Gillian Welch and David Rawlings UK Tour

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have just announced a short tour in the UK for November in support of the wonderful album The Harrow and the Harvest that is still one of my favourite albums of the year. Although they are not playing in this area it’s probably worth a drive to London or Warwick to see them, ticket go on sale on 2nd September and are likely to sell out quickly, so don’t hesitate . . . . like I usually do.

Saturday 12th November – The Brighton Dome – Brighton 8.30pm

Sunday 13th November – Warwick Arts Centre – Coventry 8.30pm

Thursday 17th November – The Canal Theatre – Dublin Ireland

Friday 18th November – The Waterfront Auditorium – Belfast

Sunday 20th November – The Clyde Auditorium – Glasgow

Monday 21st November – O2 Manchester Apollo – Manchester

Wednesday 23rd November – The Hammersmith Apollo – London

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What’s On – September 1st – 10th

No sooner than the last remnants of the August Bank holiday festivals are still ringing in the ears, September has arrived and so it’s back indoors for some music, so lets see what the first week has in store for us in the area.

Well 2nd, 3rd and 4th you can actually still stay outside for the Summer Fayre in Bedford’s Priory Park, with lots of local acts including favourites Pearl Handled Revolver, Rebecca De Winter, Kito Take and Silver Brazilians to name just a very few and it’s all free too. Another reason to stay outside is the annual Marston Moretaine Woodworks festival, £5 each day for the whole show and includes some music contributions from The Old Dance School, Blair Dunlop (Son of  Ashley Hutchings) Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby you can also expect a bit of Morris dancing from Hemlock Morris.

Later in the evening of the 4th and for opening night at Hitchin Folk Club, they have a Songwriters Circle with Boo Hewerdine, Emily Slade and Brooks Williams. After forming a band The Bible in the 1980′s with a top 10 album Walking the Ghost Back Home. After leaving the band to pursue a solo career he me up and collaborated with US songwriter Darden Smith. Hewerdene prolific song writing brought him to the attention other artist and contributed to albums by Clive Gregson , Christine Collister and Eddi Reader, who he still regularly tours with and writer of the fans favourite sing along “Patience of Angels”. He also maintains one of the funniest blogs on the net. Emily Slade has had a long sabbatical, opting to raise a family instead, though she still finds time to perform at shows and festival when she can. Only three albums to her name and her last was released in 2003, but it does contain one of my favourite tracks her self composed “I need an Angel” and exquisite vocals, you can’t help but think if this was covered by an established singer it would be a big hit. Emily is also a great guitar player too being influenced by Books Williams also help. Georgia USA native but now resident in Cambridge, Brooks is that cross over of Blues and Americana and is listed in the top 100 great acoustic guitar players, so this should be a great opening night.

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All change please!

All change please . . . . Getting a bit tired of the old site and trying to incorporate my blog into it I decided to go for a complete re-vamp and here it is. I will try and add some of the other pages as I go along and don’t be surprised if it all suddenly disappears, I’ve lost it once already and had to re-build it.

The one major sticking point I have is with the gig listings, I just can’t find the right plug in that suits my needs, so I’m having to stay with the old way of doing things, not ideal but it’s either that or nothing at all and this was the original reason for building a web site in the first place. I’ve have also disabled the comments box until things settle down, it also stops you insulting my spelling and grammar.


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Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up

Ben Howard is another new name to me but a video popped up on my Facebook account so I thought I’d investigate it further. Stemming from Devon, Ben has been making a name for himself on the tour circuit in the UK and Europe, in fact it was at one gig in London the record executives from Island Records were won over by his performance and the enthusiastic and overwhelming response of the audience. Not that it would take much to convince him to sign when the he’s joining a label who catalogue includes the likes of Nick Drake and John Martyn.

With a couple of singles already released “old Pine” and “The Wolves” his debut album “Every Kingdom” due out on October 3rd and tour dates already selling out, the next 12 months could be good for Ben

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The Pierces – It will not be forgotten

Sometimes a tune pops up on the radio and you stop and think, that’s nice, who is it. This was the case when I first heard The Pierces – It will not be forgotten on Ken Bruce’s show on BBC Radio 2.

I now see they are due to play The Junction in Cambridge on Saturday 15th October so I might have to investigate there music a bit further before deciding if I’m going to go or not, though there is every chance this will sell out very quickly.

Still the video looks good too.

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Songs from the Shed

It’s not often you can get excited about sheds by when one in a back garden in Somerset is host to some great musical sessions and then goes on to win Shed of the year 2011 people will stand up and look and listen. Not that they haven’t been listening already, becoming a You Tube video cult, for this is the home of Songs from The Shed a simple idea, born over a few pints of cider by a group of friends with a love of Cheese and Cider, at one of their regular meetings in the pub. When it was decided to get a few musicians for one of their next meeting The Cheese and Cider society was soon dropped and Songs From The Shed was born.

There is no specific genre of music played here just a simple rule, it’s all acoustic and nothing plugged in. Even the camera used to record the sessions is a simple pocket digital camera, hand held and no attempt to correct for the varied lighting found inside, the emphasis is on the music and the performance and at the time of writing there have been over 110 sessions played. From relatively unknown artists, those starting out, to the likes of Steve Knightley for Show of Hands, David Rotheray from Beautiful South and they’ve even managed to get Fairport Convention in there, and it’s no wonder that artists are queuing up to play a sessions here.

Check them out and like them on Facebook I can think of nothing better coming through on my News Feed each week. Right I wonder what I can do with that old Andersen Shelter down the bottom of our garden.

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Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – The Harrow and the Harvest

I’ve not purchased too many CD’s recently, budget constraints and all that, but I have managed to listen to quite a few on the various legal streaming sites and the wonderful NPR music. One that came through via NPR on their first listen page was the eagerly anticipated new CD from Gillian Welch and David Rawlings The Harrow and The Harvest. I will confess I’m not too familiar with Gillian’s back catalogue so can’t compare this to her earlier work. So for me this is listening to an artists debut album, a debut for me at least.

By the first few chords on the opening track Scarlet town, I’d opened a new tab on my web browser and was searching Amazon for a copy and by the third track The way it will be, with its Crosby Stills and Nashesque harmonies, I’d purchased a copy (did I tell the CD was only released today too!) What does strike you about this album is the exquisite and precise guitar and banjo playing of David Rawlings as well as his production. Not a scratch or squeak of a string to be heard and their beautiful harmonies giving a visions of them both sitting out on a porch as the sun goes down, I’d pay good money for that, but £10 for the CD is all I can afford at the moment.

Nobody makes albums like this anymore, simple, stripped down, yet so effective and the eight year since Gillian’s last was I’m sure for her fan’s well worth the wait. As I mentioned earlier for me this is her debut and what a fantastic one it is too, this is already on my shortlist for album of the year and I only hope there is a UK tour in the making, but lets hope they can avoid the big venues, this is intimate music that is served better by intimate surroundings. We may not have a porch and a swing chair but I can recommend a few small venues in Buckingham she should consider.

Another interesting aspect of this CD is the extent they went to to print the cover art, employing the old traditions of manual printing presses and metal stamps. Although I can’t confirm if this was used on the UK release, and I suspect not looking at my version, there is an interesting video on the initial quantity that was made.

So you might still be able to hear the album being streamed at the moment, though not on NPR anymore, but don’t bother just go and buy it, you won’t regret it.

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Amanda Shires – Video No 5


It’s Amanda Shires intention to do a video for every track from her current CD “Carrying Lightning” which is a must buy in it’s own right, and just released is video No 5 Swimmer and first aired on Taste of Country. This is a slightly different version to the CD, just Amanda, a ukulele and the sound of the ocean, very dreamy. With a tour of the UK with Rod Picott in October and no visit to Buckingham for us at Empty Room Promotions this time around, looks like I’ll be at Esquires in Bedford on the 22nd October.

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Raul Malo and Band – The Stables review

Monday 20th – Raul Malo and his Band, The Stables, Wavendon. So I didn’t give this gig a prior recommendation, maybe because I really wasn’t sure what it would be like, also I was slightly concerned that some might think I was going a bit soft seeing Raul Malo again. Yes that’s right we were lucky at Empty Rooms to promote him as a duo in 2010 in Oxford. I know there were a few strange looks when I turned up at The Stables and they wondered why I joined the 300+ audience, clearly of an age that remembers Raul from The Mavericks. But undeterred I hid away in the shadows standing in my usual spot at the balcony, yes despite buying a seated ticket I still love to stand at The Stables, I might see if they will let me sponsor a carpet tile instead of a chair.

Due to the fact I was chatting in the foyer I did manage to miss most of the support for the evening by Simon Lynge which actually was a shame as I did enjoy his last visit to this venue in support of The Secret Sisters, and it’s no secret, I liked his set far better than their’s. This time around it’s clear the audience liked him too as the “barometer” of popularity proved in the interval with the queue to buy his CD.

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US group “Vetiver” open UK tour in Bedford on 25th June

The great thing about the live music in the surrounding area is, there is so much of it and I confess I’ve not always heard of those artists playing, though I’m happy to take recommendations. Vetiver  are one of those bands that have possibly passed me by, though I am suitably informed that I shouldn’t miss them.

All I know is they are a 5 piece band from San Francisco and have been around since 2004. There music is classed as folk / Americana and their 5th and current CD “The Errant Charm” was released on 13th June this year, which a recent BBC review said “The ideal album to soundtrack wistful contemplation on balmy summer days.” This album the also describe as a mix of Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac to senses of Velvet Underground.

I guess I will know more after next weekend as the band are due to open their UK tour in Bedford on Saturday 25th June and another gig promoted by one of American’s finest  East West Promotions  and the term, this is a gig not to be missed is often over used, so although this recommendation is actually 2nd hand one I get a gut feeling you will be disappointed if you are not there.

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