King Creosote, The Barbican, London, 22nd January 2017

On a stage dominated by the Astronaut meets Appleman album cover graphic there is a rag tag band of musicians sporting a variety of Space Age looks – well maybe a ramshackle retro-SF space age look is nearer the mark. So there are silvery wigs the like of which haven’t been seen since Space 1999, and more silver jackets than have been gathered into a single place since the BBC stopped spray painting leather biker jackets to provide the Cybermen with their costumes. NASA t-shirts are the order of the day, and the King himself is resplendent in what appears to be a star adorned chef’s jacket as if to visually ask the question “What am I going to, musically, cook up today?”. Continue reading “King Creosote, The Barbican, London, 22nd January 2017”

Tom Paxton, The Stables, Wavendon, 19th January 2017

His last tour was billed as his last European excursion but here – just a couple of dozen months later – is the return of a folk legend in the form of Tom Paxton. This time he’s brought as musical support Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer – who produced and also helped out musically on his new album Boat in the Water.  Cathy is a marvel on clawhammer banjo – as well as vocals and guitar – whilst Marcy is a multi-instrumentalist (she plays at least fifty instruments Cathy proudly informs us) and a third voice. It makes for a different sound to that we’ve come to know on previous tours. Continue reading “Tom Paxton, The Stables, Wavendon, 19th January 2017”

Bob Dylan – New album announced

Of course it’s always a pleasure to hear that there’s a new Bob Dylan studio album on the way – especially when the last one wasn’t so very long ago.  And pleasure becomes thrill when it is announced that for the first time ever the master of American music will be releasing not a double but a triple album.  A triple Bob Dylan studio album.  Wow!  How good has February just become? Continue reading “Bob Dylan – New album announced”

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Union Chapel, London, 16th January 2017

Serendipity – it happens all the time, that accidental crossing of life’s tentative threads that seem to indicate something significant when a connection is made. Travelling in London by train one inevitably comes into contact with the free newspapers, and tonight the Standard is proclaiming the death of the £300K home. Seems there has been a steady decline in such houses, deemed affordable because a couple both on average salary who have scraped together a significant deposit can escape crippling rents by purchasing such a dwelling on a slightly less crippling mortgage. Not anymore. There’s only one part of London where the average house price falls into this category – Barking. Whether the Bard of Barking is aware of this I don’t know – but he was in London (with Joe Henry) to sing songs about trains. Continue reading “Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Union Chapel, London, 16th January 2017”

The Dream “Get Dreamy” (Round 2, 2017)

There is an almost limitless appetite amongst vinyl addicts for the ever more obscure or rare item released on their favoured medium and in their preferred musical genres. So there will be at least a muted cheer greeting this vinyl only re-issue of another example of Scandinavian psychedelia in the form of Get Dreamy by Norwegian band The Dream. This, the band’s only release, is at least a genuine nugget – dating as it does from 1967 – and it stands as a testament to the world conquering power of youth movements in music. Continue reading “The Dream “Get Dreamy” (Round 2, 2017)”

Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord Records, 2016)

Mac Rebennack strolled on stage at the Last Waltz to the words “You all know the doctor, Dr, John ? Mac Rebennack. Come on Mac !” And if you didn’t, well you soon did as he gave one of the highest highlights of that evening. This is another evening – Saturday, May 3, 2014 to be exact – which saw a similarly high profile bunch of musicians come together at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre for a concert billed as “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music”. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord Records, 2016)”

Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)

Mikko Joensuu has set himself a daunting task – to release a trilogy of albums in the space of a year. Having been brought up in his native Finland with a strong religious background, the album series tells in sweeping terms the story of his gradual realisation that there is no deity, and the doubt, angst and anxiety that having this prop removed caused him. Which sounds very depressing – but Amen-2 whilst at the heart of this epiphany has a soaring gorgeous sound that carries the listener along like a starship sailing the solar winds. Continue reading “Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)”

Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)

Peace Trail is one of those Neil Young albums that it’d be easy to dismiss as a failure of Neil’s quality control process.  However, like those who dismiss Greendale, Fork in the Road or Chrome Dreams II, that’d be a mistake – Peace Trail on first listen may sound overly casual and unfocused but repeated listens reveal that Neil Young has actually turned in an album of extensive depth and thoughtfulness. Maybe with the odd clunker along the way, but nobody’s perfect all the time. Continue reading “Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)”

Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)

Ah, the eponymous debut album marking the emergence of a new talent. Only that’s not quite it this time, Chaim Tannenbaum has been active in music, on and off, for more than forty years. When he hasn’t been distracted by his other love, that temptress the Philosophy of Mathematics, he’s been adding guitar, banjo, a little fiddle and vocals for the likes of the McGarrigle sisters and Loudon Wainwright III as well as contributing the occasional song of his own to their recordings. Continue reading “Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)”

Andy Shauf – UK Dates

Acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf has announced an extensive European tour in February 2017. Starting in London on February 8th, there will be dates in Manchester and Leeds before he heads to the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland. The tour follows his thirteen-date, sold out North American tour, and the release in 2016 of his concept album The Party.  This series of linked songs reminded more than a few people, somewhat uncomfortably, of parties they’d been to…but still garnered more than a few favourable comments right here on Americana-UK to add to those for its predecessor The Bearer of Bad News.  The Party has garnered comparisons to the works of Nilsson and Newman – it’s smart, ironic, lyrically rich and is redolent of that branch of Seventies singer-songwriters.  It’s good.   Continue reading “Andy Shauf – UK Dates”