All posts by oliver@sxsc.org

The Americans plus special guests Lucas and King, February 2 at the Railway

EARLY SHOW, DOORS AT 7.30.
The Americans perform original rock & roll with deep roots in traditional American music. They have performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, twice joined Grammy and Oscar winner Ryan Bingham on national tours, and played the first dance at Reese Witherspoon’s wedding. They have backed up Nick Cave, Tim Robbins, and Lucinda Williams.
The Americans appear throughout American Epic, a four hour primetime PBS / BBC special produced by Jack White, Robert Redford, and T Bone Burnett, featuring Nas, Elton John, Alabama Shakes, and Willie Nelson (coming fall 2016).
The Americans recorded an original song for Hal Willner’s Son of Rogue’s Gallery (ANTI- Records), an album of sea chanties and pirate songs featuring Tom Waits, Keith Richards, and Iggy Pop, executive produced by Johnny Depp. Reviewing the album in Believer magazine, critic Greil Marcus wrote, “The Americans [are] led by Patrick Ferris, whose deep voice doesn’t sound like Richard Manuel’s but feels like it.”
The Americans’ music is featured in the Michael Mann produced film Texas Killing Fields, starring Sam Worthington and Chloë Grace Moretz. The soundtrack includes two original songs, “Kiss Your Eyes” and “When The Blaze Is Blue.”

BJ Cole and Emily Burridge in the Swiss Cottage, February 10

We are starting 2018 in the Swiss Cottage with a unique experience:

Duets for Pedal Steel Guitar and Cello with BJ Cole and Emily Burridge

Two world class musicians (see below) performing in a unique combination of instruments

They normally perform in much larger concert halls but BJ Cole checked out the Swiss Cottage on his recent visit to Winchester and decided that it would be the perfect environment for his latest project.

This will sell fast – buy your tickets online now!

Swiss Cottage Sessions

BJ Cole
Early in his musical career, BJ helped to found the British psychedelic band Cochise (1969) and wrote and recorded his seminal experimental album ‘The New Hovering Dog’ (United Artists 1973). He went on to carve out a formidable reputation as a session musician, recording with many of the great names in popular music, such as Elton John, Steve Marriott, Marc Bolan, Joan Armatrading, Jimmy Webb, Scott Walker, Gerry Rafferty, David Sylvian, Beck, Bjork and many others.
In recent years such recording activities have led to BJ playing on tour dates with The Verve, REM and Sting.

Emily Burridge
A brilliant improviser, cellist Emily has been in continuous demand as a session musician and has played a prominent role on songs by a wide variety of artists, including George Michael, Alison Moyet, The Stereophonics, Jools Holland, Roger Daltry, Steve Naive and Gianna Nannini- with whom she has toured extensively, culminating in a guest appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. On music for TV and film, she has been featured ‘cellist on soundtracks by Hans Zimmer and recently Gary Tarne?s new film “The Prophet”.

DUETS FOR PEDAL STEEL GUITAR AND CELLO
When BJ Cole and Emily Burridge perform together they produce a dynamic energy created out of their complimentary musical perspectives. Emily, the classically trained virtuoso ‘cellist with a talent for improvisation honed to spontaneous perfection by the demands of top flight session work. … and BJ, whose session CV confirms his conviction that the pedal steel guitar is long overdue for a re-evaluation as an orchestral instrument that demands a sophisticated repertoire.
“The unique combination of Emily?s ?cello and BJ?s Pedal Steel Guitar create orchestral sounds in a new and refreshing context; weaving around one another
in a sinuous dance of infectious sound and rhythm”. In working together these two have created an eclectic repertoire for their concert programme including a classical/jazz interpretation of Henry Purcell’s Dido, “Appalachian Spring” by Aarron Copeland, “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy. A highly original arrangement of the five piano Gnossiennes by Eric Satie, “The Gnossienne Suite” seamlessly tying the Gnossiennes together by using thesepieces to provide a window through which they enter a world of intuitive improvisation and sonic adventure. They have established a strong reputation with their unique musical interpretations and
have performed at a number of Festivals including The Aldeburgh Festival, Glastonbury Festival,The Wirral International Guitar Festival, Birkenhead, The Lewes Guitar Festival, East Sussex and The Rochefort En Accordes Festival, France, Hal’s international guitar festival in Croatia and Wymondham Festival.

KELLEY STOLTZ BAND plus guests The Probes, March 4

Let Kelley introduce himself:

“I’ve had the thrill of a lifetime the last couple of months, playing rhythm guitar on tour for my heroes Echo & the Bunnymen… I’m happy to report that before I left I finished off 4 albums worth of music… and they are –

QUE AURA, my proper new album, which was released by Castleface Records on August 11, 2017.

TRANSNATIONAL SERIES VOLUME 1 contains 5 of my songs unavailable elsewhere, a collectors item to be for sure! It’s the brainchild of some heavies in the Swiss music scene, and is the first in an ongoing series of split albums featuring two songwriters or bands from different parts of the world. My flip side partner is the delightful Augenwasser. The LP comes in a gorgeous deluxe book-like thing all designed by the great artist Ronny Hunger.

STRAT “Live at the Whammy Bar” is the latest instalment in the continuing saga of Willie Weird. Best explained by WW himself, “recorded in front of a non-existent audience in an imaginary arena” this project takes the listener on a trip through new spectrums of punk soul-funk boogie. Bad, baaad riffs, synth blasts and future pasts, lyrical genius and vocoder treatments –
History is changed every few years… Clean out your ears and the NOW sound appears!”

NATURAL CAUSES That is the name of my future album, to be released in early 2018 by some sweethearts in Spain. I won’t show you the cover now because it’s worth saving a little surprise for later, right? Right.

I’ve also done a few writing pieces for MOJO, Uncut and Shindig (#70) magazines so look for those in the new or soon to be issues.

“Get Amongst It Stoltzheads!”

THE RAILS plus guests at the Railway, May 20 (note rescheduled date)

It would have been easy for The Rails to have picked up where they left off in the wake of their acclaimed 2014 album Fair Warning. And, had they done just that, who would have held it against them? Within months of its release, the debut set of songs by the duo comprised of Kami Thompson and James Walbourne had harvested myriad rave reviews and sundry other accolades, among them Mojo’s Folk Album of the Year award and the prize for Best Newcomer at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. But for a duo brought together by serendipity – they first met during sessions for an album by Kami’s mother Linda Thompson – there was never any doubt that the way forward was to stay open to the vagaries of chance and embrace new possibilities. Three years later, they’re back with an album that emphatically vindicates the pair’s restless curiosity.

Comprised of ten original compositions, Other People is a record rooted in change: both musical and circumstantial. For James, a ubiquitous presence on lead guitar for artists such as The Pretenders, Edwyn Collins and Ray Davies, it was time to inject a bit of voltage into the group he formed with Kami after they became an item in 2011. “With the first album,” explains Kami, “We decided to make a 70s sounding folk-rock record, but this time, we focused our energies on addressing what was happening around us.” In doing so, it became impossible to ignore the other changes that have swept through their immediate and wider environment. One of the earliest songs written for the record was The Cally. Both inspired by and written on the Caledonian Road, which connects Holloway to Kings Cross, the album’s reflective opening salvo took shape after James’ grandfather Sidney Walbourne told him about his drinking companions at The Cally pub, echoes of a pre-gentrified London in which the local boozer paid host to almost every kind of transaction imaginable. The song, which appeared fully formed in James’ head as he found himself walking along the eponymous thoroughfare, also served as a tender memorial to Sidney, who passed away soon after, aged 92.

In the wake of Sidney’s death, James and Kami found themselves pondering whether there was a place for them in the rapidly transforming city where James had spent all of his life. “Part of it was just working out if we could actually afford to live here any more, which is crazy, you know? But that was just a small symptom of a much bigger tragedy, that’s really heartbreaking.” It’s a tragedy the pair confront head on in Brick and Mortar, which sees James’ mourning the desecration of “old Soho”, in particular, Denmark Street, epicentre of the 60s beat boom and, for James, scene of many a teenage afternoon spent soaking up the ambience of its world-famous guitar shops. On the plaintive Leaving The Land – perhaps the most readily recognisable sonic link between The Rails’ first album and this one – Kami delivers one of her most affecting vocals to date. “In some ways, it’s a companion piece to Brick and Mortar,” she explains, “It’s one thing to see your favourite shops razed to the ground, but actually so much of what’s happening is tantamount to social cleansing. In Camden, you’re seeing entire estates pulled down and it’s not being replaced by social housing. It’s being replaced by luxury apartments.”

For James, the contradictions of this new era of austerity are confusing. “You’re surrounded by Keep Calm And Carry On imagery, which is somehow supposed to instil the idea that in tough times, people dig in and discover their sense of community. But sometimes, it’s hard to find evidence of that.” In trying to make sense of that contradiction, Kami and James found themselves writing the album’s title track, a cathartic sigh of exasperation which might just as easily be directed at tax-evading pop stars as the seated commuter too busy staring at his phone to notice the pregnant woman standing next to him. Here and elsewhere, The Rails’ second album is one which lays itself open to the stormy weather of life, be it when addressing the desultory self-justifications of an abusive husband in the broodingly poignant Dark Times, or the everyday ups and downs of James and Kami’s own relationship in Drowned In Blue.

“I think we both felt that the music had to complement what was happening in the words, this time around,” says James. “And that determined the way we were going to make this record.” Key to that process was finding the right producer. At the very top of James’ wish-list was Tennessee-based producer Ray Kennedy, who had impressed him with the “off-the-scale psychedelic country treatment” he meted out on Steve Earle’s benchmark 2000 album Transcendental Blues: “To my amazement, Ray said he’d be up for it. We travelled to his studio, knowing that we had seven days to nail it.” The pressure of the deadline audibly brought out the best in the players assembled to tease out Kami and James’ vision for the songs – a vision which they described to Kennedy as “folk-rock on steroids.” The synergy summoned by the players is abundant throughout Other People, be it Late Surrender, which seems to locate a perfect equidistant point between Roy Orbison and Lucinda Williams, or the yearning desolation of Kami’s vocal on Mansion Of Happiness.

“It was just a dream, really,” beams James. “Our drummer Cody Dickinson [North Mississippi Allstars, son of Big Star producer Jim Dickinson] worked with us on the first album, and we knew we wanted him back for this one. He’s the archetypal Southern gentleman – and y’know, whatever record you’re making, you know you’re gonna need someone who is incapable of being an arsehole!” Augmenting the line-up this time around was former Son Volt bassist and old friend Jim Boquist. With the core band in place, Ray Kennedy steered The Rails through a series of performances in which the only brief was to retain a sense of power, presence and intimacy.

Threaded throughout the whole thing, of course, are the psychically attuned harmonies that have become something of a calling card for Kami and James. In Kami, you can hear something of the lineage that she wears so lightly, in particular the same well of sublime world-weariness that her mother Linda Thompson plumbed both on her solo albums and her records with Richard Thompson. It’s a lineage most outside musicians might have been abashed about entering, but you only need to hear James play to realise that’s never been an issue. Described by Nick Hornby as “an unearthly cross between James Burton, Peter Green, and Richard Thompson”, Other People showcases some of James’s most inspired performances to date. “I think we were all just so relaxed,” he explains, “We wrote a lot before we entered the studio, so we knew the songs so well that it was just a matter of honouring the material.”

For both Kami and James, however, the real moment of payback comes when they get to take these songs on the road. “We’re both very excited about getting to play these songs with an actual band,” says Kami. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how that would work, because rehearsals alone are grounds for divorce, aren’t they?” James emits a rueful laugh. “We’re really quite horrible to each other! She’s like, ‘Just play the fucking chord, will you?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I will if you can just warm up your fucking voice!’ That’s another reason why it’s good to be touring with a band. They can prize us apart from each other if they need to.”

The Rails

DESLONDES at the Railway, January 28 (plus special guests Ma Polaine’s Great Decline)

After a successful and very fun mainland tour last month we’re very excited to announce a UK tour for January 2018. The Deslondes will promoting their critically acclaimed new album Hurry Home on this tour which included an appearance at the Celtic Connections festival. Find all tourdates at the bottom of this news piece.

The Deslondes follow up their impressive debut album with the equally fine Hurry Home. Less country inclined than its predecessor the album finds the band roaming through a variety of styles – swampy southern roots, 50’s rockabilly, and classic rhythm & blues which, with several members of the band singing lead on various songs gives the album a truly dynamic feel.

Hurry Home represents a sonic shift from the country-folk of their debut to a psychedelic, electrified soul sound, with a stronger emphasis on organ and electric guitar. The band split up songwriting and lead vocal duties among its five members, Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Dan Cutler, John James Tourville and Cameron Snyder, continuing its democratic ethos and musical versatility.

The album that emerged is Hurry Home. “It’s a fitting title for this album because our lives and our songwriting revolve around leaving and returning, or searching for, home,” says the band. “And home can be a physical place, a relationship, or a state of mind.”

Tickets: https://www.railwayinn.pub/show/deslondes/

This year’s shows

We had a cluster of shows to kick off 2017 and they’ve been amazing. The Mastersons (2 shows, sold out), Karl Blau (a superb evening and a good crowd) and Chuck Prophet (words about the brilliance of this fail me). Then we had a birthday extravaganza with Ben Folke-Thomas and a humdinger with Hurray For The Riff Raff, before taking quite a lengthy break from Railway shows. Both Lewis and Leigh and Jonny Fritz sold out the Swiss Cottage. Now we are working away on the sc4m Festival for September 10. It’s never easy, but we are getting there!

ZANDER out now!

Oliver Gray’s day job is writing school text books and non-fiction items, but his hobby is promoting live shows by visiting roots artists from the US and Canada. When contemplating his first foray into fiction, he was advised to “write about what you know about”. It’s therefore no surprise that “Zander” is set in the world of small-time music promotion.

When American roots musician Corey Zander sets out on his first UK tour, things start badly and rapidly get worse. Not even his drug-strewn rock and roll past could prepare him for the violence of his reception in provincial England.

We hope you will enjoy it.

BUY NOW FROM AMAZON! Or download the Kindle version.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zander-Oliver-Gray/dp/1897609086