The Sheepdogs + Creatures, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 18th June 2019

The Sheepdogs may hail from Saskatoon, Canada but it’s clear that their musical roots lay much further south – The Allman Brothers and the whole early seventies ‘southern rock’ scene based around Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia are clear reference points. However, The Sheepdogs are no revivalists. Like their forebears, their sound is guitar-based rock with liberal helpings of soul, blues and country. To this they add their own fresh ingredients to create a modern take on a well-established classic recipe. The show having been sold out weeks in advance, there was a palpable air of anticipation in the room as the stage was set up for the main event. This culminated in a huge roar as the band took the stage, long hair, beards and tassels giving a clue, if one were needed, as to what was to follow. Continue reading “The Sheepdogs + Creatures, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 18th June 2019”

Terry Lee Hale + Chiara Berardelli, The Doublet, Glasgow, 19th June 2019

A worthy crowd turned out on a dreich Glasgow night to hear and see Terry Lee Hale in this intimate upstairs pub room. Although not a household name, Hale was at the forefront of the nascent Americana scene in the 1990’s, particularly in Europe through his relationship with Glitterhouse Records. This decade has seen him release two magnificent albums, both on Glitterhouse, ‘The Long Draw’, released in 2013, and then ‘Bound, Chained, Fettered’, from 2015 and tonight featured a fine selection from both along with a smattering of songs from earlier releases. Continue reading “Terry Lee Hale + Chiara Berardelli, The Doublet, Glasgow, 19th June 2019”

Review: Black Deer Festival 2019, Eridge Park, Kent

It’s difficult to be interested in americana in 2019 and not feel in some way political – even with a small p. Black Deer, an americana and country festival held in the stunning setting of Eridge Park in Kent, is ostensibly a family friendly weekend out – an opportunity to listen to great music, eat some barbecued dead animal (vegan options available), sit on the grass and forget about the world outside of the festival security. It’s only in its second year and is already feeling like a key americana event for the UK community – the professionalism of the operation belies the fact that it’s one of the newer kids on the block. But this year, you just couldn’t help feel like as one of the UK’s festivals most connected with our US friends, it had something important to say and everyone including the punters knew that. Continue reading “Review: Black Deer Festival 2019, Eridge Park, Kent”

MAVERICK LAUNCH PARTY: Sam Morrow + Broken Islands + Henry Brothers, The Bedford, London, 13th June 2019

The Maverick festival is the grandaddy of UK Americana and roots shindigs. For over a decade, Maverick has been bringing the best of emerging and established acts from wherever they lay their hats to the Easton Farm Park in Suffolk, where Paul Spencer in his multiple roles as founder, host, director and general go-to-guy does the leg work and everyone proud. Back on April Fool’s Day attentive readers might recall a colleague attending the first ever launch party for the hallowed event with performers including Dana Immanuel and The Stolen Band. Heavy on bluegrass and cajun, Dana nicely captured Spencer’s emphases for this years bash.  But hang on there, the jokes on us…It turns out that this was just the warm up to the warm up! Continue reading “MAVERICK LAUNCH PARTY: Sam Morrow + Broken Islands + Henry Brothers, The Bedford, London, 13th June 2019”

Paul Cauthen + Fenella + Julen Santamaria, Broadcast, Glasgow, 17th June 2019

Last time Texan Paul Cauthen was around these parts he was riding solo but this first date of a short UK tour found him with a posse of armed and dangerous Dallas cowboys well able to kick up a ruckus and lay down some deadly country music. With Rolling  Stone debuting Cauthen’s audacious video for ‘Cocaine Country Dancing‘, the first song to be released from his forthcoming ‘Room 41’ album, just a few days before the show, appetites were whetted for the full band experience and we were not disapointed. Continue reading “Paul Cauthen + Fenella + Julen Santamaria, Broadcast, Glasgow, 17th June 2019”

Topic Records 80th Birthday Party, The Barbican, London, 7th June 2019

At 80 years of age Topic Records is the world’s oldest Independent Record label – and if it hasn’t been called Topic for the whole of that time there is at least a good continuity all the way back to the first recording by the Workers Music Association. In 1939 they released ‘The man who waters the workers’ beer‘ by Paddy Ryan, and bar the odd World War they haven’t looked back. Well, of course they have looked back – being at the cutting edge of the folk revival meant that Topic recorded a vast amount of old songs, as well as becoming the record release vehicle for the likes of Ewan MacColl. Old and new has ever been the way of folk, and the evening’s musical director – Eliza Carthy – captured that sense with a diverse series of musicians playing individual short sets, and then being the backing band for others, as the evening progressed. Continue reading “Topic Records 80th Birthday Party, The Barbican, London, 7th June 2019”

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019

One dictionary definition of ‘perfection’ states that it is, “a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.” It is doubtful whether anyone at Nick Lowe’s sold out show tonight would have any hesitation in applying that definition to the man himself. From his earliest beginnings with Kippington Lodge and Brinsley Schwarz, it has always been apparent that Nick Lowe has a talent. His involvement with Stiff, and later Radar Records served to further underline that. However, the 1994 release of his ‘The Impossible Bird’ LP marked the beginning of a series of albums that have singled him out as one of the great British songwriters. Never one to stand still, Nick Lowe arrived tonight on the back of last year’s ‘Tokyo Bay’ single and this year’s ‘Love Starvation’ EP. On both releases Lowe is accompanied by Nashville instrumentalists Los Straitjackets and it’s they who are his current touring band. Continue reading “Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019”

Fabrizio Cammarata, The Sebright Arms, London, 29th May 2019

There was something ill fitting about Fabrizio Cammarata and his Euro entourage holed up deep within the vaults of this back alley retreat for beatnutz and shoegazers that is the Sebright Arms, way out in the frayed, albeit regenerating,  back pockets of Hackney. His recent album, ‘Lights’ has been well received since it was scrapped and rewritten during a period of inner conflict, the result being much more of a ‘band’ sound than the singer/songwriter we’ve known before. Perhaps the tour venues were chosen with this in mind as Fabrizio came charging out of the blocks with a toughened up, rock ‘n’ roll infused version of the all-new Fabrizio Cammarata. Continue reading “Fabrizio Cammarata, The Sebright Arms, London, 29th May 2019”

Jesse Dayton, Sebright Arms, London, 7th June, 2019

With reports that around only 30 folk had attended his Manchester show two days earlier, there was some concern that the numbers for this Jesse Dayton performance in the East End of London would also prove on the low side, so it was somewhat reassuring to see increasing numbers of people wandering downstairs into the cavern-like setting of the Sebright Arms shortly after Russ Tolman had finished his set – particularly seeing as Dayton had already played at Red Rooster the previous Friday and the ‘Country on a Sunday’ festival in Putney last weekend. Continue reading “Jesse Dayton, Sebright Arms, London, 7th June, 2019”

Carson McHone, the Borderline, London, 30th May 2019

Well into a 40 date tour, Carson McHone proved tonight exactly why Loose Records invested time and effort in recruiting her to their record label at the back end of 2018. Resplendent in a white two piece suit and semi-matching black and white guitar, it was about the only stylised part of the performance – the rest of the evening a perfect demonstration of the honky tonk tradition, but one artfully updated for the modern era. Having played an extensive European tour that’s included a range of venues such as hotel lobbies and cultural arts centres, McHone says the Borderline is a space she can really get into, which is even more poignant given its impending closure.
Continue reading “Carson McHone, the Borderline, London, 30th May 2019”