2017 - "A Year in Review" By Aron Radford
2017 has been a relatively quiet year for Weissenborn specific music but that not to say there wasn’t any hollowneck highlights this year.
We were all looking forward to the much anticipated album from Thomas Oliver “Floating In The Darkness”. He promised us Weissenborn/lap steel players that there would be enough slide action to keep us happy and he was true to his word. The song writing and production was out of this world and tracks like “Tenderly” with its full throttle Weissenborn backing and the haunting end solos on “Budapest Is Beautiful” & Little One” were sublime reminders that this man is one of the worlds accredited best slide players around today. And of course not forgetting the full studio version of “Boy” which was elevated to new heights with it’s staggering 5 minute instrumental slide outro! those Weissenborn parts sounding heavenly placed in amongst hammered organ and orchestral strings morphing into full on lap steel crescendo will never fail to stir the hearts of any slide fans.
This year for me though will be remembered for my personal Weissenborn highlight of 2017 when I traveled to Greece and met the Norwegian Weissenborn player, Knut Hem. It was here that I saw him play two memorable solo concerts. The first was the now infamous breakfast concert that traditionally kicks of the Kardamili Blues & Jazz Festival where he serenades breakfast dinners at the Tikla Club with an hour and a half of Weissenborn & dobro instrumentals. That experience was amazing and after meeting and interviewing him for the website I was about to experience one of those “never to forget” musical events. The 'Sunset Concert’ was billed by the promoters as a once in a lifetime event, what an understatement! Knut would play a solo Weissenborn concert perched on the rocks down with water lapping around his feet at the bay looking out to sea with a Greek sunset to accompany it. The gods smiled on us all that evening and the event was pure magic. The most spectacular sunset I have ever seen graced our presence and Knut played a one-off set over a huge PA system across the bay to the whole village. The air was filled with magic and the gig was topped off with a huge volley of fireworks as Knut appropriately played Vangelis’s “Chariots Of Fire”, it was one of the best evenings of my life. So it’s no surprise I award Knut Hem with the newly created award of “Best Weissenborn Gig Of The Year”.
One of the other selected highlights of 2017 was interviewing Australian Jed Rowe. Talking about his mentoring from slide ace Jeff Lang through to his wonderful new album “A Foreign Country” it was at this time I fell in love with his single “Tailem Bend”. Pure singer/songwriter gold and all accompanied by his trusty Weissenborn. Such was this songs impact and stick-a-bility that I deservingly awarded it “Weissenborn Song Of The Year”.
This years “Professional Weissenborn Video Of The Year” was from last years ‘Weissenborn Album Of The Year” winner Adam Bay. Adam teamed up with Kalyan Studios to produce a wonderful promotional tourism video showcasing the best of Canada through marrying Adam’s wonderful album title track “Pacific Blood” to some of the most breathe taking shots of the wild and rugged Canadian wilderness and coastline. The results were stunning and most worthy of the title “Best Weissenborn Professional Video Of The Year”
“Best Weissenborn Original Instrumental Of The Year” is for the second time in TWiE history awarded to young Danish slide player Jacob Rågård. Having won the award back in 2015 for “Sundown Slide” this year he has he wins it for his instrumental “Felina”. A beautiful and haunting ballad that is full expressiveness and sensitivity. I like many have wondered when this amazing talent young man will record his debut album and the answer is a hugely disappointing ‘not any time soon’ as Jacob said he has no short term plans to record an album. What ever the case the Weissenborn community is extremely grateful for him sharing his wonderful talent.
“Angel On A Sunday” from Jesse Wolfe was a fascinating glimpse into this mans songwriting talent. Stripped back and solo this particular performance is laid bare and personal. Jesse is normally backed up by his great band Citizen Wolfe where they regularly give it full throttle. Here though Jesse shows his tender chops and gives us a superb solo performance in his home studio with the aid of his trusty Weissenborn. So I have awarded this video “Best Weissenborn Live Home Video” as it captures the essence of true dedication and passion for the Weissenborn.
Giovanni Bailo is an Italian Weissenborn composer as well as a published music author. His ‘all’ Weissenborn album “Lost Railroads” this year was an immersive and contemplative imaginary soundtrack to a bygone era of steam. Here’s a snippet of what I said about it when I reviewed it….”Giovanni is a master of delicate beautiful refrains and his style has been described by me in the past as recital in its delivery, controlled and executed in languid cadence that oozes charm and elegance. The feeling of melancholy and reflection is rife throughout these compositions. This is music for bygone era’s, imagery of black and white silent film clips populate your mind space and send you into a calm peaceful place that is infinitely relaxing. Tinged with splashes of sadness and remorse these tracks are emotive and immersive. The mood is never too somber or jolly it lovingly weaves in and out of both emotions with panache. An album to totally lose yourself in which is the greatest compliment I could give this album, a real stress buster that is a joy to listen too”. So it is with great delight I award this album “Best Weissenborn Album” for 2017
Lastly “Best Weissenborn YouTube Channel” for 2017 is awarded to an intriguing guitarist called Gary O’Slide (not his real name I am suspecting). Looking at Gary’s channel as a whole it’s obvious he has been very active in the cigar box guitar arena before discovering the Weissenborn. His channel this year was smothered in Weissenborn instrumental compositions that encompassed the blues and gradually many more reflective and traditional tinged tunes. He has a rather impressive collection of instrumental EP’s on his Bandcamp page that highlight real potential and I expect great things of Gary in the coming year and beyond as his passion and dedication seem to be pointing towards a real connection to the instrument that in my experience is the difference between good writers and great composers.
Thanks to everyone who has visited the website in 2017 we were just shy of 250,000 visits this year which is amazing for a site that is so niche and under promoted. It’s good to know that my efforts are appreciated and that the website is still being discovered by newbies every day which was the exact reason the site was created to “Inform, Share, Inspire & Discover”. Here’s wishing you all a happy new year and I can’t wait to discover and enjoy all Weissenborn music it will bring :-)
Best Weissenborn Original Instrumental - Jacob Rågård "Felina"
Best Weissenborn Song - Jed Rowe "Tailem Bend"
Best Weissenborn Album - Giovanni Bailo "Lost Railroads"
Best Weissenborn Gig - Knut Hem "Sunset Concert, Kardamili Greece"
Best Weissenborn Professional Video - Adam Bay "Pacific Blood"
Best Weissenborn Home Video - Jesse Wolfe "Angel On Sunday"
Best Weissenborn YouTube Channel - Gary O'Slide
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