All posts by oliver@sxsc.org

SAm Lewis in thE Swiss COttage, FEBRUARY 29

With rich soulful vocals, well-crafted songs, roots country and blue-eyed soul Sam Lewis is connecting the dots. Whether crossing genres or state lines, he has pieced together a story people need to hear. Sam Lewis’ debut album ‘Waiting on you’ received a top review from Mojo and featured in the Telegraph’s list of top country albums from 2015.

Lewis’ current record Loversity was released in 2018. The album is composed of 14 tracks that Lewis has spent over a year and a half writing and playing for others. Since Waiting on You, his classic style remains present yet matured, with a more refined worldview, “These newer songs have been harder to write, but extremely necessary given the current climate I find the world in.” Recorded at Southern Ground Studios with engineer and co-producer Brandon Bell, the album spans from upbeat songs like the title track “Loversity” to the darker “One in the Same,” an electric guitar heavy ballad with a driving force reminiscent of the Black Keys’ Brothers. While most songs are originals, the record includes “Accidental Harmony”, a lullaby that fellow Nashville songwriter John Mann wrote for his first born child, and “Natural Disaster”, a Loudon Wainwright song that Lewis felt drawn to.

As current events in the world divide the masses based on difference, Sam Lewis’ new album is a soul-filled, catchy collection of reminders that diversity and unity can co-exist.

the rails plus guests, october 25

PLEASE NOTE – Early show, doors open at 7pm

—PLEASE NOTE EARLY SHOW: DOORS 7PM ENDS 10PM——

Their first UK tour for over a year. Looking forward to touring ‘Cancel the Sun’ around the UK at some of our favourite venues. Expect a full band show featuring new songs and old favourites.

frankie Lee plus native harrow, september 5

A LOOSE RECORDS PACKAGE

Stillwater is a small town between two hills in the middle of America. Frankie Lee was born there and has been running from it and to it ever since.Stillwater is also a record about life in middle America. A “record” meaning simply that, converting sound into permanent form. This is the story of how that record came to be.

For the recording of the follow up to American Dreamer -“debutalbum of the year” Rolling Stone – Frankie Lee had visited a few studios and they all felt like the same big production factories. Lee wanted to get away from people who thought music should be made in isolation booths or that bigger was better. All the people who wanted the next big thing. Lee wanted the last little thing, he just had to find the right space to do it in.

Luckily, the house he grew up in was available. His mum hadlived in the same house in Stillwater for most of Lee’s life. So the band packed in their instruments, tuned the old upright piano and rolled out a tape machine next to the wood-burning stove. Music was made from morning till night.

For three days straight, they ate together, stayed together and played together. Lee describes his sound as “Western Music”, steel guitars and synths blend with acoustic guitars and omni chords.

Kacy and Clayton at the Railway, February 4

Full band show with special guests.

A recent highlight in Clayton Linthicum’s agricultural lifestyle in rural Saskatchewan was when he drove his truck into a cow near his parents’ ranch. This may or may not have been due to stress induced by his phobia of grasshoppers, but either way, it’s a curious background for a twenty-year old to become steeped in the legacy of Shirley Collins, The Watersons and Davey Graham. On a visit to London in early 2015, Clayton made a bee-line for Cecil Sharp House and spent a day researching English folk tradition.

His 18 year old second cousin, Kacy Anderson, has already been christened “the new Sandy Denny”, but, in contrast to many such claims made for singers in the past, this time it really is justified. The purity of her voice and the beauty of the songs the cousins create together, build on, rather than replicate the tradition of early Fairport that they love so much – but in their own unique fashion. The intricate guitar work and the bold and unexpected time changes in the title track make the song the perfect lead-in to an enormously satisfying and organic album.

Kacy and Clayton grew up six miles apart from each other in the Wood Mountain Hills, a ranching district of southern Saskatchewan. Their great-grandparents established their ranch after moving from South Dakota around 1911. When Clayton’s parents went away on holiday when he was aged just ten, he spent a week learning rhythm guitar techniques from his great Uncle Carl. Kacy and Clayton had been hanging out since they were small children but it was around 2009 that they started playing gigs at the local Wood Mountain bar. The following summer they played a few Saskatchewan festivals and club shows. In 2011 the country cover band Clayton was in played a cabaret in Chaplin, SK and it was there that he met the much older Ryan Boldt. “We bonded instantly over the music of Jean Ritchie, Shirley Collins, and Mississippi John Hurt,” says Clayton. “The following week, Kacy and I went to visit Ryan at his house in the town of Mortlach.” Thus began the friendship and collaboration that Kacy and Clayton have with Ryan Boldt and The Deep Dark Woods.

Jesse Malin at the Railway, March 12

Full band show plus guests.

Jesse Malin — who the London Times says “writes vivid songs with killer tunes and sings them with scary conviction” — and Lucinda Williams — the southern troubadour once named “America’s best songwriter” by Time magazine — first met in the early 2000s at a jazz club in NYC’s West Village. In a joint 2017 Rolling Stone interview, the two discussed their “shared love of miscreants, misfits, the misunderstood and the mysteries of everyday lives binds them across the Mason-Dixon line.”
“From the early frontier days of hardcore in New York to all the punk rock and singer/songwriter touring,” says Malin, “it’s all been about survival and reinvention. I wanted to make an open-sounding record with the space to tell these stories. I like to write about characters and people I meet along the way. The dreamers, schemers, hustlers, romantics, lovers, leavers and believers.” Many of the dreamers, schemers and so on from Jesse’s own life contribute to Sunset Kids, his new album of highly personal songs being released August 30 on Wicked Cool Records.

CArter Samps0n in the Swiss Cottage, NOVEMBER 2

Carter Sampson is an Oklahoman singer/songwriter with a big voice.

The Oklahoma City-based artist is blessed by a musical family legacy that includes talents like Roy Orbison.

Her journey as a naturally independent, free-spirited musician has seemed almost predestined at times. At age 15, she began experimenting with sound as a way to pass the time; now her creativity has matured into the dedicated and passionate performance that makes her a favorite female vocalist.

Tickets: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/472201

Jesse Dayton Band pLus guests, JULY 23, RAilway

“A lot of this stuff was what I liked as a kid,” says modern-day outlaw country icon Jesse Dayton of his new album of cover songs, Mixtape Volume 1. “Some of it is from super-early on, before I was even thinking about playing music. They’re just songs I would hear on the radio in my sister’s old ’62 Rambler she would take me to school in. I’m hearing Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, stuff like that. Of course, when I got a little older, I saw The Clash in San Antonio at the Egyptian Theater. Joe Ely opened that show. That changed my life.”

The dichotomy inherent in that Clash/Ely bill has ruled the Beaumont, TX native’s career, either with his own rockin’ country music or playing guitar for everyone from Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings to punk standard-bearers X. He grew up, went through punk rock after that eye-opening Clash gig and the obligatory late-’70s/early-’80s suburban American teenage heavy metal phase. He apprenticed in zydeco bands and honky-tonk outfits, and played on a session for zydeco legend Rockin’ Dopsey produced by Texas music legend Huey Meaux. He moved from Beaumont to Austin, to play rockabilly. He eventually realized the stuff he grew up with – the vintage country music infusing his Beaumont childhood, from Johnny Cash, George Jones, Waylon Jennings – had an honesty, a passion and a rawness that modern country music didn’t have, a spirit the best punk rock shared. He started relating to his roots again.

But to understand how Jesse Dayton arrived at Mixtape Volume 1, you have to look to the five years he spent being Thursday’s entertainment at Austin honkytonk institution The Broken Spoke. No matter how many strong LPs you’ve issued of your own material, when you are in that situation, having to play five sets-per-night? You can’t rely on your original output.

“I was a human jukebox,” Dayton groans now. “But it’s where I learned how to pace my sets. It’s where I learned how to be a band leader. It’s about watching the dancers – knowing where to play a polka, knowing where to play a waltz. Quite a bit of work and study went into that gig. It was packed every time. But I started having Groundhog’s Day flashbacks. I wanted to kill some of those goofy dancers, after awhile.” Thankfully, X’s John Doe stepped in and asked Dayton to be his touring guitarist, showing him another way to play music. Otherwise, he might have been recording Mixtape in prison!

Here and there, Dayton stays faithful to the original versions of his Mixtape entries. For instance, Dr. Feelgood’s revved-up pub rocker “She Does It Right” remains in the same neighborhood, with little renovation. It’s when Dayton indulges his imagination that things get interesting. He retrofits The Clash’s reggae homage “Bankrobber” with a Bobby Fuller Four arrangement, the way The Clash converted “I Fought The Law” into a furious punk anthem. AC/DCs “Whole Lotta Rosie” morphs into something akin to ZZ Top playing Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips.” Speaking of ZZ Top, their “She’s A Heartbreaker” wouldn’t have been out of place on a Flying Burrito Brothers record. The Cars’ midtempo chug “Just What I Needed” becomes the sorta two-step, buckle-polishing Texas honky-tonk shuffle Dayton would’ve whipped out on those Broken Spoke Thursdays. Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” becomes a Cramps-style punkabilly stomp.

“The world is filled with people aping Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings songs,” he says. “It’s so unoriginal. I had to make it sound like me, no matter where it came from.”

But it’s when he’s lifting material from his older sister’s ’70s singer-songwriter records – Jackson Browne’s “Redneck Friend,” Neil Young’s “Harvest,” Elton John’s “Country Comfort” – and making pure, achin’ country music out of it that Dayton’s redemptive powers really shine. It’s especially evident when he gives Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” the sort of arrangement Waylon Jennings applied to “MacArthur Park,” or to Paul Simon’s “The Boxer,” as he did when Dayton played with him. It works.

“People think Waylon rode around in a pickup truck listening to Hank Sr. Waylon was cruising around in a Mercedes, listening to singer-songwriters,” Dayton snorts. “He had a hit with ‘Are You Ready For The Country?’ by Neil Young.  George Jones had a hit with ‘Bartender Blues’ by James Taylor. It might be his greatest vocal performance ever!”

“But now I look at the records my sister had – the Jackson Brownes, the Elton Johns – and I think, ‘Okay, now I get it.’ There’s a lot of great material there. It’s all about interpretation.”

And interpret, he does. Quite brilliantly, too. It was something Jesse Dayton’s been needing.

“I’d done almost five years on tour,” he sighs, “doing two original records back-to-back. I played on a lotta other people’s records. I just needed to take the pressure off, just have some fun. And that’s why this is Volume 1 – what if I need to do this again?”

Dan Mangan plus special guest Steven ADams, September 30, Railway

More or Less is about witnessing birth, and in some ways rebirth. It’s about feeling disconnected from a popular identity and becoming acclimated to a new one. It’s about raising kids in a turbulent world. It’s about unanswerable questions and kindness and friendship and fear.

This is my fifth album. I worked with some incredible people who have made many of my favorite albums. It was an important lesson in minimalism, and while their consolidated stamp on the album is vast, it’s a credit to their creative generosity that the result feels more like ‘me’ than ever.

More sparse. Less meticulous. More kids. Less time. More direct. Less metaphor. More discovery. Less youth. More warmth. Less chaos.

In between recording sessions, I’d listen to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and Nick Drake’s Pink Moon . I’d think about how sometimes, what seems unfinished at genesis can feel more final when given a moment to settle.

In my twenties, I boxed my way from the corners of every noisy bar that would let me bring in my guitar. I was stubbornly optimistic.

When things began to click, it felt like I had the benefit of the doubt from every direction. I signed with my dream label. I even won some JUNO Awards and was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize a couple of times. I performed for Will and Kate.

My girlfriend Kirsten somehow tolerated these years of relentless touring and we got married in 2012. I remember having a lengthy and heated long distance call about our wedding guest-list while laying on an airport floor in Croatia.

I’d been touring non-stop for six consecutive years and the phone just kept ringing, but I felt my mind and body start to fail. When we learned that we were going to have a baby, I told my manager that I wanted to take a year away from touring. I felt I’d earned it. That “one year” away from the grind sort of slowly became six.

We had another kid. We nested. I swept the floor ten thousand times. I scored a film, and then some television shows.

As the fog of domestic obligations shifted, I began to regain a sense of myself as an artist. But things were different. I wasn’t a part of the new generation anymore. I knew how to keep racoons from tearing up my lawn, but not so much about youth culture (and the music industry is, uhhhh… all tied up in youth culture).

Moreover, politics were different. Dystopic forebodings I’d previously written about seemed to be coming true. Had I manifested them? I was re-entering the world but the rules had changed, and

I was a different person.

So I wrote about warmth. I wrote about the feeling of building something when I was young, and the fear of losing it as an adult. I wrote about feeling overwhelmed.

I wrote about being in love with someone with whom I spend a lot of time figuring out who is more deserving of a nap. I wrote about the power of what goes unsaid. More or less, I wrote about myself.

The recording process was piecemeal over several years and full of eye-opening experiences. Paul McCartney even wandered into the studio as we were listening back to a take of “Lay Low . We ended up scrapping what he heard, but… well… he heard something I wrote. Let that be an omen.

Drew Brown was a collaborator and mentor, forever changing my understanding of studio recording. His impact on this work is vital. He brought Joey Waronker, Jason Falkner and Darrell Thorp into the fold, whose collective creativity and instincts helped discover nuances in the songs I could never have dreamed of.

Two songs were recorded with Simone Felice who introduced me to Ryan Hewitt and Matt Johnson. Along with my longtime pals Gordon Grdina and John Walsh, this team found a vibrant subtlety that helped me rethink my identity as a singer. I cannot thank them enough.

Everyone who touched this album did so with wholehearted dedication and love. I am grateful that they would trust this work and approach it with such care and ownership. I am ready to share these songs.

I don’t know where the gig is. I don’t know if it’s cool. But I still get lost in it, and I’ve got more to lose.

– Dan Mangan, August, 2018

Support Steven Adams (of the Broken Family Band) is a national treasure – say no more.

ERIN RAE – Full band show plus guests. November 5

Gifted with a unique ability to fuse musical genres and influences to craft songs that feel fresh and wholly her own, with her new album Putting On Airs (2018, Single Lock Records), Erin Rae has thrown down a direct challenge to the stereotype of what a Southern singer should be. Both lyrically and sonically, she strikes a fiercely independent chord, proudly releasing a deeply personal record that reflects her own upbringing in Tennessee, including the prejudices and injustices that she witnessed as a child that continue to impact her life to this day. According to Rae, “this album was born out of a need to do some healing work in my personal life, in order to address some fears and patterns of mine and to allow my true feelings to come to the surface.”

Recorded in the dead of winter in an old Franciscan monastery on Wisconsin’s Fox River, the isolated environment created the perfect setting for Rae and her bandmates to track these genre-busting songs, using the chapel and other unique spaces within the cavernous building to explore new sonic boundaries, all while continuing to showcase the hypnotic vocals and song-serving restraint that have become her trademark.

TICKETS: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/469224