Music: Americana, Blues & Country Picks: September 2017
So yes, August was rather quiet but at least we had the bonkers weather to talk about and thankfully we didn’t get plunged in to a nuclear war by a deluded megalomaniac (and thank fuck the North Koreans didn’t do anything daft either). September is getting mighty crowded so let’s get cracking (but don’t forget to support small venues and local bands whenever you can). See you down the front.
This dude formed his first band (The Melt) aged just 16 and spent the next three years touring including support slots with the likes of Doctor Feelgood, Walter Trout, Mountain and The Animals. He then went on to play in a coupla blues bands, but also took time away from the blues with Infamous Vampires, a more alternative band. So although he’s steeped in trad blues, he’s not afraid to try something different and is currently touring his debut solo release Broken Machine. So whilstyou can expect some damn fine guitar and his distinctive voice (with a cracking band along too) don’t expect the usual dull recycled tropes.
Scott Hirsch (out of California and bassist out of Hiss Golden Messenger) has let loose his debut solo LP Blue Rider Songs and is touring it around the country. The recording is desert dry yet warm and he has a welcoming, comforting voice, topped off with some delightful picking – acoustic and reverb drenched twanginess in equal measure. It will be a pleasure to see how the tunes translate on stage. Meanwhile Chapman has been performing and recording music for over 50 years now and has over 40 albums to his credit – the latest 50 is a stunningly good piece of work and he’s the player admired by all the players that everyone else admires. And all this for just 10 of your English pounds – cheap at thrice the price.
The every busy Husky Tones have been playing a lot of dates in and out of town, and they’ve really nailed the duo thing – incendiary music but coupled with some great humour and an admirable sense of social responsibility. On this form their next LP is gonna be a belter. The band always provide a VFM bill so we can also look forward to young rockers Stone Theory with their delightfully fresh take on classic / blues / hard rock (find out more here). The night opens with Drunken Butterfly, another local outfit kicking up a delightfully spicy post-punk racket and pleasingly a young band not afraid to take on the issues of the day. Get there early and listen out for Girls to the Front. Instant earworm, just add snakebite.
OK plenty of blues this month so it’s great to have something from the weirder end of the ABC spectrum with JM and his live rendition of tunes from newest recording A Short History of Decay (“…delivers in gloriously dysfunctional bucket loads” according to that Mojo magazine). Not only is he a purveyor of finely crafted Southern Gothic Americana (SoGoAm as we shall never refer to it again) but he’s produced an accompanying limited edition graphic novel (buy two double bag one! Er, non-fanboys email in for a translation). Now that’s way more interesting and rewarding than bullshit deluxe multiple editions and wallet depleting bundles for sure. (Note from Music Editor – check there are no bullshit deluxe multiple editions and wallet depleting bundles for this LP before posting). But regardless, go and check him out, treat yourself to something a little more testing.
A decade into their career Danny and the Champs have just released another fine recording (Brilliant Light a VFM 18 track joint excitably described as “an aural aurora borealis that will illuminate your musical life” by Folk Radio UK) and are back on the road promoting the album. As they’re seasoned road warriors and consummate writers this will be a raucous night and given the Atlantic / Stax vibe of the new LP it’s gonna be one for the dancers. Support comes from William the Conqueror and you really should make an effort to get there early to see this lot – bluesy Americana with a bit of alt + indie for a fresh sound.
This lot made their debut at the Louie back in 2015, hot off the back of a storming performance at the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair and it’s good to see them back in town. The band have one LP under their belts (Here We Go Again) and a second imminent (Smoke & Mirrors) and whilst their recordings are slick and polished (no pejorative intended at all) live they are more rock country than country rock. Jess is an engaging focus for the band and whilst she has a marvellous set of pipes they are no slouches either. Thus cunningly crafted songs, sung with passion and played with balls. Plus some purty ballads.
It’s a blues guitarmageddon at the Tunnels this month, Fletcher the sole representative from the birthplace of the genre. He’s got a fine pedigree both as a solo act and a tour of duty with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and not only is he a skilled, fiery player but has a fine soulful voice to boot. Although a relatively traditional player there’s plenty of sizzle in his playing and the band aren’t afraid to take off with the improvisation, but rest assured the songs are strong enough to take some jamming.
Erja Lyytinen (aka “The Finnish Slide Queen”) has been recording for the best part of two decades and is touring her most recent release Stolen Hearts, recorded in that London with Chris Kimsey. Regular clickers will know there’s been a resurgence in chaps slinging guitars around in a bluesy way (newbies see above & below), but they’ll also know there’s a pleasing number of ladies doing the same. Lyytinen certainly knows her roots (check Elmore James tribute The Sky Is Crying) but isn’t afraid to bring some crunch to her playing, nor is she afraid to diversify (check Bed of Roses featuring contributions from Marco Hietala (Nightwish) on vocals and Apocalyptica cellist Paavo Lötjönen).
Unfamiliar with Big Boy Bloater then? Can you guess what sort of music he plays? (a) fey indie folk mash up or (b) death metal or (c) gut bucket R&B based blues. Well of course it’s (c) and he does it very, very well: to critical acclaim and to the acclaim of many of his peers too, as well as to a growing body of fans. He’s one of them there music type polymaths too – solo recordings & shows; band work with the Limits; guitar for hire (Imelda May and Paloma Faith) and has presented on the wireless as well. The Louie will be cooking once he lets rip, and don’t expect typical blues fayre either he’s not afraid to bring the rockabilly to add some pizzazz to his blues.
Sheela-na-gigs are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are architectural grotesques found on churches, castles, and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain, sometimes together with male figures. Sheelanagig on the other hand are a hell of a night out, one of those pleasingly difficult to pigeonhole genre busting bands that cock a snook at the music demarcation Taliban. Bring your dancing shoes and expect to be cutting a rug to an infectious mash up of folk, blues, country and whatever else has caught the band’s attention. These boys know how to play, but more importantly they know how to enjoy playing and are seasoned in the art of starting a dance party armed only with an infectious collection of tunes.
The autumn is looking frighteningly busy with big hitters and new acts alike; plenty of traditional & conventional stuff mixed up with a whole heap of genre challenging acts too – local, national and international. It’s all there for you to plot out a fabulous calendar of top notch music but of course you’ll want to book early and be sure of guaranteeing a seat / space.
Slaid Cleaves, Tunnels: Sunday, 01 Oct
Little Big Town, Colston Hall: Tuesday, 03 Oct
Front Country, Wardrobe: Monday, 09 Oct
Cardboard Fox, St. Georges: Sunday, 15 Oct
Jarrod Dickenson, Louisiana: Sunday, 15 Oct
Jace Everett, Tunnels: Monday, 16 Oct
Walter Trout, Bierkeller: Friday, 20-Oct
Brandy Clark, St. Georges: Saturday, 21 Oct
Mad Dog Mcrea, Bierkeller: Saturday, 21 Oct
Wille & the Bandits, Fleece: Thursday, 26 Oct
The Sadies, Tunnels: Sunday, 29 Oct
John Mayall, Colston Hall: Sunday, 05 Nov
Harrow Fair, Tunnels: Tuesday, 07 Nov
Simon McBride, Tunnels: Monday, 13 Nov
Joanne Shaw Taylor, Colston Hall: Tuesday, 14 Nov
Ben Poole, Thunderbolt: Wednesday, 15 Nov
Crow Black Chicken, Tunnels: Wednesday, 15 Nov
Sari Schorr, Louisiana: Thursday, 16 Nov
Samantha Fish, Tunnels: Tuesday, 21 Nov
Van Morrison, Colston Hall: Tuesday, 21 Nov
Morgan Jones, Bierkeller: Thursday, 23 Nov
Tom Russell, Thekla: Thursday, 23 Nov
Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, St. Georges: Friday, 24 Nov
JW Jones, Thunderbolt: Saturday, 25 Nov
Mark Lanegan, Trinity: Monday, 27 Nov
Songhoy Blues, Anson: Friday, 01 Dec
Chantel McGregor, Tunnels: Sunday, 10 Dec
Ainsley Lister, Tunnels: Tuesday, 12 Dec