John Turrell – The Kingmaker (2013)


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John Turrell
The Kingmaker
Jalapeno Records

Northern Soul that’s full of  Northern Pride

John Turrell is the singer in Funky Groovesters Smoove and Turrell from Newcastle, England and has drawn comparisons with Jay K from Jamiroquai and Mick Hucknall from Simply Red; but on this his solo debut he draws from his roots to create a Soulful album that is full of raw Blues.

The album opens with a song about the futility of boring office work; To The City and the need to break free and has guitar breaks worthy of Prince at his best.

Wrong Time was released as a single earlier this year and it’s easy to see why it picked up National airplay with its Stax like bass lines and a Hammond organ that drives through the middle like finely tuned Aston Martin as Turrell pleads with the love of his life.

Day in Day Out is a piano let Blues tune comes from the very pits of the stomach and is another song that will resonate with anyone who is ‘office fodder’ and the title comes from a piece of graffiti painted on a footbridge that John had to slowly drive past every morning on his way to the drudgery of a 9-5 job; when he could only dream of a career in music.

Stella Maris is such a cool slice of funky Soul I had to check the sleeve-notes to see if it was a lost Stevie Wonder track; but it’s not. It is written by John’s own fair hand and that comes across in his voice as he honours the strong women in his family with a love song to them all.

With his band Smoove and Turrell as well as his side line the Fantasy Funk Band John has supported many great names and bands in the Soul; Funk and dance market including Chic whose influence is written right title track The Kingmaker making it a Supercool stomping Northern Soulful Bluesy tune.

The album ends with another slow burning Blues tune that has the Hammond at it’s core; Home about the temptations a man faces when out on the road; but mercifully Turrell appears to have left them behind him many years ago and now thinks of his daughters when the Devil appears on his shoulder.

With Charles Bradley and Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed forging a path for Soulful Blues; not unlike The Kingmaker I heartily recommend you to have a listen to John Turrell before he becomes too cool to like.

The Divide Music Company

Released UK September 9th 2013

Re-Released September 9th 2017


Glenn Alexander & Shadowland Self-Titled

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Glenn Alexander & Shadowland
Rainbows Revenge Records

Enough Rhythm & Blues Infused Soul To Make Your Heart Burst.

I haven’t got the time to listen to every album I receive, never mind review them so some rare gems get lost to the Oxfam shop; which is nearly what happened here, but there was something about the cover and song titles that made me give it a try.
Yippee Whey Aye Man!!!
I knew in the first 15 seconds that this was for me; cool swishing guitars and red hot horn section hit me like a left hook; and when Glenn Alexander’s rough around the edges voice joined them I was out for the musical count.
That song If Your Phone Don’t Ring, a swinging Rhythm and Blues deluxe song would be the highlight of many albums; but here it’s just a taster for what is to come.
Memphis Soul is ‘just what it says on the tin’ but with added ‘twang’; and the low and slow Blues For You & Me and Big Boss Man are the type of suburban Chicago Blues I fell in love with 40+ years ago; and this gorgeous duet between Glenn and Orio is absolutely delicious.
The band can get low down and funky with the best of them and when needed they can pick up the pace too and make your feet twitch and shake on Get Up and the razzle dazzling The Odds Are Good.
As connoisseurs would expect, classy R&B and Soul tends to be primarily about Luuurve…..good Luuurve and bad Luuurve; and Glenn Alexander doesn’t disappoint on that front with The Odds are Good and the red hot Get a Life which features Southside Johnny on mouth harp, being prime examples; but the title of ‘Favourite Song’ goes to the soulful groove of I Picked The Wrong Day (To Stop Drinking). It’s as sad as it’s beautiful with Gospel style harmonies and a wailing B3 Organ in the background. Who among us doesn’t love a tearjerker and heartbreaker like this?
As my Father used to say “God moves in mysterious ways” and that is certainly true here; as this CD was in a box destined for the Charity Shop when something made me take it back out……and I’m mighty pleased I did; and you will be too.

Released January 2017

Robert Kraft Trio NORTH BISHOP Ave.

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Robert Kraft Trio
Resistor Record Co.

Smooth as Silk Soul Songs For Lovers of All Ages.

Music captures our attention in many different ways; usually as some kind of soundtrack for an event or mood in our lives; such was the case with this album by the Robert Kraft Trio from Austin Texas.
Mrs. Magpie and I were returning home from a delightful few days holiday in the Lake District and the sun was just on the verge of setting as first track Gotta Have You filtered out of the car stereo. Within 1 minute I had taken my foot off the gas pedal and my wife and I were exchanging the first of 100 ‘meaningful glances’ that Kraft’s words and silky voice were to induce over the next hour and a half.
By track #3, the sashaying I Want To Show You the penny dropped that ‘Robert Kraft’ (aka Al Ackhar) and guitarist JD Pendley were transporting us back to the nights; as a newly married couple when we would cuddle up on the sofa listening to George Benson…..over and over again.
A big part of me thought that the art of writing a beautiful love song was long gone; but Robert Kraft has resurrected this skill set with great aplomb and not just a little bit of Cool with a capital C.
So Beautiful is a series of often silly things that remind the singer of the unattainable beautiful girl in his life; but that’s what happens to a guys brain when the ‘thunderbolt’ hits, isn’t it? Come on guys….admit it; and ladies……you know it too.
On the other hand You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart gorgeously describes the other end of the ‘love spectrum’ when the affair is over…..but…..honey…… You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart. Pendley’s liquid guitar fills coupled to the funky rock solid bass of Lindsay Greene combine to create a Classically timeless sound; and not for the first or last time on this disc that will make your toes tap and heart skip a beat.
While he’s there throughout the album adding special dashes of magic, Producer David Boyle gives closing track Stand (The Ally Song) an extra dose of Bluenote ‘cool’ with his Wurlitzer on a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson or even Lou Rawls album.
It makes a pleasant change here at RMHQ to hear a ‘distinctive’ singing voice; and while the overall ‘sound’ Robert Kraft produces and pays homage to reminds me of some truly legendary Soul singers; he himself has a beautiful voice of his very own; the type that was all pervading in my teenage years but went out of fashion in the late 70’s; but hopefully will be on the way back when this album tops the Hit Parade.
With only seven songs to choose from I wasn’t sure which to pick as my favourite; as they all have their merits; and this is definitely the type of album you play as a complete work; and have it on auto-repeat…..but one song really made my heart tingle on that first play; and again tonight…..the eloquent and ingenious Wonder, which comes in at track #2 and will make you look at your other half with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your lips.
Seduction music at it’s finest.
If you had bought this album on the strength of the cover art-work you’d have been very disappointed; as it looks like something from a bad Joe Cocker bootleg; but as is the case. with me…..if you hear the music first……that cover doesn’t mean diddley-squat; as the music certainly speaks and sings for itself.

Released July 14th 2017

Arthur Alexander – SELF-TITLED (Re-Release)

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Arthur Alexander

Country-Soul Songwriter Writes From The Heart For the Broken Hearted.

Arthur Alexander made a good living during the late 50’s and early 60’s writing and recording songs that became huge hits across the Atlantic for British acts from the Rolling Stones to Dusty Springfield and even the Beatles; but as history tells us they then went on to write their own songs leaving the likes of Alexander standing in the shadows.
Eventually as Soul music finally began to evolve from just being about 45RPM singles and moving into LP’s Alexander recorded and released the original version of this album in 1972. Sadly due to a Record Label not knowing how to market such a product it pretty much flopped; with only one song being picked up by an artist as a single, and he didn’t even write it…….Burning Love and the singer……only Elvis Presley!
Alexander soon retired from the Industry until he was getting songs together for another album in 93 when he sadly had a heart attack and died.
So; has this record stood the test of time?
Yes…..and no.
There are some really, really good songs here and a couple of clunkers too….but while the likes of Call Me In Tahiti, Simple Song of Love and Rainbow Road sound twee in 2017, but they were pretty much solid fayre in 72.
I’m Comin’ Home starts affairs in a glitzy manner; and I can just picture Alexander in his suit with huge lapels and even huger flares shuffling and doing big hand movements on some Saturday morning TV show like so many others at that time.
But things get interesting with the next song It Hurts To Want It So Bad; where the big ‘over production’ gets dispensed with and Alexander dips his toe into the soulful singer-songwriter world I associate with Bill Withers, and….damn….this is one cool song.
With the addition of a piano Love’s Where Life Begins follows a similar tract and alongside Down The Backroads which follows shows a talent and a ‘voice’ that was very much in the right place at the wrong time; as this was just about the time when singer-songwriter’s were coming into vogue.
All three of these songs, plus They’ll Do It Every Time and I Don’t Want Nobody from the ‘extras’ could easily still be hits today; for someone like Rod Stewart, Ronan Keating or some X Factor type teen sensation.
Which also brings me to my two favourite songs here; Arthur’s rip-snorting version of Burning Love is obviously a ‘given’; but another favourite from my teenage years makes a mysterious appearance among the Extras.
I have a long and convoluted story of buying Billy Swan’s I Can Help LP, and discovering a gateway to a whole new world and here Arthur Alexander straddles both Country and Soul with a sweeping and swooping version of Lover Please, which may not be to everyone’s taste; but I bloody love it.
This is a fascinating piece of history and with some judicial editing (which you can do yourself on your I Player) makes for a marvelous legacy for a man forgotten by the music industry.

Released July 28th 2017

Gina Sicilia – TUG OF WAR

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Gina Sicilia
Blue Elan Records

Classy, Soul Searching and Heart-Stopping Blues Deluxe.

This album has been hanging around the ‘to do’ box for a few weeks now and a couple of tracks have piqued my attention when the iPhone is set to ‘shuffle’ mode but it was only this morning, when the June weather outside was grim beyond belief that I finally to give it a spin.
Well; as I’ve said before ….”God acts in mysterious ways”; as it’s been the perfect accompaniment for catching up with outstanding internet type matters; and now as I drink strong coffee and eat even stronger ginger biscuits.
Any song called I Don’t Want To Be In Love will catch my eye; and this album opener is an absolute scorcher; as Gina’s deep and rich voice pleads with her man ‘not to make her fall in love’ as she ‘was happy being alone’……and Dave Darling’s sparky guitar behind her makes the song extra special indeed.
This links perfectly well with track #2 Damaging Me which follows; and again Sicilia pours her heart out in song; and the deep dark and very personal mood is set for the next hour.
It turns out that TUG OF WAR is Gina Sicilia’s seventh album and was recorded after a ‘painful and dramatic’ event in her life which necessitated a move to Nashville where it was recorded. While I would never wish ill will on anyone; it’s fair to say a good songwriter; and Gina Sicilia fits that description; should find gold in any type of darkness; and she certainly has with Never Gonna End and the heart-breaking He Called Me Baby.
While filed under ‘Blues’ in most record shops Gina adds a huge dash of Gospel infused Soul on I Cried; a song that Aretha would have been proud to sing in her own glory years and the jaunty album closer Heaven too.
When it comes to choosing the obligatory ‘favourite track’ I’m torn between Gina’s gloriously sorrowful rendition of the Beatles All My Loving and her own razor sharp acoustic Blues tune Abandoned; and probably will have to go for the latter as it had me tapping out the beat and nodding my head to the tightly wrapped melody and deeply private lyric which touched both my heart and my Soul.
Damn right this girl has the Blues and a heart full of Soul; and has a special way of delivering them if you have them too.
Released June 2nd 2017

Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns -BACK TO THE SHACK

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Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns
Freeroll Records

Hallelujah! Smokin’ Hot Soulful Blues From a Really Classy Crew.

For a million reasons this album nearly missed the cut. It arrived just as it was being released and a host of other albums needed reviewing too at that time too; but I’ve kept coming back to it like a bit of a ‘palette cleanser’ so it just needed to be included on the site. Better late than never, right?
For what it’s worth this type of big band R&B Revue has been out of fashion in the UK for a long but praise the Lord that it’s still loud, proud and rocking in the USA!
The album opens with a fleeting piece of Delta Blues that sounds uncannily like Robert Johnson; then the band let loose everything they have in their arsenal including Mark Campbell and Melanie Taylor’s amazing voices on an ode to Robert Johnson himself. Hell yes!
Oh Lordy…….by track #3 the powerful ballad Don’t Let Her Go, my heart was pounding in time with my tapping feet and the smile on my face was as big as the Tyne Bridge. Damn right these boys have got The Blues.
The band criss-cross Soul and Blues with ease; adding Philly swagger to a Stax/Volt intensity level on Serves Me Right and Bad Habit; but they can do smoochy smoother than Barry White ever did on Change My Ways and the ultra-cool brooding love song Ain’t No Way which sounds like Curtis Stigers, Booker T and Brook Benton putting it down somewhere really seedy late on a Saturday night.
Campbell sounds truly amazing on the Gospel tinged Somebody To Trust which lets the Heart Attack Horns rip your spine in two and features some swirling keyboards throughout.
Because this is ‘grown up’ music and radio has changed a whole lot since I was a lad; there’s no obvious 45 single here; but two songs are well worthy of daytime and indeed night-time radio play; and therefore tie for the accolade of ‘favourite track’……..Something In The Water is a sweet guitar based love song; even though the Horns let you know they are there in the shadows and Let Me In which closes the disc rips the joint up in a way made famous by James Brown and Jackie Wilson but neither had a band as good as the Heart Attack Horns to pour petrol on the flames that the singer creates!
Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns have been strutting their stuff for 30 odd years and with ten previous albums and numerous movie soundtracks and awards under their belt they show no signs of slowing up any time soon.

Released October 2016

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… 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


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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 of music, 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, with no one prepared to give up their hard fought positions on Shipcote Hill.

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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 and the Heed Band? Elizabeth Cook? Sarah Savoy’s 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 several pop-up stages inside the Hall; and this is where I first saw The Shires play in front of less than 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 Paul Handyside and Chloe Chadwick.
Then the big party starts with the welcome return of the Shires who have already SOLD 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 Soul infused 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 to the North East….mmm…mmmm….mmmm.
Saturday night on the main stages will be as good as SummerTyne has ever been… 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 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 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.

Ruthie Foster – JOY COMES BACK

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Ruthie Foster
Blue Corn Music

A Broken Heart Never Sounded Sweeter or More Soulful.

I’d not heard of Multi-Award Winner Ruthie Foster until her last album Promise of a Brand New Day in 2014 when I fell in love with her.
That album has been a bit of an antidote to many sad things in my life over the last couple of years so my heart skipped a beat when I received this album.
As a professional singer Ruthie can turn her hand to most things; and do them very well indeed; but for this she hand-picked 10 contrarily diverse songs that each told a deeply personal story that reflected the comings and goings in her life during a relationship break-up that included the custody of her 5 year old daughter…… don’t expect many laughs.
The album opens with a rich and emotional take on Chris Stapleton’s What Are You Listening To? Ye gads; this song not only tugs at your heartstrings but ties them in knots then sets fire to them.
A great start; and somehow things manage to get even better and even more cerebral!
I have another version of Mississippi John Hurt’s Richland Woman Blues, but it sure don’t sound nothing like this exuberant, swinging version that features some smoking fiddle and mandolin from Warren Hood; but the song itself is now all Ruthie Fosters.
There are only a couple of up-tempo songs here; of which that was one the other that stands out is the Gospel flavoured Joy Comes Back featuring Derek Trucks on a guitar that smoulders as Ruthie loses herself in the sentiment of Sean Staples majestic lyrics.
When you put the songs in context; this album becomes a late night, smoky, tightly wrapped beacon of hope and love. We’ve all been there……and if we could we would all like to be the person singing Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever the way Ruthie Foster does.
I’d not heard either before but Ruthie Foster turns Abraham and Good Sailor into spell-binding and spine tingling, earnest and beautiful Folk songs that are so full of Soul they actually overflow at times.

The title track Joy Comes Back could actually have been written for this project; as the words sum up exactly what Ruthie must have been going through and thinking; and the way she delves back into her Gospel and Blues roots to find the strength to pour her hear out is staggering.
It won’t take a genius to work out this album will feature in numerous Top 10’s and Award Ceremonies at the end of 2017; but two sing here will singularly feature as ‘Songs of the Year.’
First one, Working Woman is call to arms for women every where, with Ruthie screwing here eyes tightly closed as she verbally punches out the chorus in a way I’ve not heart since Aretha was in her pomp!
The other is the first song I went to……because when I saw the title I thought “it can’t be….can it? Surely not….hopefully not!” But For some inexplicable reason she has chosen to include……War Pigs by Black Sabbath!
Aaaaagghh; it’s a horrible noise fest in it’s original format but…..and I don’t know how she has done this; she has turned it into a gutsy Country-Blues song full of punchy drumming, wailing mouth-harp and a ……melody straight from the outskirts of Hellfire County.
Apparently in her younger days Ruthie worked in the Navy, servicing helicopters and her colleagues loved their Heavy Metal, hence this selection……which has absolutely blown me away and given me a new found respect for The Sabs songwriting skills.
Every song here was selected because, in some way it ‘told a story’ and everything is rounded off quite perfectly with the finale; Forgiven……a song only a woman with a huge heart could sing.
As I’ve said before, there’s no point in covering a song if it still sounds like the original and here Ruthie Foster puts her own intimitable hallmark on every single song…..and in doing so has made one of the best Soul (?) albums I’ve ever heard.

Released 24th March 2017