Brewtown #18: Green Fortune

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Folk has already been represented on this site’s What Else Is Out There? section with The Offbeat, but today, it’s time to give props to a bit of Brewtown folk with a lot of members both past and present! As luck would have it, it’s Green Fortune.

Mark Knight (mandola, lead vocals), Kay Knight (percussion, backing vocals), Rhys Jones (Harmonica), Carl Sutton (Guitar), Andy Faint (percussion), Stiv Hogg (bass) and Rhys Knight (occasional percussion or bass) make up this Midlands folk collective who have been described as a band that John Peel would have loved!

Though they have not been featured on Radio 1 by John Peel (they formed after he died but still), they still have gained a modest Midlands following and have added some much needed folk variety to the Brewtown scene…besides the Wurzels!

Oh they're not from round 'ere, but they left their mark...on my poor eyes!

Oh they’re not from round ‘ere, but they left their mark…on my poor eyes!

The leader Mark Knight, like Scott Milligan of Kitten Pyramid, always had been into music since childhood and had grown up listening to Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie who were modern day legends back then. How times change and the nostalgia whores weep!

His first experiences with bands grew mostly out of his love for punk music in the 70s and 80s such as with beyond obscure bands like Filth and Mad Dogs (who I WON’T be doing pieces on, research would take forever!) and also joined The Gift with fellow veteran Midlands musician Bruno Gallone in 1985. After a few outings in the 90s with bands like Rezist and Digweed, Mark bought a slightly contrasting instrument to his punk years in 2005; his trusty mandola which he plays in GF to this day.

Though it's not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

Though it’s not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the idea of Green Fortune came to the heads of both Knight and childhood friend Jude Hackett during a drunk curry night out because hey, they weren’t getting older and they had nothing to lose but their dignity, which let’s be honest, is entirely overrated. Isn’t that right Kanye?

The yellowish-blueish gamblers were officially formed in the summer of 2008 with the original line-up of Mr and Mrs Knight, Hackett (bass), Sarah Devine (vocals) and Scud Stevens (percussion).

Hackett and Mr Knight started writing music before adding these new members to the line-up which would be changing quite a bit over the next five years. Not to Iron Butterfly levels but they’ve had a fair few members.

Plus their songs aren’t 17 minutes long either so this is the mootest of moot points!

After beginning to rehearse both at home and in Moira along with the first couple of live shows (one with a bar patron expecting Metallica and getting Fleetwood Mac from them, supposedly!), GF showed that folk had a place amongst it’s heavier rock contemporaries in the Midlands music scene.

In 2009, they requested the help of Burton College to set up some sessions for their first set of tunes such as The Rose, Running in Circles and Permanence in Change to be recorded and stored on Myspace (ah those were the days…) and Reverbnation for all to see.

Although they were an originals band first and foremost, which is good since I mainly cover those here (COVER ORIGINAL bands? Aren’t I confusing?), they did do a folkified cover of the Buzzcocks most famous hit Ever Fallen In Love which later had a video directed by Derby-based film-maker Adam Stevenson.

Despite Hackett leaving in 2009, the line-up soon became larger the next year when stand-up bass player Louise Hughes replaced Hackett, violinist Joy Gravestock and harmonica player Rhys Jones joined the fray also with Jones playing on the same bill as GF one night. Faint also replaced Stevens later on in the year.

Music-wise in 2010, GF released their first single which was My Daemon Lover/Gypsy’s Curse, the former of which also had a music video directed by Adam Stevenson. A big highlight for them was to play at the Midlands’ largest creative arts festival Bearded Theory supporting The Wonder Stuff and Doctor and the Medics.

With 2011 came new members such as guitarist Carl Sutton and percussionist Andy Faint with the departure of Devine and Stevens and news delivered to them in April that the video for My Daemon Lover would be played on the BBC Big Screens in both Leicester and Derby!

High vis' an all!

High vis’ an all!

In May, they had their first radio interview with Ashby-based community station Hermitage FM and they took part in the Ashby Arts Festival to coincide with the interview.

To round off the year, the band released their second dual single Ever Fallen in Love/ On Icarus Wings on iTunes like they had done with their previous single and would do with their third dual single in 2012 Empty Skies/ Where Do I Begin?

Also in 2012, they joined the likes of Scott Milligan and Star From Ivy to start the Arch Creations Revolution to help build more interest in the Brewtown scene in the run-up to Burtfest.

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

Though they were not on the card for Burtfest, they were on the card for the first Gladefest taking place at Rosliston Forestry Centre at the end of August alongside the Roz Bruce Infusion and The Offbeat.

It was also the last gig for Hughes who was replaced by Mark’s son Rhys Knight who you may know from Mario’s Nicotine Parlour and debuted with the band at the Moira Folk Furnace Festival.

In November, they had a big support spot for a gig headlined by Derby folk musician and BBC Horizon award winner Lucy Ward at the Snibston Discovery Museum. She has a Wikipedia article with a decent amount of information so that’s nice.

Not Icarus’ Wings but it’s close!

As 2013 rolled round, the position of bassist was batted around from person to person including Rhys Knight, Leicester-based bassist Mark Kinton, formerly of Three Legged Dog, Burton music promoter and former Star and Garter pub owner Paul ‘Lavy’ Latham and former Deadtime Philarmonic bassist Stiv Hogg.

Rhys Knight also would deputise on percussion when Faint was unavailable such as at 2013’s Moira Furnace Festival and Gladefest II which had support from Tilted Smile and The March, a band they would later support at the Wetmore Whistle in September.

But in October was when they had a true triumph! How so? After a number of months of leaping into the Top 10 of the Midlands Folk charts on Reverbnation, they finally achieved No1 status, even beating out Lucy Ward! So who supports who now then, hmmm?

It's like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it's a victory!

It’s like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it’s a victory!

And coming into 2014, they continue to gig and record their music in and around the Midlands with Jones on temporary leave and Rhys Knight as temporary bassist. Temporary tempura tempest! (Let’s just go to the music part of the article now please!)

So music-wise, how do the Overseal gypsy band fare? Well this is the other side of the folk spectrum compared to The Offbeat. Whereas that band is innocent and bouncy, Green Fortune is more raunchy and gritty with the punk influences and mature subject matter.

Each band member provides and past members have provided a layer of great importance. Not even the bells provided by Kay Knight feel insignificant alongside the bass of Hughes or the mandola of Mark Knight. Their music is both enjoyable and enchanting to listen to.

Their songs can range from being about gothic romance (My Daemon Lover) to a rousing sing-along (The Seventh Magpie) all done in the style of a traditional folk band with a punk edge to them along with very interesting arrangements of old punk classics such as the before mentioned Ever Fallen In Love and the Stranglers’ hit Golden Brown.

THE GYPSY’S CURSE

Two tracks that I will recommend here are The Gypsy’s Curse and Empty Skies. To start, The Gypsy’s Curse shows off the band’s energy and flair whilst telling the story of a man who fell in love with someone he shouldn’t have fallen in love with (I’m honestly not talking about their Buzzcocks cover, shut up!)

The vocals go back and forth between Devine and Mark Knight with both providing their own vocal strengths with Knight’s being more rough and worried and Devine’s being more calm and conniving.

Music-wise, it’s quite upbeat whilst keeping the sinister minor key, keeping with the theme of the song which the lyrics reinforce whenever the chorus comes along:

Since I met that gypsy woman

There’s a black dog crossing my path, a raven at my shoulder

Touched that wild rover and brought down the gypsy’s curse

The second song Empty Skies however, is much calmer and beautiful sounding with the violin, harmonica and mandola featuring prominently throughout. Knight’s vocals are softer this time around and have a more emotional weight here and are the main vocals in the song.

It’s a song that tries to seek out the clarity much needed in life’s journey that could only be seen through an un-clouded ’empty sky’. Not to be confused with the Elton John album or 2011 film though!

It’s a great demonstration of their soft-spoken side that goes well alongside their more upbeat and energetic songs that provide a good variety to their catalogue. As always, check for yourself if you don’t believe me!

Summarising, Green Fortune provide some good folk variety like Great Scott provide good hip hop variety to a predominantly electric rock scene. Their lyrics tell an interesting tale and their music provides an entertaining backdrop. Highly recommended for lovers of the Pogues and The Levellers.

As always, this has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

Green Fortune’s stuff

Official Website (currently down but could be back up again): http://www.greenfortune.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Fortune/

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/greenfortune

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenFortuneUK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenfolk

GF

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Brewtown #16: Mario’s Nicotine Parlour

This is not how they usually look from left to right: Chester, Mines, Knight and Skellet

Sadly, this is not how they usually look from left to right: Chester, Mines, Knight and Skellet

We return to regular Brewtown programming here with a young quartet that have made a decent impact in their first year of being part of the Burton music scene a la 5 Days of November. It’s-a-them, Mario’s Nicotine Parlour!

Jack Mines (lead vocals, lead guitar), Rhys Knight (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Jack Skellet (bass guitar) and James Chester (drums) have brought a solid punk alt rock sound that comes as an interesting addition aside the Indie and hard rock that is common in the scene.

MNP describe their sound as “Arctic Monkeys meet Half Man Half Biscuit.”

"I bet that you'd look good in those Joy Division Oven Gloves!"

“I bet that you’d look good in those Joy Division Oven Gloves!”

The story for MNP starts in May 2012, despite not officially starting to do gigs as a band for nearly a year. Mines and Knight had always been playing music as a duo either at open mics or at friend’s parties.

The original line-up consisted of Mines and Knight in their usual roles with Luke Mousley on bass, Richard Bates on drums and Skellet as a deputy bass in case there was any hang-ups.

They spent the good part of 2012 and early 2013 writing material and practising said material, as you do, getting it ready for their awaiting public. Well I should say they were waiting after their first music video was released!

A video budget bigger than Texas, on a US map.

During the Spring of 2013 is when they started performing live officially, in April when they performed at the Navigation Inn in Swadlincote and at the Victoria Inn in Derby supporting Get Cubs and Great Scott. In May they would perform at the Wetmore Whistle for the first time as well as The Royal Oak supporting Sam Garrett, Fantastik 4 and Lucida Scroll.

In June, they would end up on the bill for Soundcheck’s Best of Burton event that took place at the National Brewery Centre run by Burton College students for their final course so their grades were in the band’s hands! Not really, but they were helped out by Star From Ivy, Phoenix Salvation and Fantastik 4 again.

The next month they would return to the Whistle to support The Vibe‘s Eyes EP launch along with 5 Days of November and support Kitten Pyramid and Lady and the Tramp for the Moira Beer Festival. In August was a major break for them as they performed on the main stage at the Rosliston Forestry Centre for Gladefest which also featured Tilted Smile, Wildfire Folk and The Roz Bruce Infusion. Knight would pull double duty that night (no typing error there) as he would also play percussion in folk band Green Fortune with Ma and Pa Knight, Kay and Mark.

Though nobody does a family band like the Partridges!

Though nobody does a family band like the Partridges!

MNP got their first bit of radio play with Knight and Mines being interviewed on Radio Ashby (Internet radio but hey it’s a start) where they were also promoted by Green Fortune. Family musicians helping each other? Take notes Oasis! (Dated I know but still)

October and November would bring them a line-up change with Chester and Skellet replacing Bates and Mousley on drums and bass respectively and a number of big gigs including a return to both the Glade for a Food and Drink Fair/Farmer’s Market, the Victoria Inn supporting Nottingham-based Indie rock act The Steady Sound and back to the Whistle once again, this time for their OWN EP launch!

Done on Hallow’s Boxing Day (Nov 1st), they launched their first EP Proof of Identity (produced by Dan Gallagher, yes him again!) and because it was the day after Halloween, they all daubed black and white makeup on their faces and that explains the first picture so…yeah there’s that.

But does that explain this genius editing job? Probably!

But does that explain this genius editing job? Probably!

The night after their EP launch, they were down to Kidderminster and pretty soon they were performing in Leicester, Derby, Sheffield and wherever else wanted their hands on them! In between these gigs going into 2014, a new demo track Organism was released in December and have attempted to be a part of the 2014 YNot Festival. Go for it!

Time for the actual music! Though they have only been around for a short time, behind the scenes and before officially performing live, their music has made a connection with a good number in the Brewtown scene as well as helping them go down a storm in the outer reaches of the country.

Their music is a hybrid of alternative, indie and punk which seems like a no brainer of styles especially from a rock band their age in this generation or music. Still, they own their music in both instrumentals and vocals with Mines and Knight showing some gruff and cig-ragged singing on their tracks. Speaking of, let’s look at two I recommend.

The first is the third track off their Proof of Identity EP, Time Will Wait. It starts off like a grunge track with the slow start and rough yet restrained vocals. But at about the 1:40 mark, it kicks into a higher gear like it literally should be a song that you speed up to along the highway while listening on the car radio. Definitely one to check out if you’re looking for some really up tempo and gritty music, coming out of Burton-on-Trent at least!

The second is, oddly enough, the second track from the EP, Crumpton Blues which sounds like something a depressed Chippy Minton would sing, if he could speak of course! Although there’s Blues in the title, you wouldn’t take that from the song itself as it is an up tempo, dare I say, jolly sing-along track. Oh it still keeps the rough vocals and dirty rock sound, but it is a pretty catchy tune itself.

It does appear to be in the lyrics though where the downer blues lyrics come in so it’s not an entirely misleading title. While tinged with the optimism the song does seem to give off, there’s definitely an acceptance of bad things happening to the singer:

Alcohol stained, it’s like a bullet to my brain and I know

These long, long days, they make me feel whole again and I know

I’m on a freight train and I’m just singing again oh!

Granted there’s a na-na-na sing-along refrain to step into give us a chorus as well as some trumpets thrown in which Bates himself is known for playing, but it isn’t without it’s slightly depressing moments. It’s a good mix of the downers and the uppers (don’t take that mix literally kids, drugs are bad mkay?), but that’s just me. As always, see for yourself.

Mario’s Nicotine Parlour are ones to watch out for, in terms of newer and younger acts. They show great promise in both their music and entertainment value and are being received well wherever else they go. If they’re round your way, drop by their parlour and smoke the night away, I mean put on your Nicorette patches! I wouldn’t want to upset anyone would I? Still though, this has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

MNP’s stuff

Official Website: http://mnpofficial.webs.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariosnicotineparlour37

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/marios-nicotine-parlour

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/mariosnicotineparlour

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MNPofficial

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/mnpofficial

MNP

MNP 1