Cam Penner + Midnight Skyracer @Celtic Connections, Royal Concert Hall New Auditorium, Glasgow, 18th January 2020

AUK’s first jaunt at 2020’s Celtic Connections took us to the grand concert hall in the city centre to see a one off show by Canadian Cam Penner and his erstwhile sidekick Jon Wood. It’s a measure of both the international reputation of Celtic Connections and Penner’s growing career that they conspired to fly the pair from the dominion to Glasgow for one show before they flew back the following day. Perhaps not the best way to play a show in these times of climate concern but, heck, the ‘plane was going to fly here and back, Penner or no Penner and he’s the kind of guy you just know is going to plant a tree or two once he gets home. Continue reading “Cam Penner + Midnight Skyracer @Celtic Connections, Royal Concert Hall New Auditorium, Glasgow, 18th January 2020”

The Pine Hearts “Back To Sustain” (Independent, 2020)

The Pine Hearts sound just like you would expect a band who hail from the foothills of Washington State’s Cascade Mountains to sound like. A three-piece string band, they are as refreshing as a mountain stream as guitar, mandolin, and double bass gently nudge their songs along inhabiting a relaxed and freewheeling take on American folk music. They have some great songs of their own on display here but listen to their take on that old chestnut, ‘Stealin’’ for an idea of how they inject vitality into these timeworn sounds. Continue reading “The Pine Hearts “Back To Sustain” (Independent, 2020)”

Interview: Cam Penner – “We want to make a real joyful noise”

Glasgow’s international celebration of roots music, Celtic Connections, kicks off this week and for this writer, one of the highlights will be the return of Cam Penner’s unique music. Accompanied as usual by his musical partner Jon Wood, a sonic wizard and master musician, their stage show has been described as, “Mystery and menace, love and humility, savage blues and tender romances, sounds one can imagine primitive man heard, allied with tribal ritual and chain gang hollers, delta moans and sylvan murmurs. All summoned up by these two Canadians armed with guitars, a drum kit and tape loops.” Continue reading “Interview: Cam Penner – “We want to make a real joyful noise””

AUK’s Chain Gang: Golden Smog “Glad & Sorry”

Following on from Wilco’s Passenger Side, I went down a Jeff Tweedy rabbit hole looking at some other projects he’s been involved in and ended up with Golden Smog. An occasional and shape-shifting combination of like-minded musicians, Golden Smog kicked off with an EP of four cover songs although Tweedy wasn’t involved at that point. By the time they released ‘Down By The Old Mainstream’, Tweedy (AKA Scott Summit, they all used pseudonyms) was on board and while most of the songs were originals they still did the odd cover such as this tremendous Ronnie Lane song.

Hallelujah The Hills “I’m You” (Discrete Pageantry Records, 2019)

A Boston based band, Hallelujah The Hills have released several albums over the past decade while remaining resolutely under the radar here in the UK. ‘I’m You’ has the advantage of coming in the wake of bandleader Ryan Walsh’s acclaimed book, ‘Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968′, which tells of strange goings-on in Boston – weird hippie cults sprouting up while Van Morrison is on the lam from New York gangsters – stirring some interest in the band beyond their own backyard. Continue reading “Hallelujah The Hills “I’m You” (Discrete Pageantry Records, 2019)”

Dean Owens & The Southerners, Sounds In The Suburbs @ The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 15th December 2019

The irony of this cross border trio appearing in Glasgow in the wake of an election which saw England and Scotland diametrically opposed was not lost on Dean Owens tonight. The prankster in him surreptitiously arranged for the sold out crowd to chant the terrace anthem of ‘Cheerio, Cheerio’ as the actual southerners, Jim Maving and Tom Collison, joined him on stage. Seasoned troupers, they took it in their stride, humbly apologising for inflicting BJ on us and asking if they could stay up north permanently. This was of course, good-natured jousting, and it set the scene for a fabulous and good humoured show with lots of banter and audience interaction amidst the tremendous music the trio performed. Continue reading “Dean Owens & The Southerners, Sounds In The Suburbs @ The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 15th December 2019”

Piers Faccini “Hear My Voice” (Beating Drum, 2019)

Based in the south of France, Piers Faccini runs a label called Beating Drum and has released a series of EPs featuring singular singer songwriters from around the globe. For the fourth instalment, Faccini features himself which, given he’s the boss, is his prerogative. That said, the four songs here are all fine in a very laidback, crepuscular folk style. Continue reading “Piers Faccini “Hear My Voice” (Beating Drum, 2019)”

Interview: Dean Owens – On the road with The Southerners

Kicking off this week is a short tour allowing folk to experience three top-notch musicians who have all been recognised by our buddies at the Americana Music Association-UK at their annual AmericanaFest. The Southerners consist of Dean Owens, winner of the AMAUK’s UK Song of the Year back in January, Tom Collison, instrumentalist of the year in 2018 and Jim Maving who is nominated in the same category for the January awards ceremony. The latest in a long line of collaborative projects from Owens, The Southerners are more home grown than his international efforts such as Buffalo Blood and perhaps his first formal link up with musicians south of the border. Continue reading “Interview: Dean Owens – On the road with The Southerners”

SUSS “High Line” (Northern Spy Records, 2019)

It’s ambient country time as SUSS, a New York based instrumental collective, cast their minds for a second time to the arid wonders of the American southwest. Their debut album, ‘Ghost Box’ was an unexpected Spotify hit a few years back and, knowing a good thing, the band follow it up with more of the same. There are 12 instrumentals in all with evocative titles such as ‘Mojave’, ‘Road Trip’ and ‘Salt Flats’, and all float gently into view and then, just as gently, float away. Continue reading “SUSS “High Line” (Northern Spy Records, 2019)”

Birds of Chicago, Sounds In The Suburbs, The Doublet, Glasgow, 28th October 2019

The packed crowd who squeezed into the upstairs bar of this well kent Glasgow pub could hardly believe their luck at having the opportunity to see the mighty Birds of Chicago at such close quarters. With all seats taken, several souls sat on the floor while the band, tonight a trio, were packed close into an alcove beside the bar, a handy set up as proclaimed by  JT Nero when he asked the barman for a whiskey mid set and it was poured and handed to him. “It’s like a hootenanny,” he said just before a conversation was struck up with the audience regarding which particular brand he was drinking. Continue reading “Birds of Chicago, Sounds In The Suburbs, The Doublet, Glasgow, 28th October 2019”