All posts by oliver@sxsc.org

NATIVE HARROW plus Provincials, Jan 24, Swiss Cottage

We’ve been very lucky to secure an appearance by the Loose label’s hottest new band. 

Devin Tuel may consider herself to be an artist meant for a different time, but she now finds herself inhabiting her own true place. The singer-songwriter is at home in Upstate NY reflecting on her third album, Happier Now,released under her nom de plume, Native Harrow, as well as the difficult sojourn the former ballerina and classically trained singer has had to traverse to become the writer and performer she was meant to be. “This record is about becoming your own advocate. Realizing that maybe you are different in several or a myriad of ways and that that is okay. And further, it is about me becoming a grown woman,” Tuel says.

After nearly two decades of rigorous training in ballet, theatre, and voice, Tuel needed to break out of the oppressive rules of academia and find her natural voice, write from her heart, and figure out what kind of performer she truly was rather than the one she was being molded into from the age of 3. “I spent my early twenties playing every venue in Greenwich Village, recording demos in my friends kitchen, and making lattes. I felt very alive then. I was on my own living in my own little studio, staying up all night writing; the dream I had of being a bohemian New York City artist was unfolding. I wanted to be Patti Smith. I was also heartbroken, poor, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. My twenties, as I think it goes for most, were all about getting up, getting knocked down, and learning to keep going. I never gave up and I think if I told 20 year old me how things looked 9 years later she’d be so excited”.

Happier Now (out April 12 on Different Time Records), is a set of nine songs recorded and mixed by Alex Hall (JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, Pokey LaFarge) at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders. The album was co-produced by Hall, Tuel, and her bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms.

Native Harrow cuts out clear and vibrant narratives on fear, love, the open road, ill-fated relationships, and coping with the state of the world. “I wanted to share that I made it out of my own thunderstorm. I had experienced the high peaks and very low valleys of my twenties. I saw more of the world on my own, got through challenges, reveled in true moments of triumph… but all the while the world around me was growing louder, wilder, and scarier. Music for me is a place to be soft. This album was my place to feel it all.”   

Happier Now’s nine songs were written during three back-to-back tours across North America supporting the band’s second album, Sorores. The album was recorded in just three days in March 2018 during what Tuel jokingly calls “downtime” in the middle of the grueling 108 date tour. Tuel approached the sessions like a musicians’ workshop, each morning beginning with the songwriter presenting her collaborators with the day’s material. The trio rehearsed and documented each song live on the floor, tracking as a band through each take. No click tracks, scratch tracks, or even headphones; just three musicians in a small room, captured with Hall’s collection of vintage mics and some subtle retro production techniques. Overdubs, including vocal harmonies, B3 organ, Rhodes, and the rare lead guitar were added to decorate these live performances.  The creative energy of the tightly-knit sessions spilled over into Tuel’s songwriting as well – she skipped lunch on the third and final day of recording to pen the road-weary “Hard To Take”. Four days after arriving in Chicago, Native Harrow was back on the road and Happier Now was complete.

Happier Now oscillates between feeling the sting of uncertainty (“Can’t Go on Like This”), the beauty of California (“Blue Canyon”) and the ache for lavish stability (“Way to Light”). You could say Tuel wears her heart proudly on her sleeve, but that’d be underplaying the exact gravity of her stories. Each starlit image is framed within her warm, enveloping vocals and the careful, profound considerations of Harms’ musicianship. Start to finish, the new record pours forth from her very bones, and you get the overwhelming sense she has never been more daring and honest than right now.

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/485315

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.

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

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

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

MAILING LIST and tickets

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Almost all our events are at the Railway, Winchester, which has a simple new ticket selling system. Go to www.railwayinn.pub and head for the listings. Tickets for Swiss Cottage shows are available from the Swiss Cottage Sessions page of this website.