Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017

Late spring London was showing off its finery on an exceptionally warm evening, whilst Lori Cullen was inside the Islington Assembly Hall as opening act for Ron Sexsmith, singing her light jazzy songs – some of them co-writes by her husband and Ron (who provided the lyrics) – that make up her new album. The inattentive and chatty audience aside, it’s the perfect gentle scene setter for the main man. Ron Sexsmith is, of course, a songwriter deep in the tradition of the craft – if I was the kind of person who used the phrase I might say Old School – hell, he even has a slide show from a genuine slide projector to accompany his set. Continue reading “Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017”

Kilkenny Roots Festival, 28th April – 1st May 2017, Kilkenny, Ireland

This was the second time your intrepid reporter has attended the annual celebration of all things good in Roots and Americana music that’s held in the beautiful city of Kilkenny in Ireland and now that it’s done and dusted, I can only scratch my head and wonder why only twice? Arriving on the Friday afternoon the first stop was Cleeres bar and on entering a pint of the local ale was thrust into my hand amidst many welcoming cries. It’s that kind of weekend. Folk I’d met once before at last year’s fest instantly said hello, some were veterans who have been attending since the nineties, some fellow newbies and soon we were all perusing the festival programme and working out our itineraries. Continue reading “Kilkenny Roots Festival, 28th April – 1st May 2017, Kilkenny, Ireland”

Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017

Sixty seconds into show opener Rose Colored Blues and the famously hard to please Borderline feet were tapping. Quite an achievement for an Americana songsmith faced with a London crowd of semi-interested drinkers with a copy of Time Out in one hand and a pint of Pride in the other, but Andrew Combs cuts through mediocrity. There were certain factors on his side tonight for sure. The sound was as smooth as his Southern drawl. From my location at the bar it sounded like a band which blended together like a fine single malt. Continue reading “Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017”

Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson, Green Note, London, 4th May 2017

The Green Note was proving, and not for the first time, that its stage is just a little bit bijou – even for a duo. If that duo has several guitars, a drum kit and a ragtime washboard then that’s a lot that needs packing into a small space. The plus side to this, and what keeps people coming back time and again, is that the rest of the venue is to scale – meaning that you’re virtually on stage with Hat Fitz and Cara. Intimate isn’t up close and personal enough of an adjective. Continue reading “Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson, Green Note, London, 4th May 2017”

The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017

There is a legend among Thames boatmen of a ghost ship, a vessel shrouded in darkness plying the grey river in the night. On board a band plays, guests revel and the music drifts out across the river. The Blinding Lights are not that band but I could understand what they were trying to create here. Continue reading “The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017”

Robert Cray, Cadogan Hall, London, 3rd May 2017

It was a dismal, cold night with an ever present threat of rain that brought Robert Cray to London’s plush Cadogan Hall – it’s a converted church, and tonight it was a Temple to the Blues. Cray returned to London with a three piece backing band – the dread-locked and barefoot super-cool bass player Richard Cousins, keyboard maestro Dover “Whitecliffs” Weinberg and the passionate and inventive Terence Clark on drums. And up front, flanked by Matchless Speakers, was of course Robert Cray – belying his age, dressed in his trademark “preppy” style, he looks younger than his 63 years. Continue reading “Robert Cray, Cadogan Hall, London, 3rd May 2017”

Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017

This was the first of three nights at The London Palladium, and this pretty theatre is by far the smallest venue I’ve ever seen Dylan in with just a 2,2866 capacity: Wembley Arena or The Dome this is not. Which means that even up in the Upper Circle the seats aren’t really that far from the stage – probably equivalent to being a dozen rows back in the stalls. The view of the stage – and hence the view of the band – is just perfect. Even during dimly lit sections it’s possible to pick out Dylan’s facial asides to the band – well, when they aren’t obscured by his wide brimmed hat. Continue reading “Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017”

Curse of Lono, The Water Rats, London, 20th April 2017

Curse of Lono’s show at The Water Rats was a launch for their anticipated debut album Severed. The venue has a rich history, Marx and Lenin are both reputed to have frequented the place during their respective times in London and Bob Dylan played his first UK show here in 1962. This, coupled with the band sharing their name with a Hunter S Thompson book, led me to wonder whether to expect something unusual, intellectual, dangerous or deranged.  What I got was a bit of each from Curse of Lono, a London based five-piece band consisting of Felix Bechtolsheimer and Neil Findlay both from Felix’s former band Hey Negrita, plus Joe Hazell, Charis Anderson and Dani Ruiz Hernadez. Continue reading “Curse of Lono, The Water Rats, London, 20th April 2017”

BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017

The church has a profound effect on some people. For BC Camplight it drove him to greet his audience with a handshake at the south porch as they left. Earlier I wasn’t too sure Camplight was an artist just right for Americana UK but soon my fears were relieved when I spotted a writer from a rival website tapping away on his Samsung in the opposite corner. And then Camplight played Your Cheating Heart, a foot stomping version on the church piano that he used throughout the set. Continue reading “BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017”

Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017

The schedule of a touring musician is a thing of mystery at times.  Here we find Kelly Sloan, one of what seems to be a never-ending stream of talented singer-songwriters emanating from Canada, playing to a rapt audience at the wonderfully welcoming and intimate setting of The Bellows at The Wheelwright Arms in Colyford, East Devon (population 550). The next steps on her tour; Milan and various stops around Italy, Sicily, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Credit for how Colyford became a part of that itinerary is down to establishment hosts Mark Newton and Kirstin Reynolds who, judging by the posters of past and future headliners adorning the walls, have an irresistible lure to the discerning musician. Continue reading “Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017”