Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
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Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Band Alternative Folk


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"Demo review"

I’ve reviewed Cornwall-based JULIAN GASKELL before, and what a treat it was: all Tom Waits growl and blues-folk madness. Now he’s back with THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS, playing the kind of gnarly, radical folk-punk championed by Gogol Bordello and Devotchka (or ‘new wave skiffle’ as the band cutely tag themselves). Foot-stomping, accordion led show tunes with a great line in poetic socialism is the order of the day, never more so than on ‘Yuppie Flats’ and ‘The Great
Money Trick’: songs that keep the class war alive and kicking. Although you feel that the Ukrainian-folk of ‘Cingilingibom’ is more righteous celebration than indignation. Awesome. Download their album at... myspace.com/raggedtrouseredphilanthropists - 24-7 magazine

"Raggle-taggle gypsy punk is whirling in"

TAKE an accordion, a banjo, an acoustic guitar and a washboard and you have the essential tools for a rousing encounter with Cornwall's unique gypsy punk troubadours, Julian Gaskill and his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. The elaborately named ensemble are as eccentric in looks as they are in sound, not least the mustachioed, bespectacled Julian, who regularly leads his merry men on musical jaunts around the Westcountry and beyond. This month they are warming up for a couple of major dates in uncharted locales – the Acorn Theatre in Penzance and the Voodoo Lounge at Exeter's Phoenix Arts Centre – as their bid for world domination dances along. Their music can be fast-paced but their journey is, in fact, a very gentle one, punctuated by frequent stops to kick up a punk-style shindig that is heavily influenced by the traditional folk music of Eastern Europe. "We are walking uphill slowly rather than catching the cable car," quips Julian who, at 37, has been playing guitar since he was 13 and spent several years on the cusp of major breaks in the business while living in Manchester.

"After all those years of being a struggling musician I am trying to make a sustainable living out of what we are doing. With the music we do we can play almost anywhere, as opposed to being a full-on punk band," he says. It was a trip to Sziget, the annual summer musical festival in Budapest, five years ago that fuelled Julian's fascination with traditional Jewish klezmer music, which has been enjoying a revival in recent times. At its core is the accordion, which dominates around 50 per cent of the Philanthropists' sound. Having grown up playing piano, Julian had the essential knowledge to master the squeezebox, although the first six months were a hard slog. "It's like playing piano one-handed with your eyes shut while your left hand is pumping up a bicycle tyre," he explains. "Once you get over those difficulties, you can make music." Julian was playing solo for some time and the band has built up around him. He writes the bulk of the lyrics, often commenting on modern British society and habits, sometimes just nonsense, and his very English shouty punk voice defines them.

So, you'll get songs about yuppies, pubs, romantic novels, or sung in an unfathomable Eastern European language – a balance between funny and heavy. Julian can be heard on vocals, accordion, violin, balalaika, cello, banjo, washboard, piano, drums, harmonicas, concertina, guitars, Tom on upright bass, vocals, tuba, banjo, cello, Dan on guitars, vocals, ukulele, kazoo and Rory on drums and percussion. The band have released one album and are in the process of recording another in the Westcountry.

And the name? English literature or social history scholars will recognise The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists as the title of a political working class novel by Robert Tressell, published in 1914.
- Western Morning News

"BBC review"

The band combine rattling off-kilter vocals and lyrics with flamboyant accordion playing, twisted spikes of telecaster, balalaika and violin, smooth manouche acoustic, surreally disturbing electric upright bass, operatics and junglist jazz ska drums.

A band rootless, wandering and skint but with a keen ear for whatever interesting tune might come their way,

and an eye on the nearest charity shop or flea market for an instrument to play it on....

Unfamiliar forms of music played with gusto by under rehearsed enthusiasts, this is the genuine 'skiffle' of the modern age. - BBC Cornwall

"West Briton"

25th Nov 2008 West Briton

IT'S been a busy year for Cornwall's Julian Gaskell & The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, with over 100 gigs under their belts since January the band have just come back from touring Eastern Europe for the second time, driving without stopping from Prague to arrive just in the nick of time to support Three Daft Monkeys in Falmouth recently.

The band continue to cement their reputation as one of the most exciting live acts around and after the success of last July's sold-out performance The Philanthropists return to the Acorn Arts Centre in Penzance for another high energy night of 'bourbon soaked vaudeville gypsy hoedown punk'!

The band will be appearing on Saturday, December 6, and will be supported by very special guests The OZ, a unique John Lennon-inspired punk revolutionist band who are coming all the way from St Petersburg, Russia (www.dotheoz.com).

9th September 2008

ONE of the finest bands in Cornwall nay the world, Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, play at the launch of Climate Friendly Fortnight on Friday.

The event will be launched by Brigit Strawbridge from the BBC's It's Not Easy Being Green and founder of the Big Green Idea, at Miss Peapod's Cafe in Penryn with live music from the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and We Have No TV.

The climate friendly fortnight is being organised by Cornwall Friends of the Earth, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Community Climate Forum and is basically a chance to celebrate and promote some of the projects that are running across Cornwall. The website with details of other events (still being updated) is www.climatefriendlycornwall.org.uk

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, who play a mix of eastern European folk music, traditional klezmer melodies, ska beats and punk rock, also play the Studio Bar, Penzance, on Saturday and the Castle Inn, St Ives, on Tuesday as part of the St Ives Festival.
- West Briton


"Here the repellent harpies make their nests"
14-track album, CD/download,
Release date 1st August 2009
"Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists"
18 track CD album/download, released May 2007
Tracks played on BBC Radio 2 and 6music



"Foot-stomping, accordion led show tunes with a great line in poetic socialism... songs that keep the class war alive and kicking" 24-7 magazine, May 2009

Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists are a four piece outfit from Cornwall who play garage-punk-klezmer-balkadelia. Having performed at hundreds obscure locations in the UK, Poland and Czech Republic since forming in 2006, their music has mutated and grown from its humble folk origins into the racket that is their forthcoming album “Here the repellent harpies make their nests”, due for release in August 2009.

Some Press Quotes:

“Bourbon-soaked vaudeville gypsy hoedown punk” Time Out Magazine, London

"A band rootless, wandering and skint but with a keen ear for whatever interesting tune might come their way, and an eye on the nearest charity shop or flea market for an instrument to play it on… this is the genuine 'skiffle' of the modern age." BBC Radio Cornwall

“A pioneer of new wave skiffle and the use of acoustic instruments as weapons of new punk, Julian Gaskell is one of Britain’s few truly original folk masters.” ManchesterMusic.co.uk

“Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the finest and arguably the most unique band to emerge in Cornwall.” The Cornishman