Instrumental focus: We review 2 new albums without words from Ben Harper and John Lee Shannon


We don’t get instrumental albums to review in AUK land very often and lo and behold two pop up at once, the first being Ben Harper’s, ‘Winter is for Lovers’, the second ‘In and Of, by John Lee Shannon. First off the blocks is Harper’s debut instrumental album. Continue reading “Instrumental focus: We review 2 new albums without words from Ben Harper and John Lee Shannon”

Rodney Rice “Same Shirt, Different Day” (Moody Springs Music 2020)

You’ve just got to look at the cover of this CD to realise that Rodney Rice is a man with a sense of humour, ‘SAME SHIrT DIFFERENT DAY‘,  indeed.  It’s been said that Rice wears his heart on his sleeve and his tongue in his cheek which seems an accurate assessment. Rice is a man who seems to have lived a little, in a variety of jobs, from oil-fields to itinerant kayak instructor and a college education in geology.  His was a coal community upbringing in West Virginia with a working man’s take on life, via Texas, to his current home in Colorado.  Whilst he may have blue-collar sympathies it can’t be said that group of Americans is homogeneous. Rice represents that unhappy sub-group who recognise that they have currently and historically been shafted by the political and industrial elite – typified by Mr Trump.  The history of coal mining is one of the bitterest episodes of owner/worker conflict in American history as evidenced in, ‘Company Town’, which is reflective of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mining disaster: Continue reading “Rodney Rice “Same Shirt, Different Day” (Moody Springs Music 2020)”

10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part 2

So many good things were left out of the recent first offering that here’s a second helping of songs about truckers and trucking, including two very different takes on the same track, some thoughts about female drivers and a final track that needs, and has, no introduction or commentary (you may be relieved to hear). Update: Thanks to reader Pat Chappelle we have been able to sort our, ‘Mother Truckers‘, from our, ‘Bad Mother Truckers‘, and our Eric Church from our Billy Joe Shaver.  So here is Eric Church with ‘Bad Mother Trucker’, with the appropriate lyrics.  Cheers, Pat.  Continue reading “10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part 2”

Josie Bello “Have Purpose Live Long” (Independent, 2020)

Josie Bello is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter born and raised in New York City and now residing on Long Island. ‘Have Purpose Live Long’, is her second album, the first, ‘Can’t Go Home’, having been released in April 2019.  She fits right into the folk/roots mould and is clearly an active presence in her local area, performing solo, with her Kit House Band and with partner Frank Bello. Continue reading “Josie Bello “Have Purpose Live Long” (Independent, 2020)”

10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part One

Here are 10 songs about truckers and trucking, hopefully without a dodgy bro-country reference in sight.  The myth of the road is part of American folklore but here in the UK and especially here in Cheshire we know a thing or two – ERF, Foden.  Legendary. Continue reading “10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part One”

Americana A – Z: Chris Whitley

Chris Whitley’s itinerant childhood in the southern states seemed to be reflected in his restless musical output, a determined musical quest that often meant the last album was not necessarily a guide to the next and thus often a bit of a puzzle for fans. Whitley was never a great commercial success but was something of a musician’s musician and his status was perhaps summed up best by John Mayer: Continue reading “Americana A – Z: Chris Whitley”

Scott Cook “Tangle of Souls” (Independent, 2020)

Sometimes a package arrives that might just take your breath away and, ‘Tangle of Souls’, by Canadian Scott Cook, is one such. As well as the download, CD (or vinyl if you prefer) there is a beautiful 240-page book – packaged with great care, from the specially commissioned endpapers to the photographs, quality paper and the binding.  Just the smell of a new book can be an intoxicant and there are no apologies for focussing there initially. Continue reading “Scott Cook “Tangle of Souls” (Independent, 2020)”

Ryan Law and The Shelter “Just a Stranger” (Independent, 2020)

If there is something particularly engaging about AUK and its remit then it is the opportunity to promote new and aspiring artists, who may run the gamut in terms of quality and originality but always impress with their enthusiasm. Ryan Law, guitar, vocals and songwriting and his two colleagues, Eric Smith on guitar and Russell Wedelich on bass, bring that quality to their debut release, ‘Just a Stranger’. Continue reading “Ryan Law and The Shelter “Just a Stranger” (Independent, 2020)”

Interview: Ryan Law talks about his new release and The Shelter

Ryan Law has dabbled in music for the last 20 years. Here he talks to Americana’s Gordon Sharpe about the recording of his new album ‘Just A Stranger’ with his band, The Shelter, and working with Cardinal Jon Graboff. Oh, and by the way, Ryan Law did all this while living in Qatar as a university administrator. Continue reading “Interview: Ryan Law talks about his new release and The Shelter”

Steve Hartsoe “Gaslighted” (Independent, 2020)

Steve Hartsoe’s new EP, ‘Gaslighted’, comes straight through the front door without opening it, not bothering to knock or wipe its feet. The vocals are as gritty as they come, the solos on the money and this is a fine example of blues rock-influenced Americana.  The vocals are mixed just right and rather than just hearing that impressive voice as no more than a grunt, the fate of many a similar vocalist, you can actually hear the words. Continue reading “Steve Hartsoe “Gaslighted” (Independent, 2020)”