The Hooten Hallers + The Dee Vees + Jim Adama, Gulliver’s, Manchester, 12th November 2019

On the first night of their European tour the Hooten Hallers were in good spirits, mixing and chatting with their fans both before and after the gig. It was noticeable that a few the audience were wearing The Dead South t-shirts, the Hallers having supported the Canadian band on a previous tour and having clearly made an impression. As the gig got under way it was not hard to see why. The Hooten Hallers are not an easy band to handily pigeonhole. Their staple diet of high-octane rhythm & blues is supplemented variously with dashes of rock & roll, soul, blues, surf and garage rock; ingredients just perfect for a live banquet. Continue reading “The Hooten Hallers + The Dee Vees + Jim Adama, Gulliver’s, Manchester, 12th November 2019”

Katie Dahl “Wildwood” (Independent, 2019)

Katie Dahl’s fifth album ‘Wildwood’ is a very personal affair centred around Door County, Wisconsin where her family has lived for six generations. There are umpteen examples of songwriters paying homage to their homelands or hometowns. The best, through shared experiences and common emotions, are able to resonate with a wider audience.  This is where ‘Wildwood’ falls short. It’s a bit too personal, parochial even, to make a more inclusive connection. Continue reading “Katie Dahl “Wildwood” (Independent, 2019)”

Erin Rae + HerTiltedMoons, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, 9th November 2019

Growing up in Jackson, Tennessee, Erin Rae McKaskie was playing music from the age of five. Her parents were both musicians. Now based in Nashville, Erin Rae has dropped her surname, but the music still flows through her veins. Her sophomore album ‘Putting on Airs’ was released to widespread acclaim last year and she has gathered a growing reputation as a live performer. Tonight, she was accompanied by a three-piece band piece band who augmented and embellished her songs perfectly. Continue reading “Erin Rae + HerTiltedMoons, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, 9th November 2019”

Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore and The Guilty Ones + Roseanne Reid, Band on the Wall, Manchester, 30th October 2019

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have been good friends for many years, so when they got together to make 2018’s ‘Downey to Lubbock’ album it was something which they both agreed was long overdue. They had played together previously but making the album persuaded them to put a full band tour together. Only four UK dates were scheduled as part of their European tour, so those present tonight at Manchester’s iconic Band on the Wall venue were entitled to feel truly privileged. Continue reading “Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore and The Guilty Ones + Roseanne Reid, Band on the Wall, Manchester, 30th October 2019”

Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019

Reviewing Caroline Spence’s recentMint Condition album for AUK, fellow writer Rick Bayles awarded it that rare accolade a 10/10 score, describing it as “flawless” and “an early contender for album of the year.” A glowing testimony – but could she deliver the same quality live? The short answer on the evidence of this performance is an emphatic yes…and then some. Accompanied by her long time UK touring guitarist, CJ Hillman, Spence kept an appreciative audience spellbound for the evening with her striking voice, engaging stage presence and above all, a set crammed with songs of the highest quality. Those songs, drawn mainly from ‘Mint Condition’ and its predecessor ‘Spades and Roses’ were the platform for a performance that was, to borrow a word, “flawless”. Continue reading “Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019”

Ash Mountain “Black Gold EP” (Independent, 2019)

Manchester’s Ash Mountain have followed up last year’s three-track ‘Boom’ EP with a new four-track EP ‘Black Gold’. The band revolves around songwriters Tim Scott and Matt Jones and whereas ‘Boom’ showed initial promise, the new material is much more fully realised. The EP is a well-crafted slice of country-rock with all the expected ingredients: acoustic rhythms, pedal steel, laid-back vocals and nice harmonies. Where it differs from its predecessor is in its greater scope, variety and texture. It’s a more adventurous release and all the better for it.
Continue reading “Ash Mountain “Black Gold EP” (Independent, 2019)”

Sam Outlaw + Lydia Luce, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 2nd October 2019

Sam Outlaw could probably have been forgiven if he had been feeling a bit jaded. This was the 24th date of a punishing 28 gigs in 31 days European tour. On top of that, he had been quite ill in Norway and has a wife and two young children back home that he was missing. However, the quality and enthusiasm of his performance at Manchester’s Night & Day Café offered no clues as to any of that. It was only through Outlaw’s entertaining dialogue with his audience that they became aware of these circumstances. Continue reading “Sam Outlaw + Lydia Luce, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 2nd October 2019”

Wilco, Albert Hall, Manchester, 27th September 2019

To say that Jeff Tweedy’s band have, over the years, become something of an Americana institution is to put the ‘under’ well and truly into ‘understatement’. Such is the band’s stature that their gigs nowadays might equally and legitimately be labelled as ‘events’. So, to the majestic surroundings of Manchester’s Albert Hall,  devotees travelled from across the north of England and beyond to witness one of only three UK dates on the current Wilco tour. Despite a hefty £38 ticket price, the show was sold out weeks in advance. Continue reading “Wilco, Albert Hall, Manchester, 27th September 2019”

The Empty Pages “The Wanderer” (Independent, 2019)

The Empty Pages are an acoustic duo from Stamford, Lincolnshire. ‘The Wanderer’ is the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled album. The result is a pop-folk collection that doesn’t demand too much of the listener. Many artists and bands have coined in a fair few shillings in recent years by pouring out a similar kind of gentle folk-lite. The Empty Pages’ nautical themed album sets course for the slipstream of the Mumfords or Noah and the Whale, but to flog the metaphor to exhaustion, that ship has probably already sailed. The occasional tune lifts itself above the rest. ‘Please Take My Blues Away’ chugs along nicely with a mandolin accompaniment, whilst ‘I’ve Found My Place’ is the album’s stand-out track. Continue reading “The Empty Pages “The Wanderer” (Independent, 2019)”

Jeremy Ivey “The Dream and the Dreamer” (Anti Records, 2019)

Jeremy Ivey is probably best known to most Americana followers as the guitarist in Margo Price’s band and indeed, her husband of eleven years. The pair formerly worked together in the country-rock band Buffalo Clover. With only limited commercial success, Ivey decided to take a back seat and to back his wife’s career as a solo artist. In 2015 the couple sold or pawned many of their possessions (including Price’s wedding ring) to buy studio time to record Price’s debut album ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’ and the rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading “Jeremy Ivey “The Dream and the Dreamer” (Anti Records, 2019)”