Voices

It came as a shock last weekend to discover that among my fellow punters at a folk concert back in November 2012 was David Cameron. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister slyly hinted at the hipness of his musical tastes by revealing how he and Samantha snuck into a First Aid Kit gig as the Shepherd Bush Empire. Until then, I had flattered myself that I had a cool and recherché appreciation of music, and that hopefully I had avoided the pretentious music so often accompanied by the word “recherché”.

Beverley Folk Festival, various venues

This beautiful historic market town in East Yorkshire has hosted the festival since 1983, when it was launched by the local White Horse Folk Club.

Everyone knows that the first single released by the winner of a TV talent show is guaranteed a place at the top of the charts. So imagine the BBC's embarrassment that the cover of Whitney Houston's 'Run To You' by the inaugural winner of The Voice, Leanne Something-or-other, is flailing at 27 in the midweeks, having sold just 6,527 copies

The Voice: The talent show that failed to conquer the charts

Everyone knows that the first single released by the winner of a TV talent show is guaranteed a place at the top of the charts. Really, any old rubbish will do.

Chris Ethridge: Gram Parsons acolyte who co-wrote three of his best-known songs

Atransient but important member of The Byrds and a major influence on the Rolling Stones, the Eagles and Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons has long been acknowledged as the father of country-rock, though he preferred to call the genre "cosmic American music".

Album: Tom Jones, Spirit in the Room (Island)

Spirits lift as the Voice shows he's a modern master

Album: Sarah Jane Morris, Cello Songs (Cinik)

Twenty-odd years after "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Me and Mrs Jones", vocalist Morris sounds better than ever – deeper, stronger, sassier – in this beautifully detailed Italian concept album of 10 superior pop songs arranged and conducted for voice and cello orchestra by Enrico Melozzi.

Album: Richie Havens, My Own Way (Wienerworld)

Before the Woodstock film brought him iconic status, Richie Havens was a distinctive presence on the Greenwich Village folk scene.

Bombay Bicycle Club, Alexandra Palace, London

Bombay Bicycle Club have moved a long way since being described as a cross between The Strokes and McFly - a hybrid of ambivalence they themselves denounced.

Album: Father John Misty, Fear Fun (Bella Union)

If you're going to quit your day job as drummer in the world's premier folk-rock band, you'd better have something special up your sleeve.

Michael Kiwanuka

Young singers who cover all the bases

Fresh-faced they may be, but new talents are turning to the songs of bygone eras.

£9m keeps oldest book in Europe

A seventh-century book that lay buried in a saint's coffin for hundreds of years has been saved for the nation.

Festival Guide 2012: Ones to watch

"Oh yeah, all right/ Take it easy, baby/ make it last all night."

Album: The Futureheads, Rant (Nul)

Kudos to The Futureheads for attempting Rant, an entirely a cappella album of R&B covers, traditional folk songs and rearranged morsels from their back catalogue.

Saw Simon, a piano-tuner from the Karen tribe, helped to repair the instrument kept by Aung San Suu Kyi

Rangoon's piano-tuners recall the vital part they played in Suu Kyi's struggle

Pro-democracy leader's years under house arrest were eased by her passion for music

Album: Justin Townes Earle, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (Bloodshot)

You have to applaud the restlessness and drive of a talent such as JTE's. At its best (see Harlem River Blues), the results are a beguiling blend of demon-driven countryfied rock-gospel and Earle could easily have stuck in that groove/rut.

Chris Geddes
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