Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)

It would be the understatement of the year to describe the torn and ragged instrument that is Georg Altziebler’s throat as “cracked” or “whisky scarred”. It’s a hollow rattling thing that speaks of dry deserts and lonesome travellers. Dark as the shadows in a Sergio Leone movie, dust covered, careworn and heartbroken. And just as it took an Italian film maker to reinvent and renew the Western as a genre, Son of the velvet rat (Georg and wife Helke) have so far made their music in their homeland of Austria whilst still sounding as if they have recorded in a small studio behind a shack somewhere out in the Californian desert. Continue reading “Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)”

Dweezil Zappa tours 50 Years Of Frank

Frank Zappa certainly out did other fathers – nothing as simple as a Boy named Sue for Frank. Moon Unit, Dweezil, these are names of distinction. Well, they’re distinctive. So Dweezil got an interesting start – he also got to hang around with a lot of guitar players and got to be a master of the guitar himself, releasing his first single at the age of 12. Eddie Van Halen produced that. As a tribute to his father who died in 1993, Dweezil has been touring Zappa senior’s music for a decade
– and this has led to another strange family moment. He is no longer allowed to use his touring name – Zappa plays Zappa – despite this being unarguably true. Continue reading “Dweezil Zappa tours 50 Years Of Frank”

The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017

Brett and Rennie Sparks brought a four-piece Handsome Family to The Union Chapel for one of those rare evenings that truly deserve the accolade “magical”. Demonstrating the ability for even a little television exposure to change the size of an audience The Handsome Family have stepped up to a considerably larger venue than on previous tours, and one that couldn’t be more in keeping with their music – on an early March evening when the shadows draw in quickly there could have been no better frame for their musical paintings of the strange, mystical and plain bizarre in American life. Continue reading “The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017”

Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)

Oxford Street, in this case, is not the glitzy miles long street of vast temples of consumerism, awash with gee-gaws and superficially attractive but ultimately empty and worthless baubles. No, this is an Oxford Street of attractive clapboard houses – maybe in Halifax or Victoria, but definitely anchored down in a small Canadian city, with easy access to wider country around. That suits the songs – intimate and civic, rooted in relationships, but with an open and expansive feel to them. Continue reading “Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)”

Barbican announces Mercury Rev, with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Time, it seems, has done its usual trick and flown by – can it really be a whole ten years since musically eclectic label Bella Union’s tenth birthday celebration at the RFH? It would appear so, as this July will see events at the Barbican to celebrate a full twenty years of the label founded by Simon Raymonde. And what a way to celebrate – Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper) will take to the stage for an evening of lush and magical music made just that bit more magical and lush by being accompanied by the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Continue reading “Barbican announces Mercury Rev, with Royal Northern Sinfonia.”

R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)

Do you believe in rock and roll ? R.Mutt do. Six years after the release of their last album – the well received Leash on Life – they finally return with a new record that builds on what went before, with some additional refinement provided by the assistance of producer Kevin Blackwell (Sassparilla) and for the mixing Chet Lyster who has worked with the Jayhawks. There’s been some internal changes in the band as well, alongside founder members Jim Dier and Ron Thornton there’s new
guitarist David Smolarek and new drummer Matt Schreier. Continue reading “R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)”

Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin, Leicester Square Theatre, London, 11th March 2017

Coming on to the darkened stage of this basement London theatre, strumming guitar, Loudon Wainwright III unexpectedly encountered a mic’ stand, causing a minor stumble – maybe a Freudian Trip – quickly recovered from. It got an early laugh. Surviving Twin (as you may have read in an earlier feature on Americana-UK) is his one man theatre performance mixing songs, monologues and a backdrop of photo’s and film clips. Continue reading “Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin, Leicester Square Theatre, London, 11th March 2017”