The best gigs of 2019: a personal reflection

“I think that live music is something that the internet can never kill”  – Jim James (My Morning Jacket).  In an age when we can access our favourite music in so many ways and so many forms, for me the best way remains – live. I’m not talking massive stadium or arena gigs, but small and medium-sized venues with character and intimacy. With only a handful of exceptions, these are the places where most Americana artists will ply their trade in the UK. Luckily for me, there are a number of such venues in Manchester providing the opportunity to see top acts for relatively small amounts of money. Continue reading “The best gigs of 2019: a personal reflection”

Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019

Reviewing Caroline Spence’s recentMint Condition album for AUK, fellow writer Rick Bayles awarded it that rare accolade a 10/10 score, describing it as “flawless” and “an early contender for album of the year.” A glowing testimony – but could she deliver the same quality live? The short answer on the evidence of this performance is an emphatic yes…and then some. Accompanied by her long time UK touring guitarist, CJ Hillman, Spence kept an appreciative audience spellbound for the evening with her striking voice, engaging stage presence and above all, a set crammed with songs of the highest quality. Those songs, drawn mainly from ‘Mint Condition’ and its predecessor ‘Spades and Roses’ were the platform for a performance that was, to borrow a word, “flawless”. Continue reading “Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019”

Caroline Spence has tour dates in October

Following the release of her third studio album, ‘Mint Condition’, Caroline Spence returns to the UK for seven dates in October. Having won numerous songwriting awards from industry mainstays like the Kerrville Folk Festival, Spence has long been regarded as a well kept secret on the Americana scene, but the cat is now well and truly out of the bag, with Rick Bayles of Americana UK recently describing ‘Mint Condition’ as a potential album of the year contender: “Repeated listening to this new work reveals it to be a pretty much flawless set of eleven songs, ten of them written by Spence and the eleventh a co-write with fellow artist Ashley Ray.” Continue reading “Caroline Spence has tour dates in October”

Caroline Spence “Mint Condition” (Rounder Records, 2019)

One of the most exciting “new” artists on the Americana scene, Caroline Spence has been making great music for some years now and ‘Mint Condition’ is her third album. It seems hard to believe she’s racking up her third release just as people are just starting to take real notice of her and the talent she brings to her writing and performing. This album may be her best yet; working with producer Dan Knobler and engineer Gary Paczosa who, between them, can boast impressive credits for the likes of Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch and Lake Street Dive among others, Spence has really crafted this album and it shows. Even though our original review copy was an unmastered version the quality just shines through, and subsequent updates with fully mastered tracks add the cherry to the icing. This is a very good album indeed. Continue reading “Caroline Spence “Mint Condition” (Rounder Records, 2019)”

Americana Music Fest 29th January, Hackney, London

Organised by the Americana Music Association UK (AMAUK), the showcase runs at five Hackney Central venues over two nights, culminating in the awards ceremony at hackney Empire on the third evening. It’s a fairly massive undertaking, with almost 60 bands or artists performing half hour sets over the two showcase nights. It links in with the AMAUK music conference, an opportunity for all those involved in this area of the music business to come together and discuss how to promote a genre which it’s fair to say no-one can definitely describe. Continue reading “Americana Music Fest 29th January, Hackney, London”

New Caroline Spence album due in May, in the UK this week

It’s been two years now since from the release of Caroline Spence’s well received last album ‘Spades & Roses’, and she is now prepping the release of her third album ‘Mint Condition’, which will feature guest appearances by Emmylou Harris and Ashley Ray. Continue reading “New Caroline Spence album due in May, in the UK this week”

Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence, The Harrow, High Wycombe, 26th August 2018

It is a healthy sign for the Americana scene in the UK when a smallish pub in the countryside outside High Wycombe attracts 50 people to see an hour and a half of charming live music. Caroline Spence and Robby Hecht each have their own careers and solo albums but obviously they take great delight in writing, recording and gigging together. Their new album, ‘Two People,’ is traditional Americana with warm, personal songs well written and intimately performed. Continue reading “Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence, The Harrow, High Wycombe, 26th August 2018”