Saturday, 15 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 16th June 2019: The Old and the New

The four artists dominating this week's round up certainly fall into the 'old and new category' to differing extents. Jill Jackson and Old Man Luedecke have featured before, while Greg Felden and Lucy Isabel had that stamp of brand newness when copies of their latest releases reached me a short while ago. Choosing which of the four to lead off with is an option of fine margins, but a late submission of one of Canada's finest folk 'n' roots operators is a worthy starting point.

A couple of album reviews, a brace of festival appearances and a gig in Leicester brought the music of Old Man Luedecke to my attention between 2012 and 2105, although contact has been a little scarce since. This is likely due to focus elsewhere rather than artist inactivity; a situation now rectified with the release of EASY MONEY. To ease the concern that something has been missed this is actually the studio follow up to 2015's DOMESTIC ECCENTRIC, and the good news is that it barely took a single listen to get back into a musician steeped in the sounds and culture of their native Nova Scotia.

The power of a stellar opening track should never be underestimated and the title track does this in epic proportions for Old Man Luedecke. If 'Easy Money' doesn't get you singing from play #1 nothing will. 'Sardine Song' is another track that will bring a smile to your face and help bond with the record. Let's hope Chris 'Old Man' Luedecke resumes the extensive touring in the UK that he used to do and brings these songs to the live table.

A quick switch of music medium and a brief word on this week's sole gig. Jill Jackson brightened up a wild, wet, damp and miserable Midlands evening with another engaging show at the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham. An impending motherhood announcement had dominated the artist's social media in recent days and with only two gigs in the book before the short enforced break, a successful sign-off ensued.

The phrase 'an evening with' didn't prelude this gig, but its ethos dictated how the evening unravelled. No support and a single span set exceeding an hour and half provided the framework for a gentle informal exchange of personal anecdotes, many which have evolved into songs. This personable approach met with the approvable of an audience dominated by Jill Jackson devotees. They were treated to an artist opening up on many fronts and one whose songwriting future is still likely to be family focussed, but from a different perspective. A third consecutive June return to the Kitchen was promised for 2020, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds, musically and lyrically.

The importance of the lead off track has already been raised earlier in this piece and proved a sound blueprint that American artist Greg Felden followed on his new album MADE OF STRINGS. To state that 'Every Time' towers above its peers on this album is maybe a touch disingenuous to the other songs, but this track is one hell of a belter. (Check out the quirky video accompaniment below). The rest of the record is pretty good too.

Lucy Isabel is the second newcomer to introduce this week and anybody taking a punt on her new album RAMBLING STRANGER is following the tracks of a winner. The twelve songs heralding this record draw influence from the folk and rock world, which these days seeks solace in the welcoming arms of Americana. The songs excel on numerous fronts, first and foremost to catch the ear in a crowded room.

On more familiar territory, good news for fans of Don Gallardo with a decent selection of tour dates announced. Having supported his music for a few years now, catching one of these shows is highly recommended.


Friday 5th / Saturday 6th July  – Maverick Festival, Suffolk
Sunday 7th July – Dog & Partridge, Marchington
Monday 8th July – The Flowerpot, Derby
Tuesday 9th July – Compton Parish Room, Chichester
Wednesday 10th July – St Pancras Old Church, London
Thursday 11th July – Little Country Smokehouse, Kettering
Tuesday 16th July  – B Bar Barbican Theatre, Plymouth
Wednesday 17th  July – The Kingsdown Vaults, Bristol 
Thursday 18th July  – Kitchen Garden CafĂ©, Birmingham
Saturday 20th July – Tingestock Festival – Tingewick Village Hall

More on Don will follow later, but in the meantime check his new single with Lilly Winwood

Just before we finish, a quick mention for another album getting its UK release this week. GOLDEN DAYS by Canadian outfit Union Duke, with the genre tag 'Bluegrass/Canadiana' accompanying the download copy, has been available for quite a while in other lands, but a reboot for a new market is no harm. A classic case of the tag proving accurate and merit is derived from digging into these sounds.

New albums on the way:

Aaron Watson - Red Bandana Release date 21st June
Beth Bombara - Evergreen  Release date 9th August
Annie Bacon & her OSHEN - Nothing Stays The Same Release Date 19th July
The HawtThorns - Morning Sun Release Date 9th August
Sam Baker - Horses and Stars Release date 23rd August

More next week including the first festival action of the summer. Fingers crossed for the weather to take a turn for the better. 

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 9th June 2016: From the Black Country to the Big Country

One gig and two album releases dominated the proceedings this week as music was digested from across a vast divide. The west coast of America had a stellar representation in Seattle based rockers Massy Ferguson and LA luminary Sam Morrow, while closer to home local musician Sunjay hit the recording tracks once again with the release of his brand new album. What better way to start the weekly round up than to stoke the local fire a little and introduce a talented musician branching out to all parts of the UK from his Black Country base.

DEVIL CAME CALLING is the title of Sunjay's latest album. This eleven track effort highlights what a versatile interpreter of music he is as the fingers wrap around a series of songs skirting around the deep rooted genre blur of folk 'n' blues. Those who have seen one of his live shows will probably be familiar with the track 'Faith Healer', which acts as co-stand out alongside opening number 'Ghost Train'. Sunjay has revisited his liaison with Stourbridge-based music activist Eddy Morton on production, and when perusing the names of guest players, two jumped out as familiar in banjo player Dan Walsh and Katriona Gilmore on fiddle. Whether covering some obscure blues tunes to hone in on his finger picking skills or choosing a more populist route to make ends meet, Sunjay attracts new fans, while handing out timely reminders to those he has impressed before. The album is available from all your usual points including this link

Massy Ferguson are set for a busy summer over here in the UK. Not only have the band just released their brand new album GREAT DIVIDES, there is also a decent bunch of dates to see them play including appearances at both Maverick and SummerTyne festivals. The record doesn't re-invent the Massy Ferguson wheel, just compounding the triumphant sound cultivated across their previous releases. More details on live dates.

Flying the flag on the gig front this week was another show at St.George's Hall in Bewdley with this month's Severn Sessions event hosting Sam Morrow all the way from Houston Texas via Los Angeles California. This out and out country rocker caught the ear last year with the release of the album CONCRETE AND MUD. The importance of following up an international release with dates cannot be under estimated and this year Sam has been fortunate to pack a decent schedule around a couple of prestigious festival slots in the UK. Bewdley is a hospitable place for touring musicians and the Friday night staging of the monthly Americana shows has led to many great evenings. Not one to miss an opportunity to build on early praise, the Sam Morrow Band (three Americans and the honorary borrowed Brit) rallied around a blistering guitar sound to blast an hour and half set of country rock style anthems laced with an increasing dose of rhythmic southern funk.

Nestled among a rack of original songs (many forming the impressive body of the latest record) a couple of covers were tossed in with 'Lonesome On'ry and Mean' shading 'Sharp Dressed Man' in the appreciation stakes. Both go a long way to pinpointing the musical influences of Sam Morrow. Momentum was a key component to the show's success with the band building to a fitting finale almost lifting the roof off St. George's Hall. Sam Morrow steers clear of music's complexities, but absolutely nails a sound he drives to emulate.

New albums on the way:
Old Man Luedecke - Easy Money UK release date June 14th
Thom Ashworth - Head Canon UK release date June 28th
Alice Howe - Visions UK release date July 15
Carly Dow - Comet  UK release date July 15

Whether listening preferences orginate from your backyard or thousands of miles away, good music knows no borders.