The Song Remains: David Olney – 1948-2020

The sad death of David Olney has been widely reported, often in some pretty unlikely places (including the S*n, Daily Mail and Daily Express) by a media always looking for a novelty story – ‘folk singer dies live on stage’ fits the bill. It is sad, but true, that most of those reporting Olney’s passing, would not have done so had he died peacefully at home in his bed. So rather than dwell on the circumstances of his death, we at AUK would prefer to celebrate the life of a great songwriter. Continue reading “The Song Remains: David Olney – 1948-2020”

Forgotten Artists – Tandy

When Uncut released its influential Sounds of the New West cover CD in 1998 names like Josh Rouse, The Handsome Family and Lambchop were suddenly propelled on to the radar of a new generation of music fans. Following in the wake of this new interest in the emerging alt-country scene, many more bands and artists were thrust under the spotlight. Some were good, some were bad, some were indifferent and some got lost. Tandy were in the latter category. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Tandy”

With A Little Help From My Friends: How we can all help to support smaller artists

As much as we might like things to be different, Americana is a fairly niche market within the music business. Most artists, with relatively few exceptions, operate at a small level. Many have very modest incomes or struggle to make a living at all. So what can we, the fans, best do to support the artists we love? I paid a visit to Matt Hill aka Quiet Loner, to discuss how the Americana family can best support small artists.
Continue reading “With A Little Help From My Friends: How we can all help to support smaller artists”

Water and Sand “Catching Light” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Water and Sand are the collaborative project of established songwriters Todd Thibaud and Kim Taylor. ‘Catching Light’ is their second album together following a self-titled debut in 2016. Thibaud fronted The Courage Brothers before releasing the first of his many solo albums in 1996. Taylor has opened for Kris Kristofferson and Ron Sexsmith as well as writing music for a string of TV shows and more recently taking up acting. Continue reading “Water and Sand “Catching Light” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)”

The best gigs of 2019: a personal reflection

“I think that live music is something that the internet can never kill”  – Jim James (My Morning Jacket).  In an age when we can access our favourite music in so many ways and so many forms, for me the best way remains – live. I’m not talking massive stadium or arena gigs, but small and medium-sized venues with character and intimacy. With only a handful of exceptions, these are the places where most Americana artists will ply their trade in the UK. Luckily for me, there are a number of such venues in Manchester providing the opportunity to see top acts for relatively small amounts of money. Continue reading “The best gigs of 2019: a personal reflection”

The Deer “Do No Harm” (Keeled Scales, 2019)

The Deer are a five-piece band from Austin, TX. They describe themselves as ‘indie folk’, which is slightly disingenuous, because on this evidence they offer far more than that rather limiting label might suggest. Sure, there are elements of folk in their sound (the instrumentation includes fiddle and mandolin), but they also use synthesizers and on balance they are more likely to appeal to those approaching them from the direction of thoughtful, intelligent and literate American rock. The most obvious reference point is Mazzy Star, but The Deer are in no way derivative; quite the opposite in fact, their sound is genuinely unique and distinctive. Continue reading “The Deer “Do No Harm” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”

Dawn Landes + Jonah Tolchin, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, 8th December 2019

Dawn Landes is an artist that for some years now has seemed set for a breakthrough. That it hasn’t really happened for her is one of life’s mysteries. With a catalogue of fine albums to her name and a great live reputation, she has built up an enthusiastic fan base, just not in the numbers that might have been expected. However, the world’s loss was tonight Leeds’ gain as the audience filled the intimate, if somewhat dilapidated, surroundings of The Hyde Park Book Club. Continue reading “Dawn Landes + Jonah Tolchin, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, 8th December 2019”

Yola, Gorilla, Manchester, 3rd December 2019

It’s been a big year for Yola. Her Dan Auerbach produced debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’ was released in February to wide critical acclaim. It has since gone on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for ‘Best Americana Album’ whilst Yola herself has also been nominated for ‘Best New Artist’. Given the current upward trajectory of her career, most of those arriving for tonight’s show probably realised that this may well be their last chance to see her perform in a small to mid-sized venue. Continue reading “Yola, Gorilla, Manchester, 3rd December 2019”

AmericanA to Z – Iris DeMent

When the current vinyl revival started and I switched from CD to once again buying vinyl records, one thing I swore that I wouldn’t do, was to re-purchase my CD collection as titles were inevitably re-issued on vinyl.  But then Iris DeMent’s 1992 debut ‘Infamous Angel’ was re-issued on vinyl and in true country style, promises made, became promises broken. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Iris DeMent”

The Restoration “West” (Independent, 2019)

The Restoration describe themselves as an “indie, folk roots outfit” from Columbia, South Carolina. In fact, they are primarily the working vehicle for songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Daniel Machado. ‘West’ is a deeply personal album centred around Machado’s father David. The songs explore a father’s dysfunctional upbringing and the impact on his relationship with his own son. If all that sounds hard going, well, yes it is. The words ‘concept album’ tend to have a similar effect on this reviewer as those equally trepidatious words ‘drum solo’. Nevertheless, headphones were donned, prejudices put to one side and mind opened up. Continue reading “The Restoration “West” (Independent, 2019)”