Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 30 - India Ramey - Snake Handler

It's been a good weekend for happening upon really fine artists and music of which I was until now quite unaware.
We swap the glitter of California of my previous post for the dismal depiction of a childhood lived far away across the continental US. This next artist grew up in a town with the idyllic name of Rome, Georgia. As it happens neither her early life nor the town itself matched up to the name and this is in large measure a chronicle of that. It is also a fine addition to the canon of what for want of a better (maybe even bitter) moniker is often called alt-country.  I'm more inclined to 'outlaw country' but it is certainly something I would include within Americana.  That however is a discussion for another time.

Snake Handler - India Ramey (Little River Records, 4 August 2017).

This is the track-list:

India Ramey - Snake Handler:
  • Snake Handler
  • Devil's Blood
  • The Baby
  • The Trees
  • Drowned Town
  • Devil's Den
  • Stone's Throw
  • Rome to Paris
  • The Charlatan
  • Saying Goodbye
There is a group of artists that is developing a whole thing around this kind of songwriting and production. The album is produced by Mark Petaccia, who was the sound engineer on Jason Isbell's 2013 album 'Southeastern', and the restrained production ethic that allows artist and music to sound very near to live (because it often is) comes through.
One of the highlights for me so far is the song 'Devil's Den'. As well as being lyrically razor-sharp it allowes me to draw parallels. One is with the artist Angaleena Presley (who I have mentioned before and also seen live) and specifically her song 'Dry County Blues' from 2014 LP 'American Middle Class'. The songs sound quite different but the two-faced detail is much the same - poverty, corruption and addiction all disguised behind a respectable facade as presented to the casual observer.
Another point of reference here, particularly when it comes to songs digging into their writer's past experiences, is obviously Margo Price. Her 2016 début 'Midwestern Farmer's Daughter' was released by Green Man Records but only after a couple of years without being able to find any label wishing to do so on her terms not theirs. This album changed the game, not least here in the UK where she toured it extensively and I saw her live at End Of The Road 2016. She releases her second LP 'All American Made', also through Green Man Records, on 20 October 2017.
Another artist in this category is Kashena Sampson and I mentioned her début album 'Wild Heart' a few weeks ago.
The most important thing here is that there is plenty of room for all these artist to co-exist. This is not a major label hunt for "the one", its rather more a community.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 29 - Calico the Band - Under Blue Skies

I spend a considerable amount of time trying to keep up with new music but, be that as it may, one of the greatest delights is to stumble upon something quite unexpected.
Exactly this happened yesterday evening and just how it came about eludes me now. I was feeling somewhat 1970s-nostalgic. I could have listened to all sorts of things. Stevie Nicks, CSNY and even Simon & Garfunkel came to mind, but for some reason I decided to try to find something new, at least to me, that fitted the required specification. By luck or judgement I happened upon a review of this LP. It sounded promising so I listened and it was just what I needed.

Under Blue Skies - Calico The Band (California Country Records, 15 September 2017).

Of course you can hear their influences beyond those mentioned already:  Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and also their predecessors including The Beatles as well as others less well known.  That is not even to mention a cover of John and Michelle Phillips' co-written California Dreamin'. It is one of those songs, and they are numerous, that is recognized by most but the origin of which is known by few. 
With three female vocalists Calico the Band doesn't really sound like any of them. Nor does it sound anything like bands from Texas with the same format but coming from quite different musical bases. The themes are often similar but the treatment very different.
This means that there is a significant population that will hate it and everything it represents. I accept that to be so, but I am not of that mind.

This is indeed the band's second album. In the spirit of research I thought that I should also investigate their first LP too. Why not?

Rancho California - Calico The Band (2 September 2014, California Country Records).


I like it just as much, so that's a win-win situation.  Another way to describe it that came to mind as if in a dream is to imagine that The Pistol Annies came into a bit of money and headed west in search of the dream.



This is the song 'Runaway Cowgirl' from the album 'Rancho California'.


And this is 'The 405' from the LP 'Under Blue Skies'.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 28 - Top Floor Taivers - A Delicate Game

This has nothing directly to do with the festivals I have been to over this summer. It has a great deal to do with the variety of music that garners my attention. It is also a possible pointer towards my change of direction when it comes to festivals that I'm considering visiting in 2018. I'm almost certain that I have never seen any of the four artists that form the core of Top Floor Taivers live in any of their many and various other guises. This is their first album together as such. Their recorded works as individuals or other bands are a however a different matter and I have listened to them.

A Delicate Game, Top Floor Taivers (TFT Records, 28 February 2017).

Recorded it is a slightly different consideration - as a
 trans-Britain-and-Ireland collective this is quite something. It treats traditional songs with grace and pressure, but also includes versions of modern folk songs such as Richard Thompson's '1952 Vincent Black Lightning'. The best 
comes with some new compositions such as 'Jeanie and the Spider' that rate alongside anything else here.
If you want my opinion then it is that this album is under-rated. The version of the traditional Scottish song 'Johnnie of Braidieslee' is as good as it could be. The origin, and age, of the song is anyone's guess; possibly 17th century in approximately current form but it might have origins older than that and have been updated and reconstructed to suit the times. It really doesn't matter that much.
For the curious, here is the track-list:


Top Floor Taivers - A Delicate Game:

  • Johnnie of Braidieslee
  • Princess Rosanna
  • The False Bride
  • Everybody Knows
  • 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
  • Jeannie and the Spider
  • Campfires
  • Ramblin' Rover
  • 10 Little Men
I  don't think that I could leave you hanging, with nothing to listen to, so here are a couple of tunes that are not on the album.


'Captain Ward' (traditional) and 'The Porterhead Reel' (Gráinne Brady).

Monday, September 11, 2017

End Of The Road and all that...

So why have I written nothing since I returned from End Of The Road 2017 a week ago? Well I've been busy at work for a start, catching up on my sleep too and thinking about all the things I saw that weekend. Assisted by, and whilst working through, all the pictures that I took.
I've also been listening to a whole lot of new, some even forthcoming, music and started thinking about those many great albums already released in 2017; equally those still anticipated. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to intertwine my memories of EOTR 2017 with some of these forthcoming things and, also, a few releases the first nine months of 2017 that I have not mentioned up to now for whatever reason. That this will keep me more than busy is something of an understatement.

Le's start with something from last weekend and an artist that I have wished to see live for some years now.

 Lucinda Williams, Garden stage, Friday 1 September.

This stage is unsurpassed in atmosphere in so many ways so I shall stick with it, and a diet of artists from the US, for this post. Of the four artists here this is the only one that I had seen live before at EOTR 2015 but on the Woods stage then. The picture above was taken after nightfall.

Ryley Walker, Garden stage, Friday lunchtime, 1 September.

When the greatest stage light of all, the sun, is in play the Garden stage is unimpeachable. It was to be so again for much of Saturday.

Courtney Marie Andrews, Garden stage, 2 September.

Opening the same stage at lunchtime the same day was an artist from Oklahoma whose recent albums astound me only slightly more than the lack of appreciation that he garners. Yes there was a fair gathering here, certainly a very appreciative and dedicated one as the songs-sung-back attested. It caught a few others by surprise; some of these songs are devastatingly bleak but curiously hopeful rather than depressing.

John Moreland, Garden stage, 2 September.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Dyn Gwrydd :: 2017 :: Green Man - Part 4 - three vital bands on Friday.

I have said that I wouldn't go to a festival that I didn't believe had strength in depth. Green Man and End Of The Road tick that box with abandon. Here are a few more acts that I saw at Green Man and that come highly recommended in my humble opinion.
The first, and one that criminally I have failed to see live twice before, is a world away from the more "serious" music that some might think preoccupies me. From Madrid, with garage-rock attitude and a pop sensibility to match, comes all-female foursome Hinds.



Hinds' Ana Perrote. Far Out stage, 18 August 2017.

This is a move to a different stage and a very different artist. One that I seen live before but never at a festival.

Stevie Parker, Rising stage, 18 August 2017. Her first album 'The Cure' is out now.


Another act known to me but one that I had never seen live was Cobalt Chapel, touring their self-titled LP. Let's face it all three acts here were on my must-see-live wants list and this is yet another reason that festivals such as this work for me.

Cobalt Chapel, Walled Garden stage, 18 August 2017. (Klove Records, 20 January 2017).

Cecilia Fage fronts the show.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Green Man :: 2017 :: Dyn Gwrydd - Part 3 - vox pop

Some people choose festivals based in large measure on the main stage headliners. I have to say that I have never been one of them and on several occasions I have been to multi-day festivals and not seen a single one of said acts. This was not true last weekend and I saw much of Ryan Adams' set and all of PJ Harvey's magnificent closing act on Sunday.
There are no picture of these because I don't want to spend hours, and in the process miss artists on other stages, to be near the front. I'm happy just to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a grandstand view from the back --- something that the topography of the Mountain stage at Green Man means that it is surprisingly easy to do.
While that set was indeed a true highlight of the weekend it was also the culmination of the work of many others. One artist I was delighted to see on the list - the one that prompted me to buy a ticket, some six months back and just before the release of the latest album, was Hurray For The Riff Raff.

When I first saw Alynda Lee Segarra and her band live at End Of The Road 2012 they were almost unknown, almost totally so in the UK. It occurred to me then that were there any fairness in the world then that should not remain true.  
2017 LP 'The Navigator' saw a change of direction, more reflecting her Puerto Rican heritage, and with a largely new band. Following on from 2014 album 'Small Town Heroes' not everyone saw this as a positive development. 
Almost five years on and this was an artist that I was willing to take time and effort to see live at close quarters. Time and circumstance have conspired to make Hurray For The Riff Raff one of the live acts of 2017 --- and one cause of that is a growing sense of injustice about fundamental issues of human rights; in particular the selective application of them.
The 
crowd was already rather larger than I might have suspected. The moment she walked onto the stage on Friday afternoon I knew that I had made the right decision.


She had the audience round her little finger from the get go and both parties knew it. Stood by the barrier between audience and stage while trying to take pictures that made any sense of the circumstances was doubly interesting. Long story short, this was a humanist rally, combined with a concert, spontaneously happening in South Wales.

The greatest achievement is that although done with serious intent it was never preachy or indeed overtly political. It simply didn't need to be.  

We got to hear pretty much all of the album 'The Navigator' and the band does it proud live.

This was for people to enjoy - these folks had paid for tickets after all - and now the vox pop was singing Pa'lante back to her, swearing and all. This was amongst the most remarkable live sets that I have ever had the fortune to see close up.

The undisputed star of the show.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dyn Gwrydd :: 2017 :: Green Man - Part 2 - Three to see (again)

Festivals are a chance to see new music as I mention often and it is a subject that I will come back to soon. After a while they also become a way to catch up and see acts again. This post is predicated on that theme. Three acts that I have seen before at three different festivals between 2012 and 2016 revisited at Green Man 2017 each playing on a different stage and on a different day.
I shall start with the one that I first saw at live Green Man 2014 and playing the Mountain stage that year. Back then she was touring her  2014 album 'Burn Your Fire For No Witness' and was one of the most impressive artists but also one that I knew rather little about at that time. This time she is touring on the back of the 2017 LP 'My Woman'.
She is also an artist never known to make the photographer's task easy. Once you know that it counts in your favour.

Angel Olsen & her '79 Gibson S-1, Far Out stage, Green Man Festival, Friday 18 August.

This next artist is someone that first saw live at End Of The Road Festival at the end of last summer. She opened the beautiful Garden stage on Sunday and I messed up almost all of the pictures that I took then but the music was great. I had to try and do something to redeem myself this time... and as luck would have it maybe I did. What is beyond question is that the artist has grown into her rôle too. In the time between these festivals Holly Macve released her début album 'Golden Eagle' on Bella Union Records.
That is a great record but this song isn't on it because it is a brand new one. It is also the only song in the set on which she played electric guitar.



'Iris', Holly Macve, Mountain stage, Green Man Festival, Sunday 20 August 2017.

Last but not least is a band from Scotland and one that I have not seen live since the one-and-only No Direction Home Festival in 2012. Their latest release is 'Wide Majestic Aire' (2016); tongue-in-cheek the title may be but the band goes from strength to strength. A broken guitar string only added to the spectacle, but I'll come back to what happened then sometime later. All I will say is that it made me even more in awe.

Trembling Bells, Walled Garden stage, Green Man Festival, Saturday 19 August 2017.

Two of these acts also share a single person as a musical collaborator in their canon of work.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Green Man :: 2017 :: Dyn Gwrydd - Part 1

It is time to begin my commentary on the time I spent at Green Man Festival last weekend - and the 15th edition of the same. It is appropriate to start with this year's incarnation of the eponymous figure, burnt at midnight on Sunday he is reincarnated in a new guise the next year. This year he had a companion animal too, y ddraig goch (what else?)

Around the bonfire and the red dragon. Early evening Thursday 17 August.

The Green Man, a little before midnight. Saturday 19 August.

The best festivals have a sense of identity that is a combination of location, setting, careful curation - from the choice of music and other entertainment, to the food and drink choices on offer. If successful in time the audience that is attracted becomes an integral part of the festival itself. This is where independent festivals win over the corporate kind.


Now the music. On Thurdsay evening there is a limited offering based around the Far Out and Chai Wallah stages, both of which are tented.
One of the best things about festivals is being taken by live music that one was completely unaware of until the moment happens. This first happened last weekend on Thursday evening at the Far Out stage.



Anna Meredith, Far Out stage, Thursday 17 August.

The instrumental lead-in was enough to arouse my curiosity and not least because it put me in mind of Mary Epworth (see here). I have since determined that the track 'Nautilus' is epic on record but it is quite astonishing live - particularly the percussion.  It may be a highlight but the rest is snapping at its heels.


Anna Meredith 'Varmints' (Moshi Moshi Records, 4 March 2016.)

It occurred to me then that if Thursday evening has me thinking like this then it is either going to be quite some weekend or, on the other hand, it might wind up as a huge anticlimax. Suffice to say that it most certainly did not and I will post about why that was soon.

The next instalment should be up here tomorrow, probably sometime in the evening (UK time).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 27 - Kashena Sampson - Wild Heart

I suppose that in a curious way and not least because I have never been there, East Nashville and the artists that have taken up residence there have had quite some influence on my musical existence for the last few years. Here is another whom, starting in Las Vegas, via LA and jobs that at best kept the wolves, if not necessarily the demons, from the door that was in time followed by a long stint singing to cruise ship audiences every night.
Then came the time spent bar-tending in Tennessee whilst trying to raise funds and find time to record. That is some apprenticeship. This is that LP:

Kashena Sampson - Wild Heart (New Moon Records, 18 August 2017).

It's too early yet for me to decide just how this stacks up against the competition, and there is plenty, but it is fair to stay that Kashena Sampson is very much in the running. Her vocals are strong, that's definitely one thing. This is probably an album I'm going to have to keep dipping in and out of for some weeks before I really can get the measure of it and quite how it works for me.

Kashena Sampson - Wild Heart:
  • Away from Here
  • It's a Long Way Back
  • Greasy Spoon
  • Wild Heart
  • She Shines
  • Never Give Up
  • Motherless Child
  • Hold Me Close
  • That Don't Sit Too Well with Me
  • Come Back to Me

New Music 2017 - Part 26 - Mary Epworth - Elytral

I shall soon turn my comments to that which I saw and heard at Green Man Festival last weekend. On Thursday evening I had one of those experiences where knowing next to nothing about an artist proves to be a blessing; being blind-sided like that is cathartic.
I shall reveal the artist in question in due course. About twenty minutes into the set it occurred to me that it was a similar situation to something that happened at Truck Festival 2014. In that case the artist concerned was Mary Epworth and, upon returning from that weekend one of the first things that I did was to order her début album 'Dream Life' (2012) and on vinyl for good measure. The good news, and the reason for this preamble is that her second LP is released very soon and the track list is below.

Mary Epworth - Elytral (Sunday Best Recordings, 1 September 2017).

Mary Epworth - Elytral:
  • Gone Rogue
  • Last Night
  • Me Swimming
  • Watching the Sun Go Down
  • One Big Wave
  • Bring Me the Fever
  • Burned It Down
  • Towards the Dawn
  • Lost Everything
  • Surprise Yourself
Summer music this is not. As autumn comes and the nights grow longer the muscular power and discordant aspects of it will seem appropriate I suggest. It would make for an interesting listen around a camp-fire should we enjoy the luxury of an Indian Summer.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thinking about festivals...

It is raining hard as I write this late Monday evening. In 72 hours time I shall be camping for the first of four nights and this time next week, all being well, I shall be back here at home in front of the computer writing about Green Man 2017.
It will be my fourth visit to Green Man in South Wales in successive years since 2014. All those so far have been accompanied by rain to a greater or lesser degree. This one looks like following the theme, yet it has not spoiled any of them thus far. I'm hoping that the same holds this time.
The thing is that, at least to some extent, I know what rain during Green Man involves when it comes because it did in both 2015 and 2016. Truck Festival 2017 was a surprise however, as I had never been to one (four actually) that were bothered by more than a few sharp showers. The deluge was survivable, I'm used to camping in less than ideal conditions, but I certainly don't wish to have to deal with mud like that twice in four weeks. 

I imagine that I would do so however.
There is a limit somewhere, cancellation of the festival being an obvious one, but I'm hoping not to discover it. The thing is, if one were to dwell on all this too much you'd never buy a ticket. These festivals are sold out, weeks if not months in advance, and there is a reason for that. 

So what am I looking forward to...



You might spot that I'm unlikely to be left short of choices. In fact the clashes are likely to many and various. I'll try and add some of my ideas over the next two evenings if only for the fact that it will help me decide some kind of priority. Any suggestions are of course most welcome and I know full well that, once I'm actually there, much of the planning will go out of the window because it always does!
What is not included here are artists appearing on the Green Man Rising stage; new artists that auditioned in a competition for a gig at Green Man, and if the previous years are anything to go by I shall be there on more than a few occasions.


Many are the artists that I have seen live before but would love to see again. There are plenty and then some that I have never seen live.
Several further options are available as there are a number of artists here that are also appearing at End Of The Road Festival 2017 a fortnight later. One of those, that I am absolutely determined to see (at least once), is Gaelynn Lea. She is without doubt one of the finest fiddle players of her generation, and there are plenty of challengers for that crown I'm happy to add.
The perfect description of what being at a festival is actually like was inadvertently provided by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know."

OK. It is now the aforementioned tomorrow evening,  so what has changed?

I am cautiously optimistic concerning the developments in the meteorological prognostications, which is a pleasant change from the situation this time four weeks ago and a few days before Truck Festival.
Another consideration is what balance to strike between seeing acts that I have already seen live and enjoyed, those I am aware of but have never seen in a live setting and those that are essentially unknown. This is a re-working of Rumsfeld's Ruse in a festival setting. My response is, I suspect, much like his. I will spend much of the next two days thinking about all the options and how they might pan out.  Once I'm actually there and things are happening for real I suspect that will mostly go straight-outta-the-window; I'll do exactly what seems a good response to the circumstances of the moment. I'll come back to some specific acts of note shortly.
Last summer at End Of The Road I saw a number of acts that, had I not already been inside a tented stage when the rain came pouring down, I would never otherwise have done. I strongly suspect that several of them were actually rather more interesting than those that I sacrificed by staying put.

The other question, that of right now, is what to listen to at home in the two days before a festival? I should possibly do a little on-line homework regarding the unknown unknowns.  I will certainly not listen to anything by the artists that I know about whether or not I have seen them live before. I've tried that before and it is in my experience a complete waste of time; like revision just before an exam it sows confusion instead of clarity.
I will for the most part listen to things that are of no direct relevance to the forthcoming festival that are either entirely new to me (hello, Spotify!) or might possibly serve as a frame of reference during the weekend.
To finish this evening's thoughts (the lists are arranged alphabetically)...

Five artists to see live for the first time:
Aldous Harding

Cobalt Chapel
Michael Kiwanuka

PJ Harvey
Ryan Adams

Five artists to see live again:
Angel Olsen

Hurray For The Riff Raff
Pumarosa
Sunflower Bean
This Is The Kit



Here is the latest (no Rising stage listing here, that's all secret).  That's it until tomorrow evening and I have changed my mind again.

Wednesday evening thoughts:
It's pouring with rain just now (9:25pm), which is actually a good thing because it suggests that the weather systems are currently running to the predicted timetable.
In music, it is very tempting to go and see St. Etienne again, not least as this will be featuring songs from the latest LP 'The Home Counties', which is of course just lovely.
Also lurking somewhere in the line-up is Frome's very own Stevie Parker, promoting her 2017 début album 'The Cure'. 
😉

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 25 - Paul McClure and the Local Heroes EP

It is with much pleasure, having seen him play live at Truck Festival just three weeks ago, that I come to review the latest EP from the self-styled Rutland troubadour and that is named for both himself and the collection of artists with whom he tours this beautiful land of ours come rain or shine --- with an abundance of the former and a paucity of the latter at Truck 2017!
Following two great albums 'Smiling From The Floor Up' (2014) and 'Songs for Anyone' and vast amounts of playing live across the UK with myriad of local heroes often different ones in different places.
The idea here was to get a band of Local Heroes in a studio and record some songs, playing together as if it were live.  This EP is what resulted from that.


Paul McClure and the Local Heroes, paulmccluremusic.com, Clubhouse Records (2017).

Paul McClure and the Local Heroes EP

  • Million Dollar Smile
  • Baby That's You
  • The Good And The Bad Of It
  • Weight In Time
  • Troubadour's Lament
The Local Heroes on this recording are:
Rhiannon Payne - vocals
Mike Monaghan - drums/percussion
Neil Segrott - bass
Joel Payne - keyboards/vocals
Paul McClure - guitar/lead vocals


All of this body of work is worth your listening time. Three of the five tracks on the EP were on the playlist that afternoon (see below). Even more important, and this is actually how I first became aware of Paul McClure, is to see him play live. It matters not if he is solo or with any number of Local Heroes that can be mustered for the occasion. You will not be disappointed.
Paul McClure, Saloon Bar stage, Truck Festival, 22 July 2017.

A picture is no substitute for being there listening live.  This is the play list that you missed.

What is more Paul appeared time and again over the three days, both supporting other artists and as part of the collective performances that are a great feature of the late evenings on this stage.

New Music 2017 - Part 24 - Iona Lane - Pockets EP & Solace EP

One principal artist and two releases make up this little pot of gold. I should have mentioned the first months ago but I didn't, which is entirely my fault. With another now available to pre-order the time is right.

This is the forthcoming one (1 September 2017)...  you can order it here.
With Iona on acoustic guitar and vocals and Abi Plowman on violin and backing vocals this release consists of six tracks.

Iona Lane - Pockets EP:

  • Weighted Dice
  • The Loch Tay Boat Song
  • Living Life out of Pockets
  • Carved by Another
  • Northern Town
  • The Leaving Song
This is the first song to be released from it.



Back in February of this year she released the EP Solace. It was recorded with more of a full band sound.

Iona Lane - Solace EP:
  • Amsterdam
  • Sometimes
  • Fly or Fall
  • I'll Run Without You
Which of the four songs here is my favourite very much depends on my mood at the time. I'll go with opening song 'Amsterdam' that has an guitar intro that reminds me of many things and also nothing at the same time, which is very appropriate to the lyric.



The same is true of the seven songs on the 2015 'Dry Stone Walls EP'. 

Taken in total this amounts to a considerable body of original work and one that I enjoy listening to very much.
If you have none of the above you can get all 3 EPs (and a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'A Case Of Me') for £12.60 here. If I were you then I would.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Truck Festival - Part 3 - Solace in The Saloon - Don Gallardo & Friends

Another artist returning once again to The Saloon Bar was Don Gallardo. When in his native United States he performs with his band 'How Far West'. In the UK it is 'Don Gallardo and Friends' and they are many.

Don Gallardo and Friends, Saloon Bar stage, 22 July 2017.

If you haven't heard him live, or failing that heard the live LP --- Don Gallardo & How Far West - Nashville: Live Sunday Night at Third & Lindsley (2017) --- then you need to do that. Really.
The new studio LP, the successor to 'Hickory' (2015), should be out before the end of this year and we were treated to some songs from that. The set finished with a truly magnificent rendition of 'The North Dakota Blues', taken from the aforementioned studio album but that concludes the live one too.
In fact we got some of the live set pretty much as-it-was-in-Nashville but in a mucky little dive-bar in rural Oxfordshire: Life is art, but actually being there is simply like nothing else imaginable!

The full five-piece (and the sound guy too, far right). There really was an audience but it is just not in-shot.


That is not to say that these were the only artists to appear on stage during the gig; far from it.
This was a duet with Hannah Rose Platt.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Truck Festival - Part 2 - The Saloon Bar Beckons

It is with sadness that I must mention that Truck Festival's bigger companion, Y Not Festival, was terminated this weekend not long after it had started due to both the mud and, perhaps more importantly, the dangerous electrical problems that the rain caused on the various stages. I'll say something that is actually very important. The festival support staff at Truck Festival last weekend went beyond what might reasonably have been expected in order to mitigate the problems and so did so many others on the campsite. Awesome is not an inappropriate word in the circumstances and yet I suspect that they didn't really get the credit that was due to them.
Thank-you!
We must regard ourselves fortunate for what we were able to see and hear last weekend.

Here then is some stuff from that most important of stages. Of course it is almost all about the music but without the audience festivals would be nothing. The vitality of this interaction is so very important; a challenge to all. Keeping an exact count of the artists that played supporting roles throughout the whole weekend certainly got the better of me. You'll probably start to see familiar faces however.

There is no better place to start than with a stalwart of The Saloon Bar stage in recent years; Paul McClure promoting his latest EP 'Paul McClure and The Local Heroes'.

The Saloon Bar stage, Saturday afternoon, 22 July 2017.

Included in this photo, along with Paul, is another of the many heroes of this stage last weekend - Tom Collison on keyboards.
No better way to continue with, all the way from St. Antonio, Texas and a second year on this stage, Rachel Laven.

Saloon Bar stage, Saturday 22 July, with Simon Kelly and Rebecca Rosewell.


Also returning to this stage, and I have to say that I much admire this sense of continuity, was Hannah Rose Platt with new songs.

Lunchtime, Saturday 22 July 2017.

There is of course an element of competition in all of this and I suspect that I'm mostly on the losing side, but the challenge is good.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Truck Festival 2017 - Part 1 - An Introduction

It is no secret that I go to Truck Festival in large part simply for The Saloon Bar stage. There will be much about that in due course. Every year is different and this year one striking feature was the all encompassing mud. I mention this because there was no getting away from it and therefore it impacts on most of the pictures in one way or another.

Did it spoil the weekend? Not in itself. On the other hand those whose tents did not withstand the torrential rain and thus suffered from the 
surprising chill of Friday night had a thoroughly demoralising weekend and, despite everyone's best efforts, some of them understandably decided to quit. Nobody wants to see a festival affected like that but the weather is what it is. It has to be said that thereafter a certain spirit was in evidence that involved carrying on as if nothing  had happened even though it clearly had...  Last year I included pictures of folks relaxing on the grass, taken from the porch of the Saloon Bar stage; this one, in contrast, is taken the other way around.

In the fleeting sunshine of Sunday afternoon. 23 July 2017.


As you can see I did occasionally venture out of The Saloon Bar, and not only for sustenance and the call of nature. I did however succeed in something that I had intended, but failed, to do at both Truck Festival 2015 and Truck Festival 2016.  On Saturday I was there for all of every set played on The Saloon Bar stage.

A short paddle across the bayou led to either the Nest stage or the Veterans and Virgins stage. This all-female three-piece opened the former stage on Sunday morning with a set that included much of their debut EP 'Are You Sure?' (Alcopop Records, 2017)

Peaness, The Nest stage, Sunday 23 July.


This next was something of a glorious cock-up. On Saturday, and between Saloon Bar stage sets, I had intended to go and see Goat Girl playing on the Market stage. Quite unintentionally, but very fortunately, I went to The Nest stage by mistake and saw a band that in all probability I would never have seen otherwise...
Vukovi - The Nest stage, Truck Festival, 21 July 2017.

This experimental rock four-piece is from Scotland and in Janine Shilstone it has one of the most astonishing vocal performers of the moment. I have now listened to début LP 'Vukovi' (Lab Records, 2017). Great though it is, I can only say that I was mighty fortunate to see Vukovi live. I don't think that, if truth be told, I actually saw anything more impressive all weekend. It was however run close on several occasions I am happy to report.