Page 1







Tour Dates


On Tour






Anais Mitchell, Joanne Shaw Taylor 14










The Old Brass Harp


Sandy Hill


The Burns Unit


Otis Gibbs


Mollie Marriott


Nashville Welcomes CMA Festivities


A Country Strong Premiere


An Early CMA Country Christmas


Gary Fletcher


Miranda Lambert


RW Hampton



Riley Puckett



CD Reviews Contents Page


CD Reviews: New Releases


CD Reviews: Dusty Relics


Short Cuts


Buck Owens Book Review






N U M B E R O N E H U N D R E D J A N U A R Y 2 011



MAVERICK maverick


NEWS Sharon Corr Apology In the December issue of Maverick we inadvertently used a photograph of Tia McGraff in mistake for a photograph of Sharon Corr. We apologise to Sharon Corr and to Tia McGraff for this unfortunate error. It would seem that both photographs were sent through to us as jpeg attachments and were named by just numbers and one of our work experience students was renaming them and assumed that they were both photos of Sharon—the similarity is quite striking. Here is the photograph of Sharon Corr that we should have used.

Maverick Magazine to go Online and Digital only Editor: Alan Cackett Contributors: John Atkins, Brian T. Atkinson, Simon Beards, Laura Bethell, David Brassington, John Brindle, Charlotte Bones, Tony Burke, Keith Clark, Tony Clarke, Alex Cleary, Jonathan Clore, Paul Collins, Adrian Cooke, Neil Dalton, Nick Dalton, Hazel Davis, Nick Dent-Robinson, Patrick Donaghy, Pete Fyfe, Stu Gibson, Ian Grundy, Jamie Hailstone, Alan Harrison, Andrew Heaps, Russell Hill, Sara Hunt, David Jones, Helen Keen, Larry Kelly, Paul Kerr, Bob Kilbey, David Knowles, John Lees, Greg Lewry, Sean Marsh, Steve McCormick, Cathal McLaughlin, Michael Mee, Helen Mitchell, Mike Morrison, Kevin Moug, Bob Nijenhuis, Peter Palmer, Sally Parks, David Petie, John Roffey, Jeremy Searle, James Soars, Alan J. Taylor, Loudon Temple, Jela Webb, Rosie Wilby, Allan Wilkinson, Arthur Wood. Photographers: Larry Kelly, Paul McConville, David Petie, Richard Webb

Editorial: 24 Bray Gardens, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 9TR, Phone: 01622-744481 Email: editor@maverick-country.com

Editorial Assistant: Laura Bethell

Email: laurabethell@maverick-country.com

Layout & Design: Laura Bethell

Email: laurabethell@maverick-country.com

Advertising: James Soars 01604 456561 or 07758781032 Email: james.soars11@ntlworld.com

Admin: Charlotte Bones, Anna Rundle All rights reserved ©2011 Maverick Magazine No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means without prior written permission of the Publisher. The Publisher accepts no responsibility for statement of fact or opinion expressed by contributors. The views of the contributors are not necessarily those of Maverick or its editor. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for the advertisements in this publication, nor for loss, howsoever arising, from purchases made from mail order advertisements appearing in this magazine.

Printed by Atlantic Print Limited Unit 02, Tribune Drive, Trinity Trading Estate, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2PG Tel: 01795 420628 Distribution by Warners Group Publications plc, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9PH. Tel: 01778-391180 Available at all good newsagents or by subscription (see page 89). All subscribers are entitled to receive regular email tour and news updates (email editor@maverick-country.com to register) Published by AAG Publishing Ltd., 24 Bray Gardens, Loose, Maidstone, Kent ME15 9TR Check out the Maverick website http://www.maverick-country.com



From the February issue 2011 (number 103) Maverick magazine will only be available online or by a digital pdf. The digital pdf, which is how it will be delivered to the majority of our subscribers, can be downloaded to your computer, mobile phone, iphone or ipad and you will be able to read it as and whenever you want to, print, save or share it. The cost of an individual issue will be just £2 and a one-year’s subscription (12 issues) will be £20. Payment can be made securely online by PayPal, credit or debit card. All current subscribers who have internet access will receive the new pdf format and all current online subscribers will continue to receive the online issue. This marks a bold move forward as we fully embrace the changing face of technology. The savings we will make on print and postage costs will enable us to invest in further developing the digital format to eventually include audio and video within the pages of Maverick. We will also be able to increase our coverage of music with full colour throughout and not be restricted to just 100 pages per issue. We will be looking at including more snappy features and news items alongside our regular in-depth features, more comprehensive CD and live reviews and also interacting with our readers via instant messaging and online discussions. All current subscribers will receive a letter with this issue with details of how they will receive the digital issue and also by how many issues their subscription will be extended to reflect the lower cost of a digital subscription (for example if your subscription is due to expire with issue 108 July 2011 it will be extended by six issues to expire with issue 114 January 2012). If you have any queries or questions about this change please do not phone us, but either write or email us (laurabethell@maverick-country.com) and include your full postal address and we will deal with your query as soon as we can possibly can. You can also email for a free sample pdf of the current issue of Maverick to see for yourself. We also invite those readers who currently buy the magazine from a shop or a venue to also email us for a the free sample pdf. Allow a few days for us to send you the Download link. We ask you for your patience and to please support us through this difficult transitional period

Popular London music venue to close The Luminaire, the North London music venue which has been a champion of Americana, alt.country and rockabilly music over the past few years and the King’s Head will close on January 1, 2011. The owners say: ‘It’s been a labour of love for a while now, and it no longer makes sense to continue. We hope to be able to do a small series of final farewell shows, probably in late March. We’ll see.’ This follows the news that Maverick Live in Maidstone has announced that they will be taking a break from promoting shows for the first six months of 2011 due to falling attendance numbers. The Grub Bar in East Grinstead closed its doors in September and both the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London and the Half Moon in Putney are struggling to keep going due to a decline in attendance numbers. Many other venues in the South are struggling to keep going during the recession, yet venues in the North of England and Scotland seem to be still attracting sizeable audiences.


NEWS John Lomax III presented with CMA Jo WalkerMeador International Award During the annual CMA International Reception held on November 8 as part of festivities around the 44th Annual CMA Awards, John Lomax III, owner of Roots Music Exporters, was given the 2010 Jo Walker-Meador International Award. John Lomax III was presented with the The Award was presented by CMA Chief Jo Walker-Meador Executive Officer Steve Moore. ‘It’s a huge International Award at honour and a real thrill to be recognised the CMA International after a lot of miles and a lot of nights away Reception (l-r) CMA CEO Steve Moore from home,’ said Lomax. ‘I love taking and Lomax Photo © country cusic all around the world. It’s a Amanda Eckard / CMA common language. I’ve been to countries where no one spoke English but they spoke country music.’ While primarily engaged in exporting, Lomax is also an internationally known music journalist whose work has been published on four continents. He currently writes a regular column for Country Update in Australia and Country Music People in England. He has authored three books, including Nashville Music City USA , and penned numerous entries in the upcoming revised edition of the CMF/Oxford U Press Encyclopaedia of Country Music . He was a&r consultant for Demon/Edsel Records (UK) from 1996-2000, and is an experienced artist manager whose past clients have included the Cactus Brothers, Kasey Chambers, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt. Lomax established Roots Music Exporters in 2001, selling indie artist, retail exclusive, and limited edition CDs, DVDs, and vinyl to importers in Australia, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand. The Jo Walker-Meador International Award recognises outstanding achievement by an individual or company in advocating and supporting country music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States. It was named in honour of former CMA Executive Director (1959-1991) and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Jo Walker-Meador.

Waylon Jennings Tribute albums Scatter Records and the Big Machine Label Group (BMLG) have announced the February 8 release of a star-studded tribute compilation honouring Waylon Jennings— one of the greatest country music icons of our time. The three volume celebration, THE MUSIC INSIDE: A COLLABORATION DEDICATED TO WAYLON JENNINGS, features some of the biggest stars of country music—from legends Kris Kristofferson and Alabama to current hit makers Jamey Johnson and Trace Adkins to critically-acclaimed Patty Griffin and Sunny Sweeney—performing and paying tribute to Jennings’ most-celebrated songs. Every artist on the project possesses either a personal or professional connection to the Texas-born Jennings, and no one more so than country star and Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter, who performs a heartfelt duet of Good Hearted Woman with Sunny Sweeney. Their son Shooter Jennings also pays tribute with Belle of the Ball. In addition, every performance on the compilation earned Jessi and Shooter’s blessing. ‘There have been several tribute albums made in my father’s honour, all of which were great tributes to his legacy. But this one has been a true passion project for a lot of artists and friends who truly wanted to remember and give back to the wonderful man he was,’ says Shooter. ‘In the years since my dad passed away, I’ve grown as an artist and I feel this is the first time I’ve been able to give back truly to the man who inspired, influenced and nurtured me and my musical passion.’


Americana Chart 1 (-)

Great Lakes - Ways Of Escape (Orange Twin)

2 (1) Quiet Loner - Spectrology (Little Red Rabbit) 3 (-)

The Autumn Defense - Once Around (Yep Roc)

4 (2) The Duke & The King - Long Live The Duke & The King (Loose) 5 (3) Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten (End Of The Road) 6 (-)

Yusuf Azak - Turn on the Long Wire (Song, by Toad)

7 (-)

Luke Doucet & The White Falcon - Steel City Trawler (Six Shooter)

8 (4)

Phosphorescent - Here’s To Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

9 (-)

Tony Joe White - The Shine (Swamp/ Munich)

10 (5) I’m Kingfisher - Arctic (Playground) The UK Home for Americana, Alt-Country & Alternative



TOUR DATES Musical Style/Genre: A (Americana); AC (Alt.country); B (Bluegrass); BR (Blues-rock); C (Country); CP (Country-pop); CR (Country-rock); F (Folk); FR (Folk-rock), J (Jazz); OT (Old-timey); SS (Singer-songwriter): WS (Western Swing); W (World) (Celtic Connections) Sun 23: Belfast, The Black Box Tues 25: Dublin, Whelans Fri 28: Buckingham, Radcliffe Centre Sat 29: London, Union Chapel

Chris Flegg (SS) Sat Dec 18: Beaconsfield, The Red Lion Sun 19: Stevenage, Arts and Leisure Centre Sun Jan 16: St Albans, Portland Arms Mon March 14: Middlesex, The Herga Folk Club Sun Apr 3: Wendron, Wheal Dream Folk Club

The Haley Sisters (C; FR) Thur Dec 16: York, York Health Service Club Fri 17: Cheshire, Police Club Sat 18: Rotherham, Rotherham Transport Club Thu 23: Lancs, Hoboes Retreat Fri 31: Nr Keighley, Cullingworth Con Club

Case Hardin (CR) AHAB


The Burns Unit (F)

Sat Jan 22: Farrington Gurney Nr Bristol, the Village Hall Mon 31 London, The Lexington Mon Feb 7: East Grinstead, Chequermead Weds 9: Birmingham, Hare & Hounds Thurs 10: Leek, The Swan Fri 11: Bury, The Met Sat 19: Elloughton/Hull, The Half Moon, Sun 20: Ripon, Yorkshire Great Northern Wine Mon 21: Nettlebed, The Village Club Thurs 24: Sevenoaks, the Flying Burrito Club Sat 26: Bideford, the Palladium Fri March 4: Adderbury, Oxon, Sat 5: Farnham, Surrey, The Maltings Thurs 10: London, Willesden Folk Union, The Masons Arms Sat 12: Salisbury, Ebbesbourne Wake Sun 13: Banbury, The Mill

Sun Jan 16: Glasgow, The Old Fruitmarker Mon 17: London, Jazz Café Tue 18: Milton Keynes, The Stables Wed 19: Manchester, Club Academy

Barber & Taylor (OT; F) Thurs Dec 16: Tudeley nr Tonbridge, The Poacher Sat Jan 8: Brighton, the Open House Sat 29: Brighton, Birdcage Walk) Sun Feb 6: Brighton, Latest Music Bar Sat 26: Eastbourne Underground Theatre Sun March 20: Lewes, The Volunteer Weds May 11: Arundel, the Famous Willows Folk Club Mon June 13: Bodle Street Green, Nr Herstmonceux, the White Horse Thurs & Fri Aug 11 & 12: Broadstairs Folk Week

Blackheart (CR; FR) Tue Dec 14: Cirencester, Down Ampney Village Hall Fri 17: Carlisle, Blencogo Village Hall Sat 18: Penrith, Lazonby Village Hall Sun 19: Ravensglass, Muncaster Parish Hall

Jack Blackman (F, A) Sun Feb 6: Warwick , Arts Centre Sat 19: NCCR Online Radio Show Mon 21: Lydney , The Blues Front Room Tues 22: Birmingham, The Yardbird

The Blues Band (BR) (Gary Fletcher, Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness, Rob Townsend) Weds Dec 15: Wavendon, The Stables Thur 16: Sheffield, The Leadmill Fri 17: Bexhill, The De La Warr Pavilion Sat 18: Blackheath, Blackheath Halls



Thu Jan 6: Swindon, The Beehive Thu 13: Bristol, The Prom Fri 11 Feb: Leicester, The Donkey Thu 17: Earls Court, The Troubadour

George Hamilton IV (C) Tue Dec 14: Concert in Bannside Presbyterian Church, Dublin, Eire Weds 15: 6 Mile Cross Church of Ireland, Eire

David Celia (SS)

Edwina Hayes (SS)

Mon Dec 13: Cork, Crane Lane Theatre Tues 14: Cambridge, CB2 Thurs 16: Norwich, Olive’s Fri 17: Chippenham, Old Road Tavern Sat 18: Bournemouth, Bourne Beat Hotel Sun 19: Brighton, Americana Unplugged @ The Foundry Mon 20: Broadstairs, The Barnaby Rudge Tues 21: London, Catweazle Club, North London Tavern

Thu Dec 30: York, The Dean Court Hotel Sat Jan 8: York, Fillmore East Acoustic Club Fri 28: Hull, The Springhead Sat Feb 19: Inverness, Eden Court Theatre

Cracker Duo (David Lowery & Johnny Hickman SemiAcoustic Duo) (AC)

Bex Marshall

Mon Dec 13: London, The Borderline Tue 14: Cambridge, The Portland Arms

The Curst Sons (B; OT) Sat Dec 18: Dell Quay, The Crown and Anchor Thur 23: Southsea, The Wedgewood Rooms

Justin Townes Earle (A; SS) Thurs Jan 13: Sheffield, Memorial Hall Fri 14: Manchester, Deaf Institute Sat 15: Liverpool, Stanley Theatre Sun 16: Nottingham, The Maze Tues 18: Bristol, St Bonaventures Weds 19: Brighton, Komedia Fri 21: Newcastle, The Cluny Sat 22: Glasgow, Oran Mor

To u r D a t e s

Kit Holmes (BR; SS) Sat Jan 29: Cirencester, New Brewery Arts Sat Feb 5: Hants, Rural Arts Centre Fri 18: Manchester, Martin Harris Centre


Sat 19: Burton Upon Trent, Brewhouse Sat Mar 12: Halifax, Square Chapel Arts Fri 18: Milton Keynes, The Stables Sat 19: Bath, Rondo Theatre Sun 20: Halesworth, The Cut Arts Sat Apr 2: St Albans, Maltings Arts Theatre Sat 30: Redditch, Palace Theatre Fri May 6: Wellington, Arts Centre Sat 7: Southampton, Hanger Farm Arts

Tue 25: Manchester, Night & Day Wed 26: Bristol, Thekla Thu 27: London, The Borderline Fri 28: Cropredy, The Brasenose Arms Sat 29: Oxford, The Cellar Bar

Iron & Wine (A; AC)

Bex Marshall (BR; SS)

Tue March 8: London, Roundhouse Wed 9: Brighton, Corn Exchange Thu 10: Birmingham, Town Hall Fri 11: Edinburgh, HMV Picturehouse Sat 12: Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall Mon 14: Dublin, Olympia Tue 15: Manchester, Academy 2 Wed 16: Gateshead, Sage Thu 17: Leeds, Metropolitan University

Martyn Joseph (SS) Tue Dec 14: Gateshead, The Sage Wed 15: Cardiff, Chapter Arts Centre Thu 16: Sale, Waterside Arts Centre Fri 17: Narberth, Queen’s Hall

Mama Rosin (FR) Mon Jan 17: Edinburgh, Sneaky Petes Tue 18: Inverness, Hootananny Wed 19: Aberdeen, The Bluelamp Thu 20: Kinross, Green Hotel Sat 22: Glasgow, The Old Fruitmarket @ Celtic Connections Mon 24: Newcastle, Cluny2

Tues Dec 14: Farncombe, the Farncombe Cavern Wed 15: Plymouth, the Minerva Sat 18: Plymouth, the Kings Thurs 23: Chelmsford, St Annes Castle Thurs 30: London, the Blues Kitchen Fri 31: Worcester, the Swan Wed Feb 16: Southampton, the Dolphin Thurs 17: Bridport, the Electric Palace Frid 25: Rhoose, the Flying Club Café Bar

Sarah McClurg & Silver Creek (CR) Fri Feb 18: Newcastle, The Cluny Sat 19: Ettrickbridge, Scottish Borders, Village

Justin Townes Earle

TOUR DATES Hall Sun 20: Glasgow, Grand Ole Opry Mon 21: Widnes, United Services Club Thurs 24: Bristol, St Bons Fri 25: Wimborne, Tivoli Theatre Sat 26: Bedford, Civic Theatre Sun 27: Nottingham, The Maze Mon 28: London, Luminaire

Sarah McQuaid (SS) Thur Jan 6: Whitstable Folk Club

Katie Melua (SS) Mon Dec 13: Birmingham, NIA Tue 14: Liverpool, Philharmonic Thu 16: Brighton, Dome Fri 17: London, Hammersmith Apollo Mon 20: Bournemouth, BIC Tue 21: Bristol, Colston Hall

Anais Mitchell featuring Martin Carthy & Jim Moray (F) Tue Jan 25: London, Union Chapel

Kevin Montgomery & the Road Trippers Reunion Tour Sun Jan 16: Maidstone, Maverick Live @ the Exchange Studio

Bev Pegg (CR; BR) Tue Dec 14: Albrighton, Jazz Club 90 Sun 19: Halesowen, Halesowen Cricket Club Sun Jan 16: Malvern, Abbey Jazz Sat 29: Iverley, Stourbridge Lawn & Tennis Sqaush Club Sat Feb 5: Birmingham, St Peter’s Church Hall

Kate Rusby (F)

The Wilders

Marty Stuart (C; B) Fri Jan 28: Glasgow, The Arches Sat 29: Gateshead, The Sage Sun 30: Nottingham, The Glee Club Mon 31: Milton Keyes, The Stables Tue Feb 1: London, The Queen Elizabeth Hall Wed 2: Dublin, The Helix

Nicky Swann (SS) Wed Jan 12: London, Troubadour Fri 14: Finedon, Kontra Roots Sun Feb 27: Weston Super Mare, Raglan Arms Thur Mar 10: London, Icarus Club Sat 12: Teignmouth, Carlton Theatre Sat 19: Salisbury, Salisbury Arts Centre Fri 25: Maltby, The Rock

Sean Taylor (BR; SS)

Sat Dec 18: Bath, The Chapel Arts Centre

Fri Feb 4: Pocklington Arts Centre, York Sun 6: Brasenose Arms, Oxon Sat Apr 9: Kula Promotions @ Frazer Theatre, Yorkshire Sat Jun 11: Bristol Folk House, Bristol with Dick Gaughan Fri Sep 9: South Lakes Music Promotion, Ulverston Thu 22: Blues @ Browsers, Lingfield

Fash Stewart (SS)

Richard Thompson Band (FR)

Weds Dec 15: Carlisle, the Club Victoria Thurs 16: Glasgow, the Liquid Ship Fri 17: Anlaby, Hull, the Big Coffee Café Sat 18: Stockport, the Blue Cat Café Sun 19: Dundee, the Doghouse Mon 20: Strathpeffer, the Coffee Shop Tues 21: Ullapool, the Argyll Hotel,

Fri Jan 14: Salford, The Lowry Sat 15: Salford, The Lowry Sun 16: York, Grand Opera House Mon 17: Aylesbury, Waterside Theatre Tue 18: London, Royal Festival Hall Wed 19: Cambridge, Corn Exchange Fri 21: Salisbury, City Hall

Mon Dec 13: Cardiff, St David’s Hall Wed 15: Sheffield, City Hall Fri 17: Newtown, Theatr Hafren Sun 19: Nottingham, Playhouse

State of Undress (FR)

Sat 22: Bristol, Colston Hall Sun 23: Cardiff, St David’s Hall Tue 25: Glasgow, Celtic Connections Wed 26: Gateshead, The Sage Thur 27: Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall Fri 28: Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre Sat 29: Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre Sun 30: Oxford, New Theatre Tue Feb 1: Basingstoke, The Anvil Wed 2: London, Royal Festival Hall Thur 3: Brighton, Dome Concert Hall

Tommy Truesdale (CP) Sat Dec 18: Stranraer, Rugby Social Club Fri 24: New Cumnock, Working Mens Social Club Fri 31: Masonic, Social Club Tarbolton Fri Jan 7: Kilwinning, Cranberry Moss Community Centre Sat 8: Stanraer, Rugby Social Club Sat 15: New Cumnock, Working Mens Social Club

Hank Wangford with Andy Roberts (C; A) Sun Dec 19: Twickenham, TwickFolk at The Cabbage Patch Pub

The Waterboys (F) Sun Jan 30: Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall Tue Feb 1: Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall Wed 2: Conventry, Warwick Arts Centre Thu 3-Fri 4: London, Barbican

Jimmy Webb (SS) Wed Feb 2: Bristol, St George’s Thu 3: Leicester, Y Theatre Sat 5: Brighton, St Mary Church Sun 6: Cambridge, Junction 2 Mon 7: London, Queen Elizabeth Hall Wed 9: Sheffield, Memorial Hall Thu 10: Norwich, Arts Centre Sat 12: Glasgow, Oran Mor Mon 14: Dublin, Sugar Club

The Wilders (OT; B)

Richard Thompson Band



To u r D a t e s

Wed Jan 26: Glasgow Celtic Connections Festival with Furnace Mountain Thurs 27: Glasgow Celtic Connections Festival Club Fri 28: Kendal, Brewery Arts Centre Sat 29: Newcastle, Jumpin Hot Club, The Cluny Sun 30: Sheffield, Green Room Tues Feb 1: London, The Slaughtered Lamb Wed 2: Chichester, The Chichester Inn Thurs 3: Bristol, St Bonaventure’s Fri 4: Great Torrington, Plough Arts Centre Sat 5: Worthing, Grand Victorian Hotel Sun 6: Brighton, Prince Albert Tues 8: Norwich Arts Centre Wed 9: Spalding, South Holland Centre Thurs 10: Shaw (Oldham), Barrie Cottam Playhouse2 Fri 11: Barton on Humber, The Ropewalk Sat 12: Selby Town Hall Sun 13: Saltburn-by-Sea, Community Theatre




rom her current home base in a 200-year-old farmhouse in rural Vermont, Anaïs Mitchell writes songs that are as intimate as conversations and as rich in detail as short stories. The daughter of ‘hippie back-to-the-landers’ whose father was a novelist and English professor, she remembers her family’s home (another farmhouse in the same state) containing ‘a library full of novels, and lots of old folk and psychedelic rock albums. The books and the records all lived in the same room, which I am sure led to me thinking of songwriting as a kind of literature, a noble poetic enterprise.’ No surprise, then, that the reference points of her music may seem to come from all over the map while still interconnected: the country ballads of the Carter Family, the hard-edged cabaret of Brecht and Weill, the storysongs of Randy Newman, the vast narrative scope of Pink Floyd’s THE WALL , and the intricately crafted tales of her namesake, bohemian feminist Anaïs Nin, to name a few. All of these influences come together in HADESTOWN, an epic ‘folk opera’ retelling of the Orpheus myth. The saga of the poet who ventures into the underworld to rescue his dead wife—a

10 maverick

tale now set in a post-apocalyptic world of poverty— began as a live performance created in collaboration with fellow Vermont artists director Ben t. Matchstick and arranger/ orchestrator Michael Chorney. In their neck of the woods—TV-less by choice, far from big cities, in a land of radical politics and culture—making your own entertainment, and getting your friends and neighbours to help you flesh it out, is the only way to go. After fine-tuning the show, the trio gathered a cast of two dozen, commandeered a silverspraypainted schoolbus, and hit the road (and several blizzards) for a couple of ragtag DIY tours of New England. The next logical step? HADESTOWN, the album, performed by a dream-team lineup including Ani DiFranco, Justin Vernon/Bon Iver, Greg Brown, and Mitchell herself, among others. Mitchell may have grown up in the middle of nowhere, but she’s seen more of the world than you might expect. ‘I always travelled a lot as a kid,’ she recalls. ‘My mom had a little axiom about things it was OK to spend money on: food, books, travel, and friends. My parents wouldn’t buy me a cool jacket or a videogame or whatever, but they would ship me off to Europe or Japan.

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Later I ended up studying in Costa Rica, Austria, and Egypt. I always loved languages and the feeling of being out of context—which is maybe why I love travelling as a songwriter now… It feels natural.’ It also felt natural, after she had plenty of original songs under her belt, to start getting them out to the world, so in 2002 she took an early stab at recording a self-released album (now out of print), and two years later she made the disc she considers her true debut: HYMNS FOR THE EXILED, released on the Chicago-based indie Waterbug Records. That project brought producer/musician Chorney into the mix as a frequent collaborator. A copy of Hymns gradually made it to DiFranco, who offered to release her next album, THE BRIGHTNESS, in 2007, followed by a unique vinyl/CD collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter Rachel Ries, COUNTRY EP, in 2008. THE BRIGHTNESS inspired a reviewer from the Boston Globe to praise Mitchell’s ‘vivid snapshots of sweetly ordinary moments,’ while Acoustic Guitar called her ‘a songwriter of startling clarity and depth, equally skilled at turning a melody or lyrical phrase into what you didn’t know you needed until you heard it,’ adding that she ‘weaves her stories into an effortlessly beautiful and cohesive tapestry with the skill of an artisan’s carpenter, showing no seams.’ Anaïs Mitchell is the rare musician who is equally comfortable wielding an acoustic guitar alone onstage, sharing a disc’s worth of alt.country duets, or scripting a vast operatic journey into the underworld. She’s a fearless explorer, and her world just keeps getting larger. For the first ever performances of Hadestown on this side of the Atlantic, Mitchell has assembled a star cast from the UK’s own folk scene, with the legendary Martin Carthy and Jim Moray both having answered personal requests to be involved. The London debut in the stunning confines of Islington’s Union Chapel comes on Tuesday January 25, just a few days after Hadestown is performed at Glasgow’s prestigious Celtic Connections Festival with a star cast of guest performers. Tony Clarke




ama Rosin—their name comes from a Cajun song—were formed by Cyril Yeterian (vocals, melodeon, guitar) and Robin Girod (vocals, guitar, banjo, washboard). They started jamming and found they shared a similar enthusiasm for hardcore rock’n’roll and lost American roots music. Their first ever gig, supporting the Dead Brothers, led to a record deal with Voodoo Rhythm, the infamous Swiss garage punk label. They cut their debut album TU AS PERDU TON CHEMIN in a matter of hours. It was given very little promotion, but Ton Chemin found its way to music fans across Europe and in the UK Mark Lamarr was the first to champion them playing the track regularly on BBC Radio 2. Tours around the world soon followed, including sharing the stage with the Stay Cats, firing up the crowd at the Football Championship Opening in Vienna and the EXPO 2008 in Zaragoza. They showed that they are amazing on stage! You feel their love for many styles of music: From blues to calypso, from psychedelic to African and Caribbean Music. Their second

album, BRULE LENTEMENT a gumbo of old Cajun and Zydeco roots, minced and spiced up with the sound and the power of the new Millenium; old Deep Louisiana black roots meets Velvet Underground and Daniel Johnston. The album opened with Où est passé E.C Lenoir: quite a trip into the world of Cajun. They are searching for Eraste Carriere, the guy of the Freres Carriere (Cajun legends) then the keep on rocking on Le Two-Step De L’Haricot where you can learn how to dance with a bean! For the first time you hear Vanina, the drummer, sing on the Clash inspired You Stole My Motorcycle and you find a cover version of the Movie Star Junkies Dead Love Rag. Now comes their third album, BLACK ROBERT, set for release in early 2011. This time the band adds voodoojazz to its down’n’dirty Cajun garage sound. ‘This album is different from our previous albums because it has a taste of jazz and calypso. Our previous albums were more focused on energy. BLACK ROBERT, well, it’s like we’re on a bayou in Louisiana. When we visited Louisiana and met people including our old time heroes, we realised that the way we live is on the bayou: growing food, fishing, listening to vinyl, not rushing. And that philosophy informed this album.’ The band’s visit to Louisiana was truly an eye-opener. The local youth

O n To u r •


loved their punk-flavoured approach to Cajun and Zydeco while the elders wept and spoke of Cajun culture being decimated. ‘Cajun culture is being killed step by step by American culture, People forget to speak French, forget to play their own music. For a long time it was really bad to say you were a Cajun. But the young generation invited us to Louisiana and they had tears in their eyes when we played. They gave us credibility. It really touched our hearts, We speak French with them and we understand one another.’ Cajun music was brought to the South of the United States, to Louisiana, by French immigrants from Canada, where fast rhythms met slow waltz. Zydeco music added Afro-Caribbean rhythms. Songs were sung in French and/or in Creole. The vocals were usually very high and loud so even people at the back could hear them! Eventually rock’n’roll, blues and soul also became incorporated and this is where Mama Rosin come in. The band use all the traditional instruments such as melodeon, banjo, guitar and rub-board, but they do so with the barely contained energy and overflowing passion of the early Clash, but minus the anger and nihilism. There’s even something of the Woody Guthrie-era Joe Strummer about lead singer, guitarist and banjo player, Robin Girod. Mama Rosin remain very reluctant to play on the ancient historic bonds between France/French and the Cajuns. Robin points out that Cyril was born in Lebanon to Armenian parents who fled to Europe when war broke out in Beirut. It is just a coincidence, he insists, that they are French speakers. If Mama Rosin cite Amede Ardoin, the pioneering black melodeon (small accordion) player of the 1920-30s as an inspiration, and their favourite Louisiana artists tend to be Zydeco musicians—the black Cajuns who infused Cajun music with a strong dose of blues and rock’n’roll—the band also look to the Velvet Underground, Clash, Serge Gainsbourg and the White Stripes as influences. Adrian Cooke

maverick 11

J o a n n e S h a w Ta y l o r


he might have recently been crowned the queen of the British blues scene and delivered a faultless new album of hard-rocking blues, but success is not going to Joanne Shaw Taylor’s head. The singer and guitarist won the female vocalist of the year category in the 2010 British Blues Awards and recently toured the UK to promote her latest release DIAMONDS IN THE DIRT. “I don’t think I’m one of the best blues singer in England,” she says. “I saw the nominations and they had made an effort to nominate young artists, who had not been on the scene for long. It was nice of them to reward young artists.” Her latest record re-unites her with the Grammy-award winning producer Jim Gaines, who worked with such blues legends as Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and cements her reputation as one of the most exciting guitarists out there at the moment. “I did the WHITE SUGAR album with Jim,’ she adds. “Working with Jim is lovely and he has this little home studio, which we lived and recorded in. He’s a bit of a legend in the blues genre. He was Carlos Santana’s right-hand man when it comes to mixing. He’s the most down to earth man I’ve ever met.” Incredibly, the album was just recorded in 10 days at Gaines’ studios in rural Tennessee and Joanne could not resist quizzing the producer about some of her own musical heroes. “When the guys had left and it was just me and Jim in the studio, I was the worst for calling a break and picking Jim’s brain about Stevie Ray Vaughan’s amp set up and Albert Collins’ vocals,” she admits.

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Although Joanne grew up in the heart of the Black Country, near Birmingham, she has been based in the United States for the past 18 months. “My US band is based in Michigan,” she says. “It’s easier to be based over there. America’s such a funny country. It’s so big and diverse. In terms of touring, it’s so convenient. When you’re touring Europe, it can be two o’clock in the morning and you haven’t got the right currency. You want a cheese sandwich, but no one understands you. The good thing about America is that there’s always a Dunkin Donuts, a 24-hour diner and a Walmart!” “It’s very spread out, but the main difference for me is the atmosphere,” Joanne adds. “The blues club scene in the States has a lot more of a party atmosphere, as opposed to England, where it’s more of an observant crowd. The festivals there draw big names. I keep bumping into Joe Bonamassa, who dominates the genre at the moment, and rightly so.” When Joanne has not been on the road in the US, she has based herself in Detroit. “It’s a very industrial town, not unlike Birmingham and the Black Country,” she says. “The thing I love about Detroit is that while it’s a city in decline, it’s got so much soul. There’s so much musical history. You can go out on a Tuesday night and for three dollars, see the best blues or country band you will ever see in your life.” Joanne has been playing guitar since her teens and was initially inspired by a record by the late Texan bluesman Albert Collins. “It was ICE PICKIN, which was probably one of my favourites,”

Jo a n n e S h aw Ta y l o r

she says. “My Dad had just showed me a video of him at a jazz festival in Spain. Albert was walking down this huge staircase. I thought I would like to be him when I grew up. “It was a bit bizarre for a 13-year old female to want to live in Texas and play big mean blues guitar,’ she admits. “There is just something about the music. Albert Collins had the strangest technique. He would hit three strings with his thumbs. It was refreshing to see all the rules go out of the window and just play.” Joanne comes from a musical family, but she says she only started singing so she could choose the songs the band were going to play. It was none other than former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, who gave Joanne her first big break when she was just 16-years old and recruited her to be part of his D.U.P. supergroup. “To be honest I didn’t know too much about Dave when I first met him. I was born in the mid-eighties and missed the Eurythmics boom!” she says. “When we met, he said his early influences were Robert Johnson and Son House. He’s in awe of anyone who plays blues well.” Since then, Joanne has cemented her reputation as one of the hottest British blues acts around. Joanne has opened for some of the biggest names, including Coco Montoya and Joe Bonamassa. “I do play everyday,” she says. “I did those years of half an hour warming up, an hours of scales and an hour of this artist. I’m not that restrictive any more. When you tour as much as I do, you try to give yourself days off. At the end of the day, I’m a girl with small hands!” Jamie Hailstone




Sellout Crowds: Donny Richmond and George Hamilton IV onstage in Northern Ireland


ntertaining has been a way of life for Donny Richmond since he was a child. His healthy appearance and personality helped win a contest to pose for a milk advertisement when he was a baby. At 4 years old, he was singing for the neighbors around the backyard swings. In elementary school, if it rained and the class couldn’t go outdoors for recess, the teacher would call on Donny to sing. Junior and senior high school saw Donny writing songs, wearing ‘dude’ clothes, and entertaining his classmates. Donny sang at his own high school senior prom wearing ‘an outlandish gold outfit, including gold sparkle shoes.’ As a youngster in his home of Maryland, Donny became fascinated with the music of the Beatles, and the various British Invasion artists who had come to the USA. Living in a very country music oriented part of America, Donny found it interesting that even the Beatles had done cover versions of songs by country and rockabilly acts such as Buck Owens and Carl Perkins. Growing up, Donny retrieved imported British and Irish music magazines and newspapers from local newsstands, so he was well versed on all the heroes and legends of these music scenes. While still very young and inexperienced, Donny headed for Hollywood in the late 1970s, planning to one day visit the UK and Ireland, the subject of his fascination. Donny entered a talent contest at the Palomino Club, Los Angeles, the largest and most famous country music club in California. Little did he know, that night a life-changing event would take place. In 1992, while visiting Nashville,

Donny was invited to appear on a Hamilton IV performed for a sell-out special recording project with Grand Ole audience in a Grand Old Gospel style Opry legend Stonewall Jackson. Donny show at Newtonabbey’s new statesoon found himself in the recording of-the-art Theater At The Mill. Before studio alongside Garth Brooks. The heading for Ireland TV’s City Channel in album, STONEWALL JACKSON & SUPER Dublin, and to special appearances for FRIENDS, featured 50 of the greatest Ireland’s Official Elvis Presley Fan Club, country music performers of all time. Donny, Walter, concert promoter Henry Since then Donny has recorded Graham, and entourage, were guests at prolifically, mainly self-releasing his the home of Irish country music legend recordings and touring all across ‘Big Tom’ McBride. Big Tom welcomed America and Europe. This past October Donny to Ireland, expressing his he again returned to Europe and more personal wishes for Donny and Walter’s specifically Ireland and when Donny great success. stepped off the plane in Northern Donny says: ‘It was an especially great Ireland, he met in person for the first thrill for me to spend time with Walter, time the man who wrote all the songs Walter’s mom Ruby, and sister, also on his current album LOVE TO IRELAND. named Ruby. These are the finest folks That man is Walter Cunningham, of you could ever meet! And, the folks in Millisle, County Down, whom Donny Ireland all made me feel so welcome!’ considers to be: ‘the finest songwriter He adds: ‘It’s my intention that Walter out there today.’ Within moments of will be recognised as the top songwriter the meeting of these musical giants, the in Ireland. That recognition is well two were whisked off to the first of an deserved!’ John Lees extensive list of interviews with newspapers, TV, and radio which took place during Donny’s jam packed, two week excursion to Ireland. Highlights of the tour included interviews with radio and TV host Sean Green for the syndicated Irish Connection radio programme and NVTV. UTV’s nationally broadcast U105 host Paul Martin hosted Donny and Walter in the Belfast Studio discussing the album and Irish Country Music legend “Big Tom” featuring several tracks. McBride shows Donny around his estate Donny Richmond and George

Donny Richmond in Ireland

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Blues Band 100 Club, London, October 1

Danny Bryant’s RedEyeBand Quay Theatre, Sudbury, Suffolk, October 9

Joe Bonamassa Cambridge Corn Exchange, October 10


his was a busy ten-day period for blues fans. I celebrated my birthday in style watching one of my all-time favourites, the legendary Blues Band. Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness, Gary Fletcher and Rob Townsend were joined on the night by boogie woogie piano player Bob Hall, who as well as tinkling some great ivories also sported a very glitzy red shirt. The guys as usual had no support and did the show in two halves, the first part of the show being quite solid blues with all the band excelling including some great slide guitar from Dave. In the second half Tom got the packed crowd singing along to Shake, Rattle & Roll including blues singer Cherry Lee Mewis and her bass player Robbie who were standing next to me in the audience. Paul played some excellent harmonica on Noah Lewis Blues as well as singing brilliantly on songs such as the fun You Talk Too Much. They finished with the super Green Stuff written by Gary. It has been mentioned that the 100 Club is under threat of closure and Dave Kelly gave his support for the club from the stage, backed by the rest of the band and all the audience. Next up in a quaint little theatre in Suffolk was blues guitarist Danny Bryant and his RedEyeBand. As soon as they walked out onto the stage Danny ripped into a thundering blues guitar solo that set the scene for the night. With no support they split the show into two halves and Danny pleased his fans by playing songs from his latest album that included the title track Just As I Am, the moving blues ballad Alone In The Dark and Master Of Disaster which Danny dedicated to his drummer who managed to get to the theatre three hours earlier than he had to. Danny also performed some tunes from his LIVE album that included the excellent Heartbreaker as well as a super version of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country Country, Danny’s guitar solos were tremendous and he was backed by his

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tight rhythm section of Trevor Barr on drums and Ken Bryant on bass guitar. This was a great gig and the guys quite rightly were called back for a welldeserved encore by a very satisfied audience. The very next night I was out again, this time at the Cambridge Corn Exchange for the quite brilliant Joe Bonamassa and his superb band comprising Rick Melick on keyboards, bass guitarist Carmine Rojas and Bogie Bowles who in my mind has to be one of the best drummers around at the moment. The Corn Exchange was absolutely heaving in the standing area downstairs which made me very happy and relieved that I was seated in a small area under the balcony giving me an excellent view. As always Joe was in incredible form which is why he is rated one of the best blues guitarists. He gives the audience exactly what they want as in less talk and more music, in fact it was at least forty minutes before he even spoke in between songs. A lot of the favourites were there with Joe playing the quite amazing blues ballad If Heartaches Were Nickels as well as the terrific The Ballad Of John Henry from the superb album of the same name. Joe was in great voice the whole evening (all two hours of it) as well as playing a great many blistering guitar solos, another regular piece of his live show is when he switches to acoustic guitar and this night was no exception as he played some incredible acoustic solos on the lively Woke Up Dreaming. I have seen Joe Bonamassa three times now and he delivers a quality show every time, sadly though when you are enjoying something that much time seems to fly by and far too soon it was coming to an end, but he did come back out for an encore which included the wonderful Asking Around For You. David Knowles

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John Reilly The Wheelhouse, Wombwell, November 13


he Wheelhouse was full to capacity as Liverpool-born Boy on a Dolphin frontman John Reilly, together with Canadian collaborator and tour companion Lewis Nitikman, made their debut at the small South Yorkshire venue. Selecting songs from John’s forthcoming solo album, together with a couple from his solo back catalogue and of course one or two from the Boy on a Dolphin repertoire, both musicians were on fine form despite the Canadian showing signs of seasonal flu symptoms. With a small set up of two keyboards, an acoustic guitar and a few bits of percussion, John and Lewis played a couple of intimate sets of basically stripped down versions of songs from their steadily growing repertoire including new songs Living With It, This City, Frozen, Arrow and XL5 XL5, some of which were available tonight on the new FROZEN EP, an indication of what’s to come on the new album release due out in April 2011. The new single Deep and Blue, which was recently Proper Distribution’s track of the week, was also performed with delicate precision. Concrete Oceans recalls Reilly’s childhood home of Liverpool, once a bustling northern port, the Mersey now regretfully described in terms of ghost ships, eloquently delivered in this poignant song by one of the city’s sons. As a songwriting team, John and Lewis have developed a highly productive symbiotic relationship, exemplified in songs such as the staggeringly beautiful Wait for Me. It wasn’t all new material tonight though by any means, with the inclusion of a couple of songs from John’s debut solo album, the title track Tea Cosy Hat together with Galway Bay as

Pickin’ & Grinnin’ well as Boy on a Dolphin’s Life’s a Blast. Equally at home with modern standards such as Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind or jazz-inflected groovers like Jesse Winchester’s Isn’t That So So, which featured a fine vocal by Lewis Nitikman together with a beautifully informed piano accompaniment, John is unafraid to venture into the realms of World Music with Nou o N’Mazei N’Mazei, the opening song from Boy on a Dolphin’s debut album WORDS INSIDE , co-written with Ivory Coast percussionist Maurice Zou. For the pure feel-good factor, Stephen Stills’ anthemic Love the One You’re With serves both as great singalong chorus number as well as another indication of Reilly’s versatility as a singer. Introduced as coming from an ‘underestimated and unappreciated artist’, or to be more precise, ‘a singersongwriter who doesn’t get the credit he deserves’, Reilly’s performance of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Nothing Rhymed reminded the audience once again of a perfect example of fine songwriting. Elton John was also represented with two songs, Rocket Man, which unbeknownst to the audience was simultaneously being murdered by a contestant on the X Factor and the lesser known I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford), both songs from a period of the superb songwriting, courtesy of the fruitful partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. With a double encore consisting of the Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell standard Georgia on My Mind Mind, quickly followed by a superb reading of John and Lewis’ joint composition You’re Not Alone, again

destined for the new album, the two musicians completed a thoroughly entertaining and songfilled night with more than just a touch of class. Allan Wilkinson

Sharon King and the Reckless Angels

Sharon King

The Wheelhouse, Wombwell, October 30


ith the Wheelhouse decked out in all manner of Halloween decorations including luminous skeletons, bat lights and something strange on each of the windows, it was reassuring to be protected from the impending darkness outside by three veritable angels, however reckless they may be. Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Sharon King made her Wombwell debut joined by Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Daisy Costello on cello, who together brought their own unique brand of transatlantic Scots-Americana to this decidedly warm and cosy summer house, just as the chills of winter approach us. Sharon took up her familiar position centre stage, armed only with her small and handy acoustic guitar, flanked by her two angels, in order to perform songs from each of her three studio albums, 24 HOURS, QUIDDITY and her most recent release RECKLESS John Reilly ANGELS . During an almost totally acoustic set, save for Sharon’s vocal mic and some slight enhancement on her guitar, the trio delivered a handful of self-penned songs, the bulk of which were from the current album, including the country influenced Shiny Shoes, the soulfully re-vamped High Times and the foot tapping Cairn O Mohr Mohr, a song with an Appalachian feel but about a deceitfully intoxicating local brew from north of the border. The tempo-changing Twinkle, which contains the reference to the Reckless Angels within its lyric, coincidentally reflected the fireworks going on outside, mirroring all the flashing, banging and twinkling in the night sky above. The song selections were

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interspersed with tales from Sharon’s particular neck of the woods, not least the stories from the beautiful Hebridean Isle of Eigg, a place Sharon is very much in tune with. It wasn’t all familiar stuff though and the trio introduced one or two new as yet unrecorded or at least unreleased songs, both with a distinctive maritime feel, Fisher King and Leviathan. Sharon also revisited her earlier album QUIDDITY performing both Caroline and Wide Open but with new instrumentation as neither Laura-Beth nor Daisy played on the original recordings, nor was Sharon able to play guitar due to an injury at the time. Laura-Beth, also of all-female Scots band the Shee, was not only on hand to play some delicately gentle bluegrass mandolin, but also provided some beautiful harmony vocals along with cellist Daisy Costello, both of whom form part of the twenty-strong pool of musicians known in Sharon King circles as the Nevernever Cowboys. With the perfectly complementary instrumentation of guitar, cello and mandolin as well as three superbly aligned harmony vocals, there seemed little point in upping the tempo to get everyone in a party mood, choosing rather to keep everything pretty cool and mellow; everyone was pretty much in a mellow mood and therefore these delightfully mellow songs were given some delightfully mellow treatment. Even the more rhythmic songs such as Road to Siam and the highly infectious reggae influenced Lady Tuesday Tuesday, with Laura-Beth’s deliciously dextrous mandolin solo, maintained that distinctively mellow mood throughout. With an encore of 24 Hours, the title song from Sharon’s debut solo album, with its reference to the time it takes to get from Edinburgh to Melbourne, where the husband she was missing at the time was working (as Barry Humphreys said recently, that’s five Nicholas Cage movies—makes you want to get there sooner!), the trio left their mark on a suitably pleased audience. Allan Wilkinson

Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Sara Watkins

Sara Watkins with Sean Watkins, Winter Mountain Civic Theatre, Bedford, November 6


his was my third visit to Bedford’s Civic Theatre on consecutive Saturday’s to see three quite amazing shows. First up was the brilliant Crooked Still supported by Stephen Simmons, then came the incredible Hot Club Of Cowtown with Britain’s own bluegrass wonders the Toy Hearts and then the icing was put on the cake with the truly wonderful Sara Watkins along with her brother Sean who together are two thirds of Nickel Creek. Support on the night was a new duo to me called Winter Mountain, in fact they seemed to be new to everyone including Mike of East West Promotions who admitted as much when introducing them onto the stage. With Joe Francis on guitar, occasional harmonica and vocals and Martin Smyth on vocals they began with a Simon & Garfunkel tune which brought a hush to the theatre as everyone listened intently. It was a great way to start as it had some of the audience comparing the fine harmony singing to the famous duo. Singing a selection of their own material from the 6-track CD they were selling during the tour, they performed Sorrow and Sarah both of which included some quite delightful harmonies, another tune from the CD was Shed A Little Light which was a faster tempo than the

others and brought some good guitar picking from Joe. The guys ended with an engaging version of the Beatles’ Blackbird that garnered well-deserved applause and helped them sell a few more CDs. Winter Mountain have just signed a deal with Cara Dillon’s Charcoal Records and will soon be working on a full album, if you would like to give them a listen then check out their website www.wintermountain.co.uk where you should be able to order their 6-track CD. With the audience now nicely relaxed and ready for the headline act, Sara and Sean took to the stage to warm applause and Sara went straight into a terrific fiddle instrumental. This was followed by some wonderful songs including All This Time from her new solo album that had her vocals going from plaintive to soaring to powerful proving that she has grown tremendously as a vocalist. Another fiery fiddle instrumental followed with Sean accompanying with some nifty guitar picking, proving why Nickel Creek were touted as three of the most talented young musicians around. They performed a good mix of material spanning all the Nickel Creek albums, Sara’s debut solo album, Sean’s own solo material plus some fine covers and brand new songs. From the Nickel Creek albums came songs such as Reasons Why that had a super guitar solo from Sean who also took lead vocals on Somebody More Like You and they then got the audience adding the whistling accompaniment to the charming Anthony with Sara switching from fiddle to the ukulele. A standout new song included was the beautiful You And Me with a lovely fiddle

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solo that was followed up with a very pacey hoedown. Some of the covers performed included Morrissey’s The More You Know Me, The Closer You Get which I have to say sounded so much better sung by Sara. They then turned to gospel with the rousing River Of Jordan on which their voices melded together in a superb duet and Sara sang a gorgeous version of Linda Ronstadt’s Different Drum from the pen of Mike Nesmith. From Sara’s new CD came the Tom Waits ballad Pony and she nearly set her fiddle aflame with a great solo on John Hartford’s Long Hot Summer Days. Sara also sang plenty of her own compositions including the sweet and tender My Friend. This magnificent show came to a close with a great rendition of Dylan’s Forever Young with Sara’s soaring vocals a sheer delight. An encore of course beckoned and Sara upped the tempo with the two stepping Any Old Time that had everyone tapping and clapping along before finishing with a very lively jig. A truly magical show from the enchanting Sara Watkins. David Knowles

Nils Lofgren The Sage, Gateshead, October 25


’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Nils Lofgren over the years; electric bands, duo and solo, not forgetting his right-hand man duties with Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. The first time, for me, was way back in 1976 when Nils was supported by some upstart called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Now, that was an interesting evening. On this occasion Nils was supported by one Greg Varlotta; on keyboards, occasional acoustic rhythm guitar and very impressive tap-dancing. I’ll come to that later. Since I last saw Mr Lofgren he has undergone hip replacement surgery but you wouldn’t know that on the evidence of this show. The often reserved Sage audience were right behind their man from the off as Nils, resplendent in pork-pie hat, was all movement and dexterity; excelling on string-harp, Stratocasters and an array of Takamine acoustics. The two and a quarter hour show was a lesson in how to construct a set, with something for everyone; old favourites, obscurities and new material. In these troubled times Lofgren focused on the positive; Blue Skies, Little On Up Up, even throwing in an old favourite of his, What A Wonderful World. Night Fades Away was

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Otis Gibbs

a splendid surprise; then came solid classics as Lofgren took to the keyboards for Carole King’s Going Back and The Sun Hasn’t Set On This Boy Yet. His honky-tonk piano style remains very distinctive; and was probably a key feature that encouraged Neil Young to employ him for the AFTER THE GOLDRUSH sessions. Nils acknowledged his admiration for Young by performing a fine Long May You Run. Virtuoso acoustic playing was in evidence throughout the evening with few finer examples than Black Books. This dark, brooding country song was a tour de force as Nils recorded his rhythm work (with foot pedal) before soloing over the top to astounding results. The inevitable Keith Don’t Go remained a show-stopper with Lofgren’s sinewy guitar ringing out stunning solos; Keith would have been proud. The audience were amused by Mr Lofgren’s ability to sip from his tea-cup while playing solos, and his penchant to pirouette like a dancer. As the set built Nils trotted out the inevitable crowd pleasers, Because The Night (Springsteen), No Mercy Mercy, superb versions of Mud In Your Eye and I Came To Dance, featuring very impressive tap-dancing from Mr Varlotta and his pupil Mr Lofgren. The audience roared its collective approval, clapping and singing along before the final encore number, Shine Silently rounded off a stunning show. This was a memorable gig, even us seasoned Nils watchers realised we’d all witnessed something very special. Lofgren remains a superlative performer; enjoying the best of both worlds, a key member of the E Street Band and pursuer of a very satisfying solo career. After the show Nils Lofgren happily manned the merchandise table as the queues snaked around the front foyer. What a player, and what a gentleman! John Brindle

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Otis Gibbs Newcastle Cluny II, November 6


don’t know if it’s a sign of how difficult it is for British acts to get gigs these days but this is three in a row that the support slot has been outstanding. Sean Taylor from Kilburn in that there London was promoting his fourth album; WALK WITH ME and not only took the sold out Cluny II by surprise but by storm too. Each song was wholeheartedly received by an enthusiastic crowd who marvelled at the young man’s nimble-fingered skills on the guitar as well as his astonishing voice. Sean’s finale took me by surprise too; for a young man he certainly knows how to pick his cover songs—in this case his potent version of Ritchie Havens Freedom ( Motherless Children) —which showcased his mesmerising guitar skills and that wonderful voice. Sean Taylor is hardly a newcomer to the British folk scene; but certainly one to watch out for. With hardly any time for the packed crowd to get a fresh pint and/or a wee, regular visitor Otis Gibbs was bouncing on to the stage. For those of you who don’t know him, Otis looks like a reject from ZZ Top in Joe 90’s glasses, dresses like a stevedore and has a voice so deep he makes Tom Waits sound like a sissy. Touring the UK for the second time in a year to support his fifth album, JOE HILL’S ASHES Otis provides great value for money in these austere times by giving you two hours of outstanding folk songs and stories in the style of Woody Guthrie and Tom Paxton. The set opened with Otis virtually growling I Walked Out In Rhe River from the new CD and the cheers from the smallish venue as it ended that would have put an AC/DC audience to shame.

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Writing this the following day I can’t think of a song off JOE HILL’S ASHES that he didn’t perform but I certainly remember Where Only The Graves Are Real, 12 Men Dead in Sago and the title track which all sounded even more powerful sung live than the original recorded versions. Gibbs’ songs deal with some pretty serious subjects but he manages to get his message across with a twinkle in his eye and a good melody. As it was the last night of the tour, Otis gave the Cluny crowd a bit of a Greatest Hits show, with songs from every album being giving an airing like, Thinkin’ About Jolene, Small Town Saturday Night, Caroline and the pseudo-political One Day Our Whispers ( with its shout along chorus!) with each one prefaced with a story which generally left us grinning like ninnies. As a regular gig and CD reviewer for Maverick I occasionally get a bit jaded from listening to an endless procession of singer-songwriters, but tonight was like a breath of fresh air with two completely different artistes offering their own individual take on a well worn genre and sending 150 (or more) music fans home with smiles on their faces—and that can’t be a bad thing. Alan Harrison

Michael Weston King Dublin Castle, London, October 13


ichael Weston King stands alone with his guitar as flickering images of the past fill the screen behind him. Happy faces from early 1960s America interspersed with soldiers trooping off to war, coming back in caskets. King himself looks part prophet, part 1960s icon… hair reaching for his shoulders, beard wanting free reign, and wearing a cool khaki shirt of the sort that would have once graced the King’s Road. He’s singing about sadness, and loss, and despair, his crystal-clear voice reaching for the rafters. And swirling about him are the melancholic sounds of pedal steel, Alan Cook, one of the instrument’s true masters creating a soundscape that’s less country than darkly atmospheric. King, the master singer-songwriter, with a harmonica on one of those neckbrace thingies, is on a tour devoted to his album of protest songs, I DIDN’T RAISE MY BOY TO BE A SOLDIER , which spreads its anti-war message across more than a century. And the effect is

Pickin’ & Grinnin’ starkly beautiful, elements of the protest movement from the mid-20th century mixing with something more soulful, more dramatic. There’s silence in the room as the duo weave through a set taken almost entirely from the album. Mostly Cook is on steel, although on a couple of numbers he switches to mandolin, and one where he forms a guitar duo with King. Songs such as the title track (early 20th century lyrics from Alfred Bryan with a new King tune), Life is Fine (an equally-old poem from Langston Hughes, set to music by King), and King’s own, powerful In Time ring out, uplifting in their soul-searching. Not everything is about war, though. Somewhat of a contrast is the songlength introduction to Jim Ford, less well-known as a protest singer than for a varied life which included a brief spell as a country hitmaker, breaking up Marlon Brando’s marriage, acting in porn films and dying penniless in a Wyoming trailer park. Nevertheless his Sounds Of Our Time, written with Bobby Womack, fits King’s idiosyncratic bill and keeps its soulful bent, Cook’s pedal steel taking on the air of an eerie Hammond organ. King goes solo on a swinging version of Candi Staton’s Young Hearts Run Free which, as he’s quick to say, was always a protest song beneath its original disco guise. There’s a couple from Phil Ochs (Cops Cops Of The World World, and Is There Anybody There?, the latter particularly apt as you There? could hear a pin drop). King and Cook bring a quiet epic quality to some, while managing to make others rock in a subtle fashion. The set finishes with Marie, a sombre and spine-tingling reworking of the Townes Van Zandt classic, even more downbeat yet perhaps even more beautiful than the original (and a version immortalised by MWK on the Townes tribute album RIDING THE RANGE ). This is a show that deserves to be seen on a much bigger stage. Nick Dalton Tori Sparks

Tori Sparks

mbarking on their first tour as a duo, Sarah Springett and Liz Townsend aka the Floe show that life after the band is not a musical

compromise rather a progression into exciting new songs, new arrangements, and reworking of songs from the back catalogue. Much hard work has gone into rehearsals and filling the musical gap left by the sudden departure of David Booth and Simon Edgoose from the band. The faithful need not be apprehensive as this has been the catalyst for the girls to find a new direction and establish their musical identity. In the process hone their songwriting and in particular expose Liz’s considerable talent as a singersongwriter and multi instrumentalist. After a first night at Putney’s famous Half Moon venue, which suffered from the effects of a London Transport tube strike, the Farncombe Cavern was just the antidote. Two 45 minutes sets played to an attentive and appreciative audience in one of the best new music venues on the circuit. Opening with a new song, Wishful Thinking, the Hammond organ, synthesised strings and choir created a haunting and moody feel to the song. Sarah sings: ‘If I fall asleep with my fingers crossed will you hear my prayer (will it be alright) will you promise me there’s a road ahead where the future’s bright.’ I later found out had been sidelined because the girls thought it was too cheesy—these girls have high standards! The innovative reworking of the Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown classic, Heatwave, into a powerful smouldering ballad followed by the emotive love song Glove, ‘to the world you may be just one soul but to this soul you are the world’ brought a big whoop of appreciation from the audience. The first set concluded with two upbeat numbers Not What Knocks You Down and Pear Shaped. The former taking on gravitas from recent events as Sarah’s impassioned vocals grabp hold of the audience: ‘It’s not what knocks you down it’s how you get back up that makes the difference.’ The chorus and solid driving beat of Pear Shaped make for a great drive song, neatly harmonised, with a sound message: ‘don’t waste a day, why don’t we know what we’ve got until the day it’s gone.’ Set two opened with Treading Water, Sarah tells the audience: ‘ I thought I was young enough to still be writing about still teenage heartache but this song is about getting old and time going really quickly, the opening line is: Years pass and each one gets shorter, in the blink of an eye all the branches are bare.’ This linked into Do Not Disturb, with its sleepy don’t want to go outside vibe. Changing

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The Beehive, Swindon, October 21


he attractive and talented Nashville artist Tori Sparks dazzled the Beehive audience in a glamorous red dress and boots as she performed a fine selection of her songs putting plenty of emotion into her vocals. Tori’s songs blend together an interesting mix of Americana, country and blues. The first song, Cold War from her 2007 release UNDER THIS YELLOW SUN, was followed by Penny On A Rail from her latest album THE SCORPION IN THE STORY. Tori played guitar throughout the evening, explaining the stories behind the songs most of which related to people and places that she had come across on her travels. She continued with two more songs Tall Towers and Blue Tattoo from her latest album. These songs highlighted Tori’s musical versatility. One song that went down really well was her excellent bluesy flavoured Days And Days And Nights. Inbetween her own songs Tori did a great cover of the Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. Once again this song got a good response from the audience. The second half of the evening continued with more emotional vocals and excellent songs from Tori’s new and previously released albums. The audience were really impressed, clapping and cheering loudly in-between songs. Tori performed two more great songs Free and Mama. As the evening came to a close it was clear Tori was not going to get away without performing a few more songs. In the end Tori left the thoroughly happy audience with a delightful performance of Summertime. She was happy to chat and sign CDs and autographs in the interval and after the show had ended. All in all this was an excellent evening with wonderful music provided by an extremely talented young singer. I would recommend music fans of all genres go and see Tori Sparks if they get the chance as they certainly will not be disappointed. Sara Hunt

The Floe Farncombe Cavern, Farncombe, November 4


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seasons, the exquisite balladry of Summer with beautiful vocal harmonies and piano delivered a real tingle. Liz then showcased her immense talent with a piano and vocal solo called Sky is Red Red, about finding love. The ‘cello moment’ followed with Hold Me Down, unfortunately minus Dimitri (the cello) as it was too large to fit into their vehicle. The mood then changes to melancholy with Hourglass: ‘I can’t shift the shadows, I can’t halt the hour glass.’ Sarah explains: ‘I had to stop performing this song as it was so emotional for me. It was written during a dark time of my life when my boyfriend was seriously ill with kidney failure but the good news is, it’s two years since I gave him one of my kidneys.’ This goes neatly into Hope You Know Know, the song written to raise money for a great charity Live Life and Give Life. Two new songs followed with Swan Song concluding the second set. This was not enough for the audience and the Floe obliged with Over Half Way Home to chill the emotions and round off a highly accomplished show. The Floe are up there with the best live music I’ve heard this year and they remain the most exciting new band on the circuit. Jonathan Rabett

Tommy Emmanuel, Frank Vignola Cambridge Corn Exchange November 9


uitar music aficionados and fans packed out the Corn Exchange for what was to be a master class in guitar playing. First up on stage

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talked a little about a project he had been involved in helping the Navajo Indians and that he had been part of a show put on where a Navajo chief played the flute which had taken his breath away, he had then gone away and wrote a tune using all the musical breaks used by the chief and came up with the powerful The Trails with some incredibly intricate finger picking that had most of the audience looking on in awe. Next up came his tribute to Judy Garland and Les Paul with the gorgeous instrumental version of Over The Rainbow (Les had told Tommy about when he had played alongside Judy and how she Tommy Emmanuel brought everyone to tears when singing this song, including Les was jazz guitar sensation Frank Vignola and his band). with fellow guitar ace Vinny Raniolo. A treat came next with the title track Smiling and posing for photos as they to his new album LITTLE BY LITTLE with its played (which got many laughs from lovely lyrics. Tommy then upped the the audience) they slid straight into the tempo and energy level as he hand well-known Hoagy Carmichael tune slapped a drum beat on all parts of his Stardust and then onto the lovely Getting guitar including the strings as well as Sentimental Over You, their fingers were using a drum brush then even head just a blur as they treated the very butting the microphone before leading focused audience to the pacey fun-filled into a vibrant guitar solo. With the Brazilian tune Tico, Tico that included quite majestic Those Who Wait and the a few strains of Stairway To Heaven for tremendously popular Beatles’ medley good measure. They then paid homage that included instrumental versions of to the great Django Reinhardt with the Here Comes The Sun, When I’m 64, Day even faster Gypsy Mania before slowing Tripper and Lady Madonna, Tommy was things down for the wonderful Killing Me then joined on stage by Frank Vignola to Softly. Frank and Vinny’s set was far too Softly play a couple of tunes including a tender short but a treat was in store a little bit cover of Here, There And Everywhere. later on. The treat I mentioned earlier was With only a short break giving people then completed as Vinny Raniolo also just enough time to get drinks the bell joined them to see out the rest of the soon sounded to get everyone back show with a guitar feast culminating to their seats before Australian guitar with Wonderful World. This was a quite wizard Tommy Emmanuel walked out to exceptional show and Tommy is already centre stage. Tommy doesn’t really need planning another UK tour in April 2011 a band as he can play melody, rhythm, with a full electric band. David Knowles bass, drums and much more on his guitar all at the same time and he swiftly entertained with a super instrumental tune showing off his amazing talent as The Centre Stage, Bournemouth, one of the greatest ever guitar fingerpickers. November 14 Tommy then sang on the next medley in tribute to Merle Travis that ournemouth turned out in force included Sixteen Tons, Guitar Rag and for the much anticipated visit of Nine Pound Hammer whilst making the newly formed Celtic band KAN. guitar look so easy. He then announced Irishman Brian Finnegan (whistles) that he had been asked to contribute a and Scot Aiden O’Rourke (fiddle) from track for a new Burt Bacharach album revered bands Flook and Lau joined which he duly recorded that morning forces with guitarist Ian Stephenson in Leicester and it had then been sent and drummer Jim Goodwin to deliver over to America, the track in question what can only be described as Celtic was the beautiful Close To You which firepower to a packed Centre Stage. he then of course played. Tommy Grouping several tunes into sets, they



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Mary Chapin Carpenter

kicked off with Belfast, a medley of three reels followed by Steps, a set of three jigs. After a messy false start, they slowed things down with Only, Only all three sets being taken from Brian Finnegan’s recently released album RAVISHING GENIUS OF BONES . It was back to jigs with the very lively Craignish set and three great tunes given the title Forest before they closed the first set with their lengthy Epic; a grouping of four tunes, the first entitled Lunchtime Boredom, a slow almost bluesy offering followed by three uptempo tunes from Northumberland, Scotland and the Basque region of Spain. Inevitably, there was brisk business on the merchandise counter during the break before they returned with Bah Humbug from Aiden O’Rourke’s album SIRIUS and Ian Stephenson’s self penned Module 1. Starrs, a lovely tune inspired by Brian Finnegan’s grandmother and again taken from RAVISHING GENIUS OF BONES was followed by two more from the same album, the lively Nightride (to Armagh) and the set Marga’s. All too soon the evening was drawing to a close and the band finished with another pairing from Ian Stephenson and Aiden O’Rourke under the title Noble. This was Celtic music at its very best and the knowledgeable audience understandably clamoured for more. Needing no other encouragement, the band returned to deliver what was the standout tune of the evening but having only recently been introduced, has yet to receive a title. Again, Bournemouth Folk Club are to be congratulated for bringing such a talented group of musicians to the town and one can only hope that KAN

stick together and continue to thrill their audiences. No one at the BFC went home disappointed. John Roffey

Bill Kirchen

Arkansas Diamond. Those and more tracks from the new album ( Bump Wood, I Don’t Work That Cheap Cheap, Merle Haggard’s Shelly’s Winter Love, a duet with O’Dell , Ain’t Got Time For The Blues ) melded with older material (the powerhouse title track from his previous album, Hammer Of The Honky-tonk Gods, plus Rocks Into Sand ). There was a Cody section with 1970s favourites Wine, Wine, Wine and Seeds And Stems, anthems to what it was that fuelled the band. Kirchen’s guitar dexterity—a bassy western swing concoction—is always a delight; add his hangdog expression and self-deprecating musings, along with a guitar and drum wander through the crowd, and the result is wondrous combination of virtuoso playing and good humour. An encore featured a sublime Milk Cow Blues and it was over, a show well over and hour and a half long. Two nights later Kirchen was playing in Jerusalem, part of a State Department tour. You really can’t have too much fun. Nick Dalton

Luminaire, London, November 16

Mary Chapin Carpenter


The Sage, Gateshead, November 4

t doesn’t matter how many times you see it, it’s still great fun. Bill Kirchen’s party piece, a run through of Hot Rod Lincoln, a rock‘n’rolling classic from his days with Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, with an added bonus. Bill’s trusty Telecaster takes us through the history of guitar music, throwing in snatches of everyone from country greats to blues legends, pop stars to rock stars. And, unless I’m mistaken, it’s still growing; I’ve seen it going back the best part of 20 years but I don’t recall the Iggy And The Stooges homage. And then it’s back to twang and a rockabilly beat. Kirchen is a showman known for his ‘dieselbilly’ truck-driving country rock, but he does a whole lot more. His latest album WORD TO THE WISE features everything from touching ballads to growling rock, all with a country backbone. The record features a host of star chums (Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and that sort of crowd) but they’re all off somewhere and any expectation of a starry evening is quickly put to bed. That leaves us with Bill and his combo, Too Much Fun, which this time round is long-time drummer Jack O’Dell, and Maurice Cridlin, big, bearded and barely able to stand, a perfect, old-school jazzy bassist. Oh, and Louise Kirchen, Bill’s wife and songwriting partner, who joined in on vocals for several numbers, such as

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he energetic Tift Merritt opened the show with an impressive halfhour solo set, switching between guitar and piano and finishing off with a front-of-stage a cappella acoustics-tester (passed with flying colours). Following a short break, Mary Chapin Carpenter took to the stage and started We Have Traveled, the opening track on her latest Traveled CD, THE AGE OF MIRACLES . One by one, the band members came on, exchanged a bow and a smile with Mary and joined in the song. This provided an excellent opening to the show, with the song building up methodically until everyone was in position and playing together. The Sage was full. I was fortunate to have front row seats in what was clearly a sold-out show. Crowd pleasers came early in the set, such as the toe-tapping Lucinda Williams number, Passionate Kisses. Of course, this was not merely a greatest hits show and songs from THE AGE OF MIRACLES were the main focus of attention. From the up-tempo I Put My Ring Back On to the slower and sadder Mrs Hemmingway Hemmingway, the new material was delivered in an assured manner which really brought the best out of the talent on show. I Have a Need for Solitude is probably

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Pickin’ & Grinnin’ my favourite song from THE AGE OF MIRACLES . In a way, it highlights the contrast between Mary’s home life and her world of touring. Despite enjoying the travelling and playing, she admitted looking forward to returning home to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and greeting each and every one of her cats and dogs with a big kiss on the mouth. ‘So if you ever come and visit me, you can be sure of a big kiss on the mouth...and I might kiss you too,’ she quipped. Tift Merritt returned with the band for a stirring encore, bopping around the stage playing the tambourine as if it was the main instrument. The concluding song was a duet of Tift’s Another Country Country, with her piano skills complimenting Mary’s acoustic guitar very nicely indeed. This was the last date on their UK tour. It was an assured, confident performance and the artistes appeared to be just as happy as the appreciative audience. It was another great night at the Sage. Sean Marsh Blackheart

Blackheart The Beehive, Swindon, November 10


fter a highly successful and enjoyable tour of Australia and New Zealand Richard Pilkington and Chrissy Mostyn, otherwise known as the talented British duo Blackheart, returned home to continue their tour on familiar soil. The couple always get a good welcome when they play in Swindon at the Beehive. The first set started with Waiting For Light a new song that they wrote in Tasmania that proved to be an excellent song. They continued with Wonderland from their 2007 album release INDIGO, Unlike Water, which was used in a kitchen advert and Are You Coming Home from their INVISIBLE album. Richard enhanced the songs with his amazing guitar playing. The penultimate song of the first half was another new song called Don’t Throw It

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All Away, which was highly appreciated by the audience. The set ended with a bluegrass style song You Say, You Say. The second Say set started with the opening song from their INVISIBLE album Wednesday Afternoon followed Bridie Jackson by Thank God You Found Me, a nice song, from the same CD. Chrissy and Richard went on to perform a great version of 01204, which is the postcode of Richard’s home town. Two more new songs followed Here I Go Again and Hold Our Breath, which Chrissy told the audience, was written in Samson and Delilah her kitchen. With Christmas fast approaching the duo performed Christmas Day In Dublin, which was written in Ireland. This is a lovely song just right for the time of year—well-written and sung beautifully. Richard did some guitar numbers, which always go down well with fans. Lively and very entertaining it is always a treat to hear Richard’s playing. The evening was rounded off with two popular songs from their past albums 94 Years and Farewell. As always Richard and Chrissy put on a wonderful show. They are two really talented performers. All that remains is to wait eagerly for the release of their new CD. Sara Hunt

The Banoffee Pie Tour Collective The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle, November 5


first saw Bridie Jackson when she supported Cara Dillon at the Durham Gala Theatre earlier this year. I was intrigued to hear about the Banoffee Pie Tour Collective (co-founded by Bridie) and was in the fortunate position of being able to ask Bridie directly about the venture. What was it all about? ‘I think it was sort of an idea born out

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of frustration, really. I really wanted to branch out in terms of the areas I was playing in, but it’s really hard to get booked outside of the region your known in. I contacted quite a lot of musicians from other cities and actually found out that they were experiencing exactly the same thing. So I thought, well, we should just create our own network and support each other’s work.’ So with shows booked for Newcastle, Manchester and London, the Tour Collective was all ready to take their respective musical specialities into new areas, with one of the main acts in the role of host each time. I was fortunate to be able to make it to the first leg of the tour on Bonfire Night in Newcastle. The fireworks against the night sky gave the evening a celebratory air before the show had even begun. The Cumberland Arms proved to be an ideal venue for the collective. The upstairs, intimate performance room offered a small stage and close-as-youlike seats, complete with a bar at the other end. There was a good turn out and the intimacy of the evening was further enhanced by a good percentage of the audience sitting cross-legged on the floor, conjuring up the ambience of the bygone beatnik years. Laura Kirby was the compere for the evening and she started the show by

Pickin’ & Grinnin’ introducing Matt Stalker & Fables, who played a very pleasant set of quirky, acoustic ballads. Manchester’s Samson & Delilah were next up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many instruments used by one group: guitars, drums, accordion, keyboards, mandolin, double bass, a flute and probably one or two more things all featured during their extraordinary, varied set. They played a number of songs from their debut album and several from their forthcoming new one. Newcastle’s ‘home’ act, Bridie Jackson, followed soon after Samson and Delilah. Bridie brings an incredible intensity to her songs. Her extraordinary, haunting voice and deep, poetic lyrics create a very unusual listening experience. It’s all challenging, thought-provoking and sometimes even bordering on the uncomfortable (in a good way!). There are songs about broken relationships, sibling rivalries and dysfunctional people. The final act of the evening was Kid Kirby, featuring the ubiquitous Laura Kirby. Their acoustic set was the shortest of the evening, but by then it was getting quite late. Nevertheless, it maintained the high standard already seen and the softer sound brought the show to a fitting conclusion. It was a wonderful, very different musical evening and everyone genuinely seemed to really enjoy themselves, whether they were on the stage or in the audience. And the unusual name? Quite simple: there was the added twist of a free piece of banoffee pie for every member of the audience! Sean Marsh

Eric Taylor The Wheelhouse, Wombwell, October 23


n evening with singer-songwriter Eric Taylor offers much more than a handful of songs and a joke or two in between. Part songs, part theatrical performance, an Eric Taylor show has the potential to take you places you only ever dreamed of going, if you allow yourself to become lost in the vast American landscape that is, a landscape inhabited by carnival folk, Kerouac characters and Native American legends. As Jack Kerouac and the other ‘Beats’ of the 1950s took us on wild zigzagging car journeys across America through their poetry and prose, Taylor does something similar with his stream of consciousness performances,

Eric Taylor

something that likewise enables you to forget where you are momentarily. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, later finding his spiritual home in Houston, Texas, Eric Taylor has subsequently become known as one of the key players in the Texas songwriter’s circle that includes such notable figures as the late Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith. Married to Griffith at a pivotal time in country music that saw a cluster of new emerging singer-songwriters in the early 1980s, Taylor always felt more comfortable writing than performing and has subsequently gone on to find his niche as a fine storyteller, playwright and poet who is known to embellish his rich repertoire of memorable songs with an informative yet laid back narrative. With his beret-covered head just dodging the rafters of the Wheelhouse tonight, the tall guitar player performed a selection of songs from his own impressive songbook, starting with Carnival Jim and Jean, immediately drawing his audience into a fascinating world of characters from the outskirts of town; the carnival people, midgets and knife throwers, cotton-candy makers and carnival dogs all driving Buicks. For those along for the ride, it was going to be a thrill; for those not entirely on board, it was going to be presumably a long ride. Paying homage to his friend Townes Van Zandt, Taylor prefaced Highway Kind with a highly probably tale, recalling the time in Houston’s Old Quarter, when Townes was asked to play a happy song amidst all the depressing stuff, to which the legendary songwriter allegedly responded: ‘these are the happy songs, you don’t wanna hear the sad ones.’

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These stories are told with complete conviction, in an almost theatrical manner. Weaving intriguing tales such as buying trinkets from Johnny Cash’s mother to meeting notable sub-culture literary figures including Naked Lunch author William Burroughs, the poet Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac’s daughter Jan, author of Baby Driver, Taylor keeps your interest throughout. Whether any of it’s true or not is unimportant; it’s the escapism that holds your attention, yet I suspect most of it is indeed true. Referring to his eponymous titled album as ‘the old ’95 record’, one of which was brought along to be signed by the singer tonight, Taylor retraced the steps of Kerouac’s anti-hero in that album’s opening song Dean Moriarty Moriarty, indicating once again the enormous influence of On The Road on our key songwriters over the last five decades. Likewise, Taylor thinks himself privileged to have been given the chance to travel between New York City and Texas, working with the likes of Dave Van Ronk, Eric Von Schmidt and Jean Richie; although he confesses that it came at a price, with heroin also becoming a huge part of his life. Whorehouse Mirrors and Pawnshop Knives, Manhattan Mandolin and Prison Movie all stand testament to a life lived, each imbued with candid honesty. As a survivor of recent heart surgery, Taylor returns to form once again with an insatiable appetite for travelling and performing, possibly against good advice. In an almost cathartic performance, which touched on confessionals surrounding heroin addiction together with hints towards alcoholism, a supposed innate suspicion of mandolin players and jokes about

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Pickin’ & Grinnin’ bluesman’s repertoire, such as Catfish Blues coupled with Howling Wolf’s Back Door Man and Dave Carter’s infectious Crocodile Man. Prestage kept up the energy to the final few bars of 2:19, famed for the use of his home2:19 made cigar box guitar, essentially an electric guitar made out of an old cigar box. Prestage also included the Hank Williams classic Lost Highway Highway, again indicating the close connection between country music and the blues. The extended applause and calls for a well-deserved encore at the end of Siegal’s set saw both bluesmen return to the stage to finish the night off in style, the pair bringing the night to a thrilling climax with Chuck Berry’s Nadine, the traditional gospel song Revelator and finally Prestage taking the lead on a storming version of Big Fat Mama. A great night for music fans in general, but especially for those with a taste for the combined forces of country and rural blues music. Allan Wilkinson

Ian Siegal and Ben Prestage

Tom Russell, which resulted in nervous giggles from some members of the audience, Taylor’s eventful life was once again put on display for all to bear witness to, interspersed with a handful of honest and enduring songs. Great to see him back. Allan Wilkinson

Ian Siegal and Ben Prestage Fibbers, York, November 15


ibbers provided a feast of blues tonight from both sides of the Atlantic courtesy of British bluesman Ian Siegal and Florida-born one man band Ben Prestage, who between them brought the newly refurbished York venue alive with the sound of tastefully selected rural blues and country-flavoured songs from the backwoods. Ian Siegal has gained a reputation as a first class British bluesman, both as the leader of his own energy-driven blues band and as a soloist. His current album BROADSIDE has been named Mojo blues album of the year, the first such accolade for a non-American artist. Straddling the boundaries of blues and country music, Siegal finds himself equally at home with Hank Williams as with Muddy Waters; ‘they’re all bluesmen’ he insists. Re-releasing the acoustic album THE DUST (2008) especially for this current tour, which reflects the sort of material played during these solo shows, Siegal chose The Silver Spurs from the album as his opening number tonight. With a fine cross section of songs mixing up country ballads such as Guy Clark’s The Cape,

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Kris Kristofferson’s Silver Tongued Devil and Townes Van Zandt’s Tecumseh Valley with Muddy Waters’ Nineteen Years Old and the traditional Mary Don’t You Weep Weep, Siegal manages to keep his audience enthralled as he growls, howls and serenades in equal measure. After an impressive warm up set from Thornensians Rugby Club, the young York-based singer/guitarist Thorne, November 19 Mark Wynn who kicked off the night, Florida’s Ben Prestage brought the On the eve of her album launch in stage alive with his single-manned Leeds, Rosie Doonan and her band mini-orchestra, playing guitar, bass, came to Thorne to play a set of songs harmonica and drums simultaneously, using each of his The Rosie Doonan Band four limbs to the fullest extent in the process. Performing songs predominantly from his current REAL MUSIC album, the one man orchestra delighted the audience with his energy and dynamism, starting with Downtown Strutter’s Ball from the album as well as including material from the likes of Jesse Fuller and the Reverend Gary Davis throughout his all too short set. Immediately and without hesitation, Prestage honoured audience requests as they were shouted out by audience members already familiar with the

The Rosie Doonan Band

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predominantly from the new album POT OF GOLD, the follow up to the stunning MOVING ON (2007), which saw Rosie literally move on in another direction from the familiar folk fare of her days with childhood friend Ben Murray. With her trademark flame-red hair and piercing blue eyes, together with no small measure of ‘attitude’, Rosie was once again full of banter between songs, joking with both audience and fellow band mates alike, bringing a sense of fun to the evening. Asking the audience whether they liked a bit of blues and a bit of rock the band launched into Fall For Me, the new single from the album, which already has an accompanying video featuring Rosie wandering through golden wheat fields with contrasting red hair and matching cardigan and Gibson electric, not to mention, a Mad Hatter’s tea party and obligatory streaker (don’t go frantically running to YouTube, it’s not Rosie!). With a band including regulars Gary Stewart on drums and guitar, who also provided support, performing a handful of songs from his own debut album BOY CRIES WOLF, Miklos Woodwood on bass, Jonny Firth on guitar and at one point drums and on his first outing with the band, Wilful Missing’s Sam Lawrence on mandolin and keyboards, the set was given a suitably rocky edge, especially on That Boy Boy, the bluesy Fool For You and the soul-drenched Don’t Let Me Go. Rosie was reminded during an interview earlier in the evening of a song that is rarely played live these days, the utterly gorgeous Time from her previous album, which Rosie forced herself to remember, going on to perform the song solo at the piano, which for me was the highlight of the night. Lady Blue also demonstrated precisely this inherent command over emotionally charged sensitive songs that this songwriter returns to time and again. Rosie can also be as whimsical as

it gets with the ukulele accompanied TLC and Victor, borrowing from Victor the music hall tradition. Rosie may straddle the borders between folk and pop, with a gift for writing memorable melodies and may be possessed of an insatiable appetite for a bigger sound, but it’s with Rosie’s distinctive and inimitable voice that we return to time Andy Cutting and time again. May she continue to get the recognition and credit she thoroughly deserves. Allan Wilkinson

Andy Cutting The Greystones, Sheffield, November 17 Andy Cutting confessed right from the start tonight that he doesn’t sing, going on to say: ‘well I do, however I would rather you stay than leave.’ The prospect then, for a night of instrumental melodeon tunes one after the other may under normal circumstances sound slightly daunting and in some cases that would be perfectly understandable. However, the melodeon in the hands of this particular musician, which he refers to as his ‘funny little machine’, provides a panoramic musical landscape with the ability to take the listener away to similar emotional places that songs do. Avoiding clever pyrotechnics, awkward and busy arrangements, the act of setting fire to his instrument or smashing it against the amp, despite being an honorary member of the Who, Andy Cutting instead sits alone onstage and delivers some of the most beautiful music you are likely to hear anywhere. With a string of highly successful concerts at the Boardwalk, the Bright Phoebus Co-operative, namely Kit Bailey, Fay Hield, Lindsay Smith, Jon Boden and Martin Simpson, together with a mammoth list of supporters, has broadened its remit, setting up a monthly concert night at the former Highcliffe Hotel, now re-named The Greystones in the Greystones area of Sheffield, for what could potentially be the premier mid-week musical attraction for the months to come. Tonight, Nancy Kerr was delighted to perform her very first MC duties, whilst Andy Bell made sure everything sounded as good as it possibly could from his position

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behind the sound desk and Martin Simpson, one of our most respected musicians, was only too happy to look after tonight’s special guest’s CD shop as well as announcing the winners of the obligatory raffle. Such is the sense of comradeship amongst the growing Bright Phoebus community. Nancy started both sets off, first of all accompanying herself on the fiddle with the Northumberland courting song Gan to the Kye, which served as a timely antidote to another high profile courtship in the news ‘that we’re supposed to be interested in’ and secondly with the unaccompanied Morton Bay Bay. Introducing Andy Cutting to the stage, Nancy affectionately described the musician as both brilliant and ‘eerily youthful.’ The sell out concert was populated by an audience who were respectfully silent through the music and deliberately noisy through the applause, which was predictably plentiful. Whilst Andy performed tunes from his back catalogue such as Incontinental Mood coupled with Flat World World, as well as a selection from his recently released eponymously titled debut solo album, such as Atherfield, CEG, Charlie/Come Back! and Granton Fish Bowl Bowl, the audience divided themselves equally between those with furrowed brows, stroking their chins intent on watching Andy’s every move with great concentration together with those gleefully swaying along to the variety of infectious rhythms, to finally those reclining in their seats, eyes closed, totally relaxed, allowing the music to simply wash over them, temporarily leaving their worldly cares behind. In between each of the tunes, Andy delighted the audience with his stories, everything from his concerns about British bed and breakfasts, especially the cold toast racks and insufficient butter rations, to his beloved dogs and his children. There’s something warm and immediately engaging about Andy Cutting, who speaks to his audience in precisely the same way he might chat to a friend at the bar. This is also testament to the seemingly endless list of musician friends he’s had the pleasure to work with over the years. Andy’s recording credit list is enormous, the celebrated melodeon maestro, named Musician of the Year in 2008 by the BBC in their annual Folk Awards, having worked with everyone from Kate Rusby and June Tabor to Chris Wood and Martin Simpson, by way of the odd foray outside the usual folk sphere, working

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with both Sting and the Who. Towards the end of a stunning second set, which included the jaunty Annaliese/There Are Angels, together with Oliver’s/Two Beers and the two tunes Potato/Theatre, the names of which were inspired by the fact that Ian Carr finds the way Andy pronounces those two words hilarious, Andy invited Nancy Kerr up onstage for a set of tunes, The Other Side of the World/Adder’s. With a final solo encore, Andy chose to play the utterly beautiful Old Light and The Abbess, two tunes that coincidentally close the new album, bringing what could only be described as a stunning evening of extraordinary music to an end. Allan Wilkinson

Kevin Welch Brontë Music Club, Rathfriland, Co. Down, October 9


hat is it about Kevin Welch that attracts sell-out crowds on each and every occasion he appears at this premier venue? This is one rhetorical question certainly requiring no reply. The man is simply an exceptionally talented artist, enormously appreciated by another sell-out crowd of fans who continually turn up to take in his every visit to this so way-out-of-town location, it could almost double as a retreat. Maybe it’s because he has played here quite a few times now, both solo and with his fellow Dead Reckoners, Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin, that he feels so at ease with his audience, engendering this relaxed style and, of course, peerless performances. The night started off with a misplaced capo, during the hunt for which Kevin bemoaned the fact that the Irish leg of the tour was over much too soon, as he wasn’t quite ready to leave just yet. The ensuing search also provided a welcome opportunity to formally introduce his fellow travellercum-accompanist on this short tour, Donegal-based, but Kilmarnock-born, guitarist and mandola player, and erstwhile singer-songwriter, Ian Smith. Ian had opened the show with a great set of his own songs, including Pablo’s Eyes and Keadue Strand. He is certainly an artist well worth a main slot on some future occasion. With mislaid capo now in place, Kevin kicked off his contribution to the night with The Great Emancipation, after which he urged all to remind him to show off a little trick with his guitar at the end of the night.

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This feat would simply amaze us. We were intrigued, but patient. During the next fifty or so minutes, punctuated with the usual little anecdotes we have come to expect, we were treated to the remaining nine tracks off the new album, A PATCH OF BLUE SKY, his thirteenth in various guises. This is a very creditable release with, in my opinion some outstanding tracks from first to last, none more so than the poignant, Marysville, dedicated to one small Australian town, which suffered more than most during the February 2009 Victoria bushfires. The others, including the lovely Midnight and Noon, are all well worth a listen. After some liquid refreshment was taken on board, Kevin then called for requests from a crowd obviously well acquainted with his back catalogue and set about doing as many as possible within the inevitable time constraints, given the lateness of the hour coupled with the prospect of a dawn start for his flight to Glasgow. Still, he managed to include a few more gems, not least John Hiatt’s soulful Train to Birmingham, Flycatcher Jack and the melancholy Prayer Like Any Other, the latter two featuring on YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERYBODY, before the curtain was lowered on yet another memorable evening of top class entertainment. What about that guitar trick, I hear you ask? With the push of a button or two, the guitar in use during the evening folded into a very manageable unit and was tucked away into a very neat travel bag ready for its next show. Quite remarkable, as David Coleman might say (the older ones will remember!), and an absolute must for any travelling troubadour worth his salt. Cathal McLaughlin

Carolina Chocolate Drops RASA, Utrecht (Netherlands), November 10


ome music proves very hard to put into a museum. Where artifacts of ancient empires remind us of times long gone, music simply goes into hiding waiting for a drop of water to prolong its lifespan. That’s because there will always be young men and women who’d like to know more about their musical roots. Take Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson for instance. Three Afro-American banjo-playing youngsters who met each other in 2005 at the Black Banjo Gathering. There in Asheville

Pick i n’ & G r i n n i n’

(North Carolina), they hooked up with 87-year-old fiddler Joe Thompson, who taught them all the tricks and trades of Blackstring music. Typical of ‘Blackstring-music’ is the use of Africanbased string instruments like banjo and mandolin, accompanied by homemade instruments like tub-bass, kazoo and jug (and occasional ‘white’ instruments like the fiddle). After the gathering they decided to dedicate their lives to Blackstring music and formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They quickly gained attention in the media with a striking cover of Blue Cantrell’s Hit ‘em up Style; not just in the USA, but also in Europe. In the wake of their latest release GENUINE NEGRO JIG , they decided to cross the Atlantic to perform on the continent which, ironically, was largely responsible for the forced migration of Africans to America in the first place. After a successful gig in London, the Chocolate Drops arrived at RASA in Utrecht (the Netherlands) to find an audience that’s genuinely interested in ancient North-American music. And they weren’t disappointed, because a CCD-gig is both instructive and entertaining. The Carolina Chocolate Drops play a mix of styles including jug-band music, bluegrass, gospel, blues and even waltz. Between the songs they take their time to explain the origins of the tunes they play and the instruments they use. During the show, they make it clear that the main function of Blackstring music was (and still is) entertainment. Frontman Dom Flemons proves to be the clown in the band with his spectacular guitar acrobatics and hilarious remarks. Apart from that he’s an excellent player on both banjo, guitar and castanets (made of cow bones!). Rhiannon Giddens is an expert on banjo and violin and her soulful, opera-trained voice ranges from sugary sweet to right down mean and dirty. Justin Robinson is the quiet one on stage, but manages to surprise the crowd completely with a stunning version of the traditional Three Little Babies. An a cappella rendition of the Negro spiritual Travelin’ Shoes proves to be the perfect ending of a very entertaining evening. But the Drops are not looking back forever. They’ve already recorded an EP with the Rumanian Luminescent Orchestrii, and are planning to join up with African musicians in the future. With GENUINE NEGRO JIG they built a bridge between the 20th and the 21st century, and now they continue their mission to spread the gospel of banjo wherever they can. Bob Nijenhuis

THE OLD BRASS HARP To the casual observer it’s nothing more than a battered chunk of yellowed metal but closer inspection reveals the relic’s true origins—a 19th century mouth-organ retrieved from a Cornish shipwreck…and what a fantastic story it has to tell BRYAN C HALKER REPORTS ...


bought the old brass mouth-organ from Charlestown, Cornwall’s Shipwreck & Heritage Centre in 1972 for £6. It came with a document (long since lost) authenticating its retrieval from a Cornish wreck, the SS. Mosel, wrecked near Lizard Point. The instrument joined a number of other harmonicas and early Dinky Toys in a display cabinet and I thought little more about it until recently, when I returned to Charlestown and the Shipwreck Museum. The humble mouthorgan, of course, has played an important role in the development of country music since DeFord Bailey made his mark on the Grand Ole Opry in 1926. Over the years a large number of musicians and singers have emerged as supreme harmonica players, among them Onie Wheeler, Doc Watson, Lonnie Glosson, Jimmy Riddle, Charlie McCoy, Mickey Raphael, Terry McMillan, Jimmie Fadden, Tony Eyers, Mike Caldwell and Delbert McClinton. I have also used the harmonica as a principal instrument in my stage act and recordings and now have a collection of some twenty examples

A collection of Richter harmonicas retrieved from the wreck of the SS Mosel on display at the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Charlestown

from 1882 until the present day. The oldest is the venerable brass-plated relic retrieved from the seabed by wreck divers investigating the remains of the immigrant steamer SS Mosel during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The mouthorgan, a Gebr. Ludwig ‘Richter’ model manufactured between 1880 and 1882, was one of a large number found at the Lizard wreck-site and given to the Shipwreck & Heritage Centre. There were so many, in fact, that at the time of my first visit in 1972 the museum was actually selling examples as wreck

SS Mosel Postcard

The Old Brass Harp

souvenirs. These days, however, such artefacts are hard to come by and the Museum no longer disposes of its stock in such a way. I count myself extremely fortunate in having the old Richter mouth-organ in my collection. Back then there was a lively country music scene in Cornwall but I was never a part of it with my band New Frontier. My trip there was nothing more than a family holiday. It was holiday time again recently and, based in a splendid holiday cottage near Mevagissey, Charlestown was just a few miles away and we spent a morning there. We being my wife Glenys and long-time German friends, Wolfgang and Renate Bieczek from Berlin. I must credit Wolfgang with helping me to source some of the illustrations for this story. The steamship Mosel was built in 1872 for Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) by Caird & Co. in Greenock, Scotland. She was 349 feet long, 40 feet wide, weighed 3,200 tons, sported sails fore and aft and was launched on April 1, 1873. The ship’s maiden voyage was Bremen to Southampton to New York and she was carrying immigrants; mostly farmers and tradesmen seeking a fresh beginning in the New World. The Mosel also carried a limited amount of cargo and at the time of her sinking on August 9, 1882, there

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The working edge of Bryan Chalker’s 1880s German mouth-organ, showing the reed holes relatively intact

was a consignment of Richter mouthorgans on board, along with a number of immigrants, all of whom were saved. The Mosel sailed on her last voyage from Bremen on July 2, 1882, bound for Southampton and then New York but was wrecked in fog near Lizard Point on the return passage but with no loss of life. The Mosel’s captain at that time was Julius Hesse and when fog fell, he had the good sense to reduce speed of the single screw compound engine and the ship ran aground rather than rammed rocks at its full capacity of 13 knots. After the explosion We will never know why immigrants were returning to Germany, or how many were on board on that fateful day but the SS Mosel had a passenger capacity of 896; 90 first-class; 126 secondclass and 680 thirdclass. In an earlier incident, recorded in 1875, a man named Thomassen placed a time-bomb on board the Mosel in a dispute about a cargo of goods stowed on her. An explosion occurred in the port of Bremerhaven and 128 people lost their lives. Thomassen confessed to his crime and apparently tried to kill himself but we do not know the outcome of this tragic event. As for the mouth-organs, it is truly remarkable that so many survived and according to the Shipwreck Museum, a few were still playable when cleaned of concretion and marine debris. My particular example is far from pristine but remains instantly recognisable as a mouth-organ and the name ‘Richter’ can still be seen quite clearly etched into one of its brass plates. The mund-harmoniker, to give the instrument its German name, in its early form, dates back to 1821, when sixteen-year old Christian Friedrich Buschmann registered the first European patents for a new musical invention called an ‘Aura’, a free-reed instrument consisting of a series of steel reeds arranged together horizontally in small

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channels and offering only ‘blow’ holes arranged chromatically. To cut a lengthy story short, the ‘aura’ looked like a conventional mouth-organ but with the side plates removed. The instrument, as we know it today, might owe its existence to a Bohemian instrument maker named Joseph Richter, who is credited by many to have made the most important advancements in early harmonica design in 1826. Richter is said to have developed a variation on Buschmann’s original instrument that

consisted of ten holes and twenty reeds, with separate ‘blow’ and ‘draw’ reed plates mounted on either side of a cedar wood comb. Joseph Richter’s tuning, utilising a diatonic scale, became the standard configuration of what Europeans called the Mundharmonika. The most famous name in harmonicas is that of Hohner. Matthias Hohner was a German clockmaker and astute businessman, who saw a niche in the market for a portable musical instrument and began by marketing Richter’s mouth-organ. By 1857,

The Old Brass Harp

Hohner began manufacturing his own harmonicas and in that first year was able to produce a total of 650, before developing a mass-production technique and introducing the harmonica to North America in 1862. By 1887, Hohner was producing more than a million harmonicas annually and among its most notable players during the Victorian era were none other than Wyatt Earp and Billy The Kid! Hohner’s Marine Band model became the most popular harmonica of all time. It’s amazing to think that my battered little chunk of brass and wood, for so long just a seemingly insignificant part of my collection of harmonicas and other musical instruments (including ukuleles, banjos, guitars and jews-harps) should finally emerge as the star exhibit. But none of this research would have been possible without access to the internet and Wolfgang’s patience in tracking down photographs and postcards of a Cornish shipwreck. Bryan Chalker SS Mosel







t the age of 57, Sandy Hill has just fulfilled a lifelong ambition and released her first album, TICKLED PINK . It is a major triumph! Received with rapturous 5 star reviews in Maverick and elsewhere in the music press, TICKLED PINK features some of the UK’ss most respected musicians including Jools Holland, the legendary bassist Herbie Flowers and veteran cockney instrumentalist Joe Brown. The album has been expertly produced by Joe’s multi-talented daughter Sam, who has woven a wonderful mix of different kinds of music around Sandy’s attractive voice. The result is one of those rare, evocative albums that just makes you smile, relax and feel warm and good from the first to the last track. But Sandy Hill is no newcomer to the music business. She was working at the Abbey Road studios from their 1969 heyday and started her career routinely working alongside the likes of the Beatles, their producer George Martin, Cliff Richard, Pink Floyd and the Hollies. Sandy subsequently sang and lived abroad for many years—including Europe, India and the USA. She only returned to the UK permanently in the 1990s, finally settling in a village not far from Henley-on-Thames. When I met Sandy she describes her early days at Abbey Road, her subsequent life and the steps that culminated in the gem that is TICKLED PINK . Sam Brown, just back from a trek in the Himalayas in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, also speaks about her own role as producer, advisor, arranger and musical contributor contributor— and why she is especially pleased with the acclaim Sandy’s album has received. It is a damp and dreary day and eeven picturesque Henley-on-Thames feels rather forlorn and forbidding. But Sandy, fresh from her yoga class, is smiling and ebullient with a zest and vitality that would be the envy of many a 35 yearold. She is clearly delighted to have the opportunity to talk about TICKLED PINK . “I always wanted to sing and make my own album,” Sandy explains. “From a very early age I loved music. When I was just 5 or so, I would always put my head against the speakers of the big old radiogram in my parents’ home in Chelmsford, Essex. I’d listen intently to music—in the early days to Elvis, Billy Fury and Joe Brown and in later years to the Beatles and the Carpenters—but always and especially to Cliff Richard! In fact, there’s a lesser-known Cliff Richard song on my album called London’s

Not Too Far that I recall from way back then. Hank Marvin wrote it. There was something about the quality of Cliff’s voice that I always loved and that song—about a little girl wanting to go to London to find the man she’s seen on TV—foreshadowed what happened later to me.” “My school and my parents never encouraged me to sing—in fact they were very discouraging about the possibility of a career in music—but I was always quietly determined that I would eventually do that. So when I was 16, I just telephoned Abbey Road studios and said I’d like to work for them. Amazingly, they immediately asked me to come and see them which I did—and they gave me a job! I was very naïve. I remember at the interview them saying they needed someone young and energetic. Wishing to please I said, not very truthfully: ‘Oh, Oh, yes, I love athletics...’ which made them laugh. Anyway, I got the job and found myself working in the tapes library library, which is where everyone started. It was wonderful. There were about 100 staff, but only nine females and just two of us were young so we had plenty of attention. And in the late 1960s everyone who was anyone was coming through the doors at Abbey Road. It was such a happy time. The managers I remember were Gus Cook and Ken Townsend. By a strange coincidence I just discovered Ken now lives near the same village as me and I’ve sent him a copy of TICKLED PINK . We all loved Ken.” “Abbey Road was a very intimate place and, being so young, a lot of people indulged me. George Martin was always very kindly and I recall noticing even then the great pride he had in the Beatles. He was walking past me with Ringo one day—Ringo had long hair, a moustache and a full length fur coat, and George Martin seemed so tall and slim. I grinned at the two of them and I’ll never forget George’s gentle smile of almost paternal pride as he glanced down at Ringo by his side—a sweet moment. About that time I had some lovely conversations at a table in the canteen with George Harrison— often just discussing mundane things like my daily commute to and from Chelmsford. I was still living at home. George was a lovely person, very caring and down to earth. We’d often sit together and chat. Plus I recall Paul McCartney making a fuss of the little tea lady—I think her name was Dolly—and him laughing and holding the door open for her as she

Sandy Hill •


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came into the studio, trying to balance so many mugs of tea on a tray.” “And I have vivid memories of watching as they photographed the Beatles going back and forth over the zebra crossing outside for the cover of the ABBEY ROAD album; little did any of us realise then how iconic that photograph would become.” Did Sandy do any singing at Abbey Road? “Not officially. I progressed from the tape library to doing studio bookings and other administrative things. But I remember finding myself singing one day on a session with Ginger Baker. There were other times, too, but it was all very casual. And my ambition to sing wasn’’t something I ever talked about much; it was just quietly burning away inside me.” “Eventually I left Abbey Road for another better paid job away from the music business. But I really missed that world. Then I saw an advertisement for someone to sing with a vocal harmony

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act doing international cabaret. I thought this was my chance to sing professionally. I was nervous but I passed the audition and after a few weeks of rehearsal we went abroad on tour, singing. It was great experience. I was in my mid-twenties and I worked and lived abroad for years after that. With various people I sang across Europe and in the Middle East and then in India, where I did three tours including performing at the top of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel. I loved India. But by my early thirties I’d met my present partner Brian. As our relationship strengthened we lived in Paris and then in Miami and later in Portugal and Sweden, following Brian’s business career. And my singing life just went on hold.” So, how did Sandy’s return to singing come about? “After 20 years of travelling and living abroad, Brian and I came back to the UK. By then I felt like a gypsy and England seemed quite foreign to me. We lived in Henley initially, but

Sandy Hill •

embarked upon building our own house in the village where we are now. It was a huge project and quite a strain; it took four years. Meanwhile, Brian had set up his own company. I wanted to get back to singing again but I wasn’t sure I had the confidence.” “Then one day I spotted a small advertisement in the local paper offering vocal coaching by Sam Brown. I was nervous but it seemed a great opportunity and eventually I called Sam. From the beginning she was really encouraging and supportive. She just had a way of building my confidence and bringing out the best in me. Within three months we were talking about making an album. Sam has been wonderful as a mentor and critical friend and as the producer of TICKLED PINK she was amazing. Completely in her element and really innovative. Patient, too, with lots of laughter! Plus always getting the musicians on side and constantly offering ideas and encouragement to all. She played piano, ukulele and accordion on the album plus she also arranged some beautiful original harmonies. And she encouraged me to record a new song she had written, Walk Right Back, which was such fun to do.” As a multi-platinum singer, prolific composer, skilled arranger, instrumentalist and producer, Sam Brown did have much to offer Sandy. Jools Holland has described Sam as: ‘without question, one of the greatest singers I have ever worked with’ while Eric Clapton has observed that the sheer range of Sam’s talents and virtuosity are one of UK music’s best kept secrets. And with over three decades in the music business, Sam Brown has an unrivalled network of contacts, too. Sam explained to me the sound she was trying to achieve for Sandy. “With TICKLED PINK Sandy and I wanted to really concentrate on the quality of the music, choosing only the best and most melodic songs from a variety of genres and eras. We then used only outstanding musicians and supporting singers who performed in a way that gently wrapped the sound around Sandy’s lovely voice. We kept the sound relatively pure—not over-produced—and we also focussed hard on every aspect of the harmonies and arrangements. Everyone really contributed so well and I think all of us who were involved are pleased with the result. That’s why I’m happy that reaction to TICKLED PINK has been so positive. Very exciting and gratifying.” Sandy is anxious not to exploit the famous names on TICKLED PINK too much. But she feels she was very lucky to have so many respected musicians involved in her debut album. “It was in many ways the experience of a lifetime.


Just amazing to have a childhood hero like Joe Brown coming along to the studio to play banjo on I’ll Fly Away—a classic piece of bluegrass banjo that Joe just relished performing. And I was so lucky to have Jools Holland featuring on piano on the Sam Brown composition Walk Right Back, making the song really boogie along. That was the most exciting track for me because nobody had recorded that song before and I was free to take it just where I wanted. It was also wonderful to meet Herbie Flowers again—we remembered each other from my Abbey Road days—and of course within the music business Herbie has almost iconic status as a bassist [remember his intro to Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side?] and as a tuba player. Sam’s brother Pete Brown contributed some beautiful guitar and mandolin playing as did Richard Durrant. Pete also mixed the album so sensitively; he did a brilliant job. Everyone involved was just so talented—I was thrilled to have Steve Balsamo sing the duet with me on Your Long Journey … I always remember him playing Jesus in the West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar.” “And all of these talented people were so unassuming—and generous with their time, always just wanting to give of their best. Throughout Sam herself was always empathetic to my wishes and constantly trying to interpret musically what I was seeking. She was so understanding, warm and very generous to me. The whole thing was very impressive and lovely to have done. It has reminded me of all the things I used to value and enjoy about the music world. So much so that I’m already planning ahead for a follow-up album.” Will that be soon? “Yep, hopefully in 2011. First I need to do some more live gigs, a video and other work to promote TICKLED PINK . On my next album I’d like to record all original songs. As Sam has written for so many people—like Chrissie Hynde, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Dave Rotheray of the Beautiful South—I’m hoping she will write some more for me. It was a privilege to have been the first to record her Walk Right Back and I can’t wait to sing more new compositions by Sam.” Reflecting now on her past life, what might Sandy have liked to change or have done differently? “I wish I had trusted my instincts more and been bolder about my decisions. I lost many opportunities through being too cautious. Although I owe a lot to my father and to Brian who have both been strong and positive influences, most of all I feel I owe any

success I have had to the times when I banished caution and dared to follow my instincts.” And who has Sandy learned the most from? “Although I didn’t realise it then, I see now that I learned a huge amount from just being around in a major studio like Abbey Road back in the late 1960s/1970s. I absorbed so much from that. Cliff Richard was also an early influence—I still love the quality of his voice and his interpretation of songs— plus I always admired Karen Carpenter’s singing. In the short time I have known Sam Brown, she has taught me quite a bit about finding my confidence and understanding some of my professional qualities—she has helped bring the real me out a bit. I’d hidden away too many parts of myself for far too long. Though it is still early days and I know there is so much more music in me, just waiting to escape. Sam has her own ‘ukulele orchestra’ and is teaching several of us to play. It’s a wonderful little instrument

Sandy Hill •

and it’s great fun, I love it. We’ll be doing some local concerts together and I’m really looking forward to that.” “I certainly don’t seek fame or great fortune from my musical career and learning new skills and developing is one of the joys of music. It also makes me so happy if I can sing something and it moves someone and has meaning for them. That’s wonderful and one of the best rewards you can ever have. There’s a young waitress who works in a local coffee shop close to where we live who told me that when she gets up each morning she immediately puts TICKLED PINK on the CD player while she prepares for work. She says it puts her in a really good mood and always makes her smile … the perfect start to her day. That to me is a very happy thought. So I want to keep on touching people with what I do. I know there is far more I can achieve musically … just watch this space.” Nick Dent-Robinson


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our years ago, eight musicians travelled to Dumfries for a week’s retreat as part of a fundraising event. Emma Pollock, Mc Soom T, King Creosote, Future Pilot AKA, Mattie Foulds, Michael Jonston, Kim Edgar and Karine Polwart were all unknown to one another, but after seven days, the chemistry exploded, uniting eight strangers into a Scottish–Canadian band. Funded by the Arts Council, this one week experience was held in memory of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet celebrated across Dumfries and Galloway for his lyrics concerning the beauty of the Scottish countryside. An initiative to get musicians down to the Burns Country and write songs, the Burns Unit never expected to become close friends let alone record an album with tour to follow. Scotland-bred King Creosote spilled the news on his whirlwind of a career, exploring his new found accidental happiness. “I was still new with my record label, Warner Brothers, and writing my second

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album when I was asked,” he recalls, nothing but satisfaction in his voice. “My manager asked why I wanted to do it for, that I needed to get my arse into gear with the second record. So I wasn’t sure. I was thinking maybe I can’t really do this. I met with Riley from Aberfeldy who told me not to think about it, just do it. I asked could he explain why and he said: ‘Oh no not really, ’coz it will sound worse than what you think it is. So don’t think about it just do it.’ So I did, and he is what made me say yes. It was an incredible experience, there are no words to describe it without making it sound a bit naff.” All were staying in a house together and King Creosote explains there was no pressure, despite admitting to being new to co-writing. Teamed up with his fellow housemates, the catch was to perform material at the end of the week during a few low-key shows, whether old songs or new. “When we first met it was awkward, I hadn’t done co-writing before or

The Burns Unit •

collaborations and we had to just got on with it. On the first day I was paired with Emma, we sat, looked at each other and confessed we had never collaborated before. We tried… but it wasn’t a song that lasted.” Knocking down the wall of awkwardness, King Creosote and Emma imagined their situation as being one of the inmates of Big Brother. “It was daft, we said let’s pretend there’s cameras and we had this game, just this daft thing to break the ice.” It took two days for the ice to melt, allowing room for confidence to accumulate in the house. Battling with their inner demons, questioning their own experience and musician skills, Creosote declared his doubting in whether he should have been invited to the musician’s retreat. “We was all nervous with all our own paranoia like: ‘should I really be here?’ If I didn’t like something do I say that, but then we started to collaborate better.” In reality, the Burns Unit have recently celebrated their fourth birthday, but King


THE BURNS UNIT Creosote believes the true age of the happened. I would say the Burns Unit comes out. So when we asked her how eight-piece is an innocent six months. right now is the most technicolour of all fast do you want this thing to go, how “It’s almost like had the band been a the things I am doing. If I go out playing fast can you deliver? She replied: ‘Oh I normal band, we would probably be on my own that’s monochromatic really, can go super fast.’ When we all came to only six months old in the terms play on that, it became this other of number of shows and how thing. It came out of the same pot many times we have got together. as every song so they all came We have all gone off and done from the same place. I didn’t really what we do, and then there’s this think of it as being wildly different real frenzied oh my god we got until we recorded it. A couple of us these shows and I only got two in the band had the fear that the days to rehearse them. When we album was too diverse, there was started doing the tours, there was too many elaborate colours. My three or four or five of us really worry was that we was going to starting to bounce off each other, sound like the worst compilation and every time we get together, ever, like Now 57! People don’t it became a lot more easier as a want a record which sounds like unit. As a group, we’ve not only too many bands. It’s all down to worked out what our strengths Mattie who somehow managed are as individuals, but what others to blend the sounds and genres like about what it is we do.” together. Like for Karine’s voice, it Sitting in a studio jamming out just doesn’t come out of nowhere, “AT REHEARSAL, SOME ONE WOULD BE LIKE chords, the Burns Unit would play Michael’s voice just doesn’t come WE CAN’T DO THAT, THAT SOUNDS TOO MUCH until a member found an idea, out from nowhere. And there’s LIKE…. I WOULD PUT MY HAND UP AND SAY approaching their music in a more four female singers in that band I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THEM, WHO’S THAT. natural manner. “Emma came out and only two males, so it could SO IT’S QUITE DAUNTING TO GO INTO A STYLE with some amazing little guitar sound like a female fronted, where

THAT YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. IF SOME riffs and we were all on it. It was people say who are these guys in the most fun thing we did where the background…and everyone ONE HAD REVIEWED SIDE SHOW AND SAID we just played it at one of the gigs. WE SOUND LIKE AN ODD REGAGE ABSTRACT has got different writing styles, and It all worked out, we didn’t have different aspirations on how they BAND, SOMETHING INSIDE ME WOULD DIE . BUT any lyrics, we was all looking at want a record to sound.” THEN I DON’T KNOW UNLESS SOME BODY SAYS each other nodding on stage for “At rehearsal, some one would be IT. I DON’T KNOW IF WE HAVE JUST DESTROYED changes. It was a real buzz for us like we can’t do that, that sounds to do that now, when there is eight SOMEBODY ’S ENTIRE MUSICAL HERITAGE OR too much like…. I would put my of us. That is something that even hand up and say I have never heard WHAT, AND THAT’S A WEIRD THING AS WE ALL a three-piece band fall out about, of them, who’s that. So it’s quite RELY ON OUR INNER RADAR.” spontaneous playing.” daunting to go into a style that you With their audiences expecting know nothing about. If some one and that’s the thing I really enjoy, how to hear great talent at their gigs, the had reviewed SIDE SHOW and said we I go everywhere and nowhere with it. Burns Unit feel the heat of pressure due sound like an odd regage abstract band, There’s a lot of freedom with my band, to the names within the band. With each something inside me would die. But then and I don’t get so nervous with it. The musician pursuing their own musical I don’t know unless some body says it. Burns Unit is a fixed set, you can’t just career, there is the aspect of having I don’t know if we have just destroyed go off on one… even though we try.” to rehearse, re-remember lyrics and somebody’s entire musical heritage or Their first record SIDE SHOW, has been relearning songs. With this fear, there what, and that’s a weird thing as we all described by critics as carnival meets is the worry of ensuring each band rely on our inner radar.” folk with rock, in which Creosote member belonging. “With any eightThe Burns Unit is a side project for acknowledges each band member has piece band, when you have any petrol each member, which is why, as King had to compromise to where the sound problems its like an expediential skill Cresote explains, the band and album are has reached. Mc Soom T, a virtuosi really, it is much, much harder sounding accidently good as it is. “None of us are rapper appears on only two of the ten right with the more players you add in,” going, no this is the thing, this is the main tracks from the album. With her politic Creosote clarifies. thing, it has to go like this. That album infused raps, Creosote believes the His delight in being part of an is so full of happy accidents its amazing. reggae was as natural as the acoustic experimental band can be heard This is such an unusual and unique thing, folk. “Mc Soom was in the house from through the excitement in each one of the way it came about it very peculiar. the word go, so these styles were right his utterances. “Once you get through a And there it is, I hope people hear that.” there from the start. I have never played set and it goes well, it’s quiet a rush and King creosote will be taking his band anything like Send Them Kids To War in we have some how managed to cool into the studio this December to record my life. When I sat down to write with that. When it does go well, we manage his third solo album. Michael Johnston Soom T, like a lot of us in the house to go from a huge emotional shift of and Karine have confessed their desire in did, she had this massive folder of being incredibly nervous to incredibly writing new material for the Burns Unit, essentially rants, these political raps, relieved. Myself and Michael, often talk with a hushed rumour that January might just this massive folder of stuff! There’s about the set we have just done and see the eight piece venturing back into so much energy in the girl that it all just can’t believe that a) it lasted or b) it even the studio. Charlotte Bones

The Burns Unit •


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sually being a local music promoter is a thankless task, especially when you try to introduce new acts to the local populace (just ask Alan Cackett). Graham Anderson from Newcastle’s Jumping Hot Club has had more than his fair share of disappointments in that area too over the last 25years; but when he first bought a copy of ONE DAY OUR WHISPERS and subsequently sent an e-mail to Otis Gibbs in Wanamaker, Indiana inviting him to perform at that year’s Sage Gateshead Americana Festival, he had no idea that he was launching a love affair between a singer and foreign country. Otis went on to wow the knowledgeable crowd and everyone else who saw him on the following mini tour. As with all singer-songwriters it’s all too easy to point out their influences and who the reviewer thinks they sound or look like but with Otis Gibbs it becomes increasingly difficult because he is a genuine ‘one off’ as his growing fan base will testify. I caught up with Otis in Newcastle on the last date of his second UK tour of 2010 to ask him a couple of quick questions about his latest album JOE HILL’S ASHES . Otis is so amiable we had to cut the meeting short an hour and a bit later as my tape had run out and he was

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nearly late for the gig and I still hadn’t asked him everything I wanted to. I began by asking about his regular tours of the UK. “I’ve been coming to Britain since 2007 when Graham first invited me to perform at the Gateshead Americana Festival supporting Guy Clark, and this must be my 7th or 8th visit since then. I still get goosebumps thinking about that first night when I walked onto the stage in Gateshead. I had no idea what to expect, but the crowd just ‘got me’ and took me to their hearts. Graham had also booked a few more dates around the UK for me and everywhere we went I was greeted like a long lost friend. It was wonderful and I’ll be forever grateful to him.” “Since then I’ve also toured with my good friend Billy Bragg, who likes to think he’s a tourist guide and has shown me parts of your country that I’d never have found otherwise, plus he has educated me in many new cultures like the ‘pub lunch’. What a great idea! While we travelled between concerts we would always stop at a pub for lunch, which meant drinking beer and eating hearty fayre in the middle of the day. The British still have many things to teach us Americans.” “Meeting Billy at a homeless shelter on the day we were playing a benefit concert was one of those fortuitous

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things that happen without planning and can change your life. Billy was and still is a big deal in America and that day we ‘just became friends’. We have so many things in common from music to literature to TV … we always have something to discuss or argue about. He’s not only had me support him in Britain, but in the States too, taking me to places and playing big halls that I could never dream of going to under my own steam. I owe that man a kidney!” “Because of his ‘teachings’ on that first UK tour, whenever I come over now I try to learn or discover something new on each visit. On this tour I’ve discovered pickled onions! Where have you guys been hiding those things? They are wonderful; the perfect accompaniment for every meal. [Otis wiped away a tear at the thought]. Of course, even with Billy by my side I can make mistakes. On one trip I saw something called black pudding on the menu. Now, I like chocolate pudding so I thought … well … it must be a very dark type of chocolate pudding, so ordered it. You can only imagine how surprised I was when I was presented with that particular dish. I can only say I’ll ask more questions in future.” “Apart from Billy and Graham I’ve made hundreds of friends in Britain and love playing to appreciative


audiences on the other side of the world; something I could never have dreamt of doing when I first picked up a guitar in my teens. But doing what I do, singing my own songs and playing guitar, it is a dream come to true anyway. I play between 120 and 150 gigs every year which gives me a good balance with my home life, so the rest of the time is spent with my girlfriend, Amy, writing songs and managing my website which we run ourselves.” “We do everything from replying to e-mails and mailing out CDs and t-shirts. It’s our own little cottage industry. So if anyone buys something from us you can be assured that I packed it and addressed it myself. The internet has become an essential tool for musicians today. With a website and MySpace I can attract new audiences all over the world at the press of a button. Obviously the downside to the web is the file-sharing sites where people want music for nothing; but I like to think I’ve embraced that and accept that it is no different from when I made cassettes for friends at school and college. Now I actively tell fans to burn a CD of my music for their friends and hopefully it will bring new people to my gigs that wouldn’t normally have heard my music … and then buy a t-shirt or a genuine CD!” “I’ve even got a new Twitter feed that is linked to the site, and for those doubting Thomas’, that really is me saying those things! I wish I could afford to hire someone to do it for me but I can’t, so I use it as a journal and upload my thoughts and stuff as often as I remember. It’s crazy but a lot of people seem intrigued by ramblings. I also post my photographs on the website too. Some are from my concerts and others are interesting people or places I come across when I’m travelling.” “I’ve sold a few and also been approached to create a photo book, but there are only so many hours in the day and making music is my livelihood and it must take priority. If I wasn’t a musician and needed the internet to communicate with people across the world I guess I wouldn’t really use a computer. But as I said, this is how I earn my living and I’ve learnt to embrace technology to sell my wares.” I then asked the loaded question about Otis’ singing in public for the first time. He chuckled at the memory of the well told story but continued. “When I was very young my parents were both working two jobs to make ends meet and I was placed with an assortment of family, friends and neighbours. At some time I was left with my Uncle Briscoe who probably wasn’t even a real uncle, and he soon got bored of sitting around the house with a kid. So we ended up

in the local honky-tonk saloon, where he would play Pinetop Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis songs on the piano. Pretty soon I started singing songs I’d heard on the radio and the patrons would drop money in the tip jar for me to sing their favourite songs. I loved the attention and Uncle Briscoe loved the free beer!” “Music was a big part of my growing up with my Grandfather playing in a bluegrass band and my Daddy getting drunk every Saturday night and singing along to his 78rpm records. It was quite an education.” By now time was getting on and I had to ask about the new album, Joe Hills Ashes which has been getting very good reviews. “I’d been touring for nearly a year with GRANDPA WALKED A PICKETLINE and had a big bunch of songs ready to be recorded, nearly 40 in total. So when I got back home I set up the recording gear in the living room and put everything to music. Eventually Amy and I whittled them down to 12 really strong songs that would make the album and called my friend Thomm Jutz who has a studio and trusted to help me make what I call an ‘honest album’. Thomm knew what I wanted and he has created the sound that I knew the songs needed, stripped down with some imperfections and not that crystal clear sound coming out of Nashville these days. I’m very proud of the finished product, and everyone who I trust says much the same thing about it.” “Some of the songs are about me and my thoughts but most are observations of the World around me. The title song Joe Hills Ashes is about a story that I’d heard many years ago and never found the time to put down on paper, about a Union Official who was sent to prison for his beliefs. 12 Men Dead in Sago is about the mining disaster in Sago, Virginia in 2006 where, obviously 12 men died but

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not enough people really know about the conditions some miners are still working in America and I hope I can let them know through a simple song.” “The song that’s already gaining the most notoriety is probably The Town That Killed Kennedy which is what my very good friend John Dee Graham calls Dallas. I made a mental note some years ago to use it and it seemed the perfect fit for my rant about travelling on Greyhound buses. In the 1950s and 60s they opened up the country to a whole generation and were probably quite romantic in their own way; but as I say in the song, it is now only for people who are too broke to fly. Just like every other musician Greyhound’s are a necessary evil and we all have plenty of horror stories about sitting in a cramped position for hours on end and witnessing things being done by one human being to another that we shouldn’t have to witness. Any one of us could have written that song.” “My own favourite track is When I Was Young. One evening a few friends were sitting around talking and drinking and someone asked the question: ‘what is your favourite ever experience or time in your life?’ Without really thinking about it I said that mine was when I was about 3 or 4 and my Mother holding me in her arms and playing in the yard or the woods without a care in the world. Being a songwriter I just knew there was a song which had to be written as soon as the words came out of my mouth. Now when I sing it in concert a lot of people really connect with it, which is very humbling because when I write my songs I have no real long term intentions for them.” With that Otis was whisked off to play a barnstorming set to end the UK tour then fly back to Wanamaker, Indiana for a well earned rest. Alan Harrison


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ollie Marriott, daughter of the legendary Steve, followed in her father’s footsteps by going on stage at an early age. As a member of girl band D2M, Mollie had achieved a record deal when she was 12. She and the band enjoyed commercial success in the UK and across Europe for the next 4 years. Since then Mollie, now 25, has worked with many top names including Oasis, Beyonce, Paul Weller, Mark Knopfler, P.P. Arnold, Dennis Locorriere, and her step-dad Joe Brown. Currently she is recording and performing in the London area with her partner Ben Lee and their country and bluegrass influenced band, Union Chain. Mollie’s life has not always been easy. She never really had the chance to know her father and in her early years she was raised by her single parent mother, Manon. After Manon met and then married the widowed veteran rocker Joe Brown, Mollie moved to the Henley-onThames area. She found she was now part of a second rock dynasty with a step-father, step-sister, step-brother and foster-brother who were all successful musicians. Many family friends were household names, like Beatle George Harrison. Mollie talks frankly about the bewilderment this sometimes caused her—and the excitement, too. She also tells how, with some friends and family members, both Brown and Marriott, she is planning a major show in 2011 commemorating the 20th anniversary of

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Steve Marriott’s tragic death. I met Mollie Marriott in the sumptuous lounge of Henley’s chic Hotel du Vin. Quite recently Mollie worked part-time there as a receptionist. As she explains: “I’ve worked in all kinds of jobs, like many musicians do. But I loved being here. It is good to be back as a guest, though.” Mollie is almost 5’ 2’’. She is wearing a summery dress in cream and black with pretty beige shoes she describes as “quite 1940s”. Her longish, straight hair is an attractive auburn hue—“Dyed, I’m afraid—but it makes a change from blonde,” Mollie volunteers, cheerfully. She’s warm, friendly and open from the moment we meet, exuding a happy, effervescent energy. Easy to like. We talk about Mollie’s daughter, Tabitha, and her partner, Ben Lee and their quest for a country home in rural Oxfordshire. Mollie is clearly enjoying the challenges and joys of motherhood and appears very content with her domestic situation. A contentment which so often eluded her father, Steve. Steve Marriott died tragically in a house fire just before Mollie was six. Does she have a clear memory of her dad? “I’m not sure I really do, but from as far back as I recall, I have heard a huge amount about him from all kinds of people, and it is hard sometimes to separate what you’ve been told from what you can actually remember from childhood. I know he could be very

Mollie Marriott •

difficult. He could be argumentative, bloody-minded, tiresome and was not a very responsible father! But that was his darker side. My dad had a strong spirit, allowing nothing to daunt him and he had a huge talent, too. He wrote beautiful songs, had a fantastic voice and great stage presence. He lived for music. He could be very kind with a great sense of fun and was probably much misunderstood. I do remember vividly the day my mum and I heard my dad had died, it was 20 April, 1991. I think my mum always loved him. The news hit her very hard. What followed immediately after is still a bit of a blur to me.” What characteristics did Mollie inherit from her dad? “Well, obviously I sing. And, since I was very young, I have liked to perform. My dad was on the West End stage as a child; he was the original Artful Dodger in the first production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver. Like dad, I can also be quite strong-minded with a wicked sense of humour. If anyone tells me to do something, my instinct is often to do the opposite. Plus, the same as my dad, I am not very tall! There are Marriott family resemblances. I am close to my dad’s daughter Tonya who is a year older than me and lives in Canada. We talk several times each week and are alike in so many ways, though her strength is dancing rather than singing. And my dad’s son Toby is a talented musician; he is 9 years older


and we share many qualities. We have performed together. There’s also an older half-sister, Lesley, who lives in New Zealand.” “I inherited very few possessions from my dad. Just a bit of jewellery, a piano that I no longer have, and a fancy coat. I gave away the coat…But probably I owe much more to my mother than to my father. She is musical, too, though she has never performed professionally. She has a natural instinct for musical harmony which I have inherited—and my dad never really had that.” “My mother and my dad were childhood friends in Manor Park, East London. It was she who was the very first to ever hear the power of the famous Steve Marriott voice. He had been trained to sing at drama school in the traditional theatrical style for his role in Oliver. But he loved listening to blues music and wanted to sing differently, in a rock’n’roll kind of way. So he had been experimenting and one day when they were both just in their early teens, my dad said he wanted to show my mum how he could sing rock-style. He knew she had a good ear for music, but, although he was appearing in the West End, he was very shy with my mum and couldn’t sing in front of her. So he insisted she stay downstairs while he sang from upstairs. She said the power of his voice was incredibly impressive even on that first occasion.” “My mother raised me as a Buddhist and I have learned so many life skills and good qualities from her. I admire her in a lot of ways. Not least for raising me with such love and care in my early years when she was on her own after my dad left us. She was quite strong with my dad—she needed to be—and he gave up drink and drugs while he was with her. But the stress of that was too much for him and he left us.” It must have been a difficult adjustment for Mollie when, after the early years alone with her mum, Manon met Joe Brown who had his own family. “It was OK. We had been living in Hertfordshire but I wasn’t too attached to where we were. When we started coming to Joe’s large remote country house near Henley, I loved it. I was about 9. And Joe’s children were much older and no longer living at his home. My step-sister, Sam Brown, my step-brother Pete and my foster-brother Richard Newman were always very


KNOW HE COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. H E COULD BE ARGUMENTATIVE, BLOODY- MINDED, TIRESOME AND WAS NOT A VERY RESPONSIBLE FATHER ! B UT THAT WAS HIS DARKER SIDE. MY DAD HAD A STRONG SPIRIT, ALLOWING NOTHING TO DAUNT HIM AND HE HAD A HUGE TALENT, TOO... I DO REMEMBER VIVIDLY THE DAY MY MUM AND I HEARD MY DAD HAD DIED, IT WAS 20 A PRIL , 1991. I THINK MY MUM ALWAYS LOVED HIM. THE NEWS HIT HER VERY HARD. WHAT FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY AFTER IS STILL A BIT OF A BLUR TO ME.” kind to me, though I did find Joe a little strict and old-fashioned initially. I think he is wonderful now, though. Of course Joe and his family had all known my dad. Joe’s first wife Vicki Brown had sung backing vocals with my dad, as had Sam. And Richard had played drums with him.” “There were some funny moments in the early days with the Browns and some

bewildering times, too. I remember we would often visit George Harrison and his family at their Friar Park mansion in Henley. George made a big fuss of me. I used to call him my fairy godfather. And his son Dhani was like a big brother. He’d introduce me to his friends as his sister.” “Even as a child I knew all about the Beatles. But when I was just nine, I hadn’t quite grasped how everybody ages. So, I was convinced at first that Dhani was actually Beatle George—because Dhani looked more like the person in the Beatles pictures than George did by then. George had very long hair and a beard at that time and he confused me

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by introducing himself as Ben Gunn. I thought his name actually was Ben and I took some persuading that Dhani wasn’t really George. Very confusing!” “I remember George asking if I’d like to play a record on his wonderful antique juke-box. And I said I couldn’t because I had no money—which amused him so much. He gave me a huge hug and said gently: ‘Ahhh, that’s OK, Mollie. This juke-box doesn’t need any money’. But then the record I chose to play was Eric Clapton’s Layla—to the horror and embarrassment of my mum. Of course I’d no idea about all the Patti Boyd implications of that song. But, again, George thought this was very funny and my step-dad Joe laughed out loud. George said: ‘Well, it’s not a bad song; I wouldn’t have it on there if it wasn’t good.’” “I remember lots of times when George would just quietly walk with me around the beautiful gardens at Friar Park. It was tranquil there. George was such a special person, he really was. And a very good friend to me. His death in 2001 affected me greatly. Maybe it partly brought back feelings I’d had as a young child when my dad died, feelings I’d suppressed or forgotten.” “I felt proud and privileged to attend the Concert for George which Olivia Harrison, Eric Clapton and others organised at the Royal Albert Hall a year later. It was such a moving experience and the finale led by my stepdad, Joe, playing I’ll See You In My Dreams on ukulele, was just perfect. The feeling there was so magical, so intimate that it made the huge Albert Hall seem just like your living room.” From the age of 12, Mollie was singing professionally with girl band D2M. Was it hard to do that as well as schoolwork and all the usual early teen things? “I’d always wanted to perform professionally but my mum and the band’s manager were very strict. We had to do our homework and we only performed with D2M at weekends or in holidays.” “D2M just started with some of us


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All photos © William Paterson

singing in a youth club. Then we wrote a silly song called My Trainer Stinks for a joke. Christine, the stepmother of one of the girls in the band, managed us. She used to work for Simon Cowell and had helped manage Cher years before. Thanks to Christine, suddenly Simon was talking to us and we were doing advertisements, making records and touring. I really liked Simon. He was kind and gentle with us.” “We were soon put in touch with Steve Mac, a great songwriter and producer who has worked with Westlife, Britney Spears, Take That, Atomic Kitten, Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle. He produced us and we quickly had number one hits in Europe and were playing Rotterdam’s biggest stadium alongside Stephen Gately. We worked with Beyonce, Atomic Kitten plus many more. And then My Trainer Stinks became the backtrack to the London Marathon one year. But because we were strictly managed by Christine, we didn’t miss out on our schoolwork and kept our feet on the ground. Which I have always been grateful for. DM2 was a great start and a good introduction to the music business.” What came next? “After a few years I was ready to do my own thing. I studied Music Technology at Henley College for a while. And I performed at various local gigs with different people. Plus I did various recording sessions as a backing singer. I recorded with Oasis. I was just 14 when I first met them and I thought Liam was one of the nicest people. I even baby-sat Liam’s second son and was very worried about the responsibility. I could just see the headlines: ‘Marriott Kills Baby Gallagher’. I have worked with P P Arnold who was a good friend of my dad’s and with Paul Weller. And I have sung with my step-sister Sam Brown, though she is so good and professional I’m always nervous doing that. And I have worked

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with my step-dad Joe, of course. In 2008 I sang at his 50th Anniversary event at the Albert Hall. It was the best gig I ever did—singing with Mark Knopfler, Jools Holland, Chas’n’Dave, Dennis Locorriere, Dave Edmunds and of course Joe, Pete and Sam Brown plus Richard Newman, too.” “Then I started singing in my current band, Union Chain, together with my partner Ben who plays lead guitar and sings—he has a wonderful voice. We play a lot of our own material. Influences are Fleetwood Mac with some harmonies inspired by Crosby Stills, Nash and Young. But we can perform a range of styles from country, bluegrass to r&b, soul and rock. The writing is important to us. We want that to be honest and authentic. Our music is heartfelt and traditional with an emphasis on strong melodies, harmonies and lyrics. We will play covers, though. But we prefer to perform some of the less remembered songs by people like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Dr Hook.” “Ben and I have written and recorded a song about George Harrison called Someone’s Watching Over Me. It has references in the lyrics to little things George said. Ben was always a great fan of George. He was teaching himself to play Here Comes the Sun the night George died. Sometimes I feel it’s as if George brought us together. I really don’t think Ben and I could be more perfect for each other.” What are Union Chain’s future plans? “We have been doing some recording recently and are working towards a Union Chain album for next year. And there are lots of gigs—in and around London and sometimes

here in Oxfordshire. Details are on the band’s web site at www.myspace.com/ unionchain.” Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? “I am not interested in celebrity. Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac has been a big influence on me and one of the many things I admire about her is that she is a musician’s musician. She is respected for her musical ability and has never chased fame for the sake of it. So if I could have anyone’s success it would be Stevie’s. Of course I do put my daughter Tabitha ahead of my career, before anything, really. I feel so blessed to have had her. Many people say Tabitha is like a reincarnation of my dad. She’s a very ‘full-on’ kind of child, very bright and energetic and a real performer. She’ll do anything to make you laugh, keep you entertained.” “Musically I do enjoy performing live. I would like to develop my skills as a pianist. And I want to write more music. I treasure my spare moments with Ben, too. We like to walk locally in the countryside. And I meditate—one of the best ways to relax. One big project is to organise a charity concert in April next year to commemorate the 20 th anniversary of my dad’s death. I would like it to be better than the event held 10 years after he died. This time I want the family—both Marriotts and Browns—to play a bigger part in it. And I hope some of the people who actually knew my dad and were inspired by him will be there. People like Robert Plant and Paul Weller. Ronnie Wood has said he’ll do it and perhaps Peter Frampton will. Maybe even Rod Stewart might agree. I am sure Joe, Pete and Sam Brown plus Richard Newman would be involved. And of course my half-brother Toby Marriott and half-sister Tonya. Trudie Harris, wife of Radio 2’s Bob Harris, is a family friend and Trudie is helping me organise things. Bob has offered to be involved, too.” What is the most important thing you have learned from life, so far? “Motherhood has taught me many things. It has helped me to get everything in perspective and to understand what really matters. I appreciate much more now all the wonderful things my own mother has done for me, the values and life lessons I learned from her. I hope I can be as good a mother to Tabitha as my mum was to me. I am more at peace now than I have ever been and more accepting of things. And happiness and fulfilment seem naturally to follow on from that.” Nick Dent-Robinson



Mollie Marriott •




he long-awaited CMA Awards always prove to be the barometer of things to come in the country music industry. Each year, the music’s foundation is reinforced by honouring those who have shaped the tradition along with a relatively new handful of artists who are deservingly recognised and often run away with many of the coveted honours. Known as the biggest event in country music, the 44th annual ceremony and related events have more than lived up to that tradition. With all eyes on Nashville, the city welcomed an inundation of fans with a week of events, showcases and parties all leading up to the awards. The entrances to locations where interviews were taking place around the clock were manned by guitar and poster laden fans patiently awaiting a glimpse of their favourite stars as was evidenced by a California couple who showed off a guitar with dozens of signatures. After several days of rehearsals, the artists were happy to slip into their stunning designer originals and walk the block-long red carpet, which was actually black, at the awards event. The attendees who were able to score high-priced tickets to the sold-out show looked equally stunning along with the seat fillers as well. CMA award winner Carrie Underwood sang her way through the opening with guitar geniuses Keith Urban and Brad Paisley by her side. She and Brad, once again, were the co-hosts with perfect chemistry as they reviewed the year and kept the show and the laughter rolling right through Carrie’s fashion show of a half dozen elegant choices. Many of the songs performed seem to reflect real life for their respective artists such as the Rascal Flatts’ Why Wait as they took a few more career steps with a week of interviews, a star on the Music City Walk of Fame, a recent move to Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label and a new album release of NOTHING LIKE THIS . Blake Shelton and his band were being set up to perform All About Tonight

in the middle of the audience while his fiancé, Miranda Lambert, was accepting her CMA Song of the Year Award for The House That Built Me. It was truly all about ‘tonight’. Country music reflects true life while it walks the fine line between respecting its heritage and breaking new ground as it tells its stories. Paul Worley, producer of Lady Antebellum’s Single of

thirty-four years worth of steps.’ At the Billboard Music Summit earlier this year, Blake explained the marketing strategy for releasing ‘six-packs’ rather than full CDs to keep the music flowing to his fans faster in this time when everything is moving at twice normal speed. Reigning New Artist winner, Darius Rucker, passed the honours along to the Zac Brown Band who treated us to one of the show-stealing numbers, As She’s Walking Away Away, with Alan Jackson. Performed in an enclosed set that resembled a 1940s marionette stage complete with clam shell footlights, the boys seemed to be having a great time. Although the phenomenal set designs were not fully captured on the televised programme, they highly impressed our audience. Taylor Swift touchingly brought us Back to December at the grand piano, semiencircled by string players in a dark and foggy Charles Dickens setting with streetlamps, iron gates and gentle snow (which had been toned down from the snowfall at rehearsal). The amazingly talented Steel Magnolia and Joey and Rory were overjoyed by their nominations in the duo category with Brooks and Dunn and Montgomery Gentry but, for the fourth year, the CMA for Best Duo went to Sugarland. The most entertaining performance Miranda Lambert with Loretta Lynn © John Russell might also go to Sugarland for a treatment they cooked up with the spontaneity and the Year, Need You Now Now, seemed to speak creativity we have come to expect from for most when he said simply that his the pair. Kris used a giant key to wind parents gave him the gift of music and a music box which set into motion the encouraged him to live his life to the spinning ballerina who burst out of her fullest and dream. tutu to bring us their crossover hit, Stuck Unforgettable performances by CMA on You. Jennifer Nettles was on top of winner Kenny Chesney with Boys Of Fall Fall, her game as they gave us the equally commemorating the history, passion creative song that slipped cleverly into and pride of American college football, a rap bridge and back into country. She as well as six-time winner Keith Urban then ‘slipped’ back into her free-standing with the catchy, smashy hit Put You In tutu—a Tivo moment. A Song and Kid Rock rocking with Born Introducing Reba McEntire the only Free were complemented by backdrops way it can be done, Carrie announced of close-ups and video clips. that: ‘There is, and only ever will be, The Male Vocalist of the Year honour one Reba.’ Although she gently began was presented to Blake Shelton by If I Were A Boy from her 34th studio Martina McBride. As he hopped up to album, ALL THE WOMEN I AM , we knew the stage, he exclaimed: ‘Those were

Nashville welcomes CM A festivities

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she would end up in ‘full Reba’ by the end. The fans stood in appreciation to see her back where she belongs after successful TV and stage runs, but then, of course, Reba can do anything, and very well. If Reba is one of our country queens, then George Strait is certainly the king, with more CMA awards than any Brad Paisley © John Russell other performer. His traditional low-profile performance of Breath You Take brought the audience to their feet as it epitomised what country music is really all about. Fan favourite Jason Aldean found his inner torch singer as he belted Don’t You Wanna Stay in a delightful duet with the magnificent Kelly Clarkson. Dierks Bentley has been going back to his bluegrass roots in his new album, much to the delight of his fans, and he shared those roots with an old school performance of Up On The Ridge, opening with the entire band singing around a single microphone. Brad Paisley chose the yet unreleased This Is Country Music as a love song to his fans, showing appreciation to those who live his songs every day and the industry that produces the music that becomes the soundtrack of our lives. This emotional walk through country music honouring its true messages and the legends he’s come to know was as heartwarming as his performance. Little Big Town, still excited about being seated next to Loretta Lynn, teased us with an a cappella version of the chorus to You Belong With Me, during which two important tests were aced—a song that is so well-written that it can be sung without music and an ensemble so brilliant that they can become the envy of every singer as they interpret a song with voices alone. Perhaps the most memorable moment in the programme was the tribute to Loretta Lynn who is celebrating fifty years as an entertainer, forty years since her signature song Coal Miner’s Daughter and a thirty year anniversary of her biographical film of the same title. Twenty thousand rose to their feet and shed tears of joy when

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this undisputed ‘First Lady of Country Music’ gently glided onto the stage. Bringing to mind Glinda in the Wizard of Oz, she wore a dress fit for a fairy princess as she waved her musical magic dust over the roaring audience in a casual walk-on to join Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow in their rendition of Coal Miner’s Daughter. Sissy Spacek, who took home an Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta in the film, was an additional surprise as she noted that Loretta was the very first to be named Female Vocalist of the Year in 1967. They announced that Miranda Lambert has become the 2010 winner and she was brought to tears before her mentor and the woman who’d sent her a hand-written invitation to sing on her tribute album. Such personal attention and sentimentality is no surprise from Blake Shelton © John Russell the lady who recreated her modest Butcher Hollow (also known as Butcher Holler) home on her Hurricane Mills ranch where she can reminisce and plan her next fifty years of country music accomplishments. With a recordbreaking list of nine CMA nominations, Miranda not only won Best Song and Best Female Vocalist, but scored the Album of the Year for REVOLUTION . It was presented by Little Big Town, and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum has called it a masterpiece. Her electric performance of That’s the Way the World Goes Round was sparked by the flying silver strips on her skirt before the backdrop that was also blowing silvery

strips. Following in the footsteps of country music royalty couples such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Miranda commented: ‘I don’t know what’s going on—I just told Blake I think we need to go to church!’ It’s a right of passage that country can also be cool, as evidenced by the influx of artists from other genres and fields digging into their country roots and honing their skills to be able to become a viable entity in the country market. The long awaited country music debut of Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow was a pleasant surprise to the country fans. Her music background is barely known although she has charted a number one hit in Australia along with other recordings and performances. Gwyneth took the stage with her guitar and seemingly unwavering confidence alongside Vince Gill on guitar and background vocals to perform the title song to Country Strong. Her performance had been just as amazing for the takes at the filming of the movie here in Nashville. The standing ovation of her new country music family was a happy ending of a busy week for the wife of Coldplay’s Chris Martin that included the film’s premiere in Nashville with her costar,Tim McGraw a few days earlier. With all of the traditional opening night bells, whistles and red carpet, dozens of music and film stars attended the showing after a brief personal introduction by its stars. Country Strong is, indeed, a strong and entertaining film, and additional strength comes from it’s closing song, Give In To Me written by two songwriter friends, Rose and Billy Falcon. The not-to-miss film will open in January. Tim McGraw flew in just in time to present the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award to Brad Paisley who was overcome with joy and tears. He quoted his hero, Little Jimmy Dickens, who told once told him: ‘If you see a turtle on a fence post, it had help getting up there,’ before adding: ‘and I feel just like a turtle on a fence post at this point.’ He thanked his father for encouraging him to play guitar

Nashville welcomes CM A festivities

the ticket to many of the celebrating the season. seasoned country fans and One could never count the CMAs, new followers alike. Crystal ACMs, Oscars, Grammys and other Gayle’s performance of Don’t awards that were represented, nor the It Make My Brown Eyes Blue artists who participated in the weeklong garnered cheers and applause celebration which also included the as well. Many felt that these Golden Anniversary of Tootsie’s Orchid moments of grounding should Lounge, the Walk of Fame inductions, be included in the televised a film premiere and events all around programme. Music City. The countdown and Most of the artists attended preparation now begins for the 2011 the afterparties, be it the Nashville country music party beginning Blake Shelton in the audience © S Parks Creative CMA party at the Convention with the CMA Music Festival in June and Center where Kenny Loggins running straight through the November and added: ‘Country fans are the most could be found, or the individual awards with hundreds of performances amazing loyal fan base in the world.’ record label parties as well as the lower in between. Sally Parks After losing his instruments, gear, and Broadway honky-tonks and sets in the Nashville flood, his crew was Music Row’s infamous Losers’ able to recreate and pull it all together Bar, where the Zac Brown in only three weeks for his next tour, Band chose to celebrate. which was coincidentally designed Adding to the festivities around and named after water. He on the following day, was humbled by the recognition and the Bridgestone Arena dedicated the award to his crew. welcomed the taping of the One of the most delightful and heart CMA Country Christmas tugging memories of the evening programme for holiday airing. quickly became the videos of previous With partial utilisation of the CMA winners shown to the audience awards set, the holiday scene during commercial breaks. Watching was as magnificent as the Tennessee Ernie Ford, Loretta Lynn performances by country’s with Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, top artists from Reba and Charley Pride and many other legends Kellie Pickler to Rascal as they performed their award-winning Tourist with signed guitar © S Parks Creative Flatts and Martina McBride songs over the decades was well worth



ith the release of her brand new album DRIVING INTO THE BLUE , esteemed singer-songwriter Kit Holmes approaches the next step of her music career with enthusiasm. The third studio album following SEEING YOU and CATCH THE ECHO has been an anticipated release for some time and has been announced for a scheduled release early 2011. Recorded at Chairworks Studios in Leeds with the prestigious engineer Simon Humphrey, known for his work with Abba and Culture Club, the album is set to offer everything expected from this inspirational touring artist. Showcasing her trademark sultry vocals alongside virtuoso guitar playing, Kit Holmes has never failed to leave audiences astounded. The album offers the talents of legendary double bass player Danny Thompson, prize winning composer and producer Al Greenwood and drummer extraordinaire Pat Illingworth. Also recently announced, Kit Holmes will be touring the album this spring as a trio featuring guitar, fiddle and bass. The powerful lyricism of this artist alongside her ability to create infectious melodies is among the many reasons that so many flock to see her every year. The eagerly anticipated third album is bound to be a stirring reminder of her success as a female singer-songwriter who firmly believes in touring her material. Laura Bethell

Nashville welcomes CM A festivities

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A C O U N T RY S T R O N G P R E M I E R E G W Y NETH PA LTROW, TIM M C G R AW, G AR R ETT H EDLUND A ND L EIGHTON M EESTER A LL GR ACE THE R ED C A R PET AT THE C OUNTRY S TRONG PR EMIER E His recent performance in The Blind Side, which premiered during CMA week in 2009, was outstanding alongside Sandra Bullock, who earned an Academy Award for her role in the inspirational film.

Gwyneth Paltrow




n fall seasons of late, CMA week in Nashville has shown subtle signs of becoming Hollywood East. With an increasing number of filmmakers discovering the advantages of choosing to create their projects in budget-friendly and location-friendly Music City, gala openings are also celebrated with red carpet premieres that would give Tinseltown a run for its money. The red carpet was rolled out to welcome the stars of the film Country Strong along with other music and film celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow, whose Oscar-winning skills were showing in an excellent portrayal of a troubled country music star working on a comeback, graciously entertained media. Co-star Tim McGraw, strolled the carpet hand in hand with his wife, Faith Hill. Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester, in supporting roles, were also enjoying the Music City reception along with Spiderman’s Tobey Maguire, who produced the film, and country stars Dierks Bentley, Jim Lauderdale, Kix Brooks, Steel Magnolia, Jerrod Niemann, Martina McBride and members of Little Big Town. Tim McGraw

With several acclaimed acting projects to his credit, Tim McGraw is a natural, taking to the craft like a duck to water.

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Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow, wife of Chris Martin of Coldplay and daughter of Blythe Danner, can be proud of an outstanding body of work with an Oscar as well. Her character in Country Strong is a newly fragile country singer who leaves rehab to make a comeback with the help of her manager/husband, played by Tim, and handsome young songwriter Garrett Hedlund. A beauty queen turned singer, Meester, also comes into the picture. Multiple story lines and emotions are artfully woven with threads of a wellwritten and well-performed country music score as the fallen star works her way back to the stage. The film was primarily shot at Nashville locations and featured the exceptional Lari White and multi-

talented Jim Lauderdale who, on any given day, might even be found playing guitar for Elvis Costello. During the filming, in the first take of Gwyneth singing Country Strong Strong, it became apparent that she was not only singing as part of her role, but that she is an accomplished songstress as well with performances, recordings and a number one record in Australia to her credit. Co-produced by Music Row heavyweights including Tony Brown and Tim McGraw, who wears several more hats than his trademark black chapeau, the film’s soundtrack is outstanding without an album cut in sight. With stunning contributions by the film’s stars and co-stars, we are also impressed by the vocals of Ronnie Dunn, Hank Williams, Jr., Sara Evans, Patty Loveless and Chris Young on tunes written by equally celebrated songwriters such as Liz Rose and Bob DiPiero. Background vocals on Gwyneth’s single Country Strong, were gifted by Vince Gill and Patty Strong Griffin. Timing is Everything sung by Trace Adkins, Liars Lie co-produced by Chuck Ainlay for Lee Ann Womack, the Chris Martin penned duet of Me And Tennessee with Tim and Gwyneth and Give In To Me, sung by Faith Hill on the album and written by Bon Jovi songwriter Billy Falcon, his daughter Rose and Elisha Hoffman, are all exceptional. At the intimate invitation only showing, the film’s stars and major players expressed their gratitude and made opening remarks to the anticipatory audience. Although the soundtrack is currently available, the film will not be released until January, therefore, the twists and turns of the gripping story will remain as my secret. Sally Parks

A Countr y Strong Premiere



nly hours after the CMA Awards, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena stage was transformed into a beautiful Christmas wonderland for the taping of the televised CMA Country Christmas program. Although warm weather was just outside the door, the snow falling over the audience created a brisk holiday feeling for the inspiring music to come on the stage that had just honoured country’s greatest artists the night before. After a few instructions to the audience from the show’s director Paul Miller, Sugarland led us down Santa Lane with Winter Wonderland. Jennifer Nettles was in full Christmas spirit and delighted to act as host for the event. The show’s theme of home and family was exemplified by a rare gift from Rascal Flatts who stopped the show cold with an astonishing vocal arrangement of I’ll be Home for Christmas before a standing ovation. On the heels of her recent dance

cover of John Anderson’s Swingin’, LeAnn Rimes sang and danced through a full production number, complete with dancing sailors, of a 1940s style Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Brenda Lee sang this favourite, her signature song, in one of Nashville’s Christmas lightings last year with Amy Grant. O Holy Night was flawlessly sung by Martina McBride and prompted a few tears in the house. Darius Rucker gave us Candy Cane Christmas, an original tune from his Christmas CD, which is sure to become a classic. Little Big Town harmonised to Go Tell It On The Mountain and Reba McEntire spread holiday joy while surrounded by eight Santas for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town before they distributed gifts throughout the audience. Kellie Pickler followed in the footsteps of Eartha Kitt and Madonna as she wowed the fans with the classic Santa Baby in a red satin gown. Standing fans screamed: ‘We love you Pickler!’ as

she finished her one-take performance. The very rockin’ and often covered favourite Run, Rudolph, Run was one of the highlights by Sheryl Crow with Brad Paisley on guitar, making Chuck Berry and Hanson proud. With a cast that rivalled the CMA awards the evening before, the singalong finale of Jingle Bell Rock was showstopping with Little Big Town, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, Sugarland, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow. The show moved quickly with only two retakes for technical reasons, much to the joy of the fans who began their holiday celebration a little early, courtesy of the Country Music Association. Sally Parker

All photos © John Russell (CMA)

An Early CM A Countr y Christmas

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ary Fletcher, who was born in London in the early 1950s and is best known as the bass guitarist with the Blues Band, took a long time to decide on his path as a musician. “I was a bit of a late developer really. When I was at the sort of age where most people start picking guitars up, I was actually into building and racing model cars and I was really, really serious about it. In fact, I won the British Schoolboy Championships a couple of times and got sponsored. Until about sixteen, I was just a complete anorak, doing that and I was away racing every weekend, kind of made a living out of it in a way, because I used to get to keep the prizes.” Although he bought WITH THE BEATLES album in 1963, it wasn’t until late 1960s that Gary started to listen to music more fully and for his career path to take a different turn. “It was pretty much 196768 that I first became aware of Cream, Fleetwood Mac, sort of the second wave of the British blues boom I suppose. Certainly one of the seminal albums for me was Eddie Boyd with Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t really know too much about blues per se, I just knew that I liked the directness and sparseness of it. That particular record, apart from Eddie playing the piano, it’s just Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. So from there I guess I kinda back-tracked a little bit to some of the John Mayall stuff, because Mayall did a lot of JB Lenoir and I sort of tracked into that. Eventually I think Spoonful on Cream’s WHEELS OF FIRE album actually turned me onto Willie Dixon and obviously Spoonful was recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, so I got into Wolf to some extent. I saw Hendrix at the Saville Theatre in 1967 and that was a pretty shocking moment, AXIS; BOLD AS LOVE is probably my favourite Hendrix album.” It then took a visit to his family home to nurture his interest in playing the guitar: “I started to mess about with my sister’s school guitar which was lying around my parents’ house. I had moved out when I was seventeen and I came back to look after the house, and my sister was away at college and there was this cheap little Spanish guitar leaning up against the wall. I picked it up and picked out the riffs to Spoonful and I quite liked that. Of course, it was a right handed guitar and I am left handed and I had no idea that guitars were handed so that is why to this day I play upside down. I play a right handed guitar not re-strung like Hendrix or McCartney would have done. Albert King played like

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that, Coco Montoya plays like that, in fact the second guitarist in Joe Brown’s band plays like that. There are one or two of us around, but I just didn’t realise it was wrong.” Gary then joined his first band called the Breath Of Life thanks to the fact that his sister was going out with the drummer and they needed a bass player. “From that moment on until today, with the exception of a four-five month period, I have been in a band ever since. So that is how I got started.” Gary grew up in Streatham the same as fellow Blues Band member Dave Kelly, who was to give Gary his biggest break, but before that he was given a helping hand by another big name—“Some pals and me, we used to hang out at a pub called the Crown And Sceptre in Streatham Hill and the governor was stepfather of Glenn Cornick, who was the bass player in Jethro Tull. When Glenn left Tull, he brought all his amazingly flashy gear to us in the pub and just parked it on the stage, just somewhere to put it really. He had numerous high watt amps and stuff and we had a little group called Garfield Row. We didn’t have a drummer, we had two acoustic guitars, bass and a girl singer. Then we got a keyboard player and Glenn used to come and see us sometimes and sit in and he lent us a load of stuff and took an interest in us. He then started a band called Wild Turkey and he effectively nicked our guitarist/singer and ultimately our keyboard player and they started touring and going to America and I just thought

Gary Fletcher •

then that I had to turn professional.” This was after seeing Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention at the London School Of Economics, a concert that Gary said blew him away. “It was one of those nights when everybody was on top form, it was one of those life defining moments and I thought: ‘Wow I would really like to do that.’ Glenn [Cornick] was still in the band then and I particularly like his bass playing. This track on STAND UP the second Tull album called Bourree, which is basically a bit of Bach and there is the most glorious bass solo in that which is so beautiful, it is so correct and proper and it just stood out to me, seeing Glenn that night and what they were doing …they were doing a lot of blues at that point but they were doing it just that little bit differently. Now I know a lot of purists don’t like that and I really do understand, of course, but I actually thought it was interesting and I followed them for quite a while, until the album A PASSION PLAY.” Gary also got into prog rock bands such as Yes, especially their albums THE YES ALBUM and FRAGILE , but by about 1973 he had started to veer away from that style of music and another band opportunity arose. “I saw this advert ‘folk rock band required bass player’, went along to the audition only to find it was really a country & western band with a guy called Bryan Chalker. We never had a drummer, but he kind of did some fairly straight Johnny Cash stuff but he also did quite a lot of Kris Kristofferson, in fact Help Me Make It Through The Night he recorded the first version of


that other than Kris. Kris gave it to him before Gladys Knight got it and we had a minor hit with it in the UK. So that was my first pro gig and I was probably only 21 or 22 then, so I was very lucky.” After that he joined a rock band called Panama Scandal and then onto another band that included fellow Blues Band member Dave Kelly. “I played with Dave just before the Blues Band in a group called the Wildcats with Wilgar Campbell, who was the original Rory Gallagher drummer. I remember coming back from the Bridge House in Canning Town in Dave’s laundry van and we had all the amps slung on the top of this dirty laundry and he said to me: ‘Oh I got a call from this bloke Tom McGuinness the other day’. I said: ‘what McGuinness Flint?’ and he said: ‘That’s it, he is trying to get a band together with Paul Jones, they need a bass player, give us a shout’. Gerry McAvoy was supposed to be doing it, but Rory Gallagher didn’t like his boys playing away so I got a call from Paul if I remember rightly and that is how it started, the rest is documented from your previous correspondence,” he laughs. See Dave Kelly feature in November 2010 issue. As well as being a bass guitarist and singer, Gary is also a fine songwriter. “I had always written tunes, I wrote quite

a lot of stuff that the Blues Band has done. I mean Green Stuff is one of my songs, which is almost our anthem. But I always had things outside of that as well and really to bring it up to the current situation I did the HUMAN SPIRIT album which came out in 2007 and we now have a new GFB (Gary Fletcher Band) album out, The line-up on the album is not necessarily going to remain, as Pick Withers is going to move on as he is possibly toying with the idea of coming off the road and teaching, so we will be

looking at replacing the drummer. We have also got a fabulous young guitar player called Steve Ling who would blow you away when you see him, I doubt if I will be able to hang onto him as someone will come and nick him, stunning guitar player. My son Jack plays bass and I play a bit of electric slide and acoustic guitar and do the vocals. The album is called GIANT FROM THE BLUE , obviously a play on GFB and Roald Dahl. I am very proud of it, probably the best thing I have ever done.” David Knowles

Miranda Lambert


Miranda Lambert •



and they all had different ideas, but I knew Frank—he is iranda Lambert is the new queen of counalso a publisher—and he just knows artists and who they try. In November she walked off with the are. Not only that, he puts together a room full of amazing coveted Female Vocalist of the Year award musicians that will just be the perfect blend for the project. at the Country Music Association Awards. And Mike is an engineer, but also co-producer—he is the Not only that, she won the all-important Album of the reason why the record sounds the way it sounds.” Year for REVOLUTION, her third major label album. Though “I love working with these guys, because they build Miranda’s first two albums, KEROSENE and CRAZY EXtracks around my lyrics instead of making a track and I GIRLFRIEND were incredibly good, REVOLUTION has proved sing over it,” she adds. “I don’t have anything in mind when to be something of a revelation, revealing an insight into I go into the studio. I play my song and say: ‘Y’all go and subtler emotions and an elevating technique as a vocal do what you think it should sound like.’ It’s like White Liar Liar, stylist that match her celebrated ways of conveying the which I wrote with my friend Natalie [Hemby]. I just sat romance of danger—or, perhaps, the dangers of romance. down and played the song for the musicians, they went The sonic range of REVOLUTION goes beyond the limits in and noodled for about an hour and it started coming of her previous work, pushing even into territories that together. And the original of the John Prine song, That’s the some might call ‘country punk.’ Yet at the very centre of Way That the World Goes ’Round, is obviously very different the album is natural understanding and affinity for the from our version. It was definitely a surprise to all of us, the core value of down-home country music. With an ear for shape that song took on. We had so much fun letting it go, a great melody and the storyteller’s insight for spinning a with everybody getting out of control. It was a blast because compelling yarn, Texas-born Miranda puts both and more, there were really no rules, and that gives everybody such on display with this superb album. She has strength and creative feeling.” power but she also has vulnerability and sensitivity. On this record there is the perfect balance between the two. “I think REVOLUTION is more “THAT CAME FROM A VASE OF FLOWERS I HAD GOTTEN FOR diverse than the other two,” VALENTINE’S DAY,” SHE SAYS. “I HAD TO THROW THEM OUT BECAUSE Lambert reflects. “It’s a lot the I WAS LEAVING TOWN AND I THOUGHT: ‘WOW, WHAT A WASTE.’ same too; we use the same musiA LSO, I LEAVE MY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UP ALL YEAR, SO THEY WERE cians and the same producers, so KIND OF HANGING DOWN AND SOME OF THEM WERE BROKEN. THAT there’s still that element of the STARTED THE ENTIRE SONG. I WANTED TO WRITE IT SO THAT WHEN Miranda Lambert sound that PEOPLE LISTENED THEY COULD SEE WHAT I WAS SEEING.” I’ve had throughout the other records. But it has a lot more elements about different phases You think of Miranda Lambert as this angry chick, of life because that’s what I’m living. This is definitely my ready to blow somebody’s head off. And then you see her favourite album that I’ve done.” and what she puts into her music, how careful and thoughtShe alone wrote three songs on the album and co-wrote ful she is about it, the reverence she has for everything a majority of the balance with a cross-section of writers that’s involved and you realise there’s more to this Texas including Blake Shelton, Ashley Monroe, Natalie Hemby, blonde than the publicity leads us to believe. On tours with Allen Shamblin and Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, and Charles Kelley who lends background vocals on Love George Strait and Keith Urban, she proved that she could Song. Vibrant country-ish songs like The House That Built rock it in stadiums as hard as she had done on the Texas Me and Airstream Song Song, complement straight-up pop-rock club circuit in her teens. But she’s always maintained a tunes (like Julie Miller’s Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go or strong, rootsy country feel to her music … after all that was the more contemporary strains of Maintain The Pain) with what she grew up with … and she considers REVOLUTION equal skill. The captivating, hook-laden musicianship and to be her most country-oriented album to date. “I love steel hearty vocal performances steal the show on this record. guitar and it has tons of steel,” she points out. “And it’s What’s more, the prolific story-telling lyricism delivered by more lyrically country.” singer-songwriter Ms Lambert brings each of the tracks to She cites two songs as examples: Maintain the Pain, one life. of the three songs she wrote on her own, and Airstream Miranda has utilised the same production team (Frank Song, among four collaborations with Hemby featured on Song Liddell and Mike Wrucke) on all three of her albums, and the album. ““Maintain the Pain is definitely a rocker but the the core lineup of musicians including guitarists Richard lyrics could be sung in a totally different way because it’s Bennett, Jay Joyce and Randy Scruggs, bassist Glenn Worf, a country song,” she explains. “And Airstream Song is 100 drummer Chad Cromwell and percussionist Eric Darken, percent country. Maybe I say that because I’m a country so that each of her albums represents a collective as well as girl and I wrote the song from a country girl’s perspective. individual growth It’s up to everybody else to interpret what they think about “I have known Frank for a long time, so basically when the lyrics. But almost every song, at least the ones I wrote, I first agreed on making a record I said I wanted to make has a country element, not only because of my influences it with him,” she says. ”I met with a lot of other producers and roots but because of the way I sing them.”

Miranda Lambert •


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“I DEFINITELY HAD TO PUT MYSELF IN CHARACTER FOR SONGS LIKE DEAD FLOWERS BECAUSE I’M HAPPY RIGHT NOW. I’M IN A GREAT PLACE IN LIFE. BUT I LIKE SONGS THAT ARE ABOUT REALITY, SO I HAVE TO REMEMBER THE PAIN AND REMEMBER BEING ANGRY WHEN I WRITE FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE...” The reference in Maintain the Pain to shooting her radio and her swaggering cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s Time to Get a Gun fit easily with the image established by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Gunpowder & Lead and Kerosene, but REVOLUTION also highlights a poetic quality that seems likely to add dimension to her writing and vocal interpretation for the future. Listening to the imagery unfold throughout Dead Flowers, for instance, is like studying a still life and finding new layers of meaning with each passing minute. “That came from a vase of flowers I had gotten for Valentine’s Day,” she says. “I had to throw them out because I was leaving town and I thought: ‘Wow, what a waste.’ Also, I leave my Christmas lights up all year, so they were kind of hanging down and some of them were broken. That started the entire song. I wanted to write it so that when people listened they could see what I was seeing.” It also helped her reach deeper into her resources as an interpreter of lyrics. “I definitely had to put myself in character for songs like Dead Flowers because I’m happy right now. I’m in a great place in life. But I like songs that are about reality, so I have to remember the pain and remember being angry when I write from that perspective. When I wrote Dead Flowers, I was hanging out at the farm with the 50 maverick

Miranda Lambert •

animals. Blake [Shelton] was over. It was actually a really great day—but I wrote this sad song. So I guess I’m reinventing myself a little bit lyrically and breaking out artistically. It’s all about reinventing yourself while staying true to your originality.” When Miranda is out on the road touring and up there on stage performing her high-energy shows, she puts across this crazy rock star image, yet what often comes across in her music is that as well as being the crazy rock star, she is also deep down the small town girl. Her heart and home remain in tiny Lindale, Texas, about 80 miles east of Dallas. Miranda says she chose to buy a house near her parents in her hometown of Lindale—population 4,000— because it keeps her grounded. “Absolutely!” she says. “I think that there was a point where I wanted to really sell the small town side of me, because I do have that in me, but, clearly it’s not all I have to say. But I’m on the road so much, that when I am home, I want to get back to reality. It’s important to me to stay close to my roots. I can relax there and be normal.” It comes as no surprise that one of the most popular songs in her live shows is titled Famous in a Small Town, one of the most memorable songs from her second album. Miranda jokes: “It’s everything that did or could happen in COVER FEATUR E

Miranda Lambert •


didn’t get much help from American country radio. Her Lindale.” When she recorded KEROSENE , her first Nashville highest-charting single by far was the title cut, and it album, she’d been in a relationship with a hometown boy failed to make the top 10 on the country music singles for four years. The heavy touring that followed the release chart. The edgy title track from her second album, Crazy of the album, compounded with media, radio and television Ex-Girlfriend, stalled at number 50. In fact it has taken work, took its toll on the relationship and the couple split up. It was not too long after this that following some show dates together that Miranda and fellow country singer Blake Shelton became an item and it looks as if this relationship is set to be a keeper. “I just had to go and date an Okie,” she says laughing. “There’s been some hard stretches where we only see each other once a month, but being in this business, we don’t have time to get tired of each other. We have time to miss each other.” One of the Nashville-based writers that Miranda has collaborated with regularly is Ashley Monroe a young singer-songwriter who should be on a major label and by now should be a big star. “We were on the same label together for a while, and we met that way, and just became friends,” Miranda says. “We’ve been great friends for almost three … four years now. She is just amazing. And it’s the kind of thing where I don’t usually co-write, I don’t work well that way. So Ashley and I planned on writing a song together, and we just clicked. She is just such a different artist completely, but she is so amazing.” Miranda Lambert first hit with Me and Charlie Talking Talking, a kind of twee, country song about the small town boy heading off to find fame and fortune and leaving his childhood sweetheart behind. But it was the revved-up Kerosene —a song that channelled Steve Earle’s cocky melody from I Feel Alright and the “MOM AND DAD WOULD LEAVE THE HOUSE AND SAY: ‘THESE MEN Beatles’ harmonica part from I IN BLACK MIGHT COME TO THE DOOR, AND THEY ’LL WANT OUR Should’ve Known Better —that was FILES. JUST LET THEM IN, AND YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND LOCK the first true evocation of her musiTHE DOOR,’” SHE RECALLS. cal mindset. Though she ultimately had to cede some of the songwriting proceeds and writing credit to Earle after she realised she’d taken much Miranda Lambert five years to score her first number one of the song’s rhythmic and melodic structure from his, she single with The House That Built Me. In fact she only has found comfort discovering that country fans would accept three top ten country hits out of the dozen singles released something from out in left field. “That really built my conso far, showing that mainstream radio doesn’t always reflect fidence,” she says. “I’m not afraid of anything musically. I’m what record buyers are buying into. not going to hold back part of myself just because it’s not This might be because on CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, straight-down-the-middle ‘country.’” Miranda did a lot of things country stars—especially While her debut album KEROSENE went platinum, it female country stars—aren’t supposed to do. The musi-

Miranda Lambert •


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Miranda Lambert • cal settings, courtesy of producers Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke, are edgy, and Miranda portrays herself not as a sweet, lovelorn heartthrob but as a woman who shoots guns, drinks beer, exacts revenge, whups up on a rival and leaves bad relationships without remorse. She torched a cheating lover’s home in Kerosene and loaded up a shotgun for an abusive man in Gunpowder & Lead. And yet Miranda, a striking blonde with pouty lips, laughs at the suggestion she might be, well, the girlfriend from

hell. “I’m actually a nice person, most of the time,” she said at the time. “I’m 23 years old, and I go through the things that a regular 23-year-old girl goes through. I don’t want people to look at me and think: ‘Oh my God, she’s scary. She’s the crazy ex-girlfriend.’” The songs on the album came off as little postcards of a lifestyle, not as brags. And Miranda Lambert emerged as an artist far, far away from idyllic, Martina McBride-land. Yet, McBride has been a major influence for the young Texan. “When I was a teenager, I went to a concert at Texas Stadium with my mom,” she recalls. “We were on the very last row up in the stadium, and most of the performers seemed really small. Then Martina McBride got onstage, 52 maverick

Miranda Lambert •


and even though she was so tiny she took up the entire stage with her presence. My mom elbowed me and said: ‘You need to be big onstage like that.’ Now, when people come to my show, I don’t want them to leave thinking: ‘Well, that was alright.’ I want them to think: ‘She was having a great time up there. That was kick-ass!’” Miranda has one of the more unusual stories in country music. Growing up in Lindale, her parents were private detectives who shared stories of cheating and deceit over dinner every night. “To me, it was just mom and dad’s job. But seeing that harsh reality of real life early on started coming out when I was writing,” she says. They got the case of a lifetime when Paula Jones hired them for her sexual discrimination lawsuit against President Clinton. They worked on it for two years, and it left a big impression on Miranda and her younger brother. “Mom and dad would leave the house and say: ‘These men in black might come to the door, and they’ll want our files. Just let them in, and you go to your room and lock the door,’” she recalls. Miranda says that she got her musical talent from her dad Rick Lambert. “He writes songs and plays guitar, he just does that for a hobby,” she says. “He did it back in the seventies, he just played clubs and stuff when he was not on duty as a cop. And then he stopped writing for a long time because he was busy with the PI business and when I was 16 and entered a True Value Country Showdown and I sang two of his songs and that got him back into writing. We actually co-wrote two of the songs on my first record—we wrote Me and Charlie Taking and Greyhound Bound for Nowhere, that I sang on Nashville Star.” She toured around Texas for several years before coming to national prominence as one of the top finalists for the premiere season of Nashville Star after she heard about it through a friend. “I guess a friend of the family heard about it and called my mom and it was: ‘Okay I’m going to try out for this.’ And I was on tour in Texas opening up for Jack Ingram, Pat Green and Charlie Robison and I had my own independent record out, so I was doing pretty good on my own,” Miranda explains. “I was planning on doing and maybe signing with a publishing company here, [Nashville’], and I heard about it. And, I don’t do contests. I just don’t think that they’re ever fair and they’re rigged and all that because I’ve done them before. But mom talked me into trying out and I tried out in Dallas and I didn’t even make the Top 30 out of 250 people that day!” She says that would’ve been it if her mother hadn’t talked her into trying out again. “After the loss, I said: ‘See COVER FEATUR E

“I THINK REVOLUTION IS TRULY THE MOST ARTISTIC PROJECT I HAVE EVER DONE. I REALLY PUT MY ENTIRE BEING INTO THE MAKING OF IT. FROM THE WRITING TO THE RECORDING TO FINDING THE PERFECT MIXTURE OF THINGS I WANTED TO SAY. THE INSPIRATION WAS EASY TO COME BY, BECAUSE IT’S A COMPILATION OF EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER LISTENED TO AND FELL IN LOVE WITH. IT’S NOT AN ALBUM WHERE YOU LISTEN FROM SONG TO SONG, IT’S A STATE OF MIND, A WAY OF LIFE...” mom, I just wasn’t meant to do this and then they had another audition in Houston the next week and she was like: ‘Please, just do it. And give it your all and that way you won’t have any regrets when you see the show.’ So, I tried out in Houston and I ended up winning the whole regional competition for Houston and was one of the original five picked to be on the show.” Miranda had made it through the audition process against 8000 other hopeful singers, and she nearly won the whole thing, coming 3rd place the year Buddy Jewell won. But, that one lost battle for Miranda didn’t keep her from winning the war when Sony Music came calling. “They told me that about the 6th show, we had gotten pretty close and after the 6th show, where I sang my original [song], it was basically them telling me: ‘We’re so interested, and we really like you’…and I had some interest from other labels and I met with them, but I had already signed a contract with Sony and I’m really glad that’s where I ended up. It’s the best label for me,” she adds. “They’ve allowed me to be so creative and allowed me all the freedom in the world. They didn’t push any songs on me. They just let me go into the studio with the producer that I wanted and cut the songs that I want. I would not

Miranda Lambert •

rather be anywhere else,” Miranda says emphatically. Allowing an artist to be themselves is just so unusual with the Nashville major labels. Over the years I’ve met so many artists whose careers have been destroyed by label executive trying to mould them into something that they’re not, so it’s refreshing to come across a relatively young artist who has stood her ground and been given the freedom to make music on her own terms. Miranda Lambert’s steady five-year career growth has been interesting and fulfilling to witness and to see her produce an album of the quality of REVOLUTION and then be rewarded by the CMA in such a positive way will hopefully teach those men in suits to step back a little and let an artist be themselves. “I think REVOLUTION is truly the most artistic project I have ever done. I really put my entire being into the making of it. From the writing to the recording to finding the perfect mixture of things I wanted to say. The inspiration was easy to come by, because it’s a compilation of everything I have ever listened to and fell in love with. It’s not an album where you listen from song to song, it’s a state of mind, a way of life. I hope people have as much fun getting to know me through listening as I did getting to know myself in recording it.” Alan Cackett COVER FEATUR E

maverick 53






exas Cowboy singer RW Hampton was over in England along with his manager Brian Ferriman to appear at the BCMA Awards in October 2010 and to promote his latest album, AUSTIN TO BOSTON X . He found the Awards show an interesting and pleasing experience. “I thoroughly enjoyed it, everybody was very friendly and supportive. I did a thirty minute showcase set in the afternoon and had a great crowd for that and then I was one of the presenters for the International Award that the British Country Music Association gave out and so I was glad to be a part of the programme,” he told me. “I got a great response from the audience and they were very generous, I appreciated it. We have also had a lot of plays on the Hot Disc and so I

54 maverick

met a lot of people that already knew me through my music and so it was great to finally get to meet a lot of these folks.” This was a great way to introduce RW to the UK audience and he is hoping to come back sometime in 2011 to do a tour, “I would love to come back and play some of the festivals, the way things are nowadays it would make sense for me to put by some time and try to put several things together. I would love to come over and bring my family and experience some of the English hospitality and the countryside, so hopefully we can put some things together.” That could be quite a trip if RW brings his whole family on tour to the UK. “I have a wife and six children and grand-children as well. I have five boys and one girl, My daughter is 32, I have

RW H a m p to n •

a son that is 24, then one at 22, 18, 9 and a 4 year old. My 22 year old son Colter works on a ranch very much like his daddy and he lives outside of Fort Worth, Texas and he plays guitar and writes songs, in fact I have got one of his songs on my latest album.” I asked him how that felt. “That was a lot of fun, it gives you a sense of pride writing with one of your children and then he sings the harmony on the chorus of that song and I am real proud of that.” For those that have not heard of RW Hampton before I asked him if he could talk a little of his early days. “I was raised in Richardson, Texas up in the north central part of the state. I always had a horse and I participated in high school rodeos in Texas, along with football, basketball, soccer, baseball


… they have high school rodeo and so I participated in that. But I would go away in the summertime and go out in the western part of Texas, eastern New Mexico and work on ranches, making my living as a cowboy getting my summer wages and when I graduated from high school that is what I did for a living.” “I was always interested in music and when I was about sixteen I learned how to play the guitar. I learnt some of my favourite country songs and started writing songs of my own. A lot of the places and ranches where I lived didn’t have TVs and maybe very little radio, as sometimes there was no electricity, so the guitar was a good companion for me.” “As years went by I occasionally was asked to go maybe on a Saturday to somewhere like Fort Worth, Texas or Wichita, Kansas to play some music for a Stockmans’ convention or something like that, I enjoyed doing that.1985 I did a movie with Kenny Rogers and I played the guitar and sang, I played the part of a cowboy. I think it was then that I thought maybe I could make a living doing this and so I started pursuing it at that point fairly seriously and it has been good.” As well as being an actor RW is also a playwright. “I have a one-man play called The Last Cowboy and theoretically it hasn’t happened yet, thank god, because the character in this play is the last cowboy and it is something I have been doing for a number of years. In fact I have got an album that has some of the main highpoints of the show that we recorded and it won a Prestigious Award in the US. For entertainment for me I love live music, but I also did the play and I do some movie work occasionally, and so I love all those different facets of the entertainment business.” But then of course he is also a singer with a quite wonderful baritone voice and has a selection of albums to his name. “I did my first album in about 1992 for a very small Texas label out of Lubbock, Texas. It is funny because I recorded the album and then the label just closed its doors, so I released the album independently and at that time we just sold the album at the different gigs that I had. It sold well, especially at the festivals, as the audiences are very enthusiastic and so it was a good opportunity to spread my music. People at that time were buying a lot of albums, you would go and do your 30-45 minute set and then go to the CD table and sign autographs and sell CDs and tapes and

so that was a good way to start.” In 2007 RW released a terrific album called OKLAHOMA…WHERE THE WEST REMAINS ! “I have some really good connections in Oklahoma. I have some people who are like family there. 2007 Oklahoma was celebrating its centennial of its Statehood and a dear friend of mine, Edna Mae Holden, came to me with the idea. She said if she wrote a script, wrote the story out and picked out some songs, would I be the vocalist on it. I said that I would love to in tribute of this Statehood centennial, so that was a great thrill to me. We recorded it with a symphony orchestra and then we have done it live probably eight or ten times with a symphony.” He has also released a brand new album that has a fine mix of RW originals and popular covers. “AUSTIN TO BOSTON is the new album and just the name kind of implies that maybe there is some travel involved in it, but in a wider stance I have embraced a lot of different types of music in that album. I have always kind of thought of myself not as a singer of cowboy songs, but a cowboy who sang. If that is the case, then that opens me up to be able to sing a lot of different kinds of music. So I wrote more traditional songs than I had ever written and I have Danny Boy on there, a Michael Buble song called Home. So it was an opportunity for me to kind of expand my musical horizon.” I really like the album and had to mention his version of Freddie Mercury’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love. “That was a

RW H a m p to n •

lot of fun. Someone else said that they liked it but asked why did I do it and I said that there is a line in that song that says: ‘This thing called love it cries in the cradle all night.’ When our four year old was just born he was keeping us up late at night and so that song had always come to mind and I was humming it and strumming it on my guitar at the studio one day and just said that it sounded great and we should record it … and so that is my version of that. It is a bit of a stretch but it is fun.” There is also a marvelous version of You Don’t Know Me. “I love that song. I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy Walker on a couple of occasions. The song has been done country, it has been done pop, but it is just a cool song. The person who is singing the song is kinda talking to himself, you know. Most songs are saying: ‘I love you’ and this, that and the other, but this has him saying to himself: ‘I love you but you don’t know it’ and I always thought it was an incredibly sad song, but a beautiful song.” Another part of RW Hampton’s life is his work for charity. “I am a three times cancer survivor and so if I can be an encouragement to other folks then I like to enjoy that and sometimes hope is the strongest medicine. I have been involved in the John Wayne Cancer Institute and their fundraisers.” The good news is that RW Hampton has been clear from cancer now for seven years. AUSTIN TO BOSTON is a great album of country and western music that fans of Alan Jackson and George Strait will love. David Knowles


maverick 55



or the third in this series of major influences on country music, from the fame of Rodgers and the Carter Family to the relative obscurity of guitarists/singer Riley Puckett, fiddle and the band he played with the Skillet Lickers and also from the same band, fiddle player Clayton McMichen. Born in Georgia, May 1894 George Riley Puckett was blinded at the age of three months when a fairly straightforward eye infection was wrongly treated. Details of his early life are quite sketchy, but we do know that by 1924 he had teamed up with Gid Tanner, another Georgian who played fiddle and sang. Tanner had been a stalwart of the local fiddle conventions and contests and rival to Fiddling John Carson who had the distinction of having recorded what is regarded as the first hill-billy (country) record ever made—in June 1923. The success of this, ( Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane/The Old Hen Cackled ) inspired Columbia Records to look for similar acts, and Frank Walker, the person in charge of popular music at Columbia set to recording Puckett and Tanner in New York In March 1925, some two years before Rodgers and the Carters were recorded by Peer. During 1925 and 1926 Puckett and Tanner recorded prolifically, with Puckett also recording the first of many solo

56 maverick

of Cou nt r y Mu sic

records he would make. In addition to being a guitar player and singer, Puckett also played banjo, but his real influence was as a guitarist. Information on him is scant, particularly his guitar playing, how he played and so on, but as with his peers he left behind a legacy of recorded music, that although often hard to find,

influenced by, the Puckett version in particular his falsetto yodelling chorus ... Something of a crooner was the best description of Puckett’s singing, although his voice was very strong, clean and always in tune. He showed off his guitar ability on songs like Steamboat Bill where he accompanied himself with a bass-led driving strum occasionally punctuated by a two-note guitar aside to simulate the steamboat whistle. On other cuts Puckett exemplified the perfect guitar accompaniment for the solo singer. Nothing fancy, just bass note led strumming and whereas Rodgers timing was always a little erratic Puckett was right on the beat. Occasionally he would like his chords with a simple, but again right in time, bass run, Everybody Works But Father cut in 1926 is a fine example of this as is Put My Little Shoes Away recorded at the same session. Unfortunately Puckett’s music has not been well served by the reissue market. Other than one CDr issued by BACM and odd tracks on various collections there is not a body of work dedicated to Riley Puckett, nor has it ever been easy to find clean copies of the original 78s, although they did sell quite well. I rely on a number of LP reissues that have appeared over the years, and hope that someday, someone will have the resource and patience to produce a worthy set of Puckett’s solo recordings. Much of Puckett’s work, though was not as a soloist but as guitar player and occasional singer with the Skillet Lickers,

THERE ARE TWO DISTINCT ASPECTS TO PUCKETT’S GUITAR PLAYING. ACCOMPANYING HIS OWN VOICE, WHERE HE WAS ACCOMPLISHED, BUT NOT UNIQUE, AND AS GUITARIST IN THE SKILLET LICKERS STRING BAND WHERE HE REALLY WAS ONE IN A MILLION. is worth the effort. There are two distinct aspects to Puckett’s guitar playing. Accompanying his own voice, where he was accomplished, but not unique, and as guitarist in the Skillet Lickers string band where he really was one in a million. Puckett was not a composer of songs, relying on old familiar songs, including those lifted from Tin Pan Alley. His first recording was a cover of Little Old Log Cabin in The Lane, the surprising 1923 success for Fiddling John Carson. Also recorded early on was a version of Sleep Baby Sleep that, students of this series will I hope recall, was Jimmie Rodgers debut recording in 1927. Whilst the titles may be identical the songs are not, although it would be most probable that Rodgers would have heard, and been

Riley Puckett •

a Georgia string band comprising Puckett and Tanner, the latter lending his name to the band, invariably styled Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, but with other members who varied from time to time and included fiddle player Clayton McMichen, Bert Layne and Lowe Stokes, also fiddle players, Fate Norris on banjo, Ted Hawkins on mandolin and guitar, and towards the end, Gordon Tanner, Gid’s son on fiddle. McMichen in particular was an outstanding fiddle player who had a long musical career to which I will return below, and Puckett was of course the main singer. Tanner played some, and sang some often adding an annoying falsetto voice to some of the tracks as a serious distraction. Whether he had the same leadership qualities as say Bob Wills has,



of Cou nt r y Mu sic

and never will, be determined. would make other players sit up and pay with spoken links from the ‘organiser’ The Skillet Lickers were a superb attention. Doc Watson was influenced of the festival (probably McMichen). The string band, although ironically, Tanner, by Puckett as were many of his peers, skit records obviously sold well since the leader was about the least talented. all of whom were captivated by this they remained a significant part of the They were all local Georgia musicians truly original approach to accompanying Skillet Lickers recorded output with A of some repute, and were probably the fiddle tunes. Day At the County Fair, Kickapoo Medicine first such disparate group to be formed Not all of the Skillet Lickers would Show, A Night In Blind Tiger, A Bee Hunt On into a band for the purpose of making have enjoyed Puckett’s approach. Hill For Sartin Creek, and five more titles records. They were Columbia Records’ Fiddle player Lowe Stokes said he was before concluding in 1934 with their last first signing to cash in on the new hillhard to play with whilst McMichen ever recording Practice Night With The billy market and recorded prolifically acknowledged Puckett’s integral role Skillet Lickers. All of these were two-part from 1926-1934 with a varied and saying that he was what the public skits occupying both sides of a record, interesting repertoire. Unlike Puckett, wanted to hear. If he didn’t sing then but surpassed by the longest running the Skillet Lickers have been well served records didn’t sell as well. However, title of all, Corn Licker Still In Georgia with reissue CDs and it is still possible it was not conventional records that which extended to 14 parts, taking up to get almost all of their recorded made the Skillet Lickers name. In 1927 7 records. Corn Licker is not included output on a set of six CDs issued by the they cut the first of many ‘skit’ records, in the Document set, but was reissued Document label in 2000 in its entirety on a (Document DOCCD Voyager LP some years 8056-8061 available as ago. The Skillet Lickers single CDs from such disbanded following this as Red Lick Records). In 1934 session. Tanner chronological order the retired to his chicken sound quality is as good farm, but Puckett and as could be expected McMichen continued with full discographical to make music with information and an Puckett recording excellent biography prolifically until 1941 by Tony Russell that and continuing to spreads over the inserts appear on radio shows of the six discs. right up to his death Now with the band in 1946 from a form Riley Puckett was a of blood poisoning different guitarist. He no caused by an infected longer played chords, boil on his neck. Puckett instead opting for single died long before the notes on the bottom legion of country music strings of his guitar. On scholars appeared, so early titles he played not enough is known more or less the same about his own musical notes and timing a bass sources although his player would have done daughter said that he had the band had one. listened to the radio all However, that discipline of the time and would did not seem to last learn anything he liked. NOT ALL OF THE SKILLET LICKERS WOULD HAVE ENJOYED long, as soon Puckett That would explain a PUCKETT’S APPROACH. FIDDLE PLAYER LOWE STOKES was playing almost in a strange choice of songs SAID HE WAS HARD TO PLAY WITH WHILST MCMICHEN world of his own with for his solo records that ACKNOWLEDGED PUCKETT’S INTEGRAL ROLE SAYING THAT his bass notes linked included Red Sails In HE WAS WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTED TO HEAR. I F HE DIDN’T and decorated with triple the Sunset, South Of The SING THEN RECORDS DIDN’T SELL AS WELL. time runs that often cut Border, When I Grow Too right across the tempo. Old To Dream and Walking Similarly, he also had his My Baby Back Home. I did where the band played scripted parts own idea of what notes to play and did say above that he was something of a interspersed with music. The first of not follow what would have been the crooner! Only Gordon Tanner, Gid’s son these recordings was entitled A Fiddlers regular chord changes, in fact it is fair to who recorded with the band at their last Convention in Georgia and Parts 1 and 2 say that sometimes his choice of notes session, offered any clue as to his guitar appeared together on one 78rpm record. was incorrect and had he played chords, technique. Tanner said he did not tune to Starting out with a full band instrumental we can assume he would probably have standard tuning, raising the sixth string version of Bully Of The Town, launching played the wrong ones. There had been to G so that he could play it open (not into a fiddle contest for the prize of a nothing like it before and whereas, for fretted) in the tunes in the key of G, D gallon of moonshine whiskey, solos from example, Charlie Poole’s guitar players or C. He played with finger picks on his Tanner, McMichen, Layne and a short favoured runs on the bass strings of fingers and did not use his thumb other guitar piece from Puckett, A Rag Rag, with their guitar, they did so in a structured than to locate his right hand position. some real down home blues picking way. Puckett was wild, and the sort that Most of his bass runs were played with and more short Skillet Lickers tunes, all

Riley Puckett •


maverick 57


Root s of Cou nt r y Mu sic

his forefinger and it was undoubtedly Puckett’s quirky style that inspired the likes of Charlie Monroe which segued into bluegrass guitar via Lester Flatt, Jimmy Martin and others to make up a whole new strain of music. McMichen did live long enough (he died in 1970) to comment on his music and that of the Skillet Lickers. He was not at all fond of the music of Tanner or Layne, saying they were years behind the times, although he was happy with Puckett. The members of the Skillet

Lickers did not get on personally, and McMichen held a long frustration that he was undoubtedly the quality fiddle player in the band yet it was Tanner whose name appeared up front as the records were nearly always issued as ‘Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers with Riley Puckett’ thus leaving everyone to deduce that Tanner would be the lead musician. It was not until McMichen, in his own words ‘played up’ to Columbia’s Frank Walker that his name was also added to the records giving him some credit for his major contribution. Later in life, after McMichen had enjoyed a long carer with his various bands, the Georgia Wildcats and the Melody Men, giving early breaks to the likes of Merle Travis as he played more musically ambitious jazz and swing arrangements, he made it clear that he did not wish to the talk about the Skillet Lickers having little respect for the players or their music, Riley Puckett excepted. It was with the Georgia Wildcats that McMichen

recorded with Jimmie Rodgers in 1932 when he recorded one of McMichen’s songs, Peach Picking Time In Georgia. Such was McMichen’s place amongst fiddle players that in 1981 CMH Records of Los Angeles even recorded a double album tribute, THE CLAYTON McMICHEN story featuring, amongst others, his early protégé, Merle Travis. Many of his peers have since paid tribute, and Bill Monroe was one who was always ready to acknowledge that of all the old time fiddlers McMichen was the one who made the greatest mark on his music. In common with all of the pioneers, there was no blue print to follow when the Skillet Lickers began to record. They may have in their own way been influenced by their contemporaries who they would encounter along the way, but this would be a fleeting influence, as there would be no records to take home and lean from. This would be the place of Riley Puckett and Clayton McMIchen, as the leading players of their day who provided the inspiration and the recorded source for others to follow. The fact that through the various and changing sources of recorded music they are able to transcend time and still be figures of great influence over 80 years after their first recordings were made. John Atkins

A Guide To The Star Ratings In Maverick:  Avoid  Poor  Good  Very Good  Excellent

6 Day Riot – 69 Abi Lester – 61 Abigail Washburn – 64 Adrian Nation – 80 Alasdair Roberts & Friends – 65 Alexander Wolfe – 65 Alondra Bentley – 89 Andy Patterson – 61 Ange Boxall – 66 Arno – 61 Awolnation – 79 Ben Prestage – 89 Ben Weaver – 72 Billy Chernoff – 61 Black Country Comm – 78 Blackberry Smoke – 61 Blue Eyed Blondes – 90 Brian Houston – 85 Brian Hughes – 65 Brian Langlinals – 72 Bruce Springsteen – 65 Cal Smith – 82 Carolyn AlRoy – 89 Charlee Porter – 72 Charlee Porter – 80 Charlie Landsborough – 80 Charlotte Howard – 89 Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez – 81 Chloe Matharu – 65 Chris Corney – 66 Chris Newman – 66 Churchfitters – 66 Clare Free – 78 Conway Twitty – 86 Dafni – 61 Dan Korn – 89 Danielle Car – 85 David Wilcox – 66 Dim Lights Special - 88

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Laura Bethell, Charlotte Bones, David Brassington, Alan Cackett, Nick Dalton, Hazel Davis, Pete Fyfe, Alan Harrison, Russell Hill, Sara Hunt, Paul Kerr, Bob Kilbey, David Knowles, Peter Palmer, Jeremy Searle, James H Soars, Allan Wilkinson, Arthur Wood

Dixie Aces – 81 Duke Garwood – 78 Dusty Stray – 67 Eliza Newman – 90 Elliott Smith – 81 Emily Hackett – 61 Emily Smith – 67 Emma Sweeney – 62 Eric Brace & Peter Cooper – 85 Fiery Blue – 62 Franka DeMille – 78 Gary Stewart – 67 Gerry Griffin – 67 Glenn Williams, Paul Hewson & Ian Bolder – 67 Halfway – 68 Happy Trails – 68 Harley Poe – 90 Haun’s Mill – 68 Hey Mavis – 68 Huey Lewis & The News – 79 Jake Cogan & The Liberty Roses – 62 James Dunn – 68 James Otto – 72 Jeff Lowe – 79 Jeffrey Foucault – 68 Jim Byrne – 72 Joan Armatrading – 72 Joe Cassady & The West End Sound – 62 Johnny Burnette – 86 Joni Mitchell Project – 81 Juice Newton – 74 Kate Rusby – 69 Kath Reade – 90 Lacy J Dalton – 62 Larkin Poe – 64 Lennie Gallant – 90 Linda Watkins – 74

Lohio – 74 Loreena McKennitt – 74 Magna Carta – 82 Maini Sorri – 78 Mark Butcher – 78 Mark Olson – 75 Martyn Joseph – 63 Matt Schofield – 79 Matthews Southern Comfort – 70 Melanie Denard – 89 Mexico City – 78 Moishe’s Bagel – 90 Mojo Monkeys – 70 Moonrakers – 89 Norman Bedard – 90 Old 97s – 70 Old Blind Dogs – 70 Peter Stampfel & Baby Gramps – 74 Pink Nasty – 79 Rainbow Chasers – 90 Reg Meuross – 63 Reid Jamieson – 70 Reza – 79 Ricky Skags – 63 Rob McNurlin – 86 Rob McNurlin & Kim Johnson – 86 Rodney Carrington – 85 Roz Pappalardo & The Wayward Gentlemen – 63 Saloon Dogs – 90 Shane Chisholm – 74 Sidney Thompson – 70 Snowblink – 71 Solomon Burke & De Dijk – 79 Souad Massi – 79 Steve Richard – 71 Stompin’ Dave & Dave

Saunders – 74 Strawbs – 71 Susan Cattaneo – 63 Tami Rene – 63 Teea Goans – 69 Tennessee Ernie Ford – 82 Tess – 75 Testimony – 78 Texas Tea – 89 The Beatin’s – 75 The Britannicas – 79 The Clientele – 78 The Flying Toads – 62 The Gin Club – 90 The Hoppers – 82 The Hussys – 64 The John Wesley Stone – 90 The Medicine Bow – 75 The Proposition – 89 The Treehouse – 64 The Trishas – 71 The Ugly Guys – 68 The Unfortunate Sons – 89 The Vatican Cellars – 64 Thrift Store Cowboys – 75 Toni Price – 71 Tracy Bonham – 64 Tricked Out Country – 75 VA: Ding Dong Presents Vol 2 – 81 VA: Dreamboats & Petticoats Vol 4 – 81 VA: Got Them Hillbilly Blues – 82 VA: The Ace (USA) Story Vol 2 – 80 VA: The London American Label 1959 – 82 West Of Eden – 85 Wise-McGraw – 71 Zeus – 64

...the new releases Abi Lester SHE DREAMS

listeners at the same time. RH


Billy Chernoff CIRCLE OF GRACE



She’s dreamt of this moment her whole life... a good country project... Abi Lester, a country singer from Virginia, started singing in church and moved to Nashville after graduating from school. However, it didn’t work out and after ten months she moved back home. Six years later Abi received a call from Nashville to give it another go, and has released this debut SHE DREAMS , her country project alongside a gospel project. Excited as she is about the release, some of the songs are really not attractive, such as Flaming Red Red, which really doesn’t show off her voice at all. The opener Heaven On Earth however is a much brighter example, alongside I Know What You’ll Do and the title track She Dreams. It’s a shame these songs have not been selfwritten, as I think occasionally there’s a lack of connection between lyrical content and singer, but for the main part, this album is a good collection of country songs, showcasing the vocal talent of Abi Lester, someone who has spent her life dreaming of this moment, and it’s nice to see something like this released. LB www.abilester.com


GodsChild Records. CD. GCR0052010


A down home album of original country gospel material If you like real country music with plenty of steel guitar and fiddle this album will delight you from start to finish. Visually reminding me of a very young Tex Ritter, Canada’s Billy Chernoff has come up with 10 very strong and well written songs full of power and meaning such as Dear Lord, Pray For Me and Take All Your Troubles To Jesus. Other strong tracks like Little River Johnny and Can’t Sing Gospel Music In A Bar would not be out of place on brand new recordings by top country artists like Alan Jackson and George Strait. All of the songs on this excellent CD pack a punch leaving me very undecided as to which is my favourite. Anybody who thinks that modern country music is not as good as yesterdays ought to take a listen to this as it is excellent and deserves wide recognition. DB http://www.billychernoff.com/

Emily Hackett AS IT COMES Self-released 884501414388

Naïve NV820912


A varied album full of musical thrills and spills delivered in Arno’s own distinct style The extravagant Arno Hintjens has had one heck of a career. Rightly regarded as a Belgian legend, this is his eighteenth solo album and is the product of a career stretching back to the mid 1970s when he was the lead singer of the Euro-rock band TC Matic. This record shows no signs whatsoever of him taking it easy with Arno embracing his advancing years by still living life to the full but on his terms. This is double album of fifteen tracks with Le Lundi on Reste au Lit just one song which hits the spot in more ways than one. Describing how on Monday that he likes to stay in bed, this is Arno at his biggest and brightest as it sticks two fingers up to the man by delivering his message in a roaring sound that is hard to ignore. Pop Star has a blues edge to it at first thanks to the help of some stupendous harmonica but this then morphs into an Electro-pop beat which has a degree of funk to it as well. This tune is so fine that it makes you want to check out his previous albums just to see how good they were. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last we hear of Arno Hintjens. His extraordinary career seems to have reached a milestone with this record that includes inklings several styles which come together in a coherent way and should excite and enthrall

This EP will certainly whet listener’s appetites Emily was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Influenced by many musical genres whilst growing up she was writing her own songs at the age of twelve. She prefers to sings songs she likes no matter what their style and so her music blends many different genres of music together. Refusing to be pigeon-holed she has a distinctive voice that stands out from the crowd. Emily’s songs are mostly written from a female perspective but they will automatically appeal to listeners of all ages and sexes because they are of such a high quality. Her songs are written about obsession, frustration, life and love and this new EP features four classy tracks that really allow her to show off her singing and writing talents. Nashville the opening songs, has a country-folk feel echoed in the instrumentation. Emily’s vocals are interesting and full of character and this song sounds thoroughly modern yet because of its injection of folk, also retains something of a traditional sound. I Want A Boy has a totally different sound to the opening track as it is most definitely a modern country song with fresh uplifting vocals; a rather charming song that is easy on the ear. Damage Free is a heavy rock-infused country song which will appeal to fans of rockier rowdy country music. Emily really belts out this track proving that she is anything but a one trick pony.



BamaJam Records BJAM-01001


Solid country-rock with the rough edges left intact … The title sums it up just about right. This fourpiece outfit play an amalgam of southern rock, country, blues and gospel with an edge. This is their second full-length album, and despite being recorded in Nashville with top Music Row producer Dan Huff (Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, etc), this disc has little connection with the oft-sanitised modern country idiom. Oh no, let there be no doubt, Blackbery Smoke’s LITTLE PIECE OF DIXIE is a foot stompin’, country-rock album that celebrates its redneck—er, country—roots with all the subtlety and nuance of a tailgate party. Though several of the songs are penned by such Music Row writers as David Lee Murphy, Gary Nicholson, Craig Wiseman, Sonny Lemaire, etc, these are no radio-friendly ditties. This is kick-ass music of the first order that demands you stand up and stomp to the beat and singalong to the powerful lyrics. Oh, and did I mention, the band—Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar, pedal steel, banjo), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums) and Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals)—play everything you hear without the addition of any session players. Ol’ Waylon must be smiling broadly up above the Nashville skyline. They open with Good One Comin’ On, a bluesy roadhouse number penned by Lee Roy Parnell, David Lee Murphy and Gary Nicholson. Sung with a full southern twang, this track has a steady beat and is quintessentially American with its references to skinny dippin’ and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Craig Wiseman’s Who Invented the Wheel is a clever song given a solid treatment with some stunning lead guitar. Bottom Of This is a unique drinkin’ song, taking the stance that he’ll get to grips with everyday problems (wife, kids, politics, religion, etc) after he’s got to the bottom of his glass of beer. I drink to that! Up In Smoke has a great rock & roll arrangement, bluesy guitar solos, and a smokin’ rhythm. That’s just one of seven songs that the band had a hand in writing, just in case you thought that they relied solely on outside writers. Here’s a fully-formed outfit that has honed its rock chops the only way—out there on the road. A smokin’ record that will appeal to those readers with the kind of eclectic tastes that run the gamut from the Allmans to Confederate Railroad, Hank Jr to Lynyrd Skynyrd. AC www.blackberrysmoke.com

Runaway is similar in style and once again this is a heavy rocky country song. It is a shame that there are not more songs on this EP as it feels like it ends before it has really begun. Emily certainly teases and tempts listeners with these offerings and the promise of something really good to come in the future. SH

as well. Including some Americana influences, Someday changes pace on several occasions throughout with much success. With a great deal of scatting near the end, this only increases the superb quality to this song and is one which I highly recommend you check out. A sixth album on the way? Here’s hoping so. RH


Andy Patterson SPIRALLING

http://www.myspace.com/ emilyhackettmusic

Daffer Doodle Music DDM-001


Wonderfully mellow with a tranquil edge to it that has a lot to say for itself. From the Los Angeles area, Dafni Amirsakis originally grew up in Wisconsin where she learnt that she wanted to be a singer whilst watching The Wizard Of Oz. Her grandmother has played a huge part in her life, not just for the love she gave but also that she too had a beautiful voice which was popular in her Greek home. This is Dafni’s fifth album and is dedicated to her and what a beautiful album it is. Despite there being only eleven songs, this record fits a lot of quality into its four walls. The one track which fills up a large part of this space in this metaphorical place is Under The Blue Skies. With an intriguing opening in particular with the picking, it sounds a tad country but has a Cajun feel to it

CD Reviews - The New Releases


0191 Records


Fits someplace between Mike and the Mechanics and the Eagles with a classic sound and beautiful stories... Andy Patterson’s sound is an organic mix of singer-songwriter lyricism and an acute ear for acoustic dramatics. These songs comprise a heartfelt collection combining power and reflection. Back To You showcases a male singer-songwriter who is both talented with wonderful vocals, but also knows how to arm his songs with a catchy harmonic chorus that would be well suited to a Carrie Underwood score. His music made me go back to Mike and the Mechanics’ BEGGAR ON A BEACH OF GOLD and the Eagles’ HOTEL CALIFORNIA . Andy Patterson fits someplace between, homing in on a classic sound and beautiful stories. It’s a shame but the only information I have about this record is that it’s Andy Patterson’s debut release and was recorded in a variety

maverick 61

...the new releases of studios, front rooms, bedrooms and churches in and around London and Hampshire. However, it means everything’s been left purely to the music and that’s a wonderful touch with this record. Tracks like Been So Long, Fly My Baby and Spiralling are all worthy champions and indicative of the quality of this record. LB www.andypatterson.co.uk

Emma Sweeney THE OTHER CROSSING Own Label


Short and simple but packed with talent Some things are best left simple and, as if to prove the point comes this first recording by Manchester based fiddle player Emma Sweeney sensitively backed by Paul Callick and Steve Byrnes on guitars and rhythm provided by the bodhrans of Tad Sargent and Sam Proctor. In 2003 she was a finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the year and on the strength of this recording (even though it has been sometime coming and rather short at only five tracks) you can see why. Fully in control of her main instrument (she also plays whistle) with a display of subtle showmanship on the self-composed slow reels Endless Thoughts and The Last Straw or the more uptempo Mucky Fingers and The Mountain Top and Brid Harper’s Emma adds drama with a skilful delivery that is high-lighted by Michael McGoldrick’s excellent production. An impressive debut from an impressive performer and hopefully it won’t be too long before a full album is available. PF www.emmasweeneyfiddle.com

The Flying Toads IN STITCHES Own Label


Unfortunate name hides a good band of talented singers and musicians

What’s in a name…well, quite a lot actually and I don’t know where the Celtic-influenced the Flying Toads acquired theirs but (to me at least) they haven’t done themselves any favours as the title is neither descriptive nor flattering. Having said that, never judge a book by its cover as looks can be deceptive. This Sussex-based quartet sparkle with the energy of an early Planxty although possibly lacking in their Irish counterparts finesse and without wishing to sound churlish there’s nothing wrong in the presentation it’s just that in general it’s a little rough around the edges. OK, so maybe there’s nothing to laugh about with IN STITCHES featuring as it does well-rounded performances from all concerned including Val Marciandi on vocals and concertina, Brian Hirst (cittern, fiddle, guitar), Keith Whiddon (tenor banjo, bouzouki, backing vocals) and the Uillean pipes, flute, whistle and Northumbrian pipes of Erik Faithfull. Bringing to mind memories

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Lacy J Dalton HERE’S TO HANK Song Dog Records


Classic songs performed by a genuine country singer in the way ol’ Hank intended … My initial reaction when I opened up this CD was ‘do we really need another well-known singer releasing an album of Hank Williams’ songs.’ Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was all the rage, in more recent years the temptation has worn off … then I realised that there are probably a good many younger music lovers—those under forty—who are not as familiar with such Williams’ classics as Hey Good Lookin’, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Cold, Cold Heart or You Win Again, as people of my age. I’ve long been quite a fan of Lacy J Dalton. She possesses one of the most instantly recognisable voices in country music. Long before the likes of Gretchen Wilson came along, Lacy J put her two fingers up to the popcountry sounds that were stifling Nashville, so in my book there’s no better female voice around to bring ol’ Hank’s songs to the attention of a new generation of listeners. She makes no effort to modernise the songs or make them more palatable for a contemporary audience. These are gritty, soulful and at times bluesy interpretations of some of the very best country songs ever written. It does you good to occasionally get back to the very bedrock of country music and it doesn’t get any better than Lacy J’s emotional readings of Cold, Cold Heart or Why Don’t You Love Me. You can imagine being stranded in some out of the way truckstop, around 2am, staring into yet another cup of strong coffee, serenaded by a good old-fashioned jukebox circa 1956. Then you are transported to a sawdust honky-tonk with such toe-tappers as Honky Tonk Blues and Long Gone Lonesome Blues, sad-eyed dancers two-stepping and embracing the simple but powerful lyrics in a way modern-day line-dancers could never comprehend. Yeah, this is the real deal and comes highly recommended, even if you have every disc that ol’ Hank ever recorded. AC www.lacyjdalton.com/

of the 1970s when bands such as Oisin and the acoustic version of Stockton’s Wing were making a name for themselves, the Flying Toads nestle comfortably in the category ‘goodtime Celtic’ and include trusted tune sets such as the traditional Banish The Battering Bog Boys and Out On The Ocean performed with ‘balls’—which is just the way I like it. Likewise, Val’s vocals are clear and concise without the need of fragility as so often seems to be the case with a lot of traditional singers these days. Aided in the recording by exBattlefield member Alistair Russell (now based in Sussex himself) this proves a fine representation of the band and I look forward to future releases. PF www.flyingtoads.co.uk

Jake Cogan and the Liberty Roses JAKE COGAN AND THE LIBERTY ROSES Albarosa Records AROSA0001


Inspirational... Jake Cogan is a lyrical genius with vocals that touch the soul... This gorgeous album is the picturesque and mindful recording of a lyrical genius. Jake Cogan is a singer-songwriter from Scotland, who has been working the Glasgow circuit since a teenager, and got swept up in writing for other artists early in her career. Aged seventeen she started work on her debut BEAUTIFUL SINNER , but work on this project soon came to a halt with the sudden death of her father, which meant she ceased writing for three years while dealing with her grief. In 2007 she had a chance meeting with Ross Cockburn who took her to see Boo Hewerdine play and changed her future. Cogan soon formed the Liberty Roses and in 2008 their debut EP, HONEST MIRROR was released. It was produced by Boo Hewerdine as is this their debut album. Featuring various guests including Kris Drever on The Mad

Lady And Me, this record is a mix of uniqueness and awkwardness. Some of this record deals with raw emotion, captures you on the edge of a cliff and dares you to jump. To me it declares both a regrettable submission to deal with the past and a trip into a wonderland where the future is written and sometimes it’s glorious and other times, painful and cold. It’s a masterpiece of an album, a wishing well full of stories and songs of a lyrical magnitude that could pass you by or be contemplated for years. Here she discovers the weight of the world and with gorgeous vocals that subtly touch the soul with every track. Inspirational... LB www.jakecogan.com

Joe Cassady and the West End Sound THE CHYMICAL VEGAS WEDDING Avenue A Records


No connection here for me, but a talented band all the same... This alt.country band combine singer-songwriter styling with Americana in a inspiring fashion. The kicked back sound and hum drum vibe of Make It Rain featuring harmony vocals from Melissa Masser, is a wonderful introduction to the band, whilst the opening track Broken Down didn’t really captivate me. Living Ghosts however, is a gorgeous track with beautiful lyrical content. Overall, though, I’m afraid I didn’t warm to Joe Cassady’s vocals and though I know many are going to say: ‘how didn’t you get it?’ there was no connection here for me. I can’t deny Joe Cassady and the West End Sound are a talented group with a sound


Doubloon Records DR-101


Irresistibly catchy in a left field way, this music of the highest quality A kind of strange long-distance collaboration between singer Simone Stevens from New York, songwriter Paul Marsteller (San Diego), producer/ multi-instrumentalist Gabe Rhodes (Austin), plus drummer Hunt Sales (Austin) leads to that rare debut album that lands fully formed, the work of artists forsaking trends or formula to embrace their music within. Filled with melodies of crystalline delicacy, Simone’s vocals are rich and pure as you can hear on songs such as In The Wind and Wild Bird. The musical arrangements—the work of Rhodes who plays acoustic and electric guitars, bass, bajo sexto, piano, pump organ, electric accordion, percussion, glass armonica—are as near perfect as you can get. The trancelike The Long Light speaks of personal growth with vocals reminiscent of the classy singers of the 1970s paired with a slick, modern electric guitar and organ interplay. . One minute you think that maybe it fits neatly into a folk bag, then there’s hints of country, soft-rock and sublime pop. In the end it’s probably best to just sit back, listen and let this gorgeous sound wash over you and ignore genres. Music this good just needs to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and I believe that the majority of Maverick readers will do just that. By the way, there’s an extravagant 18 tracks with a total playing time of just under an hour—and I personally wouldn’t want to skip any of them—they are each the epitome musical perfection. AC www.fieryblue.com

CD Reviews - The New Releases

...the new releases of their own, but uniqueness covers many levels and for me it just didn’t win me over. Maybe it’ll be different for you? LB www.joecassady.com

Martyn Joseph UNDER LEMONADE SKIES Pipe Records


Distinct talent with a unique and powerful sound... a pleasant introduction and another essential release for your collection... When listening to Martyn Joseph I can hear a distinctive lyricist with an ability to tell a good story. Vocally the only comparison I could make would be with Mark Knopfler, with a tone similar to Sting at times, especially with the opening track Always Will Be. Featuring wonderful musicianship and occasionally leaning towards blues, with a unique and powerful sound that essentially spreads its wings into every dimension of the music world, this record is unique. So Many Lies opens as a guitar loving track, but soon becomes the very pinnacle of the album, with a chorus that is soulful and captivating. The closing track, Brothers In Exile, is a beautiful song, mesmerising in story and composition. Having heard a lot about Martyn Joseph, this album was a pleasant introduction, and another essential release for your collection. LB www.martynjoseph.com

Ricky Skaggs MOSAIC Skaggs Family Records 6989010102


A musical departure for this country and bluegrass music icon Having played this album a dozen times I’m still trying to fathom out where Ricky’s musical journey is taking him? I have been listening to him for a very long time and up to now have enjoyed just about everything he has recorded, be it bluegrass, or mainstream country from his hit making heydays in the mid-1980s. Every track here is an original song from his friend and producer Gordon Kennedy and I have to admit that many of them are very moving and full of spiritual meaning, with Can’t Shake Jesus, Fire From The Sky and My Cup Runneth Over being the standout tracks. A new look Ricky (complete with long hair!) is in fine voice and he is aided by one or two other artists including his daughter Molly, and sound bites from George Beverly Shea. The difficulty for me is trying to define the overall musical style of this album. At times it has a Celtic influence, there is a bit of bluegrass, and definitely a BeatlesBee Gees feel, while the final track Spontaneous Worship has an Asian touch. All this adds up in my opinion as a musical mess, and I struggle to get a sense of completeness or direction. It doesn’t lead you anywhere! So I am left wondering

whether Ricky has become so bored with his previous musical styles that he wants to go in a completely new direction? If he does, I hope he can create a new audience for himself as he will undoubtedly lose much of his regular fan base. Certainly an album to listen to before you buy it. DB http://www.rickyskaggs.com/

Blending a powerful combination of blues, rock, country and soul this record is definitely set to make a mark on her musical career. The musicianship displayed on this collection is ten to none and really opens your ears to the musical treat that is Susan Cattaneo and her band. LB www.susancattaneo.com

Roz Pappalardo & the Wayward Gentlemen THIS LIFEBOAT Plus One Records PL-24


Beautiful collection of rock-infused country by a singer-songwriter with a strong vocal talent... I’m hooked! The majestic singer-songwriter that is Roz Pappalardo is direct and powerful in her approach, her songs strong and captivating. Her rock-infused country vibe and balladry is soaring and inspirational. Accompanied by the Wayward Gentlemen featuring Rob Sherwood on electric and slide guitar, Silas Palmer on keys, mandolin, violin and harmonica, Aaron Millard on drums and percussion and Lincoln Retallack on bass, this record is bountiful and offers plenty of talented musicians. The songs are captivating; Roz’s attention can be focused on crafting a good song such as Broke, a song that is deep and mellow or a rockin’ showcase stopper like I Say Fall Fall, armed with a chorus that is definitely going to have everyone singing along. My favourite track has to be Playground about sitting in a playground and remembering a feeling of freedom as a kid and not noticing the things going on around you, but as an adult noticing it all. Her approach to Here You Come Again, a Dolly Parton hit, is also a standout track alongside Little Boxes, a song that was used as the soundtrack to an American TV series titled Weeds, written by Malvina Reynolds, but it’s such a wonderful song, and it was a treasure to hear it on this record. After a couple of listens to this beautiful collection I’m hooked... LB www.rozpappalardo.com


Jersey Girl Music


The musical treat that is Susan Cattaneo and her band serve us a unique sound... Boston-based singer-songwriter Susan Cattaneo has a unique sound that steadfastly places her as one of the most championed independent female country music artists around. Not afraid to move in whichever direction suits, this record is varied and provides such enjoyable songs as Watching The Sparks Fly and Girls’ Night Out alongside Fall To Fly something more touching than funloving. Her songwriting focuses on the story-telling even down to the song Shave about enjoying watching her man shave in the mornings!

Tami Renè TAKE IT BACK Self-released 884502786200


A classy second album featuring some really topical lyrics and poignant songs On this second album Tami’s vocals take on more of a country/pop sound with a distinctive and pleasing sound throughout. The album opens with Something an upbeat song with a strong country-pop flavour and Tami’s vocals appear to be bursting with energy. The title track Take It Back blends blues and country together and her voice is highly polished on this song, which is heavier than the opening track, there are definite hints of Wynonna Judd here. The Hell Is Going On is an extremely topical song just right for the current economic climate. A powerful song with a strong message running through the lyrics, it is worth buying this album just to hear this song. My Way Back Home is a slower song that also contains another strong message within the lyrics, Tami’s vocals are more laid back on this dreamy yet poignant song. Strangers To Me is another excellent song, which showcases Tami’s amazing vocals. It is hard to compare Tami to any one artist as her music and vocals cross so many different musical genres. Although not pure country, there is enough of a country flavour running through this album to keep most country fans happy. You’ve Met Heartache is a song about finding good in every situation that arises in life so this is an uplifting song about picking yourself up no matter how hard you fall down, a positive song that makes you feel better about yourself upon hearing it. Stories After Dark is a slow gentle song and Tami’s vocals are delicate and haunting, it is a beautiful song full of love, promises for the future and romance and has all the makings of a classy wedding song. Anytime is an upbeat song with a country-pop feel. Missing You is a slightly heavier song and this could be quite a miserable song but she keeps the mood upbeat. Working Mom tells of her own experiences as a working mother and her vocals are enigmatic and charming, it is quite a dramatic song with brilliantly constructed lyrics. Holiday In You is perhaps the least emotive song on the album, it is bright and breezy and gives listeners a respite from the emotional rollercoaster the rest of the album provides. The final track on the album Satan’s Mistress has quite a country rock feel and it is easy to imagine Tami performing this a big

CD Reviews - The New Releases


Hatsongs Records HAT002


Gather around and take a listen to singer-songwriter Reg Meuross and his latest folkcountry CD In many respects a throwback to the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, Reg Meuross expertly weaves his talents throughout this, his sixth album with polished style and grace. His style can best be described as Clifford T Ward meets Allan Taylor. His musicianship is superior and his lyrics are very true to life. He explores the human psyche through compelling yarns, many informed by real events and people. A master storyteller, he marries richly vivid lyrics with memorable melodies as on the marvellous Looking For Johnnie Ray, a sad-tinged ballad about Ray a lonely woman and a chance late-night meeting with a man with a sympathetic ear. Much darker is The Bitter Wind Wind, the grim story of the 19 th century Peter Tavy double murder on Dartmoor—this is a lengthy tale, but with an insistent rhythm and his clear soulful vocal your attention never wavers until the dying moments of this classic folk yarn. A song that should be passed down through the ages. Basically an acoustic, guitar-driven set, Reg takes his well-crafted songs and turns them into warm and inviting pieces with his cast of talented musicians. He plays acoustic, tenor and high strung guitars, harmonica, Appalachian dulcimer and keyboards, all pinned down by the solid rhythm section of Simon Edwards (bass) and Roy Dodds (drums, percussion) with additional colouring courtesy of Jackie Oates (viola and string arrangements), Paul Sartin (oboe, violin), Bethany Porter (cello) and Andy Cutting (accordion). Throughout his voice is sincere while his narratives have heartfelt values. A collection of stunning songs that has appeal to both the discerning country music listener, folk fans and the more rootsy Americana lovers. AC www.regmeuross.com

stage with lots of flashing lights, a punchy way to end the album leaving listeners wanting more, much more. SH http://tamirene.com/

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...the new releases Larkin Poe SPRING

Edvins Records EDVIN0006



Edvins Records EDVIN0007


Two out of three for the talented Lovell Sisters is mighty good … Larkin Poe, comprising sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell and their band, were formerly the Lovell Sisters (with their elder sister Jessica). I got hooked on the Lovells’ music some five years ago and have remained a fan since. Initially, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the duo, but these two EPs—with AUTUMN and WINTER to follow—is a collection of works that proves to be quite rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not too mention highly irresistible. Most of the songs are penned by the sisters and tend to be highly personal, with honest lyrics that reflect on their own life—the struggles and insecurities, and the occasional successes and optimism for the future. Younger sister Rebecca handles the lead vocals and her voice is soulful and embeds a sense of heartfelt sincerity. Both are skilled musicians—Megan plays Dobro and lap steel and Rebecca mandolin, ukulele and guitar—and the vocal chemistry between these two sisters is ultimately shining throughout as you can hear on Ball And Chain and Praying For The Bell. You can’t help but be moved by the tale of Natalie or the gospel-flavoured Lift This Cloud. Another song, Nothin’ But Air is catchy and vibrant while offering some charming put-down lyrics, and Wrestling A Stranger has a nice strong and solid tempo as the accompanying instruments complements the melodic vocals with colourful flavour. Sea Song has some very nice Dobro and mandolin parts—you will find the rhythm free flowing with a nice bouncy beat and before you know it, you’ll be tapping your feet right along. On the Second EP there’s three live recordings from Norway including a reprise of Principle of Silver Lining which was included on SPRING and a different version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop with an edgy country arrangement, bluesy guitar and Dobro solos and soulful vocal. I must say, both CDs have the prettiest artwork that I have ever seen on a CD. Now I’m looking forward to AUTUMN and WINTER , AC www.larkinpoe.com


Fat Cheerleader Records


Experimental folk rock group explore the limits of fearlessness— and produce something really quirky but questionable in places... The Hussys are a folk-rock group that includes the use of synths and believe in experimental variety. Fili offers lead vocals, a powerful female voice for the band, alongside Chris on drums and James on guitar, vocals and keys. TOKYO ELEPHANT BROTHERS is the Hussys third studio album release, following three EPs released between 2005 and 2007. Though quirky and often impressive, occasionally the release oversteps a line between fearless and too experimental, with songs like Boden Catalogue, which I am yet to figure out if I like not! However, Mr Rocky and Tokyo Motorshow were brilliant openers to the album and have definitely left me wanting to explore their back catalogue! LB www.thehussys.com

The Treehouse ORE Independent


Another impressive alt folk band release their debut EP showcasing many talented voices... Formed by guitarist and vocalist Markus Coulson, the Treehouse are taking Lincolnshire’s alternative folk scene by storm. Their music, a mix of new and traditional folk encompasses the female/male duet with vocals from Anna Bennett, Beth Palumbo, Markus Coulson, Kevin Ashworth and Ashley Holt. The big band sound, featuring keyboards, bass, guitars and drums, is effective and wholly entertaining. The third track, Corinne, has really stood out on this five track EP and is effectively a wonderful round-up of their very unique sound. Much like the popular Laura Marling and Bombay Bicycle Club,

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the Treehouse follows this new strain of popular folk but tend to focus on a creative direction that is much more experimental, than easy listening. However, every member of this five piece band, really have a chance to display their talents and the vocal arrangements are thoroughly enjoyable throughout, but especially on the title track Ore. Overall an impressive EP from a band that are current potentials in bringing another strain of alt folk to the popular music scene. LB www.buildthetreehouse.com


Where It’s At Is Where You Are Records WIACD023


Folk drenched in melancholy makes you feel a pain in your chest... The Vatican Cellars are the songwriters Simon Hughes and the Birthday Girl, joined by Tom Adams and Russ Wainwright. Featuring drums, guitars, cello and other instruments here and there, this record is a return to the cold folk sound drenched in anguish and juxtaposed by sweet harmonies. Listing their influences as the likes of Nick Drake, you know what to expect, and though the opening track The Same Crooked Worm is enjoyable enough, by the end of the record you’re getting bored of the melancholy. As the two main songwriters though were bought together following a chance meet, where they found that they’d both lost someone dear, the tone is no surprise, but it’s a struggle to listen to the twelve tracks consecutively without feeling a pain in your chest too. I guess in that respect they have made you understand their thoughts, their feelings and their pain, something that is a great challenge for most artists, so I congratulate them. Listen out for The Same Crooked Worm and The Wreck Of Alba, two distinguished musical masterpieces that really display the instrumental and vocal talent. Maybe record number two will be a light in the darkness for this band? LB www.myspace.com/thevaticancellars



Little Bon Bon Music



Odd mixture of sweet and soothing melodies with daring and underground styles thrown in to scare listeners Devil’s Got Your Boyfriend begins the eleven tracks ftom Tracy Bonham. With a haunting voice performed over a Cajun style melody, track one is a great choice to open her fourth album. However, this track, as with the rest of the album, is a tricky one to pigeon hole. With aspects of country-rock and indie folk, it would seem the songs from MASTS OF MANHATTA dip and dive between genres. Your Night Is Open has a southern rustic flavour, perfectly pictured in a dirty, rural bar. Again, track two sways between a soothing harmony to a gritty Texan jive. Big Red Heart seems to be the track which captures the talent in Bonham’s voice, singing note perfect to some charming lyrics. The string section and percussion slots perfectly halfway through this delightful number, which is much appreciated after the first couple of tracks being intense. Josephine could possibly be the track we to skip due to the bizarre circus-esque take. It would seem the ideal listener for this would be fans of the underground, burlesque scene. KT Tunstall is brought to mind on tracks such as In the Moonlight and We Moved Our City To The Country Country, with the acoustic folk music and a shadowing style of voice. What initially seems to be a lively tune, We Moved Our City… takes a dramatic turn into a sleepy lullaby, making it difficult to depict whether this a good track or not. MASTS OF MANHATTA will provide listeners with an average mood of contentment. It does come to light that maybe Miss Bonham needs to figure which direction she is heading, and who she is aiming her music at, for the sounds seem to jump around, leaving this reviewer slightly confused. CB www.tracybonham.com

CD Reviews - The New Releases

Arts & Crafts Productions

Infectious, impulsive and engaging... Zeus is a four part male rock’n’roll band, influenced by classic rock, pop hooks and gospel flavours alongside some country twang. Armed with some slick guitar licks and impressive songwriting styles, this record is an incredible mix of some techniques that on any normal basis wouldn’t appeal to me. However, this band have everything going for them and their songs are infectious, impulsive and engaging. Featuring Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson as the principle members of the band, they are joined with Rob Drake and Neil Quin, a collective that offers three singer-songwriters who swap between guitar, bass and organ alongside Drake who manages the rhythm section of the band. SAY US was recorded and produced in their Toronto studio and showcases some wonderful tracks including Fever of The Time, with its catchy hook and gorgeous guitars, The River By The Garden with its country-esque slide guitar, and wonderful lyrical doowop sound, and The Sound Of You with its impeccable harmonies. LB www.themusicofzeus.com

Abigail Washburn CITY OF REFUGE



Asia meets Appalachia with refreshing results Abigail Washburn is a spice girl with a difference. Born near Chicago, she was educated in Washington DC and Minnesota, planned to pursue Asian studies on the ground but eventually landed in Nashville. To Maverick readers, her name may ring bells as a member of Uncle Earl. Following her first solo album SONG OF THE TRAVELING DAUGHTER , Washburn co-founded the Sparrow Quartet and toured China with Béla Fleck and others. The present release is a sequel to the Quartet’s global

...the new releases travels. In essence CITY OF REFUGE features two styles of music, sometimes readily blending, sometimes contrasted. On the one hand, as in Dreams of Nectar Nectar, the singer gives us the magic and ritual of an oriental soundscape. Numbers like Divine Bell, on the other, conjure up the Bell earthier melodies and rhythms of bluegrass. Ballad of Treason could have come from the global library of Natalie Merchant. Accompanying herself on several types of banjo, Washburn is surrounded by such celebrated big guns as Ketch Secor (guitar and vocals), Bill Frisell on electric guitar and Kenny Malone on drums and percussion. Co-writer Kai Welch plays keyboards and trumpet; Uncle Earl’s Rayna Gellert is one of the album’s two fiddlers. Wu Fei, a female virtuoso of the Chinese zither (‘guzheng’), hails from Beijing. For the title song, producer Tucker Martine has the imagined city rocking to a very firm beat. In her singing Washburn exhibits a versatility to match her bold creative leaps, and everywhere the musical seasoning is finely judged. Vocal support ranges from throat singers to a full-blown choir, Burn Thru being the standout song in this respect. As well as some festive fiddling, the closing Bright Morning Stars features vivid a cappella contributions. Should you read this in time, you can catch Abigail performing in Glasgow or London. PP www.abigailwashburn.com

Alasdair Roberts and Friends TOO LONG IN THIS CONDITION Self-released


Folk storytelling in the traditional way with a dark edge If you’ve not bumped into Alasdair Roberts yet he has the spider’s trick of magicking something intricate and beautiful from seeming mid-air. His reedy voice seems slight at first, but fills each song with a sonorous richness. Sparse arrangements, replete with the whole arsenal of the modern folky (danced slipper slaps alongside twanged electric strings) shine and sparkle all the brighter for their rarity. Finally, spiderlike to the prettiness is a cypher, masking the most macabre and gory lyrics that trad folk has to offer. The album stretches across 11 songs, all morality plays, murderous ballads or fairy tales of the decidedly unexpurgated variety. Some I knew, Long Lankin is a an old fireside folky kid frightener and Barbara Allen, a Molly Maloneish dead-people-inlove panto shiverer. The Two Sisters, and Who Put the Blood on Your Right Shoulder, Son were new to me but the themes of sororal slaughter, feminine wiles and unhinged offspring turn the soil beautifully to show the roots of more modern penny dreadful peddlers like the Decemberists. Kilmahog Saturday Afternoon is a wonderful sliver of an instrumental intermission, brief but

perfect, leaving the impression of rapidly changed costumes and swiftly bought refreshments. Creepier than the Monster Mash and chillier than Thriller, this is a brilliant soundtrack Thriller to the more thoughtful Halloween party. HD http://www.alasdairroberts.com/


(Dharma Records)


The debut album from New Cross based singersongwriter Alexander Wolfe finds itself in the ‘if you like Nick Drake, you’ll like this’ section of the record store, which really may as well be distributed throughout the store in several other sections as well including Paul Weller’s, Tom Baxter’s, Jeff Buckley’s or even The Smiths. Well maybe only for the use of one line I must confess. Wolfe may come from a similar privileged background as the Bard of Tanworth-in-Arden, his grandfather having the impressive title of the Count de Menthon. In fact, we find that Alexander Gordon de Menthon took his grandmother’s name of Wolfe after her sad passing, which coincided with his decision to become a serious artist. Wolfe also shares a similar story to that of Nell Bryden, in that he was able to finance his career through the sale of a family heirloom. Whilst Nell managed to auction off an original Milton Avery painting for $300,000, which helped kick start her career, Wolfe too had something of value to trade, a signed Rembrandt print. Trading art for art has a certain nobility about it but like Bryden, their respective successes depend more on the raw talent they were born with and both seem to have bundles of it. With the newly acquired home studio set up, MORNING BRINGS A FLOOD comes along and encompasses all those early influences from Captain Beefheart to Joni Mitchell, the Velvet Underground to Curtis Mayfield, all in a frenzy of creativity. The songs on the album range in style from the Neil Young influenced Lazybones, with its heavy bass, acoustic guitar and harmonica backdrop, not unlike anything from Harvest-era Young, to the Drake influenced Till Your Ship Comes In, with Wolfe’s distinctively clear and crisp finger picked guitar and orchestral arrangement that easily compares to that of Robert Kirby’s. Carefully packaged in a sleeve made up of Shaan Syed’s atmospheric paintings, Wolfe has created a rich soundscape that is often dreamy, sometimes intense and occasionally whimsical, the delightfully carnivalesque Teabags and Ashtrays for example. Movement comes across immediately as the love child of a union between Jeff Buckley and the Beatles, for the most part a thunderous explosion of sound with a delightful coda of mid-period fabs vocal ingenuity. Song For the Dead may already be familiar to fans of celebrity chefs, Alan Davies or

Brian Hughes MY KIND OF PARADISE Independent BH00001962


Riveting UK country-rock On a blind listen of this album odds are that the last place one would expect Brian Hughes to hail from would be the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland. Written and recorded in the ‘best wee country in the world’ it stands shoulder to shoulder with anything that has come out of mainstream US country this year. All credit then to Hughes and his fellow musicians who prove here that country is a state of mind and not location. Bolting like a true thoroughbred from the starting gate Damascus Road immediately takes the listener into Nashville rock territory. With chunky guitar and a barrelling down the highway riff this is a terrific opener that takes the breath away. Hughes’ vocals are spot-on for this type of song and the guitar breaks are what you would expect from any Nashville cat. He follows this up with Memphis By Midnight, a great anthemic ballad that is begging to be covered by a big hat superstar. Throughout the album the playing is superb and Hughes proves time and time again that he can write top notch tunes whether the gritty roadhouse blues of Home By Ten and God Bless Friday Night or the country-rock of What’s Goin’ On (not the Marvin Gaye song). The ballad When All Is Said And Done and the superb radio friendly tour de force that is the title song that closes the album offer ample evidence that Hughes should be a star. Heartily recommended for anyone who enjoys Tim McGraw, Travis Tritt and others of that ilk. Hughes offers some informative notes for all of the songs on his website. PK http://www.brianhughesmusic.com/brianhughes/home.html

just BBC comedies as it is used as the theme to Whites, the new and currently running BBC sitcom. Closing with the plaintive Stuck Under September September, the album is wrapped up with Alexander Wolfe presumably resting assured that he has delivered a veritable humdinger of a debut. AllanW


Bruce Springsteen THE PROMISE Columbia 88697 76177-2


It’s the Brucie bonus to top them all A 21-track, two-CD collection of unreleased tracks from Springsteen’s 1970s heyday, recorded three years after the exhilarating BORN TO RUN as part of the material for the more mature and reflective DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN (1978). What ended up on DARKNESS , the Boss reveals in his sleeve notes, were the songs that best suited his vision of that particular album—directness and austerity, ‘tough music for folks in tough circumstances.’ The remainder were certainly not inferior, merely different and they make up the Lost Sessions, the hidden treasure left behind by a young man in a hurry to fulfil his rock‘n’roll destiny. Springsteen recalls that in 1977, as the Ramones, Television and their peers were tearing up CBGB’s in New York, he was buying the early punk singles from a record shop a few blocks away and being blown away by the stripped-down power of the music. But what really emerges in these songs from THE PROMISE are much earlier influences—great rock songwriters of the 1950s and 1960s like Leiber and Stoller, Goffin and King, and Mann and Weill and recording legends such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. The Holly sound

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is stamped all over Outside Looking In, while Phil Spector himself could have been at the mixing desk for big ballads like Someday (We’ll Be Together) and Gotta Get That Feeling— big choruses and marvellous melodies, swelled by the soaring saxophone of Clarence Clemons. It’s stirring stuff and Springsteen devotees will be delighted to discover muscular renditions of two of his most commercial compositions, Because The Night—a career-defining hit for Patti Smith—and Fire, a chart smash for the Pointer Sisters. Several cuts are blueprints of songs that eventually ended up on DARKNESS : Racing In The Street, Candy’s Boy and Come On (Let’s Go Tonight) all offer a different texture from the final versions. But the surprises lie in the jive swing of Ain’t Good Enough For You, with Roy Bittan’s cute keyboard figures, the vibrant Talk To Me and The Promise itself, a sequel to Thunder Road which lays bare the detritus of shattered dreams and broken lives. This lost album, Springsteen tells us, is like revisiting old friends and it’s a happy reunion you should embrace wholeheartedly. BK www.brucespringsteen.net/

Chloe Matharu NEXT MARKET DAY Jonesy and Jock Records 150464


A beautiful and endearing album Nineteenyear old Chloe Matharu cites the folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s as an influence on her music and judging by the eleven songs found on this her debut record you can certainly see why. Her heavenly and pitchperfect vocals bring to mind artists of a former generation. A delightfully sparse tune, the album’s title track is an exquisite version of this much loved traditional song that finds her being marvellously joined by Ewan

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...the new releases MacPherson on a 6 string guitar. Just as enjoyable is Liz’s Song. With a faster beat to it than many found on this record, it demonstrates what a talent Chloe is with this tune demonstrating the huge potential she has to offer. A student at St Andrews University, Edinburgh, currently she travels to gigs in between her studies. On the evidence of this album Chloe Matharu’s future is hopefully in music as an artist such as her should not be lost to academia. RH www.chloematharu.com

Chris Newman STILL GETTING AWAY WITH IT (Old Bridge Music OBMCD19)

(violin), Arty McGlynn (guitars) and Simon Mayor on mandolin, the music presented is nothing short of astonishing! Virtuosity abounds from the fingers of Newman and as you go through the album you will be left breathless by the beauty of it all. With ten of his own compositions running alongside traditional numbers including The Humours Of Kiltyclogher/Gusty’s Frolics and the often utilised Silver Spire leading into the major/minor American country tune The Cattle In The Cane the quality of Newman’s digital dexterity are never in question. For those budding guitarists amongst you I couldn’t recommend an album more highly. Sit down (you’ll need to) listen and above all enjoy. PF www.oldbridgemusic.com


An album which will be enjoyed by all budding guitarists Chris Newman is not only a really nice bloke but also one of my favourite ‘folk’ guitarists along with Simon Nicol, Frank Simon (ex-Bully Wee), Ken Nicol, Arty McGlynn and Tony McManus now that you ask…so, it goes without saying that I always expect great things and of course, Chris never fails to deliver. Forty years? Is that really how long he’s been plying his trade? Well, it would appear so from the information gleaned from the press notes and getting down to the nitty-gritty from the exquisite delicacy of the self-composed opening track Pear Drops And Fourteen Pounds (written to celebrate his earliest paid gigs) you can feel comfortable in the knowledge that here is a master-craftsman at the peak of his abilities. Surrounding himself with an equally talented bunch of musicians including partner Maire Ni Chathasaigh (harp), his brother Mark on guitar, Nollaig Casey


White Wail Records WWR003


Eagerly awaited second solo release from this fine singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist Chris Corney is a producer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist from Bedfordshire and has been writing, recording and performing music since his early teens. Over the past few years Chris has been signed to Universal Music Publishing, produced and recorded music for artists such as the Quireboys, Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and Australian singer-songwriter Trysette and somehow found the time to release three self-composed critically acclaimed albums. The first of these, as the Ravines was entitled MANIFESTO OF A BROKEN HEART, and is now considered as somewhat of a ‘cult classic’ among the US power-


A terrific album from the talented Ange Boxall Tasmanian singer-songwriter Ange Boxall has been based in London for a number of years now, building up a healthy following for her easy-on-theear country-flavoured songs. On this long-awaited album she shows that she is a talented songwriter and distinctive singer with a pleasing country-folk style that should appeal equally to modern country and Americana listeners if only they were to take a chance on an artist less familiar than say Mary Chapin Carpenter or Nanci Griffith. You will be hooked-in by the rhythmic beat on opener Fool For Now, a co-write with the Wrights (who join in vocally and instrumentally) as it is hypnotic and has a nice country-pop touch. Angie co-wrote Loving Between The Lines with Jim Lauderdale, who adds harmony vocals on this sweet country tune enhanced by BJ Cole’s smoothly-executed pedal steel. Showcasing that rare ability to pen a story-song that has you hanging on every line, Ange comes up with the story of Brigiite & Tuesday, a couple of skinny teenagers who get high on lemonade—aah, such innocent days. Electric Blue is a delicate acoustic ballad with just Angie’s heartfelt vocals and assured acoustic guitar picking. She teams up with the legendary JD Souther for Lucky Day, a gorgeous song about long-distance lovers and that lucky day when they get to meet up for a romantic night out. Again BJ Cole is in top form and the arrangement is enhanced further by Jessica Hale’s cello. Going Home On A Sunday is a great toe-tapping country song; the harmonies are sweet with great slide guitar by Michael Flanders and inspired banjo by Charles Butler. After you listen to this wonderful album you will definitely want to hear more from the talented Ange Boxall. AC

Topher Loudon’s Springtime provides the album with a jauntily refreshing pop song, which coupled with the hard-rocking House of Cards provides the album with that all important contemporary edge. Rosie tackles the traditional songs with an energetic vibrancy including The House Carpenter Carpenter, which incorporates a scarily discomforting soundtrack from the hills of Hell towards its climax, whilst a more pastoral arrangement accompanies the gorgeous Our Captain Cried All Hands, to the memorable tune of To Be a Pilgrim, the Bunyan hymn commonly sung in school assemblies back in my day. Rosie’s Sing! (For Our Time On Earth), from which the album presumably takes its title, offers an anthem to friendship, with its heartbreaking submission to mortality. Despite its inevitable message, there is also a sense of optimism at its core. Of the instrumentals, none of which could possibly be described as ‘run of the mill’, the medieval folk rock of 18 Hour/Human Engineers/ Playtex contrasts with the playful TMS, which I swear almost bursts into the test cricket theme music, courtesy of Booker T and the MGs midway through. Siblings Rosie and Chris Short, together with Topher Loudon and Boris Lebret have now established a solid working unit, producing this their third album with this particular line up along with NEW TALES FOR OLD (2005) and AMAZING (2007). With special guest Raphael Chevalier helping out on violin and harmonium, SING once again incorporates mature musicianship, assured vocal performances together with a tangible sense of fun. What better way to soothe over the discomfort of the impending chilly season? AllanW http://www.churchfitters.com/ ehome.php

David Wilcox REVERIE

What Are Records?

Self Release


Diverse and eclectic music that’s never less than totally captivating Once again adorned in the kind of colourful artwork that jumps off the shelf with the sole intention of brightening your day, the seventh album from France-based Churchfitters offers another selection of varied compositions from the atmospheric opener Knee Deep, complete with weeping musical saw and all manner of vocal shenanigans through to the delightfully whimsical My Beamish Boy Boy, both from the pen of singer and multi instrumentalist Rosie Short. If you still think of the musical saw as a novelty item, then the opening song also employs the services of a ‘bing bong machine’. It has to be said, whilst all this bing-bonging and sawing is going on, Rosie delivers one heck of an astonishing vocal, not so much in terms of the high notes, but for the steady and assured bottom end, which is no mean feat.

Wilcox delivers fourteen new keepers before an audience sworn to silence In the liner note that accompanies this release Wilcox reveals that while recording its predecessor, OPEN HAND (2009), having rehearsed his melodies with the session players, he only revealed the accompanying lyric once they were recording each song. As they heard Wilcox’s words for the first time, in that moment the session players became his audience. For REVERIE he intentionally invited an audience familiar with his musical canon to come hear fourteen new creations, the major stipulation being that they remain silent until the final note of each song faded. Where would one go to capture such a performance? Why not your home state? And so the Cincinnati, Ohio recording studio and occasional performance space, the Monastery, became the chosen venue. Wilcox was raised in Mentor, a suburb on Cleveland’s eastern extremity, and that Lake Eire



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www.myspace.com/ chriscorneysongwriter

Churchfitters SING



pop scene. Chris’ debut solo album BUILT TO BE BURNED DOWN was a blend of alt.country rock with strong pop sensibilities, while this sparkling new release SANS EVERYTHING heads back to his guitar driven roots, backed up with his strong vocal delivery. Helping him out on the album are musicians such as Rob Bond on pedal steel, Lee Spence on Dobro and acclaimed guitarist Tom Welham (Thirteen Senses/Gabriella Cilmi) and boy what a sound they produce. If you are looking for comparisons, Crowded House and Kevin Montgomery would fit the bill, rock, but with a strong pop/country feel. Album opener Best Thing That Ever Went Wrong is a hook-laden anthem and the perfect introduction to the remaining ten self-penned cuts. The track shouts hit single and is certainly very Radio 2 friendly, please take note any radio producers out there reading this. Second cut When Jenny Smiles is an absolute classic track, again perfect for radio; in fact it really is difficult to fault any of the tracks on this fine release. When you hear the superb All You Ever Do you start to think why have you never heard of this artist before? It would be a crying shame if a songwriter such as Chris Corney carries on going unnoticed, flying under the radar putting out such gems as this. All You Ever Do is a heartfelt song that will bring a tear to the eye and the same goes out for the pedal steel led High Hopes, another anthemic masterpiece. And so it carries on, the acoustic Which Way To Fall Fall, the sensual Mariette, Sweet Vines quite possibly another sure-fire hit and the closing track Breaking Waves are all top notch. I was only going to give the album four stars but to be honest I can’t fault it, I tried to, but no, it deserves the full five stars, it’s that good, buy, buy, buy! JHS

CD Reviews - The New Releases

...the new releases shoreline metropolis is namechecked in the lyric to Ireland. Captured in the moment—actually recording took place at the Monastery on two consecutive evenings—apart from a couple of songs, Wilcox’s voice, guitar and songs are all the listener hears on REVERIE. In other words this is music stripped down to its bare essentials, precisely as it was created. Brain in gear lyrics where I pose the question: ‘What’s going on here?’ usually end up becoming personal favourites. More often than not they also prove to be intriguing story songs and David’s Dynamite In The Distance is all of the foregoing. While Wilcox’s words reveal much about the principle characters, a married couple, it’s what David doesn’t say or possibly infers that makes this a magnificent gem. Among the diverse subjects that Wilcox scrutinises (as only he can), evaluating risk lies at the heart of One Way To Find Out, animal intuition pervades the amusing Buster, while Ireland finds the writer reveal a long cherished dream. Religious faith has divided the city of Jerusalem for eons. On David’s 2008 recording AIRSTREAM , Three Brothers employed allegory to capture the contradiction that lay in the siblings’ belief in ‘the father’ yet their blind adhesion to differing ‘faiths.’ On this go round Stones Of Jerusalem takes the form of a historic (and religious faith) timeline that references with repetition how ‘Empires will crumble and rise again.’ Wars that rage in name of religion— you know that old ‘God is on our side’ chestnut—is surveyed in the ironic words of the ensuing Piece Of Me. Truth to tell, on recent albums Wilcox has been on a creative roll. The front cover of REVERIE portrays an apparition—a youngster in swimming trunks—leaping off a rocky protrusion into a lake. If the moment isn’t captured it’s gone forever. Numerous real and ghostly magical moments now live on (forever) in this mighty fine David Wilcox song collection. AW

because of sorrow but joy. Moving to the Netherlands has obviously seen Jonathan grow as an artist. Being largely responsible for the sound that is presented before you, you can see why he has his plaudits and long may they continue. RH




Basta Music 309193-2


A menacing sound worth every penny Born in Taiwan, raised in Texas but now residing in the Netherlands because of love, this experience of travel has obviously influenced Jonathan Brown in only the most positive way, for it has resulted in these twelve songs which see him being impressively joined by Marjolein van der Klauw, Gert-Jan Blom and Jac Bico on a variety of instruments. It is on tracks like Down Below that you can see why Jonathan frequently played in Austin and went down a storm. Despite its lyrics, a tune like this shouldn’t sadden its listener as its first-rate sound is produced in such a way that it makes the eyes cry not


Emily Smith TRAIVELLER’S JOY White Fall Records WFRCD004


Young folkie continues on her maturing pathway Since 2002 when she won Scotland’s Young Traditional Music Award Emily Smith has garnered many accolades from the folk music press with no less than Mike Harding citing: ‘…As far as I’m concerned she can walk on water!’ Possibly a little over the top but certainly heading in the right direction this young lady is a fair old chanter and in company with her musicians including James Fagan, Stuart Duncan and longtime collaborator Jamie McClennan makes a more than pleasurable sound. With a traditional background it’s unsurprising to find the likes of Gypsy Davy and Lord Donald in her repertoire along with Richard Thompson’s Waltzing’s For Dreamers and her own self-composed tracks nestling comfortably within a set that showcases her not inconsiderable talents as both musician and songwriter. Possibly my favourite track on the album is the gently sweeping acoustic funk of Sweet Lover Of Mine a setting of one of many traditional puzzle songs although I have to say that the rather abrupt ending isn’t quite so much to my taste. Perhaps it could have been rounded off by a tune…but, a minor quibble on what is a well-produced recording and a further feather to Smith’s burgeoning career. PF www.emilysmith.org



Drummer steps out with a set of quality selfpenned songs Gary Stewart has become very much part of the Leeds music scene over the last few years, working in a variety of outfits such as Hope and Social and the Rosie Doonan Band, equally at home occupying the drummer’s seat as he is assuming the role of second guitarist. Whilst maintaining a shadowy background figure in these and other outfits, the young Perthshire-born Scot, now relocated to Leeds, has built up a small repertoire of self-penned songs, some of which have finally surfaced on this his debut album, after a year in the making. Helped along the way by a small group of collaborators, the singer-songwriter has come up with ten acoustic-based songs that have brought him out from behind the drum kit and into the spotlight.

With a distinctively raw voice and rhythmic guitar style, Gary has focused on the bright and breezy, the cheerful and chirpy, rather than the dark and dirgeful, with a handful of radio-friendly melodies, whilst at the same time maintaining some measure of depth in his lyrics. Travelling Song is a perfectly good toe-tapping opener, with an optimistic message; a sort of when all else fails, let’s look at the options sort of song. Whilst endeavouring to leave the ‘black and grey’ behind, Gary continues to ponder the darker themes in his lyrics, with both the fictional Jekyll and Hyde, or the very real Burke and Hare popping up in places. Behind the Door is probably the standout song for at least two good reasons; firstly, the song bears no resemblance to anything else on the album, incorporating a distinctly Iberian or Spanish feel, which is somewhat at odds with the dark lyrical content and secondly due to Ellen Smith’s (Ellen and the Escapades) perfectly complementary and haunting vocal duet; a sort of Lisa Hannigan to Gary’s Damien Rice. With Nathan Camponi’s video promo already filmed and in the bag, it seems likely that this song will initially represent the album promotionally and stands every chance of kick-starting some potential excitement, which the album thoroughly deserves. If the song is deemed too ‘un-commercial’ by its author for a single release, then he need look no further than Maggie Oh for a hot favourite second choice, with its uplifting and engaging rhythmic backdrop. With Gary’s current involvement in both the Rosie Doonan Band and the Snapdragons, it was almost a given that Rosie would be included on BOY CRIES WOLF somewhere and here the singer provides some suitably delicate background vocals on In the Pines, not to be confused with the traditional folk song of the same name. Co-produced by Gary and Rich Stephenson and helped along by a handful of local musicians including Wilful Missing’s Sam Lawrence, India Patel, Lovesick Cowboys’ Martyn Roper and Adam Legend on double bass, the ten songs make up a cohesive acoustic whole, so much so that the out of kilter title song was left off the finished album due to its contrasting style. With a command over writing memorable chorus songs, such as Liar Liar and In the Pines, Gary makes each song accessible and user friendly and finally shrugs off the blues with the delightfully optimistic Bucket of Stars, which closes this impressive debut. AllanW garystewart.bandcamp.com/album/ boy-cries-wolf

Gerry Griffin MOMENT TO MOMENT Self released Renegade Music G.J.G-002


An instantly likeable artist who produces an album that seems to

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grab you by the unmentionables and never seems to let go Having been born in Vancouver but raised in the wonderfully named Deep River in Ontario, Gerry is someone who many will come to love and adore. Having written all the songs on this ten-track album, it is thanks to his vast musical experience, which stretches back to the 1960s, that you find this album being a professional production which impresses on all counts. Demonstrating the versatility of Gerry’s vocals, When I Say That sounds utterly grand. Performed minimally, it is reminiscent of Sam Baker in many ways which is never a bad aspect of a tune whatsoever. The title song is just as good as the aforementioned. With a quirky and upbeat picking approach, his likeable vocals come across ever so well once more and the song in itself should find itself being played on a whole host of European radio stations at the very least. This being his second solo album, a third must surely be a possibility. Having received some great feedback already, Gerry Griffin flies the flag for Canadian music high and proud and puts many of his contemporaries to shame. RH www.gerrygriffinmusic.com

Glenn Williams, Paul Hewson & Ian Bolder OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS Lazyswede Productions


Exquisite album which sees Glenn exploring new territory Releasing his latest album in as many months, Hull-based artist Glenn Williams has teamed up with long-time collaborator Paul Hewson and Ian Bolder. Ian, who is the older brother of Trevor Bolder who was the original bass player for David Bowie, is also the bass player for the British rock band Uriah Heep and has been a welcome addition to this remarkable duo. The many instruments that these three perform include banjo, cello, accordion and slide guitar which all add towards a timeless sound that can be immensely enjoyed not just by music lovers in the UK but by Glenn’s fanbase around the world. This album consists of seven songs and sees Glenn penning six of them with a traditional tune being the exception to this. A fine example of Glenn’s own composition is Won’t Let Go. With a dark edge to it, Ian’s slide guitar is extremely good, which should find this tune being recognised and played repeatedly across the world. The only traditional song of the record is Willie The Weeper Weeper. Sung in Glenn’s own individual style, he is ably assisted by both Paul and Ian who contribute towards a relaxed sound which is great to hear still being produced in contemporary albums. Here’s hoping for this collaboration between these three to continue long into the night. The sound that they are responsible for creating is something which

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...the new releases The Ugly Guys THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER Bad Dog BDCD 0011


Rocking country with the spirit of the Kursaals The first album by the Ugly Guys (the Canvey country-rock combo led by former Kursaal Flyers singer Paul Shuttleworth and steel player Vic Collins) was an ebullient tribute to Gram Parsons and the Flying Burritos, the music that inspired the pair in the first place. This equally rollicking album moves things on with a collection of cracking tunes, some old, some new. The title track is the Robert Earl Keen classic, here turned into pure a Kursaals romp, banjo, mandolin, steel, electric lead and Shuttleworth’s still aching, Pitney-esque vocals—it wouldn’t have sounded out of place next to Little Does She Know Know, both as masterful in their use of words. There’s also a cheering romp through John Hiatt’s She Don’t Love Nobody Nobody, a rocked-up Can’t You Hear Me Callin’ by Bill Monroe and various newer numbers which fit in perfectly—the gorgeous Burrito homage Gilded Palace Of Sin by Shuttleworth and guitarist Steve Oliver, Canvey legend Steve Hooker’s rocker (She Talks In A) Southern Accent, and a couple by Shuttleworth’s son Harry, himself a singer-songwriter, particularly the countryish Back When I Could Feel. The sound is a beguiling rock‘n’rolling country mix, engaging in its happy enthusiasm, fusing the atmosphere of Britain’s east coast with that of America’s west—and not a little Texas inbetween. ND www.myspace.com/theuglyguys

shouldn’t be ignored and a second album by them must surely materialise. RH www.lazyswede.co.uk

Halfway AN OUTPOST OF PROMISE Plus One Records P1-29


Full of variety and the spice of life This is Brisbane-based Halfway’s third studio album and it is with great desire that I wish I had heard of this eight-piece band much sooner. Within these ten tracks, they produce an ‘Aussiecana’ sound which is similar to Americana but done as though they were within touching distance of Uluru. Picking up pace in a damn fine fashion, Monster City has a great jamming feel to it especially on harp and I can just imagine the band concocting this during a late night drinking session which consisted of several cases of whisky being consumed. One other song which really hits the spot is Tortilla Code. The delightful pedal steel opening is soon joined by some greatly done and passionately performed vocals which take a heck of a lot of quality to even match. Their second album, REMEMBER THE RIVER , also received airplay on the BBC and I cannot see why this won’t be given the same generous treatment not just here in the UK but across Europe and America. RH www.halfway.com.au

Happy Trails AIN’T NO PRESENT LIKE THE TIME Lopsided Records LRC106


Each song is individually brilliant and performed in a style which is very much their own This Kent-based outfit comprises Al Clark, Trevor Stephenson and

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Ian Balchin, a trio of extremely talented artists who have served up a humdinger of a main course which is tasty to gorge on. I found myself enjoying each and every one of the fourteen songs, which is very rare to come across in new albums. The one which was enjoyed most by yours truly was Little Old Church by the Road. Sounding as though it’s taken from a long forgotten western, the duel harmonies on this are simply delightful. It is music like this which reminds you why you love country music. Just as good is Who Shot a Hole in my Sombrero. With a comical opening, it possesses a Cajun feel due to Chris Taylor’s accordion but it keeps true to its roots by including a style of picking and harmonica playing which is bona fide country. Gigging frequently, I hope to catch this band live for the perfect sound they create is something which must be extremely awesome to see in the flesh. RH www.happytrailsmusic.co.uk

Haun’s Mill HAUN’S MILL Self-released 884502864304


Music that speaks of times gone by, mixed with lyrics that are relevant today Haun’s Mill are definitely unique in their musical style. Once a duo and now a five-piece band based in Austin, Haun’s Mill creates music more associated with times gone by. The subjects covered in their songs range from economic troubles to murder. Popular with audiences, who can resonate with the lyrical content of their songs, this group’s music is brought to life by Eliza Wren’s delicate vocals and the more organic sound of Nord Anderson’s vocal style. The group is completed by BB Melanson, Mike Crandall and Hyrum Summerhays who play a range of instruments from stand up bass to accordion. The music on this album is a clever

interwoven mixture of country, folk, Americana and bluegrass. Set Me Free gets the album started as Eliza’s vocals take centre stage on this traditional sounding song—her voice is quirky and engaging, definitely a voice you want to hear more of. New York City has a slightly more modern feel and Eliza is joined on lead vocals by Nord and their voices really complement one another creating a great sound and atmosphere. Blind Draw is full of great instrumentation and then all of a sudden Eliza’s magical voice bursts through the music. Listening to this song it would be easy to think you were watching an old black and white film, there is so much character in the vocals and music provided. Paul sees Nord take a turn on lead vocals, they are very different from those of Eliza’s often sounding raw with a velvety quality. Nobody Followed has a charming folk/traditional country sound. Eliza’s vocals are fresh and delicate whilst the instrumentation appears very old fashioned. Fitzcarraldo is an atmospheric folk song. Haven’t Felt This Way In Days has a slightly more modern sound with Eliza once again taking the lead on vocals. Forsaken allows Eliza and Nord to harmonise wonderfully, their voices sound amazing when intertwined together. The Flu is quite a dark song about dying and being ill. Mt. Pleasant brings the album to quite a dramatic close. Nord takes charge on this final song, which with its musical backing sounds sinister and dark, the lyrics speak of murder and Nord’s vocals are earthy. This collection of songs really stands out because they are so interesting and musically they are so very different. This album will suit music fans who like music that is quirky and more than just a catchy song. SH http://www.myspace.com/ haunsmillmassacreband

Hey Mavis RED WINE



Slightly left field old time music This trio from Ohio boldly state that they cross the genres of Americana, Texas twostep, bluegrass, folk and art rock. A potential recipe for disaster one might think but surprisingly they manage to pull it off, just. The art rock is supplied primarily by fiddle and viola profunda player Eddie Caner who does like to swoop over the songs with his energetic, almost jazz-like workouts. Occasionally this does overwhelm the basic stringband premise but in the end the songs survive. Putting aside the art rock, at the core of this album are a set of songs that are rooted in folk and old time American music. Laurie Michelle Caner and Sarah Benn who complete the trio contribute all of the songs while Benn plays double bass and Caner banjo. They combine well vocally, at times in a manner reminiscent of the McGarrigles.

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Additional instruments flesh out the sound, all played by the album producer, the legendary Don Dixon (producer of REM among others). Red Light and New Seattle are attractive slices of folky pop while Tell Me Lover True sounds as if it was an old folk standard. If I Want To is a restrained ballad with banjo to the fore and is the one song that does gain from the sonic interventions of violinist Caner which add a spooky atmosphere as the song reaches a climax. It’s tempting to say that if they ditched the pretensions their songwriting and singing talents would shine just a touch brighter. PK http://www.heymavis.com/index.html

James Dunn THE BED WE MADE Self-released


Classic heartland rock done with panache There’s a seemingly inexhaustible supply of performers whose music can be categorised as ‘heartland rock’: straight ahead, no-nonsense old school rock and roll, gravelly vocals, blue collar and John Mellencamp, Bob Seger and early Bruce Springsteen as touchstones. These performers make the sort of album where, from the first chord, you know exactly what you’re going to get and how the rest of the album is going to sound. Done badly and listening to it is excruciatingly boring. Done well and the drive and power of the music can transcend its clichés. James Dunn does it pretty well. Take Circle On My Map. It includes the lines: ‘so I jump in the car, I step on the gas, on the road my Mustang roars/it’s the middle of the night but I don’t give a damn I’ve got to get to you by early mornin’.’ It would be hard to imagine a more predictable lyric, right down to the dropped ‘g’ at the end, but Dunn sings with utter conviction, allies the words to a great driving tune and so suspension of disbelief happens without you even thinking about it and you go with the flow. Throughout the album he reflects the concerns of the American heartland, so there’s a song in support of soldiers away at war (They Gave) and one hymning the virtues of family, home and hearth (Roots) but in the main, to misquote Paddy McAloon, there’s not much more here than cars and girls but it rocks and sometimes it’s good to just go from the gut with music and not worry too much about the head. If you don’t like this sort of thing Dunn isn’t going to convince you but if you do, he’s a superior practitioner and well worth investigating. . JS www.jamesdunnmusic.com

Jeffrey Foucault COLD SATELLITE Self-released


No word of a lie, COLD SATELLITE merges a Wisconsin picker’s melodies with a Massachusetts poet’s words Although Jeffrey Foucault’s

...the new releases 6 Day Riot ON THIS ISLAND Tantrum

 Folk-rock-pop band are still streets ahead of the newer, younger upstarts dominating the scene Aside from the problems caused to a pedantic sub-editor by the name (I long to write the word as ‘six’), 6 Day Riot is one of the best bands to emerge on the folk scene for a long time. They’ve been around a while though, probably before Mumford and Sons were even in short trousers. Well, 2006, at least. The folk-rock-pop band features the sweet-tonsilled Tamara Schlesinger on vocals, uke and guitar, Daniel Deavin (drums), Edd Harwood (upright bass), Gabriel Lucena (guitar) and Rachel Coleshill (violin, melodica). Their 2009 album HAVE A PLAN was a brilliant pop-folk romp with energetic drums and cheerful vocals. And ON THIS ISLAND doesn’t disappoint. In fact it’s better. The band’s sound is as irrepressible and fun as ever. But the best and most appealing thing is Schlesinger’s voice. Beguiling and sparse with hints of early Fairground Attraction or Altered Images, she doesn’t just sing the words, she almost yelps them (in a good way, you understand). The band is at its best when it’s romping through a calypso-inspired number but on slower tracks such as Run Away and Without These Words, Schlesinger’s voice shines through with a confessional melancholy. For Anne is a raw folky number in the Nu-Fairport-style (a word I have just coined to cover the likes of the Trembling Bells too). To See Your Face has Camera Obscura (one of my favourite bands ever) oozing right through it. But to list all these influences and similarities is to not do the band justice. They mainly sound like them. And that’s a good comparison. I love 6 Day Riot and have done for a while. Now Mumford have paved the way for jangly rhythmic folk to be played on Radio 1, perhaps everyone else will now sit up and listen properly. HD www.6dayriot.co.uk

name features prominently on the spine of the gatefold card liner—the front simply bears the legend COLD SATELLITE —in truth this is a collaborative project, his second of 2010. Earlier this year SEVEN CURSES surfaced, an acoustic duet set recorded with buddy Mark Erelli. In my July 2010 Maverick review I awarded the latter collection of murder ballads a thoroughly deserved 4.5 stars. COLD SATELLITE finds Foucault collaborating with the young Massachusetts bred poet Lisa Olstein. Circa late 2007, Olstein handed her friend Jeffrey ‘a sheaf of unpublished poems and fragments,’ to which he began appending melodies and a dozen examples appear on COLD SATELLITE . To date award winning poet Olstein has authored two collections, Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (2006) and Lost Alphabet (2009). Furthermore her work has appeared in the Iowa Review, Denver Quarterly, LIT and other prestigious publications. Supporting Foucault’s lead vocal and acoustic/electric guitars are drummer Billy Conway (Morphine, Twinemen), bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T) on bass, pedal steel picker Alex McCollough, and finally, on electric guitar, another longtime (Foucault) friend David Goodrich (Chris Smither). Goodrich and Foucault coproduced this collection. Based upon the range of instruments mentioned you might assume that this is a rock rather than an acoustic sounding album. It is, and it isn’t. On Voices Talking, replete with an electric guitar riff worthy of the Glimmer Twins, the former is true, while, the understated percussion apart, narrated by a weary traveller, Twice I Left Her leans toward a finger-picked acoustic blues. Despite listening to the opening opus Deserter’s Information Center on numerous occasions the meaning of the lyric remains shrouded in mist, while the title song has already earned an ‘explicit’ rating on certain download sites. The season isn’t referenced by name in the seven minute plus Geese Fly By but there is mention of ‘this first night of hard frost.’ Totally aware of his/her surroundings, the narrator acutely observes one of those blink and it’s gone natural world moments— ‘Leaves pitch like kites across a

green sky.’ Lasting for just sixty-five seconds Late Season (Reprise) is a melodically laid back instrumental, while In Our Own Country, the final selection, muses about a nation that’s presently ill at ease with itself at home and abroad—‘This would all be a blur, Just a storm in a state, On a weatherman’s map of the world.’ Left-field projects are nothing new in the Foucault household, Kris Delmhorst’s 2006 album STRANGE CONVERSATION featured the original words or adaptations from a coterie of poets—dating from the 13th through the 20th century—as well as original (Delmhorst penned) lyrics inspired by those wordsmiths. Firmly hunkered down at the dawn of the 21st century, COLD SATELLITE intuitively captures contemporary mankind’s journey through the seasons. I know that including the song lyrics vastly boosts production costs, but such is their Gordian Knot complexity and intensity that posting them (at least) on the Cold Satellite web site would be much appreciated… AW http://www.jeffreyfoucault.com/

Kate Rusby MAKE THE LIGHT Pure Records PRCD32


The much-loved folk songstress cuts a largely upbeat album of original pieces MAKE THE LIGHT marks a new chapter in the Yorkshire folkie’s life and music. For a while she has been calling herself a singer-songwriter, and this album is her first to consist entirely of self-penned songs, eleven in all. By her own account, Rusby found more time for writing while expecting Daisy, her child with fellow guitarist and songwriter Damien O’Kane, whom she married last summer. The old instrumental hands who graced so much of Kate’s work have departed. Together with O’Kane, their distinguished replacements include Malcolm Stitt on bouzouki, Julian Sutton on accordion and Kevin McGuire on double bass. A brass quintet underpins the anthemic Walk The Road, a string quartet the atmospheric Not Me. Harmonium, vibraphone and percussion add touches of colour

now and then. O’Kane switches to tenor banjo in the ballad of The Wishing Wife and to electric guitar for Shout To The Devil. With its declamatory tone, the latter’s lyric has a rare urgency to it. Let Them Fly, addressed to a politico who gets up Rusby’s nose, generates a similar heat. Although the delivery is mild—more Pete Seeger than Bob Dylan—it probably counts as Rusby’s first protest song. Musically, her roots in traditional British folk (‘British’ now embracing O’Kane’s Ireland) remain rock solid.

At the same time, the new collection sees the development of shoots she was putting forth earlier. It’s best summed up by the beautiful Green Fields, which shares her mainly upbeat mood and also a typical fusion of light and shade. The use of the minimum of words to maximum effect reflects Rusby’s coming of age as a writer. Just one caveat, though: having being gripped by her doing some of the album live, I find the recorded performances relatively low-key. The halo of technical excellence wouldn’t have been

Teea Goans THE WAY I REMEMBER IT Crosswind Teea-1


Country music with substance. That’s the creative MO of Teea Goans This is the kind of country music that traditionalists will be falling over themselves to embrace. Missouri-born Teea Goans grew up on country music and though at times she sounds uncannily like Lee Ann Womack, there’s more than enough of her own distinctive phrasing to dismiss those similarities. The majority of the songs are old-timers from the pens of such classic writers as Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran, Red Lane, Joe Allen, Bill Anderson, Curly Putman, Sonny Throckmorton and Merle Haggard. This young lady handles these songs of unrequited love, break-up, heartbreak and cheatin’ with maturity and powerful emotional passion, All the musicians and singers backing Goans are standouts too. In addition to associate producer Joe Spivey, a multi-instrumentalist and long-time leader of John Anderson’s band, who is now a stalwart in the Time Jumpers’ crew of Nashville superpickers, who provides acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin, there are three other Time Jumpers in this magical mix: steel guitarist Paul Franklin and fiddlers Aubrey Haynie and Kenny Sears. Then there’s the legendary electric guitarist, Leon Rhodes, an alumnus of Ernest Tubb’s fabled Texas Troubadours, plus drummer John Gardner, pianist Dirk Johnson, pedal steel guitarist Mike Johnson, bassists Larry Paxton and Matt McKenzie, electric guitarist James Mitchell, harmony vocalists John Wesley Ryles and Cindy Richardson Walker and string arranger Kristin Wilkinson. Most of these songs I’ve known for years, though I’ve not heard them for a good many, and it was great to re-discover such almost forgotten favourites as Joe Allen’s Lying In My Arms (a minor hit for Rex Allen Jr), Curly Putman and Sonny Throckmorton’s Made For Loving You (a top tenner for Doug Stone), and I’m Still Not Over You (Ray Price way back in 1967). Against all odds Teea succeeds in making me forget the originals and appreciate these well-worn songs as if they are brand new classics. That pain in her phrasing in I Didn’t Mean To Love You and I Don’t Do Bridges Anymore is quite priceless. After playing this album over and over again, not sure that I’d want to waste my precious time listening to the likes of Taylor, Carrie or Kellie ever again. The radio programmers and record label executives tell us there’s no market for this kind of country music, but they don’t even allow the listening public to hear it for themselves so as to make an informed decision. My advice, if you’re a genuine country music fan, seek out this classic album. AC www.teeagoans.com

CD Reviews - The New Releases

maverick 69

...the new releases seriously compromised by a little impurity. PP www.katerusby.com

Mojo Monkeys BLESSINGS AND CURSES Medikull Records MR2347364


Swaggering Louisiana swamp-rock with a shot of Bourbon soaked blues I’ll confess right now that I didn’t want to like BLESSINGS AND CURSES by the Mojo Monkeys half as much as I’ve ended up doing. I’ll explain my reservations; the CD cover looks like a reject from Motley Crue or even Ozzy Osbourne and the trio look far too smug for my liking on the inside cover plus, the band’s name is just silly—Mojo Monkeys? Once you get past those things and actually listen to the music it’s a revelation! The Mojo Monkeys are made up of three very successful Los Angeles studio musicians who are now playing and making music that they love for pure enjoyment rather than hard cash. As you would hopefully expect BLESSING AND CURSES is littered with sexy metaphors about the guy actually getting the girl but not necessarily keeping her; if you get my drift. Can’t Say No typifies the album with the singer being unable to ‘resist a girl…I know I should…I know you call me…cos I can’t say no.’ If only my life was like that. Beating Dead Horses has a really funky beat to it that might disguise a song that is little bit political in both the literal and a sexual manner. Sometimes you just have to walk away; in all walks of life. Baton Rouge and the Our Curse are both low down and dirty talking blues in the style of Billy Bob Thornton. If anyone else has heard his albums you’ll know how good these tracks are. After listening to the various rock themes across the rest of the album, the final track The Mockingbird Song took me by surprise as it is a beautiful acoustic love song that could easily be mistaken for Steve Earle in his ‘Copperhead Road’ prime. It was no real surprise when I found out that Mojo Monkeys songs have been featured on a couple of US TV programmes, especially The Sons of Anarchy which is about a motorcycle gang. It’s the kind of cool atmospheric rock music that you think you’ve heard somewhere before but can’t quite put your finger on where. If Carlsberg made bar bands…they would make the Mojo Monkeys! AH www.mojomonkeys.net


New West NW6190


Variable set of power-poptinged rock’n’roll Rhett Miller may be best known in Europe as a solo artist, particularly after having supported Steve Earle last year, but it’s as leader of the Old 97’s, complete with misplaced

70 maverick

apostrophe, that he started out and this is their eighth album. Their shtick is high energy, power-pop-tinged rock’n’roll and when they get it right, as on the title track or The Magician it’s inspiring and irresistible stuff. They’re better at a tune than they are at words though and clichés abound, and you can play spot the influence all over the place—Johnny Cash’s boom-chicka-boom on You Were Born To Be In Battle, for instance, but there’s plenty of energy around to carry them through. The most notable track is Champaign, Illinois, a rewrite of Desolation Row that was apparently approved by the great man himself. The problem with including it is that it stands head and shoulders above anything else here. At the other end of the quality line is A State Of Texas, a dreadful, sub-Toby Keith (and that’s pretty sub) hymn to the Lone Star state that manages to pack in a Texas-sized set of clichés into a mere three minutes, although it’s run close for the worst track award by closer The Beauty Marks, which is an insipid impressionistic attempt at deep and meaningful that is as shallow, and yet again, cliché-ridden, as they come. The band are probably better live than in the studio, something they themselves seem to recognise, as the album was cut ‘as live’ and there is definitely plenty of sweat on the best tracks but overall this is a very up and down album and one where even on the good bits, a bit of brain disengaging is needed to truly enjoy it. JS www.old97s.com

Matthews Southern Comfort KIND OF NEW

Brilliant/Genepool Records


Practically half a lifetime later, Matthews reforms Southern Comfort As far as material recorded by MSC Mk. 1 is concerned, here, there is a reprise of their October 1970 number one UK single, namely Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock—albeit via a vocally hypnotic and radically slower arrangement. Where the latter tune opened LATER THAT SAME YEAR (1970), the closing song from MSC Mk. 1’s third and final studio release, Iain’s Road To Ronderlin also resurfaces here. As for that band’s sophomore offering SECOND SPRING (1969), on this occasion the late Richard Farina’s Blood Red Roses is given a quasi-baroque treatment. In all but name MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT (1969) was a solo album, with the band actually coalescing on the aforementioned (subsequent) releases. Those albums featured a mix of band composed originals and covers, and KIND OF NEW replicates that approach. So what’s new? Well, the 21st century incarnation of MSC possesses a truly international flavour, including its first female member, Florida-based folk-voiced songwriter Terri Binion. Matthews apart, the remaining, all new, band members are Dutchmen Mike Roelofs

(keyboards, percussion), Bart-Jan Baartmans (bass, mandolin, slide guitar) and Joost Kroons (drums), plus New Zealander Richard Kennedy (acoustic guitar). As a songwriter Binion contributes five of the thirteen selections, although the liner booklet propagates a deal of confusion by stating: ‘all tracks and Terri’s vocals’ were recorded circa 2005. Six songs bear Matthews’ name, some copenned (individually) with Baartmans or Kennedy, his vocals having been recorded last year. Is it simply that the project has been gestating for some time? Who knows… Messrs. Matthews and Binion take the lead vocal on their own compositions, and the former’s Letting The Mad Dogs Lie—a treatise on the planet’s environment, voiced by farmyard animals—opens the collection. The lead vocals and supporting harmonies are velvet smooth throughout, one downside however is the reference to ‘love’ in four of Binion’s lyrics, the exception being the curiously listenable Dear Richard. As for Matthews’ O’Donnel Street it’s the rough diamond in this pack. An acknowledged lifelong football fan in Money, the album’s closing selection, Iain could well be railing at the ridiculous sums awash in the sport…and for that matter in certain parts of the so-called music business. AW http://www.iainmatthews.nl/


Compass Records 7 4542 2


An album like this cannot get any better. Now in their eighteenth year and hailed as ambassadors of Scottish traditional music, this claim can certainly be justified by this release of twelve songs by this four-piece band. The excellent Scotland Yet sees Old Blind Dogs demonstrating that what they possess within their midst is a fine singing ability as well as the talent to perform a cracking tune. The incredibly upbeat Lough Erne’s Shore sees the band proving wrong any critics they have as this particular song has a fine folk feel to it but it has a superior edge over their rivals which is evident of why they have been together for such a long time. I’m sure many will raise a glass of Scotland’s finest to this band when seeing them perform live or hearing this extraordinary record. Long may they continue to release albums like this one for they are a band to be reckoned with. RH www.oldblinddogs.co.uk

Reid Jamieson STARING CONTEST Self released RAJ006


Remnants of Ryan Bingham are littered all around this Critically acclaimed for the albums released prior to this, Reid is someone who I highly recommend

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you check out. A regular performer at CBC’s Vinyl Café, if you ever do find yourself in his neck of the woods it would certainly be wise for you to check out one of these appearances for seeing this music performed live is something I hope to do in the near future. The fourteen songs impress from the first to last second. Don’t Forget is the finest example of Reid’s talent. The harmonica at the beginning sets this track up very nicely indeed as he demonstrates his versatile singing ability which a layman could never pull off. With jazz connotations, Gerald builds up well and is executed in a fine way with the lead guitar more than matching Reid’s vocal contributions. Canada is a remarkable and diverse music community. Bob Harris is right when he comments on his BBC Radio 2 Country Show as he plays one artist after another from this distant land as the wealth of talent emerging from our Commonwealth neighbour is impressive to say the least, with Reid a forerunner of this band of merry artists. RH www.myspace.com/reidjamieson

Sidney Thompson COLORS

Self-released 8 84501418997


Amazingly strong songs from this young singer-songwriter Sidney Thompson is an exciting new artist with an amazing voice. Her vocals make her sound a lot older than her tender teenage years: they are soulful and intelligent, enigmatic and charming. She wrote all of the songs on her debut album, which is full of intensity and passion. It is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Sidney only took up singing and songwriting in the past couple of years. Hailing from McKinney, Texas she is already being touted at the next big thing in the world of music. The album starts off with a classy track called Just Anyone, a song about giving up your heart. Sidney’s vocals are raw and effortlessly blend country and soul together, her style and sound is a mixture of Shelby Lynne on her more soulful country albums and Joss Stone in her early days. A slow song, Just Anyone, gives Sidney a chance to shine and show off her talents and many listeners will be able to resonate with the lyrics of this song. Colors is heavier and more upbeat than the opening song and her vocals are strong and clear. Dance is a delightful song with a strong summery feel carried through the vocals and into the background instrumentation. Hold On is a rockier song that would not sound out of place in the pop charts. Clocks has more of a country feel and Sidney’s vocals are once again engaging and pleasurable to listen to. Better Side Of You is a rockier song but her vocals still retain their soulfulness. Watching is a standout song vocally, they change with ease from delicate and soulful to rocky and upbeat. Broken Glass the final song on the album, mixes pop and country together

...the new releases resulting in a great finale packed with plenty of angst. All of the songs on this album are great and could easily be released as singles. Sidney’s vocal style will appeal to fans of both country and pop. Definitely one to watch! SH http://www.sidneymusic.com/

Snowblink LONG LIVE Fire Records FIRECD159


Quirky album by talent many should watch out for. With this being their debut album, Toronto duo Snowblink consists of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman and it is when hearing this record that you can see it has been in the minds of many of their fans for a long period of time. Consisting of fifteen songs, it is an album best enjoyed live in an intimate setting with a prime example of this being the opening track. Titled Rut & Nuzzle its powerfully done vocals are a tribute to this duo’s credibility and shows why they have become incredibly popular in their native country. You can see why Snowblink is quickly being heralded as the next big thing. They have a unique approach to creating music and it is with great hope that a second album is in the pipeline. RH www.snowblink.org

Steve Richard UP TO SOMETHIN’ Force MP Entertainment


An excellent sound by someone who has a hell of a lot going for him Having toured with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top along with Dierks Bentley and Montgomery Gentry, Steve Richard is the reigning Inspirational Country Music Award (ICM) New Artist winner and with some of the songs on here which are aimed towards the Christian community you can see why he has won such accolades. One tune in particular is Invisible Hand. With a country pop sound at times that cannot be bettered, its production values are that good you can see it being played for many years to come on country music radio. With a quiet sound at its very beginning, the romantic Love’s Gotta Go Somewhere would be great to be heard at the end of a long day whilst dancing in the arms of a loved one in some dusty honky-tonk. This is in fact the record’s concluding tune and what a fine way it is to end the album. With only six tracks, it is after hearing this record that you want it to have additional songs added to the track listing. Wishing him all the best for this years ICM awards, the experience Steve has gained from touring with such luminaries has obviously had a positive influence on him as he is now receiving acclaim for his music. This record is marvellous

from the first note hit to the last chord plucked. RH www.steverichardmusic.com

The Trishas THEY CALL US THE TRISHAS Self-released


Four girls, five songs, amazing vocals and harmonies pervade The web site home page for the January 2011 Steamboat Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado reads: ‘6 Days, 40 Bands, 5 Mountains and One Really Big Tent.’ During the 2009 event the festival presented a tribute concert to Kevin Welch’s music, and if the four girls involved had adhered to the original plan it would have been their one and only appearance as the quartet the Trishas. As it happens something clicked onstage that day, and the foursome decided to hang for a while. I witnessed the Trishas in action at Gruene Hall in May 2009 when they supported Kevin Welch and his multi-talented offspring Dustin on one of the duo’s monthlong Wednesday slots, the Chequered Cab Sessions. Based in and around the Texas Hill Country, the Trishas are Sealy, Texas bred Jamie Wilson (ex-the Gougers), Liz Foster (of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s ‘science project’ Liz & Lincoln), Kelley Mickwee (ex-Jed & Kelley)—she’s originally from Memphis, and Kevin’s daughter Savannah. THEY CALL US THE TRISHAS is their five-selection debut release, and features a trio of band composed originals, bookended by a traditional tune and a song from the pen of Mr. Welch Snr. and a couple of his buddies. Launched by a percussive mantra of boot heels and handclaps, and aided by scratchy fiddle, given the power of the lead vocalist’s delivery of the traditional Trouble About My Soul the needle teeters at times in the red zone. On this rousing number the girls make sure the listener is wide awake from the get go. Wilson, her voice possesses a pleasing waver, co-wrote the country flavoured Give It Away with pals Jason Eady and Scott Davis, and it’s followed by Foster’s Rise Above a soul/gospel concoction. Austin based musician Jonny Burke and Savannah collaborated on the wistful love song So Blue, and taking turns on lead vocal the girls close with a killer rendition of Till I’m Too Old To Die Young—the song they performed during the aforementioned Steamboat/Kevin Welch tribute. The Trishas excel in the four-part vocal harmony department, bring on the full studio album I say. AW http://thetrishas.com/

Toni Price CHERRY SUNDAY ORCHESTRA Self-released


Some are old, a few are new, plus there’s the ever present blues. This is prime Price and

no mistake! Following the release of TALK MEMPHIS (2007), her seventh solo release for the now defunct Antone’s Records/TMG imprint, Price left Austin and headed for America’s far western shores. Having racked up an unbroken run of fifteen-years, in mid-April 2007 Price ended her essential Tuesday evening Happy Hour performances [aka Hippie Hour] at South Austin’s Continental Club. Clifford Antone had passed away in May the previous year, while Champ Hood spun of this mortal coil in November 2001. Adored for decades by Austin’s musically astute fans, Price’s 2003 release BORN TO BE BLUE paid tribute to Champ, her much missed ‘Right Hand Man’. Considering that Mambo John (Treanor) and Shoeshine Charley (Miller) had also departed in recent times, maybe it was time for a break? Three years farther along and Toni is back—in Austin, and once again singing her heart out at Happy Hour. Plus, she has released a new album on her own label. It’s no biggie to relate that it’s the eighth straight Price and Derek O’Brien coproduction. As for the album title, sure it’s a pun, but it’s also a historic fact that sundaes were originally, and sometimes exclusively, sold Stateside on a Sunday. The presence of the word ‘orchestra’ in the title becomes obvious once you’ve heard the music in the grooves, and while, in truth, that orchestra amounts to just half a dozen players, plus a few assists, by way of varying the tempo throughout the dozen tunes they totally recreate ‘that orchestra sound.’ Popularised in 1931 by the late Ben Selvin, in the guise of Buddy Campbell and his Orchestra, Toni opens with the tasty foxtrot paced Moonlight Saving Time. That said, there’s also a fair sprinkling of contemporary offerings such as When You Are Near penned by Champ’s fiddle playing son Warren. You want more continuity? Toni’s Nashville based buddy Gwil Owen has landed at least one tune on every one of her albums, on this occasion it’s Do You Take Me For A Fool? Elsewhere, the Big Easy is name checked in Blues For Rampart (Ida Cox) and the joyous Going To New Orleans (Walter Hyatt). Lagniappe is a term in common usage in America’s Deep South. According to the WWW it’s: ‘a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.’ The CHERRY SUNDAY ORCHESTRA ‘lagniappe’ is a video of Toni and the gang delivering a gutsy studio rendition of Star Baby. The latter song penned by Canadian Burton Cummings (the Guess Who) closes this CD. O’Brien’s trademark electric guitar licks apart, the Austin area based support players include Rich Brotherton (acoustic guitar), Riley Osborne (piano), Warren Hood (fiddle) and playing slide guitar on Star Baby his cousin Marshall (the Belleville Outfit). As for Toni, on this recording she just sounds so totally relaxed…and having fun singing. AW http://www.toniprice.com/

CD Reviews - The New Releases

Wise-Magraw HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN Red House Records


Three and a half decades on, Magraw and Wise reunite for their sophomore set The Red House label issued a selftitled disc by these Twin Cities based musicians thirty-five years ago. Dean Magraw, a St. Paul, Minnesota native, initially studied classical guitar at the University of Minnesota and later at Berklee College of Music in Boston. His partner Marcus Wise learned to play congas in Spain, and having met Ustad Diam Ali Qadri as a visiting artist at the University of Minnesota, Wise subsequently studied tablas with Qadri in India. During the recording of this album, Magraw was still receiving treatment for MSD (Myelodysplastic Syndrome) having just undergone a bone marrow transplant. The recording was Wise’s idea, making music being a form of intentional (and hopefully restorative) therapy for his infirmed friend. They began by attempting to complete a long abandoned musical project, but in the process a whole new sonic universe evolved. The third verse of Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem, which appeared on the Canadian’s 1992 song collection THE FUTURE , provided the inspiration for the title HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN . The verse in question unfolds as follows—‘Ring the bell that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.’ The seven selections that constitute the almost fifty-minute long HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN vary in length from just under four minutes to over thirteen minutes. Employing references to countless musical genres, and possessing either one or two-word titles such as Delphonic, Portals and Black Cherry Cherry, Magraw’s acoustic guitar and Wise’s tabla’s combine in a aural marriage that is on occasions soft and melodic (Jade), energetic even (Simple Thread), or jagged and at times up-tempo (Entrainment). AW http://deanmagraw.com/how-thelight-gets-in-wise-magraw/




Witchwood WMCDVD 2049


Folk-rockers roll back the years It’s been a busy time for the Strawbs. The folk-rock pioneers reformed with their feted 1973 lineup (almost), and celebrated with a 40th anniversary show across two

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...the new releases days. And to bookend that there was an impressive new album, DANCING TO THE DEVIL’S BEAT, as well as a luxury re-release of their groundbreaking 1960s album, ALL OUR OWN WORK . Now it’s back to the celebration with a pair of releases across three CDs recording the event which had, if not a cast of thousands, at least a goodly number of the band from across the years. The first is a double CD, nearly two and a half hours of music, and a host of lineups, both pomp-rockingly electric and delicately acoustic, and others somewhere inbetween. A highlight (amongst many) is All I Need Is You, from the band’s early days, with folk-rock queen Sonja Kristina taking the place of the late Sandy Denny. Another is the11-minute Blue Angel, with Blue Weaver joining on Angel keyboards. There’s Rick Wakeman, and Wakeman’s son Oliver who takes dad’s place in the latest line-up. There’s also a gorgeous Evergreen, with the Royal Artillery Orchestra conducted by the late Robert Kirby, arranger of Nick Drake’s records. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that a goodly number of tracks are by other members’ sidelines—once and current guitarist Dave Lambert’s rocking bands Zeus and Fire, the poppy rock of John Ford (although no Part Of The Union), and a delightful cameo by Brian Willoughby with Cathryn Craig. Vol. 2 is given over to a 40minute segment by Wakeman and Cousins, eight tracks such as The Hangman And The Papist and a lovely Witchwood, imbued with at varying times a serene, almost classical beauty and Wakeman’s flighty, Bill Bailey-ish keyboards wizardry. Between them the sets offer a taster of what the Strawbs were about, which was many things, with folk at its heart. And you could get a good live album out of the work of any one line-up, so a modern Best Of. ND www.witchwoodrecords.co.uk


Bloodshot BS173


Low key intimate set of quietly fragile beauty There’s low key, there’s really low key and then there’s Ben Weaver. The Minnesotan’s seventh album is largely just him and his guitar with the occasional backing vocal from Erica Froman and it has that intimate, slightly echoey feel that comes from sounding like it was recorded in an empty school hall with just one slightly past its best microphone. Given that Weaver’s playing is fairly rudimentary, his voice unremarkable and the songs not much better than average it’s a risky approach to recording which you’d expect to fail. But there’s something about the whole package that’s considerably greater than the sum of its parts. The album comes across as the sine qua non of intimate and organic and the listener is so drawn in that even the creak caused by their adjusting

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position on a chair feels like an unwarranted and explosive intrusion into something that is precious and fragile. The album is clearly something of a personal manifesto for Weaver: Grass Doe covers his recent divorce, the title refers to the ubiquitous base for stocks and stews that he made relentlessly during his withdrawal from music to work as a chef and other references abound. Sometimes, though, the lyrics are opaque to the point of complete obscurity but Weaver’s performance carries you along anyway. Although some of the subject matter may be a little dark, overall this is an uplifting and inspiring record, not one that makes you punch the air maybe, but one that makes you nod in quiet agreement with the affirmations that Weaver makes. He’s clearly a man who’s come to a place where he’s at peace and that’s where listening to MIREPOX AND SMOKE leaves the listener. JS www.benweaver.net

Charlee Porter HEARTSTRINGS Seagull Songs


Reminiscent of Willie Nelson’s earlier works This impressive second album by this extraordinarily talented Swedishbased artist is highly recommended. The nine tracks are sublime and impress during each second that joyfully plays before your very ears. Opening the album is Like a Rose in Autumn. A downright, stonkingly fine song this track manages to fit a lot of quality into this minimalist setting as sprinklings of Willie Nelson are scattered all around; simply a voice and an instrument showing that this is an effectively good tool for recording an excellent song as evident here. Miss Yan is also a damn fine track and one which I wholeheartedly recommend you check out. The banjo is delightful to say the least as is the tune’s groove and the singing is exquisite as well. Charlee is someone any music fan should keep a close eye on and catching one of her gigs would be one hell of a musical experience to enjoy. RH www.charleeporter.com



Cliché-ridden country-soul that could’ve been so much better James Otto had been hanging around Nashville for a number of years before finally making a breakthrough a couple of years ago with the chart-topping single Just Got Started Lovin’ You. Some eight years ago he was signed to Mercury, but as each single failed to make an impact on radio, following the release of DAYS OF OUR LIVES , his

debut album in the spring of 2004, he was dropped. He joined forces with the MusikMafia, working closely with Big & Rich and like-minded rebel musicians. That led to him joining Warner Bros and his second album SUNSET MAN , which featured his chart-topping single. This latest album was also released on Warners, and produced by Paul Worley, finds Otto delving into a country-soul styling that certainly suits his deep, robust voice. Though he cites Ronnie Milsap as a major influence, and in fact the blind singer-pianist joins him on album closer Good Things Gone Bad Bad, his vocals sound nothing like Milsap, and the musical arrangements are typical modern Nashville, with little effort to break new ground. Songs like Just Like Sunshine, Lover Man and Groovy Little Summer Song use every cliché in the book. The latter was a single, and though commercial and ideal radio fodder, it hardly lives up to the MusikMafia rebel or maverick approach. Soldiers & Jesus the second single off this album, is typical misguided American patriotism that likens soldiers to Jesus. It’s no wonder America’s standing in the world is at such an all-time low with songs like this on their airwaves. This to me is as offensive as they come. Religious fervour is why there are so many wars in the world and songs like this only help to fuel the flame. This could have been a really good album, Otto has the talent and the voice, but in chasing that radiofriendly template he’s sold his soul and lost all musical integrity to the commercial devil. AC www.humpheadrecords.com

Brian Langlinais TONIGHT I MIGHT

Blue Boot Records BBR2010-00


Mixed bag of roadhouse rock’n’roll and southern soul Brian Langlinais’ second album is something of an odd beast. Part of it is straight ahead, by the numbers, roadhouse rock’n’roll—Tennessee Hideaway and Do What’s Right for example. Parts of it are much closer to Southern soul—By My Own Hand, complete with beautiful liquid guitar opening and I Was A Burden, where Langlinais testifies to his faith. And then there’s She’s Everything To Me, a lighter waver if ever there was one, but fortunately not as pointlessly emoting as much of the genre, and Soul Searchin’ which grooves like a good ‘un and combines old school Motown with New Joisey rock’n’roll. Given that Langlinais isn’t really a writer—he only has a couple of cowrite credits—the overall effect is that he’s picked songs in his favourite styles and given them his best shot. Nothing wrong with that at all, and his sincerity and commitment to his music shine through every note, but the end results are just not quite there. Soul Searchin’ for instance is just a little too polite and is crying out for a Southside Johnny wail or

CD Reviews - The New Releases

an organ that’s attacked rather than just played. Never Give Up has a real bayou feel to it, but is too close to Chuck Berry’s C’est La Vie for entirely comfortable listening. Overall this is the sort of music that, if it started up in a bar wouldn’t make you walk out, but neither would you walk in if you heard it from the street. There are hints and snippets of something a cut above the average but that’s all. JS www.brianlanglinais.com

Jim Byrne EVERY DAY IS SUNSHINE Hillhead GWE Records


Wide-ranging set of slightly too influence-heavy acoustica If Samuel Johnson were alive today he might add an addendum to his famous aphorism ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’, namely that acoustic roots is the last refuge of a musician who’s failed at everything else. Examples of the latter abound, and when you read that Jim Byrne started out in a cowpunk band, moved on to a couple of bluesy bands and turned to garage rock before arriving in his current incarnation as an acoustic folk-ish artist a certain suspicion is inevitable. Fortunately it’s only partly justified, for while Byrne often struggles to be more than the sum of his influences—Lloyd Cole, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen, to name but three—his sincerity is obvious, and on songs like Down By the Wildwood he constructs something cinematic and haunting, in this case driven by mournful violin and his quite, laconic vocal. There’s a fin de siècle feel to many of the songs although it’s not all doom and gloom—Tell Me You Love Me Again is a ragtime swing that demands rug cutting and Can’t Catch The Butterfly Butterfly, while reminiscent of a million other songs, is a quiet joy of memories and affirmation and Don’t Go Pissin’ In The Wind a classic old school blues, complete with greasy slide guitar. Byrne isn’t outstanding at anything but he’s pretty good at everything and, while he perhaps lacks a coherent personal identity, EVERY DAY IS SUNSHINE is an enjoyable slice of acoustica in its own right and one that holds promise for the future. JS www.songsbyjimbyrne.com

Joan Armatrading LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL CD/DVD HypertensionHYP10274


This is a phenomenal treat for all of her fans Joan Armatrading is very wellknown as a fine singer-songwriter as well as being one of a few female artists to receive an MBE from the Queen. She only ever sings her own songs and this tremendous package includes 2-CDs containing 21 songs

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...the new releases from the Royal Albert Hall concert recorded in April 2010 during her This Charming Life tour. The recording is as it was on the evening. I have never been a big fan of Joan Armatrading so most of these tracks are new to me, except of course for her famous ones such as Love And Affection and the quite glorious Me, Myself I. This live album also includes Best Dress On which has become incredibly popular with audiences at Joan’s concerts, so much so that a league table was created tracking how many times each audience sing the chorus (in North America one audience sang it 27 times). As well as being a great songwriter and singer Joan is also a very good guitarist as can be heard on songs such as the rocking Heading Back To New York City and the soul funk of Something’s Gotta Blow with fine rhythm from John Giblin (bass) and Gary Foote (drums) as well as some excellent keyboard accompaniment from Spencer Cozens. This very good live package is completed with the DVD of the concert making this a must-buy for all fans of Joan Armatrading, although I was a little disappointed that it was not recorded in surround sound and therefore preferred the CDs. DK www.joanarmatrading.com


Fuel 302 061 855 2


A forgotten singer in good songs with congenial friends Younger readers are probably unfamiliar with the name Juice Newton (‘Juice’ is a stage name for Judith), and even older ones might be more familiar with the songs than the singer. Born in New Jersey, raised in Virginia, Newton made her mark with folk-rockers Silver Spur. Her major country-pop successes came in the 1980s, her third album JUICE featuring such hits as Queen Of Hearts and Otha Young’s The Sweetest Thing. Like Dolly Parton she was dropped by RCA in 1989; unlike Dolly she never returned to the big time, although she continued to perform. She first recorded a series of duets with notable artists in 1995, but the release was blocked by legal issues. One of Newton’s vocal guests on the present album, Dan Seals, died recently, and the dates of the performances are unclear. Inlay notes say that the sessions were divided between California—which provided the wind players—and Nashville (the rhythm section and strings). Willie Nelson, who figures in two of his own songs, recorded them in Texas. Randy Meisner of the Eagles similarly refreshes a self-penned number, Take It To The Limit. Glen Campbell shines in Without You and the Buffy Sainte-Marie co-write Up Where We Belong. Gary Morris makes another sympathetic partner, while pop veteran Frankie Valli appears on The Biggest Part Of Me. Juice Newton displays a clear,

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flexible soprano comparable to Martina McBride’s (she has even recorded an EMOTION album): always agreeable, occasionally thrilling. Producer Charles Calello’s arrangements steer clear of the overblown or sugary. For me, the best duet of the ten is You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’with Melissa Manchester. Lovers of good singing should investigate. PP www.juicenewton.com


Taliesin Musicraft TAL0003


A quintessentially beautiful record which has a glowing feel Based in Buckingham but actually Welsh, Linda Watkins is someone who I hope to catch live in the not too distant future for the passion she has for her music is an aspect to this singer-songwriter which many will look to with envious eyes. This ten track album is full to the brim of great music. Winding Sheet certainly gets the pulse racing. With one of the quickest beats found on this record, its great pace allows for this song to be enjoyed by the listener increasingly more as it both excites and thrills, which is never a bad feature of any tune. Sometimes We Don’t See possesses some exquisite saxophone joining Linda and it is no surprise that this song is one of the highlights of the album. A track to put a smile on your face, its peaceful instrumentation allows for this song to shine especially when twinned with Linda’s exquisite vocals. Long may the successful career of Linda Watkins continue. Her delightful approach to music is remarkable and this is a top quality album. RH www.lindawatkins.co.uk

Lohio FAMILY TREE Independent


This record offers group harmonies, provocative vocals and a folk-pop flavour that is enjoyable but hard to place... This American folk-pop band embraces an ethereal sound that explores a soundscape of its own. Group harmonies and dreamlike keys, guitars and light percussion all feature heavily, especially on the title track Family Tree. Embracing special effects and a down-to-earth audience that enjoy sing-along songs, this record is a mix of the easy to listen to tunes and the provocative; a blend that essentially creates something quite difficult to place. In so many ways it should belong with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club but it is as a whole very different from one track to the next. Overall though, really quite enjoyable with tracks like Wind And Leaves really standing out for me. LB www.lohio.com

Loreena McKennitt THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY Quinlan Records QRCD114


A return to a more acoustic styled traditional sound I’ve followed Loreena McKennitt’s career for over two decades and she has never failed to captivate me with her slightly mannered vocals and well-crafted musical landscapes. I use the term ‘mannered’ as unlike so many of her contemporaries enunciation is primary in her delivery. That’s not to dismiss it as some half-hearted attempt at snobbery it’s just that (for a change) you can understand every word…and I do mean every word. McKennitt has not immersed herself so fully in the tradition since her debut album ELEMENTAL in 1985 but the passage of time merges seamlessly and following on from her more extravagant encounters with the folk-rock genre with full band backing she has chosen a more or less acoustic path with this recording. Securing the services of thirteen musicians including long-time associates Brian Hughes (guitars and bouzouki) and Hugh Marsh (violin) along with established exponents Tony McManus (guitar) and Caroline Lavelle (cello) the songs including As I Roved Out and Death Of Queen Jane along with a sparse arrangement of the instrumental Brian Boru’s March are sparingly approached without being boring. Finally, and don’t get me wrong but with a credits list that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster it is the audio delight issuing from that little silver platter that makes for a more than rewarding listen and a welcome addition to anyone who enjoys their music with a penchant for all things traditional. PF www.quinlanroad.com

Peter Stampfel & Baby Gramps OUTERTAINMENT Red Newt Records FPRNCD15


An individual and quirky set of songs created by two guys playing a crazy style which is certainly their own This collaboration is strange to say the least. Despite that, it seems to have a highly appealing feel to it, which should see both Peter and Baby Gramps performing the material on this album to rapturous applause in their probably-sold out gigs. Perhaps one of the strangest yet enjoyable songs I have heard for quite some time is The Puppy Song. Telling of how much they love their canine, it is sung in such a way that it makes you feel as though this track is destined for great things. The Goons would surely be proud to have released this tune. Organically made over the course of a few days, this old-styled way of making an album will hopefully make a comeback as artists proposing to record their material in such a quick fire way should look to this record for

CD Reviews - The New Releases

inspiration. RH


Shane Chisholm HITCHHIKING BUDDHA Self released


It is artists like Shane that gets the music-loving public excited A two-time CCMA (Canadian Country Music Award) winner, this achievement is not surprising when you hear this record. Regularly touring across Canada, this multitalented individual also penned all but three of these twelve songs which is remarkable when you consider the quality of each and every one of them. There so many of these songs that I enjoyed I was utterly flabbergasted at the album’s conclusion. Having an extraordinary groove is Songs About Love. This song seems to have everything and is a track that should be awarded with every accolade going. Just as good is What’s Love? With an old-timey sound, this tune could just have been released by Webb Pierce in his prime. This is one song which I cannot recommend any higher than humanly possible and when you consider that Shane co-penned it with Willie Mack, he is one artist brimming with talent. A UK tour? Here’s hoping so. Where was he during the dark days of Garth Brooks? Traditional music like this is music to my ears. RH http://shanechisholm.homestead.com

Stompin’ Dave & Dave Saunders COUNTRY BLUES Self released CB001


I don’t know how he does it but Stompin’ Dave strikes gold once more There is something marvellous about Stompin’ Dave. Having the ability to play the guitar, harmonica, banjo and slide guitar whilst tap dancing at the same time is a skill which not many others around the world possess other than him. He is from Dorset but has played all over the world including this year’s Maverick Festival in Suffolk and the National Banjo & Guitar Championships at the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas. Stompin’ Dave also plays around a dozen UK gigs every month, which I’m sure are brilliant. Although there isn’t much tap dancing here, what this album demonstrates is his remarkable ability to ply his trade on a number of instruments whilst being ably assisted by Dave Saunders on guitar (who is also a member of Stompin’ Dave’s electric band alongside Graham V. Bundy). There’s an astonishing fifteen songs which sees traditional tunes being played to perfection alongside Stompin’ Dave’s own compositions. Leiber and Stoller’s Kansas City Blues is given a distinctive treatment as Stompin’ Dave brings a country feel to this

...the new releases Mark Olson MANY COLORED KITE Rykodisc RCD 11022A


Alt.country pioneer with joyous set of love songs Since leaving the alt.country pioneers the Jayhawks all those years ago Mark Olson has resolutely ploughed his own, idiosyncratic, furrow, which has been by turns political, personal, clear and opaque but has always remained worth following. His cracked, almost off key, vocal, generally backed by little more than a guitar or two, is a compelling sound and his songs equally so, even if they have frequently been fairly heavy listening. His latest album though finds him positively glowing with happiness and content and comfortable with his place in the world. Opening song Little Bird Of Freedom is as melodic as he’s been in years and when he sings: ‘these are the days I remember’ it’s impossible not to be caught up in the sheer joy he exudes. The album is in large part as an extended love song to his musical partner and girlfriend Ingunn Ringvold—titles and lines like No Time To Live Without Her and ‘my love walks on water’ (from Morning Dove) are self-explanatory—but there’s also a spiritual quality in Olson’s simultaneous exploration of the landscape, never more so than on Kingsnake where he muses: ‘Some highways are built on old paths/some are built where they never should be/we have hope for restoration/we have our humanity.’ It’s an uplifting message and this is an uplifting album, his best in ages. Filled with the joy of love and life and giving the lie to the old canard about having to be poor, struggling and damaged to make great music. With the likes of Neal Casal and Danny Frankel on board as well as Ringvold, the music soars like the kite of the title in a summer gale, and the listener’s heart soars with it in a joyous communion. JS www.myspace.com/markolsonmusic

otherwise rock’n’roll tune. It is the banjo playing which made me sit up and pay further attention as it shows his evolution into perhaps the finest banjo picker of his generation. The guitar work by Dave Saunders also impresses as it more than matches the banjo picking. Like its title suggests, Sliding South includes in its short duration a lot of slide guitar which again impresses. This isn’t your simple picking here, but complex material performed with such ease that it makes others look on with envy due to the smooth and perfect way in which this track is played. Although I didn’t think it was possible Stompin’ Dave keeps getting better with the release of one record after another. His hectic gig schedule is something to check out, for if you haven’t seen him perform already you really are missing out on a spectacular artist—one of the world’s best. RH www.stompindave.com


Vintage Voice RecordsVINVOC001


Eleven thoughtprovoking tracks Born in 1972, Tess was brought up listening to John Lennon, David Bowie and the Doors, all leaving their musical imprint on a small boy’s mind. Listening to musical luminaries such as these helped to educate Tess in how to express himself through his songwriting. His writing is based on his life, meaning that the lyrics at times are very intimate, making this album quite a personal diary of his life so far. His music can sometimes come across a bit depressing, not helped by the solemnity of his voice at times. But then there are also some very good tracks such as the uptempo Elliott showing the power in his singing, Lullaby For Maisy Jane with some fine string accompaniment arranged by Howard Gott and Blame The Capulet a wonderfully intense love song using Romeo And Juliet as an analogy. This album reads like a very personal and at times haunting

musical diary and one that is worth giving a listen to, but you really need to sit down and give it your full attention. DK www.tessnotes.com

The Beatin’s A LITTLE GIVE AND TAKE Civilian Art Projects


Gritty, provocative and oozing charm ... This record is a grimy mix of blues and folk that really holds its head high above the rest. Revelling in melancholy and absent-mindedness, this album is a real mix of a futuristic sound that no one is ever going to understand with a jazz-vibe and blues sound, that explores the option of creating every track so that you could never guess its eventual direction. The vocals are dirty and often spoken, occasionally offering little harmony, and songs like Time To Stop Yr’ Idlin’ and Mexico are rolling and down-trodden, but get you into the spirit of things. While their rendition of the standout Jesus Met The Woman At The Well was a really great track. Once you get your head around their sound, this is actually very enjoyable, but you have to be open to the eventualities of a record that tries to trip you up! LB www.myspace.com/thebeatingsband

The Medicine Bow SONGS FROM THE FLOOR Wood Shampoo SHAM-13


An album which is both exhilarating and explosive This Manchester-based fourpiece’s second album is a twelvesong humdinger which makes the ears bleed due to the loud and exuberant style in which the band play. Many of the songs impress but the one overriding tune that stands above the others is Beyond My Control. It has a homegrown sound to it which, when combined with the extraordinarily played harmonica, makes this particular track one that should see this album shifting a shed


feet and dancing their troubles away It is always a bonus to see the extra added effort some bands go in order to support their newest album and Tricked Out Country is a pure example of this. This is their debut CD and is accompanied by a DVD which gives you an extra insight into the creative process which went in to the production of the album itself. The CD consists of nine tunes which are simply outstanding. The band is led by Neil Scott Johnson and he is joined by Ken Scharf on trumpet. The record is produced by Anthony Liccese who has done an extraordinary job with mixing the material. Although intended as a country song, a reggae beat is used on You’re Not Invited To My Party Party. Neil’s lead vocals certainly do a great job as they entice the audience in to a tune which exudes confidence. In fact, this song has a distinctly delicious sound which has not failed to impress the people I have played it to. The DVD which accompanies this record is sleekly done, and includes six sections which the viewer can watch and enjoy. One such section is a music video for Julie which features on the album. The DVD reveals that the location used was a Pony Ride Farm and what a great place it would be to visit. Neil, who used to be an actor for the American television soap opera All My Children, certainly shows his professionalism as his enthusiasm for this record is revealed thanks to some great interviews which feature across the DVD. It is always excellent to see the process of how an album was put together but said in the words of those directly involved, and that is exactly what this DVD does. No stone is left unturned and you find that by the end of its sleekly edited, forty-five minutes you have found all you need to know about Tricked Out Country. This is one band which I hope will release further material. In the DVD, Neil mentions that there is the possibility of a follow up to this record and I for one hope this happens. RH

Bound to see the listener up on their


load of copies. Such a joyous sound is created right before your very ears that it makes you want to cry. Not because of sadness, but tears of joy for this album is a bona fide classic that should see the Medicine Bow being rightly recognised. RH www.themedicinebow.com

Thrift Store Cowboys LIGHT FIGHTER Independent


Disappointing set of desert rockcum-indie, with a couple of standout exceptions The Cowboys describe themselves as indie rock, ambient and Gothic Western, which makes it all the more surprising to find that opening track One Gentle Inch To Nine Violent Miles recalls the theme to Chariots Of Fire. It’s not quite in the same league as that however, and indeed the album isn’t quite in the same league as those it strives to emulate. Despite the undoubted musical expertise on show, the fact is that, with two exceptions, this is unremarkable music, and if one were being harsh, unnecessary music. It’s bargain basement Calexico, tiny rather than Giant Sand, caught up in its own pretensions and never quite managing to live up to them. The two exceptions are contributed by the member who’s probably the most well-known, at least in the UK, Amanda Shires, on account of her work with Rod Picott. On both Scary Weeds and Lean Into The Sway she sings lead, sounding like a more restrained Tift Merritt, as she has that same torchy soul voice, and on the former combining it with the Cowboys restrained desert sparseness creates a haunting epic. Elsewhere, though, it’s all a bit too much by the numbers with the likes of Regardless and You Can’t See The Light all sixth form introspection and angst. JS www.thriftstorecowboys.info

Tricked Out Country TRICKED OUT COUNTRY Self released

CD Reviews - The New Releases

maverick 75

DV D Reviews

Rob McNurlin ROB MCNURLIN RANCH PARTY Buffalo Skinner Recordings

 Rob McNurlin and his Beatnik Cowboys perform the kind of traditional country music which the Music Row major labels don’t like to release. Despite this ignorance on their part Rob is continuing to release music which is better than any Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum record. Dressed in their finest, this sleekly made DVD consists of three thirty minute episodes which are taken from Rob’s Saturday television show that broadcasts on WSAZ’s MY-Z TV in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. And what great programmes they are! If only one of the UK’s main television channels could purchase a few episodes than maybe country music could be taken more seriously here in Britain. Filmed at the majestic Country Music Heritage Hall in Ashland, Kentucky, Rob’s band consists of JT Cure on bass, Kayton Roberts on steel guitar and Kenny Vaughan on lead guitar with Rob playing acoustic guitar. They are joined in each episode by a special guest which includes Larry Cordle, Jorma Kaukonen and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Rob certainly picks some great artists to appear alongside him and his band. Performing a variety of songs that could never be described as lacklustre, the three episodes really hit the spot. To see pedal steel played the way it is by Kayton is something to marvel at, as is the lead guitar and the old-timey sound which is produced by Rob and his merry men. It isn’t just these four very talented individuals who play, but there are segments used where we cut to the porch and we are treated to several performances by Bobby Taylor on fiddle, Kim Johnson on banjo and two others on double bass and guitar with some impressive performances presented before your very eyes. This is hoe-

down music at its very best. As this is American television, local advertisements appear sporadically and these seem from another world to us here in the UK. These include a Nursing Service, a Cowboy Clothes Company, a ranch and a brewery. When you consider the glossy, Superbowl-type ads you normally see coming from the former colony it is refreshing that not everything is like that, and there are businesses out there producing adverts which are original and great to watch. I do hope that this television show continues to broadcast material like this. Here’s hoping that further episodes are in the pipeline for Rob McNurlin and his Beatnik Cowboys as programmes like this should be seen and heard by as many people as possible. RH www.robmcnurlin.com

Bill And Gloria Gaither NASHVILLE HOMECOMING Gaither Gospel Series. DVD. SHDVD4779

 Southern gospel comes home to the Grand Ole Opry With a mammoth gathering of over 200 artists recorded at the new home of the Grand Ole Opry, this is a very glitzy and star-studded musical assembly. It is certainly not a country music show, but when Bill Gaither interviews several country music luminaries such as various members of the Oak Ridge Boys, Bill re-asserts with them that gospel music is country music’s first cousin! However it is the country artists who in my opinion are the stars of this recording, starting with Jonah, Job & Moses, partially written by country music veteran Bill Anderson and powerfully sung by the Oak Ridge Boys. Other strong offerings include the very moving In The Upper Room by The Gatlin Brothers, Ain’t Gonna Give Up On God God, by the great Gordon Mote and The One I’m Dying For by the Isaacs who I believe are currently as good as any other act in country music! There is also a very strong

track called The Promise by the gospel group the Martins. As with most of the Gaither DVDs the running time is excellent (110 minutes) representing very good value for money and makes for some entertaining viewing. DB

sung and with meaningful lyrics will enjoy this. DB

The Blues Band BUNGAY JUMPIN’ LIVE DVD Umbrella Music Limited-BBDVD2

 Bill And Gloria Gaither JOY IN MY HEART Gaither Gospel Series DVD SHDVD4777

 A joyful and extremely moving viewing experience This DVD follows on from the Nashville Homecoming and was presumably recorded at the same time, though there are significant changes in the personnel i.e the gospel music heavy weights, the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound now make contributions. I really enjoyed Long As I’ve Got King Jesus by Brian Free and Assurance and Swingin’ & Marchin’ a fantastic piano instrumental by Kim Collingsworth. This is followed by a great bluegrass performance of I Need Your Light by the Cherryholmes and Angel Band by Cynthia Clawson, which simply has to be heard to be believed! This provoked memories for me of when I saw her years ago at the Wembley Country Music Gospel show. A big surprise is the wheelchair appearance of Jimmy Dean who reprises his classic hit Big Bad John and then the recitation The Farmer And The Lord. Undoubtedly one of the most moving things I have ever seen on a DVD surrounds the Gatlin Brothers performance of Alleluia. This was preceded by Bill playing a private video dating back 17 years to when they first recorded a Homecoming album in which Larry Gatlin received prayer from many members of the cast over his vocal problem as he was unable to sing at the time and it was uncertain whether he would ever sing again. Happily Larry is back performing on this DVD reminding me of a fine performance I saw him give years ago. To sum up, this is not a country music DVD as such but anybody enjoying good music, well

DV D Reviews

If you have their BOOTLEG LIVE DVD then you must get this one as well and vice versa, if you do not have either then why not? The Blues Band have been going for over thirty years now, so that is testament alone to how good these guys are…and believe me they are damn good! With fourteen songs and some of the best blues and r&b you could ever wish to hear this is just a superb DVD to watch again and again. These five tremendously talented musicians are some of the best around. There is no real leader although Paul Jones stands out centre stage with his excellent soaring vocals and some of the best blues harmonica playing you will possibly ever hear, good example being the pacey I Want To Know Know. Dave Kelly also takes plenty of turns on lead vocals as well as being one of the best blues slide guitarists around as can be heard on the opening song Before You Accuse Me. Tom McGuinness is a lead guitar master, plus he plays mandolin and takes lead vocal duties on a few songs including Standing By My Window on which his driving guitar solos are pure brilliance. Bass player Gary Fletcher also takes his fair share of lead vocals as on the thought provoking World Gone Crazy. Although he doesn’t sing, Crazy Rob Townsend is one of the best drummers on the music scene and he is the rhythm nucleus of the band along with Gary. Although at times the camera work could be better it could not detract from a great live show by one of the greatest blues groups. As well as this fantastic DVD there is also an interview with the Blues Band plus a bonus soundtrack CD, what more could you ask for? DK www.thebluesband.com

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On the Edge

Albums on the cutting edge of country and roots music...

Maini Sorri • SOMEDAY EP • Reya Music •  This singer-songwriter with a Finnish background has lived most of her life in Sweden where she has built up a sizeable following for her enchanting music and beautiful voice. This release marks her British debut, though she has already made an impact in America and Canada, and could well build a following in the UK. She has created memorable melodies and her lyrics, have been successfully transcribed from Finnish into English. There is an inspiring spirit in such songs as Someday and Like An Angel, and you can feel the pure emotion in the closing Lahden Yksin. A delightful five-song set that really whetted my apetite for more. AdC www.mainisorri.com

Testimony • NITAISHI • Tebu Productions •  Here we have a trio of Manchester-based gospel singers from Central Africa led by Emmanuela Yogolelo, a member of the Beating Wing Orchestra. This is their debut album and it charts their musical and metaphysical journey from Africa to Manchester. They sing of their struggles as migrants and of the power of community self-help and love. We hear much about illegal immigrants, mainly through the scaremongering and headline-seeking media. Here we have aural evidence of what it is like to be persecuted initially in your own country, and then in the country that you emigrated to. Faith in God has held these three women together and they share that faith in these stirring and emotional gospel-tinged songs—many selfcomposed. AdC http://testimonygirls.wordpress.com/

The Clientele • MINOTAUR • Pointy Records •  This London-based band are probably better known in the USA, where they regularly tour to sell-out crowds, than here in the UK. Originally from Hampshire, this is their sixth album and is a delicate, lyrical collection of mainly heartbreakingly sad ballads. Though there is the backdrop of sadness, this is not in any way maudlin, as they successfully create quite catchy melodies to surround the somewhat pensive lyrics as with the almost singalong Paul Verlaine. There’s a slight country vibe to Strange Town with the twangy acoustic guitar and haunting strings and keyboard background. An album that grows in stature with each succeeding play as it infiltrates your subconscious in a good way. AC www.theclientele.co.uk

Franka De Mille • BRIDGE THE ROADS • Self-released •  London-based singer-songwriter Franka De Mille has focussed on memorable melodies and intricate, acousticbased arrangements on this debut album. The songs are highly personal but with an emotional universality. Stylistically Franka moves effortlessly through folk, Americana, chamber, baroque and mature pop to create a classic album that holds together as a full-fledged album rather than a disparate collection of songs. We can all associate with the loss and emptiness following the passing of a loved one in Birds but then there comes hope in the optimistic stance of You’ll Never Know and Come On. A wide-ranging album that is a definite keeper, even if it defies easy categorisation. AC www.frankademille.com

This Australian four-piece have taken their name from a red-light district bar in Albert Camus’ novel The Fall, and their take on country-rock is definitely dark, edgy and just a little dangerous. There is a sneer to be heard in the Stonesstyled Baby You’ve Changed, though not as convincing vocally as Jagger would’ve been if he’d got hold of this by the scruff of the neck. There’s more of a deep-down bluesy vibe to R U Spiritual, with some inspired vocal work. Trick of the Light is an all-out rocker, again with that sneering vocal with more than a hint of danger. The sort of band that would go down a storm in a dark and dingey club, but maybe a little too heavy for most Maverick readers. AdC

Mark Butcher • SONGS FROM THE SUN HOUSE • Self-released •  Mark has a head start on most of the musicians who struggle in the blues field; he captained the England cricket team for one game, scored eight test hundreds including three against Australia. That means he’s famous so it’s easier to get gigs (doesn’t it make you wish you’d attended net

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Clare Free • HOW IT IS—THE LIVE SOUND OF THE CLARE FREE BAND • Self Released •  Available from Clare’s website as a free download, this mini 4 track EP is full of stonking riffs from her electric guitar. Although Clare sings on this record, she leaves the majority of the talking to come through her guitar solos, which take absolute control of every track. With regards to her vocals, Free is not particularly the best thing you would have heard, but her intoxicating growls carry her rock chick attitude well. Unfortunately, there are no track names, but as Clare has mentions, these tracks are only demos to promote the sound of her band (hence the album name). With that in mind, you can’t help but feel slightly excited, for it’s almost as if HOW IT IS...is a teaser to how Clare’s full-length album will sound. Although this is a live recording, there is little fault to comment about on the production. Clare’s vocals are clear and sharp, with complete focus on her raving guitar work. The drums are slightly distant, but still provide a solid beat for Clare to front. Go online and check out Ms Free’s material, after all, it’s free! CB www.clarefree.co.uk

Black Country Communion • BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION • Mascot Records M7319 2 •  Black Country Communion are a real rock supergroup as the members have links to some of the greatest rock bands of all time as well as having one of the greatest guitarists of present day. The group comprises vocalist and bass guitarist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), Blues guitar supremo Joe Bonamassa on lead guitar and vocals, drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin and son of John Bonham) and Derek Sherinian on keyboards (Alice Cooper, Kiss, Dream Theater). Opening track Black Country comes at you like an enraged rhino charging at full speed with Glenn’s ultra powerful vocals louder than a siren and Joe’s driving guitar solos going faster than a speeding bullet, all held together by some amazing drum rhythm from Jason. Guitar and keyboards intertwine perfectly on the formidable Down Again and Joe takes over lead vocals on the wonderful rock power ballad Song Of Yesterday with some fantastic guitar solos and a demonic beat from Jason who is one of the best drummers in the business at the moment. This is a quite amazing rock album from a wickedly superb supergroup. Look out for a full tour in 2011. DK www.bccommunion.com

Mexico City • BROWN BIRD • +1 Records • 


practise?) He was a good player, certainly better than me—blind as a bat without the specs and even slow bowling eluded my bat completely. Anyway let’s talk about the album. It’s a well-produced piece of work for which Matt Taylor takes the credit. Incidentally Matt Taylor is the first producer in a while who’s not been described as ‘legendary’ on the publicity blurb, so congrats for that Matt. But harking back to my opening words, Mark is not struggling in the blues field because this album isn’t really blues and it’s not roots. What it is, is blue-eyed soul redolent of 1980s/early 1990s style soul and funk: of its type it’s very good with lots of nice funky guitar licks and there is organ work that recalls Alan Price at times. The backing tracks are pretty good all told, although the string effects from the keys are a bit cheesy in places. The songs are OK as well, in particular the opener Put Some Soul In It, says it all really, that’s just what they did, and track 5 The River which has a welcome switch of tempo to 6/8 time. I think that Mark will do well with this, its very FM friendly and probably film soundtrack friendly as well. Buy it if you like that mellow soulful sound, but if it’s the blues or roots you want you’re probably best to look further afield. VM

Duke Garwood • DREAMBOATSAFARI • Fire Records FIRECD115 •  This third album from Londoner Duke Garwood gets off to a respectable start with a slow moody blues tune, Jesus Got a Gun, then I’m afraid it all goes downhill faster than a fox chasing a chicken. Duke Garwood is billed as a ‘master bluesman who delves into the outer reaches of jazz’ …but that’s not how I would describe him after listening to this album. Normally I take 5 or 6 listens of an album before I put pen to paper for a review, but halfway through my first attempt I wanted to eject it from the car stereo and then eject it out of the car window! By the end of the 13 horrible ‘tunes’ my ears were actually crying. There is one more-than-half-decent blues tune, Wine Blood Blood, here, but the rest of the tracks are a sort of progressive jazz fusion in the style of someone who has listened to one too many Sun Ra or John McLaughlin albums and to add insult to injury they sound like they are all played on a synthesiser. The spirit of ELP and Soft Machine lives on apparently. Can you imagine jazz-rock with a Native American underscore? Well; you get that here—twice, and it’s not nice. Duke even gives us full 1960s style jazz workout, complete with screaming saxophones on Tapestry of Mars and I’m not sure my wife will recover from the shock. A

On The Edge

On the Edge

Albums on the cutting edge of country and roots music...

cursory glance at the cover and the pretentious song titles, Panther, Space Trucker Lady, Wine Blood, Tapestry of Mars, Rank Panache and my own personal nightmare—Taras Bulbous would have scared me off in a record shop but in the name of Maverick I have persevered through this tosh twice. Never again. AH www.myspace.com/dukegarwood

Huey Lewis And The News • SOULSVILLE • Proper PRPCD074 • 

Little Richard and the blind bravado of Sun period Jerry Lee Lewis all mixed in with a dance beat and a rap vocal (the even add a bonus extended version of the song—just so that you don’t miss or ignore it. The other three tracks are ok, but nothing to make me want to press that ol’ repeat button. Adc www.awolnationmusic.com

The band who (mostly) were part of London’s pub rock scene as Clover, and who played on Elvis Costello’s MY AIM IS TRUE, and then went on to rootsy stadium rock with The Power Of Love and other multi-million selling singles recreate themselves yet again. It’s soul music in a glorious Stax, early Memphis sort of way, music that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Nashville Rooms all those years ago. Lewis leads with his bluesy harp, but this is a band album, the sort of stuff they could probably knock out in their sleep but which sounds all the more special for it, enriched by a four-piece horn section. Everything here is an old Stax number, although nuggets from the vaults rather than songs everyone already knows (other than maybe the Staples Singers’ Respect Yourself ). Some of the stuff is classic crossover fare—Solomon Burke’s Got To Get You Off My Mind Mind, Joe Tex’s I Want To (Do Everything For You) and Bobby Russell’s Cry To Me, country-soul at is best. Party music of the first degree. ND www.properuk.com

The Britannicas • THE BRITANNICAS • Kool Kat Musik PURR 2031 •  I’ve always believed that the best recordings are those made live in the studio with the vocalists and musicians recorded together so that they work and feed off each other. The threesome that make up this band Joe Algeri (Australia), Magnus Karlsson (Sweden) and Herb Eimerman (USA) each recorded their parts in their respective home studios and shared the tracks across the oceans. And I have to admit it works, in a clean, somewhat clinical, pop-friendly fashion. It is mainly harmony-heaven, classic pop built around twanging guitars like the Byrds and the Searchers. The jingle jangle of Those Good Vibrations and Don’t Go Back is quite irresistible to these ears, but then that was the kind of music I grew up on. But there’s this nagging doubt, where the soul and emotion of those magical moment when it all comes together in the studio? Sorry but it’s not there—it’s all very pleasant, but doesn’t quite connect with my heart. Soulless is the word that springs to mind. AC www,myspace.com/thebritannicas

Matt Schofield • LIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE • Nugene NUG1002 •  If by any chance any of you reading this has ever been on a business trip in a foreign city on a Tuesday night and needed a ‘fix of live music’ you can only ever find a jazz club hidden away in a back street and invariably you will see a band like the Matt Schofield Trio. There is no doubting the quality of musicianship in the Matt Schofield Trio especially Jonny Henderson who plays Hammond with one hand and the bass with the other which I guess has to be seen to be believed! But normally, in my experience these bands are all interchangeable with no redeeming features whatsoever. In this particular case Matt Schofield appears to be a fine guitarist but does the World really need to hear him showing off his skills on an 18 minutes and 47 seconds version of The Letter (originally a 2 minute pop song for the Boxtops)? Or, indeed a 10 minute version of Albert Collins’ The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home? No? I didn’t think so. For the record, LIVE FROM THE ARCHIVE is a recording from a concert that the band did for Holland’s NPS radio station in 2007 and reflects the Trio in all its pretentious glory; but I don’t think it’s the type of music that you listen to in the comfort of your own home. I know that there are still fans for jazz like this but I’m not sure that Maverick magazine is the right vehicle to promote it. AH www.mattschofield.com

Pink Nasty • PINK NASTY • Self-released •  At times sounding like a cross between Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry, this is a good album of electro power pop. Sara Beck aka Pink Nasty has written all the songs on this CD and includes the slow Nag, Nag, Nag which shows the softer end of her vocals. The opening few bars of the track The Pink Album are more like an anthem before the synthesised keys of Austin Jenkins cut in behind Pink’s commanding vocals with good drum rhythm from Jared Meadows. James Petralli adds harmony vocals on the melancholic Eye Would Pay U and Sex Kinda Smells is an enjoyable new wave styled tune akin to the sound of Altered Images. Agreeable piece of power pop from this fine singer-songwriter. DK

Solomon Burke & De Dijk • HOLD ON TIGHT • Blue Wrasse 2732881 •  He was a musical colossus. Solomon Burke, the King of Soul, passed away on October 10, enroute to another concert date, this time in Holland with rock/soul band De Dijk. Over the years he enjoyed notable success with soul crossover renditions of country songs, but on this, his final recordings, he maintains a powerful rock-soul sound provided by the Dutch band de Dijk (the dike). All twelve songs were written by the band with help in translation and music by Solomon, along with Wouter Planteijdt and Antonie Broek. It’s great stuff that show that even at seventy Solomon was still an authoritative singer with bags of soul. The songs, though unfamiliar, all sound timeless as if they were part of the Stax/Atlantic catalogues of the 1960s. The band are skilled musicians, tight and on the beat throughout, as they should be as they’ve been treading the boards across the Netherlands for the best part of the past thirty years. www.wrasserecords.com

Reza • MOONLESS • French Toast label FT002 •  Reza is a musical project initiated by Hatimi Reza, a French-Iranian songwriter living in Paris who released this, his second album on French Toast. An album very beautiful and very sweet with a little reminiscent western side that can be likened to the Go-Betweens, Smog or Lambchop. The arrangements are lush with impeccable use of strings, banjo, tambourine, electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar giving the impression that the recording was made in Austin, Nashville or Phoenix. The beautiful visiual images of Desert Land leads neatly into the more upbeat The Letter with a strident rhythm and twanging electric guitars. Though the French take on country music is dressing up as cowboys and line-dancing, Reza shows that there is a vibrant underground Americana and alt.country movement across the channel. An album that sits comfortably alongside anything Lambchop has made.



Souad Massi • O HOURIA (LIBERTY) • Wrasse WRASS 277 • 

Jeff Lowe • HITCHCOCK CAFÉ • Heart Quake Records •


Is this too way out for Maverick. Well, we’ll let you, the reader decide. Souad has spent the last eleven years in France and on this folk-pop album she sings in French, Arabic and English. One of her biggest fans is Paul Weller, and he joins her on Let Me Be In Peace a one-take version. There’s a country lilt to A Letter To .. Si H’Med, which hides a song of political protest. Everything I Love is a folky-tune with stunning guitar and a heartfelt vocal. Despite the fact that few of the songs are sung in English, the emotion and feeling cuts through and the musical arrangements are quite stunning. AdC www.wrasserecords.com

AWOLNATION • BACK FROM EARTH • Red Bull Records •  Hard-edged rock, hip-hop and dance all tied together with a passion for making people listen to what’s wrong in the world today. The title song of this four-track EP gets its message across with the yelps and screams of prime-time

The EP released before this album as a taster was reviewed in the November issue of Maverick and the final summing up of that review stated: ‘a mish-mash of thoughts and musical ideas that don’t quite gel’, but the album is perhaps a little more cohesive, albeit very strange, but it still loses its way on a few occasions. Public Information sounds very Beatles Magical Mystery Tour styled. Bypass The Bypass is a slow psychedelic 1960s type number with Jeff’s voice very smooth and easy to listen to. Closer is lyrically very clever about the person in the song being addicted to the television and believing in the heroes he is watching. This is a good album and Jeff is a fine singer and guitarist, but it could have been a lot better. He needs to try and keep the musical styles a bit closer knit as it can go from Beatles sounding to pop to 1960s psychedelic with manic voice-overs and even rap funk on Real Good Gig, the quality is there it just needs refining. DK www.jefflowemusic.com

On The Edge

maverick 79

Dusty Relics Re-issues & Compilations Charlie Landsborough SONGS FROM THE HEART/WHAT COLOUR IS THE WIND Edsel EDSD 2085



Edsel EDSD 2086



Edsel EDSD 2087



Edsel EDSD 2088


Original albums reissued with bonus live tracks Charlie Landsborough’s reputation as a top class entertainer continues to grow. He tours at least twice a year, taking to the road for a couple of months of playing the provincial theatre circuit. He has built his reputation with being real. Through his music he connects with his listeners on a personal level. He has an uncommon gift that sounds refreshingly like, well Charlie Landsborough. Here we have eight of Charlie’s albums reissued in special double-CD packages with bonus tracks, new notes from Charlie as well as the lyrics to all the songs and photos and press cuttings from Charlie’s personal collection. Charlie is the acceptable face of easy-listening country. Unlike, say Daniel O’Donnell, there is genuine emotion in Charlie’s vocals. He is also a very skilful songwriter, and when he tackles well-known songs by others, he stamps his own personality on them, rather than going through the motions of ‘just singing them.’ Though he started out singing cover songs in the Merseyside pubs and clubs, it was his own songs that propelled Charlie Landsborough to international stardom, initially in the 1980s via artists like George Hamilton IV and Foster & Allen recording his songs, then in the 1990s his own recordings took off in a spectacular manner. Though he recorded in 1980s, Charlie’s first official album was SONGS FROM THE HEART, recorded in Ireland at the studio of Tony Allen of Foster & Allen. All sixteen songs were self-penned and apart from the rather twee Things That My Ears Do, announced the arrival of a major singer-songwriter. Songs like Still Blue, Walking On My Memories and All Over But The Crying explore the human condition in simple, evocative and convincing terms. The production, for the early 1990s, was just a little dated, which probably explains why this album failed to

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make much of an impact at the time. On this reissue there are bonus live versions of When You’re Not A Dream and A Million Ways To Fall, recorded at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in 2000. WHAT COLOUR IS THE WIND was recorded in Bromsgrove with production by Terry Bradford with a slightly more rootsy country sound. Included amongst the session players is Stewart Johnson (Dobro) now part of the Toy Hearts with his daughters, Pete Ware (keyboards), Richard Lonnon (harmonica) with Bradford providing electric, acoustic and bass guitars. The one drawback was the use of drum programming instead of a live drummer. It is really pronounced on the opening track A Million Ways To Fall Fall, and still winds me up after all these years. Some of these songs, especially My Forever Friend, When You’re Not A Dream and the title song, went on to become very popular and still feature in Charlie live concerts. When it came to recording WITH YOU IN MIND Charlie had become something of a superstar in Ireland with a chart-topping single and albums and sell-out concerts to his name. So alongside his own songs he played to the Irish audiences with The Isle of Innisfree and The Irish Waltz. He also travelled back in time to some of his earliest songs including No Time At All, I Will Love You All My Life and Heaven Knows, which were all from the 1980s. FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD was inspired by several people that Charlie had met throughout his life and alongside his own songs he included a neat rendition of The Twelfth of Never and In the Bleak Midwinter Midwinter. Charlie travelled to Nashville for STILL CAN’T SAY GOODBYE and worked with Jim Rooney, one of the finest producers of acoustic-based country and roots music. It resulted in Charlie s finest album. He always had it in him to produce the goods, but in the past, overly busy arrangements, tended to clutter and distract from what has always been his real strength, that wonderful, intimate and personal voice. Not so much a singer, more a communicator, he is one of those handful of artists that can cut right through to a listener’s inner thoughts. He does it time and time again on this album. That’s no mean feat for a man more readily recognised as a songwriter, as there are only a couple of his own creations included. Kate Wolf’s Muddy Roads, is a sheer delight; a romantic ballad with simple but heartfelt words given a sensitive treatment. John Prine’s Blue Umbrella has a bluegrass feel provided by softly stroked Dobro and mandolin. A moving rendition of Pat Alger and Tim O’Brien’s Time To Learn is one of those songs that it’s hard to listen to with dry eyes; not so much maudlin, but a true-to-life song about parting that we all have to face up to. ONCE IN A WHILE takes Charlie even further away from his forte

as a singer-songwriter with a lush collection of popular standards, ranging from Irving Berlin’s classic What’ll I Do, through John Lennon’s Imagine, Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind to Ella Fitzgerald’s Everytime We Say Goodbye. This album is not so much about Charlie Landsborough, the singer-songwriter. More about Charlie Landsborough, the master song interpreter. Charlie Landsborough returned to his forte as a genuine singersongwriter on MOVIN’ ON with only his own songs featured. The production has a more organic feel than many of his previous efforts. Pedal steel, Dobro, accordion, harmonica and guitars perfectly complement his distinctive voice. His devotion to a loved one propels the endearing Not The Only Thing Blue and listening to him on My Father Used To Sing, makes you feel like you’re at a family picnic on a warm spring afternoon, sitting under a big elm tree, gratefully listening to the one person in the clan who can really sing. For SMILE it’s back to a mix of well-known standards and Charlie’s own heartfelt songs. Well-known songs like After All These Years, Raining In My Heart and When You Were Sweet Sixteen fit him like a well-worn glove. Quite a delightful, nostalgic album. Not country, but a must for those fans who are happy to embrace the easy-listening side of country music without worrying about traditionalism. So just sit back and enjoy for the sheer quality of the music. Alan Cackett

Various Artists THE ACE (USA) STORY VOLUME 2 Ace CDCHD 1281


Second volume of the original Ace album is worth a listen to This second volume of the original Ace album series contains a dozen bonus tracks all similarly dedicated to New Orleans rock‘n’roll and r&b. The big chart names here, as before, are Frankie Ford, American teen idol Jimmy Clanton and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and his Clowns. Ford’s biggest hit was Sea Cruise, of course, but Roberta proved to be another firm favourite despite starting out as a B-side, while the Doc Pomus-Mort Schuman tune Go, Jimmy, Go was an offbeat shuffle which Clanton recorded and a young Jamaican reggae artist named Bob Marley covered in 1965. After charting with Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu, Huey Smith continued his medical theme with Would You Believe It (I Have A Cold) and another lively novelty number is the red hot Rockin’ Behind The Iron Curtain from Bobby Marchan. Blues buffs will savour Bad Boogie from Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sleeping In The Ground by Sammy Myers just to round off

CD Reviews - Dusty Relics

another eclectic collection. BK www.acerecords.co.uk/

Adrian Nation FALL OR FLY

Laburnum Bridge Records LABAN020


A stylised sound created by someone with his finger on the pulse. Released last year and now being re-promoted, this is Adrian Nation’s second album in as many years. After seeing Isaac Guillory perform live when he was extraordinarily young, this inspired Adrian to explore the acoustic guitar in such a way that he has added several layers of brilliance to his picking. This album is quintessentially British but has an added edge to it which propels it above many albums being released right now. Consisting of eleven songs, the album’s opener is a cracker. Titled Don’t Turn Away Away, it has an upbeat groove which moves along very well indeed. It has a radio friendly feel with a sprinkling of folk and is in fact a great way to start this stupendous album. Also particularly groovy is The Other Side of the Night (Song to Maria). With an immediately enjoyable sound, the beat of this song raises the spirit and makes the eyes weep with joy. Adrian’s vocals add to this damn fine track which should see him receiving the great acclaim that he obviously deserves. Although I cannot see any new gigs listed on his website, his recent tours in Greece as well as across the UK should see 2011 being extremely fruitful for Adrian Nation for here is one artist who has a lot to offer. RH www.laburnumbridge.co.uk

Charlee Porter CHARLEE PORTER Seagull Songs


Charlee’s vocals have the added bonus of not just being sultry but sounding as though they are done with a smile Originally released a couple of years ago, this debut album from the Swedish singer is one heck of a fine way to impress the masses. Full of some downright awesome songs, this collection of twelve tunes paves the way for a truly delightful album which you’ll find hard to be bettered by any living artist around. With far too many enjoyable songs that I thought didn’t materialise until at least an artist’s third or fourth record, My Great Grandma mixes quiet moments with more explosive sounds very successfully. The quality of Charlee’s vocals is very good with the fiddle playing more than impressing and matching the downright awesome vocal efforts. If You Don’t Catch Me Now (Some Other Love Will) has a quirky country rhythm which has a reassuring and

Dusty Relics - Re-issues & Compilations

uplifting beat to it that never fails to impress. This is country music with a distinctly European flavour to it. Its sound is completely Charlee’s own and the legion of fans following her progress must be increasing after each gig. RH www.charleeporter.com

Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez THE NEW BYE & BYE Train Wreck Records-TW0036


Finally some new songs from one of the best duos in Americana music. This is essentially a ‘best of’ CD covering the Train Wreck years 2002-2007 and taking tracks from Chip & Carrie’s four previous albums together. There are thirteen tracks included here from those CDs, favourites such as the excellent Sweet Tequila Blues with Carrie’s delightful Texas twang a highlight, Let’s Leave This Town, Laredo plus live tracks Angel Of The Morning and Wild Thing featuring a fine guitar solo from Buddy Miller. There are four new songs that make it worth buying for the many Chip & Carrie fans, the beautiful ballad Your Name Is On My Lips that has their voices mixing together superbly as before…just like whiskey and cream. On An Island is another fine tune that drifts along on a current of sweetness and loving and then there is the brilliant The New Bye & Bye on which Carrie is just tremendous. The last of the new tracks Play It Again Sam is sadly not up to the normal standard and for me just doesn’t work vocally. Very good album of some of their best songs that would be a great introduction for any new listeners to their music as well as a welcome addition to the collections of their many fans. DK www.trainwreckrecords.com



Another winner in this superb series of vintage reissues The famous French DJ ‘Ding Dong’ was noted for his rockabilly and had been given a free run at the Sun label’s vaults. His taste and judgement were impeccable and these are some of the best compilations you’ll ever hear. I’m no expert on rockabilly and its related genres so these albums have introduced me to lots of new names. The artists on here include Barbara Pitman, the Miller Sisters, Dean Beard, Harold Jenkins, Macy ‘Skip’ Skipper, Jimmy Williams and lots more who

but for aficionados like Ding Dong & Co would be lost to us. The real stand-out on this album is Barbara Pitman. Her track Sentimental Fool is a killer cut—superb and a real classic. Her other tracks are also very good indeed. The Miller Sisters’ tracks are an interesting bridge between the 1940s Andrews Sisters type of sound and the mid-1950s rockabilly—good sound and they swing like crazy. Harold Jenkins—not really a rock‘n’roll name, which is why he changed it to Conway Twitty—is intriguing as he attempts to ‘out hic-cough’ Elvis and early Buddy Holly—he does it quite well. Every track swings like real music should, every track sounds natural and it’s all great fun and highly recommended for our readers’ enjoyment. VM www.charly.co.uk

Dixie Aces CALIFORNIA BLUE Multitune M2007109


A polished sound by a cracking band that delivers time after time. Dixie Aces is an eight piece band formed twenty five years ago in Holland. This is a cover band of the highest quality with each and every tune found on this 2007 album more than excellent. The band members play their hearts out in a classy style which many cover bands simply fail to do. They do keep to the original song but add their own flavour on their own terms which in fact makes their version a tad better than many of the originals. Got A Lot Of Rhythm In My Soul has a truly rocking sound to it that is bound to leave the listener in all of a shudder. This is the best track of this eighteen track album which isn’t to say that the other songs aren’t any good. In fact, it is the opposite especially when you take into consideration tracks such as His Latest Flame. With the vocals sounding rather like the King, this song is produced as though the band are on some kind of acid high as they perform with such energy that it seems humanly impossible that this style of playing could be done. RH www.dixieaces.nl

Various Artists DREAMBOATS AND PETTICOATS VOLUME FOUR Universal 5331 309


Even more classic pop nuggets from the 1950s-1960s This may turn out to be the longest-running series since Coronation Street. Two years after the West End stage show’s launch and following an impressive two million sales of the first three DREAMBOATS AND PETTICOATS compilation albums featuring hits from the rock‘n’roll

era, this fourth collection of retro rockers maintains the musical momentum with another batch of marvellous memories from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Just to add a modern twist, the single from the album, Did Your Mama Tell You (How To Rock‘n’Roll), spotlights the considerable vocal talents of current stage show stars Daisy Wood-Davis and AJ Dean. The whole concept is a perfect pop package, greatly enhanced by the shrewd judgement of the compilers who have selected some cracking past masters for the final track-listing. It’s not confined to American acts, either—Cliff Richard pops up with The Young Ones and Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Adam Faith and Lonnie Donegan all make their mark, while Michael Holliday’s chart-topping Story Of My Life is a welcome addition. In America, the mighty Marty Robbins had a huge hit with that song and country fans will devour his classic El Paso here, along with keyboard king Floyd Cramer’s US number one On The Rebound Rebound, Jimmy Dean’s epic Big Bad John and Burl Ives’ delightful A Little Bitty Tear Tear. King Elvis expresses his longing for a quiet evening in front of the telly with One Night, while easy listening buffs will lap up Perry Como’s Magic Moments and the sultry Peggy Lee hailing her Mr Wonderful. For me, the clincher was a trio of favourites which rarely appear on similar compilations, but add considerable class to this one—the lovely Jane Morgan’s 1958 UK chart-topper The Day The Rains Came, Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Cannon’s explosive Way Down Yonder In New Orleans and Rick Nelson’s rockin’ rendition of the Gene Pitney gem Hello Mary Lou, complete with a blistering guitar cameo from the young James Burton. Irresistible—and it even makes up for the fact that somehow a pitiful Jess Conrad effort managed to sneak past quality control and on to the album. Thank heavens for the fast forward button. BK


Domino Records WIGCD265P


A collection of retrospective introspective contemplative songs from a much missed singersongwriter Nebraskan singer-songwriter Elliot Smith was taken from us in 2003 at the tender age of 34 and is still sadly missed. Although best known for his songs that appeared on the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting and later on American Beauty, Elliott Smith’s work now looks like the template that a whole host of subsequent songwriters have used to further their own careers. His most famous song Miss Misery is here in a very early format and sounds even more fragile than the

CD Reviews - Dusty Relics

version that was later nominated for an Academy Award. Most of Smith’s work is at the very least semi-autobiographical and personal, dealing with some very heavy subjects that mirrored his battles with drink, drugs and the assorted demons that go with them, but he always managed to see light in the shadows. Needle In The Hay which was also featured in a successful movie (The Royal Tenembaums) is intense and sweet in equal measures as he fights for freedom from something deep and dark that was troubling him. Waltz #2 and Pictures of Me are two tracks that feature Elliott alongside a band; and certainly comes across as songs that a lot of current stars of the alt.country scene must have played on heavy rotation in their formative years! The album finishes with Happiness from the album FIGURE 8 which is a beautiful song of hope hidden and a perfect ending to a wonderful collection of songs. AN INTRODUCTION TO…doesn’t make for easy listening but if you take the trouble to sit down and pin your ears back you will hear a tortured soul that could and should have gone on to be a major talent. AH http://www.sweetadeline.net/



Distinctive renditions of early Joni classcics For those who might expect a festival of post-modern contemporary vandalism, a veritable feast of pointless re-workings of a handful of Joni Mitchell’s best loved songs, the suggestion is to look elsewhere. For those who might prefer a carbon tribute complete with all the weird and wonderfully eccentric warblings of the original, again look elsewhere. If on the other hand your preference is for an album’s worth of faithful interpretations, in terms of closely observed musical arrangement, albeit with Sally Barker’s inimitable voice on top, then look no further than here. The songs on this collection cover the first ten years of Joni Mitchell’s recorded output, with Chelsea Morning from her second album release CLOUDS (1969) to her jazzinfused tenth album MINGUS (1979) with the quirky Dry Cleaner From Des Moines. In between we have the cream of what is considered Joni’s best loved period with songs from both LADIES OF THE CANYON (1970) and the iconic BLUE album of the following year including the sublime A Case of You, the seasonally timely River and the omnipotent Big Yellow Taxi. With a stunning version of For Free, borrowed from all the right places including Joni’s original of

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Dusty Relics - Re-issues & Compilations

course, but then possibly adopting a fine interpretation by David Crosby (if memory serves) to create a hybrid of the two, Sally has created her own version of the song and like all the other performances here, never strays too far from the original. It’s almost predictable that some might think what’s the point? These songs are all there preserved in a series of highly acclaimed albums by the Canadian singer herself. Let’s not forget though, Joni’s songs were brought to our ears through interpretation in the first place, through the patronage of the likes of Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Tom Rush and Buffy Sainte-Marie to name but a few. Sally Barker continues a tradition then, a bold endeavour to bring us some of the most treasured songs to have emerged in the history of popular music. Dedicated to the memory of friend Davy Steele, CONVERSATION: THE JONI TAPES was recorded using the very same Martin guitar that Steele played whilst in the company of the Canadian singer-songwriter herself. The Joni Mitchell Project couldn’t be possible without the help of Glenn Hughes who joins Sally on keyboards and dulcimer, together with Debbie Cassell on banjo, who also provides some fine harmony vocals. With an excellent choice of eleven classic Mitchell songs, we can possibly expect more in due course, with Volume Two, which will no doubt venture into the next period of Joni’s career. Hope so. AllanW www.joni-mitchell-project.co.uk/

Various Artists THE LONDONAMERICAN LABEL—1959 Ace CDCHD 1285


Great sounds from the classic label we all loved in the 1950s-1960s Decca’s much-loved LondonAmerican imprint released many of the rock‘n’roll era’s greatest recordings in Britain and the fourth edition of this fine series finds enough rockin’ sounds to satisfy most tastes. As the 1950s drew to a close, the disc jockey payola scandal in the States cast a dark shadow over the rock genre and upset the Establishment across the pond. The year 1959 effectively saw the demise of the cumbersome 78rpm disc format, while a UK printers’ strike caused some releases to be delayed and meant a temporary change in the familiar blue and white London sleeve as it switched to a cheaper brown and blue version. Fortunately, the iconic black and silver LondonAmerican label was not affected and the music maintained its exceptional standards. Some of rock‘n’roll’s brightest stars released particularly hot tracks in 1959—Fats Domino, for instance, raises the roof with his opener I’m Ready and the fabulous Coasters are on top form with their typically riotous Leiber-Stoller rib-

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tickler Charlie Brown, a number two US smash and top six in the UK. Other monsters are Jerry Keller’s sunny chart-topper Here Comes Summer Summer, the multi-talented Bobby Darin’s swinging Mack The Knife—a number one on both sides of the Atlantic— and two driving instrumental hits, Red River Rock from Johnny and the Hurricanes and twangy guitar man Duane Eddy’s seismic Some Kinda Earthquake. Chuck Berry’s innate ability to distil all things American into two-and-a-half minutes of r&b heaven is evident on Back In The USA, bad boy Larry Williams shows the style that so influenced the Beatles and Rolling Stones on his wild rocker She Said Yeah, while fellow piano pounder Jerry Lee Lewis bounces through Otis Blackwell’s Let’s Talk About Us and Ray Charles delivers his final Atlantic single I’m Movin’ On, an express train take on Hank Snow’s 1949 hillbilly hit. You want quirky? Well, try Johnny Cash’s loping Luther Played The Boogie or the religious oddity Deck Of Cards, a monologue by American game-show host Wink Martindale. Love it or loathe it, Wink enjoyed one of the biggest hits of that era even though it was shunned by the rock‘n’roll fraternity. And I know—I was that soldier. BK



Folk, and a whole lot more A curious band, Magna Carta, folkie with a twist which takes them off on many tangents, and has been doing since 1969. This double set starts with a 1982 album when they were at their most commercial and most Radio 2 friendly (that’s Radio 2 from the early 1980s). It starts with the jaunty, country-style Dire Straits rock of Slowbone Jones, goes into Natural Lovin’ Man which sounds somewhere between Bread and the Chi-Lites, then the JJ Cale-like chug of It’s So Easy Easy. One minute it’s like Heron, boogieing avant-garde folk, the next it’s all LA slick. At the forefront is, as always, guitarist, singer and writer Chris Simpson and the line-up here features drummer Paul Burgess, who was in 10cc (and who I saw in the Invisible Girls, backing the likes of John Cooper Clarke). The album here is expanded into a 74-minute version, with singles Sting Of The Gin and Highway To Spain, plus outtakes. The second disc is a live pot pourri, tracks collected from 2001 to 2007, recorded from Yorkshire to Spain, Holland to Buckinghamshire. The results are much more even, lots more acoustic guitar picking and nary a synthesiser in sight. There’s Sponge, featuring Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone (a one-time Magna Carta member) on mandolin, forming an acoustic duo with Simpson, a gentle

trio take on JJ Cale’s Call Me The Breeze, Slow Train To Nowhere (a fourpiece, with harp) and the unlikely Abalone Sky/Banjo Man, Simpson in a duo with jazz saxophonist Derek Nash. ND www.angelair.co.uk


Golden Stars. 3CD. GSS5654


45 tracks including most of the artist’s major hits Strangely for someone who was such a prolific hit maker in country and pop music circles from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, this late but much loved artist has been poorly served by re-issues. This is therefore a welcome release. On the first CD we get some of his hits from the late 1940s to early 1950s such as Tennessee Border and two classics Mule Train and The Shot Gun Boogie. Throughout the first 2 CDs it is interesting to note some of the tracks he recorded with other artists eg: pure pop singers such as Kay Starr and Betty Hutton, some of these tracks do sound a little dated now as they were very orchestrated. Ernie became very well know in Britain in the middle 1950s with his huge hits The Ballad Of Davy Crockett and the Merle Travis classic Sixteen Tons. I am not sure when Ernie first became a Christian, but in the latter part of his life he recorded many gospel albums, and as far as I know none of these have ever been re-issued but on the third CD we get five classics: In The Garden, Sweet Hour Of Prayer Prayer, Softly And Tenderly, The Old Rugged Cross and Rock Of Ages. I am sure this release will bring much pleasure to many who fondly remember this artist but the release would have been improved with some decent sleeve notes. DB http://www.ernieford.com/



A varied selection of recordings from numerous Gaither homecoming albums With 18 tracks, this CD represents excellent value for money from a group that is almost impossible to dislike as their singing and diction is impeccable. The cover photo depicts a smiling and happy group and I have never seen them anything other than joyous on their many Homecoming DVD appearances. This family group has been going for a long while now and they appear to show no signs of slowing down and when you listen to

CD Reviews - Dusty Relics

such tracks as Stepping On The Clouds, Come On Children Let’s Sing, The Holy Hills Of Heaven Call Me and It’s Shouting Time In Heaven it’s obvious that they are more than capable of whipping up a storm in a concert as several of these tracks are pulled from live recordings. Whilst I enjoyed the album, I would honestly have to say that there are stronger groups in the Southern Gospel genre, but no doubt this CD should appeal to fans of ‘The Happy Hoppers’. DB http://thehoppers.com/



A great collection of country/ rockabilly influenced vintage r&b The El Toro label continues its campaign to bring us the very best in vintage blues, r&b and the rest. There is a seemingly endless catalogue of music to draw from. This collection is based on artists who were influenced by country music radio in their childhood and incorporated the style into their own music. I’m not entirely convinced about that, it might be a fairly loose reason for putting out another compilation—but, nonetheless, it’s a great collection and that’s what matters. On here you’ll get Chuck Berry, Joe Clay, T.V. Slim, Roy Brown, Roscoe Gordon, Roy Gaines…all names with lesser known but good tracks. It all swings, grooves, there’s lots of nice raw guitar. Quite how you choose one of these many compilations over another I do not know; but if you choose this one and its 32 tracks you will not be disappointed. Long reign El Toro and their superb catalogue. VM www.eltororecords.com


Hux Records HUX 120


A couple of fine country albums from the 1970s out on CD for the first time Following hot on the heels of the excellent THE BEST OF CAL SMITH that Hux Records released recently comes this two-on-one collection of deep-voiced Smith’s 1975 album MY KIND OF COUNTRY and 1977’s I JUST CAME HOME TO COUNT THE MEMORIES .

Naturally, if you bought that Best of set, there will inevitably be some doubling up of material, but there’s more than enough goodies here that are not on that compilation to make this a more-than-worthwhile purchase. For the uninitiated, Oklahoma-born Smith was one of the more successful chartmakers

Seasonal offerings A round-up of the latest Christmas releases …

Danielle Car SAVE YOUR COOKIES FOR ME Self-released


An ok new seasonal ditty from Detroitbased singer-songwriter Danielle Carr, who plays the role of the frustrated woman who wants get away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas and spend some quality time with her man … pretty innocuous stuff and should brighten up radio playlists. Readers can download this track from iTunes. www.daniellecarmusic.com

Rodney Carrington MAKE IT CHRISTMAS

Capitol Records509996 95651 2 0


Pleasurable Christmas album from Nashville’s funny man Rodney Carrington has become quite well known in the UK thanks to a couple of You Tube song clips, but this festive CD is surprisingly far

removed from his normally adult styled comedy, in fact apart from the comical The Presents Under The Tree (Better Be For Me) which is in fact a great waltz tune, all the others are serious and very well sung. There are seasonal favourites such as Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Mary Did You Know and Oh Holy Night as well as nice tunes such as the beautiful ballad Make It Christmas, the tender Presence Of Love and the moving tune about Christmas spent away from home by the armed forces in Camouflage And Christmas Lights. Rodney Carrington proves himself a very good singer as well as the fact that he can hold back on the humour and still release a pleasant and enjoyable album. DK www.rodneycarrington.com

Eric Brace and Peter Cooper SILENT NIGHT Red Beet Records


Taken from their new MASTER SESSIONS

album, this is not the traditional Christmas carol. But a brand new song written by fellow East Nashville

resident Jon Byrd. The lyrics are about that old holiday carol and how it makes us feel, even out of season. If you don’t own the album, then it’s well worth downloading this track at http://www.filefactory.com/ file/b47460c/n/Eric_Brace_Peter_ Cooper_S...

Brian Houston JOY TO THE WORLD Self-released


The Irish singersongwriter steps into seasonal mode with a collection of ten well-known carols recorded in two late afternoon sessions in October. He has utilised his band and given these mainly traditional songs a contemporary re-working in a modern pop, folk, country-rock style. You can purchas the disc online at www.brianhouston.com/site/ merchandise/albums.asp

West Of Eden A CELTIC CHRISTMAS (Zebra Art Records ZAR852)


Ah, a hearty goodwill to all men (and women)…and spreading the word with this gently evocative offering are Sweden’s Celtic influenced West Of Eden. Now, without wishing to detract from the skills of the band as a whole (they exploit fiddle, guitars, accordion, bouzouki, percussion and piano extremely well) the album relies predominantly on the strength of Martin Schaub’s production. By combining elements of ‘folk’ with a modern twist the band are not averse to encompass tastes that appeal to a wider demographic and in this instance they are joined by the Haga Motet Choir on several ‘live’ tracks with suitably seasonal fare including The Wexford Carol Carol, In The Bleak Midwinter and a buoyant I Saw Three Ships. It will come as no surprise to those that have read my ramblings before that this is my favourite time of the year and having become something of an avid hoarder of Christmas albums this recording will nestle nicely in my collection. PF www.westofeden.com

Dusty Relics - Re-issues & Compilations

of the 1970s. He was in his forties before he made his commercial breakthrough, having spent years scrabbling around in California and for some time as a member of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours. A possessor of a rich deep voice, he was at his best with classic country story ballads and was served up the best by such well-known writers as Don Wayne, Curly Putman, Glenn Martin, Dave Kirby, Glenn Ray, Max D Barnes, Jimmy Payne and Conway Twitty. As comfortable as your favourite uncle, Smith intones the tales with friendly authority so that you sit there enthralled from the beginning to end. See if you don’t get all wrapped up in the sad tale of Son Run To the Spring or the poor innocent girl of the night in Woman Don’t Try To Sing My Song and then there’s the story of Tabernacle Tom. There’s a couple of songs here that were particular favourites of mine over the years; songs I’ve not heard in years because they were buried away on vinyl LPs. The In Crowd was a song I loved by John Conlee, not realising that it had been recorded by Cal Smith previously. Then there’s Jimmy Payne’s world-weary Feelin’ The Weight Of My Chains recorded by Tompall & the Glaser Brothers in 1981. Though Cal turns in neat renditions, they really don’t match the versions that I’m most familiar with. In contrast, I was very familiar with Cal’s version of I Just Came Home To Count The Memories for several years before John Anderson recorded this superb song, but after the Anderson version, Smith’s version fails to make an impact. Having said that, let me make it clear, Cal Smith is an excellent singer, chooses great material, but just occasionally, another singer can come along and record a definitive version of a song, and with those three songs, Cal Smith comes off second best. AC www.huxrecords.com

Conway Twitty THE BALLADS OF CONWAY TWITTY Bear Family Records BCD 15982 AR


Classic pop balladry from the 195060s prior to Twitty’s journey down a country road I have to admit that I never really liked Conway Twitty’s pop and rock’n’roll recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I admired his singing voice, but I thought that his voice was wasted on the song material. I really became a Twitty fan in the late 1960s when he turned fully to country music. What I hadn’t realised was that most of those early recordings had actually been recorded in Nashville with such well-known players as Floyd Cramer, Grady Martin, Ray Edenton, ‘Sugarfoot’ Garland, Harold Bradley and Buddy Harman. This 33-track collection takes us back

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to 1956 when he recorded for the legendary Sun Records under his real name of Harold Jenkins. None of those recordings were released at the time, so here we have for the first time Just In Time, a song he co-wrote with the Browns (The Three Bells). A year later he’d signed with Mercury Records, and though they did release one single Why Can’t I Get Through To You, success still eluded the aspiring rock’n’roll star. A move to MGM and the self-penned It’s Only Make Believe saw Twitty’s fortunes change for the better virtually overnight. An international chart-topper in some twenty countries, it basically set him up for life. He enjoyed further chart success with such ballads as The Story Of My Love, Lonely Blue Boy, What Am I Living For and Is A Blue Bird Blue all included on this compilation. The latter is the first Dan Penn song to have been recorded and turned into a hit. Always a prolific songwriter, many of the songs are self-penned, some in partnership with his drummer Jack Nance and include I’ll Try, Will You Love Me Then, As You Love Me Now, When I’m Not With You, My One And Only You and I Need You So. There are distinctive renditions of hit songs of the period including a great rendition of Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill, Hank Williams’ You Win Again Hill and Unchained Melody Melody. Showing his versatility, he also recorded You’ll Never Walk Alone in 1959 with an arrangement and vocal style that was surely copied by one Gerry Marsden just four years later. All very good stuff, certainly not country, but of interest to those readers who latched on to Conway’s country recordings that saw him become one of the most successful country singers of all time. AC www.bear-family.de

Johnny Burnette THE BALLADS OF JOHNNY BURNETTE Bear Family BCD 17211 AR


Quality countrypop 1950-60s style One of the most distinctive of the late 1950s teen-beat idols, Johnny Burnette began his career with brother Dorsey in the wild Rock’n’Roll Trio. Throughout his brief recording career, there was always this edginess, a wild and reckless man just waiting to unleash his rockier side. He was also one of the finest country-pop singers of the era. His pop hits, Dreamin’, Little Boy Sad and You’re Sixteen, all had a country feel to them. His albums often veered even closer to country. Before it was fashionable, he littered his repertoire with Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran songs. This thirty-track compilation covers recordings he made for Coral, Freedom, Liberty and Magic Lamp between 1956 and 1964 when he died in a boating accident.

Clown Shoes, a song penned by pop-idol PJ Proby, was a minor UK hit in 1962. It is one of the greatest unknown country songs ever written; Burnette’s throwaway vocal inflection just right. He turns in a masterful rendition of Nelson’s Hello Walls, as good, if not better than Faron Young, while his version of Moody River leaves Pat Boone stranded. During a December 1961 session he cut those two songs, plus impeccable versions of Walk On By (Leroy Van Dyke), You’re The Reason (Bobby Edwards, Hank Locklin) and Just Out of Reach (Patsy Cline). There are also fine renditions of Please Help Me I’m Falling, Settin’ The Woods On Fire and Big, Big World, alongside such pop hits as World Dream Lover, It’s Only Make Believe and My Special Angel. An acclaimed songwriter—in partnership with older brothers Dorsey he co-wrote several Ricky Nelson hits—there are several of his own songs, the best being I Beg Your Pardon, which veers very close to country, and the popstyled Don’t Do It. Rounding off this excellent collection are Burnette’s own hits—You’re Sixteen, Little Boy Sad, Dreamin’ and the patriotic God, Country and my Baby Baby. As good as he was at handling the country material, the Nashville community never ever gave Burnette the time of day. It’s just probable, if he hadn’t been killed in a boating accident in 1964, he would have followed Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty into a fully-fledged country career. Amongst the many session players on these recordings you’ll hear Tommy Allsup, Jerry Allison, Grady Martin, Owen Bradley, Barney Kessel, Earl Palmer, etc. Not pure country, but then neither was Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins or Patsy Cline, but Johnny Burnette’s pop-flavoured country remains just as viable. AC www.bear-family.de


Buffalo Skinner Recordings CD3082


If only all collaboration albums were this good—a gem from 2007 East Kentuckian Rob McNurlin is something of a music extraordinaire. Hosting his own television show Rob McNurlin’s Ranch Party and selfreleasing albums in a steady stream, this collaboration between himself and banjo player Kim Johnson shows that you don’t need the drums of rock and roll to make a terrific country music record. An impressive sixteen songs with Lonesome Valley being the best of the lot. After the first few seconds I came to love this tune and I’m sure many will follow suit. The banjo picking is delivered in a more vibrant way than heard on the other tracks and

CD Reviews - Dusty Relics

it is testament to Kim’s talent that you witness a true genius at work. Many other songs impress, but the one other tune which stands out is Salt Pork, WV WV. Bound to be enjoyed in a large venue or, even better, at an intimate one this track is sure to be loved by the crowds which frequent Rob’s hectic gigging schedule. The collaboration between these two doesn’t end there. Kim also joins Rob on his aforementioned television show and demonstrates that they both know a great working relationship when they hear one. Dylan and Cash; how about McNurlin and Johnson? RH www.robmcnurlin.com

Rob McNurlin RHINESTONED Buffalo Skinner Recordings CD 3077


A voice which is very similar to Hank and a band just like his Drifting Cowboys Released in 2008 this excellent album has only just come to our notice. A traditional sounding record, RHINESTONED should have been released at the turn of the 1940s as its songs certainly have that feel. Demonstrating that latter point damn well is Quiet Lonesome Grave. With an upbeat groove, it would be great to hear this being played on country music radio but they do not unfortunately play great songs such as this and instead turn to countrypop. A traditional sound bought forward to the 21st Century, Rob’s Beatnik Cowboys try their best to match his vocal efforts and certainly do that. Music like this will never go out of fashion in many people’s eyes and long may Rob and his band not change their style whatsoever for they sure are pleasing many people across the world with their refreshing approach to music. RH www.robmcnurlin.com

Next month the entire magazine will be in full colour with the extensive CD review section will be brighter and bolder than ever before! Watch this space!



 Another stupendous helping of vintage recordings with exhaustive sleeve notes to put it all in perspective This impressive series continues to the end of the 1950s as it charts the artists and the recordings that made up the country music charts in America in the ever-changing postwar years. In all there’s 153 classic tracks spread over five CD-booklets. Each of the books (approximately 70 pages) presents a background to the musical activities of the year, followed by detailed information on every track including artist photograph and biography, song and recording details and other relative facts and tit-bits.

COUNTRY & WESTERN HIT PARADE1956 (BCD 16961 AR) Marty Robbins: Singing The Blues; Eddy Arnold: You Don’t Know Me; Ray Price: Crazy Arms; Carl Belew: Lonely Street; Johnny Cash & the Tennessee

Two: Folsom Prison Blues; Faron Young: Sweet Dreams; Johnny Horton: Honky Tonk Man; Hank Snow: Conscience I’m Guilty; George Jones: What Am I Worth; Benny Barnes: A Poor Man’s Riches; Jim Edward and Maxine Brown and Bonnie: I Take The Chance; Louvin Brothers: I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby; The Osborne Brothers and Red Allen: Ruby, Are You Mad?; Don Reno & Red Smiley: I Know You’re Married: Porter Wagoner: Eat, Drink And Be Merry (Tomorrow You’ll Cry); Webb Pierce: Yes I Know Why; Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two: I Walk The Line; Johnny: I’m A One Woman Man; Wanda Jackson: Silver Threads And Golden Needles; Hank Thompson: The Blackboard Of My Heart; Ray Price: I’ve Got A New Heartache; George: Just One More; Louvin Brothers: Cash On The Barrelhead; Wynn Stewart: Waltz Of The Angels; Jim Reeves: According To My Heart; Kitty Wells: Searching (For Someone Else); Marty Robbins: I Can’t Quit (I’ve Gone Too Far): Hank Snow: These Hands; Billy Mize: Who Will Buy The Wine; Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried 1956 was the year that rock’n’roll really took a hold and was to change the face of popular music forever. So the country charts that year was very much a blend of upbeat tunes like Singing The Blues, Honky Tonk Man and I’m A One Woman Man, and more traditional country fare with steel guitars and fiddles. Typical of that style was Jim Reeves According To My Heart on which he still utilised his higher-pitched country twang, Kitty Wells’ plaintive Searching and Ray Price’s Crazy Arms. The latter marked the beginning of what became known as the Texas shuffle and laid the foundation for the honky-tonk

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style. Though Eddy Arnold’s You Don’t Know Me wasn’t the monster hit it should have been, it was very much a forerunner of the Nashville countrypop sound of the late 1950s—but it was recorded in New York city and not Music City.

further than Porter Wagoner, Hank Snow and Webb Pierce. The teen pop and rock’n’roll influence was still in place with Marty Robbins New York City recorded A White Sport Coat and The Story Of My Life and the Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love.



Sonny James: Young Love; The Browns: I Heard The Bluebirds Sing; Jim Reeves: Am I Losing You?; Webb Pierce: I’m Tired; Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two: There You Go; Bobby Helms: Fraulein; Hank Locklin: Geisha Girl; Jimmie Skinner: I Found My Girl In The USA; Bonnie Guitar: Dark Moon; Ferlin Husky: Gone; Carl Smith: Why, Why: Marvin Rainwater: Gonna Find Me A Bluebird; Everly Brothers: Bye, Bye Love; Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star; Marty Robbins: A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation); Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two: Home Of The Blues; Patsy Cline: Walkin’ After Midnight; Melvin Endsley: I Like Your Kind Of Love; Faron Young: I Miss You Already; Bobby Helms: My Special Angel; Webb Pierce: Honky Tonk Song; Warner Mack: Is It Wrong (For Loving You); Hank Snow: Tangled Mind; Ray Price: My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You; Marty Robbins: The Story Of My Life; Jim Reeves: Four Walls; Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name; Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer; Chet Atkins: Walk, Don’t Run This was the year that the Nashville Sound was born, Music City’s fight back against rock‘n’roll with strings and vocal choruses, providing a pop market appeal. In essence Nashville was more or less recreating the pop crooning style of the 1930s and 1940s, in very much the same way that in the 1990s, country borrowed from the Eagles and the country-rock of the 1970s. What comes around goes around. So here you have smooth balladeers like Jim Reeves, Jimmy Newman, Bobby Helms and Sonny James with records that owed very little to what was then known as ‘traditional country.’ If you wanted the real thing, you needed to look no

Don Gibson: Oh Lonesome Me; Kitty Wells: I Can’t Stop Loving You; Johnny Cash: Ballad Of A Teenage Queen; Jim Reeves: Blue Boy; Louvin Brothers: My Baby’s Gone; Roy Acuff: Once More; Johnnie & Jack: Stop The World (And Let Me Off); George Jones: Color Of The Blues; Eddie Noack: Have Blues Will Travel; Hank Locklin: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On; Marty Robbins: Just Married; Lefty Frizzell: Cigarettes And Coffee Blues; Ray Price: Invitation To The Blues; Ernest Tubb: Half A Mind; Johnny Cash: Big River; Stonewall Jackson: Life To Go; Don Gibson: Blue, Blue Day; George Jones: Treasure Of Love; Hank Locklin: It’s A Little More Like Heaven; Jerry Lee Lewis: You Win Again; James O’Gwynn: Talk To Me Lonesome Heart; Webb Pierce: Tupelo County Jail; Ray Price: City Lights; Faron Young: Alone With You; Jim Reeves: Billy Bayou; Marty Robbins: Ain’t I The Lucky One; Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down; Johnny


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Cash: Guess Things Happen That Way; Simon Crum (Ferlin Husky): Country Music Is Here To Stay; Wayne Raney: We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock And Roll) 1958 proved to be possibly the toughest year for post-war country music. Sales dipped alarmingly and only those who adapted to rock’n’roll or the smoother Nashville Sound survived. Successful songwriter, but failing singer Don Gibson embraced both with a string of singles that were instantly popcountry smashes beginning Oh Lonesome Me and Blue, Blue Day Day. In this same year Kitty Wells scored with a very traditional-sounding version of Gibson’s classic I Can’t Stop Loving You, Jim Reeves and Marty Robbins continued down the pop-country highway, whilst Roy Acuff, George Jones and Faron Young clung on tenaciously to a more traditional sound. Even some of the songs reflected the on-going battle between country and rock’n’roll with Wayne Raney and his family’s We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock And Roll) and Ferlin Husky alter ego Simon Crum’s prophetic Country Music Is Here To Stay Stay.

Webb Pierce: I Ain’t Never; Faron Young: Country Girl; Stonewall Jackson: Waterloo; Johnny Cash: I Got Stripes; Ray Price: Heartaches By The Number; Frankie Miller: Blackland Farmer; Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs: Cabin On The Hill; Stonewall Jackson: Smoke Along The Track; Johnny Horton: The Battle Of New Orleans; Eddy Arnold: Tennessee Stud; The Browns: The Three Bells; Mac Wiseman: Jimmy Brown The Newsboy; The Louvin Brothers: Knoxville Girl; Bill Monroe: Dark As The Night, Blue As The Day; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There’s A Big Wheel; Lefty Frizzell: Long Black Veil; Don Gibson: Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles; George Jones: White Lightnin’; Buck Owens: Under Your Spell Again; Jimmie Skinner: Dark Hollow; Ray Price: The Same Old Me; Hank Snow, The Last Ride; Jim Reeves: Home; Kitty Wells: Amigo’s Guitar; Johnny Cash: Five Feet High And Rising; Marty Robbins: El Paso This was the year of the saga songs. Due in part to the success of the Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley Dooley, suddenly story songs—which had been the bedrock of hillbilly music in the 1920s and 1930s—were back in fashion. So we had Don’t Take your Guns To Town, When It’s Springtime In Alaska, The Battle Of New Orleans, Waterloo, The Three Bells, El Paso and Tennessee Stud being amongst the most successful country (and pop) singles of the year. But country music still held on to its more traditional strains with the likes of Frankie Miller’s The Blackland Farmer, Webb Pierce’s I Ain’t Never and Farmer Bill Monroe’s Dark As Night, Blue As

COUNTRY & WESTERN HIT PARADE 1959 (BCD 16964 AR) Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On; Johnny Horton: When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below); Johnny Cash: Don’t Take Your Guns To Town; Roy Acuff: So Many Times; Don Gibson: Who Cares (For Me)?; Carl Berlew: Am I That Easy To Forget;

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Day Remember these were the days Day. when bluegrass was still accepted as part of country music.

Johnny Horton: North To Alaska; Bill Anderson: The Tips Of My Fingers; Webb Pierce: No Love Have I; George Jones: The Window Up Above; Hank Locklin: Please Help Me, I’m Falling; Skeeter Davis: (I Can’t Help You) I’m Falling Too; Johnny Cash: Smiling Bill McCall; Buck Owens. Above And Beyond; Charlie Ryan: Hot Rod Lincoln; Hank Snow: Miller’s Cave; Don Gibson: Just One Time; Stonewall Jackson: Why I’m Walkin’; Cowboy Copas: Alabam; Marty Robbins: Big Iron; Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs: Crying My Heart Out Over You; John D Loudermilk: Tobacco Road; Claude

such popular hits as The Tip Of My Fingers, Please Help Me I’m Falling, He’ll Have To Go, Let’s Think About Livin’ and Floyd Cramer’s instrumental Last Date. According to a Time (magazine) report, ‘Nashville had nosed Hollywood as the nation’s second biggest (after New York) record-producing center.’ The city also boasted 100 music publishing companies and 1000 members of the local musicians’ union. But Music City had a fast growing rival, Bakersfield, and its soon-to-be-leader was Buck Owens, whose Above And Beyond would open up the pathway to a mass of number ones. 1960 was also the year that Loretta Lynn made her chart debut with I’m A Honky Tonk Girl. In 2010 came a flurry of 50 th anniversary celebrations for the Coal Miner’s Daughter with an all-star

Gray: Family Bible; Carl Smith: Cut Across Shorty; Jim Reeves: He’ll Have To Go; Ferlin Husky: Wings Of A Dove; Roy Drusky: Another; Bob Luman: Let’s Think About Living; Don Gibson: (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time; Wynn Stewart: Wishful Thinking; Buck Owens: Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache); Loretta Lynn: I’m A Honky Tonk Girl; Roger Miller: You Don’t Want My Love; Ray Price: One More Time; George Morgan: You’re The Only Good Thing (That’s Happened To Me); Hank Thompson: A Six Pack To Go; Faron Young: Riverboat; Floyd Cramer: Last Date By the beginning of the 1960s the Nashville Sound had proved its worth and continued to build on pop-crossover success in 1960 with

tribute album and re-evaluation of her recording career. Country music author and historian Colin Escott is responsible for these remarkable releases, an obvious labour of love that has taken considerable research effort, offering a valuable insight into the development of country music over the years. The songs were different back then: sometimes relating to current events, they also regularly centred upon themes like boozin’, honky-tonking and slippin’ around, now generally considered non-pc in these over sensitive times. An invaluable collection and well-worth seeking out for the informative booklet alone, let alone the treasure trove of music. Alan Cackett



Short Cuts: Some of these releases just slipped through the net and never received a Maverick review, so editor Alan Cackett pays them some special attention now in our regular Short Cuts review page...

Carolyn AlRoy • THROUGH A SCREEN DOOR DARKLY • Wussy Records •


This singersongwriter has taken an unusual route to the point of making this simple, but effective five-song EP. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, studied acting at Rutgers but ended up becoming a poet. She studied with Poet Laureate Robert Pinski, doing readings throughout the New York City area throughout the 1990s until she began pursuing her doctorate as a licensed psychotherapist and writing songs. She has a private practice in Manhattan where she helps people with their inner demons during the day before showing off her own in New York clubs by night. This mainly acoustic recording features quietly lilting folk ballads full of lyrical beauty enhanced by the sympathetic accompaniment provided by Matt Keating—acoustic and electric guitar, bass, keyboard, piano, organ, percussion and backing vocals. There’s very little light and shade, so the songs tend to merge together, but persevere and you’ll gradually be sucked into the captivating lyrics and subtle and hypnotic arrangement of the opening Smart Girls and the bittersweet A Rose. www.carolynalroy.com

Melanie Denard • DARE TO LIVE • Star Path Music 0101 •


This young lady from northwest Kentucky has an edgy, soulful sound that is full of grit and dirt under her fingernails. Now based in Nashville, she has linked up with producer Dan Frizzell at Music City’s Legends Studio and tapped into some of Nashville’s best-known songwriters including Gary Burr, Victoria Shaw, Sherrie Austin, Karyn Rochelle and Sharon Vaughn. Alongside such uptempo barn-burners as Something I Never Thought I’d Say and Tumblin’ Down, there are also some stunning country-soul ballads like A Million And One and Richest One. There’s also a distinctive, country-tinged revival of Son Of A Preacher Man. The one weak spot has to be Baby You’re Back, a Gretchen Wilson song that frankly is not up to scratch. With topnotch session players—Russ Pahl, Glen Duncan, Allison Prestwood, JT Corenfloss, Michael Spriggs—this is a classy indie release well worth seeking out. www.melaniedenardmusic.com

Texas Tea • THE JUNKSHIP RECORDINGS • +1 Records •


This Aussie duo of

Kate Jacobson and Benjamin P Dougherty play what is generally acknowledged as alt.country. On this self-penned debut they provide what is best described as a sombre, somewhat haunting vibe. The opening Cane Farmer’s Song, with its echoey and distorted vocals almost led me to eject the CD. I’m glad I didn’t because I would have missed the folksy Kiss Me Gently Gently, on which Kate’s vocals really shine and the evocative Autumn. She comes to the fore again on Billy Billy, a rollicking country tune of love and loss, whilst Wonderful Things has an old-timey hillbilly arrangement with Ben taking the laid-back lead vocals honours. An album you’ll probably grow to love once you skip past the opener. www.plusonerecords.com.au

Charlotte Howard • ENGLISH COUNTRY GIRL • Selfreleased •  A new name to us, Charlotte hails from West Sussex and has been honing her vocal skills performing around local clubs and pubs. On this four-track EP she offers three original songs, penned by Robin Mayhew, who is also responsible for the solid production. The title song is a catchy number, easily remembered and as well as the studio version, there’s a bonus fifth track of a ‘band version’. Together (A Song for Isobel) is a touching song that will resonate with those expecting a baby, or have recently become parents. North South Divide is a toe-tapper that reminds us that really there’s not that much difference between those of us who live in the South to those in the North. The one outside song is The House That Built Me, previously recorded by Miranda Lambert. For me this doesn’t work, as Charlotte tries too hard to clone the original, instead of putting her own spin on the song. A pleasant enough introduction to a talented youngster who could make an impression if she sticks to doing her own thing and gets down to writing her own songs. www.myspace.com/ charlottehoward321

The Proposition • DIRT TRACKS • Cowboy Town Records 1001 •


From the wild wetlands of Norfolk come the Proposition, a rootsy three-piece outfit that create country music in their very own style. Between them Steve Clark, Nigel Orme and Simon Middleton play drums, Hammond organ, Casio, bass, banjo, harmonica and various acoustic guitars. The four songs on the EP are all self-penned and fit more into Americana than the country mainstream with well-

constructed lyrics and memorable melodies. The opening Lovers’ Leap has a driving beat with powerful vocals that sets you up for more good things. That is followed by the excellent Mr Foolish with a great chorus and cleverly-written lyrics. I’m not going to throw out to you any similarities, let’s just say that here’s a band that makes music on its own terms with style and maturity. Well worth seeking out. www.thepropositionband.com

Ben Prestage • REAL MUSIC • Nugene Records NUG1005 •


Though Ben Prestage is a blues singermusician, his style is not the urban blues of Chicago, but the country blues of the Deep South with a very close affinity to country music. This is his first UK release, issued to coincide with his recent tour with Ian Siegal, and is well worth seeking out. Something of a one-man band, Florida born and raised Ben plays guitar, Dobro, Diddley-bow and foot drums and has just Bruce Johnson (harmonica) and Mark Campbell (tuba, jug) assisting him on this very traditional-slanted collection. He offers distinctive renditions of Bucka White’s Good Gin, Skip James Lazy, Lazy Bones and Gary Davis Buck Rag. There’s also a very good version of Johnny Cash’s God Is Gonna Cut You Down plus a couple of originals—the rhythmic The Ambitious and the loping Real Music. In fact that latter title sums up this album perfectly. www.myspace.com/bprestage

Alondra Bentley • DOT DOT DOT • Absolute Beginners •


Singersongwriter Alondra Bentley was born in Lancaster, but from the age of four she has lived in Murcia, Spain, where she launched her singing career a few years back with her debut album, ASHFIELD AVENUE . Now she makes a UK connection with the release of this four-track EP which showcases her stunning voice and well-written songs. Some Things Of My Own is a lush folk-pop ballad, with pizzicato strings and hypnotic chorus. Giants Are Windmills is a jaunty number, again folk-influenced but with a European feel. There’s also a delicate live rendition of Burt Bacharach’s Trains & Boats & Planes. An all-tooshort set that whets the appetite for more from this talented singersongwriter. www.myspace.com/alondrabentley

Moonrakers • BIRD ON THE WING • Self-released •  This Oxford-based four-piece play traditional folk music, much of it with a Celtic bent. They feature Anna Lockett’s harp at the centre of

most of these tracks (the delicate Waulking o’ the Fauld is a stunning example), but also Liz van Santen’s fiddle and Jon Bennett’s guitar, mandola and whistles are featured throughout with Bennett and Jo Daley handling the vocals. You get a rich blend of traditional music given a distinctive makeover. There are several dance tunes featured giving the album an upbeat vibe that is highly infectious. www.moonrakers.net

Dan Korn • DUSTBOWL • Harrison Music •


Dan Korn has travelled a twisting highway to this debut 4-track EP. Having studied prose and poetry, he turned to the guitar and influenced by the Delta blues, Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett, became something of a song troubadour. Initially he moved to London, then he went travelling to India, then moving back to London some three years ago, he built up a reputation playing gigs right across the capital. This recording is the result of a residency at the Harrison Pub in Kings Cross and within the four tracks there is quite an eclectic mind at work. The opening title song was inspired by Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and is a rich blend of Woody Guthrie and 1940s jazz. Song For Syd is heartfelt tribute to Syd Barrett, sung to a jaunty rhythm, this has a hippy 1960s vibe that is quite refreshing. Lost Love Shanty is a folk song of the sea and with a catchy chorus that is in sharp contrast to the bittersweet lyrics. www.myspace.com/danielkorn

The Unfortunate Sons • EP • Self-released •


This trio comprise three relatively young and well-known singers and musicians who’ve been building a healthy following for their rootsy, blues-inflected music. Gavin Conder possessor of a raspy, soulful voice joined forces with talented guitarist Simon Johnson and blues singer-songwriter Marcus Bonfanti. This four-track release—a taster for their full-length album due in the spring—features older blues and traditional songs, bringing back such classics as Willie Dixon’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You and My Babe and Huddie Ledbetter’s Midnight Special for younger lsiteners who possibly haven’t heard these songs before. They close with a rootsy rendition of Amazing Grace, a performance with soulfulness dripping out of every note. Well worth seeking out and this certainly whetted my appetite for the full album. www.theunfortunatesons.com

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Short Cuts: Some of these releases just slipped through the net and never received a Maverick review, so editor Alan Cackett pays them some special attention now in our regular Short Cuts review page...

Eliza Newman • UKULELE SONG FOR YOU • Lavaland Records •  This Icelandic singer-songwriter has enjoyed a successful career in music with such bands as Bellatrix and Skandinavia, not to mention success as a solo artist with the title song of this EP having been a number one hit in Iceland in 2009. It’s a rootsy, acoustic-based song, a little twee, but quite pleasant. Another successful song featured on this three-track disc is Eyjafjallajokull, all about the volcano that caused so many travel problems this past summer. The song has been a huge hit on the internet with more than a quarter of a million downloads. www.myspace.com/elizanewman

Norman Bedard • THANK YOU • Norfolk Entertainment •


Canadian singer-songwriter Norman Bedard has been singing and performing his own songs for more than twenty-five years. This single EP is a sampler from his latest album VITAL and gives a good indication of the kind of lush pop-folk that he excels at. The original radio edit has a Lennon-esque flavour. The remixes were quite pointless, especially the extended dance mix that robs the song of all its beauty—despite being referred to as ‘Kiss the Beauty Extended Dance Remix). I think I’ll wait and stick with the album.

Rainbow Chasers • DEMO • Selfreleased •  This quartet led by veteran folkie Ashley Hutchings is an exciting and vibrant ensemble. He has gathered three of the brightest young talents in today’s acoustic music scene—Joe Topping (guitar, vocals), Jo Hamilton (viola, guitar, vocals) and Ruth Angell (fiddle, guitar, vocals). They open this four-track EP with live renditions of High Peak Trail, that drives along at quite a pace with a dynamic lead vocal and enthusiastic harmonies—a near perfect blend of English folk and Americana. There’s a softer feel to Think Of Me, with an impassioned vocal and haunting fiddle and gently plucked guitar. You need to catch this outfit playing live and let’s hope that they complete their first full-length album sooner rather than later. www.rainbowchasers.co.uk

Saloon Dogs • SHOOTING STAR • Self-released •  This London-based band was formed in 1995 and they released this, their one and only album, a year later, but shortly after the Saloon Dogs broke-up. Band leader Billy

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MacInnes is now re-forming the band, and prior to recording and releasing a new album, has decided to re-promote this long-forgotten debut. I have to say it doesn’t sound at all dated, being a rich and original mix of country, folk and even rootsy pop. Lead vocals are shared by Billy and his wife Maria and both have great feeling and empathy for the mainly sad-tinged songs like the emotive Sunday Morning or I Never Thought That She Would Ever Make Me Cry. The latter has a kind of 1960s beat group vibe, but with a definite country edge. It would be good to see an original ‘country’ outfit like this back on the scene, so go seek them out. www.myspace.com/saloondogs

Lennie Gallant • IF WE HAD A FIRE • Revenant Records

• 

Rated as one of Canada’s best performing songwriters, though new to me, he certainly lives up to that on this, his ninth album. It has recently picked up the East Coast Music Awards Roots Album of the Year. He teams up with fellow Canadian Gordie Sampson and Music Row’s Troy Verges for the opening You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are, a great rhythmic opener. Carolyn Dawn Johnson had a hand in the writing of the title tune and also adds her distinctive vocals. Dance The Night Away is a powerful roots-rocker with definite Springsteen flavouring. A great story teller, you’ll be hooked in by the lyricism of Emily’s Letters and The Ringer. I’m something of a latecomer to Lennie Gallant, but after sampling this album, I intend to catch up with some of his previous releases in the hope that they will be at least half-as-good as this minor gem. www.lenniegallant.com

Moishe’s Bagel • UNCLE ROLAND’S FLYING MACHINE • Self-released •


This Scottish six-piece has been together since 2003 and play a compelling mix of Eastern European, English folk and Middle East musical styles that are all incorporated into their mainly self-penned music. The title tune, inspired by the late Uncle Roland who started building a flying machine in his shed, but died before he’d finished it. Like most of the tunes on this album, it has a powerful rhythm with a soaring melody that tempts even the most staid listener to at least tap their feet and the more adventurous to get up and dance. A dynamic live outfit, Moishe’s Bagel are constantly touring all across the

UK and Europe. This infectious album shows that artists can create original material and still command a large following. www.moishesbagel.co.uk

Harley Poe • WRETCHED, FILTHY, UGLY • Chain Smoking Records CSR009 •


Reminiscent of Jason and the Scorchers, this punk-country outfit are led by Joel Whiteford, whose previous band, Calibretto 13, were unceremoniously kicked-off their Christian label. Vocally and lyrically he takes no prisoners as he spits out the lyrics of Terrible, Stick It In The Man and Suckers. The band members—Gregg Manfredd (keys, upright, vocals), Kevin Phillips (acoustic bass, vocals), Cristian Riqueline (cocktail kit, vocals), Joe Whiteford (lead vocals, guitars, harmonica)—play with all the vigour and panache this kind of music requires. Loud, raucous and in yer face, this band takes no prisoners as they spit and splatter their music out of the speakers. www.harleypoe.com

Kath Reade • PASSIONATE NATURE • Splid Records SPLID CD008 • 

This Lancashire-based singer-songwriter has successfully mixed British folk with Americana on this latest album. With a crack back-up band utilising acoustic guitars, Dobro, lap steel, mandolin, banjo, autoharp, accordion, piano, organ, recorders, concertina, the sound is rootsy but also quite eclectic. A well-travelled troubadour her songs are based on her travels, but also speak of heritage and injustice. Katrina, though connected with the storm that devastated New Orleans, is a biting criticism of the wide gap that has opened up between the poor and indecently rich of the world. Coyote is a western-styled mid-tempo song full of rich images and could be rightly termed classic Americana. This is an album well worth seeking out for its multi-layers that expose themselves with repeated playings. www.kathreade.co.uk

The John Wesley Stone • DOGGONE • Twist Records TWIST BIG31 •


This fourpiece outfit from Guernsey (that’s the second biggest Channel Island for those that don’t know) play a sometimes raucous, occasionally soulful, rarely tender blend of hillbilly country, skiffle, Americana and even gospel with the kind of raw energy that made punk rock so exciting thirty-odd years ago. Formed just

over three years ago, the initial line-up of Hillbill (acoustic, electric guitars, electric bass, tea chest bass, harp, vocals), Lynchburg (drums, vocals) and Tinshack (guitar, banjo, mandolin, harp, kazoo, vocals) were joined a year later by Nashville (fiddle, guitar, keys, vocals). She is a classical trained musician, but don’t let that put you off, she is just as wild and raw as the other three, though her vocals are much preferred, with Devil In My Heart and Poor Man’s Love Song both featuring her heartfelt vocals, being the highlight. Good stuff!


The Gin Club • DEATH WISH • +1 Records •


This Australian band has established themselves as one of the best and most exciting bands on the live circuit Down Under. This is their fourth album and though it’s been out a few months, it’s well worth seeking out. A collective of around eleven people, the band currently features seven permanent members, all of whom sing lead and on stage they continuously swap instruments and harmonies. Their music is wide-ranging mix with elements of acoustic folk, country, pop and psychedelia. They’re at their most commercial with the catchy Rain, with insistent harmonies and twanging guitars, but they move more to left field with the ponderous Book of Poison and the plodding Do Right, the latter having an authentic country vibe. Well worth seeking out this and their back catalogue. www.theginclub.co.au

Blue Eyed Blondes • BLUE EYED BLONDES • West Side Fabrication WECD 277 • 

This Swedish country duo consists of Lina Lönnberg (vocals, guitar) and Kristoffer Emanuelsson (banjo, vocals). They moved to Gothenburg to realise their musical aspirations and on the basis of this four-track EP, they are set to make quite an impact with the old-timey, alt.country audiences that are expanding throughout Scandinavia. They plays rootsy, down to earth music, mixing traditional and modern country music—not Taylor Swift or Rascal Flatts, more Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Stacey Earle, Jim Lauderdale, etc. Their two originals Maneater and Laughing My Heart Out are good, well-written traditionalsounding songs, but why was it necessary to use the ‘F-word’. I really enjoyed their unique take on Hank Williams’ Why Don’t You Love Me? www.myspace.com/ theblueeyedblondes

Book Review B uck Owen s —TH E B I O G R A P H Y Eileen Sisk Published by: Chicago Review Press

The introduction tells us that in 1997 Buck decided that he wanted his biography written and met with Sisk, who probably contacted him first with the idea, and anyway he must have known her through her authorship of Honky Tonks and staff work on the Tennessean and the Washington Post . Three years later Buck advised that he was finished with the project, no reason was given, the suspicion is that he got bored with it. Sisk determined that she would finish it as an unauthorised biography, so why has it taken so long? My guess is that the project only restarted following Buck’s death in 2006 and that Buck, a noted litigant, would not have wanted his life to have been recorded in this way. The list of author’s acknowledgements is more notable for the names absent, people who could have added considerably to these pages. Buck’s sister Dorothy, a lynchpin in the business empire together with his sons Mike and Buddy, Merle Haggard, who knew Owens for over 50 years, started his career as Buck’s bass player and later married Buck’s ex-wife Bonnie, and Ken Nelson, Buck and Merle’s record producer for 20 years, all wanted nothing to do with Sisk’s

project. In the interests of equity it should be noted that the Haggard/ Owens relationship was permanently broken and that Nelson was in his midnineties when approached and not unreasonably thought that his remaining time could be better spent. Sisk relates the time in 1968 when Merle approached Buck for a loan of $15,000 to settle a gambling debt, he got the money, but in the process was ‘manoeuvred’ out of 50% ownership of his big hit tune Sing Me Back Home. Merle got back his 100% but only with the help of a lawsuit. ‘If I hadn’t learnt it from Buck, I would have learnt it from someone else’ was Haggard’s philosophical reasoning of the episode, which probably goes a long way to explaining why Owens with the help of 21 country number ones finished up with $100 million and Haggard with 38 number ones finished up with … not a lot. A comparable report is when Harlan Howard split from his songwriting partnership with Buck, all the publishing rights, and hence substantial future income, were signed over to Buck. In addition to income from performing, the Bakersfield-based Buck Owens Enterprises consisted of music publishing, radio stations, ranches and in later years the Crystal Palace Club/Museum. Just as well that Buck disdained of all things Nashville, he had no time for the music industry people there and somewhat disrespectfully referred to it as Bakersfield East. At first publishing was the big cash generator, Buck soon latched onto the way that this worked with songwriters royalties being paid to the publisher and in those days that is where most of it stayed. A large part of the eventual wealth came from the sale of his radio stations for a hundred times the initial purchase price. Mike was in charge of the radio operations, as Sisk says, Buck surrounded himself in business with trusted family and good people. The music side of things is very well known and is documented in a 40 page ‘Sessionography and Discography’

Buck Owens -

appendix. The first single as Corky Jones, it was a rock‘n’roll number and Buck did not want to upset his growing army of country fans, back to Buck and on to Down on the Corner of Love and on and on. The Buckaroos (Merle Haggard came up with the name) also get plenty of coverage but, attempting to darken Buck’s image and methods, Sisk lets herself down. She tells of steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness being fired by Buck for no other reason than he was dispensing with steel guitar. I mean, as if, the sound of this instrument was a cardinal element of the act’s great success. The real reason is probably that Maness was some way short of Tom Brumley (most steelers were) who had left after ten years and Buck, who had tried his utmost to persuade Brumley to stay, was not ready to accept the new situation. The clue for Sisk was that Maness was replaced a short time later. With songwriting credits and on lead guitar, fiddle and harmony vocals the heartbeat of the Buckaroos was Don Rich and he quite rightly gets extensive coverage in this book. It has already been widely commented on that, although he survived him by over 30 years, Buck never got over Rich’s death in a motor cycle accident in 1974 and that the event heightened Buck’s incredibly sad bouts of depression. The Hee Haw years also get dutiful


coverage and say what you like about this programme but on American TV, with its dependence on advertising and product sponsorship, no show survives for 500 episodes over 20 years without a lot going for it. Amongst many other characteristics, anyone that amasses and keeps the fortune that Owens did, has to be smart, talented, shrewd and utterly ruthless. Buck had all of these qualities together with an apparent insatiable desire for relationships with the opposite sex. According to Sisk he danced with nearly every female who worked in his band and in his businesses and many others, indeed he married quite a few of them. According to Sisk a total of six marriages although Buck insisted that two of them did not count including the ‘first’ which was forced when he was sixteen and lasted but a few weeks. On relationships Sisk gives us a bit too much information. Despite its prurience, occasional use as a channel for the views of the disenchanted and lack of certain authoritative voices, I enjoyed reading this book but frankly I am unashamedly biased. Buck Owens is my era and represents the golden age of country music, now sadly lost. Go on who would you rather listen too, Owens, Haggard and Cash or today’s topliners, Paisley, Urban and Shelton … thought so. Paul Collins

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Well what can I say. Technology keeps making new steps forward and I suppose it is all for the best. I wish you well in your new venture, and if it saves on cost and keeps the magazine going it has to be the right thing to do. However spare a thought for us old timers who have difficulty in keeping abreast of all these new fangled ideas. Not sure at the moment as to how I am going to adapt to this new system of staying in touch with the best country music magazine ever, after being spoilt to it being delivered to my door every month. I am aware of costs that are against you in order to keep going and know that this is a positive step for you and I respect that. I know that in order to stay ahead of the game we need to embrace change and move forward, however as one gets older it becomes difficult to understand all the technicalities involved. Having said that I am determined to remain a loyal Maverick supporter and get to grips with all this new stuff. I have always been aware of the need to change and see no reason why I will not be able to support you in the future, as after all you must be of a similar age yourself!! Keep up the good work. Colin Downer, via email

Congratulations on the 100th Issue of Maverick and I wished to write about the last 10 days which have been inspired by the magazine. I received the weekly concert advise from Laura via email which contained information about the visit to our shores by Marty Stuart in 2011. His visit brings an artist who represents the country music scene at the highest level being a member of the Hall of Fame and regular attendee at the Grand Old Opry. I have been lucky enough to see his show, which precedes the CMA Festival in June and would recommend readers to try and get to one of his appearances in this country.

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My first ‘gig’ of three was to see Larkin Poe at the 12 Bar Club in London. Alan Cackett gave some years ago a glowing review of the Lovell Sisters and I purchased a CD on his recommendation and became a keen follower. Due to one of the sisters, Jessica, deciding to return to University plus getting married, the band reformed as Larkin Poe and the remaining two sisters, Rebecca and Megan were joined by Mike Seal, Daniel Kimbro and Jonathan Maness. With the right exposure and degree of luck that all young bands need, I believe they will be a big name in the future. I understand that Maverick conducted an interview with the band prior to their first English performance and I hope that they have been signed up for a gig in Maidstone which will bring an immediate request for tickets from myself. Rebecca and Megan Lovell are ‘diamonds’. My second concert was a double header in that it featured Mary Chapin Carpenter supported by Tift Merritt. Maverick has justifiably championed Tift Merritt and she never fails to disappoint. She will soon join my dream list of singers that I would wish to be stranded on a desert island with!! (Perhaps that might make a good subject for readers to think about in the dark winter nights). Mary Chapin Carpenter opened her act with an introduction to her band that will always remain in my memory. She took to the stage singing We Travelled So Far and one by one the remaining 5 members of her band joined her at various intervals, receiving bows before joining the song with their respective instruments—magic. During the course of her performance she referred to John Jennings and John Carroll as her ‘bookends’ and the reception each received by the audience reflected the high esteem in which both are held by her fans. John Jennings’ arrangements are wonderful

and I know that many artists seek his aid and assistance in producing CDs. Mary played for two hours and treated everyone present to a great evening and I hope her return will be soon. Having arrived at my third gig in six days, I had an unexpected bonus whilst waiting in the queue with my wife the presence of little Dave of Taunton. When Maverick drops through my door I normally head to the letters page first and enjoy the writings of Dave. I have often thought he may well be worthy, if interested, of reviewing CDs and gigs of which he is a big attendee. We had a wonderful discussion about various events we had been to and the hour of waiting outside the Union Chapel passed by very quickly. Having recently identified Phil Holloway and now Dave, it feels like I am a member of an extended family of Maverick followers. Courtyard Hounds were making their first gig performance in England at the Union Chapel. With the setting being a church where the late arrival of brides for their weddings is often the ‘norm’, an appearance at 9.15pm by the Hounds was not. (We have been here before with the Chicks!!) Once they started it was great and the vocals of Emily were very good added to the fine instrument playing of Martie. During the gig, Emily informed us that the group’s drummer often fell asleep during the day and I noticed that many fans wished they had not awoken him for the night’s performance!! Following the late start and the ‘curfew’ it was with everyone’s regret that the gig finished at 1030pm. I hope the people who attended Tuesday night’s show were treated to a longer event but as they often say: ‘good things come in small packages.’ My final thoughts were: ‘Natalie Maines, grow that hair and get between the bookends and make great music!’ I look forward to many more great


editions of Maverick Brian Curtis, via email I read with some interest the letter from A Hall of Southampton who was seriously considering not renewing his subscription because Maverick magazine wasn’t totally ‘country’. As always, there are two sides to this issue. If we look at page 86 of the same issue there is an advert placed by the magazine promoting its advertising space with the heading: ‘Maverick— The New Voice of Country Music’. Indeed, if you peruse the editorial email address of editor@maverick-country.com this also leads to the belief that Maverick magazine is purely devoted to country music! But we do have to remember that the Oxford English dictionary defines the word ‘Maverick’ as: ‘unorthodox and independent’, so how unorthodox should we expect the magazine to be? In defence, Mr Hall states how he lent the magazine to a friend who gave it back saying: ‘he’d never heard of anybody in it’, yet even allowing for the alleged thirty per cent country music coverage surely his friend must have heard of someone? This comment is what many who follow the new purveyors of country music get tired of hearing and says a lot about the ‘fans’. Many years ago when I stood on a stage with my old six-string I often became irritated when I played—say—a Hal Ketchum song and was met with the comment: ‘Hal who?’ The same applied to artists like Garth Brooks and Radney Foster. Only a couple of months back I went to a country music venue where worn-out songs like Singing The Blues were still being played. To me this is closer to old time, not country, yet it was well received by the country music incumbents who, like me, must have heard it a thousand times or more. To not move forward is to stagnate. As was so rightly stated, if the magazine is to survive in the current market climate


then it must diversify into other branches of music and I’d rather have a magazine whose pages promote some country music well, even if that means other genres also have to be taken into account. Equally if new artistes aren’t given a chance then there’s no wonder anybody ever hears about them. Is there? By promoting other genres it introduces open-minded readers to new artistes they might otherwise never hear about. It also gives them a chance to widen their musical tastes and let’s not forget that blues and bluegrass are not total strangers in the country music camp. In my opinion, it is to Maverick’s credit that it diversifies the way it does and this is the reason I buy and will continue to buy the magazine. John Ward, via email.

Reading issue 101, I felt drawn to comment on your excellent feature on the BCM Hall Of Fame Awards, hopefully adding a musician’s perspective. You mention Henry Smith, and express your opinion of his set, but the sad fact is that this reflects more on the clientele he has to cater for, rather than on him, his band, or (most of) the other musicians playing the CMC circuit. The show Henry puts on is exactly what the paying punters want, which is why he gets the awards he does. Bands (and those performers who use backing tracks) who play that circuit tend to either play popular line dance numbers (making all their sets very similar) or tried and tested popular ‘pre-loved’ country songs (making all their sets also very similar). Generally, if they don’t conform to one of the above pattern, they don’t get many gigs. As you well know, there are alternative venues, but these tend to want Americana, alt.country, whatever you call the regurgitated Burritos/Byrds

type sound, honky-tonk (to a very limited degree) and, of course, singer-songwriters. There are some excellent bands on that circuit—I ran sound for the brilliant Redlands Palomino Company only last weekend— but I have yet to hear a British band playing straight honestto-goodness country music on that circuit, apart from the rare appearances of (national treasure) Hank Wangford and his Lost Cowboys. The others closest are John Miller and, possibly, Los Pistoleros (or the Disguised Lost Cowboys). I’ve worked with Two Fingers, The Snakes and bands of that ilk. Love the music, but it still avoids being mainstream ‘country’ (IMHO). These venues seem to hire bands playing ‘around’ the country genre, but not bands playing the central heart of it. A UK band wanting to play anything vaguely resembling neo-trad, commercial country, especially if self-penned, is not going to find it easy to get gigs. Even if they are hired, especially by an agency, they are often expected to provide some kind of gingham-clad pastiche, rather than the intelligent, lyrics-led music that country can provide. What this translates into is extreme difficulty for any aspiring original UK ‘country’ artist to hold a serious band together. Rehearsing a band takes time, money and effort to maintain, and a band still only really knits together after several live gigs, when you find out what really works and what doesn’t. Without gigs, the dedication of the players soon dissipates. So, the lure of regular gigs, and of being able to play the genre of music you love, exerts a strong pull towards playing the CMC circuit—simply to keep playing! Unless you play yourself, you may not understand the ‘need’ to contribute to a live performance, but many bandorientated musicians feel that they would rather swallow their pride, and conform to the dictates of the paying audience,

than sit and twiddle around on a guitar in their back room, playing their own material. Although I totally agree with your view that the music industry should get involved in the awards, and should only recognise originality, I don’t think that this can ever be truly successful while non-CMC venues shy away from straight down the line ’country music’ label, and I don’t see that happening here, sadly. I fear that the omnipresent ‘Yee-hah. Where’s your horse?’ attitude to that central core of country music has made the creation of that ‘platform to work from’ almost impossible. I do so hope I’m wrong! Harley Dave, via email

Thank you, Alan, for your comments on the BCMA show ( Maverick, December). You’ve voiced something that’s needed saying for a very long time. The British country music scene is dying—literally. The audience in the clubs are, mostly, delightful people, but there are fewer and fewer of them, as one by one they pass from this world, and aren’t replaced by a new, younger audience. Just like the working men’s clubs, which are struggling because they are stuck in a 1960s time-warp, the country clubs are in similar Groundhog Day mode, firmly embedded in the 1970s, and the halcyon days of the Wembley festivals. The members of Fat Cat aren’t exactly young; we’ve all been around on the music scene since the 1960s. But it’s depressing when we turn up at a gig and find that the audience are all our age or older. Where are the new country music fans? We in Fat Cat were thrilled and delighted by the glowing Maverick review of our album, HERE ALONE WITH THE MOON, a few issues back. But, sad to say, we’ve not seen an upsurge of interest as a result of it. ‘This is one band in your diary to catch live,’ your reviewer


remarked. If only. Not in the UK, at any rate. The economics of trying to keep a band like ours on the road mean that it’s not realistic to travel the length and breadth of this country for the modest fees that most clubs can afford, thanks to their dwindling memberships. So those clubs have to continue getting by on a diet of covers performed by solo acts and duos, working (and sometimes even miming) to backing tracks. (Anyone who’s seen Fat Cat knows that we use drum tracks. Why? Those same economics. We’d much prefer to use a live drummer, but it’s just not possible.) What’s the solution? How can British country music reinvent itself? It’ll be an uphill battle, fighting against the generally narrow-minded and oldfashioned perception of what country music is all about. A recent experience summed it up for us in Fat Cat. The other week we did a gig at our local working men’s club. We used exactly the same set as we’d performed the week before at the Ponsmere country music festival. The club was fairly well attended (for a change), and our music (including our originals) went down well with a largely non-country audience. Next day, when we went back to strip the gear down, one of the club members came up and said how much he had enjoyed our set. ‘I’m glad you’ve stopped playing that awful country and western music,’ he remarked. Sigh. Lionel Browne, Fat Cat, Sandhurst, Berkshire I do sympathise with many of the bands on the circuit. I’ve been promoting live music for more than forty years, but I have always refused to promote music I don’t believe in, even though twenty-odd years ago I could possibly have made a small fortune promoting line dance events. Integrity to me is everything. Coming back to Henry Smith—surely at an Awards show he should have pulled out something special, showed the media that he can do more than ‘ape’ the American stars. Or maybe it was a case that in reality he can’t.

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Profile for Livewire Country

Maverick Magazine - January 2011 - Issue 102  

First Free PDF Issue - The voice of country, folk, bluegrass and roots music

Maverick Magazine - January 2011 - Issue 102  

First Free PDF Issue - The voice of country, folk, bluegrass and roots music