Sunday, 27 September 2015

Live in 2015: The Rosellys with The Redlands Palomino Company & Paul McClure at The Golden Lion on Saturday 5th September 2015

This year has proved to be a great year for The Rosellys. Not only have they produced a superb album with The Granary Sessions but have also joined The Clubhouse Records label who are releasing The Granary Sessions in the UK.

I've not made it a secret that Clubhouse Records are my favourite UK label and tonight just goes to show what quality artists they have in their roster as both support artists tonight are from the label in the form of Alex & Hannah from The Redlands Palomino Company and The Rutland Troubadour himself Paul McClure.

Paul is up first this evening. Soon to release his next Clubhouse album after last year's excellent 

Paul played a 7 song set which not only plucked songs from Smiling.. but also some tunes from his next album to be released in November.

First on the setlist tonight is Long Gone Out Of Here.

Paul has a special stage presence. He's a tall fella and has no problem in dealing with an early raucous crowd at The Golden Lion. Always tough going on first - Paul soon has the crowd on his side with a fine line in witty banter.

The new songs that Paul has been playing live for most of the summer are of excellent quality and bodes well for the forthcoming album. The next song up is a new one which may well find it's way onto the next record. It's Yesterday's Lies.

The vast majority of Paul's songs are the result of things that have occurred in his own life and give them a observational quality in which everyone can find something to relate to.

Clearly now enjoying himself, Paul plays another new song Unremarkable Me before asking Hannah from The Redlands to join him on stage for one of Smiling..... highlight's, the lovely Polly.

Paul has spent a lot of the year touring Smiling.... with a series of house concerts and he treats this pub gig as such, having a genuine rapport with the audience and I think both parties have enjoyed the experience as he gets a larger cheer with each song that he performs.

The next song up has been a song that has encouraged some quality audience participation and tonight was no different as he performed Ray Of Sunshine.

To show what a talented guy he is, Paul performs a song which he wrote in the car on the way to the gig, let's call it Car Song. And damn clever it is too incorporating events that had happened in the day right up to the songs performance.

The set has flown by and it's time for the last song - another new one, Every Day Is Mine To Spend.

Paul gets a tremendous reaction from the Bristol audience tonight and deservedly so. He is coming back to Newport in November and I can't wait to catch him with a full set of songs and his new album.

After the excellent set by Paul McClure, we are treated to an acoustic set by the two leaders and songwriters of The Redlands Palomino Company - Alex & Hannah Elton-Wall.

Both artists have contributed to The Granary Sessions with Alex producing the album while Hannah provides backing vocals on some of the songs. But tonight's set are songs from all of their released albums.

They opened up tonight's acoustic set with the first track of their second album (Take Me Home) called Wasted On You. 
Stripped of the band dynamic- Alex & Hannah have a sweeter sound live and all of the tracks they played tonight sounded different from their recorded versions - but none the worse for that as it was probably how the songs came together in the first place - which I always love to hear.

The latest album by The Redlands - Broken Carelessly - is a fine thing indeed and was one of my Albums Of 2014 

and the next track the duo played tonight is one of my favourites - the opening track,  In These Lines

Many of the songs have a melancholic air and the duo combine perfectly in the grand tradition of country husband & wife duos.

Every track on Broken Carelessly is excellent and the title track gets it's chance as the next song on the setlist tonight.

The Redlands are now four albums into their career and it was time for a song from the band's first album (By The Time You Hear This... We'll Be Gone) the lilting If You're Down, which gives Alex a turn on lead vocals.

The good thing about a Clubhouse night is that you tend to get the artists guesting on each others songs and tonight was another of these special nights as Rebecca from The Rosellys joined Alex & Hannah on stage for another song from the first album - the harmony laden Goodbye love.

Not to be outdone - Simon from The Rosellys takes to the stage and brings his fiddling skills to the uptempo Pony Song, again from the first album. By listening to the songs you can see why Alex got the gig producing The Rosellys new album. Dripping in Country Honey, the songs the duo played tonight would not be out of place in any Country album of the last 50 years.

The last song tonight is from album 2 (Take Me Home) - on record it's an electric rocker - tonight it's a harmony driven acoustic stormer - the excellent She Is Yours.

With two excellent acts having played it was time for the The Rosellys to give their new album, The Granary Sessions, to the public.

And how should they open up the gig - with track one of course - A Thousand Miles. The band play the majority of the album tonight in track order.

Fronted by Rebecca Rosellys (Vocals/guitar) and Simon Rosellys (Vocals/guitar/fiddle) the band are completed by Alan Kelly (pedal steel) Drew Bridges (Drums) and new recruit Matt Kirby (Bass).

The Granary Sessions is The Rosellys album number 3 and the first to be released in the UK on the supreme Clubhouse Records. Produced by The Redlands Alex Elton-Hall it raises the bar on their music and is the best album they have released so far - but more of that on a later Blog post - tonight is all about the live music and in their home city of Bristol they weren't going to anything less than superb.

With Rebecca taking the majority of lead vocals, the band storm through a set heavy on The Granary Sessions songs (obviously) but throw in some older crowd pleasers for good measure. After track one comes another new song the with Not That Old which gives Simon a chance to give his red Telecaster a good workout.

The Granary Sessions is a varied album in terms of tempo and next up we are treated to three of the more quiet songs on the record - the lovely Maryland and Ashville 1784 which highlight the glorious way the voices of Simon & Rebecca intertwine. And they are as good live as on record too.

The band are clearly enjoying this night with great support from family and friends as well as the normal punters and Clubhouse faithful. 

The next song is the rather sensational final track on the album - the sublime Memories Of You And Me which Simon introduces and talks about the end of the song - when it was recorded Rebecca & Hannah were not present at the final mix which left the boys in charge of the song - I won't spoil it for you but the final recorded version made this old Prog lover very happy.

Made A Choice is another gentle summer sway of a song and highlights Rebecca's clear vocals and Simon's Telecaster pickings.

It's now a chance for Simon to take lead vocals on the song Red, White & Blue, which has some killer fiddle - also provided by Simon.

Simon stays on lead vocals for the next song up the ballad, James Song. Hannah joined the band onstage for several songs during the evening and even Rebecca's mum plays cello this evening - both also feature on The Granary Sessions.

The Granary Sessions has a sway and even a bit of swagger that isn't found on many UK records these days and the next three songs - It's Not Me, It's You, Number One and Rose Tinted Glasses just go to show what a strong record The Granary Sessions is. There's not one duff song in the collection.

With the new album being completed live, it's now it's time for previous fans of The Rosellys to get their vocal chords working - which they do in style - as it's time for the older crowd pleasers to make their appearance. First up is Cocaine Train which gets the crowd bouncing and singing along.

It's then time for another Telecaster workout for Simon as their Old School Country rocker Empty Pockets really gets the crowd up and dancing.

And last but not least it's a performance of On The Porch with everyone up on stage. It was a superb way to end a show .
By the activity in the merchandising area and the number of albums I saw getting signed it was obvious that the evening had been a success both for the artists and the audience, which was a great sight to see. The Rosellys are growing in stature every time I see them and were ably supported by Alex, Hannah & Paul tonight for a superb album launch show - I just wish they were all as good as this one.


Paul McClure - @PMcClureMusic

The Redlands Palomino Company - @TheRedlands

The Rosellys - @TheRosellys

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Live In 2015: The Black Feathers, Bob Collum & Marianne Hyatt and Blind River Scare live at Barnabas Arts House, Newport on Saturday 29th August 2015

This was my first visit to the Barnabas Arts House in Newport, South Wales. We are in the basement of this converted church  - (it's good to see churches used in this way) - for the second Down By The River Session being presented by the two gents who form two thirds of local band Blind River Scare Tim Manning - Vocals/Guitar & Stuart Loosemore - Bass/Vocals. Drummer Keith Boast is the third member but not involved tonight. This is the second of hopefully many more sessions to come as the duo try and bring some great Americana and Folk music to South Wales.

So, it is fitting that the first of tonight's trio of artists are Blind River Scare.

Now veterans of several releases, the latest being 2014's The Point Of No Return - the band are a vehicle for the songs of Vocalist/Guitarist Tim Manning and he has written some mighty fine tunes over the last few years if tonight's song choices are anything to go by. It is my first time to see all the bands tonight and hopefully not the last.

They kick off tonight's proceedings with Restless Soul. The songs are all Americana based songs and are an excellent mix of uptempo and slower songs which showcase Tim's observational lyrical style.

Reading Between The Lines is up next. The band get an enthusiastic response to their music and rightly so.

There is quite a dearth of decent Americana bands coming out of Wales so it's good to see a local band producing some quality Americana and getting a good reputation among the musicians. Indeed, members of new Clubhouse Records signings The Rosellys (check em out) are in the audience tonight - when fellow musicians come out to see you, it's always a good sign.

When You Walk Away & Pastures New are next up in the Blind River Scare setlist tonight.

A six song set set isn't really enough to appreciate the variety of songs but it will have to suffice as with two other bands on the bill - time will be of a premium. So little chat and more music is the order of things tonight.

The last two songs this evening are No Remorse, Guilt or Shame and the lovely Mother's Day.

As with most great gigs - the time has just flown by.

And it seems that before the applause has died down for Blind River Scare - we have the next artists on stage- American Bob Collum and his life and musical partner Marianne Hyatt - but not with the rest of his current band The Welfare Mothers tonight.

Bob is currently playing in support of his new album Little Rock -and an excellent record it is too.

They opened their set with Across A Crowded Room from the album More Tragic Songs Of Life

But tonight for Bob was all about promoting Little Rock - and why not - so next up was Little Rock Calling.

Bob has quite an acerbic wit and it comes across in many of his songs if you dig a bit deeper into his catalogue of albums - which you really should. 

His banter with Marianne onstage is one bourne of may hours of travelling and living together no doubt and they are both engaging and uncompromising at the same time - in a gentle sort of way.

Wasted Wonderland and Johnny Held Em Down - both from Little Rock were next on the setlist - both excellent songs - even stripped of their album sheen and extra instrumentation. There's always something special about hearing songs in their most stripped down versions - exactly as they must have been written. And Johnny being especially topical at the moment with all the controversy sounding the Confederate Flag in the United States.

But it was not all Little Rock tonight - we even got an excellent new song called Blue Sky Rain.

Some of the songs tonight were of a more reflective nature and when Bob declared he was going to play a Southern Gothic Death Song the audience did indeed give a chuckle. Bob & Marianne then played a gorgeous version of Locust Grove.

A Good Thing We're In Love seems quite apt up there on stage with Bob and Marianne before the final song She Hates Me.

Another set which has just flown by tonight. I urge you to check out Bob and his back catalogue - there are some real gems to be unearthed there.

The headliners tonight are the Gloucestershire duo The Black Feathers - consisting of Ray Hughes  & Sian Chandler.

They have released one Ep so far - the excellent Strangers We Meet. 

They have turned to PledgeMusic to release their forthcoming debut album Soaked To The Bone - from which several songs tonight are taken.

There are several Americana/Folk duos around at the moment but I've always believed that The Black Feathers were one of the best after hearing them on a Bob Harris Show and on Adam Wilson's Quiet Revolution too. They really are the real deal and seem to have both the musical integrity and onstage charisma you need to succeed in this day and age,

As I stated earlier - they play several new songs tonight from the new Soaked To The Bone album which I must say are of fantastic quality indeed and they opened up with a new song Goodbye Tomorrow.

Next up we had the lovely All Came Down from the Strangers EP. Ray and Sian's vocals are truly beautiful tonight and they seem very at ease with playing in such an intimate venue.

Like most relatively new bands The Black Feathers are not adverse to the odd cover song and they play a lovely downbeat version of the Greenbaum classic Spirits In The Sky.

We were then introduced to two new songs which I believe are from Soaked To The Bone - Homesick and my highlight of the evening, the sublime Arclight which is achingly beautiful and such a tremendous song.

And the prize for most apt song of the evening went to Ray & Sian for their song Down By The River, an original song and not the Neil Young classic from which these live sessions take their title. It got a great reception tonight, as you might expect.

The songs from their first EP Strangers We Meet are still sounding fresh and interesting and we have a song from that EP as their penultimate track - Open Book.

It really is special when you see artists at the beginning of their careers who are obviously very talented - just waiting to see what they come up with. I think that The Black Feathers have a secured future. I think they may go down a storm in America. But let's keep em here a while longer.

The duo complete tonight's set with Someday Somehow and then they come down into the crowd and perform unamplified a song whose title I didn't catch - sorry. But it just went to show how pure their voices are together. Just beautiful. They certainly won a lot of new fans at this show.

Twitter - @BlindRiverScare