The Local Honeys + Rachel Harrington, Sage 2, Gateshead, 20th July 2019

The Local Honeys are from Kentucky, and they make sure their audience know it, repeatedly. They are not just proud, they are bursting with it, and a gig with them is both a history and geography lesson as much as a musical event. The music itself is sublime, old-time Appalachian from a very thoughtful, traditional base. Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs are the duo that form The Local Honeys, tonight joined by Megan Gregory playing as a trio of banjo, acoustic and fiddle. Stokley and Hobbs were the first two women to graduate with bachelor’s degrees in traditional music from Morehead State University, Kentucky which perhaps explains the tuition nature of their act, but certainly establishes their exemplary musicianship. Continue reading “The Local Honeys + Rachel Harrington, Sage 2, Gateshead, 20th July 2019”

SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019

Returning for its fourteenth year, one of the pioneers of the Americana festival scene continues its very relaxed mix of fun and music. When it started, the question was, “What is Americana?” but nowadays it is more,  “What isn’t Americana?” and certainly SummerTyne with its eclectic lineup suggests that if you have a vague connection to the U.S.A. and/or a stringed instrument, you are in. Indeed, the only form of Americana not found here is the more insurgent type, so you don’t expect the likes of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson – SummerTyne does not go for edge. Continue reading “SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019”

Kishi Bashi “Omoiyari” (Joyful Noise, 2019)

There is no direct translation, but ‘Omoiyari’ can mean the idea that thinking about others promotes compassion, ie altruistic empathy, which is the intent Kishi Bashi delivers precisely with this deeply personal, and bluntly political album. Some background: after Pearl Harbour was bombed, all 120,000 Japanese-American citizens were interned for the rest of WW2, their prisons located way in the interior. Kishi Bashi’s parents moved to the USA as immigrants from Japan after the war. Continue reading “Kishi Bashi “Omoiyari” (Joyful Noise, 2019)”

Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019

So, the Australian minx, Kylie was playing the other side of town at the same time as this lot trooped in. Tremendously entertaining apparently, with glitter bombs, dance troop, synchronised light show etc. Also, no doubt, sequenced tapes, click tracks, covering backing singers. Colourful, fun, singalongs, a real show. But not a gig. Four people walking onto a stage, plugging in, frets raised, count of four and with a crash we are immediately lifted and off we go, that’s a gig. Continue reading “Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019”

Buford Pope “The Waiting Game” (Unchained Records, 2019)

Buford Pope is a name that immediately conjures up images of the Deep South, and there are a dozen small cities called Buford scattered around those states. Bufords fought for the American Revolution, and on both sides in the Civil War – including a general named Napoleon Bonaparte Buford – and a maverick Tennessee sheriff called Buford Posser was immortalised in the Hollywood movie Walking Tall. So when Swedish native Mikael Liljeborg became immersed in the music of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young etc and realised he wanted to make that kind of sound, he adopted a very deep-fried nom de plume. Continue reading “Buford Pope “The Waiting Game” (Unchained Records, 2019)”

Rich Layton & Tough Town “Salvation Road” (Never Lucky Records, 2019)

On the original road to salvation, St. Paul suggests that the wages of sin are death. Rich Layton has avoided that outcome in a lifetime in the rock’n’roll trenches, but has taken a few knocks along the way, and now brings us his ‘Salvation Road’. The title track is a gospel-infused shot at rock’n’roll redemption, which Layton says he performs on Saturday night in the bars and Sunday morning in the church. As he says “Perseverance has been the story of my life, especially where music is concerned”. Continue reading “Rich Layton & Tough Town “Salvation Road” (Never Lucky Records, 2019)”

Ari “Radikoj” (Independent, 2019)

Icelandic Americana? As the genre evolves, the label becomes a useful tag, but ‘What Even is Americana?’ as The Milk Carton Kids asked us. To be honest, it would be a stretch to call this Americana, though it does have some typical instrumentation and familiar tone. It is though a very attractive listen, beguiling, clever, genuinely beautiful in part. Baroque could be a better description, not just for instrumentation – a marxaphone on ‘Wolves’, clavichord on ‘Crossfire’ – but in atmosphere, a lot of these songs are chamber pieces, ‘Cold War Love’ and ‘Repeat’ both starting as piano songs before instrumentation subtly enters and builds. Continue reading “Ari “Radikoj” (Independent, 2019)”

Patty Griffin “Patty Griffin” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)

For her tenth album, Patty Griffin returns after personal crisis with a work of reflection, both deeply intimate and deflective. Rarely specifically autobiographical, Griffin sings tales of others’ longings and travails, exploring women’s concerns and men’s outlooks. Much of this, though, is oblique displacement of her recent experiences, and the songs need to be searched. Her cancer is specifically mentioned once, briefly, in ‘Coins.’ Reflections on life and contemplation generally is a more frequent theme. Continue reading “Patty Griffin “Patty Griffin” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)”

Steve Earle and The Dukes “GUY” (New West, 2019)

In Heartworn Highways, the 1975-shot documentary which now seems like a premonition of the Americana trend, we see an increasingly raucous Christmas Eve jam filmed around Guy Clark’s dining room table. In the background is Steve Earle, barely out of his teens and looking younger. He had just joined Clark’s band as bassist, and they spent the next 40 years bonded in friendship by their love of the song. When Clark died in 2016, Earle said that one of his greatest regrets was that he never wrote a song with Clark. Continue reading “Steve Earle and The Dukes “GUY” (New West, 2019)”

Film review: “Wild Rose” (Entertainment One, 2019)

A British film that doesn’t just feature country music, but is soaked in it, ‘Wild Rose’ is an unalloyed joy, a celebration of the power of three chords and the truth, as tattooed straight down our heroine Rose-Lynn’s arm. Hollywood has made a few of these movies, which tend to come with big hats and bro-country backing. This is very different in approach; every time any character mentions ‘country and western’ they are shouted down with “it’s just country,” but it’s not even just that as most of the music featured sits very nicely with an Americana crowd. Continue reading “Film review: “Wild Rose” (Entertainment One, 2019)”