Friday, 28 April 2017

Beau – “When Butterflies Scream” – IT’S COMPETITION TIME!

IT’S COMPETITION TIME, FOLKS! But first, many many thanks for all your kind words and support for my latest release, “When Butterflies Scream”. It’s really has been, and is being, greatly appreciated!

But now, I have a little puzzle for you…

Y’see, the accompanying guitar on all the “Butterflies” tracks was my trusty fifty-year-old friend, Big 12; all the tracks, that is, except for one. The odd one out featured Big 12’s rather disreputable and less-pampered brother, Scruff. 

The question is, on which track do you think you’re listening to Scruff?

If you’ve already become familiar with the album, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I know that!” If so, just send me a message or an email with the title of the track. Then, on Sunday 14th May, we’ll put all the correct answers in a barrel (or hat, or egg cup – whichever seems most appropriate!) and draw a winner.

And the winner will receive… one of the hens-teeth-rare original promo copy CDs – signed if you wish!

There’s no need to have bought the album to enter the competition. Samples of all the songs are available at most of your favourite download sites. But there are of course a couple of rules (aren’t there always?)

1) We have to say just one entry will be allowed per email address or social media I/D (anyone submitting multiple entries, the first one received counts). 


2) The judge’s decision (i.e. mine) is final!

So, with thanks to everyone for helping to drive “When Butterflies Scream” to #1 in Amazon’s Folk download chart…

Faites vos jeux, Mesdames et Messieurs and good luck!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

It's Psychedelic Baby! reviews "When Butterflies Scream"...

Brilliant review of "When Butterflies Scream" for It's Psychedelic Baby! magazine by Brian R. Banks.

Many thanks, IPB and Brian!
Beau - When Butterflies Scream (Cherry Red Records, 2017)

The singer-songwriter Trevor Midgley, known as Beau, has aged well like all good vintage stock; still a rich, heady consistency after all these years. From a Yorkshire teen band that got a BBC session to kudos and a number one in Lebanon with John Peel’s first release on Dandelion Records in the late sixties, he has been prolific in this century with several albums in various formats by Cherry Red among others. He’s also recorded electronic music recently under the moniker Simfonica. Unusually, Beau’s high regard in folk circles has been achieved with few gigs throughout those fifty years.

And this latest release— #1 on Amazon’s Best British Folk list in April—of a round dozen is among his most evocative so far. Lyrics are very much of these times, without his usual excursions into fascinating byways of history. Beau has the wonderful—and rarer than one first thinks—ability to musically versify what is in the English psyche. His songs lyrically resonate and chime like his 12-string. The opener Who Pays The Ferryman? highlights the background of Brexit—everything that happens must be paid for. Are we not now reduced to slavery no matter who the overseers are? The closer The Illegal first references the border-crossing train hobo of folklore then the current immigrant ‘crisis’ and rescue ships preceding further dehumanising activities of the authorities. As he notes in the press release, “one in every hundred-and-thirteen people on earth is a refugee, and counting…” This timely commentary of seven staccato minutes, perhaps a reinterpretation of the ethos of Phil Ochs’ Pleasures Of The Harbour, is a strong, powerful finale to a gripping album.

Just as the opener seems to be a blues title, contradicted by the style and couplets, the album title with its nod to Chaos Theory is embedded in the chorus of Gerrymander Street Blockade. It is an appropriate reference if we seek to make sense of what is happening around us. The wonderfully-titled The Smile Of A Pox Doctor’s Clerk is a pulling-down-to-earth of recipients of national honours, a fall-out of the class system, but a wider industry shady as Dylan and the Nobel (for literature?! Could this have been the impetus for the better-placed Cohen’s demise? A Grammy for Rowling next?). Midgley is more direct about everyday concerns than Mr Zimmerman (whom he probably values higher, I dare say, than this reviewer!). 

The Mandarin is a whimsical reflection on doctrinal influence with a nod to the satire of W.S.Gilbert of comic opera fame (“the despot we know and the despot we don’t”). In the shadows lurk the bureaucrats, diplomats and their “choir”; Beau is sussed enough to see that not all oligarchs are in the east. There is a thread through his albums about the military, and here the soldier’s lot is treated in a five-minute The Promise which is in Ochs, Pete Seeger or Dylan’s pseudonymous Brown ballad vein. The media, who has a lot to answer for, gets its just swipe too.

In lineage from his Dandelion days, there is jealousy, envy, pragmatism and much more (Donovan!) in Smilin’ Billy Lye with its almost orchestral guitar-playing; The Fire; Ben & Jerry’s Coca-Cola Tarantella inspired by Aldous Huxley, recalling that Stravinsky started on second fiddle! A latter-day ballad (The Nightmare) imagines a bed-ridden patient that may be a metaphor for the Trump era and what’s round the corner. It reminds this listener of the poignant subject of Kevin Coyne’s House On The Hill, if the inmate still lives.

It’s Only Just Begun is a couplet-driven roller mentioning Genghis Khan, Dresden 1945 and a Falklander among unforgettable insights. The slower Kill The Idea parodies “unlimited resources” and such popular trumpeted slogans (“Bells remodelled by artillery shells”…), with biting criticism of this age of fads (which tend to be ever-more mindless). This erudite troubadour deftly weaves the vernacular and colloquial into his very real melting-pot: why he is so little known is as mysterious as the mother of The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith being the inventor of Liquid Paper (i.e. Tipp-ex).

Beau, who first started his folk career inspired by the fellow-12-stringer Lead Belly, has been compared to Roy Harper, Tom Paxton, and especially the troubled Texan song-writer Ochs (“England’s answer to Phil Ochs” Good Times 2009), who suicided when 36 partly-engendered by what happened at protest meetings when flower power was answered with batons and rubber bullets. His first albums for Elektra (the US label of Dandelion) were also acoustic like Beau’s, before experimenting for A&M with baroque-folk and backing in the last of his eight LPs. Ochs preferred to call them not protest but “topical songs”, calling himself a “singing journalist” as he wanted to be a writer and put poems into song which is the same feeling here. There’s an incisive humanism, and Beau does this in British rather than American terms for what’s of course universal experience. 

One event in the American’s life highlights then and today very graphically. Ochs and a friend were deported from Argentina (for political reasons) to Bolivia, where protesters were known to disappear. The pilot of the Braniff Airways plane refused to allow Bolivian security police on board and flew them to Peru and safety. How times have changed! We all saw in public and social media how airline companies now respond to passengers who don’t do what they are told, made brazen by how successfully they can humiliate even grannies and children under their mantra of ‘security’ (the first metal detecting gates were installed by Gore’s company). It’s now known that the 500-page FBI dossier on Ochs often couldn’t spell his name right and kept the file open even after his death as “potentially dangerous”.  Beau is a spokesman, in an august tradition among folk singers, of this deterioration in our age into ‘deep state’ and profit over all else.

A big influence on Ochs was the little-remembered older song-writer Bob Gibson, who looked more like Beau and also played 12-string as well as banjo, which the Englishman’s guitar can sometimes sound like, almost as if Beau has taken some of the more edgy country ethos without the love-lorn topics or standardised style. Beau free-wheels for his own personal ethos. If you are weary, maybe, of the one-or-two-decent-song albums by the famous resting on their laurels, as relevant to today as carbon paper, Beau’s work is a welcome antidote. 

When Butterflies Scream is a beautifully evocative collection of fireside tales, with a lavish supply of tinder and vitriol. Some of his strongest-ever ballads are interspersed with jaunt, but not in the style of Mike Absalom or his now-look-alike Mick Softley from their counter-culture backgrounds. Each is memorable without any damp wood filling your eyes with vaporous smoke. A highly-recommended classic of the genre, showing that music can still commentate and define the times in which it appears while sounding pertinent warning bells. 

Brian R. Banks

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

"When Butterflies Scream" - new FLAC download...

For audiophiles, Qobuz are now offering the first FLAC (16-bit 44100Hz) downloads of "When Butterflies Scream"

There will be more...

"When Butterflies Scream" lyrics posted at

Much obliged to Vincas Stepankevicius for his post of all the lyrics from "When Butterflies Scream"

Greetings to all in Lithuania, Vincas!

"Smilin' Billy Lye" on Popcast...

Many thanks to Flat Ed for playing "Smilin' Billy Lye" from "When Butterflies Scream" on his latest Popcast show (#155). 

Mixclouded as we speak, and as always a highly recommended listen!

"When Butterflies Scream" on Spotify...

For all Spotify streamers out there, I'm delighted to say "When Butterflies Scream" is with you from this morning

Bit quicker than I thought...

Monday, 17 April 2017

"When Butterflies Scream" #1 in Amazon Folk...

Brilliant news! 

"When Butterflies Scream" is #1 in Amazon's Folk Best Sellers! 

Many, many thanks to all! reviews "When Butterflies Scream"...

Many thanks to Mike Davies and for this great just-published review of "When Butterflies Scream"...


BEAU –When Butterflies Scream (Cherry Red BEAUWBS1)

What with the likes of Steve Pledger and Will Varley the last couple of years have seen quite a resurgence in the protest song album on the UK’s contemporary folk/Americana circuit, but some have been doing this for years. I’ve written about Trevor Midgley aka Beau on these pages before and it’s good to report that his latest album, When Butterflies Scream, ably keeps up the standard. Sounding more than ever like Jake Thackray in his vocal delivery, it is, as ever, a no frills musical affair, predominantly just him and acoustic guitar, that allows the comments and commentary to take front of stage.
It opens with ‘Who Pays The Ferryman?’ not, you’ll be relieved to hear, a Chris De Burgh cover but, set to a slow mazurka rhythm etched out on accordion (one of the most elaborate instrumentations on the album) and drawing on Greek mythology and the figure of Charon who ferried the dead across the River Styx if they had the coin to pay, his take on the refugee crisis and the traffickers who exploit it. It’s a theme to which he returns on the closing seven-minute lyrically harrowing ‘The Immigrant’ with its recounting of mass executions, genocide rapes and those consigned to risk their lives in taking flight to see, those who survive being herded into camps while the politicians debate their fate (“We’re not in the business of profit and loss!” “Sort out the doctors and leave out the dross!”).
If that’s about effect, then ‘Kill The Idea’ looks at cause and how military attempts to eradicate an idea in the name of freedom more often causes it to drift “into different shapes that were harder to shift.”
The album’s title comes from a disturbing image in ‘Gerrymander Street Blockade’, a story of murky political goings on and cover ups, followed by the waltzing ‘The Song of the Pox Doctor’s Clerk’, a surely cynical suggestion that some of the Honours List gongs are handed out to, a she puts it, those who know where the bodies are buried (“It would be remiss for me here to disclose all names and addresses, but yes, there were those with reasons to quaver and even to quail; My peerage, it seemed, had been lost in the mail!”).
Government politics resurface with ‘The Mandarin’, an observation on those who ensure ministers are all singing from the same hymn sheet in the service of doctrinal mandates (“Alas we can’t claim to be wholly immune from bribery, sleaze and the inopportune. So, best we desist from our scheduled schemes, toppling dictators from dishonest regimes”).
One of the most pointedly barbed numbers is ‘The Promise’, a timely reminder of how badly the country and the MoD in particular, often treats those injured in the service of their country once they return home as it tells of how a hero survivor of his unit suffers from PSTD and ends up a down and out committing suicide by walking into the sea because “somehow, the Military Covenant’s promise had simply gone out through the door; And all that remained was a shirt on his back and the ribbons he steadfastly wore.”
Elsewhere he turns his eye on the use of armed military drones with ‘The Fire’, calling on Newton’s law that for every action there’s an equal opposite action and, basically, if something can go wrong it will (“Missiles pack a punch, and this one didn’t mess around – The fireball arriving above the speed of sound. In the end, they called it an “unfortunate event”; chances of it happening? Around fifteen percent”).
Taking an aspiring Stravinsky as an example, ‘Ben & Jerry’s Coca-Cola Tarantella’ is about selling out your soul (or ideals) to the devil, or in this case the commercial imperative while both ‘The Nightmare’ and ‘It’s Only Just Begun’ both sound an apocalyptic note, the former a talking blues response to the election of Donald Trump and the latter, with references to Nero, Genghis Khan, the bombing of Dresden, the Falklands conflict, Bhopal and the morning after 10/11, a tale of the Devil fuelling man’s proclivity for death and mass destruction.
The remaining number, ‘Smilin’ Billy Lye’, is less obvious, ostensibly the story of a dirt track rider who, envious of Motorcycle Show stunt champion Crash Donovan (the name a nod to the 1936 Highway Patrol movie) takes up his Tunnel of Fire challenge with enigmatic results, but there’s a cautionary string in its tale.
It’s sadly unlikely that this is going to attract the sort of attention and acclaim accorded the current crop of folk’s socio-political commentators or find an audience much beyond Midgley’s fanbase, but those who do seek it out will be well rewarded.

Mike Davies

"When Butterflies Scream" - lyrics and stories...

The lyrics from the new “When Butterflies Scream” album are now up online, together with notes about the backgrounds to all the songs.

Over the years, many folks have asked for chord info on a whole number of album tracks. If you’re a guitar or keyboard player and need the chords for a particular tune from the new set, do feel free to email or message me individually. Many thanks…

Meantime - gotta be honest - I personally thought last night's lavish press launch for “When Butterflies Scream” went a little OTT… :)

Beau – “When Butterflies Scream” released…

It’s release day folks! “When Butterflies Scream” became available at midnight, courtesy of our good friends at Cherry Red!

If you’re of a mind to check it out at any of the sites already carrying the new set, please do feel free to rate and review. It really does make a big difference!

2016 was a truly momentous – and in many ways, bizarre – year. “When Butterflies Scream” reflects that, with songs inspired by Brexit, The Donald, the refugee crisis, Prime Ministerial Resignation Honours lists and a whole bunch of other events.

So, welcome to the first album of my eighth decade! I hope you’ll jump on board and join me in discovering “who else is listening, when butterflies scream?”


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Saturday, 15 April 2017

"Smilin' Billy Lye" on "Out Of The Woods" this week!

Aha! Jon Colcord's great syndicated show "Out Of The Woods" with "Smilin' Billy Lye" from "When Butterflies Scream" is playing this coming week - not last, as earlier reported. 

Mea culpa! 

It'll be on Sword Radio this side of the pond Thursday 20th

Thanks again, Chip!