Michael Hurley + James Yorkston, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 17th June 2018

It’s been a while since Michael Hurley, occasionally known as Snock, has come to the UK and with him now in his 77th year, news of this tour was somewhat unexpected. Mind you it was only last year when he toured Australia for the first time so it’s perhaps somewhat ageist of us to presume that this venerable songwriter was about to hang up his guitar. Since recording his first album back in 1965 Hurley has ploughed a singular path creating his own weird and crepuscular world peopled with werewolves and revenants, his cartoon creations, Boone and Jocko, and a whole host of idiosyncratic characters.  With a style rooted deep in country blues and folk Hurley has always sounded as if he came from an earlier age, a one man version of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music as transmitted from some Twilight Zone and tonight a rapt audience was transported into Hurley’s very own version of old and weird Americana as Greil Marcus would have it. Continue reading “Michael Hurley + James Yorkston, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 17th June 2018”

Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018

Never a man to resist a whim, Howe Gelb has resurrected the band title he retired a few years back and re-recorded the first album which came out under the Giant Sand name, 1985’s ‘Valley of Rain’. The whys and wherefores for this are myriad perhaps but Gelb reasons that the original album suffered from being too clean, his Roland amp being one of the guilty culprits, preferring the final three songs he recorded for the album using an old Fender Tube amp (previously owned by Robbie Krieger, trivia fans). So, having secured an old 80’s Fender 30 amp late last year, Gelb set about recording ‘Return to The Valley of Rain’ and even managed to round up the original band to play on several of the songs. Job done, Giant Sand then set about a European tour to play the album live, tonight’s show the second last in the UK after a swirl around Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Continue reading “Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018”

Geoff Muldaur, Stables Stage 2, Wavendon, 7th June 2018

This was the final night of Geoff Muldaur’s UK tour – and even on a tour that had taken in mostly small stages like London’s Green Note this gig deserved the sobriquet “intimate“, with a bare couple of dozen in the audience and Geoff Muldaur on stage blinded by the blue lights and unable to see the crowd, other than as a psychedelic blur, a situation that caused him to, tongue-in-cheek, regret dropping acid before coming out. Continue reading “Geoff Muldaur, Stables Stage 2, Wavendon, 7th June 2018”

Anderson East, Jazz Cafe, London, 30th May 2018

London’s Jazz Cafe tonight replicated the steamy humidity of Anderson East’s Athens, Alabama roots on what was a sold out show for this artist who is described as  as being an R’nB singer, R’n’B in the old fashioned sense thankfully. Notable and encouraging was the number of 20- and 30-somethings thronging the venue, East’s own peer group. Continue reading “Anderson East, Jazz Cafe, London, 30th May 2018”

Curse Of Lono, Dot To Dot Festival, Mr Wolfs, Bristol, 25th May

Most fans of Americana music should by now be familiar with the works of Felix Bechtolsteimer, whether that be from his groundbreaking British country blues revivalists Hey Negrita or the more recent murky window into his soul that is his latest venture, the dramatic rock’nroll caravan that is Curse Of Lono. Continue reading “Curse Of Lono, Dot To Dot Festival, Mr Wolfs, Bristol, 25th May”

The Small Glories, The Green Note, London, 31st May 2018

Whilst it may feel like an extension of your own living room, an instantly familiar and cosy space, the unassuming exterior of The Green Note music venue belies its ability to attract the very best acoustic roots musicians from around the world. If you haven’t added its intimate stage to your performance CV then you probably haven’t fully graduated as a gigging musician. Continue reading “The Small Glories, The Green Note, London, 31st May 2018”

Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018

What a night. Torrential rain. Flooding in and out of the venue. A support act using the Oedipal curse repeatedly during the final song of their set despite being in a very beautiful house dedicated to a higher power. Was there going to be divine retribution? In a word, no. This was a brilliant, brilliant gig. Curated by the irrepressible Mike Trotman of Empty Rooms – the promoter of choice in these parts – Bennett, Wilson, Poole delivered their album (in order) and then some, in spades. Continue reading “Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018”

Songs in the South: David Starr + Martha L Healy + Al Shields, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 30th May 2018

Glasgow’s very hip Glad Cafe hosted this night of singer/songwriters playing “in the round” as popularised by The Bluebird Cafe (in Nashville, although the Edinburgh eatery and venue of the same name hosted this self same trio several days earlier). An opportunity for these three talented performers to swap some of the tales behind their songs while interacting as each played in turn, it was an engaging and ultimately uplifting night which proved, at the very least, that the art of song writing is alive and well and that music is a bridge which spans nations and generations. Continue reading “Songs in the South: David Starr + Martha L Healy + Al Shields, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 30th May 2018”

The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018

Esquires is a grimy dyed in the wool rock venue that has hosted many of the aspiring greats over the years, including Coldplay, Oasis,  Dodgy and Richmond Fontaine to name but the few I have seen (Oasis may have been the Angel – life’s journey has had some impact). So, The Magic Numbers on a Friday night, what could be better? Some glorious harmonies and whip smart tunes in front of a sold out house. Brilliant…..or not as it turned out. Continue reading “The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018”

Grant-Lee Phillips, The Lantern, Bristol, April 26, 2018

Amongst old carpeting and pompous high ceilings, Grant-Lee Phillips and his acoustic guitar look like they are about to play a secret gig in someone’s (admittedly rich) private living room. Even if it’s not the case, well, it feels like it anyway. When on tour, Phillips likes to strip it down to bare minimum, leaving behind his fellow musicians Jerry Roe (drums) and Lex Price (bass), who took part in the recording of his latest album ‘Widdershins’ released in February of this year. Being alone on stage doesn’t frighten him though. For Phillips, it’s like going back to the source of the album-making process just like a natural circle of life, from laying the foundations of the songs to the afterlife of his records. The experience allows him to play differently with some areas of the song too, cunningly tweaking and twisting them. Continue reading “Grant-Lee Phillips, The Lantern, Bristol, April 26, 2018”