Jonathan Byrd “Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys”(Independent, 2018)

Actual country music! And really good country music too! Americana ebbs and flows in different ways, and obviously that’s a good thing. Now and again though, you can find country music produced that’s worthy of the weight of history in the field. Certainly not the factory produced, plastic Music Row atrocities that are increasingly favoured in the UK. Instead, step forward Jonathan Byrd, who’s been in the game for over fifteen years and is held in high regard at AUK towers. Of course he has the hat and beard that’s requisite for his trade, but rest assured readers, he’s the genuine  article. Continue reading “Jonathan Byrd “Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys”(Independent, 2018)”

Cam Penner and Jon Wood, The Green Note, London, 14th November 2018

Cam Penner and Jon Wood have been making music together for 13 years and over that time they’ve honed that most important of things – a distinctive sound. And a friendship – that’s important too. Cam Penner is the alternatively gruff voiced and high note hitting songwriter, switching between a variety of guitars and a concert ukulele whilst also adding drums and atmospheric samples. And Jon Wood is the quiet guitar maestro sitting throughout the gig and playing with a steely intensity of his own – occasionally switching things up with lap steel which he plays with a precision that makes for a haunting sound when given a subtle echo effect. Together they are unstoppable. Continue reading “Cam Penner and Jon Wood, The Green Note, London, 14th November 2018”

The Bull Brothers “This Is What Happens “ (Independent, 2018)

An EP released earlier this year, London-based siblings, Sam and Tom Bull undertook writing duties at the Bakery Studios in Nashville, with Paul Ebersold and Sadler Vaden (the guitar player for Jason Isbell’s band, the 400 Unit), before recording took place at Urchin studios in Hackney. The stand out song  on the EP is probably ‘Song For Bob Dylan.’ Somewhat resonant of Bon Iver in its vocal stylings, it glides in on acoustic guitar, over which the brothers’ feathered harmonies implore a “little one” to go to sleep. Continue reading “The Bull Brothers “This Is What Happens “ (Independent, 2018)”

John Kilzer “The American Blues” – Track Premier

John Kilzer can claim to carry some scars himself, having dealt with his own issues with substance abuse prior to recording his second album on Memphis based Archer Records.  ‘Scars‘ is the album, and it’s due out on January 11th 2019. ‘The American Blues‘ is available to listen now, and on it the gravel voiced Kilzer takes a critical eye to the Modern World – communication replaced by meaningless tweets, bullies crack their knuckles spoiling for a fight and all the time there’s the watchful eye of the surveillance society.  This isn’t Kilzer’s idea of America.  Continue reading “John Kilzer “The American Blues” – Track Premier”

Video Premiere: Emily Mae Winters “Wildfire”

Rising folk star and AUK favourite Emily Mae Winters has a new album out next year called High Romance. which she’s funding via Pledgemusic.  This rather excellent and somewhat rockier song, with Ben Walker on guitar, will be on it.   You can support the album here and get some nice goodies too:


John Paul White announces new UK dates and track

Just in time for our very own civil war too. Leaving you this weekend dear reader with news that Grammy Award-winner John Paul White has announced his return to the UK in January to play a string of shows. Currently in the studio working on the follow up to last year’s critically-acclaimed album ‘Beulah’, White has released his new song ‘My Dreams Have All Come True’ which is just delightful – you can hear it below.  Continue reading “John Paul White announces new UK dates and track”

Interview: BJ Barham of American Aquarium

BJ Barham is over in the UK for a short tour, with his band American Aquarium, showcasing tunes from his latest and greatest album, ‘Things Change.’ Mark Underwood of AUK sat down to talk to him before their Borderline show in London earlier this month, where they discussed – among other things – his experiences of working with Jason Isbell and John Fullbright, the songwriting process, BJ’s upbringing and his love of Tom Petty. Continue reading “Interview: BJ Barham of American Aquarium”

Wayne Graham “Joy” (K&F Records, 2018)

This album, which falls on the country rock side of Americana, is darn near irresistible. First things first: Wayne Graham is not a person – it’s the name of a four-piece band from Kentucky led by two brothers, Kenny and Hayden Miles. By and large, the music on these 12 tracks is driven by a propulsive back beat. But it diverts into folk and even a touch of jazz, making it, in the mind of this reviewer, true Americana – music that draws on diverse American musical traditions. Continue reading “Wayne Graham “Joy” (K&F Records, 2018)”

Pick of the Political Pops: Phil Ochs “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”

This week saw the “celebrations” (?) or “commemorations” (?) of one hundred years since the end of the World War One. Obviously the big talking point was that Red Jez wore the wrong sort of coat or had on the wrong sized poppy at The Cenotaph. The unspeakable rogue. The fact that he is a life long pacifist is just beyond the pale – should he, in fact, even have been there at all? We gathered in The Bunker at Americana-UK Towers in order to watch the Peter Jackson film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old” which affected us all deeply. Particularly telling was the segment towards the end in which ex-soldiers reminded us that on their return nobody actually cared what they had done. They couldn’t get jobs and were actively discriminated against. It’s a funny old thing war. Maybe we just shouldn’t do it…

Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)

First things first. If you haven’t discovered the excellent 33 1/3 series of books from Bloomsbury Publishing you’re seriously missing out. This is a series of short books about popular music and it focuses on individual albums by a very wide range of artists. Obviously not all of these will be of interest to Americana fans but there is enough to make this a series well worth investigating. Continue reading “Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)”