The Delines + Joana Serrat @ The Railway Inn, Winchester, 3rd February 2019

In very broad terms, heading south west out of Waterloo station means that the landscape for Americana venues becomes increasingly parched and music fans of this particular bent have to work hard and travel far to find a home. A huge hurrah then to the Railway Inn at Winchester which has been consistently attracting class acts to this humble venue for over 20 years. So, it came to pass that, due to a long-term relationship with the magnificent Willy Vlautin that stretches back to his Richmond Fontaine days, the much lauded Delines land in icy Hampshire to play not one but two sold out gigs in one day. Continue reading “The Delines + Joana Serrat @ The Railway Inn, Winchester, 3rd February 2019”

Americana Music Awards, 31st January, Hackney Empire, London

The final flourish of the Americana Music Association UK (AMAUK) music festival is the Awards night, held in the luxurious surroundings of the Hackney Empire. Unsurprisingly the evening follows a fairly typical award ceremony format, a master of ceremonies, guest presenters to read out the nominees and the actual winner in categories such as “Best Song“, an acceptance speech and then, between awards, a musical spot featuring those nominated somewhere in the evening. This does mean that there’s plenty of music – it’d be a bit odd after all if there wasn’t – but everyone gets just the one song. The full list of award winners can be found here, so this is just a quick impression of the evening and not a full list of every face that appeared. Continue reading “Americana Music Awards, 31st January, Hackney Empire, London”

Rachel Baiman, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol, 22nd January 2019

Bristol’s Wardrobe Theatre is a bohemian gem of a venue in a neglected but vibrant corner of the city, offering up a mix of independent productions and cutting edge Americana to an audience made up of old and young. A taste for low key performances and local craft ale seems to be a prerequisite for this minimalist Victorian dance hall setting and tonight Rachel Baiman and friends touched down from Nashville to a seasonal West Country welcome. Continue reading “Rachel Baiman, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol, 22nd January 2019”

Americana Music Fest 30th January, Hackney, London

Previous showcases at the AMAUK conference had run for just a single night – expanding to two nights had more than doubled the excitement. And if the previous evening had offered some hard choices then this second night of the AMAUK showcase upped the ante by bringing in Moth Club as a venue, which meant that most time slots now offered a chance of three bands or artists. This cold wet evening started once again at Hackney Empire Bar with the superb sound of The Hanging Stars. Continue reading “Americana Music Fest 30th January, Hackney, London”

Birds Of Chicago + Salthouse @Celtic Connections, Drygate, Glasgow, 31st January 2018

Long time AUK favourites Birds Of Chicago flew into Glasgow as Celtic Connections was nearing the end of its run. With core members, Allison Russell and JT Nero accompanied by the acclaimed producer and wizard guitar player Steve Dawson, the trio’s show was heart-warming and uplifting. Russell and Nero are a delight to see and hear. Their chalk and cheese voices (hers sweet and melodious, his, a sandpapered drawl) combine wonderfully with a definite sense of soul in its essence while the songs flow wonderfully with elements of bluegrass, folk, Celtic and Gospel all entwined. Continue reading “Birds Of Chicago + Salthouse @Celtic Connections, Drygate, Glasgow, 31st January 2018”

Americana Music Fest 29th January, Hackney, London

Organised by the Americana Music Association UK (AMAUK), the showcase runs at five Hackney Central venues over two nights, culminating in the awards ceremony at hackney Empire on the third evening. It’s a fairly massive undertaking, with almost 60 bands or artists performing half hour sets over the two showcase nights. It links in with the AMAUK music conference, an opportunity for all those involved in this area of the music business to come together and discuss how to promote a genre which it’s fair to say no-one can definitely describe. Continue reading “Americana Music Fest 29th January, Hackney, London”

The Delines + Dori Freeman @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 27th January 2019

It’s not often that there are more novels than discs on a merch table at a gig but tonight there was an author, Willie Vlautin, on stage, one part of The Delines who produced a magnificent set of songs suffused with southern soul and bleak outlooks, broken hearts and broken fingers, drifters adrift in a sea of loneliness. Vlautin of course has forged a second career as a wordsmith with a couple of his books plucked by Hollywood but we first heard his words via Richmond Fontaine and with The Delines he has created another fabulous band. The story is that he had a bunch of songs he didn’t feel comfortable singing so he asked Amy Boone to step in which she did so excellently on their first album, ‘Colfax’. Disaster struck soon after when Boone was seriously injured in a car accident requiring lengthy rehab for her injuries and the band was put on furlough. Now, with Boone recovered sufficiently, the second album, ‘The Imperial’, is out and the band are on fire. Continue reading “The Delines + Dori Freeman @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 27th January 2019”

Buffalo Blood + Lucas & King @Celtic Connections, The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, 25th January 2019

The live world premiere of a project which crosses the Atlantic, delves into roots music and offers insights into current events which blight the planet, is just about perfect fodder for Celtic Connections, a festival which prides itself on, well, connecting. So, conceived in Leith and in Nashville, gestated in New Mexico, and then finally delivered, fully formed, in Glasgow, Buffalo Blood is alive and kicking. Continue reading “Buffalo Blood + Lucas & King @Celtic Connections, The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, 25th January 2019”

Israel Nash, Oslo, London, 25th January 2019

Just a few weeks after his last appearance in London at The Scala, Israel Nash hit the capital again with his band, this time in Hackney in the even more intimate surroundings of Oslo – a music venue above a bar/eatery.  Hitting the stage at about 8:30, Israel Nash was clearly happy to be back in the UK, starting proceedings with the upbeat ‘Lucky Ones‘ off the most recent album ‘Lifted‘.   It was the first of several tracks off that album, although there was a good balance with material from earlier albums. Continue reading “Israel Nash, Oslo, London, 25th January 2019”

Topic 80th Birthday Celebration, Cecil Sharpe House, London, 22nd January 2019

In the ever changing world in which we’re living it’s nice to know that there are some things that can be relied on to hang on in against the odds – and one of those things is Topic Records, which can trace its history back a full 80 years, enabling it to make the bold claim that it is the longest running independent music label in the world. And where better to start a year of celebration of such an iconic folk label than at Cecil Sharp House, the beating heart of English Folk Dance and Song ? Continue reading “Topic 80th Birthday Celebration, Cecil Sharpe House, London, 22nd January 2019”