Van Life: Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family)

Got to be honest, there probably isn’t a square mile of the US or Europe that Brett and Rennie, The Handsome Family, haven’t covered at some point. The husband and wife duo must have one hell of a relationship to endure that many miles on the road together without serious risk of divorce or mental instability.  That they appear, at least on the surface, as musically and harmoniously entwined is surely testament to a rigorously tested van life routine that has stood the test of time. I catch up with them en route to Aberdeen to get the lowdown.
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Interview: Willy Vlautin

The much-loved frontman of the now sadly defunct Richmond Fontaine and pivotal member of The Delines,  Willy Vlautin is a man of many talents. Not only an exquisite songwriter, guitarist and one of the good guys, Vlautin has established himself as a ‘must read’ novelist whose tales of life’s chancers and dreamers have been cherished by readers and critics alike. Over for a short visit to these shores promoting his new book, ‘Don’t Skip Out On Me’ AUK’s Alan O’Hare caught up with him for a coffee and short chat.

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Interview: William Bell

As the Americana world expands almost daily in terms of what its defining characteristics are, we are seeing musicians and artists from the likes of the blues and soul arenas crossing over more and more. William Bell, practically a household name in that world produced 2017’s Grammy-winning Americana Album Of The Year with his excellent ‘This is Where I Live.’  AUK’s Iain Patience catches up with the elderly soul statesman.   Continue reading “Interview: William Bell”

Interview: Sarah Jarosz (I’m With Her)

I’m With Her is a group consisting of Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins. All three are multi-instrumentalists and vocalists and have their own solo careers. After an impromptu performance together at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2014, they realised they had something special. Sharing many awards between them, including three Grammys, they have released nine solo albums to date and co-founded two influential bands (Nickel Creek and Crooked Still). As I’m With Her, they have previously released a single and EP and their much anticipated first album ‘See You Around is due out on 16th February. The album was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath and co-produced by Ethan Johns with the band.  Continue reading “Interview: Sarah Jarosz (I’m With Her)”

Interview: Ann Savoy

Adopted Cajun, Ann Savoy of the Savoy Cajun Family Band is carrying on the region’s age-old tradition of music and way of life through her work. Savoy, married to accordionist and accordion builder Marc Savoy, is a fine lead vocalist, fiddler and accordionist plus she is one of the finest rhythm guitar players in Cajun music. Recording act, book author and workshop teacher, Savoy has earned the right to be recognised as one of Louisiana’s true treasures. As T-Bone Burnett enthuses, Savoy is “A  trusted keeper of the flame – the kind of girl Duke Ellington had in mind when he wrote Sophisticated Lady – she doesn’t imitate the past, she animates it. She makes dead men walk along a crooked line from the paddocks of Virginia to the swamps of Louisiana. She is a blues singer in French.”  Americana-UK’s Maurice Hope shares a plate of biscuits and gravy with the Cajun legend.    Continue reading “Interview: Ann Savoy”

Interview: Broken Witt Rebels

The Broken Witt Rebels have just completed a headline tour and widespread success seems to be knocking on their doors following the release of their debut album. They’ve given up their days jobs in order to seek fame and fortune, remember their values, and are prepared to work hard – but are still at a level where they’re worried about who’s going to steal their whiskey. “We piss on our amps too. No one else is going to want to take those,” announces drummer James Dudley. Having seen The Travelling Band the previous week, who famously had about £30,000 of equipment stolen from their van in 2014 (later successfully recovered), this is no mean consideration. And it’s true to say the ‘territorial pissings’ observation has us looking for tell-tale stains on their Orange cabinets as they take to the stage later on.  Continue reading “Interview: Broken Witt Rebels”

Interview: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

“Yoooooooo!!! Yoooooooo!!!” I hear screamed. I don’t know where it came from, or from whom. To be honest I’m a little afraid to ask. Tyler’s in the room. Tyler’s out the room. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s madness. “That’s life backstage at Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown,” proclaims drummer Caleb Crosby. It’s a wet night in Camden’s Dingwalls for the final show of Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown’s three-night UK tour. It’s been a well-received run by the US blues rockers, and I find myself squeezed into what I’m guessing used to be a storage cupboard. Continue reading “Interview: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown”

Rod Picott’s Circus of Misery and Heartbreak is coming back to the UK

Americana UK described Rod Picott, some years back, as, “the best of the current crop of Americana singer-songwriters.” Over the course of eight albums the one time sheet rock hanger (that’s plasterboard on this side of the water) has consistently proved us right while his live appearances are always eagerly anticipated. Good news then that he’s just announced that he’s returning to the UK for a set of dates in March of next year in support of his latest album, Out Past The Wires, which will be released to coincide with the dates. A double disc release (on CD and vinyl), Out Past The Wires will have 22 songs ranging from whispery ballads to guitar driven rockers and every musical spot between and was funded via Kickstarter with Picott’s target met within days of its announcement. Just as the Kickstarter campaign kicked off Americana UK spoke to Rod about the album, his budding career as an author and poet and his working relationship with his buddy, Slaid Cleaves. Continue reading “Rod Picott’s Circus of Misery and Heartbreak is coming back to the UK”

Interview: The Whiskey Gentry

Atlanta-based, The Whiskey Gentry, whose album Dead Ringer on Pitch-A-Tent Records was released earlier this year, pushes the band to a fuller more adventuress guitar powered sound.  Fronted by the effervescent Lauren Staley who, alongside husband, Jason Morrow, has been blending country with rock’n’roll, bluegrass and gritty honky-tonk whilst performing over 150 dates a year, including such festivals as Shaky Knees, Shaky Boots, Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and FloydFest.  Americana-UK’s Maurice Hope catches up Staley in between dates.  Continue reading “Interview: The Whiskey Gentry”

Interview: Dean Owens

Scotland’s Dean Owens has been producing great albums and making his mark on the Americana scene – both here and in the US – for a number of years now. Following on from the critically acclaimed Into The Sea, released n 2015 on Drumfire Records, Owens is set to return with a new album, Southern Wind, a new label, At The Helm, and a new sense of vigour. Americana-UK’s Rudie Hayes speaks to the Leith-born troubadour about what promises to be a big year. Continue reading “Interview: Dean Owens”