CC Smugglers + All Our Exes Live In Texas, The Cookie, Leicester, 4 November 2017

Although it was a Saturday and therefore de facto Bonfire Night a good-sized crowd piled into the basement of the Cookie and were rewarded with an outstanding evening.  Despite their name openers All Our Exes Live In Texas are from Sydney, Australia and are a delightful blend of folk and Americana.  The female four piece deliver gorgeous harmonies and some great songs while not taking themselves too seriously, happy to laugh at the odd on-stage fluffing of chords or telling of pointless stories.  They clearly enjoy themselves and the crowd respond to them.  Hopefully this won’t be their last visit to either Leicester or the UK. Continue reading “CC Smugglers + All Our Exes Live In Texas, The Cookie, Leicester, 4 November 2017”

Slaid Cleaves, Hitchin Folk Club, Hitchin, 8th October 2017

A welcome return of the American troubadour to the Hitchin Folk Club for the last night of his UK tour – although he still had several weeks in Europe and the USA to go before he finally headed for home. On this excursion Cleaves was accompanied on electric guitar by M.C. Hanson of Danish band The Sentimentals, whose list of collaborators reads like an Americana Who’s Who.  Slaid Cleaves has a new album – the excellent Ghost on the Car Radio – to promote, but he opened the first half of the gig with what amounted to a greatest hits set. Continue reading “Slaid Cleaves, Hitchin Folk Club, Hitchin, 8th October 2017”

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Albert Hall, Manchester, 25th October 2017

The resplendent setting of a former Methodist hall in central Manchester was a suitable venue to welcome Jason Isbell back to these shores and an expectant congregation of devotees were not disappointed by an evening that showcased perfectly the strengths of one of America’s finest artists and his excellent band. Continue reading “Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Albert Hall, Manchester, 25th October 2017”

Jesse Dayton +James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band, Stereo, Glasgow, Wednesday 25th October 2017

“It might get loud in here,” Jesse Dayton’s opening words on arriving on stage for this hotly anticipated gig. He wasn’t kidding. From the moment he and his two sidekicks slammed into Daddy Was A Badass, the bass drum was thumping in my chest while Dayton’s guitar was a direct attack on the eardrums, a cracking start to one of the most energetic shows of the year so far.  Holy Ghost Rock’N’Roller followed in similar hi octane fashion, a distorted wall of sound blasting from the stage before the band paused for Jesse to say hello to the crowd, greeting some old friends and their old T-shirts. The Way We Are then lurched into sight, its outlaw country beat loping along with Dayton’s guitar squawking like a chicken at times. Continue reading “Jesse Dayton +James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band, Stereo, Glasgow, Wednesday 25th October 2017”

Dweezil Zappa, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10th October 2017

Dweezil Zappa could just be the finest current example of a chip off the old block in the world of rock and jazz. Not that there’s anything wrong in the slightest with tribute bands, but Dweezil playing his Dad’s inventive music is in a different class entirely. He seems almost to channel Frank’s guitar and yet also has a style all his own, albeit one that draws on and takes inspiration from his musical heritage. ‬ Continue reading “Dweezil Zappa, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10th October 2017”

Glasgow Americana Festival, 4th – 8th October 2017

Now in its 11th year, Glasgow Americana brightened up the dark nights coming in as we prepare for winter. Over five days the festival provided a strong set of concerts which showcased some of the brightest talents from the Scottish roots scene along with the usual complement of visiting stars. Altogether over 20 acts appeared at several venues across the city with many of the shows selling out, the venues including converted churches, a brewery, tiny pub back rooms and, according to Michael Weston King of My Darling Clementine, a squash court. As often happens when such a lot of music is squeezed into such a tight time line there were clashes meaning your correspondent had to forego some shows however online comments and actual chat with those who had gone to those shows beamed back with positive smiles and thumbs up. There was a fine mix of standard gigs featuring a headliner along with a couple of portmanteau shows offering a range of acts playing shorter sets. Continue reading “Glasgow Americana Festival, 4th – 8th October 2017”

The Glass Mountains, Folk Modern – Upstairs at the Ritzy, Brixton, 5th October 2017

“If life were a hotel, then I’d be checking out right now,” sings young frontman Owen Davies. A little extreme for a 25 year old maybe, but All kinds of Trouble, written by one of the more senior members of the band, is delivered with credible sincerity by Davies. The Glass Mountains are slightly incongruous in this folk club atop the Brixton branch of the Picturehouse boutique cinema chain. It’s Americana-UK’s first trip to the club and I imagine that the band’s Stetsons and denim shirts are not de-rigueur for this monthly showcase. Continue reading “The Glass Mountains, Folk Modern – Upstairs at the Ritzy, Brixton, 5th October 2017”

Micah P Hinson, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 29th September 2017

Micah P Hinson is a bundle of contradictions – on the one hand he’s a slightly agitated and nervy stage presence, but he also happily makes if not on-stage rants then at least tirades. He’s stick thin and has a youthful demeanour which belies his thirty seven years, and  – even though one knows this in advance – still quite surprisingly from this slight frame he sings in a deep baritone. And the songs: carefully constructed yet performed solo in an almost deconstructed way. Continue reading “Micah P Hinson, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 29th September 2017”

Jon Boden, Cecil Sharp House, London, 3rd October 2017

October was kind to us – although Cecil Sharp House has many performance sized rooms this particular gig was pitched in the garden space. With the wall and trees of the garden as a fairy-light lit backdrop in the fading Autumn light, and with a bonfire lit in a large oil-drum brazier, the scene had been set for an intimate micro-gig, with just forty or so attendees. Jon Boden accompanied himself on guitar and concertina, backed up by a string trio of Violin, Cello and Viola (Kiki Chen, Lucy Revis, Helen Bell). Without microphones the sound was augmented solely with the crack and spits from the fire as well as the rising and falling background street noise. Continue reading “Jon Boden, Cecil Sharp House, London, 3rd October 2017”

Thea Gilmore, Winchester Science Centre Planetarium, 22nd September 2017

The unique and atmospheric venue that is the Planetarium at The Winchester Science Centre was the setting for Thea Gilmore to showcase her new and critically acclaimed album, The Counterweight. If such a very different stage was always likely to provide the sell-out audience with a memorable evening then that was further guaranteed when Friday evening chaos on the M3 led to what must be the most bizarre warm up ever for a gig – a stomach churning 360-degree feature film projected onto the dome roof, We Are Stars, spanning the formation of hydrogen, nuclear fusion in stars, formation of asteroids, our own solar system and evolution of life from the very first cells. Continue reading “Thea Gilmore, Winchester Science Centre Planetarium, 22nd September 2017”