Win tickets to Soundscreen film showings with AUK

The Soundscreen Festival of music and film begins in London from tomorrow until Thursday (29th) next week which features films and live performances across London including venues such as Koko and the 100 Club, and there’s a healthy dose of americana in there through two films, “All the Labor: The Story of the Gourds” which is what it says on the tin, and “The Shopkeeper” about music producer Mark Hallman and his Austin recording studio and its struggle to stay viable in the era of Spotify, with interviews with Tom Russell and Eliza Gilkyson among others. We have a pair of tickets for each film to give away to two AUK readers – just email us with your name before Friday at  And if you’re not in or around London, wipe away your tears with this performance from the Gourds back in 2011. Continue reading “Win tickets to Soundscreen film showings with AUK”

Van Life: Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family)

Got to be honest, there probably isn’t a square mile of the US or Europe that Brett and Rennie, The Handsome Family, haven’t covered at some point. The husband and wife duo must have one hell of a relationship to endure that many miles on the road together without serious risk of divorce or mental instability.  That they appear, at least on the surface, as musically and harmoniously entwined is surely testament to a rigorously tested van life routine that has stood the test of time. I catch up with them en route to Aberdeen to get the lowdown.
Continue reading “Van Life: Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family)”

Win tickets to see Tom Paxton with AUK!

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and US folk icon, Tom Paxton, is returning to the UK next month to perform twelve shows with singer/songwriter duo The DonJuans – Don Henry & Jon Vezner. Collectively, their songs have been covered by (wait for this…) Harry Belafonte, John Mellencamp, Miranda Lambert, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, Nancy Griffith, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Janis Ian, Kathy Mattea, John Denver, Faith Hill, B.J. Thomas, Blake Shelton, Peter, Paul & Mary and a little know singer called Bob Dylan who sounds like he might do big things one day. Continue reading “Win tickets to see Tom Paxton with AUK!”

Handsomes continue their 20th anniversary tour

The Handsome Family are nearly halfway through their biggest UK tour to date which is good news if you happen to live near the places they haven’t been yet. 25 years into their career now, Rennie and Brett Sparks’ twisted take on Americana was given a boost when a track from their 2003 ‘Singing Bones’ album ‘Far From Any Road’ was plucked from relative obscurity to be used as the theme tune for the first season of ‘True Detective’ in 2015. Since then, the track has been streamed over 50 million times and counting. Continue reading “Handsomes continue their 20th anniversary tour”

Wins Nils Lofgren tickets with AUK!

Legendary US songwriter, virtuoso guitarist and pianist Nils Lofgren will be returning to the UK this May in 2018 for a selection of tour dates. Celebrating his 50th year of touring professionally, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame E Street band member and solo artist is making his first return to our shores in three years for a 15 city tour, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta.  We have a pair of tickets to giveaway for the Barbican show – just send us an email with your name to this address by Sunday 18th March and we’ll select a winner at random. In the meantime, here are those dates along with Nils performing a few of his classics last year. Continue reading “Wins Nils Lofgren tickets with AUK!”

Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27th February 2018

Now in its second year the City Roots Festival continues along a path already taken by its elder sibling the Cambridge Folk Festival in that it takes a fairly broad definition of what represents Roots. And music. On the opening weekend there had been a World Music opener – with Sona Jobarteh and then Chouk Bwa Libete and on the same night as Rich Hall the folk music fan would have been torn by the knowledge that McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle had hot footed it from their recent touring with the Transatlantic Sessions and were playing just a little way down the road from the Corn Exchange. It’s a truism that if one didn’t have to pick then it wouldn’t be a really good festival line-up. Continue reading “Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27th February 2018”

Album premiere: Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” – Listen

AUK premieres this morning the new self-titled LP from Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner, named after a nearly-undrinkable batch of beer once brewed by Pedigo’s father. Pedigo is Dallas singer/songwriter John Pedigo, one half of folk duo The O’s, and the album is a belter – it radiates with hope, joy and exuberant defiance in the face of loss. Pedigo’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, which led him to write and record a bunch of songs that would, in their own way, honour his dad’s legacy. Continue reading “Album premiere: Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” – Listen”

Win tickets to Ramblin’ Roots Review with AUK

Probably the best value americana festival in the UK lands again this year just after Easter so you can boogie away those calories – The three-day indoor Ramblin Roots Revue music festival returns to High Wycombe for a second year from 6-8 April, in association with americana label Clubhouse Records. The bill boasts more than 25 roots, Americana, bluegrass and alt-country acts from the US, UK and Europe including The Magic Numbers ahead of their new album, The Rails, and a UK debut performance from Norwegian band, Lucky Lips.  Continue reading “Win tickets to Ramblin’ Roots Review with AUK”

Girl from the North Country, The Noel Coward Theatre, London

A West End musical based entirely on the songs of Bob Dylan has to rank quite highly in the list of things that will never exist. And yet Girl from the North Country is that very thing. After a short run at the Old Vic it has now transferred with near sell-out success for what is described as a limited run at the Noel Coward Theatre. That very close to sold-outness would, one would like to think, ensure it has a longer life to come somewhere else.  Despite weaving a story around a single artist’s music it’s not your typical juke-box musical – it’s not your typical anything. Continue reading “Girl from the North Country, The Noel Coward Theatre, London”

Pick of the Political Pops: The Grateful Dead “Ripple”

Given the inclement weather and the fact that we forgot to buy Our Glorious Leader (The Editor) a Valentine’s Day card we have chosen to repair to The Bunker for a few days to drown our sorrows and wait until the worst of His temper has subsided. We remain connected to the outside world through the regular channels however and news reached us that there has been a right old kerfuffle about the wrong doings of the charity sector with some coming in for particular attention. We like to believe in the inherent goodness of all folk but we also believe that if you abuse your position of help/power/doing right then you are a horrible human being and completely lost to us. On the other hand we can’t help wondering about the vehemence of the right wing press in pursuing certain people and organisations in this matter. A charity came right out and said that capitalism distributes the rewards of market activity inequitably (and by extension is responsible for poverty). The right wing press came right back with one rodney suggesting that socialism was responsible for the desperate poverty inflicted on hundreds of millions (and by extension charity people are all lefties whom we will label ‘sexual abusers’ just to put them in their place). Crikey – it’s a right old mess. Have a listen to this tune which suggests a gentler way of going about handing things out.