Jason McNiff “Rain Dries Your Eyes” (Tombola Records, 2017)

Delve into the Americana UK archives and you’ll find a lot of love for Jason McNiff. Over the course of 15 years and six albums, McNiff has constantly found favour with assorted reviewers (a task in itself) and his 2003 album Nobody’s Son was our album of that year. A running thread throughout the mentions and reviews is bewilderment as to why McNiff is not more celebrated with comments such as “the UK’s most underrated Americana artist” bandied about. So much for Americana UK being taste makers but we can take comfort in the fact that others such as Mojo, No Depression, The Independent and Time Out all concur and despite that McNiff remains something of a secret. It’s somewhat shameful that when the charts (such as they are) are populated by chaps emoting in a singer songwriter fashion and who are best known for the colour of their hair or their hat sense that someone like McNiff is relegated to cult status. Continue reading “Jason McNiff “Rain Dries Your Eyes” (Tombola Records, 2017)”

Southern Fried Festival’s 10th Year has a stellar line up

Perched up in the fair city of Perth, regarded as the gateway to the Highlands, Southern Fried has grown in stature over the years to become the premier Americana Festival in Scotland. With its mix of formal concerts, free open stage and late night revelries it is compact (awarded Best Small Festival in 2014) with no need for tents or wellies and it attracts a variety of artists who should be familiar to all readers of Americana UK.

For its 10th anniversary, Southern Fried has just unveiled its line up for this year’s festival and it’s somewhat spectacular. Nick Lowe, Rodney Crowell and Loudon Wainwright are the name draws playing in the concert hall along with evenings dedicated to Chuck Berry (featuring Andy Fairweather Low) and a celebration of Canadian music. Then there’s Jim Lauderdale, Chuck Prophet, Angaleena Presley, Sam Outlaw, Peter Bruntnell, Doug Seegers, Ags Connolly, Rachel Harrington, Sean Taylor, Rab Noakes and Danni Nicholls. We’re still awaiting the line-ups for the open and acoustic stages but there’s no doubt that there’ll be several well- kent names appearing on these.  Continue reading “Southern Fried Festival’s 10th Year has a stellar line up”

Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)

Greg Wickham was a member of Hadacol, a rootsy “alt country” band who released two albums at the turn of the century and If I left This World is his first release in 15 years. Reuniting with band members Richard Burgess and his brother, Fred, Wickham was lured back into a studio as he felt the need to leave a musical message for his kids, something they could listen to when he was no longer around. Although he appears to be in fine health, the album is peppered with allusions to mortality and colleagues who have shuffled on, most notably the late Lou Whitney (who produced Hadacol) while there’s a sound clip of his own father singing a snippet of Big Iron. Continue reading “Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)”

Linah Rocio “Warrior Talk” (Aveline Records, 2017)

We’re really stretching the boundaries of Americana UK with Chilean born, Swiss based Linah Rocio’s latest album. OK, there’s a banjo to be heard on the second last song here, Megan although it struggles to be heard over the inventive percussion, dextrous double bass and roomy piano that clothe the song. Rocio describes artists such as PJ Harvey and Joan As Policewoman as her heroes and as such she fits within the set of strong willed singer/songwriters who are pushing the envelope with their music, rock, jazz and traces of the avant-garde all part of the experience. There are songs which sound like Laura Nyro fronting a gnarly punked up Steely Dan as on Everything while Simon Rupp on guitar sounds at times like Marc Ribot. Continue reading “Linah Rocio “Warrior Talk” (Aveline Records, 2017)”

Bill Kirchen & Austin De Lone “Transatlanticana” (Proper Records 2017)

Bill Kirchen should be familiar to many here as a founding member of 70’s country rockers Commander Cody And his Lost Planet Airmen before going on to carve out a career that has led to his nickname of Titan Of The Telecaster. Austin De Lone? Well, he’s every bit as hallowed as Kirchin although the congregation might be somewhat smaller. He’s an American but one who first came to prominence (back in the 70’s again) with London pub rockers Eggs Over easy, one of those bands who kicked Prog in the balls with their return to the roots (and incidentally preparing the way for punk). The pair first bonded back in the 70’s and it would take a Pete Frame like Family Tree to describe their ongoing affiliations, partnerships and mutual connections, suffice to say that Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe loom large, the latter producing the duo when they were called The Moonlighters. Continue reading “Bill Kirchen & Austin De Lone “Transatlanticana” (Proper Records 2017)”

Robert Vincent “I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins” (At The Helm Records, 2017)

Of late fortune has smiled on Liverpudlian Robert Vincent. He was the first recipient of The Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award at the inaugural Americana Association UK Conference and Awards last year. He was also invited to be a showcase UK artist for Nashville’s Americana Fest in September and ended up in Rolling Stone’s list of “20 Best Things We Saw at Americana Fest”. On top of positive reviews for his debut album Life In Easy steps it seems it’s onwards and upwards for Mr. Vincent and consequently expectations for this album are quite high. Recorded in Liverpool and mixed in Nashville (with Ray Kennedy at the controls) I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins certainly meets these expectations although it’s an album that has a few surprises up its sleeve. Continue reading “Robert Vincent “I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins” (At The Helm Records, 2017)”

Lowlands and Friends “Play Townes Van Zandt’s Last Set” (Route 61/Harbour Song Records 2017)

Italian band Lowlands have form in the tribute album area with their homage to Woody Guthrie from a few years back a fine reimagining of the old hobo’s songs. Here they celebrate the late great Townes Van Zandt with a song by song delivery of his last ever setlist, a show at London’s Borderline on 3rd December 1996 just four weeks before his untimely death on January 1st. Edward Abbiati, the Anglo Italian lynchpin of Lowlands was at that show, an experience he describes in the extensive liner notes where he also writes about why he recorded the album and records his gratitude to the stellar friends who joined in the project. It’s an impressive line up with Sid Griffin, Chris Cacavas, Rod Picott, Antonio Gramentieri, The Lucky Strikes, Cheap Wine, Kevin Russell and Stiv Cantarelli just some of the artists involved. Continue reading “Lowlands and Friends “Play Townes Van Zandt’s Last Set” (Route 61/Harbour Song Records 2017)”