Goodbye to the Big Man

The saxophone player for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Clarence Clemons or The Big Man as he is affectingly know, passed away today (18th June) after suffering from a stroke only a week previously. An integral part of any Springsteen concert, with his big stature on stage and those iconic sax solo’s, something that will surely be missed and never repeated.


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Andrew Gold (2nd August 1951 – 3rd June 2011)

It is sad to read that American singer / songwriter Andrew Gold passed way on Friday 3rd June from a heart attack, he was 59. His songs were a part of my growing up and to the occasional listener he will only be known for leaving us with three seminal hits of the 70′s with Lonely Boy, Thank You For Being a Friend and his top 5 UK hit Never Let Her Slip Away, though stalwart music fans will know there is so much more that he has given back to music over the past forty years and when you read about his contributions it’s a who’s who of music and underlines what a true talent he was.

Born in California in 1951 to a theatrical background, his Mother, Marni Nixon was the singing voice of numerous movie actresses including Audrey Hepburn for My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood for West Side Story and Deborah Kerr for The King and I. His Father was Academy Award winning film composer Ernest Gold.

In the early 1970′s he started out as a musician, producer and arranger and a major contribution to Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough album Heart Like A Wheel, including her US no 1 You’re No Good a cover of the Betty Everett song, which was also a hit in the UK for The Swinging Blue Jeans Andrew was also involved with Linda’s four follow up albums.

In 1975 Andrew decided to record as a solo artist and produced four albums and ten singles on both sides of the Atlantic, before the decade was out. Though he still kept the collaborations coming, playing all the instruments on Art Garfunkle’s hit Only Have Eyes For You, helping out Eric Carmen and Stephen Bishop including playing on his hit On and On. He also recorded or played live individually with all four of the Beatles as well as long-term friend Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys and Don Henley from The Eagles, later joining the full Eagles band on tour. He also found time to tour with James Taylor, Jackson Brownne as well as co-writing with 10cc and was credited a second engineer on Joni Mitchell’s album Blue.

In the 80′s having helped out 10cc before and being an admirer of their song writing talent he was pleased to be invited to join the band, though due to business conflicts this never happened, though when the band itself split up he did join Graham Gouldman, one of the founding members to form the band Wax who managed a top 15 UK hit with Bridge to your heart.

He continued to work through the 90′s on various projects as well as touring so clearly this is someone who has left us far too early.

I will leave it to others to expand further on Andrew Gold’s wide and varied career I will just leave it to his music.

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Rebecca De Winter, new video and CD launch

Sunday 5th June at 8pm and the premier of the second video from Rebecca De Winter, our favourite local singer from Bedford. The song in question is Higher Skies (Sad Songs) from her debut CD “Rebecca De Winter . . . and other tales” and has been a firm favourite at her live shows for some time. The video can be found on You Tube as well as her Facebook site and of course below.

Later this week on Friday 10th June Rebecca will be performing live at her official album launch at Esquires in Bedford, and I can think of no better way to start the weekend off, so make sure you get your ticket.


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Wine Women and Song for the first time in Oxford

Next up for Empty Room Promotions will be a concert with Gretchen Peters, Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg aka Wine Women and Song. Although Gretchen has played for them twice before this will be a first time visit by all three ladies. Three critically acclaimed, award-winning singer-songwriters all joining forces and primarily touring as three great friends on stage together. They will be sharing their songs, sharing their stories and sharing their laughter with the audience, but not sharing the wine, there is only so much these ladies can give. It all takes place on Thursday 9th June at The Jacqueline Dru Pre music building in Oxford and with The Stables show in Milton Keynes already sold out, this will be your next nearest opportunity to see the show and in even more intimate surroundings. Doors open at 7.30pm and with no support the ladies should be on stage by 8pm, so make sure you don’t miss this great evening of entertainment and music.


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The Jon Allen Band, playing The Stables 7th June

One of my favourite concerts of 2009 year has to be The Jon Allen Band at The Stables in Wavendon, he then managed to wow the crowd at Cornbury Festival in 2010, including the PM David Cameron, who by all accounts was “bopping” in the front row, so it’s no surprise to see he’s been invited back again this year. With the release on his new CD “Sweet Defeat” in May and his current single Joanna being played heavily on BBC radio 2 it’s a timely reminder to let you know he’s back at The Stables this Tuesday 7th June, so best make sure you’ve got your tickets.

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Autograph Book of music

What a fantastic idea, a book full of fabulous photographs of musicians, each on a separate page so you can collect their autograph and keep forever. And flicking through the 38 high quality pages I can see most of the artists are quiet accessible, though a few might pose a challenge, with people like, Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson, Jon Boden, Seth Lakeman, Kris Drever, Steve Knightley, Jim Causley, Chris Wood, Andy Cutting, Emily Smith, Matin Carthy and 50 more, here is your chance to meet the singers and listen to some great music at the same time. I am sure that in years to come once you’ve got the complete set the value of this book will increase ten fold and be a star turn on the Antiques Roadshow of the future . . . . . a better investment than an ISA. A preview of the book and the purchase price can be found here

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Country Ways Free Digital Sampler

They say you don’t get anything in this world for nowt, but fortunately that isn’t always true. How do you fancy 31 Americana / Country tracks for nothing, zero, zilch, free? Well you can if you are one of the 25,000 people to download the CMT Country Ways Sampler, courtesy of American Songwriter Magazine. All you need to do is give them you e-mail address to subscribe to the magazine (this is why it’s always nice to have that spare online e-mail address for those free offers) and you will be sent a link. There are songs from Justin Townes Earle, Caitlin Rose, Hayes Carll, Matraca Berg, Sunny Sweeney, Middle Brothers, Diana Jones, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle and many more names, you can also sample all the tracks in full before downloading. Go on treat your ipod to something different, who know you both might discover something new

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Mary Gauthier duo live in Oxford

The next gig coming up for Empty Room Promotions will be a trip over to Oxford on Friday 6th May and the beautiful surroundings of The Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building for the visit of Mary Gauthier. She will be performing as a duo with violinist Tania Elizabeth and will be promoting her current CD The Foundling, which is an autobiographical collection of song of her turbulent, extraordinary life. As Mary Gauthier explains “I was born to an unwed mother in 1962 and adopted shortly thereafter, When I was 45 years old, I searched for, found and was denied a meeting with my birth mother. She couldn’t afford to re-open the wound she’d carried her whole life, the wound of surrendering a baby. ‘The Foundling’ is my story.” The CD is being distributed by Proper Records who have also just published an informative blog here, which gives you more details of her musical career.

This will be Empty Rooms first visit to The Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building, a modern 200 seated open space, dedicated to the great cellist and ideally suited for this acoustic evening. Support for the night is from Northern Ireland’s answer to Ryan Adams in the form of Ben Glover. Doors at 7.30pm so don’t miss this chance for a memorable night.

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Bellowhead – New York Girls

Bellowhead are getting ready for their “sit down” tour, yes that’s right the audience can sit and enjoy the experience, though I’m not sure how long it will be before their usual crowd get the urge to jump up and down. I have to say I think it is a stroke of genius to have a sitting down tour as there must be a reasonable contingent who want to see them live but just don’t really want to stand let alone dance and jump for two hours at a time.

Unfortunately this is only a short tour and most date are already sold out, so your next opportunity to see them will be during the Summer at various Festivals including Bristol Folk Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Cornbury Festival and they’ve already announced their November tour, which is listed below.

In the mean time why not check out their new video, New York Girls, just uploaded to You Tube

Thurs 10 – IPSWICH – Corn Exchange
Fri 11 – BRIGHTON – Corn Exchange
Sat 12 – BILSTON The – Robin 2
Sun 13 – BIRKENHEAD – Pacific Road
Mon 14 – GATESHEAD – The Sage
Tues 15 – MANCHESTER – Academy 2
Wed 16 – CAMBRIDGE – Corn Exchange
Thurs 17 – LONDON – Shepherds Bush Empire
Sat 19 – SHEFFIELD – The Leadmill
Sun 20 – LEEDS – The Met
Mon 21 – CARDIFF – Coal Exchange
Tues 22 – FALMOUTH – Princess Pavilion
Wed 23 – LEAMINGTON – The Assembly
Thurs 24 – PORTSMOUTH – Pyramids
Fri 25 – FROME – Cheese & Grain
Sat 26 – DERBY – Assembly Rooms
Sun 27 – OXFORD – The Regal

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Churches and That Voice (Chris While)

There is something about seeing live music in churches, I’m not talking about choristers and congregations singing, though that’s not bad if you like that sort of thing, then there could be always be a dash amateur operatics, one source of music I really can’t get my head around and avoid like the plague . . . wait strike that I don’t mind a bit of Katherine Jenkins now and again. I’m talking about popular or folk acoustic music, the whole surroundings can often lend itself to the music. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a couple of gigs held in churches, including Show of Hands in Buckingham Parish Church and Kate Campbell in a small church in the village of Dinton, just outside Aylesbury. If you can get the sound and lighting right you really can have a magical evening and often very spiritual and that’s regardless of whether you are religious or not. There is also a regular venue that Empty Room Promotions use in Buckingham, a converted meeting hall called the Radcliffe Centre, which despite the often busy looking interior, mainly due to its daily use by the University of Buckingham as a lecture hall, is often loved by audiences and musicians who play there. In desperate need of some TLC this really has the potential of being one of the best acoustic venues in the area for both popular and classical music, all it really needs are the funds and passion to see it through. I digress . . .

This week I travelled over to Cambridge to The Emmanuel United Reformed Church to see Chris While and Julie Mathews Band and straight away on entering you are greeted by the whole wow factor of the surroundings, with high ceilings and vaulted roofs as well as the usual paraphernalia of church life. Understandably there can always be some difficulties for the sound crew to set up a band in a giant echo chamber, especially if the building is not really set up or dampened for electronic music and amplifications, but often this can all be forgiven if what you are listening to is something special.

And you can get no better than the voice of Chris While who frankly could sing a Haynes manual and make it sound bloody good. Fortunately though you can leave the car manuals at home when you have the song writing talents of Chris and her musical partner Julie Mathews. This is one of the first times, I believe, this duo has toured with a band, although I was lucky to see Chris While’s Band when she promoted her last CD, but those familiar with their catalogue would have enjoyed the different arrangements of their songs. This was one wonderful evening on this all too short tour and if you don’t catch them now check them out when they tour again as a duo or when Chris joins her daughter Kellie during May, it’s all worth it for that voice. Check their web site for tour dates.

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