I am delighted to report that the release of ‘The Same But Different’ is very nearly upon us – the 3rd September is when it comes out everywhere although it is already available direct from me at gigs and will continue to be so! Anyway, I’ve had a fair few emails asking what’s going to be on it so without further ado here is my preview of what’s going to be on it:
Jigs (Lost At Sea/No More Clues/Page One)
What actually made me want to take up the banjo in the first place was Irish music I’d heard on tenor banjo. Being a 13 year old in Stafford I didn’t realise there were different banjos so it was by accident that I ended up playing clawhammer 5-string banjo but I was heavily influenced by the legendary Ken Perlman, for me the king of playing jigs and reels out of clawhammer style. Therefore I wrote these three jigs in that vein.
When A Man’s In Love (Trad. Arr. Walsh/Proud/Sinclair)
I absolutely love this traditional song of leaving, separation and of course good old elaborate 16th century filth…Walsh and Pound began playing this at a gig in Birmingham when we were a little short on repertoire so we jammed this one. Since then it’s been a big favourite in all gigs both solo and duo, and when I brought it to Jon and Adam the dub arrangement materialised.
Dan: Vocals/Banjo, Rachel: Harp, Nic: Mandolin, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
New Farming Scene (McGarvey/Neilson)
After sharing a gig with the mighty Southern Tenant Folk Union at Ireby festival a year or so ago, I was utterly blown away by their album ‘New Farming Scene’ and the title track was the pick of the bunch. A favourite with both Walsh and Pound and the Dan Walsh band, the song’s lyrics are a really interesting take on the old vs new.
Dan: Vocals/Banjo, Rachel: Harp/Vocals, Nic: Mandolin, Christi: Fiddle, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
Bread and Butter
I played guitar in a jazz orchestra and I guess that was the primary influence on this one. It’s also a nod to bassist Jon Proud who is forever bewildered by the way folk musicians arrange tunes (ok so you know that bit in the fifth bar of the second time through the third tune in D…) so this one’s pretty simple – a main tune and a bunch of solos! I wrote the A part of the tune some time ago but felt the album needed another jazzy number to go with At Least Pretend so I extended it and brought it to the band. Nic’s in his element here.
Dan: Banjo/Guitar, Nic: Mandolin, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
The Wiseman (Walsh/Baskett)
James Baskett was the bassist in my first band back in Stafford and he was half responsible for Who Do I Want To Be and Every Day Is A Better Day from my last solo album. A while ago he sent me some new lyrics so I wrote music for this one and it went bluegrass! I am of course a huge fan of bluegrass so I didn’t need much excuse to stick a pretty straight ahead bluegrass number on the album. The words to my mind could be applied to the Murdochs at the Leveson Enquiry although that was not the original intention!
Dan: Vocals/Banjo, Rachel: Vocals, Nic: Mandolin, Christi: Fiddle/Vocals, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
The Same But Different
I retain a massive fondness for my hometown of Stafford and I felt a song was due about it given its importance in my life. The point of the song basically is even though Stafford doesn’t look very different from all those other towns in England now full of Tesco, Greggs, Smiths, Clarks etc. its people and memories make it my home. Also referred to is Joxer Brady’s, my favourite pub in the world and the ‘famous three’ are Dennis, Rick and Johnny who’ve been an amazing support from the very beginning of my performing days. They’re always very sober and civilised with it as well…
Darkness Descends (Walsh/Cronin)
Musically, this one’s a bit of a mix of various things that I’d been meaning to use for a while. The chords for the chorus for instance I’d earmarked for a song ages ago that never happened while the riff was pinched from my good friend Tom Cronin (with permission…) who I heard use it in another band. Lyrically, it’s a very dark song about a recurring nightmare I kept having…I like to keep things cheerful of course.
Dan: Vocals/Banjo, Rachel: Harp/Vocals, Nic: Mandolin, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
Snow In March
Much though I love fast and furious banjo, I’m a big fan of slow tunes so I wrote this waltz a few years back and then wrote a harmony for mandolin to go with it.
Dan: Banjo, Nic: Mandolin
Lesley’s Cheesecakes (Ruchenitsa (Trad. Arr. Walsh)/Leslie’s Cheesecakes)
Eastern European music is a keen interest of mine with its complex time signatures and I touched on it on my last album with Egypt Cottage which was, mostly, in 10/8 time. I came across the first tune in this set, a traditional Bulgarian one, and arranged it for banjo and then wrote the second tune to go with it. Ruchenitsa incidentally is the type of dance associated with the tune rather than the name of the tune itself. Lesley’s Cheesecakes meanwhile is in homage to Lesley from Joxers who makes cheesecakes for everyone’s birthday and they are indescribably pleasant. The band really hated me after this. It was brought in at fairly short notice and it took us hours to work out the timings for my tune as it switches between types of 7/8 at random points. Rachel too had the misfortune of having me as a guide and when producer Mark started to instruct instead it all went better leading Rachel to utter the immortal words: ‘I think it’s best when Dan doesn’t speak’.
Dan: Banjo, Rachel: Harp, Nic: Mandolin, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums/Darbuka
At Least Pretend (Carton/Moran)
A long time live favourite, this is a little known demo from the early days of the Saw Doctors which was released only on a limited edition album called ‘Friends Demos B-Sides’ that my parents got hold of. I was messing about with some different chord voicings and felt that this song might suit the more jazzy kind of feel.
Dan: Vocals/Banjo/Guitar, Rachel: Harp/Vocals, Nic: Mandolin, Christi: Fiddle, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
More About You
Would people think it was ok to laugh at someone who couldn’t walk being kicked over live on TV? With the Jeremy Kyle show I can hardly see the difference, people just laugh at their mental inadequacies instead. I felt these people needed criticising in a song! This backfired a little when Walsh and Pound played it in Bury and someone in the audience had actually been on the show…
Dan: Vocals/Banjo, Rachel: Harp, Nic: Mandolin, Christi: Fiddle/Vocals, Jon: Bass, Adam: Drums
Reels (Cesiumfrancolithicmyxialobidiumrixydixydoxidrexidroxhide/Kenny’s Return/Swallow’s Tail (Trad. Arr. Walsh)/Road To Errogie (Sutherland)/Calgary Fiddler’s Welcome To Shetland (Gifford)/The High Reel (Trad. Arr. Walsh))
As mentioned above jigs and reels are some of my favourite tunes to play on banjo so here’s a big long set of them. The first two I wrote, the first named after a fictional alkali from Red Dwarf and the second in homage to Kenny Dalglish’s return to Liverpool as manager last year (although he’s since been sacked so maybe a banjo player’s tribute is a bad omen). All the rest are some of my favourite Scottish or Irish tunes mostly picked up in tune sessions in Newcastle where I’ve been living for the last six years. The High Reel meanwhile is the tune that made me want to take up the banjo after I heard Barney McKenna play it at breakneck speed back when I was not even a teenager.