Matt McGinn
Lessons of War

Amazing and Important Songs That Shouldn’t Have To Be Written or Sung in 2020

I first came across Northern Irish Folk Singer and Troubadour Matt McGinn via a mutual friend in the Province who suggested he get in touch with RMHQ around the time he released The End of the Common Man album in 2018.
Like the rest of his generation Matt grew up in the uneasy aftermath of The Troubles that blighted this beautiful part of Europe; but hasn’t really wrote about the feelings that time effected him and those around him …… until now.
Not long after that album hit the world, he released the single Lessons of War as a taster for the project in connection with Arts Council NI, that has spawned this amazing album.
For the project McGinn initially reached out to musicians from all over the world, but especially from areas of war or conflict, asking them to contribute to a song he had written that highlighted the futility of war. 
This was the stunning title track Lessons of War; which was such a success that it spawned the idea for a full album in a similar vein.
Without delving too deeply into the background of each song; let’s just let the music speak for itself.
I Read The Writing on The Wall is a universal tale that was probably written about Northern Ireland, but could just as easily be about Syria, Libya or even Brazil too, as the politicians spout rhetoric across the globe while lining their own pockets at the cost of the poorest under their leadership.
Even more powerful writing and incredible musicianship combine on the next song I Was There, which takes a Jazz melody and flute to take the listener on an incredible journey that scare the bejasus out of me in 2020.
That’s the ‘thing’ here; come on ……. we are nearly a quarter way through the 21st Century and greedy and selfish politicians of all hues and backgrounds are still causing chaos and needless death and starvation in every continent; have we learnt nothing from the past?
That’s a rhetorical question; which becomes the dark spine for several songs here; with Child of War, The Hunt and, of course Refugees all perfect for radio; but awaiting a brave producer or presenter to add them to a playlist.
In this ‘disposable age’ this is an album that needs to be invested in and listened to in solitude; there certainly ain’t much to add to a Spotty playlist; that’s for sure.
Although there is one (deliberately) commercial song; the amazing single Bubblegum which hopefully will bring a few unsuspecting people towards the rest of these very important songs.
Matt isn’t the first songwriter to cover these issues in song; I can think of three other albums we’ve reviewed in the last few years; but that doesn’t make Child of War or the delicately beautiful An Shuaimhneas One Day of Peace any less fascinating or important ……. just different words on the same harrowing stories.
Bubblegum, as sung by Ciara O’Neill and about a young girls innocent diary pages written at the height of Northern Ireland’s Troubles/Civil War is the most obvious contender to be my Favourite Song; but when I heard the final song When Will We Learn I found myself clenching both my fists and teeth. But the way Matt McGinn gently lets his words and story breathe, make this one of the most important ‘protest songs’ I’ve possibly ever heard from a native of these fair islands and is most certainly a ‘song of our times.’
It’s fair to say that these songs don’t make for Easy Listening; but there should certainly be a place either on your record shelf or mobile phone for these songs that are coated in a ‘terrible beauty’ yet are still accessible to anyone with even a semblance of a conscience.

Released February 3rd 2020


Ralph McTell
Hill of Beans
Leola Music/Proper Records

Timeless Yet Contemporary Folk Songs From an Actual Living Legend.

There are very few pieces of music that are instantly recognisable from the first few notes; Ralph McTell’s Streets of London is certainly one such song; and one that has had several incarnations since it first appeared in 1972 and still sounds as fascinating and haunting today as it did way back when.
Ralph wouldn’t have been the first nor last songwriter to sit back and let the royalties roll in; but he’s not that type of man ……. no; he’s a true born Folk Singer and has trod the boards very successfully ever since and still has a singular passion that has brought him back to my attention with this his latest release.
My first impression when I heard the jaunty opening track Oxbow Lakes, was that McTell has no right to sound so bloody good at his age. Seriously, his distinctive voice doesn’t sound as if it’s aged a day. Coincidentally ‘Oxbow Lakes’ is a metaphor I use myself to describe the path of least resistance; only I can’t do it as eloquently as this chap.
What follows actually confused me the first couple of times I played the disc; as there’s a ‘fulsome sound’ throughout; not one that overpowers any of the songs; quite the opposite actually, then I read the back cover and discovered that it’s been produced by Tony Visconti!
As I listen again, while I type, I’ve just had a ‘light-bulb moment’! The quirky subject matter and the clever way McTell and Visconti have constructed and delivered these songs; I’m reminded mostly of those post-modern and quintessentially English songwriters Difford and Tillbrook of Squeeze fame!
This explains the tightly wrapped; yet still accessible Shed Song and Sometimes I Wish I Could Pray; which in lesser hands than McTell and Visconti’s could easily have been syrupy and cloying; instead they both become minor epics and very, very memorable indeed.
If I’m honest I was a bit sceptical at the thought of what a legend like Ralph McTell might find to sing about these days; but ……. and this isn’t a huge stretch of imagination; just like Bruce Springsteen who is only three years younger; Ralph still has a very vivid imagination; which brings us fabulous and (dare I say it?) contemporary songs like Clearwater, Gammel Dansk and the title track itself Hill of Beans; all of which have surprised me beyond belief.
In fairness there are only a couple of what I would describe as Traditional Folk Songs here; West 4th Street and Jones is exactly what I expected in advance; but somehow sparkles across every line and stanza. The other in this vein is a Blues tune in the style of someone like Lightnin’ Hopkins; Close Shave; but if it had been recorded 40 years ago would have been as raw as a chilblain; but here it actually had me tapping my toes and quickly singing along with the chorus.
I’m shaking my head as I’m about to tell you what my Favourite Song here is; as it’s the type of Folk Song that a ‘hipster’ like me should normally skip over; but Ralph’s story of his Grandfather becoming the driver/engineer on the famed Brighton Belle steam train in the years after WWII and letting his young Grandson ride on the footplate has really touched me …….. but with a wordsmith like Ralph McTell at the helm why am I so surprised?
Normally I’m only ‘pleasantly surprised’ by rising talents; but hey …… why can’t a Living Legend like Ralph McTell still have that ability? He certainly still has passion in his heart.

Released September 20th 2019

Amythyst Kiah WILD TURKEY (in aid of Rainey Day Fund)

Amythyst Kiah
Rainey Day Fund

This video series adds to the Rainey Day Fund’s mission to amplify marginalized voices within the roots music community.

HUDSON VALLEY, New York — In partnership with Beehive Productions, the nonprofit Rainey Day Fund today launched the Rainey Day Recordings, a series of live videos showcasing artists the Fund believes should be heard.
The first installment features Amythyst Kiah, to be followed up in coming months with performances by Natalia Zukerman, Giri & Uma Peters, and others.
In the current conversations regarding the rampant gender disparities at play in country music, rarely do other marginalized voices earn even a mention. However, if the system is to be disrupted or dismantled, change must be inter-sectional rather than incremental, including artists of color, artists with disabilities, artists within the LGBTQ+ community, and others who add to the rich fabric of roots music.
For, to paraphrase Pete Seeger, we’re stronger when we rise together. 
That’s where the Rainey Day Fund comes in. Named after Ma Rainey — the queer, Black “Mother of the Blues” — the Rainey Day Fund provides assistance to performers through its two main components: a micro-grant fund and a suite of professional services — each available to minority artists at key moments in their careers. 
The Rainey Day Fund does not have an open application process. Instead, it relies on a number of advisors in the music industry to recommend artists for consideration. The organization does, however, have an open donation policy. 
The current goal is to raise $25,000 to finance the yearlong video series and an additional $25,000 for the micro-grant program.
If you would like to donate either financial resources or professional services to support a Rainey Day musician, or for more information about the fund, please contact Kelly 
The Rainey Day Fund is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit project of TKDubs Productions Ltd.

Cambridge Folk Festival 2019

Cambridge Folk Festival
1 – 4 August 2019

With a curated festival, which Cambridge now is, the attraction for many punters lies in the choices of the curator – in 2018, Rhiannon Giddens cast a strong Americana (for want of a better word) flavour over Cambridge. This year, Nick Mulvey has asserted a more eclectic world music influence, but there were still nuggets of Americana-ish joy to be had.

Opening Stage 2 on Thursday and Stage 1 later in the festival, Ben Caplan gave us a rowdy, carnie-esque set of tunes that threw up thoughts of a young, fiery Tom Waits. In a conversation with Ben he professed his admiration for TW and it was plain to see – there was more to Ben Caplan than mere homage though and his lively sets covered elements of folk and Gogol Bordello-ish gypsy music. Very entertaining – and he had yellow maracas on stage too…

The Rails also occupied a prime spot on Thursday. The new album “Cancel the Sun” sees them moving into rock star territory and this came over visually and sonically in their set, with a beefed up full band sound (“William Taylor” was quite anthemic in this context) and James Walbourne pulling out his best guitar god poses while spouse Kami Thompson was a great visual and musical foil. Having seen the Rails several times, it was clear that a great deal of preparation had gone into this set and it was rewarded with a rapturous response. Onwards and upwards – good luck to them.

Up against the 50th anniversary of Ralph McTell’s first Cambridge performance was Lucy Grubb in the Den. Her performance grew in confidence as her set progressed – references to Johnny Cash and a Kacey Musgraves cover (which actually paled in comparison with some of her own material) planted her firmly in a country camp. Possessing a melodic and narrative lyrical flare that was present in the tracks from her “Dear Walter” EP and other new songs, she displayed real commercial crossover potential.

Friday started with the Mojo interview in the Club Tent. Colin Irwin led Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico through an account of their musical background and history. Somewhat sparsely attended as the interview subjects hadn’t been announced in the programme, but most who were there were held in rapt attention by the guys’ musical war stories, internationalist world view and all-round niceness. Top blokes.

Kerri Watt was an early afternoon fixture on Stage 1. Visually striking in a vertical two shades of denim outfit (you had to be there) her voice – which was at times reminiscent of….Lulu….added a bit of character to a number of mid-paced songs. The addition of Will Pound on harmonica towards the end of the set added a bit more musical dynamism, but I’d like to hear full(er) band recordings before making a judgement.

Graham Nash was the penultimate act on the main stage on Friday and played a perfectly chosen and paced set. Lots of CSNY (and all their other incarnations) tracks and the hits like “Marrakesh Express” and “Love the One You’re With” were held back, after politically influenced earlier tracks like “Military Madness” and “Immigration Man” which found strong approval with the crowd. Ending on “Teach your Children well”, Nash was the perfect Cambridge “icon” act – and vocally and musically he still has fire in his belly.

Following that were Calexico and Iron & Wine – unusually for the final act at Cambridge, the crowd hung around (as opposed to dashing off for the last bus to the Coldham Common campsite). This was much more of a “proper” collaborative performance as opposed to the first time that they toured together where the set was one third Calexico, on third Iron & Wine and one third collaboration, or thereabouts. Most of the “Years to burn” album was played along with a cover of the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses”. Musically, the atmospheric soundscapes of the set brought the night to a relaxed end – for those familiar with the material, it was a subtle delight of a performance, but went somewhat against the Cambridge tradition of a night ending rabble-rousing set.

If the previous night ended on a more gentle note, that certainly couldn’t be levelled at Rob Heron and the Teapad Orchestra who – for me – put on one of the top performances of the festival first thing on Saturday on the main stage. While they have new material yet unreleased, they very wisely played a tried and trusted set of numbers like “Beaujolais”, “Life is a drag”, “Cats and Chickens” and High Speed train”. Add to that the band’s dry humour, charisma and enthusiasm and it was a recipe to melt the hearts of the most pure, died in the wool folkie. At the start of their set, the audience were just drifting into the tent. At the end, the place was rammed and they were going mad. Someone put RH & TTO on prime-time TV now and make them famous.

Often good things can be found on the smaller stages and I got a tip-off that The Marriage, playing in the Den, were worth checking out. I knew of Dave Burns through his role in ahab and Orphan Colours, but his duo with Kirsten Adamson (sister of Callum, ex-ahab and daughter of Stuart of Big Country) had criminally bypassed me. Singing songs about getting dumped rarely sounded so good. Dave’s guitar playing, not usually brought to the fore in Orphan Colours was on show here and very impressive it is too. Kirsten’s characterful voice was a real revelation, both as a lead and harmony instrument – shades of Emmylou and Gram and the Civil Wars (if they came from Edinburgh and London) are evoked by the duo. The pair hadn’t played for a year as Kirsten has had a baby, but the number of new songs performed and the stage talk of more to come was very welcome. Definitely the most pleasant surprise of the festival.

Later that same night was the much awaited return of Lucinda Williams to the Cambridge stage that she’d graced six years earlier (there was some trepidation amongst the time served journos in the pit at memories of unpleasantness surrounding that previous show) but fortunately all was well on this occasion. On this tour Lucinda has been playing all of “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” but festival time constraints meant that she mixed highlights of the album into the set, along with other songs like “Something about what happens when we talk” and “West Memphis” as well as covers of “Can’t let go” by Randy Weeks and Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor”. A ten song set and three encores (An a capella “Faith and Grace”/”Get right with God”/”Foolishness”) exorcised fully the demons of her previous visit and brought her several more new fans.

Outside of the more obviously Americana type artists, Gruff Rhys performed a set that was part performance art to the bemusement of the folkier purists. Walking on with a sign that said “Applause” and another which said “Louder” – and then another that said “Prolonged applause” was not unexpected (yet still surprising) from the former Super Furry Animals man. Talisk, the Scottish trio had the final Saturday slot and played with a ferocious energy that scorched those hardy souls still standing from the day’s heat. Concertina player Mohsen Amini has to be seen to be believed in the energy of his performance – the perfect festival rabble-rousing band. Jose Gonzalez has come to wider attention through the use of his cover of the song “Heartbeats” in a TV ad and despite most of the audience seemingly only familiar with that song, he played a gentle set that went down well on a warm afternoon.

2020? Why not…

Courtesy Nick Barber

It should go without saying; but ………. ALL PHOTOS ARE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT LAWS. If you want to download/use any of Nick’s photos get in touch and we will organise ‘something’.

Full Set

Ben Caplan –
The Rails –
Lucy Grubb –
Kerri Watt –
Graham Nash –
Calexico + Iron & Wine –
Rob Heron & the Teapad Orchestra –
The Marriage –
Lucinda Williams –
Gruff Rhys –
Talisk –
Jose Gonzalez –

Various Festival shots –

Norrie McCulloch COMPASS

Norrie McCulloch
Black Dust Records

Emotional and Eloquent Folked Up Country

It’s a sign of the times that, alongside many of his peers, Norrie McCulloch had to fund this latest album via Kickstarter and not through a Record Label that ‘believed in him’.
Any hoot, the cash was promised and the record is here…… and therefore the world is a better place.
While I loved the resolute starkness of his last two albums; but there’s something of a ‘band feel’ here; none more so than the opening track Dear Lady Blue’ an intense and bittersweet love song that is drenched in harmonies yet also features some stinging mandolin too, yet you are always drawn back to the singer’s distinctively warm Scottish brogue and words.
For me there’s always been something about Scottish singing voices that gives off an ‘authentic aura’ regardless of whatever topic they are singing about, as is especially the case with the song that follows Road Sign, about a man who is reminded of ‘the love of his life’ in the mundane things he sees everywhere, including the Road Signs.
Here McCulloch flits between heartfelt love songs and blue collar working imagery with ease; and a couple of times manages to combine the two. Janey (When We Were Young) opens with a mournful harmonica solo, then the story about a young lost soul arriving in the mining village; and managing to touch his heart over the next few years in a way few, if any can ever match, then disappearing when her Father’s work took them away again. It’s an intricately clever song masquerading as a simple Folk number; but be under no illusions …….. you will be left with a lump in your throat as you too, remember someone special from your own childhood.
Drinking Money, on the other hand is a jaunty Folk tale of the ‘working man’ who is willing to risk everything, as long as he has enough money to go out ‘for a drink’ at the end of the week.
The title track Compass is a left turn for the singer-songwriter, as it not just includes congas but some really fluid guitar playing on a song that may be about a literal Compass that guides his way through life; or is it a ‘moral compass’? Perhaps we will all have a different interpretation. In it’s own way, this song reminds me of the great and underrated String Driven Thing, in concept and construction; and I know Norrie is also a fan of the late Chris Adams.
On the accompanying piece of artwork Norrie included in my package, he describes his ‘work’ as ‘Folked Up Country’; and I only wish I’d though of that earlier; as it’s the perfect description for the three songs that close the album, She’s So Good, Simple Life and With You In My Life; which will all sit comfortably in the Folk Clubs of Britain, the downtown bars across Canada and the Honky-Tonks of Middle America; or basically where people gather to drink beer and listen to very good music.
Quite a few songs came under consideration for the title of Favourite Song at one time another; but from the first time I played Hollow Love a month ago to earlier today, I knew it was a very special song indeed. Like many other songs here, it has it’s roots in the work of famed Scottish songwriters like Jackie Leven, Donovan and Eddi Reader, but Guy Clark and John Prine too in the way McCulloch takes his and our emotions and rings the very life out of them.
It may have been hard work, physically and emotionally getting this album together ……. but it’s well worth it; and I have a feeling it could be a stepping stone to something special for this Son of Scotia.

Released 31st May 2019

Alvarez Theory SELF-TITLED

Alvarez Theory
Alvarez Theory

Dark, Moody and Eloquent Americana-Folk Crossover.

With so much music available these days for artistes to draw from, it’s no surprise that that the genre lines become ever more blurred.
In days of yore, Londoners Alvarez Theory would have been classed as ‘Folk Rock,’ albeit with the emphasis on ‘Folk;’ but with the judicial use of a banjo several songs crossover into what now is deemed ‘Americana’; which is also a lot more ‘hip’ in radio and magazine circles I would guess.
There’s an almost Canadian Gothic feel to opening track By The River, as Diana-Maria Diehl summons up her demons to to exorcise a love affair gone wrong; and the rest of the quintet play their respective instruments with quietly restrained anger; and a whole lot of passion too.
For a group from London Town, there’s a very North American feel to most of their songs; and when I say ‘North American’ I mean music made in the states either side of the Border that straddles USA and Canada, with the clear, cool and often rawness I associate with that area unfolding like a butterfly from a cocoon on Last of a String of Tempests and Bring Her Back to Life too.
The imagery that is evoked on songs like the desolately beautiful House That Stood The Storm and Big City, Empty certainly belay the fact that these songwriters life in London; and not some windswept hilltop cabin in the bleak midwinter.
Even though this is quite a simple album, of sorts; there’s a lot going on behind the words that hints at a group of probably classically trained musicians who are now performing music that they love and adore; which brings me to the two songs vying for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song; 1949 is one of those songs that sounds so intense you can hear a pin drop 50 yards away; but it still won’t break your concentration and the other, Mary McKinley is certainly a song I’d have presumed was from Canada or perhaps rural Ireland and features some heart-stopping harmonies and steel guitar, that juxtapose a song of majestic proportions; so the title goes to Mary McKinley!
It’s never made clear what, exactly an ‘Alvarez Theory’ is; but it’s fair to say that this darkly charismatic album of exquisitely constructed, performed and sung stories is well worth the investment if you have the time to immerse yourself in the Alvarez Theory’s musical world.

Released May 24th 2019


Izzy Heltai 
Only Yesterday (EP)

Beautifully Articulate Cross-Generational Folk Music.

I don’t know much about Izzy Heltai apart from he comes from Northampton in Massachusetts and has a voice that can best be described as ‘interesting’; but it’s also quite perfect for his spell-binding modern Folk Songs.
There are only four songs here; but each one is a perfectly formed parcel of intense loveliness in its very own rite.
I regularly say that it’s a case of ‘Right time/right place’ for music to have an effect on you; and as I sit here tired and weary on a sunny Good Friday morning, contemplating life, love and the Universe as it’s my birthday tomorrow; Friday and a one the younger me could never have imagined me reaching Izzy Heltai has been a wonderful companion in the last couple of hours.
The first song; and current single Marching Song is a very powerful and deeply personal statement from this young man; whose frazzled voice somehow struggles to soar and hit the high notes….. but manages every time. For a track that has a guitar piano, bass and trumpet (possibly a cornet?) alongside a big voice; there’s lots of space there two for the listener to contemplate on Heltai’s heart rending story of broken love.
Then on Stuck in Stone the judicial use of echo gives a sad tale enough pathos to break even the hardest of hearts with consummate ease; and that’s taking nothing away from the singer’s rather muscular love story.
I absolutely adore his use of metaphor in the final track Mountain; comparing such a massive land mass to the mistakes he’s made in his relationship; and if you don’t quite get the message…… that cello and trumpet will make you go weak at the knees anyway.
Then there’s my Favourite Song by a country mile; Common Sense. To the casual listener a simple Folk Song with a bit of a back story……. but you couldn’t be further from the truth! Listen….. actually listen to Heltai’s compelling words and the way the melody and instruments creatively shadow and shroud his dark story like a velvet cloak. This is the sound of a songwriter ‘finding his true muse’ and the world is a better place for this song being there.
In four short songs Izzy Heltai has the capability of crossing the musical generation gap with articulate ease in a way I’ve not heard for many a long year. He very much already has his own distinctive ‘sound’; but one that can and will appeal to fans of acts as diverse as Leonard Cohen, Ed Sheeran, John Prine, Nanci Griffiths and Gretchen Peters too. #Fact.

Released April 19th 2019


Anna Tivel
The Question
Fluff & Gravy / Proper Records

Razor Sharp and Intimately Epic American Folk Songs.

I had a bucket load of CD’s to write about that are being released for Record Store Day 2019, when I got my dates mixed up and dropped this release from singer-songwriter Anna Tivel from Portland, Oregon into the office CD Player, when halfway through opening track The Question I was stopped in my tracks and had to return to the start.
Phew, blimey and even crikey!
What a way to start a record of what is primarily pure and simple American Folk Music.
While these songs are certainly ‘pure of heart’ they are as far from ‘simple’ as you can get.
As there is such a brilliant ‘twist to the tale’ it would be wrong of me to talk to much about this amazing song, less I give the game away. But what I will say is the the character Anna sings about is going through something a close friend and colleague is going through too at this very moment, and both have brought me to tears.
What a brilliant way to start any album.
Then there is track #2 Fenceline, which I will come back to at the end as this sublime and ever so timely story is by far and away my Favourite Song on an album that will surely turn up in my year end Top 10.
Then, there is track #3 the dark and ethereal Shadowland which could well have been written after the songwriter had immersed herself in Leonard Cohen’s Masterworks for a week or more, such is the way her flawless and poetics words join together and float mercilessly from the speakers. Then again, most songs here are in that vein too.
I wish I had the time and space to speak longingly about every single song here; but I will leave those surprises for you to discover for yourself.
What I will say though is songs like Minneapolis and Velvet Curtain aren’t anywhere near as delicate as Shane Leonard’s production and Brian Joseph’s engineering would have yo believe at first hearing. These songs, and the album as a whole demand your FULL ATTENTION…… as I will be asking questions later.
On any other album the song *Anthony would easily be my Favourite Track. A ‘break up song’ par excellence and unlike any other I think I’ve ever heard. I’ll tell you how good it is; if Anthony ever crosses my path I will ‘Biff him on the nose’ for breaking Anna’s brittle little heart. Bastard!
As a CODA to that song, there’s the incredible and punchier Worthless which if it’s not about Anthony it’s about someone very similar….. and he too will get a Biff on the nose too!
The actual Winner of the RMHQ Favourite Song is Fenceline.
Flipping Heck Mother!
If ever there was a song that was ‘of its time’ it’s this one; while not exactly a protest song per se; this harrowing and epic tale of a man trying to cross the Mexican/American Border is so well told and created it is surely a song waiting for a film for it to be the soundtrack to. Anna’s story builds and builds alongside the notes her crystal clear voice reach until I found my fists had clenched tight.
This is a song that should be on the school curriculum and played every day at morning assembly.
Plus, if ever the likes of Joan Baez or Judy Collins were on the look out for a song that captured the current Zeitgeist they need look no further.
I love discovering new artistes and music then having the ability to pass it on to you crazy kids…… and albums like THE QUESTION are the lifeblood of RMHQ and are what keep us going.
So; instead of squandering your pocket money during Record Store Day or even on chocolate eggs for Easter; save your cash and invest it in THE QUESTION …… you won’t be disappointed.

*Hopefully Anthony is actually a fictitious character that Anna Tivel has made up for this song. I hope so for his sake!

Released 19th April 2019


Ben Bedford
The Hermit’s Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings

Idiosyncratic Guitar and Folk Songs That Paint Vivid Pictures In Your Head.

It would be all too easy for me to skip past this album as I am being inundated with Review albums from the great and the good in the musical world; as even though he’s a Kerrville New Folk Winner Ben Bedford is highly unlikely to headline Coachella or Glastonbury and is even less likely to win a Grammy; but even on one cursory, background listen you instantly sense you are in the presence of a very special singer-songwriter indeed.
With hindsight I think it’s Bedford’s idiosyncratic guitar playing that really caught my attention last week; but then again his cracked and worn voice; from years as a lonely troubadour I’m sure is the type that only a Mother or me could love too.
Then of course there are Ben Bedford’s songs; starting with Morning Rise a Folk Song from the Tom Paxton end of the spectrum, and so simple yet prophetic I found myself taking a deep breath so as not to miss a word or note.
For one man, a guitar and no fancy post-production wizardry Ben Bedford surely can capture your attention with the beautiful and melancholic vivid vivid pictures he paints in your head with the dark Little Falcon and Coyotes as well as the introspective Morning Conversations too; which is quite some achievement.
Back to Bedford’s guitar playing; for someone who isn’t Richard Thompson or indeed Bert Jansch on the beautiful instrumentals Thunderstorm and Quiet on the Green Hill he manages to captivate and intrigue without ever singing a word.
I’m trickily undecided regarding my choice of Favourite Song here as I rather like Moon and March End a whole lot, but it is just edged out by Morning Coffee; another very simple idea and concept but one that I, you and everyone around us will associate with; so that’s the one.
Is this Americana? I guess so as Ben Bedford is American and these are American stories; albeit with more than a cursory nod in the direction of some of the 1960’s British Folk Singers that were inspired by the likes of Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and later Guy Clark.
Expect to see Ben Bedford in a Coffee House, pub backroom near you or perhaps even a tent at Glastonbury, go check him out if you can…… you won’t be disappointed.

Released UK March 29th 2019


JUST FOR A MOMENT ( 1973-1997)
Universal Music

Ronnie Lane, Bass Player for the Small Faces and the Faces – Songwriter behind iconic songs such as Ooh La La, Itchycoo Park, The Poacher, Annie and Debris…  In many ways Ronnie Lane remains an enigma in the story of rock ‘n’ roll.  An artist who was determined to chart his own destiny and break free from the demands of the music “business”.  His sense of disillusion with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle led him to leave his hugely successful band for a ramshackle country farm (Fishpool) and a life on the road (of sorts…)  He assembled a new band – Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance – and would create The Passing Show – a now legendary circus tent tour of the country with assorted clowns, acrobats and comedians… To further his ambition to do as he pleased musically, he built his own recording studio – The Lane Mobile Studio – itself an icon in the history of rock recordings.
Ronnie created a sound that was unique in British music – a style that leaned heavily on an array of influences particularly folk, country music and later r’n’b with welcome contributions from the band of musicians he surrounded himself with. Ronnie was not alone in his rural idyll – many friends would join him in his new artistic endeavours – Gallagher and Lyle, Kevin Westlake, Billy Livesey as well as Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton (the latter wrote Wonderful Tonight round the fire at Ronnie’s Fishpool Farm).  Eventually the symptoms of MS would surface and in the 80s Ronnie would move to Austin, Texas where he still wrote and performed up until his death in 1997.

Ronnie Lane is one of the finest songwriters the UK has produced. This is the first time that a fully comprehensive look at Ronnie’s post Faces career has been undertaken. Just For A Moment 1973-1997 collates the solo and collaborative work of this prodigious and much missed wordsmith. As Pete Townshend surmises, “Here, in these songs, collected with such love and care, he is found again. Probably at the height of his rebellious and chaotic powers, where music had to be immediate and uplifting, or else heart-breaking – but always real.”

It includes Ronnie’s 4 solo albums – Anymore For Anymore (+ singles), Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, One For The Road and the cruelly underrated See Me.  In addition, it features tracks from Ronnie’s Mahoney’s Last Stand soundtrack album with Ron Wood and Rough Mix with Pete Townshend.  The final disc of the set focuses on Ronnie’s time in the US with live highlights and studio tracks never previously released. The set also featured lots of rare and unreleased material – be prepared to hear fantastic cover versions of The Wanderer, Rocket’ 69 and The Joint Is Jumpin’ – as well as unheard Ronnie compositions plus live recordings, tracks for the BBC and highlights from a legendary Rockpalast concert. The set is curated by long time musical associate of Ronnie’s, Slim Chancer musician Charlie Hart.  Comprehensive sleeve-notes focus on Ronnie the musician, the songwriter, the collaborator and split the post ’73 period into three distinct parts.  Writers are Paolo Hewitt, Kris Needs and Kent Benjamin covering Ronnie’s Austin years, whilst The Who’s Pete Townshend contributes a foreword on his former best friend and collaborator
Packaging – 6 discs housed in a hard-back book with outer slipcase.  The package also includesa book of Ronnie’s lyrics and an A2 fold out poster.
Album Pre-order:
Slim Chance Live:
20 March              The Earl Haig Memorial Club, Cardiff, Wales

21 March              Cellar Bar The Maltings, Farnham, Surrey


27 March              Water Rats, London


29 March              The King Arthur, Glastonbury


30 March              Flowerpot, Derby


11 August            Farmer Phil’s music festival, Shropshire


5 September       The Musician, Leicester


6 September       The Ropewalk, Barton Upon Humber