Ron Pope “Work” (Brooklyn Basement Records, 2017)

Ron Pope is living proof that if you can find a job you love, then you never do a day’s work in your life. Though paradoxically, to borrow a phrase from James Brown, Pope is currently one of the hardest working musicians in show business. “I wanted to work to live, not live to work,” says the braided singer who doesn’t work for The Man, but who runs his own Brooklyn Basement label (he used to be based in New York) from East Nashville with the help of his wife, Blair. Continue reading “Ron Pope “Work” (Brooklyn Basement Records, 2017)”

Steve Gardner “Bathed in Comfort” (TAG Records, 2017)

Chuck Prophet recently tweeted a comment from his buddy and console-maestro, Matt Winegar, who, at sound check while they were balancing the EQ before a gig, advised Chuck that, ‘By the time we get forty or fifty beards in here, it’s really going to change the sound.’ A few months before this wonderful post, Chuck received an unsolicited request from fan boy, Yorkshire man, singer and music dabbler, Steve Gardner – not to be confused with the American musician, Mississippi-based Rambling Steve Gardner.  Continue reading “Steve Gardner “Bathed in Comfort” (TAG Records, 2017)”

Zervas & Pepper “Wilderland” (Independent, 2017)

Cabin fever! Jack Kerouac spent 63 days working as a fire watch, on top of Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains in 1956. Zervas & Pepper spent 28 days in a remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado late last year. Kerouac went on to use the material gained from that experience for The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper spent the time writing songs for Wilderland, their triumphant new album, and also going for long walks, enjoying the tranquillity of undisturbed absorption in nature and relishing their solitude away from the distractions of mobile phones and the internet.  Continue reading “Zervas & Pepper “Wilderland” (Independent, 2017)”

Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)

Rear-ended by a car which sent me and my bicycle flying through the air, the kerb-stone rose up and smashed me in the face. Paramedics diagnosed a broken nose, fractured arm, wrist and cracked ribs, and as I lay there bleeding, I pondered that the only other thing to have made such an impact on me recently is this amazing new album by Donald Byron Wheatley. Moondogs and Mad Dogs is essentially a tribute by Wheatley to his father ‘Big Don’, who came from a family of showmen who have worked on fairgrounds up and down our fair land for the past one hundred and fifty years. Continue reading “Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)”

Greta Gaines “Tumbleweed EP” (Big Air Records, 2017)

Don’t Bogart That Joint will probably be one of her favourite tunes when Greta Gaines is asked to appear on Desert Island Discs; and a vaporiser most likely her luxury object. A lifetime campaigner for the legalisation of marijuana and former advocate for the National Organisation For The Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), all profits from her anthemic, proselytising and very moreish track Light It Up featured on her new seven-song EP Tumbleweed will be donated to NORML, Patients Out of Time and Tennesseans United; charities dedicated towards the legalisation of medical marijuana and treating people suffering with chronic health complaints. Continue reading “Greta Gaines “Tumbleweed EP” (Big Air Records, 2017)”

Thin Wire Fence “Green to Dust” (Independent, 2017)

By Odin’s beard! Remember Harry Dean Stanton’s walk through Big Bend, the dusty, desolate Texan desert at the beginning of Wim Wender’s masterpiece Paris, Texas? His dehydrated body with dry, cracked lips, full beard and skin like leather; dryer than a two-month old Nardorcott. Stanton was serenaded by Ry Cooder’s magnificent bottle-slide guitar which Cooder wrote after being influenced by Blind Willie Johnson’s 1928 cut, Dark Was the Night. Thin Wire Fence’s Scared of the Light, was written after they watched Paris, Texas. It’s a song that makes your mouth dry as cotton wool and brings that iconic scene to mind, with the harrowing story of a man out of his mind, stuck out in the desert on his own.  Continue reading “Thin Wire Fence “Green to Dust” (Independent, 2017)”

Toby Hay “The Gathering” (Cambrian Records, 2017)

A quotation from Basho, the sixteenth century Zen Buddhist monk and poet, adorns The Gathering’s inlay sleeve: I like to wash / The dust of the world / In the droplets of dew. Basho, of course, is most famous for his haiku: Listen! A frog / Jumping into the stillness / Of an ancient pond. This album is anything but plop! Listening to Hay’s amazing collection of instrumental six-string and twelve-string acoustic guitar suites, one is struck by his Basho-like attention to the beauty of nature. There is a pastoral feel to his inventive and immersive oeuvre; the result of quiet contemplation, time spent reflecting on the wonders of creation.  Continue reading “Toby Hay “The Gathering” (Cambrian Records, 2017)”