Molly Tuttle + Ole Kirkeng, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th April 2019

Molly Tuttle has been creating quite a lot of noise recently and on tonight’s evidence she’s no empty vessel. Twenty-six year old Tuttle grew up in San Francisco and started to play the guitar when she was eight years old. Four years ago, she moved to Nashville, releasing a seven track mini- album ‘Rise’ in 2017. Her debut full album ‘When You’re Ready’ was released earlier this month to huge critical acclaim. No surprise really then to find a packed crowd in Manchester wanting to check out the live experience and they were not disappointed as they were treated to an enthralling evening of Tuttle’s songs along with some carefully selected covers and a display of folk guitar playing that stands up alongside the very best. Continue reading “Molly Tuttle + Ole Kirkeng, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th April 2019”

The Long Ryders + The Hanging Stars, Gorilla, Manchester, 10 April 2019

It seems that nearly everyone you speak to arrived at this thing we call Americana via a different route. One area of commonality though, is that The Long Ryders were an important step on that journey, or indeed, for some, the beginning of it. For this reason, the band continue to be held in high regard and with great affection by their loyal fan base. The demographic of tonight’s audience suggests that the majority are long-standing fans. Long Ryder’s shows in recent years have been hugely enjoyable nostalgia trips. This year, there is a new dynamic; the band have released the excellent ‘Psychedelic Country Soul’ album, to critical acclaim and no little commercial success (Sid Griffin took much delight in informing the audience that it had reached number one in the official UK Americana album chart). Continue reading “The Long Ryders + The Hanging Stars, Gorilla, Manchester, 10 April 2019”

Amelia White + Jamie Freeman, Green Note, London, 9th April 2019

Another uplifting trip then to this much-lauded Camden venue where even the chocolate brownie and the rickety wooden chair may be close to assuming a place in North London roots music folklore. We’re here to hear Amelia White, a seasoned East Nashville performer. Lucinda Williams’ comparisons are, admittedly, obvious and facile for a reviewer to throw out, but they are not far off the mark either. Perhaps a little less downcast and focused on the grimmer side of life than some of Ms Williams’ more recent work, the voice and rhythms are of that ilk. With a swathe of albums over her last 20 years since relocating from her Boston roots, Ms. White has no shortage of material and has several UK tours on her resume. Continue reading “Amelia White + Jamie Freeman, Green Note, London, 9th April 2019”

Steve Gunn + Papercuts, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 8th April 2019

Over the last decade Steve Gunn has built his name as an innovative and accomplished guitarist. What’s not been so clearly highlighted is the fact that he is also a damn fine songwriter. Gunn’s 2019 album ‘The Unseen in Between’ certainly gave greater prominence to his songs, where in previous releases they sometimes seemed incidental to the music. Appearing in Manchester on the last date of his UK tour, Gunn’s set strongly reflected this change of emphasis. All nine songs from his new album were performed, sandwiched between acoustic opener ‘Wildwood’ and the final encore ‘Way Out Weather’, both taken from his 2014 album, of which the latter is the title track. Continue reading “Steve Gunn + Papercuts, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 8th April 2019”

Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 29th March 2019

To say that Tom Russell was in a buoyant mood on-stage at the legendary 100 Club would be an understatement of huge proportions. There was a definite party atmosphere – Tom’s UK label Proper Records were out in force to support him and with good reason, the new album ‘October in the Railroad Earth‘ had sailed straight in at Number One on the official UK Americana charts whilst the new single ‘That’s when the Road gets Rough‘ was, he assured us, also heading for the top, and we believe you Tom. Tom Russell describes the album as “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash in Bakersfield” and he’s not wrong – as he would prove through the night with a significant amount of the two sets coming from ‘October in the Railroad Earth‘. Continue reading “Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 29th March 2019”

SXSW 2019, Austin, Texas, 8th-16th March 2019

One piece of received wisdom regarding SXSW,  the sprawling music showcase held annually in Austin, is that it has become over-corporate and is no longer worth attending for an Americana fan. This I would refute strongly. It’s true that it was heading that way a few years ago, but the organisers have pulled back and taken the festival back to its roots as a showcase for new and established bands. The “big names” and overcrowding have stopped and the experience is just brilliant. I think that many AUK subscribers would be tempted to head to SXSW. I’m saying, if you can, then you should. Maybe a few details about how it all works will help you decide. Continue reading “SXSW 2019, Austin, Texas, 8th-16th March 2019”

I’m With Her + John Smith, Hackney Empire, 19th March 2019

Considering I’m With Her performed at the Bush Hall and Union Chapel when they toured the UK back in 2018, the choice of venue this evening could be interpreted as a measure of this trio’s ambition, or is perhaps a testament to their burgeoning popularity, or maybe it’s just a desire to play in arguably the most attractive venue in London – or it could be a combination of all three. Continue reading “I’m With Her + John Smith, Hackney Empire, 19th March 2019”

Jeremy & The Harlequins, Water Rats, London, 9th March 2019

At the end of their first UK tour New York City’s Jeremy & The Harlequins made the first of their two back-to-back London stops at the Water Rats, with an appearance planned for the BBC’s Andrew Marr show thrown in as an extra. This series of firsts left them undaunted as it was a supremely unfazed band that took to the stage – a rock and roll vision in denim and leather jackets, with lead singer Jeremy Fury coolly hidden behind aviator shades. This is the last gang in town ethos re-born: a band of individuals who’s on-stage presence, the grouping for harmony vocals, the flamboyant playing  and guitar duelling define them as more than the sum of their parts. Continue reading “Jeremy & The Harlequins, Water Rats, London, 9th March 2019”

Grain Electric, The Peer Hat, Manchester, 16th March 2019

Stuart Warburton and Jamie Fildes previously worked together in the 1980s as members of the excellent Rhythmaires. When that band broke up, each went their separate ways; Fildes enjoying some minor success with the band Buchanan (who had an 8/10 album review by AUK back in 2010) and Warburton performing as a solo artist. Now they have reunited as the joint songwriters and front men of the newly formed Grain Electric. The Peer Hat, located in Manchester’s artistic Northern Quarter, is an established venue for new bands to find their feet, so it was a natural choice for the band to play only their second gig. Manchester folk are famously not unfamiliar with a drop of rain but this weekend’s deluge made even the hardiest of Mancunians think twice before pulling that old waterproof out of the cupboard. Continue reading “Grain Electric, The Peer Hat, Manchester, 16th March 2019”

C2C Country To Country, 02, London, 10th March 2019

The passion for some forms of modern country music is well and truly alive in the UK. This touring festival of Country/Americana acts which travels to the UK and around the world once per year is a much bigger affair than I had imagined it to be. It is the perfect PR machine for the brand. The 02 is an impressive venue and the atmosphere was friendly and positive. These fans, many in checked shirts and hats, clearly love their music and in some respects this is a perfect opportunity to see some of the biggest names in Country playing in one of the UK’s largest venues. For those that attend C2C, country music takes many forms. The large majority of the acts are not country in the traditional form. What is on display is the genre in its more modern form – a sound that is both commercialised and tinged with pop Americana. The stories of the songs haven’t changed, however. The themes of the songs are still of the road, lost love, whiskey and women. Continue reading “C2C Country To Country, 02, London, 10th March 2019”