Loose Records to celebrate 20 years at the AMAUK conference

Way back in 2001 when I first started Americana UK on a shoestring budget (not even a shoestring to be fair, it was zero) one of the first labels to kindly start sending us through stuff for review was Loose.  The albums were not only by some of the best names in americana but always beautifully packaged too, proving that you can have style and substance – indeed many people came to the genre in the first place through their amazing compilations they would produce in the days when everyone still bought CDs. At this year’s AMAUK awards which take place in Hackney at the end of this month, Loose perhaps more than any other label will have a major presence there, with two showcasing artists, three nominees and a special conference session reflecting on their two decades at the forefront of the genre.  AUK caught up with label founder (“Le Grand Fromage”) Tom Bridgewater and discussed the conference, what’s changed over 20 years and separating the wheat from the chaff. Continue reading “Loose Records to celebrate 20 years at the AMAUK conference”

Pick of the Political Pops: Bill Munroe and His Bluegrass Boys “I’m Working On A Building”

It’s a helluva time to be working on any kind of building if you happen to be employed by a corporate construction behemoth either directly or subcontractually, we’d have thought. The sprawling pile that is Americana-UK Towers was fortunate enough to be constructed in more enlightened times by a workers cooperative of brickies, navvies, chippies and sparkies – so none of that one hundred and twenty day payment window malarkey. Nope – we coughed up the readies every Friday night in those special little manila envelopes that you used to get with your name written on it in biro (tax and NI deducted at source of course). Oddly it seems that nowadays ‘value for money’ means ‘contract it out of house at all costs’ whether or not it actually makes financial sense. There’s always The Tax Payer and his/her seemingly endlessly deep pocket to bail out a poorly run private concern with a suicidal approach to procurement. We reckon the best thing we can do is build some sort of religious structure, as Bill Munroe suggests here, and pray that things will be alright…

Van Life: Iain Sloan

Fretboard warrior, purveyor of all things six-string, and pedal steel supremo, Iain Sloan has been soundtracking the UK Americana scene for a number of years predominantly with The Wynntown Marshals, Scotland’s finest alt.country band, and latterly with the likes of indie folksters Blue Rose Code and the legendary Peter Bruntnell.   Americana-UK catches up with Sloan inbetween practice and school runs to chat through life on the road and have a rummage through the glove box. Continue reading “Van Life: Iain Sloan”

Pick of the Political Pops: Billy Bragg and Joe Henry “Railroad Bill”

We like a good railway journey. In fact we like it so much that we had a funicular railway installed at Americana-UK Towers so that we could ascend from The Bunker to The Towers in proper style. Its operators, Sayid and Benin, are fully paid up members of the RMT and ASLEF respectively so we can rest assured that we are in good hands Health and Safety wise. Funny thing about the railway(s) in this country is that they are privately operated – funny because publicly owned rail systems in other countries (cf: France, Germany, The Netherlands) invest in ours and yet EU rules state that we aren’t (at present) allowed to nationalise our own. Its also odd that this system actually costs us more than if we owned them as state enterprises. On top of that some of us find it hysterically funny that there’s just been another above inflation hike in rail fares. “Funny”, as we say. On the bright side you can’t find a rabid right wing hate rag of a newspaper to read for love nor money. If you ask us we need a new Railroad Bill to go through Parliament ensuring that the railways are operated in the interests of those who actually use them…i.e. all of us.

Seasons greetings from Americana UK

That’s it from us for this year dear readers.  Thanks for all your support over the last 12 months which have been the busiest year yet for AUK in the sixteen years of our existence. (I was 11 obviously when I started the website).  Please consider supporting us via our new set up for just £2 per month and we’ll send you a nice curated playlist of the best americana we’ve heard each month. In the meantime, can we wish you all a very happy Christmas/festive season/whatever it means to you, and all the very best for 2018.  We’ll be back on January 2nd, Trump not having a meltdown notwithstanding, and in the meantime enjoy these four minutes of magic from our favourite mathematical avian friends.

The votes have been counted! Here are the AUK readers poll 2017 results

So here we are again as Peter Cetera sang to Cher back in 1989 – another year over, another end of year AUK poll and YOU have been hoovering up americana like nobody’s business, but with a new Dyson so to speak.  It’s out with the old and in with the new crowd as several artists make their first appearances in our end of year results, including an earthquake in the best radio show category – hearty congratulations to all of you who’ve made it into the list.  Congratulations to Will Munn from Worcester who wins a load of promos which will be with you in due course.  So without further much ado about nothing, here are the winners of this year’s AUK readers poll of 2017. Continue reading “The votes have been counted! Here are the AUK readers poll 2017 results”

Pick of the Political Pops: The Kinks “Father Christmas”

At Americana-UK Towers we are somewhat divided about the festive season. The opportunities for falling out with each other are manifold – the correct ratio of gin to Campari to vermouth in our Negronis, whether sprouts should be considered an actual foodstuff and which Christmas tunes to play on the jukebox are just some examples. However after erecting our tree in The Bunker and given a liberal sprinkling of tinsel and cocktails we have settled on this as representative of our Christmas mindset. Thank goodness for Ray Davies…

Here they are! AUK writers’ best albums of 2017

Here at AUK towers we used to quite often fall out over our end of year list, and even the stronger among us walked away in a sea of blood, sweat and tears (the things). It was the block vote what done it. And so, like Ed Miliband before us we moved to a one member one vote system in a non-secret ballot and things seemed to work out much better. We don’t settle on a definitive list, who can in these troubled muddled times, but here, dear readers, are our picks of the best stuff we’ve listened to over the last 12 months. Complaints and accusations of nepotism to the usual address please.  Oh and tomorrow we’ll have the results of YOUR picks of 2017. Contain your excitement if you can. Continue reading “Here they are! AUK writers’ best albums of 2017”

Do you like Good Music ? A year in review

There’s an inevitability that December brings some reflection on what has gone before, there’s this midwinter pause that offers an opportunity for this stocktaking. And this is a personal reflection – there’s some “best ofs”” down below, which in their own way are as inevitable as socks as Christmas presents, but they are in no-way the official best ofs for Americana-UK. I take all the blame for them, although there’s a fair chance I’ll have disowned them – or at least in part – by the time New Year comes around. Continue reading “Do you like Good Music ? A year in review”

Cory Branan: Repealing net neutrality could be dangerous for independent art

Excellent piece up on the ever more politically essential RS at the moment on some more hideous legislation (or lack of it).  Thank you Mr President once again.  They report: “On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on whether or not to repeal Net Neutrality, a decision about Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that could impact – among so many other pillars of our country’s modern democracy – the future of music. And independent musicians, those who run a mainly DIY operation, are poised to be hurt the most. Continue reading “Cory Branan: Repealing net neutrality could be dangerous for independent art”