Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence, The Harrow, High Wycombe, 26th August 2018

It is a healthy sign for the Americana scene in the UK when a smallish pub in the countryside outside High Wycombe attracts 50 people to see an hour and a half of charming live music. Caroline Spence and Robby Hecht each have their own careers and solo albums but obviously they take great delight in writing, recording and gigging together. Their new album, ‘Two People,’ is traditional Americana with warm, personal songs well written and intimately performed. Continue reading “Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence, The Harrow, High Wycombe, 26th August 2018”

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real + The Americans, The Garage, London, 10th July 2018

The Garage at Highbury Corner  is one of those large black sheds which holds around 600 people and it was sold out on Tuesday night for Lukas Nelson’s first big headlining gig in the UK. Already making waves after backing  Neil Young on several albums and tours, Lukas Nelson was one of the standout performers of C2C earlier this year, his appearances there winning him many new fans who turned out to watch him on a hot and sticky London summer night. Continue reading “Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real + The Americans, The Garage, London, 10th July 2018”

Tommy Emmanuel + Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, Union Chapel London, 24th May 2018

Islington’s Union Chapel is perhaps the favourite venue of many of the musicians who perform in London. It seats around a thousand people (on very hard Church pews admittedly)  but the reward for the gig goer is an intimate atmosphere and wonderful acoustics.  There is a strict noise limit and a 10.30 curfew which suits the acoustic players perfectly. Continue reading “Tommy Emmanuel + Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, Union Chapel London, 24th May 2018”

H. C. McEntire, The Islington London, May 2nd 2018

First time for this reviewer at The Islington in Tolpuddle Street, a traditional room behind a pub with space for around 120, the stage taking up around a third of the floor space. A fine compact and intimate space to see Heather McEntire promoting her album ‘Lionheart’ which has been well received across the board. Taking time out from Mount Moriah,  McEntire, accompanied by fellow MM member Jenks Miller on guitar, played rhythm to great, mean and menacing effect. Continue reading “H. C. McEntire, The Islington London, May 2nd 2018”

Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018

Bush Hall is one of those milestone venues for many artists when they are building their careers as it is just the right size to test whether an act can headline their own London show. With a capacity of around 240  the Hall feels fine with anything over 100. Continue reading “Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018”

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats + Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12th April 2018

Nathaniel Rateliff managed a remarkable feat for an artist whose name is not part of the musical mainstream. He sold out 3 nights at Shepherd’s Bush, which means 6000 people turned up to watch what surely must have been one of the best run of gigs held there for a long time. Rateliff was supported by long term Gospel Americana band Slim Cessna’s Auto Club who enthusiastically warmed up the crowd with a lively set which featured seven band members including pedal steel guitar, saxophone, bass and drums as well as three guitarists.  Slim himself was a tall and rangy figure sporting a full 10 gallon hat and was very comfortable on stage.  He knew just what to do to get everyone into a party mood and it was lovely to see Rateliff himself join them for their invigorating finale. Continue reading “Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats + Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12th April 2018”

Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017

Sometimes the frequent gig goer gets lucky and catches a big performance with a full band in a smaller, more intimate venue that results in a truly fabulous night.  Rhiannon Giddens, on her latest tour, was clearly playing to 1000+ venues with a 7 piece big name band which must have made very little economic sense in the 400 seat Stables.  Built by Cleo Lane and Johnny Dankworth as an intimate jazz venue with phenomenal acoustics, The Stables is a really enjoyable place to see live music – lots of parking and friendly volunteers who staff the hall make it a warm and comfortable music lover’s delight. Giddens has had an amazingly busy year with almost nonstop touring building on the huge success of her Freedom Highway album which was produced by T Bone Burnett and which cemented her departure from the far more roots based Carolina Chocolate Drops.  She has really spread her wings and soared, winning multiple awards and even a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation worth $625k. Continue reading “Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017”

Andrew Combs + Eric McEntee, The Victoria, Dalston, 1st November 2017

If you are a lover of beautifully crafted, passionate and intelligently written Americana songs then an Andrew Combs gig is always going to be something special.  Andrew is one of those enigma artists who everybody that comes across his work is amazed that he is not far more famous than his current standing. Tonight was a small gig in a room behind a pub in the increasingly trendy Dalston.  Sadly for Andrew, Dalston is also one of the places in London not served by the underground and a bit too far out of the way for everyone except the locals and his determined fans.  Continue reading “Andrew Combs + Eric McEntee, The Victoria, Dalston, 1st November 2017”