Most of you will be stuck into those annoying last minute must listen to x 6 before the end of time, prompted by someone else’s list of obscure and arcane best 20. Give yersels a break, relax, pour a frothy sunday teatime one and shove on some random…. Here’s mine, with a cheeky bottle of Thornbridges’s Jaipur, 1. Las Cuevas/Radio Tarifa, from Temporal (1996). Hadn’t heard this in yonks, hispano-arabic fusion. Rather good. 2. The Lady of Shalott/Loreena McKerritt, from The Visit (1992). A bit of shrill Enyaesque faux folk maudlintronica. Nearly 12 bloody minutes. Beaten into submission by the end, and loving it. I bet @Beany has this. 3. Mustang Sally/Buddy Guy feat. Jeff Beck, from Damn Right I Got the Blues (1991). Hot damn, that’s a cracker. Before Beck became obsessed with juvenile ersatz blues shouters, can’t remember her name. And Buddy really is THE blues Guy in my book. 4. Algo Bueno/Dizzy Gillespie & his Orchestra, from, I am afraid, a compilation, Classic Jazz. Still a good barnstorm tho’ 5. You are Everything/Michael McDonald, from Motown (2003). Cracking song, corking vocalist. Call me cheesy and i’ll call you crackers. Well that was an odd » Continue Reading.
Town Hall, Birmingham
I know I may be writing here an invitation to hatemail, there being many who revere this wellonthewaytobeinganationaltreasure of a band. Indeed I like much of their material, if sometimes finding the saccharine taste in their salty-sour songs a little too cloying. So I was looking forward to the show, my first for them. Having seen clips of their shows when augmented with brass bands to be a delight, the idea of an orchestra seemed not too alarming. Wrongity wrong……… Arriving a tad late, an illness on the train ahead, a euphemism for on the tracks I feel, had meant a 30 minute wait at Erdington, I and others were kept outside in the foyer until a break in performance. You know, like in a real posh concert, not for folk-club hardened veterans used to bar banter as loud as they. OK, I’m harsh, but it annoyed me. That and the tutting of the grey-rinsed pillars of the community I had to squeeze past to get to my seat even more. Still I had but missed the, what do they call it, the overture. I was in time for the delightfully shambolic introductions » Continue Reading.
Nowt to see here
As if the best of year posts aren’t bad enough, the festivals are beginning to leak their 2018 line-ups. As an old folkie at heart, I was looking at Shrewsbury and came across this name, one with which I was unfamiliar,
Blimey!! The ghost of Planxty or what?
OK, maybe not a strict category to foist upon the massive, rather more a heads up to the Nov/Dec RnR (or Rock ‘n’ Reel to older readers) cover disc. Hosted (curated?) by 30 Tigers, a Nashville production and PR company, this is 20 tracks of unadulterated catnip for fans of americana. Jason? Lucinda? Yup, present and correct. Jonh Prine, Son Volt? Them too, with a backline of Ray Wylie Hubbard and Angaleena Presley and a host of others I hadn’t even yet latched onto. Fabbo stuff. WH Smith seems to be the only reliable outlet.
A belated klaxon, or should that be a blown horn, for the above, a warm and cosy 90 minute documentary about the old codgers. Nothing new or earth shattering in content, if with a few new old clips, seguing into current clips the band playing the same songs, genial dudes chatting about a life in folk-rock. Pour a pint of Old Ballsack and enjoy.
Kitchen Garden Cafe, King’s Heath, Birmingham
To think I had neither heard of this band, nor of Ross Wilson, for it/they is he, much more than a month ago, and he having providing a contender for both album and, after tonight, gig of the year. Hat’s both duly tipped to @tiggerlion, @steveT and I set off this cold november sunday, neither perhaps fully in the mood, even if the familiar cosiness of the KGC proved a welcoming, and warm, haven. A brief set from the incredibly spider-fingered Andy Lucas proved a comfortable start. Later to appear with the band, he adeptly tinkled through 5 or 6 numbers, stylistically a little reminiscent of a Randy Newman. The short gap for refreshment and the trio that were BCR tonight came on, the additional pair being Lyle Watt on, mainly, electric guitar, and Wilson himself on vox and acoustic. Kicking off with the delightful lament, Over the Fields, my favourite and the opener from the album, a warm glow provided by the piano/vocals interplay, he then said how the three of them were going to try to play the new album in set » Continue Reading.
O2 Academy, Birmingham
I bloody wish….. Much as I would love to regale you, I had forgotten how much I despise this venue. Doors open 7pm, my arse. We arrived perhaps 10 minutes later, the queue stretching a full 500 yards down the street, in the dreich and drizzle. Immediately the memories of previous queues, of the vile and expensive “choice” of drinks, the no seats left in he upstairs seated bit, the crap views from up there anyway. Enough already. There is a fine boozer nearby, the Victoria. We went there instead. OK, I couldn’t get full price for the tickets from the charming street salesman, but it wasn’t bad. I like London Grammar. Just not enough for the volume of piss this Venue extracts. Peeved, but a good night. Anyone know better?
Cold and wet. Some were old gits like me, poor bastards….
It made me think..
Getting’ too old for this malarkey
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
I have seen this little known troubadour umpteen times over, gulp, the last 42 years, with full bands and on his tod, never quite certain which format I prefer, the squalling howl of his electric or the intricate calisthenics of his acoustic playing. This was the latter, a tour to plug his latest paired recordings, Acoustic Classics 2 and Acoustic Rarities, but by now means confining himself thereto. As with all RT shows, all bets are off as to what he will and is willing to play. Support were Ben Walker and Josienne Clark, R2 Folk Duo award winners of a couple of years back, with a brief set, heavy on mournful emoting and, between songs, heartfelt self-deprecation. As befitting their host, they opened with a stark setting of Reynardine, Clarks voice resonant over Walkers exquisite shimmers of guitar. A short break and on comes Thommo, his uniform of beret and black present and correct, launching straight in, a couple of songs before pausing to engage with the audience. At first I felt he seemed slightly stilted, a good few songs before he relaxed into the warmth of a packed and partisan » Continue Reading.
And I don’t mean fretwankery guitar solos, I mean using the guitar for sounds, for moods, for experience. There seems to be a momentum for largely solo guitar sonics that is a delight. In recent months I have seen Duke Garwood, Ryley Walker and heard/bought the excellent Justin Adams, all of whom seem to favour dense soundscapes over lookatme jiggery pokery. I think all this a renaissance of the instrument, as accomplished as the 60’s/70’s wizards, but without the diddle. Ain’t it great! P.S. Adams went to Eton 5 years ahead of Cameron, D.
Mama Roux’s, Digbeth
I have always rued my missing of the early RW gigs as a duo with Danny Thompson, so when this came up, I was in like a shot. This is the problem with artists who are world famous superstars in the Afterword, because the reality is always so slightly different. As I arrived at the venue, to be ticked off the list of 7 who had pre-ordered, I came to realise I am, as ever, following a niche taste. I think there were perhaps 20 people, stocky men in their prime, much as I, shuffling around in the somewhat bleak surroundings. First on, and already on stage, tuning up, was support, Bill Mackay, who has done some recordings with Ryley, and it was a fine line between the end of tuning and the start of his set. Solo electric guitar without vocal is a tough act to pull off, which I think he did. A bit reminiscent of a recent exposure to Duke Garwood, lots of echo and no shortage of volume, a power play of string plucking, picking and strumming, all sorts of styles incorporated in the same piece, from ragtime to » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Dragging many readers away from a reverie around a slumber party with the Moorer sibs, let me simply say one thing, ain’t it an appealing notion. But that’s not why I came. This is the record Carl and others commented upon some time ago, now out there in release-villa. and it is wonderful. All covers bar one, a harrowing Shelby penned lament to their witness of their parents mutual deaths, this cross genres between the Horrors to Nick Cave, Nirvana to Dylan, by way of current americana golden boy, Jason Isbell, and the Louvin Brothers, with a bit of Townes and Merle for good measure. Exquisitely produced by (that) Teddy Thompson, featuring, amongst others, Belmont Tench on swirling keys, Doug Pettibone, Lucinda’s go-to axeman, on guitars and his dad’s band rhythm section of Michael Jerome and Taras Prodaniuk. It is a delight, transcending their earlier individual forays into cover territory.
What does it all *mean*?
It means I flipping love these girls (women)
Goes well with…
Any of the folk they cover, and anything they have done alone.
Might suit people who like…
Loads of pre-publicity about this, surprised it hasn’t yet gauged a post here, but I sort of can guess why, the spirit for vicious trollfests being o so last year for the current AWer. I have just watched the 4 episodes back to back. I thought it in turn stunning and terrifying, believable and unbelievable, best TV of the year, despite the supposed sensitivities. I can thus fully expect it will not have necessarily appealed to some of our media guardians, small g. So I looked: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4807862/CHRISTOPHER-STEVENS-reviews-Channel-4-s-State.html Am i alone in finding way more offence in the “review” than the programme could possibly offer? Or was that the point?
My hell having duly frozen over I found myself back, after a 15 year gap for my current final visit. 50 years of Fairport seemed a logical opportunity to catch those not already on the ledge, whilst they still can. And I wasn’t disappointed. True, a lot of the time I felt like Charlie Watts, years of, it seemed, hanging around as the flyover acts played, waiting for the next incarnation or variation of the theme to appear. As will become apparent. Arriving at midday on the thursday and there were still plots on field 5, handy both for the field and the Village: Cropredy has an all-encompassing fringe, whereby the 2pubs have their own roster of bands playing over the 3 days, there are stalls filling all available spaces selling festival clothes and records and every available outlet sets up selling breakfast: the school, the cricket club and the canoe club. And the church, which also had a coup, when Ashley Hutchings’s History of Fairport show played to a small throng on friday afternoon. So to the music. Thursday kicked off with a brief set from the acoustic incarnation of Fairport, the current 5 » Continue Reading.
The Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham.
Well, I didn’t think I’d get to this, having had a throat op on saturday, but so glad I did, Chapman being an undoubted bucket list artist of mine, especially given his astonishing renaissance of the past few years. Kitchen Garden Cafe is small, nay, tiny: I counted the tightly crammed chairs as containing perhaps 80 grizzled souls. Chapman is 76 and so seemed many of his audience, creeping out from their Moseley boho attics under cover of dusk. And me. A gushing fanboy came on first, having twisted the promoters arm to play and was politely indulged. The contrast between his fresh face and designer haircut could not have been more extreme, Chapman ambling on in a tyre shop, sorry, “tire” shop, T shirt and baseball cap. First job was to ask the soundman to turn up his guitar, a battered looking acoustic six-string: “I like the sound of my guitar, I’m greedy”, he explained, “but my voice is shit.” The audience dissented, but slightly. Banging straight in with his trademark percussive and rolling picking, sort of John Fahey with tunes, it was a full five minutes, audience » Continue Reading.
Anyone going? Pint and a moan at the bar?
Town Hall, Birmingham
Those of long memory and patience might recall a plaintive post I put up on our predecessor, seeking advice around going to see this duo, afeard as I was of a lynching, on grounds of my gender. Assured, perhaps by Twang(othan) or Vulpes, maybe Steve T, there tonight incidentally, I brewed up my courage and waited this 9 years for their next tour. And I was not disappointed. Supported by Lucy Wainwright Roche, another Wainwright scion, she was charming, witty and self-deprecating. She could sing and play the guitar well too, but I can’t recall a hint of her songs. Even the ones from the record I have. And disarmingly and obviously her fathers daughter, Loudon in a wig being the look. Which is harsh as I warmed to her. Such is the role of a reviewer. A short gap and she was back, albeit alongside a fiddle player, very good, of chinese extraction and interesting hair, the two being the current band alongside Amy Ray (darker hair, lower registers) and Emily Saliers (fairer hair and the higher notes). I have their debut and a couple of others, so was anxious I may » Continue Reading.
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What’s all that about? Some late night blogging and, as I try to reply to @peanuts_malloy, this is my response. Repeatedly. Anyone else?
OK, I haven’t been in alone in the evening at this time of year for a number of years. But I am tonight, and BBC4 are playing the Pretenders. Shying from calling them a heritage act, irrespective of the clearly heritage audience, they have kicked off with all the hits. And, as @jack_the_biscuit would say, I would. Cracking band, with James Walbourne (the Rails) on geetar and a never more Captain Pugwashalike Martin Chambers on drums, i’m loving it! And you?
O2 Institute, Birmingham
At last, 3rd time lucky, I have got to see him, mishap and misfortune interfering during his last 2 trips. And what timing, hot on the heels of strong contender for 2017 album of the year, Gargoyle. First things first, arriving as I did half way through the support, a 2 piece on guitar and drums. Who is this, I asked those about me, too old to read the paper on the wall behind the bar. Nobody knew, but I liked the gothic(k) stuff, evoking the bastard love child of 90’s RT, Night Comes In, with ’67 Doors, The End, but with more distort. Of, course, it suddenly hit me, Duke Garwood, buddy of Lanegan, and it was indeed. Tip top stuff I will be investigating. A short gap and on comes the band, again with Garwood, this time on 2nd guitar, maracas and 2nd keyboards. (To be fair, Lanegan later introduced the whole band, but all I could hear was him clearing his throat.) I love Gargoyle and I love Gravediggers Blues, his last 2 releases in this sort of style, guitar heavy electronica, at least on record. Live it was much » Continue Reading.
Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham
Yup, it was a bit back, but, for reasons I will outlay, the plan had been a reprise this Friday in Derby, but it’s been cancelled. I’m on a bit of a Wobble bender of late, lit up by his magnificent guest appearance with Youth’s Dub Trees outfit at Bearded Theory at the Spring bank holiday w/e. True, the full onslaught of Dub Trees is a barely contained cacophony of drums, guitar, fiddles and pipes, noosed together by computersanddeckslectronica, but topped this night, and their last recording, or bottomed more appropriately, by the dubbiest bassmeister in christendom. Sometimes with 2 basses, when Youth could tear himself from a six string and his mac. I was already a Wobble fan of yore, having seen the original Invaders of the Heart back in the 90s, and bought the odd and end along his journey, free jazz weirdness with Evan Parker, english folk in dub style and collaborations with Bill Laswell and Eno, amongst others. So there I was, parking up outside the H&H at barely 8pm. And he’d already started. Just, but it seemed ever so early. With the first tune being » Continue Reading.
Town Hall, Birmingham
A mere 44 years on from when I saw them last, I and a load of folk of questionable age assembled to see how this particular band was weathering it’s half century. And the answer, notwithstanding only one original member still standing, is not half bad. And not entirely good, but getting there. Gary Brooker is, of course, the man, and, looking a bit like a Buster Merryweather a week or so into growing his beard, both in looks and demeanour, played a corker. His voice, surely up there amongst the great of UK rock vocalists, along with Cocker and Rodgers, is undiminished, higher notes and all, his piano tinkling more overt than on record. Kicking off with a track from the new album, Novum, all promised well, especially with the next song being a beautiful ‘Homburg’, for me a superior song to that song, see later. And so the first half, interspersing old with new. A particular highlight was ‘Strong as Samson’, the glorious back swirl of organ unmistakeable, even if Fisher begat Copping begat, currently Josh Phillips. Guitar, and apparently for decades is Geoff Whitehorn, erstwhile of Back Street Crawler and » Continue Reading.
Royal Albert Hall
Bear with me, I’m still shaking. Sometimes there are gigs that are just OK, sometimes they can be good, sometimes even great. Occasionally, just occasionally there comes one that is an epiphany. Dawes at Shrewsbury Folk was my last. This was another. And sure, the setting helps, but the assuredness with which Kiwanuka and band owned the venue was nothing short of stunning. Let’s skip the lacklustre and muddy sounding support. Knowing from umpteen reviews and youtubes how it would start, that anticipation and excitement was palpable. We were in the choir seats, behind the band, with a fabulous view of the stage being set. Bank of keyboards (5), drum kit, adjacent percussion kit, mini stage for backing vocals, mini stage for strings. Lights down. The strings and keyboards start and play the familiar opening to Cold Cold Heart, a cheer as a shadowy figure slopes on and hangs on his guitar for that perfect lick. As the song progresses so too are the rest of the band arriving, with, a nice touch, a bevy of teenage girls: some sort of choir, to add their swell to the orchestration of this 12 minute » Continue Reading.
The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham
Jings, but it’s been a while since I stepped out for some live, forgetting quite how much I delight and deplore the process. Thankfully this was more the former, a homecoming for the boys of Tuam to what is still one of the bigger cities in the west of Ireland. And by Paddy, they were out in force, all ages, shapes and sizes, mainly generous in all three parameters, at times the room reminiscent of the Craggy Island Farmers Dance. I962. And that was the mood set by the support, as if merseybeat had never happened, a world where all the bands are populated by Richard Hawley lookalikes. They and the ridiculously overpriced piss sold in thin plastic slop jars to refresh the audience provided the downside. Thankfully a brief yet all too long set ended and, just before half nine, on trouped the current six physicians, kicking straight off into a set of favourites, both old and, probably, brand new. With a newish record to promote I am sure some songs were new, but they all sounded familiar and the audience knew all the words, or seemed to. There is something » Continue Reading.
No, not a response to the (otherwise unnoticed by AW) Brits of yesterday, but an ask for folk to pitch in with the albums they didn’t get around to listening to last year. Just been listening to “This is Where I Live” by William Bell and it is every bit as good, better even, than the glowing reviews. If this clip doesn’t melt your ears, try his version of blues standard, Born Under a Bad Sign, which is just sheer blow other versions out the water phenomenal It could have pushed Michael Kiwanuka very close, IMHO, he being my number 1 at the end of year. So what is your later discovered glory?