EXCLUSIVE Friday Video – Old Dollar Bill sing Mr Kohl.


Old Dollar Bill
Mr. Kohl

Here we go; let’s get this sunny weekend off to a rollicking start with some edgy and ‘contemporary’ (????) Bluegrass from Old Dollar Bill.
Not your normal screechy fiddle and vocals from 1937; Old Dollar Bill straddle several genres in my humble opinion; and even their subject matter – Tattooist Extraordinaire Jeff Kohl is very 21st Century, indeed.

Released May 20th 2016

Jeremy Nail – EXCLUSIVE Interview by Cara Gibney

jeremy nail 12

Jeremy Nail
EXCLUSIVE Interview by Cara Gibney

“I didn’t know what we were gonna play, but we went into this monstrous version of “My Mountain”. I screamed at the top of my lungs and took the solo into no-man’s-land. It sounds like the speakers are gonna blow.”

Jeremy Nail was answering questions on working with Alejandro Escovedo, the producer of his recently released album My Mountain. Of course, that quote is just an extract, a brief out of context moment in time. Needless to say, there is more to how they worked together, and to the music they produced. There is more to their back story.

Four year ago Jeremy Nail was diagnosed with Sarcoma.
In 2014 his leg was amputated.
In 2016 he released My Mountain produced by Alejandro Escovedo
But there is much more to his story than that.

Nail is based in Austin, TX, and spent his childhood running around the Nail family ranch. Apparently the ranch is the size of Lubbock. I had to double check that with Nail himself – Lubbock? Really? “Yes” he replied, “there is a lot of open space.”

He is aware of the history of his family, and his place in it. He is a “seventh generation Texan” he told me. “I’m not sure where the Nail name comes from, but two Nail brothers came from England to help American colonists fight for independence from England. After the war, one brother stayed with the colonies and the other brother John Nail went to Tennessee. He and his family eventually made their way to Texas and settled in Ladonia, Texas, northeast of Dallas.”

The Nail ranch is a cattle ranch that Jeremy has worked, but there was another side to the family that ultimately influenced his upbringing. They were ranchers on the one hand, and purveyors of fine arts on the other. “It seems that many in my family were either one or the other. I worked summers out there growing up, but I was more drawn to art and music. They lived together because there is a mutual admiration and respect. Both require a great deal of work ethic.”

Other early influences were varied. “The first record on vinyl I heard was Michael Jackson’s Bad” he explained. “And I remember a Willie and Waylon record called ‘Clean Shirt’. My dad liked classical music as well as stuff like the Allman Brothers and Dire Straits.” Then Nail got into rock and grunge bands (think Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam), before he “really got into songwriters like Steve Earle, Tom Petty and Townes Van Zandt. I really liked the stories and the way they wrote lyrics. It sounded like home to me.”

His song writing started when he was 16 or 17. “I started learning to write from friends who were good at it and listening to a lot of records.” Then on leaving school he moved to Lubbock to study Agri-Business at Texas Tech. However, this led on to other things way beyond the commercial principles of large scale agri-operations. “First time I played with a band was at Bash Riprock’s in Lubbock, Texas, when I was 21 or so” he told me. “It was fun, but I’m glad there’s not a tape of it.”

jeremy nail 2

He’d got the bug. He attended South Plains College for three years of study, this time a student of Music. By 2005 he was in Austin working on his first album Letter. “I didn’t know many other musicians in Austin when I first moved here. After I made my first record, my producer, Mark Addison, introduced me to Harmoni Kelley. She helped me put the rest of the band together – Jeremy Nail and The Incidents – We played a lot around town and did some stuff regionally. It was a fun group of folks.”

Nail would go watch Alejandro Escovedo at The Continental Club in Austin. He “absorbed a lot of his (Escovedo ‘s) music by watching his band countless times … just being a fan. I knew the certain inflections that were inside those songs.” Then in 2013 Nail’s journey took a particular path. “We have a mutual friend who suggested me to Alejandro when he was looking for a replacement. I got the call and played a show with his band in Norman, Oklahoma.”

It goes without saying that this was a big deal. “I was nervous going in … was a little worried because I’m not really a “lead guitarist”. Somehow, it worked and I remember us sounding great that day in Norman.” After just one gig Escovedo invited Nail to join him on his upcoming world tour. “We hit it off and had a great time when I first played with his band.”

However, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans, and soon after this, Nail received the sarcoma diagnosis. Life as he knew it stopped. Young, active, talented and on the road to living his dream – everything shifted. The radiation and other treatment couldn’t change the tide enough, and he had to have his leg amputated.

Recovery from a life threatening, life changing event like this of course isn’t just physical. He did need learn how to walk with his prosthetic limb, and take care of a body battered and bleached from his illness. He also needed to come back; start working on what he loves.

When Nail became ill, Escovedo was on a world tour, but they both managed to stay in touch. In January of 2015, Alejandro  invited Jeremy to his show in the Moody Theater. From that point Escovedo’s wise counsel guided Nail through the creation of songs that unsparingly deal with the events that Nail had just lived through. Escovedo went on to produce the resulting album.

On a personal level Nail feels blessed. “It means the world to me to have had his guidance and support” he told me. “We connected on many levels, not only as artists, but as people who have dealt with serious loss and health struggles. Having someone you look up to and lift you up like that, it’s a great blessing. He made me feel comfortable and confident that I could do this in a way that would do the same for others. I owe a lot to him.”

On a professional basis he was advised and supported by the veteran who knows his craft inside out. “He is a great producer. When we were developing these songs, he said, “You want to be able to stand behind every line you write and sing these songs for the rest of your life.”  (He) helped me create the space for the words and the band to become one. When we were recording, nothing was forced. The vibe was very natural and every player dove deep into these songs. He has that kind of presence.”

In a previous interview earlier this year, Ranchera artist Carrie Rodriguez had told me that when she worked with Alejandro Escovedo he would push her to jump off the cliff musically. She said “I’d be giving a fiddle solo and he’d get up in my face and say “I don’t want to hear this fiddle country thing, I want you to sing bar talk. And go crazy.” And then he’d get in my face and demand it. And it was great, really great”.

I asked Nail if that rang any bells with him. “Oh yes!” was the response. “So the whole vibe of this record is very intimate and stripped down. It never gets above a certain volume, and that’s what we intended. I didn’t play electric guitar. We cut all of the basic tracks in 2 days. On the 3rd and last day of those sessions, we are tweaking the mixes a little, hanging out and relaxing because we are way ahead of schedule. We get to the end of the day and Alejandro is like “alright, everyone get in here, it’s time to rock out.” And, as he tells us at the top of the article, “we went into this monstrous version of “My Mountain”. I screamed at the top of my lungs and took the solo into no-man’s-land. It sounds like the speakers are gonna blow.”

My Mountain, the album that Escovedo ultimately produced, bears witness. It unwraps the bandages until we are left with the hurt, and the healing. And while it deals directly with his battle, his mountain, at the same time it resonates with those of us who have not been there. “I guarantee you haven’t seen what I’ve seen” is the first line of “Tell Me What Else You Got”. It’s a straight from the hip statement that I do not challenge. The song goes on to list some of what has, and is being faced. “I walked through fire, never got burned” He tells us in the song. “To me, that line says that I went through these intense things and kept things moving without getting jaded” he explained, and it is a theme dotted throughout the album’s eleven songs.

Title track “My Mountain” repeats “I might fail, but I’ll get up again.” It gives the impression of harking back to obstacles from way beyond the past few years. “For me, that song is about coming out of a time of loneliness and isolation” he explained, ”Connecting with the world around you again and putting yourself back together in the process.”

And there is more to this. There is always more. “Survive” sounds like a man talking to himself. “You’re gonna do what’s best for you and no one else/I’ll be by your side/Survive” he sings, and sings again. He isn’t talking to himself though. “I lost a close friend to cancer when I was going through my treatment, a girl I loved. I had her in mind when I was writing it. The perspective of the song changes in a way that sounds like I’m talking to myself, but I see it as her voice speaking to me.  In turn, I want the message to be aimed to the listener.”

As Nail said earlier, the album is stripped down and never gets above a certain volume. Escovedo’s adroit production puts Nail to the front ensuring the words are clear, the tone of voice colours the mood, the message is given clear passage. You can hear touches of other artists in there. Neil Young for sure, and Richmond Fontaine in “Down To The Ocean”. Indeed “New Frontier” sounds like a younger Willy Vlautin. Would Richmond Fontaine be an influence? “Certainly” he replied. “They are a great band. I love Willy Vlautin’s songwriting. He is a lot like Raymond Carver.”

I don’t want to sound glib about all this. Or clichéd. There is no romance to the ‘brave young man battles cancer’ aspect of this story. It is, in reality, a powerful precursor to an album that forensically explores surviving struggle, love and loss. There is one more key point though. There is always more. My Mountain stands up on its own. “I don’t think this record will be overshadowed by my story. It’s too strong for that. They move together as one”.

My Mountain stands out as another act of courage in the whole series of events that have impacted on Jeremy Nail. Intensely personal, relating to things that are immense, yet it is all being left open for other people’s scrutiny. “It comforts me that I have something real to share” he responded when I put that to him. “I understand that concept is not for everyone. To be authentic as an artist, I think there has to be somewhat of a distance from other people’s opinions of you, good or bad.

My job is to make the best record I can and keep moving forward.”

Cara Gibney (The Belfast Magpie)

Album Review – https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/jeremy-nail-my-mountain/

Mari Wilson – POP DELUXE

mari 4

Mari Wilson
WG Records

The Neasden Queen of Soul Returns Bigger, Better and Cooler.

Ahhhhhhhh…..Mari Wilson……swoon.
If you are one of my regular, uber-cool, music snob readers, you’d better stop reading now; because all sense went out of my window when I received this magnificent disc a month ago.
Mari Wilson? Where do I start? She was the soundtrack to a wonderful era in my life in the 1980’s; so much so I genuinely wore out my copy of Showpeople and had to buy a replacement copy. Plus; her show with the inimitable Wilsations at Newcastle City Hall is still in my Top 10 gigs of all time; and I’ve seen a lot of gigs.
So; can I be impartial? Obviously not.
In the intervening years she has appeared in cabaret, Theatre Shows and occasional stints in the Jazz clubs of London Town; with recorded music being put firmly onto the back burner, until now.
In short the songs Mari has selected and recorded for this album are pretty much from the Saturday night singers we both grew up watching and falling in love with in the 1960’s (I was an early developer!) like Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw and the Divine Cilla; plus a couple of leftfield choices for fun.
The album opens in true theatrical style with an instrumental overture; Island of Dreams with Mari humming along; this sets the scene perfectly for There’s Always Something There To Remind Me, which follows; showcasing Mari’s magnificent smoky voice.
All bar one song; come from those halcyon days of our youth but thankfully without the massive orchestrations; which haven’t aged well.
Possibly because of financial restrictions; but I’d like to think it was a conscious decision to freshen up classics like The Look of Love, I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten and Grandpa Magpie’s favourite British Chanteuse Petula Clark’s Don’t Sleep in the Subway (Darling) with a more contemporary backing; now highlighting the superb lyrics and Mari’s affectionate delivery.
While most reviews will harp on about Mari singing Dusty songs; great as they are; but for me it’s the other choices that make POP DELUXE really special.
Anyone Who Had a Heart now becomes a slightly dark love song; and who knew 24 Hours From Tulsa could become a Torch Song? Mari brings out her hidden Diva as she creates the break-up song to end all break-up songs; conjuring up images of Marlene Dietrich and even Ella at times as her voice occasionally falters with the emotion of it all.
I have to hold my hands up now; there is a single duff track here. Well; in my opinion the Pet Shop Boys/Dusty Springfield collaboration In Private sticks out like a sore thumb; with the note for note Disco Beat that makes my teeth itch. There’s definitely a good song in there; but why not try a different approach in keeping with the rest of the album?
Hey ho; all is forgiven though with the inclusion of Jackie Trent’s White Horses! In the Press Release Mari says that this was her one indulgence; well…..thank you Miss Wilson. I only vaguely remember the programme; but the theme tune has been an ‘ear worm’ for nigh on 50 years; and I had to play it the moment Mrs. Magpie returned home that very first day; as it’s a favourite of hers too.
So; it’s a very welcome return from the Queen of the Beehive; Mari Wilson and hopefully this is only a stepping stone to a full UK Tour and perhaps an album (or two) of new songs…..here’s hoping.
Happy Days indeed in the Magpie household.

Released May 13th 2016


Los Pacaminos (featuring Paul Young) – A Fistful of Statins

los pacaminos deluxe statins

Los Pacaminos (featuring Paul Young)
A Fistful of Statins
Recado Records/Universal Music

If Quentin Tarantino Ever Wants a Spaghetti Western Soundtrack Album, Look No Further.

Just like London buses, you wait ages for one to come along; and lo and behold a shinier newer one arrives just behind the first one.
That’s what has happened here with Los Pacaminos’ first album being re-released only a few weeks ago; and now, here comes their ‘great lost’ 2015 album; repackaged with the addition of a few more wonderful new songs just waiting for your delectation.
I need to start with the album cover; a tongue in cheek homage to Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western series of films only updated to appease ‘men of a certain age;’ and it not only made me snigger, but made me want to know what was inside, which is surely the whole point of album artwork?
The album opens with a wonderfully atmospheric instrumental called Razorwire; which sounds a bit like the Shadows re-mixed by Ry Cooder…..which is a very good thing indeedy.
Arguably my favourite song, Jump Back Baby comes in next; and the Tex-Mex swing will have you hankering for a warm evening, sticky ribs on the BBQ and a pitcher full of margaritas.
Doesn’t take long for the party to really warm up; and I defy even Chief Ironsides not to want to dance to Don’t Make Me Wait Señorita, Mi Chorizo est Loco and the smoochy Come a Little Bit Closer.
Just like the best soundtracks; Los Pacaminos aint no one track pony; straddling the Mavericks style Mexicana with Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison ballads like the sweet Prairie Serenade and the mournful A Letter to You, where Paul Young really comes into his own.
Other less well known; (unless you are in my inner circle) bands spring to mind too; I couldn’t help thinking of the Waco Brothers on the doleful and self-depreciating Battered and Boozed; and later it was the long lost Balham Alligators with the beautiful Caballero, Our Favourite Things and even more so with Texas Adios.
If you are a Los Pacaminos fan reading this and you haven’t heard of those two bands; I urge you do so immediately.
Two songs in particular caught my attention; but for completely different reasons. Palabras is a rather lovely song sung in Spanish; featuring some exquisite guitar picking; but the tune….hmmm…..of course! They have reinvented The Bee Gees Words as a Mariachi tune. Sheer Genius!
The other is The Girl From Tennessee; a rather jaunty and fun, accordion led song; that owes a bit of a debt to Slaid Cleaves, and Texas Love Song. Don’t get me wrong; I love both songs equally, but what are the odds of two songs rhyming Texas with Solar Plexus?
For once I can’t pick a winner here; but solely because all 17 tracks melt seamlessly into each other and I can’t wait for Summer to arrive so I can play this long into the night; much to the pleasure of my understanding neighbours.

Released May 6th 2016


King King – Rush Hour (Single/Video)

King King
Rush Hour (single)
Manhaton Records

The mighty King King are releasing their new single ‘Rush Hour’ on Wednesday 20th April.
Hopefully it was because I expressed my ‘love’ for this heart stopping ‘power ballad’ when I reviewed the Reaching For The Light album last year, that has made them release the track as a single; albeit remixed by House of Tone and mastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig.

Here’s the video – which acts as a taster for the upcoming UK Tour.

Released Wednesday 20th April

Reaching For The Light – https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/cd-reviews-2015/king-king-searching-for-the-light/




Christa Couture – Long Time Leaving

christ polaroid

Christa Couture
Long Time Leaving
Black Hen Music

Effortlessly Classy Canadiacana.

I first ‘discovered’ the aural delights of Christa Couture in 2012 when I reviewed her previous album, The Living Record; which made it to my Top 10 list at the end of the year.
So it was with mixed emotions when I received my copy of Long Time Leaving; could she match the quality of her previous offering?
Hell yes!
Christa has a very ‘interesting’ back story (a teenage battle with cancer meaning she lost a leg and the sad loss of her two young children); which has been well documented in her previous albums; so when this record is described as her ‘break up’ album; my interest was piqued.
The opening track The Slaughter is simply sumptuous; not only washing over you like Summer rain; but also quickly imposing itself on your psyche; as you slowly realise that it is about a number of dalliances she had with both men and women; following ‘that break up.’ For what it’s worth; I can’t wait to use her expression ‘rapturous tongues’ some time soon.
Song #2 Alone in This; takes a more tradfitional Folk path, than I’d expected but nonetheless; it’s another brittle and slightly dark story; set to Producer Steve Dawson’s pedal-steel back drop; and I guess it will make tears well up in many an eye.
As regular readers will know; I’m always going to be drawn to a title like Lovely Like You; and this one doesn’t disappoint; especially when Fats Kaplin makes an appearance on fiddle, as Christa’s exquisite voice soars and glides like a bluebird.
If you don’t already know Christa Couture, she comes in somewhere between Nanci Griffith, Allison Krauss and perhaps, even Mama Cass…..try songs like That Little Piece of My Heart or Michigan Postscript to hear where I’m coming from.
With the divide between this type of (Alt) Country and the CMA type Heavy Metal Country getting wider by the day; it’s harder for songwriter’s like Christa to make the crossover; which is a huge shame when songs like the quirky Zookeeper and definitely When It Gets Dark Again; could and should be a perfect fit for a number of ‘Big Hair’ singers in and around Nashville Town.
Which brings us to my favourite; by far song here….the quaint Aux Oiseaux; which doesn’t sound particularly like anything I’ve ever heard before; and that’s a really good thing. Plus the sentiment really ‘hit the spot’ with me.
Christa Couture is a spectacularly good songwriter; but it’s her voice and delivery that sets her apart from everyone else in the field.

#Footnote. When I played ‘This Little Piece of My Heart on my April podcast; I inadvertently mixed the title up with the Janis Joplin song; which tickled Christa.


Released North America April 15th 2016
Released UK May 20th 2016

April Podcast https://www.mixcloud.com/JumpingHotClubRadio/rocking-magpie-music-hour-april-podcast-2016/


Raye – Distraction (Single)

raye vik 3

Distraction (Single)


Released earlier this week, 18 year old Raye tells us in the opening lines of Distraction that she is a “South London girl,” which is helpful as this newly signed Polydor artist is someone that I have just recently heard of.

Fifteen seconds is quite a long time in the music world. Actually, in most cases I have made up my mind about a song within the first 3 seconds, so I thought I was going to be wrapping my ears around a slow mellow track but at 15 seconds I am lead down a different track. A full soulful-electric feel booms out for the remainder and even Raye’s vocals become a bit grittier. I can hear the influences of the people she has been working with, from Labrinth to Emeli Sande and MNEK to name a few.

This song is vibrant and exciting as she goes through the woes of love and waiting for the call from the boy and excuse the pun, this really is a great distraction from that. This is the first song to be taken from her upcoming EP ‘Back To The Winter’ and if the rest of the tracks are like this I think she will go far and quite possibly “take over the world” as she has already stated.

Li’l Vik




Sam Outlaw – Jumping Hot Club Newcastle

sam outlaw juan 4

Sam Outlaw
Jumping Hot Club

15th April 2016

It had been a long hard week with my day job; culminating with me finishing work at 7.30; driving home, getting changed into my ‘gig clothes;’ having a cheese toastie for my evening meal then driving to Newcastle, arriving just as the delectable Chloe Chadwick (a blonde vision in black leather biker jacket and Lycra jeans was introducing a new song Don’t Be Shy; a slightly more Rootsy/Americana vibe than I had expected; but that was probably due to the inclusion of Mark Bushell’s sublime Dobro playing.
He stayed with that instrument for the next song, Wearing Hearts, too; which had Mrs. Magpie nudging me to say ‘she has a lovely voice.’ Although that is true; she had totally forgot that she saw Chloe last year at the SummerTyne Festival. (An age thing?)
Looking very comfortable in a duo format; Chloe then introduced her new single, Love Will Find a Way. Well; that title and the song itself sums up my attitude to live music; and I heartily recommend you seek it out; if tonight’s sparky duet was anything to go by.
After checking her watch; Chloe introduced the rather lovely Summertime Lovin’ as ‘being from her album; which will be out to coincide with a tour in July.’ Well an album isn’t before time from this young lady; and this song alongside the other new songs I presume; bode very well indeed for that release, when it comes.
Remembering that was in the future; and she still had copies of her current EP to sell; Chloe and Mark closed their set with the toe-tapping Settle Your Heart; from said disc; and within a blink of the eye a queue formed to buy them from the merch desk as Mark cleared the gear away.
Chloe Chadwick; remember the name.
By the time Sam Outlaw and Molly Jensen, fresh from appearing on National TV on Sunday morning, took to the stage the crowd had swelled to near enough 100 fans; who all seemed to have an excited twinkle in their eyes.
With a smile and a tip of his black Stetson; Outlaw started the evening with the beautiful It Might Kill Me from his debut album Angeleno; and with Molly Jenson providing the pedal-steel parts on her exotic looking acoustic guitar to compliment Sam’s sweet drawl; the scene was set for a very memorable night indeed.
The applause and whooping that greeted the final notes was as loud as I’ve heard at this club for a very long time.
Sam thanked the crowd; then introduced the next song by saying “bad relationships make the best Country songs; but I’m in a happy relationship, so my love songs are cheesy,’ and as the opening chords to the harmony drenched I Want To Love Her For a While filtered through the speakers there was a cheer of recognition.
Another long and loud round of applause followed; and again Ghost Town was immediately recognised; and I noted ‘most acts don’t have a song this good to use as an encore; and this was just track #3 tonight.’
Pretty much every song from Angeleno was performed tonight; with the title track itself being outstanding and my own personal favourite, the tongue in cheek Jesus Take Me Home was greeted with even louder whoops and whistles than earlier quite a few people even tried to sing along.
In a night full of great Country music; I reluctantly had to agree with Mrs. Magpie that her favourite song from Angeleno; Who Do You Think You Are? Was probably the ‘best in show’ as the couple’s harmonies were diamond encrusted and when Molly Jenson did a little dance half way through; my knees turned to jelly.
As Sam pointed out; the album was recorded a long, long time ago and he already has enough songs for a new album (cue more whooping and a’ Hollerin) we were treat to three brand new songs, the simple and beautiful Look At You Now, the bittersweet (with the emphasis on sweet) She’s Proving Hard To Get (Rid Of!!) and a contender for ‘song of the night’ I Won’t Stop (Until I Get You In My Arms) which appeared to be a whispered suggestion from an excited Ms. Jenson.
Aha; Molly Jenson. Tonight; and this UK tour was very much Sam Outlaw’s opportunity to shine in the sun; but Molly proved more than just a foil for the LA singer-songwriter; proving intricately skilful on her guitar and her voice…..swoon….her harmonies were delicious in the extreme; but when she was allowed a verse or two to herself; memories of George & Tammy and even Porter & Dolly sprang to mind; and I don’t say that just for effect.
As well as regaling us with his very own songs; Sam and Molly showed what great taste they have too, with the inclusion of two cover versions; the Flying Burritos’ Juanita and Ryan Adams’ Oh My Sweet Carolina which was the ‘I can’t believe it’s not an encore, encore,’ which came after the duo turned their back to the audience as we shouted ‘More’ with Molly Jenson even partially hiding beneath the back drop; as she pretended to leave the stage.
Honestly; this was ‘one of those nights’ that only come along every once in a very long time; and already people are asking the JHC when Sam Outlaw is coming back.
As the night progressed, I had a good look around the room and saw very few regular faces; and the age range was much younger than the JHC’s regular attendees; presumably most of those here had discovered Mr. Outlaw via these very pages. Do you think?).


Angeleno review https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/sam-outlaw-angeleno/

Photo Courtesy the legendary Juan Fitzgerald

Josh Harty -The Tanners Arms Newcastle

josh harty tanners

Josh Harty
The Tanners Arms
10th April 2016

I was baffled when I saw this venue tucked away on Harty’s UK Tour dates; as I know the pub well and hadn’t previously associated it with Americana or Rootsy music; primarily Hippity–Hoppity Disco nights and teenage Indie bands.
Nevertheless I made my excuses to Mrs. Magpie and made my way across Newcastle for the 6pm start on a Sunday afternoon.
When I walked in a Rock Covers band of mature years were belting out a Fabulous Thunderbirds song in the corner of the bar; so before ordering a beer I confirmed that Josh Harty was actually playing the venue; “I think so. Is he American?” The bar keep mumbled.
As I sipped my beer, the band desecrated another couple of songs before it was announced that ‘Josh Harty will be on stage in 10 minutes.’ With a heavy heart I made my way across the room, to find that the dozen or seats were already taken by regulars; leaving a big barren space between the ‘stage’ and the customers; coupled with me finding a spare chair and sitting about 4 feet to the singers left.
Thankfully a charming young lady from Harty’s entourage introduced herself; and offered to note down the set list; allowing me to concentrate on taking photos and look a right fool scribbling notes with everyone staring.
Eventually an embarrassed looking Josh Harty finished setting up his mic and guitar; and decided that the crowd wasn’t going to get any larger (it kept getting smaller as people kept walking in front of him to go outside for a smoke).
After a short and nervous introduction Josh slid into You & I from the Attic Sessions, and I noticed a couple of rosy cheeked regulars nodding their heads and smiling as the lovely song ended.
After a couple of faltering jokey intros, the good looking American soon relaxed into his songs; and gave up introducing them.
I’m a recent convert; so loved discovering Long Time Coming Down and the delightful World of War; but it was final run in that managed to silence the chattering classes in the bar; and had me smiling like a ninny.
Starting with English Rain, which is my favourite track on the latest album, then Harty’s interpretation of John Martyn’s May You Never (which followed) deserved a much larger audience than the pitiful one that heard it tonight.
Next up was the title track of that new album; Holding On and it was obvious that the crowd were now completely won over; judging by the twinkle in several eyes at the back.
Then; as probably every Americana/Country/Roots act did in that 72 hour period he sang a Merle Haggard song in memory of the great man who died a day before. While I’m not a Haggard fan myself; I did like Mama Tried anyway; and Harty’s version was quite beautiful in its simplicity; and managed to get two of the Rock band to stand and applaud as it finished.
The 50 minute set closed with another new song, Shiver in the Dark and a wonderful gig came to a close.
I normally don’t introduce myself to pop-stars (?) but felt I had to tonight; congratulating Josh on a marvelous performance despite ‘the venue.’
He was quite philosophic about the situation; as he had particularly wanted to ‘play’ Newcastle on the Tour; but getting gigs is becoming increasingly more and more difficult if you try to save fees by doing it all yourself.
So; dear readers……Support Live Music, especially artistes who write and perform their own material; but I guess you know that anyway, don’t you?



Photo-set http://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Josh-Harty/

Nerina Pallot – Sage, Gateshead

nerrina mm

Nerina Pallot
Sage, Gateshead
11th April 2016.

Tonight’s audience were definitely long term fans of Nerina Pallot, or were at least definitely more clued up than just knowing her one ‘famous song’ (more about that later) and her latest album.
When Samuel Taylor, (a member of Nerina’s band) and Rebecca Van Cleave appeared on stage to start the nights proceedings, they received a very warm reception from the very quiet; but appreciative crowd. As Samuel strapped on his acoustic guitar and harmonica there was a noticeable silence of anticipation; but once the duo started, the crowd were most definitely ready; for Samuels and Rebecca’s songs; and each one was received with generous applause from the rapidly filling audience; as the couple’s vocals blended brilliantly together to fill Sage 2 with a simple; but memorable Americana sound; notably the song, The Artist and Fading Away.

nerina nn

Hall 2 was near to capacity, and the stage was set with only a piano to the left, as Nerina made her entrance in a glittery green dress. Dressed for the occasion, she made it look even more stunning as she grabbed an electric guitar to open with the energetic If I Had A Girl from her latest album, The Sound And The Fury.
For the third song she sat at the piano and finally acknowledged the crowd ; joking ‘it is a Monday night crowd,’ with the emphasis on ‘Monday night’ as the crowd sat in silence. Later, she even pointed out, ‘you just want me to shut up and sing; cos that’s what you are here for.’ For me, this made her even more charming than I’d expected; in fact it made me just want to go to the pub with her, as I think she would have brilliant banter – or even invite her to a dinner party – as long as she brings her chicken curry and not celleric soup!! (you had to be there)
Staying at piano we were introduced to Boy On A Bus, which is more or less her love/hate song to London. She has spent the best part of her life in London and luckily knows her geography of the city unlike where the Humber River is. Thankfully she knew we were in Gateshead tonight and not sitting in Newcastle Upon Humber.

We are then taken through a few solo numbers with just Nerina at the piano, which she now calls Stella, as the band disappear. We are also told that she has tried her best to include the favourites of her extensive back catalogue; but of course there will be a few missing that will not please people, so it is request time. An audience member shouts Time Won’t Wait. She’s hesitant as ‘it is quite hard’ but although she says we should not please people too much, she really gives her all in the little rendition much to that man’s delight as well as the rest of us. Another request is shouted out but that IS really hard, so instead of ‘murdering the song’ she suggests we go home and play it.

The band rejoined her on stage as she decided to change the set at the very last minute; because someone on Twitter ‘told her off’ for not singing a particular song the last time she visited. Her reasoning being that she’d played it far too many times on that tour. When asked, the person did not make themselves known, so if you are reading this, then just remember Everyone’s Gone To War was for you instead of There Is A Drum. It seemed to work in her favour though as there were a lot more heads bopping and even my row of seats were moving! I was not that Twitterer but going back to the start, I am among those who only really know Nerina for that song and more fool me, as tonight makes me want to kick myself for all the old gems and live shows I have missed, as a Nerina Pallot show is something not to be missed, especially if you want a night of chat and good music and possibly even a few glasses of wine, as it sure did look like she was enjoying some, as did Becca from the opening act! Or it could have been juice dressed up fancy!

We are then taken to the last song of the evening and the silent crowd becomes that little bit noisier with handclaps to Hands Up. There were a few that even took to clapping along with the drummer, which confused a few people. It was to be a perfect closer to the show but then she returns on her lonesome to the crowds insistent encore claps and foot stomps and as she reappears someone shouts out Sophia and she agrees she is quite predictable as she takes to the piano giving us a most mesmerising performance under red lights to end this perfect evening.

L’il Vik…..the Little Magpie

photo-set https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153943242945733.1073741942.84126455732&type=3