Video of the Week…. Grainne Duffy – Where I Belong

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Grainne Duffy
Where I Belong

After seeing her blowing the roof off the Jumping Hot Club Stage at SummerTyne in 2012, Irish Blues-Rocker Grainne Duffy is ‘the one that got away’ for RMHQ.
She didn’t have any albums with her that day; and even though we follow her every move on Social Media no recent albums have arrived on our desk; nor have we bought any 😦
But…….this wonderful acoustic driven single Where I Belong arrived today via the medium of the E-Mail system and we have fallen in love all over again.
A lot more mellow than I’d expected, but Grainne’s exquisite voice shines like never before on this lovely mellow Blues song. Just like our mutual hero Mr Rory Gallagher, as without her trusty electric guitar by her side Grainne shows she ain’t no one trick pony and can sing a love song with the best of them.
All I can say is WHERE I BELONG has certainly whetted my appetite for the album when it comes; and a live show which will certainly go in the diary.

released 31st July 2017



Benjamin Folke Thomas – ACOUSTIC CLASSICS.


Benjamin Folke Thomas
ACOUSTIC CLASSICS (Live For Your Listening Pleasure)
Louvaio Productions

A Genuine One Man Show With Articulate Folk Songs and Lots of Laughs Too.

Everything about this release makes it a winner at RMHQ; as if I’d been browsing the racks in a record shop I’m 99% sure the cover would have attracted my attention even if I’d not heard and loved Ben Folk Thomas’s previous release COPENHAGEN; but primarily his wicked sense of humour in recording this Live album in his living room only with only himself and numerous overdubs of him cheering, laughing and even heckling himself as the singer is way beyond a brilliant concept!!
Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start!) I’m Alive; a rather brittle and beautiful love song that is brought to life by Ben’s rich singing voice and compelling guitar strumming.
Then we get the first story/introduction and it……sounds so…..’real’ as he explains the background to Good Friend Again from COPENHAGEN; and the song itself has gained a lot more gravitas sung ‘live’ as does the song named after his Grandfather Finn and the title track Copenhagen from that wonderful album.
Just as in his ‘real’ concerts, there are songs both old and new with jokes a ‘plenty in his introductions……corny jokes, but absolutely hilarious when you know the gag about the audience who howl with laughter.
The songs though are what we are here for and existing fans will thrill at hearing the darkly fragile Nothing Next To You and Woman I Love which juxtapose each other; and Folk music never sounded more interesting.
While I really, really love this album from start to finish; but two songs chiselled their way into my head the first time I heard them; partly because of their introductions; with the silver-tongued Sex , which closes the concert just losing out to Married which also is another good song; but made ‘great’ by the monologue which leads into a truly tremendous modern Folk song.
I’m normally not a lover of Live Albums, but ACOUSTIC CLASSICS, like the classic Compleat Tom Paxton from 1970 works on so many different levels and bares repeated listening; or at least it does in the RMHQ office and I think it will in your house too.

Released UK July 10th 2017

Pickxen – SELEH (ep)



Fairy Dust Sprinkled Southern Alt. Country.

What more can I say but my head still spins with excitement whenever I play Pickxen’s album PICKS n Vittles; so when John and Laura sent me their latest 6 track offering I did a little ‘Snoopy dance of joy’ in the kitchen!
The accompanying letter explains that this is actually a fascinating project; as the couple are releasing this ‘raw’ EP to raise enough funds to bring in a band a producer to ‘fill out’ the songs for release as a bona-fide album later in 2017……and I urge you to buy both; you won’t regret it.
Opening track ‘Cher Knee is the type of late night Country ballad that I dream of hearing in a darkened bar in the wrong side of town, as Laura Monk goes into heartbroken Linda Ronstadt, Lena Martell or Lynn Anderson mode, with some searing Redd Volkaert guitar licks in the background.
Oh dear…….I immediately had a lump in my throat as Laura’s immaculate voice wobbles on the repeated opening lines of “I read your letter in the rain” and it stayed there for the next three solid minutes. Unless there’s a puppy involved, Country songs don’t get any more Countrier than this……heartbreak by the numbers, and tears by the ton.
I’ve Fallen Away is another beautiful bittersweet Country Love Song that will grab you by the heartstrings then tug and squeeze them until you can’t draw breath; but you won’t care as Laura Monk truly has the voice of a teenage Country Angel.
As a man without a musical bone in my body, songs like BS for Breakfast amaze me. The opening line “Brussels sprouts for breakfast” and the Twangtastic guitar certainly caught my attention and the story of a brokedown relationship that follows is another 100% Classic Country song of misery and love and can only come from the heart; can’t it? Well….not exactly according to John’s letter, and without taking too much of the ‘magic’ away, the Brussels Sprouts bit is accurate then he let his imagination run away with him…….brilliant and I can’t do anything other than salute such a vivid imagination.
John Monk’s imagination runs riot on the final track Cedars of Lebanon, where he read a biography of WB Yeats then got to thinking about the Lebanese flag which features a Cedar tree which is a metaphor for the eternal qualities of life…..then he goes on to write another exceptional Country Song. How does he; and his like do it? I don’t really care; but it certainly enriches my life.
Which brings us around to my favourite song here; the Mavericks influenced Another You; a timeless melody and richly eloquent song that will appeal to Country, World and Pop Music fans alike if it was to get played on the wireless.
As I said at the beginning, the purpose of this disc (and downloads) is to raise funds for a more fleshed out, bigger sound for the proposed album; but as an un-musical music fan I would urge caution as in my humble opinion these stark and occasionally raw performances allow Laura’s voice to bring these often beautiful stories to life in a way that could get lost in the hands of an over enthusiastic producer.
Just a thought.

Released July 1st 2017

Peter Himmelman – THERE IS NO CALAMITY

Peter Himmelman
There is No Calamity 

Peter Himmelman is an interesting cat. His voice may remind you of Declan
McManus channelling an amped up Randy Newman, his band sounds like a pub-funk E Street Band with a touch of Mink DeVille, and the man can seriously write a song like nobody’s business.
Add to this his compositions for film and television, his series of children’s albums, his paintings—and the fact that he owns a company called Big Muse, that helps organisations to bring out the potential of their people with innovative thinking, team building, and leadership ability through the learning of songwriting—and you may have a true Renaissance Man.
A Renaissance Man who rocks, by the way.
THERE IS NO CALAMITY is Himmelman’s umpteenth album. Seriously, the man has released a too many albums, compilations, soundtracks to easily keep track of, and he’s been at this game since the 1970s, working with several bands as well as numerous solo projects. So to say that he knows what he’s doing, would be an understatement.
Produced by Steve Berlin, the sounds on this album are thick, yet quick footed, the bass by Matt Thompson is snaky, fluid, thumping in a way that makes this bass player want to practice a bit more than I already do, the guitars are melodic and nasty, and the drums pound deliciously throughout.
Several of these tunes feature the kind of banging piano and lush keyboard
textures that you don’t hear enough of these days, and the background vocalists are tight enough to do their job, yet loose enough to let go when required. Does this sound like a host of contradictions?
Yes, it does.
The contradictions of rock ‘n’roll abound all over these songs. Hope and punishment, fear and dreams, the arcane and the profound, all played with near abandon, yet restrained just enough. Good car chase music. You ever see that movie Timerider? A motorcyclist is transported through time to America’s Old West. The soundtrack plays cowboy saddle ‘em ups for the modern day motorcycle shots and then shifts to contrasting hard rock when the dirty and bedraggled lowlife outlaws come on screen.
Himmelman and his band are somewhere in between, but smarter, no—make that craftier. On the opening track “245th Peace Song” (which by the title alone tells me Himmelman has a fine sense of humour, even on a song that has such a serious subject matter) we get spit in your face vocals, thrilling harmonies (the background vocalists must have had a blast putting these down) kick down your door snare and some driving lead bass where you can nearly near the strings digging into the neck the way I like.
“Fear and Undoing” and “Rich Men Rule the World” are deep piano burners, a bit of Ian Hunter in the choruses, some playful Warren Zevon on the verses, and “Sacrificial” is a floor tom and distorted bass throbfest where Himmelman lets it all out and pleads for answers, knowing the
world doesn’t work that way: 
How angry is too angry, how sweet is just too sweet?
How do you call out for love, when love feels like defeat?

I know that Himmelman sounds nothing like Steve Earle, but I hear in these songs the same kind of focused energy, a similar sense of responsibility of—not just to the music, but also the subject matter, and most importantly—the end result of the music. Which is to say creating art that hits you like a fist when you first hear it, and that also leaves a handhold on your heart. These are soulful tunes, full of wit and honesty, pluck and heart.

Rock on.

Released 11th August 2017

Guest reviewer The legendary Mr. Roy Peak


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Ed Dupas
Road Trip Songs

Honest and Heartfelt Blue Collar Country For The Heart.

Ed Dupas’ debut album A Good American Life took as not just by surprise but by the throat in 2015, such was the power and beauty of his songs; and it’s been far too a long a wait for the follow up.
Pretty much recorded ‘live’ over three days in a studio in the middle of a Michigan heatwave, that claustrophobic and often baking hot feeling comes across from start to finish.
Now with a band and a Telecaster in tow opening track Too Big To Fail kick starts the album like turning the key in a ’69 Camero. Punchy? Feisty? Articulate? Plus some searing guitar and a band fuelled on adrenaline and coffee are a perfect combination around these here parts.
It’s all too easy to compare Ed’s road worn voice and writing style with early Steve Earle and even earlier Bruce; but remember those guys haven’t lived this life for 20 or 30 years…..and Dupas is living and writing about the small town feelings of Heading Home Again and Two Wrongs NOW and from the heart too; and he makes it sound as crunchy and complicated as it ever did… he probably sits more nearer to Sturgill Simpson and Sam Outlaw than those elder statesmen.
I love the hot red-brick Country sound of Promised Land and Anthem; especially the socio-political sentiments of the latter which proves even a ‘Good Ole Boy’ can be a Liberal too.
I’ve played this album at morning, noon and night….in the living-room, the office and of course in the car and it works well in every scenario; so I don’t really know where to start in picking a favourite track.
The lovely swinging duet with Cole Hanson on Everything In Bloom is obviously a contender; as is the tightly wrapped and sultry title track Tennessee Night; but my heart must go for the darkly simple delights of …..Do It For Me. I say ‘simple’ because that’s how it sounds at first; but listen again and again and it unfolds line after line; revealing more and more each play.
What more can I say? This is Americana Music, Country Music, Ameripolitan and/or Alt. Country…..whatever you want to call it; it’s a keeper.

Released July 28th 2017

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – LAY IT ON DOWN

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd

The Blues Gets Low down, ‘Ornery and Rusty.

While Kenny Wayne Shepherd has made a mighty fine living over the years from his music, his is still a name that gets a ‘raised eyebrow’ when mentioned in polite circles; which is difficult to understand when you look at his statistics over the last 20+ years.
But, hey ho…..I likes him a lot and this latest album has been my default ‘go to’ in the car for the last few weeks on journeys short and long.
Long term fans will love the feisty opening track Baby Got Gone. A low slung guitar and a story about a ‘girl who done him wrong’ has always been a winning combination at RMHQ and Shepherd sure knows how to get the notes out of the dirty end of a fret board!
Diamonds & Gold, which follows is a much ‘bigger’ and ‘fuller’ sound, with a horn section complimenting Kenny’s almost breathless vocals on a swinging piece of Chicago Blues that would do someone like Freddie King proud.
KWS’s trademark Blues Rock licks are here with panache and gusto on Ride of Your Life, Nothing But The Night and a nod in the direction of Cream….Down For Love; but there are plenty of twists and turns around every corner too.
If I’m not mistaken Kenny may have been listening to a lot of Southern Rock and/or Alt. Country in the months before going into the studio as there is a definite move in that direction on the exquisite She’s $$$’s and the heartbreaking How Low Can You Go too?
The singer-guitarist shows a lovely mellow side here with a couple of late night acoustic tracks. Louisiana Rain is a contender for ‘favourite’ track as Noah Hunt’s husky voice sounds so fine on this glorious love song ; and the title track Lay It On Down gets two outings (both acoustic) but the first, a harmony driven version with the band and the album closer a more intimate interpretation solo outing.
It’s one of the slower, Countrier songs which wins the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song. Hard Lesson Learned is as good a bittersweet Country-Blues song as I’ve heard in years; with Kenny Wayne Shepherd sounding as if his life depends on the ‘girl coming back to him’; even if he does know that would be the biggest mistake of his life!
Of course his guitar features heavily on every song; but I’m pleased to report this album actually revolves around the actual songs and Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s wonderful voice…..which is a winning combination.

Released 4th August 2017

SummerTyne Americana Festival 2017 Sage Gateshead

summertyne 2017

SummerTyne Americana Festival 2017
Sage Gateshead
21-23 July.

First of all, I had the discussion “What exactly is Americana Music?” five times on the run up to and then over the weekend. It is a fascinating question, as I ‘know’ what it is, but find it increasingly difficult to quantify; especially as over the weekend we witnessed a diverse mix of music from straight forward Country via Alt. Country, Pop-Country, with a bit of Western Swing too, lots of Bluegrass and Folk many singer-songwriters, a smidgen of Southern Rock, The Blues (Country Blues AND Blues Rock) and some sweet, sweet Soul Music too. Confused? You won’t be!

Summertyne Frifday 2
As usual the weekend started at noon on Friday outside the magnificent Sage Music Centre on the Jumping Hot Club stage with the quaintly named Home Fries acts, from the local region.
With the crowds already filling Shipcote Hill the delightful Rhona Dalling and her sweet Country Folk songs got the day started in the most delightful manner.
After a short break the more rumbustious Buffalo Skinners got the toes tapping in the sunshine, before legendary singer-songwriter and former Pop-star Paul Handyside alongside Rob Tickell performed a series of dark and articulate modern Folk songs, much to the crowd’s obvious delight.
Next up were The King Bees, who annoy me more and more every time I see them. I say ‘annoy’ but it’s only because their brand of Classic Chicago Blues is so incendiary it blows me away every time I see them; but they all have day jobs and can’t find the time (or finances) to go into a recording studio. It was no surprise to see the first of the fabled SummerTyne ‘dancers’ filling the sides of the stage.
The sun was shining and barely a blade of grass could be seen on Shipcote Hill as Archie Brown and the Prisoners of Fender made a welcome return to the picturesque stage overlooking the Newcastle Quayside. After seeing his many incarnations over the last 40 years I’m still not sure how to describe his ‘music’…..think Tom Waits singing Rock and Roll with the coolest Blues band in New Orleans; or something like that!
There was a relatively last minute change to the headline slot, with the Theresa Watson Band and her heady mix of Blues and Soul filing the night air as 6 or more people danced their hearts out in front of the stage.
As the ‘outside crowd’ began packing their bits n bobs away and thousands more were making their way into the Sage to see Sold Out shows by both the Shires in Hall 1 and Merle Haggard’s sons Ben and Noel in Hall 2, I got to see the kids from the Stax Music Academy on the concourse stage blowing the dust off a series of songs that changed my life…….WOW! But more of them later.
Catherine McGrath who launched the evening performances in Hall 1 is a new name to me; but her lovely Northern Irish voice brought some lovely Countryish songs to life; and her chirpy demeanour caught the attention of many people around me.
She was followed by Sarah Darling who is exciting a lot of people within the British Country Music scene and I can now see (and hear) why…..hopefully she will be back in the area soon.
But, the 1600 people who had bought tickets within 72 hours of them coming on sale had come to see the Stars of British Country Music; the Shires.
It was a similar mix of songs from their two hit albums, as their previous visit in December but no one minded with glazed eyed fans singing along from start to finish. I was really impressed with the way their stage presence has evolved in the last four years. To see them tonight you’d think they had been filling halls for ten years or more; as opposed to their debut on the Concourse Stage downstairs in front of 50 people and another 50 empty seats in 2014!
A few feet away in Hall 2 there was a pair of Country acts that intrigued me. Thankfully my AAA Photo-Pass meant I could see most of both concerts (with Mrs Magpie filling in the gaps at the Shires concert).
Ashley Campbell is the daughter of Glen Campbell and, while several ‘friends’ felt she leant on that relationship, I didn’t and was stunned by her dexterity on the banjo and has a fabulous voice… to watch methinks.
I’m going to be contentious now; I’ve never been a fan of Merle Haggard, and tonight seeing a hall full of Country Music fans ‘wallowing in the past’ and, with so much new and exiting music to see and hear it filled me with despair.
Merle’s youngest son Ben actually has a great voice and can play the guitar with flair; while eldest son Noel who looks and sounds a bit like his father relied more on humour and laughs. Me? I was left non-plussed by it all but the following day two friends were still starry eyed at the thought of the concert. You can’t please everyone, can you?

Summertyne 17 Friday

Things started early with a grey faced crowd queuing from 10 am on the Quayside for cruise up and down the Tyne to the music of Ashley Campbell and Massy Ferguson.
Me? I was at work until 4pm… I had to employ Magpie Spies to bring you Saturday’s day time adventures.
At noon jaws dropped all over Shipcote Hill as the first notes from the Stax Academy filtered out across Gateshead…..WOW……for the first, but not the last time this weekend these kids blew socks off music fans with their amazing voices and musical skills on four Stax Soul Classics……dancing? You betcha.
While the JHC stage was being changed around Laura Oakes was winning hearts and minds on the AMA UK Concourse stage with her punchy modern British Country songs, and RMHQ favourite Vera Van Heeringen was playing the first of two gigs in the SummerTyne Lounge.
With the sun fighting through the clouds the feisty Country Rock of Fargo Railroad Company went down really well with the swelling crowds on Shipcote Hill.
As they finished there was a mad rush inside for the sold-out show in Hall 2….Sold Out at 2pm? That musty be something really special; and it was (and I bloody missed it…grrrrr); a double header with Danni Nicholls and the new ‘darling of the Ameripolitan’ Angaleena Presley both making their NE debuts. I subsequently spoke to 8 diverse people who saw the show and each said it was the highlight of this particular weekend and a couple suggested it may be in the Top 10 of all time.
While that crowd were pretending they were in Nashville, those outside knew they were in Gateshead as it started raining just before Vera Van Heeringen came on stage; but the umbrellas came out and the ponchos unfurled as our favourite Dutch songstress wowed them with some terrific songs from her new album.
As happens at Festivals sometimes there are two or three things happening at once but thankfully the Magpie Spies caught the spellbinding smoky voice of Danni Nicholls on the AMA UK Concourse stage, while three others watched the place go wild outside for the exhilarating Rockabilly of Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers; who quite possibly ‘stole the show’ and negotiations were immediately struck for a follow up gig …..sometime soon.
I finally arrived as the incredibly handsome Paul Carella was on the AMA UK and sounded mighty impressive too, on the two songs I heard.
But I couldn’t hang around as one of our ‘finds’ at SummerTyne 16 was Amythyst Kiah who was on the Jumpin’ Hot Club Stage. Is she Blues? Folk? Country? Gospel? Who knows and who cares, as her intensely rich voice combines absolutely everything that is good in Americana Music.
As her final notes were filtering into the leaden sky I rushed straight back into the Sage to finally see Massy Ferguson…..yowza, yowza and YOWZA! Seattle’s finest sons were every inch as good (and loud) as I’d hoped and had the crowd standing shoulder to shoulder in the main area and three deep on the staircase. As SummerTyne is rapidly becoming famous for; Danni Nicholls was invited on stage to join the band for a rockingly ramshackle performance that had people queuing at the merch desk to buy both albums that RMHQ raved about.
A quick cup of coffee and three all too brief ‘hi, good to see you….we must get together’ conversations meant I missed the first 15 minutes of Earl Thomas on the JHC Stage; but the 45 minutes I did see were amazing; scorching and Soulful R&B …..with a charismatic singer, what’s not to like?
More strong coffee and a big dirty burger later and I was witnessing the kids from the Stax Music Academy for the second time; as they opened the show for Mr William Bell. Honestly…..they were/are truly amazing, and each of the six singers gets the opportunity to take lead, which showcases some amazing ‘strength in depth’……the future is bright; the future is STAX!
As they finished I met Mrs Magpie in the bar as she was here to see Sam Outlaw in Hall 2; as part of a double header with Jim Lauderdale (both have great new albums out).
Jim was a ‘vision’ in a brightly coloured shirt and matching Crimpolene trousers; and his many years on stage showed as he held the audience in the palm of his hand from start to finish with a series of songs from his back catalogue, each introduced by a story that made you smile.
As Mrs Magpie enjoyed a convivial tincture with some friends I rushed back to Hall 1 to see and photograph the very dapper William Bell. What a voice this fella still has and like Jim Lauderdale; what a showman!
With the clock ticking I had to run across the concourse and arrived in the Sold-Out Hall 2 just as Sam was being cheered onto the stage. It’s amazing how much he has changed since I saw him play to about 60 people at a JHC gig just over a year ago; and tonight he looked uber-confident and immaculately dressed alongside his regular band. With time not being on his side he crammed a ninety minute set into 6o; and didn’t leave the crowd with time to breathe between song after great song; leaving all 700 fans completely breathless at the end. A relatively new kid on the block for many (but not RMHQ readers) I forecast Sam Outlaw won’t play in front of 60 fans ever again in the North East.
The gig was cut short because an exciting Songwriter’s Circle featuring Jim Lauderdale, Chuck Prophet, Ashley Campbell and Amythyst Kiah was following and it was FREE ENTRY. I only got to see two songs before I had to leave; but a friend who was there said it was a stunning hour and something they would love to see again.

Summertyne Sunday


My one and only full day at SummerTyne 2017 started at noon, with the leader of the Royal Northern Synthonia Sir Bradley Cheswick leading the All-Star Hot Club of Geordie Town through a series of Country and Western Swing Classics. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that the handsome young singer fronting the band was none other than Brian Hume and the harmonies provided by his much younger wife Irene; from Folk legends Prelude! Hey…..that’s SummerTyne for you; a bag full of surprises around every corner.
I then scurried inside to see the Kentucky Cowtippers from the Chowdene Delta on the AMA UK Stage, and again these young ‘uns have really developed their Bluegrass/Country-Folk sound by spending the last couple of years constantly touring and serving their apprenticeship. Today their all too brief set revolved around a recent EP of self-written songs with only a couple of covers slipped in under the radar.
One of the less well known highlights of SummerTyne is always the films that are unearthed and shone in the Lounge to a handful of people. Before going outside I popped in and saw a wonderful 14 minute film called Buna and Bertha about two old ladies (in 1985) talking about keeping Appalachian Folk music alive. I just wish more people could see these delightful slices of musical history.
Alongside Massy Ferguson on Saturday the other act that I was desperate not to miss was Rob Vincent whose album will feature in many Top 10’s at the end of the year. The wait was most definitely worth it……this lad has it all; great songs and a stage presence that kept the audience entranced for over an hour.
Following a couple of quick howdy do’s with some old friends; and finally meeting David from the Three Chords and the Truth website; it was into Hall 2 for another Sold-Out show. This time the passionate solo Blues Rock from Lisa Mills…..(a big guitar and an even bigger voice) and the sultry late night soulful Blues from Jo Harman.
Outside on the JHC Stage Errol Linton was making a welcome return with his own take on Urban R&B this time adding some modern hippitty hoppitty (Grime?) splashes for the teenagers.
As I left Hall 2 I caught Chloe Chadwick’s final song and somehow ended up talking so long to some friends I totally missed the Country Twang of Jonathan Terrell on the JHC Stage playing to an ever diminishing crowd as the rain set in with a vengeance…..sorry mate; these things happen at festivals.
With the rain now belting down, the concourse was packed for Scouse Alt. Country band Rosenblume who took full advantage to showcase their exciting and raw songs.
It really impressed me to see how many hardy souls were prepared to sit in a Monsoon more fitting to February to watch RMHQ favourites Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay in the guise of High Plains Jamboree on the JHC Stage. Not for me I’m afraid; I ran around for ten minutes taking photos then decamped back inside the main building. In any other year this would have been the perfect music to watch on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Back to my opening question….’What is Americana Music?’ Well; one of the highlights of the weekend came next; and the pouring rain yet again a much bigger audience than expected got to witness the beautiful Gospel songs from the Voices of Virtue Choir and hearing them sing such a delightful mix of songs.
As they finished I looked out of the Sage’s huge windows and saw the rain coming down in sheets from four separate angles, so the jacket was zipped up to my throat and the trucker cap pulled on tight as I made a dash outside to see The Savoy Family Cajun Band close the weekend on the JHC Stage. I couldn’t believe my eyes as less than 100 people were there and over 50 were dancing! Dancing in multi-coloured ponchos and wellies! You gotta love Geordies.
Back inside steam was coming off my jacket while I watched local lass Hayley McKay in her sparkly dress on the AMA UK stage. Not to everyone’s taste; I loved her Dollyesque Country-Pop and look forward to the album that is meant to be coming out in the Autumn.
It was a similar sound with Callaghan who opened the evenings entertainment in Hall 1. She looks amazing and has a great voice with some ‘good songs’ and it won’t take much for her to have a hit and surf the Shires coat tails into British Country Stardom.
As she was still tinkling the ivories on the Sage’s Steinway I excitedly made my way to see a band I discovered last year with their debut EP and subsequently fell in love with the follow up LP…..Curse of Lono from London Town!
On the lead up I thought their blend of Southern Gothic music was an odd choice for a support to Chuck Prophet; but hey! It worked and worked incredibly well as a cautious audience fell under the spell as their magical songs won the hall over with ease.
By now I should have been flagging; but the adrenaline was pumping as I went back across the building to see the start of Beth Neilsen Chapman’s concert in Hall I. While I only watched for about 20 minutes, I saw enough to confirm my love of live music. The ever smiling Beth had a couple of ‘technical problems’ which she laughed and joked through before realising she hadn’t plugged the bloody thing in! Still laughing at her own expense she then went into the most beautiful love song.
But, there was Chuck Prophet to see! Even the look on his face as he walked on stage told me he was ‘ready to Rock’ and Rock us he did……two hours of songs played fast and loud with the occasional ballad and political tirade made for a glorious end to another SummerTyne Festival.
What more can I say? SummerTyne is ‘my festival’; it’s on my doorstep and means I can sleep in my own bed and not a tent; but it’s all about the music kids; and the balance of music here plus and the sound quality inside the Sage is as good if not better than anywhere else in the world.
Now……what was that rumour I heard in the car park about a potential headliner next year?

Alan and his Magpie Spies.

summertyne rain

Photo-Set Saturday

Photo-Set Sunday



greg sover

Greg Sover
Grounded Soul Records

Glorious Blues, Soul and a Funky Rock Hybrid that Really Blossoms.

I don’t get to say this often enough but if I was flicking through the racks of a record store the striking cover of this album would capture my attention, and at the very least make me ask to hear a couple of tracks.
If one of them was the opening track My Moment, a slow and glowering anthem, where Greg throws down his marker with sublime guitar playing that not just reminds me of Robert Cray and Peter Green but Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour too; and his voice….phew he’s a Soul Man at heart that’s for damn sure.
This is followed by some mean guitar from the dirty end of the fret board and cleverly written song too in Heroes.
It’s no real surprise that a proud son of Philadelphia would be able to mix it up like this; and on Make Me Say Yeah and Deja Vu, Sover certainly isn’t afraid to visit his sensitive side and share his intimate feelings in a very articulate manner.
I quickly recognised that Greg Sover can play his electric guitar like the best in the business; but I wasn’t prepared for the mean way he makes his Resonator sing on After Me……mmmm….mmmm.
Such was the way he reinterprets the classic Bill Withers song Ain’t No Sunshine as a bittersweet Blues love song I didn’t recognise it for nearly two minutes; and I can only presume he’d been listening to Hendrix the night before the recording session as he takes his Strat into a hemisphere I normally associate with the Great Man himself.
So; if I liked that so much my ‘favourite song’ on the album must be quite special; and it is.
Quicksand which comes in at track #3 pulls all of the strands together and wraps them as tight as a coiled spring on a song which is perfect for Radio…..if Radio had any taste.
Greg Sover is/was a new name to me and probably will be to you as he seems to just tour the NE Quarter of the USA, but this album should get him attention from Blues (and Rock) aficionados around the Globe.
Released Aug 2016


ivor sk cover

Ivor S.K.

Real Hot n Sweaty Southern Fried Blues.

I’ve had so much to do lately I’ve missed the released date for this album by Australian Ivor Simpson-Kennedy by a couple of months; but it’s already a fixture in the car stereo and I feel the need to scream about it from the internet rooftops!
Yes, you read that correctly this young man, who slips and slides through Delta, Country and occasionally Urban Blues with class and grace is from the deepest of deep South……Australia!
The title track, a cool ode to the Caribbean island of Montserrat kicks off this album with so much toe-tapping ease I nearly wore a hole in the office carpet the first day I played it.
Kennedy is the kind of act I dream of stumbling across on a sultry night in a strange town. Take Me Back To New Orleans and the soft and sweet instrumental Indianola are both perfect for sitting watching the sun go down and kicking back with a beer in your hand as the worries of the world just drift away.
Don’t Say Goodbye is interesting as it sounds like a souped up and strung out Dr John song; with some really, really red hot guitar in the middle. Yet he can also get down and dirty on Take The Good With The Bad, when he growls like a Devil and plays his acoustic like an Angel.
While this definitely 100% a Blues album; it’s International Blues with bits n pieces of all styles tucked away here and there and Ivor even goes off left of centre with I Been Had, with it’s infectious Reggae lilt; but it still fits in perfectly well.
When I sat down to type this two songs immediately sprung to mind; the old school story of Good Mornin’ Judge and the Blues Noir of Murder Tonight which manages to mix a bit of Nick Cave with the foot stompin’ of Howlin’ Wolf and the sizzling guitar playing of Kennedy himself; so it gets the title of RMHQ Favourite Song.
Hey; Aussies can really play the Blues if this album is anything to go by.

Released May 26th 2017