This month marks five hundred years (1518) since the first direct shipments of slaves from the continent of Africa to the Americas began. Emperor Charles V of Spain sanctioned the move because the native American populations who had previously been ‘pressed’ into service had been decimated and needed to be replaced. Previously African slaves had to have been born under Christian dominion and because many of the slaves leaving Africa had been either muslim or animistic in religious belief they were thought to have been a seditious risk to the native populations. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Rouse “Slaveship””
Boise, Idaho’s Eilen Jewell and her husband (and drummer!) Jason Beek have been touring the US and Europe for a number of years, bringing their blend of country, americana, and old-time gospel to a loyal following both sides of the pond. Last year’s ‘Down Hearted Blues’ saw Jewell unearthing a number of old-time blues songs and giving them both a polish and a place in the modern musical world. Her band, including the inimitable Jerry Miller, a guitarist who resides at the very summit when it comes to GREAT guitar players, are seasoned road dogs these days. Americana-UK caught up with Eilen and Jason on a recent visit to these shores to find out how life on four wheels really is and found out CDs isn’t the only thing they carry with them! Continue reading “Van Life: Eilen Jewell & Jason Beek”
This week we have been ruminating on the fact that this week is the fifty year anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by The Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany and Poland (a combined force under the direction of The USSR). Some one hundred and thirty seven civilians were killed and a further five hundred were seriously wounded. All, really, because people had expressed discontent with totalitarianism and just wanted an easier life. Here’s a cheer then for the underdogs, the repressed and the put upon who still exist in all corners of the world and who still dream of voicing their discontent and hope for an easier life.
News of the death of the “Queen of Soul” felt like a hammer blow yesterday given the state the US is in right now, and though Franklin claimed that she wasn’t a political singer, many of her best-known songs had a clear resonance with the womens and civil rights movements. She also gave the world a song originally heralded as an anthem of female independence but which soon “transformed it into an angry rejection of the chain of command” for African-American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. As Lee Andresen wrote in Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War: “Although songs like ‘Chain of Fools’ and ‘Respect’ didn’t directly address the war, tapes of [Franklin’s] music became as essential a part of field kits as C-rations and morphine.” Elsewhere RS notes her 6 best country interpretations.
This week we were struck (once again) by how differently people are treated depending on which side of the political divide they fall into. Granted the only thing we like falling into here at Americana-UK Towers is a gently drunken slumber but it piqued our interest that one fellow, a life-long anti-racist, can’t seem to do enough to persuade others of his credentials (despite all of the evidence being there) whilst another has been gently ticked off (and has indeed seen his cachet rise with some in his own ranks) for saying some quite obviously and overtly racist (and indeed sexist) things. Not fair we thought. But hardly surprising we thought. There really are some foolish people in the world we thought.
‘Stud Farm’ might sound like some gay muscle porn flick but it’s also the new album from Brooklyn indie-folk project Owlbiter aka Matt Cascella which Americana UK is delighted to premiere this morning. Influenced by artists such as John Prine, Ivor Cutler & Harry Nilsson, who often tell stories that lead with humour first before sneaking the pathos in there without the listener even realizing, the 12 track album is full of gently plucked acoustic guitars and ukuleles, drowsy brass and the occasional keyboard atmospherics, but very little percussion—a result of the keep-it-simple approach Cascella sought when Owlbiter was in its nascent stages. Continue reading “Album premiere: Owlbiter “Stud Farm””
We don’t pretend to know much here at Americana-UK Towers and when hunkered down in The Bunker we care less than we know. Except about hard liquor and great tunes. We certainly don’t pretend to know anything about certain conversations that have been had of late between two parties who we shall call A and B. It goes something like this: Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Tom T Hall “Sneaky Snake””
It won’t have escaped the attention of UK based readers that it’s been a tad warm of late. So warm has it been, in fact, that we have taken to The Bunker at every opportunity to cool down with select beers and suitably frosty chasers. And, in extremis, the odd glass of chilled water. News has reached us that the water companies are mooting a restricted use policy on the old Adam’s Ale starting with hosepipes but who knows where it will end? Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Hank Williams “Cool Water””
Ruen Brothers aka Henry and Rupert Stansall are Scunthorpe’s very own success story. Having been catapulted from boozy ‘Sunny Scunny’ dives to Rick Rubin’s Malibu Shangri La studios they could be forgiven for being a little bewildered at the fanfare surrounding their Roy Orbison and Everly Brothers -inspired take on rock n roll. Instead, their starched shirts remain as crisp as ever and there’s still not a hair out of place while debut album ‘All My Shades Of Blue’ continues to take the US by storm. Continue reading “Ruen Brothers “All My Shades Of Blue” (Ramseur, 2018)”
Just like the buses, we have no album premieres for weeks and then two come along in the one day, and this is rather ace. Heart Hunters is Drew de Man’s new project with his wife, singer/songwriter Brianna Blackbird (surely one of the loveliest names on the planet earth) and their new album ‘American Eclipse’ is produced by Peter Case with some gorgeous two-part harmonies accompanying sparse acoustic folk songs and epic anthems featuring lush string sections, along with some worldly wariness of the capitalist ideal and the crisis it’s engendered. Continue reading “Album premiere: The Heart Hunters “American Eclipse””