9 on the sub-prime – the new CD by Hugh Featherstone & A Panel of Experts
Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts in the studio
10 April 2010 The first copies of 9 on the sub-prime, the new album by Hugh Featherstone & A Panel of Experts, are now available.
Hugh describes the studio album as:
"Nine tasty tracks of intelligent and catchy acoustic and hot-wired, typically Featherstone songwriter-stuff for those who still have a shirt to lose. Smooth songs in a sharp package.
Slightly less "music for jumping off bridges to" this time out, I seem to have caught a little of
the "hey ho, may as well look on the bright side" attitude currently going around. Could travel."
See further details, lyrics and a review of the album, and hear sample tracks in the discography.
You can order Hugh Featherstone CDs direct from blutopia.networks: www.blutopia.net
Hugh Featherstone news
Hugh's song my favourite planet inspires world travel guide name
Hugh Featherstone's song my favourite planet, which appeared on his CD Negotiations and Lovesongs, was the inspiration for the name of the new online travel guide.
The website My Favourite Planet, launched in November 2008, presents information both practical and whimsical about places on planet Earth, richly illustrated with original photos, drawings and maps.
The editor, David John describes the encyclopaedic internet project "as part travel guide and part homage to our wonderful and whacky world and the creatures which live on it". The long-time Hugh Featherstone fan says that my favourite planet is one of his favourite songs: "It grabbed my imagination the first time I heard it. It's ridiculously catchy, light, optimistic and wonderfully funny. Although it's one of his one of his simpler songs, this is actually quite deceptive, as it contains a whole miniature world, one I imagine it would be very pleasant to live on. The hook line 'This is my favourite planet because it's the one with you on it' says it all really."
During the start-up period for his internet project David consulted with colleagues and friends about a name for the website. "Of all the probable and improbable suggestions we came up with during brain-storming sessions, My Favourite Planet always came out top of the pile. The original idea was to present a description of aspects of our world which is useful, informative, entertaining and thought-provoking. I wanted the general tone to be positive, but since nothing is perfect it also had to have a critical edge. Perhaps Hugh's liner notes to the song in the CD booklet sums up the general attitude."
"Despite all the drawbacks - meagre size, funny money, mosquitoes, antique toasters, limited off-world opportunities and primitive showers - this still remains one of my favourite planets."
David says he sometimes wonders if he has bitten off more than he can chew. "It's often said that it's a small world, but collecting, editing and publishing quality articles and images about all the places on the planet would be several lifetimes' work. There are just so many amazing places to cover. It's the ultimate long-term project. Who knows how many places we can cover, say in the next ten years. One thing's for certain though, we're in this for the long haul."
The theme of the conference: "Overcoming the walls in our heads. Germany discovers the value of its social innovators." Organized by the GENISIS Institute for Social Innovation,
as part of events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Lokal Heroes and Friends live CD featuring Hugh Featherstone
Hugh's collaboration with the band Lokal Heroes (see 2012) continues as their new live CD Lokal Heroes & Friends is released. The international line-up on stage during the concert recording, described as a "cast of thousands", featured a dozen musicians from a wide variety of genres.
The Lokal Heroes live CD album Lokal Heroes & Friends featuring Hugh Featherstone
KGB Records, 2013
Hugh Featherstone (centre) on the cover of the Lokal Heroes live CD Lokal Heroes & Friends
Hugh Featherstone news archive
Hugh Featherstone and Lokal Heroes
Hugh's 2012 New Year message
"They were the best of times, they were the worst of times"
With this famous line Charles Dickens opened A Tale of two Cities, his very anglophile take on the French Revolution. The times we live in now could be
similarly described. For while there's enough gloom around to fill all the cellars of the world, there are yet enough highlights to set the firmament afire.
On a personal level, one of the highlights of the past year for me, and one that promises much joy for the year to come, has been collaborating with Lokal Heroes on their new CD To be continued ...
The CD will be launched on the 28th of January at a live concert featuring a cast of thousands (well, about a dozen actually) within the prestigious walls
of the "Harmonie" in Bonn. Welcome one and all!
By way of wishing you a happy and prosperous 2012, here is a link to a few of the finished tracks:
Hugh plays at the first Aachener Songwriter's Slam at Raststätte
Hugh wins the first Aachener Songwriter's Slam
Aachen, Germany, Friday 16 April 2010
The first Aachener Songwriter's Slam at the cultural venue Raststätte, organized and hosted by Aachener musician Kai Hennes, attracted a full house and songwriters from Germany, Holland and Belgium. The enthusiastic audience, which acted as a jury for the competition, chose Hugh as the winner by the volume of their applause.
For the final of three rounds Hugh sang I don’t get it (which appears on his new album 9 on the sub-prime) and Statistic (which featured on his 1999 double CD album Me & Miss Wray). The latter is a beautiful but heart-breaking song about a young victim of a landmine - not what one would imagine would be a big crowd-pleaser. But to Hugh's surprise, after he finished playing, there was a brief stunned silence and followed by a storm of wild applause.
Astonished and somewhat embarrassed by his victory, Hugh handed the first prize of a guitar to Dutch songwriter Daniel Gilt, the runner-up. So there is still gallantry amongst songwriters after all.
"Justice has no borders, it is a universal virtue."
Abdu'l Bahá ‘Abbas
Hugh has been performing his "Candlelight" concerts for over a decade in support of Amnesty International. He has always been committed to human rights and
social justice, themes which are directly addressed in many of his songs.
Due to internal restructuring in the band, plus a clash of calendars, I will be playing the L'an Vert gig as a duo with Kim on Saturday 9th May instead of with "a Panel of Experts" as previously programmed.
Kim and I play regularly together and have a distinct approach to my material, especially those songs that are otherwise "Experts" territory. We can guarantee a very relaxed and song-oriented evening with some gems you won't have heard before.
We're also happy to announce our special guest for the evening:
Leo is a fine singer/songwriter/guitarist, with a deal of stage experience, who has appeared with major acts and with whom we have already played at the same venue. His highly individual guitar technique, coupled with his quixotic, whimsical and melodious songs must be heard to be believed.
Hugh has been invited to play at "Songwriters' Tafelrunde" (Songwriters' Round Table), the special edition of the monthly "Parkside" event.
Parkside Café, Jacobshof, Stromgasse 31, Aachen, Germany. www.jakobshof.de (in German).
Hugh writes: I've already appeared at the Songwriters' Round Table several times. It's a great opportunity
to try out new stuff and, in this case, a new guitar. This bumper version also features Renaud Marquat, Soufian, Farah Rieli, Sebastian Sturm, and, of course, our usuual host Cesar. There are more players this
time, so a few less songs each, but the quality will be assuredly high.
Slow Night (Hugh Featherstone, Gerlinde Steigerwald and Ali Döhler): Regenbogen, Hauset, Belgium
Hugh writes: It's the first time my new Kraushaar guitar Lisette (I call her Liesl, and she is,
i.m.h.o. the world's best electric guitar) gets a gentle evening outing with "Slow Night".
Introducing "Hugh Featherstone & a Panel of Experts"
Hugh Featherstone vocals, guitars
David Spencer drums, backing vocals
John Renerken bass
Christian Sichert percussion
Kim Bastian vocals & small percussion
Hugh Featherstone & a Panel of Experts have now been playing together for over three years with a long list of European concert appearances under their belts. They have quickly tightened up into a lean, mean groove machine and a great crowd pleaser with their own following.
Here's what Hugh has to say:
The real pleasure of working with "Experts" is that we are all 100% behind the music. It's a truly constructive experience.
Although there are very different influences at work (an age span between 18 and 54 sees to that!), the overall direction is one, the dynamic is very coherent and united.
Rehearsals are very upbeat. We laugh more than before as well as working harder, more intensively on the songs. We all feel this freedom, the atmosphere is experimental and infectious, even old songs are coming up as fresh as new pennies time after time.
Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts
David Spencer - drums and backing vocals
When PhilBY decided to settle in NYC, I thought it would mean musical meltdown. He knows my music better than anyone, has the devil’s own sense of rhythm and a canny knack for finding exactly the right drum feel for a song. On top of this he was my bassist’s buddy from way back and also had a unique musical chemistry with Chris.
his was always going to be a hard seat to fill for David and yet, that didn't seem to faze him in the least. With his solid musical training and pedigree, you forget his relative inexperience and youth the moment he leans back to let rip.
It’s all there, the power, the timing, the feeling, the commitment and the teamwork: what can I say? David's becoming a truly great drummer and it's a privilege to work with him.
David joined the experts in Autumn 2006 at the age of 15, making him one of the youngest drummers in a pro rock band. In the same year his own band Colonel Meyers (average age 15) won a significant regional rock prize: the Jukutu Rock Jury Award. Hugh, who was at the Jukutu show, said: "They were amazingly good... Tight, well thought-out pop/rock, unpretentious and authentic, very well played and ... not a trace of nervousness, despite the big stage, big sound and big light show provided by the organizers!"
David can also boast an excellent pedigree, being the son of Manchester-born bluesman Joe Spencer of "Joe Spencer and the Real Men" fame.
John Renerken - bass
When Christoph Mattar's main band, "Peter Steivver", began really emerging in early 2007, there was no time for divided loyalties. After all, these were the guys he’d gone to school with! Departure was set for the end of summer, but instead of the usual weary process of searching, we were lucky one day to find our new bassist actually standing in the audience, waiting to sign up!
John plays with a lot of feeling for the songs, real musicality, a firm rich sound and a technique that he expands constantly. Hitched to this comes a tranquil strength of character and dedication to the band.
Curiously enough, it was one of my concerts, many years ago, that first turned him onto the idea of becoming a working musician ... another life on my conscience!
Chris Sichert - percussion
Chris and I have now been companions on this musical journey since the late 1980s: that's longer than I've ever worked with anyone. I think the main reason for this, apart from his considerable technique and rhythmic ability, is his very real enthusiasm for my songs and his concern to see that the best is made out of them.
Chris is not the kind of musician who just minds his own bridge, he spends at least as much time in rehearsals listening carefully to others as he does playing, and his opinion, not always gentle, is nonetheless always listened to.
Loyalty and commitment are writ big with him and if anyone is going to go an extra mile, or even a thousand, to make something work out, it'll probably be Chris.
My daughter Kim has been singing with me, one way or another, since she was twelve. In recent years she's professionalized this in her membership of the Experts”.
Onstage with Kim is a gas. She's always fun, always helpful and encouraging, follows my vocal curves like a rally driver, is rhythmically spot-on, moves well and is a whole lot easier on the eye than the old geek with the guitar.
Lately she's also been building up quite an arsenal of small and strange percussion instruments upon which she performs with deft precision. Her "gling-glö" addition to Birthday Surprise makes a major contribution to the song, and her powerhouse triangle, while singing harmony, on Man who wasn't there is simply legendary.
Even if you can't get to see Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts in concert, you can hear their fresh live sound on the CD Live at the Chapel. More information,
with tracklist, notes, CD cover and lyrics in the discography.
See photos of the band taken by David John during the recording at La Chapelle in photo series 5.
Friendly Skies, Hugh's new solo album
2008 Hugh has finally released his long-awaited solo album Friendly Skies.
In the sleeve notes Hugh writes:
"All freedoms are subject to gravity. All liberties are freighted with obligations. Thus, in the same way that my 1995 album Negotiations and Lovesongs explored the tension between fidelity and integrity, so this one explores the dynamic that must exist between commitment and freedom."
The cover and booklet of the 13-track CD were designed by nemodreaming.
You can find more information, Hugh's notes and the full lyrics for the CD,
as well as a review by our correspondent Gobo in the discography.
Experts: Jünglingshaus, Eupen, Belgium
Solo: House Concert (private)
Slow Night: Adenau, Germany
Experts: Bodega, Imgenbroich, Germany
Solo: invited guest at the “Songwriters Table”, Parkside, Aachen, Germany
Slow Night: Stadtfest, Würselen, Germany
Experts: L’An Vert, Liège, Belgium. lanvert.be (in French)
Acoustic Sunday Session, La Grande Poste, Liège, Belgium.
Hugh writes: "It's vast, it's gothic, it's central, it's humming with art and culture and this Sunday Kim, Chris & I will be playing an acoustic set there. So, visit the
Sunday street market, see the ethnik'art expo and pick up on a little music too."
Hugh Featherstone & Friends:
"CANDLELIGHT 2008 ": The Amnesty Concerts
(Eupen, Belgium; Luxembourg; Viersen, Germany)
You can see a video of the Candlelight 2008 concert at Belgischer Rundfunk, including interviews with Hugh Featherstone and Kim Bastian, at:
Live at the Chapel, the new album by Hugh Featherstone & A Panel of Experts, has been chosen as "CD
of the Week" by Radio Contact, the German language version of an important national commercial radio network in Belgium.
The FM pop & rock station will be blasting out the Experts' songs during February on 107.0 MHz in northern Belgium and 98.0 MHz in the south.
If you are not lucky enough to live in Belgium, the German service of Radio Contact is streamed live from their website - free of charge.
Weltfest am Boxhagener Platz, Friedrichshain, Berlin
Hugh Featherstone & The Tone Poets
Hugh Featherstone finally returns to Berlin where he will play at two very different events.
On Friday 19th May, the English musician will play solo on a double acoustic music bill with German songsmith Sebastian Zukunft at the intimate city centre green oasis Rue Bunte.
The next day, on Saturday 20th May, Hugh will appear with his trio Featherstone and The Tone Poets as one of the headline acts on the stage of the 5th Weltfest, Berlin's annual multicultural event.
The Tone poets describe their music as "acoustic music with bite". Their line-up is Hugh (guitar and vocals), Kim Bastian (vocals and shakers) and Chris Sichert (percussion).
The Weltfest (world festival) on Boxhagener Platz is a platform for inter-cultural dialogue, especially in the context of world development politics. The proceeds of the festival go to support a world development project. The theme of this year's Weltfest is "Water means Life" and addresses the political, economic and social issues surrounding the availability and distribution of water for the planet's growing population.
Other international musical attractions at the fest include the Chilean ska band Chico Trujillo and reggae masters Fôô Fanick & One Roots.
Hugh Featherstone and his band Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts have just released their live CD Live at the Chapel.
The 16 songs on the album, mostly brand new but also including a few old Featherstone favourites given a fresh Panel of Experts treatment, were recorded on Saturday 24th September 2005 in front of an invited audience at La Chapelle, one of Europe's premier studios, in Waimes, Belgium.
To keep the fresh live sound of the recording, the band got to work on the mixing with La Chapelle's sound engineer Flavio Marredda the very next morning. The resulting rattles and hums were then masterfully mastered by producer Frank-Stefan Kimmel at while-others-sleep.de.
The captured concert programme features performances intimate, epic, earthy and ethereal. But as you would expect from a band which describes itself as having "pop sensibility with a punk attitude", the rocking highlights of the evening are outrageous you-talkin-to-me-pal numbers like Box-car City, No regrets and most notoriously Moving to Berlin. This last, uproarious pop tune - which the band left tactically, strategically, mischieviously till last - just has to become the album's single. (Perhaps with Box-car City as the B-side and counterpart? Although the Garden of Eden would be the splendidly serene counterpoint.)
If you have never heard Hugh Featherstone or the other musicians featured on this album before, this is an excellent introduction to their collective and individual talents. If you are already familiar with any of the artists, this CD is well worth a listen, or two, or three, or ...
In producing a live album, the mission statement of the band "is to provide our live audiences with something close to what they've just heard". With this CD you get just that: a faithful reproduction not just of a bunch of songs but of a very special event. If you are lucky enough to get to A Panel of Experts concert soon and get hold of this CD... Well, just stick your headphones on, and here you are, right in the middle of things again. Again! Not bad, eh? "We want more!" You got it.
In February 2006 Live at the Chapel was chosen as "CD of the Week"
by the Belgian radio commercial network Radio Contact. See article above.
More information about the CD, including tracklist, sleeve notes, CD cover and lyrics in the discography.