The Strange Blue Dreams “The Strange Blue Dreams” (Holy Smokes Records, 2017)

Amongst the many strands of American inspired revivalist music – whether it be Appalachian folk or pre-war Blues, the sounds of the sixties folk boom or the reclaiming of minstrelsy and old-time music one musical thread that has not been so heavily championed is – with the possible exception of Rockabilly and hep-cat music – that strange melange of styles that was present at the birth of Rock and Roll.  Scottish band The Strange Blue Dreams are setting out to redress the balance a little on their debut album with a diverse collection of songs that sound like nothing more or less than a 1956 juke box. Continue reading “The Strange Blue Dreams “The Strange Blue Dreams” (Holy Smokes Records, 2017)”

Mary Lou Minor Trio “Once Was a Time” (Independent, 2017)

You’ll doubtless recall that Green on Red’s Dan Stuart boldly sang “Time ain’t nothing / When you’re young at heart / And your soul still burns” with all the fervour of a young man. Add a few years to the tally and things, it seems, often take on more of the perspective embodied on Mary Lou Minor’s latest album. This offers a more mature view on the world, a world where a phrase from Dropped Stitches such as “in your own mind you’re feeling quite different / and in your own mind you’re still 39” makes sense. Continue reading “Mary Lou Minor Trio “Once Was a Time” (Independent, 2017)”

Dia del Mercado “Another Clumsey Mile” (Root and Branch Recordings, 2017)

Tumbleweeds roll through a dusty town, the barroom doors clatter back and forth in the wind and the Ennio Morricone soundtrack rattles with a raucous choir. It’s not, however, a cheroot chewing man with no name who stumbles into view – rather it is Ruud Slingerland, the Dutch multi-instrumentalist behind the Dia del Mercado name.  Another Clumsey Mile (and, by-the-by, that is the given spelling) is a selection of five new songs taken from a return to Slingerland’s musical roots – putting together tracks home recorded in his living room. Continue reading “Dia del Mercado “Another Clumsey Mile” (Root and Branch Recordings, 2017)”

The Anatomy of Frank “The Sunken Coast” – Listen

The Sunken Coast is taken from the Virginia based folk-rock trio The Anatomy of Frank’s most recent album South America. It highlights lead singer Kyle Woolard’s soft, warm vocals and his intricate guitar plucking which weaves together with Jimmy Bullis’ keyboards and Max Bollinger’s drums to give a softly breathed ethereal feel to this song of mixed-emotions from a relationship that’s over but left behind some still glowing embers.

The Nickajack Men “Can’t take it anymore” – Listen

Can’t take it anymore is the latest single from Glaswegian quintet The Nickajack Men. In case you’re wondering, Nickajack is an area of the rugged Appalachian foothills in eastern Tennessee and northeastern Alabama, which in Civil war times remained loyal to the Union, and was decidedly anti-slavery. Good folks, then.  The band, however, formed in 2014 and have spent the subsequent time building their live reputation. This heavily melodic track builds from a light folk opening to a noisome blend of the deeply funky with the assured swagger of Southern Rock.

Micah P Hinson, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 29th September 2017

Micah P Hinson is a bundle of contradictions – on the one hand he’s a slightly agitated and nervy stage presence, but he also happily makes if not on-stage rants then at least tirades. He’s stick thin and has a youthful demeanour which belies his thirty seven years, and  – even though one knows this in advance – still quite surprisingly from this slight frame he sings in a deep baritone. And the songs: carefully constructed yet performed solo in an almost deconstructed way. Continue reading “Micah P Hinson, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 29th September 2017”

Jon Boden, Cecil Sharp House, London, 3rd October 2017

October was kind to us – although Cecil Sharp House has many performance sized rooms this particular gig was pitched in the garden space. With the wall and trees of the garden as a fairy-light lit backdrop in the fading Autumn light, and with a bonfire lit in a large oil-drum brazier, the scene had been set for an intimate micro-gig, with just forty or so attendees. Jon Boden accompanied himself on guitar and concertina, backed up by a string trio of Violin, Cello and Viola (Kiki Chen, Lucy Revis, Helen Bell). Without microphones the sound was augmented solely with the crack and spits from the fire as well as the rising and falling background street noise. Continue reading “Jon Boden, Cecil Sharp House, London, 3rd October 2017”