FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 9, 2015
Plainsong (Iain Matthews, Andy Roberts, Mark Griffiths) ready Reinventing Richard: The Songs Of Richard Fariña, due out on Omnivore in U.S. September 11.
Intimations in 2012 of the demise of Plainsong have proved to be unfounded. Plainsong lives and breathes with a spending tribute to the songwriting of Richard Fariña (March 8, 1937 – April 30, 1966).
LONDON, U.K. — 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of legendary singer-songwriter Richard Fariña’s death in a motorcycle accident. He is largely remembered for two magical albums recorded with his second wife Mimi (younger sister of Joan Baez) for Vanguard Records including Celebrations For A Grey Day (1965), chosen by Robert Shelton of The New York Times as one of the ten best folk albums of the year, and Reflections In A Crystal Wind (1965). Fariña’s debut novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me was published in 1966.
Plainsong’s Reinventing Richard: The Songs Of Richard Fariña is scheduled for September 11, 2015 U.S. release on Omnivore Recordings. Plainsong is a band including veteran singer-songwriter Iain Matthews; Andy Roberts, who’s accompanied the likes of Richard Thompson, Roy Harper and Chris Spedding; and Mark Griffiths, whose resume includes Neil Innes, Cliff Richard’s Shadows and the Bonzo Dog Band.
Fariña’s songs have been recorded by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton, Carolyn Hester, Pete Seeger, Sandy Denny, and many others. His songs have been central to Plainsong since their formative days. Now Plainsong has recorded a wonderful new set of 16 Fariña compositions, including the previously unrecorded “Sombre Winds.”
“Next April 30th will commemorate 50 years since the passing of Richard Fariña and we honor his memory with a new Plainsong album, Reinventing Richard. We’ve attempted to conceptualize how his songs might have sounded, if written and first recorded in a 21st century electro/acoustic setting,” Matthews wrote in the album’s liner notes.
Added Roberts, “This has to be put out there as a Plainsong project. That’s the banner Iain and I sewed in 1972, under which we’ve forged and polished our musical relationship, and it’s where we’ve championed Richard Fariña’s songs for over 40 years.”
Matthews has long supported Fariña’s work, performing “Reno Nevada” in Fairport Convention’s live set from 1968 although the group only recorded it for a BBC session. Iain has continued to interpret Farina’s songs ever since: “Blood Red Roses” (Second Spring, 1969); “Reno Nevada” (If You Saw Through My Eyes, 1972); “Morgan The Pirate” (If You Saw Through My Eyes, 1972); “House Un-American Blues Activity Dream” (Tigers Will Survive, 1972); “Bold Marauder’” (And That’s That, 1992); “Another Country” (New Place Now, 1999).
“During a road trip in July of last year, with my friend and author, Pat Thomas, we began talking about tribute albums that absolutely needed to be made and both of us agreed that very little had been contributed to the tragically brief and meteoric career of Richard Fariña. Richard and his wife Mimi (Baez) released a total of three duo albums on Vanguard Records, before his untimely death in the spring of 1966, at the age of 29.
Two albums were actually released during his lifetime, Reflections In A Crystal Wind and Celebrations For A Grey Day, both groundbreaking works of art. A third and final album, Memories was realized and compiled by Mimi, shortly after Richard’s demise.
Roberts, Iain’s regular collaborator and co-founder of Plainsong, was another artist in the U.K. aware of Farina’s innovative sound and rich repertoire early on. Andy’s composition “Burdock River Run” (featured on Amazing Adventures Of Liverpool Scene, 1968) was an homage to Fariña’s “Dandelion River Run.”
“I don’t exactly remember the first time I encountered Richard and Mimi Fariña’s music on record,” says Roberts. “Maybe it was through John Peel, but it was certainly in the mid-’60s, during my time in Liverpool, and in my mind I can still drift back to my one room in 64 Canning Street, with Celebration For A Grey Day on the turntable. I loved Richard’s dulcimer playing, particularly on “Dandelion River Run”; on the Liverpool Scene’s first album from 1968 you can find a guitar instrumental called ‘Burdock River Run’ in tribute. Dandelion and Burdock, see? He played the dulcimer with attitude—not folk-style, or pseudo-classical, but a full-throated folk-rock strum that drove his and Mimi’s music like a banshee.”
Singer-songwriter Eric von Schmidt, quoted in the David Hajdu book Positively 4th Street: The Lives And Times Of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña, noted: “Neither of us (von Schmidt and Bob Dylan) had ever seen Farina perform before. Dick had this lusty presence. He didn’t sound like any of the rest of us. Dick was coming from more of a European idea and an Irish-English thing. This kind of impressed us. We couldn’t keep our eyes off him. He had a kind of presence that you either have or you don’t, something mysterious, and a real feeling of mystery and intellectual depth that wasn’t the common thing in the folk world. Bob was fascinated. He studied him.”
CD/Digital Track List:
1. The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (Prelude)
2. Pack Up Your Sorrows
3. Sell-Out Agitation Waltz
4. One Way Ticket
5. Another Country
6. Lemonade Lady
7. Mainline Prosperity Blues
8. The Falcon
9. Almond Joy
10. Hard Loving Loser
11. Michael, Andrew And James
12. Children Of Darkness
13. Reflections In A Crystal Wind
14. Sombre Winds
15. The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (Conclusion)
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Founded in 2010 by highly respected, longtime industry veterans Cheryl Pawelski, Greg Allen, Dutch Cramblitt, and Brad Rosenberger, Omnivore Recordings preserves the legacies and music created by historical, heritage, and catalog artists while also releasing previously unissued, newly found “lost” recordings and making them available for music-loving audiences to discover. Omnivore Recordings is distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA).
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