Reviews - The DMcF Band (electric) - 'Woodshed Boys' CD
Folk On Tap - Issue #101
Review of The Duncan McFarlane Band CD ‘Woodshed Boys’
This reviewer’s ear certainly perked up listening to the opening
track on this, the debut album from the Duncan McFarlane Band.
Ostensibly a sea shanty ‘Bring ‘em Down’ is given an unfamiliar,
exciting electric incarnation.
This is followed by an excellent Duncan McFarlane composition ‘Can’t
Go There’ with its intelligent knowing lyrics which, despite these
political correctness, will still produce nods of
recognition and agreement.
I was hooked and I still had to listen to the band’s magnum opus,
‘Woodshed Boys’, a classic folk-rock anthem explaining how several
of the traditional singers in days of old had to resort to singing
woodsheds supposedly due to their wives lack of enthusiasm
for that ‘nasty folk music’ – Great stuff!
They are a six-piece band with fiddle and melodeon propping up the
usual rock band paraphernalia and I would wholeheartedly recommend
them to anyone who either has a love of that much-derided genre,
or merely feels like dipping their toes in the water
for the first time.
That the band has no agent, no management, nor a record deal
astounds me but if there’s justice in this world
they could well
have by now.
Dirty Linen - The USA’s magazine of folk and world music (Issue
The world can always use more good English folk-rock, and the Duncan
from West Yorkshire is off to a promising start on its inaugural
recording, Woodshed Boys.
This is loud, fast music, based on the rhythms of English country
dance music and reminiscent
of some incarnations of the Albion Band with sharp-edged electric
guitar leads, electric fiddle,
and gutsy, gritty singing.
The power chords in the traditional nautical tale ‘Bring ‘Em Down’
crash like surf on rocks,
and there’s a strong rocking arrangement of Nic Jones’ version of ‘Canadee-i-o’,
instrumental sets like the ‘Twohey Step’ with duelling electric
guitar and fiddle as leads.
Shreds & Patches (Issue 31) Folk Arts Magazine for in & around
Review of ‘Woodshed Boys’ CD – The Duncan McFarlane Band
This is my first encounter with Leeds-based Mr McFarlane and his
band, and they’re not bad at all.
What we have here is essentially what used to be called folk-rock,
based around vocals, guitars, drums, bass,
fiddle and melodeon with a distinctive English feel to it, with
Maggie Boyle, Alistair Hulett and Alistair Russell guesting.
The music is a mix of traditional songs and tunes and some
The traditional material is by and large fairly well known (e.g.
Benjamin Bowmaneer, Canadee-i-o)
though the McFarlane songs are new to me at least. Some sit well
with the traditional material,
others perhaps a bit less so but there isn’t a duff track among
As well as the electric band represented here they also work as an
Previous CDs have been either Duncan McFarlane solo or in their
– this is the first CD outing for the electric band.
There’s no distribution agreement as yet (which is a bit surprising)
but CDs are available from them direct.
They’ve done some festivals over the last year or so, including the
club tent at Cambridge in 2003.
According to his website Mr McFarlane’s original background was
playing in pub-rock bands (since 1977)
while he maintained a keen interest in folk music. It sounds like he
served his apprenticeship very well
if this CD is anything to go by. The performances are good and
enthusiastic, the arrangements are
sympathetic to the material and work very well – and the band hangs
together like clockwork.
They tip their hats to a wide range of influences but are in no way
copyists and unlike some bands
trying to mix traditional material and rock they lack pretension and
Essentially this is solid, energetic English electric folk, full of
pumping riffs and loads of energy.
I’ve found this CD has grown on me more and more as I’ve repeatedly
listened to it.
It’s nice to find a folk-rock band that understands both folk and
rock and knows how to draw on one
without diluting the other. Never mind ‘’Celtic Rock’’, here’s what
the mostly English can do. Play it loud.
PASSION BY THE BUCKETLOAD
Occasionally, you’re lucky enough to hear music played with
enthusiasm, the Duncan McFarlane Band don’t stop at enthusiasm,
they go way past - they play with passion, and provide it by the
If you don’t believe me just listen to ‘The Woodshed Boys’, this
deserves to become an English folk-rock anthem (if it doesn’t I for
one want to know why).
Then tune in to ‘Can’t Go There’, which sounds autobiographical
(though perhaps it’s about someone else).
Both of these songs are what English folk-rock deserves to be -
combining a keen understanding of tradition welded to cutting-edge
The lyrics are acid-sharp, delivered with searing vocals, reinforced
with ripping electric guitar, pinpoint electric fiddle, sweeping
melodeon and seriously tight drumming (and admit it - drumming so
often lets down a band).
And understand this – the Duncan McFarlane Band doesn’t roll out the
same old ‘same-old’ – this is folk-rock with bite. It demands
Ignore it and you’ll feel its teeth. Is it worth a trip to the next
gig? You bet it is – I’m going.
Tim Carroll -
Two reviews appeared in the Summer 04 Edition of West Yorkshire’s
– both use the word ‘wistful’!
‘Woodshed Boys’ - The Duncan McFarlane Band - DunxCD0016
An air of confidence sizzles around this studio recording from the
Duncan McFarlane Band.
The band members know they can do it, and here they are showing us
just how well.
The conventions of good exciting Folk-Rock are all here – soaring
electric guitar, uplifting fiddle,
strong pulsating bass & drums, with the addition of purring
This is a fine framework for Duncan’s voice and guitar, assured and
compelling as they always are.
To this mix is added the spice of some guest vocals from Alistair
Hulett, Alistair Russell and Maggie Boyle.
Most of the tracks are written or arranged by Duncan himself.
The title track ‘Woodshed Boys’, with its jaunty chorus, apparently
sprang out of the concept of a
boy band fronted by Harry Cox and Walter Pardon (Pause for boggle).
All the tracks are worthy of note, but one favourite already is the
of ‘Canadee-I-O’, a fitting tribute to Nic Jones, with Alistair
Hulett sharing the vocals.
The rueful and humorous ‘Can’t Go there’ has a suggestion of
autobiography about it
that makes you want to know more. ‘Jigalo’ is a DMcF Band standard
which dates back to 1977,
maybe explains the whiff of punk that comes off it – pogo anyone?
A special mention needs to be made of the closing track ‘Goodnight’,
a gentle song of parting,
Maggie Boyle and Duncan blending their voices and her flute adding a
If you’re a Folk-Rock fan, this CD should be in your collection.
Stick it in your CD player and thrash around on air guitar wishing
you were Geoff Taylor. Who wouldn’t?
‘Woodshed Boys’ - The Duncan McFarlane Band - DunxCD0016
FOLK ROCK LIVES. RUN TO THE HILLS! Yes, Iron Maidenhead a.k.a. The
Duncan McFarlane Band have
finally released their debut studio album
and it’s a corker.
If you’ve seen this combo live, you’ll know what an explosive and
exciting proposition they are.
They are like a Venn diagram. In the left hand circle, you have the
rhythm section. Tony Rogerson (bass),
Nick Pepper (drums) and lead guitarist Geoff Taylor, who provide the
oomph (and an almighty oomph it is!),
and in the other there’s Duncan himself (acoustic guitar, cittern),
fiddler Anne Brivonese
and melodeon player extraordinaire, Steve Fairholme, who supply a
full on folk dance assault.
In the middle, where the two styles collide you have an irresistible
melange of rockin’ folk music.
Duncan is a fine songwriter. Just listen to ‘Can’t Go There’ or the
title track for proof,
and he also excels with tunes – ‘Twohey Step’, ‘Dee Jig’ – always
generously allowing the band to flex their artistic muscles.
And I love the way that, in the middle of a song, Duncan will
bellow, ‘Here we go’ and the band explode into a jig or a reel.
It’s enough to make even the most traditional beardy punch the air
Talking of traditional, the trad arr’s herein are, if you pardon the
I couldn’t imagine any one playing ‘Canadee-I-O’ without making me
think wistfully of Nic Jones,
but the Dunx Band have made it their own.
I could go on (and frequently do!), but I’ll end with a tip – clear
some space in your living room
because a soon as this album starts to play, you’ll want to dance.
Mosh or Morris? It’s your call!
The Duncan McFarlane Band - Woodshed Boys (Dunx Music)
From 'Netrythmns' Web Magazine
Hey, who said folk-rock is dead? Fair dos, the trusty pioneers of
doughty brand-name have continued to serve
us well over the past
decades, but arguably it's mostly fallen to outfits like Oysterband,
and Blue Horses to bring back the guts and reassert
reinvent the true spirit of folk-rock.
And to that illustrious list
be added the Duncan McFarlane Band. Definitely!
Singer-guitarist-songwriter Duncan, based in Leeds, has
the past three or four years building an increasing
his spirited and highly personal reinterpretations of traditional
but also for his by now extensive corpus of self-penned
many of which take a traditional-style approach to contemporary
this point those interested must also check out Duncan's excellent
Bed Of Straw
for further insight into his talents in that
Latterly, though, Duncan's been adding another string to the bows
in his armoury (and scoring another bullseye!)
by leading a fully-fledged
band. Initially just for fun, it must be admitted, but the plain truth is
that the impact and
good-time vibe the band's early gigs generated was so
brilliant that the shelf-life of the original idea was gleefully
There was a well-received warts-and-all live EP from the electric
band, which was followed last autumn by a full-length
live album from the
band's acoustic incarnation, by which time the lineup had finally
crystallised into the very six-piece
that you hear on Woodshed Boys, the band's first
long-awaited, I tell you!) studio effort. And hell, superb it is
What you get is a mighty sound from a mightily together band (their
tightness born of solid rehearsal and hard gigging),
clichés of folk-rock that you know (and hate?) are tossed back into
and all the elements are cooked up afresh (and
unpretentiously) into a boldly appetising menu.
Any ostensibly familiar musical
gestures are invested, in Duncan's creative band arrangements, with a thriving,
new life, while riffs are shamelessly built and celebrated. Each
band member plays his/her part with both a true feel for
the idiom and a
enthusiasm and commitment that's largely missing in yer average
The band sound is built upwards and outwards from
a finely detailed, often quite intricately picked acoustic guitar bedrock
himself, with bass (Tony Rogerson) and drums (Nick Pepper)
supporting and enhancing in just the right proportions,
on top of which soars some absolutely wondrous, stratospheric yet uncommonly sensitively
judged prog-style electric-guitar (Geoff Taylor)
and swooping, driving
Brivonese), all bolstered by some solid ancillary melody support
from a swirling melodeon (Steve Fairholme).
Duncan's choice of material is canny - it includes some of his own
ingenious and strongly individual treatments of relatively familiar
traditional songs (best of these is Canadee-I-O - Duncan's sparkling, very different
take looks destined to become a folk-rock classic),
stomping trad-influenced instrumentals and "tunettes" and - very probably
best of all
- a smallish handful of Duncan's own compositions which range from
the CD's title track (on which Duncan wears his trad-heart proudly on his
the rousing, insidiously catchy Can't Go There (but we all have
been!) and a pleasingly hopeful parting-song (Goodnight).
The latter provides
but one of the key moments of repose amidst the cut and thrust, along with
Anne's unaccompanied rendition of
Mary Brooksbank's Jute Mill Song which
serves to introduce Duncan's glorious anthemic epic Our Own Hands (now
there's another standout track!).
And I've not yet mentioned the support cast of
guest vocalists, which includes Maggie Boyle and "the two Alis" (Messrs.
Russell and Hulett,
the last-named of whom turns in a great
alternating-lead vocal on Canadee too, by the by). A special word of praise, too, for the exceptional
engineering and production skills of Matt Peel, whose
balance allows every detail of instrumental and vocal parts to come through
though the effect is never clinical, allowing the texture to
breathe yet retaining the gutsy impact of the hard rockin' drive for which the
is already renowned on the live circuit.
Finally, you don't need to be concerned that a few of the
selections have already appeared on Dunc's previous recordings - Woodshed Boys
contains the definitive, vital band readings and should be the one to break
Duncan and his band through
into the bigger time. I don't think I'm
exaggerating when I say that this is the future of folk-rock.
Mark me words - this is a
future which respects the past and takes it beyond the present, propelled
at warp-factor ten!
Duncan McFarlane Band ‘Woodshed Boys’
- Album Review by Andy Aitchison on ‘Leeds
After having had the pleasure of catching this band live several
times I had very high expectations of this album.
Recorded at Pravda Studios in Headingley this is essentially their
first fully realised studio album.
With the term ‘folk rock’ a much abused and often underrated term
they have delivered a storming, fluid, and dynamic record
which captures the spirit not only of the bands recent live displays
but also of the way they can take a relatively standard band
format of guitar, fiddle, bass and drums and blend them with the
finest parts of the folk genre with Duncan adding his own
observations on the world, tremendous stuff.
The opener ‘Bring ‘Em Down’ kicks off with a rolling cittern riff
before powering into a belter of a tune, well arranged and performed
with zest, sets you up nicely for the rest of the album.
The musical and vocal interplay between Duncan, Anne, Geoff, Steve,
Tony and Nick is most evident on tracks such as ‘The Woodshed Boys’
a tale which tells the sorrowful story of folk legends such as Harry
Cox and Walter Pardon being banished to their sheds in order to
themselves in that there ‘folk singing’! With tumbling drums and on
the button bass this song surfs along complete with Hammond-like
from Steve Fairholme’s melodeon. Geoff Taylor’s liquid 70’s
influenced guitar dominates the trad tune ‘Canadee-I-O’ arranged by
a song which he respectfully doffs his cap towards the
transcendental Nic Jones. ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’ remains a great tune
and for me blows the dust off older versions I’ve heard of this
Set pieces such as ‘Jigalo date from as far back as 1977 and were
originally played by Duncan and Geoff in their old band ‘Luigi Ana
with the late great John Peel (RIP) giving a spin back in the day.
Duncan’s song writing continues to develop throughout the record
with increasing evidence of his knack of taking the listener on a
introducing themes and characters as they venture along, great
stuff. The production remains crisp and focused, and as far as I’m
rhythm section recorded live to maintain the groove and dynamics of
a live show.
Some themes run through the album, drinking songs, songs of
alienation, songs of love, and songs of hope.
Guests are given the freedom and scope to stamp themselves on the
record with folk alumni Alistair Hulett, Maggie Boyle and
Alistair Russell contributing some fine vocal and flute pieces.
The record moves further away from Duncan’s solo performances with
increased imaginative arrangements and huge blustering
rock choruses and play outs. The closer ‘Goodnight’ demonstrates a
gentler, slightly more pastoral element to the album,
with Duncan and Maggie’s voices blending perfectly with band and
friends joining in at the end for a good old sing song. Wonderful!
If you haven’t seen or heard this band do it now, catch them live,
buy a live album from them, buy this album!
Celebratory music, spiritually uplifting stuff, a belter!
Review from fRoots, June 04 issue
The Duncan McFarlane Band "Woodshed Boys" (Dunx Music CD016)
Full-throated folk rock with as much attack as the Charge of the
Could have done with a bit less throttle at times, but at least
McFarlane and crew are eager
and put some determination into
proceedings. A loud party animal and totally unashamed.
'Woodshed Boys' - Yorkshire Evening Post, Sat 13th March 04
Although it's exciting that there are musicians out there striving
to write the next classic song,
it's also good from time to time to
hear people finding new angles on traditional tunes.
Leeds-based outfit The Duncan McFarlane Band are doing just that
with an album of robust folk-rock
that's roughly half traditional
Celtic fare and half new compositions.
McFarlane's career tells you one thing straight away - he loves
He has never tired of cranking up the amp and singing
The Woodshed Boys is full of reels, jigs and stout songs with
melodramatic electric guitar flourishes.
It's well-executed and infectiously lively.