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”

The Devil Makes Three, Islington Assembly Rooms, London, 14th September 2018

True to their word, The Devil Makes Three appeared tonight in their usual trio guise, the drumming contribution of Sam Amidon, an honorary (and temporary) member of the band who added a rockier edge to their latest and very impressive sixth album, ‘Chains Are Broken’, sadly not present. Nevertheless tonight’s venue was close to its 700 capacity and the band clearly have a good London core of stalwart fans who can identify the songs from the briefest of intros. Continue reading “The Devil Makes Three, Islington Assembly Rooms, London, 14th September 2018”

Brent Cobb + Zack Logan, Dingwalls, London, 5th September 2018

Tonight we are offered a fine double dose of deep Southern drawls at this quasi-legendary venue in the heart of London’s Camden Market. First up is Zack Logan, on his first UK visit and touring his debut album ‘Raised by Wolves’. A Mississippi native now Nashville based, his songs are centred largely around rural and small town America and he’s clearly a man who is a regular visitor to bars. Continue reading “Brent Cobb + Zack Logan, Dingwalls, London, 5th September 2018”

Treetop Flyers, The Lexington, London, 23rd August 2018

This gig heralded the Treetop Flyers’ self-titled new – and third – album due out the very next day on Loose Records and recorded just a mile or two north of the venue in Stoke Newington. It’s a notably young audience which is good news for the growth of this musical niche, with your reviewer feeling decidedly in the upper quartile on the age chart. The venue is packed out as is the stage with the quintet and their expanding hoard of instruments – the original trio of Reid Morrison, Laurie Sherman and Sam Beer having been augmented by sax man Geoff Thomas Widdowson, doing a job share with Danny and the Champions of the World, and drummer Rupert Shreeve. Continue reading “Treetop Flyers, The Lexington, London, 23rd August 2018”

Eileen Jewell + Michelle Stodart, The Lexington, London, 6th August 2018

The Lexington near Kings Cross in North London has great appeal in the current heat wave as it has one of the best air conditioning systems on the London gig circuit and it proved its worth tonight as we were treated to an expansive set from Eileen Jewell and her slick band delivering some 25 songs during an almost two hour set. A Boise, Idaho native Jewell has absorbed and interpreted a wide range of influences and she darted across various styles tonight with a mid-set blues-focussed section to promote her latest album ‘Down Hearted Blues’ with her well established and highly accomplished soulful crew of Jerry Miller on electric guitar, Shawn Supra on upright bass and bass guitar and drummer Jason Beek. Continue reading “Eileen Jewell + Michelle Stodart, The Lexington, London, 6th August 2018”

Jason McNiff + Toni Montserrat, The Harrison, London, 27th July 2018

To the very compact basement bar of The Harrison in Kings Cross for the official launch gig of Jason McNiff’s latest album ‘Joy and Independence’. He’s now on the splendidly-rostered At The Helm records and so we have a Bradford man living in London with his label management in Brighton so who needs Nashville? Hailed as “a superior singer/songwriter” by  the erudite and well-respected USA magazine No Depression and 4-starred by the UK’s Mojo, McNiff states with some pride that this, his sixth album, is the first time he’s had the confidence to work with just an acoustic guitar and his voice. He says he framed the songs as “a homage to a golden era of the coffee house Troubadour”,  albeit on this sultry Friday night we had replaced coffee with craft ale.  Continue reading “Jason McNiff + Toni Montserrat, The Harrison, London, 27th July 2018”