Celtic Connections kicks off this week

Glasgow’s annual celebration of roots and traditional music from around the globe opens for business this Thursday and then proceeds for the next three weeks with over 300 events scheduled to take place. Always a highlight of the cultural calendar it’s the largest festival of its type in the world showcasing world music, folk, roots, jazz, blues, Gaelic and Scottish music and, of course, Americana. Continue reading “Celtic Connections kicks off this week”

Melody Guy “Dry The Rivers” (MFG Records, 2019)

A Nashville based singer songwriter who racks up the miles as she travels the country playing gigs here, there and everywhere, Melody Guy proves to be an attractive listen on this tenth album of hers which has some country soul and Nashville tears in its grooves. Recorded in Nashville, the album is both tough and tender with some of the songs reflecting rough times in the singer’s past but she can look back and capture some good memories from bad times as on the Dobro and accordion speckled jauntiness of ‘I Can’t Live There’. Continue reading “Melody Guy “Dry The Rivers” (MFG Records, 2019)”

Various Artists “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs – Original Soundtrack” (Milan Records, 2018)

If you haven’t yet seen the latest Coen Brothers effort, ‘The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs’, then you’re in for a treat. Released through Netflix (and if you haven’t got access to Netflix then surely someone you know must have –  just pitch up on their doorstep with two fingers of red eye and persuade them to watch it with you), it’s a portmanteau movie set in the old west with six distinct tales. These pitch from rib tickling fun to very dark humour and there are echoes of influences as far ranging as Gene Autry, Cormac McCarthy and even an obscure 1920’s Danish film, ‘The Phantom Carriage’. Murder and dirty deeds loom large throughout. Of note to AUK readers is the presence of Tom Waits and Willie Watson on screen and two compositions by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch on the soundtrack. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs – Original Soundtrack” (Milan Records, 2018)”

Sundial “1968 – The Birth Of Americana?” (Independent, 2018)

Coming in just under the wire for a golden jubilee  celebration of all things good and great in 1968, Australian band Sundial have a grand conceit contained within this album. They contend 1968 was the year which birthed Americana. Ostensibly the album is a very fine collection of songs released (or penned, perhaps) in 1968 and in the extensive liner essay they have a good stab at justifying their claim – quoting Jon Savage, writing in Shindig magazine, “1968 was the official start of Americana in the US, with the release of The Band’s Music From Big Pink and The Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo during the summer.” But rather than delve into all of that (comments below welcomed) let’s just concentrate on the songs they’ve chosen and the delivery thereof. Continue reading “Sundial “1968 – The Birth Of Americana?” (Independent, 2018)”

Rodney Crowell “Christmas Everywhere” (New West, 2018)

At last, a grown up Christmas album which acknowledges the conflicting demands of the season, how to weather the commercial blitzkrieg, keep the kids happy and keep oneself sane. Rodney Crowell’s Christmas album has been some years in the making with the man himself admitting that it’s not his favourite time of the year but that he’d always indulged his kids by making up “silly little Christmas songs that we’d sing around the house.” It was hearing Hayes Carll’s ‘Grateful For Christmas’, back in 2011, which “tweaked my creative curiosity. I began mulling over the idea of writing an album’s worth of original Christmas songs.” And so here we have Crowell’s contribution to the season’s excesses although it has to be said this is lean and nutritious, food for thought indeed as he peeks behind the tinsel. Continue reading “Rodney Crowell “Christmas Everywhere” (New West, 2018)”

Sarah MacDougall “All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything” (Label In Between, 2018)

A Canadian of Swedish heritage, Sarah MacDougall is often summed up as capturing  a sense of the icy wastes of both countries in her music. She’s certainly been garlanded for her work, nominated for several awards in both countries and is one of those artists who have seen their songs included in popular television series, in this case, The Vampire Diaries. ‘All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything’ is her fourth album but unfortunately, it continues in the tradition of its predecessor, ‘Grand Canyon‘, which saw MacDougall’s songs almost swamped by overblown arrangements in comparison to its excellent forerunner, ‘The Greatest One Alive’. Continue reading “Sarah MacDougall “All The Hours I Have Left To Tell You Anything” (Label In Between, 2018)”

Dan Stuart + Tom Heyman, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, Sunday 25th November 2018

It was gratifying to see a good-sized crowd gather tonight in the Stygian gloom of The Hug & Pint, a place our headliner liked to an SF dive joint from the seventies, “Probably called something like The Manhole,” he quipped as he peered from the stage trying to see the audience at the start of the show. Some might argue that a dive bar is the best place to see Stuart as he still has a sneering punk quality and anti establishment attitude which would not sit well in a well upholstered swish venue and I’d say that tonight’s show was probably the best he’s put on in his recent visits to Glasgow. Continue reading “Dan Stuart + Tom Heyman, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, Sunday 25th November 2018”

Karine Polwart “Laws of Motion” (Hudson Records, 2018)

A cornerstone of the Scottish folk scene, six times winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards along with a host of other accolades, Karine Polwart goes from strength to strength with this magnificent album which is rich in tradition yet speaks strongly to the current times. ‘Laws of Motion’, while not a concept album nevertheless addresses many of the issues which trouble most right-minded folk, using historical themes and personal reflections. Polwart says of the album, “I didn’t set out to write songs on a unified theme – they’ve just landed that way. Perhaps that’s no surprise, given the times we’re in.” As such, she sings of the Kinder transport, the underground network which smuggled Jewish children out of Nazi Europe, of her grandfather fighting in Italy in 1944 and then never talking of it, of migrations and flight and, in a powerfully poetic song, of Donald Trump’s Scottish ancestry. Continue reading “Karine Polwart “Laws of Motion” (Hudson Records, 2018)”

Celtic Connections announces 2019 line up

Glasgow’s annual winterfest of roots music has unveiled the line up for 2019 and as usual, amidst the myriad of acts with more than 300 events taking place over the festival’s 18 days, there’s plenty of Americana acts to enjoy. As Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, says, “Every year we strive to programme the most diverse and eclectic festival yet and 2019 is shaping up to be just that. From artists who have influenced the current scene, to musicians who are re-defining the music of tomorrow, Celtic Connections 2019 will continue to embrace a huge range of styles and genres that showcase artists and cultures from across the world.” Continue reading “Celtic Connections announces 2019 line up”

Glasgow Americana Festival, 3rd -7th October 2018

Now in its 12th year the Glasgow Americana Festival is essentially a very concentrated dose of life affirming music delivered courtesy of local promoters, The Fallen Angels Club, who otherwise offer us locals regular spoonfuls of sugar throughout the year. Over five days and in various venues throughout the city around 25 acts converged, varying in style for sure but all rooting for roots music, that indefinable Americana we all talk about and which they all, in one way or other, delivered to their audiences. Continue reading “Glasgow Americana Festival, 3rd -7th October 2018”