Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)

Ever wondered what Chris Robinson does in his spare time? Well, it seems he’s fond of playing locally in Marin County with a bunch of buddies in a band called the Green Leaf Rustlers. And not just any old buddies as the band consists of Robinson (guitar, vocals) along with Barry Sless (David Nelson Band, on guitars and pedal steel), Greg Loiacono (The Mother Hips, on guitars), John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, on drums), and the legendary Pete Sears (Rod Stewart, Copperhead, Jefferson Starship, on bass). According to Robinson, “Green Leaf Rustlers are a Marin County hippie hayride, rockin’ and rollin’ through our favourite classic cosmic country covers and keeping the good people dancing the night away under star-filled western skies.” And that just about sums up this two-disc vinyl live set. Continue reading “Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z – Doug Sahm

Doug Sahm, AKA Sir Douglas, AKA Doug Saldana, AKA Wayne Douglas, a man of many names and one of the prime movers in concocting what we nowadays call Americana. The embodiment of Texas music, a child prodigy, Sahm made his debut stage appearance, aged 11, when he appeared with Hank Williams in Austin in 1952. Country music and Texas blues coursed through the young Sahm’s veins but it was the advent of The Beatles which gave him his break. A local producer, Huey Meaux, wanting to cash in on the fab four’s popularity, persuaded Sahm and his sidekick, Augie Meyers to don Carnaby Street togs and call themselves The Sir Douglas Quintet, their single ‘She’s About A Mover’, hit the US top twenty. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Doug Sahm”

Carolyn Kendrick “Tear Things Apart” (Independent, 2020)

Apparently from a folk and bluegrass background, primarily as a fiddler, Carolyn Kendrick’s first release under her own name, hovers, not uneasily, between folk and slightly soulful pop. The six-song disc opens with the very tasty title track which has a Laurel Canyon air to it, one can imagine Linda Ronstadt singing this in her prime, the backing band are quite impressive with a solid organ groove and a fine guitar solo midway while Kendrick’s voice is very appealing. Continue reading “Carolyn Kendrick “Tear Things Apart” (Independent, 2020)”

Cash Back In Fife, Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife, 6th – 8th March 2020

A new addition to the Scottish music scene, Cash Back In Fife is a weekend of music dedicated to the memory of Johnny Cash and in particular, Cash’s delight at discovering he had ancestors who had come to the new world from the ancient kingdom of Fife in Scotland. It’s the brainchild of Dean Owens, the singer songwriter from Leith who has previously released an album of songs sung by, written, or inspired by Cash. That album, ‘Cash Back (Songs I Learned From Johnny)’ led on to a successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe show and when Owens heard of Cash’s links to Fife, allied to his discovery of a relatively new music venue in the Fife village of Aberdour, well, something clicked. Continue reading “Cash Back In Fife, Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife, 6th – 8th March 2020”

Steep Canyon Rangers & Asheville Symphony “Be Still Moses” (Yep Roc Records, 2020)

‘Be Still Moses’ is a bit of a curate’s egg, partly bad, partly good, although, to be fair, none of it is really bad, just slightly over-egged. The album finds the Rangers teaming up with the symphony orchestra from their hometown, Asheville, North Carolina, performing a selection of songs culled from past albums and rearranged to accommodate the orchestra. It stems from a desire by the orchestra’s executive director to integrate the symphony orchestra with local musicians, a worthy cause to be sure and one which probably enriches the local scene but does it work on disc – are bluegrass and orchestras the new prog rock? Continue reading “Steep Canyon Rangers & Asheville Symphony “Be Still Moses” (Yep Roc Records, 2020)”

The Hanging Stars “A New Kind Of Sky” (Crimson Crow, 2020)

The Hanging Stars have always had the “cosmic Americana” tag hung around their necks but on ‘A New Kind Of Sky‘, their third release, they fully deserve to be so called as they wander wonderfully in a rather blissed out fashion across a set of songs which recollect hazy lysergic days. Taking cues from classic forebears, the band have forged a sparkling album which, on the strength of the songs and the sheer excellence of the playing, allows that it too might one day be considered a classic. Continue reading “The Hanging Stars “A New Kind Of Sky” (Crimson Crow, 2020)”

Blue Rose Code Caledonia Soul @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 30th January 2020

Celtic Connections is well known for its set pieces – curated concerts gathering a wealth of musicians together. Transatlantic Sessions began as a television programme but its live incarnation was premiered at Celtic Connections almost two decades ago while Roddy Hart’s Rambling Roots has grown in stature over the years as it has celebrated various artists, events, albums and places, this year’s celebrant being Bruce Springsteen. By comparison, Caledonia Soul is a mere whippersnapper, the brainchild of Ross Wilson and first performed in 2018. It’s a much more nebulous affair than Roaming Roots, the basic premise being that Wilson’s band, Blue Rose Code, are the equivalent of The MG’s back in Stax touring days. It allows the guest artists to “curate the evening and perform re-worked versions of our own favourite songs along the Celtic theme, but with a soul band,” as he explained in an interview last year. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code Caledonia Soul @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 30th January 2020”

Robyn Hitchcock + Annie Booth @Celtic Connections, The Drygate, Glasgow, 26th January 2020

There are precious few things better than spending an evening in the company of Robyn Hitchcock and when that evening is being held in a brewery, than, all the better for that. However, this wasn’t a raucous event, with a seated audience mainly drinking in Hitchcock’s songs and his usual, unusual song introductions. Two songs in he did sing us ‘I Pray When I’m Drunk’ (scoring the first fish mention of the night with mackerel) but any hedonism was confined to his recollections of a legendary Soft Boys’ gig back in 1980 in Paisley’s Bungalow Bar -several of the audience tonight proclaiming their attendance also. Continue reading “Robyn Hitchcock + Annie Booth @Celtic Connections, The Drygate, Glasgow, 26th January 2020”

Elaine Lennon + James Edwyn @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 24 January 2020

Had the Cheshire Cat appeared on stage tonight, its infamous grin would have been eclipsed by that of Elaine Lennon’s as she surveyed the sold out crowd populating The Glad Cafe for her album release show. Lennon’s been something of a local phenomenon having made her debut live appearance just one year ago, an appearance under the aegis of Celtic Connections when she appeared at, and eventually was a winner at the Danny Kyle open stage event, an annual talent show which attracts acts from all over the UK and abroad. The winners are awarded, aside from the accolades, a gig at the following year’s festival and thus here we were. Continue reading “Elaine Lennon + James Edwyn @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 24 January 2020”

Peter Bruntnell + Mally Smith @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020

It’s traditional now to note that Peter Bruntnell is a true “cult hero” (courtesy The Guardian) and is commonly regarded as one of the UK’s best singer-songwriters and performers by those “in the know.” So it was great to find him popping up at this year’s Celtic Connections playing with his, by now, well-seasoned trio line up featuring Iain Sloan on guitar and pedal steel, and Danny Williams on double bass. Since this line up’s debut back in 2017 they’ve had time to hone their chops and tonight’s show was certainly the best this reporter has experienced in their company so far. Continue reading “Peter Bruntnell + Mally Smith @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020”