Laurel Canyon Night at AmericanaFest 2020, Paper Dress Vintage, London, 29th January 2020

Remember those January nights drifting from one venue to another crammed venue? Glorious Hackney alive with music and good feelings.  Seems like another world now, but it was really only a few short months ago.  Of course we gave a lot of attention to the most public part of the Americana Music Association UK’s conference, but there was just so much going on that we couldn’t cover it all.  Now, though, with those same venues – like all the others across the land – closed up for the duration it’s nice to take the time to look back again. And to remember that hopefully this will soon all be possible again. Music – live as it is meant to be. Continue reading “Laurel Canyon Night at AmericanaFest 2020, Paper Dress Vintage, London, 29th January 2020”

Kiefer Sutherland, Cambridge Junction, 24th February 2020

As we get used to the lack of live reviews, a few AUK scribes have dug into their recent archives to offer a few belated reviews… Kiefer Sutherland, yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it is the same running-with-a-gun action star of ‘24′. Son of Donald, Kiefer, an actor turned country singer, is touring to promote his second album ‘Reckless and Me’. The first, ‘Down in a Hole’,  was the surprisingly positive outcome of a bet with a friend. Continue reading “Kiefer Sutherland, Cambridge Junction, 24th February 2020”

The Lost Brothers + Llamadme Pastor, Purcell Rooms, Royal Festival Hall, 3rd March 2020

It appears not to be lost on The Lost Brothers themselves that after twelve or so years together and five prior albums, bigger things and greater attention looms imminently on their horizon. “Normally when we play London,” declares singer and chief chat guy Oisin, “we know everyone by name.” Whilst tonight’s intimate and attentive crowd of a few hundred or so may not exactly be the O2 arena, it’s a notable step up in size and comfortably seated grandeur. Additionally the show is the first of many on the forthcoming tour poster to be slapped with a ‘sold out’ sticker. Continue reading “The Lost Brothers + Llamadme Pastor, Purcell Rooms, Royal Festival Hall, 3rd March 2020”

Nada Surf – Manchester Academy 3, 13th March 2020

Nada Surf are one of those bands who occupy a distinct corner of americana in the broadest sense – at times they can sound like they’re nothing to do with the genre, their new album having hints of New Order and Built to Spill – there’s a real 90s indie/power-pop sound to their output which hasn’t really changed over the last 20 years. But then at other times they can sound like Teenage Fanclub or Big Star, one of the jangliest around, and the connection seems obvious. Continue reading “Nada Surf – Manchester Academy 3, 13th March 2020”

Gill Landry, The Old Queen’s Head, Islington, London, 19th February 2020

The origin of the expression “skeleton at the feast (or banquet)” has been traced back to the Egyptian custom of bringing a skeleton or mummy to a feast as a reminder of mortality amidst the festivity. Generally, it was meant to refer to someone or something that brought unpleasant memories or put a dampener on proceedings, not an accusation that could be levelled at Gill Landry who has been touring Europe in order to promote his excellent ‘Skeleton At The Banquet’ album. For while his music has certainly got its moments of melancholy, it’s also leavened with genuine humour, poetry, and human insight, alongside a cineaste’s ability to conjure a widescreen picture from a Noirish soundtrack. Continue reading “Gill Landry, The Old Queen’s Head, Islington, London, 19th February 2020”

Marcus King Band, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 25th February 2020

It’s been two years since The Marcus King Band last played London and this time they’re promoting King’s solo release ‘El Dorado’. Produced by Dan Auerbach, it represents a change in direction from earlier releases, being predominantly psychedelic soul with only an occasional nod to the blues/Americana that he’s best known for. Tonight the crowd is mixed, but it’s primarily a younger audience. It’s clear that his cross-over appeal is growing with only a handful of the usual Radio 2 type blues fans in attendance, squinting and shielding their eyes from the ever present light show. Continue reading “Marcus King Band, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 25th February 2020”

Cash Back In Fife, Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife, 6th – 8th March 2020

A new addition to the Scottish music scene, Cash Back In Fife is a weekend of music dedicated to the memory of Johnny Cash and in particular, Cash’s delight at discovering he had ancestors who had come to the new world from the ancient kingdom of Fife in Scotland. It’s the brainchild of Dean Owens, the singer songwriter from Leith who has previously released an album of songs sung by, written, or inspired by Cash. That album, ‘Cash Back (Songs I Learned From Johnny)’ led on to a successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe show and when Owens heard of Cash’s links to Fife, allied to his discovery of a relatively new music venue in the Fife village of Aberdour, well, something clicked. Continue reading “Cash Back In Fife, Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife, 6th – 8th March 2020”

Sean McConnell + Garrison Starr, St Pancras Old Church, London, 13th February 2020

The venue is, as ever, inspirational to both tonight’s acts, who were raised in varied Christian settings in the USA. The gig is sold out and the performers really thrive in this supportive atmosphere. Massachusetts’ native McConnell is now a well-seasoned UK visitor from his Nashville home. His latest album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ was widely lauded, even landing an elusive 10/10 on this website. He is currently darting across a dense array of European gigs crossing borders like a Euro MP who has just learned of the expenses allowance. Continue reading “Sean McConnell + Garrison Starr, St Pancras Old Church, London, 13th February 2020”

Damien Jurado + Dana Garvanski, FolkeStone Quarterhouse, Folkestone, 1st March 2020

During his outstanding set, Damien Jurado mentioned that it was the first time he had played in Folkestone and he apologized to the local members of the audience for his prior belief that it was only a jetty and not a town.  The venue he played in – the Folkestone Quarterhouse – is at the heart of the Creative movement in Folkestone, focusing on the arts, music and theatre.  It provided the audience an intimate friendly space to absorb Jurado’s songs about longing, loss, love, illness and death. Continue reading “Damien Jurado + Dana Garvanski, FolkeStone Quarterhouse, Folkestone, 1st March 2020”

The Dead South, Brixton Academy, 27th February 2020

A bluegrass band selling out the Brixton Academy? That’s right, but this is the Canadian acoustic four piece The Dead South, so add punk, rock and folk, all at a furious pace. It does not take long to understand why they are called, “The Mumfords’ evil twins.” Visually they exude menace and foreboding. Their stage is sparse, a porch light in front of each mic with ghostly arched windows behind. Into this setting ambled four men clad in white shirts, black braces and trousers, wide brimmed hats, looking like a bunch of hucksters walking into town, intent unknown but probably not benign. Without a word they strapped on their instruments as the mysterious ‘Act of Approach’ raised the tension. The crowd loved it when the mournful first notes of Danny Kenyon’s bass cello made way for lead singer Nate Hilts’ rasp, “My baby wants a diamond ring”. Continue reading “The Dead South, Brixton Academy, 27th February 2020”