Live Review: Saturday at Ramblin’ Roots Revue, Bucks Students’ Union, High Wycombe – 15th April 2023

Rober Vincent, Ramblin' Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Saturday’s headliner at Ramblin’ Roots, Robert Vincent, told AUK: “It’s good to be back around everyone, seeing all these musicians together again.”  Indeed, there’s still a particular and renewed sense of the communal joy to be found at festivals as we emerge from under the shadow of the pandemic.  Events like Ramblin’ Roots can’t be taken for granted and a special thanks must be given to all involved in organising and running the festival.  There’s much to enjoy about the setup at Ramblin’ Roots, not least the easy access to two bars and plenty of comfortable seating for these old legs.  More importantly, there was some exceptional music on offer this year.  We kicked off at midday with the energetic Matt Owens, formerly of popular folk outfit Noah and the Whale.  In recent years, Owens has collaborated with the likes of Robert Vincent, Elles Bailey and Thea Gilmore while releasing three acclaimed solo records.  In fact, he said Vincent was meant to be joining him on the stage but was still on the motorway.  Instead, Hannah White made a guest appearance and was introduced as adding, “…a bit of class to the set.”  Owens’ performance was full of energy and genuine, infectious enjoyment.  ‘Go Easy On Yourself’ from his recent album ‘Beer For the Horses’ was particularly effective with a strong rhythm and bass providing the foundation for Owen’s guitar solo and harmonica.  Another highlight was ‘Heal Up Alright’ from Owens’ second record, ‘Scorched Earth’.  This featured emotional vocals, a terrific languid solo and a dreamy layer of keys.  ‘Too Far Gone’ from his debut had quieter moments and then bursts of energy.  Introduced with humour, Owens explained it was a song about running cocaine out of Ireland in a guitar amp.  ‘Cargo for the Road’ had a really atmospheric beginning before the drums kicked in and gave the song real power.  ‘Hungover in New York’ and ‘300 Shows’ featured rasping vocals and wailing guitar before Owens closed his set with a raucous, full-sounding number from the first album.  This was a really powerful opening set for Saturday at the festival.

Matt Owens, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

One of the positive things to note about Ramblin’ Roots is that the sets on each stage are organised so that they don’t overlap – there are no difficult choices to be made about which acts you’ll see and which you won’t.  You can see everything you want to see.  Next up was Holly Carter in the Whiskey Saloon.  An AMAUK Instrumentalist of the Year-winner, Carter is a really gifted player and although she said she was feeling groggy from too much whisky and a 4:00am finish on Friday night, it didn’t show at all in her performance.  The talk between her songs was good-humoured and informative.  One of the most notable songs was ‘Idolise’ about the ‘priests only’ parking space she’d seen outside a church which one day had a swanky BMW in it, a sight that inspired the tuneful groove of this song.  Throughout her set, Carter displayed nimble finger-picking skills and effortless, tuneful vocals.  ‘The Ashes of Joe Hill’, ‘Casey Jones the Union Scab’ and ‘Our Hands Are Tied’ was an exceptional sequence of songs, each of which was given a full introduction by Carter who discussed the relevant histories of union movements and protestors.  Note that all proceeds from any downloads of ‘Casey Jones the Union Scab’ from Bandcamp will be donated to the RMT’s strike fund.  Appropriately, Carter finished with the rolling rhythm of the Lead Belly song ‘John Henry’.  Again, this benefited from her confident, clear vocal and it was an upbeat end to an impressive showing.

Holly Carter, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Holly Carter then made her way over to the main stage swiftly to play bass for Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers, who had stepped in last minute to cover for the unwell Tony Poole.  Additional support was provided by Hannah White, who was dutifully supplying drinks to the musicians on stage.  One of Stodart’s standout songs was ‘Ain’t No Woman’ from 2016 album ‘Pieces’.  She described this as, “…dedicated to all the badass women in the music industry.”  Its slow beat and her dreamy vocal, cracking with emotion, were really atmospheric.  On ‘Push and Pull’, a song dedicated to her daughter and the conflict between being a mum and putting work into other passions, Stodart’s voice was ethereal, drifting through a gorgeous tune, almost spoken at times.  A pulsing bass emerged, in and out, mirroring the song’s theme.  Stodart talked of delays to her new record, thanks to lockdowns, and the long roller-coaster journey towards its release in September.  She noted that, during this difficult period, some people were like radiators and others were like drains before launching into ‘These Bones’, which felt more raw and open, with swirling percussion sounds and a great guitar solo.  Hannah White joined Stodart on stage for an excellent vocal performance.  Another high point was ‘Night Owls’, on which Stodart once again demonstrated her great vocal range, her voice really soaring.

Michele Stodart, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Kevin Michael Duggan performed on the Whiskey Saloon stage, opening with the plaintive ‘Who’s to Know’.  Played on his electric guitar, this was gorgeously tuneful and a great vehicle for his characterful voice.  His tales of love, loss and life’s trials are summed up in the lyrics, “Love’s a losing game.”  Originally from New England and now living in Nashville, Duggan has also lived in the UK and spent many years touring Europe in bands like Empty White Circles and Loud Mountains with his brother Sean.  Switching between his electric and acoustic guitars, Duggan played songs about living in Nashville, moving house, quitting your day job, which were all relatable and well-told tales with a touch of grit in his tuneful vocal.  The highlight of the set, back on the electric, was ‘Propane City’.  Duggan told us that he’s finally made a solo record in Oklahoma City and this is to be the first single in June.  He sang earnestly, “That’s how you know when to fall in love,” with a catchy, radio-friendly melody.  Throughout the set, he was thankful and shared positive messages about empathy and respecting one another.  Striking out alone after years in bands is tough but Kevin Michael Duggan may be one to watch.

Kevin Michael Duggan, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

The Rosellys are a real family affair fronted by Rebecca and Simon Rosellys, who between them deliver vocals, guitar, banjo and fiddle.  The band is completed by Simon’s father on pedal steel and accordion and a father/son rhythm section comprised of Matt Kirby on bass and his son George on drums.  Their combination is a enjoyable blast of country and they appeared to be having just as good a time on the stage.  They opened their set with ‘Cocaine Train’ from 2011 album ‘Too Much Like Trouble’.  This was a tremendously upbeat start that made you want to dance, with the highlight being some soaring, intricate fiddle playing from Simon Rosellys.  This was followed by ‘Lafayette, Louisiana’ from last year’s ‘On the Porch’, a song that transports you right across the Atlantic.  Things slowed down for the more gentle ‘Innocent’, which featured a lovely harmonising vocal and sweetly, swaying pedal steel.  Over the course of the rest of the set, The Rosellys displayed boundless energy, especially on closing song ‘You Ain’t Gotta Go Home’ with fast fiddle and a catchy melody sweeping the crowd along.

The Rosellys, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Norwegian songwriter Ole Kirkeng proved popular in the Whiskey Saloon.  It was his first time performing in High Wycombe and his bright blend of folk and indie-pop won over the crowd.  ‘Still On My Mind’ was a great introduction to his work – a full sound, a busy, engaging vocal melody and outstanding slide guitar.  A touch of harmonica also enriched this upbeat song.  There were more tender and delicate songs in amongst the upbeat numbers but what they all had in common was Kirkeng’s ear for a catchy melody and lovely harmonies.  That slide guitar was again excellent on the song ‘Million Miles’, woozily slipping up, down and around a glorious vocal tune.

Ole Kirkeng, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Jerry Joseph is one of the best live acts you’ll ever see.  He performs with the energy and character of a full band, even when he’s alone, and he loses himself utterly in the music taking us with him.  Full disclosure: I’m a fan and somewhat biased and this was the second night in a row I was privileged to watch him play, having spent Friday evening at The Smokehouse in Ipswich, an intimate venue that he filled with his stories, attitude and sound.  His shows can be overwhelming and emotional – his set at Maverick a couple of years ago was one of the very best festival performances I’ve seen.  An early highlight tonight was a rousing rendition of ‘Days of Heaven’, a glorious, driving song from ‘The Beautiful Madness’, one of the best albums of recent years.  The sense of urgency in this song and the way it builds and builds, is so captivating and convincing.  There was a rare and impactful performance of ‘Dead Confederate’, a powerful anti-racism song written from the point of view of a confederate statue being torn down.  On Joseph’s album, Jason Isbell and Patterson Hood contribute to the song, here, Joseph might be alone but his performance filled the stage with emotion.  Afterwards, he announced, “That wraps up the dance portion of the show,” to laughter released from the crowd after such a serious song.  Again, there was an insistent, compelling rhythm in his performance of ‘San Acacia’, a song about drug cartels and the unexplained disappearance of huge numbers of women in Mexico.  The atmosphere created by the song was dark, reflecting the subject matter, and Joseph said, “If you’re going to murder innocent people, it’s always best to have God on your side.”  In his interactions with the crowd, Joseph announced that he’s been recording a new album with Eric Ambel in New York.  He shared the endearing attempts at jokes and banter with the New York musicians with their Springsteen records.  It turned out he was talking to Charlie Giordano, a member of the E Street Band, and Jeremy Chatzky, who has also recorded with The Boss, most notably on ‘The Seeger Sessions’.  The new record, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’, will certainly be one to look forward to in the coming months.  He went on to play a new song ‘Twenty Twenty Moons’.  Jerry Joseph finished up with an utterly intense performance of an older track, ‘Climb to Safety’, during which he paced the stage, shouting out between verses, eyes closed and lost in the music.  The extended version of this song rumbled to a dramatic conclusion and was worth the entrance fee alone.  Jerry Joseph performs with huge emotional power, the emotion pouring from him and he brings a rare level of energy to the stage.  After his show, Jerry was humble and gracious, chatting and signing records, sharing stories about life on the road and the impact of ‘The Beautiful Madness’ on his audience in the UK, where he’s enjoying playing and picking up new fans – a fresh challenge after decades of success in the USA.  Check out a brief Q&A with Jerry Joseph below.

Jerry Joseph, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Prinz Grizzley took to the Whiskey Saloon stage with a full band, including a thumping bass and drum rhythm section and the songs were drenched in sweet, sweeping pedal steel.  The opener was the excellent ‘Wide Open Country’, performed live with a strong strum, wailing harmonica and more energy than the recorded version.  There was a particularly fine moment when the instruments fell away and left the band just singing in gorgeous harmony.  The band coped well with a broken lead before delivering a lovely rendition of the rhythmic ‘Nothing Left But Scars’ from the 2020 album ‘To My Green Mountains Home’.  By the end of the set, there was plenty of bluesy stomping, a big sound and songs for dancing to.

Prinz Grizzley, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Portland’s Jenny Don’t & The Spurs got the main stage rocking with some powerful songs.  Throughout, their energy was incredible and their frenetic, blasting blend of rocking rockabilly, classic country twang and cowpunk stylings was totally compelling.  One of their best numbers was the fast-paced ‘Right From the Start’ from the recent EP ‘Lovesick Crawl’.  On this song, the bass guitar was particularly impressive, with fingers flying all over the fretboard.  The slower, radio-friendly ‘California Cowboy’ from ‘Fire on the Ridge’ was also really absorbing, with foot-tapping drums, melodious bass and a high piercing solo.  The title track from that 2021 album had a hugely atmospheric spaghetti western beginning: “As the day is long // and the night is dark // and the road goes on // I’m comin’ home,” before surging into life with propulsive drums and twanging electric guitar.  They maintained the energy with songs like the moody, rocking ‘The Fire’.  Jenny got a laugh from the crowd when she told us that on a previous visit to the UK, when doing merch for another band, they had played at Butlins.   One of the things that was most delightful during this show was seeing Jenny dancing and smiling as she played, showing a real joy in the act of performing and sharing her songs with an appreciative audience.

Jenny Don’t & The Spurs, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Dean Owens was always destined to be one of the main attractions at Ramblin’ Roots thanks to his excellent back catalogue and his 2022 album ‘Sinner’s Shrine’ on which he was supported by members of Calexico.  He opened with the moodily slow and cinematic ‘Companera’.  His voice was warm and understated, but soared at the end.  As on a number of songs that followed, his (astonishingly accomplished) whistling really added to the western, desert vibe.  Next up was ‘The Hopeless Ghosts’ a brilliant tune that was introduced as, “..another miserable song.”  His voice was low as he delivered his impactful lines, “There’s no town that feels like home,” but truly rose up for the repeated, “Home is the road I’m on.”  The superb ‘New Mexico’ was next, one of the first songs that Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico suggested that they record together.  Before singing ‘After the Rain’, Owens had asked if the audience wanted a happy or sad song next,  inevitably, we asked for a sad one – that’s what we all revel in and it’s what he delivers so well.  He said, “There’s no end to the sad songs that I have.  I normally finish with this because if everyone gets depressed then there’s nowhere to go.”  Again, this was beautiful, low and sonorous.  The excellent Jim Maving joined Owens on stage to play slide guitar on the always-popular ‘Southern Wind’, a song that builds atmospherically.  There was a happier song – ‘Land of the Hummingbird’, which features GRAMMY-nominated Gaby Moreno on the record but at Ramblin’ Roots Owens had to perform the duet on his own.  Still a gorgeous song.  Owens interacted with the crowd frequently throughout his show, noting that, “My stories are funnier than my songs!”  He was always engaging and entertaining, bringing his personality to the stage as well as his musicianship.  Owens returned to his powerful whistling often during the set and he joked about having to do it because of not having his trumpet player with him: “I’ve been doing loads of session whistling recently.  It’s something I’d like to do more of because you don’t need to carry anything – just a little case for your lip balm!”  Truthfully, Owens is surprisingly good at whistling and, when an echoing effect was added at his request, it was real Grand Canyon, spaghetti western (though he called it, ‘haggis western’ of course), cinematic stuff as he showed on the mournful ‘Here Comes Paul Newman’.  This was a terrific set and Dean Owens could probably have played all night.  After his show, Dean talked to AUK about his current projects and the festival: “I’m about to go to The Netherlands for a couple of weeks as the next album is coming out on a Dutch label.  I’ve been wanting to do this festival for a while and it was nice to be asked.  It’s great to see them up-and-running again and back to full steam.  ‘Sinner’s Shrine’ has really kicked things on a wee bit for me but I’m nine albums in and a forty-minute set is hard – that’s just me getting started.”  Look out for ‘El Tiradito (The Curse of Sinner’s Shrine)’, the new album due out in May 2023.

Dean Owens, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Jesca Hoop was the penultimate act on the main stage on Saturday night.  Her delicate plucked notes and distinctive vocal offered something quite different, engaging in a very different way from many of the other acts at the festival.  Her words tumbled from her, a stream of ideas and tales told from intriguing perspectives.  An early high point was her performance of ‘Sudden Light’ from last year’s ‘Order of Romance’.  She asked the audience if we are the same or different before answering emphatically that we are the same and noting that this is an important lesson.  Amongst her many interactions with the crowd, she also observed that there were a lot of cowboy hats around the festival and, “…to an American that doesn’t necessarily indicate a listening crowd.”  This was, indeed, a listening crowd and the audience quietly absorbed her thoughtful lyrics and mesmerising and often unexpected sonic journeys.  Another entrancing song with a powerful message was ‘Hatred Has a Mother’, sung with a pure tone over her warm-sounding Gibson; the words are particularly effective: “When you find good people // There’s hands to make good men // Out of our wayward sons // Come join the revolutionary love // Oh, listen up // Oh, give your mirror love.”  Hoop introduced ‘Pegasi’ from the 2017 album ‘Memories Are Now’ as being, “…as close to Americana as I get.  Or folk I guess.  I don’t do anything in a pure kind of way.”  With her fluid, fingerpicked guitar and gentle vocal melody, it was closer to Americana than most of her other material but there was still a strange and rich poetry in her lyrics, a rare and intriguing inventiveness in her ideas and phrasing: “You’ve found a map to my heart // It lead you to the well // You combed at my mane // I’ll wear your saddle and reigns…When we’re in love, we’re alive // You’re the envy of the sky // Every ember wants to ride the supernova // But I fear you’ll see the day // When I’ve endured all I can take // I won’t bend but I will break // Under the weight.”  Towards the end, her voice and guitar rose skywards in an ethereal conclusion.  All her songs were dream-like and hypnotic, a change of pace and quite unlike other performers at Ramblin’ Roots.

Jesca Hoop, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Forty Elephant Gang are a great live act and The Whiskey Saloon bar was packed for their energetic set.  The combination of their voices and their guitars and mandolin sound somehow old and new at the same time.  Their music is a unique blend of Americana and folk influences, yet distinctively British too.  The crowd was immediately involved and invested as the band started with the rhythmic ‘Angela’ before they launched into the 2020 single ‘Songs of Praise’, a sing-along over intricate work on the guitars and mandolin and a really stirring song.  This was followed by the gentler, tuneful ‘Miss You’ a recent single with an uplifting chorus from their 2023 EP ‘The Time We Lost’ ‘Fences’ was introduced as having a, “…life in wartime, lockdown kind of vibe,” which is common to the songs on the new EP.  Perhaps the highlight of their show was the simple beauty of last year’s ‘Magpies’, a song with a gorgeous vocal melody floating over high-pitched finger-picking and a bright strum on the mandolin.  They finished off with ‘Hollow Man Blues’ and a, “…depressing little song,” called ‘Young Man’s Game’, to complete an assured performance through which they will surely have won over some new fans.

Forty Elephant Gang, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Robert Vincent was joined on stage by some fabulous musicians, including Matt Owens and the award-winning guitarist and pedal steel player CJ Hillman.  The award-winning Vincent has released some of the best Americana of recent years and he made a strong start with ‘So in Love’ from the acclaimed 2017 album ‘I’ll Make the Most of My Sins’, with the band providing a rich, full, swirling sound and setting the tone for this headline show.  This was followed up by the tuneful ‘This Town’, which featured lovely, lilting pedal steel from Hillman with Vincent on harmonica.  Like many of the acts throughout the day, Vincent was full of good humour, letting us know that, “It’s been a great day so far.  We’re going to get pissed and get naked at the end, so it’s going to get even better.  Or not.”  Next up was ‘My Neighbour’s Ghost’, again from the most recent record, delivered with a great rolling rhythm and getting everyone moving and swaying.  Vincent slowed things down for ‘The Ending’, a song that demonstrated his great songcraft and was one of the best performances of the day; his voice and Hillman’s pedal steel both fluttered into the sky like glowing embers.  There followed some new songs, including ‘The Insider’, notable for the booming drums and melodic bass and for the how deeply into the music Matt Owens was as he played – it was joyful to watch.  ‘In This Town You’re Owned’ was awarded UK Album of The Year by the AMAUK in 2021 and was voted album of the year by our own readers here at Americana UK.  It’s an incredibly strong, consistent album and many of the night’s songs were drawn from it, including ‘Conundrum’, a real highlight of the show.  The bass was pulsing, with a great solo just before the end.  Matt Owens produced a really forceful strum while Hillman’s slide guitar oozed quality.  Though all the performances and the catchy chorus were superb, the best moment was when the instruments quietened, leaving just Vincent’s engaging vocal.  The high energy was maintained with ‘Riot’s Cry’ from Vincent’s first album.  Hillman and Owens took turns to play extended, breathtaking solos as the band rocked out, a surging sound over which Vincent delivered a high vocal.  There was a lot of fun and laughter on stage, while Vincent said to the crowd, “It’s lovely to be here playing in front of people like you.”  Proceedings slowed for the, “laugh-fest,” of ‘I’ll Make the Most of My Sins’, which had a sing-along chorus.  After more back and forth with the audience, Vincent’s performance was brought to a close with ‘Demons’ from ‘Life in Easy Steps’.  It began with delicate finger-picking and a weary vocal.  More instrumentation was gently introduced, the song slowly swelling.  Then, with a shimmering cymbal and a thudding drum, ‘Demons’ surged into life in an effective climax.  This was an outstanding headline set from an artist at the top of his game, supported on stage by truly gifted musicians.  While that was the end of the festival for me, due to a long journey home, the Clubhouse All-Stars continued into the night on the Whiskey Saloon stage with a tribute to The Beatles.  The sense was certainly that on Friday evening and on Saturday night, for those staying over, a great time was had by all.

Robert Vincent, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

It was unfortunate that I missed so many outstanding acts on Friday and Sunday, including the likes of Our Man in the Field, Pete Gow & The Siren Soul Orchestra, Bennett Wilson Poole and Don Gallardo, all of which were undoubtedly brilliant.  However, the varied and accomplished artists on Saturday delivered a rich and memorable day that I was privileged to experience.  Earlier in the day, CJ Hillman, twice the recipient of the AMAUK Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, had echoed Robert Vincent’s thoughts, telling AUK that there were, “…fantastic artists across both rooms and it’s great to see everyone together.”  That’s a good summary of my hugely enjoyable time at Ramblin’ Roots.  The atmosphere was companionable and appreciative, welcoming and supportive.  The timetable was organised so that music-lovers didn’t have to miss any of the music despite there being two stages, something that was a great relief as having to choose between great artists at festivals is often a challenge.  This was a great festival experience that will live long in the memory and my thanks go out to all involved.  ‘Early bird’ tickets are already on sale for 2024 and we recommend purchasing early and saving a comfy seat or a space right by the stage at this delightfully communal festival.

Jerry Joseph, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

Q&A with Jerry Joseph

Tell us what is was like to play at Ramblin’ Roots.

Well, it was very nice to find it!  Siri fucked me!  I drove over here from Suffolk and I probably drove around here twenty times.  It was nice.  I had no idea what I was doing – I didn’t know it was inside or at a school.  The staff were great and the people were nice.  There were a lot more people than I expected.  I kind of walked out of that dressing room expecting maybe twenty people but it was a good crowd.  Way busier than I expected.

There’s a lot of love for you over here.

I was having an argument with a friend of mine the other night who’s in the music business.  He was like, “Why do you want to work so hard over there?”  Because I’m not really interested in a lot of stuff in the US.  It would be terrible if this was read in Kansas City but I’m kind of like, “I don’t need to go to Kansas City anymore!”  I really like it here and I brought my family last summer.  They loved it and so it’s important to me – I want to keep coming, keep working, and it’s fun to be kind of like a new act after all these years!

Have you been watching any of the other acts here?

I got here literally in time – run, run run!  I know Jenny Don’t – I’ve seen them play.  I want to see Lee Bains.  I listened to that record on the way over here – fucking amazing record.  I’m a pretty big fan of that band.

Who’re you touring with this time around?

No-one.  There’s no support act.  I had a tour late January or February I had to cancel.  I’ve never cancelled in the middle of a tour for health reasons but I ended up in a German hospital for what they said was a massive panic attack.  I’ve never had anything like that.  Are you kidding me – I’ve come back from Afghanistan staring down the barrels of Taliban guns.  Everybody has panic attacks and I thought, “No, no, no.”  I had no idea what it was like.  The German doctors said it was exhaustion and I had to go home.  I didn’t think I could because I was in the middle of a tour but they were like, “Trust us, man, you’ve got to get on a plane and go home.”  So it kind of threw me off.  I haven’t really been playing that many shows at home either.  I’ve been laying pretty low, so it’s nice.  Last night in Ipswich was the first night for a while.  The Jackmormons, my band, and I did a one-week run of shows in Portland.  We do it every year – six nights at this one acoustic venue.  Someone figured it out – without doing shitty songs, we could probably do, easy, ten nights, two sets, no covers, no repeats.  So, the six-night one is kind of funny to do.  I just look at all this material.  After we did that, I just focused on my kids.

So many songs to choose from.  How do you select songs for a festival like this?

This one, I had no idea what I was doing!  I’m still playing some of those ‘Beautiful Madness’ songs.  The rest of it, I’m not sure.  I actually forgot that ‘Tick’ came out!  One reason I’d like to keep playing here is I’d like to get to what I normally do in the states, which is long shows and I cover a lot of material.  Over two or three nights, you won’t get any repeats.  A lot of people here only know me from ‘The Beautiful Madness’ and those songs but that’s not what I’m used to.  The last song tonight was ‘Climb to Safety’.  I don’t play it much in the US because it was a big hit for a band called Widespread Panic, so I got tired of it.  That’s another thing here – I can play all this old material and it’s all new for these people.

Many thanks to Jerry for taking the time to talk to AUK at Ramblin’ Roots.

Robert Vincent & Matt Owens, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)


CJ Hillman, Ramblin’ Roots Revue 2023 (Photo credit: Andrew Frolish)

About Andrew Frolish 1440 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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Excellent review, many thanks for the effort I’m seeing *all* the acts on the day (something we didn’t manage) and writing it all up. We went as three of our favourites- Police Dog Hogan, Starry Eyed and Laughing and Bennett Wilson Poole – were on the bill, and had an excellent time even with Tony Poole’s unfortunate illness disrupting two of those performances. We had so much fun that we’ve already booked for next year – and to think I used to mock people who booked Glastonbury tickets before knowing who was on!

Ken beveridge

I read the Saturday-only review of RRR2023. Brilliant by Andrew Frolish. Had I realised only Saturday was being covered I could have taken copious notes re Friday and Sunday.
I think that there should be something written about the other two days, both for the acts appearing, but also for the promoters. This is mainly from memory and chats with fellow attendees.
Let me know if you think that it’s worth publishing.

The audience erupts in a cheer of sheer admiration as the last song of the set finishes. I wonder if I have already seen the best act of the weekend. Peter Gow and the Siren Soul Orchestra have just come to the end of a marvellous concert. The band have just completed the first performance of the weekend on the main stage at The Rambling Roots Revue 2023 at Bucks Student Union, High Wycombe.
Minutes earlier I had listened to a wonderful half-hour performance on The Whisky Saloon stage by St Catherine’s Child, the stage name of Ilana Zsigmond. Singing her own songs that could have been taking from an Emmy Lou Harris/Linda Ronstadt/Iris Dement playlist she opened the festival with a performance that belied her years.

And that, in a nutshell describes what this festival is all about:

2 stages – one for more acoustic singers and bands and one for louder, more guitar driven bands.
Only one act on at any time.
A high, high, quality line up.

What follows is three days of superb, diverse music (all under the description of roots, americana and alt-country music).
Only spoiled by the news that Tony Poole, due to play with Bennett, Wilson and Poole and Starry Eyed and Laughing is unwell and unable to appear over the weekend.
Get well Tony.


Further shows that evening included a superb set by Hannah White and her band who at the moment can do know wrong, Our Man In The Field whose set seemed a bit subdued, perhaps, due to technical problems, and Police Dog Hogan, who were, to quote Dawes ‘ a little bit of everything.’ Too much so, at times, for my ear.
The evening ended with co-organiser and resident DJ Noel Cornford playing ‘choons’ into the late night.


Today’s events have already been brilliantly covered by AUK reviewer Andrew Frolish.


After a tremendous Saturday of fabulous music Sunday turned out to be a more leisurely day with your writer not taking advantage of the chance to watch and listen to every band. Those that he did see included an awe-inspiring set from Don Gallardo and his band. The Nashville singer plays like he has travelled back to Laurel Canyon in the early 70’s. His band which includes the much-travelled Travis Stock are in great form.

On the Whisky Saloon stage Katy Rose Bennet continues to impress with her inspirational songs and inspired guitar playing. Again, this correspondent was reminded at times of Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny. And once more I could only sit open jawed as she played the thought provoking, She Was Just Walking Home.

Back to the Main Stage. Saturday had seen the brilliant Jerry Joseph deliver a tour-de-force of a set. One commentator has described it as ‘in your face’ music. If that is the case, then the music of Lee Bains And The Glory Fires would have to be described as ‘in your face, shredded through your brain and exploded from the back of your skull’ music! Quiet it is not!
A high tempo, high energy, highly political set, which at times, was just a bit over-the-top for this writer but was received rapturously by the majority of the audience. Many describing it as their highlight of the weekend.

The last band on the Main Stage are Bennet, Wilson sans Poole but avec Joe Bennett. Not forgetting the mighty, too often unsung, drummer Fin Kenny. Ever professional, ever entertaining, ever at one with the audience, this band put on a brilliant end-to-the-weekend set which (almost) made up for the ill Tony Poole. Yes, Tony’s songs and unique guitar sound are hard to replace, but the band were in excellent form throughout singing stuff from both the first and recently released albums. They always seem to have so much fun on stage. Their set seems to end far too quickly, but is probably the longest and (for me) the best set of the weekend.

A brilliant, and now essential, Roots musical festival alongside Kilkenny Roots and Static Roots. The brainchild of Clubhouse Record’s Tristan Tipping and ex Borderline Noel Cornford, the festival succeeds in bringing some of the best and international Roots artists together for a great indoor . The catering stalls are awesome and reasonably priced. As are the two bars – all manned by University Students. Most of the artists stay on for the whole weekend and many take part in the now legendary ‘Clubhouse All-stars.’ Over the last few years they have featured both Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as the featured artist. They are taking suggestions for next year’s showcase.

Ken Beveridge.

Paul Kerr

Hi Ken, thanks for this addendum to our review, much appreciated.