Simone Felice, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, Glasgow, 13th May 2018

When Simone Felice and his brothers went to high school they would hop on a bus in their hamlet of Palenville and ride thirty minutes or so to the county town of Catskill, passing a mural of its most celebrated resident: Iron Mike – The Dynamite Kid. After Tyson fell from grace the mural became neglected and eventually disappeared. Fleeting fame is a recurring theme in Simone Felice’s work. Tonight  he half sang, half spoke a vaguely recognisable rhyme that eventually revealed itself as the chorus of ‘Fast Car’, “Be someone …” then seguing neatly into ‘If You Ever Get Famous’. This is one of three “The Duke and the King” songs performed tonight from his acclaimed post Felice Brothers project from around 2010, a critically praised partnership that doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Continue reading “Simone Felice, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, Glasgow, 13th May 2018”

Birds of Chicago, Stables Stage 2, Wavendon, 15th May 2018

Photo: Natalie Ginele Miller

The road works and long diversions conspiracy almost robbed us of the chance, but in the end tickets were grabbed from the ticket office, and a rapid relocation to Stage 2 enabled entry just as Birds of Chicago embarked on the first song of the evening. And there, crammed onto Stage 2’s small stage, was what can be only called a beautiful band – whilst there is a fine rhythm section and some splendid lead / slide guitar backing the focus naturally falls on the duo upfront. Main songwriter JT Nero, resplendently coiffured and generously tall and possessor of just the right kind of rasping weather-beaten vocal and the elegant Allison Russell equipped, with similar generosity, with banjo, ukulele, clarinet and the voice of an angel. Continue reading “Birds of Chicago, Stables Stage 2, Wavendon, 15th May 2018”

Don McLean, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, 4th May 2018

To the wonderful De La Warr Pavilion in East Sussex, a fitting location to see Don McLean. Much like the Pavilion, McLean has been an icon of his age but is now remembered more for the past than the present though, like the Pavilion, he’s stood the test of time particularly well. I’d hoped to be there in time to see support act, Jarrod Dickenson, about whom I’ve heard good things, but the Friday evening traffic on the A21 had other ideas! I can tell you that he delivers a first class version of the old Harlan Howard standard, ‘Busted’ and his own song that closed his set was also pretty good; one to see in the future perhaps. Continue reading “Don McLean, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, 4th May 2018”

Eli West, Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground, London, 11th May 2018

Turn off the lights, unplug the speakers, and welcome to the woodchip stage one of the finest flatpicking guitarists on the Americana scene today – Eli West. On a cool and breezy evening in a secluded corner of Islington, North London, the Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground took the award for the coolest named music venue anywhere in the capital city. Just off the busy Caledonian Road this creative space of rope-swings and wooden climbing frames hosted the Friday evening Nest Collective Campfire Club session. Continue reading “Eli West, Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground, London, 11th May 2018”

Carter Sampson + Jesse Aycock & Lauren Barth, Glad Café, Glasgow, 12 May 2018

Oklahoma’s Carter Sampson is no stranger to these shores. Her trademark red boots have graced many a UK music venue over the past few years. This was the opening night of her UK tour promoting her  brand new album ‘Lucky,’ and  the healthy Glad Café crowd took to their seats in anticipation of the latest show from a very welcome return visitor. Continue reading “Carter Sampson + Jesse Aycock & Lauren Barth, Glad Café, Glasgow, 12 May 2018”

The Teskey Brothers, Omeara London, 8th May 2018

If cucumbers were any cooler then they would surely be the Omeara music venue in Southwark, London. Hip and trendy, this Cavern-esque style location would have hosted The Beatles if it had been open in the 60’s but on this warm Tuesday evening in May the intimate space was sold out to a lively young crowd eagerly awaiting one of Australia’s finest bands – The Teskey Brothers. Continue reading “The Teskey Brothers, Omeara London, 8th May 2018”

H. C. McEntire, The Islington London, May 2nd 2018

First time for this reviewer at The Islington in Tolpuddle Street, a traditional room behind a pub with space for around 120, the stage taking up around a third of the floor space. A fine compact and intimate space to see Heather McEntire promoting her album ‘Lionheart’ which has been well received across the board. Taking time out from Mount Moriah,  McEntire, accompanied by fellow MM member Jenks Miller on guitar, played rhythm to great, mean and menacing effect. Continue reading “H. C. McEntire, The Islington London, May 2nd 2018”

Yo La Tengo, SWG3 , Glasgow, 29th April 2018

A Sunday night in Glasgow’s Finnieston and a mixture of die-hard fans and the curious has gathered in hushed expectation for the Hoboken trio. “When will we be set free?” sings bassist James McNew at the conclusion of a cover of Jad Fair’s ‘Ashes on the Ground.’ It’s four songs in, and the audience finally feels it has permission to whoop. Continue reading “Yo La Tengo, SWG3 , Glasgow, 29th April 2018”

Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018

Bush Hall is one of those milestone venues for many artists when they are building their careers as it is just the right size to test whether an act can headline their own London show. With a capacity of around 240  the Hall feels fine with anything over 100. Continue reading “Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018”

Lilly Hiatt, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, West Kensington London, 25th April 2018

It would be an understatement to describe Lilly Hiatt’s introduction to London as understated. But when you are courageous enough to hang yourself out to dry, literally and metaphorically, in full view of the audience, you don’t need bells and whistles, or even a full band. Instead Hiatt sings ‘Championship Fighter,’ from her 2012 debut ‘Let Down,’ as a cowboy lament, accompanied only by her own guitar. “If it weren’t for the music, I probably wouldn’t be here now” Hiatt has said, and her songs, infused though they are, with existential musings on life, death and authenticity, are very much for the living. None more so than ‘All Kinds of People,’ a rocking opening to outstanding new album ‘Trinity Road,’ for which she is joined onstage by guitarist John Condit and Robert Hudson on bass and electric mandolin. Continue reading “Lilly Hiatt, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, West Kensington London, 25th April 2018”