Monday, 27 July 2015

Live in 2015: Don Gallardo, The Rosellys, Hannah Aldridge & Red Rooster Moving Company live at The Golden Lion, Bristol on Friday 10th July

It was a drive over the bridge yet again for my first visit to The Golden Lion in Bristol. This time it was to catch the latest tour by new Clubhouse Records signing Don Gallardo and even newer signings The Rosellys, together with Hannah Aldridge from Muscle Shoals and an extra band in the form of The Red Rooster Moving Company from Oregon, USA. So it was a distinct American flavour to the evening's music.

First up we had the Red Roosters who played a lively set to warm up the crowd.

I'd been looking forward to hearing Hannah Aldridge live for the first time after listening to her album Razor Wire. And I was totally transfixed. She was really brilliant. Just Hannah & her guitar. I was so captivated I made the most basic error of not writing down what tracks she played and forgot to get a copy of her setlist.  Really shoddy. 

But all I can say is 1. Catch her live!!!!! and 2. Get Razor Wire!!!!!!! Hannah Aldridge - She's Worth It !

 Here's a full Hannah Aldridge set to enjoy

The Rosellys didn't have far to travel as they're from Bristol. Newly signed to the best label in the UK - Clubhouse Records - they are shortly to release album number three, The Granary Sessions, produced by another member of The Clubhouse Family, Alex Elton-Wall from The Redlands Palomino Company.

Here's a video they have prepared for the release

Led by Simon & Rebecca Rosellys, the band play a varied set of Alt-country. Veterans of several US Tours, the band clearly relish the opportunity to play to a hometown audience and are soon into their stride. They open the set with Empty Pockets from their second album, Two Much Like Trouble.

The ten song set included old favourites such as Taste The Weekend, Redwoods and the brilliant Cocaine Train.

Tonight was a chance to play some new songs from the new album and they took the opportunity in the shape of Not That Old, Camden Town, & Red, White and Blue.

The new material is of a high quality indeed and bodes well for the new album out in September. 

The band ended their set with a rocking version of On The Porch.

Don Gallardo has crossed the pond from his Nashville home to the UK to support his new album Hickory and tonight we get the opportunity to see him up close and personal before he heads off to various festivals around the UK including the prestigious Maverick, Truck & Tingestock festivals.

I was lucky enough to catch Don Gallardo (and The Rosellys) when they supported The Dreaming Spires at The Louisiana, again in Bristol, at the beginning of the year.

Don has recently released his magnificent album Hickory and it is already one of my albums of 2015. You can read my review here

That night, Don played solo - tonight, he had support in the form of fellow bandmate Travis Stock and various Rosellys and current Dreaming Spires keyboard player Tom Collinson.

This line-up gives the songs an added dimension live and is more in keeping with the sounds that can be found on the album. 

Don opened the set with Hickory's opening track, the sublime Down In The Valley. 

Hickory is packed full of brilliant songs such as Carousel, Ophelia and Banks Of The Mississippi and Don treated us to almost the whole album live.

Don has an easy manner and this translates well into the live format with his soft American burr introducing the songs to an enthralled Bristol crowd.

Don also dipped into earlier albums to give us songs such as the gorgeous Broken & Home.

The Rosellys & Travis Stock together with Tom Collinson provided the perfect backing band for Don to convey the depth in his songwriting, ably deputising for his own band How Far West.

Don switching to his Washburn mandolin.

The fifteen song set just flew by and the 1 3/4 hour set didn't seem long enough tonight. 

Almost the last song, was an 'everybody get on stage' version of Neil Young's Helpless from Crosby Stills Nash & Young seminal album Deja Vu. 

Don has been widely supported and appreciated by his fanbase in the UK and is currently getting the recognition he deserves from those in the know in UK Americana circles. And following this appearance his stock (no pun intended) is certain to get higher.

Following the Gig, Don comes out and talks to the audience about his music and shake hands, proving what a nice guy he is. Don Gallardo is a true Southern Gentleman and deserves all the success he'll undoubtedly receive.

Black & White photos courtesy of the highly talented music photographer John Morgan. Please check out his website below

All colour photographs by Macwood Fleet

Twitter - @dongallardoband

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Live in 2015: Kelly Oliver - Tobias Ben Jacob & Lukas Drinkwater at Barry West End Club on Fiday 10th July 2015

Two new experiences tonight - my first visit to Barry West End Club to see a gig and the first opportunity to see the up and coming folk songstress, Kelly Oliver.

But tonight is a joint gig, in terms of onstage time with the duo Tobias Ben Jacob & Lukas Drinkwater.

Tobias & Lukas took to the stage first. With just guitar and double bass as accompaniment, it was an unusual but pleasant sound that the boys made.

Both of the lads are now veterans of the Folk & Roots scene and showed their stage craft with some witty one liners.

They breezed through a strong set based around Tobias' solo output. The guitar and double bass sounded really good together and hopefully the guys will get together soon and get some new material down.

Check out a Folk Radio interview with the boys on the link below

It's always good to get in early and see a performer at the start of his/her career in music. I had heard  good things about Kelly Oliver and I was relishing the opportunity to catch her live - and being here on her first visit to the principality. It was a beautiful day down here in Wales and was topped off by an equally beautiful performance from the young songstress.

Kelly is still touring her first album - This Land - which features both self penned tunes and some well chosen covers. 

Kelly seemed to be totally confident and self assured up there on the stage, (this gigging game obviously appeals to her), but with an appealing vulnerability which complimented her delicate voice perfectly. A debut album is always tough, which direction to take, what songs to choose if she covers another songwriters tune. But she is definitely getting some good advice if she chooses classic tracks like Caledonia and is able to make the song her own in her own style.

Her set kicked off with the song Off To The Market and she never looked back from there. With the audience on her side, she had the crowd in the palm of her delicate hand and never let them go all evening.

An early highlight was the song Kelly recorded called Diamond Girl, with another superb, young singer/songwriter - Luke Jackson.

At the moment, Kelly is preparing songs for her second album and we were treated to several new songs this evening. And if she can keep the quality of the songs like the ones she previewed tonight then she's got the makings of an absolutely glorious album.

Kelly has been getting some airplay from the likes of Bob Harris especially with the song Jericho 

New songs included Ghost Of The Night and Some World, although the bulk of the songs played tonight were from her debut album.

Below you will find a review of This Land by the respected Blog Site - 3 Chords & The Truth.

Kelly was joined on stage by Lukas for several songs towards the end of her set and the extra instrument gave an added dimension to her live work. Perhaps she will look into playing with a band behind her on a forthcoming tours with the second album - as other young folk stars Blair Dunlop and Luke Jackson have done before her.

The final song of Kelly's set was the self penned Mr Officer.

She then brought Tobias and Luke back to the stage where they played Dylan's magnificent Boots Of Spanish Leather and the classic The Lakes Of Pontchartrain.

The two excellent covers brought a very enjoyable evening to an end.

I think I was there to see the birth of a star in Kelly Oliver and hopefully she will confirm the promise on her second album. At the end of the day it's always the quality of the music that counts and Kelly showed that in spades tonight. A young lady to keep your eye on.

Twitter - @kellyoliverfolk



Saturday, 4 July 2015

Live In 2015: Justin Hayward live at The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl on Thursday 2nd July 2015

It was a very odd week indeed - one of my favourite musical artists Chris Squire of YES had passed away and now I find myself in Porthcawl (of all places) about to see one of my other favourite musicians of a certain vintage - Justin Hayward - perform his acoustic Spirits Of The Western Sky Tour in the UK.

As lead vocalist, guitarist & chief songwriter of The Moody Blues, Justin has clocked up more hits on both sides of the Atlantic and worldwide than most musicians alive today.

He has brought his successful Spirits Tour to the UK in support of his latest solo album Spirits Of The Western Sky.

But first up was a young English acoustic guitar player called Mike Dawes. With a Sold Out crowd of mainly over 50's, it was good to see them give the young man an enthusiastic welcome. His work tonight was all instrumental but he showed his skill on his guitar and the set just flew by.

He had an ease with the audience that had obviously come of spending many an hour on the stage and his rapport with tonight's audience grew as his set went by.
He is obviously very technically gifted and will hopefully go on to greater acclaim.

So after a short interval, where a lot of the people decided just to walk outside to the beach, it was a beautiful evening out there, (and you could see the Jupiter & Venus conjunction)

 Justin emerged onto the stage and lauched into a solo version of his & John Lodge's Blue Jays hit Blue Guitar.

It was a great song to start the evening - not a Moody's song - but not a solo song either (well, it WAS really). Perfect.

I'm also glad to report that this wasn't going to be a Moodies Unplugged session either.

A nice surprise was that Mike Dawes is also Justin's second guitarist on the tour playing both his acoustic and a black Telecaster.

Also accompanying Justin was Los Angeles singer/songwriter Julie Ragins on Keyboards and backing vocals. This trio has toured extensively through the United States so it came as no surprise that the sound and performance was excellent throughout.

I've seen Justin with the Moody Blues a few times before so I knew what to expect in terms of his voice but I was interested to see his treatment of the Moodies songs and to hear his own material live.

The songs from his Spirits album are very, very, good - right up there with his best songs. 

Of the 16 songs in the set, 9 were Moody Blues songs and with such a catalogue of songs to choose from it was inevitable that not everyone's favourites would be played.

Indeed, two of my favourites, The Moodies Driftwood and One Lonely Room from Justin's Songwriter album didn't get played but it was no matter as the quality of the song choices were excellent.

With new songs such as In Your Blue Eyes and The Western Sky competing in quality with such Moodies classics as Tuesday Afternoon and Watching & Waiting, it was an evening for the songwriting connoisseur.  

Justin was on stage for almost two hours and the evening just flew by. Justin tells a few war stories about his past and about how the songs were written but tonight was all about the power of the song. People may not realise just how popular Justin & The Moody Blues still are, especially over the pond in the USA.

Tonight, Justin only played his 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars but with Mike & Julie providing the accompaniment it was perfect for the venue.

With a collection of new songs One Day Someday, Eastern Sky & What You Resist Persists - Justin shows just how strong the new album is compared to his substantial back catalogue and by now had received several standing ovations.

The next three songs however just brought the house down.

The major US hit In Your Wildest Dreams was followed by a show stopping performance of Justin's solo hit from The War Of The Worlds, Forever Autumn. Again getting a standing ovation. This was quickly followed by a fabulous performance of the Moodies song, Question.

This was the end of the set and the crowd were on their feet begging for more. And he obliged.

And what a song for an encore - the REAL CLASSIC - Nights In White Satin.

But Justin had one more brilliant song up his sleeve, the fabulous I Know You're Out There Somewhere.

It was a lovely way to finish a pristine performance by an absolute master of songwriting and performing,

Although he will always be associated with the Moody Blues, Justin Hayward is building a considerable canon of work in his own right and it was a pleasure to hear him perform these songs that don't get a airing on the Moody Blues tours.

So, Porthcawl was treated to a superb show tonight. Let's just hope the appreciation that was shown tonight is temptation enough to get him back to Wales.

all photographs by Macwood Fleet