Shane Joyce “The Sadness of King Joyce” (Independent, 2018)

The Sadness of King Joyce is the debut solo album from Shane Joyce, front man for Ireland’s Midnight Union Band, a freewheeling bunch of folk rockers who recently whipped up a storm at the Ramblin’ Roots weekend. It’s a sight removed from the band’s usual fare with Joyce offering here nine songs which sound as if they were drawn from a well of desperation. He cites the Beat writers along with Dylan and Cohen as his mentors and the Cohen influence is evident on several of the songs here but elsewhere he summons up the sometimes sordid world of Jacques Brel while Gavin Friday and Tom Waits hover around also. Continue reading “Shane Joyce “The Sadness of King Joyce” (Independent, 2018)”

The Lowest Pair + John Alexander, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 5th April 2018

It was Greil Marcus who coined the phrase, “old weird America” in his book, Invisible Republic, when discussing Dylan’s touchstone, the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk music, describing the songs therein as, “palavers with a community of ghosts”. There was an element of this musical version of a séance when The Lowest Pair (Kendl Winter from Washington State and Palmer T. Lee from Minneapolis) descended on the Fallen Angels Club for a banjo infused evening (although acoustic guitars were also brandished). The pair both have string band backgrounds but as a duo have concentrated on the banjo studying clawhammer and three finger techniques while also delving into American roots music. The band name is a nod to a John Hartford song, Hartford being one of their banjo heroes and like him they inject their old time music with a great deal of their own personalities. Continue reading “The Lowest Pair + John Alexander, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 5th April 2018”

The Lonesome Ace Stringband “When The Sun Comes Up” (Independent, 2018)

There is something life affirming when Americana music is stripped back to the basics and this Canadian trio (Chris Coole – banjo, John Showman – fiddle and Max Heineman- double bass) head to the hills with this excellent string driven selection of songs old and new.  They might hail from north of the 49th parallel but their roots are in the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie and John Hartford, a century’s worth of picking and singing to which they add their own fine compositions. Continue reading “The Lonesome Ace Stringband “When The Sun Comes Up” (Independent, 2018)”

Matt McGinn + Andy Lucas, Fallen Angels Club/Star Folk Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 20th March 2018

Ireland’s Matt McGinn is well aware that any appearance of his in Glasgow is bound to cause some confusion, the city being the birthplace of the late songwriter of the same name, famous for having appeared with Bob Dylan at Carnegie Hall in the sixties. Straight off, McGinn asked if anyone wanted a refund declaring that at least one punter had returned tickets once they realised that it wasn’t the legendary Calton songsmith, returned from the grave, who was appearing tonight. He needn’t have worried as the folk who were attending this long established folk club tonight were all well aware of the Irishman’s growing reputation, bolstered with the release of his third album, ‘The End Of The Common Man.’ Continue reading “Matt McGinn + Andy Lucas, Fallen Angels Club/Star Folk Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 20th March 2018”

Vissia “Placeholder” (Hurry Hard Records, 2017)

From Alberta Canada, Vissia is singer songwriter Alex Vissia who here offers us nine songs born from experience, “This album is a collection of songs, each holding a place in my experiential past.  Like any memory, the edges get fuzzy with time and my perspective on situations can change, but I look at each song as a snapshot, a moment in time and each song brings me back to a place.”  That’s as may be but essentially the album is a fine although unremarkable collection of indie rock with a dash of torch song added to the mix. Continue reading “Vissia “Placeholder” (Hurry Hard Records, 2017)”

The Vagaband “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (Eggsong Recordings, 2018)

Nine piece Norwich band The Vagaband surpass their fine second album with this rollicking mix of Dylan and Ronnie Lane like Romany swirls, full bodied and city sullied dramas and just plain old good fashioned songs. With the core of the band well able to rock and swing out their battalion of instruments allow them to range far and wide with elements of folk, jazz and country all encompassed. It’s an eclectic mix but it’s held together by front man José McGill who has one of those voices perfectly suited for singing vagabond songs, slightly nasal, unenforced , dare we say, Dylanesque? Continue reading “The Vagaband “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (Eggsong Recordings, 2018)”

Texas legend Dale Watson brings the honky tonk back to the UK

Dale Watson, honky-tonk hero and country music maverick, is coming to the UK for a short 4 tour date next week. A member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, Dale has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk and roots music for over two decades now. He’s christened his brand of American roots music, “Ameripolitan” to differentiate it from the current crop of bland Nashville-based pop country. The Alabama-born, Texas-raised Watson may be the hardest working entertainer today, gigging for around 300 nights a year, and has achieved legendary status since the release of his debut album, “Cheatin’ Heart Attack”, in 1995. Continue reading “Texas legend Dale Watson brings the honky tonk back to the UK”

Faeland “All My Swim” (Green Sage Records, 2018)

‘All My Swim’ is the debut album from Bristol based folk duo Faeland – Rebecca Nelson (lead vocals, guitar) and Jacob Morrison (guitar, ukulele, banjo, backing vocals), the pair assisted on several songs by some very able musicians delivering  a sometimes dreamlike pastoral sound. They seem to be delving into that hinterland of faerie music and bucolic wonder which characterised several bands in the early seventies. Continue reading “Faeland “All My Swim” (Green Sage Records, 2018)”

The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018

It’s the last night of Celtic Connections and the big guns are wheeled out for this packed show at The Old Fruitmarket. The doors opened one hour before the support band were due on and by the time your scribe arrived there already was a good crowd packed up front, camped out as it were in order to get a close up view of The Mavericks, and an odd crowd, not one you’d expect at a Celtic Connections gig. Although there were no pink Stetsons on show this was the type of crowd you’d get at a Dolly Parton concert, star quality drawing in the paying public who want a good time and a good time was what the headliners delivered tonight. Continue reading “The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018”

Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018

Tickets for this Celtic Connections show sold out almost as soon as the gig was announced with both artists noted as the up and coming guys to watch. Wall’s debut album was helmed by the current in vogue producer Dave Cobb while Childers’ debut is produced by a man who has benefitted from Cobb’s studio craftwork, Sturgill Simpson. With both men playing solo sets it was instructive to see their very different approaches to country and folk music and while Wall was the headliner it was Childers who folk were talking about afterwards. Continue reading “Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018”