Americana Music Awards, 31st January, Hackney Empire, London

The final flourish of the Americana Music Association UK (AMAUK) music festival is the Awards night, held in the luxurious surroundings of the Hackney Empire. Unsurprisingly the evening follows a fairly typical award ceremony format, a master of ceremonies, guest presenters to read out the nominees and the actual winner in categories such as “Best Song“, an acceptance speech and then, between awards, a musical spot featuring those nominated somewhere in the evening. This does mean that there’s plenty of music – it’d be a bit odd after all if there wasn’t – but everyone gets just the one song. The full list of award winners can be found here, so this is just a quick impression of the evening and not a full list of every face that appeared. Continue reading “Americana Music Awards, 31st January, Hackney Empire, London”

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018

While there are several “specialist” Americana festivals like Maverick and Ramblin’ Roots, for the Americana fan Cambridge Folk Festival has for many years always had much to offer.  It rightly prides itself on its eclecticism – both Joe Strummer and Nick Cave have played there in the past – and interpreting “folk” very broadly and this year was no different with Patti Smith, Songhoy Blues and St Paul & The Broken Bones all performing. Continue reading “Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018”

Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017

Sometimes the frequent gig goer gets lucky and catches a big performance with a full band in a smaller, more intimate venue that results in a truly fabulous night.  Rhiannon Giddens, on her latest tour, was clearly playing to 1000+ venues with a 7 piece big name band which must have made very little economic sense in the 400 seat Stables.  Built by Cleo Lane and Johnny Dankworth as an intimate jazz venue with phenomenal acoustics, The Stables is a really enjoyable place to see live music – lots of parking and friendly volunteers who staff the hall make it a warm and comfortable music lover’s delight. Giddens has had an amazingly busy year with almost nonstop touring building on the huge success of her Freedom Highway album which was produced by T Bone Burnett and which cemented her departure from the far more roots based Carolina Chocolate Drops.  She has really spread her wings and soared, winning multiple awards and even a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation worth $625k. Continue reading “Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017”