Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Singer-songwriter Dotan: Dutch Musical Hope in Fearful Days.

Hiya, nice of you to drop in.
We in the Wetlands have good musicians. Even some excellent ones!
This time I will introduce you to a new rising star in our musical firmament. His name is Dotan.

Dotan Harpenau, in full. Israel born, but raised in the Netherlands.
He's young, he's a hunk, he's the son of a BN'er (B for Bekende = Well-known, N for Nederlander = Dutchman), and he's pretty ambitious. Not for him the instant-but-very-soon-forgotten 'fame' of participating in The Voice of Holland, but a gamble on EMI being interested enough to produce his first album.
They were.
'Dream Parade', his debut, was released in 2011, and the Dutch little less scathing than normal (we have a saying which says a lot about our mentality: 'do not show your head above the level of the hay, or it will be chopped off'; in other words, do not show yourself to be better than the next man). In fact quite a few of us (me!) sat up and pricked up our ears with interest. Who was this new singer-songwriter with the unusual name?
The single 'This Town' was played very frequently on 3FM (for hip young listeners) and Radio 2 (for middle-aged listeners) both. By the way, do admire the artwork accompanying the song - it's great.

Dotan meanwhile appeared on national TV, where his good looks didn't make things worse for him either. But that's not what he is about. He is a real musician, not a media-concept dreamed up in some office.
So for his second album, '7 Layers', he wrote the material himself. Let me quote him for you, to give you a feel for his mindset:
in the human anatomy,
complex layers of tissue that cover the surface of the body
and protect internal structures from contact with the environment.
The seven layers of skin are:
stratum basale, 
stratum spinosum,
stratum granulosum,
stratum licidum,
stratum corneum,
the upper papillary layer
and the lower reticular layer.
The skin is also divided into three main layers:
and subcutaneous layer.
Once you peel your skin layer by layer you will get to the inner core.'

Admit it; you'll never think about your skin in the same way again, will you?
'7 Layers' (2014) features 12 songs. The first single released from the album was 'Fall', and it was aired reasonably well, but you cannot call it a hit single.
The link shows Dotan live, in the early morning radio program 'EversStaatOp538' at Radio 538.

But it was when flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine, and the total massive loss of life that ensued, that the second single, 'Home', took off like a rocket (no disrespectful pun intended!!!). It became the anthem for the hundreds of deceased who still had to be brought home to the Netherlands, but also to Australia and other countries. The version I've linked for you is once more a live one, from RTL Late Night on August 24th, 2014.

So. Just in case you are wondering which track is my favourite, it is the first one of the album: 'Let the River In'. I have a thing for rivers, and my Wetlands is a country criss-crossed by rivers, and I was born and work in a city on the mighty river Maas (in fact, overlook the Maas from my classroom windows!). This version was again recorded at the session at EversStaatOp538.

And here endeth the lesson on Dutch singer-songwriter Dotan. Do look up his songs on YouTube, and buy his albums, you could do worse. And then you can boast to your friends you have discovered this amazingly obscure but talented Dutch artist!

Last but not least:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Albert Niland, Where Are You? We Need Your Music in Hellevoetsluis!

Five or so years ago I took my son to the local theatre for its annual 'Celtic Night'. It turned out to be one of those historic evenings that only come once in a while.
We squeezed into the smallest concert hall (more a cramped room than anything else) and were blown away by the music of an Irishman called Albert Niland.
Kings of Kilburn High Road

He played like a demon. Not only did he play 3 musical lines and used a foot drum at the same time, but he sang with an intensity that had us on the edge of our seats for an hour.
 Now, you should know that I am no stranger to Kilburn High Road (London) as I worked a flower stall on Cricklewood Broadway, and I know what types walk those pavements. I have met those Kings in the flesh. I've been to their grotty bedsits and I have shared their pints and the occasional whiskey. I still cannot hear this song without tears coming to my eyes.

Here's another little gem.

Sign of the Times (Prince cover)

Albert Niland does visit The Netherlands from time to time. He's returned to Hellevoetsluis three years ago, being the main act that time, and selling out the largest concert hall. And not so long ago he played De Steeg in The Hague. In fact, he tours the Continent all the time, being more a touring proper musician than an artist who shows his face in the media for other reasons.

He's quite elusive. He does have a website, but is not into the 'Hey Folks Look I'm a Star' thing.
Born in Mountbellew, Co. Galway, Ireland, he released his first album 'Dirty Day' as long ago as 2003. It was followed up by 'A Night in Dublin' in 2006, 'Paradiso', recorded at...yep, Paradiso Amsterdam, in 2008, 'The Hungry Ghost' in 2009, and a nameless double album in 2011.
Albert Niland's website
Albert on Facebook (if you ask me, this hasn't been updated for years)

He is a fenomenal guitar player! The few sources that name him all mention that he was the guitar player for one of the 'Riverdance' tours, but that sells him short. This man is more than just a guitar player, he embodies music.
And to me (but hey, this is MY blog) his brilliance comes across far better live than on vinyl or on whatever stuff they use to make a CD.
So this means that you will have to make it to one of his concerts. When you do, spare me a thought, just for a moment, and send me his vibes. You would make my day.