Rock Island Line 65th Anniversary, Cadogan Hall, London, 13th July 2019

There’s no real reason why in the mid-1950s a form of music already more or less forgotten in its homeland should have got a revival in the UK. Yet the short-lived Skiffle craze – a wild blend of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, country blues and folk – has a lot to answer for: out went the jazz bands and the piano-led ballads, the light music of a previous generation and in came a wild form of guitar-based folk music. And recycled American folk music at that. And it was Lonnie Donegan who kick-started it all with his recording of Rock Island Line on the 13th of July 1954 – exactly 65 years prior to this portmanteau concert. Continue reading “Rock Island Line 65th Anniversary, Cadogan Hall, London, 13th July 2019”

Black Deer adds Billy Bragg and Yola to the line-up

Black Deer is our americana festival of choice at the moment, boasting as it does a stellar lineup featuring americana and country artists from every bit of the genres, and today they’ve announced more names for the return to the picturesque Eridge Park this June. Billy Bragg, Yola, Ethan Johns and more will join Band Of Horses, John Butler Trio, The Staves, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Mavericks and Neko Case for the weekend. Continue reading “Black Deer adds Billy Bragg and Yola to the line-up”

Bread and Roses musical features songs of Joe Hill

A new musical is coming to Oldham, not that we generally run stories on musicals here at AUK, but this one is worth a mention, featuring as it does the songs of Joe Hill, more on him in a moment. ‘Bread & Roses’ is a new play by writer Ian Kershaw, based on the real-life story of the huge mill workers strike – led, and won, by women – in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA, in 1912., described as “an uplifting new play about hope; it follows the story of Lucy-Rose Atkins as she navigates the strike, facing love, loss, lies and deceit, and using her fierce intelligence to make the journey from unskilled worker to impassioned leader.”  Continue reading “Bread and Roses musical features songs of Joe Hill”

The Long Road announces additions to line-up

The new country, Americana and roots festival The Long Road has announced a second wave of artists today for its inaugural event which takes place in Leicestershire from 7th-9th September. Joining the likes of Lee Ann Womack, Billy Bragg, Angaleena Presley, The Shires, Catherine McGrath, The Wandering Hearts, Una Healy and Danielle Bradbery will be a string of US country acts including Joshua Hedley (whose new album we were preening over last week), Charlie Worsham, Elizabeth Cook, Caroline Spence, Zack Logan, Dori Freeman and American Young, chart-topping British duo Ward Thomas, slide guitarist and singer Luke Winslow-King, Texas-born singer-songwriter Jarrod Dickenson, as well as Swedish guitar duo Dimpker Brothers and Liverpool-born former lead singer of pop band Lawson, Andy Brown. Continue reading “The Long Road announces additions to line-up”

The Long Road Festival launches with Lee Ann Womack, Billy Bragg and more

We’re doing well for americana tinged festivals this year and today there’s the announcement of another one which says it’s bringing the “sounds of the country music scene to the UK” but actually has a broader line up than that makes it sound, but in a nice way. Taking place within the grounds of Stanford Hall in Leicestershire from September 7th – 9th 2018, The Long Road will present one of the UK’s largest, most authentic celebrations of country, Americana and roots music featuring five stages of live performances, bespoke food “events” (egg and spoon race?) and a wide range of themed outdoor activities. Continue reading “The Long Road Festival launches with Lee Ann Womack, Billy Bragg and more”

Billy Bragg “Bridges Not Walls” (Cooking Vinyl, 2017)

2017 was a tumultuous year, Brexit and Trump providing an endless spectacle of rancour and discord, right wingers on the march, reason stifled by media barons (aside from those accused of printing “fake news”).  Billy Bragg, a voice of conscience since day one, pondered, “What’s a singer -songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way we see the world?” His answer was to write these six songs, released as recorded over the year and now handily gathered together. Continue reading “Billy Bragg “Bridges Not Walls” (Cooking Vinyl, 2017)”

Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017

A rainy night in Islington is the setting for this second appearance by Billy Bragg at the elegant Assembly Hall. This has been billed as the Bridges Not Walls Tour – and there’s a new EP of the same name with a set of commentaries on today’s political situation. It’s a delayed reaction to Brexit and the election of Trump. Delayed, as Billy Bragg ruefully acknowledges, because whilst the world was being turned upside down he was out on tour singing songs about trains with a more and more depressed Joe Henry, and thinking long and hard about skiffle for his recent book. Continue reading “Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017”

Billy Bragg: “music can make connections in these divisive times”

A really nice comment piece in the i newspaper today from Billy Bragg in which he talks about music having the power to heal the wounds of Brexit.  He writes: “Although the Leave campaign was victorious in the EU referendum, the slim margin of their victory undermines their claim to speak for the British people as a whole. Brexit has split the country into warring camps, who seem only able to respond to one another with, at best, indifference and, at worse, outright abuse. Continue reading “Billy Bragg: “music can make connections in these divisive times””

Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month

Billy Bragg, currently in North America for the first leg of his ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour, has released his new single Saffiyah Smiles which you can see the video to below.  The song is a rousing Hammond-drenched country soul shuffle written by Bragg and was inspired by the bravery of Saffiyah Khan who smiled benignly in the face of the incensed leader of the far-right group the English Defence League at an anti-immigrant demonstration in Birmingham (UK) in April ’17; a photo of her action immediately went viral on social media. Continue reading “Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month”