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Pierce Edens

Mighty Fresh Sounds From North Carolina Singer-songwriter.

As I’ve said before there are no definitive reasons for some of the albums getting reviewed at RMHQ; as in this case the album title STRIPPED DOWN/GUSSIED UP caught my attention as I occasionally use the term ‘All gussied up’ when I go out gallivanting of a weekend.
Well; I’m mighty pleased I did find this remarkable album from Pierce Edens.
His bio tells us that her grew up in North Carolina playing Appalachian Folk until he discovered……PUNK ROCK! Weirdly those two worlds clash/merge on several songs here, none more so than the opening track Sirens. An angry electric guitar fights an acoustic as Eden’s gravelly baritone swoops and soars on a an almost primal song that scratches at your brain until you let it in.
At times Eden’s magnetic voice sounds like a whiplash, a slow methodical build up…..then…..crash he punctuates a sentence or chorus emphasising his point in I Can’t Sleep.
Other times his voice is so low you find yourself tilting towards the speakers so as not to miss his magical stories; Further Down and Daffodils; the latter is almost like something from Thomas Hardy in spirit.
Regular readers will know how much I like an expressive gravelly voice; and that’s exactly what Pierce Edens has; in other hands songs like The Devil There Too or It’s Alright, It’s All Wrong wouldn’t be half as memorable or even interesting; but the way Edens drops his lyrical bombs kept me enthralled from start to finish each time.
The one song I’m not sure about his his treatment of Tom Waits’s Mr. Siegal where he gets a bit carried away trying to ‘out Tom Waits’ by screaming and shouting. It’s good; but could have been a bit more tempered at times.
Which brings us to my ‘favourite track’…..an easy choice this time; track #2 Here which starts with some beautifully played acoustic guitar before Edens seeps in; presumably with his eyes tightly shut as he forces each word and phrase out with as much understated power as possible.
Not always an ‘easy listen’ and certainly not ‘commercial’ enough for most people; but I’ve rather fallen in love with STRIPPED DOWN/GUSSIED UP which is actually a fair description of the contents within the record sleeve…..funny that.

Released June 2nd 2017


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David Olney
Red Parlor Records.

The Renaissance Man of Americana Strides Ahead of The Pack.

It’s very difficult to keep up with David Olney; apart from his weekly Video reports (Vlog?) and radio show on Nashville’s WXNA he tours more than Dylan and hardly a year goes by without a new album of fresh new material; which always stand up alongside the best of the rest.
A friend and cohort of everybody who is worth knowing in Nashville’s (and Americas) Americana and Alt. Country world David Olney is surely due a big old Career Retrospective Double Album/box-set as by my reckoning this is Olney’s 30th album in 36 years; but until then there is NEW MUSIC to listen to…….
WOAH! I wasn’t expecting the opening electric guitar/sax salvo that breaks out of the speakers on If They Ever Let Me Out which opens the record. Olney’s trademark leathery, world worn voice then slithers over the band like a King Cobra on a tightly wound, almost claustrophobic Southern Rocker with the singer taking the character of an inmate pacing his cell dreaming about his release day. Trust me; only David Olney could right a song like this and deliver it with such élan.
As expected you have to expect the unexpected with this guy’s records; we get a Tex-Mex flavoured love song with Innocent Heart, some Leon Russell New Orleans Voodoo-Rock with the title track Don’t Try to Fight It, Cool Chicago Blues on Sweet Sugaree, plus beautifully weird Eastern Psychedelia with Situation and with Yesterday’s News Olney finally gets to record a song he wrote in his youth and it comes out as a sweet and mellow nod to the Laurel Canyon era; but first and foremost he is a teller of stories and the genre he chooses for them is secondary.
Crack in the Wall, like that opener is another tightly wrapped Country-Rocker featuring some sublime electric guitar from Blair Hogan on a song that out Alt’s the current swell of Alt. Country bands…….Olney Rocks!
On an album that sweeps you along like a night train, with hardly any time to catch your breath David Olney has never sounded finer (#discuss) than on the lilting Folk ballad Ferris Wheel, which takes us back to those heady days of first finding love; and I can’t think of a better metaphor than a Ferris Wheel at a fairground to describe those exciting highs and lows the way David and co-writer John Hadley manage.
But; my favourite track here is when David ends the disc with the cinematic and atmospheric Big Top (Tornado), a powerful and imaginative ‘talking Blues’ with a Southern Rock/Blues spine that is so left of centre it deserves a whole album based around it or, at the very least a 20 minute 12″ re-mix!
What more can I say? I’m pretty sure some reviewers will call this David Olney’s ‘Masterpiece;’ I can’t judge as I think I’ve only heard about ten of his previous discs but I can say that I doubt I will hear 10 better and more memorable albums in 2017!

Released March 31st 2017


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Chastity Brown
Red House Records

Soul Baring at It’s Rawest and Most Eloquent.

This has been a very difficult album to review as it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting from one of my favourite singer-songwriters. Her previous album Back Road Highways turned my world upside down and sent me to three different cities to see her play live the following year and also buy her three hard to find previous offerings.
Whereas that album was easily accessible with songs and stories that painted beautiful imaginative pictures; this on the other hand is vary dark and the singer sounds very tightly wrapped and even pained on every track.
The scene is set with the first song Drive Slow, an intensely honest song where she questions her life now and past, in such a way she sounds like she could cry at any moment.
Every song here sounds like Chastity has had to haul the words up from the dark recesses of her heart and as her beautiful voice frees them, she’s still not sure they may be for public consumption.
With that in mind Lies, How Could I forget and the sublime Lost all sound so personal the listener is left feeling privileged to be let into that part of her life.
As you’d expect this isn’t an album with any obvious ‘single for radio’ potential; it’s an album in the old sense of the medium; but two songs really do stand out.
Pouring Rain caught my attention the first time I heard it; taking my breath away the way Chastity sexily challenges her lover to “Miss me when I’m gone/Kiss me when I go/I’m learning the hard way” but it appears that the love may be ‘one way’ and sadly unrequited; a scenario most have us have been in at one time or another but never been able to put as eloquently as Ms Brown does. Oh….it’s a bit of a Rocker too. On Wake Up the drumbeat throughout sounds like a pumping heart; and that’s just perfect for the way Chastity combines her honesty and intensity with a damn fine melody to create a multi-layered ‘plea’ of a love song that defies the laws of gravity as it floats through the ether.
The other, Carried Away opens with some twisted guitar playing followed by a piano and an angry singer giving a gut wrenching performance on a very dark love song; about the end of a troubled relationship. 10/10.
Personally I don’t like to know too much about an artist’s home life; as I like the music to do the talking and ‘speak to me and me alone’; but in this case Chastity Brown’s childhood, race and especially her sexuality have all combined one way or another to create these brooding vignettes from her own memories (and some that are re-imagined) and for once, knowing that makes the songs all make perfect sense. This isn’t some whiny singer-songwriter feeling sorry for herself; this is a Master Craftswoman using her own experiences to help others come to terms with similar issues in their own lives.

Released May 19th 2017




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Los Straitjackets
Yep Roc

Legendary Instrumental Guitar Band Pay Homage To A Legendary Songwriter.

You thought it couldn’t and perhaps shouldn’t be done; but it has …….. Los Straitjackets; one of the most imaginative, swaggering and strange band in the world have re-invented 13 Nick Lowe songs as instrumentals What’s not to like?
They rip up the rule book by turning opening track Shake & Pop into a surftastic slice of 60’s Pop then follow it with more than a nod to The Shadows with their take on my favourite Nick Lowe song, All Men Are Liars making it virtually unrecognisable. Okay; all the notes are there……just not necessarily in the right order!
All I could think of listening to this album was ……Quentin Tarantino is gonna LOVE IT! Everything sounds like it should be on one of his soundtracks……..I can just about picture the dance scene with Tom Hanks and Judi Dench shaking their butts to the funky Half a Boy and Half a Man; a car chase around the mean streets of Chicago involving Mark Wahlburg with I Live on a Battlefield on the car radio.
I Read a Lot sounds like it should be in a Spy Movie; conjuring up images of men in Gannex overcoats looking mysterious in the murky shadows of a European city late at night.
Hahaha……seriously (sort of).
This album is everything you would expect; and more…….there are song title here I’d totally forgot about and after hearing the outrageously bang-up versions of Raging Eyes and You Inspire Me I was obliged to pull out the original LPs and revel in Nick Lowe’s genius for a whole afternoon.
Oh……Cruel to be Kind is slowed right down to a Waltz pace and made me smile for the solid 3.18 minutes, as it washed over me like a summer breeze.
Then, of course there is the title track, WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE and UNDERSTANDING, one of the greatest British Pop songs of all time and a song I want played at my funeral. A very brave song to cover in this format; but everything hinges on it and…….well……they pull it off with aplomb! Heavy on the bass and tambourine but with some guitar that Hank B Marvin would be proud of slicing through like a stiletto through hot butter.
This album is not just great fun and not just the soundtrack to your Sunday afternoon; as it was mine but expect it to be on constant rotation in your favourite Hipster cafe all Summer long!

PS The cover artwork is amazing and I’d like it as a t-shirt please!

Released May 19th 2017



Jon & Roy
Blue Heron Music

An Inspired and Articulate Slice of Arcadian Canada.

This is Jon Middleton and Roy Vizer’s seventh album and I’d not heard heard of them prior to receiving this disc; but thanks to the glories of the World Wide Web they found me and I can share it with you.
The atmospheric opening track Runner sets the tone nicely for a set of songs that capture the imagination and bare repeated listening.
Middleton’s distinctive voice sounds ‘lived in’ and at times ‘deeply hurt’ on songs like How The Story Goes and Nothing But Everything which features some mysteriously jazz-lite guitar and bass, which makes it perfect for listening late at night when you are feeling very sorry for yourself.
In a way it seems only Canadian artists can do it, Jon and Roy capture the sense of loss at the end of a love affair better than their counterparts anywhere else. Perhaps it’s the cold winds from the North or there’s something in the water; but I can’t imagine a song as brittle as Clever One or Every Night being written or recorded in America or the UK. Jon and Roy (plus co-producer) Stephen Franke capture that magical sense of wonderment and bewilderment quite perfectly at times.
At one stage when I was playing this on Sunday Mrs. Magpie looked up and said “There aren’t many laughs here, are there?”
That is true; and there aren’t meant to be….these songs tell fragile and complex stories in a well constructed and very articulate manner; but the whole album is still very accessible and; dare I say it….easy on the ear.
I’m contrary by nature so very rarely choose title tracks as ‘my favourite’ but The Road Ahead Is Golden which features some delightfully picked guitars and Middleton’s voice itself sounds actually golden; if a little tarnished; all making for a genuine stand out track.
Not for the first time this year I’ve made another ‘great discovery’ in Jon and Roy who are at heart Folkies but easily crossover into ‘Americana’ territory with what I can best describe as Cowboy Junkies Lo-Fi sensibilities.


Released May 19th 2017

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul -SOULFIRE

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Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul
Wicked Cool/Big Machine

Bringing Sunshine to the Edge of Town!

A few weeks ago and for no apparent reason I decided to make a list of my Top 10 Gigs of all time and at #6 was Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the much lamented Newcastle Dingwalls in 1983. The band were so big and the stage so small the horn section actually had to stand beside the stage!
For the uninitiated Little Steven is a) Miami Steve Van Zandt b) the best ever guitarist in Springsteen’s E-Street Band 3) Silvio in the Sopranos d) Frank in Lilyhammer and e) the co-founder of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Then…..an e-mail arrived asking if I’d like a copy of his/their new album.
Sounding more than a little bit like Springsteen himself; Little Steven’s first ‘solo’ album in nigh on 20 years gets off to a killer start with the red hot title track SOULFIRE. Combining bang-bang Rock n Roll with some blistering Southern Soul the band sound like teenagers swaggering around the stage of a High-school prom; not the ‘men of a certain age’ that they actually are.
That high octane vibe continues through track #2 I’m Coming Back, and the third time I played this song Mrs. Magpie caught me dancing in the kitchen as I made a cup of coffee!
A lot has happened to Van Zandt since those heady days in the early 80’s when this band were in their infancy; and the intervening years haven’t diminished his love of music one iota as you can tell when he revels in the spotlight on the gorgeous ballads Love On The Wrong Side of Town and I Don’t Want To Go Home; with the later having a touch of Sam Cooke about it, if I’m not mistaken.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Van Zandt as ‘just a guitarist and showman’ but listen to the lyrics in The City Weeps Tonight which nods adoringly at the crooners he would have listened to in his teenage years.
Another song that should be ‘listened to’ for the same reasons is Down and Out in New York City, which sounds like it could be an out-take from SuperFly until you listen to Stevie’s razor sharp observations which are very, very topical and a tad Political with a capital P.
Not for the first time this year the title of ‘Favourite Track’ is a toss-up, between the blistering Blues Is My Business which in another world would have been a huge hit for Joe Cocker; and the other is the super-cool Alt. Rock n Roller St. Valentine’s Day which got turned up to 11 the first time I played it in the car (and head-banged and fist-pumped to it!). Let’s just call it a tie, shall we.
Apart from the classy production and a slightly smoother and well worn rasp to Van Zandt’s voice this album is just as exciting in every nook and cranny as the Men Without Women LP was when I bought it in 1982………35 bloody years ago!


Released May 19th 2017

Nathan Bell – LOVE/FEAR (48Hrs in Traitorland)

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Nathan Bell
LOVE/FEAR (48Hrs in Traitorland)
Stone Barn Records

The State of The Nation Set To Music.

A few years ago Neil Young got a lot of publicity for a poor album when he complained that no-one was writing protest songs any-more. Hmmmm…..Neil should have a mailing list like mine!
Riding high on the success of his previous album Nathan Bell intended writing a follow up made of ‘love songs’ but local and international political events changed all of our worlds at the end of 2016; and in the spirit of all those great Folk Singers through the ages he got righteously angry and wrote these 11 raw and emotional songs; then with only a harmonica and acoustic guitar recorded them over two days straight.
The Big Old American Dream which starts the proceedings is as powerful an opener as I’ve heard in years. It’s dark, ragged and poetic in equal measures with more twists and turns than a prairie wind; and it will keep you rooted to the spot every time you hear it.
The Long Way Down is a classic of the genre; with Bell’s road worn voice straining with emotion; conjuring up the spirit of Townes Van Zandt to get his message across and…..boy…..that message needs to be heard by ‘the powers that be.’
I’ve never been sure what it means when people talk about ‘the human condition’ but I think it describes the subjects in the title track Traitorland Rules For Living In) and also What Did You Do Today? Springsteen sings ‘blue collar’ songs but these characters have blue collars that are frayed at the edges with no sign of a replacement. Listen AND learn.
The album is sort of split into two, with the final five songs being performed ‘live’ , in the studio I presume and things actually get darker and deeper.
Coal Black Water is a fascinating song; being written and performed before President Trump repealed several statutes undoing coal mining legislation; thus ‘creating jobs for Americans’. As a son of a miner myself; Nathan Bell captures my proud Father’s spirit in as much as he hated his job and never wanted his four sons to follow him down that hole and Nathan tells a similar story.
MIA (Bill in 75) tells a story of a bright young man who went to Vietnam and came back a broken man; in much the same manner as Slaid Cleaves sang about on his last album Still Fighting The War.
The first time I heard So Damn Pretty I was left stunned in my chair. A type of ‘talking-Blues’ Bell captures the heart and spirit of the woman in the story in a way I’ve probably only ever heard Guy Clark manage…..and that’s quite some compliment.
I’m not sure an album like this needs a ‘favourite song’ but that’s how I roll; so I’m choosing a song about something I too saw in 1968. I was 10 going on 11 and wasn’t sure what it meant when two (black) American sprinters in the Olympics hung their heads and raised leather gloved fists when their national anthem was played. Nathan Bell captures the spirit of that evening in a Blues lament worthy of Robert Johnson or Billie Holliday.
Obviously not an ‘easy listen’ and nor was this album meant to be and nor should it be, as Nathan Bell unravels not just America’s underbelly but if you stretch your imagination the underbelly of the Western World.

Released May 12th 2017



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Amy Black
Reuben Records

The Soul of America Smoulders and Burns Brightly.

It’s odd how we eventually stumble on the music we love, isn’t it? In the case of singer Amy Black from Nashville TN she left a successful career in marketing to pursue her ‘dream’ singing songs. As you’d expect she worked the local circuit, gradually evolving from straight up Country through the Americana movement until she saw Mavis Staples supporting Bonnie Raitt one night and something ‘clicked.’
Subsequently she has become obsessed with Soul and R&B, studying it from the Roots upwards, culminating with her last album The Muscle Shoals Sessions, which has been something of a success; so much so (JOURNEY TO) MEMPHIS follows a similar route with 7 classy original songs and 3 extremely well chosen covers.
From the first snatches of the Hammond organ and brass groove on opening track It’s Hard To Love an Angry Man, I had a feeling I was going to like this album; and when Amy Black’s stylish voice slides in to the mix I was completely smitten.
This is immediately followed by The Blackest Cloud; a really punchy song that strolls along like the strong woman who isn’t going to show how hurt she is, in the lyrics. Already I’m thinking ‘Dusty in Memphis’ but without the overbearing strings and orchestra.
The first cover song comes in at #4, a sweet and emotional take on Otis Clay’s If I Could Reach Out (and love somebody) and just the sort of Stax or more likely Atlantic Soul song that would have closed the evening at our Youth Centre back in the early 1970’s. Mmmm mmm and mmmm!
That’s exactly where Amy Black sits in my mind; she has a wonderfully rich and expressive voice and alongside producer Scott Bomar they have recreated that timeless sound which sounds just as cool on Gold Radio as it will on the hipster Internet stations.
The deceptively gentle on the ear Nineteen could easily be an anti-Vietnam love song sung by Nina or Aretha; but it’s not, these razor sharp lyrics are by Amy herself and are about a young man who chose to ‘do the right thing’ and fight for his country in Afghanistan, Syria or wherever. Beautiful and sad in equal measures and bares repeated listening.
Thankfully this followed by a sassy, late night hip-swaying take on Further on Up The Road with it’s red hot guitar solos to lighten the mood.
What do I pick for ‘my favourite song’? It would be all to easy to select the BB King inspired I Need Your Love So Bad which closes the record; or perhaps the swaggering slice of steamy Southern Soul that is What Makes a Man?
But after a lot of deliberation I’m going for the deep down gorgeous Let The Light In, which has Gospel overtones but is Soul with a capital ‘S’ boys and girls……Soul from and for the soul.
A week ago I’d not heard of Amy Black; but I’ve just spent a small fortune buying her back catalogue…….and I think you will too.

Released June 2nd 2017

SummerTyne 2017 (PREVIEW) Sage Gateshead

SummerTyne 2017 (PREVIEW)
Sage Gateshead

July 21-23

OOOHEEEEE….it’s that time of year again…..they’ve just announced the headline acts for the three day SummerTyne Americana Festival in Gateshead and I couldn’t be more excited.
OK, it’s not Glastonbury nor Cornbury or even the Cambridge Folk Festival; but it’s on my door step and every year brings more and more music fans to the music I love.
I’ve seen loads of film over the years of the Bacchanalian and bucolic scenes from Woodstock, the Isle of Wight and more latterly Glastonbury but SummerTyne is different, very different and probably different from anything else in the world, as it is split into two actual Festivals on the same site. Both are timed with military precision and cross over from the outside concourse to the inside rooms and back again,’ plus this weekend is aimed at families just as much as music bores like me; plus the visitors from outside the area get to stay in hotels or BnB’s rather than tents 5 miles away from the main stage.

I wasn’t there when SummerTyne started in 2006 in a typically understated way; we are like that in Geordieland (eh???) but that first year saw the likes of Seasick Steve, Kris Kristofferson, Laura Veirs, Nanci Griffith and the Blind Boys of Alabama perform across the venue.
I turned up for the first time in 2008 to see Eve Selis on the JHC Outside Stage and fell in love with the whole concept and stopped back that night to see KD Lang (paying hard cash on the door). Checking back now I appear to have missed Jim White and Brandi Carlisle too that year……different times and money was tight in those days.
Since then I’ve seen world famous Roots acts like the James Hunter Six, Martin Stephenson, Willy Vlautin, The Handsome Family, Slim Chance,Tom Russell, Justin Townes Earle and Danny & the Champions of the World and not forgetting the evening the Ian McLachan Band ripped it up for FREE on that JHC Stage as the sun went down; the sun always shines……apart from the year it rained in buckets for an hour, but Otis Gibbs carried on regardless as the umbrellas and mackintosh’s came out and the show just went on.

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There are too many acts over the years who have played that ‘free’ stage that are etched in my memory bank to mention; but some of the best were seeing Larkin Poe, Ward Thomas, the Toy Hearts and a young Pete Molinari but not forgetting Bap Kennedy’s last appearance in the area with 6 old ladies in head scarves dancing in front of the stage. Everyone else will have their own memories of a band or singer I’ve forgot about (David Wax Museum? The Bikini Beach Band? John Turrell? Elizabeth Cook? Sarah Savoy Cajun Band?)
Sadly some fans who set up camp on the concourse for the Jumping Hot Club’s ‘free stage’ never venture indoors to experience the delights that are on offer there; and vice versa plenty of music snobs arrive at tea-time for the evening show and look down their noses at the oiks on Shipcote Hill having the time of their lives seeing artists they’d never heard of that morning but leaving with memories of the greatest band or singer they’d ever seen in their lives!
During the afternoon there are numerous pop-up stages inside the Hall; and this is where I first saw The Shires play in front of only 50 people, Yola Carter with a choir and Norrie McCulloch entrancing 1,000 people into silence.
The concourse stage and the Sage Rehearsal Room are taken over by the Americana Association UK and experience tells me these 15 and 30 minute showcases are not to be missed.

But, it’s really the evening shows that the SummerTyne Festival is all about, and often the first time music fans ever visit this magnificent music centre.
First and foremost the sound quality in both Hall 1 & 2 is truly exceptional and the seats are comfortable too!
Over the years I’ve lost track of the acts I’ve seen and loved; as you’d expect they are as diverse as John Hiatt, Solomon Burke, Lucinda Williams, Wanda Jackson, Irma Thomas, Emmylou & Rodney, Roseanne Cash, Lyle Lovett, Abigail Washburn, Dan Penner & Spooner Oldham and Imelda May.
Plus one of the joys every year is when the Sage utilises it’s phenomenal Classical musicians to bring us something really special……does anyone else remember Raul Malo and the Royal Northern Sinfonia Orchestra recording a live album? Or the mind blowing night Chuck Prophet was joined by their String Section? I do and will never forget either night.
This year the list of runners and riders inside and outside the Sage is truly amazing; starting on the Friday afternoon with the quaintly named Home Fries stage full of extremely talented local acts including Big Ray & The Hipthrusters who will…..well; once seen is never forgotten!
Then the big party starts with the welcome return of the Shires who will no doubt sell out Hall 1 (again); but you will also find me nipping in to Hall 2 for a half hour of Merle Haggard’s Strangers featuring his sons Ben and Noel; then later in the same room Marlon Williams who I’ve been waiting to see for ages.
Then on Saturday lunch time…..YippeeWhyEye Music Lovers……on the JHC Stage it’s only my tip for ‘Next Big Thing’ status Dexeter……the fabulous Vera Van Heerigan showcasing Proper Brew, Howlin’ Ric with his hi-octane Rock & Roll and the afternoon will be wrapped up by the legendary Earl Thomas bringing the show home with some delightful Souly Blues.

All for free money and a panoramic vista of the Newcastle Quayside as a backdrop.
Then just when you think things can’t get any better…. I will have to move inside at 2pm to finally see Angaleena Presley! Yes! Guitar Leena finally comes North….mmm…mmmm….mmmm.
Saturday night on the main stages will be as good as SummerTyne has ever been…..in my humble opinion; in Hall 2 it’s a double header with Jim Lauderdale and Sam Outlaw who both have outstanding albums out at the moment; but in Hall 1 it’s a real bona fide music legend when William Bell and the Stax Revue come to town. As far as I know this is another SummerTyne ‘Once in a Lifetime’ evening……and a guaranteed Sell-Out.
Sunday; and I promise the sun will be shining.
If you are coming get there early, as Bradley Creswell, one of the finest violinists of his generation and leader of the RNS will be on stage with the ‘Western Swing Orchestra’ playing the ‘hits and more’……trust me; you will be stunned and amazed.
He is followed on stage by young Rob Vincent; making a fleeting visit and playing tracks from his
https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/robert-vincent-ill-make-the-most-of-my-sins/ album which will feature in my end of year Top 10.
Also wooing the fans on Shipcote Hill will be harmonica player supreme Errol Linton, the gritty Country of Jonathan Terrell and closing the free stage, the welcome return of the Savoy Family Cajun Band.
As that shuts down at 7 things move indoors to the magnificent Sage Music Centre itself, and things get really interesting.
Beth Neilsen Chapman with Callaghan as support will fill Hall 1 and along the passageway our hero Chuck Prophet will be….doing what Chuck Prophet does; which is better than what just about anyone else of his ilk does and is another show that will sell out pretty damn quickly.
There will be numerous acts popping up all over the site across the weekend and I haven’t even mentioned the River Cruises which are now going down in local legend.
The North East of England never really had a quality Music Festival before SummerTyne and our little world is all the better for it.


Janiva Magness BLUE AGAIN

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Janiva Magness
Blue Elan/Fathead Records

This Lady Sings The Blues With Grit and Polish.

It tells you something about where my head is at these days that the name Janiva Magness meant nothing to me when I first played this stunning mini-album; only to find that I’d reviewed her previous album LOVE WINS AGAIN and loved it to bits!
To celebrate that album receiving a 2017 Grammy Nomination; alongside Producer Dave Darling and a red hot band Janiva Magness has been in the studio and recorded six of her favourite song; all Blues ones of course!
You know exactly where the first song here; I Can Tell is coming from via the raw Bo Diddleyesque guitar chops and the sullen way Ms Magness delivers her ‘message’ to her cheating man……this is the Blues baby; and very Dark Blues indeed. Just like the Doctor ordered.
Already a word of praise must go out to Janiva Magness’ band; who are equally understated and brilliant in equal measures.
It’s a brave woman who covers an Etta James song but alongside Sugaray Rayford they turn If I Can’t Have You into a spicy duet full of red hot passion and a whole lot of Soul with a capital S.
OOOOHHEEEE! The biggest surprise of all comes next when the guitars are cranked up and Janiva rocks the joint to it’s very foundations on Tired of Walking; the type of sweaty R&B I’ve loved for 40 odd years and very little has sounded feistier or, dare I say it……sexier.
While I didn’t recognise the sassy Country-Blues song Buck at first; a quick ‘Google’ found it first came to prominence via Ms Nina Simone and it’s actually one of my favourites on her Greatest Hits album. Here; it’s a little different from the others as it has a ‘Country-Blues’ flavour to it; but the whip sharp guitar and electric piano spine keep it on track, and make it fit in perfectly.
The all too short EP/Mini-Album comes to a close with a sweltering reinterpretation of Freddie Kings Pack It Up; a song that is just perfect for Janiva Magness’ hip-shaking and swaggering style of Blues. Perfect to dance to but just as good to listen to when your heart is broken and the world doesn’t understand your pain.
Regular readers won’t be the least bit surprised to find that my Favourite Track comes when things slide even darker and deeper on the beautiful second track, Al Kooper’s magnificent I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know. Here Janiva turns the lights down low and stares intently at the telephone, which never rings on a song first heard on a Blood Sweat & Tears; which actually sums up this particular version.
In the olden days artists recording albums of cover versions was seen as ‘contract filler’ but now with charts a figment of the imagination, singers like Janiva Magness can pretty much choose to record albums like this just for the ‘love of the music’ and the world is a better place for it.

Released May 12th 2017