Firefly Burning + Samantha Whates, St Pancras Old Church, London, 22nd May 2019

This ‘working’ church, in a small parkland oasis between Camden Town and Kings Cross, is a truly apt venue for this sort of music, Firefly Burning being described by some as a “minimalist avant-pop alt-folk ensemble.” The church’s elegant windows let in the sinking daylight and impending dusk with the set closing shortly after night has fully fallen. The band, fronted by lead vocalist Bea Hankey, are marking their 10th anniversary as a going concern as well as tying the gig into the imminent release of a new album, ‘Breathe Shallow’. Continue reading “Firefly Burning + Samantha Whates, St Pancras Old Church, London, 22nd May 2019”

Lethbridge Owen, Under The Bridge, London, 26th April 2019

Tonight’s venue, Under the Bridge, is quirkily bolted into the lower level of Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC’s football ground. Featuring regular music nights it has previously hosted tonight’s entertainment, Lethbridge Owen, several times. It might seem odd to go see a band underneath a football pitch but for anyone who was around in the mid 60s they might think that if any football club should include a rock venue, Chelsea is the one. Continue reading “Lethbridge Owen, Under The Bridge, London, 26th April 2019”

The Good Lovelies + The Fortunate Ones, The Old Queens Head, Islington, 17th April 2019

St John’s, the capital of the Canadian province Newfoundland and Labrador, is actually nearer to London than to Nashville which might make one give pause for thought on whether the Atlantic is just, well, overrated. Both of tonight’s bands hail from that Canadian province and both are in a celebratory mood as it’s the last date of their four week UK tour, “Last night at camp” as they describe it, hosted in the traditional pub setting of The Old Queen’s Head in Islington. Headliners The Good Lovelies, who met in their very first years at primary school and reunited as a full time band in 2006, draw on several highlights from their recent album Shapeshifters, an album which saw a slight move towards more pop-rock influences than in their early material. Continue reading “The Good Lovelies + The Fortunate Ones, The Old Queens Head, Islington, 17th April 2019”

Amelia White + Jamie Freeman, Green Note, London, 9th April 2019

Another uplifting trip then to this much-lauded Camden venue where even the chocolate brownie and the rickety wooden chair may be close to assuming a place in North London roots music folklore. We’re here to hear Amelia White, a seasoned East Nashville performer. Lucinda Williams’ comparisons are, admittedly, obvious and facile for a reviewer to throw out, but they are not far off the mark either. Perhaps a little less downcast and focused on the grimmer side of life than some of Ms Williams’ more recent work, the voice and rhythms are of that ilk. With a swathe of albums over her last 20 years since relocating from her Boston roots, Ms. White has no shortage of material and has several UK tours on her resume. Continue reading “Amelia White + Jamie Freeman, Green Note, London, 9th April 2019”

Maverick Festival Launch, Gibson Guitar Studios, 27th March 2019

The launch for this year’s Maverick festival, whose 2019 roster was recently announced on this website here, was again held at Gibson’s Guitar Studios in London’s West End. The overview for the 12th gathering in early July in the bucolic pastures of Easton Park Farm in Suffolk was provided by the festival’s founder and long-term director, Paul Spencer. Outlining the goodies to dip into this year, he flagged up that bluegrass and Cajun themes will be given some emphasis. He reminded us that key sponsors such as Southern Comfort and One Drop (carbon neutral mineral water) enable the festival to ‘punch above its weight’. Both beverages were available for guests and one option was accepted particularly merrily. Continue reading “Maverick Festival Launch, Gibson Guitar Studios, 27th March 2019”

The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019

Although the AMAUK awards showcase was happening just a mile or two to the East in Hackney, The Once drew a very appreciative crowd to this compact Islington venue. Somewhat remote from the heartlands of the music industry as Newfoundland natives and residents, their narratives include some scenes that you just won’t encounter in the big city bands. Lead singer Geraldine Hollett is happy to concede that their location gives them a tendency to sit slightly outside the norm. That said, many of their songs look at basic human traits and emotions that would be common ground, whether in St John’s, Newfoundland or Nashville, Tennessee. Continue reading “The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019”

Curse of Lono + Izzy Walsh, Borderline, London. 6th December 2018

With over 15 years of history going back to when Felix Bechtolsheimer was playing as Hey Negrita, there’s a great deal of experience in Curse Of Lono yet they seem genuinely and pleasingly surprised at the sudden surge in popularity they have had in the last 18 months. Their latest album, their second, ‘As I Fell’, has been universally praised in the industry and the band were given the final seal of approval when it was announced by the AMAUK that they have been awarded the title of Bob Harris’s Emerging Act of the Year in the forthcoming AMAUK awards fest. There’s no doubt that they have achieved a unique “Curse of Lono” sound which is based on Felix Bechtolsheimer’s slightly deadpan and clearly English-sounding vocals, the wonderful array of sounds teased out on guitar by Joe Hazell and the pulsating and often slightly menacing rhythm and percussion laid down by Charis Anderson (bass and vocals) and Neil Findlay (drums) along with Dani Ruiz Hernandez (keyboards and vocals). Hazell is described by Bechtolsheimer as “our secret weapon” though as of autumn 2018 the secret seems to be out. Continue reading “Curse of Lono + Izzy Walsh, Borderline, London. 6th December 2018”

No Coward Soul + Lisa Redford, Green Note, London, 4th December 2018

This was a tremendous double helping of diverse roots music at the cosy Camden Town venue often featured – and always warmly praised – on this website. If you triangulate Nickel Creek, Old Crow Medicine Show and Turnpike Troubadours, then the sweet point in the middle could be No Coward Soul. Relatively new as a band with the current line up (which is Brad Schmauss – Lead vocal, Mandolin and Guitar, Egg Phillips – backing vocal, harmonica; Martin Gray – backing vocal, guitars; Jules Clement Smith – Bass Guitar; Sam Kinsey – Drums), the roots were laid some five years ago when Schmauss and Gray started up as a duo. The band all have full time jobs outside their music so have an extra challenge in crafting such accomplished music and performing so slickly. They are primarily British with the notable exception of front man Schmauss who made the quirky relocation from Alaska to South London; a trade off of tundra for musical opportunity. Continue reading “No Coward Soul + Lisa Redford, Green Note, London, 4th December 2018”

Broken Witt Rebels, Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club, London, 1st December 2018

Westwards, to Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club in West Kensington, which keeps the relatively underserved West side of Central London on the gigging venue roster. It’s a low-key sort of street entrance but inside the venue opens out to around 250 capacity and is encouragingly full and bustling as Broken Witt Rebels take to the stage. They have a good local following too and BWR T-shirts are peppered around the venue by the diehards. Continue reading “Broken Witt Rebels, Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club, London, 1st December 2018”

Luke Combs + Ashley McBryde, Shepherds Bush O2, London, 4th October 2018

To west London for the second of Luke Combs’ sell-out nights on what has been an impressively sold-out debut UK tour. Combs has made huge commercial and creative headway in the last three years and his debut album (since generously expanded with a handful of extra tracks) has been hoovering up accolades and indeed hefty sales, streaming and Spotify hits. It’s not hard to see why. Continue reading “Luke Combs + Ashley McBryde, Shepherds Bush O2, London, 4th October 2018”