Light of Day Concert – Bedford 9th December

The Light of Day concert series is now in it’s 11th year.  What began as a single concert at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey has grown into 23 shows in thirteen countries in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The funds raised are donated to the fight against Parkinson’s Disease and related illnesses by funding research into better treatments, cures and support for patients. Artists associated with this even have included Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nile, Jesse Malin, Gary U.S. Bonds, Jimmy LaFave, Badly Drawn Boy, Mike Peters (The Alarm), Pete Yorn, Max Weinberg, Marah, Southside Johnny, Buddy Miller and the list goes on.

On Thursday 9th December it’s makes it’s return to The Civic Theatre in Bedford and once again organised by East West Promotions and again another stunning line up is in store. The main event of the night will be taken up by five headline artists and the format is usually to sing in “the round”, though anything can happen on these nights.

Alejandro Escovedo is one of those singers you may not have heard of and after coming away from one of his shows you have to think to yourself, why should this be? His rise has been gradual, a steady incline rather than a quick ascendance, but it has deepened and burnished his music, made it closer to the bone, where it begins to break, deepening his insight and his ability to find that insight in performance. His tireless touring, and dogged determination to place one album after another, has taken him through many musical scenes, remaining the same persona within each, of an artist who doesn’t settle for the easy way out.

Willie Nile more than a quarter century has passed since the release of Willie Nile’s first album, accompanied by press notices comparing him to Dylan and Springsteen. The enthralling new Streets of New York finds the artist in his mid-fifties, his youthful energy unflagging, and he’s never sounded more committed to the themes he’s tackled. With his band performance here in Bedford still fresh in the memory, it’s great to see him back so soon.

New York-based Joe D’Urso was an agency contractor in the music industry prior to his personal rock & roll gig, he has been critically acclaimed for being a passionate songwriter and an earnest performer with a deep love for making music. Joe along with his band Stone Caravan independently released their debut, Rock-Land, in 1993. Mirrors, Shoestrings & Credit Cards followed three years later and led the band to opening spots for, Wilco, Joan Osborne, the Allman Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen.

Richard Barone is an acclaimed recording artist, performer, producer, and composer.  Since his beginnings at age seven as “The Littlest DJ” on top-forty radio in Tampa, Florida, and later fronting indie-pop icons The Bongos, Barone has produced countless studio recordings. He has collaborated with world-class artists in every musical genre – from Lou Reed and Moby to Liza Minnelli and Tiny Tim. As musical and theatrical director, he scores shows and stages all-star concert events at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, and New York’s Central Park.

Sid Griffin is that rare artist who has distinguished himself in a number of contexts and on two continents. While best known as the leader the Long Ryders, as a musician, songwriter, producer, author, and archivist, Griffin has become a pivotal member of the roots rock movement, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. While Griffin’s musical enthusiasms continued to be rooted in the 1960s, he began to nurture a passionate interest in folk-rock and country-rock, in particular the sounds of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

with support supplied by New Jersey’s, Rob Dye, from London Micky Kemp and a firm favourite of Bedford and local singer Dan Raza this looks like being a very memorable night of music and it all kick off at 7.30pm and at £20 don’t leave it to long to get your tickets as this is bound to be selling quickly.

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Thea Gilmore – Wintertide Tour 2010

It will soon be December so Christmas is fast approaching, ok so most of the shops started in September but we’ll gloss over that. It does appear that a lots of musicians like this time of year and are finding that a seasonal themed tour is a good idea. Chris While, Julie Mathews, David Hughes and Chris Leslie of St Agnes Fountain have been doing this for some years around the folk club circuit, and very successfully, there shows nearly always sell out months in advance. As can be seen from the post bellow Bella Hardy has had a stab at it as has folk favourite Kate Rusby.

Last year was a surprise addition to the fold in the form of Thea Gilmore with her CD Strange Communion. Now I would not normally purchase a Christmas CD, they don’t normally stay in the player for more than a few weeks and after December 25th that’s it, back in the case until next year. Still I’ve always liked Thea’s music and her return to The Stables in Wavendon was much-anticipated. The show covering most if not all of the Strange Communion CD as well as a few of her old favourites. They even made time for a random Christmas tune at the end, using a makeshift dart board, with 10 songs on it, for which a member of the audience was handed  a magnetic dart to make the selection. Well all I can say is, that show was probably one of my favourites events of the year, so much so I even ventured down to Stratford-upon-Avon a few days later to experience it all again.

As for the CD, this has to be one of the best seasonal collection going, most of which were original songs written by Thea with the exception of Yoko Ono’s song Listen the Snow is falling and Elvis Costello and The Chieftains Paddy Moloney song, St Stephens Day Murders with vocals from BBC Radio’s Mark Radcliffe Also check out the distinctly “poppy” That’ll be Christmas and the sublime December in New York. Let’s be honest  there isn’t a bad track on this album and not only did I start playing this during November it will be going through until the New Year too, so get it.

So seeing that Thea Gilmore will be back at The Stables with her Wintertide tour on Tuesday 7th December at 8pm I hope the seasonal weather holds out and this still goes ahead. So if there are tickets still available make sure you get them or check her website or Myspace for some more sample songs and to see if she’s playing near you.

Wed Dec 01 Half Moon Putney, London, -  Tue Dec 07 The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, -  Thu Dec 09 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, -  Sat Dec 11 The Arches, Glasgow, -  Mon Dec 13 Robin 2, Bilston, Wolverhampton, – Tue Dec 14 Telford’s Warehouse, Chester, -  Fri Dec 17 The Sage, Gateshead, -  Sun Dec 19 The Tower, Winchester, Hampshire

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Bella Hardy live at Junction 2 Cambridge 27th November

The last time I saw Bella Hardy was about three years ago in a pub in Towcester, this was the opening night for a proposed new folk venue, which was advertised locally. It was a bit embarrassing at the time as the audience on that night consisted of me a mate from work and an older couple who visited from Northampton, despite the small audience it was still a great night.

Having not seen Bella for a while I though I should catch up on her music and spent most of Saturday listening to her CD’s and keeping an eye on the weather, the snow was falling so I thought I might abandon the journey. Confirming the availability of tickets and seeing the snow disappear I made my way to The Junction Cambridge, with Bella’s song and tunes firmly implanted in my mind, though just like me leaving it late enough to be close to the wire to get there for 8pm (note to self, bloody well leave earlier next time) Still I arrived on time and made my way to the auditorium.

Bella strolled on stage with Chris Sherburn on concertina and Scottish musician of the year nominee Anna Massie. It was clear from the opening song that my afternoon’s Bella catch up session was a little bit wasted, having not read the spec for the event it soon became obvious that this was an evening Christmas songs and carols. Don’t get me wrong I like the theme of Christmas “live” events, that appearing to popping up all around now, I should be seeing St Agnes Fountain and the absolutely fabulous Thea Gilmore’s Wintertide tour which you shouldn’t miss in December, but I wasn’t quiet ready for this in November.

Still after a few songs and stories and the wonderfully charming personality that is Bella Hardy I soon forgave her and decided not to be a Scrooge and enjoy this early Christmas experience. She sang and played some lovely renditions of classic Christmas carols and pop songs and she delved into a collection of carols from the village of Castleton in Derbyshire which is just a few miles away from her home town of Edale, we even got the chance to join in a few including “o come all ye faithful” which I think I mimed perfectly.

So in the end this was a lovely experience with some very funny chat back from Anna Massie, who won the back stage raffle of a cup on tea and a bag on mini cheddars, maybe next time I’ll leave it until into December, though with the snow beginning to fall again on the way back Christmas might have really come early.

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Bellowhead Live at Cambridge Junction 25th November 2010

Bellowhead are still one of the best live folk bands going, there is no doubt about that and if they could be removed from, what is often the stigma tag of folk, they really would be seen as one of the best bands on the live circuit today. Yes there is a lot of showmanship, staged or otherwise but this is what you expect from a Bellowhead gig, wonderful musicianship and pure theatre.

So it was a cold November night outside, though the capacity crowd that was rammed into The Junction One at Cambridge would never have known this as body heat would soon lift the temperature inside. Did I tell you, you really need to get on with the neighbours at a Bellowhead gig because you will be standing with them all night, with very little capacity to move from your spot, except up and down on the jumpy up in the air bits of the set. Fortunately for me I did managed to find some space near the 2nd bar in the Junction, once you negotiated the rabbit warren of doors and corridors in the venue, so although I was standing at the back there was a great sight line of all on stage and drinks at hand.

There were here in support of their 3rd and current CD Hedonism another glorious mix 17th and 18th century songs and stories arranged and played in their inevitable way. They were also selling their new line of Real Ale, also called Hedonism, a recipe put together by band members with the help of Pot Belly Brewery in Kettering, Northamptonshire, though there was an almighty cheer at the start when they announced it had sold out and much quicker than in Oxford, the usual rivalry between the two University towns knows no bounds.

Once again I didn’t take notes of the set list, well it stops you enjoying yourself, though understandably it was peppered with songs from the current album and started with the last track on the CD Yarmouth Town followed by A Begging I will Go while still throwing in some favourites Whiskey Is The Life Of Man, Cholera Camp and Sloe Gin Set. Summoning up all his melodramatic prowess Jon Boden ripped into Jacques Brel song Amsterdam and then Cold Blows the Wind a slightly disturbing song of a young girls love for an older man, an older dead man and her waiting for him by his grave. And no time to rest as he builds up to a manic crescendo with Sally Racket which I remember when I first heard them play this live, earlier in the year, I just thought “what the F…!” Yes a Bellowhead set list is full of prostitution, death, drunkenness, more prostitution, crime and did I mention prostitution. Never mind what the subject manner is about, people are here to dance, jump up and down, drink and above all enjoy themselves and clearly this is what happened here again tonight, in fact it was the encore that got the whole audience to move in unison with the firm favourite of London Town and the Instrumental Frogs Legs and Dragons Teeth

I have read that there is a possibility that during 2011 they are considering a short tour of all seated venues, you have to wonder if this would work and could people remain seated, but I also conclude that there is still an audience out there who would love to see them but are not prepared to stand up all night and not move from their spot, so it could work.

A friend who’s not adverse to seeing Bellowhead on numerous occasion on their tour, was at one of their gigs earlier in the week, he confirmed that in his opinion this was a far better evening, it’s not that the 11 piece band were any better, they always put on a polished performance, no it’s also the audience that can contribute to a great gig, so we were on form tonight.

As the doors opened at the end to let the crowd out on mass, into the sub-zero night air, you could see the steam visibly rising from the bodies as they emerged, but even the plummeting temperature couldn’t dampen the spirits of another memorable night and I’m sure the crowd will be back next time they visit Cambridge, I know I will be.

photo by djh imaging, though taken at The Stables show earlier in the year

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Rue Royal and De Winter Live in Bedford

In my search for free or cheap live music I’m lucky to be able to find some in the area. One small venue is a Cellar Bar in Bedford and goes under the aptly named Bedford Live! and they put on gigs at least once or twice a month and the great thing it they’re free. Normally based around the vibrate local artists and bands that seem to come out of Bedford, yes Bedford is the new Liverpool or Manchester for music, the promoter often brings in musicians from further afield.

On tonight’s bill were local band De Winter, who were formerly named Tinker Jack, with an enthusiastic following in Bedford. De Winter consist of Rebecca Soulsbury and David Litchfield. I am more than familiar with these two and seen them progress over the years, in fact they have played for is at Empty Rooms in Buckingham as support on a couple of occasion. There is now more emphasis around Rebecca’s wonderful vocals and instrumental skills while David takes a step back to do the writing and guitar work, this was a very pleasing start to the evening and Beccy would delve into some of the Tinker Jack back catalogue, but with a more laid back acoustic feel, as well as some new songs destined for release on their CD early next year.

The main act of the evening where husband and wife Brooklyn and Ruth Dekker, going under the name of Rue Royale, if this is all sounding very familiar then yes I did recommend them earlier in my blog, so no excuse for you not being there. I’d seen them earlier in the year and was blown away by their performance then, so seeing they were coming back to Bedford this was one I couldn’t miss.

There music is very simplistic of flowing harmonies, guitar and various percussion, but this minimalist instrumentation really works. To some their music could be very repetitive in tone and emotion but it’s fine for me and thankfully the 50+ audience (numbers not age by the way) and they appeared overwhelmed by the rapturous applause they received every time there was a song we knew. They even found time to joke with the audience about their initial lack of stage present and only changed this when Brooklyn’s father told him he needed to tell more stories, so out they came, including his irrational fear of spiders, which seemed to bring some joy to the audience, maybe realising we are actually in a cellar! They played for just over an hour and brought out their “hits”, UFO, Parachutes and Lifeboats as well as many new songs destined for the new CD.

Talking of CD’s by their own admission they don’t push the sales enough, another complaint from Brooklyn’s father, although judging by the queue at the end the songs do the selling, even I brought a 2nd copy of the CD. They also have an interesting concept for CD covers, which was born out of necessity. The front cover is a screen print, from hand drawings, on brown wrapping paper with the inner 4 page lyric booklet on a nice cream paper, but no staples holding it together, no this was a sewed together with cotton, Ruth by all accounts is into arts and crafts and the sales of her hand knitted woolly hats also when down well on this cold night.

So some great music and crafts on one night what more do you want from a free gig and I guess they will be back next year.

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Brian Houston and Band to play The Stables

1st December and a rare treat at The Stables in Wavendon as Brian Houston will be bringing his band to the venue. Those familiar with Brian may have seen him playing solo, along with his guitar loops, and know he’s a powerful enough character to hold an audience on his own. In fact his last visit to the Stables was at their smaller Stage 2 and managed to play a 2 hour non stop set and you still wanted more. I’m not sure what we will be in for on this night, but it’s bound to be quite upbeat and probably loud. So make sure you get your ticket for this event as you never know when he’ll be back with a band.

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Danny and the Champions of the World

The great thing about You Tube is not only finding something new but rekindle some favourites. A band I wanted to see for some time is Danny and the Champions of the World, an Oxford based band who really should make it big time and maybe there will start going places, especially with the support tours with The Magic Numbers and currently with the Band of Heathens. Well I finally managed to catch up with them at Cornbury Festival in the summer of 2010 and they had the audience buzzing, so I hope Mike at Empty Room Promotions get’s his wish soon and brings them to Tingewick, before they get too big. Check out this uplifting video taken from their 2008 self titled release, a video that reminds me of watching Old Grey Whistle Test for some reason and check out their current CD Streets of our Time.

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Kan live at Hitchin Folk Club

Every so often musicians will take a break from their subsequent bands to join together and start another. With a long sabbatical on the cards for Flook, flute player Brian Finnegan and fiddle player Aidan O Rourke from Lau have teamed up with Ian Stephenson on guitar and Manchester drummer Jim Goodwin to become Kan. With no album currently available they can only get their music played in the best way possible, “live”.

Four nights into their short tour where best to play than, Hitchin Folk Club, who seem to have a knack of discovering and nurturing new artists and bands. Show of Hands played their first ever show here and the likes of Seth Lakeman, Kate Rusby and Paul Simon, now more comfortable on the festival circuits started early in their careers on the 8ft by 3ft stage in Hitchin. Even comedians Billy Connolly and Jasper Carrott started on their road to fame and Jasper made a surprise return just recently.

There is no doubt that the flute and the whistle are at the forefront of the music on offer and why not with the master Mr Finnegan in the band but this doesn’t decry for the other musicians with the wonderful playing of Aidan’s fiddle stepping in when needed and the subtle use of guitar and drums keeping it all together without being over powering. The music flows from the atmospheric relaxing to the most upbeat vibrant tunes, if the Hitchin crowd could move the chairs away and get up and dance I’m sure they would, yes this four piece band could be a festival surprise next summer. Check out their Myspace for the only place to hear the music at the moment and of course some photo’s at

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Bruce Springsteen – The Promise

Courtesy of a great music resource, NRP music, you have a chance to listen to selected albums in full, before and up to their official release date.

Currently on the site is Bruce Springsteen’s The PromiseThe Lost Sessions: Darkness on the Edge of Town. *** Sorry this option has now expired ***  Bruce and the band where embroiled in a lawsuit with their managers after the release of their worldwide hit Born to Run which stopped them recording a follow up album, but it didn’t stop them from writing and touring it for the next three years and nearly 70+ songs later Darkness was released in 1978. The promise is a collection of early versions of the tracks that made it to the album, many clearly influenced by their hero Elvis Presely, who the band were obsessed with and who died during the writing process.

You can read more of Will Hermes story behind this collection on NRP Music site and listen to the album upto the 16th November, so best be quick.

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Judie Tzuke on Wogan

Well who would think that getting up early on a Sunday morning to listen to Terry Wogan would be a good idea, well it will be this Sunday 24th October to listen to three songs played live by Judie Tzuke and probably accompanied by the Elio Pace Band and if you miss it on Sunday it should be available on BBC iPlayer for the rest of the week . So what with Tift Merritt last week and Judie this week Terry is becoming very cool in my eyes . . . or am I just getting old, no comments necessary.
*** BBC I-Player option has now expired ***

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