Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017

Darlingside are an American folk band starting to make quite a stir after a bumped higher up the bill appearance at last year’s Cambridge Folk Festival earnt them a lot of new fans this side of the pond. They’ve been back for some tour dates and brought along a friend – the woman described as their “Big Sister” – who provided the opening support set. Caitlin Canty is a Vermont girl gone Nashville, and sings modern folk songs tinged with a fairly generous helping of country. She’s enjoying being in the UK – commenting that if she lived here she’d be writing train songs instead of ones featuring cars as an escape. Get Up is her standout song, with its thrumming guitar line and insistent lyrics “Get up get up get up / no time to rest or run for cover / Get up get up get up / before the road pulls you under” which restlessly hints at a chaotic scramble away from an unbearable situation. Continue reading “Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017”

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017

More than thirty years after departing from Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter is still forever associated with the band which gave him his big break. That must be something of a poisoned chalice as he’s produced a significant body of solo work over those years and his current musical unit – the Rant Band – are responsible for two of his finest albums When I’m President and last year’s Fingers Crossed both of which show him to be a songwriter very much at the top of his game. And as befits this status he works as many of the new songs into his set as possible…or perhaps that should be he works as few Mott songs into the set as he feels he can get away with. Continue reading “Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017”

Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017

Does it get better than this – a beautifully warm evening, driving off to see Joe Purdy for the second time in a week, Bob Harris Country on the radio and Bob’s interviewing Jason Isbell. Oh and he closes the show with Waylon’s Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Everything’s looking – and sounding – very promising. Things take a downward trend when arriving at The Horn to find there’s no crowd – and I mean, no crowd: the venue’s deserted. Even when the stage times roll around things haven’t improved all that much – can St. Albans and the surrounding area really only scrape together thirty odd people for Joe Purdy? Continue reading “Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017”

Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017

Raised in Jackson Tennessee Erin Rae has recently been Nashville’s popular choice for backing vocals and harmony work working with the likes of Margo Price and Andrew Combs. Her debut album Soon Enough saw her take the decision to step out from behind other artists and take centre stage and tonight she was  at the Green Note to promote her forthcoming album Putting On Airs while playing some songs from her acclaimed debut.  Rae has been described as Nashville’s best-kept secret but based on what I saw and heard tonight, she will not remain a secret for long. Continue reading “Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017”

Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017

Chastity Brown apologises for the four year hiatus in her albums. “But I’m from Tennessee” she remarks. It could be that the record company need that explanation but it pretty much looks like every man and woman in here tonight is simply happy to see Chastity Brown back with new material no matter how long the break. Androgynous and self- assured, she grew up near Memphis but her adopted home for the last twelve years has been Minneapolis and the material on offer tonight from new album Silhouette of Sirens befits her biker boots, black waxed skinny jeans and jacket as there is a more obvious rock edge. Continue reading “Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017”

Le Vent Du Nord, The Stables, Wavendon, 13th June 2017

Quebec four piece folk sensation Le Vent Du Nord made a return visit to The Stables on a UK tour which is mostly taking in a number of folk festivals offering the group high billing. Drawing on a heritage of imported European traditions their sound offers a blend of French, English and Irish music in particular as well as Le Vent Du Nord’s own writings in the Quebecois traditional style and an unexpected (even by the band) touch of country music. It turns out that not every book of lyrics found in an attic is actually all that old. Continue reading “Le Vent Du Nord, The Stables, Wavendon, 13th June 2017”

Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017

In these reviews I often find myself harking back to a period in London’s long lost rock history: the pub rock and early punk days of 75/76 that, in particular, the west of the city became associated with. Tonight’s gig is in the legendary 100 Club slap bang in heart of town. It’s a busy affair. The man I’m here to see is supporting Jet’s Nic Cester and veteran indie /punk broadcaster is Gary Crowley is DJing. It’s a superb gig, full of the right amount of joviality, rawness and musicianship, but as the sun rises the next morning, I’m thinking of west London again and the tower blocks that flank the Westway, the landscapes so evocative of early Clash artwork. Continue reading “Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017”