.
Simon Mayo recently interviewed The Imagined Village featured artist Billy Bragg for the latest edition of The Radio 2 Music Club.
Billy discusses the artists involved in the forthcoming album and the re-invention of the English folk songs 'John Barleycorn' and 'Hard Times Of Old England'.
Click the link below to listen again online.