Wildwood Kin, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 4th March 2018

Wildwood Kin were opening this City Roots Festival gig for Ward Thomas – who would go on to give their expected high gloss pop-country set with only one real surprise to it, that it ran for a shade less than an hour. Wildwood Kin however did their half an hour with as little fuss as possible – the three piece of sisters Emillie on guitar and Beth on bouzouki and keyboards with their cousin Meg between them on a stripped down drum kit suitable for playing standing up. Championed by Bob Harris, Wildwood Kin have toured and recorded with folk hero and fellow Devonian Seth Lakeman, as well as taking support slots with the likes of The Stereophonics. Continue reading “Wildwood Kin, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 4th March 2018”

Tom Robinson, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 1st March 2018

Tom Robinson’s headline mid-week concert was presented as part of the ongoing City Roots Festival, an offshoot of the Cambridge Folk Festival which is presented at several venues across the city in late February and early March. It’s only in the second year of running but has again had an excellent set of gigs lined up. Tonight is, of course, a homecoming gig for local boy Robinson, although judging from the audience there aren’t too many of his youthful contemporaries knocking about. It also marks twenty five years since he played the Cambridge Folk Festival – so a lot of potential points of resonance at the Corn Exchange. Continue reading “Tom Robinson, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 1st March 2018”

The Hanging Stars, the Victoria, Dalston, London, 22nd February 2018

The Hanging Stars brought the sound of summer to the Victoria pub in Dalston on an otherwise cold and dismal February night last Thursday. Launching their sophomore release, ‘Songs for Somewhere Else,’ The Hanging Stars were appropriately accompanied by a mindbending liquid light show from Innerstrings which acted as a perfect counterpoint to their music – described by the band as ‘cosmic psychedelic country folk soul.’ Continue reading “The Hanging Stars, the Victoria, Dalston, London, 22nd February 2018”

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Omeara, London, 15th February 2018

Largely due to the success of the crowd rousing (and Father Jack like) ‘S.O.B.’ their “gimme a drink” song, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats self titled debut LP sold over a million copies. They were catapulted from Colorado bars to this year’s upcoming Stateside tour of arenas and amphitheatres – The Greek, Red Rocks et al – and more locally soon, three nigh on sell out shows at Shepherds Bush Empire. Continue reading “Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Omeara, London, 15th February 2018”

Will Varley, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 9th February 2018

It’s taken Will Varley nearly 15 years to cross Shepherds Bush Green, from where he used to play at Ginglik (a venue in a converted Edwardian public toilet at the other end of the roundabout) to the Shepherds Bush Empire, a venue he would pass walking home after playing there. Tonight Varley took to the Empire stage on his own with just his acoustic guitar and launched into ‘As For My Soul‘ and received an immediate response from the enthusiastic crowd with a sing-a-long on his first song of the evening. Continue reading “Will Varley, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 9th February 2018”

Susto, Omeara, London, 6th February 2018

Is there anybody in there? / Smoking weed with God.” The song, ‘Waves,’ the fifth in their set tonight, typifies much of where Justin Osborne’s head is at: namely, in songs about his drug taking past and the religious undertones of what’s described as “soul loss” (the loose translation of the Latin American term, Susto). All that – and maybe the search for some kind of meaning in an increasingly complicated and troubled world. Continue reading “Susto, Omeara, London, 6th February 2018”

Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 30th January 2018

Like any band that has been playing together for over a decade Deer Tick have seen an evolution of their music, most strikingly laid out on their recent eponymous twin album release which share common artwork of a pair of condiment jars, with the mood of the two albums split between the folkier and more acoustic “ketchup” and the electric flair of “mustard“. New albums always shape a band’s set, even more so with a double albums worth. Deer Tick’s solution to keeping a balanced set list when they have so much new material also shapes the structure of the gig itself. Continue reading “Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 30th January 2018”

The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018

It’s the last night of Celtic Connections and the big guns are wheeled out for this packed show at The Old Fruitmarket. The doors opened one hour before the support band were due on and by the time your scribe arrived there already was a good crowd packed up front, camped out as it were in order to get a close up view of The Mavericks, and an odd crowd, not one you’d expect at a Celtic Connections gig. Although there were no pink Stetsons on show this was the type of crowd you’d get at a Dolly Parton concert, star quality drawing in the paying public who want a good time and a good time was what the headliners delivered tonight. Continue reading “The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018”

Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018

Supporting the always excellent Mary Gauthier, East Nashville native Aaron Lee Tasjan promoted his excellent ‘Silver Tears‘ album with a troubadour’s turn here. Just him and his guitar….and what a revelation. ‘Silver Tears‘ is a great album and it is beautifully produced couching some great songs with some strong instrumentation and harmonies but here, stripped back, they sound wonderful, unadorned and spontaneous. This is enabled in no short measure by a fabulous set of pipes which Tasjan uses to full effect. Holding notes and bending melodies in a style not unlike Arlo Guthrie or on occasion John Sebastian of whom there is a hint in the sartorial style of embroidered waistcoat, jeans and some killer boots! Continue reading “Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018”

Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018

Tickets for this Celtic Connections show sold out almost as soon as the gig was announced with both artists noted as the up and coming guys to watch. Wall’s debut album was helmed by the current in vogue producer Dave Cobb while Childers’ debut is produced by a man who has benefitted from Cobb’s studio craftwork, Sturgill Simpson. With both men playing solo sets it was instructive to see their very different approaches to country and folk music and while Wall was the headliner it was Childers who folk were talking about afterwards. Continue reading “Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018”