SummerTyne 2016 (Saturday)

SummerTyne 2016 (Saturday)
Sage Gateshead
22nd – 24th July


After an early morning start editing photos from Friday; I arrived bright and early for Day II of SummerTyne 2016, giving me plenty of time for a peak around the stalls in the Sage foyer. The Record/CD/T-Shirt stall were very busy restocking; which was a good sign and I was pleased to bump into a friend of a friend who was manning the tall selling cigar-box guitars. They looked amazing and were retailing between £30 and £100 making them quite affordable too; and I counted 10 of them in plastic bags during the day…..and another dozen on the Sunday.
The Festival got kick-started at noon with Danielle Howle; a new name to me; but someone very highly recommended by some friends who had seen her in that America place. I too was impressed within two songs I was just as impressed with her live wire performance and deeply personal songs; looking and sounding somewhere between Joni and Patti.

summertyne danielle
Just as Danielle was singing her final song I hurried up to the Lounge where Callahan was performing. Although not wearing the previous evenings ‘leather loon pants’ the twenty minutes I saw was exactly the same with the same worded intros; which was a tad disappointing for me; but presumably the majority of this crowd hadn’t seen her in Hall I on Friday night.
On leaving the room I immediately bumped into two friends; meaning I missed Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay’s first song in Hall II; but the next 15 minutes more than made up for that faux pas. Looking and sounding like a perfect and timeless Country Duo their voices melted together like honey and bourbon. I’ve seen them twice before and have got a couple of albums too; but nothing prepared me for how good they have become in the last three years. I liked them so much; that after a lightning visit to the Jumping Hot Club stage to see 10 minutes of 10 String Symphony; a raw and intense boy/girl Bluegrassy type act that went down extremely well according to friends; but I slinked back into Hall II to watch the last 25 minutes of Brennen and Noel ‘as a fan’…..just sitting there drooling over their voices and fabulous songs; especially Pulled The Rug which turned Hall II into a Geordie Honky Tonk.

On the way back outside I happened on the Americana UK stage where a hippie folk singer called Jess Morgan was singing to a crowd of over 200. Very pleasant she was; but not for the last time this weekend I was left baffled as to what is deemed ‘Americana’ by the Americana UK Association.
After a quick coffee and a sandwich with another mate I’ve not seen since last year; it was back into Hall II to see legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Robison alongside his lovely wife Kelly Willis for 20 minutes. While I fell in love with Kelly’s sweet voice and her own songs; the highlight was Bruce’s son Leavin’ which was one of the events of the weekend.
Back outside it was a rare chance to see Peter Bruntnell in the North East; but I couldn’t help thinking this music from the dark end of Alt. Country Street are best seen and heard in a dark and dingy club and not in the bright sunshine; but the full to over flowing people packed onto Shipcote Hill will beg to differ; as he went down a storm.
As soon as he finished I popped back inside to see Flats &Sharps from the English West Country whose foot-stomping and barnstorming take on Bluegrass had the rammed concourse clapping along and dancing where space allowed. In the words of a mate from that part of the UK Flats & Sharps were “Gert Lush!”
Halfway through a friend of the Rocking Magpie Website introduced himself and we had a long chat about music and my ‘illness/operation’ last year; which had prompted him to visit his doctor; and thankfully be given the ‘all clear.’ I won’t go on about it but you can help me support Prostate Cancer UK here That conversation meant that I missed May Jean Lewis & Her Lowmen; but I’ve seen them several times and wasn’t surprised to hear that they rocked and rolled in the bright sunshine; causing the front of the stage to be heaving with dancers.
I on the other hand got to see a lovely display of Appalachian dancing; before donning the cheap sunglasses again to see the Urban Pioneers.

As soon as I saw them I knew I would like them; but not only did they look great; their raucous Hillbilly Country music sounded even better; with just about every song being greeted with hoots, hollars and wild applause from the 3,000+ on the Hill; plus I even saw an attempt at square dancing beside the stage!
With time against me I dashed back upstairs to the SummerTyne Lounge to finally see the divine Amelia White, who serenaded us with a bunch of songs from the Home Sweet Hotel album. A little bit cookie, and a great songwriter Amelia was certainly one of the highlights of my weekend.
Speaking of highlights; Mrs. Magpie arrived by taxi just in time to see family favourite Eve Selis in the Saturday evening sunshine on the Jumping Hot Club stage.
WOW again!
I knew Eve Selis was popular; but was still stunned to see that not a single person had left the Hill and several hundred more were standing on tiptoes a the sides to try and catch a glimpse of the singer in her sexy black dress. Hearing her wasn’t a problem as Eve sounded like her life depended on every person in the vicinity hearing her; and for an outside stage the sound was pitch perfect.

This brand of Roadhouse Country was the ideal way to close the afternoon; with a mix of new songs from her latest album and a few older ‘fan favourites’ like my own favourite Russellville; then closed the set with a rip-roaring version of Folsom Prison Blues; which caused a major outbreak of dancing on the Hill, beside the Hill and even behind the Hill!
The crowd demanded an encore and were rewarded with a beautiful version of Hallelujah; before Eve ran into the concourse to sign untold CDs and pose for scores of ‘selfies’ with fans of all ages.
Mrs. Magpie and I then sat in the sunshine devouring some of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever known. As Mrs. Magpie had a quick wash and brush up; it was back inside for me to see Scottish troubadour Dean Owens, who was opening for Gretchen Peters for the first time. He truly is as good as I’d heard and expected and hearing Johnny Cash Played San Quentin was actually quite spellbinding.
After 30 minutes I re-joined my wife in Hall I to see the ‘stars of SummerTyne 2015’ Jess and the Bandits. Last year they played the Lounge and the Concourse and have subsequently headlined Hall II and tonight Jessica Clemmons looked right at home on the ‘big stage;’ rattling through their album without time to catch their collective breath; but with just enough time for each track to be greeted with ever louder applause from the ever growing crowd.
The one song that did get a ‘proper introduction’ was Wichita Linesman which Jess reminded us had been a turning point for the band after singing it on the Terry Wogan Radio Show.
Don’t be surprised if this band actually headline this venue in years to come.
SummerTyne isn’t like any other Festival; as it’s run with Military precision meaning I could nip into Hall II to see Gretchen Peter’s first few songs as Mrs. M enjoyed a glass of wine with some friends.
Gretchen started by apologising for her husky voice, as she had a cold; but carried on regardless. We had loved seeing her at Durham Gala Theatre earlier in the year; opening song When All You Got Is a Hammer couldn’t have sounded angrier or more apt tonight baring in mind what has gone on in the world over the last six months.
Sadly I only got to hear three songs before scampering back to Hall I to see Festival Headliner Imelda May; whom I’ve seen 5 or 6 times over the years and wasn’t too over excited about seeing her tonight.
But…..WOW……who would have thought Imelda May could or would be the surprise package of this weekend?
Moments after the band started playing a backing singer made her way through the shadows; but went to the front of the stage. Hang on! The raven haired beauty with a fringe and a slinky black mini-dress was……….IMELDA MAY!
Yes…Imelda May has had a makeover and boy; does she not only look good but she sounds great; losing the ‘billy’ and gaining a lot more Rock.
Tonight’s show was a glorious mixture of popular songs, fan favourites and a couple of newbies from the highly anticipated T-Bone Burnette produced album due in the Autumn.
The mood for the show was set by the new version of Big Bad Handsome Man; with Imelda virtually spitting out the words……she angry; she DAMN ANGRY!

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The all new Imelda May is a heady mixture of Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Lulu, Edith Piaf and of course the Irish Sweetheart herself, Imelda May.
For what its worth; this change in direction could and most likely will be a major turning point for Imelda and judging by the couple of new songs included tonight and her amazing version of Spoonful the future is hers for the taking.
I saw an awful lot of music today but missed the Hillbenders revisiting the Who’s Tommy in Bluegrass and later Soul legend Lucky Peterson who played for over 2 ½ hours to just under 100 lucky punters.
Tomorrow is another day!

SummerTyne – Callaghan, Ward Thomas and Striking Matches

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Callaghan, Ward Thomas and Striking Matches
Sage, Gateshead – 22nd July, 2016.

The opening night of the 11th SummerTyne Americana festival at Sage, Gateshead, Hall 1 was a triple-bill of the best of New Country music.

Being quite new to the Americana music scene, Callaghan was a new name to me; but a very welcome one. Many people still had not arrived to take their places when Callaghan (singer-songwriter from London; but now a resident of Atlanta, Georgia) arrived on stage with a guitarist accompanist; but those that did were thoroughly entertained with a set made up of up-tempo and mellow tunes; often with accompanying and engaging back-stories. We are also given a taste to her Acoustic Coffee House album that was recorded in one 16-hour day which includes a cover of ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King. To keep with the positive vibes especially ‘in all the madness of the world,” Callaghan closed her set with ‘We Don’t Have To Change The World,’ but she has changed mine that I will be keeping a close eye on this name.

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Next on the triple bill were twin sisters Ward Thomas who have recently been taking the UK music country scene by storm. I was introduced to them through a friend and immediately took to them; so was pretty excited to see them in play live; considering I missed them playing the Jumping Hot Club stage last year.
Sisters, Catherine and Lizzy, stormed the Sage with their backing band and up-tempo tunes that definitely had those in the pit dancing along. Catherine played guitar throughout most of the set and by the fourth number, Lizzy took up the keyboards, showcasing even more of their talents. Then for Good & Right they both played guitars for this rockier number, which was also echoed by the audience response. Ward Thomas are amazing fronting the band; but it was nice when the band left the stage and we were left with just Catherine and Lizzy capturing the audience in the palm of their hands with Safe. There was not much talk between the songs; but when the songs came the crowd responded with lots of dancing in the open floor space and huge nods of approval especially with talk of new material. Ward Thomas’s exciting hour closed with the biggest and bounciest number of the night; Ugly to rapturous applause.

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It was at last years SummerTyne that I first heard of Striking Matches when The Shires covered them in their headline slot; and it was with that one song I needed to know who Striking Matches were. Unfortunately I missed out when they played The Sage for their own show last year, so tonight I was in for a treat. The excitement was brewing in the Hall with hardly an empty space as lights went down. Striking Matches, Sarah and Justin bring lots of high energy to the stage from the get-go and the whole room fed on it. There were a lot of prolonged guitar solos, best of all in ‘Raining’ and I was in awe. Subsequently I have forgottan most of the show because I was simply blown away by their performance. Thankfully, I did have a pen and paper to hand and now notice that there was a great audience interaction from both Sarah and Justin; even if some of it was a bit strained by their jet lag, as we are told they had literally stepped off the plane from Nashville that morning. As the pair tuned their guitars, they gave a fun commentary as they raced to be first finished. Justin won and took us into Never Gonna Love Again, which is a pretty slow song but played with such intensity that towards the end, Sarah ended up breaking a nail…which she tells us is better than breaking a shoe, like she did on their last visit.

A personal highlight, especially as I was wearing a Fleetwood Mac t-shirt was when Justin asked the crowd to sing along and with Never Going Back Again. Justin and Sarah gave Lindsay Buckingham a run for his money with their sting plucking; and it’s not often I will give a huge nod to covers of Fleetwood Mac songs but Striking Matches are definitely getting a huge one for this adaptation.

With Hall 1 buzzing, I think Sarah and Justin lost track of time, as they ran very close to curfew before exiting the stage for a very short encore. The room was now at their loudest when they return with the song that introduced me to Striking Matches, ‘I Ain’t Leaving Without Your Love.’
Even with the chance of my bus arriving in minutes I could not leave without my love being firmly cemented with Striking Matches too.


Victoria Ling

SummerTyne 2016 (Friday)

SummerTyne 2016
Sage Gateshead
22nd – 24th July

summertyne stage friday

This was the 11th Annual SummerTyne Americana Festival; the yearly collaboration between Sage Gateshead and the Jumping Hot Club.
Unlike just about any other Music Festival this one has evolved into two; with the Jumping Hot Club curated ‘outside stage’ being FREE and drawing crowds of over 3,000 per day to sit on the banks of the Tyne experiencing Roots music in all its formats and in all its Glory too.
Inside the magnificent building there are also FREE showcases by Americana UK artists; but the main draw as always are the World Class headliners in Halls One and Two.
As always I flit around for three days like a butterfly on steroids trying to see and hear a little bit of just about everything on offer; occasionally staying for up to a mind boggling thirty minutes whenever possible! All to give you a taste of what you are missing!


As always the weekend begins at noon on the Friday with an afternoon of local Roots acts under the guise of ‘Home Fries’ on the Jumping Hot stage; and this year the opening act was a previous visitor and friend of the Rocking Magpie, the passionate singer-songwriter Tony Bengtsson. In his heart Tony would love to be an angsty Politico/protest singer like Billy Bragg; but can’t help but write beautiful works like the timeless Rebecca and an as yet unrecorded song Hearts of Stone. His set closed with another gorgeous Folk tinged Love Song called Count Me In.
While primarily based in the NE Tony does make the occasional foray North, South, East and West; if he plays near you….go see him, you won’t be disappointed.
By the time Kari MacLeod and the Fugitives took to the stage I was sitting atop Shipcote Hill, basking in the sunshine. Billed as a Folk-Bluegrass band I certainly wasn’t prepared for sweet sounds and the beautifully rich voice that seeped from the stage.
Although I could see two sets of friends gathering on the forecourt I stayed where I was so I could hear every note of every song this young quintet produced; and I wasn’t disappointed; especially their ‘grungy waltz’ Lady of the Night; which featured the Red Arrows flying over as they practised for the Airshow further down the road in The Dark Place.
Originally from the Highlands of Scottish Land; but now residing in Newcastle, Kari MacLeod was my first (and not my last) ‘discovery’ at SummerTyne 2016; and one I will be keeping a beady eye on.

No Jumping Hot Club SummerTyne stage would be complete with some authentic Geordie Delta Blues and this year it was supplied by the legendary Hokum Hotshots; who’s youthful good looks bely the years they have been purveying their wares on the local Chittlin’ Circuit.

With the vast array of International acts on show over the weekend it may surprise you to hear that one of the acts that I was most looking forward to was on stage next; the Teresa Watson Band, opening her set with Blues Is My Business which got at least a dozen brave souls dancing in front of the stage. A stalwart of the local scene for many years, Teresa disappeared a few years ago and ‘got a proper job’ but as she told us; “3 years ago I was sitting out there and thought….I want to play on that stage!” So; ‘she got the band back together’ and here she was in all her sexy/strutting glory. Always great value; Teresa hasn’t aged a day and is still Geordieland’s answer to Dame Maggie Bell.

I normally start or end my SummerTyne reviews with the signature ‘You will arrive on Friday not knowing 90% of the acts on offer; but leave on Friday with your favourite band of all time!’
That may be the case with The Sons of Bido Lito who lobbed a series of musical hand-grenades into the assembled throng that could only loosely be called Americana. Sounding like a cross between the Psychedelic era Byrds and something off a Nuggets album; they look like a gang of football hooligans but play like seasoned professionals.
Somewhere in the mix was a homage to the Yardbirds, a most Blues-wailin’ harp solo and I’m sure Cap’t. Beefheart got a mention too; and lets not forget their super surfy guitars and Farfisa style organ; so what’s not to like?

Oh….just as the band ended their set; there was a two minute ‘sunny shower;’ even though all weather forecasts had said ‘bright sunshine and hot, hot, hot’about 200 umbrellas mysteriously appeared! That’s what British music fans are like; always prepared for the worst and they never trust weather forecasters!

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Finally another friend of the Rocking Magpie, Chloe Chadwick closed the day in the sun. There’s not a lot more for me to tell you; she writes and performs really good, personal songs that are very ‘radio friendly’ if radio was worth listening too; and after seeing Chloe in a series of small venues she looked very comfortable on this biggish stage in front of perhaps 1,000 music fans.


As that crowd filtered away; the ‘paying customers’ made their way into the main building and were serenaded by a Close Harmony Quartet from New England called Windborne. Not necessarily my first choice of music; but their harmonies really were spine-tingling and when they added a banjo and washboard to the mix; they cooked up a mighty fine sound.
My AAA Photo-pass allowed me to flit between Hall to Hall each night; getting a flavour of each act for three songs or so; and I have to tell you as a huge music fan that is a small piece of Heaven on Earth!
First up on Friday was the quirky Gemma Ray who was opening for and would later be joining Howe Gelb on stage. Playing a big ole Gretsch semi-acoustic with a carving knife jammed into the Bigsby, she straddled the divide between art and music that lives in the shadows of a very dark part of Country Town.
From their I ran into Hall 1 to see Callaghan open the British Country Package. I really liked her last year in an AMA UK Showcase at the festival; and liked her again tonight; but can’t remember anything now apart from the fabulous song Best Year and her leather loon pants!

Regular Sage attendees know that things here move with military precision; and SummerTyne is no different; meaning I could then run into the Lounge to see Gill Landry (Old Crow Medicine Show) perform a couple of songs; and …..BOOM….he was amazing. Leaving me staggered as to why he was hidden away in a support slot.
A quick check of the watch and I slinked into Hall 2 just as Howe Gelb himself was being introduced. Looking like a Southern Gospel Preacher (or Col. Sanders) Gelb was dressed head to toe in white and sporting a matching Fedora; and sat himself at the grand piano. Of the two songs I heard I only just recognised his slow, talking-Blues interpretation of He Stopped Loving Her Today.

Not quite ‘my cup of tea’ it has to be said; and I must mention it was a noticeably small audience for such a ‘big name.’ I was later told it had been ‘an amazing performance alongside Gemma Ray’ but that was from a man whop wore the same Giant Sand t-shirt for three days.
Thankfully Ward Thomas who nearly stole the show on the outside stage in 2015 were a refreshing change in Hall 1. Delicately avoiding the poppy end of Modern Country these British sisters really are destined for a headline slot here sometime soon.

With barely time to gulp down a pint of Golden Sheep (beer) it was back into the lounge to see the highly rated Mike & Ruthy Band. Normally used as a practice room for the orchestra this room really comes into its own at SummerTyne and the fairy lights strung from the ceiling, coupled with the Roadhouse style stage made for a perfect backdrop tonight.

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Earlier in the day three musician friends had recommended this gig; and it was quickly apparent that this is where the ‘cool kids’ were hanging out; and the danceable, foot stompin’ and sing-along Country/Hillbilly crossover certainly didn’t disappoint.
A few songs stood out in the half hour I was there; Bright As You Can and their representation of one of Woody Guthrie’s unfinished songs; but their Ghost of Richard Manuel was simply outstanding.
By now I was visibly and mentally tiring; but there was still Striking Matches to see and photograph. Well; their energy is infectious, meaning that I was shaking a tail feather too, as I moved around the ‘mosh pit’ like a photography-Ninja.

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Apart from 10 minutes watching Jess and the Bandits rocking the Concourse area on the way out; that was it for me; missing the Kentucky Headhunters close the day in Hall 2.

photos by Harrisonaphotos

EXCLUSIVE Jeremy Nail -New Frontier (Video)

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When I was a lad John Peel and Alan Freeman on the radio plus the now legendary Old Grey Whistle Test were the only places to see and hear ‘new music,’ but 40 years on the Internet has the facility to bring like minded people together in a way my younger self could never imagine (even Captain Kirk didn’t have Skype!).
Earlier this year my friend and Rocking Magpie corespondent, Cara Gibney who lives in Northern Ireland linked me to her friend Bernadette who lives in that New York City but loves and promotes Canadian Roots music, who subsequently sent me loads of amazing music…..including Jeremy Nail.
His album review is still in our Top 20

and Cara’s interview with the young Singer-Songwriter is Top 3 in that particular genre;

so it’s with great excitement Bernadette and Jeremy have graciously allowed us to EXCLUSIVELY present this wonderful live performance of Jeremy singing New Frontier featuring Rocking Magpie favourites the Mastersons on guitar and fiddle .

Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

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Michael Kiwanuka
Love & Hate
Polydor Records

Ultra Classy and Effortlessly Boundary Transcending Songs.

As one of the few places on terrestrial TV to see contemporary music, Later with Jools Holland is a ‘must see’ at Rocking Magpie Towers; even if it can be a trifle disappointing these days. But; every season they unearth a real gem and that’s what they did last year when Michael Kiwanuka ‘performed’ in 2011; just before the release of his debut album.
A mad year followed; then he disappeared off my radar until he turned up on that programme again singing Black Man in a White World.
Socks were knocked off all over the UK that night.
And now; we have his second album Love & Hate. But has the wait been worth it?
The album opens with the long orchestral and almost cinematic Cold Little Heart. A very brave choice as it’s 10 minutes long and over 5 minutes in before Kiwanuka actually begins singing; but when he does……swoon.
This is followed by Black Man in a White World; a song that just may change his life forever. It’s very ‘radio friendly’ with a catchy chorus; but unlike everything else here is overtly ‘Political’ with a capital P; and with everything that is happening across the world at the moment; primarily in the USA but also parts of UK and Europe this amazing song could be the anthem of the summer for many disaffected young people.
Songs like this come around once in a generation and this truly is ‘one of those songs.’
The title track, Love & Hate is just as striking; even if I did miss the underlying thread the first time I heard it; and many others will; but just like Sam Cooke and Harry Belafonte before him; he has hidden a very strong message in a lovely Pop Song.
Citing the likes of Marvin Gaye, Terry Callier, Isaac Hayes AND John Lennon as heroes and influences it’s not really surprising that this isn’t just Soul, Jazz, Blues, Funk or indeed Pop but a gorgeous hybrid of all of them including the the politics of Hip-Hop.
There has been a squabble at RMHQ over the ‘favourite’ track award; betting without Black Man in a White World of course; Mrs. Magpie insists it’s the beautiful The Final Frame, which closes the disc but for me (I’m a softy) it has to be Fathers Child a song that can be heard on two levels; obviously ‘from a son to a father’ but Kiwanuka wrote it as a way of explaining his faith in God. It deliberately tugs at the heartstrings but at 7 minutes long will never get played on the radio; but it sort of caught me unawares on a night I was feeling a bit ‘weepy’ and therefore it becomes ‘my choice.’
There’s a lot to take in here. On the one hand it reminded me of Seal’s first two albums, and even Diamond Life by Sade; and I guess the PR will re-direct a lot of Adele fans this way; but there is so much more to Love & Hate than that…..these songs bite and have more edge than Mt. Everest.
Baring in mind how ‘polished’ Love & Hate is; there are some incredibly brave selections here; showing us that the young man born in Uganda but brought up in England after his family were expelled by the monster Idi Amin, is very much his own man and will stand or fall by his own choices and songs. Judging by the content here…..he will not just stand tall, but has the ability to rise beyond all current recognition.

Released July 15th 2016

Wily Bo Walker – Moon Over Indigo


Wily Bo Walker
Moon Over Indigo
Mescal Canyon Recordings MCREX021

The Dark Side of the Blues That Will Chill Your Heart and Warm Your Soul.

At times I wish that Wily Bo Walker wasn’t quite so prolific with his recordings; then I could settle back and enjoy whatever appears to be his latest disc; but no….he keeps on churning out cracking albums that straddle the musical divide as if he has a home-made conveyor belt in the garage.
Moon Over Indigo is the third part of a musical trilogy first recorded in 2015 and; in my humble opinion by far the best thing he’s ever recorded.
I’m a stickler for an ear catching opening track; and Walker delivers a bit of a classic with Walking With The Devil (Voodoo Mix). A righteous slide guitar opens proceedings before Walker’s grizzled voice crawls out of the speakers, only to be followed by some sexy backing singers; and the mood is set for the next hour or so.
Track #3 Walk in Chinese Footsteps quickly takes a sharp left turn with the opening scary synthesiser and it’s no real surprise that Wily sounds more than a bit menacing as he growls over those sexy backing singers; but that’s the general idea. Easy listening this ain’t.
For a man so prolific; Wily Bo Walker somehow manages to maintain an exceptionally high quality standard with his songwriting; listen to the haunting New Orleans flavoured When The Angels Call Your Name or the languid and darkly beautiful For The Children to hear the words of a Master of his Craft. On the latter he skirts ‘politics’ with the couplets ‘Oh Angel/I’ve heard so many lies/But with the wars in the East/Corruption to the West/How the Hell are we ever gonna survive?’ all alongside the chorus ‘And who’ll be there to catch our dreams as they fall/Who’ll be there for the children when their nightmares call?’
Ooh; choosing a favourite is difficult as the album works as a ‘complete’ entity and should be listened to in one sitting; but if you twist my arm I will have to choose between the title track Moon Over Indigo; when Walker’s low growl and twisted words sound uncannily like something Tom Waits may have recorded around Nighthawks; then there is Jenny (Traces in my arms) when you are lulled into thinking Walker has a soft sensitive side; until you hear this beautiful ballad for the third or fourth time….and your eyes will pop out on stalks.
There are two well selected cover versions here. Walker not only takes a stab at Willie Dixon’s Same Thing, but he slices it into little pieces then hand sews it all together again until he makes it all his seedy own; and he closes the album with the dirtiest version of Who Do You Love you will ever hear.
Now I’ve played this on heavy rotation for a couple of days and nights; Moon Over Indigo is something akin to a modern day ‘concept album’….don’t fear; that’s only because the songs and the groove inter-link in a way that made me think this could easily be adapted into a kind of stage show; especially if you add the best of those two previous discs. For some reason I can envisage it being a darker Streetcar Named Desire meets Sunset Boulevard in the shitty party of town….but perhaps that’s just me!
Oh; the artwork on the album cover and more importantly throughout the accompanying lyric booklet all adds to the ‘mood and to some degree is a tattooists wet dream.

First released September 2015

EXCLUSIVE New Video from Seth Lakeman

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Seth Lakeman
Ballad of The Broken View (VIDEO)

Ballads of the Broken Few RELEASED Sept 16th
Cooking Vinyl.

Seth Lakeman’s eighth studio album will be a stunning combination of his dynamic songwriting and playing, the genius of legendary producer Ethan Johns and the sublime harmony vocals of emerging young female trio Wildwood Kin. Between them they have conjured up an epic, soulful album of compelling songs that are stripped back to their very essence.

Ethan Johns has worked with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, The Staves and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He agreed to produce the album after Seth sent him one roughly recorded song on his mobile phone, with Wildwood Kin adding their lush harmonies to his own gritty lead vocals.

The mood is set from track one. Seth’s soaring vocals are perfectly complimented by the seamless harmonies of Wildwood Kin – two sisters (Emillie and Beth Key) and their cousin (Meghann Loney), also from Devon. When Seth met them at a local charity gig, he was immediately struck by their effortless ability to create intuitive harmonies.

“Ballads of the Broken Few” has seven original tracks plus a striking cover of “Anna Lee”, the Laurelyn Dossett song from Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning ” Dirt Farmer” album. Seth also revisited the Cecil Sharp House archive featured in “The Full English” project, which resulted in him and fellow leading British folk musicians claiming “Best Group” and “Best Album” at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He has re-worked several traditional broadsides, including ” The Stranger” and “The Willow Tree”, and there is also his take on a 19th century moralistic song, “Pulling Hard Against the Stream”. The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital.

Ballads of the Broken Few 2016 Tour
Special Guests Wildwood Kin


Wed 09 CHELTENHAM Town Hall
Thu 10 BRIDPORT Electric Palace
Fri 11 PORTSMOUTH New Theatre Royal
Sat 12 YEOVIL Octagon
Sun 13 KINGS LYNN Corn Exchange
Wed 30 CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange


Thu 01 BRIGHTON St Georges Church
Fri 02 BIRMINGHAM Town Hall
Sat 03 NORTHAMPTON Derngate
Sun 04 OXFORD Town Hall
Tue 06 LIVERPOOL Philharmonic
Wed 07 GATESHEAD The Sage
Thu 08 CHESTERFIELD Winding Wheel
Fri 09 BRISTOL Colston Hall
Sat 10 ASHFORD St Mary’s Church
Sun 11 NORWICH Open
Tue 13 LONDON Union Chapel
Thu 15 MALVERN Theatre
Fri 16 POOLE Lighthouse
Sat 17 EXETER Cathedral
Sun 18 WARWICK Arts Centre

“Ballad of The Broken Few” will be available as an instant-grat track when you pre-order the album from iTunes or the official store. Watch the live recording of ‘Ballad of The Broken Few’ at Torre Abbey :

Gary Hoey – Dust & Bones

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Gary Hoey
Dust & Bones
Provogue/Mascot Label

A Damn Fine Tribute To The Blues We All Grew Up With.

As a teenager I was never let down by the Motown and Stax labels, then just about everything on Stiff Records was well worth a listen and now in my dotage Bloodshot and Yep Roc are my ‘go to’ labels for Americana and/or Alt. Country but the Blues has to be Provogue/Mascot.
I can’t think of anything this pairing have sent me that has ever let down; so even though this is Gary Hoey’s 20th (TWENTIETH!!) album and I’d not heard of him; I was pretty certain I would like the contents.
Sure ’nuff the opening (D tuned) Resonator on opening track Boxcar Blues had me playing air guitar; and 30 seconds later Hoey switches to his favourite Strat and the power-trio had me nodding my head in time with the neat. Allegedly the track is a tribute to Led Zeppelin; but to me Hoey’s playing owes a lot more to the late lamented Gary Moore; and that is a compliment of the highest order around these here parts my friend.
As with that song Hoey ‘pays tribute’ to his heroes on every song; with some being more obvious than others, with Steamroller being the best song Johnny Winter never recorded and This Time Tomorrow emulating but never copying 1970’s Robin Trower. Others are less obvious; but that doesn’t matter a hoot as this is Gary Hoey having the time of his life.
There is one really fascinating collaboration tucked away in the middle, with Lita Ford of the Runaways joining Gary on the timeless and heart shredding Coming Home; which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with.
What I especially love about Dust & Bones is that even though Gary Hoey is one Hell of a guitarist, for once we are allowed to hear a singer sing his songs without thundering guitar solos clogging up the channels. Listen to Backs Against the Wall and Blind Faith to hear a master-craftsman at work; but it’s his voice and the lyrics you will remember the following day.

It’s a similar tale with title track Dust & Bones; which shows off Hoey’s rocker pedigree in spades but it is still more about the song than the playing; which I likes a lot.
While Soul Surfer which closes the album is as sweet a Blues instrumental as I’ve ever heard ‘favourite track’ status must go to the Swinging Rhythm AND Blues of Who’s Your Daddy which ticks every single box in the Rocking Magpie Book of the Blues; and for future reference I’d love to hear a full album in this style.
It’s obvious Gary Hoey has ‘been around the block’ the way he seamlessly moves around the Blues map with the greatest of ease; never playing a note out of place; but giving his all from the bottom of his heart; which is so full of Soul it’s fit to burst.

Released July 29th 2016

Chelle Rose – Blue Ridge Blood


Chelle Rose
Blue Ridge Blood
Lil’ Damsel Records

The Dark Heart of Alt. Country Finds a New Voice.

WAHAY! Technically her third album, if you count the long forgotten Nanahally River CD from 2000, this is Chelle Rose, late of Lenoir City, Tennessee but residing in Nashville since 1996 follow up to the critically acclaimed Ghost of Browder Holler and and in my humble opinion, something of a modern day Country masterpiece.
Honestly; from the beautifully photographed Album Cover through to the last notes on the disc everything here points to Chelle Rose becoming the new Queen of Alt. Country, Americana or whatever we want to call music that isn’t Top 40 Country Crap.
You don’t have to read her biography to know Chelle Rose has had a hell of a life; just listen to the songs starting with the stunning opening song Paintsville Table; a troubled tale of her coal miner father and brother who she tells us in the opening line, ‘Ain’t no sunshine in the gut of that mountain/Daddy begged his boy to be anything but a miner/but his lady got a baby in her belly/so he traded his dreams to put food on that Paintsville Table.’
Another very personal family song; is Mean Grandpappy, which includes the lines ‘Not a tear in the eye of any of his kin/Grandy’s gone home to Satan’s Den/Grandpappy Rose was a mean Sonbitch’!! I can picture Chelle curling her lip ‘Elvis style’ when singing the song; or actually spitting out the lyrics more likely.
Track #2 the gut wrenching Reckon With The Devil nearly took my breath away the first time I heard it. Rose’s voice sounds close to breaking Sergio Webb’s crystal clear Dobro playing cuts through a Native American back-beat like a switchblade.
The bittersweet title track Blue Ridge Blood features Country Royalty in the manner of Buddy Miller on harmonies; but it’s Sergio Webb and his Dobro that nearly steals the show.
I’ve said before that we don’t have enough Railroad songs these days; and Chelle rights that wrong with the marvellous Southern 4501; which had me smiling from start to finish.
I wish I could describe Chelle Rose’s voice to you; but my vocabulary isn’t that good…..but it certainly is distinctive and will haunt your soul on songs like Hidin’ Hole and Sing Pretty which closes the album.
On the flip side of ‘that coin’ is my favourite song here; Dammit Darling; which epitomises the type of bittersweet Country Music I’ve loved for 40 odd years. Chelle sings of her love for a man who loves another……and that is followed by the swaggering Not Your Girl; a song that takes ‘feminism’ into a whole new stratosphere. Come on; does Country Music in any shape or form get better than this?
At various times Chelle Rose conjures up memories of Rocking Magpie favourites Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier and more importantly Loretta Lynn, Jeannie C Riley and Bobbie Gentry.
Is this album Southern Gothic? Alt. Country? Folk? Americana? Hell; I don’t know but I do know it is essential listening and will be in my end of year Top 10 and somewhere very near the top.

Released August 5th 2016

Mike June – Poor Man’s Bible

mike june 1 2

Mike June
Poor Man’s Bible

The Kicking and Screaming Sound of the Suburbs!

I’d not heard of Mike June when he first got in touch offering a copy of this, his fifth album; but he asked nicely and I said ‘send a copy; but no promises.’
A shiny new CD arrived a week or so later; but sadly it has just sat in the ‘to do’ box gathering dust until last week.
I don’t know why, I took it out to play on a car journey; perhaps/probably it was the title Poor Man’s Bible which attracted me; especially with my recent return to the political battlegrounds.
Although not a fan; the neatly plucked banjo instantly caught my attention on opening track Let It Go; then when June’s world weary voice oozed out of the stereo on a gloriously sad song that combines Religious imagery with a tale of a life in torment as a travelling musician and I was instantly enthralled. Seriously; this is a GREAT song; and one that will resonate with most of the artists on this here site.
June goes ‘electric’ on the next track, Working In Vain and it’s just my kinda Rock n’ Roll…..a fabulous ‘punch the air’ rocker, full of crunchy guitars, an electric keyboard and a trio of girls belting out the “Working in Vain” chorus. What’s not to like?
First time out I rewound it three times before going into track #3 Cotton Fields; a cool and dark slice of atmospheric Southern Blues; with a slide guitar sounding like a flick knife and lyrics so sharp and edgy, you will wonder why you’ve not heard of this guy….I know that’s how I felt and still feel.
Certainly no complaint; but just when you get a ‘feel’ for Mike June’s ‘style’ he throws a curve ball by effortlessly moving genres, like the gears in my car; with God Gave Up being a sensitive piece of 70’s singer-songwriter Folk singing, then following it with another punchy Rocker …Fall From Grace, which could be Billy Bragg singing some long forgotten Springsteen track.
I really can’t recommend this album highly enough; especially the title track Poor Man’s Bible which is a swinging almost Gospellish Alt. Country anthem that again; will touch the hearts and minds of most people who read the reviews on this site; that song plus the simple and haunting Jon Dee’s Blues which could bring a tear to a glass eye.
It’s discovering artists like Mike June what makes this all worthwhile; he can certainly write a song; and the theme throughout of the ‘working man of all colours and persuasions is being trampled on’ but his execution of those songs is second to none; and her certainly has his finger on the button in a way Bruce hasn’t had for 20 years or more.

Released May 2016